The crew of the Enterprise discovers a crystalline lifeform with murderous intelligence after it kills one of the scientists on a terraforming project.
Tropes in this episode:
- Arbitrary Skepticism: The way the crew treat an inorganic life form as so unexpected and astonishing is odd considering they (and the original series) have previously encountered living beings made of Pure Energy or even more unorthodox things.
- Artistic License Biology: No, Data. Humans are composed of 60% water not 90%. For reference, that's as much water as there is in a watermelon. This is a carryover from the Original Series episode The Omega Glory, in which McCoy says the human body is 96% water.
- Call a Human a "Meatbag": Or rather, an "ugly giant bag of mostly water." Data points out that it's a fairly accurate description, from a crystal's perspective.
- Captain Obvious: Troi is a particularly bad example of this, even by her standards, in this episode. Notably, she insists on pointing out that Director Mandl and the lab techs are being secretive and suspicious early in the episode, even though one would need to be Captain Oblivious not to notice that.
- Early Installment Weirdness:
- When Picard mutes his end of the conversation with Mandl, the computer says "channel closed," something it has never said before or since.
- Data speaks and poses in a way that suggests visible urgency when he's informing Picard of his discovery about how the microbrain works. While one could maybe justify this as him trying to imitate human behavior, it still comes across as kinda jarring.
- End of an Era: The last episode of the series — and by extension, Star Trek in general — where Gene Roddenberry was the showrunner. After this episode he stepped back into more of a supervisory role and let Maurice Hurley take over the writing staff, which is noticeable in that this is one of the last episodes of the show to essentially just be a repackaged TOS episode.
- Hostile Terraforming: The episode features a Federation terraforming project that is doing this by accident, and the locals don't like the "Ugly Bags of Mostly Water" mucking up their planet.
- Humans Are Ugly: Humans Are Ugly Bags of Mostly Water. Troi assures the crystalline "microbrain" that they find it beautiful.
- It's a Long Story: When Bensen asks Data where he was manufactured and if there are others like him, Data replies that both matters are subjects of protracted discussion.
- The Main Characters Do Everything: After the crew gets the idea to starve out the microbrain by turning down the lights in the lab, instead of getting an engineer to do the job, Picard sends Riker to do it.
- My God, What Have I Done?: When it becomes clear that, in attempting to create a life-bearing world, the terraformers nearly wiped out an intelligent civilization, they're all clearly horrified. Luisa Kim, who was established early on as the most idealistic of them, takes it especially hard.
- Red Shirt: Malencon's sole purpose in the story is to get sliced-and-diced by the microbrain-controlled laser drill.
- Skewed Priorities: After Data is forced to destroy the laser drill in order to avoid Malencon's fate, Bensen's only reaction is to gripe about the drill being broken, even though it subjected his colleague to a gruesome death and nearly also destroyed the (almost) one-of-a-kind android he seemed so fascinated by.