106 "Where No One Has Gone Before"

(airdate: October 26, 1987)

Writer: Diane Duane and Michael Reaves [and Maurice Hurley, uncredited]
Director: Rob Bowman

Kosinski: Stanley Kamel
Chief Engineer Argyle: Biff Yeager

The Traveler: Eric Menyuk
Maman Picard: Herta Ware

Stardate: 41263.1

Captain's Log: A Starfleet propulsion specialist named Kosinski and his alien assistant have arrived aboard the Enterprise to fine-tune their warp engines, even though both Riker and Chief Engineer Argyle think Kosinski's equations are gibberish. Nevertheless, Kosinski is allowed to proceed, but during the test flight something unusual happens, causing the ship to exceed warp 10 and travel 2.7 million light years. When they attempt to recreate the conditions and return home, however, the Enterprise instead finds itself in a strange realm where thought is made manifest. The crew discovers that it's not Kosinksi who caused this but rather his assistant, a traveler with certain abilities that give him an understanding of propulsion via the focusing of thought; however, the Traveler made some mistakes which led the Enterprise to its current location. The Traveler is very weak but agrees to attempt to return home; buoyed by the well-wishes of the crew, he manages to return the Enterprise back where it started, although the Traveler himself phases out of existence.

Whoops!: Kosinski talks of applying energy "asymptomatically". [He probably means "asymptotically", as in relation to an asymptote.]

Classic Lines: Riker: "You are from a different time, aren't you?" Traveler: "Well, no, not exactly from another time. Although as you understand the concept, yes, perhaps that term fits as well as any." Riker: "And you have this ability to travel. ... And others of your kind have the same ability? ... Then why, in all of our history, is there no record of you or someone like you ever having visited us?" Traveler: "What wonderful arrogance. There is no record because we have not visited you before. ... Up until now, if you'll forgive this, you've been uninteresting. It's only now that your life form merits serious attention."

Technobabble: There's some talk of Bessel functions, but even the characters in the episode acknowledge that Kosinski's functions are gibberish.

Casualty Report: The Traveler fades in and out of existence throughout the episode before disappearing entirely by the end.

Library Computer: Kosinski (no first name given) is a Starfleet propulsion expert. He's a Caucasian male of average build, with short, curly black hair and ice-blue eyes. Kosinski was very sure of himself and his abilities, which led him to behave arrogantly and overbearingly. He's dressed in operations yellow, although, curiously, he's not wearing a communicator. He also has a unique rank insignia on his collar, consisting of a black rectangular shape with the part closest to the front (roughly a third of the rectangle) colored silver. [As nothing like this ever shows up again, we don't know what it represents, other than suggesting Kosinski isn't a standard officer in Starfleet.]
     Kosinski, along with his non-human assistant, had been fine-tuning the performance of warp engines in Starfleet vessels, including the U.S.S. Ajax and the Excelsior-class U.S.S. Fearless, by experimenting with different ways of entering warp speed and different [matter/antimatter] intermix formulas. ["Different ways of entering warp speed" likely has something to do with how the warp bubble is formed, judging from a later conversation between Wesley and the Traveler.] A number of personnel aboard the Enterprise (including Riker, Data, and Chief Engineer Argyle) believed that Kosinski's formulas were largely gibberish, as when they simulated them they found no difference in engine performance, but Kosinski countered by pointing out that others aboard other ships had expressed similar skepticism but had nevertheless seen measurable results when Kosinski and his assistant completed their work.
     When Kosinski ran his "tune-up" process on the Enterprise, he ended up sending the Enterprise 2.7 million light years away - on the other side of the Triangulum Galaxy (also known as M33) - while achieving speeds in excess of warp 10. LaForge calculated that at standard maximum warp it would take the Enterprise 300 years to get home. [This suggests that maximum warp can cover about 9000 light years a year. But compare with Star Trek: Voyager, where it's estimated that it will take Voyager 75 years to travel 70,000 light years.] An attempt to recreate the process to return the Enterprise home instead took them to a strange, cloud-filled realm over a billion light years from the Milky Way, where thought and reality had merged to become one; Data noted that during this second journey their speed never exceeded warp 1.5.
     The ultimate reason for this was that it turned out that Kosinski's calculations were indeed largely meaningless; his results had been achieved via his assistant, an alien humanoid male ostensibly from a very distant world named Tau Alpha C [although he also talks about visiting "your reality", which suggests he may not actually be from Tau Alpha C], who described himself as a traveler and noted that his real name was unpronounceable by humans. The Traveler was tall, with greyish-pink skin, a pronounced brow ridge, receding grey hair, and three thick digits on each hand. His physiology was sufficiently different from what Dr. Crusher was familiar with to make standard medical care difficult. Troi remarked that she couldn't sense anything at all from him. The members of the Traveler's species have the ability to navigate and travel using the power of thought; the Traveler was trading some small part of this information, and letting Kosinski take credit for it, in order to explore and travel and learn more about the universe. The Traveler acknowledged that Kosinski had some small understanding of the relationship between space, time, and thought, although he hadn't grasped the full picture yet. The Traveler had been the one inputting Kosinski's formulas "more rapidly than any human possibly could" and had been quietly adjusting Kosinski's formulas on the fly, using the power of thought to help increase speeds and efficiency; however, he had been away too long from his home and thus became somewhat tired and distracted (which manifested itself as him phasing in and out of existence), which led to the Enterprise being propelled to places much further than the Traveler had intended. [At least, we think that's what we're meant to believe here.] The Traveler remarked that humanity wasn't meant to reach this realm of thought until the far, far distant future, and that his people had considered humanity uninteresting and thus unworthy of study until recently. The Enterprise was able to return home by recreating Kosinski's experiment, albeit with the additional factor of the crew thinking positive thoughts about the Traveler's well-being; this gave the Traveler sufficient strength that he was able to return the Enterprise to her initial position. During this last effort, he phased completely out of existence. [He's not dead though; the Traveler will show up again, starting in season 4's "Remember Me".]
     According to the Traveler, Wesley has the potential to be a genius on the level of Mozart regarding the intricacies of time, energy, and propulsion. The Traveler tells Picard that people such as Wesley are why he travels, and that Wesley should therefore be encouraged to develop his talents, although without being informed of the Traveler's beliefs. [Since, presumably, that might be a negative influence on Wesley. This is the beginning of one of Wesley's least appealing character traits, the idea that he's a boy genius; whereas before he had been treated as just a standard nerdy teenager on the ship, now he's going to be considered "special" in some way, with the unfortunate side effect that now he's going to be a know-it-all.] Wesley is clever enough to recognize that the Traveler's formulas treated space, time, and thought as related concepts, although the Traveler warns Wesley that such ideas are "dangerous nonsense" in the world he currently lives in (i.e., the 24th-century Federation). Following the events of this episode (so as of "stardate 41263.4"), Picard makes Wesley an acting ensign, "with the duties and privileges of that rank", and tells him his entrance application to Starfleet Academy will be tendered at the earliest opportunity. [We'll see this application process later this season, in "Coming of Age".]
     In main engineering, just outside the warp core area, is a large table covered in controls, with two small angled displays on either side of the table. Warp engine functions can be controlled from here. On the wall opposite the warp core is a large display showing a cutaway schematic of the Enterprise. [This is collectively referred to as the "master systems display", although the term won't be officially canon until halfway through Deep Space Nine's run. There's a bit of confusion as to whether "master systems display" refers to both the big graphic and the table or just the big graphic; the production crew unhelpfully often simply referred to the table as the "pool table". This is the first appearance of said table; the graphic was present back in "Encounter at Farpoint", but with a large empty space in the corridor where the table now is.]
     Argyle is one of the Enterprise's chief engineers. Argyle is a lieutenant commander dressed in operations yellow, with sandy, slightly receding hair, a full beard, and brown eyes. He oversaw Kosinski's experiments.
     Picard's mother was an older woman with grey and white upswept hair, who we see dressed in an elegant blue-and-silver outfit. She's dead, but Picard pictures her offering him tea while in what she described as the "end of the universe". She had a bit of a French accent [compare with Picard, who doesn't], and Picard called her "Maman".
     Before Yar joined Starfleet, she lived on a colony that appeared to be underground, with a large cave system and large round doorways. We see her dressed in tattered ribbed clothing, petting an orange cat that appears to be her pet, while avoiding a rape gang [see also "The Naked Now"].
     Troi can feel something empathically from most life forms, even if she can't always interpret the meaning of the feelings.
     According to Data, a subspace message sent 2.7 million light years away would reach Starfleet in 51 years, 10 months, 9 weeks, and 16 days.
     A targ is a Klingon animal resembling a Terran boar, with heavier fur on its front half and a row of spikes down its back. Worf had one as a pet when he was a child.
     Picard's standing orders only permit commissioned officers to sit at Command or have authorized access to the bridge.
     Humanity has charted 11% of the Milky Way in three centuries of space flight.
     Bessel functions are involved in warp equations.

Final Analysis: "That space and time and thought aren't the separate things they appear to be?" The emphasis on a more abstract - but understandable - problem instead of simply "alien of the week" (though we still get a bit of that here) makes this more engaging than what we've seen so far, and the idea of a realm of thought is handled really well, with a sense of wonder amidst the danger. The episode moves at a consistent pace too, and it's nice how Kosinski is shown to be humbled but not broken by the Traveler's revelations. "Where No One Has Gone Before" is an enjoyable, thoughtful episode, and thus the first real evidence that this sequel series might actually be worth doing.

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