All journey’s come to an end and for Wesley Crusher, the end of one journey is only the beginning of a much bigger one. In this episode that originally aired on November 19,1990, we get to say farewell to one of the crew. This is Final Mission.
Stardate 44307.3: Final Mission
Wesley Crusher is accepted into Starfleet Academy. Wesley and Picard take a shuttle on a final mission together, only to crash on a deserted moon where they must fight for their very survival.
There are two stories in this one, one involves Wesley and Picard while the secondary story involves the Enterprise and the rest of the crew. We will start with the first story.
Story ‘A’: Survival
The Enterprise is called to assist Chairman Songi of Gamelan V as Picard and Wesley head off to handle a mining dispute. However, soon after the Enterprise leaves, the shuttle that picked Wesley and Picard up begins to have navigation issues and crashes onto a nearby desert moon.
Crashing on the bleak desert moon, they discover that, while they have the necessary medical equipment, they have no means to replicate water or food. This will be a test of survival for sure. Equipping themselves with antique weapons, Picard, Wesley and Dirgo (the shuttle captain) begin a long trek across
the Dune Sea the desert. Although Dirgo swore that there was no water, he hides the fact that he himself has some on him. This will not go well.
Soon Wesley begins detecting a low energy reading in some nearby mountains. This indicates that there may be a settlement of some kind nearby so, even though it may be a sensor ghost, they head on to see what is in the nearby mountains. When they arrive at the mountains, the find a cave where it is discovered that Dirgo has been hiding, not water but alcohol. Picard takes it, and stashes the liquid with the medical supplies.
Before long they find a source of water but it is protected by a strange force shield. Dirgo attempts to destroy it but is attacked by a strange force. The force causes a cave in in which Picard pushes Wesley out of the way of. Picard is hit and hurt badly, now Wesley and Dirgo must care for Jean-Luc’s injuries and try to keep him alive until they are rescued.
They soon discover that the phaser used on the force shield has been encased in some fibrous material. It appears that the water’s protector is responsible. Wesley soon discovers how the shield reacts and Dirgo decides to take matters into his own hands. Firing his phaser again, he is attacked by the being and is also encased in the same fibrous material. It is now just Wesley and the dying Picard. Soon Picard begins to slip away and Wesley is determined to get water to his dying Captain. After nearly losing Picard, Wesley finds a way to disable the sentry and get to the water. Wesley awakes to find his mother and the away team rescuing them in the cave. They are safe, and the Final Mission wasn’t so final after all.
Story ‘B’: Garbage Duty
The Enterprise arrives at Gamelan V only to discover that they need to move a radioactive garbage scow from orbit around a planet. You would think that the people could do it themselves as they would need to be a warp capable civilization in order for the Federation to intercede. Apparently, they are warp capable but lazy. They soon begin working on rescue efforts despite hearing that Picard and Wesley have gone missing.
Although they are able to attach a tractor beam to the radioactive garbage scow, the radiation poses a threat to the crew. They need to make it through an asteroid belt in order to toss the barge into the sun, but this will not be easy.
The Enterprise finally manages to finish their mission and return to assist in the search just in time to save Picard and Wesley….because of course they are!
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This was a really solid sendoff for Wesley Crusher. As it has been the characters dream to eventually join Starfleet academy, there could be no better end to this part of his journey. We really get a sense of how much Wesley has grown as a character in this one and man he has become so much more than the whiny child from season one. Picard taking the boy under his wing has had an incredible impact on Wesley’s life and he is a much better man for it. Wesley admits to his wounded Captain that everything Wesley did, the studies, the work, the drive to better himself, was to make Picard proud of him. Wesley has come to see Jean Luc as sort of a surrogate father that he no longer has which is appropriate as Jean Luc was Jack Crusher’s best friend.
You also get a sense that, although appearing tough toward Wesley, Picard has a soft spot for the boy and almost sees him as his own son. Thinking he is dying, Picard tells Wesley that he had so much more to teach him and that Wesley should remember that Picard was always proud of him the entire time. This is a really touching moment and one that, although hinted at, was not truly established until this event.
I remember being sad that Wesley was leaving the show but also so very excited when I found out that he was getting to join the Academy. At that age, I would have killed to be part of Starfleet Academy. I remember hearing (or thinking?) that they were planning to do an Academy tv series and that is why Wil Wheaton was leaving the series. Sadly this wasn’t true but we do get to see him in the Academy in a later episode!
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
This is also a great goodbye for the actor, Wil Wheaton. At this time, the actor had requested to be allowed to leave the show and, instead of killing him off, the producers allowed him to join Starfleet academy so his journey could continue. This pays off as this isn’t the last we see of Ensign Crusher.
We never see of hear from the people of Gamelan V. After all Riker and the crew went through, they were pretty ungrateful. Pre-warp jerks.
The phasers that Dirgo has are from the Original Series films, specifically Star Trek The Search for Spock. It is pretty fitting as Dirgo has some pretty old stuff aboard his shuttle.
This is the very first mention of Starfleet Academy Groundskeeper Boothby who we will get to meet in later episodes.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Loss
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Late To The Game 12/1/2019 (Originally published 7/9/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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