Star Trek: Discovery Final Season Rips Off Classic TNG Episode

By Chris Snellgrove | Updated

Star Trek: Discovery hit the ground running with a two-part fifth season opening that channeled The Next Generation in a big way. Not only do we see Captain Picard mentioned by name, but we also see Captain Burnham and others try to solve the mystery of who the Progenitors are.

The Next Generation’s The Chase

TNG The Chase

This is a race first brought up in the classic TNG episode “The Chase,” and for longtime fans, it’s interesting to see the franchise finally return to the concept of aliens who created all life as we know it.

Unfortunately, the first two episodes of Discovery’s fifth season are arguably just a rip-off of “The Chase,” beat for beat.

How The Episode Unfolds

TNG The Chase

To know what the heck I’m talking about, we may need to quickly review what the TNG episode “The Chase” was all about.

In that ep, Captain Picard’s mentor and father figure, Professor Galen, dies, leaving his former student with a research-based mystery to solve.

Eventually, the Enterprise captain (with the help of Klingons, Cardassians, and even Romulans) solves the mystery. They find a recording from an ancient race claiming to be responsible for seeding the galaxy with the DNA that led to the formation of these alien races (which explains why all the aliens are relatively similar to humans).

Didn’t Return To Story Until Discovery

TNG The Chase

During the heyday of TNG, “The Chase” was merely an interesting one-off, one that Ronald D. Moore (who developed the story for this ep) thought might be connected to The Preservers from The Original Series episode “The Paradise Syndrome.”

Incredibly, the franchise wouldn’t return to the mystery of who these aliens were and what their motivations were until the beginning of Discovery’s fifth season.

That season begins with a two-parter full of action and adventure, but if you scratch away all that sweet CGI (Paramount really threw a lot of money at these eps), you’ll notice the whole thing is just a high-budget ripoff off TNG’s “The Chase.”

Star Trek: Discovery Season 5

It’s true that we never saw Captain Picard riding a cool Star Wars speeder bike in “The Chase” (although that stupid dune buggy in the Nemesis film comes close).

That episode boiled down to the Enterprise crew working with a surprising group of allies and trying to find the right planet to solve Professor Galen’s mystery.

In Discovery, Burnham already knows about the existence of the Progenitors, but she must work with a surprising group of allies (including former bad boy Book, former Disco crewman Tilly, and even the by-the-book Admiral Vance) to find where these aliens are. 

More Similarities

That’s not the only big similarity between these two episodes and TNG’s “The Chase.”

In Discovery, The 24th-century book retrieved from the Romulan ship is even the equivalent of Galen’s research, giving out heroes a starting point for their mystery. It’s basically a MacGuffin kicking off a galactic mystery.

Speaking of mysteries, it’s also notable that this season opener doesn’t really answer much about the Progenitors, leaving us with more questions than answers.

That’s how “The Chase” was as well: it dropped a wild concept in audiences’ laps and didn’t provide any definitive answers. For better or for worse, both shows have now delivered Progenitor-centric eps that are more about building mysteries than giving satisfying payoffs.

Answering Enough Questions?

Put it all together and you can see that Discovery began its final season by putting a new gloss of paint on the classic TNG episode “The Chase.”

Of course, that’s not necessarily a bad thing: haters have been claiming Discovery isn’t real Star Trek since it began, so the controversial series could do worse than copying one of the best episodes from one of the best series.

With all that being said, let’s hope the show manages to stick the landing and give us satisfying answers to our Progenitor questions before taking its final bow.

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