138 – Ship in a Bottle

Grade: B+

Ship In A Bottle (1993) on IMDb


While Commander Data and Geordi LaForge are performing a Sherlock Holmes mystery in the Holodeck, they notice some glitches in the programming. Lt. Barclay then discovers that the character of Dr. Moriarty is still in protected memory – after having been created four years earlier.


This is the third very good episode in a row – something this season desperately needed. The storyline is the best I’ve seen in many episodes – probably since Inner Light. The characters are much better than most of the 6th season, and Moriarty is among the best villains this series ever produced. The characters are consistent and realistic, and also extremely interesting. It also definitely helps that Barclay is here as well, since his character is also among the best of the regular guests.

The best thing about this storyline is that it is always surprising. There are only very minor hints about what is going to happen next. In many of these episodes, it’s obvious where the plot is headed, way before it ever goes there. This one doesn’t do that.

I like it that this episode ends a bit open-ended. I would love to see more episodes with Dr. Moriarty’s adventures.

The weakest part of this episode has very little to do with the main storyline. The writers came up with the idea that two gas giant planets would collide and create a new star. I’m not even an amateur astronomer, but I found this to be pretty silly, actually. Planets don’t have nearly enough mass to become stars. If the episode could have come up with something a bit more realistic as its second plot line, I would have rated this episode quite a bit higher overall.

This is definitely one of the best Next Generation episodes. It’s not quite as good as the very best, but it’s still pretty high on the list.

Of Note

The episode teaser takes longer than 6 minutes – it’s unusually long.

Moriarty says that his author was an Englishman, but Arthur Conan Doyle was actually Scottish. In that same scene, Moriarty says his author died 400 years ago. I always wondered how he could have known all about him like that.