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Series Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 1, Episode 21
TNG 1x21 002.jpg
Air date April 16th, 1988
Writers Robert Lewin; Richard Manning; Hans Beimler
Director Win Phelps
Producers Robert Lewin; Robert H. Justman; Maurice Hurley; Rick Berman; Peter Lauritson; David Livingston
Starring Patrick Stewart; Jonathan Frakes; LeVar Burton; Denise Crosby; Michael Dorn; Gates McFadden; Marina Sirtis; Brent Spiner; Wil Wheaton
Episode guide
"The Arsenal of Freedom"
"Skin of Evil"

"Symbiosis" is the twenty-first episode of season one of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation and the twenty-second episode of the series overall (if one counts the two-part pilot episode "Encounter at Farpoint" as two episodes). Combining the episode count of all Star Trek-related TV shows to date, it is the 126th episode of the entire franchise. This episode was directed by Win Phelps with a script written by Robert Lewin, Richard Manning and Hans Beimler based on a story treatment developed by Lewin. It first aired in syndication in the United States on April 16th, 1988.


The Enterprise goes to check out some unusual solar flare activity in a faraway system. While there, the pick-up a distress beacon from a freighter ship. The solar flare activity makes communicating difficult, but Captain Picard manages to successfully beam over four out of six occupants as well as the cargo of the ship, which arrives first. When questioned about why the crew of the beleaguered ship sent their cargo first, freighter captain T'Jon explains that it contains medicine, which the people of Omara greatly need in order to stave off the effects of a plague. Two of the freighter ship's occupants are Sobi and Langor - Brekkian humanoids who had sold the Omarans the medicine, which is called Felicium.

As the Enterprise crew struggle to understand the situation, it becomes clear that Omarans T'Jon and his first mate, Romas are in the midst of a trade dispute with the Brekkians, Sobi and Langor. Picard sequesters them to guest quarters until they can hash out their affairs.

Doctor Beverly Crusher takes a keen interest in the situation, and upon further analysis conlcludes that that there is no longer a plague affecting the people of Omara. Rather, the Omarans have become dependent upon the effects of the medicine, and the trade dealers are effectively exploiting their addiction to maintain their profit margins.

Crusher is furious about this, but more so over the fact that Picard can seemingly do nothing about the situation. As both races represent underdeveloped cultures, it would be a violation of the Prime Directive to interfere - even to the point of even informing the Omarans that they are being exploited.

The only solution that Picard can come upon is to beam both parties to their respective planets, but without the benefit of the materials required to repair their ships. Without these replacement parts, the Brekkians will no longer be able to supply the Omarans with with felicium, and the Omaran people will have to ween themselves off the drug's addictive properties on their own.


Principal Cast

Actor Role
Patrick Stewart Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes Commander William T. Riker
LeVar Burton Lieutenant Geordi La Forge
Denise Crosby Lieutenant Tasha Yar
Michael Dorn Lieutenant Worf
Gates McFadden Doctor Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis Counselor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner Lt. Commander Data
Wil Wheaton Wesley Crusher

Guest Stars

Actor Role
Judson Scott Sobi
Merritt Butrick T'Jon
Richard Lineback Romas


Actor Role
Kimberly Farr Langor

Uncredited cast

Actor Role
Majel Barrett Enterprise computer


Notes & Trivia

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  • Jean-Luc Picard: Beverly, the Prime Directive is not just a set of rules; it is a philosophy, and a very correct one. History's proved, again and again, that whenever mankind interferes with a less developed civilization, no matter how well-intentioned that interference may be, the results are disastrous.
  • Wesley Crusher: Data, I can understand how this would happen to the Ornarans. What I can't understand is why anyone would voluntarily become dependent on a chemical substance.
  • Data: Drug addiction is a recurring theme in many cultures. However, neither being human nor having had any comparable experience, firsthand or otherwise, I am afraid I cannot give precisely the answer you seem to hope for.


  • Wesley Crusher: How does a chemical substance provide an escape?
  • Tasha Yar: It can't really. But it makes you think it is. It's difficult to explain, but drugs can make you feel...good. They put you on top of the world; you're happy, you feel in control of everything and everybody.
  • Wesley Crusher: But what's the point, if you know it's artificial?
  • Tasha Yar: Because it doesn't feel artificial until the drug wears off. Then you feel just the opposite of what you did before: sad, powerless, hopeless, in pain... And the worst part is, the more often you take the drug, the more your body adapts to it... so that you need higher and higher doses to get back the good feeling. However, those larger doses also leave you feeling worse, and for longer, after it wears off. That's how you get trapped. Before you know it, you're not even taking the drug to feel good anymore; you're just taking it to keep from feeling bad.

See also


The World of Star Trek

Star Trek miscellaneous

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