Gates McFadden Defends The Worst Star Trek: The Next Generation Episode Of All Time

In a recent interview, Star Trek: The Next Generation's Gates McFadden defends the infamous "Sub Rosa."

By Michileen Martin | Updated

gates mcfadden star trek
Gates McFadden in “Sub Rosa” – Star Trek: The Next Generation S7 E14

Sometimes you save the best for last, and sometimes there’s a little bit of the worst in there too. As evidence we submit Gates McFadden’s time getting naughty with a green smoke ghost in the Star Trek: The Next Generation final season episode “Sub Rosa.” It survives as one of the most maligned episodes in the franchise, but in a recent interview, the Picard star said that rather than embarrassing, she sees the episode as “just fun.”

McFadden was talking to TrekMovie about her podcast InvestiGates: Who Do You Think You Are? The podcast finds Gates McFadden interviewing current and former Star Trek talent from all over the franchise, including a recent episode with Star Trek: Voyager‘s Kate Mulgrew, who had no idea what “Sub Rosa” was. Asked whether or not explaining the episode to Mulgrew unearthed old memories, McFadden responded:

“No, I think it’s just fun. What’s great is how my evolution on the episode has been. Because I do now think it’s hilarious. And that’s great, why not think it’s hilarious instead of being concerned? It’s turned out to be this cult thing .. So it was fun to explain it to her. And she laughed. I mean, it’s funny. So why wouldn’t anybody? It’s crazy.”

-Gates McFadden

Gates McFadden’s Beverly Crusher didn’t have a lot of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes devoted specifically to her character, and unlike Season 4’s excellent outlier “Remember Me,” Season 7’s “Sub Rosa” did not exactly focus on the doctor’s intellect. In the aftermath of her grandmother’s death, Beverly encounters a man in his thirties named Ronin (Duncan Regehr), who her 100-year-old grandmother enjoyed a romance with. Ronin, who plays at being a ghost, appears before Beverly whenever she lights her grandmother’s candle.

Multiple scenes in “Sub Rosa” have Beverly entranced in sexual bliss while being enveloped in a strange green cloud. Unsurprisingly, her lover Ronin ultimately proves to be a manipulative alien and after he hurts a number of Beverly’s friends, including Patrick Stewart‘s Picard, she’s able to fight off his tempting advances and defeat him.

Gates McFadden in “Sub Rosa” – Star Trek: The Next Generation S7 E14

As Gates McFadden says, the funny nature of the premise of “Sub Rosa” has lent it a cult status among some Star Trek fans in recent years, but one thing some audiences are still angry at her character about was unveiled more recently.

WARNING! SPOILERS follow for the current season of Star Trek: Picard.

Beverly Crusher is proving a lot more pivotal to Picard than she often was in TNG. Jack Crusher (Ed Speleer), the same man Amanda Plummer’s Vadic is so desperate to capture, is confirmed to be her son with the titular hero in “Disengage,” the second episode of Picard‘s third season. In the third episode, “Seventeen Seconds,” Picard and Beverly finally have a fiery conversation about Beverly hiding Jack’s existence from him.

gates mcfadden star trek
Gates McFadden in “The Next Generation” – Star Trek: Picard S3 E1

It turns out like so many characters on the series, Beverly made her choice based on loss. After losing her husband to death and her son Wesley to the cosmos, Gates McFadden’s hero wasn’t confident she could protect another son from all the Star Trek villains who would want to use Jack as a way to get to Jean-Luc.

To see more of Beverly Crusher’s return to Star Trek, episode 5 of Picard‘s third season streams this Thursday on Paramount+.