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Star Trek The Next Generation: The Chase

Galen: “Dream not of today, Mr. Picard.”

If you have ever heard the song "One Tin Soldier" then you know the plot of this episode.

Picard is tempted (again) by an alternative road. His old professor of archeology, Galen, shows up and offers Picard the chance to be part of the discovery of a lifetime. He only has to leave the Enterprise for three months to a year. I'm sure that starship captains can take leaves but the point here is that Picard is happy with the choice he made many years ago to choose space over the study of the past. He refuses to join the Professor and shortly thereafter the professor is killed by the Yridians who themselves are blasted to dust by the sneaky Romulans who are following the Professor under cloak.

Picard essentially commandeers the Enterprise to find out what the Professor was trying to discover. We visit a number of planets trying to replicate the Professor's trail while Picard and Crusher unlock the puzzle that the Professor left. The result is computer programmed DNA but the program is incomplete. At the final planet the Enterprise is joined by Cardassians and Klingons who are also trying to find the last piece of the puzzle. And of course, Picard suggests they work together. The Cardassians think it is an unlimited power source while the Klingons think it is a weapon. At the end it is only a message from the ancients who seeded all the planets of humanoids with a DNA code that would create beings like themselves. Their hope was that all their progeny would come together in peace to work out the puzzle they had left. The message falls on deaf ears for the most part but we are given some hope through the Romulan captain at the end.

The message is very Star Trek and as a bonus explains why so many 'aliens' are humanoid. It also ties into some of the theories out there about how we ourselves are the result of aliens. I think the more interesting bits of this episode were about Picard, his mentor and his many voices. Having a mentor like Professor Galen is a very powerful thing and it shows a lot about Picard's character and passion that he was able to walk away from not only being a star but also from a mentor he loved and who loved him. Although he says no to his mentor Professor Galen, he actually ends up doing exactly what the Professor wanted. As the Professor said if he had a starship (and diplomatic papers) he could solve the mystery in a few days which is what Picard does, although instead of diplomatic papers he takes on several enemies and frenemies face to face. Picard excels at being a captain because he follows his instincts despite the rules and again, this has led him to a ground-breaking discovery. In my opinion what he found was far more valuable, in the long run, than a power source or a weapon. I do wonder, though, how the story might have gone if the result was a dead end.

Bits and Pieces

It felt a bit arrogant that the ancients would try to replicate themselves instead of leaving things to develop as they might, but then again humans do try to replicate themselves by having children. However, it's a lot more imperfect than coded DNA.

The Kurlan concept of individuals being a community of individuals is very interesting. They would have no concept of dissociative personality commonly known as split personality.

The scenes with Crusher and Picard seem to indicate that they have a daily routine of tea in the morning and that they check in regularly with each other during the day.

One of my favourite scenes was Nu'Daq taking on Data, especially the head butt.

The cold open was quite creepy and I suspected something malicious.

Professor Galen can remember which questions Picard missed on his final exam. I doubt he missed many of them.

We heard about a lot of different planets. I wonder if they had a system for naming them or just came up with whatever was in their head that day.

The Yridians deal in knowledge but also have destroyers.


Picard: “How can I accept this?”
Galen: “Graciously, Mr. Picard, you could accept it graciously.”

Picard: “I’ve never heard of anyone who didn’t love a good mystery.”
Galen: “The Satarran of Sothis III disdain them, but as a general idea your statement holds.”

Picard: “I had a father but he was like a father who understood me. And he had his own children but they didn’t follow in his footsteps. So, I was like the son who understood him.”

Gul Ocett: “As far as we know it might just be a recipe for biscuits.”

Nu’Daq: “You dishonorable toh’pah.” (I am going to use this one day.)

Nu’Daq: “That’s all? If she were not dead, I would kill her.”


  1. One of my favorite episodes.

    Some related trivia - Salome Jens, who played the Ancient, went on to play the female Founder on DS9. The makeup for both parts was similar, but not exactly the same.

    Also, Norman Lloyd, who played Galen, will turn 104 on November 8.

    And, Linda Thorson, who played Gul Ocett, was the actress who replaced (or attempted to replace) Diana Rigg on The Avengers.

    By the way, I never really liked the title of this episode. I'm not sure what I would have called it, though.

  2. Okay if I'm going to give a shout out I should get the name right! (ie. the deleted comment) Thanks tucsonbarbara for the extra info. I'm not very good at trivia so your bits added to the fun. And I think it is impressive if anyone makes it to 104 let alone someone who was on one of my favourite shows.

  3. The episode is fairly enjoyable and the message is very TNG, but the logic of the storyline just didn't work for me. My first problem came when Galen says that if he had the resources of the Enterprise for a few days he'd be able to finish the job but as it is, it'll take a few months.

    So my response was, why doesn't Picard suggest that after the conference he can take the Enterprise? Sure, he'd have to clear it with Starfleet, but supporting research falls within their purview, so it seems likely to me that they'd be amenable. For that matter, if he really wanted, I'm guessing they'd be okay with him taking a personal leave of absence to pursue it.

    Either one of those options seems more reasonable to me than what he actually does. The "oh the delegates at the conference can wait a few days" sounds extremely probable to me. Conferences are months in the planning. By the time the Enterprise arrives, the delegates will all have gone back to their home planets. So he's really cancelling the conference, and yes, I realize it's now a murder investigation in part...but that's not generally in the purview of the Enterprise.

    The other problem is that we're expect to believe that Galen has been so secretive about his research that he's kept it hidden from all his colleagues and students, but out of the blue contacts a student from 20 years ago. And apparently, while there's nobody back at his Institute that Picard can contact for help on the research, the Romulans and Cardassians somehow know about it, or somehow have just all reached a point in parallel research (a decades long program for Galen) that led them to the same system at almost exactly the same time. It just doesn't make any sense.

  4. Okay I have to be a killjoy. Overall I did like this episode quite a lot. It was a wonder to watch Picard talk to his mentor, and to see the power Galen had in Picard's life. When I come across something I don't know a lot about, I feel that wonder. It is what helps life stay intesresting.

    Now onto the bad. The Klingons. The Klingon who challenged Data in particular. I hate how they are most of the time presented as being violent, short sighted. It gets old. I would love to see other classes of Klingon beside warrior. Klingons have a love of music, show an opera singing Klingon. Who grows their food? Show that. I do admit to laughing at the arm wresting fight. It was peak Data. Oh and when Nu'daq said he would kill a woman long dead, took me clean out.

  5. I do remember that song, and it feels too real and due to that, quite depressing in what happens, and the lesson still hasn't been learned.

    I recall this one partly for my cynicism at the time, with so many aliens being humanoids with various things stuck to their heads, and this logical explanation as to why. The Romulan commander being the most rational of the commanders (barring Picard of course), was a nice touch too.

    I actually really like the idea of these powerful aliens seeding the galaxy with their own genetic code and how many sapient races it spawned across the galaxy. One has to presume that some failed for various reasons, so the number of races they have spawned leads to me to believe they spread their DNA EVERYWHERE!

    1. Also, I like this Chase better than classic Who's 'The Chase', although it was fun for the most part, it was a bit too silly at times.


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