Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S2E7 "Unnatural Selection"
Having evidently just noticed that he’s had a new chief medical officer since this season started, Picard decides to use his next mission, a rendezvous with a Starfleet medical courier, to judge Dr. Pulaski’s capabilities. But once again his mission is interrupted by a garbled distress call. The call is traced to the supply ship USS Lantree
, where the entire crew is found dead, having inexplicably undergone rapid aging after leaving the Darwin Genetic Research Station a few days prior. The Lantree
is quarantined as the Enterprise
heads for the station to investigate.
Darwin Station is found to be suffering from the exact same phenomenon, and the lead scientists insist that their subjects, genetically engineered children, need to be protected from it. Picard isn’t willing to risk sending anyone into the station but somehow has no qualms about encasing a child in solid plastic and beaming him aboard in order for Dr. Pulaski to examine him, and orders exactly that. After the initial examination reveals nothing dangerous, Picard and Pulaski argue over whether or not to release him from the plastic until Pulaski comes up with the compromise of examining him in a shuttlecraft to keep him away from the crew. She brings Data along for the examination, because they have such an effective dynamic together
, and of course, mere minutes after she releases the boy from his plastic cage she finds herself suffering the first symptoms of the mysterious ailment.
Since it doesn’t matter anymore if she breaks quarantine, Pulaski heads to Darwin Station and talks to the doctors about their experiments. It turns out they’re biologically engineering superhuman children with telekinetic and telepathic powers and an aggressive resistance to disease. Overly
aggressive, to the point that said resistance seeks out disease even before it reaches the children—including in the bodies of anyone nearby. Data does some quick research and puts together that it’s that very immune response that is causing the rapid aging in the people around them. He deems the process irreversible, and Pulaski sends word to the Enterprise
that she will remain in quarantine in the station. But Picard will have none of that, and has O’Brien come up with some Technobabble
that will undo the effects by using the transporter to screen out the changes to her DNA. The process works, and the scientists at the station are able to follow this example to save themselves. But there is no saving the Lantree
, and Enterprise
is forced to destroy the entire ship, as the bridge crew stands to honor its crew. Picard never does mention what he decides about Dr. Pulaski, though Troi goes out of her way to say that the two of them are a lot alike, so he probably ends up deciding that she’s just swell, even though she kind of got everything wrong in this episode.
Tropes featured in this episode: