Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 1 Episode 26

The Neutral Zone

Aired Unknown May 16, 1988 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (17)

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out of 10
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  • The first season ends with the return of the Romulans and three unwelcome and very annoying new passengers aboard Enterprise.

    "Balance of Terror", the episode of "Star Trek" that introduced the Romulans, is a timeless classic. This episode, which introduces the Romulans to this particular series, is a boring waste of time. "The Neutral Zone" is boring, slow and in the end amounts to nothing. The three people brought back to life are major liabilities. One is an arrogant pain int he ass, another is a whiner who can't stop feeling sorry for herself and the third is a misogynistic redneck who is annoying as hell. I understand this episode's central theme is supposed to be about new beginnings, but in the end it just did not work. One small redeeming quality is viewers are given the first hint of the existence of the Borg. Any episode that mentions probably the greatest adversary the Federation has ever faced can't be all bad. My advice to you is see this episode only once so you get the full timeline of the Borg. Aside from that there really is no other reason to see this dull and forgettable episode.
  • This episode inspire this blog post


    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

    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....

    "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.
  • The Enterprise discovers three people in suspended animation; meanwhile, the Romulans reappear.

    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.
  • One of the most significant episodes in the STTNG series.

    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.
  • Ultimately fails

    Interesting premise, failed execution.

    If done during the season, perhaps would have just been seen as a filler episode. As it is, the episode doesnt really happen right from the start. The cryo's dynamic is good. A homemaker, a entrepeneur and binging failed old rocker.

    The threat from the Romulan warbird is the only thing that saves this being a bottom of the barrel, though even the sternest hearted of you will feel some emotion at the homemakers heartbreaking predicament. She takes the timedifference the worst!

    Its difficult to see what else they could have done to make this episode work, other than take them back to Earth or get them onto the holodeck to try to aclimatise them to the current timeline. Maybe even do a Matrix style, take the red pill and remain in a holodeck generated world!

    Not really worth watching unless you have nothing to do.
  • Disappointing season closer.

    As the summary says, this episode could have ended the season on a high note (especially considering the great writing and story in the episode before it)but in the end it fails to excite or to leave you hanging for the next season.

    The main aspect of this episode that drags it down is the cryogenics one. It was able to generate some interest when the episode first starts and Data and Worf are examining the derelect earth vessel and the bodies are initially discovered, but once the bodies are returned to the ship and the characters awaken, it quickly becomes drab and seemingly endless. In the end it just comes off as totally irrelevant and acts as a path to nowhere that is quickly forgotten. The main reason for this could be that this episode tries to tackle too much by including this story as well as the encounter with the Romulans at once; as both angles, if properly developed and written, could have been full episodes in themselves. That being said, the path the writers were going with this story and with the three characters would most likely fail to generate interest even if it was given a full 45 minutes to be told in. Overall it is just medicore and needs a whole new re-write.

    As far as the main story and the encounter with the Romulans, it too is extremely underdeveloped and anti-climatic. The possibilities for a tense standoff, a reluctant battle, an away team encounter, were all disregarded and what we were left with was a couple of minutes of dialogue between races with a truce/alliance that leaves the audience with no real sense of direction or what might come next. Suspense and not knowing what comes next can be a good thing, but in this case the not knowing seems to come from the story just ending as the Enterprise warps away.

    Highlight of the episode is that it is the first time we get to see the "iconic" new green Romulan Warbird.
  • A complete waste of a great opportunity. The Romulans' much-anticipated arrival on TNG turns out to be a dud, and the B-plot about cryogenically-frozen 20th century humans is even worse.

    The Romulans were among the best villains on Star Trek, and after a tease in "Angel One", this was the first episode of the TNG to feature them. Their presence made for some of the finest episodes of TNG -- "The Defector", "The Pegasus", "Face of the Enemy", and others. Unfortunately, despite building up anticipation throughout the episode, the actual encounter in "The Neutral Zone" is mostly a dud. Yes, there is some tension when the Romulan Warbird decloaks, and the Romulan officers do a little bit of glowering at the Enterprise crew, but nothing really happens.

    Of course, that's still better than the B-plot about 3 humans who had been cryogenically frozen in the late 20th century and are discovered by the Enterprise crew. Two of the thawees -- the hick and the financier -- are completely lame stereotypes. The third (a woman who struggles with the fact that her whole life is now gone) actually seems like a real human being rather than a caricature, but her plotline is resolved in a boring way. And the annoying preachiness of early TNG episodes, which had merciful faded into the background during the second half of season 1, is now back in full force. Uggh.
  • Annoying and hugely anticlimatic in equal measure.

    This is a tale of two halfs: one half sees three cryogenically frozen humans from the 20th century being thawed out and adjusting to life in the 24th century, while the other sees the Enterprise called to investigate strange Romulan activity in the Neutral Zone. The first storyline is just plain annoying and the second is an anti-climax of epic proportions.

    The two storylines dont gel in the slightest and both are poorly written and ultimately quite pointless. The three frozen humans are little more than characatures and their reactions are both predictable and extremely annoying. This storyline is played for cheap (and painfully unfunny) gags and any attempts at pathos are cack-handed and totally ineffective. I spent a great deal of this episode wishing that someone would chuck all three of them back in the deep freeze...

    The Romulan storyline is hugely anticlimatic. Although the build-up is reasonably effective (although far from earth-shattering I hasten to add), it's totally ruined by a dull, pointless 'climax' in which...nothing happens. Picard and the Romulans (one of whom is played by Marc 'Gul Dukat' Alaimo) exchange a few words and the Romulans inform us that they are back. Whoopee. If the writers had built up the conflict and perhaps had an exchange of weapons fire it would have enlivened things a bit...but alas not, this is just an incredible anticlimax. A weak end to a pretty dire first season...
  • The Romulans are back!

    This was another good episode, not great, but just good. It was kinda funny watching people from our time attempting to adjust to life 400 years later. The woman's (I can't remember her name) reaction to Worf is priceless.

    The best part?

    The Romulan Warbird.

    I always loved that ship. I thought it was one of the coolest looking ships that came out of TNG.

    Cool episode. Possible lead into the first appearance of the Borg.
  • Enterprise finds cryogenically frozen people from the 20th century. Also, they confont Romulans.

    This episode was somewhat interesting, but I'm taken aback by the fact that nothing really happened.

    The cryogenically frozen people, with their 20th century, stereotyped neuroses, make a valid comment on the state of what currently motivates us as a, attachement to family, fame. That was a plus. This episode shows us that there is hope for the future of mankind...maybe someday we will outgrow our "infancy" as Picard puts it so well.

    The encounter with the Romulans was interesting, but nothing really happened here either. We know that the Romulan Empire is an enemy force to the least from this episode. At best, it brings some back story to light.

    I guess this was a way to tie up the first season with some big ideas. It doesn't come close the the emotional intensity of "Skin of Evil," which, in my opinion, probably should have been the season closer.
  • While awaitng for Picard return from a federation conference. Data beams aboard a disabled 20th century satellite finds three bodies frozen but preserved. Data beams them aboard the "Enterprise". Picard back on the Enterprise informs the crew they have a

    A very interesting episode to watch. While awaitng for Picard return from a federation conference. Data beams aboard a disabled 20th century satellite finds three bodies frozen but preserved. Data beams them aboard the "Enterprise". Picard back on the Enterprise informs the crew they have a meeting with the romulans. Once the three bodies are thawed Dr Crusher preforms surgery and brings the bodies back to life. It turns out the three from the past have alot to learn about the 24th Century. Will the romulans attack? Tune in and find out. I give this episode a rating of 7.9
  • The enterprise finds a probe that is carrying 3 humans.

    It was a well written episode. I liked the way that the producers compare the 20th century to the 24th century. Such as, working for a living is no longer in existence. People only work for the better. Hunger and disease no longer exist. If only we lived in the 24th century.
  • Romulans. What more can I say?

    Waiting for Captain Picard's return from a Federation conference, the U.S.S. Enterprise crew discovers a disabled 20th century Earth satellite containing three perfectly preserved bodies, frozen for over 300 years by cryogenics. Meanwhile, Picard then returns to the ship and informs the crew that they are being sent to the outskirts of the Neutral Zone, where two Federation outposts have been destroyed. The ship has been chosen to investigate the potentially volatile incident, which may or may not have been executed by hostile Romulans as a prelude to war.

    Great non-two part series finale of TNG, their only good one. The plot with the 20th century seemed believable. Afterall TOS had Kahn from the '90s being lost in space with a ship with artificial gravity. Some people just forget that and think the 20th century civilians are a big mistake and all. Afterall after the 1960s, it's supposed to be a completely different course of history. But besides that, the show gets deeper into the Borg threat yet the crew is not formally introduced yet, they're only finding the footprints. Nice to see Dukat! Erm, Tebok? Well what can I say? Marc Alaimo has great charisma playing a baddy, playing a one episode character yet leaving it unforgettable esspecially his finishing line "We're back!". Too bad the producers didn't go with the original plan by having this episode as a 2 parter with "Q, Who" being the season premiere for season two, but that might have interferred with taking Beverly out, which sucks! At least we get her back in season three, I will miss her and the moments with Picard. I recommend this episode!

    I give this episode 5 stars out of 5. (10 on

    Putting the ratings all together for the season would make it an average 3.5 out of 5 stars. Not bad actually, a little bit above average. They did have their Angel One's but their Coming of Age's really helped this season from being crap.
  • Ah... the arrogance and frailty... of Captain Picard, that is.

    This is perhaps one of the worst episodes ever. The story arc of the Romulans is meaningless; it's only there to introduce them and put Picard in a bad mood.

    The attitude the characters maintained offended me. Picard insulted the humans as they were waking up. Nobody was around to acclimate them; I understand that the bridge crew was busy, but what about the other 1,000 people, or the 20th century historian? Also, the characters condemn the humans for everything from being startled at an alien to worrying about their livelihoods. What if Picard was suddenly in the future and he found out that traveling in space and being in command was considered primitive and infantile. Wouldn't he be pissed?
  • Voices from the Past

    In this episode, the crew of the Enterprise are treated to several visitors from the past... and only three of them are human.

    Ralph Offenhouse embodies the traits pointed out by Q as those representing the flaws of humanity. Of course, as Picard pointed out then, these flaws existed during earlier centuries, as in the time we currently live in. He assumes that everything he held dear still exisits hundreds of years later and insults Picard without bothering to find out the current state of universal events.

    Clare Raymond is an emotional wreck and is pretty much portrayed as as a stereotypical weak woman. When she first awakens, she passes out after seeing Worf. She is the only one of the three survivors who hadn't planned to be frozen and she has a hard time getting over this fact.

    As Sonny Clemonds says, where and when he is doesn't matter much. Dr. Crusher's initial assessment of him is that he must not have wanted to live because his body has retained much internal damage. However, he is actually a friendly, easy-going guy.

    Now onto the Romulans... they've been gone and now they're back. Very, very profound. This episode introduces the Romulans into the Next Generation storylines. However, they really don't really do much other than make their presence known.