Redshirts Roundtable: The Best Goodbye

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Star Trek The Next Generation All Good Things 2

Elliot Thorpe
Star Trek The Next Generation – All Good Things

TNG has always held a special place for me. I was 16 when it was launched and so it felt like it was ‘my’ show, ‘my’ Star Trek (even though I grew up on TOS). I watched it avidly and never missed an episode. I was enamoured by its transition to the big screen (yes, even Nemesis!). It had its ups, Will Riker, and its downs, Wesley Crusher. The early episodes were finding their feet but they got there relatively quickly and certainly the latter half of Season 2 was where the build truly started.

There was a finite point to TNG, that became more obvious during the latter half of Season 7, when we were told the finale was coming. It would go back to the very beginning and give us committed fans and viewers a proper send off. Except it didn’t, not for me. All Good Things…, while it did indeed work well as a final chapter to the series and that last shot of the Enterprise-D flying, literally, off into the sunset was beautiful, it was well known that the cast and production crew were already prepping for a movie.

So on May 23rd 1994, we said goodbye to the Starfleet crew we had come to know far more intimately than any of the TOS guys and had to wait only 6 months for Generations, which open November 18th the same year (less time that between seasons!).

As great as it was and as fun as it was, All Good Things… felt like an anti-climax as a result. Furthermore, the future Picard, as intriguing as it was to see him retired, show him as a man who had fallen from greatness and seems to be pitied by his former colleagues. The looks La Forge gives him behind his back when he is trying to make them see the temporal thingy is awful: they treat him, Riker and his ex-wife Beverly included, like he is a senile old man who should be in a home. Yes, they say he has Irumodic Syndrome, but come on guys, this is Jean-Luc Picard, once powerful, once proud but always honorable – show him a little more respect than the derision he initially gets. Yes, okay, I acknowledge that they do indeed all go on one last adventure together, but they seem to be humoring him more than anything.

For a full-on emotional climax to a series, a series which wasn’t afraid of putting its characters through the psychological wringer from time to time, Family (the second episode of Season 4) would have been great material to end with, had they decided to stop earlier than 1994.

It deals with the fallout of the Battle of Wolf 359 and Picard coming to terms with his mortality, that he threw himself into Starfleet and never looked back. It is a great showcase for Patrick Stewart, pushing Picard into an incredibly vulnerable and broken position. He questions his own position, the great starship captain, and his estranged relationship with his older brother, Robert (played to perfection by the late, great Jeremy Kemp) and whether or not Jean-Luc should actually resign his commission and become director of the New Atlantic Project. As subplots, other members of his crew also find their ways back to their families, all the time waiting for the Enterprise-D to be repaired up in dry dock orbit.

But this is Picard’s episode and had writer Ronald D Moore steered Picard to accepting the position then, yes, the series probably could have continued without Patrick Stewart but it likely wouldn’t have been the same.

It’s a crossroads episode for Picard and obviously because the series carried on, of course Picard would have returned to the center seat. Nevertheless, it works very well as a potential final episode all the same.

Interestingly, with the trailer for Star Trek Picard now having dropped and there being an inference that Admiral Picard resigned from Starfleet for traumatic reasons yet unknown, it seems to echo what is suggested in Family as well the character returning home to La Barre (we assume) to tend his family grapes (a premise which we also had presented to us in All Good Things…).

The end is indeed the beginning.