Category Archives: 1994

“Star Trek: Generations”

“You’re right, Patrick. This movie IS terrible.”

Retired Kirk, helping christen the new Enterprise-B, is believed killed when a mysterious energy ribbon slams the side of the ship during an unplanned rescue mission. Seventy-eight years later, Picard and Co. must investigate a Romulan attack on a science outpost where one of the survivors of the Enterprise-B rescue, Tolian Soran (Malcolm McDowell) now works. Soran then destroys a nearby star, kidnaps Geordi — thanks to Data’s cowering after installing his emotion chip — and takes off in a Bird of Prey with the Duras sisters (from “Redemption”). Picard and Data figure out Soran’s destroying stars so he can change space stuff and bring the energy ribbon to a planet where it can take him away from it all. The energy ribbon is actually the Nexus, a half-baked trope where “time has no meaning” or something. Soran wants to use it to be reunited with his family, killed by the Borg (Soran’s the same species as Guinan). Picard fails in a one-on-one attempt to stop Soran, but he’s swept into the Nexus, where he finds Kirk. The two go back in time and stop Soran, though Kirk is killed in the fracas (more on that in a moment). Meanwhile, Riker does a really lousy job in the big chair (more on that in a moment, too) and lets the Duras sisters destroy the ship’s star drive, forcing the saucer to crash on the planet. No one’s killed, but the Enterprise-D is wrecked beyond repair, and Picard and Riker beam aboard rescue ships hinting that another Enterprise could be coming soon. James Bond will also be back in ‘Thunderball’ …

“Man. We can’t even escape this movie on horses!”

Why it’s important

Let’s say a random main character from one of the many Trek series got killed — let’s pick Tom Paris from Voyager. That, alone, wouldn’t merit a review by this site’s guidelines, even though Paris was a pretty decent character and (probably) had a lot of fans. But James T. Kirk is James T. freaking Kirk. He’s a dude who led the Enterprise crew in saving Earth twice, his 5-year mission as captain of the Enterprise was one of Starfleet’s most historic, he can outsmart any supercomputer around and he can change the fate of parallel universes with a really good speech. His death is part of the Trek Tapestry. He’s James T. freaking Kirk.

It’s also pretty significant when an Enterprise (or a Defiant, or even a Voyager) gets destroyed. More on just how ridiculous the destruction was in a moment, as promised.

“Good lord. Are we STILL in this awful movie?”

What doesn’t hold up

Get comfortable, people. Because this might be our rantiest review.

First of all, the creators fell back on the trope from the TOS movies that the Enterprise (or the Enterprise crew) is the only entity able to intervene in a crisis. We saw this in four of the first six movies, with varying degrees of plausibility. The idea here that the new Enterprise-B, on a training mission in Earth’s solar system, is “the only ship in range” is laughable — maybe more so than the previous instances. It would mean that Starfleet has no warp-capable ships in the Terran System, home to Starfleet headquarters and Starfleet Academy. Otherwise, one of them would have been “in range” to respond.

Also, it’s weird that the Enterprise-D looks so different since “All Good Things … “. Some of the changes are improvements, but there’s no dialog about a refit and it doesn’t seem like THAT much time has passed. Also, the use of normal uniforms along with DS9 jumpsuits was kind of strange, but forgivable. Less so is the weird new look Data’s emotion chip has (it’s grown since “Descent”). But whatevs. If we can be cool with Data’s cat apparently getting a sex change …

Now, there is the strange matter of Kirk and Antonia in the weird quasi-reality of the Nexus. Kirk indicates that he went back to Starfleet shortly after the events we sort of see here — which Kirk says occurred nine years earlier. The Enterprise-B launched in 2293 — less than a year after the events of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” — so that would mean Kirk makes Antonia Ktarrian eggs in 2284. But that doesn’t make much sense because the events of “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” occur around that time.

Are we to believe Kirk went back to Starfleet (essentially ending things with Antonia, despite the eggs) and had enough time to get bored and do the soul-searching that we see in the early parts of “Wrath of Khan”? I suppose it’s possible — but the creators could have saved themselves a LOT of trouble if they had simply made the whole Antonia thing occur closer to the date of “Star Trek: The Motion Picture” — there were 14 years between the events of the first and second movies — or in the six years between “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” and “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”. The second option would have been a good choice, because Kirk’s appearance, uniform, etc., could have been about the same. In other words, they wouldn’t have had to explain why 2293 Kirk didn’t look like 2285 Kirk (or 2277 Kirk).

The whole thing was poorly done considering we’ve never heard of Antonia before and that the creators didn’t need to include the whole “going back to Starfleet” thing. Antonia — or a more appropriate lost love, like Carol Marcus — could have been lost in a way that didn’t take a giant dump on Kirk’s backstory.

Oh, and considering that Scotty believed Kirk died in the movie’s opening moments, why did he ask if Kirk had come to rescue him when he’s discovered in “Relics” during TNG’s sixth season? I suppose you could argue that Scotty was hopeful that Kirk would be found or (and this is a stretch) that the slight degradation of his transporter pattern mentioned in “Relics” included his memory of Kirk’s apparent death. But, really, the answer likely is that Leonard Nimoy and DeForest Kelley weren’t down for the minimal roles as Kirk’s companions on the Enterprise-B, so James Doohan and Walter Koenig got the call. Why else would Chekov suddenly know all about medical stuff?

Now, let’s talk about the Nexus. Apparently, Soran does everything he does because he’s desperate to get back to it — and he can’t get there in a ship. But, of course, our boy Jimbo was on a ship when he got swept into the Nexus and Soran was (briefly) in the Nexus and got there when he was on a ship (so was Guinan). Of all the dumb points of this movie, this is the one that could have easily been explained. A simple line about how being on a planet was a surer bet to successfully get into the Nexus would have covered it. Maybe Soran was simply shoring up his chances.

Then, there’s the whole matter of what it’s all about to BE in the Nexus. At times, it’s written as a sort of super-holodeck, where nothing is real and your greatest fantasies can come true. Picard’s fake family is proof of that and he uses the fact that the Nexus isn’t real in his attempt to recruit Kirk. Kirk learns the hard way that the Nexus isn’t real when he makes a jump with his horse and feels no fear — fear he would have felt had the jump been made in real life.

So, the Nexus allows you to recreate your past or create something completely new — again, like a super holodeck. And that’s all well and good, as far as it goes.

But then, Picard and Kirk stop using it as a holodeck. It becomes, essentially, a time portal that our heroes use to go back to a few minutes before Soran launches his rocket, figuring two against one will yield a different result (which it does). What I can’t figure out is why this use of the Nexus deposits Picard and Kirk in the “real” world near Soran’s launcher while Kirk was in a fake world when he was back with Antonia.

If the Nexus allows time travel, then Kirk should have been in the real world with Antonia (Picard’s situation is somewhat different, because he doesn’t actually go back and relive events that truly happened). But here’s the thing — if the Nexus works like a holodeck, then Kirk and Picard didn’t really stop Soran. They only thought they did in some sort of dreamworld, and Picard goes on living in that dreamworld and Kirk DIES in the dreamworld! And if the Nexus truly allows for time travel, then Kirk should have been back with Antonia in the real world. What’s really sad is that there was a better way to handle all of this — and it starts with making the Nexus a time portal and not a super holodeck. Here’s how …

After they enter the Nexus, Picard and Kirk could have really gone back in time to some point that they each longed for (which Kirk actually does). This would remove all the Picard family nonsense, which was really poorly done and much too cloying, anyway.

Maybe Picard could have gotten his wish to be back with Miranda Vigo (or another lost love) but realized (while he still has access to the Nexus time-travel stuff) that he needed to leave to save the people on Verdian IV. The drama would have been whether Picard is capable of making such a sacrifice — and it would have been compelling, particularly since he learns his brother and nephew died at the beginning of the film. He would have to pick duty over everything else.

To bring Kirk into the equation, Picard would have to somehow learn that Kirk was also taken back in time by the Nexus. Picard would have had to figure that Kirk, like him, would sacrifice his own happiness for the lives of millions of people. Picard would then find Kirk, ask him to come with him and then, the two could have stopped Soran.

To be sure, a lot of details would have to be figured out. But removing the “isn’t real” aspect of the Nexus would have made the movie MUCH more dramatic because Kirk and Picard would have had to make REAL sacrifices instead of just shrugging off weird fake versions of their lives. In the scenario I’ve outlined, the sacrifice is greater — and the willingness of both of them to make the sacrifice as a matter of duty would have been a more interesting connection. Both guys who were smarting over a lack of family would have had to pass up REAL families and not just some fake versions.

There’s also the whole matter of the Guinan “echo.” Guinan met Picard in the 19th century (in “Times Arrow”) so the 23rd century version who was briefly in the Nexus would know who he is. But would 23rd century Guinan know enough to give Picard the crucial info he needs to recruit Kirk? I can buy an echo of Guinan in the Nexus — beats hanging on the set of “The View” — but how does she know what she knows? Do we just chalk it up to Guinan-ness?

Last point about the Nexus: Even if we could reconcile the Nexus as some sort of super time-traveling creation/super holodeck, why did Picard choose to go back to a point when he and Kirk would have such a difficult time stopping Soran? Why not simply go back to Ten Forward when he met Soran and have Data and Geordi help escort Soran to the brig? Clearly, that negates the need for Kirk, but still. I bet poor Geordi would have liked Picard thinking of a way to keep him from getting tortured by Soran and the Klingons.

As for Kirk’s noble sacrifice, it really falls pretty flat (no pun intended). So, the main hero of Star Trek dies because he needs to jump for a control pad on a creaky bridge? It’s really weak sauce. His “original” death saving the Enterprise-B was way, way, way more appropriate. And the unreleased death (where Soran shoots him in the back) might have been better, too. It sure would have made Picard burying him at the top of a peak more believable, considering where Picard found Kirk (in a ravine) in the version that was actually released.

Now, let’s talk about the destruction of the Enterprise-D …

Before Soran and the Klingons return Geordi (in exchange for Picard, or something), Soran lets the Duras sisters see everything Geordi sees through his VISOR. Why they can see normally has always made me pause — shouldn’t they see something more akin to what we saw way back in “Heart of Glory” or “The Mind’s Eye”? — but whatever. I’ll grant the movie that detail.

Geordi eventually heads to engineering, where the Duras sisters get a glimpse of a panel that shows the Enterprise’s shield frequency. They tune their torpedoes to said frequency and start blasting through the shields. Now, sure, maybe they get a couple shots in before Riker and Co. figure out what’s happening — and maybe things would have made sense if one of the first shots caused a core breach or took out a nacelle or something.

But Riker, Worf, Geordi and Data just act like morons over the next few minutes. These are the dudes who took down a Borg cube and dealt with shield modulation for eight hellish days — in which it looked like the Federation might be reduced to nanites. You’d think modulating the shields would be like their go-to freaking move.

But what do they do when Lursa and B’Etor find a way to penetrate their shields but not damage the ship enough to where it’s a huge problem immediately? Almost nothing. They don’t remodulate the shields. They don’t head directly to the sisters’ ship and fire all weapons at a vessel that shouldn’t be any sort of match for the Federation flagship (shields or no). And they don’t warp out of orbit, with plans to return once they figured out what was going on.

Instead, Riker, Data, Geordi and Worf let the ship get pounded for several minutes while they come up with a way to trigger the Bird of Prey’s cloaking device and then fire at it with its shields down. Maybe this would have been an OK idea if — while Data was doing his thing — Worf and Riker had just started pounding the Bird of Prey or warped away for a few minutes. But to let the Enterprise continue to get pummeled? WTF, Will? Maybe Commander Shelby was right about you all along.

Of course, the last Klingon torpedo triggers a (slow-moving) warp-core breach, everyone’s evacuated to the saucer and the force of the explosion sends the saucer careening toward the planet. The saucer lands — in a cool visual scene, FWIW — but the events leading up to it are just stupid. Riker should have been drummed out of Starfleet for his performance in this movie and Worf and Data with him. Maybe Geordi, too.

There are countless ways in which the Duras sisters could have destroyed the Enterprise in a plausible manner. In addition to making their first shot more catastrophic, maybe they had procured a more powerful Klingon vessel (like Gowron’s from TNG) instead of their creaky Bird of Prey. At least then the shield thingy and the more powerful weapons could have realistically destroyed the Enterprise. There were still things Riker could have done, but his options would have been more limited.

Lastly, does anyone else ever cringe when Kirk and Picard talk about retirement? Picard is about 65 years old in 2371 and Kirk was about 60 in 2293. So, Kirk is talking about being put out to pasture to a dude who fights Romulans, Borg and Son’a well into his 70s. I guess Starfleet was cooler with older captains in the 24th century.

Final thoughts

Oh, “Generations”. I don’t think there’s ever been a Star Trek movie that had such high expectations. It was released when the franchise was arguably at its peak — but it really didn’t get the job done. There are way too many logical gaffes and the Enterprise-B captain (Cameron from “Ferris Bueller’s Day Off”) is just one of the worst plot crutches that I can think of — even if the opening scenes on the Enterprise-B are the strongest in the film.

Beyond that, the central concept of the movie — the Nexus — is just too flimsy and ridiculous. I think “Generations” is better than some of the other films — “Insurrection,” “Nemesis”, and “Final Frontier — but it is probably the most disappointing of the Trek movies.

Coming later this week …

The TNG cast and creators prove they can make a good movie.

“All Good Things …”

“Tea. Earl Grey. … Spot?”

Picard starts to jump around in time, back to when the Enterprise launched and 25 years into the future. Q is responsible for the jumping — and seems to reconvene the trial from “Encounter at Farpoint” — which somehow relates to an anomaly in the Neutral Zone. Past Picard must convince the new Enterprise crew of his decision to defy orders and take the ship to investigate the anomaly. Present Picard (naturally) has the loyalty of his crew, but Future Picard is an old man who’s slowly losing his mind. He must convince his former senior staff — who have all lost touch — to rejoin and find the anomaly. When they all find it, they learn it was actually caused by a specialized scan looking for the anomaly in all three time periods, a paradox Picard realizes in a key moment. The three ships work together — with Picard coordinating in all three timelines — and collapse the anomaly, but all three ships are destroyed. Then, Q (apparently) reverses everything, as Picard passed the test when he recognized the paradox to show that he was capable of real growth. Back on the ship in present day, Picard joins the senior staff during their poker game for the first time — with the idea that the crew now won’t grow apart — and the Enterprise-D goes off into the sunset.

“Good finale, everyone. Let’s not mess it up with a really bad movie in a few months.”

Why it’s important

Picard, essentially, saves the human race in this episode. So, he’s got that going for him (which is nice). Beyond that, this is a finale — and we plan to review every TRUE series premier and series finale (“Turnabout Intruder” being the last episode of TOS but not a true finale).

“Captain, why is Chief O’Brien an important character this time around?”

What doesn’t hold up

The ending of this episode has always made me pause. I guess the idea is that Picard saved humanity and that Q reversed the destruction of the three Enterprises because Picard passed the test. But, then, was humanity ever really in danger, or was the whole ordeal one of Q’s illusions? It doesn’t matter THAT much, I guess. If the anomaly and what happened to Picard were part of an illusion, the Q Continuum could have wiped out humanity for not passing the test.

Bigger picture, I’ve always thought “All Good Things … ” was overrated. It’s just SO full of technobabble and there are some clear editing/writing mistakes. I also didn’t really buy that the crew would have drifted so far apart. If nothing else, Geordi and Data would have kept in touch more.

Meanwhile, this episode is the culmination of one of the dumbest things Trek ever did — pairing up Worf and Troi. The relationship had been hinted at earlier in the season, but we never saw the two of them doing much of anything (other than alt-reality stuff) until the TNG finale. The idea that Troi would be able to deal with a Klingon who is rather rough in the sack — based on everything we saw in the first six seasons of TNG and on DS9 — never made even a little bit of sense. It required making Worf much too human. As noted in other reviews, the seventh season of TNG is really pretty odd — and the Troi/Worf stuff is a prime reason why. It might be the most prime example, actually.

Oh, and what the hell happened to the Romulans in this episode? Picard gets them to agree to send one ship to investigate the anomaly — but it never shows up!

Finally, while it’s cool to see the Enterprise just prior to “Encounter at Farpoint”, a LOT of the details are off — beyond the fact that the actors clearly looked a lot older. O’Brien — who was barely in “Encounter at Farpoint” and didn’t have a name for another full season — is retconned into being a big player on the ship. Beyond that, it’s weird that Data — who was second in command of the ship, as Riker hadn’t been picked up yet — wasn’t in the shuttle bay to greet Picard and didn’t attend the staff meeting after Picard called for red alert. Is the idea that Picard promoted him to the senior staff on the way to Farpoint? The pips on Data’s collar were wrong in this episode, as they show him as being a second lieutenant and not a lieutenant commander. At one point, with Data on the bridge, Picard apparently leaves Yar in command, which would mean Yar outranked Data.

Final thoughts

Taking a look at the possible futures of the characters was fun. The Crusher/Picard pairing that we saw in the seventh season apparently culminated in them getting hitched and subsequently divorced. I never really liked that Picard would end up being with Crusher in late TNG — it ran counter to a lot of what we saw about Picard’s stance on romance with the crew — but it at least wasn’t as stupid and pointless as the Troi/Worf stuff.

Coming later this week …

We tell you which episodes you should watch that we don’t think are part of the tapestry, and we mention one that we really should have reviewed on its own.

“Journey’s End”

“ZOMG this place is boring, I should’ve gone to Tashi Statio… sorry wrong universe.”

Wesley returns, and he’s really whiny. Meanwhile, the Enterprise must relocate some colonists from Dorvan V, a planet that will soon be in Cardassian space as part of the new treaty with the Federation. The colonists are a group of American Indians who are unwilling to leave the planet — and Picard notes the disturbing historical connection. Wesley beams to the planet and goes on a vision quest (or something) and meets up with the Traveler (from way back in “Where No One Has Gone Before”) who tells him he’s ready to explore new plains of existence. Meanwhile, Picard works it out so the colonists can stay on the planet under Cardassian rule. Wesley resigns from Starfleet and stays on the planet to begin his journey.

As a Starfleet Admiral, it's my job to make bad decisions so the Enterprise crew can look good
“As a Starfleet admiral, it’s my job to make bad decisions so the Enterprise crew can look good.”

Why it’s important

Although they didn’t appear in Trek for a few more weeks — on “The Maquis” two-parter, on DS9, which we’ll eventually review — this episode lays the foundation for the Maquis. The situation stemming from the treaty between the Cardassians and the Federation leads to the formation of the Maquis terrorist group. In fact, Dorvan V is the home planet of Commander Chakotay, who led the Maquis ship that was swept into the Delta Quadrant in Voyager. Chakotay would become first officer of that ship.

It’s kind of cool that TNG and DS9 coordinated these storylines in TNG’s seventh season and DS9’s second. After “Journey’s End” and “The Maquis” two-parter, the second-to-last episode of TNG was “Preemptive Strike”, in which Ensign Ro (Michelle Forbes) returns and goes undercover to stop the Maquis. We won’t review that episode as it didn’t really advance the Maquis storyline — but it’s definitely worth a watch.

Of course, this episode is probably most remembered for the departure of Wesley Crusher, who hadn’t been a regular on the series since season four. Wesley was the most reviled character on TNG — aside from perhaps Dr. Pulaski — but I never really understood the hate. He was painful in the first season at times, but every character was at least once or twice in early TNG (watch Riker in “Deja Q” or Picard in “Code of Honor”). Some have argued that the series got better after Wesley left, but the series had already gotten a lot better in the third season.

“I’m off to explore other realms of being. And when that gets boring I’ll join Starfleet and cut a rug at Troi and Riker’s wedding?!”

What doesn’t hold up

I know the Wesley/Traveler thread had been around since the first season, and it certainly wasn’t a bad thing to bring the Traveler (Eric Menyuk) back in this episode. But way back in “Where No One Has Gone Before”, the Traveler saw a special sort of genius in Wesley in regards to engineering, mechanics and the Enterprise specifically. It’s never made a lot of sense that Wesley, in this episode, is written as some sort of super human, who can literally PAUSE reality. Or, that after exploring new realms of existence (or whatever) that he shows up in a Starfleet uniform for Riker and Troi’s wedding in “Star Trek: Nemesis”.

Beyond that, the Wesley storyline connected to the Dorvan V storyline is a weird combo. It’s not exactly a misfire (though it does sort of push Wesley into the “new realms” thing). The two plots overlap when Wesley tells the Native Americans that Worf is leading a security team to remove them. But Wesley’s involvement there really wasn’t necessary. And it’s not as if what he sees on Dorvan V pushes him out of Starfleet. At best, it accelerated a decision that was already pretty likely.

Finally, I’m amazed at how much the Federation bent over backwards to maintain peace with the Cardassians. And I’ve got to wonder what happened to the Native Americans on Dorvan V a few years later when Cardassia joined the Dominion. I can’t imagine it was anything good.

Final thoughts

This is an incredibly average episode. The acting is good and the characters are written appropriately (Patrick Stewart was so at home as Picard at this point in TNG that he could make almost any episode work). I honestly don’t have a ton of thoughts about it — other than the fact that it’s another instance of the Riker Marginalization that we see in the later seasons. He’s just not on screen very much.

In seasons one and two, Riker was almost a surrogate father to Wesley. Wesley told him about his hopes and dreams and got advice from him about being a leader and about women. As Wesley got older, the surrogate father became Picard — and that’s totally fine.

But it’s odd that we don’t see more interactions between Riker and Wesley in the episodes in which Wesley appears in later seasons. In “The Game”, Riker was under the influence of mind control, so I can shrug that off. But why Riker isn’t around Wesley at all in this episode or “The First Duty”? The scene at the beginning of this episode where Geordi and Data come to greet Wesley was fine, but that was an instance where Riker’s presence would have made sense. The two were very close, and Riker’s interactions with Wesley in late-series episodes are almost nonexistent.

Regular readers might think I have some sort of man crush on Riker, given how much I complain about his lesser role as the series went on. I’m actually not that big of a fan of the character — but it’s odd to me how much he moved to the sidelines. He was, initially, the co-star of TNG. But after a while, he basically takes on the role of Scotty in TOS — running the ship as Picard and Data play Kirk and Spock with all the adventures. Given that no other actors who played first officers (Nana Visitor, Robert Beltran and Jolene Blalock) were listed with the actors who played commanding officers in the opening credits, I think the creators decided that counting on the second in command to be the second big character was a mistake after TNG. Note that Beltran does appear second in the Voyager credits (after Kate Mulgrew) but only because of alphabetical order.

And, sure — Jonathan Frakes took on a bigger role behind the camera as TNG progressed. But that doesn’t explain anything within the Trek universe.

Coming next week …

TNG hits the dusty ol’ trail.

“The Pegasus”

Wow. The ‘LOST’ finale was really, really terrible.

Riker’s old commander, Admiral Pressman (Terry O’Quinn) shows up to recover his former ship, the Pegasus. The Romulans are looking for it, as it was a prototype lost in space 12 years earlier. Pressman is damn near obsessed, to the point where he questionably orders the Enterprise into a large asteroid containing the Pegasus. Pressman won’t reveal to Picard (who knows something is up) what’s really going on and puts Riker in a tough spot. Pressman and Riker beam over to the Pegasus and return with a piece of equipment. Meanwhile, the Romulans destroy the entrance to the asteroid, trapping the Enterprise. Riker comes clean and tells Picard the piece of equipment is a prototype phase-cloaking device — in violation of a treaty with the Romulans. In addition to rendering a ship invisible, the device can allow ships to pass through matter. Picard uses the device to escape, but decloaks in front of the Romulans, offering proof of Pressman’s misdeeds. He then takes Pressman and Riker into custody, but later brings Riker back into the fold because he came clean in the end.

“Serves me right, Beverly. We’re in the middle of this tense situation with the Romulans and my former commander, and I’ve spent all this time in the holodeck, recreating the NX-01’s last mission and sparring with Worf.”

Why it’s important

As a kid, I remember wondering why Starfleet never used cloaking technology. It seemed like such an obvious thing, and there were episodes (like “Unification”) where cloaking a Federation starship would have been extremely useful. Gene Roddenberry apparently was against the idea of the Federation skulking around, but the rationale was left unexplained until “The Pegasus”. And the rationale mostly makes sense — though it’s odd that it had never been mentioned previously.

This was an episode that was right on the line as far as whether it would make the tapestry, partly because we don’t see much in the way of direct consequences. But it was such a watershed moment for me, as a 13-year-old watching this back in the day, that we squeezed it in.

The prototype Pegasus — the same class of ship we saw nearly 100 years earlier in ‘Star Trek III: The Search for Spock’. Hmmm.

What doesn’t hold up

It seems like the whole Neutral Zone thing — which was such a part of TOS and TNG, in the early seasons — was sort of tossed aside here (and in other episodes in late TNG and early DS9). Was the asteroid field we see in this episode in the Neutral Zone? Was it in an area where neither power had a claim? If it’s the second option, then I have to ask: What’s the point of the Neutral Zone in the first place? Of course, having an area of space designed to block interactions can be a nuisance for writers. But, in this episode, a line about the asteroid field being in the Neutral Zone or free space would have helped.

Also, why is it SO important that Pressman get the actual device? It seems pretty clear that he knows how the thing was built. Couldn’t someone just build a new one? There’s no indication that the materials used in it were hard to come by. If the WAY it was built was so important, then wouldn’t the Pegasus have had records? And, if so, was it really important that the device was retrievable — as opposed to being able to access the ship’s computers?

Finally, it’s not clear at the end of the episode whether the rest of the Pegasus was recovered. Remember that Pressman’s reasoning for the importance of the mission and the Romulans’ interest was that the ship would reveal a bunch of Starfleet secrets ASIDE from the cloaking device. Did Pressman lie about the Pegasus being a prototype? It’s possible that the Enterprise destroyed the asteroid after the incident — Riker suggests doing as much early in the episode — or that the ship was otherwise recovered. But it’s never really explained.

Final thoughts

I’ve always assumed that the black mark on Riker’s record after this episode helped explain his lack of career advancement between the seventh season of TNG and “Star Trek: Nemesis”. That covered nine years in the Star Trek timeline. Of course, why Riker didn’t get any offers to command a ship for three years after he prevented the Borg from assimilating Earth is another question.

While this episode barely made the tapestry cut, it references one that just barely didn’t make it. “Force of Nature” is a controversial episode in Trek, as it, briefly, changed the whole nature of space exploration with the idea that warp drive was damaging the fabric of space. For the rest of the seventh season and in this episode, TNG gives lip service to the problem by instituting a speed limit of Warp 5 — except at times of emergency. But afterward, the damage warp was causing seems to be a non-issue. In DS9, Voyager and in the movies, ships routinely travel faster than Warp 5 — and there’s no on-screen explanation as to how the problem was solved.

Lastly, this episode is the backdrop of the much-maligned Enterprise finale, “These Are the Voyages” — and it’s in that episode’s review that we’ll assess the effort to tie both episodes together. Sneak preview: The creators shouldn’t have bothered.

Coming later this week …

Wesley hits the ol’ dusty trail.