“Final Mission” is the 83rd episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, and the ninth episode of the fourth season.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, after learning that he finally has been accepted into Starfleet Academy, Wesley Crusher welcomes Picard’s invitation to accompany him on an away mission that could resolve a mining dispute on an arid world. But following a shuttle crash and a near disastrous search for water that leaves the captain near death, Wesley finds himself charged with the weighty responsibility of keeping both himself and Picard alive until a rescue team can locate them.
The Enterprise has traveled to the Pentarus system where Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) must mediate a dispute among some miners on the fifth planet. Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton) receives word that he has been accepted to Starfleet Academy and, for his final mission, he will accompany Picard on his shuttle trip to Pentarus V. A distress call comes in from Gamilon V, where an unidentified vessel has entered orbit and is giving off lethal doses of radiation. Picard orders Riker to take the Enterprise to resolve that situation while he and Wesley travel in a shuttle sent by the miners, commanded by Captain Dirgo.
En route, Dirgo’s shuttle malfunctions and they are forced to crash-land on the surface of a harsh, desert-like moon. Though they are unharmed, the shuttle is beyond repair, and its communication systems and food replicators are disabled. Dirgo admits he has no emergency supplies on board, so they are forced to search for shelter and water. With his tricorder, Wesley identifies some caves and a potential source of water some distance away, and the three set out across the desert. Reaching a cave, they find a fountain-like water source, but it is protected by a crystalline force field. Dirgo attempts to use a phaser to destroy the field, but this activates a burst of energy from the fountain which encases the phaser in an impenetrable shell and causes a rock slide; Picard pushes Wesley out of the way but is severely injured in doing so.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise has arrived at Gamilon V, finding the unidentified ship is an abandoned garbage scow filled with radioactive waste. Their initial attempt to attach thrusters to the barge to propel it through an asteroid belt into the Gamilon sun remotely fails, and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) is forced to attempt to tow the barge themselves using the tractor beam, exposing the crew to the lethal radiation.
As Wesley continues to analyse the forcefield, Dirgo becomes impatient and attempts to breach the field again, but this time the energy burst encases him as well, killing him. Picard, weak from his injuries, gives Wesley advice about the academy, and tells him he is proud of him. Wesley refuses to give up. Meanwhile, the Enterprise, despite the rising radiation levels on board, which are nearing lethal, manages to get the barge headed into the sun and speeds off to help in the search for the shuttle.
Wesley continues to study the fountain, and devises a plan to disable the force field. He fires his phaser at the fountain to attract the energy defence mechanism, but reprograms it using his tricorder to disable the field instead, and is finally able to access the water.
Shortly thereafter, the Enterprise locates the wreckage of the mining shuttle, and Picard and Wesley are rescued. As Picard is carried from the cave, he tells Wesley that he will be missed.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Corey Allen.
- Writer(s): Kasley Arnold-Ince.
- Release Date: 02 December 1990.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.