“Evolution” is the first episode of the third season of the syndicated American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 49th episode overall, first airing on 25 September 1989.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, escaped nanites threaten the Enterprise as well as its critical research mission.
The Federation starship Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), approaches the Kavis Alpha binary star system to perform astrophysics research under the guidance of Dr. Paul Stubbs (Ken Jenkins), analysing the decay of neutronium as a result of a stellar explosion that occurs every 196 years and is due to occur in the next few hours. Stubbs plans to launch a probe, dubbed the Egg, to gather the data, a result of a lifetime’s development. Meanwhile, Chief Medical Officer Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) has returned to her duties on the Enterprise after a stint at Starfleet Medical.
As the expected time of the stellar explosion nears, the ship malfunctions in odd ways, and the issue is traced to the computer core. Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton), who had been working on a project involving microscopic nanites, realises that he may have inadvertently let two nanites from his experiments loose. The nanites were programmed to find ways to work together and evolve. A scan of the computer core reveals that the nanites have determined a way of replicating themselves and have taken up residence in the computer core. With the computer controls unreliable, the crew and Dr. Stubbs attempt to see if they can remove the nanites from the core. However, Dr. Stubbs shoots the core with a burst of gamma radiation, destroying a large number of the nanites. They retaliate by flooding the bridge with nitrogen dioxide, which the crew overrides. Dr. Stubbs is confined to quarters, but the nanites attempt further revenge by shocking him with electricity. Captain Picard prepares to flood the computer core with gamma radiation to remove the nanites completely, but the android Second Officer Commander Data (Brent Spiner) establishes communication with the nanites and allows them to use his body to speak with Picard. Picard realises that the nanites are self-aware and conscious and took Dr. Stubbs’ actions as hostile, but they want peace. Picard negotiates a deal to send the nanites to Kavis Alpha IV, designating it as their homeworld. The nanites agree and repair the damage to the computer core before they leave it. Dr. Stubbs launches his probe on time and collects numerous volumes of data. Ensign Crusher, who feels responsible for the incident, is counselled by his mother; both of them realising he is growing up.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Winrich Kolbe.
- Writer(s): Michael Piller and Michael Wagner.
- Release Date: 25 September 1989.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.