May 1994. It was a bittersweet time for Trekkies. On May 23, 1994, after 7 seasons, 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' aired its final episode.
I was sad to see the series end - but excited about the upcoming feature films and 'Star Trek: Voyager.'
I had to work during the time that the TNG finale, "All Good Things," originally aired. So, I setup my Tivo to record it. No, that’s not right… it was 1994… I programmed my VCR to tape the episode.
After work, I invited a friend over, and we enjoyed what might the best episode of TNG.
At the end of the episode, Picard finally joins his crew for a game of poker. As he deals, the camera pans out from above the table, then the Enterprise. “So, five-card stud, nothing wild. And the sky's the limit."
But let’s rewind a little bit to Picard’s final conversation with Q. After Picard solved the time paradox (and saved humanity), Q tells him, “...That is the exploration that awaits you. Not mapping stars and studying nebulae, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence."
So, did the 4 TNG movies that followed live up to this statement? Let’s take a look.
'Star Trek: Generations'
The concept of the Nexus in 'Generations' somewhat lives up to Q’s words. The Nexus is an “energy ribbon” that exists outside of normal space & time. Once somebody enters the Nexus, they enter a everlasting paradise.
Unfortunately, the movie and the concept of the Nexus are filled with plot holes. Picard learns that he can leave the Nexus and return to any point in time, and he convinces Kirk to join him to stop Soran. Picard chooses to return to the final confrontation with Soran - which, of course, results in Kirk’s death.
Why didn’t Picard return to an earlier point in time and prevent Soran from carrying out his plan? Maybe he didn’t learn so much from his experience with Q after all.
'Star Trek: First Contact'
In the best of the TNG films, the Borg travel back in time in an attempt to prevent first contact between Humans and Vulcans. Since this movie involves time travel, it could be argued that it lives up to Q’s statement. But, then again, there had already been many Star Trek episodes and movies involving time travel.
'Star Trek: Insurrection'
This is an enjoyable movie, but most fans agree that it feels more like an average episode of TNG than an epic feature film. The “fountain of youth” concept with the Ba’Ku planet and Anij’s ability to slow down time may seem to line up with Q’s words, but the crew had already encountered far more unusual situations during the course of the TV series.
'Star Trek: Nemesis'
This movie is just terrible. I’ll save this for a later post.
Did the TNG films live up to Q’s statement at the end of “All Good Things?” Unfortunately, no.
Even with their flaws, I enjoy 'Generations,' 'First Contact,' and 'Insurrection' (the same can’t be said for 'Nemesis'), but these movies paled in comparison to the TV series at its best.
In fact, you could look back at episodes of the TV series that live up to Q’s promise more than any of the films (e.g. Time Squared, Yesterday’s Enterprise, Cause and Effect, The Inner Light, Time’s Arrow, Journey's End).
Do you agree or disagree with my verdict? Let me know in the comments.