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Encounter at Farpoint

"Encounter at Farpoint" was the first episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It was originally shown on August 28, 1987, and was the first new live-action episode of Star Trek to have been broadcast since 1969.

It is Next Generation episode #1, (production #101 and #102), written by D.C. Fontana and Gene Roddenberry, and directed by Corey Allen . It was twice the length of a normal episode, and in repeats is often shown in a re-edited two-part form.

The episode features a cameo appearance by a 137-year old Doctor Leonard McCoy, thus starting a tradition that the first episode of each new Star Trek series includes an appearance by a character featured in a previous Trek series (or movie, as was the case with Star Trek: Enterprise).

Guest cast is John de Lancie as Q and Michael Bell as Zorn.

Quick Overview: The new starship Enterprise begins its maiden voyage by uncovering the mysteries of an advanced space station.

On Stardate 41153.7, the maiden voyage of the new starship Enterprise, NCC-1701-D, commanded by Captain Jean-Luc Picard, gets underway. The ship's first mission is to open diplomatic relations with Farpoint Station on the planet Deneb IV, where the United Federation of Planets is attempting to negotiate use of the station's immense energy reserves. Another part of the mission is to investigate the mystery of how the simple people of Deneb IV, the Bandi, were able to construct such an advanced power station at the heart of their primitive city.

While en route to Farpoint, the Enterprise is stopped by a wall of energy, and a powerful being, dressed in Shakespearian garb, appears, and identifies himself as "The Q". Q demonstrates omnipotent powers, teleporting about the bridge at random, and even freezing solid a security officer who steps up to protect the captain. Q promptly commands Captain Picard to turn the ship around and return to Earth, claiming Humans are savage beasts and have tread too far into space for his liking. Picard defends his race by stating that humanity has matured since their barbaric times and only wish to explore the unknown.

The captain goes on to say the human race has learned not to prosecute and judge what they don't understand. Intrigued by Picard's words, Q decides to put the captain on trial as a representative of the human race who now must prove their worth or face death. Q announces he must prepare for the trial and leaves. Picard decides to get away from this threat as quick as possible and turns course to flee. The energy wall becomes a fiery sphere and gives chase. The sphere continues to gain on them, so Picard decides to separate the ship, dividing the saucer section (which contains the ship's living areas) and the stardrive section (which contains the ship's auxiliary bridge and primary weapon systems.

Once the detached saucer is safely away, Picard turns the stardrive section about to face off The Q. The sphere engulfs the stardrive section, trapping it inside, while Picard issues a surrender message. Picard and his bridge crew (which consists of the android Mr. Data, ship's empathic counselor Deanna Troi, and security officer Tasha Yar) are immediately transported to a barbaric court room that is filled with shouting citizens dressed in rags. Order is somewhat maintained by several machine gun toting soldiers.

Ahead of the crew is a dark hallway in which Q appears in lavish robes and seated on a throne. The team remembers that the court is similar to ruthless post-World War III courtrooms of Earth's mid 21st Century. Q announces to the jeering crowd that the crew members are on trial for crimes against humanity. Picard argues back and forth with Q's accusations that there is no hope left for the human race. Picard suggests that Q watch and judge them on their current mission in order to prove that humans are now a peaceful and respectable people. Again Q is intrigued with the idea and decides to let Picard and his crew go, but warns that Picard will nonetheless fail. The four officers are then returned to the Enterprise. However, helmsman Chief O'Brien remains unaware that they had ever left, because they had been in another dimension whereas no time had passed in the "normal" world.

Meanwhile, Picard's first officer William Riker, chief medical officer Beverly Crusher, and engineer Geordi LaForge, await the arrival of the Enterprise at Farpoint. Their host, Grappler Zorn, guides the group through a marketplace, inviting Riker to sample some luscious fruits at one of the stalls; some of which are from Earth. Riker wishes for a delicious apple, but sees none available. He looks away for a second and then looks back finding a basket of red apples has now suddenly appeared out of nowhere.

Zorn dismisses the odd occurrence and moves on as Riker takes an apple. Once Riker walks ahead, Zorn looks to the ceiling and strangely talks to midair saying, "You have been warned never to do that."

Riker meets up with Dr. Crusher and her young genius son Wesley, who had a similar experience when a certain bolt of fine cloth, the doctor delights in, suddenly appeared from nowhere. The two realize something odd is going on, but Geordi breaks their thoughts when he appears to inform that the Enterprise's battle section has arrived in orbit, and Captain Picard is waiting for them.

Riker beams up to the Enterprise and meets Picard on the auxiliary bridge. He is debriefed about the encounter with Q, then Picard leaves him on his own to initiate a risky "manual" reconnection of the saucer section which has just arrived. The procedure goes well, and Picard has a more formal meeting with his new first officer to commend him on his professionalism.

Later, Picard, Riker, and Troi, beam down to the station to meet with Grappler Zorn, who seems very reluctant to answer questions concerning the construction processes of the station's power plant. Troi begins to sense powerful, yet despairing emotions, coming from an unknown location. Zorn seems further agitated by this, and denies knowing anything about it. Meanwhile, Yar, LaForge and Mr. Data, conduct a search through a maze of puzzling catacombs below the station, however their findings are just as confusing as Troi's feelings.

Suddenly, a large flying saucer-like craft, many times the size of the Enterprise, moves into orbit above the station. It scans the Enterprise for a moment, but then redirects its attention at the power plant below. Picard returns to the Enterprise and attempts to make contact with the alien ship. Picard's hail is ignored and the craft begins to fire beams of energy at the old Bandi city, seemingly avoiding the power plant deliberately.

Picard orders phasers to target the alien ship, but then Q appears, and to Picard's annoyance, Q is wearing the uniform of a Starfleet officer. Q sneers that aiming weapons is so "typical" of humans when faced with something they don't understand, but Picard reassures that it's only a precautionary measure, and that he does not intend on firing at the ship unless absolutely necessary.

Down on the planet, Zorn pleads for Picard to help him and covers under his desk. Riker and Data rush in to rescue him, but witness the man being whisked away by a strange transporter beam. Once Zorn is taken, the alien ship then ceases fire, apparently satisfied.

Suspecting Zorn has been taken aboard the alien craft, Picard sends an away team over to it to find him. The team discovers the interior of the alien ship is a similar maze of tunnels just like the ones discovered under the power station. Riker and Data finally locate Zorn, who is being tortured in an energy field and screaming for release. They use their phasers to disable the field, but the action causes a response from the entire ship. The vessel begins to change forms, becoming transparent and glowing with energy.

Back on the Enterprise, Q relentlessly taunts Picard during the intense moment, teasing him on his decision making. Q suggests the captain not take any chances and destroy the alien ship before it's too late, but Picard ignores him, focusing on getting his people back safely. The alien ship however, returns the bewildered group directly to the Enterprise bridge along with a frantic Grappler Zorn. To their amazement, the alien saucer has changed into a glowing jellyfish-like entity.

Picard begins to suspect what is going on and demands a truthful explanation from Zorn. Zorn simply says "It was injured, we helped it." The truth is the station's power plant is also a space creature, just like the one that attacked the city. The creatures have the ability to convert matter into energy and vice versa, and can become any form they choose. Zorn captured the being and only gave it enough power to keep it alive so he could use its ability to build his impressive station.

The orbiting alien tries to encourage its companion on the planet to join it in space, but the being is far too weak to take flight. Picard decides to give the creature the energy it needs by beaming a ray of power down to it. The entity regains strength, and what was once the impressive center complex of Farpoint Station, transforms into a living creature.

The two creatures greet each other passionately as Picard and his crew proudly watch. Q on the other hand, seems unimpressed, but Picard has proved humanity's worth. Regardless, Q announces that humanity may have passed this little test, but is destined to fail eventually. Picard tells him to get off his ship, but Q warns they will meet again.

They do. Q's appearances are central to several subsequent episodes, specifically "All Good Things...", the final episode of the series.

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Last updated: 08-25-2005 12:43:54