Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 83 (Final Mission)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

When Star Trek: The Next Generation first aired, I remember liking Wesley Crusher.  I realize this is a dangerous thing to admit, but it makes sense.  As a teenager, you feel like you know everything and that no one listens to you.  You can identify with a teenager that does know everything and isn’t usually take seriously.  It wasn’t until I got older that I realized why Wesley Crusher was so annoying.  Most adults don’t like being shown up by some know-it-all kid, even if he does know it all.

In the middle of the fourth season, an opening became available at Starfleet Academy.  (One suspects that a bridge officer or two may have forced an accident upon some unfortunate Starfleet Academy cadet, but it’s never explicitly stated.)  Picard delivers the good news and informs Ensign Crusher that he’s going to go with Picard on one final mission.  There’s some sort of dispute on Pentarus V.  (This sounds a bit redundant to me, as penta- usually indicates five, but whatever.)  Wesley has been studying about some sort of labor-related legal system or something.

They’re being picked up by a Captain Dirgo in his modified mining shuttle.  Geordi certifies that it’s safe enough, but it nevertheless manages to fail, forcing a crash landing on a nearby moon.  Picard takes charge and leads the trio to the safety of some mountains off in the distance.  For some reason, he fashions an arrow out of some material to indicate where they are going.  It turns out that they don’t have many provisions save for some ‘medicinal’ alcohol that Dirgo is hiding.  As luck would have it, they find water.  It’s protected by a force field and there’s no explanation of why it’s there in the first place, but it’s something they need.

Meanwhile, The Enterprise is called away to aide a defenseless planet being bombarded with excessive amounts of radiation.  Since the ship won’t respond, the planet’s government can only assume that it’s an act of war.  When the Enterprise gets there, they discover that it’s an automated garbage scow that was used to send off all of someone else’s radioactive waste.  The Enterprise has to manually tow the scow past an asteroid belt.  They’d do more, but they’ve received word about Picard, Wesley and Dirgo going down.  They’ll have to find a permanent solution later.

Back on the planet, Dirgo has tried to get at the water, but only caused an avalanche that  nearly killed Wesley and seriously hurt Picard.  There’s some sort of automated defense system that attacks anyone who tries to get at the water too aggressively and Dirgo, being a drunk idiot, tried too aggressively.  He hatches a plan to try again.  Wesley, being Mr. Know-it-all, warns Dirgo not to try it.  Dirgo, being a bit of a know-it-all himself, doesn’t listen to Wesley and gets himself mummified.  Wesley does eventually get at the water, thus saving the day one last time.

The one thing I remember about this episode was the water.  It was so odd that this fountain, which looks artificial, happens to be there.  This is why we have these somewhat obvious explanations, like someone may have been mining there.  At least we could have had a lame joke about how this could have been someone’s winter home or something.  Why would someone put water on a planet and put in a defense system?  I’m not saying it couldn’t happen, but there’s no apparent reason.

It’s kind of a fitting end to Wesley’s stay on the Enterprise.  Those that haven’t watched the series may not get the full impact of what’s going on.  There is a strange relationship between Picard and Wesley.  Picard has never been comfortable around children, but he did lead the away team where Wesley’s father died.  There is a sense of responsibility.  There’s also a sense of being a surrogate father.  A lot of things have led up to this episode.

I can see recommending this episode to people.  Granted, I’m reviewing it on VHS, so there is the issue of not recommending the format.  Still, if you’re watching the series and wondering if it gets better, it does.  The quality of the episodes improves and you’re not going to have to put up with Wesley Crusher for the entire seven-year run. 

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