The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Final Mission

When a place opens up at Starfleet Academy, Wesley finally gets his chance to start his training in earnest. Before Wesley leaves, Picard takes him on one last mission, but what are meant to be simple negotiations become a fight for survival when their transport shuttle crashes on a desert moon. Meanwhile, Riker and the Enterprise are unable to join the search, as they are busy towing a radiation-spewing garbage scow away from an inhabited planet.

Oh, season four, you were doing so well. You had your unexpected twist and family themes going strong, and then this came along. Before rewatching it, I actually thought this was an episode I liked, but in retrospect I think the only thing I appreciated about it was that Wesley finally buggered off to Starfleet Academy. And, to be fair, the boy genius had been vastly more bearable since the cable-knit jumper days of season one.

The story itself has much the same structure as Samaritan Snare, in that Picard and Wesley head off on a shuttle together, whilst Riker is unable to come and help because the Enterprise is tied up elsewhere. Unfortunately, neither story is particularly good, and Wesley leaves with a whimper rather than a bang.

Poor procedure

  • Why did Picard and Wesley have to go to Pentarus V on Dirgo’s ancient and poorly-equipped shuttle? Were Enterprise shuttles not allowed into Pentaran space?
  • Even though Dirgo clearly was a dick, it wasn’t very 24th century for Wesley to mock his title of Captain just because he only commands a small ship.
  • Why was that fountain on the moon, anyway? What was the whole set-up for? Was it the leftovers from some advanced aliens who were trying to toy with visitors?
  • Picard has a concussion, but no one prioritises preventing him from losing consciousness. He was lucky to survive, all in all.
  • If Dirgo’s ship is so poorly insulated that it can’t keep out the heat of the desert, how in the galaxy did it protect against the cold of space?

Other points

  • Crusher inoculates the crew from the garbage scow’s radiation by adding hyronalin to the life support systems. This was the cure for radiation poisoning mentioned in The Deadly Years.
  • The Enterprise crew barely avoid getting a lethal dose of radiation poisoning, but it’s not like there’s a step change between how much radiation is fine and how much is lethal. There was probably enough to make a fair amount of the crew very sick, and, given variance, the lethal level wouldn’t be the same for everyone anyway. Basically, we should expect to see Riker’s hair and teeth fall out over the course of the next few episodes.
  • This episode features the first mention of Boothby, Starfleet Academy’s groundskeeper, and the wisest man Picard knows. Note how Picard befriends the service staff – first Guinan, now Boothby – he knows the value of maintaining relationships with the people who do the practical work.

Summary – Final Mission: Picard probably never wants to step inside a shuttle with Wesley again.

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