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After rescuing three ancient Humans from cryogenic stasis, the Enterprise-D is ordered to the Romulan Neutral Zone on an important mission. (Season finale)



SS Birdseye

A far-traveled space module

"First Officer's Log, Stardate 41986.0. We are awaiting the return of Captain Picard who was summoned to Starbase 718. Meanwhile, our sensors have been monitoring an ancient capsule floating in our vicinity, which appears to be from Earth."

Captain Jean-Luc Picard is attending an emergency conference on Starbase 718. While the USS Enterprise-D waits for his shuttle to return, it is observing an ancient space capsule, apparently of Earth origin. Data requests permission from Commander Riker to board the vehicle while waiting for the captain's return. Riker grants him permission but asks that Worf accompany him and he wants them both back aboard the Enterprise before Picard returns.

Data and Worf beam aboard the capsule and examine the still-functioning old-style equipment. Worf is momentarily baffled by a door that must be manually opened by Data using his android strength. Upon entering the vessel's main chamber, the two discover a number of refrigeration pods. The seals on two of them have been broken, and the environment corrupted; these two contain decomposed Human remains. Three pods contain frozen Humans.

Act One[]

Ralph Offenhouse, frozen

Worf makes a discovery

When Data is ordered back to the Enterprise in preparation for Picard's return, he requests that the frozen people also be brought aboard, as the capsule is seriously damaged, and he believes they should not be left there.

Upon Picard's return, he immediately orders helmsman Geordi La Forge to lay in a course that will take them into the Neutral Zone. He explains to the senior officers in the observation lounge that several outposts have been destroyed, and the Enterprise is being sent as the only Federation vessel to investigate, as it is the flagship. It is assumed that Romulans are behind the problems, but since the Federation has had no contact with them in a number of years since the Tomed Incident, the situation is at present very uncertain. Riker and Worf both advise the captain to be prepared to fight, but he is determined to wait and see what the situation truly is before deciding on a aggressive course of action. Picard dismisses the senior officers and tells them to regroup in six hours and to stay sharp.

Picard confronts Data in sickbay

"But Data, they were already dead. I mean, what more could have happened to them?"

Meanwhile, Doctor Crusher has thawed and revived the frozen Humans. She informs the captain, who is surprised that he was not previously aware of the situation. Dr. Crusher explains that it was vital that she thawed them because the cryogenic chambers these individuals were frozen in were falling apart. Dr. Crusher saw to their medical needs and explained to Picard that "Each one needed minor medical attention. Minor, now but then, their conditions were obviously terminal. One had a heart problem and another, an advanced case of emphysema with extensive liver damage." She also notes that each one had been frozen after they died, which is unusual. All three had been cryogenically frozen in the late 20th century on Earth. Dr. Crusher awakens the woman, who promptly faints at the sight of Worf. "Welcome to the 24th century," Picard remarks to her while she lies unconscious.

Act Two[]

Riker briefs defrosted Humans

"What year is it?"

Data states that he was able to retrieve their personal information from the module's computer and revealed that the Humans are Clare Raymond (35, homemaker), Ralph Offenhouse (55, financier), and L.Q. "Sonny" Clemonds (age unknown, musician). Dr. Crusher explains that Clare died of an embolism, Ralph died of advanced cardiomyopathy, and Sonny died from massive chemical abuse. She notes that these conditions "were inoperable at the time but easily correctable now." As the ship continues toward the Neutral Zone, Riker explains to them what has happened, and they attempt to make sense of their new situation. Offenhouse, in particular, is shocked to learn from Data that the current year is 2364. Offenhouse is very concerned about his financial investments and repeatedly demands to speak to the captain so he can get in touch with his attorney or bank on Earth.

Act Three[]

In the ready room, Riker, Worf, Data and La Forge are all in belief that, if the Romulans are inviting confrontation to see how far the Federation has advanced, the Enterprise should be ready for combat. Picard does not like the option, but, suddenly, Offenhouse calls Picard, obviously having observed Riker use the room's comm panel. This forces Picard to visit the survivors, and Offenhouse seizes the opportunity for a face-to-face talk with the captain, demanding contact with his attorney. But the captain tells him that people are not consumed with owning possessions in this century and his attorney has been dead for four hundred years. Offenhouse believes his lawyer's firm is still operating and that he has a lot of money coming to him. He stands firm, stating that Humanity must still be as it once was: power-hungry and controlling. Picard retorts that Humans no longer seek such material things; they have grown out of their infancy.

Clare becomes very upset thinking about her sons and family, so Picard has Counselor Deanna Troi come down to talk to her. She shows her the computer library's recorded family tree for her. It turns out there are ten generations there.

Sonny goes to Dr. Crusher to find something to relax him, though he has no medical need. He is having trouble waiting around without "something to do." He asks if Data can come visit him, and he suggests throwing a party when he arrives in his quarters. Data says he will suggest it to the captain. However, the Enterprise now reaches the Neutral Zone and Data leaves, but not before confirming the Romulans will not be coming to the party.

Act Four[]

"Captain's Log, supplemental. We have arrived at the edge of the Neutral Zone where we will now have an opportunity to learn firsthand what happened to our distant outposts."
Offenhouse on bridge

"Get that man off the bridge!"

When the Enterprise arrives at the edge of the Neutral Zone, they find that a number of outposts have been completely obliterated. There is no evidence of conventional weapons or attack, but Riker and Worf find this as clear evidence. Picard orders the ship to yellow alert, though Riker and Worf urge him to go to red alert and battle stations.

Meanwhile, Offenhouse notices the tension level on the ship has considerably jumped up and decides that he must take matters into his own hands and heads out to look for the captain. He eventually finds a turbolift and reaches the bridge after finding out from the computer that Picard is located on the main bridge. He arrives while the bridge crew wait for a Romulan D'deridex-class vessel to appear. Picard has decided not to fire as it de-cloaks, but it remains cloaked. Riker sees Offenhouse and immediately orders him off the bridge, but just then the Romulan ship de-cloaks.

Act Five[]

D'deridex class faces Galaxy class

The Romulans' new ship

The Romulan ship responds to the Enterprise hailing them, and the Romulans reveal that their outposts have been destroyed in the same manner as the Federation's. Picard asks who is responsible, and the Romulans fall silent. Offenhouse interjects, "They haven't got a clue! They're hoping you know, but they're too arrogant to ask." Picard proposes an agreement of cooperation as both sides investigate the disappearance of the outposts, and the Romulans agree. Before heading back toward their own territory, Tebok states to Picard that Federation "expansion" will not be tolerated anymore, that the Romulans "are back." Offenhouse is finally removed from the bridge.

Deanna Troi helps Clare locate one of her living descendants living outside of Indianapolis, and Picard makes arrangements for the three Humans to be returned to Earth on the USS Charleston at the nearest starbase. At warp 8, the Enterprise can make it there in five days. Riker says that it is a shame they can't take the three with them; it's like a visit from the past. Picard tells him that would be a step backward, when they still have so much to do and to learn. The Enterprise-D continues onward.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"Welcome to the 24th century."

- Picard, after the newly-revived Clare Raymond fainted at the sight of Worf

"[Sonny died from]… massive chemical abuse. Unbelievable."
"Sounds like someone who hated life, yet he had himself frozen presumably so he could go through it all again."
"Too afraid to live, too scared to die."

- Beverly Crusher and Captain Picard

"What is that?"
"An android."
"You mean a robot?"
"Actually, there is a distinct difference between an android and a robot…"
"And… and him, the one I saw before with the… head?"
"She means Worf…"
"He's a Klingon – that takes a little more… explanation."

- Clemonds, Riker, Data, Raymond, and Dr. Crusher

"I wanna go to the, um… the, um… Where would a captain be?"
"Captain Picard is on the main bridge."
"Well, then, take me to the main bridge!"

- Offenhouse and the computer

"The Yankee's right. Let's get the big boy in here!"

- Clemonds, when Offenhouse states he wishes to speak to Picard

"They are the most unusual Humans I have ever encountered."
"Well, from what I've seen of our guests, there's not much to redeem them. Makes one wonder how our species survived the 21st century."

- Data and Riker, discussing Clemonds, Raymond, and Offenhouse

"This is the worst-run ship I have ever been on. You should take lessons from the QE2. Now that's an efficient operation."

- Ralph Offenhouse, to Picard

"A lot has changed in the past three hundred years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We've grown out of our infancy."

- Picard to Ralph Offenhouse

"Captain. I didn't mean to come on so strong. It's just that I've built my whole life on knowing what's going on. For the first time I feel completely out of touch. It's making me crazy. You can understand that?"
"It's the first thing you've said I do understand. I'll see what I can do. And, please, stay off the comm panels."

- Ralph Offenhouse and Picard

"Captain, these are Romulans. They are without honor. They killed my parents in an attack on Khitomer when they were supposed to be our allies. They believe that Humans and Klingons are a waste of skin!"

- Worf

"Silence your dog, Captain!"

- Tebok, insulting Worf

"They haven't got a clue! They're hoping you know, but they're too arrogant to ask!"

- Offenhouse, deducing that the Romulans don't know who attacked their outposts

"Your presence is not wanted. Do you understand my meaning, Captain? We… are back."

- Tebok

"I think our lives just got a lot more complicated."

- Picard, regarding the sudden return of the Romulans

"The challenge, Mr. Offenhouse, is to improve yourself… to enrich yourself. Enjoy it."

- Picard, describing life on 24th century Earth

"Come back later, you and me can find us a couple of low-mileage pit woofies and help them build a memory."

- Sonny, to Data

"Our mission is to go forward, and it's just begun. […] There's still much to do. There's still so much to learn."

- Picard, aptly ending the first season and promising that the adventures will continue…

Background information[]

Production history[]

Story and script[]

Cast and characters[]

Sets and props[]

Raymond family tree (Dr Who)

Doctor Who actors displayed on a computer terminal

Constitution II class model variant, 2364

Constitution II class model variant




  • This episode shares some similarities with TOS: "Space Seed", in which the USS Enterprise encountering an ancient, derelict spacecraft, the SS Botany Bay, with cryogenically frozen Humans from 1990s Earth, and then reviving the occupants whose chambers had not failed.
  • This episode marks the first time a specific year is mentioned as the setting of a Star Trek series, when Data cites the current year as 2364. This year served as the fixed reference around which subsequent timeline data were placed. Prior to this, Star Trek: The Next Generation had generally been placed in the early 24th century, per Data's line in "Encounter at Farpoint", where he established that he was from the "class of '78."
D'deridex class

Introduction of the D'deridex-class

  • This episode also marks the first appearance of the D'deridex-class warbird, which is seen numerous times throughout the series as well as in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.
  • Like the reference to the USSR earlier this season in "The Naked Now", this episode contained a historical prediction which would be proved inaccurate within a few years. While the episode was being made, Sonny Clemonds' belief that his beloved Atlanta Braves are "probably still finding ways to lose" was an accurate reflection of their performance, because, by the time in the mid-1990s when the space module would have been launched, the Braves were in the middle of a fifteen-year run in which they were consistently one of the premier teams in Major League Baseball. They even won the World Series in 1995 (defeating the Cleveland Indians, who had been similarly misrepresented in "The Big Goodbye", where the Dixon Hill vendor thought Data was "nuts" when he mentioned that the Indians would stop Joe DiMaggio's hitting streak – they were as bad as the Braves in 1988, but had been one of the better teams in the American League at the time the holonovel takes place). However, while the Braves won fourteen straight division titles between 1991 and 2005, 1995 was their only championship in that span, "finding ways to lose" in the other years.
  • This is the first episode in which the Borg are mentioned, although at this point, they are only an unknown (and therefore unnamed) entity which has been destroying starbases.
  • After this episode, the attacks the Romulans complain about in "The Neutral Zone" dangled as an unresolved plot device for quite some time. In VOY: "Unity", Commander Chakotay of the starship USS Voyager encounters liberated Borg drones in the Delta Quadrant nearly a decade later. Among them was a former drone named Orum who identified himself as Romulan. Several episodes of Star Trek: Picard, most notably "The End is the Beginning", also feature Romulan ex-Borg drones on board the Artifact.
  • Worf mentions the Romulans having killed his parents during the attack on Khitomer "when they were supposed to be our allies." However, "Reunion" later established that Klingons and Romulans had been blood enemies for decades before that.
  • This is the last episode until Star Trek: Insurrection in which Will Riker is clean-shaven and the last episode where Geordi La Forge and Worf wear the command division uniforms, which were first seen in the premiere episode, "Encounter at Farpoint". For Season 2 onward, Riker sports a beard and La Forge and Worf switch to the operations division uniforms, although in DS9: "The Way of the Warrior", Worf switches back to the command division uniform when he joins the crew of Deep Space 9. La Forge is seen in a command division uniform twice more, in TNG Season 4 as his younger self in "Identity Crisis" and in 2390 while commanding the USS Challenger in an alternate future in the Voyager Season 5 episode "Timeless".
  • This is also the last episode until Season 3 to feature Dr. Beverly Crusher, as she leaves the Enterprise to become the head of Starfleet Medical throughout Season 2. For the entirety of that season, she is replaced (both in the ensemble of main characters and as the ship's chief medical officer) by Dr. Katherine Pulaski.
  • When Clare Raymond awakes (and promptly faints) in sickbay, Captain Picard says, "Welcome to the 24th century." He later says the same thing to the 22nd century time traveler Berlinghoff Rasmussen after he became trapped in 2368 in "A Matter Of Time". Worf also says it to Captain K'Temoc of the IKS T'Ong in "The Emissary".
  • In this episode Dr. Crusher says "Each one needed minor medical attention. Minor now, but then, their conditions were obviously terminal. One had a heart problem, another an advanced case of emphysema with extensive liver damage," and that these diseases "were inoperable at the time but easily correctable now." She is clearly stating that Human medicine has rendered these medical problems obsolete. Similar references were also made in "The Battle" and "Datalore".


  • James L. Conway remembered that this episode was considered one of the weaker first season shows, speculating, "If there hadn't been a strike, I think it would have been a better script." (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 19)
  • Despite the intense glee fans felt over the return of the Romulans, there was concurrently a sense of unease at the time, over some uncharacteristic statements uttered by the principal characters, which they felt flew in the face of the spirit of Star Trek. These included,
Scene 2: "It's just a piece of space debris. If we weren't sitting here waiting for the captain, we wouldn't have even noticed it. Leave it be. Let nature take its course."
- Riker, contradicting the exploratory nature of the mission, especially from a period of time in Earth's history which had been established as somewhat mired.
Scene 23: "But, Data – they were already dead. I mean… what more could have happened to them? […] They are alive now, so we have to treat them as living Human beings."
- Picard, contradicting himself, as apparently they were not dead, and expressing a willingness to have left them, without even trying to revive them, as well as showcasing bigotry in the closing remark.
While writer Maurice Hurley could have been faulted for this, this was only partly true, due to the fact that he was only recently hired, not having any experience whatsoever with science fiction in general nor Star Trek in particular. As indicated by James L. Conway's comments, most responsible was the writer's strike that intervened in the writing of the episode. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 67)

Video and DVD releases[]

Natasha Yar's face is obscured by shadow on the video sleeve, reflecting her death in the previous volume.

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]


Uncredited co-stars[]



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Library computer references[]

External links[]

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