Recap: Star Trek The Next Generation S 7 E 19 Journeys End
Well, Good News, Bad News
time. Bad news: this is a Wesley Crusher episode.
Good news: this is the last
Wesley Crusher episode. It’s a rough one, but once it’s done Wesley is gone for good.
Naturally, the episode starts off with the Enterprise
picking Wesley up from Starbase 310. Everyone welcomes him back as he gets settled into his quarters, but he doesn’t seem very enthusiastic about his return. Meanwhile, Picard has a meeting with Admiral Nechayev regarding some new border agreements with the Cardassians. A few planets have ended up changing hands in the arrangement and the colonists on those planets will have to evacuate elsewhere. Nechayev tasks Picard with overseeing the evacuation of Dorvan V. Picard recognizes that planet as the one where the settlement of the Native Americans is located. That’s right, they had to leave the entire planet Earth to find some land that the government wouldn’t steal from them, and now the government is even stealing that
. Picard points out that that’s a dick move, but Nechayev replies that there’s simply nothing to be done about it. The decision’s been made and all Picard can do is carry out his orders.
Picard has a meeting with the leaders of the Native American settlement. They resist his offer to find them a planet with similar environmental conditions, saying that their choice to live on Dorvan V was a spiritual decision, and that it took them two centuries to find a place that was right for them. They decide to take a break and reconvene the next day. Picard invites the settlers to join him on the Enterprise, and they agree. Wesley shows up, still wearing an emo scowl, and sits alone in the corner, until one of the settlers, a man named Lakanta, approaches him and says he’s had a vision of his arrival. Yep, we all knew this was going to happen eventually: Wesley Crusher is actually being told he’s the Chosen One. Lakanta offers to help Wesley find some answers. The next day Wesley beams down to the planet to speak with him.
Picard meets with the leaders of the settlement again, reminding them that none of them have a choice in the matter. They say that Picard was fated to be the one chosen to speak with them because one of his ancestors took part in a massacre following the Pueblo Revolt, and this is his chance to redeem his family for it. Then they all get up and walk out, because that’s evidently all they had to say. When Picard exits the meeting room, he finds that a team of Cardassians have beamed down to conduct a survey. They are displeased to learn that the evacuation hasn’t started yet. Picard tells them that it’s still a Federation planet for the time being and that they had better not do anything rash. He tries to persuade Starfleet to reconsider the border agreement, but fails. He reluctantly orders Worf to prepare to remove the settlers.
Latanka conducts a vision quest for Wesley, in which he has a vision of his father. Jack tells him that the journey he’s been on is over and that he should begin following his own path. When the vision is over, Wesley walks outside and sees Worf determining the transport settings necessary to beam everyone away. Wesley decides to screw him over by announcing the plan to the settlers. Picard brings Wesley back to the Enterprise and chews him out, saying that he respects Wesley’s objections to the mission but that while he wears a Starfleet uniform he will obey Starfleet’s orders. Wesley replies that he won’t be wearing the uniform any longer, and that he’s resigning from the Academy. His mother has a few things to say about that decision, of course, but he says that he’s been feeling depressed as graduation approaches and when he saw the vision of his father everything clicked. Beverly accepts this logic alarmingly fast, not even bothering to bring up any of the practical issues regarding dropping out of school with no further plan. She instead mentions The Traveler
and his prediction that Wesley would go on to do special things, wondering if this is that start of that.
The settlers take the Cardassians hostage. Worf protests that the treaty gives them the right to be on the planet, but the settlers refuse to honor the treaty (see what they did there?) The Cardassians threaten to send down troops to occupy the settlement, but Picard tells them that they can’t afford to let the situation escalate like that. Regardless, a fight breaks out on the planet, and then...Oh, boy, here we go.
Wesley Crusher stops time. Yes, you read that right. It’s not a dream, not a holodeck program, and not the work of some futuristic science; Wesley Crusher literally stops time with his mind. Latanka appears and reveals that he is really the Traveler in disguise, because that doesn’t raise any questions or anything
. He tells Wesley that he has officially ascended to a higher plane of existence
and is ready to travel around the universe with him, not really doing much to help the whole "sexual predator" vibe he’s always given off. Wesley asks what they can do for the people on Dorvan V, and the Traveler says that they should just leave it alone, because like Spiderman says, with great power comes vacation time. And remember, this situation is partially Wesley’s fault to begin with, and now he’s just wandering away from it without so much as wishing them luck. Truly he is a man among men
Picard convinces the Cardassian captain to beam his men off the planet rather than firing on the settlers, as no one there wants to start a war. They come to an agreement to let the settlers give up their Federation citizenship and live autonomously on Dorvan V. The Cardassians promise that they’ll honor the agreement, so surely the Native Americans will never have any trouble ever again
. After all, being left alone and defenseless against the warm and understanding Cardassians ensures their eternal safety.
Tropes featured in "Journey's End":
- Beam Me Up, Scotty!: Admiral Nechayev, in discussing the treaty, quotes "Diplomacy is the art of the possible." This is a slight misquote of Otto Von Bismarck, who said "Politics is the art of the possible."
- Broken Aesop/Clueless Aesop: Starfleet wasn't trying to steal the settler's land. They were forced to cede some planets to the Cardassians to avert further interstellar war. This makes it hard to sympathize with the Native Americans because the Cardassians had already been depicted as pretty evil in previous episodes. Also, the colonists were few enough in number that Enterprise was large enough to evacuate them all. This is probably why the Federation felt okay with letting the Cardassians have the planet. It probably would have cost more lives to fight to hold onto it in another border war than the total number of settlers living there.
- Harsher in Hindsight: Dorvan V would be one of the flashpoints for the later Maquis revolt, as it turned out that the Cardassians were (unsurprisingly) not kindly landlords.
- Hypocrite: Wesley, who in early seasons did everything he could to foist himself into the operations of the Enterprise despite Picard's clear initial desire to treat him the same as any other kid on board. Now he regards his career in Starfleet, which he pushed relentlessly for, as some kind of massive unwanted burden.
- In Harmony with Nature: The Native American revivalists claim to have this with Dorvan V, although apparently they haven't lived there very long.
- Innocuously Important Episode: Events in this episode help pave the way for the Maquis development on DS9, which in turn would pave the way for Voyager.
- Manipulative Bastard: The Traveler. He was actually the one that originally persuaded a reluctant Captain Picard to encourage Wesley to pursue the path towards a career in Starfleet. Now he is directly manipulating Wesley himself, including masquerading as a Magical Native American and helping Wesley have a phony Vision Quest in which his father tells him it is time to pursue a different path (not so subtly implied to mean leaving with the Traveler). That he has been outright deceptive in getting Wesley to do what he wants is not perceived as an issue by Wesley.
- Too Dumb to Live: The Dorvan V colonists. Despite being so conscious of their history that they can recall one of Picard's distant ancestors participating in atrocities against Native Americans some seven centuries earlier, they don't see the inherent issue with insisting on staying on a planet soon to be officially claimed by militaristic aliens who had absolutely no problem with enslaving the Bajoran civilization on its own homeworld!
- Took a Level in Jerkass: Wesley due to becoming disillusioned with his current path.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The writers seem to have forgotten that in TOS: "The Paradise Syndrome", Kirk discovered a planet occupied by actual Native Americans transplanted from Earth by mysterious aliens. One would have thought that this planet would have made an ideal destination for a group a Native American revivalists trying to return to pre-colonization culture. But it is not mentioned at all.