All Good Things... (Star Trek: The Next Generation)
|"All Good Things..."|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
Episode 25 & 26
|Directed by||Winrich Kolbe|
|Featured music||Dennis McCarthy|
|Cinematography by||Jonathan West|
|Production code||277 & 278|
|Original air date||May 23, 1994|
|Running time||105 minutes|
"All Good Things..." is the series finale of the syndicated American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It comprises the 25th and 26th episodes of the seventh season and is the 177th and 178th episodes of the series overall. The title is derived from the expression "All good things must come to an end", a phrase used by the character Q during the episode itself.
The plot involves Captain Jean-Luc Picard jumping through time and the formation of an anomaly that defies causality, the whole situation being a test that allows Picard to demonstrate human potential to the Q continuum by making an intuitive jump of thought to understand the cause of, and how to eliminate, the anomaly before it destroys humanity.
The finale was written as a "valentine" to the show's fans, and is now generally regarded as one of the series' best episodes.
Capt. Jean-Luc Picard inexplicably finds his mind jumping between three points in time: the present (stardate 47988); just prior to the starship USS Enterprise-D's first mission during the episode "Encounter at Farpoint", six years earlier; and over twenty-five years into the future, where an aged Picard has retired to the family vineyard in Labarre, France. These jumps occur without warning, and the resulting discontinuity in Picard's behavior leaves him and those around him confused.
In the present, Picard is ordered to take Enterprise to the edge of the Romulan Neutral Zone to investigate a spatial anomaly. In the future, he convinces his ex-wife, Dr. Beverly Picard, to take him on the USS Pasteur to find the anomaly. In the past, despite having Enterprise's mission to Farpoint Station cancelled by Starfleet to investigate the anomaly, Picard insists on continuing, believing the impending encounter with the omnipotent being Q to be more important. After reaching the place where he had first encountered Q and finding nothing there, Picard enters his ready room, only to find himself in Q's courtroom. Q reveals that the trial started seven years ago never concluded, and the current situation is humanity's last chance to prove themselves to the Q Continuum, but secretly reveals that he himself is the cause of Picard's time jumping. Q challenges Picard to solve the mystery of the anomaly, cryptically stating that Picard will destroy humanity.
As Picard arrives at the anomaly in all three time periods, he discovers that the anomaly is much larger in the past, but does not exist at all in the future. As the past and present Enterprises scan the anomaly with inverse tachyon pulse beams, Pasteur is attacked by Klingon ships, but the crew is saved due to the timely arrival of Enterprise under the command of Admiral William Riker. Q once again appears to Picard and takes him to billions of years in the past on Earth, where the anomaly, growing larger as it moves backwards in time, has taken over the whole of the Alpha Quadrant and has prevented the formation of life on Earth. When Picard returns to the future, he discovers the anomaly has appeared, created as a result of his orders, and the tachyon pulses from the three eras are sustaining it. Data and Geordi determine that they can stop the anomaly by having all three Enterprises fly into the centre of it and create static warp shells. Picard relays the orders to each Enterprise. Each ship suffers catastrophic damage, with Q telling the future Picard that "all good things must come to an end" just before the future Enterprise explodes.
Picard finds himself facing Q in the courtroom as before. Q congratulates Picard for being able to think in multiple timelines simultaneously to solve the puzzle, which is proof that humanity can still evolve, much to the surprise of the Q Continuum. Q admits to helping Picard to solve it with the time jumping since he was the one that put them in this situation, and then goes on to explain that the anomaly never actually existed and that his past and present have been restored. He then withdraws from the courtroom and bids farewell to Picard by saying "See you ... out there". Picard then returns to the Enterprise of the present, no longer jumping through time.
As the senior staff plays their regular poker game, they reflect on the details of the future the captain related to prevent them from drifting apart. For the first time, Picard decides to join the game, expressing regret he had not done so before.
Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga expected Michael Piller or Jeri Taylor would write the finale; consequently, they wound up writing "All Good Things..." concurrently with Star Trek Generations, often confusing aspects of the two. The finale took a month to write.
The idea of what the series finale should be about had been a matter of discussion in the writers' room for a year or two prior to the finale being written. The writers knew early on they wanted to do a Q show, a "bookend" to the entire series. An early draft of the script for the episode included a section with Captain Picard as Locutus of Borg, but was cut on the insistence of Michael Piller, the show's head writer and one of its executive producers, who thought the show worked best with fewer timelines to jump between. According to Braga, Hugh, the rescued Borg from "I, Borg" would have appeared, rescuing Picard from the Borg Collective. Also cut from the script was a segment where the crew had to steal the Enterprise from a Starfleet museum (similar to events in the movie Star Trek III: The Search for Spock). The final scene, in which the crew play a hand of poker together, was the last scene shot for the show.
As the final scenes were filmed on the last day, the support staff and production crew came down to the set to see the end of the shoot on the series.
A behind-the-scenes retrospective documentary called Journey's End: The Saga of Star Trek: The Next Generation, hosted by Jonathan Frakes, was filmed at the same time as the finale was being produced.
Both parts of "All Good Things..." were first broadcast on May 21, 1994, in broadcast syndication. It received Nielsen ratings of 17.4 percent, placing it in first place in its timeslot. This was the highest ratings received by any episode of the season, and of the series. Until the broadcast of the episodes, the previously highest rated broadcast of The Next Generation had been the pilot episode, "Encounter at Farpoint", with Nielsen ratings of 15.7 percent.
The episode ranked fifth in Entertainment Weekly's list of top 10 Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes. USA Today called the two-part finale a "picture-perfect" ending to the series, giving it 3 1/2 stars out of 4.
Later critical commentary has also been positive. Zack Handlen of The A.V. Club gave both parts of the two-hour finale an 'A' rating. Writing for Tor.com, Keith DeCandido lauded the episode; comparing it favorably against other Star Trek series finales, he felt that "All Good Things..." is "the perfect ending to [The Next Generation]", bringing events full circle back to series premiere "Encounter at Farpoint", showcasing the talents of the entire cast, as well as keeping its optimistic "Roddenberrian view of humanity." A similar view was described in Marcus Berkmann's book Set Phasers to Stun: 50 Years of Star Trek; "this episode is about symmetry, squaring the circle, giving shape to the series and also to the universe in which the series exists."
In his seventh season overview at Tor.com, DeCandido reiterated that the episode was "quite the perfect finale for the show," and was up there alongside the best episodes of the seventh season, including "Parallels", "The Pegasus", and "Lower Decks".
Home media release and other adaptations
"All Good Things..." was also released as a standalone Blu-Ray release with exclusive features.
A novelization of the episode was published by Pocket Books in June 1994. It was written by Michael Jan Friedman in two weeks. It was published in hardcover and as a result, Friedman looked to expand on the episode to warrant the release. Scenes featuring Katherine Pulaski, Lwaxana Troi and Wesley Crusher were added. He suggested that the inclusion of further scenes with other characters made the novelization more of an ensemble piece rather than the actual episode which is very Picard focused. It was one of five novelizations to be made of The Next Generation episodes, alongside "Encounter at Farpoint", "Unification", "Relics" and "Descent".
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