Friday, April 20, 2012

The First Duty

**** (4 stars out of 5)
Ah, school days! Those space ivy-covered walls and hallowed plastic halls of Starfleet Academy. Join me there now, won't you?

Back in the day, Riker's Superintendent was Vulcan, he had everyone's files memorized. (But had an embolism trying to figure out how Riker had time for so many nocturnal conquests...)

Picard's Superintendent was a fully telepathic Betazoid, so he never had to ask what you'd done wrong. (That and Cadet Picard looked both guilty and dapper in his stolen wigs...)

Wesley's is Admiral Brand, and she has to ask. At length. In an inquiry. But this time the wrongdoing is a humdinger, see?

Wes' Nova Squadron were practicing near Saturn's Flight Range, and Cadet Josh Albert died.

Charming Cadet Nick Locarno is in Fourth Year, and Second Year Wesley follows his lead. Third Years Jean Hajar & Sito Jaxa try, without success, to stop looking like someone put shit in their pants.

Picard, former wrestling and running star, thanks Our Favorite Martian Groundskeeper Boothby for helping him graduate... despite some problems. (Probably with the Superintendent's stolen wigs.)

Josh's dad returns a sweater his son borrowed from Wes for their ski trip to Calgary. Hee Hee! I'm extra tickled by this exchange, since I'm going to Calgary next week, but I'm not going to need a sweater at Comic Con! In fact, among hordes of excited, sweaty nerds I'd be better off in a nice, cool, metal bikini. Only then it would be everyone else who'd suffer.

The Vulcan Captain Satelk and Brand catch Wes in a lie: they have photo evidence that the ships were dangerously stunting! For shame!

Beverly and the crew still don't believe Wes would lie. Data and Geordi investigate. Team Dordi's analysis reveals Nova Squad was trying the plasma-igniting Kolvoord Starburst maneuver, banned 100 years ago when all five pilots fried like space bacon.

Boothby reminds Picard of the damage he did as a jock back in the twenties, and implies that Nova Squadron are this year's destructive heroes.

Picard breaks out a top drawer lecture for Cadet Crusher. "A lie of omission is still a lie... The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it's scientific truth or historical truth or personal truth. It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based!"

Unless, like Riker last month, you figure you can stop your smizmar being neutered. I'm just saying. Everybody lies when the motive is sufficient. (Psst: including Picard. Unless he would genuinely murder a Ferengi to win Lwaxana Troi's heart... I guess I wouldn't put it past him.)

Still, Nick tries to call Picard the liar, hoping to squeak through on lack of evidence. Wes chooses truth over loyalty.

Nick takes full responsibility and is expelled. The other three are reprimanded and their year's credits are cancelled. Wes' honesty earns him his Captain's respect and very probably a lot of suspiciously odd-tasting meals delivered from Hajar and Sito's replicators.

"The First Duty" is really great. Wil Wheaton's performance is top-notch and Robert Duncan McNeill (as Locarno) earned himself a spot later as Nick's identical cousin Tom. You bet I loved it. Do I ever not like a Wesley tale? My first duty is to the truth, after all.

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