(written from a Production point of view)
After the Enterprise-D rescues a freighter crew and the ship's important cargo, Captain Picard faces a difficult dilemma: uphold the Prime Directive, or save an entire civilization from exploitation?
The USS Enterprise-D is investigating unusual solar flares and magnetic activity in the Delos system when they receive a distress signal from the Ornaran freighter Sanction orbiting the fourth planet of the system. The bridge crew, Captain Picard and Commander Riker in particular, are perplexed by the apparent incompetence of the freighter's crew.
When the crewmembers, two Ornarans and two Brekkians, arrive, they are very anxious to see the cargo. Even though two of those aboard the freighter have been lost, the primary concern of all four is the cargo. The Ornarans, named T'Jon and Romas, claim that they have paid for the cargo, therefore it belongs to them. The Brekkians, Sobi and Langor, argue that since the payment was lost on the destroyed freighter, the cargo still belongs to them. Sobi and T'Jon begin to fight, using their natural electric charges, until Yar breaks it up by shooting at them with a phaser set on stun.
Later, in the observation lounge, T'Jon and Romas reveal that the cargo is felicium, medicine that their planet needs. Captain Picard realizes that the "plague" they have may infect the entire ship. He puts the ship on med alert.
As the Ornarans suffer from their lack of medicine, the Brekkians continue to refuse them the cargo. Doctor Crusher reveals that she cannot find a cause of the signs of infection. The Ornarans entreat Picard to give them the felicium, and Picard offers to talk to the Brekkians, asking them to give enough for the Ornarans' needs. The Brekkians agree to "two doses for immediate use."
It is revealed that Brekkian society is entirely dependent on the trade of felicium with the Ornarans. When they use the free medicine, the Ornarans act as if they are experiencing a drug high. Crusher deduces that the "medicine" is really an addictive drug. Data and Riker research the history of the drug. Though it had cured a plague on Ornara two hundred years before, it is now just being sold as an addictive narcotic.
When Wesley Crusher wonders about how people become addicted to drugs, Yar explains the draw of drugs for people in desperate circumstances. She alludes to her possible use of drugs on her home planet. She says that, though drugs may seem to solve problems, they do not in reality make anything better. Wesley fails to understand, however.
The Enterprise-D receives a signal from Ornara. Margan desperately demands that the Ornarans on the Enterprise-D must get the felicium to Ornara. T'Jon then attacks Riker and demands that the Enterprise-D send the felicium to the planet.
Sobi and Langor then decide to "give" the drug to the Onarans, rather than risk the Onarans losing their addiction. Picard realizes that they have been purposely exploiting the Ornarans. Picard cannot tell the Ornarans without violating the Prime Directive. To correct the situation, while letting the Onarans have the shipment of felicium the Brekkians had already promised to give, Picard refuses to repair the Ornarans' freighters, citing the Prime Directive of non-interference for both decisions. Without a method of transport, the Ornarans will begin to painfully withdraw from the drug. After beaming Sobi, Langor, T'Jon and Romas down to Ornara with their cargo, Picard orders helmsman La Forge to put some distance from the Ornaran system and the Enterprise-D heads for the Opperline system, a place never before explored.
Memorable quotes Edit
"Are we losing our professional detachment, Doctor?"
- - Captain Picard to Doctor Crusher
"... Beverly, the Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy... and a very correct one. History has proved again and again that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well intentioned that interference may be, the results are invariably disastrous."
"It's hard to be philosophical when faced with suffering."
"Believe me Beverly, there was only one decision."
"I just hope it was the right one."
"And we may never know."
- - Captain Picard and Doctor Crusher
"Freighter, we're going to lock on the tractor beam and pull you out of orbit."
"Hey, that... that's great."
- - Picard and T'Jon, as the Sanction begins to burn up in the atmosphere
"Captain, my console seems to be overloading."
- - Wesley Crusher
"Drugs... make you feel good."
- - Tasha Yar, to Wesley Crusher
"Behave yourselves, gentlemen."
- - Tasha Yar, to T'Jon and Sobi after they attack each other
"You're feeling better?"
"Yes, thank you. I'm fine now."
- - Crusher, when T'Jon and Romas inject themselves with felicium after which their "symptoms" disappear
"I guess I don't understand."
"Wesley, I hope you never do."
- - Tasha Yar and Wesley Crusher, discussing drug dependency
"I don't care. Let's just get some distance between us and this system."
"Course 970, Mark 318, Speed: Warp Three."
"Where will that take us, Mr. La Forge?"
"The Opperline system."
"An interesting choice. Why?"
"Curiosity. We've never been there."
- - La Forge, Picard, and Riker
"Wesley, on my home world, there was so much poverty and violence that for some people, the only escape was through drugs."
"How can a chemical substance provide an escape?"
"It doesn't. But it makes you think it does."
- - Tasha Yar and Wesley Crusher, discussing drug addiction
"Captain, we are beaming over a replacement coil."
"Great... and that'll fix us up?"
"Yes, once it's installed."
"Right." (pause) "And how do we do that?"
- - Picard and T'Jon
"What is the matter with these people?"
- - Picard
"Captain, how long have you been in command of this freighter?"
"Seven years, with 26 trips to Brekka."
"And you don't know how to align a controller coil?"
"It's never come up."
- - Picard, to T'Jon
Background information Edit
Cast and characters Edit
- This marks Denise Crosby's last appearance as a full cast member. Although Natasha Yar appears in the following episode, "Skin of Evil", this episode was filmed following that. In the scene with Crusher and Picard leaving the cargo bay at the end of the episode, Crosby can be seen waving goodbye in the extreme background. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, p. 56)
- Merritt Butrick and Judson Scott, who had appeared in Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (as David Marcus and Joachim respectively), are in this episode as well. However, this is Butrick's final Star Trek role before his death from AIDS in 1989. Judson Scott later appeared in VOY: "Message in a Bottle" as the Romulan Commander Rekar.
- Richard Lineback (Romas) later appeared as Selin Peers in DS9: "Dax" and as Kessick in ENT: "The Xindi".
- Margan actor Kenneth Tigar later played Dammar in VOY: "Displaced".
Special and visual effects Edit
- The visual effect of the fluctuating force field around the Enterprise-D while near the star Delos was created by using a bowling ball which was trickled with salt. The salt bumping off the bowling ball was used and squeezed during the digital compostion and turned upside down to give this effect. ("The Making of a Legend", TNG Season 1 DVD special feature)
- This is the first time that we see a system interlock used with an alien transporter system showing that it is possible to interlock two different types of transporter beams. The only previous time that we see a Federation transporter working in conjunction with an alien beam is when the Enterprise intercepted an alien transporter beam and redirected it to their transporter pad in "Assignment: Earth".
- This is one of only five TNG episodes (and the only season one episode) that doesn't have a stardate. The others are TNG: "First Contact", "Tapestry", "Liaisons", "Sub Rosa".
- "Symbiosis" featured a reviled 'just say no' discussion on drugs between Wesley and Tasha. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, page 166)
- Behind-the-scenes footage and bloopers from this episode appeared on a 1988 episode of the LeVar Burton-hosted show Reading Rainbow, "The Bionic Bunny Show." The episode presents behind-the-scenes footage including the makeup process and the filming and editing of a brief sequence on the bridge beginning with La Forge's statement "Solar flares are increasing in magnitude, Captain," featuring editing at The Post Group with Robert Legato, Fred Raimondi and Rich Thorne.
- A mission report for this episode by Patrick Daniel O'Neill was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 6, pp. 58-60.
- Director Win Phelps remembers, "There were many continuity problems. Down on the set, we began to notice discrepancies. Some sequences just didn't really work. The actors would say "My motivation is totally wrong here", because a previous scene would be contradictory. They were trying to act scenes that they had never read before, or where substantially different from what they had read. That didn't happen every scene, but it did happen." About Denise Crosby's final scene he recalls, "As Patrick and Gates leave the hold where the drugs were kept, we had Denise wave goodbye to the camera. She was about 40 yards in the background, where nobody would notice. It was Denise's last scene on her last day." (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 19, pp. 28-29)
Video and DVD releases Edit
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 11, catalog number VHR 2440, 8 April 1991
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 1.7, catalog number VHR 4648, 7 September 1998
- As part of the TNG Season 1 DVD collection
- As part of the TNG Season 1 Blu-ray collection
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
- Denise Crosby as Lt. Tasha Yar
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
Guest stars Edit
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- James G. Becker as Youngblood
- Susan Duchow as operations division officer
- David Eum as Wright
- Shana Ann Golden as command division officer
- Dan Kelpine as operations division officer
- Tim McCormack as Bennett
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Kenneth Tigar as Margan
- Unknown performers as
- Command division officer
- Female command division officer
- Female USS Enterprise-D computer voice
- Female engineer (voice)
- Female operations division officer
- Female Vulcan engineer
- Male operations division officer
- Operations division officer
- Operations division officer
- Operations division technician
- Seven operations division crewmembers
- Three command division crewmembers
- Transporter ensign
- Two civilians
- Two science division crewmembers
- James G. Becker - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris - stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Dexter Clay - stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Susan Duchow - stand-in for Denise Crosby
- Nora Leonhardt - stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Guy Vardaman - stand-in for Wil Wheaton
2164; 2357; biobed; biofilter; board game; Brekka; Brekkian; bridge; cargo; Cargo Bay 11; conference lounge; corona; deflector shield; Deimos; Delos; Delos system; desktop monitor; drug; Earth; electricity; electrocution; electromagnetic coil; Emergency Manual Override station; Enterprise history; Federation scout; felicium; freighter; Galaxy-class; Galaxy class decks; homeostasis; hostage; lie; long range shuttle; magnetism; main engineering; Mars; med alert; medical tricorder; Milky Way Galaxy; model; moon; murder; narcotic; neural scan; number one; observation lounge; Opperline system; Ornara; Ornaran; Ornaran freighter; Ornaran plague; PADD; painting; photosphere; plague; Prime Directive; ready room; Sanction; science station; ship's store; sickbay; skant; solar flare; standard orbit; star; status report; system interlock; three-dimensional chess; tractor beam; transporter room; turbolift; Turkana IV; type 1 phaser; United Federation of Planets; unnamed plants; utility uniform; viewscreen; VISOR; Vulcan; warp core; x-ray
- "Symbiosis" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Symbiosis" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Symbiosis" at Wikipedia
- "Symbiosis" at the Internet Movie Database
- "Symbiosis" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
| Previous episode:|
"The Arsenal of Freedom"
| Star Trek: The Next Generation|
| Next episode:|
"Skin of Evil"