Written by Ronald D. Moore, Brannon Braga, Rene Echevarria, and Naren Shankar
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
When Gene Roddenberry first created his vision of the future, he saw it as a sort of idyllic paradise where humanity had learned to get along and wars were essentially a thing of the past. Of course, that would have been pretty boring. There are only so many things that can be explored without there being some conflict brought in. There have been villains and conflicts through the seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation and overall it’s struck a nice balance. At times it was too idyllic and Captain Picard was sometimes criticized as being too complacent. All Good Things… shows just how decisive he can be.
The final episode of the television series Star Trek: The Next Generation goes out quite well, with a story that brings in old characters and draws the entire seven seasons together. There are guest stars from among favorites of the cast, although Wesley Crusher is most notably absent.
All is well on board the Enterprise. The Klingon Worf (portrayed by Michael Dorn) and Counselor Deanna Troi (portrayed by Marina Sirtis) are sharing an evening together when they are interrupted by Captain Picard (portrayed by Patrick Stewart) coming out of his quarters and demanding to know what year it is.
Picard tells Troi he has had the sense of not being on the ship. As he’s talking to her, suddenly he shifts to a time when he is an old man. He is working in his family’s vineyard when Geordi LaForge (portrayed by LeVar Burton) pays a visit. He has just learned that his former Captain is suffering from Irumodic Syndrome, which causes mental deterioration not unlike Alzheimer’s Disease. The two are sharing a good time when suddenly Picard shifts again. This time, he is on board the shuttlecraft Galileo with Tasha Yar (portrayed by Denise Crosby), headed for the Enterprise for the first time.
Once back in the current time period, none of the tests run by Dr. Crusher (portrayed by Gates McFadden) or the security scans by Worf show that Picard has been anywhere but on the ship. He keeps shifting through the three time periods, remembering more and more each time. Something seems to be drawing him to an anomaly in the Devron System. Unfortunately, this is in the heart of the Neutral Zone with the Romulans.
In the future, there are issues with the Klingons who are currently not on good terms with the Federation. Picard asks Worf’s permission to cross Klingon space. After a heated exchange, Worf agrees to let him cross as long as he accompanies Dr. Crusher’s medical ship which they are traveling on.
The ships from the three time periods converge on the same anomaly, which threatens to stop the entire existence of human beings right from the primordial soup which led to the building blocks of intelligent life on Earth.
All of this shifting is being engineered by “Q” (portrayed by John DeLancie). Q is an omnipotent being who has occasionally visited Captain Picard throughout the years, often as an annoyance. However, Q has powers that Picard cannot match. Back in Encounter at Farpoint he told Picard he was on trial for humanity. Picard now learns the trial never ended and this is a pivotal moment. Can Picard figure out what is happening and take the necessary action to preserve the evolution of intelligent life on Earth?
I was even more startled now as I watched All Good Things… at how well done it is. Just bringing back the crew to the point where they are convincing from that era is a stroke of genius. The cast is back to the hairstyles, makeup, and uniforms from the first season. That was a feat unto itself.
The story in All Good Things… is compelling as well for fans of the series. Although it focuses on Picard, it’s a story about the entire series and about the unforeseen consequences of plugging ahead. Then there’s also the question about the ability to make things right once you realize a mistake.
The acting is superb. Patrick Stewart shines in all three eras, but especially as the curmudgeonly old man who’s suffering a mental illness. He’s convincing in his confusion as well as in his determination. He gives a terrific performance and it’s he that must carry this episode of the series. If he can’t be convincing, the story will not be. Stewart’s acting has always been impressive and he doesn’t falter in the least here.
This is character-driven and strictly for fans of the show. The potential future depicted here was blown out of the water by the movies, so it’s a treat to see “what might have been” and wonder what events needed to take place for that to happen. All the actors age nicely and also seem comfortable in the past, although their roles are much less substantial than Stewart’s.
What also makes it work for fans of the series (why anyone who isn’t a fan would want to begin viewing a series with the finale is beyond me) is how it draws in so much of the show’s history and earlier characters. We have Q here is who was a fun irritation for the crew, but mostly for Picard. He must take him seriously. yet he acts in ways that make that difficult. That theme has been all the way through the series and the two actors manage to not make viewers tired of their antics. It’s nice to see Tasha back too for her brief stint in-character. Denise Crosby has made a few appearances during the series run but this felt like going home again.
This was a terrific finale for the series. Although some of the movies were good, it would have been fitting to see the story for these characters essentially conclude here. This is a terrific story and a fine conclusion to what was a great resurrection of a science fiction series I grew up with.