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Charmed sisters

Star Trek: the Next Generation part two

I was going to finish the series. I really was. But I got to an episode that I couldn't bring myself to finish. "Journey's End" is the twentieth episode of season seven. Up to this point, I had been enjoying the show much better than I had in the beginning. I liked the main cast very well. They got Picard to lighten up a bit, and made the questions that dealt with the Prime Directive much murkier, where Picard couldn't just go, "Well, it's the Prime Directive, and we must stick with that." There were discussions around it, and episodes that made me think while watching. Which is one of the key components of great science ficiton, in my opinion. However, then we get to this episode, and I got so frustrated that I quit watching it, and don't know if I will ever finish watching it.

The premise of the episode begins with a treaty being completed between the Cardassians and the Federation. Unfortunately, it meant that each side had to give up some of their territories to the other side. The results of this meant that Federation colonists were going to have to be relocated. And they decided to deal with this issue in the most ham-fisted way they could, by introducing a Native American colony that has to be relocated. *sighs* I will give them credit; they really tried to be as respectful as they could with the subject. But a lot of it was off-putting. I looked up where the episode was going on the Memory Alpha wiki page. And they actually included a vision quest in the episode. *sigh*

The worst part of the episode, though, was Wesley Crusher. After watching as much of this show as I have, I don't understand the intense hatred that character got. In season one, all of the characters were awful. He was actually less awful than the rest of them. He actually had a brain and noticed stuff the other characters missed. After season one, I found myself liking him more and more, just like I did with the rest of the crew. In this episode though, he seemed to have gotten a brain transplant. Out of freaking nowhere, he is rude, sullen, and moody. It was this part of the episode that sent me off to Memory Alpha. I had to know what the hell was going on. And I discovered that Ronald D. Moore decided all on his own:"I was the one who pushed to get Wesley out of the Academy and send him off with the Traveler. I felt that there was a built-in contradiction in a character that we'd said was like Mozart in his appreciation of higher mathematics and physics, yet was just on the same career path as any Starfleet cadet. I didn't get it – if Wes is truly special and gifted, what the hell is he doing at the Helm? It seemed like he was only going to the Academy to live up to the memory of his father and the expectations of Picard, not because it was his best destiny. "Journey's End" also seemed like an opportunity to see someone walk away from Starfleet with their head held high and just say "It's cool, but not for me." I was tired of everyone in the 24th century saying, "All I want to do is wear the uniform and serve on a starship." Hey, it's cool, but it's not for everyone. So I pushed to have Wes realize his destiny was elsewhere and have him walk away."

I was like, what? First of all, yes, they did talk about how special Wesley was for the entire series. However, they backed it up with his abilities. Second of all, where is this coming from?  They spent sixth seasons building this character up to want to be Starfleet. Everything was *his* choice. He wanted to be Starfleet. There was never anything indicated in either text or subtext to show that he had second thoughts. Third, there was a way to do it that made sense. They could have shown that after dreaming of being in Starfleet, he discovered it wasn't all it was cracked up to be, and having second thoughts that way. But that's not what they did. Instead, all of a sudden, he's angry that everyone is pushing him to be in Starfleet just because he is the son of two Starfleet offiicers. Um, no. That is not the way everything went down. People didn't develop expectations of him until he forced them to recognize his abilities and desires. Everything was *his* choice. To just arbitrarily decide that it wasn't makes for terrible writing.

Since this was the last episode that featured Wesley, I can see why people were left with a bad impression of the character. Here he is at his badly written worst. He's rude. He's a little whiny. And his motivations do not make any sense when compared to the character we spent the previous seasons with. It's his storyline that made me stop watching the episode, especially when I read Ronald Moore's reasoning of why he did it. And unfortunately, I had already seen them do this very storyline, only much better, with Jake Sisko in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Jake was established fairly early on as a character who really wasn't sure whether he wanted to be in Starfleet. It wasn't a big surprise or out of character when he eventually did admit that no, he didn't want to be Starfleet or follow in his dad's footsteps. It made sense to the character and to the arc that had been established. With Wesley, it didn't make sense. And yes, there was a way they could have made it work, but that's not the route they chose to do, which overall, just made it stupid.

To get back to the other storyline, the beginning of the episode made me really realize why I don't like the Maquis. The Maquis are a resistance/terrorist group created by the colonists who felt abandoned by the Federation due to the treaty with the Cardassians. At the beginning of "Journey's End," the admiral makes it clear that the Native American group was warned that the colony that they wanted to settle in was in disputed territory. Basically that there was a good chance they wouldn't be able to keep it. Which is exactly what happened. The implication here is that the other colonists would also have been similarly warned. My opinion on the Maquis based on what I've seen in the myriad of episodes they have appeared in is that they are acting like spoiled children. I realize that yes, that is their home and they have been there for about twenty years or so. But, as I said, the implication is that they were warned. They knew going into it that they might lose it. They have absolutely no right to expect the Federation to fight to the death for them to keep colonies that were always under shaky ground. The Federation did the best they could in the treaty with the Cardassians, but they couldn't demand to keep everything the Federation had in Cardassian-claimed territory. That's not the way treaties work. It's not fair, but it's the way it is.

The Starfleet officers that join the Maquis are even worse. At least the colonists have an excuse. They are fighting for their homes by a government that they believe betrayed them. But the Starfleet officers are just wanting to play hero. After having come from paradise, which was the Federation was meant to be per Gene Roddenberry's order, they couldn't handle the shades of gray that existed in the universe, where sometimes, even the Federation and Starfleet had to make the best of bad decisions. That creates shades of gray a lot of them couldn't seem to handle. They were used to being the good guys, the knights in shining armor, and the heroes. They didn't like the idea that maybe they weren't always. Or even, that sometimes being a hero to one side doesn't always mean being a hero to the other. So they chose the side of the underdog, in spite of them being terrorists, and their motives being just as questionable as the Federation's. The only characters I don't condemn at all for sympathizing or joining the Maquis are the Bajoran characters. After having their home world being constantly violated by the Cardassians for fifty years, I can understand any Bajorans wanting to fight the Cardassians right out of space. I get it. I sympathize. But the rest of the Maquis and Maquis episodes annoy the living hell out of me.

After deciding to stop watching "Journey's End," I looked at the next few episodes. I realized that I remembered pretty much all of them from my childhood. I also felt that I had given this show a fresh chance to impress me, which it ultimately did. I don't regret the time I spent watching it. I love pretty much all the characters now. I have two OTP's: Troi/Worf and Crusher/Picard. The show had a lot of incredibly good episodes in it, where they asked some great and hard questions about life, society, and the universe, which great science fiction does. But I decided that since I remembered the end episodes, I would move on to the next series. Not the next in terms of chronology, which would be Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. I have watched that show and re-watched that show and re-watched that show. It is my favorite Star Trek series. But right now, I'm trying to watch shows that I haven't watched a million times. So I moved onto Star Trek: Voyager.

I'm only on episode three or four, but already I'm enjoying the show a lot more than I remember enjoying it. Like my approach to Star Trek: the Next Generation, I decided I would watch Voyager with a fresh set of eyes. I threw out my pre-conceived ideas and memories of what I have seen of the show to let it give me a new chance to impress me. So far, it's working. I think the episodes "Caretaker" parts one and two are my favorite series premieres of the Star Trek premieres I have seen. I can definitely see all the lessons the writers have learned over the years from TNG and DS9 showing up. The pacing of the episode is a work of beauty. Kudos to the editors for that. The introductions to all the characters are very well done, too, showing us who the characters are and giving us an idea of the sorts of arcs we can look forward to in the future.

This entry is much longer than I expected it would be, but I have a lot of opinions, lol. 

Comments

I firmly believe that this episode is yet another example of an awful setup/tie in episode between the three spinoffs with overlapping time lines. Every time they try to set up the next series by introducing conflicts that will be important there, they do a piss poor job and it's a bad episode that both fits badly with the series it's on, and a shallow, mindless explanation of the deeper concepts they'll do well with on their own shows, where they are justified and explored in depth with multiple angles.

Star Trek has sucked with that every time they've tried. I think the TNG setup/tie in episodes are even worse than the DS9 or Voyager ones, because their shiny happy poofy Roddenberry morality is just not compatible with the darker, conflicted morality of DS9 and Voyager. It just doesn't mesh.

So all I can say it just let that episode wash away from your memory, and let Voyager explain the Maquis to you. Just like the Bajorans/Cardassians were more interesting on DS9 than when they were introduced on TNG, the Maquis are better dealt with on a show where they are important than on a show where they're a sidenote plot detail planted for someone else's storyline.

/rant
I am definitely letting Voyager explain the Maquis to me, though I'm not as far into the show as I'd like. Wifi problems are making watching the show a little difficult. But so far, I am enjoying Voyager far more than I enjoyed TNG. I can see where the writers learned their lessons with TNG and DS9, which have really improved the quality of their storytelling. I think DS9 will still be my favorite, but I am enjoying Voyager far more than I expected to.
I also get frustrated when the writers decide to veer a character off in a direction that defies everything about the character up to that moment. It's extremely frustrating, and you're right, it's bad writing. That is too bad. (And I agree, I don't feel the hatred for Wesley either.)

I'm looking forward to talking about Voyager with you! I'm glad you are enjoying it more this time around than the first time; this happened to me with DS9.
:-) I now see your comment. And I'm looking forward to discussing it as well.