On May 23rd, 1993, ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ aired its final episode. Though ‘Deep Space Nine’ and ‘Voyager’ would continue to carry the torch of ‘Star Trek’ until its demise with ‘Enterprise’, for some, it was the end of an era.
And while us fans may be longing for ‘Star Trek’ to return to the small screens, we can still celebrate the amazing way the ‘The Next Generation’ ended. The two-part finale, “All Good Things”, is a fan favorite (usually making everyone’s top ten lists), and possibly the best ending ever written for any TV show.
This could because Patrick Stewart is wandering around in a robe declaring he has been time skipping for a good third of it (and no, he’s not crazy). Or, more likely, it is because it gave the fans some closure by time-traveling to a possible future (where we see that Geordie may have ended up with his awkward holocrush, Leah Brahms, and that Picard and Crusher got married and divorced), and engaged in our nostalgia by shifting back to the first episode (where we got a beardless Riker and a very much alive Tasha Yar). It also brought the arc set in motion by Q in the first episode full circle by ending the series in nearly the same trial Picard had been in at Farpoint.
It was the perfect send off for a series that so many loved, and it gave some hope for those who saw the end of ‘The Next Generation’ as an end to journeying in space. After all, Q says:
“That is the exploration that awaits you! Not mapping stars and studying nebula, but charting the unknown possibilities of existence.”
And maybe we’re not as far along on that path of corporeal transcendence as Q thinks we should be, but it’s a nice thing to think about when you feel like you’re life is going nowhere and there are no more new things left to explore.
And yes, while “All Good Things” was a triumph, it may still feel raw for some fans to celebrate the ending of a fantastic series. However, there is still much to be lauded and honored. ‘TNG’, even after twenty years, can be found showing reruns somewhere. It’s the ‘I Love Lucy’ of sci-fi, and while it’s shifted from affiliate to affiliate (Spike, and now BBC America), it told enduring stories that — even when repeated– that enrapture our imaginations to this day. And that is pretty darn impressive.
So, I tip a glass of Earl Grey (hot) to a show which left such an indelible mark on our culture, and make a toast to twenty more years of fantastic reruns.