Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Where No One Has Gone Before"

**1/2

Air date: 10/26/1987
Written by Diane Duane & Michael Reaves
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

An experimental new test on the Enterprise's engines — courtesy of Starfleet engineer Kosinski (Stanley Kamel) and his mysterious alien assistant (Eric Menyuk) — sends the Enterprise careening beyond warp 10 and on an unintended (and quite impossible) journey millions of light years beyond the reaches of the Milky Way galaxy.

For the first time on Star Trek: TNG, we have a genuine sense of awe and wonder, where space no longer resembles a black star field but instead a colorful visage of the strange and unknown. The acceleration of the Enterprise beyond what was dreamed possible turns out to be the basis for a pretty good premise centering on the mystery of the assistant — known only as the Traveler — whose alien gifts have allowed the crew of the Enterprise to travel where quite literally no one has gone before. The question now is whether they can get back, especially with the Traveler having been weakened in getting here.

The episode is notable for at first seeming fresh and intriguing, but this feeling fades once it becomes clear that this place, wherever it is, has the ability to turn thoughts into reality. The episode has too many hallucination gags that become real threats, and all of it is based on pure fantasy rather than sci-fi. When anything can happen, and the best the writers can come up with are dead parents, Klingon pets, and flames blocking the corridor, it's kind of a fantasy-manufactured letdown. The Traveler has an intriguing dialog with Picard about the nature of exploration, but it goes on so long as to eventually become impenetrable.

The episode also provides a turning point for Wesley Crusher, whom the Traveler identifies as a science prodigy. Picard encourages this belief by making Wesley an acting ensign, but the problem with the character remains that he's too much of a cloying geek and you just want to strangle him.

Previous episode: The Last Outpost
Next episode: Lonely Among Us

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11 comments on this review

NCC-1701-Z - Sun, Mar 25, 2012 - 9:00pm (USA Central)
This episode had soooooo much potential, but 99% of it went unrealized. Ultimately, the writers took the most disappointing of all possible paths.

The whole "brand new galaxy" plot felt very refreshing at first, before the episode got stale really fast, as all the hallucinations or whatever just ground the momentum to a halt. I especially found the Picard-and-his-mom scene to be lacking in passion and believability. And making Wesley Crusher into a prodigy, I could have done without. That time would have been better spent making the other characters stronger, quite frankly, since character development has been very lacking for the past few episodes, due in part to the weak scripts and weak acting. I don't *hate* Wesley, but I don't like him, either. The resolution was so cheesy ("think good thoughts" is what it comes down to) that it was unintentionally hilarious.

Also, the music. It left much to be desired. Too weak to the point that it was virtually nonexistent (this has been a major problem with all the eps, too). Half the eps could have been improved dramatically if they had just gotten better music, to heck with cost. I guess I'm kind of spoiled with TOS-style super-dramatic music.

It was still a pretty good ep, though, and in the Things I Liked department, I could see the acting slowly getting better, especially from Patrick Stewart, and as I mentioned earlier, the beginning acts were very well done. 2.5 stars seems about right.
Rikko - Mon, Apr 16, 2012 - 1:58pm (USA Central)
The first acceptable episode ever since the pilot. As you've said, the start is a good one but just becomes silly and sillier as it goes by. The hallucinations would have worked better if they served any real point, instead of "lol-random" stuff.

And Wesley Crusher is annoying as ever, but at least, this time around they got an excuse for it (He's a genious).

@ NCC-1701-Z: I think the music is one of the low points of the whole season! Most of the times it's either overdone or just generic. Wait for that ep of Troi's mother and you'll see it's even more awful.
Van_Patten - Fri, Aug 3, 2012 - 10:08pm (USA Central)
The series goes in for a high concept, and initially it comes off quite well. The Kosinski character seemed to foreshadow the proliferation of ubiquitous 'Management consultants' by about a decade and Guest actor Stanley Kamel really nails the part -also worth mentioning Chief Engineer Argyle, who I thought could have been a worthy recurring character.

As Jammer says, episode is really a tale of two halves - although the pre-CGI graphics for the 'end of the universe' look dated now, the Eric Menyuk character was genuinely intriguing, and even probably halfway in I thought, maybe this was an 'undiscovered gem', but the dimension 'where thoughts become reality' concept's execution lets it down. Also, making Wesley a prodigy in the wake of 'The Naked Now' seems ridiculous, although to be fair to Wheaton, I don't think his performances are that bad, given the scripts.

It's getting a little predictable but once more I'd echo the rating- 2.5 stars, an intriguing concept again betrayed by flawed execution.
Rachel - Sat, Sep 1, 2012 - 9:49am (USA Central)
An okay episode which has far too many holes for me! If the experiments in warp enhancement worked on the other two ships, and was approved by Starfleet Command, what was the problem here? Anyone could see Kosinski was typical of the annoying grey suited jobsworths that I worked with in my last job!

Why was Picard, an explorer, wanting to get back from where-ever they got to, so quickly?

Who cares, really...I think the whole epsiode was to show off Wesley's genuis again - although I could tolerate it more this time.
Mike Caracappa - Wed, Sep 5, 2012 - 2:20am (USA Central)
Decent episode and some outstanding visual effects. For all it's flaws in this ep, I think TNG first started finding its footing with this episode. Another interesting note if you think about it, this episode was a very early precursor to ST Voyager.
istok - Tue, Apr 2, 2013 - 4:27pm (USA Central)
I wonder if the rest of the series explored this monumental find, that you can travel billions of light years in a second if you think hard about it. They can't have ignored it later on.
William B - Thu, Apr 11, 2013 - 7:16am (USA Central)
I have little to add to Jammer's review here, which I think captures the best and worst of the episode. (I agree with the 2.5 rating as well.) It's a big step up from all the episodes up to this point, but still isn't really all there, despite potential and a fairly riveting first half. I like Kosinski's arrogance and later humble joy at being valued by the Traveler late in the episode. I do think that Wesley's role in this episode is a good use of him -- far better than previous episodes.
Dennis M. - Sat, Aug 31, 2013 - 7:39pm (USA Central)
I quibble with the wording of this criticism: "... all of it is based on pure fantasy rather than sci-fi." I don't take TNG as science fiction, certainly not in the terms of someone like Arthur C. Clarke. Where is the science when the crew can breathe without space suits on every planet, everyone speaks English, and all aliens are humanoids with bumpy heads? Space is really kind of a McGuffin; the real final frontier is (at its best) good storytelling, human nature, imagination, ideas, those sorts of things. I agree with the criticisms here on this episode, and it could have done a better job with some ideas that themselves aren't really so silly. The nature of thought is intriguing coming from Plato or the Kogi Indians of Colombia.
Dave in MN - Wed, Feb 5, 2014 - 11:59am (USA Central)
I have to disagree with the comments about the musical score for this episode. If anything, I felt the score was very impressive and helped set the stage for the almost-cinematic sense of wonderment the viewer feels watching this episode.

In fact, I think one of the biggest mistakes the producers of TNG ever made was going with the incredibly droning/boring musical scores of Dennis McCarthy in the later seasons.

Ron Jones is a wonderful composer and I think he deserves a bit of the credit for making TNG the force that it was.

As far as the episode goes, this is the one where it really feels like the cast is starting to click and settle into their roles; and it shows. Add in a really provocative script and some fascinating imagery (both outside the Enterprise and inside crewmember's heads) and while not perfect, it is definitely an hour of entertaining (and sometimes thought-provoking) television.
V_Is_For_Voyager - Thu, Jun 12, 2014 - 4:08pm (USA Central)
Dave in MN: Agreed completely about the music. I like Dennis McCarthy but I don't know what those other reviewers are talking about with this episode, I thought the score here was unusually impressive and cinematic.
Dave in NC - Fri, Jul 18, 2014 - 2:51pm (USA Central)
Dave in MN is actually me . . . I moved, but my computer still had my old ID saved. *facepalm*

anyways

@V_is_for_Voyager: Part of the reason I'm rewatching TNG is just to discover all the music I never paid attention to when I was younger.

I'm now convinced that Ron Jones is a real genius. I've been listening to the complete score to the Best Of Both Worlds I & II on Youtube and the music is better than most films. There are some fugal passages in the recap at the start of Part 2 that are shockingly complex for any modern-day composition, never mind a piece written for background music on a genre show.

The same goes for the evocative music in Hollow Pursuits, Tin Man, Booby Trap etc etc. He's just an amazingly versatile composer, and I'm really thankful to Gene Roddenberry/whoever it was that saw fit to hire him in the first place.


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