Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 1 Episode 26

The Neutral Zone

8
Aired Unknown May 16, 1988 on CBS
7.6
out of 10
User Rating
252 votes
16

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Stardate: 41986.0

A 20th century probe carrying three cryogenically frozen humans is detected by the Enterprise while en route to the Neutral Zone to confront Romulans.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • This episode inspire this blog post

    4.5




    If you can just go to sleep, and wake up healthy in the distant future but without any of your loved ones, would you? Would you?

  • The Ball Began to Roll

    7.5
    As has been mentioned, with the vague reference to the Borg, return of the Romulans and Picard's last words to the effect that the mission was just getting started, this episode occupies an important place in NexGen history. It also deals with Data's curiosity leading into tricky situations, a recurring theme throughout the series. I look back fondly on this one.
  • Not the best episode the series' first season could have ended on but not the worst....

    6.5
    "The Neutral Zone" is a fairly anti-climactic ending to a pretty lackluster first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. After discovering three cryogenically frozen 20th Century humans Picard gives orders for the Enterprise to enter into the Neutral Zone, where it is thought that Romulans are behind the destruction of several Federation outposts. "The Neutral Zone" brings the Romulans into the show for the first time, introduces the TNG-style Romulan Warbird, and foreshadows the Borg but that is about all the good this episode brings.



    Season one is not brought to a stunning conclusion, where you cannot wait for season two to come along, with "The Neutral Zone." Instead, Roddenberry & co. decided to finish off a lackluster season by incorporating one of its most irritating elements: the heavy-handed bashing of its 20th Century audience. The three humans who become unfrozen in this episode are used in a way that allows the crew to wag their self-righteous fingers at 20th Century people for living the way that the current world demands. Gene Roddenberry was indeed a great talent for creating the world and characters of Star Trek (both the original TV series and The Next Generation) but his clear distain for his own audience seen in "The Neutral Zone" and many more season one episodes of The Next Generation is frustrating. Luckily, the second season of Star Trek: The Next Generation would improve upon the first and season three would be even better.moreless
  • The Enterprise discovers three people in suspended animation; meanwhile, the Romulans reappear.

    7.5
    This episode came about in a bit of a bizarre way. The A story, involving cryogenically frozen people, was supposed to give Roger C. Carmel the opportunity to reprise Harry Mudd, but the actor died shortly beforehand, and the character "Ralph Offenhouse" was added to the script as a substitution. The B story, about the Romulans returning, was originally supposed to be a cliffhanger leading to an episode that would introduce us to the Borg (which were meant to replace the disappointing Ferengi as this show's signature villains) but the 1988 writer's guild strike ended that idea. (References to the Borg remain in the script.) Remarkably, the modified A and B stories are still interesting, and they work well together, with the tension from the superb B story bleeding into the okay A story. This episode won't make any best of lists, but it's one of the better first season offerings.moreless
  • One of the most significant episodes in the STTNG series.

    10
    A disturbing but pivotal episode in the STTNG canon. One of the most relentlessly nihilistic scripts, "Skin of Evil" is aptly titled, smartly plotted, and moving in its heartfelt portrayal of grief and lost friendship. Yarr's meaningless death seems somehow sadly logical and the final scene is both redemptive and cathartic. The episode is also significant in several other aspects: 1)The development of Data's character, learnig as he does that death is not only inevitable for humans but is often a means for growth and understanding, and 2) The emotional binding of the STTNG characters as they struggle to make sense of senseless tragedy.moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden

Dr. Beverly Crusher

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Marc Alaimo

Marc Alaimo

Cmdr. Tebok

Guest Star

Anthony James

Anthony James

Sub-Cmdr. Thei

Guest Star

Leon Rippy

Leon Rippy

Sonny Clemonds

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (4)

  • QUOTES (6)

    • Sonny: (referring to the cryogenics process) Well, the whole deal was a long shot, but I figured, "Well, what the hell, might as well give them the dough instead of leaving it to my ex-wives." laughs) Uh, but you know son, I just figured it was all a bunch of hooey.
      Data: Hooey... ah, as in hogwash, malarkey, jive, an intentional fabrication.
      Sonny : There you go, now ya got it.

    • Data: (programs replicator for ordering food, then says to Sonny) Talk.
      Sonny: (to replicator console) I'd like me a, a thick Kansas City steak, and uh, some country fried potatoes, and a mess of greens…aw hell, just forget all that and give me a martini, straight up, with uh, two olives... (looks at Data and winks) ...for the vitamins.

    • Data: (to Sonny) Inquiry --you do not seem to be having as much difficulty adjusting to your current circumstances as the others.
      Sonny: Uh, you mean being here on this tub, 400 years from where I started? Aw heck, it's the same dance, it's just a different tune.

    • Troi: (The Romulans) seem to be creatures of extremes. One moment violent beyond description, the next, tender. They're related to the Vulcans but as each developed, their differences grew wider. They are intensely curious. Their belief in their own superiority is beyond arrogance. For some reason they have exhibited a fascination with humans and that fascination, more than anything else, has kept the peace. One other thing, they will not initiate. They will wait for you to commit yourself.

    • Sonny: (to Data) Why don't you come back later on, and you and me can find a couple of low-mileage pit woffies and help them build a memory.

    • Picard: A lot has changed in the past 300 years. People are no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things. We've eliminated hunger, want, the need for possessions. We've grown out of our infancy.

  • NOTES (9)

    • The image of the descendant of Clare Raymond, the woman from the past, is that of Peter Lauritson. He was a member of the behind-the-camera crew on all post-original series television and movie projects from the start of Next Generation through the end of Star Trek: Enterprise, as Producer, Director, Second Unit Director or Assistant Director, and Miscellaneous Crew.

    • This is Marc Alaimo's second appearance on TNG (his first being the Antican delegate in "Lonely Among Us") and his last appearance until Season 4's "The Wounded."

    • This is the last episode to feature Denise Crosby's name in the opening credits.

    • When Troi is helping Clare Raymond search for her descendants on the computer, the names of the actors who played the first seven Doctors in the English TV series Doctor Who appear on the computer screen.

    • This episode was a milestone in the history of Star Trek by establishing that the first season of TNG took place in the year 2364. This was the first time an exact calendar date was provided for a Trek episode. All Star Trek episodes, chronologies, novels and background information since 1988 have been calculated from this date.

    • The first implicit reference to the Borg, properly introduced in "Q Who?"

    • Besides Doctor Who actors appearing on the Raymond family tree, two other names that show up are "Jonathan Frakes Raymond" and "LeVar Burton Raymond."

    • Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) does not appear in this episode.

    • This episode was originally intended to be the first part of a two-part story. The follow-up was delayed due to a Hollywood writer's strike and appeared (in an altered form) later in Season 2 as "Q Who?"

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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