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The Neutral Zone (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

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The Neutral Zone (Star Trek: The Next Generation)

"The Neutral Zone"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
This episode marked the first appearance of the Romulans in Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode no. Season 1
Episode 26
Directed by James L. Conway
Teleplay by Maurice Hurley
Story by
Featured music Ron Jones[1]
Cinematography by Edward R. Brown
Production code 126
Original air date May 16, 1988 (1988-05-16)
Guest actors

"The Neutral Zone" is the 26th episode of the Q Who".

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship USS Enterprise-D. In "The Neutral Zone", the Enterprise is sent to investigate the destruction of Federation outposts near space controlled by the Romulan Star Empire, discovering a derelict Earth satellite with cryonically frozen humans aboard.

This episode saw the introduction of the redesigned Romulans, with prosthetic forehead pieces designed by makeup supervisor Michael Westmore, and the first appearance of the Romulan Warbird which was designer Andrew Probert's final work for the Star Trek franchise. The episode was mildly received by critics who viewed it after the end of the season, who criticised the two plot nature of the episode and the general lack of excitement.


  • Plot 1
  • Production 2
    • Writing and casting 2.1
    • Make-up and design 2.2
  • Reception and home media release 3
  • Notes 4
  • References 5
  • External links 6


While Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is away at an emergency Federation conference, the Enterprise crew discovers an ancient space capsule from Earth. Inside they find three humans in cryonic chambers. Lt. Cdr. Data (Brent Spiner) asks to move the chambers to the Enterprise and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) agrees. Picard returns and orders the Enterprise to the Neutral Zone, as several Federation outposts nearby have not responded to communications. He explains that the conference was about the potential threat of the Romulans, who have not been seen for the last several decades. As Data and Chief Medical Officer Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) work to thaw the cryonicly preserved humans, Picard admonishes Data for bringing them aboard during a crucial time, and puts Riker in charge of looking after them.

The survivors – Claire Raymond (Gracie Harrison), a housewife; Ralph Offenhouse (Peter Mark Richman), a financier; and L. Q. "Sonny" Clemmons (Leon Rippy), a musician – are from the late 20th Century. All died of incurable illnesses and were placed in cryogenic suspension after their deaths in the hope that cures might be found in the future. Dr. Crusher, in reviving them, successfully cures them of their illnesses. They deal with the culture shock of awakening in a distant future, while Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis) searches for the living descendants of Claire. Of the three, Clemmons seems to fare the best at adapting to life in the future and befriends Data. Raymond is distraught at the thought of losing everyone she ever knew, particularly her children. Offenhouse is irritated by the loss of his wealth, and lack of access to news or other information. Picard assures him that all questions will be answered, but that their current situation with the Romulans requires Picard's full attention.

The Enterprise reaches the Neutral Zone and confirms that the outposts have been destroyed. They are soon met by a Romulan Warbird and Commander Tebok (Marc Alaimo) questions why the Enterprise has approached the zone. As Picard tries to explain his actions, Offenhouse arrives on the bridge and threatens to disrupt the tense situation, though he correctly ascertains that the Romulans are also seeking answers. Picard and the Romulans agree to pool their resources to discover the culprit. Picard later comments that while the encounter went favourably, the Romulans may be a significant threat in future engagements. Picard arranges to transport the 20th-Century humans to Earth, where one of Raymond's descendants lives. Clemmons expresses enthusiasm for the future, and Picard sets Offenhouse the challenge of improving himself.


Writing and casting

Marc Alaimo made his second appearance in The Next Generation in "The Neutral Zone"

Due to the impending

External links

  • Roddenberry, Gene (1987). Star Trek: The Next Generation Writer/Director's Guide (PDF). 
  • Westmore, Michael G; Nazzaro, Joe (1993). Star Trek: The Next Generation Make-Up FX Journal. London: Titan.  
  • Gross, Edward; Altman, Mark A. (1995). Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages. Boston: Little Brown & Co.  
  • Reeves-Stevens, Judith; Reeves-Stevens, Garfield (1998). Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Continuing Mission (2nd ed.). New York: Pocket Books.  
  • Nemecek, Larry (2003). Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (3rd ed.). New York: Pocket Books.  


  1. ^ a b c d e Nemecek (1993): p. 59
  2. ^ a b c d Nemecek (1993): p. 60
  3. ^ Jankiewicz, Pat (April 1992). "James L. Conway - Arbiter of Justice". The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine (19): 49–50. 
  4. ^ "Catching Up With Director James L. Conway, Part 1". Star February 16, 2012. Retrieved January 9, 2013. 
  5. ^ Roddenberry (1987): p. 11
  6. ^ a b Westmore, Nazzaro (1993): p. 42
  7. ^ Gross, Altman (1995): p. 169
  8. ^ Gross, Altman (1995): p. 180
  9. ^ a b c DeCandido, Keith (August 4, 2011). """Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: "The Neutral Zone. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  10. ^ Reeves-Stevens (1998): p. 6
  11. ^ DeCandido, Keith (May 26, 2011). """Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: "Lonely Among Us. Retrieved January 5, 2013. 
  12. ^ Westmore, Nazzaro (1993): p. 43
  13. ^ Reeves-Stevens (1998): p. 32
  14. ^ a b c Handlen, Zack (May 28, 2010). ""We'll Always Have Paris"/"Conspiracy"/"The Neutral Zone"". A.V. Club. Retrieved May 12, 2015. 
  15. ^ "Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 26 (VHS)". Tower Video. Retrieved November 10, 2012. 
  16. ^ Periguard, Mark A (March 24, 2002). Life as a House' rests on shaky foundation"'". The Boston Herald. Retrieved October 13, 2012.  (subscription required)
  17. ^ Shaffer, RL (April 30, 2012). "Star Trek: The Next Generation Beams to Blu-ray". IGN. Retrieved 17 October 2012. 


The first home media release of "The Neutral Zone" was on VHS cassette was on May 26, 1993 in the United States and Canada.[15] The episode was later included on the Star Trek: The Next Generation season one DVD box set, released in March 2002,[16] and was released as part of the season one Blu-ray set on July 24, 2012.[17]

Several reviewers re-watched Star Trek: The Next Generation after the end of the series. Keith DeCandido on felt that the episode did not really work, saying that the "smug moralizing with regard to the three 20th century refugees is laid on a bit too thick", and that the appearance of the Romulans tried too hard to be reminiscent of their first appearance in "Balance of Terror". Overall he said that the "first season ends, not with a bang, but with a whimper".[9] Zack Handlen of the A.V. Club felt that the previous episode, "Conspiracy", would have served better as an end to the first season as "The Neutral Zone" wasn't the worst so far, "but it may possibly be the most frustrating, because it has two storylines".[14] He felt that the Romulan plot would have been sufficient alone and described the storyline featuring the cryogenic survivors as "extremely painful comic relief".[14] He gave the episode a grade of C-.[14]

Reception and home media release

The Romulan Warbird made its first appearance in this episode, with it being the final design of Andrew Probert for the Star Trek franchise, having previously designed both the Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture and the Enterprise-D for The Next Generation. The double hulled nature of the starship originated in early designs, however the wings were originally vertical rather than horizontal, with the size of the ship made to be deliberately larger than that of the Enterprise.[13]

Michael Westmore developed a new appearance for the Romulans in this episode, being required to take into account the concepts introduced for them in the original series episodes "Balance of Terror" and "The Enterprise Incident". There was also a desire to ensure that they appeared different to the Vulcans, with default appearance of the Romulans to look more aggressive and warlike. Westmore developed prosthetic forehead pieces, taking careful steps to ensure that they don't look like Neanderthals.[6] Rather than create individual designs for each forehead as he did with the Klingons, a number of standard designs were created.[12]

Make-up and design

Two of the time displaced humans returned in Star Trek literature, with Ralph Offenhouse appearing in The Next Generation novel Debtor’s Planet as the Federation Ambassador to the Ferengi and again in the Star Trek: Destiny trilogy as the Secretary of Commerce for the Federation. Clare Raymond made a further appearance in the Star Trek: Department of Temporal Investigations novel Watching the Clock as a counsellor for time-displaced people. Offenhouse, Raymond and "Sonny" Clemmons also appeared in the two-part Star Trek: The Eugenic Wars by Greg Cox which was set prior to their appearance in this episode.[9]

The episode featured an appearance by Gene Roddenberry's production assistant Susan Sackett as a Starfleet science officer. Her appearance was the result of winning a bet over her weight loss. She would go on to write two episodes of The Next Generation alongside Fred Bronson, "Ménage à Troi" and "The Game".[2] Peter Mark Richman appeared as Ralph Offenhouse,[1] and had appeared in a guest star capacity in over 500 roles on television.[2] Leon Rippy appeared as L.Q. "Sonny" Clemonds,[1] having previously appeared alongside Jonathan Frakes in North and South.[2] Marc Alaimo made his second Star Trek appearance in this episode, having appeared in "Lonely Among Us" as the Antican leader, and would go on to appear in season four's "The Wounded" as Cardassian Gul Macet before being cast once more as a Cardassian in the recurring role of Gul Dukat on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.[11]

In the writers and directors' guide for the series, written by the show's creator [7][8] While the Romulans made their first TNG appearance in this episode, they were previously mentioned in "Angel One" and "Heart of Glory".[9] The episode was the final one of season one to be completed, with production wrapping ten months after it began on "Encounter at Farpoint".[10]

[4]" during season six.Frame of Mind" earlier in the first season. He didn't direct another episode until "Justice directed by Conway, the first being "The Next Generation It was the second episode of [3] later explained, "If there hadn't been a strike, I think it would have been a better script."James L. Conway The script that was shot was a first draft, and due to the writer's strike in place, no amendments were subsequently made. Director [2]

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