The First Duty

Wesley Crusher is a pilot on an elite team of flyers. Yeah. We are not sure when that happened either. Tragedy has hit the team though. A crash has led to the death of a member of Nova Squadron. They say it was an accident, and it probably was. Still, the members of the team know more than they are telling. It is up to Captain Picard and Groundskeeper Boothby to bring the truth to light. Or to get Wesley to do it. Find out what happened when we put The First Duty in the Mission Log.

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  1. Dave Steph Taylor says:

    The biggest issue I have is that Wesley only fesses up after Picard confronts him.

    Also fun to see Paris before he was Paris

    • Durakken says:

      But then the episode would be vastly different… But Wesley should indeed have come clean immediately. It makes me wonder what he learned from the crew that makes him not come forward immediately,..

      • Dave Steph Taylor says:

        Yup. He is going along with the plan until Picard gives him the lecture.

        • CmdrR says:

          Wesley loves the org chart.
          He’s following Nic’s lead before reverting to the Enterprise hierarchy.

          • deaddropsd says:

            would have been better if Wesley had a spine implanted a la Worf and stood up from the beginning and maybe even got beaten up or threatened….I always wished Starfleet Academy came after DS9, and that VOY never was made. Starfleet Academy could have been 2-3 years after DS9, rebuilding the fleet, rotating/killable cast to keep it fresh. Guest star instructors. Away field trips or study abroad on other planets/colony possibilities….interspecies sex issues, college stress, cheating, career counseling. This would have been around the time “Dawsons Creek” and all the glut of teeny bopper shows were coming out. At least that’s how my mind recalls that time frame….

      • mc900 says:

        We see time and time and time again how powerful loyalty is in Starfleet and to one’s crew. How many times with Riker- Obrien- Geordi have we seen a character have to choose between either what is the right thing to do or between a former commanding officer and loyalty to their current captain. It happens all the time- and illustrates the strength and coniditiniong of the millitary-(like) bond of those who serve together. Wesley is just conforming that kind of relationship. But in the end does follow his path to the right thing to do while honoring his bond with his squad mates.

  2. Durakken says:

    I want Picard to scream at Wesley, “I AM THE LAW!”

    I’m glad that the issue with Locarno came up because Nick Locarno doesn’t flow off the tonuge nor does Bellana Locarno. Also Locarno’s story doesn’t mesh as well as Paris’ ultimate backstory where he was with the Maquis.

    • Mike Lacroix says:

      “I AM THE K.R.O.s!!”

    • Earl Green says:

      I seem to remember reading in Stephen Edward Poe’s book tracing the development of Voyager that Paris was indeed originally meant to be Locarno, but the producers decided that Nick Locarno’s sins were a little too much for a character that we were supposed to end up rooting for, so they built a somewhat similar character with a different, less dishonorable backstory, but still invited Robbie McNeill to audition for it. Similarly, the earliest development docs didn’t have a holographic doctor, but rather Moriarty (!!) or something similar (probably something out of copyright, like all the music that everyone listens to in the 24th century), a hologram flirting with self-awareness and sentience, and only later did it become the EMH. It’s a pretty fascinating book if you get a look at it; Voyager had a really bumpy road from “we’re starting a Paramount network and we want the TNG people to come up with yet another Star Trek series”, to the show that we got, not least of which because there was a network with its fingers in the pie for the first time since ’74.

      Which I suppose is a really long-winded way* of saying that the distance from Locarno to Paris may not be as wide as you might expect!

      * just about the only way I operate, sorry!

      • CmdrR says:

        There are reports, too, that continuing the Locarno character would have meant paying royalties to the writers of “The First Duty”… for every Tom Paris episode in ‘Voyager.’ That’s a lot of quatloos.

      • deaddropsd says:

        what a total shame. I really wish Locarno and Dr Selar could have made it on board Voyager. The appearance of TNG S3 super soldier Roga Danar as the doctor for 7 minutes before his death…so pointless. Also the first officer of Voyager who also died immediately was just so throw away….could have had them live for a few episodes I think….more drama, fleshing out…sigh…and the Betazoid pilot…

    • deaddropsd says:

      what about Wesley “YOU CAN’T HANDLE THE TRUTH!!”- lol

  3. Earl Green says:

    You know, on further reflection…the TV Guide log line for this one may actually give away too much. You’d think one of the publicity department’s first duties is to not spoil it for everyone!

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/f501c58577e2e42af5b0beacbb6de8a8f185a1c7ef7da1862fc55b2971ed8d5f.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/8f06fdbb6a3ef34459d093e64257d774f20116fc7a6ba157d70a5ee7ebef3a28.jpg

  4. Earl Green says:

    So Mimas is now an evac station? That cracks it, I’m required by federal geek law to point this out:
    That’s no small moon, that’s a space station.
    (Mimas as seen by Voyager 1, 1981)

  5. Earl Green says:

    I’m gonna shamelessly cut and paste (and maybe refine) something I fired off as a response to one of the Facebook posts for this episode, in response to someone being disappointed in Wes for going along with Locarno: Wesley’s service aboard the Enterprise actually primed him to fall for Locarno’s okeydoke here. Like it or not, Picard is a legend in his own time; Picard himself would probably find it distasteful at the very least, but Picard carries around his own little cult of personality, whether he’s aware of it or not. Remember the conversation between Riker and Picard in Pen Pals? “When Picard gives an order, does anyone question it?” “No way.” Or something along those lines. In a way, Wesley is actually *uniquely* groomed to fall for the next charismatic commander under whom he serves, because he’s going to be looking for that commander to be another Picard. How many of these cadets have already served aboard a ship under someone like Picard before even enrolling in the Academy? I’m gonna guess that you could count that category on one finger, and that finger points straight at Wesley. So that part of the story, I totally buy. It doesn’t break Wesley’s character; it makes sense.

    The growing unease at post-Roddenberry Trek humanizing its characters almost to a fault, with sometimes very 20th/21st century foibles, has been a steady undercurrent with discussion of the fifth season; I feel like I’m gonna have to chip in and buy Ken some aspirin by the time we close out Deep Space Nine. Some of this, I get – there seems to be a widening gulf between Who We Say We Are and Who We Actually Are When Nobody’s Looking in the previously “perfect” enlightened Starfleet characters. I also get that, while this may be disappointing to those of us who like the idea that humans will collectively decide to be better in the future, it also loosens some strangulating limitations on actually making relatable drama. But I also feel that The First Duty is still quintessentially Roddenberry-ish: Picard gives Wesley a dressing-down like no other because Wesley is failing to be better. 24th century humanity clearly has some kind of social contract, and Wesley just broke it, big time. Does this make Wes better or worse than, say, Harry Mudd? After all, Harry hasn’t – so far as we know – caused anybody’s death. That’s an argument that could go on for days. But they’ve both broken that contract – as people seem to do in the background of Trek all the time: Gary Mitchell, Garth of Izar, Captain Merik, Ben Finney…it’s really quite a list. So is it that humanity is idealized in the future, or is it just that Starfleet is striving to admit only the best and the brightest, and the rest of humanity is still much as it is today, aside from the whole wanting-for-nothing thing that’s implied? That would be…disappointing…but perhaps a more realistic expectation than the utopia that’s often assumed.

    And hey, how’d Locarno slip through the fingers of that system that detects the seeds of criminal behavior? Oh, wait, we’re sweeping that under the rug with Turnabout Intruder’s all-captains-are-men thing, aren’t we? Good idea!

    • deaddropsd says:

      yup…lots of character flaws in those references! I think Nova Squadrons return in DS9 “Valiant” is the closest thing to a follow up to this episode…the charismatic, dashing young officer, glory hungry leading his followers to ruin. Great analysis.

    • wchmara says:

      This episode teaches us that a lie by omission is still a lie. Which contradicts Spock, who told the Romulan Commander in “The Enterprise Incident” that keeping the truth to oneself is no lie.

  6. Konservenknilch says:

    One thing that always bugs me in ST (and most other SF shows) is the way they handle flying. You mentioned the ludicrous speeds in the podcast already. So the red squad, and, later, Tom Paris are the best pilots in the Federation, but all they do is beep-boop-beep, and let the computer do the rest. What’s the big piloting there? What could you even do with real-time piloting? At least Riker used a good old SideWinder in ST9. For a good story about space combat at relativistic speeds, I’d recommend Joe Haldemans “Forever War”. Great stuff. Not very screen-compatible though.

    Otherwise, good episode. Very messagy, but a good example of what TNG could do.

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      Thus the Delta Flyer in Voyager.

      But ya, even today, much of piloting is automatically controlled.

    • nathankc says:

      Riker flew manual in the first episode as well – and it was clearly meant to be a test of both skill and guts

  7. Wildride says:

    Everyone was touching Tara Firma, so she left.

  8. Wildride says:

    I wonder if Wil hadn’t decided to leave the show, if Wesley’s arc would’ve been the same. This episode is sort of the midpoint of his realization that maybe he shouldn’t just be following in his father’s footsteps. There are various clues early on at how he bristles at authority, once Wil left the show, the few appearances he makes shows a huge swing in characterization. If he stayed, he might’ve still gotten there, but it would have been a gradual process.

    The real problem with Nova squadron is hubris. I think being held back a year really helped knock that out of Ensign Sito (looking ahead) but did nothing for Wesley (we never meet the rest again, so can’t judge). Ultimately Starfleet just isn’t the place for him, nor for Locarno. Which can happen: You start down a path you think is right for you and you don’t question it until things start to go wrong. Must be hard to settle into being a cadet after his stint in the Enterprise, especially with the warp field, Traveler powers that he’s already demonstrated.

    It’s possible what Boothby did with Picard was convince him to come forward with something, for which he was forgiven, instead of letting him just abandon the academy after his mistake. If that was the case, then it’s OK for Picard lecture Wesley. However, if Boothby helped him avoid coming forward, then Picard is a hypocrite. So we kinda do need to know what happened. Was it Nausicaan related, maybe?!? Then again, maybe Picard had mistakenly accepted blame on behalf of another and Boothby convinced him not to shelter the truly culpable party. *shrug*

    • Earl Green says:

      Jumping ahead a bit, even though it was perhaps a bit more compact than this seemed, I liked what they would do later on DS9, with Commander Sisko basically telling Jake, “Hey, you’re gonna pick up a combadge and some tools and go work with Chief O’Brien,” and then some time later Jake saying that he really wasn’t cut out for Starfleet. You have so many people whose families have been in Starfleet for ages – the Crushers are on generation two, Sulu’s daughter goes into Starfleet, and then you look at the considerable pressure that Tom Paris would find himself under in Voyager, *even with his family halfway across the galaxy*, and so it’s interesting, perhaps more interesting, to see someone opt out completely. Having been the one kid in a transportation/logistics family to say “Hey, I want to do computers and journalism and video editing instead of going into the business that literally everyone else in my family is in”…I can tell you, it leads to interesting discussions. Attach something even vaguely military to the “family job” and I’m sure it just ratchets up that pressure.

      Man, I’d forgotten about the Traveler powers (thank goodness) ever since the writers turned Wesley into Completely Accessible College Student. I’m guessing it’d raise way too many questions if he used his not-really-well-defined powers to shift everyone’s undergarments two meters to their left at the next student mixer. (Sorry, I think it was a horrible, horrible idea for Remember Me to hint that Wesley was basically a Traveler-in-training, and an even worse idea for that idea to come back in Wesley’s last guest appearance in season seven.)

      • deaddropsd says:

        Conversely, I liked the redemptive nature of Nog’s transformation from young punk to Starfleet officer…such great character development in DS9….

    • Konservenknilch says:

      What I like about this episode is that it shows us the dark side of Star Trek’s whole premise. We always follow the best and brightest. They can do anything, overcome any opposition. They always stick together as a family. Nova squadron tried to be this as well, but not everything went right for a change, and… boom.

      • deaddropsd says:

        Yup. Despite Gene’s sometimes unrealistically bright hopes for the future, imo, there will always be some of the darkness…. his thoughts and views are to be aspired to…

    • deaddropsd says:

      The concept of Wesley/Roddenberry was poorly executed on many levels imo. Just added a campy feel to have a whiz kid solve issues trained Starfleet officers failed at…his Level Up to Traveler potential in the 3rd episode really tainted him imo. Just too OverPowered. A thoroughly unrelatable character….bummer. The family on ships concept again…ugh…

  9. fledermaus23 says:

    Here’s what I don’t get: Suppose that this all went off without a hitch, they do the Kolvoord Starburst, nobody dies and they all high five back at the base. Why wouldn’t they still be in very serious trouble? It’s still a banned formation and puts people and ships at risk. I really doubt the army would shrug at me juggling hand grenades just because none of them blew up

  10. CmdrR says:

    Write as I’m listening. I usually listen first thing, but… work, amiright? So… space physics goes out the porthole in this episode. Yeager loop? To simulate a loop (with the feel of an in-atmosphere bank) would mean firing attitude jets virtually non-stop, rather than vectoring to wherever you wanted to go. Then there’s Wesley’s injury, a broken arm. Um? You’re going many thousands of miles an hour. You’d break more than an arm; you’d be mush. Also, isn’t plasma minimum 5,000 degrees anyway? How do you then “ignite” it? I’m no physicist; maybe you just light a match. Whatever… All that said, this ep focuses on the characters and gives us Boothby. Yay! I do like to see our perfect heroes make mistakes. I don’t want it all the time, but I want to know it’s possible. Yes, he gets a firm “You see, Wesley” !! Another good podcast, guys. Keep it up. You only have 10-12 more years of Trek (not counting the new series and more movies). Don’t forget to do the novels!

    • All the novels? Oh no – we could be at this for decades…

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      Ah, don’t try and bring actual space flight into this 😉

    • Konservenknilch says:

      Hah, I thought exactly the same about the plasma thing. It’s already superheated matter anyway, that’s the whole deal with how fusion reactors work. If anything, it will ignite other things.

      It’s just one in the long tradition of using cool words you picked up in a completely arbitrary way. I mean, a laser can do ANYTHING, right? You just have to roll with it and accept that it’s a fictional and often magical world, as long as it doesn’t get too crazy.

      • Durakken says:

        There are people that argue that space fighters will never exist and because ST tries to aim for more realism they don’t use them…. That’s completely wrong, but so are the fighters we see in most of those other IPs so oh well.

        • Konservenknilch says:

          Yeah, space combat is one of those things that we nerds all love, but of course it makes no sense. Even fast fighters seem to fly slower than current airplanes, the whole naval analog of carriers/fighters popularized by Star Wars, the list goes on. But who cares, it’s fiction, very entertaining and oh so pretty. It just needs to stay internally consistent.

          • Durakken says:

            Space combat is likely going to be a thing. In fact Star Wars has the right idea with the AI/Human co-pilot thing, but they will likely be far better designed than what we see in SW or any other SF series we’ve seen. The main reason people people think fighters won’t be a thing is because smart ammunition which is one of the tactically dumbest things someone could do, because there are so many vectors to nullify them pretty easily.

          • CmdrR says:

            If aerial dogfights offer only a slim chance to survive, space skirmishes with fighters offer none. If the enemy takes out your capitol ship, you are in a limited range vessel. You’ll soon die breathing your own farts. In Trek, SW, BSG, et al all ships do all things, but that is not realistic. Bigger really is better.

          • Durakken says:

            I don’t disagree that there are problems with fighters but there are problems with larger ships too. That’s why we have an array of types of ships and frankly not having fighters is fairly dumb for a big ship because if we put populations on ships, which we will, we’re going to have ships that have x amount of things to do during combat and that x amount of things is lower than the number of people on board so it just becomes obvious that I’m going to want to have fighters for those people that can’t fulfill the other roles.

            Also keep in mind that more than likely there will be “stations” and large ships that just makes sense to have fighters as another layer of defense that they can carry with them. And do realize that the fighter role is largely defensive, not offensive, in space. A fighter will provide a layer like shields against large ship ammunition and act as disruptions to other fighters to reduce that layer of defense. I’m talking specifically of fighters, not bombers btw… which will also exist but obviously are offensive only craft.

      • Dave Steph Taylor says:

        As explained to us from Star Wars, “Well, the Empire doesn’t consider a small one-man fighter to be any threat, or they’d have a tighter defense.”

        • deaddropsd says:

          Valkyries per the PS2 game Star Trek Armada…. sorta fun.. great Star Wars ref, yeah, just like some think infantry will be outmoded by big ship wars..sometimes you gotta get your hands dirty. Starship Troopers/ DS9 ground troops….MACOs….Colonial Marines, hahaha

      • deaddropsd says:

        lol, how about super thick jet fuel syrup!!??

    • Durakken says:

      Plasma may refer to something else or “cold plasma” both are possible but it’s never fully explored, and why would it?

  11. Janitorbob says:

    As to the inquiry starting late in the day, 13:00 and 15:00 hours, etc. My assumption is that they’re at Starfleet Academy so the Admirals probably teach as well as run the place. So the inquiry is probably taking place after classes.

  12. Durakken says:

    Just wanted to report I ordered the eaglemoss model thing, cuz I simply want the first one for a good christmas gift… and I have run into a major turn off for me. I have to call to unsubscribe from it rather than there being an unsub anywhere on the page or linked to.

    And then if I want to resubscribe I have to start from the beginning it seems which is also bad.

    Any company that makes it hard for me to unsubscribe and pick back up is pretty much a massive turn off that is almost certainly going to result in a no go, especially something like this as $40 a month is quite an expensive investment for some of the more broke among us.

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      You can always buy them individually, but they run a bit more.

      Send them some feedback, maybe they can fix that.

  13. This was a very good podcast, as usual. But to be honest, it was the last two minutes where you clearly weren’t talking about Star Trek any more that brought me to tears. Literally. Thank you for that.

  14. JimgDenver says:

    I spent the first years of TNG in the “never Wesley” camp. I was in my early 20’s and found nothing even remotely relatable about the character. This is the episode that completely redeems the character in my book. Wesley comes alive in a very real way in this episode. Fantastic performances and amazing writing. This episode is one of my top 5 TNG episodes!

    • Durakken says:

      He’s not the worst character in ST. Chakotay is. Wesley they realize how bad of a character he is and change him as well as push him out of the series. Chakotay they at times double down on.

  15. Phillip Dycaico says:

    It appears that Star Fleet is constantly in conflict with whether want cool, obedient officers are charismatic risk takers. They need both. While the banned stunt is dangerous. The leader was able to motivate a top team to attempt it. Kirk said “danger is our business”. Space exploration needs both the cowboy and the cool diplomat, the Kirk and Picard.

  16. deaddropsd says:

    I thought “Bones” was 137….? lol, I think people in the 24th, age more gracefully and live longer…not all of em though…just in general…

  17. Wildride says:

    Picard: “Your first duty is to the truth!”
    Crusher: “I’m with Starfleet: We don’t lie.”
    Picard: “But you, uh, wait — You don’t have to tell me, uh — I don’t even know how to respond to that.”
    Crusher: “Well then, my work here is done.”
    *Crusher returned to his home planet*
    Picard: “You come from Earth, idiot. That’s where we are now. You didn’t go anywhere.”
    Crusher: “Fine, but there’s no longer any need to address me.”
    Picard: “This scene went a really different way than I expected when we started.”
    Crusher: “Tell me about it. Or, wait: Don’t. Again, no need to address me.”
    Picard: “Are you just trying to get the last word?”
    Crusher: “Yes — Yes, I am.”

  18. John Anderton says:

    Great episode — of JAG!!

  19. Michael Richmond says:

    http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Franklin_Mint They had a deal, it seems. (Franklin Mint.)