33 – Unnatural Selection

Grade: D+

Unnatural Selection (1989) on IMDb


Captain Picard discusses Dr. Pulaski’s job performance with Counselor Troi. Suddenly, the ship receives a garbled distress signal from a medical ship that they are supposed to meet.


In my opinion, this is one of the worst episodes in this season, if not the worst. To begin, of course the distress signal is going to be garbled – that’s just how things work in the Star Trek universe. If it were any other message, it would come in loud and clear. Only messages of distress come with static and the occasional clear words like “death”, “come quickly”, etc. Both the Animated Series and the Original Series did this too many times, and it’s old and cheesy now.

Dr. Pulaski has a significant role in this episode, which in my opinion, brings down the quality a great deal. In this episode, she manages to interrupt Captain Picard about a half-dozen times, even after he politely asks her to allow him to complete his sentences “once in a while.” At one point, she interrupts him, then apologizes, and then after Picard grants her permission to do what she wants, she immediately starts objecting and tries to explain why she really needs to do what she wants. Then she suddenly realizes what he said, and proves she wasn’t listening to him in the first place. Good job by the writers here to point out Pulaski’s character, but honestly, I wish they hadn’t written her to be like this.

One other thing about Pulaski: at one point, she tells Data “I hate to remind you that you’re only a machine, but….” To that, I say baloney. She loves to point this out, and she does it all the time.

Aside from Pulaski, the rest of this episode is rather awkward, and it doesn’t seem to fit in with the established storyline of the rest of the series. There’s an event in the history of Star Trek called the Eugenics Wars, when genetically altered humans fought against other humans. After the war ended, genetic alteration became outlawed in the Federation, with harsh punishment for anyone found guilty of doing this. So this episode should not have taken place, and Pulaski should not have become a respected authority on genetic alterations. Well, it’s not a huge deal, but it’s annoying when Star Trek ignores its established history.

Besides that, this episode is poorly acted and directed, and I really wasn’t interested in the outcome. Once Dr. Pulaski had been infected by this ridiculous virus, a part of me hoped she was being written off the show. Oh darn, no such luck.

So needless to say, this is not my favorite Season 2 episode, and in fact, it’s far from it. I don’t think this one should have been filmed at all, and maybe it wouldn’t have been if it weren’t for the writers strike of 1988.

Of Note

This episode has several examples of what Star Trek has become famous for – scientific techno-babble. Chief O’Brien seems to have most of these lines, and the actor does a pretty good job saying all these ridiculous lines with a straight face.

It was nice to have the name “Gagarin 4” in the script. Yuri Gagarin was a Soviet astronaut who was the first man in outer space, and the first one to orbit the Earth.