Star Trek: The Next Generation: Journey's End   Rewatch 
November 22, 2021 4:08 PM - Season 7, Episode 20 - Subscribe

As a result of a long-disputed treaty with the Cardassians, the Federation has agreed to return several planets to Cardassian control. One such planet, Dorvan V, is inhabited by the descendants of Native Americans. They do not wish to leave their new home, which they had spent many years searching for.

I have the deepest deal of respect for Memory Alpha and the meaning that it holds for your people.

Story and production
  • Shawn Piller and Anatonia Napoli wrote the original story for this episode.
  • Contrary to the two previous scripts written for episodes in which the Traveler appeared, this script consistently spells his name "The Traveller".
  • Jeri Taylor intended the Native American colony in this episode to be the home of Voyager character Chakotay, (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (? ed., p. ?)) though this was never mentioned on screen. Coincidentally, Ned Romero, who plays Anthwara in this episode, would later play Chakotay's grandfather in VOY: "The Fight".
  • Admiral Nechayev slightly misquotes Otto von Bismarck when she says to Picard that "Diplomacy is the art of the possible." In fact, the correct wording of the famous quotation is "Politics is the art of the possible."
  • This episode marks the creation of the Demilitarized Zone and the beginning of the Maquis. The Maquis are formed in the DS9 episodes "The Maquis, Part I" and "The Maquis, Part II", and revisited once more on TNG in "Preemptive Strike". This episode was intentionally used by the writers to show the beginnings of the Maquis for use in Star Trek: Voyager. (AOL chat, 1997)
  • In the scene where Wesley follows Lakanta upstairs, a member of the sound department can be briefly seen. This is the sixth time a member of the production staff was accidentally filmed and appeared in the final episode. The first five were a camera operator in "The Naked Now", two camera operators in "Angel One", Bill Gocke in "Unification II", an unnamed production staff member in "Time's Arrow", and June Abston Haymore in "Birthright, Part I".
  • When Wesley explains to Dr. Crusher why he's resigning, she tells him of how the Traveler spoke of Wes to Picard as a kind of "Mozart", and that Picard mentioned it to her. However, in the episode "Where No One Has Gone Before", whose events Crusher recalls, the Traveler explicitly tells Picard, "It's Wesley I wanted to speak to you about. … It's best you do not repeat this to the others, especially not to the mother. Whatever happens, it is imperative that proceed naturally. … He should be encouraged, but told none of this." Apparently, Picard, in speaking to (of all people) Dr. Crusher, blatantly disregarded this request. However, as Dr. Crusher evidently did not mention any of what the Traveler said to Wesley before he chose to resign, the Traveler's concern may have been unnecessary.
  • The set for the village is a redress of that used for "Thine Own Self".
Cast and characters
  • It was Wil Wheaton's last appearance on television as Wesley Crusher. He later reprised the role for a cameo in Star Trek Nemesis, although the majority of his scene was cut from the final release.
  • Richard Poe reprises his role as Gul Evek from DS9: "Playing God". He returned as the character later in the year in TNG: "Preemptive Strike" and two DS9 episodes, "The Maquis, Part I" and "Tribunal", as well as Star Trek: Voyager's pilot episode "Caretaker".
  • This episode was Tom Jackson's first appearance in any American television production. He regularly appears in Canadian television and film productions. His only other American television appearance was in the Law & Order: Criminal Intent episode "Wasichu".
Poster's Log:

I've been traveling for the holiday and haven't watched this one yet. I'll add my "Log" notes in the comments later, when I've caught up.
posted by hanov3r (19 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
I like how they used Gul Evek as a familiar face who has to deal with this part of space. He’s an antagonist, but he’s a reasonable guy by his culture’s standards and just wants to do his job. I almost feel sorry for him that the Federation can’t keep their citizens under control and he has to be the one to deal with it. Almost.
posted by Servo5678 at 7:53 PM on November 22, 2021

If this was meant to be Chakotay's home, I wonder if Jamake Highwater was involved and already feeding them nonsense. Memory Alpha doesn't mention it but I'm sure the exact scope of his "contributions" are well documented somewhere.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 8:02 PM on November 22, 2021

IMO this is up there with Code of Honour as one of the most bone-headed, tone-deaf, ham-handed and racist episodes in Trek.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 8:17 PM on November 22, 2021 [3 favorites]

This week's two-fer would be "Career Alternatives", and it makes a whole lotta sense for Wesley to have second thoughts about a career in Starfleet; to some extent, this ep reads almost like an apology of sorts to the character, although there doesn't seem to have been a corresponding attempt to mend bridges with the actor. (I'm not going to go over the whole saga--probably most of the regulars here know about it already--but it says something that, in his last appearance as Wesley, in Star Trek: Nemesis, all of his lines were cut, leaving only a very brief cameo, and he wasn't even invited to the wrap party.) Wheaton is doing the "Ready Room" series of after-show specials for the new Trek series, so there's that. I've come to believe that it would have been more interesting for Wesley to have not been interested in being the ship's conn officer, but just to be this big science nerd who maybe might have ended up as a blueshirt doing advanced subspace research, eventually. (This kind of dovetails with my belief that Data shouldn't have been in Starfleet, initially; he could have had all the cadet-in-training storylines that way.) But at least he gets some closure that way.

As for the Native American storyline... (le sigh) yeah, sure seems like the old a-koo-chee-moya was strong here. In fairness--and this is not trying to excuse this kind of thing, at all, just putting it in context of American culture and in particular its tendencies to co-opt Native American culture every chance it gets--there was a lot of this going around. There was a movie called Vision Quest about a white high school wrestler who is trying to cut weight in order to be able to wrestle someone in a lower weight class; the title comes from a very odd reading of a book titled Seven Arrows about vision quests and the protagonist matching the concept up with his jock obsessions. (I got a copy of that book from my high school therapist--we're both white--because he thought that I could somehow use it in my own "quest" to figure out who I was; it was an interesting book but I didn't get that much out of it in terms of my own issues.) The wise person of color who helps the white protagonist with his stuff, asking nothing in return, likewise has a long and ignoble history in our culture, and there's a smidgen of irony (given the whole Jamake Highwater thing) that the shaman here ends up being the ultra-pale Traveler.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:43 PM on November 22, 2021 [4 favorites]

Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Premiere featured Evacuation, Alynna Nechayev, and a Non-Aligned Evek, some time before there was a proper Cardassian affiliation. Nothing that thrilling. The following set included Jack Crusher as a 5-skilled 'semi Bridge crew' member among a few others in the set, with that red AU icon for running ships like Enterprise-C, not bad at all.

Lakanta could also help with that, and he lets your ships fly from, conceptually, one end of the galaxy to the other, giving you a quick solve of Cytherians for 15 points. All that and 12 cunning! Not bad for not having any 'real' skills. My doctor said Lakanta! Finally, we got Plasmadye Relay providing the first range enhancer for ships with a shot of a prop we've seen a few times. Another handy utility card. See also Wesley's Card of the Day reviews #115, #145, #210, and #273 for contemporary reviews on these cards at the time they were current.

Second Edition presents a new Evacuate Colony with some thematic Maquis effects, as well as and different skillsets to solve favoring Federation and Cardassian qualities respectively. Pretty easy points. Rounding out is the Federation draw card Nothing That Happens is Truly Random, which lets your opponent pick their poison.
posted by StarkRoads at 12:28 AM on November 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

this ep reads almost like an apology of sorts to the character

It was partially meant as such, kind of. Another MA tidbit:
Ronald D. Moore commented: "I was the one who pushed to get Wesley out of the Academy and send him off with the Traveler. I felt that there was a built-in contradiction in a character that we'd said was like Mozart in his appreciation of higher mathematics and physics, yet was just on the same career path as any Starfleet cadet. I didn't get it – if Wes is truly special and gifted, what the hell is he doing at the Helm? It seemed like he was only going to the Academy to live up to the memory of his father and the expectations of Picard, not because it was his best destiny. "Journey's End" also seemed like an opportunity to see someone walk away from Starfleet with their head held high and just say "It's cool, but not for me." I was tired of everyone in the 24th century saying, "All I want to do is wear the uniform and serve on a starship." Hey, it's cool, but it's not for everyone. So I pushed to have Wes realize his destiny was elsewhere and have him walk away."
Which I'm all fine with, but it introduces a third job to this episode, alongside "establish the Maquis" and "establish Chakotay's homeworld." Little wonder, then, that the thematic connection between Wes's journey and the colony is never truly established—just a story-convenience connection that gives him a reason to quit Starfleet. As a result, Wes's storyline here ends up feeling too tidy. (Of course, some of that tidiness is just inherent in what I think is the first of the transparently-obvious "Farewell to so-and-so" episodes.)

(And now that I think of it, wow, season seven has gotta be the most anti-Starfleet season of TNG! This realization makes me look slightly less askance at the "rotten UFP/Starfleet" stuff of PIC season 1.)

it says something that, in his last appearance as Wesley, in Star Trek: Nemesis, all of his lines were cut, leaving only a very brief cameo, and he wasn't even invited to the wrap party.

These specific facts may say less about the TNG "family" and more about the film's Trek-noob director, who by all accounts was utterly clueless. The anecdote that sticks in my mind is that he kept calling LeVar Burton "Laverne." But then, I don't know whether directors decide who gets invited to the wrap party.

And ya know, now that fences seem to have been mended… what do you suppose the odds are that both Guinan AND Traveller-Wes show up to fend off Q in PIC season 2? That'd be a cool surprise. (Less cool if Wes turns pasty and grows penguin hands, but still.)

and there's a smidgen of irony (given the whole Jamake Highwater thing) that the shaman here ends up being the ultra-pale Traveler.

Irony and also uncomfortable recollection of VOY: "Tattoo". I remember being uncomfortable with "Journey's End" when it first aired, but "Tattoo" is so, so much worse. I increasingly think Trek has no worse episode than "Tattoo."

All that and 12 cunning! Not bad for not having any 'real' skills. My doctor said Lakanta!

I LOL'ed, even with a mouth full of breakfast.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:40 AM on November 23, 2021 [3 favorites]

"Everybody loves Star Trek, the television show that handles indigenous issues with such subtlety and nuance! *five minutes later* We regret to inform you--"

This one was such a mess in so many ways, but for me one of the weirdest things about these Cardassian-heavy final episodes is that they're designed to get me amped up to watch DS9 or Voyager. To be clear: they are writing a show that is trying to make me interested in watching a different show, instead of the show I am currently watching. This is not how you make good entertainment! Dear television executives: I am not enjoying the synergy. I am watching the video equivalent of a loss leader. Thanks, I hate it!

Even though Wesley is All Grown Up Now, I still get an uncomfortable creepy predator vibe from The Traveler. "Holy shit, I can stop time! I can help everyone!" "Nah, kid, fuck 'em. Come join me, the guy who just revealed himself as the person who slipped you peyote earlier." "But they're going to--" "They'll be fine. It'll be fine! Don't worry about it. Just get in my van. My space van."
posted by phooky at 6:44 AM on November 23, 2021 [12 favorites]

Which is kind of interesting, because the wife and I have been watching Trek by stardate since we restarted TNG (even VOY? even VOY.) and it was kind of interesting seeing the Cardassians and Maquis spinning up. And while the Cardassians go on to be a pretty important part of DS9, the Maquis are never heard from again it's so weird, right?
posted by Kyol at 7:33 AM on November 23, 2021

I just had an amusing thought: Chakotay and Eddington switch places in the Maquis.

Chakotay: becomes an opponent that Sisko grudgingly comes to respect; when the Dominion War begins, Chakotay has a plan to evacuate all the Maquis, turns himself in, gets paroled in order to lead a group of irregulars against the Dominion.

Eddington: barely is Voyager clear of the Caretaker Array when he starts mouthing off to Janeway, tries to lead a chorus of "Can You Hear the People Sing?" on the bridge; five seconds later, you see a transporter sparkle outside the ship, then a small figure, thrashing at first but then freezing solid, tumbling away into the vastness of the Delta Quadrant. Harry Kim gets a field promotion to lieutenant.
posted by Halloween Jack at 7:50 AM on November 23, 2021 [9 favorites]

"Journey's End" is about the most underwelming, vanilla episode title of TNG. Which is appropriate for the episode. They couldn't do better for Wesley than dig up Gene's old wish-fulfillment storyline for the character? And rather than with the art, the beauty, the POWER of math, the Traveller has to pose and make it more spiritual to bring Wes into the fold. I though that whole part of the episode was muddled the first time I saw it and I still think it is now.
posted by Stuka at 8:24 AM on November 23, 2021

To be clear: they are writing a show that is trying to make me interested in watching a different show, instead of the show I am currently watching..

Mandalorian Season 2, please pick up the white courtesy phone...
posted by StarkRoads at 9:03 AM on November 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

StarkRoads, I haven't seen Mandalorian yet but thank you for helping me recognize that this is a pattern that has bugged me since I was twelve, when I got tired of comic books constantly trying to get me to buy other comic books. All the various "cinematic universes" turn me off for the same reason!
posted by phooky at 9:15 AM on November 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

"Journey's End" is about the most underwelming, vanilla episode title of TNG.

It was used again as the title for the wrap documentary about TNG. It's right up there with "Future's End", which is both a VOY two-parter and part of dialogue in First Contact ("Watch your future's end...").
posted by Servo5678 at 9:22 AM on November 23, 2021

This is one I've been dreading watching again this whole time--for some reason, I thought it appeared earlier than S7. It's just so terrible in so many ways, not the least of which is the horrible forest green...everything about Wes: his clothes, the rumpled duvet on his bed. Ugh, the '90s have so much to answer for. Let us not speak of the earnest and ham-fisted indigenous storyline.

There's also the fact that I hate stories about Chosen Ones who are special and unique but are really just cheap wish-fulfillment characters, and who are almost always teenage boys. Ugh, ugh, ugh. I'd never really disliked Wes as a character until this episode; way to go, guys.

I wish so much they'd not chosen Maquis as the name for the group. I'm in a few fandoms that are centered in WWII, and every time you talk about the actual historical Maquis of that era, you get people thinking you ripped off the name from Trek for yourself and being pissy. You could have made up any word you wanted, Trek.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:26 PM on November 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

How about "The Rebel Alliance"
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 2:05 PM on November 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

kitten kaboodle, I agree that this episode made Wesley profoundly unlikable. I figure it must have gone down like this:

[December, 1993. 3:00 AM. Interior, RONALD MOORE'S bedroom. The telephone is ringing.]
RONALD MOORE: Ugh. What. What's wrong.
SHAWN PILLER [on phone]: Ronald. I'm worried about Wesley.
MOORE: Wes-- what? It's three in the morning, Shawn. What the hell are you talking about?
PILLER: I'm worried that the audience might miss him, Ronald. If we just end the show this way. What if the audience misses Wesley? They might never get a chance to say good bye.
MOORE: You're waking me up in the middle of the night because you're worried that people will be upset about lacking closure about a fictional space teenager.
PILLER: He's a young adult now, Ronald. I'm just thinking of the audience, right?
MOORE: Look, Shawn, just-- just go to sleep, Shawn. We'll do something about Wesley. All right?
PILLER: Do you promise?
MOORE: I promise, Shawn. Good night.
PILLER: Good night, Ronald.
MOORE: [writing furiously] Oh, don't you worry, Shawn. I'll make sure no one ever misses Wesley Crusher ever again.
posted by phooky at 2:57 PM on November 23, 2021 [2 favorites]

Tonight on Star Trek:
*young actor trying to outact a loud and wacky vest*: "I don't wanna join starfleet!"
But enough from DS9...
Okay, come to that, Wes, Alexander, Jake, and Nog all really specifically go against what's expected of them. Huh.

A couple questions:
The Traveler approaches Wesley from completely false pretenses why, exactly? And Wes is just cool with being manipulated, I guess?
Why does Wesley's cadet uniform get big 'ol fat cargo pockets and nobody else gets any? What's in there?
Does the time freeze mean that Zach Morris is also like, the JS Bach of warp?

At the end of the episode Picard asks Wesley "Where will you go?"
I'd pay 50 bars of gold pressed latinum if he would say "I'm going where my heart will take me..."

That other (Ron D.) Moorish space opera show, Battlestar Galactica, also contrives to wrap up basically every character who wasn't in the opening credits crowbarred in at the end of the series. I guess he likes it that way.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:06 PM on November 23, 2021 [1 favorite]

I remember Wil Wheaton having a really strange, hostile vibe in this one, which makes more sense when you know about his struggles behind the scenes. But it does give the episode a strange flavor. Like, Wesley is supposed to be troubled, but he shows up seeming pissed off at everybody, it's a little too much.

As for the Space Native Americans thing, I won't pretend I know enough about the issues there to say how badly they handled it. But I do remember this episode being really slow. I think that happened a lot with older shows when they tried to address Native American themes. Everybody was trying to be serious and respectful (no matter how badly they may have botched it) and so you got these slow, careful yet clumsy stories that were like Very Special Episodes on quaaludes, full of cliched flute music and distant drums.

It seems like only a matter of time before Wesley shows up on either Picard or Lower Decks. I'd kind of prefer Picard, where he'd presumably get treated with a little more dignity... but judging by Picard's first season, Wesley might just show up as some broken, drunken loser and/or we'll have to watch him die horribly. (Actually, maybe it'd be better if it was Lower Decks. It'd probably just be a goofy cameo, but at least he'd go out with some affectionate ribbing instead of being another ticked box on somebody's grimdark Prestige TV kill list.)
posted by Ursula Hitler at 1:56 PM on November 24, 2021 [7 favorites]

So Lakanta is part of the colonist's delegation on the Enterprise, is he impersonating someone specific? They seem to have one close-knit community on the entire planet so it doesn't seem like he could just slip in as a random dude and not have anyone notice.

So the Cardassians get to have a free former Federation (acting) officer on their side of the border. That...seems like something they wouldn't let go to waste, whatever Gul Evek says. Although, he has mutant space/time warp powers, so maybe he's not that easy to capture. I always thought Wes was the obvious candidate to be the Future Guy on Enterprise...
posted by StarkRoads at 3:20 PM on November 24, 2021 [1 favorite]

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