An almost dead cert for a successful Star Trek episode is the inclusion of time travel in the story line. The final episode of TNG went in this direction with 'All Good Things...', and has Picard flipping through three time periods: past, present and future. The story was a Star Trek treatment of the classic Dickens tale 'A Christmas Carol', where Captain Picard was sent back to when he first took command of the Enterprise and then forward to when he is retired. It's always a kick to catch a glimpse of our characters in a possible future and see how they could turn out. The geekiest little moments in this episode for me are in the future time-scape, when we find out that Picard and Crusher eventually got married and seeing Geordie with ocular implants (which later became a reality in the movies).
'All Good Things...' was an outstanding episode - it had action, it brought the series full circle by bringing back Q and his judgement of humanity which he started in the pilot episode, and it is concluded with Picard finally joining the senior officers for a game of poker which was a nice touch. This episode didn't wrap up the series like some of the other closing episodes from the sister shows, but that's because it didn't need to. The Next Generation was going straight over to the big screen, so the crew was kept intact and the mission of the Enterprise was left on-going. As good as this episode is, it could have been put anywhere throughout the show's run. When it comes to finalising a show, no other terminated like the next Star Trek spin-off, Deep Space Nine.
|TNG; The future Enterprise D from 'All Good things...'|
Whilst Star Trek: Deep Space Nine took a little longer to find its feet than its predecessor, once it hit its stride there was no stopping it. It's huge sweeping story arcs revolving around the Dominion War lasted several seasons, and with the show being set on a huge space station, it had many semi regular characters popping in and out every year so there were a lot of loose threads to tie up when the show ended. Never before or since have we had a Star Trek show be so defiantly concluded, with many of the crew members heading off to new lives and some even meeting a grizzly end. In my opinion, 'What You Leave Behind' is the finest series closer of any show I have watched and I judge it so because it is the only one which I have shed a tear to! The music plays a big part in making the final scenes so poignant, that mixed with flash backs of experiences the characters had and the whole crew gathering before saying goodbye to long friendships and relationships. You are left in little doubt that this is the end for Deep Space Nine, and it was, this show never made it to the big screen like TNG.
|DS9: The last pan shot of the station|
Star Trek Voyager's concept was a little different from the other shows, and with them spending seven years trying to reach home, it seemed inevitable that the final episode would see them achieve this. Sure enough, the final shot before the credits roll on 'Endgame' have Voyager approaching Earth escorted by a Federation fleet. A winning theme that Star Trek can always rely on to deliver a popular episode other than time travel is the Borg. 'Endgame' uses both time travel AND the Borg to give us an action-packed, high concept science fiction finale that entertains from start to finish. The main criticism from the fans about this episode is that it ends! You've heard the old adage 'always leave them wanting more'? Well, that's what they did. Unfortunately we were clamouring to see our characters and their reactions to being back on Earth, so we ended up feeling a little cheated. All in all, 'Endgame' was great Star Trek.
|Voyager approaches Earth after 7 years in the Delta Quadrant|
Now, if you're a Trekkie (which I assume you are if you've read this far) then you will have been dreading this bit! The final episode of Enterprise has been dissed and slated by fans ever since it aired. The show had been cancelled and, had it have reached its seventh season, then I'm sure 'the birth of the Federation' angle would have been a great pay-off to fans of the series. Instead, we were given a rushed crossover/holodeck farce that focused on The Next Generation character of Riker. While it was nice to see Riker, Troi and bits of the Enterprise-D again, the episode did very little for the NX-01 characters and only served to show how Archer's service had ultimately given rise to the Federation. There was a little confusion from fans that mistakenly likened the episode to Patrick Duffy in the shower in Dallas and the whole thing being a dream. That was not the case. Just look at the episode as a flash back from Riker's point of view. All the events in Enterprise really happened in the Star Trek timeline, so don't be thinking we were robbed of the four years we spent watching the show. The best thing about this episode is the closing monologue of the legendary 'Space, the final frontier' in the voices of Kirk, Picard and Archer. It has a 'lump in the throat' feeling going on as we realise that this is the moment that Star Trek was departing from our screens, perhaps forever!
|Enterprise: The last Star Trek image we see on television|