**** (4 stars out of 5)
Picard's archeology professor Galen drops in for a surprise visit, with an ultra-rare naiskos from planet Kurl. Although this 12,000 year old ceramic Action Figure is a gift, it's also kind of a bribe. Galen wants Picard to join his quest. To seek out the dead and ancient civilizations. To grub about where no one has grubbed before!
Picard is very reluctant to give his mentor the boot. "I had a father, but he was like the father who understood me."
The Professor does not take Picard's decision well. "You're like some Roman centurion patrolling the provinces, maintaining a dull and bloated empire!" Hey, words hurt, man. Especially Meta ones. But let's wait for a couple more series before we start using the 'b' word!
When Galen shuttles away in a huff, he is killed by Yridian information dealers. Picard pursues the mystery to Indri VIII, an L-Class plant world. They reach it in time to see the biosphere totally eradicated. I've had a devil of a time pulling dandelions lately, but this is overkill.
Galen's notes include part of a puzzle made out of disparate but compatible DNA fragments from 19 different worlds. The puzzle is also a computer program: which makes it the work of intelligent life... 4 and a half billion years ago. Does Larry King have an alibi?
Gul Ocett of Cardassia and plant-assassin Captain Nu'Daq of the Klingons covet Galen's work, too. Is it a weapon? A power source? Picard points out that nobody will get anything unless they co-operate. It's a puzzle, not Hungry Hungry Hippos.
Picard names a destination, so Ocett's people attack and fly off... in the wrong direction. Way to lie, Captain! How's that First Duty working for you? Enterprise warps to the Vilmoran system, scrapes its dried up seabed for lichen, and finishes the puzzle-program. While a Scottish Romulan and a British Cardassian wave weapons, Dr. Crusher plays the finished holographic recording with her tricorder.
The ancient humanoid who appears declares her people were explorers in a lonely cosmos. They never met anyone else, but their scientists put DNA seeds in primordial soup all across the galaxy.
That's one way to make new friends.
"You are a monument not to our greatness, but to our existence... There is something of us in each of you, and so, something of you in each other."
"The Chase" presented fans with a possible look at 'the Preservers' mentioned by Spock as ancient world seeders back in 'The Paradise Syndrome'. Writer Ronald Moore admits this was their intent, although nobody calls them by this name. Even with all the pointed ears, bumpy foreheads, and scaly necks there's just something human about humanoids. Obvious? Sure. What with the interbreeding. Yet it's heartwarming to hear we filthy monkeys have a lot in common.