Season Three - TNG

Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Survivors

Written by Michael Wagner
Directed by Les Landau

Most Star Trek fans, when composing a list of their top ten episodes fail to include this little gem called The Survivors. You’ll hear about the huge starship battles between the Federation and The Borg, the Federation and the Romulans, the wonderful character development within the Klingon race. But you won’t hear much about this episode.

The Enterprise answers a distress call from Rana IV, a remote Federation colony formerly with 11,000 life forms. I say formerly because, upon arrival, the crew of the Enterprise finds the planet completely destroyed. Everyone and everything has been completely obliterated from the planet with the exception of one small area with two lifeform readings.

An away team beams down to the area and finds an almost Garden of Eden in the midst of all the destruction. The survivors are Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge, who explain that an enormous spaceship came and took the world apart piece by piece.

As the Enterprise crew explores the home to try and search for answers as to why these two were allowed to live, Data (Brent Spiner) comes across an antique music box. At Rishon’s urging, he opens it. This is a significant occurrence as Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) begins experiencing recurring music in her head.

The Uxbridge’s do not want to leave and to a certain extent seem nonplused by the destruction surrounding them.

The writers have created a great mystery here for the viewer. Who are the Uxbridge’s? They seem to be an elderly couple with nothing special about them, yet they survived an almost unimaginable destruction and their actions aren’t consistent with the behavior of someone who has gone through such a terrible ordeal. They seem more intent on spending their time dancing together around their undamaged home than worrying about where their next meal will come from.

I found myself who could possibly be behind the destruction? The Borg? The Romulans? The Crystalline Entity? All are Star Trek: The Next Generation villains who could cause the destruction seen here.

Meanwhile, Troi begins to suffer a breakdown of sorts from the music in her head. Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) is forced to place her in a deep coma to keep her from going mad.

When a ship 5 times the mass of the Enterprise arrives at the planet we learn that this is a new villain; one not seen before. It has enough firepower to destroy the planet. The alien ship begins to attack the Enterprise, then pulls away. Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) orders the Enterprise to pursue, but then backs off when he realize they are being toyed with. Someone wanted to lure the Enterprise away from Rana IV.

When Picard confronts the two survivors, he sees that they seem to be handling everything remarkably well except Kevin very obviously wants the Enterprise to leave them alone as fast as it can.

Kevin is a pacifist. He declares that he would not kill under any circumstances. Yet I noticed Rishon fluctuating – one minute she is terrified, and the next she is firm that she is staying with her husband.

What has actually happened here is a terrific story of life-long love and not being able to handle going on after the death of an almost life-long mate. Who these people really are and why they are still alive in the midst of the destruction only becomes clear in the last few minutes of the episode.

There is something for everyone in this episode: suspense, special effects, battles, character development, and love. Patrick Stewart gives a fine performance as he thinks he knows what is going on but keeps the crew in the dark. He is the captain in all respects here, and his crew follow him without an explanation; even when they are orbiting a planet for more than three hours for no reason they can deduce.

John Anderson as Kevin is terrific in the role. At times he appears to be no more than an old curmudgeon, but when we find out the truth of these people it also fits the way he has played the character as well. Anne Haney does a commendable job as Rishon as well. Neither gives anything away in their character’s demeanor and manages to keep the mystery going throughout the episode.

Although Marina Sirtis seems to not have much to do here, her role is crucial for she is the one key that can unlock the mystery. Her condition is no accident, and she makes us believe Troi’s suffering.

All in all, this is definitely a terrific – if underrated – episode of the show. Although it suffers from the ongoing condition in Star Trek: The Next Generation of introducing new aliens only to never speak of them again, it is really only a minor detraction. I wish Michael Wagner had written more episodes of the show – he seems to be a much better writer than some who were taken onto the creative staff.

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