43

In "Galaxy's Child," the Enterprise comes across a space-dwelling organism that is with child. The organism fires a stream of radiation at the ship, and, to defend himself, Picard orders the firing of phasers. This kills the creature, much to the chagrin of the captain.

Why not try hailing it first? It may be unlikely to succeed, but it can't hurt to give it a shot. After all, in an earlier encounter the Calamarain, a species even less like humans than "Junior's" species, attempted to communicate with the Enterprise, though its message could not be translated on the spot.

enter image description here

  • Was there time to do so? – JAB May 28 '18 at 20:53
  • The Calamarain were pure-energy forms, while this creature looks more like a space amoeba or something, so communication is unlikely... In any case, I don't think there's a canon answer to this. – Rebel-Scum May 28 '18 at 21:09
  • 1
    “It can’t hurt to give it a shot.” Well, it might have resulted in the creature destroying the ship, which probably would have hurt a lot of people. – Paul D. Waite May 30 '18 at 9:27
63

They didn't have time. Lethal radiation exposure was to occur in one minute. The captain ordered a phaser burst at minimum power intended to be a smack on the nose to allow the Enterprise the chance to escape, it was not meant as a killing blast

COMPUTER: Warning. Radiation levels at three hundred millirads per minute and rising. Lethal exposure in one minute.

PICARD: Mister Worf, ready phasers. Minimum power.

WORF: Ready.

PICARD: Fire.

DATA: Radiation levels dropping back to normal, Captain. Energy patterns are breaking down, sir. The radiation signature is no longer stable. (the once-colourful alien goes dark)

DATA: Energy output is negligible, sir. Radiation patterns no longer coherent. I believe it is dead, sir.

PICARD: We're out here to explore, to make contact with other life forms, to establish peaceful relations but not to interfere. And absolutely not to destroy. And yet look what we have just done.

TROI: Captain, everything you did was consistent with established Starfleet procedures.

http://www.chakoteya.net/NextGen/190.htm

  • 2
    How minimum is "minimum power"? True, the space creature was gigantic, but a weapon designed to destroy other spaceships has to pack quite a wallop at any level... – n_b May 29 '18 at 1:31
  • 32
    In the TOS era, a starship's main phaser banks could be used to safely mass-stun a group of humans on a planet's surface ("A Piece of the Action"), so minimum power should be pretty darn minimum. – Russell Borogove May 29 '18 at 1:50
  • 34
    The fact that Troi was there and didn't assert that it's an intelligent, emotional creature was probably relevant, as well. She usually knows that sort of thing and can point it out to let the crew know that attempting to communicate is worthwhile. – zibadawa timmy May 29 '18 at 2:10
  • 6
    @Gertsen - they tried: "LAFORGE: Sorry, Captain. There's too much interference to form a warp field." – NKCampbell May 30 '18 at 13:41
  • 6
    @n_b I understood it as some kind of adverse reaction to the phaser rather than being subjected to overwhelming force. Like firing a warning shot in the air and the target dying of heart attack due to being scared of the boom. Not even using a less-than-lethal round would have helped in such case. Besides, killing the mother was a plot device and no weapon is stronger than plot. Guns don't kill characters, screenwriters do. – Agent_L May 30 '18 at 14:24
42

The original script goes into a little more detail that didn't make it into the final episode. In short this is part of Starfleet's established procedure for dealing with these sorts of situations. The fact that the phasers (on their lowest power setting) had such a dramatic impact was entirely unexpected and is considered by Troi to be little more than an accident, albeit a tragic one.

With less than a minute before the radiation levels became lethal, Picard decided to go with Starfleet's safe option; firing what should have been, in essence, a warning shot to get the creature to back off.

TROI: Captain, everything you did was consistent with established Starfleet procedures... what happened was an accident... unavoidable...

Picard glances at her... barely acknowledges... rises to go to his Ready Room...

PICARD: The Bridge is yours, Number One.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.