**** (4 stars out of 5)
Final Mission? Well, that's a relief! I was beginning to wonder if I could keep at this nonsense much longer. It's been a good run, so I'll see you in the funny p... huh?
Oh, it's just a title. Like 'Final Frontier'.
YEARS to go yet! Making the most of it, babies!
Wesley gets to go to the Academy this year after all. Just a simple shuttle run dropping Picard out on Pentarus V first. Meanwhile, here's a distress signal from the Gamelans... GAH!
Good grief, Gamelans!
What the hell kind of evolution accounts for YOU?
How are you supposed to eat with those strands of tissue or whatever stitching across your mouths?
Anyway, some space-hole has left a horribly radioactive garbage scow in orbit of their world. I'm not sure radiation wouldn't HELP the Gamelans mutate into something more viable, but still, Riker has to haul the hazardous thing into the local sun without turning the crew into crispy critters.
Wesley, Picard and drunken nut-job mining shuttle captain Dirgo crash on Lambda Paz, a barely Class-M desert moon of Pentarus III. Dirgo packed medical supplies (primarily booze) but no food or water.
Thankfully, Gurney Halleck knows plenty about desert survival... uh, I mean, Picard.
Taking shelter in a cave, they discover a fabulous water fountain, zealously guarded by a forcefield and an energy sentry that encases marauders in deadly fibres.
"Enough thinking, it's time to do something," ends up being Dirgo's epitaph. When he is, predictably, encased in deadly fibres.
Wes tells the wavering semi-conscious Captain how lucky he feels to have served with him. How everything he does is an attempt to make Picard proud of him.
Picard tells Wes to look up Boothby, who helped him as a cadet. Boothby's been there forever, one of the wisest people Picard ever knew. He's the groundskeeper.
"Oh, I envy you, Wesley Crusher." Picard smiles. "You're just at the beginning of the adventure." And finally: "You remember... I was always proud of you."
Wesley works water wizardry with some unexplained tricorder antics and saves his Captain's life.
Dirgo's shuttle contained Sonodamite, the metal you can't name without snickering. But it sticks out like a sore thumb on this moon. Rescued! Commence snickering. Sonodamite!?
"Final Mission" is a worthy departure tale. When Picard tells Wesley he will be missed, he doesn't say by whom. And there were some who were glad to see the back of him. But I wasn't one of them. I love Wesley.
But my Final Mission is the married life, and even more than I loved Wes then, I love my wife now. I would brave deadly fibres and stultifying mortgages and deserts and radioactive barges, all for the sake of the font of love that is my lovely Trisha.
There is no better adventure, and no one I would rather share it with. Happy Anniversary, my beloved.