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Starship Mine (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"Starship Mine"
TNG, Episode 6x18
Production number: 40276-244
First aired: 29 March 1993
143rd of 176 produced in TNG
143rd of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
261st of 728 released in all
Remmler array
Written By
Morgan Gendel

Directed By
Cliff Bole
46682.4 (2369)
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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.

Summary

Teaser

Baryon sweep

The baryon sweep passes through the warp nacelles

"Captain's log, stardate 46682.4. The Enterprise is docked at the Remmler Array where it will undergo a routine procedure to eliminate accumulated baryon particles. In preparation for the sweep, we are evacuating the ship."

The USS Enterprise-D is at the Remmler Array where they are scheduled for a baryon sweep, a maintenance cycle that removes large amounts of radiation that builds up in the hulls of starships that travel for extended periods at warp. The sweep is lethal to organic matter, so there is a flurry of activity as the entire ship is being evacuated prior to the sweep, and various last-minute problems (such as slow progress on Deck 7 and a lack of storage for living tissue samples) are being quickly addressed. Captain Picard is less than enthusiastic over the visit, as he has to meet with Commander Calvin "Hutch" Hutchinson, a Starfleet officer known for his gift of gab. Coincidentally, Data is studying the concept of "small talk," and during their turbolift ride to the bridge, Data tries to break the silence this way; Picard recommends that Data study Hutchinson so as to learn from an expert. Arriving on the bridge, Picard is met by both La Forge and Worf, speaking simultaneously. Worf reports that Picard must give his authorization to disable command functions during the sweep. Then La Forge informs Picard that he needs to install additional field diverters to protect the primary systems on board. He needs the equipment because the amount of radiation in the hull is so high (due to the Enterprise's high amount of warp use–double the average) that the baryon sweep may be more intense than normal. Picard agrees and instructs the ship's computer to shut down the primary systems in 30 minutes, allowing enough time for the diverters to be installed first. Worf and La Forge then attempt to be excused from Hutchinson's reception. Worf is excused because he asked first. The entire ship is evacuated, and Picard takes one last look around the bridge. He then sees a crew walking onto the bridge to install some equipment. Assuming that was the crew that La Forge ordered, he thinks nothing of it and transports to Hutchinson's reception at the Arkaria Base.

Act One

True to form, Hutchinson greets each member of the crew and talks about horn fowl mating, weather conditions, and horseback riding. Data, following Picard's advice, is studying Hutchinson: mimicking his hand movements and facial expressions. Picard hears about the horseback riding and sees a way to escape from the meeting--the damp weather and isolation on the trails sounds perfect--and returns to the Enterprise to get his saddle. After retrieving his saddle, Picard walks to the transporter room, but stops when he notices an open ODN junction with a severed ODN line. He encounters Devor, who says he is performing last minute maintenance to the systems before the baryon sweep begins. Picard agrees to let Devor get back to his work and starts to walk away. Devor attacks Picard from behind with a laser welder, but Picard disables him with a Vulcan nerve pinch. Picard runs to the transporter room with 30 seconds to go before the main computer shuts down the primary systems. Picard then sees several other people on the ship, but successfully hides from them in order to escape. Meanwhile, the baryon sweep has begun, starting at the warp nacelles. He enters the transporter room and starts the transporter, but he is too late and it immediately shuts down once he stands on the transporter pad. He is trapped on the Enterprise.

Act Two

After a little bit of maneuvering, Commander Riker introduces Hutchinson to Data, who has been practicing Hutchinson's technique and is now ready to engage Hutchinson himself in conversation.

Picard drags Devor to sickbay and asks him what he is doing on his ship, threatening him with the laser welder. Devor refuses to help him; after all, Picard won't kill him because he is Starfleet. Picard instead knocks him out with a hypospray. Picard takes Devor's communicator to listen in on the intruders' communications. Picard walks through the Enterprise where he is captured and taken to Main Engineering.

At Arkaria Base, the other crew watch with fascination as Hutchinson and Data continue to talk: Hutchinson is a pro, but Data is a fast learner with inhuman patience. Just then, La Forge notices unusual energy readings underneath a reception table and asks a member of the staff if he can take a look at it. The staff tells him there's nothing to worry about. Riker is wondering why the staff is trying to move La Forge from the table. Orton, the station administrator, then pulls out a disruptor and shoots La Forge. An accomplice uses another disruptor to shoot Hutchinson. The base has been overtaken in a surprise attack.

Act Three

On the Enterprise, Picard meets Kelsey and her crew, who are attempting to steal trilithium resin from the Enterprise's warp core. Picard tells her that he is Mot, the ship's barber and that he got lost on the ship trying to collect his saddle. Picard is held under guard but eyes the field diverter with interest.

Hutchinson was killed by the surprise attack in Arkaria Base, and La Forge is seriously injured. The rest are being held hostage but are trying to assess the situation with help from Deanna Troi's empathic abilities. The assailants have made no demands or claims, which indicates a strategic rather than psychological motive, and their anxiety indicates they're off schedule (probably because La Forge blew their cover). They're improvising, so if they plan well, they could seize the initiative. Data recommends modifying La Forge's VISOR to produce a hypersonic pulse, knocking out everyone in the room near-instantly except himself. Riker agrees but cautions to proceed covertly.

Kelsey and company still don't know that Picard has knocked out Devor and taken his laser welder. He uses this to make a move. Keeping the tool behind his back, he maneuvers it into an inlet and fires into it. This produces an overheat and activates the emergency coolant systems. Picard then uses the distraction to make an escape into the Jefferies tubes. Before he leaves, though, he fires on and shorts out Kelsey's field diverter: rendering Engineering unsafe from the sweep. Satler follows him. Through the tubes, Picard is attempting to escape but finds the baryon sweep behind the door in front of him.

Act Four

Satler follows down the same corridor but only finds a closed door and Picard's jacket. By the time he realizes it's covering a hole in the floor that Picard had cut to escape, the baryon sweep passes the closed door. Satler is heard to scream as the baryon sweep consumes him; Picard pauses briefly at this, a look of regret on his face that the man's death was so painful. Picard himself prepares to make a stand, taking a crossbow from Worf's quarters. The communicator then relays Kelsey's plans. With Engineering no longer safe, they improvise a device to move the trilithium resin to Ten Forward, the last place to be scanned by the baryon sweep. Picard warns her not to move such an unstable substance, but she refuses, saying that if he hadn't disabled her field diverter, she wouldn't have to improvise. She also knows Picard is a Starfleet officer since he'd left his combadge behind. Picard responds by making it difficult to travel to Ten Forward: cutting the rungs in the Jefferies tubes and forcing Kelsey into a longer, more random, alternative route. She and Picard continue to verbally fence through the communicator, trying to intimidate each other.

Doctor Beverly Crusher uses a request for water to relay to Troi that the hypersonic pulse is almost ready, but a bright light that will appear from the VISOR when she finishes the configuration; she needs a distraction. Commander Riker creates a diversion by starting a fistfight with Orton. Riker is knocked out, but it works. Crusher finishes the modification without further incident.

Pomet is searching for Picard when he's struck in the leg by a crossbow bolt. He quickly passes out. The substance that had been applied to the tip turns out to be a tranquilizer which will keep him unconscious for a while. But as Picard attempts to extract the bolt, Kiros appears, laser welder drawn at him.

Act Five

Word of "Mot's" capture is relayed to Kelsey as Kiros leads Picard away. Meanwhile, Kelsey and Neil are making their way through the Jefferies tubes. But when Neil passes the trilithium to Kelsey and explains how to unload it, she promptly points her welder at him. When she finally emerged in Deck 10 and rejoins Kiros, Kelsey claims Neil got caught by the baryon sweep.

Back on the planet, a signal indicating an incoming ship is approaching. Data and the others realize it's probably the terrorists' escape craft. Riker relays instructions to Data, the only one who will remain conscious after the pulse activates: stop that ship. Crusher activates the hypersonic pulse, and it works as planned. Data soon proceeds unhindered to the control panel.

Kelseys ship

Kelsey's starship

As Kelsey, Kiros, and Picard approach Ten Forward, Picard decides to reveal his true identity, hoping to be taken as a hostage, but Kelsey reveals that the trilithium is her sole objective. She's not a terrorist as Picard had suspected but a merciless thief who will steal and sell to anyone willing to pay; her only motive is profit. As they enter Ten Forward, though, Picard has another trap ready. He steps over several strips along the floor, but Kiros steps on one. It promptly bursts into an intense flash, stunning her. Kelsey is knocked back as well, and she drops the trilithium. She and Picard fight even as the baryon sweep finally enters Ten Forward. Kelsey eventually fights her way free of Picard and grabs the trilithium container, but Picard makes a grab for it also. Finally, Kelsey knocks Picard away and holds him at gunpoint, freeing her to be transported to her ship. But with the sweep approaching, Picard's main concern is shutting it off. After several attempts to contact the station and have the sweep terminated, it finally shuts off with mere meters to spare. Data asks about the ship that had transported someone off the Enterprise, to which Picard replies that they "won't get very far." He reveals that he removed the stabilizer during the scuffle, and watches through the forward windows as Kelsey attempts to escape, only to have the resin destabilize and destroy her ship. The explosion rocks the Enterprise slightly.

Picard is in Sickbay where he is being treated for the injuries he incurred with the fight in Ten Forward with Kelsey. Picard is more concerned with getting back his saddle, which he left on Deck 7 after he was attempting to transport off the Enterprise before the baryon sweep began. Worf finds the saddle, which had been placed in a maintenance locker, and Picard says he regrets not being able to use it on an actual horse.

Memorable Quotes

"Captain, request permission to be excused from Commander Hutchinson's reception."
"Permission granted. I wish I could excuse myself as well."
"Uh, Captain, permission to..."
"Mister La Forge, I cannot excuse my entire senior staff. Mister Worf beat you to it."

- Worf, Picard and La Forge dreading the reception.


"I have to admit that it has a sort of strange fascination - how long can two people talk about nothing?"

- Riker, to Troi about Data and Cmdr. Hutchinson's non-stop small talk


"You keep a saddle on board the Enterprise?"

- La Forge, Worf, Troi, and Riker


"I only wish I had the opportunity to use it on a horse."
"Of course."

- Picard, lamenting on his unused saddle, and Worf responding, finally understanding why Picard keeps a saddle on the ship

"Sir, an unidentified scout ship has just beamed someone off the Enterprise. Do you know anything about it?"
(holds up the dynamic stabilizer) "I know they won't get very far..."

- Data, and Picard shortly before Kelsey's ship explodes.

Background Information

Story and production

  • Although the episode is often compared to Die Hard, Morgan Gendel denies the connection. He commented, "I'm not going to talk about it as Die Hard. That's somebody else's work. It's an idea we've seen countless times: Under Siege, Passenger 57. What I liked was the element I had come up with of the captain going down with his ship, which was rejected as a notion in the 24th century. That was a strong line for me – a captain alone with his ship. My theory is that what Picard loved most was the Enterprise. I don't think the staff agreed with me. I think they thought it was too much of a 20th or 18th century concept, or Kirk." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)
  • Gendel did describe his pitch for the episode as "Die Hard on the Enterprise," however. ("The Inner Light: Behind the Scenes", Phoenix Comicon 2011)
  • Gendel revealed that he had 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)
  • Director Cliff Bole recalled, "'Starship Mine' went through a major restructuring at the last minute. Michael Piller and Rick just didn't like the way it was going and they said page one rewrite. Pages were coming in about ten a day while I was shooting." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)
  • Bole recalled that one of the challenges of directing the episode was the lighting. 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)
  • Bole also thought the episode suffered somewhat when the length of shooting was reduced to seven days. "I had to cook. When you lose another twelve hours of production, it hurts creatively. The show still stands, but I could have added a lot more and so could the cameraman. At the end, the little thing he pulled out of the canister in Ten Forward, which was kind of like a grenade pin, you couldn't see. You didn't know what he had in his hands so we just didn't sell it. I should have done a little bit more." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)
  • Budget considerations also affected the reception scenes, as extras were not available due to cost. Likewise, Michael Westmore recalled that the male "shoelace eye" terrorist was to have a fuller face treatment. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., pp. 240-241)
  • 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. [1]
  • First UK airdate: 8 November 1995

Sets and props

Continuity

Reception

  • Patrick Stewart commented, "I enjoyed the episode enormously. It's now in my top half a dozen episodes. It was wonderful to be out of uniform for an entire episode and to be on the ship without any of the other boring crew members." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)
  • Rick Berman stated, "This was a classic example of a bravura role for Picard. It had a real tone and style to the look of the show and I think Cliff Bole did a nice job directing it. I enjoyed seeing Patrick as an actor being able to get physical." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)
  • In contrast, Michael Piller remarked, "It didn't feel like Star Trek to me. I liked the show and thought it was very effective and well directed by Cliff, but I was worried that it was very violent, which troubled me. Picard slugging it out with the two women wasn't silly, and Patrick did his usual fine job, but it was derivative." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)
  • Morgan Gendel recalled, "First time I saw it, I wasn't sure how well it worked. But when I went back to watch it a second time, I really like it, and thought it was true to what I was trying to do." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 275)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-star

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt doubles

Stand-ins

References

2369; Arkaria; Arkaria Base; Arkarian horn fowl; barber; baryons; baryon sweep; Conklin; crossbow; dynamic stabilizer; Edwell; egalitarianism; emergency hand actuator; emergency turbolift; etymology; field diverter; Gaspar VII; hypersonic pulse; hypospray; Jefferies tube; Kelsey's starship; laser torch; Magellan, USS; magnetic pole; Mitchell; Mot; optical transducer; ornithology; pain receptor; Remmler Array; Riskian cheese pastry; saddle; Sheliak; shuttle drone; sickbay; Starbase 97; Tyrellia; Tyrellian; Tyrellian laser-art; trilithium resin; turbolift; VISOR; Vulcan nerve pinch


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Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6
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