11/11/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "Encounter at Farpoint"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E01&2
Air Date: September 28, 1987
Written by: D.C. Fontana & Gene Roddenberry
Directed by: Corey Allen

Premise
Captain Jean-Luc Picard takes the brand new Enterprise-D on her maiden voyage to check out Farpoint Station and is interrupted by Q.

Review
The newly commissioned USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D is all ready to seek out new life and new civilizations on their first mission: to uncover the mystery of the Farpoint station and try to get its builders to make more of them throughout Federation space. Besides that, they have to pick up some guy without a beard, the doctor and her kid. Turns out, though, that they're being followed. It doesn't take long for a Q-net to trap them and then Q randomly pops onto the bridge in medieval garb and accuses the human race of venturing out into the galaxy too far and being barbaric. Yet he is the one dropping in unannounced!

After Picard and the crew show enough confused faces Q changes into a World War II uniform to get his point across that humanity has had some horrible wars and doesn't deserve to have nice things. When they still don't get it, Q changes into a soldier uniform from the 2030's when soldiers were controlled with drugs and apparently wore mattresses. All this to demonstrate when humanity has done in the past, so Picard makes the argument that humanity has gotten better and not to pass judgement based on the past. So, Q takes the judgement cue and flashes off to queue up a 2030's courtroom.
This is what our fine men and women in uniform have to look forward to.
Meanwhile, Picard tries to escape the Q net, but it just turns into a ball and follows him. So, then he decides to separate the saucer section in order to protect the families that are now allowed on the Enterprise. Worf takes the saucer and Picard takes the battle bridge. After the saucer goes away, Picard, Data, Troi and Tasha suddenly find themselves inside of Q's courtroom. After a long, drawn out court case in which Tasha gets frozen and brought back to life and in which Troi no doubt wonders why she is being judged for the actions of humans, Q decides that the Farpoint mission will be a good test of human character. And they leave.

Meanwhile, on Farpoint station, some guy who doesn't have a beard, but calls himself Riker anyway, is snooping around and asks this Zorn guy what's going on. Zorn dodges his questions by offering him apples that suddenly appear there. And when Riker leaves, Zorn yells at... no one?... not to make apples suddenly appear like that and to behave. Picard shows up eventually and they connect back with the saucer section like it's no big deal. Riker and the Crushers [which, incidentally, is my new band name] beam on board, Riker takes a good look around the bridge and then this guy shows up:
I'm just an old... oooooold, old, old country doctor.
As the first in a long tradition of characters from the previous series sending off the next series, Admiral McCoy shows up and accuses Data of being a Vulcan. And then Picard introduces Riker to everyone and we find out that Riker and Troi had a little somethin' goin' on in their past. Then they all go down to the Farpoint station to investigate. As a half-Betazoid, Troi has the ability to sense emotions, and there are some terrible emotions going on down on Farpoint.

Well, it doesn't take long for an alien ship to appear out of nowhere and start shooting at the city of the people who supposedly built Farpoint. The Enterprise starts trying to defend itself when Q shows up again and Worf tries to shoot the viewscreen. Q comes inside and says they're totally missing what's going on and because of it, they're bound to fail the test and be sentenced to death. But Picard's all like "No! We're advanced! I swear!" and then Riker proves it by suggesting that maybe there's a being down there that can make matter from energy.
A squidly being!
So, instead of shooting at the intruding "ship", they help it and give the being on the ground enough energy to pick up and fly off. The two squidly beings meet in space and float off into the sunset while Troi picks up that they are very grateful. Well, then Q is forced to admit that humanity isn't so bad after all. Picard angrily tells him to get off the bridge, but Q says "I'M ONLY GOING BECAUSE I WANT TO AND THERE'S INTERNET IN MY ROOM, SO I DON'T CARE!" Q flashes away promising to return, and Picard orders his fancy new ship into the galaxy for more adventure!

Overall Thoughts
As an introduction to The Next Generation, this episode is not too terrible. It introduces the characters well, introduces the main antagonist, Q, very well, and it sets up the idea that this is a whole new Enterprise with stories that promise to run into each other through character lines instead of being self-contained like in The Original Series. They run into a couple of snags with the misuse of the saucer separation and the lack of any beards, but overall... I'm just glad Trek is back!

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