It's been 30 years since Star Trek: The Next Generation took its maiden voyage with the two-part episode, "Encounter at Farpoint." From those mysterious beginnings, we spent seven seasons falling in love with characters who, three decades on, are some of the most beloved in the storied history of science fiction.
This week, we've been looking at quintessential moments for our (sometimes unexpected) favorite TNG characters. Sometimes the moments are funny, sometimes they're emotional, but they're all essential to what makes each of these people ones we love.
Here is one for each character analysis we've done so far. Links to the full articles below.
Beverly Crusher: Candle Enthusiast
One of the things that should 100% bother you is the lack of action Beverly Crusher gets in the seven years of Trek TV and four movies in which she appears. And you should especially be mad at Captain Jean-Luc "not in front of the men, Beverly" Picard. This dude gets so much play and leaves Beverly strung along the whole time. I can think of two aliens Beverly almost hooks up with before they either "evolve" into a genital-less, glowing bodystocking or become a woman. It's weird that people are still hetero in the 24th, but everyone's entitled to their freaky kinks, so let's all be cool to Bev on this one.
I also think it is very telling that most TNG fans hate on the Season 7 episode "Sub Rosa," in which Beverly finally, if briefly, gets hers. Please note: This happens shortly after "Attached," where Beverly and Jean-Luc are joined telepathically, and they still don't get down. If it doesn't happen, then, ladies... I mean, I'm no Dear Abby, but I think it's safe to say it's time to pull out the toys and take care of yourself.
And Beverly excels at that in "Sub Rosa," which is an episode wherein she discovers that her grandmother has a candle that houses a sex ghost in it. Yes. A "candle." Very subtle, TNG. And while the sex ghost does ultimately wind up being abusive, I will say that the moment in which Picard comes to Beverly's cottage, and she outright dismisses him so she can get her candle swerve on, is priceless. Jean-Luc is so jealous, meanwhile Beverly gets, uh... what she needs so hard her eyes literally change color.
But nothing is better than Crusher giving Jean-Luc a wicked case of the butt hurts. After seven seasons, the man was owed.
Guinan Explains Slavery to White People
If there's one thing for which Star Trek: The Next Generation is known, it's endless moralizing. I like it, personally. Morality plays done well are great and TNG had a solid track record with them. In fact, one of the first truly great episodes TNG had was an episode called "Measure of a Man," in which there is a hearing to decide whether or not Data has the right to decide his own fate. Is Data sentient? Is Data just a machine that is the property of the Federation and, blah, blah, blah we get it: this is about slavery. Set TNG moralizing to MAXIMUM SETTING.
But, wait, friend: you can't just have a great white hope roll in and solve slavery, because that's weird. Equally (if not more) weird would be to bring in Geordi to explain slavery, on account of LeVar Burton already played Kunta Kinte in Roots and, yeah... that would be a just a touch on the nose, don't you think?
Enter Guinan to calmly explain racism to Picard. The best moment from this conversation is when Picard figures out what Guinan is saying and calls slavery, you know, slavery. Then Guinan says "I think that's a little harsh" specifically to test Picard's wokeness. He passes, but he still had to have slavery spelled out for him so, uh... point to Guinan for being the only one to actually respect history in the 24th century, I guess.
Lwaxana Troi's Shakespearean Inspiration
Here's a list of things I know everyone loves:
1. TNG-era Ferengi
2. Riker/Troi romance subplots
3. Riker wearing a deep-v poet shirt tucked into his high-waisted parachute pants.
HAHAHA just kidding. That's the stuff of nightmares. And also, the fact that the episode corresponding with these horrors is called "Menage a Troi" is likewise worse than every "oh, no my teeth are falling out of my mouth" dream combined.
However, Lwaxana Troi is, as ever, the proverbial sunshine appearing on an otherwise cloudy day. She gets kidnapped (along with dummies Will and Deanna) by a Ferengi named DaiMon Tog. And the only reason Riker and Deanna get out of the situation is because Lwaxana agrees to be romantically entangled with Tog. But don't worry, because Lwaxana tricks Tog into hailing Picard and then tricks Picard into play-acting that he is in love with Lwaxana and will murder Tog if he doesn't give her up.
It's overwrought and hilarious. Lots of Shakespeare is involved. And, of course, it works. Once again, the day is saved thanks to Mrs. Troi, goddamned treasure to us all and, without her, Picard memes wouldn't as fun by half.
Worf's Drink of Choice
Yes, the prune juice is a quintessential moment. I bet you didn't even remember Guinan gives prune juice to Worf for the first time in "Yesterday's Enterprise" of all episodes. Yup. I bet you ain't even knew your favorite moment from one of the best TNG episodes of all time is Worf drinking juice from a prune. Welcome to your new reality.
Also, consider: TNG did not hold on to much, episode to episode. Sometimes Picard's Borgness gets a mention or two, Data's got an evil twin, Geordi fell in love with a lady on the holodeck, Riker... also fell in love with a lady on the holodeck.
But Worf's legendary love of prune juice is the thing that Star Trek writers snuck into casual dialogue constantly. Ronald D. Moore originally wrote the idea into "Yesterday's Enterprise" because of a TNG novel called "The Final Reflection" where the writer, John M. Ford, revealed that Klingons love fruit juice.
From those humble beginnings, there are no less than eight specific mentions of Worf's love of prune juice, not including all the times it's just sitting in his glass, thus making this the second most canonical drink-related character note (after Earl Grey, hot) concerning any Star Trek character ever.
Prune juice: savor the moment.