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Recap: Star Trek The Next Generation S 2 E 11 Contagion
Series:Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode: Season 2, Episode 11
Title:"Contagion"
Previous: The Dauphin
Next: The Royale
Recapper: Synjo Deonecros

The Enterprise is called to help a fellow Federation ship in the grip of a series of system malfunctions. They arrive Late to the Tragedy and Rocks Fall, Everyone Dies. Oh, and the Romulans appear to deny everything.

Interestingly, Geordi confirms that the Romulans weren't responsible for the ship's destruction, but Picard isn't convinced, and after a thorough study of the ship's logs, determines its previous mission: its captain was leading his crew on a wild goose chase for Iconia, one of a bajilion mythological planets out in the Trek universe, and he thought to have found it on the Romulan side of the Neutral Zone, where they met...something... that seemed to have caused their system failures. Since Iconia is said to have insanely powerful technology that the Romulans could use to crush the Federation, Picard sets course to the planet the other ship's captain believed was the fabled planet.

Unfortunately, the Enterprise starts coming down with its own set of systems failures, which Data and Geordi fail to solve or determine the cause of (possibly because Data is acting way Out of Character). Once they get to what is believed to be Iconia, a probe is launched, which Geordi - finally realizing what's going on by that time - convinces Picard to destroy before it has a chance to do anything. By his calculations, the probe contained an Iconian computer program that transferred itself into the destroyed ship's systems, when it visited the planet, and transferred itself into the Enterprise with the ship's logs; unfortunately, since Starfleet doesn't have so much as Norton Antivirus to fend off what's essentially a Trojan horse virus, there's no way for them to fix the problem.

Running out of options, Picard takes Data down to the surface, into an underground installation discovered by the ship's sensors, and proceeds to scout around, looking for anything they can use to determine the origin of or a means to destroy the program. What they discover is something more complex and sinister; an ancient transport union ripping open holes in the space-time continuum to travel through, thus earning the Iconian's nickname of "Demons of Air and Darkness" by their enemies. Picard is convinced this violation of physics was used for peaceful purposes only (yeah, right), but can see how it could be used as a weapon by the Romulans, who conveniently show up to harass the Enterprise and lay claim on the planet. Fortunately for all involved (aside from the Romulans, I guess), the Romulan ship has come down with the Iconian computer flu, as well, preventing them from acting on their threats.

Unfortunately, however, Data becomes infected with the virus, as well (which, combined with impulsively throwing Geordi across the room to free him from an electrified panel earlier, and shoving his arm into the Iconian middle finger to Einsteinian physics - a stunt even Picard admits was ridiculously stupid of him - is pretty much par for the course for his Character Derailment, here), and is forced to be taken back to the Enterprise for repairs, but not without informing Picard on how to destroy the compound and the technology within. The show ends with Picard managing to use the rip in space and time to escape onto the Romulan ship (stuck on auto-destruct, at this point) before being beamed off, and Geordi showing we will not use system restore in the future by forgetting he could reboot and purge the ship's computer core after Data does the same to his systems, sharing the solution with the Romulans (who don't know how to use it, either) before spiriting off.

This episode contains the following tropes:

  • Blind Jump: Picard sets the gateway console to explode and then uses the randomly-cycling gateway to escape, reasoning that wherever it takes him, it'll be better than being blown up. Fortunately, it takes him somewhere very close to the Enterprise. Unfortunately, that place is the Romulan ship's bridge.
  • Canon Fodder: The Iconians and their gateways inspired many Star Trek novels, and eventually made a reappearance in the canon series in Deep Space Nine.
  • Contagious A.I.: The Iconian probes scan ships and try to reprogram them with Iconian software, possibly by complete accident. Unfortunately, said ships tend to get very explodey when the alien software overwrites the programs that keep things like the antimatter fuel safely contained in magnetic fields...
  • Drink Order: This episode marks the first time Picard orders "Tea, Earl Grey, hot.". Unfortunately, the Enterprise's computer is so messed up it gives him a potted plant instead.
  • Names to Run Away From Really Fast: The Iconians' nickname of "Demons of Air and Darkness". Though Picard does put forth the theory that they were only called that because their technology appeared to be magic to those they interacted with, and those species' were frightened enough to attempt to destroy the Iconians.
  • Rousseau Was Right: When an Iconian probe heads for the Romulan ship, the Enterprise has lost its weapons and can't destroy it, so the fate of the Romulans rests on whether they trust Picard that they need to destroy the probe themselves. Though very suspicious, they decide to trust him and destroy the probe, saving themselves.
  • Unusual User Interface: The Iconian console, which processes commands based on tapping different coloured portions of a logo.
Star Trek: The Next Generation S2 E10 “The Dauphin”Recap/Star Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek The Next Generation S 2 E 12 The Royale

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