Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 2 Episode 2

Where Silence Has Lease

Aired Unknown Nov 28, 1988 on CBS
out of 10
User Rating
228 votes

By Users

Episode Summary

Stardate: 42193.6 A mysterious life form that calls itself Nagilum threatens the life of the crew in its attempt to understand humanity.

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  • The Enterprise is trapped in a void that serves as a laboratory experiment for a super-powerful alien being.

    This isn't a bad episode, but it's not a good episode either. Sadly, it's mostly a boring (and predictable) episode. (I guess there's a reason they pay these writer people. Without them, the actors can only give you so much!) It might have helped if there was a B story that somehow worked with the A story; perhaps something like having an Ambassador on board who tries to wrestle control of the ship away from Picard. (Okay, maybe not.) Earl Boen plays "Nagillum", because first choice Richard Mulligan wasn't available. ("Nagillum is "Mulligan" backwards.) Boen is okay, but nothing special.moreless
  • Thrilling, tense, and apparently underrated....

    "Where Silence Has Lease" is the oomph that Star Trek: TNG should have began with for the second season start, instead of the snooze-worthy "The Child" (I do not know if this is because "The Child" was an idea for the thrown-out "Phase II" 70s Trek series and "Where Silence Has Lease" is an original story, but I am considering it as a possibility). In this the second episode of the series' second season, the Enterprise becomes enveloped in a hole in space in which they cannot escape and bizarre events begin to unfold. The crew concludes that they must have stumbled into some sort of experiment being conducted by a large being - too bad that they were right.

    If for no other reason than because after countless season one episodes in which Wesley Crusher saves the day it was the fault of the annoying Mr. Crusher that the Enterprise was enveloped by this hole in space in the first place, "Where Silence Has Lease" is an upper tier TNG season two episode. Obviously improving upon the weak first season in every way (and so early in the second too!) "Where Silence Has Lease" is a tense, thrilling TNG ride as we watch the Enterprise crew try to escape a seemingly unwinnable scenario. The opening scenes are a bit odd and the alien entity that is experimenting on the Enterprise is a showcase of some poor late-80s effects but that does not stop "Where Silence Has Lease" from being a tense and thoroughly entertaining TNG mystery.moreless
  • Not truly unique, but still above average.

    The theme of this episode is almost identical to the one that preceeds it (The Child) but it is conveyed through a story that is more interesting and satisfies to a greater degree. Like "The Child" this episode is concerned with an alien entity trying to learn as much as it can about the human race; but while The Child tries to accomplish this with a a relatively harmless presence that manifests itself through human offspring, this episode uses a being of inderterminate form with a essentially immoral outlook. Immoral in this case does not mean evil, but instead means a basically neutral moral outlook toward what it is reviewing; in this case the being takes a merely intrigued outlook toward human's and learning about them. It is neither overly concerned, not totally ignorant of what it is studying. This outlook leads to Picard's decision to "fight" this being not with overt force but to deny it what it seeks by destroying all of it's potential lab subjects. This casual outlook toward human's also leads to one of the hilight moments of the episode; namely death of Haskel, which the entity views as totally inconsequential morally but slightly useful empirically because it provides the entity with some very limited insight into what death entails.

    As far as visual effects go, the actual void that makes up the creature's internal space is decent enough, but the facial manifestation is quite tacky and appears dated even for the time period it was filmed in. These visual flaws aside, the story as a whole serves as an adequate vessel to get it's message and theme across, and even though the ending is no surprise at all (end the season two episodes in by destroying the ship and everyone on it....) it does not end leaving the viewer feel disappointed.moreless
  • As dull as dishwater

    I don't get all the high ratings and raving reviews this episode has gotten here (but then I'm often perplexed in that regard). In my opinion, this is a weak, derivative, poorly scripted and badly characterised episode that commits the cardinal sin of being *boring*. It combines two Trekkian cliches that have been utterly done to death: the space anomaly and the omnipotent alien that's curious about humans (god only knows why we're so fascinating to advanced life forms).

    The teaser to this episode is utterly pointless and completely unrelated to the rest of the episode. I can only imagine it was tacked on because the episode was running short (because, let's face it, there isn't exactly much plot). Picard is sitting on the bridge worrying like a mother hen while Riker joins Worf in his exercise program. The worst characterisation in this episode is Worf, who is portrayed as being a volatile rotweiller who can't control his aggression and nearly turns on Riker twice. This guy got through Starfleet HOW??

    The rest of the episode is basically a snooze fest. There are certainly some interesting moments, including some genuinely eerie scenes aboard the Yamato and Picard's musings on death, but I really didn't understand or buy into his decision to destroy the ship. The ending, where Picard holds off aborting the self-destruct until the absolute last minute is a silly and desperate attempt to inject some tension into the episode's (anti)climax. I mean, even if they hadn't really escaped Nagilum, why couldnt he just have initiated the self destruct again instead of dicing with death??

    The conclusion, where we get Nagilum's assessment of humanity is not only a major case of deja vu (powerful alien condemning humanity as dangerous and savage, while Picard spouts on about how far we've come...yawn) but is also astoundingly hypocritical of Nagilum I would say.

    Watch this episode only for the occasional unintentional laugh, such as Worf's scream aboard the Yamato, his occasional outbursts of Rotweiller growling and the amusing moment where Pulaski's body is taken over by Nagilum. Otherwise, avoid.moreless
  • Laughable effects!

    If only the alien face wasnt a cast-off from ST:TOS! I couldnt stop laughing at such poor effects for the face in the space!

    If you can get past that however, this is one of the few episodes where the alien threat to the crew is culpable! One of the "red shirts" is killed outright for no reason other than on the alien's whim.

    Overall the plot elements are pretty average and the ending anti-climatic. The method to achieve their escape however is clever if a little predictable now. This one is worth watching only for the intrigue and Picard's [and the crew's] match up against the alien in a battle of wits, rather than power.

    It goes to show that if you can find out what your opposition wants, you can defeat them without resorted to force.moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt./Lt. Cmdr. Worf

Earl Boen

Earl Boen


Guest Star

Charles Douglass

Charles Douglass

Ensign Haskell

Guest Star

Colm Meaney

Colm Meaney

Miles O'Brien

Recurring Role

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions


  • TRIVIA (7)

    • Just after Data launches the first stationary beacon, Picard turns to talk to Geordi at the bridge engineering station. When Picard starts to turn and walk towards the back, Geordi can be seen standing, facing the turbo lift; but as soon as the scene cuts to Geordi, Geordi instantly pulls out the chair for the station and sits down facing the opposite direction.

    • When Data first tries to hail the Yamato, Riker and Picard are facing their screens with their backs to the camera. Riker is standing close to the screen while Picard is further back. When the camera cuts to a reverse shot from their front, Picard and Riker are standing practically shoulder to shoulder. When the shot reverts to the rear shot, they are once again standing apart.

    • Data says that there have been no similar occurrence in the distant past, but there was a similar event in the original Star Trek series episode "The Immunity Syndrome," when there was a void in space, a creature in the void, and two probes went dead.

    • In the Season 1 episode "11001001," the time interval for self-destruct was set to five minutes. Picard said there was no other choice. How is it, then, that this time the computer asks Picard and Riker what time interval they wanted?

    • Deanna is originally sitting on the bridge when they approach the zone of darkness, but after Picard tells Wesley to take them in, in the next wide shot Deanna disappears entirely and doesn't reappear throughout the rest of the scene. She only reappears much later when Riker and Worf return from the Yamato.

    • Not exactly a goof, but for some reason Nagilum is on a first-name basis with LaForge; he refers to everyone else by their last name but calls the Chief Engineer "Geordi."

    • Over this and several other eisodes of TNG, an error made by a writer resulted in the lack of continuity of O'Brien's rank; he is referred to as "Lieutenant" instead of "Chief."

  • QUOTES (5)

    • (Captain Picard when asked, "What is Death?", by Data)
      Picard: Some see it as a changing into an indestructible form, forever unchanging. They believe that the purpose of the entire universe is to then maintain that form in an earthlike garden which will give delight and pleasure through all eternity. On the other hand, there are those that hold on to the idea of us blinking into nothingness (Picard snaps his fingers), with all of our experiences and hopes and dreams merely a delusion.
      Data: Which do you believe sir?
      Picard: Considering the marvelous complexity of our universe, its clockwork perfection, its balances of this against that... matter, energy, gravitation, time, dimension, I believe that our existence must be more then either of these philosophies, that what we are goes beyond Euclidean or other "practical" measuring systems, and that our existence is part of a reality beyond what we understand now as reality.

    • Nagilum: Masculine and feminine. I understand.
      Picard: Yes. That is how we propagate our species.
      Nagilum: Please demonstrate.
      Pulaski: Not likely!

    • (when asked to concur about stopping the self-destruct)
      Riker: Yes, absolutely, I do indeed concur, wholeheartedly!

    • (Refering to Nagilum's projected face)
      Data: Captain, sensors show nothing out there. Absolutely nothing.
      Geordi: Sure is a damn ugly nothing.

    • Data: I have a question, sir.
      Picard: Yes, Data, what is it?
      Data: What is death?
      Picard: Oh, is that all?

  • NOTES (4)


    • The Yamato
      This is a reference to the 70s anime series Space Battleship Yamato, more popularly known as Star Blazers outside of Japan. In the anime series, the Yamato, the pride of the Japanese Navy, is destroyed in World War II, then resurrected and turned into a "space battleship" to journey to a far away system in a quest to save humanity. There would ultimately be five story arcs/seasons, and the Yamato would be destroyed and rebuilt and destroyed again. Here the Yamato is the sister ship of the Enterprise.