Star Trek The Next Generation: Journey's End

Not a great episode. But not bad, in a tying up plot threads kind of way. Especially for Wesley Crusher, a long-running Next Gen character often beaten up by the writers.

On vacation from the Academy, Wesley arrived noticeably grumpy and out of sorts, and was unforgivably rude to Geordi La Forge. Apparently, Wesley has realized that Starfleet isn't for him, after all. And I liked that. When we're young adults, we tend to go through a lot of inner reflection and self-realization as we find our own path in life, which isn't always the same path as our parents. Although when I was a young adult, I was a sci-fi geek to the core and would have killed to be part of a real, actual Starfleet, but okay, moving on.

This episode was framed by an interesting and parallel-to-Wesley's-story "maybe the Federation isn't always right" plot: a new treaty with the Cardassians has created a demilitarized zone, and Federation colonists on certain planets will have to be moved whether they want to go or not. Except the colonists of Dorvan Five are North American Indians, and being forcibly moved from a place to which they felt spiritually connected created déjà vu of the most unfortunate kind. The returning and not very nice Admiral Nechayev gave Picard no choice at all about forcible removal, even after he made a serious attempt to repair the bad blood between them.

It was unexpected and somewhat cool that the answer to this insoluble problem was Gul Evek, a Cardassian capable of reason as well as compassion. The colony simply gave up their Federation citizenship. That didn't mean that living under Cardassian rule wouldn't eventually turn out to be a future problem. As a solution, it's not all posies and kittens. But it will do for now.

Wesley interfering with Picard's decision to forcibly remove the colonists was pretty extreme, but I liked that Next Gen respected the choices they made in the first season and brought the Traveler back. I'm still unclear about exactly what Wesley's "specialness" actually involves, though. The Traveler has always seemed somewhat Q-like, even though he was clearly not Q.

This episode was full of callbacks, returning actors and connecting references: Doug Wert as Jack Crusher and Eric Menyuk as the Traveler, both for the third time; Admiral Nechayev, too. Richard Poe's Gul Evek also appeared in Deep Space Nine and Voyager. Ned Romero (Anthwara) was in the original Trek's "A Private Little War," and would play Chakotay's grandfather later on in Voyager; plus the Native American colony here was originally intended to be Chakotay's home. The existence of the Federation/Cardassian Demilitarized Zone gave us the Maquis.

And that is your Star Trek history lesson for today.

Bits:

— Stardate 47751.2, Starbase 310 and Dorvan V.

— While Native American culture on Dorvan V was treated with respect, it still felt awkward, generic and stereotypical. That might be because no particular tribes were mentioned, as if all Native Americans were the same. Which of course, they're not.

— At one point, Picard was told he was responsible for what an ancestor of his did wrong back in 1680. Picard didn't buy into it.

— Beverly took losing her son to the universe pretty well. Maybe she'd been feeling for awhile that Wesley wasn't happy in Starfleet.

— I was surprised that what happened in "The First Duty" wasn't even mentioned. It was sort of major.

— While Wesley got some great closure as a long-running character, why is the wardrobe department out for him? Yes, it wasn't as bad as the infamous orange pullover with the ruffles, but what young man on vacation would wear granny vests? This was their last chance to give Wesley some cool outfit. Too bad.



Quotes:

Beverly: "There comes a time in a young man's life when he doesn't want to stay with his poor, senile mother. I understand."
Wesley: "I'll come visit you in the old doctors' home every Sunday."

Beverly: "Now you be sure to dress warmly on those other planes of existence."

As I said, not bad but not great. Two out of four granny vests,

Billie
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Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.

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