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Stardate: not given
Rating: *** 1/2
Edited Length: 45:29
U.S. Airdate: March 3, 1991
Nielsen Rating/Rank: [11.4/2]
George Coe: [Chancellor Avill Durken]
Carolyn Seymour: [Mirasta]
George Hearn: [Berel]
Michael Ensign: [Krola]
Steven Anderson: [Nilrem]
Sachi Parker: [Dr. Tava]
Bebe Neuwirth: "Lanel"
Co-Producer: Peter Lauritson
Producer: David Livingston
Supervising Producer: Jeri Taylor
Executive Producer: Michael Piller
Teleplay by: Dennis Russell Bailey & David Bischoff and Joe Menosky & Ronald D. Moore and Michael Piller
Story by: Marc Scott Zicree
Directed by: Cliff Bole
Executive Producer: Gene Roddenberry
Executive Producer: Rick Berman
Associate Producer: Wendy Neuss
Executive Story Editor: Ronald D. Moore
Executive Story Editor: Joe Menosky
Story Editors: David Bennett Carren & J. Larry Carroll
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We begin with a hospital, where an unknown patient is being wheeled in for treatment. He (definitely a he, for a beard is seen) is in with a severe head blow, but before long, the physicians in attendance note some unusual things. His cardiac organ, for example, is where they expected to find his digestive tract. And if that weren't enough, he has too many fingers and toes. "What are you?" asks a nurse, as the camera pans down to reveal...William Riker.
Later, when Riker (surgically altered to resemble the natives, Malcorians) revives, he talks to the facility's director, Berel. He claims to be named Rivas Jakara, and to be from the Marta community on the southern continent. His many abnormalities (as well as the above, his cranial lobes are clearly a surgical attachment) are attributed to a combination of birth defects and cosmetic surgery to help with said defects. The assistant director, Nilrem, is not impressed by the story, but Riker suggests that his "personal physician," Dr. Crusher, is familiar with his ailments-unfortunately, he says, she's taking a sabbatical, and probably can't be reached. Berel promises to try, and prepares to leave. As he does so, though, he asks Riker about a phaser they found on his clothing- Riker claims it's a toy he was bringing home for a neighbor's child. And when Riker asks about his communicator (some "jewelry"), Berel tells him that nothing else has been seen.
After leaving Riker alone, Nilrem insists that Riker can only be a creature from outer space, but Berel will have none of it, not wishing to inspire a panic. He refuses to call Security, deciding to check his story and medical history for any cases remotely similar-he also calls for 29-hour-a-day guard on the room, and most importantly, that everything be kept quiet.
Later, the heads of the government are in conference. Chancellor Durken, after hearing the end of Space Administrator Mirasta's report on warp technology (and hearing her say she's within ten months of completion), gives his approval to the final project, over the objections of Krola, Minister of Internal Security. Krola insists that the people are not ready for so many changes in so short a time, and that they are confused and frightened by space travel. Durken, however, insists that he "will not allow them to remain in the dark ages," and says that after the warp program is complete, then they shall slow down a bit, to let everyone adjust.
Mirasta retires to her lab-but before she's been there more than a few minutes, a transporter beam appears, and two aliens appear: Picard and Troi. They tell her that they come with information "about space, about the universe you are preparing to enter"-in short, it's a first contact. They've come to her first because she's a big name in the scientific community, and scientists are generally more accepting of their arrival than others. Mirasta is understandably stunned, but when Picard offers to prove their identity to her, she eagerly agrees. "Picard to Enterprise-three to beam up."
She sees Ten-Forward (complete with a Bolean drinking at the bar), and sees her world out the front window. She is impressed, and nearly giddy with excitement. As a child, she dreamed of things like this-and now, she says, she's still waiting for the planetarium "lights to come up, and for the program to end." The conversation then turns to how they found out about her. As is normal for a first-contact situation, they began by monitoring broadcasts-music, journalism, humor, and so forth (the first, understandably, elicits various reactions of amused horror by Mirasta). However, as that is clearly an incomplete picture, they've sent down teams for surface reconnaissance: specialists, trained for such things, and surgically altered so that they can blend in. Mirasta understands, but believes most of her world would not. She then discovers the difficulty which caused their contact to come more precipitously than they would have liked: Riker, Picard's first officer, is missing. She asks for (and receives) Riker's last location and cover, but warns that because of Malcorian ideology (that their race is the most advanced and superior in the universe), their arrival will be a massive shock to the Malcorian system. She agrees to take Picard to visit Chancellor Durken, but warns him not to speak of Riker or the surface teams, as Durken would call in Krola, who has his own motives.
Back in the med-facility, rumors are flying, much to Berel's chagrin. Berel talks to "Mr. Jakara," telling him that there is no such Dr. Crusher ("on this planet, anyway"), and that the address he gave was of a restaurant where no one had ever heard of him. He out-and-out asks Riker if he is an alien, but Riker dismisses it as preposterous. Berel admits that it is possible Riker's "mutations" are just that, but says that Riker is definitely hiding something, and that if he doesn't reveal it soon, the rumors could become more and more dangerous.
Meanwhile, Durken is doing paperwork, when Mirasta comes in almost unannounced. Durken is friendly, if busy, but Mirasta says, "Chancellor-I think you might want to clear your afternoon schedule for this...," and brings in Picard.
Later, Picard is showing Mirasta and Durken the bridge. Both are quite impressed by the technology (particularly Data), but soon Durken asks to speak to Picard in private, as Mirasta elicits news from Data that Riker still has not been found.
Durken enters Picard's ready room, where Picard pours some wine from his brother's vineyard and proposes a toast. Durken congratulates Picard on his adeptness with "the language of diplomacy," but says he is still not sure he trusts all of this. Picard assures Durken that they are not conquerors, that they only wish "a beginning," and that the pace of the contact is entirely up to Durken, up to and including if he asks them to leave the planet forever. He assures Durken that they will not interfere with the planet's natural course of development, and adds that yes, that noninterference directive does include not sharing their technology (but that this is for their benefit, not to maintain Federation superiority). Durken, a bit overwhelmed, nonetheless believes that today has been "a good day," and welcomes the contact.
Back in the hospital, Riker is about to smash a window in an escape attempt, when a nurse stops him, claiming that it wouldn't work. She is convinced that he is an alien, but is not afraid of him. She offers to help him escape-but only if he makes love to her first. Riker protests, but apparently to no avail. Some time later, she distracts the guards, and Riker tries to get away. Unfortunately, the attempt is botched, and Riker is nearly killed by a mob before Berel breaks it all up. His injuries have been aggravated, and Berel preps him for surgery (but also calls Central Security).
Durken talks to his Cabinet of his contact with the Federation, meanwhile. Krola is incensed that Durken can so easily "surrender" to these horrible aliens, and dismisses Mirasta's assurances of their intentions as naivete. He says that many people, himself included, are prepared to die to defend the old traditions and ways, and reveals that "we have captured one of their spies!" Mirasta, exercising as much damage control as she can, quickly tells Durken everything she knows about Riker, and about the surface teams. Krola is understandably thunderstruck that the aliens have been "influencing our young people, stirring up dissent...," despite Mirasta's claims that they have merely been gathering information. He tells Durken that Riker is being held at the medical facility, and that he will soon revive.
Shortly thereafter, Krola and Mirasta visit Riker's room. Krola orders Berel to revive him, using drugs that could be fatal given Riker's current condition. Berel refuses: "...he is a living, intelligent being. I don't care if the Chancellor himself calls down here. I have sworn an oath to do no harm, and I will not." Krola promptly sets in motion orders to have Berel replaced.
Picard beams down, right on schedule, to talk to Durken, but soon finds that Durken is rather upset by Picard's coverup of the survey teams. Picard takes all the blame for the decision, refusing to blame Mirasta. He explains that centuries ago, after a disastrous first-contact with the Klingon Empire led to a bloody war, it was decided to send surface teams to get more concrete information before making contact. He claims that he planned to tell Durken eventually, but that observations indicated that the initial reaction would be strongly negative. He admits that it was a mistake. "Yes," says Durken, "a mistake I might have made in your place. I rather like it, actually." It makes Picard seem more human. Durken refuses, however, to discuss Riker's release just then.
In the hospital, meanwhile, Berel has been relieved of his duties. His replacement, Nilrem, quickly revives Riker, who hears upon waking up that Krola knows who and what he is. Krola agrees to send for Riker's people, but only after getting a few answers.
In Durken's chambers, Durken chews out Mirasta for not trusting him enough to tell him of the surface observers, but then listens as Mirasta tells him of Krola's actions. He agrees that Riker should be interrogated, but is taken aback to hear that without prompt medical help from his ship, Riker may not survive the day.
Krola demands to know why the supposedly peaceful "conquerors" come bearing weapons of such power as phasers, and doesn't believe the claim that they're only defensive. He says that even if their goals are benevolent, they are still a threat to Krola's way of life. In an attempt to force Durken to permanently avoid relations with the Federation, he takes Riker's phaser, puts it in Riker's left hand, and fires it, point- blank, at himself.
Nilrem and an aide find the two of them, but before much can be done, another transporter beam appears, bearing Beverly, Worf, and a nurse. Beverly quickly contacts Picard (now in Durken's office) and tells him that both Riker and Krola need to be taken to sickbay, which Picard agrees to, after receiving permission from Durken.
Later, in sickbay, Bev tells Picard, Mirasta, and Durken that both Riker and Krola will be fine- the phaser, fortunately, was only set for stun. Krola is revived, and begs Durken not to continue relations with the Federation. Durken, saddened, is forced to admit that his people are not yet ready for contact. Over Mirasta's strong objections, he orders a delay in the warp program (shifting the funds to education to help his people ready themselves), and asks Picard to leave his world. Picard is disappointed, but agrees. After Durken assures Picard that the tales of the aliens will eventually pass, Mirasta asks one final favor-that Picard take her with them. After Mirasta insists she is prepared, and Durken agrees wholeheartedly, Picard agrees- and bids Durken farewell, hoping that one day they will meet again.
Technical design, graphic design, interactive features, HTML & CGI programming by Andrew Tong. || All materials Copyright © 1987-1995 by their respective authors. || Document created: January 28, 1995 || Last Modified: July 12, 1999