Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Final Mission”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 11/19/1990
Teleplay by Kasey Arnold-Ince and Jeri Taylor
Story by Kasey Arnold-Ince
Directed by Corey Allen

Review Text

Wesley is accepted to Starfleet Academy — this time for real — which means he's leaving the show and this episode should therefore automatically get four stars, right? Kidding, kidding; I don't hate Wesley. At least not always. In seasons three and four he was not nearly as annoying as in previous years. Always too smart, yes, but not as obliviously obnoxious about it. Wesley accompanies Picard for a routine mission, but that mission is interrupted when the broken-down shuttlecraft they're riding in with the pilot (who calls himself "captain") Dirgo (Nick Tate) has a system failure and crashes on a desert moon.

The Enterprise has its hands full on another emergency mission (a disposable procedure plot) and won't reach the crash site for some time, so Picard, Wesley, and Dirgo must in the meantime survive in the desert with no water or supplies.

One of the story's points of labor is that Dirgo is obviously too stupid to live. The first tip-off is that he argues when Picard suggests heading to the mountains, the only possible shelter in sight. The second is that he drinks alcohol in the desert sun. The third is that he fires his phaser into a force field when he very obviously should just wait. That last example comes when the stranded party finds a cave with a fountain of water protected by an automated energy field (a prize behind an obstacle that seems more like the end of a video-game level than something that has a plausibly legitimate reason for being there). This results in a cave-in that critically injures Picard. Wesley must then figure out how to get the water to save Picard's life. Dirgo (as I said, too stupid to live) ends up getting killed behind his own impatient plan that Wesley said was a bad idea — which goes to show that you should never blow off the teenage genius.

The real point of the story is the relationship between Picard and Wesley, and their scenes while Picard appears to be dying. It's heavy on sentiment, gratitude, mutual respect, and the deep-down previously unsaid truth that Wesley considers Picard a surrogate father whom he just hopes will be proud of him. It's earnest, pleasant, intimate — but in the end, "Final Mission" is a little too much like Wesley Crusher: a bit cloying.

Previous episode: Future Imperfect
Next episode: The Loss

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74 comments on this post

    The three episodes that feature Wesley heavily this season -- this, "Family" and "Remember Me" -- all make me realize how much, in a lot of ways, "The First Duty" and "Journey's End" were inevitable for Wesley -- not necessarily the specifics (especially of the mediocre "Journey's End"), but that Wesley's life really shouldn't be in Starfleet. Ron Moore put it really well, I think -- he said that Wesley's supposed to be a mega-genius Mozart in (specifically!) warp engines and propulsion, and he's going to just...go to the academy and be a starfleet officer and fly the ship? It's not that this would be wrong if this were what Wesley were really passionate about, and while he's on the Enterprise, he is. But "Remember Me" again has the Traveler return to establish how far above other humans Wesley is in the specific area of warp fields; and both "Family" and this suggest how much Wesley's desire to have the Starfleet uniform is to connect to his father and/or father figure. Jack's uniform is nearly the only thing left of him in "Family" and in the holorecording he left for Wesley he says that Wesley might one day wear a uniform like his (at which Wesley looks down at his uniform with pride). And in this episode, Wesley admits how much everything he's done on this ship is to *make Picard proud of him.* Back in "Menage a Troi," Wesley got worried upon realizing he wasn't necessarily going to be coming back to the Enterprise after graduating from the academy, and if Wesley wants to be a Starfleet officer to make Picard proud of him, does this continue meaning anything if he no longer works with Picard on his ship? That it takes Picard nearly dying for Wesley to come out with this suggests how desperately Wesley wanted to cover up his "real reasons," as well as, I think, how fundamental they are. Wesley had all the specs for the Enterprise (like Worf's foster father Sergei) before coming on board, but he knew even then that it was Picard, his father's commanding officer and the symbol of Starfleet, who was captaining the ship. Becoming a Starfleet officer was one way to reconnect to his dead father and to somehow make his death all right; Picard as a mentor for behaviour became his way of understanding how to behave. But at a certain point Wesley has to grow up and do things for himself and not to make his dead father or his surrogate parent proud of him, even if he can continue loving them dearly.

    The basic structure of the episode -- wherein Picard is injured and Wesley has to take charge -- is setup for Wesley getting on in his life without Picard. For now, that means going to the academy. In the long run, I think it means realizing that he doesn't want the academy for himself after all, and going with the Traveler (though even then, I wonder if he'll eventually leave the Traveler and go find a different path; is the Traveler just another temporary mentor on his way?). I used to be annoyed that the episode is entirely about Wesley's relationship with Picard and not at all about his relationship with his mother, but of course Beverly will always be Wesley's mother, and Picard stops being Wesley's captain the moment he steps off the ship. Wesley mentioned the shuttle ride in "Samaritan Snare," and how Picard opened up to him, and that reminds me how in that episode it was not just Wesley but Picard, too, who benefited from the exchange. Picard doesn't like children, and part of that I think is that his own childhood was spent both intensely studying and somewhat mindlessly rebelling; it's only ever been to Wesley, so far, that Picard has admitted the side of his youth that he regrets, the side that runs counter to the narrative most commonly accepted of Picard having always been a golden boy -- i.e., his not getting into the Academy the first time ("Coming of Age"), the Nausicaan incident ("Samaritan Snare"), and here that Boothby was the person who got him out of some trouble that was very serious. Wesley does remind Picard of himself at that younger age, and his ability to grow to be proud of Wesley runs in parallel with Picard being able to accept his own childhood and his own frailty.

    I talk about Wesley and Picard's relationship over the course of the whole series partly because this episode itself leaves me with so little to discuss. The episode doesn't add much to Wesley's story, but is a capstone to his years on the Enterprise, which have not always been handled very well; Wesley uses his bright mind to solve the problem and save the captain, but (while it's not entirely clear how the tricorder thing he does works) it's not the type of frustrating and improbable instant solution of the kind we'd see in season one. As to the execution of the Wes & Picard character work, I think Jammer says it perfectly: "it's earnest, pleasant, intimate — but in the end, "Final Mission" is a little too much like Wesley Crusher: a bit cloying." The episode has well enough good to earn its 2.5 stars, but no more than that.

    (It's amazing how low-urgency the garbage scow plot is at the end, and how seriously they expect us to believe that thirty seconds before you get a lethal dose of radiation, you suffer zero ill effects.)

    I really liked this episode, but why have the B plot at all. We don't need this moronic distraction to delay the Enterprise. Why did they waste their budget on those useless scenes and crappy alien makeup to discuss the heady topic of... litter bugs?
    It would only take minutes to plot a course, lock the tractor beam and get the combined mass of two vessels up to speed to escape the gravity of the planet, sending it on it's slow journey to a safe destination (the sun?). Just tell the audience the search took as long as the story demanded (strange electromagnetic interference). I don't know how long the search would actually take but I do know about momentum in the vacuum of space.

    William B sez:

    (It's amazing how low-urgency the garbage scow plot is at the end, and how seriously they expect us to believe that thirty seconds before you get a lethal dose of radiation, you suffer zero ill effects.)

    Yeah, it's a bit of a corollary to the "Star Trek countdown", where someone (often Crusher, but sometimes LaForge or Data) will arbitrarily estimate how long it will be for Something Awful (®) to occur, and then that estimate then becomes a to-the-second accurate deadline for resolving The Crisis (®).

    Seems to me that they could have spared a lot of people danger (and saved a lot of hyronalin) if they'd separated the saucer and let it wait out the crisis. Plus, without the saucer, they probably would have had more towing efficiency. So, no fewer than three reasons to do it, and no one even proposed the idea.

    Unintentional foreshadowing to "The First Duty":

    Picard: "Please don't make a liar out of me."

    Wesley: "No, sir."

    I found the exchanges between Wesley and Picard genuine and realistic. We often need a crisis to tell one another the simplest but deepest truths. I actually hadn't remembered this episode except for the recommendation to see the groundskeeper. But I last saw this episode before I lost my parents (to whom I was able to say those simple truths).

    I agree almost anything else would have been better than the garbage scow...

    Heh, forget about the silly implausibility of the radiation: perfectly fine until lethal dose is received, then dead. Just look at the planet Picard and company landed on:

    According to the episode, the planet's MEAN temperature is 55C. 55 degrees celsius! Likewise, Wesley warned Picard that the temperature would drop quite a bit during the night, enough to make him cold... Which means the average high during the day would have to be, oh, about 90 celsius or so... Forget crossing the desert or conserving supplies; they're dead in 5 minutes.

    I suppose they could have crashed near one of the poles, but that sun looked rather high up in the sky.

    @Polyanna: I'm glad you got to thell them those simple truths. It's important. Some os us never get to do it.

    Thanks for sharing. More than anything else, it's those tiny bits of humanity that keep making me revisit this site. Thank you.

    Pollyanna: "I found the exchanges between Wesley and Picard genuine and realistic." Absolutely. I never thought that I would find myself actually liking Wesley. Those scenes with the captain were touching and a testament to Wil Wheaton's (and Patrick Stewart of course)'s acting abilities. It shows how much the show and its writers have progressed since season 1.

    @SkepticalMI - The Earth's mean temperature is 14C, or about 40C less than that planet. So, if they landed somewhere during the winter, maybe on one of the poles, than the temperatures we see in the show might make sense.

    SkepticalMI said: "Heh, forget about the silly implausibility of the radiation: perfectly fine until lethal dose is received, then dead."

    Yeah, it's all part of enabling that to-the second accurate (though always based on estimates) Star Trek Countdown™.

    There was an ENT episode where they went right up to the end of the Countdown of Death, but only came away with some cracked epidermis that healed within a day.

    Just watched this episode again. I suppose I should have been wondering why no intelligent life form from the moon ran into the cave and said "Who's been messing with our fountain?" There was never any attempt to explain this "video game" challenge. And the explanation of the cave itself was laughable. One person suggesting that water made the cave and one suggesting that it was volcanic activity, all while they were walking up and down the stairs leading from one room to the other. (Hello, something intelligent is involved here)

    Wesley used his communicator to jury-rig the tricorder to respond to his super fast button pushing. (Another laughable scene) But it seems that somebody should have been banging on Picard's communicator every so often to see if help was nearby. Admittedly these things could have been explained away (damaged when Picard sustained injury, etc.) but no attempt was made.

    Kind of a carelessly written episode.

    I got a kick out of the debate they were having over whether the cave was created hydrologically or volcanically, when the cave had stairs.

    On another note.
    The aliens with the garbage scow problem.
    How do they eat? Tendrils growing over their mouth. Seriously, no species would have evolved like that.

    Having first watched TNG as a child, I never would have imagined that anyone could hate Wesley Crusher. He's a child who gets to pilot a big starship - what's not to like?

    Well, not that I am rewatching the series in my 30s it's pretty clear to me what really is not to like about his character: him constantly saving the ship through his sheer brilliance (which usually required everybody else to act incredibly stupid so he would seem the smartest guy on the ship by comparison), the corny dialogue ("Adults!", "I'm with Starfleet, we don't lie!") and the general implausibility of a child being made acting ensign, when the Enterprise was supposedly full of Starfleet's best personnel.

    But during seasons 2 and 3, Wesley's characterisation had improved significantly, especially with "Samaritan Snare", "The Dauphin" and "Evolution", where he was presented as a relatable human being instead of a plot-device wonderboy. So I find it sad that his final appearance on the show (for now) happens in an episode as lousy as "Final Mission".

    The whole plot is just an accumulation of clichés which are set up in order to give Wesley and Picard some alone time and to have Wesley save the day once again. Wesley acts like a total dick towards the shuttle captain. The cave and how he overcomes the force field (just type on your tricorder really fast!) makes no sense at all. And we better shouldn't get into that awful Star Trek countdown in the B-plot...

    Still, the dialogue between Picard and Wesley has its moments. Picard is a surrogate father to him, and Wesley's constant failings to get into the academy despite being a child genius make more sense when we see know that he only held these ambitions in order to make his captain proud. I do not remember anything about Wesley's guest appearances in later seasons apart from that story with the Indian tribe, so I'm looking forward to rewatching those episodes and I'm curious as to how he'll develop away from the Enterprise.

    This show always was irritating to me. A shuttlecraft designed to go through SPACE, with all its extremes, is not going to turn into "an oven" after landing on a planet. The whole dang thing was ridiculous.

    As per William's comment at the top in here, I too liked a lot of what they were trying to say with this episode concerning Wesley's arc. I just wish they had a better way of saying it. The plot here involving a shuttle pilot (who should probably not be allowed a shuttle...ever) and the rather random energy force that protects the water (why?) is what failed this episode. The secondary plot involving the garbage scow was pointless.

    However, most of the scenes that focused on Wesley/Picard worked out pretty well and makes the episode a tolerable albeit frustrating viewing.

    2 stars.

    "This show always was irritating to me. A shuttlecraft designed to go through SPACE, with all its extremes, is not going to turn into "an oven" after landing on a planet. The whole dang thing was ridiculous."

    Shuttle power was off, so the a/c was not working. :)

    I thought the garbage scow plot was fine. And a lot of cool FX scenes. And yes I liked the video game fountain thing and the mystery of it, we're not always going to find who built things or whatnot. Yes it's a means to a plot point (Wes overcoming the miner and the problem to save Picard, more of a relationships struggle), but the plot point is solid so it's fine. Great desert scenes. Great music. Nice send-off for Wes.

    Two things I wonder about:

    1. Why did the shuttle have to land at all? It's not an airplane. Losing a thruster shouldn't matter. Turn all engines off and just wait in space. Was it caught in the planet's gravitational field?

    2. A crash landing like that should have killed everyone in the shuttle. I mean… no seat belts? In a car people can die going 40mph (or less) without a seat belt. Then again, great pilot Picard WAS at the helm.

    The garbage scow thing was too ridiculous for me to enjoy. For heaven's sake, just tractor the thing some distance away from the planet, bring it to A STOP so it doesn't crash into the asteroids, and come back for it later. Or put it on a trajectory away from the planet where it won't crash into anything - that has to be possible because it made it to the planet to begin with. It doesn't have to go into the sun RIGHT NOW.

    To commenters who think the cavern is artificial because of the stairs, I disagree. Stairs no doubt were added later to the naturally formed cavern. It does suggest the water supply would also have some sort of electronic sentry on it because the area had been used by intelligent life (the area had a lot of rough and tumble miners in the system, probably them).
    This was a good farewell Wesley episode. After seeing the Blu Ray extras it seems Wil Wheaton was leaving the show to do feature films. Can't say that work out great for him, the only movie I can't think of him being in was "Stand By Me" and that predates his appearance on Star Trek.

    And if you do have to go into the sun? Why go through the belt? It's a BELT, not a hollow sphere. Go over it.

    Space is 3D. They seem to forget this quite a bit (though Q doesn't). They forget it again in the warp wave, where they have to go through it since they don't have time to go around. Go *over* it, people.

    "Wesley, you will be missed."

    ROFLMAO! No, no he won't!

    The scenes between the injured Picard and Wesley are serviceable. They're a little heavy-handed (especially Picard envying Wesley) but workable for what they are. The B-plot? Completely pointless and drama-free. Just go over or under the asteroids, morons!

    However, for all the good on display (such as the wonderfully evocative shot of Picard, Wesley and Dirgo walking across the desert) they just couldn't help themselves, could they? They just had to give us another "Wesley saves the day" story to send him off. God, I'm so glad I only have his guest appearances to suffer through after this. They even go so far as to make the only other characters in the A-plot either completely brain-dead or incapacitated in order to make Wesley look better. To semi-quote an internet reviewer I follow - We get it, Wesley is awesome. But people, it is of paramount importance that as you feverishly fellate this character until he leaves a gland-shaped impression on your tonsils, you occasionally come up for god-damn air!


    I can't help feeling this was one of those episodes constructed solely for the scenes between Wesley and Picard near the end. I'd agree that over the seasons Wesley's character has become less overtly annoying, and as a send off this hits some emotional beats.

    But really the rest of the plot serves nothing more than to allow that scene to happen, and naturally you start to question why certain in-universe choices were made when they make no sense except to drive the plot in a certain direction.

    Thumbs up though for some beautiful VFX shots (the Enterprise heading into the sun may be the best yet) and some nice directorial choices - the lens flare on the desert planet being a nice example of how there's nothing new under the sun (!). 2 stars.

    They seem to have been very enamored with the Ent-D's ability to separate the saucer in the first two seasons, but after that it's like they regretted ever coming up with the concepot and ignored it altogether. Here we have one of several episodes from the last 5 seasons where one of the main plot points - here, the radiation threat - could have been eliminated or vastly reduced by separating the ship, but the idea isn't even proposed in dialogue.

    Hey Jack, interesting you say this because I was just having a conversation last week about the saucer separation (yes, it's sad I know lol).

    I think there were a grand total of what, 3 episodes where the saucer split right? With the last being in BOBW2? Just curious.

    "I think there were a grand total of what, 3 episodes where the saucer split right?"

    Indeed. "Encounter at Farpoint," "The Arsenal of Freedom" and "The Best of Both Worlds, Part II" are the only times the ship is separates.

    It also separates in "Generations," right before it's destroyed.

    ^^ Oh right!! I don't know how I forgot about it during Generations! Thanks, Luke! ^^

    I'm not sure I can agree this is another "Wesley Saves the Day" episode, and I wish commentators weren't so quick to add that label to every Wesley episode.

    First off, Wesley is actually partially responsible for the dilemma. He's at the helm of the shuttle, and obviously too accustomed to Starfleet perfection to handle a customized ship. I think that gives Captain Dirgo at least a little bit of a reason to not trust the officers (He had, after all, asked that Picard help at the helm).

    So now Wesley needs to redeem himself and show that he actually deserves to enter the academy by helping to save the stranded crew. Wesley's not a survivalist like Picard, he definitely has no diplomatic skills as shown with his interactions with Dirgo, but Wesley is a good science and even medical officer, as evidenced by his treatment of the wounded Picard.

    However, Stewart's acting is really what makes this a good show. Small lines with great deliver such as Stewart's poignant "Do you mean to tell me...that there is no water?" really spell out the dread of the stranded crew. Stewart is competent while not being overly pompous, treating Dirgo as an equal despite Dirgo's erratic behavior.

    Finally, I loved the scene where Wesley kept insisting he'd save Picard, and Picard was more interested in Wesley getting out and succeeding in his Starfleet career. "Go on, get the water, Wesley. They'll find you." Picard's stoic almost father-like leadership makes what could have been a B show closer to an A by performance alone. Thanks to Picard's strength, Wesley does redeem himself and shows himself ready to join the hallowed academy.

    3 stars.

    I don't mind Wesley. OK, Season 1 Wesley was annoying but so was Season 1 everyone... Except Picard.

    This was one of a group of episodes I had on VHS, recorded from TV, when it first aired in the UK. So I have seen it a lot.
    I like it, the final scene with Picard and Wesley shows the depth of their relationship and how it has grown from season 1.

    OK, not an amazing episode and Dirgo is a massive twat, fun though and Wesley saving the day was satisfying for once.
    3 seems a good score.

    "And if you do have to go into the sun? Why go through the belt? It's a BELT, not a hollow sphere. Go over it. "

    Because going over it would take considerably longer, and time was something they didn't have. They had to take the most direct route - through the belt.

    Best part of this average episode is Wesley/Picard's heart-to-heart moments. I think both actors were believable - especially Picard. Didn't mind the garbage scow part although the part of the radiation seemed silly -- as others here have said, the crew acts as if there's no danger until the radiation gets to lethal levels. Anyhow, just seemed like a B-plot out of nowhere and the alien whose planet is threatened looked absolutely ridiculous. Why not just be more humanoid like without all the nonsense over the mouth etc.
    Dirgo's character created irritation -- I think Jammer puts it well in saying "too stupid to live" -- in the end he doesn't live.
    Anyhow, trying too hard to give Wesley something special prior to his departure to starfleet. I'm also giving it 2.5/4 stars. Not the kind of episode you'd deliberately go back and watch again.

    If tossing the garbage ship into the sun was always a viable option, why didn't the people who made the garbage just find a sun and do it. Duh.

    And seriously? Drinking whiskey in 50 degree heat under direct sun without water? There's raging alcoholic and then there's this guy.

    A decent episode, but another episode where the Ent-D is at a crisis while some crewmembers are in dire straits was used a little too often. We've got to go help them...but this plague. We've got to go help them...but this moon is falling. We've got to go help them...but this radioactive garbage scow.

    I am rewatching TNG and I wasn't even through half of this episode when I thought:

    "Why do they need third party transport? Why didn't they just take a Federation shuttle?"

    I'll tell you why, because then they would have had emergency food and water. The writers don't want that. :P

    "Stewart is competent while not being overly pompous, treating Dirgo as an equal despite Dirgo's erratic behavior."

    We see a fantastic example of this early on. Picard makes the decision to head to the mountains and Dirgo rejects the idea that Picard is in charge. Wesley flips and yells.

    Wesley: If you want to get out of this, I suggest you listen to Captain Picard! He's the one who's going to keep us alive!
    Picard: Thank you, Ensign, that's enough... Captain Dirgo, you're an able pilot. I welcome your input. If you feel that there is an alternative we are overlooking...
    Dirgo: ... No.

    Picard is diplomatic and respectful and gets Dirgo to agree to his plan - and at the same time subtly takes command by reducing Dirgo to giving his "input".

    This moment is a good example of what is annoying about Wesley, but also realistic. Aside from his very high technical ability, he is immature and incompetent. He put his foot in it in an immature way and escalated tension, while Picard was masterful in defusing that tension.

    2 stars - this is a bad, corny episode, raised half a star by the Picard/Wesley dialog towards the end. The Enterprise plot is routine and unremarkable, while the shuttle crash plot is contrived and badly executed (especially the silly fountain, and Dirgo, who is written as a disposable one-note antagonist when he could have added interest to the episode).

    I thought this was a good episode. Not great, but I thinks it’s better than many seem to make it out to be. The whole trash ship into the sun part does seem to be mostly just filler and nothing special at all but there are three things I think make this episode quite good. There are unique visuals and directing style that make this episode fresh particularly in the first half, Picard and Wesley’s moments at the end, and this being wesleys last episode before going to academy. I would give it a solid three stars

    What REALLY bugs me the most about this episode is - It is one of the MANY “shuttlecraft crashes and plot ensues” episodes and OK for that, my god there have been way worse over the years. BUT just before they leave the shuttle at Geordi says he did a complete systems and safety check in this old tub of parts and says “everything checks out” and he lets them leave the bay with the CAPTAIN ON BOARD. Less than 10 minutes later the thing is crash landing on a planet and has NO emergency supplies. So I mean what the hell did he “check out”? Why does he still have a job?

    @Kristina Anderson, Geordi sure didn't make a very good show of himself in this episode, did he? Not only was his inspection of the mining shuttle shoddy, his placement of the thrusters on the garbage scow weren't very well planned.
    Two seconds after he activates them, a panel that one of them was attached to, breaks off...

    Come to think of it, Picard doesn't make a very good showing either. After he pushes Wesley out of the way of the rock slide, he just stands there and looks up at the rocks and lets himself get pummeled. He had time to jump out of the way.....

    Also, let me get this straight. Captain Dirgo complains that he has to choose what he carries. So he chose to carry 4 phasers even though he's 1 person. Even if he likes to duel wield 2 phasers, that's still 2 phasers too many. Boy would 2 bottles of water have been great!

    I enjoyed this one as I didn't recall it, so it was new. And it was nice to see Wesley not be so annoying. He was actually true to his age in his lack of diplomacy with Dirgo. Yes Dirgo may show up as a boob, but Wesley needs to learn to be respectful, Dirgo was right, not everyone has Star Fleet's pockets.


    I'm pretty sure they needed the B plot about the space trash because it without it the crew of the enterprise would quickly find Picard and Wesley, I mean, without it, the enterprise crew would look pretty incompetent if they can't find the missing crew on the planet's surface, uness you wanna pull a "electromagnetic disturbance" out of your ass as to why they couldn't user their scanners to find them right away.

    It's true they need some contrivance (I'm not using "contrivance" pejoratively here) to keep the Enterprise away, either some reason they are unaware of the crash or some urgent business away. But I don't think they had to spend any time on it after setting it up. That said, if it were better executed it wouldn't be a problem to have a problem-solving B-plot.

    I'll add, under normal circumstances the natural move would be to make the weird EM crystal thing Wesley figures out block the Enterprise's scanners. But it was wise to not have the Enterprise crew working on the same problem as Wesley, so as to avoid the s1 trap of Wes solving the problem faster than the entire rest of the ship working together.

    This episode has numerous problems, but the worst is the fact that nobody on 1701-D has any idea how orbital mechanics works. SLOWLY accelerate the stupid garbage scow thing and park it in a higher orbit to buy some time, then go rescue Picard and Whil Whheaton, then come back and get the garbage scow out of orbit using the same technique and send it into the local sun.

    I liked the tell through the desert part, and Wes admitting how much Picard means to him. The renewal that he's doing the Star Fleet thing to make Picard period makes sense and will come into play later, when Wes realizes Star Fleet isn't what he really wants.

    I'm not a Wes-hater, though I find Wes-knows-best eps cringy. This wasn't one of those.

    A nice send off for Wes, and as in the last ep with the orphaned boy looking for Dad (much as Wes does here), we're starting with the season long family theme.

    There's something going on here, I think about control - getting what you need when you both take and give up control. Faith, trust, confidence, patience, persistence - you'll get your life saving water, and your lethal garbage incinerated.

    Was Wesley supposed to come across as a sneering little manchild in this episode? I wouldn’t mind that characterization. But the episode’s mixed messages baffled me.

    The moment when he meets Dirgo and sneers, “Captain?? Of a mining shuttle??” was beyond the pale. His later sneering at the older man’s frailty was just as bad. I expected a payoff in which the rude little snob was forced to recognize his own coddled upbringing and personal shortcomings. But instead, the episode went on to make the experienced Dirgo an idiot, and Wes a brave hero.

    Thus the episode seems to say, “Wesley was right to sneer. Wesley is always right, about everything.”

    The science surrounding the garbage scow plot is terrible. The absurdity of the radiation danger has been explained by everyone else so no need to elaborate further on that. Others have suggested just moving the ship far enough away to eliminate the danger for now, and then come back later. Good idea. Also, the idea that they have to keep tractoring it doesn't make sense either. Once they get it up to a certain speed, they can just disengage the tractor beam and it will continue on the same heading at the same speed. That's how objects in space work, once in motion they stay in motion, no need to keep pulling it. They even did this in "The Battle" with the Stargazer.

    I'm also in total agreement that "we must land" is absurd. I've brought this up about Voyager too, but the notion that landing would ever be better than just floating around in space is ridiculous. Plus with propulsion problems the chances they'd be anywhere near or able to reach a planet or moon is preposterous, even with the galaxy as crowded as it is in the Star Trek universe.

    I do still enjoy the Picard/Westley plot, and Dirgo deserved what he got. I never noticed before, but when Picard goes to take the helm in the shuttle, he grabs a bar/pipe overhead to steady himself, and it breaks off in his hand. He just looks at it for a moment and tosses it aside. Some good subtle comedy there.

    I'm OK with this one. I didn't remember ever seeing it before I watched it today, and there can't be many of those. I was entertained.

    On the plus side, there's a nice portrait of Riker in command - decisive and perpared to take risks. The plot is fairly original. But it never seems to reach a satisfactory conclusion - we don't find out who put the force field on this desert moon, or why.

    I found Wesley's emotional monologue to Picard just a bit too mawkish, and he chews the scenery a bit. He is also ridiculously disrespectful to Dirgo, a man whom Picard generally treats with tact and respect. Doesn't matter that Dirgo is obviously a dick. Ensign Crusher should maintain the dignity and decorum that comes with wearing a Starfleet uniform.

    I liked the creepy sci-fi horror feel of the ominous fountain defender, especially when it mummifies Dirgo.

    Really minor quibble this, but all the ridiculous flashing lights on Wesley's tricorder - in 2020 when handheld tech is so commonplace as to be mundane, it really seems preposterous. I can't imagine what they're for. Has sci-fi moved past making objects futuristic by adorning them with flashing lights now, 30 years later?

    Patrick Stewart gave us a first rate dying Picard scene. Which was what the whole episode was for.

    The rest was pretty clunky. The castaway on a desert planet scenario, and Picard dying in Wesley's arms didn't need the stuff with Dirgo or the magic fountain, and would have worked better without them.

    The garbage-scow business needed slow up Enterprise coming to the rescue should have been replaced by something else, pretty well anything else. People have pointed out the gaping flaws in it - notably the idea there would have been any reason to keep towing it once it's moving in the right direction at the right speed.

    But Picard deserved a good death scene just for once.

    Well, at least Dirgo was slightly more capable while he was still using the name Alan on Space:1999, Martin Landau's sidekick in my 1970s childhood second favorite (after TOS of course) Sci-Fi show ... To imagine I saw this episode so often without realizing this!

    I do not mind when sci fi invents composits, brake some nature laws etc. Mostly I also accept a logically bad or hollow plot just to support something else. The fact that it would hace been enough to pull the garbage ship in any direction away from the planet then saving picard and then going back to solve the garbage problem irritats me. I mean the normal gravitational laws and ballistics (right word?) still works here ... or?

    Do the TNG writers ever wrap their head around the reality that people can make bad choices or mistakes without being pigheaded assholes or comically inept buffoons?

    Dirgo's actions aren't the problem it's the hamfisted way they wrote him going about it all.

    I will say, the scenes with them outside held up remarkably well from a production standpoint.

    If you are watching Star Trek, never pick at the science. Even if you grant them for the impossible space magic technology, little to no thought is ever given even to the basic physics and cosmology of the of the galaxy. The distance between objects even planets and their moons is far more vast than what is ever portrayed. Asteroid belts are almost entirely voids of empty space. The list goes on. Best just turn that part of your brain off. If you want a show that at least tries to take this stuff into account, watch "The Expanse".

    Seriously though you really should be watching "The Expanse"!!!!!!!!!

    “Wesley… you will be missed.” And you know? For the first time, I thought “Yes, you will be “! I don’t know if it’s the good hair, or the slightly less irritating mannerisms, but he doesn’t get on my nerves as much as in S1 and S2.

    I don’t understand Jammer’s rating. This is a very good episode. Kind of more Star Wars in its atmosphere and concentration on relationships; more of a “slow burn “ with action sequences to lively up itself. The scenes between Picard and Wesley did indeed border on the sentimental, but they were still good, and Stewart showed his acting chops - conveying feelings with understated delivery. We even got a French song from Jean-Luc at last! “Au pres de ma blonde, Il fait bon fait bon fait bon…”

    The B story was more routine, more humdrum, and prevents this from being a 4 star episode, but I would give it a high 3 - so, 3.25?

    Wesley's not so bad. He's an irritating little shit in Season 1, but almost everyone sucks in S1. Hell, even Picard is an unlikeable asshole in S1.

    Over the course of Seasons 2 and 3, Wesley improves a lot, or more specifically, the writing of the show in general improves a lot. By Season 4, I honestly kind of like Wes.

    All that being said, though - this episode sucks. It's a poor sendoff for Wes, and just a stupid plot. The garbage scow stuff is dumb, the video gamey fountain makes no sense, ugh.

    Dirgo really was too stupid to live, I hope he suffered immensely inside that crystal casing.

    @James G "Really minor quibble this, but all the ridiculous flashing lights on Wesley's tricorder - in 2020 when handheld tech is so commonplace as to be mundane, it really seems preposterous. I can't imagine what they're for. Has sci-fi moved past making objects futuristic by adorning them with flashing lights now, 30 years later?"

    Not minor - this has always annoyed me, even 30 years ago. Why when they open up Data does he have flashing lights inside? I have never understood this. My computer doesn't have flashing lights inside when I open it up. Back in the 80s computers did not have flashing lights inside when they were opened up. Hmmm, at least the Terminator didn't have flashing lights inside when he was opened up. Actually, neither did Ash in Alien. This may be a Star Trek quirk?

    Last point - why didn't Riker send a shuttle to look for Picard and W. Crusher? Were they too far away? If so, I missed that part.

    Wesley should have disrobed in the hot desert sun and sucked Picard off as he lay dying.

    This isn't quite as bad as "Skin of Evil", but it still feels like a rather contrived "character leaving the show" plot.

    The garbage scow plot is so contrived and perfunctory. And why would Picard and Wesley travel on that crappy ship? Totally contrived. Why couldn't the Enterprises at least temporarily fling the garbage scow into deep space? And Picard shoving Wesley out of the way then standing there staring up at the rocks falling on him. Bleh.

    And Wesley seems rather out of character here. He seems less mature than he ever was even in season one.

    I could see him making the snark to Geordi about Dirgo bring the Captain of a shuttle, not expecting Dirgo to hear it. But he's shockingly petulant when he jumps up to tell Dirgo to listen to Picard.

    Pretty crazy considering they've been in FAR more dangerous situations before. Wesley was at the helm in several of the Enterprise's Borg battles by this point, including being about a millisecond from ramming a Borg cube.

    I just started on this episode but I have to comment on a shot near the beginning, when the out-of-control shuttle is hurtling through space. The planets are shown as if they're, like, a few feet away from each other, like eggs in the kind of carton you buy at the store.

    In reality, if you take one egg to represent a planet (say, Earth), its satellite (such as our Moon) would be a tiny ball-bearing around five feet away, whereas another egg/planet (e.g. Mars) would be almost five MILES away. (This is taking the mean distances from Earth.)

    Celestial bodies are TINY compared to how vast space is. That also makes it super funny to see spaceships practically on top of each other. I know it makes from cool cinematographic shots and adds to the drama but it always makes me chuckle at how unrealistic it is!

    When I watched this series the first time, when it came out, I was not a Wesley fan. Watching it again now, (for only the 2nd time, I am not a rerun person), I like Wesley's character. He seems naive, not full of himself.
    Also I enjoyed the guest spot on Picard, where he is still a Traveler. That fit all the cannon well.

    "Really minor quibble this, but all the ridiculous flashing lights on Wesley's tricorder"

    Ironically, TOS tricorders now look more believable for this reason. They look dated, but dated from a style perspective, not so much "this is obviously a prop".

    Not that that was intentional. LEDs were still primitive and practical in the late 60s. They would have lit them up like a Christmas tree if they could.

    All they had to do was tow the barge away from the planet and let it go on it's way, then they could have gone on to search for the shuttle immediately. They could have come back or sent a more appropriate ship to deal with the waste barge later. What were they doing taking that broken down piece of crap shuttle to begin with? The Enterprise has lots of shuttles they could have taken.

    Also why do shuttles have to crash land on planets and moons all the time? They aren't airplanes, just because an engine goes out or something it doesn't mean you have to land somewhere.

    My gripe with this episode is that is gives no explanation whatsoever about the nature of the energy entity and why it build a force field around a water fountain.
    The script didn't even tried to toss a basic explanation, would have it killed to add a line like it was a defensive mechanism from ancient race to secure the water?
    The way it was done, it felt complety illogical and contrieved.

    I can put up with this episode in general until the end where Wesley - knowing Picard desperately needs water - seems to be taking his considerably sweet time to get the water while he fiddles with his equipment and lets a delusional Captain ramble on about Boothby.

    Picard is lucky to be alive. Could have been killed by bad writing.

    I thought it would be worth pointing out that in this otherwise unremarkable episode they seem to have pumped a lot of FX $$ into tons of lovely space shots, great planetary angles, and the Enterprise in screen positions we don't normally see. I don't know what warranted spending the budget on this episode, but maybe it was some kind of celebration of we-all-know-what.

    Ron: "no explanation whatsoever about the nature of the energy entity and why it build a force field around a water fountain."

    Heh I was kind of glad they didn't and just assumed as you did that someone set up the force field to protect the fountain.

    For one thing, it doesn't bear much scrutiny... after all, presumably that's grind table water and seems like Wesley could have simply used his phaser elsewhere to tap it.

    That said, it would have worked better exploring all that than the ridiculous Enterprise plot. nailed it. Seems like a simple shuttlecraft sent to the planet would've solved all the issues of this episode...

    Ugh!! Wesley Crusher is only two weeks short of entering Star Fleet Academy and right there in the opening scene prior to the accompanying credits rolling, the Enterprise is notified of not only a violent miners crisis on Tarsus-whatever, but also at the same time a distress signal from another helpless planet’s population under attack from an orbiting unidentified spacecraft.

    It’s a double critical bad dream crisis situation, and despite all this bad news, there’s good old Master Wesley Crusher…

    (Yes…, I know, he’s told the shuttle craft is ready for departure to take him to the academy)

    …still maintaining that open mouth omni-present annoying ear to ear grin on his face for whatever inappropriate at this particular time reason no one will probably ever know.

    Ahhhhhhh!!!! It’s like fingernails scratching across a chalk board!

    Oh yeah, a couple follow on comments I meant to include in prior posting. How’sit that a young man of Wesley’s age has yet to learn the basics of common courtesy? He treated Dirgo with major disrespect when it wasn’t necessary.
    I mean that little trurpe Wesley just sneered at Dirgo and told him basically, “…you’re nothing but pilot of broken down mining shuttle!” And went on to infer, “…I'm a big deal helmsman of a Federation Starship”

    How come once the Enterprise cleared the asteroid field while towing the radioactive barge didn’t they just cut loose from it and allow it’s momentum to take it on into star’s terminal gravity pull and burn up? Why’’d they keep pulling it ?

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