‘Star Trek: TNG’ Retro-Recap: 33 Random Observations from ‘Encounter at Farpoint’

Over the course of a few stardates, I’ll be revisiting ‘Star Trek: The Next Generation’ episode by episode. So hop in your starship and cruise along with me, why don’t you? If anything, there should be quite a few fun “Caption this Picture” opportunities along the way.

Sadly, I was not into ‘TNG’ when I was young. My wife was, though. She loved it as much as a fat kid loves ice cream. Maybe more. This is probably my wife’s favorite television show, and she has no problem announcing that to the world. I’m a very late convert to the series, thanks to her.

The Details

Title: ‘Encounter at Farpoint’
Air Date: 9/28/87
Stardate: 41153.7

The first episode of the series is a strange one. The Enterprise is commandeered by a fancy-pants villain who has a real fetish for opulent costumes that look like they were stolen from a high school theater department. The villain’s name is Q and he’s somewhat of an intergalactic douche.

We also learn some key things about the crew aboard the Enterprise, such as how much Captain Picard hates children and just how terribly Wesley Crusher dressed for the entire series.

The 33 Random Observations
  1. Like Sean Connery, Patrick Stewart has no middle age. He’s always been old. This is apparent when he steps out of the shadows and into the light at the very beginning of the episode.
  2. The costume designers for ‘TNG’ must’ve been thinking about high definition when the show was in production. How else do you explain the bottom half of the men’s jumpsuits being black? Any other color and their bulges would’ve been on full display. Talk about awkward.
  3. I get why Q is so frightening on paper. If you saw, say, a Starfleet report on Q that called him “A mysterious entity that can conjure up anything he wants,” you’d probably be scared too. However, when Q finally appears on your starship dressed like a delusional theater student, most of that fear would vanish, right?
  4. During Q’s opening monologue about the pitfalls of humanity, Picard has the audacity to make fun of military uniforms worn in our day. Look in the mirror, Captain. Just look in the mirror.
  5. If this episode is ever remade into a movie, I predict that Jim Carrey plays Q.
  6. Centuries of history have passed between our time and the future in which the U.S.S. Enterprise patrols the cosmos. No doubt fashion trends have come and gone year after year. However, it seems that the Jessie Spano hair is back in style in the 24th Century. Thanks, Counselor Troi.
  7. I really do love the sets for ‘TNG’. Most of them, especially the generator room, make me feel like I’m in line for Space Mountain.
  8. The Enterprise separation is actually really cool and really unexpected if you’re watching the episode for the first time, but are still familiar with the design of the Enterprise itself.
  9. The strongest aspect of this episode, besides Q’s impeccable wardrobe, is that it really sets the relationships of the characters up well. In an hour and a half, we know that Riker and Troi have a cheesy love story past, that Worf is pissed at everything, that Data longs to be human, and that Picard really, really can’t stand children.
  10. Yes, the pilot episode does a very good job of setting up the series and its relationships as a whole, but honestly, what other franchise could get away with a premiere that’s so wacky? This episode is all over the place and features numerous “Holy crap, where is this coming from?” moments.
  11. Despite its silliness, and the introduction of a Genghis Kahn wannabe and his tiny bell-chiming assistant, Q’s trial does a pretty apt job of explaining the argument against humanity as a whole.
  12. I’m not afraid to say it. Smooth-shaven Riker is pretty damn studly.
  13. The one thing ‘TNG’ really knows how to do well is amplify every scene with completely obvious music choices that tell you exactly how you’re supposed to feel. Especially when you’re supposed to be suspicious of a certain character.
  14. Oh, Wesley Crusher. So eager. So annoyingly happy.
  15. I remember being completely and utterly amazed by the “beaming” in ‘Star Trek’ when I was a kid. I couldn’t get my head around how they did that, and couldn’t help but wish that I could transport at whim.
  16. While watching ‘Farpoint’, I had a thought: What would Malcolm Reynolds do if he was confronted by Q? After his hysterical laughing was over, of course. (Feel free to answer this question in the Comments section).
  17. I’m constantly amazed by all the technology onboard the Enterprise, until they get to the part where they have to reattach the ship to the saucer. All this technology and they have to do the reattachment of the two parts of the ship by sight and manual operation?
  18. Atop my favorite ‘TNG’ subplot list is Picard’s loathing of children. Whoever thought to make that a characteristic needs to be applauded. Every time he sees Wesley Crusher, you can tell that he’s more than a little peeved. This also leads to one of the most hilarious moments of this episode. Wesley appears in the Turbolift on the bridge and Picard exclaims, “What the hell!?” He wasn’t even that animated, or pissed off, when talking to Q and trying to save everyone’s lives.
  19. I still don’t understand how LeVar Burton was able to walk around on set with that thing on his face and not run into walls.
  20. Best Obvious Music Choice moment goes to the scene where Riker and Troi see each other for the first time and stare deeply into each other’s eyes. The cheesy love theme during that scene is priceless.
  21. The corny staring continues in the Turbolift where Riker and Troi eye-hump each other while Picard stares stalwartly forward, not noticing what’s happening right in front of him.
  22. If I had a Holodeck, I’d want it to look like the inside of the Enterprise complete with its own Holodeck. How many layers of Holodeck-iness would that create? Would it tear space and time?
  23. Wesley falls in water on the Holodeck. Is that real water, or just water being projected onto him?
  24. As much as I love this episode, craziness and all, Troi’s incessant exclamations of “Pain! So much pain!” really get on my nerves.
  25. Troi is exempt from wearing anything below mid-thigh.
  26. Wesley Crusher’s wardrobe consists of sweaters that look like he got from an aunt who likes to knit too much.
  27. It’s kind of unfair to attack a village made of mud and sticks with giant laser bombs. That said, if you had the power to use giant laser bombs, attacking a village made of mud and sticks seems like it would be a whole lot of fun.
  28. How much faster is a Turbolift from a regular elevator? It should be much faster, right?
  29. If I were to describe Picard’s state in this episode, overall, I’d say he’s in what I like to call Terse Mode. He’s permanently irritated the entire episode. Whether it be from a prissy costumed alien entity annoying him with games or a gaggle of kids on the Enterprise, Picard just isn’t happy.
  30. Zorn gets kidnapped and tortured by some unseen force. Zorn cries, “Stop the pain!” and then breaks out into a half-cry/half-laugh that could only happen if he was being tickle tortured.
  31. If you went into this episode not knowing anything about it, you were probably surprised by Q, right? But you accepted him because he was pretty amusing. Then you probably thought, “I can accept anything this show throws at me.” Now tell me, what did you think of the space jellyfish? Just when you thought this episode couldn’t get any wackier, in come the giant space jellyfish.
  32. I love the not-so-subtle glance between Riker and Troy after Picard comments on the jellyfish’s “mate.”
  33. Space jellyfish love is a beautiful thing.
Moral of the Story

Don’t piss off space jellyfish. They’re a vindictive bunch.

Caption This

Now we come to the audience participation part of the post. Please caption this picture with your very best and funniest comments. You will win mention in the next ‘TNG’ recap (‘The Naked Now’) and the adoration of your ‘TNG’-loving peers.


  1. Alex

    After the fall of King’s Landing, Tyrion Lannister had to take a job as gong-ringer at the Hunan Palace in West Hoboken.

  2. William Henley

    1) The ship was reattached manually because Picard was trying to impress Q. Kind of stupid, though. Why didn’t he just show Q how technologically advance humans were. Never understood Picard’s reasoning there.

    2) The water on the holodeck is real. A transporter takes matter, converts it to energy, then back into matter. Same principle on the holodeck – you just take energy and convert it to matter. It saves patters of people, places, objects, whatever. However, this brings up an intriguing idea – if the holodeck can almost instantly convert energy into a person or object or whatever, why the heck does the transporter sequence take so long? Looks like they need a transporter upgrade!

    • Tim Tringle

      Would you want your atoms shot half way across the cosmos without thousands of checks, double checks etc?

      That’s why it takes so long. Nobody gives a fig about a rock on the holodeck, but if you’re not careful on the transporter you could lose your dog for pete’s sake.

  3. MrAngles

    Smooth-shaven Riker has absolutely nothing on bearded Riker. Without the beard he loses at least 50% of his cocky “you know we’re gonna have sex later, right?” power.

  4. Pointless fact: The Enterprise saucer separation was originally storyboarded for the old ship in The Motion Picture, but never filmed, and was apparently even mentioned in the old series (though obviously never done or seen).

    Things I learnt as a kid watching Far Point… I came to hate any episode with Q. In fact I still hate anything that even the actor pops up in nowadays. Q is just THAT ANNOYING.

    Marina Sirtis can pretty much wear and do whatever she wants, and a scene will still be watchable. Even with the silly accent she puts on (She even said that she realised it was a terrible idea, and then tried to gradually to ease the character out of it!)

    As a kid, I wished Gurney Halleck would just whip out a weirding module and destroy Q that way…

    Space jellyfish are still less silly and annoying than Q…

  5. Photo Caption:
    “What the fek is that guy wearing red Lycra for? I thought we were doing an historical epic about Genghis Khan.”
    “I dunno, I just carry the bell and make things look quirky ‘cos I’m short.”

  6. One major goof in this episode is when the saucer section separates, how did it reach Farpoint without the lower section? The saucer section has no warp drive just slow impulse. Just wanted to point out one of the largest goofs of the series.

    • William Henley

      I always assumed that the seperation occured somewhere in the vicinity of Farpoint, and the drive section went back. Impulse power is still pretty darn fast – way faster than just thrusters. So this is still plausable if the saucer was seperated on the outskirts of this star system – the drive section could have gone on up to Farpoint, and the saucer section could have met up with them a few hours later.

      That being said, the script for this episode is still pretty weak.

      Interesting observation while watching Farpoint recently that I had. When they are in the caves, Picard is talking to Troi. She says “PAIN!”, then hits her com badge again and says something along the lines of “enourmous pain”. Why did she have to hit her com badge again if the channel was already open?

      Worf’s makeup looks AWFUL in HD on Encounter at Farpoint.

      Levar Burton could see through the visor because it was just a woman’s hair thingy spraypainted. In the extras on the Blu-Ray, he mentions that he actually liked that prop for the visor because he actually COULD see through it.

      I wish they had of killed Tasha off in Encounter at Farpoint. Then we wouldn’t have had to suffer through Code of Honor and Skin of Evil.

      • If they killed off Tasha this early then we wouldn’t have heard about her constant dodging of rape gangs on her home world. And then hearing the word rape said like 6 times during the first season. i swear of everything about her character, its the rape gangs i most remember

  7. Shannon Nutt

    Aaron…you forgot the BEST part about ENCOUNTER AT FARPOINT:

    “You treat her like a lady, and she’ll always bring you home.”

    Still one of the most memorable lines in the entire series.

  8. Paulb

    This episode (and the entire season) also highlighted how wimpy actors were back then. Any scene, including “Wesley” falling into water and “Data” pulling him out was done by a bad stunt double.
    The whole episode was funny for how you could see them standing doing nothing then ‘Line!’ with intensity then back to nothing. Especially when Q first appeared and security did nothing but after the opening interchange Tasha suddenly remembers her job.