Written by Kacey Arnold-Ince, Jeri Taylor, David Carren, J. Larry Carroll, Joe Menosky, and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Corey Allen
Finally something for fans of the series to cheer about! After a few false starts, Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) is leaving the Enterprise for Starfleet Academy.
Wesley and Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) have always had a very close relationship. On Picard’s part, it is partially due to the guilt he felt at being the one to bring Jack Crusher’s (Wesley’s father) body home to his family. To spend a few last quality moments with Wesley, Picard invites him to come along on a mission where Picard is to mediate a dispute.
While journeying to the planet’s surface, their shuttlecraft malfunctions and crashes. Wesley, Picard and the shuttle’s pilot, Dirgo (portrayed by Nick Tate) begin traveling across desert-like terrain toward a mountain range believing they will find shelter and water there.
At the same time, the Enterprise has been called away to deal with an ancient vessel once used for transporting radioactive waste which has been caught in the atmosphere of an inhabited planet, contaminating the atmosphere. Time is of the essence, so the Enterprise cannot return to the Pentarus system to aid in the search for the downed shuttlecraft,
The three crash survivors locate a water source inside of a cave. When Dirgo bull-headedly tries to blow apart a force-field protecting the source, he causes a seismic event in the cave, critically injuring Picard.
My biggest problem with Wesley’s character was that he was always portrayed as a teen who knew so much, if only the adults would listen to him. In a few episodes that stand alone, that would be fine. However, being hit over the head again and again with the same theme wears thin after a time. This episode, on it’s own, is pretty good. With the background of what has gone on previously in the series, however, it feels like just another “Wesley saves the day” story.
This episode gives welcomed farewell to Wesley in a nice way – much nicer than what was given to Tasha Yar in Skin of Evil. It also reinforces the father-and-son-like relationship between Picard and Wesley. There seems to be a genuine camaraderie between the two actors, making their last moments together all the more poignant.
It also provides Wesley with a lesson about speaking up and standing strong when he believes in something. There are some truly great effects as the force field defends itself and coats Dirgo as well as a weapon with a solid, clear, rock-like substance with incandescent threads. It is a shockingly violent moment, but it gives the impression that this is something which will resonate with Wesley for years to come.
The backstory of the radioactive waste is a nice touch to all of those people who think we should put our radioactive waste and other garbage in space. Although it’s dragged out a bit too much, it gets the point across very nicely.
Non-fans of the series won’t understand this episode for anything. It’s truly an episode for the fans to say goodbye to a character that has been around for three and a half years. The story is good enough that fans will feel fulfilled in that area. It’s not one I’d seek out to watch over and over again, but if you’re not on Wesley overload fans will be able to take it.