*** (3 stars out of 5)
Is it brilliant?
Maybe not, but Dr. Crusher's back and that makes up for a multitude of faults. Also, over the summer, Geordi and Worf got promotions, and everybody but the peons got snazzy new jackets.
Ken Jenkins as Dr. Paul Stubbs makes the episode, of course, as the science-minded astrophysics wunderkind now past his prime and serving as an example to Wesley of a life lived for the single aim of scientific achievement. Who has two thumbs and doesn't give a crap about a personal life? SCIENCE!
Guinan compares Wes to Dr. Frank N. Stein. Apparently a scientist of her acquaintance?
I like certain aspects of the story, I dislike others. For one thing, I'm keen on the whole idea of nanites. Microscopic robots with medical applications, these particular particles escape Wesley's petri dishes, eat the ship's computer core like it was peanut brittle, and rapidly rebuild themselves toward intelligence and self-determination. Also, they're kind of jerks. But, if you're dwarfed by a cell wall, I guess short man's disease is inevitable.
On the downside, this is a grey, grey world. Science, it would seem, is cold and sterile. Wes in a grey suit in a grey lab with grey nanites. Stubbs in a grey suit working alone for decades with his grey Egg. His only relaxation involves imagining some tediously dull game from America called baseball. It sounds ghastly.
"Evolution" is appropriate to a show finding its writing stronger than ever, its handsome cast in more flattering uniforms, and new ideas still in growth.
'Star Trek' only gets better from here... then a little worse. But then better, mostly.