Evolution (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 1) Wesley’s nanobots irk tweedy astrophysicist

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

The life’s work of an eminent astrophysicist is threatened when Wesley accidentally creates a civilization of microscopic beings. For a school project.

The rumpled Dr. Stubbs is friendly enough to Wesley, but he lacks the devoted female companion that Star Trek often gives its male scientific geniuses, so his fatalistic tweediness seems to warn us of what Wesley might become in 30 years if he continues to hyper-focus on his career.

The plot requires us to accept that in a matter of hours, two standard-issue microscopic medical robots (“nanites”), having been somehow stimulated by Wesley, evolve into a civilization that develops language, aesthetics (they call humans “strange-looking creatures”) and ethics — though they stumble over the phrase “at your mercy.”

Some good scenes show Dr. Crusher reconnecting with her son after being away for a year, and we learn a bit about Guinan as a parent. A brief scene in Ten Forward shows Wesley interacting with other people his age (played for mom-based comedy).

We’ve seen random system malfunctions (“Contagion“) and the ship threatened by tiny machine-based life forms before (Home Soil), so it’s hard to imagine there aren’t protocols to follow (isolating systems, rebooting to factory settings, that sort of thing).