Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 4, Episode 15

First Contact (16 Feb. 1991)

TV Episode  -   -  Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
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Commander William Riker has been on an acculturation mission under an alias for months on the Arkonian planet, surgically altered to appear like a local, but he gets badly wounded, beyond ... See full summary »



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Title: First Contact (16 Feb 1991)

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Episode cast overview:
Mirasta Yale
Dr. Tava


Commander William Riker has been on an acculturation mission under an alias for months on the Arkonian planet, surgically altered to appear like a local, but he gets badly wounded, beyond their medical skills because his internal organs are unknown to them. Captain Jean-Luc Picard decides to speed up his official diplomatic approach, formally the First Contact, and intercede on Riker's behalf, but they are told by a fascinated open-minded Atkonian scientist that her planet's culture is particularly xenophobic so they reject any alien being as being unequal to them. The Arkonian government keeps the matter secret but is internally divided: while the chancellor Durken is in favor of Riker's release without the people finding out and establishing friendly relations with the Federation, his powerful security minister Krola is prepared to go to any length to preserve their traditional way of life, so he finds Riker and fakes his own murder.... Written by KGF Vissers

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Release Date:

16 February 1991 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Bebe Neuwirth was working on Cheers (1982) at the same time. In order to dovetail her schedule it was sometimes necessary for her to go through makeup with Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987), then skip across the lot to rehearse with Cheers (in alien makeup), then return to TNG to finish makeup and shoot. She reported that the Cheers cast appreciated the humorous distraction (glued to her face). See more »


Chancellor Durken: My people are not ready to accept what you represent. Everything that happened in the hospital proves that. And Krola is the best evidence of all. We must slow down, and allow those who are like him to join us in the present, before we can move into the future.
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Referenced in Star Trek: Enterprise: Broken Bow: Part 1 (2001) See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

major plot holes and contradictory concepts revealed
15 October 2008 | by (United States) – See all my reviews

This episode contains plot holes. They are pretty significant so I would like to point them out.

First off, there is no way that the Enterprise could conduct this mission without a cloaking device. I suggest that keeping cloaking technology from Starfleet would be impossible. If you are at war with a race you will inevitably capture their technology in battle and gain an intelligence coup. The Federation has been at war with both the Klingons and the Romulans yet it has never acquired the technology. If you use it on the enemy, there is a chance the enemy will get it and use it on you. In a world of limitless resources the concept that prevents American technology from being turned against us will not work. As of now it doesn't matter if you take our stuff, you don't have the resources to build enough of them yourself to pose a threat, it's useless to you. This would check/balance would not exist in the ST universe. You could say that you would reveal your technology very carefully for this reason. If your technology falls into enemy hands they can replicate it all day long without so much as understanding how it works. In short, you would protect your tech more than you do now, but there really would be very little you can do to stop the inevitable leaking of your technology to other alien races. Thus, there is no reason why Starfleet shouldn't all be cloaking.

Secondly, if Riker was on the planet for months doing acculturation research where was the Enterprise during this time? Are we to believe it sat in orbit out of sight while it conducted this mission? The Atkonians are supposedly on the cusp of warp travel I assume they have sub-light drive technology, satellites and of course telescopes. That would make it quite difficult for the Enterprise to do anything without being discovered since as I pointed out above they cannot cloak. With satellites and telescopes of our own as sub-warp aliens, we could tell the second an uncloaked alien ship entered our Solar System even with our vastly inferior to Starfleet technology.

Seems to me that an exploration vessel is designed to explore, and that diplomatic ships would be sent to deal with Atkonians. That would be like sending Columbus to initiate a mission of peace with the Native Americans. Columbus had weaponry. Most ambassadors I know of do not carry weaponry as a rule to peace talks or ever for that matter. How can peace exist in the face of firepower? More often, history shows us, that like Krola believes, explorers are usually conquerers. In 300 years on Earth(the difference between us in the here and now, and the Enterprise in 2366) there really is very little difference of the baser instincts of man despite our "civilization." Evolution takes longer than 300 years, history reveals. The concept of a First Contact is flawed in it's very concept for that reason. You cannot force evolution to occur thousands of times faster than it would naturally. Even with the introduction of superior technology, the baser instincts would case war or other disruptions in the balance of power. If you are not evolved enough to use the technology the results would be catastrophic. Just by revealing themselves, they reveal the concepts of technology that can be recreated by the Atkonians. For example, if the Iraqis saw microwave non-lethal emitters, they may not have them but now they know about them they are that much easier to re-invent. By just mingling with Atkonians it would greatly accelerate their technology levels far faster than evolution could keep up. It would be disastrous. Especially with a xenophobic race like the Atkonians. Are we to believe that when they get phasers that they won't use them on all the ugly foreign aliens that have fingers and toes?

Lastly, if they can change Riker's face why couldn't they change his hands and feet to make him more genuine. Latex gloves perhaps? Also why do humans always conduct First Contact, why not Vulcans or any of the vast myriad of alien races that belong to the Federation of Planets? More specifically why is it always the Enterprise initiating First Contact? Sometimes the way certain writers script this show they would have you believe that the Starship Enterprise is the only ship in the Federation, and they singlehandedly take care of every single emerging Federation problem. Other times they raise more questions about the series than the value of the story they are trying to tell. It can make the show very campy at times.

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