*** (3 stars out of 5)
Captain Donald Varley of the Yamato believed he had located Iconia. He was heading out for Iscandar when... oh, different Yamato. This one is not a cartoon and it explodes quite unexpectedly in the Romulan Neutral Zone.
Was the writer of this Howard the Duck's Steve Gerber? It surely was. Nice.
Geordi and Data confirm the Yamato died while making a dump. Don't make a dump with antimatter is the lesson here.
Varley wanted Picard to continue his quest. "Should this advanced technology fall into the hands of the Romulans we may as well dock our ships and defend ourselves with sticks."
Ancient texts called the Iconians 'demons of air and darkness' who could travel from world to world without starships. Woe betide the foes of Iconia, whose mighty hand doth stretch forth unto the very heavens... ancient texts do have a tendency to babylon and on...
The Enterprise starts to seriously malfunction. Replicator gives Picard a flower instead of his tea. La Forge rushes for the bridge, but the turbolift dashes around like mad, hurling him violently about. (Incidentally, his uniform doesn't just wick away sweat, it vanishes completely. Probably not an Arrakis stillsuit, but a good feature on a long jog.)
"Fate... protects fools, little childen, and ships named Enterprise." says Riker.
Sub-commander Taris' warbird Haakona (also with mechanical problems) shows up and tries to claim Iconia for the Empire.
Both ships are too screwed up from a computer virus written in ancient cuneiform to start shooting, but the threat is all too real.
In fact, the greatest threat in the whole story is ignorance: one of the guys in sickbay HAS NEVER HEARD OF SPLINTS! I say 'guy' because he cannot possibly be a medical doctor. Of any century. Pulaski has clearly snagged a dude in a blue shirt from the hall and he's pretending his degree in Medieval Tholian Astrophysics qualifies him to sound off.
The 200,000 year old Iconian command centre has a functioning gateway to step across light-years. And a bug zapper to damage Data with! Both would come in handy, but Picard destroys this archeological marvel to keep the peace.
Leave it to Geordi to fix the computers- by turning them off, and then back on again. FUTURE!
"Contagion" almost didn't get made because Gene Roddenberry felt the Enterprise computer was too advanced to ever fail. Thankfully, writer/programmer Beth Woods convinced him otherwise. It's a good adventure.
Carolyn Seymour is arch as all hell and brilliant as Tanis. She's exactly what a Romulan should be. I guarantee you SHE knows what a splint is. It's what you yank off a Klingon's broken leg and beat him to death with.