Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 7, Episodes 25 & 26
Original Air Date: May 23, 1994
|via Memory Alpha
Picard is flashing back and forth between different points of his own life: the current NextGen Season 7 time, 25 years into the future and seven years into the past when he first took command of the Enterprise. In all three points, he eventually confronts the same problem: a spatial anomaly in the Devron System. Eventually, we learn that Q, of course, is behind all of this time jumping. What's more, Q tells the captain the anomaly is all Picard's fault and that if he doesn't fix the problem, humanity's very existence hangs in the balance.
So at last, we come to the end of the series. "All Good Things..." is a feature-length episode, essentially a two-parter aired for the first time on one May 23rd evening. Without question, it heaps on ample portions of Trek elements that usually send my eyes rolling: time travel, techno-babble and Q. Yet it works. Each principal, even Tasha Yar, gets their one-on-one moment with the captain. Picard's triumph over his nemesis is satisfying. The final scene with Picard sitting down at the weekly poker game for the first time is a sweet good-bye kiss, delivered with the gentle elegance only Patrick Stewart can bring.
"All Good Things..." is considered by most critics as the best series finale of the franchise. Indeed, it tends to do well on "best of" lists for all of television. I worried it might lose something with the developments in Picard's Season 3. After all, we know more now about how the canonic future plays out for these characters. I feel I can confidently report, the impact of that final poker game scene hasn't diminished in the slightest.
Thoughts on Season Seven
To put it kindly, Season Seven is uneven. More bluntly, it's frequently painful. Beginning with the third episode ("Interface"), the writing staff could see the creative well was running dry. Fortunately, there was still enough in reserve for a few gems, including a magical send-off.
Favorite Episode: "All Good Things..."
This is not an easy choice. As good as the finale is, I dearly love "Lower Decks" and still contend that it's built on one of the most refreshing premises of the entire run. I'm glad for the animated series it inspired 26 years later.
"All Good Things..." hits all the right notes. The producers intended it as a love letter to the fans and they could hardly have made it sweeter.
Least Favorite Episode: "Masks"
Unfortunately, there's no shortage of strong candidates for this dubious honor. The idea for "Masks" is cool: the Enterprise encounters the floating archive of an extinct civilization. The archive invades the ship's computer and, along with it, Data's programming. It's an excellent set up for building on Picard's passion for archaeology.
The script for "Masks" was submitted by Joe Menosky while he was living in France so he wasn't around for the editing process. The other writers did the best they could with it. The result was terrible. Even Brent Spiner's overacting through multiple personality changes couldn't save it.
Favorite Recurring Character: Sito Jaxa
|via Memory Alpha
If any NextGen recurring character deserves a return episode, it's Sito Jaxa. She was first introduced in Season 5's "The First Duty." She returned as one of the fun gang of junior officers in "Lower Decks." Her story turns serious when Picard assigns her to a dangerous mission. She doesn't survive.
Or could she have? We never see a body. The original plan was for her death to be permanent but I wasn't the only faithful viewer who was impressed. There was an unrealized plan for a DS9 episode in which she turned up as a survivor of a Cardassian military prison. On Memory Alpha, she is listed as "Reported KIA" so... maybe someday.
Favorite Blast from the Past: Robin Curtis
Robin Curtis took over the role of Saavik in Star Trek III: The Search for Spock when Kirstie Alley gave up the part for fear of being typecast. In Season 7, Curtis came back to the fold in order to play the duplicitous Tallera/T'Pal in the two-parter, Gambit. It's a fun character - more dynamic than Saavik, in fact. Curtis has made no further Trek appearances since.
Favorite Guest Actor, One Shot: Bruce Beatty
|via Memory Alpha
Sito Jaxa was not the only "Lower Decks" character who left me wanting more. Bruce Beatty played Ben, a bartender who, as a civilian, was able to float comfortably between social groups. Guinan made no appearances in Season 7 so a new face in Ten Forward was most welcome. Alas, Ben never returned.
In fine Trek tradition, Beatty is an accomplished Shakespearean. As a student, he attended a Shakespeare workshop led by none other than Patrick Stewart at the Paramount soundstage.
In 1994, the torch was passed to Deep Space Nine as the standard bearer for the franchise. By the end of Season 2, DS9 had hit its stride and was only going to get better. Another spin-off was set to launch in January 1995. In my opinion, Voyager's path was a rockier one, which will definitely make it fun to write about!
I'll have a long wrap up post for The Next Generation next week.