Saturday, March 9, 2019

Encounter at Farpoint

TNG Season 1 Episode 1 and 2
Air Date: September 28th, 1987

My father used to watch Star Trek: The Original Series when I was young, but I didn't really get into Star Trek until 1991 which was in the fourth season. Once I started watching it I got hooked. I would watch every episode on the air date and anything I could find in repeats. By the time the series finished in 1994 I had watched every episode at least twice.

When writing my blog posts for the original series episodes I focused mostly on the plot since it was new for me. But for TNG, what I will find more interesting is remembering how the episodes made me feel and interesting things I noticed about them. So the plot sections may not feel as fleshed out as previous posts but I hope to have more commentary.


The maiden voyage of the Enterprise, heading to a station on the edge of Federation space called Farpoint. The people of Farpoint, the Bandi had captured a creature that naively lives in space that can turn energy into matter at a thought. They used it to create a base for the Federation hoping to use it as a bartering chip to enter the Federation. When the Enterprise arrives they realize things are too good to be true and meet the mate of the captured creature. They help the creature by giving it energy which lets it get back into space.

The real plot of the episode isn't so much about the Bandi and this creature but more about Q, an omnipotent being that claims humanity isn't ready or more so, is too violent to be out in the galaxy and orders the Enterprise back to Earth. Picard resists and challenges Q to a bet, where if they win, they can keep exploring. The bet was that they could be tested not to be the barbarians that Humans once were. Q expected the Enterprise to destroy the creature to save the Bindi people but instead they sided with the creature, surprising Q.


When I first saw this episode I looked at it from the perspective of a teenager with his whole life ahead of him. I was just learning about world issues so the episode seemed more current then it really was. I felt that like the Federation, we had learned to not use violence to solve all of our problems and that we had made peace with everyone. Then I grew up and realizedthat our world if full of hate and suffering. The world trade center fell that led to two more wars. The issues like what is happening in the middle east to things at home like #blacklivesmatter and things that happened in Charlottesville. The country that the Federation is modeled on is today closer then ever to civil war. I only hope it doesn't go that far.

Q's concerns about humanity seems to be warranted this time around. The court that Picard sat in was from the mid twenty first century. We are only 60 years away from that predicted future and unlike Back to the Future, 2001 A Space Odyssey and even the TOS episode Space Seed that introduced Khan and the Eugenics war this vision of the future may be on track.

In the end Picard showed that while we were barbaric in our past, we had evolved socially and only use violence to defend ourselves and others and never for personal gain. One can only hope that we can get there before we annihilate each other.

The episode did have some moments though. Deforrest Kelly makes a cameo appearance as Dr. McCoy, at 137 years of age. Wesley has the reputation as being an annoying character but one of my best memories was Wesley Crusher sitting in the captains chair informing the Captain that there was a proximity alert and Picard getting mad at him. As a 13 year old kid at the time, I looked at myself in Wesley's position.


"Space, the Final Frontier. These are the voyages of the Star Ship Enterprise. Its continuing mission to see out new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations. To boldly go where no one has gone before." - Picard

"Thou art notified that thy kind hath infiltrated the galaxy too far already. Thou art directed to return to thine own solar system immediately." - Q

"Lieutenant! Do you intend to blast a hole in the viewer?" - Picard

"But you can't deny that you're still a dangerous, savage child race." - Q
"Most certainly I deny it. I agree we still were when humans wore costumes like that, four hundred years ago." - Picard
"At which time you slaughtered millions in silly arguments about how to divide the resources of your little world. And four hundred years before that you were murdering each other in quarrels over tribal god-images. Since there are no indications that humans will ever change." - Q

"Objection, your honour. In the year 2036, the new United Nations declared that no Earth citizen could be made to answer for the crimes of his race or forbears." - Data
"Objection denied. This is a court of the year 2079, by which time more rapid progress had caused all United Earth nonsense to be abolished." - Q

"You will now answer to the charge of being a grievously savage race." - Q
"Grievously savage could mean anything. I will answer only specific charges." - Picard
"Are you certain you want a full disclosure of human ugliness? So be it, fool." - Q

"How old do you think I am, anyway?" - McCoy
"137 years, Admiral, according to Starfleet records." - Data
"Explain how you remember that so exactly!" - McCoy
"I remember every fact I am exposed to, sir." - Data
"I don't see no points on your ears, boy, but you sound like a Vulcan." - McCoy
"No, sir. I am an android." - Data
"Hmph. Almost as bad." - McCoy
"I thought it was generally accepted, sir, that Vulcans are an advanced and most honorable race." - Data
"They are, they are. And damn annoying at times." - McCoy

"I see in your file that Captain DeSoto thinks very highly of you. One curious thing, however, you refused to let him beam down to Altair Three." - Picard
"In my opinion, sir, Altair Three was too dangerous to risk exposing the Captain." - Riker
"I see. A Captain's rank means nothing to you." - Picard
"Rather the reverse, sir. But a Captain's life means a great deal to me." - Riker
"Isn't it just possible that you don't get to be a Starfleet Captain without knowing whether it's safe to beam down or not? Isn't it a little presumptuous of a first officer to second guess his captain's judgment?" - Picard
"Permission to speak candidly, sir?" - Riker
"Always." - Picard
"Having been a first officer yourself, you know that assuming that responsibility must by definition include the safety of the captain. I have no problem with following any rules you lay down, short of compromising your safety." - Riker
"And you don't intend to back off that position?" - Picard
"No, sir!" - Riker

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