"Encounter at Farpoint"


Stardate 41153.7

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

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 DeForest Kelley as a 137-year old Doctor named Leonard McCoy, thus starting a tradition that the first episode of each new Star Trek series (set in the 24th century) include an appearance by a prominent character from a previous Trek series.

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. The Enterprise is also 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 Shakespearean garb, appears, and identifies himself as "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 that 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 wish only to explore the unknown.

The captain continues that the human race has learned not to persecute and judge what they do not 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 its worth or face extermination. Q announces he must prepare for the trial and leaves in a flash of light. Picard decides to remove the Enterprise from the threat posed by the energy wall as quickly 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 riskily separate the ship while travelling at high warp speed, 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, along with a skeleton crew now operating from the Battle Bridge in the stardrive section, turns the remaining ship about to face off against Q. The sphere engulfs the section, trapping it inside, at which point Picard issues a surrender message. Picard and his bridge crew (which consists of the android Mr. Data, ship's empath and counselor Deanna Troi, and security officer Tasha Yar) are immediately transported to a strange and barbaric court room before an audience of angry humans dressed in rags. Order is marginally maintained by drug-addicted machine-gun-toting soldiers.

A red-and-black robed Q appears from a dark hallway seated atop an ornate throne. The crew identifies their setting as a ruthless post-World War III courtroom of Earth's mid 21st Century. Q announces to the jeering crowd that the crew members are on trial for crimes against humanity. Picard debates Q's accusation that there is no hope left for the human race. Picard suggests that Q observe and judge the crew 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, as no time had passed in his and the Enterprise's reality.

Meanwhile, Picard's first officer William Riker, chief medical officer Beverly Crusher and engineer Geordi La Forge, await the arrival of the Enterprise at Farpoint. Their host, Groppler Zorn, guides the group through a marketplace, inviting Riker to sample some native Earth fruits at one of the stalls. Riker wishes for an 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 shouts aloud, "You have been warned never to do that".

Riker meets up with Dr. Crusher and her young son Wesley, both of which experienced a similar situation when a bolt of fine cloth desired by the doctor, suddenly appeared from nowhere. The two suspect something odd is going on, but Geordi breaks their discussion when he appears to inform the group that the Enterprise's stardrive section has arrived in orbit, and Captain Picard is waiting for them.

Riker beams up to the Enterprise and meets Picard on the battle bridge. He is debriefed about the encounter with Q, then Picard leaves him on his own to initiate a difficult 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 Groppler 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 nearby location. Zorn seems further agitated by this and denies knowing anything about it. Meanwhile, Yar, La Forge and Data conduct a search through a maze of puzzling catacombs below the station; their findings, however, are as mysterious as the emotions detected by the counselor.

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, then redirects its attention at the planet 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, avoiding Farpoint Station entirely.

Picard orders phasers to target the alien ship, but suddenly Q appears. Q questions Picard's action and accuses him as not engaging in "clear thinking". Picard assures him that the phaser lock is only a precautionary measure. When Q accuses him of ignoring the civilian casualties of the bombardment, Picard is able to momentarily trump him by contacting Dr. Crusher to confirm she and her staff are already preparing to render assistance planetside.

Down on the planet, Zorn pleads for Picard to help him and cowers 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 and Troi senses satisfaction coming from "much closer" than the planet.

Q suggests sending an away team to the alien craft to investigate and Riker concurs. Despite some reservations, Picard agrees. The team observes that the interior of the alien ship is a maze of tunnels similar to the ones discovered under the power station. The away team finally locates Zorn, who is being tortured in an energy field and screaming for release. Riker and Data use their hand phasers to disable the field, but their action causes a response from the entire ship. The vessel begins to change form, becoming transparent and glowing with energy.

Back on the Enterprise, Q taunts Picard, preventing him from beaming back the away team. Picard pleads with Q, promising that he'll do whatever Q says if they are saved. Suddenly, the away team along with a frantic Groppler Zorn materializes on the bridge informing Picard that the ship itself is a life form which had returned them safely. Q and Zorn attempt to goad Picard into a violent reaction against the ship, but Picard attempts to ascertain the reality of the situation. To their amazement, the alien saucer changes into a gigantic, glowing, jellyfish-like entity.

Picard begins to suspect what is going on and accuses Zorn of capturing and exploiting Farpoint's power source, an entity similar to the jellyfish entity before them, one able to convert energy into matter. Zorn pleads with Picard to evacuate the station, fearing a violent end to the situation for his people. Q attempts one last time to push Picard towards barbarism, countering that Picard should let the citizens of Farpoint die for their treachery. Picard refuses to concede, ordering the station evacuated. The crew pieces together the puzzle of what has been going on, realizing that the space entity was attempting to punish the Bandi people for enslaving its wounded kin and forcing it to change itself into the form the Bandi desired - that of Farpoint station itself.

Picard decides to give what he hypothesizes is a weakened entity on the planet's surface the energy it needs. He orders the ship to beam a stream of power upon the station's tower. The tower absorbs and stores the energy and a change occurs. The impressive center complex of Farpoint Station transforms into a living creature, floating up into space to meet what Picard guesses is its mate.

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


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