Recap: Star Trek: The Next Generation S1 E1 "Encounter at Farpoint"

Series:Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode: Season 1, Episode 1
Title:"Encounter at Farpoint"
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Next: The Naked Now
Recapper: Insert Witty Name Here

The Enterprise-D is out on its maiden voyage to Deneb IV to pick up Commander William Riker when suddenly she encounters a giant space net of some description, and a being that calls himself a "Q". After a reflex action results in the freezing of a Red Shirtnote  (he gets better), Q decides to challenge the crew: If they can prove that mankind has put aside their military "nonsense", he'll let them go.

The challenge involves them solving the mystery of Farpoint Station, an outpost on Deneb IV that has been the site of some absolutely bizarre goings-on, mostly in the guise of apples that appear from nowhere and fabric that suddenly changes texture. Of course, all is not as it seems, and the head of Farpoint Station, Groppler Zorn, has a lot to answer for.


  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: Q presents himself as a "fellow captain" to break the ice.
  • And the Adventure Continues: Justified as this is the first episode and the beginning of the journey.
  • After the End: Q puts the crew on trial in an Earth Kangaroo Court from the late twenty-first century, the time of the Postatomic Horror following World War III.
  • Appeal to Force: Once Q has put the Enterprise crew on trial, the accusation is made that humanity was once and still might be a "dangerously savage child-race". Picard says they will successfully defend themselves against the accusation if the trial is fair. Q replies that the trial will be absolutely equitable, and then promptly orders that Picard and crew be summarily executed if they enter any other plea besides guilty.
  • Badass Boast: "Let's see what this Galaxy-class starship can do!"
  • Beyond the Impossible: Picard tries to outrace Q and pushes the Enterprise to its maximum emergency speed of warp 9.7 (which is a subtle Continuity Nod to the Original Series, where in the episode "That Which Survives" a villain made the Enterprise go at warp 14.1, the same speed but on the old scale). Then Q's "ship" reaches warp 9.8. Data says they might be able to match that, but at 'extreme risk'. As Picard hesitates and considers...
    Yar: Now reading hostile at warp nine point nine sir!
  • The Cameo: DeForest Kelly as 137-year-old Admiral McCoy. This would start a tradition of each new Trek show having a cameo from the previous show in its pilot.
  • Captain Obvious: Troi is there right from the start, as she sees a guy covered head to toe in ice and declares "He's frozen!"
  • Captain's Log: The first spoken words after the Opening Credits.
  • Cerebus Retcon: When the crew is placed on trial, Picard suggests that Q judge them based on their performance on the "long mission" they have ahead of them. Q dismisses the idea but says he will judge them just based on how they perform on this specific visit to Farpoint Station. Seven years later, in the final episode, Q reveals that he took up Picard's suggestion after all, and 'the trial never ended'.
  • Characterisation Marches On: Everyone, due to the Early Installment Weirdness. Some can be written off as being pre-Character Development.
  • Cheese-Eating Surrender Monkeys: "Commander, signal the following in all languages and all frequencies: We surrender."
  • Chekhov's Lecture: In the holodeck, we're treated to some mild technobabble on how it converts energy to matter to make objects. Later on, it is revealed that the Starfish Aliens live on energy and use it to create objects in order to please people on the Farpoint station.
  • Department of Redundancy Department: The crew says that the mysterious ship does not match anything in their database at least twice.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Lots. It's obvious the actors and the writers hadn't quite found the characters yet. Also, the Bandi were apparently a pre-warp civilization, even going so far as to rely on the argument that they do not like to leave their homeworld as an excuse for not accepting a proposal to build starbases for the Federation elsewhere. Despite this, the Prime Directive is apparently not an obstacle to the Federation setting up shop on their planet, even though in later seasons it would be argued that comparable civilizations should not be saved from extinction due to the Prime Directive forbidding even contact with them.
  • Enforced Method Acting: Wesley's awestruck look upon seeing the bridge for the first time is very much Wil Wheaton's excitement about being on the show.
  • Hey, It's That Guy!: Shang Tsung is the bailiff in Q's courtroom.
  • Humanity on Trial: The Q do this because they believe humans are a barbaric race.
  • Kangaroo Court: Q has made up his (their) mind already and the trial is a sham.
  • Kill It with Ice: Q does this to the Redshirt Ensign Torres and later to Tasha Yar, though both are revived (Torres with the Enterprise`s sickbay, Yar by Q himself). Part of the Early Installment Weirdness; later on Q's weapon of choice for messing with people is different forms of Teleport Spam.
  • Magical Security Cam: Picard shows Riker the highlights of the episode so far when he comes on board. Which we see in its entirety.
  • Patrick Stewart Speech: The Trope Namer.
  • Planetville: As had been standard for Star Trek since the original series. The Bandi "capital" (and seemingly the only major settlement on Deneb IV) is a crude-looking village in the desert.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Worf, of course; it's his Establishing Character Moment in fact, when Picard orders him to take command of the saucer section and lead the civilians to safety.
    Worf: I am a Klingon, sir. For me to seek escape while my captain goes into battle—
    Picard: You are a Starfleet officer, Lieutenant!
  • Scenery Porn: The saucer separation sequence, intended to show off the Visual Effects of Awesome that the new series would become known for.
  • Schizo Tech: A plot point is that the Bandi don't seem technologically advanced enough to have built Farpoint Station. It turns out they didn't.
  • Spinoff Send Off: De Forest Kelley, as an elderly Dr. McCoy, sends the TNG crew on its way with his blessing.
  • Starfish Aliens: Jellyfish Aliens, to be exact.
  • Sufficiently Advanced Aliens: Q is capable of transporting himself and other people around at whim, and disables the Enterprise a couple of times.
  • Technology Marches On: The computer showing visitors around, with displays lighting up with traveling dots, was impressive at the time, but now seems a rather low-tech solution to the problem. This wouldn't be such an issue, except Riker treats it as new and impressive in-universe rather than taking it for granted.
  • Throw It In: Originally the story was just a straight one about the mystery of Farpoint Station, and the Q plot was thrown in as Padding when the episode was made a two-hour pilot film. Ironically, Q proved to steal the spotlight, was probably the best-received part of the episode, and went on to form the Myth Arc of the show stretching from this episode to the final one.
  • Voluntary Shapeshifting: The jellyfish aliens (although the Bandi ensured that it wasn't voluntary for one of them).
  • What Could Have Been: Being the pilot, there are many examples of this.
    • The USS Hood is a reuse of the USS Excelsior model from the movies; they originally planned to build a 'guest ship' model that would look more appropriate for the new era, but a bit smaller and older than the Enterprise, but ran out of money. This started a trend of reusing movie ships in many TNG episodes, even though they're supposedly more than 80 years old now. The planned 'guest ship' design was finally reused as the Ambassador-class Enterprise-C for "Yesterday's Enterprise".
    • The original idea for Q was that they all had the same face, and every time Q changes outfits we're actually seeing a different being. Luckily this was never actually stated, allowing a smooth transition to the singular being when they decided on that instead. But if you know what you're looking for, you can tell John De Lancie was basing his performance on the first idea.