Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 1, Episode 18
Original Air Date: February 22, 1988
|via Memory Alpha
The Enterprise visits a terraforming colony only to stumble upon a murder mystery. The scientists' own machinery has turned against them. But how? The culprit is fascinating: a new life form, in fact a broadened concept of life. What appear to be tiny, inorganic crystals emit erratic pulses of light and color in defiance of known science. Eventually our heroes realize the crystals are trying to communicate.
The story stumbles along awkwardly in the beginning with much of the weak writing and wooden acting we've unfortunately come to expect in Season 1. But in a delightful turn, "Home Soil" contains one of the most genuinely magical scenes of the entire series. As our heroes are trying to determine the nature of the crystals, they tick off the boxes for living matter, one being reproduction. The moment when the one crystal splits into two with a brilliant flash is one that has stayed with me for years. Science fiction is filled with dazzle, of course. Even so, it's rare to share with the characters in the witnessing of not only something new, but something previously un-imagined. Trek has toyed with the bending of life parameters before, most notably with the silicon-based Horta in TOS's "The Devil in the Dark." But at least that creature was still otherwise recognizable as a life form. "Home Soil"'s crystals are entirely new.
Interestingly, the two episodes share a similar shot of characters staring down into a tunnel: Kirk and Spock in the one story, Data and Geordi in the other.
Walter Gotell plays the part of Kurt Mandl, lead scientist at the colony. Gotell was born March 15, 1924 in Bonn, Germany. His family emigrated to Britain when the Nazis came to power.
Gotell had roles in several major films, including The African Queen, The Guns of Navarone and The Boys from Brazil. It's likely he will always be best remembered for his numerous appearances in the James Bond franchise, featuring in seven movies as two different characters with three different Bond actors. First, he was the henchman Morzeny in From Russia with Love, starring Sean Connery. The recurring character General Gogol first appeared in The Spy Who Loved Me with Roger Moore as Bond. Finally, Gogol appeared in The Living Daylights, Timothy Dalton's first Bond film.
Gotell died of cancer in 1997, age 73.