Okay, I guess it’s time to watch the Star Trek TNG episode ‘Genesis’. It’s from season 7, when the show got a bit weird. This is the episode where people turn into animals. I have some whisky at the ready, so I’m prepared to watch it and handle whatever happens.
The episode starts with Barclay in sickbay, having worked himself up into a frenzy convinced that he has Terrelian Death Syndrome. I mean, a disease that’s called ‘death syndrome’ sounds pretty bad – dying is a very severe syndrome! But no, he just has low blood sugar.
Meanwhile, Data’s cat is pregnant. Worth pointing out that no, not all ginger cats are male, so that isn’t at all a plot hole. What is a plot hole, though, is that Crusher says that she’ll give birth before the end of the week – look at this cat, it is in no way pregnant!
Crusher gives Barclay an injection to help him fight off the flu. She also advises Riker to “next time, stay out of the arboretum”, which makes you wonder what he was doing to end up in sick bay. Maybe it’s best we don’t know. Also, hang on, Crusher is also a veterinarian?
After the intro teaser, Worf tells the captain that he has personally improved the ship’s weapons targeting systems. During a test of it, a torpedo literally spirals impossibly, curving and vanishing into the distance. Good improvement, Worf, great job. Well done. Have a cookie.
Riker can barely resist outright laughing at Worf’s complete screw up of his newly-redesigned weapons system. Yeah, keep being smug, plant boy. In any case, the torpedo is already like a billion miles away, so Picard and Data decide to get in a shuttle to chase after it.
Data hands over the duties of caring for his cat to Barclay, which just seems a recipe for disaster. To the shock of everyone, Barclay does not immediately die from Venusian Cat Fever. Data mentions that he’s unsure who the father is, as there’s twelve other male cats onboard.
Picard and Data fly off in a shuttle to catch a torpedo. The excitement never ends. Meanwhile Worf is getting frustrated with his attempts to repair the ship’s weapons system, no doubt because the entire ship is full of cats, according to Data. They may one day take over.
Diana meets up with Worf for dinner. Worf snaps at her for approaching him, and stuffs his face with what looks like a whole chicken leg and a plate of Cthulhu’s offsprings. Meanwhile Troi chugs down an entire mug of water in one gulp. So, everything is normal then.
This entire scene is amazing. Troi complains that the air in the ship is too dry, while Worf growls at his food and occasionally stabs it. He then goes home and tears up his bed sheets. No, really.
The next day, Troi is cold. She turns the heat up. Worf turns it back down because it’s not cold. Welcome to the drama in every office ever.
Riker takes command because Troi wants to go and have a bath. I… I mean, sure. I guess you can just go and have a bath during your work shift. Riker immediately gets confused and doesn’t seem to understand anything. So, nothing unusual there.
Meanwhile Troi’s on-the-clock bath has gone horribly wrong. I mean, I guess your uniform is moisture-absorbent but… she even has a glass of water ready on the edge of her ENORMOUS MASSIVE GIGANTIC SPA in case she gets thirsty.
Worf sneaks into her office, evidently in heat or something, and bites her, presumably to display ownership. Kay. She goes to sickbay where she huddles in a thermal blanket and chugs more glasses of water and starts to doubt that it was a good idea to be in this episode.
So while trying to scan Worf to see if he has caught some kind of infection, Dr Crusher notices that he seems to have grown venom sacks on the side of his neck. And, uh, nobody noticed this literally growing on the side of his face until now?
What happens next is priceless. Given that the guy has literal venom sacks on his neck, the doctor (for some reason) asks him to open his mouth. What do YOU think happens? And then ask, what did SHE THINK would happen? It’s just… perhaps not ask him to spray venom in your face?
The senior staff call a meeting, but it… doesn’t go well. Barclay skitters around the place at, darting back and forth, trying to explain that Worf has been spitting up venom all over the ship, but Rikers response is to grunt and stare vacantly into the distance.
Nurse Ogawa is certain that a strange outbreak is spreading rapidly across the ship, but Riker doesn’t understand. Geordi asks if Riker authorises the security teams to go full-out to capture the rampaging Worf. Riker’s response is “Ugg.” So at least he’s Riker’s unaffected.
THREE DAYS LATER the shuttle has captured the stray torpedo. Three days? Really? I mean these shuttles can travel between planets in a few hours but… oh forget it, it’s not the dumbest thing in this episode by far. Anyway, they return to find the Enterprise floating adrift.
Picard and Data dock back aboard the ship, to find that someone has turned off all the lights. It seems that nobody’s home.
In the distance, Picard and Data hear animal sounds. Specifically we can hear snuffling pigs and hooting monkeys. No, really. You can hear them in the background. You never see them, though. That’d be too expensive. The show can barely afford a cat.
They find a shed reptilian skin though, that’s within the show’s budget. And so begins the biggest part of the rest of the episode – trekking through dark corridors. There’s a lot of this in the second half of this episode, so better get used to it.
Picard and Data find Troi’s quarters, and it’s been altered to the point that it’s a sweltering jungle with water literally dropping from the ceiling. They find Troi in the bathtub, only she’s now basically a frog.
On the bridge we find the body of one of the crew who has been ripped apart. After this, nobody ever mentions to Worf about the wholesale murder of another crew member by his hands. No criminal charges, so I guess the Enterprise operates under a “these things happen” policy.
Anyway, Picard and Data find that all of the crew (who haven’t been murdered by Worf) are in the arboretum and the aquatics labs, so we know that we won’t be seeing them because sets for those areas were too expensive for the show’s budget. We do find Riker eating Picard’s fish.
Riker responds to Picard’s presence by having his stunt-man jump at the captain from atop the desk, causing Data to stun him. You know, the show never really explains why Riker is entirely unaffected by the virus and continues to act as he normally does…
Data explains that the virus is actually activating the crew’s introns, causing them to de-evolve into more primitive life forms. This is why Riker turned into a neanderthal and Troi turned into a reptile. As he says these words, a thousand biologists break down in tears.
Picard is also now infected with the virus. Data tells him that he will de-evolve into either a lemur or a pygmy marmoset. Buh-link. Data, meanwhile, will de-evolve into Windows Vista.
Data checks in with his cat and, to his horror, discovers that Spot has de-evolved into a whole load of kittens! Or has given birth. Whatever. Wait, but where’s Spot?
Oh, here’s Data’s cat. She de-evolved into a gecko – WAIT WHAT?
Picard and Data have the plan to cure the crew using antibodies from the kittens which were protected from the virus. But the ship is basically falling apart fromo neglect and a rampaging Klingon, so Picard goes to engineering to fix it. He gets lost and ends up in Shelob’s lair.
Picard catches sight of Barclay, who has turned into a spider, taking up most of the episode’s budget with it. Picard is terrified, partly because he’s turning into a fucking mouse, and partly because Barclay’s appearance is a jump-scare. Boo!
Having finished what they were doing in engineering, Picard and Data go back to sickbay to create a cure. Worf starts smashing his way through the door. Data tells us that Worf is now a heavily-armoured venom-spitting killing machine with an exoskeleton, and Picard soils himself.
Realising that Worf is trying to get to Troi, and that he sees her as his property (like most men look at women), Data creates a spray-can of Troi’s scent to lure Worf away. Somebody actually wrote an episode of Star Trek where this happens.
Captain Picard over comes his instincts as a half-mouse to slip out of sick-bay and lure the gigantic armour-plated killing machine Worf away so that Data can finish making the cure. It’s a good thing the lights are off so that de-evolved Worf’s makeup looks intimidating.
Terrified, Picard flees into the turbolift. De-evolved Worf chases him, being careful to stay to the most dimly-lit areas of the set as he does so. I’ll definitely give it this, they really did use the lighting, makeup and audio damn well in this episode!
Picard heads into one of the jeffery’s tubes, with Worf following. The captain then electrifies the flooring, stunning the Klingon, in time for Data to finish creating the cure. It occurs to me that this episode was later done basically in reverse when Voyager did ‘Threshold’
Crusher explains that the virus was accidentally caused as a side-effect of her trying to cure Barclay’s flu. Rather than being brought up on charges for medical negligence which caused the deaths of several people, she celebrates having discovered a new disease. Yay. Well done.
After naming the disease after Barclay to ensure that her tracks are covered, Crusher goes back to work looking for more plagues to invent. Meanwhile Troi wonders how she’ll cover up Ensign Dern having been ripped apart and eaten by her boyfriend to Starfleet. Our heroes!
So, legitimately a pretty good episode. Excellent makeup effects overall, and they are able to pull off a tone and atmosphere similar to that of a horror film. In terms of sci-fi, it leans very heavily on the ‘fi’, because the ‘sci’ in this episode is just ridiculous.