Star Trek: The Next Generation: Starship Mine   Rewatch 
August 16, 2021 11:30 AM - Season 6, Episode 18 - Subscribe

On an evacuated USS Enterprise-D, Picard plays a deadly game of cat-and-mouse with terrorists who want to steal explosive toxic waste from the warp core as a lethal beam sweeps the ship.

May I call you Memory Alpha?

Story and script
  • At the 2011 Phoenix Comicon, Morgan Gendel recalled that his pitch for the episode was "Die Hard on the Enterprise."
  • Gendel initially called the story "Revolution", after The Beatles' song of the same name. This was an in-joke, as he had previously named "The Inner Light" after the B-side to "Lady Madonna". In this case, the producers overrode his choice as it was too similar to the title of "Evolution". (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 248)
  • The episode received an uncredited rewrite by Ronald D. Moore. He remarked, "The hallmark of Michael's tenure on the show has been character, but once we did that, there's also room to do stuff that is just straight run and jump. I think there's a recognition that sometimes it's okay to do an action show and not to have to try and strain the force of a character piece on top of that. It was fun to do a straight action piece and to just do comedy on the planet. What you rapidly ran into were the money considerations, as is usual with everything else on the show, so I had to pare back the run and jump and then what we had to deal with is: is this too brutal and too much killing? I'm always the one who kills people in scripts left and right, and people are always asking me to pull it back – it's not Star Trek, and I'm always, 'Kill more, kill more!'" (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)
  • For the reception scenes, Cliff Bole asked co-producer Wendy Neuss to provide background small talk for the regular characters. The additional dialogue was scripted by staff writers Brannon Braga and René Echevarria, and Neuss then organised a flowchart tracking where the cast were standing and what they would be saying when not on camera. The cast recorded the dialogue at a group looping session at Modern Sound. However, most of the additional dialogue was not incorporated into the final episode. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 240))
  • Bole recalled that the lighting for the episode was difficult. As the ship's systems were powered down, the standard time-saving pre-lighting could not be used. As such, he had to work with Jonathan West to create new lighting schemes for every set. West was pleased to have the opportunity to try lighting the sets in a different way, due to the fact that since joining the show earlier in the season, he had been restricted to using the lighting setups designed by previous director of photography Marvin V. Rush. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)
  • After he is shot, Hutchinson is not seen or mentioned again. However, a following scene pans across a purple fabric that is covering a humanoid body, indicating he was killed. Some additional dialogue between Riker and Crusher that was present in the script but not the episode would have confirmed Hutchinson's death.
  • Patrick Stewart performed several of his own stunts for this episode. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 240))
  • The role of mercenary leader Kelsey (performed by Marie Marshall) was originally offered to Robin Curtis, though she had to turn it down for an offer she had accepted less than half an hour earlier. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 12, p. 54)
Sets, props, and costumes
  • The venerable Varon-T disruptor prop makes an appearance, as Kelsey's personal weapon.
  • The crossbow seen in this episode was rented for five days from the Pony Express Sport Shop Inc. for US$ 125.00.
  • Tim Russ, who plays terrorist Devor in this episode, is better known for playing Tuvok throughout the run of Star Trek: Voyager. It is interesting to note that in this episode, Russ (who goes on to play a Vulcan) is the recipient of an apparent Vulcan nerve pinch from Jean-Luc Picard. Additionally, an enemy race called the Devore appeared in VOY: "Counterpoint".
  • According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 240), Picard's apparent nerve pinch was intended to be a simple carotid-artery block. This is also supported by the script. Alternately, it is possible that Picard's mind meld with Sarek (in TNG: "Sarek") left him with the ability to perform that technique. Jonathan Archer also demonstrated a successful nerve pinch after receiving Surak's katra in ENT: "Kir'Shara". Leonard McCoy was unable to perform the neck pinch while carrying Spock's katra in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock nor was Spock able to teach it to James T. Kirk, despite his efforts in (TOS: "The Omega Glory").
  • This episode includes the only mention of the Sheliak outside of the episode in which they appear (TNG: "The Ensigns of Command").
Poster's Log:

Data's "small talk" subroutine is pretty good, and Spiner's comedic chops bring us to one of the best 'bloopers' in the "INtakes" series.

LaForge's face when Picard tells him that, no, he does have to go to the reception is every staff meeting I've ever attended.

Nice season 2 callback in Hutch's recollection of his last meeting with Crusher.


Patricia Tallman, here as apparent second-in-command Kiros, is probably best recognized as the telepath Lyta Alexander from multiple seasons of Babylon Five. Marie Marshall, playing the leader Kelsey, also appeared on B5, as Pfc 'Dodger' Durman in two episodes.

Riker's sotto voce asides aren't very sotto. One wonders why he didn't get phasered long before punching Orton.

"NOW I HAVE A CROSSBOW HO-HO-HO" (and, why does Worf have a crossbow we've never seen before?)

Data is tasked with "stop[ping] that ship somehow" and does exactly nothing.

posted by hanov3r (17 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Never saw that particular "INtake"! Thanks for that link. Data quietly aping Hutch is maybe Data's funniest (canon) moment, even though Hutch doesn't seem all that bad, really. I guess it's understandable, though, that the crew of the flagship (particularly this flagship) might have a lower-than-average tolerance for small talk.

But Die-Hard Picard is terribly fun and Stewart sells the slightly silly premise. Maybe the biggest flaw of this one, and this might be totally subjective, is the performance by the criminals' leader; somehow, she never comes off as sufficiently menacing, despite her dialogue and actions. I wish it HAD been Robin Curtis, and frankly this might have been a meatier part for her than her upcoming season 7 villain role.

Riker's sotto voce asides aren't very sotto.

Yeah, very strange choices throughout the hostage stuff. Let's just wander around suspiciously, it'll be fine. It seemed just as sloppy and ridiculous in 1993. Headcanon: Arkarians have poor hearing. And eyesight. And risk assessment. And tailors. (Speaking of: Fashion It So Hard. The ocarina joke is worth the click)

why does Worf have a crossbow we've never seen before?

Because he's Worf. I'd have to assume Worf has an arsenal we've never seen before.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 12:07 PM on August 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

I generally think Spiner is too hammy, and the in-universe justification for Data's small-talk mugging is weak, but it is quite enjoyable. The whole episode is enjoyable, though it is gruesome how casually they killed off the whole team and the getaway ship.

Geordi's reaction to not getting out of the reception is good, but Worf's smug look when he's the only one who is excused is gold.

It feels like this episode was a response to Patrick Stewart's complaint that the captain doesn't get to do enough fighting or fucking on the show. Or at least a response to the former, maybe next week is the latter.

Was there an explanation for why Picard was able to use his communicator at the last second?
posted by skewed at 12:20 PM on August 16, 2021

Was there an explanation for why Picard was able to use his communicator at the last second?

I think it was the one he had taken off Devor?

Data and Hutch were fun to watch. But the hostage situation as noted was strange. They wander back and forth trying so hard to casually pass whispered messages. They shift around where they stand glancing this way and that even though Orton and his minion are more or less standing in the same area of the room. And then Riker's diversion is just absurd. If Data had been on the ball with his android super powers, the situation would have been over then and there.

But never mind all that. The action on the Enterprise is excellent. I think Kelsey is fine. Picard is a lot of fun. The other members of the merc team are decent minions, especially Kiros. Definitely a Bad Girl team with ancillary boys like that dope Neal who can't even climb some ladders without sucking air. I don't mind the killing at all. sometimes that kind of thing is necessary. I do feel sorry for Devor and think Picard is kind of ugh there.

"You're Starfleet, you won't kill me."

"No, but I will let the sweep do it!"

Just be honest, Jean-Luc!
posted by Fukiyama at 1:16 PM on August 16, 2021

Let's just wander around suspiciously, it'll be fine. It seemed just as sloppy and ridiculous in 1993.

This is another one of those things about TNG that I understand reflects the genuine limitations of the show and so I can ignore it. It's the same kind of thing as when the crew beams somewhere and they have to look like they are moving around the set without really going anywhere. Along similar lines, I ignore that Hutch's base is hosting a reception for the command crew of the Federation flagship and no one from the base comes or goes during the entire hostage crisis, a hostage crisis that goes unnoticed.
posted by Stuka at 1:31 PM on August 16, 2021 [3 favorites]

I'd have to assume Worf has an arsenal we've never seen before.

Worf absolutely has a Stewie Griffin weapons closet.
posted by Servo5678 at 1:35 PM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

My name for this week's two-fer is The Secret Life of John-Luck Pickerd, as it's super-easy to imagine these episodes as part of the fantasy life of a repressed lieutenant j.g. from astrophysics (not unlike a certain other repressed lieutenant j.g.), McClaneing his way through the ship one week and romancing someone above his rank the next. In reality, I have a lot of sympathy for Patrick Stewart wanting to do more than just another one of his patented speeches [TVTropes] at the end after five-and-a-half seasons of the same; doing all these Trek rewatches one after the other does point out just how much McClaneing they've done, though. At least with this one, some of the Home Alone-esque traps are a little different than the usual reversing the polarity of the whatchamacallits; he actually saws the rungs off the vertical Jeffries tube ladder! (And some are just lucky, i.e. taking the right bit off the trilithium tank so that it didn't blow up immediately.) And I literally laughed out loud at Data mimicking Hutch.

Tallman and Marshall are fine, as is Spielberg (any relation?), but I started wondering where this fell in the list of Russ' Trek roles, chronologically, just because he is part of another thieves' crew in DS9. So, it's this one, T'Kar (Klingon thief), the unnamed Enterprise-B bridge crewmember, and Tuvok. Cool, cool.

Also, I figured that Worf either builds up his collection with things that he's confiscated as part of his security duty, or he's just a 24th-century mall ninja. He keeps hoping and waiting to get involved in a Vulcan wedding so that he can get a lirpa and an ahn-woon, and is actually banned from Triskelion because they got tired of telling him that "we don't do that any more."
posted by Halloween Jack at 2:02 PM on August 16, 2021 [5 favorites]

My name for this week's two-fer is The Secret Life of John-Luck Pickerd, as it's super-easy to imagine these episodes as part of the fantasy life of a repressed lieutenant j.g. from astrophysics

Now that would have been an interesting two parter. Tapestry is part one and Starship Mine is part two with Lt. Picard saving the day due to circumstance while the command crew are all on the surface
posted by Fukiyama at 2:20 PM on August 16, 2021 [2 favorites]

Re: The hostage situation and the whispering -- it's Star Trek's version of Frasier's split conversations between the kitchen and the dining room. Pretty sure I've seen something similar in multiple TNG & DS9 episodes.

Picard sure does kill off a shitload of people and basically shrugs it off. Oh well, sucks to be those chumps!
posted by Saxon Kane at 4:14 PM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Well, it's kind of justified in that trilithium is genuinely dangerous stuff, capable of being turned into a weapon of mass destruction that can destroy a star; it's used for that purpose in Star Trek Generations, and nearly so in a DS9 episode.
posted by Halloween Jack at 5:01 PM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Unavoidable, maybe even understandable? Sure, but I'm not sure about "justified" -- at least from the (normally) high moral perspective of Jean-Luc Picard & Starfleet.

But really, it's more that I find it funny that they'll have an episode with these agonizing moments about whether Picard can or should take a life, and then it ends with wacky jokes about saddles.
posted by Saxon Kane at 6:12 PM on August 16, 2021

Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Baryon Buildup is a straightforward interference card in the second set, combine with say, Birth of "Junior" for more laughs.

Captured is the 'Incident' card type released later on in First Edition, which, essentially, allowed them to add twice as much lengthy and baroque gametext compared to the old Event card type, generally with kind of a simulationist bent. You don't see as many of these from TNG, which is weighted more toward older, simpler cards in general. This card represents a fairly effective way to capture your opponent's personnel if you really want to use those capture-related cards from back in Chain of Command. Pretty much never used it myself.

My favorite extended-text late release card is possibly the Objective Hero of the Empire, which created a new Klingon decktype and has a unique CGI image.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:05 PM on August 16, 2021 [1 favorite]

Ah, the return of the deep V. That is quite a riding ensemble and you gotta admire someone in velvety corduroy trousers and wine-red jacket taking on the bad guys with a saddle.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:59 AM on August 17, 2021

I subscribe to the head canon that every time we see the same actor in Trek, it's actually the same character. Tuvok was one of the rebels on the Enterprise. We know he's old and has only been working in Starfleet for a few decades. Admiral Cartwright got a job as a chef on Earth as part of the witness protection program. Weyoun is. . . really complicated.
posted by eotvos at 7:26 AM on August 17, 2021

OK, then: Vaughn Armstrong.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:16 AM on August 17, 2021 [3 favorites]

every time we see the same actor in Trek, it's actually the same character

So, Ben Sisko's son Jake grows up to be Worf's brother Kurn -- in the past? (Tony Todd)

Weyoun is moonlighting as Brunt and working for the Ferengi Trade Association? (only 2 of Jeffrey Combs roles)

Zefram Cochrane invented Warp drive on Earth, changes his name and becomes Prime Minister of Angosia III (a couple hundred years later), decides to become a Yridian information broker and tells Worf about the Romulan-Klingon prison camp, then moves to the Gamma Quadrant to become trade representative for the Karemma? (James Cromwell)

That's some complicated nonsense!
posted by Saxon Kane at 9:35 AM on August 19, 2021

Oh, and Worf's human brother Nikolai and Ben Sisko marry the same woman...
posted by Saxon Kane at 10:40 AM on August 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

And the leader of the Founders is at least 4 billion years old.
posted by hanov3r at 11:06 AM on August 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

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