Category Archives: The Next Generation

Also known as TNG

The best (and worst) of Trek

Our 18-month mission to … tell you about Star Trek’s most pivotal episodes is (maybe?) over. We haven’t decided yet whether we’ll tackle the rebooted movies or the new series. But one thing’s for sure …

We still have a few things to say about Star Trek.

When we started this blog, we didn’t want it to be a site where we just reviewed every episode. Other sites, like Jammers Reviews, do that well enough. But now, as we close this project, we wanted to identify our 10 favorite episodes in all of Trek, including the movies. Some of these appeared in our Tapestry, others didn’t.

First, some honorable mentions: “Where No Man Has Gone Before,” “Mirror, Mirror”, “The Measure of a Man”“Yesterday’s Enterprise”, “Improbable Cause”/”The Die is Cast”, “The Way of the Warrior”, “Timeless”, “Twilight”, “Star Trek III: The Search for Spock” and “Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home”.

Now, here’s our top 10. Note that this includes a couple of multipart stretches.

“One day, I’ll make Voyager even worse…”

10. “Star Trek: First Contact” — Easily the best of the TNG movies. It’s gritty, visceral and still optimistic with a good supporting cast while being the only TNG film that feels all that consequential. The flawed Borg Queen concept is a slight ding — and it paved the way to defanging the Borg on Voyager — but it’s still a great film.

9. “Azati Prime”/ “Damage”/ “The Forgotten” — Enterprise’s peak in arguably the most daring, and probably the most morally questionable, stretch of Trek episodes, which worked well in the years immediately following 9/11. It’s not Roddenberry’s Trek, but it’s good TV and as edgy as anything the franchise did.

9. “The Trouble with Tribbles” — Trek’s best comedy and also an episode that shows why TOS endures: the chemistry among the cast members. Kirk dressing down Scotty and others for getting in a fight with Klingons is still a thing of beauty.

7. “In the Pale Moonlight” — The episode where DS9 decided to not even pretend to be like the rest of Star Trek. It’s controversial as it makes Sisko, in effect, a criminal, which was just incredibly daring for 1998 TV. It might have been higher on the list if the scope issues that DS9 struggled with — i.e., a handful of people on the station can change and have no problem with changing the balance of galactic affairs — had been better handled.

6. “The City on the Edge of Forever” — Many fans’ favorite, but not ours. Arguably, it had been built up too much by the time we saw it and wasn’t as original in the 1990s as it was in the 1960s. Still, a great episode with Shatner, Nimoy and Kelley absolutely bringing it.

"Shall we swipe left or right keptin?"
“Shall we swipe left or right, keptin?”

5. “Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan” — Trek’s best film. Shatner and Nimoy are pitch-perfect and the story is a great mix of action and science fiction. If you haven’t seen it, you’re not really a Trek fan.

4. “The Inner Light” — Simply an amazing episode in which Picard lives an entirely different life as a way for a dying civilization to not be forgotten. The final scene with Picard in his quarters, as he re-acclimates with his real life, is a gut punch in the best way. It’s unfortunate that we didn’t see more consequences in subsequent episodes and that Picard, more or less, is back in regular form the next week.

3.  “The Visitor” — DS9’s finest episode as Sisko is lost and Jake spends the rest of his life trying to find him. We were often critical of Avery Brooks, but he was absolutely great in this episode. As poignant as Trek gets.

2. “Space Seed” — The setup to the second film is incredible to watch. That it was on television in 1967 is amazing, as Khan’s manipulation of Lt. McGivers is very edgy and provocative. Kirk’s decision to let Khan try to build a world rather than putting him in prison is classic TOS, in that it’s morally justifiable and intellectually curious but also a dangerous and questionable call.

Inform Admiral Kanye, this is the best two-parter OF ALL TIME.
“Inform Admiral Kanye, this is the best two-parter OF ALL TIME.”

1. “The Best of Both Worlds” — No surprise here. This two-parter has everything, and set the stage for cliffhangers for the next 25 years. Jonathan Frakes — often marginalized in late TNG — puts in his best performance and the Borg, as an implacable threat, still seem menacing today. Even the scene where Riker chooses his first officer is great. I would go as far as saying it’s a perfect two-parter, except for the somewhat rushed ending. It’s also bolstered by the idea that Picard wasn’t back at his desk the following week. In fact, he struggled with his experiences immediately after he’s rescued and in the following years.

And now, the bottom 10 (after some dishonorable mentions): “The Alternative Factor”, “The Lights of Zetar”, “Haven”, “Dark Page”, “Star Trek: Insurrection”, “Ferengi Love Songs”, “Spirit Folk”, “The Disease”, “Precious Cargo”, “Extinction”.


10. “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier” — The strangest entry in the film franchise. It’s light and jokey at points and heavy and ponderous at others — but it consistently avoids anything approaching subtlety. Co-written by William Shatner, the movie seems intent on lionizing Kirk while painting Spock as weak and evasive (the scene in the brig being the worst example). Worse, the script humiliates Scotty and Uhura.

9. “Course: Oblivion” — One of a handful of episodes that shows exactly what was wrong with Voyager. Instead of using a strong cast and a great concept to write compelling stuff with the REAL Voyager, the creators used those things with a FAKE Voyager. Worse, the fake Voyager should have easily known that it was a fake Voyager, invalidating the whole premise of the episode. And how did the fake Voyager crew build a fake Voyager and survive for like a year outside of the only environment that could support it?

8. “Code of Honor” — Weirdly racist and definitely uninspired. It feels more like third-season TOS than TNG, which sort of makes sense, as it was just the third TNG episode. Still, it’s hard to understand what the creators were thinking.

These are just clips from other BDSM books I've read?!!!?
“These are just clips from other BDSM books I’ve read?!!!?”

7. “Shades of Gray” — The awful Riker flashback episode partly necessitated by a writers’ strike. Yuck.

6. “Profit and Lace” — The worst of DS9’s awful Ferengi episodes. Quark in drag? What drivel. DS9’s obsession with having two Ferengi-centric episodes a year was just ridiculous.

5. “Fascination” — Lwaxana Troi comes to DS9 and everybody — well, at least the main cast and the regular guest stars, minus Sisko — gets horny. WTF, creators?

4. “Threshold” — The most scientifically awful episode in second-generation Trek. It didn’t make the top spot because there’s SOME good work by Robert Duncan-McNeil and it was an attempt at something new and different.

3. “A Night in Sickbay” — Archer as a total huffy asshole, with moronic aliens and a ceremonial apology involving a chainsaw. Oh, and a totally unnecessary sexual fantasy from Archer about T’Pol. The Archer/T’Pol relationship — at least in the prime reality — was professional and friendly, not romantic. Throwing a sex dream from Archer in there really belittled the show.

And, we have a tie for Trek’s worst episode:


1. “And the Children Shall Lead” — Wow. What an absolute train wreck. The kids are annoying and awful, the villain behind their behavior is horribly acted and conceived and even the editing is bad. While “Spock’s Brain” and “The Way to Eden” are the most infamous episodes of TOS, “And the Children Shall Lead” is BY FAR the worst.

Beverly, you've got nothing on Mrs. Darcy...
“Beverly, you’ve got nothing on Mrs. Darcy…”

1. “Sub Rosa” — Of all the awfulness in TNG’s seventh season — it’s worse than season one, folks, as the creators should have known better after six-plus years of the series — this episode is just cringe-worthy. Crusher was the most neglected of the TNG regulars, and it’s a shame that one of the few episodes to feature her is this hideous mess. She falls in love … with a freaking ghost.

That’s it for Trek Tapestry.

Or is it …


TNG, we hardly knew ye

When we wrapped TOS earlier this year, we listed the episodes that weren’t tapestry-worthy, but were still worth a view. Now that TNG is in the rear-view, we’ll do the same — and more!

“Data, ever wondered why so many Trek characters have daddy issues?”

The episode we should have included

“Brothers” — We just dropped the ball on this one, people. Data’s backstory is explored as we meet his mysterious creator, Noonien Soong (Brent Spiner) and see Data’s evil brother, Lore (Brent Spiner) again. In addition to information about Data’s creation, the emotion chip Soong builds for Data and is then stolen by Lore is a huge domino. As we kept referencing “Brothers” in other reviews — notably the “Descent” two-parter — we realized we should have included it.

Episodes you should also watch (listed by air date)

With her dieing breath she bequeathed the role of "make outlandish suggestions and get told you're wrong" to Worf
With her dying breath she bequeathed the role of “make outlandish suggestions and get told you’re wrong” to Worf

“Skin of Evil” — It was shocking for TV at the time, even if it was syndicated, to kill off a main character. Plus it sets up why Picard cares about Yar in “Yesterday’s Enterprise.”

“Conspiracy” — If you can get over Admiral Geezer’s laughable action scenes, this is a fun look at how dark and serious the Trek universe could get. If only the enemy were more ominous. Thankfully we get the Borg later in “Q Who?” to fill that role.

“Booby Trap” — The Enterprise gets caught in the titular trap while investigating an ancient battle site. The concept that there are ancient vast spacefaring civilizations doesn’t come up often enough in Trek. But when it does, it really enlarges the universe our favorite characters live in.

“The Offspring” — Data builds a daughter. It’s actually a pretty touching and poignant episode, even if it’s only mentioned once in future episodes.

“Sarek” — A sort of prequel to “Unification”. It almost made the tapestry, but it wasn’t that consequential going forward.

Here I am at home, in France. Yup, tea swilling, Shakespeare loving... France.
“Here I am at home, in France. Yup, tea swilling, Shakespeare loving… France.”

“Family” — The epilogue to “The Best of Both Worlds”. A little hoary at times, but still important character development.

“Final Mission” — Wesley leaves the series, and his bond with Picard is cemented.

“Data’s Day” — We literally follow Data around from the end of one “night watch” to the start of the next while Keiko and O’Brien get married and the Romulans do Romulany intriguey things. It’s a nice character episode for Data.

“The Drumhead” — A McCarthy-style witch hunt on the Enterprise in one of Trek’s more troubling hours.

“The Mind’s Eye” — The Romulans do their own version of “The Manchurian Candidate” to Geordi.

Riker's patented "crotch in the face" maneuver literally saves the Enterprise
Riker’s patented “crotch in the face” maneuver literally saves the Enterprise

“Cause and Effect” — If you like seeing the Enterprise blow up, over and over, then this is the episode for you.

“Darmok” — Pure Trek as Picard must learn to work with incomprehensible aliens.

“The Perfect Mate” — It’s Famke Janssen in Trill spots — what’s not to like? In all seriousness she was supposed to play Jadzia Dax, and the makeup from the episode was what inspired the new Trill look in DS9.

Picard at his best.

“The Inner Light” — Perhaps TNG’s finest showing. Words can’t really sum it up, but its lack of lasting consequences — Picard’s back in the big chair almost immediately, and without noted effects — kept it out of the tapestry.

“Relics” — Scotty on TNG. What are ya just standin’ around fa?

“Tapestry” — Not a perfect episode, but daring and thought provoking. Also, our namesake.

I'm hear to drink tea, Earl Grey, hot... and kick ass. And the replicators are offline!
“I’m here to drink tea, Earl Grey, hot… and kick ass. And the replicators are offline!”

“Starship Mine” — It could’ve been called Die Hard Picard.

“Parallels” — A trippy parallel universe episode. Worth it for no other reason than the glimpse of what could have happened after the Borg invasion.

“Preemptive Strike” — A great Ro episode in which she joins the Maquis and betrays Picard.

Episodes to avoid (listed by our ranking)

“Season seven is so awful!”

10. “Genesis” — Perhaps Trek’s most scientifically terrible episode as the crew de-evolves (not “devolves”). One of several awful season seven showings.

9. “Aquiel” — Geordi’s weirdness with women continues as he falls in love with a murder suspect only to learn the murderer was … the woman’s dog.

8. “Masks” — Simply bizarre. Almost worth it to watch for the sheer weirdness. But not quite.

7.  “Thine Own Self” — Ditto, and Troi gets promoted for some dumb reason. She then outranks Data for the next eight years.

6. “The Loss” — Troi at her absolute most annoying and whiny.

5. “Dark Page” — Terribly awful Lwaxana Troi nonsense.

4. “Haven” — Goofy early-season garbage.

3. “Code of Honor” — Ditto, with a dose of odd racism.

2. “Shades of Grey” — The Riker flashback episode (in which we learned that Riker apparently forgot everything from before his time on the Enterprise). Thanks, writers’ strike!

“I thought this episode about me loving a ghost would be romantic, like that movie ‘The Notebook’. But it was just implausible and stupid, like that movie ‘Ghost’.”

1. “Sub Rosa” — Crusher falls in love with a ghost. What were they thinking? Possibly the worst episode in all of Trek.

Coming next week …

What might be our rantiest review as we discuss “Star Trek: Generations”.

“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.