This is it. The end of a long, long road.
As I’ve written before, this was my second trip through TNG, although it was the first time I’ve watched it from beginning to end in order. Without shame or qualification, I’m going to say that I love this series, and this rewatch has only reinforced that.
This is not to say that the series doesn’t have its flaws. It does. Fortunately, most of these were in the first two seasons (maybe part of the third). By the time I was a regular viewer of the show trying to catch up on everything I’d already missed, the series had already hit its stride, and even an average episode was still pretty good compared to everything else that was on television at the time.
During the last season, however, there were more average than above-average episodes. A lot of these episodes were just by-the-numbers. The only episodes that made my All-Time Best Trek list was the two-part season finale, “All Good Things . . . “
This season even had one episode, the gothic melodrama “Sub Rosa,” a Beverly Crusher-centric episode, that I considered less-than-average. This series never got its female characters quite right, in my opinion. The other Trek series would do a better job.
The last season spends a lot of time digging into the backstories of our main characters.
In our Data-centered episodes, we get to see Data’s evil brother Lore again, who figures out a way to make Data feel emotions, even if they’re the negative kind; Data gains the ability to experience nightmares; he meets the former wife of Noonian Soong who claims to be his “mother” but turns out to be, you guessed it, another android; and, he loses his memory on a solo away mission and almost wipes out the indigenous inhabitants with radiation poisoning.
As far as Worf is concerned: in “Parallels,” an episode I liked a lot, Worf gets to experience alternate realities after returning to the ship from a bat’leth competition, including one reality in which he’s married to Deanna Troi; Worf’s foster brother turns out to be Paul Sorvino; and Worf gets to deal with his son Alexander from two different timelines.
Troi gets a couple of notable outings: Lwaxana falls into a coma and Deanna is the only one who can help her, finding out that she once had a sister along the way; and, she is a central character in “Eye of the Beholder,” in which a crewmember commits suicide (and it isn’t Barclay).
Geordi deals with losing his mother in “Interface.” That’s about it for him, although he has eyeballs again in “All Good Things . . . “
Dr. Beverly Crusher had her stupid ghost story episode, in which she discovers her dead grandmother had secrets, but she also got to share screen time with Patrick Stewart in “Attached,” an episode in which Picard and Crusher could read each other’s thoughts. Guess what: they kinda like each other.
Riker gets the lead in an episode in which he deals with his former captain of the Pegasus, who turns out to be John Locke from Lost. He also has to take point in investigating the apparent death of Jean-Luc Picard (he’s not dead). No weird family stuff from Riker that I remember.
Picard discovers that he may have a long-lost son who a Ferengi rival wants to murder. He finds out that the young man is not his son, however, which is somehow even more sad. Picard, along with Data, also has to deal with the crew as it de-evolves for reasons I can’t really explain. Barclay becomes a spider? What’s that all about? And, then he goes time-hopping in the finale, “All Good Things . . .” which I’ve already written about.
That’s pretty much it for the season. Ro Laren, my least favorite Starfleet officer, returns for one episode, only to betray the Federation and join the Maquis. The Enterprise becomes sentient for one episode. And there was one story about relocating American Indians. I can’t make this up.
Not a bad season of Trek. Not by a long shot. But, not even the best seventh season out of our three Next-Gen era shows. TNG‘s final season comes in second place among the three—TNG, DS9, and Voyager—after coming in first for at least three seasons.
Season 7 of TNG takes the silver. Who gets the gold? I’m not telling. Not yet, at least. Let it be a surprise.
That’s 178 episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation behind me now. I will certainly watch individual episodes again, as I come across them, but I doubt I’ll do it this way again unless someone pays me well to do so.
This season wasn’t a total disappointment, but—except for the finale—it didn’t really blow my socks off either. I’m giving it 3.5 out of 5 stars, even though it’s honestly not even a strong 3.5. Seasons 4-6 were the best of TNG, in my opinion (if you’ll allow me to count the Season 3 finale with those episodes).