Star Trek: The Next Generation (1992) – The First Duty, and Cost of Living

Captain’s log: stardate 45703.9

Airing on 30 March, 1992, and written by Ronald D. Moore and Naren Shankar, The First Duty is a superior episode, and it’s just unfortunate that Robert Duncan McNeill’s character wouldn’t be the same one he played in Star Trek: Voyager. That would have made for some great continuity connecting the series.

The Enterprise returns to Starfleet Academy on Earth where Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) is expected to give the commencement address for the graduating class. Unfortunately, disaster strikes when Nova Squadron, a student flight team, has an accident near Saturn, while they are practising for the ceremony.

Amongst the team members is Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton).

During a trial inquiry to find out what happened during the accident, Crusher, and the team’s leader, Nicolas Locarno (McNeill) come under question.

It soon becomes apparent, as Geordi (LeVar Burton) and Data (Brent Spiner) begin their own investigation in conjunction with the Academy.

The truth is slowly outed as the team members become unraveled, and it’s discovered that the team was planning to execute a dangerous, and illegal maneuver, that led to the accident and the death of one of the team members.

Wes wrestles with his morals and his future, and has to make a decision that will not only affect his own future (and Picard’s and his mother’s (Gates McFadden) ) opinion of him.

The episode also introduces us to the oft-mentioned but never before seen Academy groundskeeper, Boothby (Ray Walston).

The episode provides some great character moments for both Picard and Crusher, and watching how the captain is disappointed in Wes’ actions and behaviours. It’s a solid, and entertaining tale that fleshes Wes out nicely, and recalls events over the past five seasons, in relation to his and Picard’s relationship.

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Captain’s log: stardate 45733.6

Debuting on 20 April, 1992, this episode, written by Peter Allen Fields, doesn’t have a lot going for it in my book.

The episode sees the return of Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett), Deanna’s (Marina Sirtis) mother, as well as Worf’s (Michael Dorn) son, Alexander (Brian Bonsall). That, right away, puts me on edge.

The story sees Worf having authority problems with Alexander, and Deanna comes up with a contract for the two of them to work through their issues. Unfortunately, the same can’t be said for her problems with her mother.

It seems Lwaxana is planning on getting married (again), despite the fact that she hasn’t met her intended yet – it sounds like she’s been using a dating app.

When things go wrong for both her and Alexander, the pair fall in together and take joy in their blossoming friendship and escape to the holodeck.

Add in a parasitic lifeform that has infected the Enterprise and interfering with her systems, and you serve up a remedy for one of my least liked episodes in the season.

The Human Adventure continues next week…

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