Date: April 14, 2020
Season 4, Episodes 9 and 10
Musical Accompaniment: A complication of Melodic Techno
Interstellar News: It was another beautiful, but lonely, day.
Favorite Quote from “Final Mission”:
Picard: Oh, I envy you, Wesley Crusher. You’re just at the beginning of the adventure. Go on. Get the water. Stay alive. They’ll find you.
Wesley: I’ll be back soon.
Picard: Of course. You remember I was always proud of you.Who is cutting onions?!?! Seriously!
“Final Mission” begins with Wesley Crusher finally getting “the call” to go to the Academy, so he’s going to help Picard on a diplomatic mission for one last hurrah. There’s a distress call at a nearby planet so Riker and the crew are going to help while Picard and Wesley head aboard a shuttle with a man named Dirgo who was sent by the miners to help settle the dispute. No sooner does the shuttle craft leave the Enterprise’s bay they run into issues and crash into a nearby moon that’s basically a desert. The plot diverges back and forth to what is happening on the moon and what is happening on the ship.
The Enterprise is trying to deal with the issue of the planet that’s in trouble so they delay a search for the shuttle craft once they receive word it didn’t reach its destination. There’s a leaky ship that someone left in space and wandered over to Gamelan V that’s dumping radiation into the planet and they need help. They try about 10 different things until the last one finally works, in the last 10 seconds before radiation is exposure is fatal of course, and the barge goes riding into the sun.
Picard, Wesley, and Dirgo make their way over to the mountains with very few supplies, but they need to get out of the heat. They find a water source but it’s protected by a force field and some guardian that looks like Barry Allen when he’s in the Speed Force, who is quite dangerous and Picard is hurt. Dirgo tries to outsmart it but he winds up looking like Frodo after Shelob tried to eat him. Picard is fading quickly and tells Wesley to make friends with the groundskeeper at the Academy and then sends Wesley on his way to find help. Wesley, however, fucks with the sentry and is able to get to the water. The Enterprise finds them and everyone is going to live to see the next episode… except for Wesley who’s finally, really, maybe leaving?
There was nothing in this episode that wasn’t expected. If it’s really Wesley’s final day on set, then he’s going to have to spend time in a situation that shows off his skills and leads to a well earned goodbye (and something that allows him to hug his mom without him being embarrassed by it). So a spot randomly opens up, but doesn’t he have to take all the tests and other random shit the Academy’s put him through the last three years first? Putting that aside, you know neither Picard or Wesley are going to die and Dirgo is never going to listen to “a kid” and Picard has to be out of the way somehow to allow Wesley to shine, so again it’s not unexpected that he’s hurt and gives Wesley the “atta boy” speech he’s wanted for so long. I also knew the Enterprise was going to be delayed until the very last second, and come riding to the rescue. Having said all that, even “knowing” what was going to happen, I still enjoyed the episode. It allows Wesley’s character to come back and doesn’t leave any more death to follow Dr. Crusher or Picard. Wesley’s solution to getting the water worked, though no one was there to see it, but it was so rushed at the end I’m left just whelmed at the episode. I’ll take “times I’ve been disappointed by Wesley Crusher episodes” for 5, Alex.
Favorite Quote from “The Loss”:
Troi: I really would rather be alone right now.
Riker: Too bad. (he pulls her towards him, and she cries in his arms)
Troi: Is this how you handle all of your personnel problems?
Riker: Sure. You’d be surprised how far a hug goes with Geordi, or Worf.I laughed quite heartily at this line, it’s honestly the thing I would say if I were in a similar situation.
“The Loss” begins with Counselor Troi doing some actual counseling with a crew member who lost her husband some time ago, and she’s pretty damn good at her job. Worf and Data see some strange readings and Troi suddenly develops a headache and severe pain, and Dr. Crusher has reports coming in from all over the ship. At an all hands meeting, Troi realizes she’s lost her mojo. She spends the episode going through almost all of the stages of grief, looks like someone on the writing staff paid attention in their counseling theories class. As a matter of principle, there is no right or wrong way to grieve. Some people go through stages linearly, some regress, some are never reached or skipped over entirely. The models used in grief counseling are a mere guide to helping someone understand loss, but there is no “one size fits all”. Cry, box, do whatever you need – but you’ll need outside help.
Troi is first in shock and denial, of course she’ll be fine and her Betazoid brain will totally heal itself. She quickly jumps to anger and has it out with anyone in her path, though she never really enters the bargaining stage. She experiences depression and starts to lose hope, how can she do her job as a mere human. Despite Picard, Riker, Guinan, her patient, and Dr. Crusher all providing evidence to the contrary, Troi is convinced she must resign. It’s when she works with Data and comes up with a solution that she starts to accept that maybe she isn’t worthless, but then her skills some back and the crisis is averted. Oh, there’s also something about 2-dimensional beings dragging the Enterprise to their doom, but I never really feel the danger there and just know they’ll get out in time.
As the ship’s counselor we’ve seen Troi mostly advise Picard because all of the action is on the bridge. It’s nice to see Troi in her element, using her empathy to help those on board. What I don’t like is how she pulls a Q and gives up at the first sign of being a “mere mortal”. This episode suffers from having to wrap up everything in a 45 minute episode, so she races through all of the stages and doesn’t spend any time lingering as we’ve got to move onto the next stage, oh and the ship is probably going to be sucked into a vortex or some such. I did like, however, that Riker and Guinan both show their expertise in counseling in their own way. Guinan makes a very convincing argument that she’d make an excellent ship’s counselor, I mean I would totally hire her to deal with my “First Year Freds”. Troi also doesn’t want to be counseled and Dr. Crusher makes the poignant observation that next to doctors, counselors make the worst patients and I absolutely feel attacked because that’s unfortunately me. As a Trek episode, this was pretty meh and standard, a 5 at best. As a counseling episode, however, this gets high marks for all of the good theory work. In a modified view of the Kubler-Ross model of grief, we’ll label this as stage 7 – acceptance.
On a slightly funny note, the shots of the Enterprise being pulled sideways reminds me of my dog, Professor Zoom, when we put his walking harness on him. He has this funny habit of walking sideways, like the ridiculous pupper that he is, and if I can ever get a video of it I’ll post it here.