The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The First Duty

When the Enterprise returns to Earth so that Picard can give the Starfleet Academy commencement address, it’s also a chance for the crew to catch up with Wesley. But Wesley has recently been involved in a piloting accident in which a cadet died, and he seems reluctant to talk about it. Is it just shock, or are Wesley and his squadron hiding something?

This is another of TNG’s standout episodes, and one which demonstrates how far the series has come since season one when everyone was sterile and perfect. Although it relies on the tried-and-tested story of “accident happens, characters lie to cover it up”, it’s still done well here, with regulars and guest stars all turning in good performances. And we all know that, in the end, Wesley can’t possibly lie to his hero, Captain Picard.

Starfleet Academy

  • Any vaguely observant Star Trek fan will notice that Nick Locarno is a very similar character to Voyager’s Tom Paris, also played by Robert Duncan McNeill. Had they just reused Locarno, the Voyager producers would have had to pay royalties to the writers of The First Duty for every episode in which the character appeared, so it was cheaper to just make a new character. It is somewhat annoying for fans of elegant continuity, however.
  • Sito Jaxa will appear as an ensign on the Enterprise in season seven’s Lower Decks.
  • We finally get to see the legendary Academy groundskeeper Boothby. Like Guinan, he’s one of those characters who always knows what’s going on, and uses that knowledge to drop hints about the plot.
  • As a cadet, Picard had a Betazoid superintendent who could find out your transgressions just by reading your mind. Isn’t this somewhat unethical, or is it just that Betazoids are such sensitive telepaths that they can’t help but hear the thoughts of others?

Summary – The First Duty: “The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth.”

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