Top Ten Best Star Trek the Next Generation Episodes #6

tng32All Good Things is not number one on my list, and looking at it again just now, it probably should be lower, considering the quality of others.  That’s not to say that these two episodes are bad, but the Jonathan Frakes performance we got in The Measure of a Man is absent here.  Frakes is nonexistent.  There is some thematic discussion, but there is only one overriding motif, throughout the entirety of All Good Things: Age.  John DeLancie returns to reaffirm his believe that man has not aged or matured very much.  Captain Picard ages and deals with an illness, and everyone else reflects on growing older too.

tng34There’s plenty in these two episodes to like, for a general fan and for a Star Trek aficionado.  There is complicated science talk.  There is great acting.  There are interesting moments and scenes of character development.  There’s even some action and guest-stars.  What more could you want?  They go all out for this one, and modified the production model for shots of the Enterprise in the future for the climax.

The biggest problem with All Good Things is that it feels a bit too comfortable.  There’s nothing that just blows me away.  John DeLancie is back doing what he always does and the Enterprise has to save humanity once again.  It’s pretty much the same thing as many other episodes, except with more panache.  I will say that Patrick Stewart pretty much carries this episode all by himself, because he’s literally in ninety-nine percent of it.  His performance is good, but you can see where The Measure of a Man or Sins of the Father has bigger roles for some of the other cast.

tng33I really have to complement the writing of All Good Things.  The theme of age is really well-done, although is probably best done when Captain Picard shifts forward in time and lives as his older self.  In that time period, he has been diagnosed with a degenerative illness, which many of the characters use to question his conclusions.  In response, Patrick Stewart shouts more, but the groundwork for a fight against discrimination is there.  

John DeLancie’s character Q seems to grow beyond his two-dimensional origins and becomes something more.  At the end of the episode, he admits that his superiors caused many annoying problems he didn’t agree with, and that’s why he shows up in this episode.  He actually helps Captain Picard save humanity, and DeLancie puts a final stamp on the character.  Q has evolved from vengeful god to ally.  The over-the-top god is surprisingly mellow for All Good Things, as if realizing his own development.

tng36The script is very well-written by Brannon Braga.  It incorporates all the good things about The Next Generation and throws in an interesting story.  I can’t help but feel disappointed looking back at the first movie starring The Next Generation cast given the writing on this episode.  The Worf and Troi romance is dropped entirely, the character development is twisted and/or bloated, and The Original Series cast stole a lot of the spotlight.  Because it was on the air for seven seasons, there’s so many continuity references that Star Trek: Generations becomes just a nostalgia trip and in-joke party.  All Good Things has a little bit of that, because we’re celebrating how each of the characters have aged, but it is done better.  Generations does it just to do it or poke fun at it.

tng40All in all, this is a great end to Star Trek: The Next Generation.  It feels grand and has good performances from everybody, even characters only in it for a few minutes.  Denise Crosby returns for a cameo, and she does a good job, but she’s had better performances.  John DeLancie returns to round out his character and everyone else wraps things up.  I sometimes go from thinking this is the best episode ever, to really hating it.  It is definitely the best written, and has the thematic content you might expect from Star Trek, but is missing a truly moving moment, at least for me.  It is special in its way, and it draws the curtain on a television success.

Best Part:  The future Enterprise showing up to save Captain Picard.

Worst Part:  Too much nostalgia.