Star Trek: The Next Generation (1991): S05E05 – Disaster


Introduction

“Disaster” is the fifth episode of the fifth season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 105th episode overall. It was originally released on 21 October 1991, in broadcast syndication.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise must deal with several tasks outside their normal responsibilities, such as Counsellor Troi commanding from the bridge, Captain Picard leading children to safety, and Chief of Security Worf delivering a baby.

The character Molly O’Brien is born in Ten Forward and this character is later shown growing up in the spin-off TV show Star Trek: Deep Space Nine (aired 1993–1999) with her parents Miles and Keiko. Troi’s experiences in this episode also lead to her pursuing the rank of commander in later seasons.

Outline

The crew of the Enterprise are undertaking routine tasks when suddenly the ship is struck by some outside force, rendering much of it inoperable and many of the crew isolated without communication to other sections; later the crew discovers the collision was with a fragment of a quantum filament, and after effecting basic repairs, set course back to the nearest starbase for a full overhaul.

Several different sub-plots are followed among the various crew members:

  • The bridge is manned by Counselor Troi, the most senior officer on the bridge at the time of the incident with the rank of Lt. Commander, accompanied by Chief Miles O’Brien and Ensign Ro. They soon establish that Lt. Commander Monroe died in the incident. They find that the anti-matter containment field in Engineering is rapidly fading. Ro suggests that they split the drive section of the Enterprise off to save those in the saucer section, but O’Brien considers this cold-blooded and Troi rules against it. Instead she suggests a plan to divert a supply of their minimal power reserves to Engineering to the appropriate panel, hoping that someone there would rectify the situation. This is later done by Commander Riker and Lt. Commander Data. Ro apologises for considering such a hasty action while Troi acknowledges Ro could have easily been correct.
  • Riker and Data are in Ten Forward along with Worf and a pregnant Keiko O’Brien at the time of the disaster. With several injuries, Data assigns Ten Forward as a triage area with Worf and Keiko tending to the wounded. Riker and Data realise that without functioning turbolifts, it would be faster to travel through the Jeffries’ tubes to reach Engineering in order to regain control of the ship rather than to try to make it to the bridge. In Engineering, they find that the computer remains offline and Data offers to use his own positronic brain to gain basic control of ship systems. Riker discovers the operating panel that indicates the containment field failure, and he and Data quickly set up the proper connections to restore it until regular computer operation is restored.
  • Captain Picard is giving a guided tour of the ship to three children that won a science fair, a task he has not been looking forward to as he is uncomfortable around children. They are aboard the turbolift when the accident occurs and Picard fractures his ankle from the sudden stop. He calms the children down, and to boost their morale, assigns them honorary command roles. With their spirits renewed, Picard and the children start to climb out of the turbolift and up the shaft until they are able to access the lift doors on another floor and climb out safely. Picard comes to appreciate the children and offers to give them another tour once the situation has been resolved.
  • Doctor Crusher and Lieutenant Commander La Forge are in a cargo bay examining a recent supply of thruster fuel. When the disaster strikes, they are trapped in the bay and find that a plasma fire has erupted in a nearby panel; it is not only letting off potentially lethal radiation affecting them, but also destabilising the fuel, risking an explosion. They come up with a plan to depressurise the bay to douse the fire due to lack of oxygen and remove the destabilising fuel during the depressurisation. They safely hold on during this process and reseal the bay with air.
  • In Ten Forward as they tend to patients, Keiko goes into labour, forcing Worf to help her deliver her child despite having only basic emergency medical training. Though the delivery is tense, Keiko’s child, Molly, is delivered safely.

Star Trek TV Series

You can find a full index of Star Trek TV series here.

Star Trek TV Series, Films, and Documentaries

You can find a full index of all Star Trek TV series, films, documentaries here.

Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Gabrielle Beaumont.
  • Writer(s): Ron Javis and Philip A. Scorza.
  • Release Date: 21 October 1991.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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