Mark Watches ‘The Next Generation’: S07E19 – Genesis

In the nineteenth episode of the seventh season of The Next Generation, I SHALL NEVER RECOVER FROM THIS EPISODE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For EXTREME body horror, threat of sexual assault

WHAT THE HELL DO YOU EVEN SAY ABOUT THIS EPISODE? I’m so torn because… well, let me start here. I never once thought that The Next Generation would go this far. Ever. The show is not particularly violent, and while there have been a number of uncomfortable and chilling plots over the years, there’s been nothing like “Genesis.” I made a comment at the end of the video for this episode where I declare that this experience was like the showrunners handed the whole thing over to David Cronenberg and said, “Do whatever you want with these characters!”


The Concept

I don’t know how willing my brain is to accept the central idea to “Genesis” because… well, it’s just so random. Yes, the intron is real, and yes, there’s plenty of truth to the idea that we’ve got a lot of dormant shit in our DNA. So that means a devolution would magically turn people into a different, random manifestation of a shared ancestor in a matter of half a day… okay. That’s a bit much, isn’t it? I’m literally talking about a show with time travel, multiple fictional alien species, and constant fantastic elements to it, and somehow, THIS PLOT MAKES MY BRAIN HURT. I don’t know why that is!!! Why am I being picky!!! It doesn’t make sense to hold up the show to this standard but not others!!!

Please tell me someone understands this phenomenon. PLEASE.

The Execution

Here’s where I say that despite that “Genesis” makes no real scientific sense to me – does the mutation or activation of genes create an instantaneous affect??? – I think Gates McFadden’s direction is INCREDIBLE. I think the make-up is unreal. I think that this episode’s conviction to the concept is so admirable that I want other episodic television shows to examine it and learn that they can take their own shows to utterly absurd and horrifying lengths and it is totally fine.

I don’t necessarily like everything here. I think it’s a little suspect to turn one of the show’s only black men into an animalistic creature who, if he were not interrupted, may have sexually assaulted Deanna Troi. I do understand that everyone devolved in this episode, but I’m basing my perception on that scene towards the end where Data and Picard theorize that Worf is trying to reach his “mate.” (Side note: Wow, did they not realize what that meant, that Deanna and Worf are dating? DO THEY NOT KNOW?) I think this is mostly just an unfortunate implication than anything else, especially not something deliberately malicious. And hell, I’m even torn on that because HIS COSTUME/MAKE-UP DESIGN IS INCREDIBLE.

What impresses me most about this episode is the escalation. I’m so used to The Next Generation giving me plots where someone behaves strangely or something weird happens that I expected it to be prolonged for a great deal of “Genesis.” However, by the time Data and Picard leave to track down an errant torpedo, the crew is already at a stage that we’d normally see twenty minutes into an episode. Fifteen minutes into “Genesis,” and everything on the Enterprise was a disaster, complete and all-encompassing. And then Worf is spraying venom into Beverly Crusher’s face, and Riker can’t concentrate, and Deanna is obsessed with moisture and salt and I HAD NO IDEA JUST HOW MUCH FURTHER THIS WOULD GO.

I seriously can’t believe the lengths “Genesis” went. It all makes no sense, and yet, Deanna is just an amphibian. Worf looks like an extra from the Predator films. Riker is a caveman and so is Alyssa? Sort of? Who cares, because I will never, ever recover from the scene where Picard discovers that Barclay has turned into A FUCKING SPIDER. A SPIDER. BURY ME RIGHT HERE, THAT WAS THE WORST THING I’VE EVER SEEN, IT IS ALL MY NIGHTMARES COME TO LIFE, I WILL HOLD THIS EPISODE PERSONALLY ACCOUNTABLE FOR THE REMAINDER OF MY LIFE. Not even adorable kittens will make me feel better about it!!! (If they were here…. well, that’s a different story.)

I don’t know if you can feel anything about this episode aside from shock and horror. If you asked me if it was good, I genuinely don’t know how I’d reply. It happened? Gates McFadden should have directed more episodes? I’m impressed and disgusted? Will The Next Generation ever treat me like this again? I honestly don’t know, but I am a changed man after that experience. I once lived a life before “Genesis,” and I have now entered a new period that exists after that. Welcome, friends. It’s a whole new world from here on out.

The video for “Genesis” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at numerous conventions in 2016! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Death Note and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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