“The Big Goodbye” is the twelfth episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. The episode first aired in broadcast syndication on 11 January 1988.
This was the second writing credit of the series for Tracy Tormé following the episode “Haven”. Rob Bowman planned to direct the episode, but he was switched to “Datalore” due to delays in its production. With Bowman working on another episode, Joseph L. Scanlan became the director.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the crew are sent to open diplomatic ties with the Jarada. While taking a break from preparations, a computer malfunction traps Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart), Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner), and Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) in a 1940’s-style gangster holodeck program with Captain Picard playing the role of detective Dixon Hill.
“The Big Goodbye” is the first episode to significantly feature the holodeck. Tormé credited Gene Roddenberry with the idea for the detective novel, with Tormé employing the film noir style using references to The Maltese Falcon (1941). Lawrence Tierney, who appeared in film noir movies in the 1940s, guest stars as Cyrus Redblock. The Dixon Hill setting reappeared in two later episodes in the series and in the film Star Trek: First Contact (1996).
11.5 million viewers watched “The Big Goodbye”; critical reception was mixed. One reviewer found it too similar to The Original Series episode “A Piece of the Action“. Other reviewers complained about the holodeck but praised Tierney’s performance. The episode won an Emmy Award for Outstanding Costumes for a Series and is the only Star Trek episode to ever win the Peabody Award.
The Enterprise heads to Torona IV to open negotiations with the Jarada, an insect-like race that is unusually strict in matters of protocol. After practicing the complex greeting the Jarada require to open negotiations, Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) decides to relax with a Dixon Hill story in the holodeck. Playing Detective Hill in the holoprogram, Picard takes up the case of Jessica Bradley (Carolyn Allport), who believes Cyrus Redblock (Lawrence Tierney) is trying to kill her.
Picard decides to continue the programme later and leaves the holodeck to affirm their estimated arrival at Torona IV. He invites Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) and visiting historian Dr. Whalen (David Selburg) to join him in the holodeck. While Crusher is still preparing, Picard and Whalen are ready to enter the holodeck when Lt. Cdr. Data (Brent Spiner) arrives, having overheard Picard’s invitation.
Entering the holodeck, the three discover Jessica has been murdered in Picard’s absence. As Picard explains that he saw Jessica at his office the day before, Lt. McNary (Gary Armagnac) brings Picard into the police station for questioning as a suspect in her murder. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is scanned from a distance by the Jarada, causing a power surge in the holodeck external controls. Dr. Crusher later enters the holodeck, first experiencing a momentary glitch with the holodeck doors, and joins her friends at the police station.
The Jarada demand their greeting earlier than the agreed time and are insulted at having to talk to anyone other than the Captain. The crew try to communicate with Picard in the holodeck but find it impossible; the Jarada signal has affected the holodeck’s functions, preventing the doors from opening or allowing communication with the crew inside.
Lt. Geordi La Forge (LeVar Burton) and Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) attempt to repair the holodeck systems, while inside the holodeck, the group returns to Dixon’s office. Mr. Leech (Harvey Jason) appears having waited for Picard, demanding he turn over an object he believes Jessica gave him. When Picard fails to understand, Leech shoots Dr. Whalen with a gun, and the crew discovers that the safety protocols have been disabled as Whalen is severely wounded.
As Dr. Crusher cares for his wound, Picard and Data discover the holodeck is malfunctioning and they are unable to exit the program. Mr. Leech is joined by Redblock and continues to demand the object. Lt. McNary arrives and becomes involved in the standoff. Picard tries to explain the nature of the holodeck, but Redblock refuses to believe him.
Outside, Wesley finds the glitch, however he cannot simply turn off the system for fear of losing everyone inside. Instead, Wesley resets the simulation, briefly placing Picard and the others in the middle of a snowstorm before finding themselves back in Dixon’s office. With the reset successfully clearing the malfunction, the exit doors finally appear.
Despite Picard’s warnings, Redblock and Leech exit the holodeck, but dissipate as they move beyond the range of its holoemitters. As they leave the holodeck, Picard thanks McNary, who now suspects that his world is artificial and asks whether Picard’s departure is “the big goodbye”, to which Picard replies that he simply does not know. Picard reaches the bridge in time to give the proper greeting to the Jarada. The Jarada accept the greeting, heralding the start of successful negotiations.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Joseph L. Scanian.
- Writer(s): Tracy Torme.
- Release Date: 11 January 1988.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.