Backtracking the Lantree's course, the Enterprise-D visits the Darwin genetic research station. Here Federation scientists are working to create a new breed of Humans, physically and mentally superior to the originals. The new breed are all designed to be perfectly healthy - their active immune systems seek out and destroy any infectious agents before they even get near to their bodies, so infection is simply not a problem for them. They have perfect health, are designed to be telepathic, and grow to adulthood in a very short period. Analysis reveals no danger from the children, but Picard remains unconvinced despite Pulaski's enthusiasm for them. She decides to transport one of the children to a shuttlecraft which she and Commander Data will fly near to the starship, allowing her to expose herself whilst keeping the rest of the crew completely safe. Picard agrees to the procedure, and Pulaski sets off to take up a position nearby.
She beams the child up - and is almost instantly stricken with severe arthritis, a sign of oncoming old age. Pulaski is forced to confess that the children are indeed the cause of the infection - their active immune systems are attacking the bodies of other people. As she ages visibly, Pulaski records what she believes to be her final log entry from the shuttle.
Picard, however, is not willing to give up. Data theorises that the genetic damage to Pulaski could be reversed using the transporter; the device keeps a pattern of each person who uses it, and by beaming her aboard and using this as a template to reassemble the body, she can be "reset" to her original condition. However, a problem presents itself - Pulaski came aboard by shuttlecraft, and has never used the Enterprise-D transporter! Picard contacts her previous command and finds that she has a deep dislike of transporter systems and refuses to use them. Her former captain also reveals that she was desperate to get the chief medical officer job aboard the Enterprise-D when it became available, in large part because it was a chance to work with Picard.
Unable to use a transporter record, the crew resort to searching Pulaski's quarters where they find strands of hair in a brush. Since the root contains DNA, they use this as a template for the transporter process. Pulaski is beamed back aboard, stepping off the platform completely cured and with her youth restored.
The Enterprise returns to the Lantree, now certain that the ship is infected and cannot ever be entered safely; as the senior officers stand in salute, a single photon torpedo vapourises the ship.
The children are also a bit silly in some respects. Engineering them to grow to adulthood in a short period? How is that meant to be an improvement? For the Dominion it works, producing Jem'Hadar rapidly to act as cannon fodder. But childhood is a vital part of Human life... why would anybody want to do away with it?
The idea of rapidly ageing characters is one that Trek has done before, notably in TOS "The Deadly Years", so the episode also lacks a bit of originality there. And the method of curing her deserves a bit of attention. The episode shows us that so long as you have a single piece of DNA, a transporter can use it as a template to completely rebuild your body, returning it to the state at which the DNA sample was taken. The implications of this are truly staggering - immortality! When you are twenty, you store a big load of DNA somewhere; we have the technology to store it without decay indefinitely right now so that's no problem. When you get to 100 or so you just break out the sample, step through the transporter, and hey presto, you're twenty again. There's no reason you couldn't do it over and over, essentially forever! Impressive indeed. And I'm forced to wonder what would happen, if you used somebody else's DNA... would it reconstruct your body to look like them? Maybe, maybe... But of course, the massive implications of this are never followed up and the idea is just dropped.
Overally, then, not amongst the worst of the worst at all but not really much to be had from this episode either.
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