The TREKKER Reviews

The Next Generation

Bev is in her quarters, and she's packing. Why, is she off to see the brat again? No, she's been fired! What heinous crime could the good Dr Social Conscience have committed to be relegated back to civilian life? Fashion crimes for sure if that horrible brown dress is anything to go by! She's the cause of an interstellar incident, and as the wavy lines fill the screen, we fade into a flashback...

Curiosity killed the cat, and that should have been warning enough, but Dr Social Conscience just can't help herself. This week's deserving waif is a Ferengi scientist, Dr Reyga, who has developed a new form of sub-space shielding. His only problem is being accepted, as Ferengi scientists are about as common as assertive starship captains. Bev takes it upon herself to invite many eminent scientists to hear him give a talk, but only four turn up - a Klingon, a Vulcan, a Human, and a Takaran - who must have blown their latex budget!

Those three little words are so hard to say: "If it works..." There's only one way to test it - pilot a shielded shuttle straight into the star's corona. Wouldn't a remote piloted shuttle full of monitoring equipment have been a better choice? No, Hotblack Desiato the Takaran says he will dive the stuntship straight into the heart of the star!

It's working, it's working, it's not working! Something's wrong, Hotblack's in trouble and the solar radiation is blocking attempts to transport him out. He manages to turn the shuttle around at the last moment and is beamed straight to sick-bay, but after an enigmatic cry of "I saw the sun" he dies. "I've lost patients before" whinges Bev. Sure, all too many of them.

Before the rapidly cooling corpse loses all flexibility, Bev decides to do an autopsy. Strange, Hotblack has no discrete organs, and Bev can't find a cause of death. What's more the shuttle doesn't have any sign of malfunction. It's clear the shield was breached, but that alone shouldn't have killed him.

It's a huge blow to Dr Reyga when Bev declares it too dangerous to do any more testing. He still believes in his concept, and is prepared to fly a shuttle mission himself. Unfortunately since he decided to join Hotblack and spend a year dead for tax reasons, there are going to be no more willing victims. He was killed in a plasma blast, but was it murder or suicide? Get out the knives, it's time for another autopsy...

No, it isn't! Reyga's family have contacted Picard and they want to body undisturbed for their death rituals. Is that the one where they vacuum desiccate the corpse and sell it off? If Bev wants to follow her conspiracy theory she's going to have to get the evidence some other way.

Since the subtle scientific method is out, she tries the unsubtle investigator approach - she goes and accuses the other scientists of the murder. Nice one. They resent it, but one of them claims that the Klingon was heard making threats against Reyga. We have a suspect, now we need a motive. Greed should do. Now all we need is evidence, but if you can't find it, make it up...

Rather than that, she decides to do the autopsy against the direct orders of Picard. Does anyone actually obey him? Then, with cap in hand she goes to tell him how naughty she's been. At least she must have found something important to make it worth it. Nope, not a thing. She's disobeyed a direct order, interfered in insterstellar politics, and the hammer is going to fall.

But what's the worst thing that could happen if she continues to meddle, get fired? Hah! She has 24 hours before the board of inquiry, and 10 minutes of air-time to prove that she was right. If the shuttle mission was sabotaged, then it had to be done remotely while the shield was functioning. That means a phased ionic pulse from somewhere on the Enterprise, and that should have left a residue that can be seen in Hotblack's body.

Now all she needs are the autopsy records, but since she's no longer an active member of the medical staff, the computer won't let her have them. It's a good thing that Nurse Ogawa doesn't like her job, because she hands the records over. Two to be court-marshalled! The enhanced scan shows her just what she wanted to see...

There's an unscheduled shuttle launch! It's Space Ranger Bev out to prove a theory. Since she's not an acting staff member anymore, you have to wonder about the security restrictions in the shuttle bays don't you? She gets far enough away that they can't drag her back, and they can't override the controls. "I'm not wrong" she says.

The shield seems to be holding, when the view screen on the bridge blacks out. "Sir, we have lost contact" asserts Worf. Well done Lieutenant, I would have thought that the loss of picture would have made that obvious, but it's nice to know someone is still on the ball. Doh!

As Bev tries to regain communications, a panel slowly opens behind her, revealing... Hotblack! He never died at all, and now that he has the prototype of the MetaphasicSheid™ he can develop it into a weapon. Mwa, ha, ha, ha, ha! Not in this life time buddy - Bev wrestles him to the deck and then phasers a hole straight thought him. He's still coming. Set to disrupt and fire! Now he's nothing more than a memory, and a greasy smear.

Despite the intestellar incident, the insubordination, accessing restricted files, and stealing a shuttle, she gets reinstated. Bollocks!

Roll Credits...

What a great concept for a plot - Bev gets fired and has to prove her innocence - NOT! Voice-over flash-black themes just don't work here. Combine that with the fact that the whole episode makes a mockery of the security onboard the Federation's flagship and you are left with 42 minutes of rubbish, but that's nothing new. And that sums it all up beautifully - "that's nothing new."

This review is Copyright © 1994, Phil Kernick.
Permission is granted for anyone to electronically distribute it - details available on request.