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Final Mission Episode
From: Chris W
Greetings again, Trek TV. I wrote you a few weeks back thanking you for helping me get through some tough times, and you continue to do so. I thank you again, and hope that this email finds you all living long and prospering. I decided to watch "Final Mission" before you covered it in your podcast, and I hope this email makes it to you in time before you record the episode on it. I remember watching this episode when it first aired. I grew up watching reruns of the Original Series back in the 80's, and I fell in love with Star Trek because of those reruns. When TNG came out, I remember thinking it looked goofy, I hated the bulky design of the Enterprise-D, and found Picard to be more of a tea-sipping diplomat than the space cowboy Kirk was. So, I dismissed TNG, and continued looking to Kirk and company for my Star Trek fix through Star Trek V and VI. I eventually gave TNG another try as VI was stated as the final TOS-cast film, and by that time TNG had its Riker beard. I became enamored with TNG as I began to realize that although this show was indeed different, it was still very much a Star Trek adventure. "Final Mission" is one of those episodes that cashes in on the bonds and relationships the characters have built over previous episodes, something I find lacking from more recent media. Wesley Crusher is a character I never found as annoying, buy that is probably due to me being around the same age as him (I am three years younger than Wil Wheaton), and the fact that I really got into TNG around the time his character was maturing into the young man we see in this episode. I will try to keep the rest of my comments about this episode short as I feel like this email is already going longer than I anticipated. For starters, was the alien shuttle just a refit of one of the Enterprise's shuttles? If so, I am sure it was a budget-saving technique and not a lack of creativity from the art department. I am pretty sure the interior of the shuttle was a re-dressing of the shuttle interior set for Starfleet shuttles. "Captain" Dirgo was an interesting character even though one wonders how he got as far as he did with his flaws and brashness. I do like how he has to keep reminding Picard that not everyone is as well-equipped and funded as Starfleet, showing us that life is still a real struggle for many even in the Star Trek universe. I like how his equipment was older, the phasers he had were even older models seen in Star Trek III. While I think this is one of the better episodes of season 4, I do have a few nitpicks. The obvious stair steps in the caves that are perfectly-sized for humans seemed like a weird design choice. The tractor beams in Star Trek always bothered me as there seems like no need to keep a continuous beam since once an object begins moving in space, there is little to keep it from slowing down. This makes even less sense in this episode as the radiated vessel has a clear path to the sun. Maybe navigating the asteroids would require continual course changes, but it seems like Data or the ship computer could calculate a trajectory for the ship to be pushed into easily. Once on its path, the Enterprise would be free to begin search and rescue for Picard and Wesley. Lastly, I love Gates McFadden as she usually gives very good performances, but she seemed way too calm throughout this episode. Overall, this episode is excellent, and I love the relationship Picard has with Wesley. The touching dialogue between the two was done so well - moving but not overly-saccharine. Picard being the hard-ass, intimidating commander yet showing he has so much envy and respect for young Wesley...truly great character writing. I love how Picard dresses down Wesley for being tardy only to reveal to Wesley he is accepted into the Academy - Wesley's smile when he realizes this is a great moment that had me smiling with him and wishing, like Picard, that I was still young and felt the stars were attainable. I find this episode an excellent send-off for Wesley Crusher. If you haven't yet commented on it, what is your favorite moment from this episode? Thank you again for doing the podcast! I want to do some fanart for you guys, but have been unable to think of anything. Got any suggestions? Chris W.