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TNG 4-09

TNG 4x09
"Final Mission"

Original airdate: 11/19/1990
Rewatch date: 11/4/2011


During what is to be his last duty on board the Enterprise, Wesley, along with Captain Picard, crashes on a desert moon and must find a way to survive.

Spoiler-free notes:

The aliens (Gamelians?) look really ugly, with all that gross stuff covering their mouths. That can't be practical.

Dirgo says he has logged more than 10,000 hours in a shuttle. That's a lot of time to spend alone in a tiny craft surrounded by the desolate void of empty space. Considering that, it's amazing how sane Dirgo is.

The use of location shooting and camera filters is very well-done in this episode.

The arrow Picard leaves behind doesn't look like it would stand up to a stiff breeze.

I like the idea of exploring a survivalist scenario on an alien moon, but the odds are ridiculously in their favor. I don't bring up this nitpick too often, because I just chalk it up to suspension of disbelief, but I need to mention it here. Though we don't really have enough of an idea of the make-up of the planets in our galaxy, we can be reasonably sure that the odds of picking a random planet or moon and being able to survive for more than five seconds on its surface without any protection are, at best, a billion to one. It's not just the make-up of the atmosphere having exactly the right proportion of oxygen to nitrogen and not containing any toxic chemicals, either. Humans can only really survive in a tiny, tiny range of temperatures, pressures, and gravities, all of which are more the exception than the rule, as far as we know. At the absolute least, Picard, Wesley, and Dirgo should be wearing environment suits. Again, I normally overlook this nitpick, but since this episode is all about survival under extreme conditions, there's a missed opportunity here to inject some neat science.

How come nobody seems bothered by those awfully convenient stairs?

This episode is a good send-off for Wesley, and I think the writers were wise to focus on his relationship to Picard rather than his relationship to his mother. The Picard/Wesley dynamic is more poignant and interesting, and the plot puts it on center stage without being overly melodramatic about it.



Spoiler section:

We will eventually meet Boothby in "The First Duty," as well as in a couple of episodes of VOY.





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