ST:TNG 5.19 The First Duty ~ Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch

An accident at The Academy involving Wesley brings tough decisions in 5.19 The First Duty.
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Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch continues with ...

The First Duty
Season 5, Episode 19

  • The Enterprise is heading to Starfleet Academy where Picard will be giving an address at Graduation, but news comes in that an accident has happened and Wesley was involved.
    Character Focus:
    • Wesleyis the focus here, and we get to see him in the setting of Starfleet Academy among 'friends' but more specifically facing the moral dilemma of whether or not to voice the truth at an inquiry after a big accident that resulted in the death of cadet Joshua Albert. Although he's not part of the regular cast in Season 5, this is the second time we are seeing him since being on break from The Academy in 5.06 The Game.
    • Cadet Nicholas Locarno, who leads the flight team that got into the accident with Wesley, and fellow cadets Jean Hajar and Sito Jaxa. And if Nicholas looks familiar, your Star Trek fandom colours are showing as actor Robert Duncan McNeill goes on to play Tom Paris in Star Trek: Voyager.
    • We also get a little historical on this one as Picard visits and speaks with the legendary groundskeeper Boothby, and it's inferred that Boothby nudged Picard to make the right decision about something back in the day that mirrors Wesley's dilemma in this episode.

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    Images Source: TrekCore

    What I remembered about this episode:
    • I remember this one as 'the big LIE!' episode, and how Wesley and the other cadets where covering up for doing something they weren't suppose to.
    What I noticed now, that I didn't notice then:
    • I really think Wesley would have spoken up sooner, he doesn't seem to be one to succumb to peer pressure which is what it feels like Nicholas Locarno was doing. But then I wonder if Wesley would do the same for the crew of The Enterprise, but then again they would never ask him to lie to basically save face.
    • I think what they cadets do, in terms of covering up the truth, is horrifying. Especially when they show Joshua's mourning father in the audience of the inquiry. Wesley does call Nicholas out saying he told them they wouldn't have to life, but the other cadets play it off that it makes no difference what they say because Josh is still dead, but it would make a HUGE difference to his family. Keeping the truth away from people can totally hurt them, and in this case could have left a huge stain on Josh's memory. It's always better to know.
    What feels different now, than then:
    • I never really 'got' (or cared about) the whole elite-ness of flight folk and piloting, but at least I now know it exists, so this one makes more sense in terms of the drive to be spectacular. And I learned that from Battlestar Galactica! What would I do without science fiction shows?
    • I had a hard time figuring out what the title meant, then or now, but there is a line about the heart of The Federation being seeking the truth, regardless of format.
    • I wish they were a little clearer on the incident that Boothby and Picard discuss, it might come up later in the series but I found it a little confusing here in terms of what they were saying happened and it's affect.
    What remained the same:
    • I've always felt very conflicted about the episode, because one part of me feels like it was only a matter a time before Wesley The Wunderkit got knocked down but then when it happens, it's awful. I also feel like it was a strike against being this daring maneuver something we couldn't easily imagine Riker or Picard doing and being a great anecdotal story they tell? And I really don't think it would take as long as it did for Wesley to fess up, and you can feel that as part of his character because even during most of the investigation no one considered *he* could be lying. It's just a drag to finally get to see him out on his own making decisions, and fall down so hard.
    • There is something in this episode that kind of feels like it's saying Wesley's personal skills and judgement isn't that great, or that being on The Enterprise put him at a disadvantage at The Academy, and neither of those ideas sit right for me.
    What I see differently:
    • It's really hard not to see the character of Nicholas as anyone other than Tom Paris from Voyager, especially because their characters are so similar in temperament and history.
    • In a way, I think they do present that Nicholas was honourable taking the majority of the blame for what happens citing he pushed the others to do it, but from what they show... he did push them into it. And he wanted to cover it up, and told Wesley if he had a problem with it to withdraw from the Academy. That isn't honourable.
    Great Quotes:
    • "You did what you had to do, you did what you thought was best. I just made sure that you listened to yourself." - Boothby, to Picard
    • "We thought we could do it. We thought we could do anything. We were wrong. And Josh died." - Wesley
    • "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. And if you can't find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don't deserve to wear that uniform!" - Picard
    Left off at:
    The cadets are just about to get off the hook for their actions when Wesley speaks up and admits they were trying to do the prohibited Kolvoord Starburst maneuver even though Josh wasn't ready for it. Nicholas ends up being expelled, and takes the responsibility that it was his doing and successfully appeals to the Academy not to expel the other cadets who in turn will have to repeat their year.

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