The stakes are very high on a show that takes its title from the Trek opening mantra — Where No One Has Gone Before. Even though a lot was riding on this episode, and I think it delivers. The crew and the viewer both go to unexpected places. This also sets up Wesley Crusher’s run on the show to be a short one.
We join the ship as it rendezvoused with the (which was an Excelsior-class vessel) out among the stars somewhere, to take on board a propulsion expert. The expert, Kosinski, has supposedly taken ships from the previous era and made them operate in tip-top shape.
On the bridge, Riker and Data both said that Kosinski’s new engine specs and numbers don’t make sense when tested. Picard argued with them, saying that Starfleet had several ships, which were doing better. Riker took point on the visitors when they beamed over.
When Kosinski beamed over, Troi, Riker, and Chief Engineer Argyle were there to greet him. It was strange to see Kosinski without a combadge. Not sure why he didn’t have one. Perhaps they needed to issue him one per the ship he was serving on.
Anyhow, Kosinski was super-duper arrogant. He didn’t want to deal with Riker; rather, he wanted Picard instead. Riker asked the other guy who beamed over what his name was. He said he was simply “Mr. Kosinski’s assistant,” as his name was unpronounceable by humans. Riker noted that the assistant was from Tau Alpha C, which is a very long distance away.
The assistant had two large fingers on each hand and a thumb — pretty cool stuff. Trek aliens often had the same type of hands as humans, which is … blah. We can’t expect all intelligent life to have descended from tree-grabbing creatures with five fingers.
Troi said that she could feel arrogance from Kosinski, but absolutely nothing from the assistant. She said he was a “puzzle.” She was right!
When Kosinski arrived in engineering, he immediately belittled Argyle as the chief engineer tried to ask a question. Kosinski told Argyle that he wasn’t a teacher, and would not become one (to catch Argyle up on the technique required to make the engines work as he said they would).
He tried to push on with his changes, but Riker demanded that he explain some of what he was planning to himself and Argyle. His assistant sat at an auxiliary panel and helped conduct the engine tuning. Wesley watched as he made the calculations with puzzlement. The assistant made a few adjustments, and so did Wesley, who said that after his modifications to the warp field, Kosinski’s experiment might work.
After a lecture by Kosinski, Riker and Argyle agreed to let Kosinski try to tune the engines.
As they hit Warp 1.5, Kosinski and his partner started their changes. The warp core began to pulse at an accelerated rate, and Kosinski got upset with his assistant. Something was wrong. To fix it, the assistant held both of his hands on the panel and phased in and out of sight. It looked like he was mind-melding with the ship.
The Enterprise shot past Warp 10, which is supposed to be impossible. Kosinski was silently freaking. Picard ordered an all stop. Geordi said they were two galaxies away from their own, in a galaxy called M-33. Data said they’d traveled over 2.7 million light-years. Geordi said it would take 300 years to get back home at maximum warp.
Picard was not happy.
Kosinski came to the bridge to explain to Picard, saying that he’d made a “wonderful, incredible mistake.” As he explained, Riker noted that it sounded like nonsense, but agreed that it must not be. Argyle said that a new warp scale should be created, known as the “Kosinski Scale.” Kosinski liked that.
In engineering, the assistant looked worn out. Wesley offered his mom for assistance. Wesley asked him if space, time, and thought were not separate… the assistant grabbed him and told him to never say something like that again.
Picard asked Kosinski if he could get them back. Kosinski said he could and left to get back to Engineering. After he left, the bridge crew badgered Picard with questions. Data suggested that they stay and study while they are so far out. Picard sort of liked that idea.
Which is a good point… they should have left a probe behind to collect information about this new, unexplored territory. That would have been fantastic, like a long-range NASA explorer.
Picard finally decided to go back, saying that once Starfleet figured out Kosinski’s method, they could send a purely scientific vessel to explore.
In engineering, Wes tried to tell Riker about what the assistant did (phasing out), but Riker brushed him off. The assistant was almost too tired to help this time but agreed to do so. As Kosinski was not able to get his formula to work, the assistant phased out again, but this time Riker watched it happen. The assistant fell in exhaustion.
Again the ship went far beyond where anyone had gone before… the visual effects on the crew (Data and Geordi) looked like what happened in ST:TMP when the Enterprise entered the warp bubble.
Picard ordered all stop. The ship appeared not to be in space anymore, but somewhere blue, surrounded by bubbles. They were now 1 billion light-years from their galaxy.
Soon after, the crew started seeing strange things. Worf saw a creature from the Klingon homeworld, Yar thought rape gangs were chasing her, Picard felt that he was going to fall out of a turbolift into space, then he had tea with his long-dead mother.
Picard confronted Kosinski about what happened, and Wesley told how the assistant phased in and out while the ship was at such high speeds. They realized that the assistant, not Kosinski was how they were able to go so fast and far. Dr. Crusher, though, said he looked like he was dying.
In sickbay, she struggled with his physiology as she tried to care for him. She did wake him, and he told Picard that he was a “traveler,” and he had no specific destination. He was just curious.
Picard asked if they were where the sensors said they were. The Traveler said that they were, and that “thought” was what brought them there. Kosinski noted that what the Traveller wanted them to believe was “magic” or “nonsense.”
Riker supposed that the Traveler was from a different time. The alien agreed with that. Riker asked why there were no records of previous visits from others in his race. The Traveller said that was because humans were not interesting until now. He said that he would try to get the Enterprise back.
The Traveler asked for a moment with the captain. He told Picard that Wesley was exceptional, and he had a talent for propulsion, energy, and time like Mozart had for music.
“Wesley is such a person… not with music but with the intricacies of time, energy, propulsion and the instruments of this vessel which allow all that to be played,” the Traveler told Picard. He asked Picard to encourage Wes, but say nothing to either the boy or his mother.
Before they tried to leave, Picard ordered the crew to stop thinking of anything outside their duty. He also asked them to think of giving their strength to “The Traveler’s” well being. Troi said she could feel the crew giving their thoughts to the Traveller.
The alien tried again to get the ship to the high speeds, but it was not working as it did before. Eventually, he phased out completely, and as he did, the vessel returned to its point of origin. The Traveler did not return this time.
Picard invited Wes to the bridge and asked him to sit next to Troi on the bridge. Riker said Wes was not allowed because he was not a commissioned officer. So Picard made him an acting ensign. Picard ordered Wesley to learn everything about the ship and send his application to Starfleet Academy.
TREK REPORT SUPPLEMENTAL:
A good one! In the end, it makes you wonder if the Traveler was there just to meet Wesley, or if that is a coincidence. We’ll all find out in the Season 7 episode — “Journey’s End.”
This episode was great because it pushed the defined boundaries of the show and the world of theoretical physics, as we know it. While not quite magic, it gave Picard and crew a bit of a slap in the face. Starfleet and all the beings in the galaxy were not as mighty as they thought they were. Q, aside, others lived on a level that was almost beyond human comprehension.
Interesting that “Where No One Has Gone Before” was about exploration, while “Where No Man Has Gone Before” was about battle, death, and strength. It seems that Trek evolved a bit.
RATING: 4 out of 5