Worf and Counselor Troi are just coming off a date, talking about the future of their relationship or some such nonsense, when suddenly Captain Picard rushes in demanding to know the date
. And since thereís only one scenario in which anyone acts like that, he sure enough reveals that heís started to move back and forth through time. Heís shifting between three different time periods: past, present, and future. The past time heís returning to is the time when he first took command of the Enterprise
, and the future time is twenty-five years forward. He feels like he belongs in each time once heís there, and has trouble remembering what happened in the other time periods after heís left them, as if they were dreams. Troi suggests that they are just dreams, but obviously that wouldnít be it, and he shifts into the future even as heís trying to explain to her why heís so sure itís real.
In the future, he is retired from Starfleet and spends his time in his vineyards. Thatís where he finds himself when Geordi comes to see him, sporting a nice mustache and soul patch and notably not
sporting his VISOR. The two of them reminisce and chitchat for a while, during which it comes up that Geordi is now married to a woman named Leah (quite possibly Leah Brahms
, but itís not specified) and has three children. Eventually, after Picard insists, Geordi admits that he came to visit because Picard has recently been diagnosed with a disease called Irumodic Syndrome. In the middle of their discussion, Picard sees three people in strange clothes standing in the vineyard, taunting and laughing at him. A moment later, both Geordi and those people are gone, and he's in the past, flying to the Enterprise
aboard a shuttlecraft with Tasha Yar. He then shifts back to the present with Troi.
Doctor Crusher runs some tests on him, finding no indications of anything that would cause hallucinations, or any evidence of temporal displacement. She then asks Counselor Troi to leave them alone for a moment, and tells Picard that she tested him for Irumodic Syndrome, and although he doesnít have it, he does have a brain defect that might make him susceptible to it. Picard more or less laughs it off, confident that he has a long, full life ahead of him. Worf then contacts Picard to tell him that Admiral Nakamura is waiting to speak with him. Nakamura informs him that the entire fleet is officially on Yellow Alert, as the Romulans have recently started acting aggressive in reaction to some sort of spatial anomaly that has appeared in the Neutral Zone. Picard is ordered to investigate the anomaly, without entering the Neutral Zone.
Picard shifts back into the future, and the shift leaves him confused. He starts to rant, trying to remember what happened in the present. Geordi interprets this as an attack of his Irumodic Syndrome, but Picard angrily tells him that whatís happening is real. He insists on talking to Data, who now holds the Lucasian Chair at Cambridge. Data admits that he has not dismissed the possibility that Picard is simply going senile from his disease, but also says that nothing has disproven Picardís claims either, and prepares to run some tests on Picardís brain. At this point Picard shifts into the past, to the point at which he officially took command of the Enterprise
and met his crew. As he makes his introductions, he again sees a number of strange, barbaric people laughing at him. He orders the ship to Red Alert.
A security sweep turns up nothing, and Troi canít sense any sort of alien presence on the ship, but strangely the ship gets word from Starfleet about the same spatial anomaly that appeared in the present. Starfleet orders the Enterprise
to the Neutral Zone, cancelling its mission to Farpoint Station
, but Picard ignores the command and orders the ship to Farpoint anyway, refusing to explain why for fear of revealing too much about the future (this does not, however, stop him from demonstrating that he knows way more about the ship and its crew than he logically should). He heads down to Engineering to fix up the plasma conduits with OíBrien and Data, where he shifts back to the present. Crusher scans his brain again to find that heís accumulated two daysí worth of memories in what was, to her, a matter of minutes.
Picard finds that he remembers more about the other time periods the more he shifts, and remembers a few specific details from his last few shifts. He asks Troi if she remembers him taking the ship to Red Alert on his first day as captain, or being diverted away from Farpoint, and she replies that she doesnít. Data concludes that Picardís time shifting is not actually changing the course of history. The anomaly in the Neutral Zone seems to be the only connection. Geordi suggests that it might be some kind of time disturbance. Picard turns over the bridge to Riker and heads to his ready room. Doctor Crusher follows him, ordering him to drink some warm milk and get some sleep. As they talk, she admits that sheís worried about him getting Irumodic Syndrome in the future, but Picard tells her that he doesnít look at the future as something set in stone, and that anything could happen. She kisses him (and hey, it only took Ďem seven years!).
Back in the future, Geordi tells Picard that the brain tests are ready, but Picard says that now he wants to go see the anomaly in the Neutral Zone (once again, doing a rather poor job of convincing Geordi that heís not going senile). Geordi reminds him that there is no Neutral Zone anymore Ė evidently the Klingons have completely conquered the Romulan Empire, which is pretty impressive in a mere twenty-five years, and are now at a standoff with the Federation again. But Geordi gives in, and gets Picard in touch with now-Admiral Riker in hopes of finding a ship. Riker refuses, saying that the area has been scanned and no anomaly was detected. Picard is hurt that Riker wouldnít pull any strings for him, but Data suggests they can get around the rules by hopping on board a medical ship. Picard tells Data to contact the USS Pasteur
, which is captained by (who else?) Beverly Crusher.
One revelation that is quickly glossed over is that Picard and Beverly are now ex-husband and ex-wife. While theyíre understandably a little awkward around each other, theyíre evidently on pretty good terms, and they donít feel the need to discuss their history. Instead they focus on how to get into Klingon territory, which of course means they need to get a hold of Worf. Beverly tells Picard to get some sleep, and once heís left the bridge she asks Geordi and Data if they believe his time-travel story. They donít say anything, but their faces reveal their skepticism. Beverly admits that she doesnít believe it either, but says that if Jean-Luc Picard wants to go on one last mission, sheís willing to make it happen.
Back in the past, the Enterprise
reaches the coordinates where they are meant to encounter Q. Picard orders a scan, but it finds nothing unusual. Growing impatient, Picard yells for Q to show himself. Nothing happens, until Picard gets frustrated and retreats to his ready room, at which point he finds himself back in the courtroom where Q put him on trial for humanityís crimes. Finally Q appears. Picard demands to know why heís back in the courtroom, but Q says it wouldnít be any fun to simply explain it to him, instead offering to answer any ten yes-or-no questions.
Picard: Did you create the anomaly?
Q: No, no, no... Oh, youíre going to be so surprised when you realize where it came from! If you ever figure it out.
Picard: Are you responsible for my shifting through time?
Q: Iíll answer that question if you promise you wonít tell anyone. [Leans closer and whispers] Yes.
Q: Sorry, thatís not a yes-or-no question! You forfeit the rest of your questions. Oh, I expected as much. Youíre such a limited creature, a perfect example of why we made our decision. The trial never ended, Captain. We never reached a verdict, but now we have. Youíre guilty.
Q declares that humanity has not shown any sign of improving themselves since the first trial, and pronounces his sentence: humanity will be erased from existence. Picard protests that even Q isnít that powerful, but Q replies that he isnít the one that will do it. Picard is. He refuses to explain and plops Picard back in the present to wonder just what the hell any of this means. Picard holds a conference where itís decided they canít second-guess themselves and should just do whatever they were going to do for the time being (making this the third time
theyíve made that decision, even though itís been the worst possible course of action all three times).
In the future, Beverly makes contact with Worf, who is now a high-ranking Klingon governor and former member of the High Council. He takes some persuading, but Picard knows him too well and soon convinces him to let them cross the border, on the condition that he accompanies them. Beverly gives the command to cross the border, then decides to give up her captainís chair to Picard "for old timeís sake". Back in the past, Picard orders the Enterprise
to head towards the anomaly as well. In the present, he finds himself negotiating with his old pal Tomalak, and they agree to send one ship from each side to investigate the anomaly. Incidentally, this is the last we ever hear about the Romulans
. In the present, and again in the past, the Enterprise
encounters the anomaly and begins to scan it. Picard notices that itís larger in the past. In the future, he finds no anomaly at all.
Picard demands that they search the area until they find the anomaly, but the Klingons are getting antsy and Beverly doesnít want to egg them on. Data concludes that the best way to search for temporal anomalies is to emit an inverse tachyon pulse, and Beverly gives him six hours to give it a shot. Picard demands more time, but Beverly refuses, chastising him for questioning her orders and reminding him that this still could all be a hallucination brought on by his mental disorder. Back in the present, the scans of the anomaly arenít turning up anything useful, so Picard suggests the inverse tachyon pulse to Data. As soon as they begin the pulse, Geordi feels an intense pain in his temples. Heís taken to Sickbay, where Crusher finds, to her astonishment, that his eyes are spontaneously repairing themselves. Data explains that this is because the anomaly is a collision of time and "anti-time" and is thus emitting waves that disrupt the normal flow of time. How this explains the eye thing is hard to decipher, but never mind.
In the past, Picard again orders an inverse tachyon pulse to be emitted into the anomaly, so that they might find the cause of the time/anti-time collision. The fact that Geordi started feeling pain exactly when the tachyon pulse started apparently doesnít set off any bells for him. Back in the future, the Klingons attack the Pasteur
, easily overpowering it. They are about to destroy the ship when the Enterprise
, commanded by Riker, decloaks and scares them off. Riker hails them, saying he had a feeling Picard would find his way across the border, then he beams them all aboard the Enterprise
before the Pasteur
is destroyed by a warp core breach and turns back for Federation space. Picard shifts to the present, where he orders Data to find a way to collapse the anomaly. Q appears, taunting him with the conundrum heís faced with: collapsing the anomaly could be what destroys humanity, or maybe leaving it alone is what does it. Q takes Picard back to primordial Earth to show him that the anomaly fills the entire quadrant of the galaxy in that time. Then he points to a puddle of goop, telling him that it is where life on Earth first formed, but that because of the anomaly it has failed to happen.
When Picard returns to the present, he has Data scan the center of the anomaly, and Data finds three identical tachyon pulses converging. Picard realizes that the three pulses are from the three different time periods. He shifts to the future and explains to Riker that it was the pulse from the Pasteur
that started it all. Data catches on, putting together that the converging tachyon pulses caused an anti-time reaction, which due to the nature of anti-time happened in reverse to the normal timeline Ė getting larger as it moved backwards in time. They convince Riker to head back to the anomaly, and when Picard shifts back to the present and the past he orders the tachyon pulses to be stopped. This isnít enough to collapse the anomaly, though. In the future, Data says the only way to stop it is to send the ship into the anomaly and create a static warp shell. It has to be done in all three time periods, so Picard gives the order in the past, but the past crew is getting tired of his seemingly irrational orders and refusal to explain himself, so he has to give them one last brilliant speech to convince them.
He gives the order in the present as well, and all three Enterprises
head in. The warp shell begins to collapse the anomaly, but the strain it puts on the ships is intense. The past Enterprise
experiences a warp core breach and explodes. The present Enterprise
soon follows. The future Enterprise
begins to lose containment as well, and as all seems lost Q shows up to say goodbye and lean on the fourth wall
a little by reminding him that "all good things must come to an end
". As the final Enterprise
explodes, Picard appears in the courtroom again. Q congratulates him on saving humanity. Picard thanks Q for helping him, and Q admits that he did go out of his way to give them a fighting chance. When Picard says that he hopes never to find himself in this courtroom again, Q tells him that the trial never ends. He goes on to say that the exploration that awaits humanity isnít space travel, but exploring the possibilities of existence, as Picard did when he realized the paradox. He then fades away, promising to watch over humanity and maybe drop by from time to time.
When Picard returns to the Enterprise
, he finds that heís been returned to the point in time just before all this time travel business started. Relieved, he decides to get some sleep. In his final log entry, he reports that no anomaly was ever reported and everythingís peachy. In the final scene, we return one last time to that familiar poker table. Riker, Geordi, Crusher, Data, and Worf play their usual game, eventually joined by Counselor Troi. Then Picard comes in, asking if thereís room for him to join them. They welcome him warmly, and he remarks to himself that he should have done this years ago. He then delivers the last line of the series: "Five card stud, nothing wild, and the skyís the limit."
Tropes featured in "All Good Things...":
- Amicably Divorced: Picard and Beverly in the alternate future. She even keeps his last name.
- Back for the Finale: Denise Crosby as Tasha Yar, and Colm Meaney, whose nameless helmsman character is officially retconned into Miles O'Brien.
- Bad Future: While things turn out fine for Data and Geordi in the alternate future, Picard and Beverly are divorced, Picard is suffering from Irumodic Syndrome, Troi is dead, Riker and Worf's friendship has fallen apart, and war looms between the Federation and the Klingon Empire.
- Book Ends: Invoked, as the last episode of the series shares much with the first. Additionally, as he got the first line in the first episode, Picard gets the last line here.
- Call Back: In the past, Picard persuades past O'Brien to work with him in engineering by mentioning his love of making ships in bottles, in reference to the season 3 episode "Booby Trap".
- Canon Immigrant: In some ways the Bad Future resembles the one seen in Peter David's (non-canon) novel Imzadi, especially Future Riker's appearance and characterisation.
- Cassandra Truth: None of the future!Enterprise or past!Enterprise crew can see the Q-Continuum yelling at Picard, and the future!Enterprise crew think he's just going senile. At first.
- Cool Ship: The refit future-Enterprise is some kind of Galaxy-class Dreadnought, with a powerful phaser pulse cannon beneath the saucer, extra phaser arrays and three warp nacelles; the Klingon attack cruisers also count, the model even made its way into Deep Space Nine as the Klingon flagship Negh'Var.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: The Klingon attack cruisers deliver one to the Pasteur, right before the Enterprise arrives and dishes out one of her own.
- Don't Call Me Sir: In the alternate future, Geordi asks Picard if he prefers being called "Captain" or "Ambassador". Picard asks him to call him Jean-Luc.
- Drink Order: Picard is distressed when he tries ordering some earl grey in the past, only to find it hasn't been entered into the replicators yet.
- Edited for Syndication: The two-parter aired as a feature-length episode, but is split up into two episodes in reruns. To fit in a Previously On recap and opening credits in Part 2, a few minutes had to be cut out. Both parts have also been edited over the years to accommodate longer commercial breaks.
- Grand Finale: Though everyone knew the cast would continue on in movies, the series goes out with a bang.
- Infant Immortality: The anomaly causes Ogawa to suffer a miscarriage. Undone when everything is reset, though.
- Meet Your Early Installment Weirdness: The first season Enterprise is recreated pretty well, with Troi in her miniskirt "skant" uniform and a less-socially adept Data, though Worf is seen with his season 2+ forehead ridges, however he still wears the TOS-era Klingon sash.
- During a briefing, Picard mistakenly orders past Worf to conduct a security scan, which makes Tasha mildly annoyed, since she was the security chief toward the beginning.
- Mythology Gag: The shuttle Picard and Yar take to first approach Enterprise is the shuttlecraft Galileo. Galileo is the best known of the shuttlecraft in Star Trek: The Original Series, but this name had never been used on The Next Generation before.
- Noodle Incident: Troi is dead in the alternate future, though the exact circumstances remain unknown.
- Non-Linear Character: The Q. Q invokes it when Picard states he and his crew were put on trial seven years ago.
Q: "Seven years ago". Must you be so linear, Jean Luc?
- Putting the Band Back Together: In the alternate future, Picard brings the Enterprise crew together, except for Troi, who's been dead for years.
- Reality Subtext: Q's "The Reason You Suck" Speech, among other lines, make more sense when they're interpreted as the complaints of viewers who doubted whether TNG could live up to TOS' legacy, or thought TNG had become stale by this time.
- Rousing Speech: How Picard convinces the past Enterprise crew to enter the anomaly.
"Now, this will put the ship at risk. Quite frankly, we may not survive. But I want you to believe that I'm doing this for a greater purpose and that what is at stake here is more than any of you can possibly imagine. I know you have your doubts about me... about each other... about the ship. All I can say is that although we have only been together for a short time, I know that you are the finest crew in the fleet and I would trust each of you with my life. So, I am asking you for a leap of faith... and to trust me."
- Secret Test of Character: The whole ordeal was a test to see if Picard could solve the puzzle and open his mind to new possibilities.
- Set Right What Once Went Wrong: Picard tells the senior staff everything he experienced in the alternate future to ensure they don't drift apart.
- Skunk Stripe: Future!Data has one, believing it gives him an air of distinction. His housekeeper thinks it makes him look like a skunk.
- Stock Footage: When Picard contacts past!Riker to inform him the Enterprise will delayed from Farpoint, a close-up of a beardless Riker from "The Arsenal of Freedom" was reused.
- "The Reason You Suck" Speech:
Q: The trial never ended, Captain. We never reached a verdict, but now we have. You're guilty.
Picard: Guilty of what?
Q: Of being inferior. Seven years ago, I said we'd be watching you, and we have been—hoping that your ape-like race would demonstrate some growth, give some indication that your minds had room for expansion. But what have we seen instead? You worrying about Commander Riker's career, listening to Counselor Troi's pedantic psychobabble, indulging Data in his witless exploration of humanity.
Picard: We've journeyed to countless new worlds. We've contacted new species. We have expanded our understanding of the universe.
Q: In your own paltry, limited way. You have no idea how far you still have to go. But instead of using the last seven years to change and to grow, you have squandered them.
- Thousand-Yard Stare: The effect of jumping through time periods can leave Picard in any time period he left possibly looking like this. In a time jump back to the present, Commander Tomalak had to get Picard's attention when he initiated a conversation with him through the viewscreen to snap him out of the daze.
- Title Drop: The first for the franchise itself, though a more straightforward one would be made in Star Trek: First Contact.
Q: It's time to put an end to your trek through the stars.
- Another for the episode itself:
Q: Goodbye, Jean-Luc. I'm gonna miss you. You had such potential, but then again, all good things must come to an end.
- Throwing Off the Disability: Long-term exposure to the anomaly causes Present!Geordi to have his sight restored.
- Trickster Mentor: Q keeps popping up to offer Picard cryptic clues about the anomaly. He was directed by the Continuum to put Picard through this ordeal.
Q: The part about the helping hand, though... was my idea.
- 2-D Space: Averted by the alternate Enterprise. That must've been some refit.
- Unwitting Instigator of Doom: Picard is manipulated into triggering the events that will doom humanity.
Q: You're doing it right now. You did it before, and you'll do it yet again.
- We Used to Be Friends: Riker and Worf in the alternate future. Riker opposed Worf's budding relationship with Troi because he wanted to get back together with her, which made Worf back off. As Troi later died, both blamed the other for preventing a relationship.
- We Will Meet Again: A friendly variant at the end:
Q: In any case, I'll be watching. And if you're very lucky, I'll drop by to say hello... from time to time. I'll see you... out there!
- Wham Shot: Picard figures Q is behind everything, angrily yelling so on in the bridge. Nothing happens, and he storms off to his ready room... only to find himself in the Q court.
- What Measure Is a Non-Human?: The usual inversion by the Q. They claim to have deemed humanity unworthy of even existing. Q also has a little fun with it when he takes Picard into the past.
Q: A group of amino acids are about to combine to form the first protein; the building blocks (chuckles) of what you call 'life.' Strange, isn't it? Everything you know, your entire civilization, it all begins right here in this little pond of goo. Appropriate somehow, isn't it?
- What Stardate Is This?
- You Are Not Alone: Q reminds Picard of this.
Q: You're not alone, you know. What you were, and what you are to become, will always be with you.