Star Trek: The Next Generation: Genesis   Rewatch 
November 19, 2021 4:00 AM - Season 7, Episode 19 - Subscribe

The crew of the Enterprise confronts the beasts within.

Blurred vision, dizziness, palpitations, a stinging sensation in the lower spine. It's Memory Alpha, isn't it?:

• It was written into the script that Gates McFadden's character, Beverly Crusher, would be severely disfigured by Worf. She was promptly put into stasis to prevent the injuries from worsening. The absence of Dr. Crusher from much of the episode gave the actress who played her, Gates McFadden, more time to spend directing the episode.

• Makeup supervisor Michael Westmore described his work in this episode as proving to be his greatest challenge. "We never would have been ready if the episode hadn't miraculously fallen right after Christmas. We worked through the holiday."

• Toward the end of the episode, Dr. Crusher comments to Barclay that it is traditional to name new diseases after the first patient. This tradition, evidently, appeared after our own time period. Eponymous diseases have almost always been named for the first person to describe them in medical literature (Parkinson's disease; Down's syndrome; Marfan's syndrome; Kartagener's syndrome). Rare exceptions from our time include Legionnaires' disease (named for a group of people) and Lou Gehrig's disease (unofficially named for a famous – though not the first – sufferer).

• Coincidentally, Barclay mentioned that spiders never bothered him in TNG: "Realm of Fear" (also written by Brannon Braga).

• In 2015, WhatCulture ranked this the 7th best episode of all time in the Star Trek science fiction universe. They note it as a horror-themed episode of Star Trek, remarking that "'Genesis' is terrifying in the way it unfolds so very subtly, watching the crew regress into primal animals".

• This episode received Star Trek 101's "Spock's Brain" Award for Worst Episode in The Next Generation.

"She's such a sweet little kitty."
"She is to you."
- Reginald Barclay and Data, referring to Spot

"Well… before I begin swinging through the ship, looking for breakfast, we need to find some answers."
- Picard

"What – what's that?"
"It is large, approximately two hundred kilograms. It is heavily armored with an exoskeleton. Life signs appear to be… Klingon."
- Picard and Data

Poster's Log:
I used to dislike this one, but now, I find I can enjoy it as pure zany fun. Maybe they could only get away with this in season seven. My fondness for horror probably prevents me from ever considering this among TNG's worst, but objectively, it's definitely not great.

Props to Spiner for keeping a straight face about it, but it's hard to interpret Picard's de-evolution into a "lemur or marmoset" as anything other than a silly joke by the writers. If that's true, it might've landed better as a joke nearer to the end of the episode. Look at me, advocating for another '60s-style wacky-joke ending… you see what you've done to me, season seven?! What sort of MONSTER have you tur— uh oh.

Poster's Beast-Form:
I'm inclined to say something aquatic, but I think my Chinese zodiac animal is a snake, so we'll split the difference and say I'd be an eel. I wonder if any enterprising (:D) person has ever developed a "What TNG: Genesis De-Evolved Creature Are You?" internet quiz.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
The Greatest Gen guys mention, rightly, that McFadden's direction was very cool and very suited to the subject material. I would add that it's likely her background as a choreographer contributed to the much-less-inert-than-usual feel.

The "Fashion It So" for "Genesis" features "Bridge Cat."
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I appreciate that they like wrap up episodes quickly, but the light ending to this one was extra jarring. I mean, I know they're gonna blame it on the 'rona, but Worf did straight up brutally murder an officer on the bridge, right? Everyone was in beast mode for three days and apparently couldn't use the replicators. Who else got killed? Did anybody get eaten? Is Barclay going to shit out somebody's mutant fly-skull in the morning? This was a really fucked up scenario, and it was a little weird to end it with "Oh, they're going to name a disease after me! Barclay syndrome, which makes you into an animorph and also maybe a cannibal."

Meanwhile, present day: Patrick Stewart stands alone in a luxury suite in a Tokyo hotel, looking out at the skyline as evening falls. He takes a sip of expensive brandy. He doesn't say a word, but just by looking at his face you can tell that he understands that the role he was born to play was that of an increasingly panicked man aware that he is slowly turning into a marmoset, and that he has made his peace with this.
posted by phooky at 7:11 AM on November 19, 2021 [6 favorites]


*ahem* Anyway, no, it wasn't the seventh-best episode of Trek, or even of TNG, maybe not even of this season, but it was pretty good for what it was, and a reminder that McFadden was a director of choreography and puppet movement for Labyrinth and The Muppets Take Manhattan. They're obviously operating under budgetary constraints--the bit where they mention that a lot of the crew are gathering in the arboretum and aquatic lab is just a reminder that we didn't get to see Cetacean Ops in this series--but that helps ratchet up the tension, as we get brief, nightmarish glimpses of the relatively few zoo crew that we do see. (Speaking of whom, a clearer shot of the crabbed-out Worf reminds me more than a bit of DS9's Jem'Hadar, which is interesting.) And thinking of Picard as a lemur or marmoset is not only amusing, but in turn points toward DS9's Vorta, who were such a species before the Founders uplifted them. My only disappointment is that they didn't manage to get Mark Mothersbaugh to do a cameo as a crewmember who turned into a snail.

My beast-form: either a bear or a giant sloth, depending on the day I'm having.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:15 AM on November 19, 2021 [2 favorites]

Is Barclay going to shit out somebody's mutant fly-skull in the morning?

Well, spiders just suck out the bodily fluids of their victims, so no. (Although it's interesting that he was morphing into Shelob, given that humans aren't descended from arthropods AFAIK; maybe one of Barclay's ancestors was Peter Parker.)
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:18 AM on November 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

And is it really cannibalism if you're technically a different species at the time?
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:19 AM on November 19, 2021 [4 favorites]

And is it really cannibalism if you're technically a different species at the time?

I hope someone can explain why they haven't made a Star Trek courtroom drama spin-off yet, because this comment makes it clear that they absolutely should.
posted by phooky at 7:25 AM on November 19, 2021 [14 favorites]

Wow, that's a great screen-shot of Worf, Barclay, and Ogawa; very impressive considering the era and time/budget constraints. I still do not like this episode, but it's probably due to my antipathy of the body-horror genre. It is pretty tense for TNG, at least in parts.
posted by skewed at 7:33 AM on November 19, 2021

Another last-season episode that I have seen only twice or thrice; definitely not a favorite. But I have always liked Sir Patrick in this one. He does an excellent job portraying Picard fighting against the innate fear that is breaking out as he changes.
posted by Stuka at 8:38 AM on November 19, 2021

Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Barclay's Protomorphosis Disease will wipe out your crew if you're not prepared, but it's worth ten points if you solve it. So it's got a strong risk/reward flavor. Some players would use it on themselves for easy points. You could also take to the offensive with, say, Unscientific Method and Blended as precursors in the hopes of narrowing your opponent's crew down enough to eliminate the rest. A fairly popular card. It was featured in one of Wesley's early reviews, giving some view into the strategies of the Premiere set only being out. Siskoid maintained a positive outlook on the card's usefulness after the DS9 set.
posted by StarkRoads at 11:14 AM on November 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

Glad to see someone finally using the tags fishTroi and neanderthalRiker
posted by Saxon Kane at 12:30 PM on November 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

I love how batshit crazy this whole thing is, right down to the fact that Data throws "pygmy marmoset" at Picard like he's making the sickest burn ever, and how it ends with a lighthearted laugh instead of a full investigation into the poor helmsman who was mauled to death by a fellow crew member and the fact that numerous other crew probably killed and ate their buddies and co-workers. It's just bonkers. Plus! Dr. Crusher is supposed to require reconstructive surgery, but when next we see her, she's examining crew who were clearly just coming out of their Barclay-induced regressive traumas. But let's just handwave that one.

It's so hilaribad, but it has amphibian!Troi, so there's that. I can't believe anyone would rank this seventh best in anything.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:38 PM on November 19, 2021 [1 favorite]

The biology in this episode is goofy AF (spiderBarclay especially), but I like this episode.

Had no idea that McFaden directed this one.

Worf reminded me of a 'Predator,' especially the mandibles.
posted by porpoise at 9:05 AM on November 20, 2021

I can't believe anyone would rank this seventh best in anything.

Seventh-best makeup, maybe.

This is one of a bunch of final season TNG episodes I have never watched a second time. My recollection of it is that (a) it is the one where the cast of highly paid professional actors get to do exercises from a high school Theatre Arts class (“Okay, Jonathan, you’re a silverback gorilla and Marina, you’re an iguana. Go.”) and (b) we learn that Barclay is somehow descended from spiders.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 4:17 AM on November 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

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