In the twenty-fifth episode of the seventh season of The Next Generation, the end begins. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
You know, it really hasn’t hit me that this is the end. Just over a year since I started The Next Generation, I’m now supposed to accept that there are few experiences left for me with these characters. Perhaps the knowledge that there are four more films left to watch with these characters is comforting enough that I’m not quite ready to say goodbye. Still, I couldn’t help getting a bit emotional a few times during the first half of this finale! Here’s the thing: once I saw that Q would be in this episode, I wasn’t concerned with figuring out the mystery behind Picard’s flashes through time. If John de Lancie is in an episode of The Next Generation, then all the weird shit is usually Q’s fault.
The sheer brilliance of the “mystery” here, however, has little to do with the resolution of it. While I am invested in finding out why the trial started in “Encounter at Farpoint” hasn’t ended, I am much more enamored with the experience. Look, it’s possible that every single scene in the “future” isn’t the actual future that Picard will live through. But “All Good Things…” uses this concept as a means to give us a complete portrait of the lives of these characters. We see them at the beginning, when they were each assigned to the Enterprise under Captain Picard. (Or, in the case of some of these characters, Picard joins them for the first time. I WILL NEVER GET OVER TASHA YAR.) We see them in the present time, having gone through seven years of growth and learning. Then we are jettisoned twenty-five years in the future, and EVERYTHING IS BEAUTIFUL AND SAD AND LOVELY AND UTTERLY UNFAIR. It’s a rare chance to get a glimpse of a life beyond the Enterprise, and it’s one of the coolest things for a finale to do. (I’m reminded of the finale for Six Feet Under here; lord, help me. I’m gonna get emotional again.)
In this context, it’s easier to get a sense of grandeur to the story of The Next Generation. Yes, Q has his hands all over this, but there’s still a value in what we’re seeing here. In the future, we get a chance to see what Geordi does after leaving Starfleet. (I WANT TO KNOW MORE ABOUT HIS CONTACTS AND HOW THEY REPLACE HIS VISOR. PLEASE TELL ME MORE.) Picard, on the other hand, has retired to his family’s vineyard in France, which is its own form of closure to his story. Data is a professor!!! HE HAS A HOUSE FULL OF CATS. DO YOU REALIZE HOW IMPORTANT THIS IS??? I literally could not count how many cats appeared in those scenes, and it is perhaps my single favorite detail in all the future sequences.
Then there’s Dr. Beverly Crusher, my eternal favorite, who is Captain of the Pasteur, who married Picard at some point. SO SHE’S DR. PICARD. (Wait, was I meant to interpret that line of “keeping” the name as evidence that they’d gotten divorced? Actually, on second thought, that makes a lot of sense. Why would they be separated? OH NO, NOW I’M HEARTBROKEN AGAIN.) I just love the idea that she’s a captain now and has an entire medical ship under her command. IT’S SO PERFECT. Now, I haven’t seen Troi or Worf yet, but I imagine she’s with him on the planet that he’s helping to govern. What the hell happened that caused such a huge rift to form between the Klingons and the Federation? Why would Worf choose the Klingon government over the Federation? Or do I have that backwards? Why isn’t Deanna commanding her own ship? OR IS SHE?
I think you can tell that I’m much more interested in these character futures than the spatial anomaly present in two of the three timelines. However, I admit that I’m intrigued by Q’s insistence that he did not cause the anomaly. If I understood him correctly, it’s all PICARD’S fault??? How is that possible? Does Picard do something in the future that rings back through time? If that’s the case, I don’t understand why Q has kept the trial going. Why invoke a possible judgment now? Why is the mystery of the anomaly so important?
I am lost, and that’s perfectly fine. The experience so far has been a real treat, a stunning chance to explore a possible future for these characters. And look, I like that this is something the writers are doing for us. If all good things must come to an end, then I feel honored that I get to see the future before it all comes to a conclusion. MY BODY IS NOT READY FOR THE SECOND HALF OF THIS, Y’ALL. But here I got, where I’ve not been before, for the last time.
The video for “All Good Things…, Part I” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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