(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise investigates two survivors living on the only undamaged patch of land on a devastated planet.
The USS Enterprise-D is en route to a Federation colony, Rana IV, which sent a distress signal indicating they were under attack. When the Enterprise crew arrives, they find the entire planet completely devastated, save for a few acres of land and a house with two possibly human life forms.
Commander Riker heads a landing party to the surface. After a quick investigation of the house from the outside, revealing two people inside the house and a non-functional weapon, Riker moves to the front door for a knock. La Forge tries to warn Riker about something hidden in his path, but he can't react in time and he gets pulled up in the air by a booby trap. An old man comes out of the house and points a weapon at Riker.
Riker explains to the man that they are a rescue party and mean no harm. An old woman rushes out of the house and convinces the man of their good intentions. The couple introduce themselves as Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge, botanists originally from Earth who moved to Rana IV five years ago. They did not know they were the only ones left on the planet, but they haven't heard from the colonists. They did observe a large ship in orbit, taking the world apart, but did not visit the surface, so they don't know who they are.
Riker asks if the landing party can investigate the house to see why they have been spared. Nothing suspicious comes up in the search. Data becomes fascinated by a music box on Rishon's shelf. At that moment, Troi, still on the Enterprise, begins hearing music in her mind, replayed in an endless loop.
The two survivors refuse to be beamed up to the Enterprise when Riker offers them safety aboard. They insist, saying they have each other.
In the Enterprise observation lounge, the senior staff wonder if the two survivors provided anything to the assailants. Troi, however, hears the music during the conversation and can't concentrate, excusing herself. Picard goes to Troi to check on her, learning of the music she is hearing.
Despite Worf's thorough search of the system for the invading force with nothing found, the Enterprise soon is attacked by a large warship, apparently the one responsible for the devastation. Data reveals that there is no record of the ship in the vehicle identification index. The ship flees after the Enterprise fires a warning phaser shot. After being unable to catch up with the unidentified ship, Captain Picard returns to the Delta Rana system.
Upon returning, he visits the two survivors with Worf, offers them a portable replicator, and stays for tea to talk to them. Rishon relates their history, and also the horrors of the colonists' fate. Picard says he can't leave until he finds out what happened, and describes his encounter with the unknown ship to the two survivors who, again, claim not to know why they were spared. Picard says that there must be something different about them from the other colonists, and insists on taking the survivors back to the ship. They again refuse, and Picard and Worf return to the Enterprise.
Meanwhile, Troi is still haunted by the music, which is becoming louder, soon rendering her hysterical and incapable of doing much of anything beyond tearfully begging Dr. Crusher to make it stop. She suggests moving her to sickbay, which Troi refuses. Dr. Crusher offers to induce delta wave sleep, but Troi is convinced the music is real, and that not even deep sleep will spare her from it.
The Enterprise goes into red alert as the unidentified ship returns with more firepower. Picard attempts to open a hailing frequency before being attacked again. This time, its attacks are much stronger. The Enterprise throws everything they've got at it, but the alien ship's defenses dissipate the Enterprise's attack harmlessly. After taking severe damage and incurring casualties, the Enterprise escapes the ship's firing range. Picard now guesses the survivors are in no danger.
In Troi's quarters, Picard theorizes to Dr. Crusher that Troi's music stems from Rishon and Kevin's unwillingness to leave, preventing her from seeing the truth of the matter. Back in the Delta Rana star system, Picard believes that the unknown ship is no longer in the vicinity, and that it somehow protects Kevin and Rishon, directly or indirectly. He then returns to the planet to talk to the survivors. The survivors appear to be celebrating and are startled by Picard and Worf's sudden appearance.
Kevin asks Picard and Worf to leave him and his wife alone. Picard tells him that after he leaves, he will never set foot in their home on Rana again, for any reason. He explains to the survivors his recent encounters with the ship, however Kevin refuses to believe him, calling his stories methods of intimidation. Right before leaving, Picard sternly explains that– so long as the two are alive– the Enterprise will remain in orbit around Rana IV.
Upon beaming back to the Enterprise, the unidentified ship reappears, much to the evident dismay of Worf. Commander Riker and Worf begin preparations for a fight, but Picard calmly informs them that the Enterprise will take no action. The alien ship veers away from the Enterprise, targeting the house of Kevin and Rishon. The house and plot of land are utterly obliterated. The ship itself is then blown apart by a single photon torpedo from the Enterprise.
Picard orders the Enterprise to stay, and to look out for anything and everything.
The crew is astounded by this turn of events, and even more puzzled as to why they remain in orbit over a dead planet. After approximately three hours, La Forge notices a change in sensor readings and informs the captain that the house and land are back. Picard orders Kevin and Rishon to be beamed directly to the bridge. Picard tells a surprised Rishon that he wants to end the suffering of one of his crew members and starts confronting Kevin over what really happened. Picard tells Kevin he realized that the house and the ship are his creations. When Picard last left the house he told them the Enterprise won't leave orbit as long as they would be alive, so Kevin went to satisfy that condition. Speaking to Rishon, Picard notes that all of his senses tell him that she exists, but he has realized that she is not real. Rishon vanishes, leaving only a sad Kevin. Picard tells him he knows he's not Human. Kevin then teleports to the turbolift; Picard orders the crew to keep clear and to track him, as he believes Kevin to be a creature of conscience that has some unfinished business before returning to the surface.
Dr. Crusher visits Troi's quarters, startled to find Kevin at her bedside: he has removed the music from her mind. The music was his creation; her empathic powers were also threatening to reveal the truth. Picard enters and demands the truth about what happened to the planet. Kevin makes a startling confession: he is in fact a Douwd, an immortal being with vast powers. He met his Human wife many years before, and decided to live as a Human with her. The alien raiders were the Husnock, who he knew as being of "hideous intelligence, knowing only aggression and destruction". As a devout pacifist, he was ethically limited to avoid using his vast abilities to harm them. He used his powers to try to trick them instead, which only made them more angry and cruel. Rishon joined the colonists in fighting what Kevin knew to be a hopeless battle against the raiders, and was subsequently killed. Viewing her broken body, he suffered a moment of weakness. Out of regretting his inaction, in a moment of insane rage at the raiders, and grief at his tragic loss, he instantly annihilated the entire Husnock race – all fifty billion – with a single thought.
Stunned at his "sin", Kevin recreated Rishon and their house, and sentenced himself to exile on the ruined Rana IV. He used the fake warship as a ruse to try and keep the Enterprise from finding out the truth. Picard confesses that the Federation (much less Humanity) is not qualified to judge him, or the issue, and allows him to stay on Rana IV.
With Troi returned to full health, the Enterprise departs for Starbase 133. Picard notes in his log that the Douwd is a being of extraordinary power, and isn't sure if he should be condemned for his crime, or praised for his conscience. What he does know, however, is that "Kevin" should be left alone.
"Sir. may I say your attempt to hold the away team at bay, with a non-functioning weapon, was an act of unmitigated gall."
"Didn't fool you, huh?"
"I admire gall."
- - Worf and Kevin Uxbridge
"An entire planet obliterated&hellip except for a few acres of trees and grass and one building?"
- - Riker
"Number One, I think you had better see who's at home."
- - Picard, after sensors discover a solitary home found in the middle of devastation on Rana IV
(Worf drinks his tea and makes a face).
"Well, what do you think, Mr. Worf?"
"Good tea. (looks around) Nice house."
- - Rishon Uxbridge and Worf
"If they are the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust, they can't be in very good shape."
- - Beverly Crusher
"I can induce delta sleep. Lock out even your deepest dreams."
"It's not a dream. It's real."
- - Beverly Crusher and Deanna Troi, regarding the music stuck in Troi's head
"Your colony was attacked by a warship-"
"Belonging to the Husnock. A species of hideous intelligence. Knew only aggression … destruction."
- - Picard and Kevin Uxbridge
"I saw her broken body … I went insane. My hatred exploded. And in an instant of grief … I destroyed the Husnock.'"
- - Kevin Uxbridge
"No, no, no, no, no. You don't understand the scope of my crime. I didn't kill just one Husnock, or a hundred, or a thousand….I killed them all. All Husnock… everywhere."
- - Kevin Uxbridge
"Are eleven thousand people worth fifty billion? Is the love of a woman worth the destruction of an entire species? This is the sin I tried to keep you from learning– why I wanted to chase you from Rana."
- - Kevin Uxbridge
"We are not qualified to be your judges. We have no law to fit your crime. You're free to return to the planet, and to make Rishon live again."
- - Picard
"We leave behind a being of extraordinary power … and conscience. I am not certain if he should be praised, or condemned, only, that he should be left alone."
- First draft script (titled "The Veiled Planet"): 7 July 1989 
- Revised final draft script: 31 July 1989 
- Storyboards by Dan Curry: 25 August 1989
- More storyboards by Dan Curry: 2 September 1989
- Premiere airdate: 9 October 1989
- First UK airdate: 23 October 1991
- The outdoor scenes in this episode were shot at a beach house in Malibu, California. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 103)
- Director Les Landau recalled, "We were on location for a day. It made not only the audience but the crew happy. When you're tied to shooting indoors every day, it gets monotonous. We were lucky enough to go out to Malibu and we had a beautiful summer day. I think it was unique story for Star Trek and one of my best works to date." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 187)
- Dan Koko performed the stunt where Riker is caught by the snare set by Kevin Uxbridge. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 122)
Cast and characters
- John Anderson (Kevin Uxbridge) had lost his own wife only a year before appearing in "The Survivors". Due to this, he almost turned down the role. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 103)
Sets, props, and costumes
- The large round window in the Uxbridges' living room previously appeared on the surface of Ramatis III in "Loud As A Whisper".
- This is the first episode that Deanna Troi wears her new turquoise uniform, which she would continue to wear on a rotating basis with her maroon and dark gray unitard until the season six episode "Chain of Command, Part I".
- Both guest stars play characters that are much older than they were in real life at the time of shooting. 67-year-old John Anderson played 85-year-old Kevin Uxbridge and 55-year-old Anne Haney played 82-year-old Rishon Uxbridge. This seems to indicate, as with the 137-year-old Admiral Leonard McCoy in "Encounter at Farpoint", that the average Human lifespan is much longer in the 24th century. (Haney would subsequently play an even older character, the hundred-year old Els Renora in the episode "Dax".)
- Riker says in learning of the only surviving area of the devastation on Rana IV, "a few acres of trees and grass," indicating an anachronistic familiarity with the U.S./Imperial system of measurement, rather than the 24th century standard metric system which would use hectares.
- A mission report of this episode by Patrick Daniel O'Neill was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 10, pp. 44-47.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 26, 21 October 1991
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 3.1, 28 February 2000
- As part of the TNG Season 3 DVD collection
- As part of the TNG Season 3 Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Mitchell Danton as command division officer
- Michele Gerren as science division officer
- Richard Sarstedt as command division officer
- Natalie Wood as Bailey
- Unknown performers as
- James G. Becker – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dexter Clay – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Wil Wheaton
2284; 2313; 2361; 2366; 2371; "a little"; "a lot": abetted; acceleration curve; accusation; acre; afternoon tea; age; aggression; "all over again"; "all right"; "alright": Andorian renegades; Andorian renegade ship; Andorians; answer; antiprotons; aquarium; aquatic city; area; armament; artificial structure; assailant; assumption; "at bay"; "at first"; "at least"; "at sea": Atlantic Ocean; attack; away team; battle; bed; belief; billion; body; body of water; botanist; building; "by all means"; calculation; call sign; casualty; city; clean water; clothing; coincidence; collaborator; colonist; Colony Operations; colony register; color; coma; composer; confrontation; conscience; creature; crime; cup; damage; dance; danger; day; death; degree; Delta Rana star system (aka Rana system/Ranian system); Delta Rana warship; delta sleep; design; destruction; disguise; distress call; door; Douwd; dream; dwelling; Earth; east; emission; emotion; enemy; energy; equatorial orbit; error; evasive action; existence; expert; eye; face; fact; "fall in love": family; fatality; fatigue; fear; Federation; feeling; fire; firepower; fish; food; "for the record"; "for what it's worth"; friend; front room; frontal assault; fusion reactor; garden; generation; gift; gigawatt; "go ahead"; "go back"; "good afternoon"; "good luck"; grass; grief; ground; guilt; hailing frequency; harm; hatred; health; hearing; high orbit; "hold it"; home; hope; hostage; hour; house; hull; Human; hundred: husband; Husnock; Husnock warship; identification; identity; illusion; imagination; immortality; "in the event"; "in the meantime": individual; information; inhabitant; insanity; intelligence; intention; intimidation; judge; kilometer; knocking; Lagrange point; land; law; lifeform; longitude; love; low orbit; magnification; main viewer; marriage; mass; matter; medical assistance; medical tricorder; megawatt; Milky Way Galaxy; mind; mission; missus; mister; moon; morning; Much Ado About Nothing; music; music box; "my God"; name; neocortex; New Martim Vaz; north; nuclear holocaust; number; number one; "on board"; "on schedule"; "on the way"; "over and over again"; order; pain; particle energy; patience; perfume; permission; person; phaser; philosophy; photon torpedo; "piece by piece"; pitched battle; place; plant; plot (unit); positrons; pride; private property; physical examination; power; quarters; raise our voices"; Rana IV; Rana IV colony; Rana IV moons; range; reason; red alert; renegade; repair crew; replicator; reputation; rescue; rescue party; resident; result; return course; right; Rishon Uxbridge's family; sanctuary; search; second; selfishness; sensitivity; sensor; shield; ship; shoe; sin; size; sky; sleep; song; south; specialist; speed; starbase; Starbase 133; Starfleet admiral; story; stress; student; suffering; suit; surface; surprise; surveillance; survival; survivor; symbiotic plant life; symptom; Tao-classical music; target; tea; telepathy; "thank you"; theory; thing; thinking; thought; thousand; thunder; "time and time again": touch; transmission; transporter room; tree; trespassing; Triangulum system; trick; truth; turbolift; Uxbridge, Rishon; Uxbridge house; vehicle classification index; vegetation; velocity; "very well": voice; waltz; war; "warning shot"; water table; weapon; weapon system; weapon systems control; wife; year
- "The Survivors" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Survivors" at Wikipedia
- The Survivors at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Survivors" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
| Previous episode:|
"The Ensigns of Command"
| Star Trek: The Next Generation|
| Next episode:|
"Who Watches The Watchers"