Friday, September 24, 2021

Star Trek: Disaster

Episode: "Disaster"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 5
Original Air Date: October 21, 1991

A quantum filament disables the Enterprise, leaving several of our heroes in unusual positions.  Troi, as ranking officer at the time of the disaster, assumes command of the bridge.  While leading a group of school children on a tour, Picard is trapped with them on an elevator.  Keiko goes into labor in Ten Forward and it falls to Worf to deliver the baby.

"Disaster" generally does well with critics but I'm not a fan.  Trek stories with children rarely work for me and there's far too much techno-babble.  That's not to say there aren't bright spots.  Troi in command is an idea worth exploring further.  Plus we learn Data's head can function separately from the rest of his body. 

Without question, the Keiko/Worf story is the highlight and, refreshingly, it doesn't follow the usual television script patterns for the situation.  Instead, by-the-book Worf gets impatient with Keiko for the unpredictability of the situation.  One wants to smack him, of course, but his clueless behavior is entirely within believable character parameters.  Lines like "Congratulations, you are fully dilated to ten centimeters.  You are now free to give birth." are pure gold.

So, not my favorite.  But not a total loss either.

Acting Notes

Erika Flores plays the role of Marissa Flores, one of the children on tour with the captain.  The same last name is not a coincidence.  Each of the three children had the same last name as the actors who played them.

Flores was born November 2, 1978 in Grass Valley, California.  After her Trek appearance, she was a regular on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman until she left in the middle of the third season.  Other TV guest appearances included Dear John, Empty Nest and House, her final professional role in 2009.


  1. Dear Squid, this is one of the wonderful episodes I missed while working and am delighted to see here in retirement. As you mention, "Data's head can function separately from the rest of his body". I sometimes suffer that when waking and fearing I'm 12 years late to work. The episode was an encouraging look into the character of the crew and their adaption to unusual mutual interactions. Society should be like that --a teachable concept.

  2. Quantum filament? Um... what?
    Most of the time I can shrug off Trek's pseudo-science but, every once in a while, they will do something that is just wtf? I suppose "quantum" just sounded like a cool word to use.

    1. Yup, they totally made it up and with the deliberate purpose of avoiding any "real science" inconsistencies.

      I agree. It's lazy.

  3. I was disappointed when she left/was replaced in Dr. Quinn. These “everything goes wrong”episodes are a staple but always hard to pull off. Unless it’s “Civil Defense.”

    1. I can't say I knew Dr. Quinn at all. I remember the ads, that's it.

  4. Actually thought this was a wasted episode for the reasons you gave. The only thing that bugs me more than children on a deep space exploration starship is how Kirk in the JJ-verse gets promoted from third-year cadet to starship captain.

    I hated the quantum filament angle of this story until dark matter and dark energy came up in the 1990s. Now, I'm like yeah sure. Lots of weird stuff going on out there and we've only scratched the surface.

    1. But to a point you've made before, Trek could do with more hard science fiction. Indeed, they often seem uncomfortable with the idea of letting science get in the way of the story they're trying to tell.