Category Archives: 2370

“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.


“Are you the one who changed Spot’s gender? Tell me!”

Part I: The Borg are back, but they exhibit individuality and emotions. Data, too, during an early encounter gets angry — and even feels pleasure when he kills a Borg. As the Federation prepares for a new Borg invasion, a captured Borg (Brian Cousins) convinces Data to steal a shuttle to meet “the one” who will give him more emotions. The Enterprise follows, and Picard sends pretty much everybody on the ship except for Spot and the fish in the ready room to look for Data on a remote planet, leaving Crusher (!) in command. After a brief search, Picard, Troi and La Forge are captured by the Borg, who are led by our favorite evil twin, Lore (see “Datalore”). Data then emerges, and tells Picard that he and Lore will together “destroy the Federation.”

Part II: Picard and Co. are prisoners, and it’s clear that Lore’s done something to Data to make him act all evil while feeding him emotions from the chip he stole from their creator, Dr. Noonien Soong (in “Brothers”). Lore has Data experiment on La Forge as part of a plan to make the Borg fully artificial. Crusher recovers most of the Enterprise crew from the surface, but Riker and Worf stay behind to try to find Picard’s team. They run into Hugh (Jonathan Del Arco) from “I, Borg”, who tells them his individuality caused chaos within the Borg, who were then manipulated by Lore. Crusher on the Enterprise defeats a Borg ship in battle, and Riker and Worf mount a rescue — in which Hugh and his buddies reluctantly help. Data, whose ethical subroutines have been reactivated, MacGyver-style, by Picard and Co., rejoins the good guys and deactivates (and later disassembles) Lore. La Forge, back on the Enterprise, is fine, and stops Data from destroying the recovered emotion chip.

“So, have you seen the Crystalline Entity? Dude owes me like $20.”

Why it’s important

You might think part one is one of Trek’s most consequential hours. It’s a good piece of TV and ties in a lot of threads from past storylines. But part two — in which we learn that only a subset of the Borg is part of Lore’s plan — kind of kills the consequences of part one. Other than those we see here, the Borg are largely unaffected by what happens in these episodes (and by Hugh, previously) and go about their merry way of trying to assimilate the galaxy. We see them back in their collective form in “Star Trek: First Contact” and starting in the third season of Voyager.

Really, the recovery of Data’s emotion chip is the bigger domino. In “Star Trek: Generations”, Data decides to use the chip — with disastrous (early) results. Cowered by fear, Data lets Dr. Tolian Soran escape. Later, Soran successfully draws the Nexus time event to him in the Veridian system by destroying that system’s sun. Picard, caught in the Nexus, goes back in time and stops Soran with the help of James T. Kirk, who had been caught in the Nexus for nearly 80 years. Picard and Kirk are successful, but Kirk is killed. And the Enterprise-D is destroyed.

Data, of course, has emotions for the remainder of the Trek movies, as he’s able to (mostly) master them. Sure makes you wonder why he and La Forge didn’t test the chip in a more controlled environment, as we’ll get to that when we review “Star Trek: Generations”. Get ready for an epic rant, people.

“Commander, how did you get so dumb in the last year or so?”

What doesn’t hold up

Part one deals a lot with Picard’s decision to send Hugh back to the Borg without the destructive program Data and La Forge designed. Admiral Nechayev (Natalija Nogulich) rakes him over the coals for the move.  My only real gripe there is that Picard didn’t have this kind of dressing down earlier, if he was going to have it at all. We’ve seen Nechayev before (in “Chain of Command”) so it’s odd that she hasn’t addressed her concerns previously — and only does so when it provides necessary exposition here.

Otherwise, Picard’s decision to send nearly the entire crew to look for Data was just ridiculous. It all works out in part two, but the Federation flagship was facing a Borg vessel with an untested ensign at tactical and the chief medical officer in command! The idea, I guess, was to line things up to give Crusher a shot in the big chair — and Gates McFadden was up to the challenge — but Picard’s logic was just awful here.

Part two, actually is even worse — both as far as logic and entertainment value. To start, Picard and Co., simply are able to do way too much with limited resources while in a Borg holding cell (with no apparent surveillance). That they could reactivate Data’s ethical subroutines with a piece of gum, some tin foil and a lot of luck was hilariously bad writing.

Then, there’s the clear retrench by the creators between the two episodes. In part one, the obvious implication is that the ENTIRE Borg collective had been affected by Hugh. There’s no discussion or pondering over whether the new individualized Borg are anomalies. But in part two, near the end, Hugh makes a comment that they “can’t go back to the collective.” Initially, I took this to mean that all Borg, now individuals, couldn’t recreate the collective. But, apparently, it meant that the collective still existed and the Hugh-affected Borg were separate of it. Why they can’t rejoin the collective isn’t explained.

Why only some Borg were affected by Hugh, of course, is never explained. The whole POINT of the Borg is that they’re interconnected. But by limiting Hugh’s effect to the Borg we see here, the Borg as we knew them are still around as a threat. My guess? The creators realized after part one that they wanted to keep the old Borg around and they undid some of the consequences from part one — even though they had to do it with what only could be called “weak sauce.” Yuck.

I suppose I could bitch about how Lore found the Hugh-affected Borg in the first place. The last time we saw Lore, he had a small ship and was leaving a planet in or near Federation space. So, either the Borg ship with Hugh on it was in or near Federation space — which comes back to the whole question of where the Borg are and why they don’t attack the Federation more often if they’re close by — or Lore was able to travel a VERY long way from Federation space and just happened to stumble onto the Borg and THEN take them to the Delta Quadrant, home to the planet we see in this episode. Either way, it’s a mighty small galaxy, after all.

Lastly, why does Riker tell the Enterprise crew still on the planet to take cover and not assist him and Worf? Granted, a larger group would have been easier to spot, but Riker could have called for the other officers before he mounted the attack on Lore’s compound and not had to go in with awful odds. Or, maybe more significant, having even four or five more officers would have helped Riker and Worf without compromising their position. My guess is the budget for extras was already overly taxed.

Oh, and one more thing. Does anyone else find it odd that Data — whose rights as a sentient being have been a major thread of TNG — is cool with essentially executing Lore? In second-generation Trek, there’s no indication that the Federation is down with the death penalty, but Data makes the conscious decision to disassemble Lore at the end of this episode. The creators made this harder on themselves than was really necessary, as Lore could have been damaged beyond repair when Data shot him near the end of the episode. I understand why imprisoning Lore would have been damn-near impossible. But by having Data disassemble Lore, he treats his brother like a piece of equipment — the very thing that was the whole point of “The Measure of a Man”.

Final thoughts

Season six of TNG was arguably its best, but season seven is arguably its worst. While “Descent I”(the final episode in season six) isn’t perfect, it’s a fun watch, but “Descent II” (the first episode of season seven is really bad. There are a lot of weak showings in season seven, with a few good ones thrown in. In retrospect, it seems pretty clear that the series was running out of gas, as season seven has a lot of off-the-wall outings (“Masks”, “Thine Own Self”, “Emergence”, the crap with Troi and Worf and the abysmal “Sub Rosa”).

Basically, season seven gets points over the first two seasons because the characters are less erratic and because the finale (“All Good Things …”) was so strong (so were “The Pegasus”, “Parallels” and “Preemptive Strike”). But I’d rather watch most first- or second-season episodes than about two-thirds of season seven.

Last point: This is another example of our heroes having some really bad stuff happen right at the end of a calendar year. With the decision to make a full season a full year (e.g., the sixth season is 2369 and the seventh season is 2370) the entire incident with the Lore-led Borg happened right around New Year’s Eve. This approach really began with “The Best of Both Worlds” two-parter — that set in motion season-ending cliffhangers. With some exceptions, this was the approach for most of TNG, all of DS9 and all of Voyager.

Coming next week …

So, THAT’s why the Federation doesn’t use cloaking devices.