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Digesting the lowest rung of pop culture so you don't have to!
Now, we’re talking! Star Trek: The Next Generation lasted seven long seasons. Who would have guessed that would have happened back in 1987? The show was still doing great in the ratings, but the produced decided bring it to a close in order to launch TNG on the big screen. While the seventh season might have been a mixed bag, the final episode, “All Good Things…” is a classic in its own right. Not only does it give an otherwise episodic series a sense of closure, but it completes and celebrates The Next Generation’s past, present, and future!
We find Captain Picard jumping between the present, the events of “Encounter at Farpoint”, and 25 years into the future. In each time period, no one really believes that he is time traveling and thinks that he is suffering from some sort of mental illness. To make things even stranger, things that Picard does in each time period doesn’t affect the others. Turns out that Picard’s jumps are being caused by Q, who is doing this in order for Picard discover, understand, and stop a temporal anomaly which has the potential to disrupt humanity’s evolution before it begins (see…the anomaly seems to grow in reverse and is bigger in the past – it is confusing, but it makes sense in the episode).
It also turns out that this is another test that Q is making Picard go through as part of the trial that began in “Encounter at Farpoint”. Eventually, Picard rally’s his crew from all the time periods and is able to think simultaneously in the multiple time periods and destroy the anomaly. With that task done, Q congratulates Picard and returns him to the moment before the episode began.
What I described above only scratches the surface of the episode. The episode is more about the characters, where they were, and where they will go. It was fun to see the past before they really bonded into the family viewers have come to know them as. In addition, it was interesting to see that family broken up. This provided an interesting dynamic in order for Picard to bring them all together but having to do it in two very different ways. The future time period was also a great way to give viewers a glimpse of what will happen to these characters. Even though TNG was heading to the silver screen, this was a nice little touch for a final episode.
It was also great how this connected back to the very first episode and the trial that Q put humanity on. That trial was mostly forgotten about (even Picard was a bit “wha…?” when Q mentions it here), but that, in essence, was the premise of the series of the Enterprise crew proving that humanity has what it takes, and that we do grow beyond our petty troubles and differences. It is a shame that this thread was never picked up upon in any of the TNG movies.
The one thing that surprised me when I re-watched it for the first time in years was how much “technobabble” was in the episode. In the fan community, Star Trek: Voyager got raked over the coals for its heavy use of technobabble, but clearly the writers were already experimenting with it late in TNG’s run. It is weird to see Data or Geordi spouting out utter nonsense in order to move the plot along when I was not use to really seeing that to such an extent.
“All Good Things…” is a great episode of Star Trek and a wonderful way to end The Next Generation. It is, arguably, the strongest of all the Star Trek finales. Perhaps some of the science is a little wobbly, but, fortunately, that is not the focus. It is all about the characters and what they mean to one another. What more could you ask for a series finale?