At the end of the last episode, Riker asks Picard if all of their adventures are going to be like Farpoint. No, Picard answers, hopefully they'll be more interesting. Episode two might just be the kind of thing he meant. It's one thing to have everyone's life threatened by a sentient being like Q, and quite another to have it threatened by a mindless disease... thing.
The enterprise meets up with a research vessel orbiting a collapsing star, when suddenly the vessel's crew blow the escape hatches, killing everyone aboard. Everyone who wasn't already dead, that is. Data describes the scene as a wild party, but it's more like a wild party where half of the attendees froze to death because everyone lost their minds and started playing with no-touch things like environmental controls and escape hatches. Picard, smart cookie that he is, is worried about the madness disease getting onto the enterprise, which it does despite decontamination measures. If this is reminding you of episode ? Of the original series, you're spot on. Riker soon remembers reading about the incident, and Beverly gets the antidote from the records. Except, oops, it doesn't work, and by then half the ship has it thanks in part to Beverly letting patient zero (La Forge) wander out of sick bay. That's ok, though, because Beverly gets it too when Riker brings her an infected troy. Then she gives it to Picard and... The upshot of it all is that Wesley gets to take over the ship in his half-mad state and we learn that Data is "fully" functional. Fully. Beverly manages to tweak the antidote so that it works, and the crew is then able to save the enterprise from the exploding star. Just in time, of course.
We spent the last episode proving that humanity can be awesome, so this one is spent showing how foolish people can be if they show up drunk to work. It's interesting that the writers would chose to rehash a situation directly from the original series, but maybe that's because it touches on one of our biggest fears - and hopes - for the future. We fear insanity because we understand it so little, because people's thoughts aren't directly observable and nearly impossible to quantify. We hope, or we wish, that science could rip open that black box of the mind and solve Insanity with an antidote. Bonus points if the antidote works instantly and is administered by a hot doctor like Beverly.
We want to be able to prevent random murder-suicides, like being sucked into the vacuum of space, thoughtless sexual encounters, and senseless destruction of property. And if you think it's scary for one person to go insane or insanely intoxicated, try a whole ship! Usually insanity can't be prevented so easily, and that sucks.
Since we're not Star Trek, I guess we'll just have to do what we can with lithium pills, moral support, and all that fun stuff.
And for your part? Don't show up to work drunk and start pulling out all the control chips. Thanks.
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