[TNG] Season 1, Episodes 1 & 2 (Netflix: S1 E1): Encounter at Farpoint Pt. 1 & 2
This episode feels like it is split into two distinct stories: the Farpoint story, and the Q story, with character introductions mixed throughout. The Farpoint story feels like a 2 and the Q story feels like a 4, so the overall rating is a 3. It is important to watch if you want to feel the full effect of the series finale and it’s interesting to see how each character is introduced.
File Under: John de Lancie (Q)
To most people this episode is too clunky, oddly paced, and too littered with strange scenes to reach above an average rating. It’s weaknesses are pretty clear, and hard to dispute. There are a few strengths that pull this episode above average.
First is that the Q story is very good. Most people recognize this. They acknowledge how John de Lancie and Patrick Stewart do a fantastic job. A.V. Club’s Zack Handlen (who gave this episode a B-) brings up a good point that the stakes of the Q story are only really felt when Q is actually on screen. This is true, and it’s also true that we never actually believe Q will destroy everyone, but there are still great scenes (like the courtroom one) that have a real sense of danger. Having Picard facing down Q in a room full of people mocking and shouting is very effective. If I’m honest, I found these courtroom scenes so compelling that it may be the primary reason for liking this episode. These scenes cover familiar themes in Star Trek, but maybe one of the best iterations in a single sequence. This is exactly what a premiere of TNG should include.
Another reason I like this episode is a little more controversial: Picard is kind of a jerk. For StarTrek.com’s Jordan Hoffman it seems like one of the main reasons for giving it a 1.5/5 rating. Most people think Picard (and especially Patrick Stewart) is still cool in this episode, but are put off by how mean he is. I actually liked it. I like how everyone is afraid of him. I like that he yells at Wesley, and hates kids, and forces Riker to prove himself. A lot of people appreciate the ways Picard is made to look different than Kirk in this episode (which I agree is good), but I kind of liked it when Kirk was mean too. I also liked it when Sisko was mean, and had problems with Janeway and Archer not being able to convincingly sell their toughness. It might just be personal taste, but seeing the aggressive or impersonal side of a captain adds a dimension of reality to a person with that position. Captains with a mean streak are awesome.
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