Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 7 Episode 20

Journey's End

Aired Unknown Mar 28, 1994 on CBS

Episode Fan Reviews (8)

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out of 10
197 votes
  • Not as bad as other reviews seem to indicate.

    Not TNG at its greatest, but I found this a satisfying and touching end to Wesley's story. His interaction with Geordi shows us exactly what we all hated about Wesley in the beginning: self-important, arrogant, snot-nosed superiority... based on actual genius. This was a glimpse of his future at Starfleet: he would have revolutionized whatever field he entered, been hailed as a genius and have been utterly bereft of emotional or spiritual fulfillment, probably killing himself not long after. We see this all the time in our society: people at the top who are unfulfilled and feel nothing but pain and self-loathing.

    Instead, the Traveler fulfills an old promise and shows Wes a different path, not only completing a character arc, but doing something remarkable: transforming a hated character into an intriguing one. New Wes is open to the future instead of simply tripping over himself to live up to expectations. He is aware of a greater purpose to his life. He is firm in his moral convictions instead of being constantly plagued by doubts. (The scene where he stands up to Picard gave me chills. Picard has repeatedly masked his own doubts throughout the episode by stressing the inevitability of following orders. In one stroke, Wes shows Picard that there is always a choice to do what is right. The guilt on Picard's face as Wes walks out on him is palpable--after all, if he had enough moral courage, couldn't he resign his own commission?)

    Sure, new Wes is going off to rain chant and smoke hookahs. But these are just symbols for enlightenment to our unenlightened society: we think spirituality is strange and other-worldly, and involves hallucinogens and prayer circles. I think the reviewers who focused on "political correctness" here missed the point. Far from preachy and moralistic, I found the use of Native Americans here to be symbolic. Wes needed to be pushed onto a spiritual path, or he was going to self-destruct. He was past the point of learning anything from anyone at Starfleet; he needed to learn from a spiritually-oriented people. (Plus it looks as though he's going to get super powers in the deal, so yeah... so long Starfleet and pass the hookah.)

    Bevs does a great job conveying a mother letting go of her baby boy, something all mothers have to go through. Most of us live a goodbye scene like this at some point in our lives: going off to college, joining the army, moving cities, etc. If it were up to mothers we'd stay under their roofs forever, but at some point we have to defy them and go off to live lives of our own. The cast did a great job conveying the bittersweet parting between parents and son.

    Ultimately we are left with a feeling of mystery and hope for a character, instead of loathing him. Not a bad "Journey's End" for Wes at all.