Star Trek: The Next Generation: Where No One Has Gone Before   Rewatch 
April 21, 2020 4:02 AM - Season 1, Episode 6 - Subscribe

The crew of the Enterprise experiences hallucinations from a long time ago while in a galaxy far, far away.

Memory Alpha is like the Mozart of fan wikis:

- This story was loosely based on the Pocket TOS novel The Wounded Sky, also written by one of this episode's writers – Diane Duane. Producer Maurice Hurley did numerous uncredited rewrites on Duane and Michael Reaves' original script, but it still had much in common with their original concept.

- Diane Duane has published the second draft versions of the episodes original pitch and outline on her website. Of the production process, she writes: "We turned in the first-draft script and waited a couple of weeks for the notes – heard nothing, called the TNG office, and discovered that we had been "cut off" at first draft, and the script given to someone else for rewrite. (....) We were unclear about the reasons for this particular cutoff for a long, long time – nearly ten years. (....) (W)e'd unwittingly become caught up in interoffice politics. One member of production staff got up another one's nose, and as a result was chucked out – and (though they weren't told what was going on) so were all the writers associated with that production staffer. (....) At any rate, after the rewrite, in the shooting script for the episode, only two elements of our original (besides the general idea) remain: the scene with Picard and his mother (which was Michael's), and the shot of Picard almost falling out of the turbolift into open space (which was mine)." Notably, the characterization of Kosinki and the addition of The Traveler were entirely products of the rewrite.

- This episode marks the debut of Rob Bowman as a Trek director. He later went on to direct twelve more episodes of The Next Generation. Bowman, then 27, was terrified, trying to make a good impression on his first assignment, and overcome any doubts of his youth. Concerning how he prepared to film the installment, he recalled, "I spent about twenty days before my first episode walking through those sets, and on Saturdays and Sundays, eight hours a day, just sitting and looking."

- While shooting the scene in this episode where Riker tells Picard, "It wasn't him, it never was; it was his assistant," Jonathan Frakes had some difficulty saying the line and eventually could not say it without breaking into a laugh. According to Patrick Stewart, the event soon spread "like a bushfire" throughout the set, to the point where The Next Generation's sound mixer, Alan Bernard, had to wheel his sound cart off the set as he also could not stop laughing. Stewart later recalled this story to Frakes in 2012, at the Calgary Comic-Con Expo, where he still couldn't say the phrase very well.

- This episode marks the first appearance of Dennis Madalone in a Star Trek production. Madalone performed stunts in several more first and second season episodes and started to work as Stunt Coordinator beginning with the third season. He also worked as stunt coordinator on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Voyager.

- When the illusory string quartet disappears, the crewman is sitting at a table with a small bottle and a glass on a tray. As both were originally created for Star Trek III: The Search for Spock, the bottle features the Federation logo of that time.

- Worf's targ is played here by a Russian wild boar named Emmy-Lou.

[Warning: there are some spoilers for one of the better season 4 episodes, and possibly the best Beverly Crusher episode, in the MA factoids that follow. --ed.]

- This episode marks the first appearance of Eric Menyuk's The Traveler. He reappears in "Remember Me" and "Journey's End".

- Despite The Traveler's admonition to Picard never to discuss their conversation regarding Wesley with either him or his mother, in "Journey's End", both Beverly and Wesley discuss that conversation as if they had full and open knowledge of it.

"Thought is the essence of where you are now."
- The Traveler

"He and a few like him are why I travel."
- The Traveler, on Wesley Crusher's abilities

"You're not involved in this decision, boy!"
- Picard, to Wesley Crusher

"Please don't interrupt me, Wesley."
- Picard

Poster's Log:
As incomprehensible god-like Trek aliens go, the Traveler is a little more acceptable to me than some. Partly it's because he doesn't show up too often, which IIRC is one of the objections some have made w/r/t/Q. They were able, from here through "Journey's End," to keep some of the mystery behind this character, even if it's strange and goofy and more than a little disconcerting that he develops this "mystical connection" to the Ship's Boy. (And I'm sure there'll be more to say later about the arguably uneven development of Wesley as a character.) Moreover, there is actually a theory out there that existence as we experience it is entirely dependent upon cognition, though I can't remember where I picked that up. David Deutsch, maybe. I promise, I've never used LSD.

Argyle is "one of our chief engineers," according to Riker. On a ship this size, I can buy that separate engineering subdepartments (e.g. sensors, EPS, weapons) would be large enough to require their own "chiefs." If Picard and Riker were just postponing the selection of an overall chief engineer, maybe Argyle was cut from consideration on account of the disappearing accent.

Anyway, things are generally still feeling very TOS, though mercifully a little less offensively so than we have already seen. (That said, it would be nice if at least one of the first five scripts of this series didn't reference or threaten Tasha Yar with sexual assault. If I was Denise Crosby, I'd have left the show too.)

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
The "Greatest Generation" installment for this episode. While going through this podcast (for the first time), I noticed that they're still at it! I think they're somewhere in DS9 season 6 right now.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Is this the one where they go warp 10 (and then past)?

posted by Huffy Puffy at 5:41 AM on April 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

The thing I always remember about Argyle is that he almost was promoted to the chief engineer and would presumably be a regular character, but his actor, Biff Yeager, shot himself in the foot on that one. Wil Wheaton remembers:
The Chief Engineer of the Week in this episode was Argyle, played by Biff Yeager. I don't know if it's entirely true (and this is recalled over twenty years, through the memory of a 14 year-old) but I remember hearing that Biff was under consideration to become a permanent Chief Engineer, until the producers found out that he (or someone acting on his behalf) had encouraged Trekkies to write letters asking to have him on the ship full time. There's nothing wrong with a letter-writing campaign, but it helps if the letters come in after your episode has aired. Yeah, apparently the letters came in before this show went out, and some Trekkies complained that they were spammed via mail (this was well before e-mail was widely used) and those two factors sent Chief Engineer Argyle -- and Biff -- to the Cornfield.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:17 AM on April 21, 2020 [4 favorites]

I'll think some more and comment later, but I just have to say now that this episode has what is to me the ultimate image of TNG: Picard almost falling out of the turbolift into space.

On the "Voyage Home" VHS tape that was being sold in the late 80s was a TNG trailer of some kind with key shots from the first season like Riker saying, "This is like no ship I've ever seen before," from the pilot or the holodeck doors opening to the streetscene of 40s San Francisco. But the most memorable for me was the one of Picard almost falling into space. That just defined what TNG could be for me as a kid who didn't have an opportunity to watch the first few seasons before they entered into reruns in the 90s.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:21 AM on April 21, 2020 [5 favorites]

So I think this one has to be on the Duffer's guide as it sets up too much stuff to be missed but ARG the way they treat Yar is soooo bad. The whole Biff Yeager thing became a running joke on the Podcast- they tried to find "natural Yeager" trading cards and ended up with some.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 9:19 AM on April 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

But the most memorable for me was the one of Picard almost falling into space. That just defined what TNG could be for me as a kid who didn't have an opportunity to watch the first few seasons before they entered into reruns in the 90s.

Yeah, that shot got a lot of use in the TV promos while it was airing. It was the only thing, besides the Traveler looking drowsy, that I actually remembered from my first viewing of this episode—and I tried and failed to express to Mrs. Cheeses just how striking that Picard moment was back then.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 10:51 AM on April 21, 2020

This story was loosely based on the Pocket TOS novel The Wounded Sky, also written by one of this episode's writers – Diane Duane.

A bit of a tangent, but I want to throw out a recommendation for this novel. I stumbled across it not too long ago, and it gave me the impression of really, really good TOS fanfic -- a bit short on deep or meaningful conflict, but it's written very thoughtfully and creatively, and with tremendous respect for the characters. It's a great comfort read.
posted by teraflop at 11:27 AM on April 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

It seems to me Voyager re-used that "fall unexpectedly through a doorway into the void" idea later, no? With a female character, it seems to me. Can't remember the setup.

I like this TNG episode, although it's always seemed odd to me that the image they use of Picard's background is practically Edwardian. The scene with his mother is very good but she looks like someone from about 1910. Likewise, in "Generations", the family life imagined for him is quaintly Victorian, although according to Google, Picard's birthdate is in 2305.
posted by zadcat at 1:11 PM on April 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Third godlike being in five episodes (or six if you count Farpoint as two). So far, looks like the universe is 60% astro-deities.
posted by rodlymight at 6:42 PM on April 21, 2020 [6 favorites]

(And I'm sure there'll be more to say later about the arguably uneven development of Wesley as a character.)

I was thinking about that, and why Wesley ended up being so strongly disliked. I mean, it's not as if fiction (and especially science fiction and fantasy) isn't full of young people who end up not only being remarkable but even predestined for greatness, and saving the day, if not the world, through seemingly little effort; you've got Harry Potter, Ender Wiggins, and any number of young protagonists or deuteragonists in Stephen King's books. But those characters are generally acknowledged as the primary or secondary subjects of their books--Harry and Ender are the title characters, after all--and rarely achieve greatness without the direct encouragement and guidance of a mentor of some sort. (I can't remember if Ender has a real mentor or not, and don't really care because OSC has proven to be an awful person. Harry Potter has Dumbledore, of course, and the help of his friends--the argument that Hermione Granger is the real heroine of the books is a strong one--and King's kid heroes likewise either have their friends or their mentors to help them out (ironically, Wil Wheaton's best known role before this was as a young King doppelganger in Stand By Me), and sometimes even come to tragic ends, such as Carrie White and Jake Chambers.) Wesley just sort of does it, although he gets a sort of very short mentorship from the Traveler here; he is phenomenally better equipped to deal with this situation than the adults with all their years of Academy training and experience. No wonder he was quickly and thoroughly disliked.

And thinking about this makes me wonder how and/or why Starfleet and/or the Federation doesn't have a program for gifted kids, or if they do, why his mom hasn't noticed her son's exceptional talents and made arrangements for him to do something more suitable than knock about a starship run by a captain who doesn't like kids. I think that the character could have been fixable, if Wesley's gifts had been made less staggeringly obvious in the first handful of episodes, maybe, or if he had been allowed to be more of a nerdy, slightly goofy teen science geek rather than Acting Are You Fucking Kidding Me Talk About Going To Extremes Picard We Know He's A Smart Kid But Piloting The Whole Fucking Ship FFS Dude Ensign. At least this will sort of get throttled back, somewhat, and he'll get to be a bit more of a regular kid, IIRC, even if he's still driving the fucking ship, I mean, jeez, I wasn't even allowed to drive a car until I went off to college, I know that's a bit late for most people, but a whole fucking starship. jeez. (This is why Laredo piloting the Protector in Galaxy Quest was so funny.)

A few other germane points:

- I did like Kosinski and the Traveler; Kosinski is very much like a lot of people that I've known and known of who seem to believe that they're the smartest person in any room that they walk into, regardless of the room, and the Traveler like the person who just keeps their head down and does all the real work. Even though I couldn't imagine anyone but Brent Spiner creating and playing Data, it makes sense to me that Eric Menyuk tried out for the part, and it's cool that when he retired from show biz, he went into law specializing in education rights for special need kids.

- 1701% agreed about Tasha Yar. It's almost as if they're afraid to have an assertive, tough, soft butch character on the ship without constantly harping on all the trauma she went through. Compare and contrast with Kira Nerys on DS9 (yes, yes, but it's a valid comparison); while she was visually debutchified, she never stopped being tough as nails, and her Bad Childhood™ was directly relevant to her very reason for being there. Plus, we know that Kira wasn't just the victim of some bad people but helped fight and win against them; her description of the first field operation that she went on for the resistance (it's at the end of the summary for this episode) is both chilling and inspiring. Maybe we might have seen Tasha get some of that sort of character development; maybe that was why her sister was shown doing that sort of thing in "Legacy."

- No real direct antecedents to this episode in TOS, but I did just rewatch "Is There in Truth No Beauty?", which had an unusual alien being both the cause of the ship going into some weird section of space and the eventual solution, not to mention a blind character using assistive technology that is in some ways superior to standard human vision, and even the original SFX for the ship leaving normal space (not the enhanced FX that you'll get when you watch TOS on streaming) was reused from the similarly-named second TOS pilot, "Where No Man Has Gone Before."
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:27 PM on April 21, 2020 [3 favorites]

Knew that I was forgetting something! The idea "that existence as we experience it is entirely dependent upon cognition" may be the Copenhagen interpretation; please note that I am neither a physicist nor play one in a television space opera.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:38 PM on April 21, 2020

Imagine how the other kids on the Enterprise must have felt about their classmate, the acting ensign. So much for the egalitarian Federation.

The boy is so awesome stuff feels even worse to me now that I know Gene Roddenberry’s middle name was Wesley. A genius who knows everything about the Enterprise, you say…
posted by rodlymight at 8:06 PM on April 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

woof! those remastered space FX are, um, really over the top!

posted by mwhybark at 8:15 PM on April 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

Worf’s Targ is a direct reference to Spock’s sehlat, I would say.
posted by mwhybark at 8:20 PM on April 21, 2020 [2 favorites]

I swear the connection between Targ and Sehlat had never occured to me but rings as 100% true- and also i'd wear that sweater. I'd wear it well. XD.
posted by Homo neanderthalensis at 8:49 PM on April 21, 2020 [1 favorite]

Yeah, I remember hating Wesley intently when this first aired, then mellowed considerably over the years. Now the hate is coming back. It’s really clumsy writing where Wesley doesn’t seem to do anything particular, but somehow gets declared special at the end. It adds to the general inertness I’m seeing in S1 — our crew is supposed to be bad ass, but they often are forced to just stand around and watch someone else’s story unfold.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:20 AM on April 22, 2020 [2 favorites]

Third godlike being in five episodes (or six if you count Farpoint as two).

Nah, the Farpoint beings were just Very Large and had unique matter-manipulation/space traveling abilities. Not all-knowing or all-powerful.

Still, yes, the preponderance of Godlike Beings so early in the first season is a bit much.
posted by emjaybee at 1:09 PM on April 22, 2020

I know I’m months behind here but my wife and I are rewatching TNG and she pointed out that Worf is apparently just thinking about his childhood pet while he’s on the bridge :3
posted by dismas at 7:04 AM on September 25, 2020 [1 favorite]

I watched TNG as a kid but have never sat down and rewatched it from the beginning before now, and this was the first episode that I liked more than disliked. It has its issues as noted above, but I really enjoyed both guest stars and the plot was genuinely interesting.
posted by showbiz_liz at 5:33 PM on December 18, 2020

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