Thursday, November 23, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episodes 177 & 178 (All Good Things…)

Every show comes to an end.  Some, like the original Star Trek, get cancelled abruptly.  In other cases, the show ends on its own terms, having told the story it wants to tell.  Star Trek: The Next Generation came to an end after seven seasons, despite being contracted for eight.  The final episode was a two-hour episode called “All Good Things…”.

The episode begins with Troi and Worf exiting a holodeck and walking back to her quarters.  Outside Troi’s door, Captain Picard approaches them and asks what the date is.  He claims that he was moving around in time, having been to both the past and the future.  The details are blurry, but he’s certain that he’s moving through time.  Dr. Crusher examines him; after our first on-screen glimpse of the time shifting, she examines him again to find that he has two days of new memories.  There’s something to it.

There are three distinct timeframes, including what we would call Picard’s present.  The other two take place seven years in the past and 25 year in the future.  Why seven years in the past?  That’s when Picard first took command of the Enterprise.  As for 25 years in the future, why not?

The past is exactly what you’d expect.  Tasha Yar is still chief of security.  Riker, La Forge and a few other crewmembers are still at the Farpoint station.  Data is still unbearably inquisitive.  Picard makes a few mistakes, like telling Worf to do Yar’s job, but he starts to get the hang of it.

The future is one where Picard is suffering from irumodic syndrome, a degenerative neurological disorder.  Picard is shown tending his vineyard when he’s approached by La Forge.  It appears that Picard has retired to his family estate.  However, his health is deteriorating.

In the past and present, an anomaly shows itself.  In both cases, the Enterprise is called to investigate.  It would appear that events in one timeline don’t affect events in the others, other than Picard remembering and acting on them.  He keeps the past crew in the dark, mostly because they’re still new.  However, he mentions it to the present and future crews.

There’s still no news in the future about the anomaly, which is strange.  Picard, La Forge and Data have to arrange passage to the system, which is in the Romulan Neutral Zone, as Picard can’t seem to persuade Admiral Riker to give them a cloaked ship.  Who do they turn to?  Captain Beverly Picard.

This still doesn’t answer the question of who’s behind all this, although we have seen clues.  Those that have been watching the entire series will recognize Q’s handiwork.  Q shows up, or rather pulls Picard back to the trial he and the bridge crew faced in “Encounter at Farpoint”.  This isn’t a new trial; the original one never really ended.  It’s now time for Q to pronounce his verdict:  Guilty.  Humanity will be destroyed and it will ultimately be done in by Picard’s hand.  Will Picard be able to save humanity once again?

I’ve often thought about the choice of time periods.  There were a lot of other things that the series could have done.  They could have gone back to Picard’s time on the Stargazer.  They could have gone back to just after Picard graduated from the academy, as per Tapestry.  Ultimately, that could have gotten too muddled.  Instead, we have a nice set of bookends.

The future does make for more humorous notes, like Data using a skunk for a toupee.  (Well, not really, but his housekeeper seems to think so.)  We also get to see one possible future where Riker and Worf aren’t talking to each other.  Most of the characters have aged, some better than others.

There are a few questions that I’ve had, such as the anomaly growing bigger in each timeframe, despite being bigger in the past.  I suppose this could be accounted for by the fact that each timeline is separate.  The big question people have asked is why there are three Enterprise-like beams in the anomaly when one of them should have been from the Pasteur.  While it’s true that Data never said they were all definitely from the Enterprise, we don’t actually see the Pasteur sending any energy beam into the anomaly.  When Picard and Co. make it to the Anomaly, it’s on the Enterprise.  I would think that it’s more probable that a beam would have emanated from that ship.

One thing I had to wonder is what the universe would have looked like had the anomaly run its course. Q stated that it was supposed to wipe out humanity, even going so far to show Picard early Earth and the goo that would have hosted the first proteins.  If humanity never existed, would the Federation or something like it still have formed?  (For that matter, the anomaly is pretty big way in the past.  How did it affect only Earth?)

You’d probably want to watch the rest of the series first.  (I mean, really.  Who watches the series finale first?)  This episode would probably be a little confusing without a good deal of knowledge.  Fans will probably pick up La Forge’s mention of Leah, a probable reference to Leah Brahms.  I have to wonder, though, as Leah Brahms was a little creeped out by Geordi’s behavior, and rightfully so.  Either she’s gotten over it or he has a thing for women named Leah.

I will say that of all the finales for the modern Star Trek series, this was probably my favorite.  I never really liked what they did with Deep Space Nine.  I felt that having everyone go in separate directions was somewhat forced.  Voyager was exactly what you’d expect.  They’d be some big push to get the ship home, which would just barely work.  It would only come down to details.  As for Star Trek: Enterprise, they never really got the finale they deserved.  (Also, can someone explain to me exactly what the heck happened?  Were they trying to imply that the entire series was Riker’s doing?  He must have been spending way too much time in the holodeck.)

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