Star Trek: The Next Generation: |
All Good Things...
directed by Cliff
Bole & David Carson
Star Trek: The Next Generation aimed for more style, depth and complexity than its predecessor, hoping to take Gene Roddenberry's concept a step further, and they usually succeeded.
In this series finale, they outdid themselves, and that's saying a lot. It starts with a confused Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) claiming he's moving back and forth through time. No physical evidence of this can be found, and everyone wonders about insanity or dementia. But, it is much more interesting than that. As the episode progresses, it becomes clear the captain is indeed shifting between three distinct time periods: the time just before and after his initial arrival on Enterprise; the "present" (immediately chronologically following the previous episode); and in the future (for them), when most of the crew is retired and/or scattered around the quadrant.
Why is this happening? In the very first episode of the series, the alien entity Q chose Captain Picard and his crew as representatives of humanity and put them on trial for humanity's crimes. They just barely survived, and passed the test, by solving the riddle of Farpoint Station, and being able to see beyond the obvious, display insight and foresight, and display altruism. But what they didn't know is that the trial never ended. In this series finale, Q is back to continue the trial with another test, to give humanity a chance to show they are continuing to grow and move forward. Will they solve the riddle of the temporal anomaly that is growing backward in time, and will eventually destroys humanity, before it even begins?
This series finale is good in many, many ways. It acts as a bookend to the series premier. It gives us a chance to see all of the crew, including Tasha Yar (Denise Crosby), who left the series early on. It gives a peek into the possible future of most of the main crew members. It is thoughtful and intellectual, and represented what the entire series strived for.
And, of course, it gave us more of Q, who is a fascinating character played brilliantly by John de Lancie. Q is almost god-like in his abilities. He, at times, seems to be humanity's ultimate nemesis and played with the idea of destroying humanity. But he also seemed at times to be on humanity's side, presenting tremendous, possibly disastrous challenges, in the hope that humanity would prove itself worthy. Q was complex, annoying, witty, stylish and both an ally and an enemy. Giving Q a big role in the finale was perfect.
Many television series end abruptly, by cancellation. Others go out with a friendly wave and a weak smile, often including a retrospective. Star Trek: The Next Generation ended cleanly, clearly, with a darn good story and the entire cast showing us why we watched them all those years.
by Chris McCallister