“These are the Voyages…”
Written by Rick Berman & Brannon Braga
Directed by Allan Kroeker
Season 4, Episode 22
Production episode 098
Original air date: May 13, 2005
Date: Stardate 47457.1
Captain’s star log. We have jumped ahead six years to 2161. After ten years in service, Enterprise is going home to be decommissioned—and also to be present for the signing of the charter that will make the United Federation of Planets a thing. Archer is still struggling with his speech, while Mayweather and Sato are speculating about what they’ll do next.
Then we pan over to a side console, where William Riker is sitting in an NX-01 uniform. He orders the holodeck to freeze and save the program then end it. We revert to the Enterprise-D holodeck, and Riker’s holographic Enterprise uniform is replaced by his Starfleet uniform.
According to Riker’s personal log, Admiral Pressman has just come on board, and he’s agonizing over whether or not to confide in Picard about the real reasons for Pressman’s presence. Troi is the one who suggested re-creating the NX-01’s final mission on the holodeck to aid him in making the decision. Troi also, over dinner in Ten-Forward, suggests he skip ahead to when they’re contacted by the Andorian. She also suggests Riker take on the role of the ship’s chef, who was the closest they had to a ship’s counselor.
Back on the holodeck, Enterprise is hailed by Shran, which comes as something of a shock, as they believed that Shran died three years previous. Shran admits to having faked his death because, after he left the Imperial Guard, he got involved with some unsavory characters, who have kidnapped his daughter, Talla. He needs Archer’s help to get her back, and Archer owes him. T’Pol advises against acceding to Shran’s request, as they can’t risk being late for the charter signing (and Archer not being present to give his speech), but Archer does owe Shran…
They head to Rigel X. Chef was planning a final meal with everyone getting their favorite dish. Riker poses as Chef preparing those meals discussing life, the universe, and everything with the crew. Later Riker brings Troi on board the holodeck to show off the ship. They observe a conversation between Tucker and Reed, with the latter teasing the former about his continuing to perform routine maintenance on a ship that’s about to be mothballed. But Tucker unconvincingly claims that he practically built the engine singlehandedly, and will care for her to the end. Troi then indulges in some foreshadowing by saying how sad it is that Tucker won’t be coming home from this mission.
Troi goes off to have a session with Barclay, and Riker now cosplays as a MACO who goes on the mission to Rigel X. Archer comments on how appropriate it is that the last planet they’ll visit is also the first one they visited…
Shran and T’Pol meet with the bad guys, T’Pol having fabricated a fake of the jewel the kidnappers think Shran has stolen (he hasn’t, but they don’t believe him). Once they get Talla back, all hell breaks loose, as the fake jewel flashes some lights and the rest of the away team, who has been lying in ambush, fires on the bad guys.
Tucker almost falls to his death, but Archer saves him. They all get back to the ship and head off. Shran is happy to accept a lift to get them far away from the kidnappers, who can only go warp two.
Riker-as-Chef has more conversations with the crew, then Riker watches Archer and Tucker talk about the impending charter signing and what it means. Then T’Pol reports an intruder alert.
The aliens have caught up to Enterprise and boarded her, er, somehow, and demand Shran and Talla. Tucker throws himself into the notion of enabling them to signal Shran with an elaborate rewiring of things that is utterly unconvincing, but the aliens fall for it anyhow, and one big-ass explosion later, all the aliens and Tucker are all mortally wounded. Phlox tries to save Tucker’s life (no such effort is made to save the aliens), but he dies on the table.
Riker then breaks the chronological sequence by going back to before the intruder alert, when Tucker visited Chef to discuss the final meal.
T’Pol and Phlox are present backstage to wish Archer well on his speech (T’Pol having to adjust his neckline). Archer impulsively gives T’Pol a hug before going out and giving his speech.
Riker and Troi are seen in the back of the arena, talking about the historic speech and the charter signing that would lead to the Federation. Riker says he’s ready to talk to Picard about the Pegasus, and they exit the holodeck.
Thank you, Counselor Obvious. Troi is the one who suggests that Riker visit the holodeck to help him with the decision he’s agonizing over.
If I only had a brain… Data briefly speaks with Troi over the intercom about finishing a discussion they started, but Troi asks for a rain check, an idiom that Data struggles with.
The gazelle speech. Archer, typically, leaves writing his speech until the last minute and refuses to take credit for anything during it.
I’ve been trained to tolerate offensive situations. T’Pol admits to Tucker that she will miss him after they’re no longer assigned to the same ship.
Florida Man. Florida Man Dies Hilariously Unconvincing Death!
Optimism, Captain! Phlox is unable to save Tucker after he’s in the middle of an explosion, and later is one of the last people to wish Archer well before his speech.
Blue meanies. Shran has left the Imperial Guard and faked his own death over the prior six years. He has mated with Jhamel and had a daughter, and apparently Archer hasn’t repaid all the favors he owes Shran…
No sex, please, we’re Starfleet. T’Pol and Tucker’s relationship ended not long after it began, apparently, though they’re both mature enough adults to continue to serve on the same ship for the next six years.
I’ve got faith…
“Space, the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Starship Enterprise. Its continuing mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”
–The final lines of the episode, spoken first by Picard, then by Kirk, and finally by Archer.
Welcome aboard. Recurring regular Jeffrey Combs is back as Shran, while Jonathan Schmook plays the alien kidnapper. While this is Combs’s last appearance as Shran, he will return on Lower Decks as AGIMUS in “Where Pleasant Fountains Lie.”
And, of course, the big guests are Jonathan Frakes, Marina Sirtis, and an uncredited Brent Spiner as, respectively, Riker, Troi, and Data. The former two will next be seen in Picard’s “Nepenthe,” while the latter will next be seen in Picard’s “Remembrance.”
Trivial matters: The episode takes place simultaneously with the TNG episode “The Pegasus.”
While Jhamel is not seen, she is mentioned, and its made clear that the relationship with Shran hinted at in her appearance in “The Aenar” came to fruition.
This is the third straight Trek series finale, following DS9’s “What You Leave Behind” and Voyager’s “Endgame,” that is directed by Allan Kroeker.
Having written the lion’s share of the episodes from the first three seasons, this is the first (and, obviously, last) writing credit for Rick Berman and Brannon Braga in the fourth season.
After having one or two Trek TV shows in production consistently since 1987, there will be a gap of twelve years before the next one, when Discovery debuts in 2017. It will be four years before there is any kind of Trek screen production, the 2009 movie.
The novels Last Full Measure and The Good that Men Do, both by Andy Mangels & Michael A. Martin, establish that the holodeck program Riker was utilizing was not an accurate portrayal of history, with most of what was depicted therein actually taking place in 2155, not long after “Terra Prime.” This is uncovered by Nog and Jake Sisko after some Section 31 files are declassified in the early 25th century. In the novels, the characters point out several inconsistencies in the program that indicated that it was fake, all of which were complaints made by fans after the episode aired. They also established that Tucker’s death was a fake as well, a cover-up for him to engage in a long-term deep-cover mission.
Aside from Riker, Troi, and Data, this is the final appearance of everyone in it to date.
It’s been a long road… “I’m sure you’ll make the right choice.” I have often stated that the idea is far less important than the execution, and this is a prime example of that, because the idea here actually isn’t all that bad a one. It’s a nice idea, knowing that this was closing off the then-current era of Trek television, to tie it back to the show that started the era in question eighteen years earlier.
But holy crap, is the execution an unmitigated disaster.
I remember back in 2005 when they were talking about how Jonathan Frakes and Marina Sirtis would be appearing in the Enterprise finale, my first thought was how cool it would be to have a framing sequence on the U.S.S. Titan with Captain Riker and his wife Commander Troi consulting the historical documents about Enterprise’s final mission.
So imagine my shock that they were instead appearing as Commander Riker and Counselor Troi on the U.S.S. Enterprise-D.
A lot of pixels have been lit on the subject of how terrible this is as the Enterprise finale (both Rick Berman and Brannon Braga have spent a lot of time at conventions and in interviews apologizing for it since 2005), and while I’m happy to add to it here, I do want to take a moment to say how this is also a complete and total failure as a parallel story to “The Pegasus,” which was one of the highlights of a very uneven final season of TNG. We’ll leave aside the fact that Frakes and Sirtis are very obviously ten years older than they were when they filmed “The Pegasus” (this is why I figured it would be a story of them on Titan), there is absolutely nowhere in the episode where any of this fits. There is simply no opportunity for Riker to go haring off to the holodeck for hours at a time to agonize over this decision. And then at the end, he resolutely decides to confide in Picard—which is something he does not do at any point. Well, at least not willingly—he only comes clean to Picard when he doesn’t have a choice at the episode’s climax.
And that’s only the start of what a dreadful finale this is. Just as Frakes and Sirtis very much look ten years older, the rest of the crew looks not at all to be six years older. No changes in hairstyle (well, okay, Jolene Blalock’s wig is a bit froofier, but that’s it), and neither Reed nor Mayweather nor Sato have been promoted after a decade of service, which is completely unconvincing.
After finally having Tucker and T’Pol come together as a couple bonding over their unexpected kid in “Demons” and “Terra Prime,” we’re told that their relationship apparently didn’t live out the year, as they’ve been broken up for six years. To call that disappointing is a major understatement, though it’s as nothing compared to the disappointment of Tucker’s “heroic” death, which is so clumsily constructed you can see the strings, and is one of the most ineptly written death scenes in television history. Connor Trinneer stops short of actually saying, “I have to have my death scene now!” but that’s the only saving grace of this ridiculous scene.
It is fitting that Enterprise has proven itself once again to be completely incapable of repelling boarders despite having Space Marines on board, as the aliens have free rein on the ship before Tucker blows them up.
Watching it again for the first time in nineteen years, the thing that annoyed me the most was, bizarrely, the scenes of Riker-as-Chef talking to the various crew. Not that the scenes themselves were bad—quite the opposite, they’re charming as hell, and easily the best parts of the episode—but this is something we should’ve been seeing all along. To find out now in the 97th and final episode that people talk to Chef about their troubles is leaving it way late. I’ve never been fond of the often-discussed-never-seen character trope in television, and the use of Chef in this episode is so much more interesting than the way he’d been used in the 96 previous episodes.
Berman and Braga spent their three years as show-runners making the early days of space exploration as bland and uninteresting as possible, and their final episode lives down to that standard in pretty much every way.
Warp factor rating: 1