“I’m not sure I’d want my mother flying through space with me. No, I take that back. I am sure. I wouldn’t want her.”

The Next Generation’s second season ended with a whimper after the Writer’s Strike of 1988 necessitated truncating television seasons. The show came back strong in September of 1989 with “Evolution,” a fairly solid entry that was actually the second episode filmed (after “The Ensigns of Command,” which would air the following week). Pompous, egotistical scientist, Dr. Paul Stubbs (Ken Jenkins) is studying a stellar explosion when the ship’s systems start failing one-by-one.

It takes a bit of figuring before Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) finally fesses up and admits he’s responsible. He was studying nanites and let them out into the ship to run free after falling asleep. They get into the critical systems and start disrupting activities. I was wondering if the writers recognized the corner they had written themselves into with Wesley; by making him a kind of Mary Sue: the perfect little genius boy who saves the day constantly.

Everything that happens in this episode is Wesley’s fault, and what’s more they give him a chip on his shoulder when they bring back Beverly (Gates McFadden). There is tension between them. I mean, while she was “heading up Starfleet Medical,” whatever that means, he was dealing with the Borg. She has no place giving him static over anything. While I liked these changes in characterization, I detested what happened to Wesley in his final years on the show.

Wesley admires Stubbs, and Stubbs tells him he’ll never come up against a greater adversary than his own “potential.” Those are serious words of wisdom everyone should hear. Stubbs even gives us some mythic canon. He talks to Wesley about how baseball was discarded at some point because people wanted shorter games. This one bit of dialogue will form a lot of the basis for Benjamin Sisko’s character. The game factors heavily into Deep Space Nine.

Rick Berman and Michael Piller were big baseball fans, and they finally had the opportunity to work in some references. As I mentioned earlier, Crusher has returned, and I guess Dr. Pulaski was put off the ship (or maybe she got her shot to head up Starfleet Medical). She has to go to Picard (Patrick Stewart) to fill her in on Wesley’s life over the past year. Picard is never good with answering questions (he asks the questions around here, damnit!) but he assures her he’s doing great.

As it turns out, the nanites have become sentient, and when Stubbs tries to destroy them for stalling his life’s work, they retaliate by trying to kill him and the crew. They reach a modus vivendi with Data (Brent Spiner) hosting the nanites so they can communicate with Picard. Stubbs apologizes for his actions, and the nanites agree to vacate the ship and settle on an uninhabited planet of their own choosing.

I would love to see a sequel to this (considering how quickly they replicate and evolve) set a handful of years in the future. Something unusual happened with the uniforms. The obvious change was the style, which went from a kind of onesie with a wide collar to a pleated waist and a high collar, but a few episodes in, the uniform changed again to a two-piece. I preferred this first incarnation, as they were more flattering to the still-thin members of the cast.

Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

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