Star Trek 268: Force of Nature

268. Force of Nature

FORMULA: -1(Where No One Has Gone Before) + Booby Trap

WHY WE LIKE IT: Spot shows Geordi who's boss.

WHY WE DON'T: Putting a speed limit on the Enterprise is just WRONG!

REVIEW: Absolutely dreadful. Though I understand the wish to make a Star Trek parable about global warming, how about you do it by screwing over some planet, not screwing over THE SHOW'S PREMISE!!! Star Trek is about exploration, brave new worlds, etc. etc. Putting the Enterprise (and all Star Trek ships) on a speed limit of Warp 5 goes against the very core of the show. And you just know they're gonna be finding excuses around the limit every chance they get!

But given a worthy script, it might have been forgivable. You can't even look to the B-plot for succor, a nail-biting thriller about Data's attempts to train Spot not to jump on his console. 10 minutes in, the only thing that had happened was that Geordi had convinced Data to train his cat, and the two of them aligned a conduit. That's it. Then the nondescript guest stars arrive and let us know that warp travel is eroding spacetime and causing climate changes on their nearby planet. That doesn't mean we're out of the longueurs, don't worry.

At least the cat training exercises made SENSE. Here's what doesn't: Dr. Serova (the sister) can't prove her theory that spacetime erosion will cause a subspace rift which will fatally iradiate her planet, right? Ok, she'll prove it to you. She commits suicide by blowing up a warp core in the eroded area, causing a subspace rift... which will now fatally irradiate her planet. It's like tipping over a truck carrying radioactive waste in your own neighborhood, to prove you're justified in worrying that it might happen. It is IDIOTIC!

Spot's subplot never pays off, and the cat is suddenly female as of this episode (doesn't seem like Data to incorrectly attribute her gender, does it?) and there's a hint of something in Geordi's rivalry with the Intrepid's engineer, but they miss an opportunity to make them fight over who's got the more spacetime-friendly engine now.

LESSON: Pollution BAD!

REWATCHABILITY - Low: Badly structured, wrong-headed and boring, Force of Nature would definitely make my Worst 5 of TNG.


Jeremy Rizza said…
The message in this episode was delivered so stridently and hysterically,* that until nearly the end I suspected that the scientists were just fanatics or maybe even lying about the whole deal for some purpose of their own. Shows what I know, I guess. And of course, this led to similar nonsense in later episodes, like a character announcing "We've received permission from Starfleet to go to Warp-8" (or whatever). Oh, may we? Star Trek: The Bureaucratic Frontier!

*I feel the same way about most episodes of "Masters of Horror." Can't we have a horror anthology that's just scary without it being a thinly-veiled allegory on everything people dislike about the Bush Administration? I'm not even a Bush supporter... heck, I can't stand the corrupt, churchy bastard! But sermonizing and horror just doesn't mix.
Tarun Kumar said…
I have a blog containing good information on global warming. Ozone has doubled since the mid-19th century due to chemical emissions from vehicles, industrial processes and the burning of forests, the British climate researchers wrote. Carbon dioxide has also risen over that period. History of global warming is very deep since 1850.
Anonymous said…
There was an out for the supposed warp travel limit in this episode that has never been discussed as far as I can see. The breach left behind from the warp core was supposed to only happen in the localized area of the corridor, yet there is a small refference to sub space tear outside of the corridor in the field that was limiting travel. This was never fully explained but was commented that it should be impossible. Thereby making the whole warp limit mute and void. Most probably this would have been explained as the corridor is what was making the breaches possible and therfore making regular travel through the rest of space fine. This was never rectified or mentioned again and left me with a bad feeling that something vitally important to this episode was never explained or revisited. Making me even more mad at this episode.
LiamKav said…
You know, I used to hate this episode, but that was back in the 90s and 2000s when I genuinely believed we were winning the battle to convince people to stop screwing the planet. Now, well, I still hate it, but it's slightly tempered by the notion that maybe the human race does need more lecturing before we mess things up too badly.

In Trek terms, Picard's "there will be repurcutions for years to come" is hilarious. More accurately he'd say "there will be a brief mention when we're looking for the Pegasus, and then Voyager will have moving pylons and things will all be fine somehow".