My Guide to the Major Arcs of TNG

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by DavidGutierrez, Mar 30, 2015.

  1. DavidGutierrez

    DavidGutierrez Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Apr 24, 2012
    What follows is a result of a bored husband trying to fill the time while his wife was out of town. Initially, I wanted to watch all of the Borg episodes of TNG. Shortly before starting, I decided to use the series premiere and finale as creative bookends to my episodic experience, much like reading a novel. However, I then decided that all of the Q episodes were needed to create proper context for “Q Who” and the finale.

    This is where the wheels started to come off a little bit. It only made sense to add all of the episodes which contributed to the Borg episodes, too. Thus, “The Neutral Zone,” “Peak Performance,” “Evolution,” and “Family” were all thrown in.

    "Family” really bears the entirety of the blame for this madness.

    I realized that one of the major subplots for “Family” revolves around Worf’s discommendation from “Sins of the Father.” And, “Sins” feels so incomplete without “Reunion.” But, “The Emissary” is required for some context for “Reunion.”
    What follows is an annotated list of every episode which contributes directly to the Q or Borg episodes and every episode which contributes directly to the episodes which contribute.

    Season 1:
    “Encounter at Farpoint” – Q is introduced along with the trial of humanity and all of the major characters
    “The Naked Now” – Data and Tasha sleep together; Picard and Beverly are revealed to share a mutual but unexpressed attraction
    “Where No One Has Gone Before” – the Traveler is introduced; Wesley is special; Wesley is made an acting ensign, a title he retains for nearly two years
    “Hide and Q” – Q returns and his ability to put the crew through consequence-free adventures is reinforced; Q tries but fails to tempt Riker with the powers of a Q; on screen evidence suggests the Q Continuum is displeased with his failure
    “Datalore” – Lore is introduced and becomes the series’ second major recurring antagonist; the crystalline entity is introduced
    “Coming of Age” – Wesley takes the entrance exams for Starfleet Academy and fails; a conspiracy is alluded to within Starfleet Command
    “The Arsenal of Freedom” – it is revealed that Riker chose to become first officer of the Enterprise instead of captain of the Drake
    “Skin of Evil” – Tasha is killed on an away mission
    “Conspiracy” – the titular conspiracy alluded to in “Coming” is exposed and defeated
    “The Neutral Zone” – Federation and Romulan outposts are destroyed by the Borg, it is later revealed

    Season 2:
    “A Matter of Honor” – Riker serves in the officer exchange program aboard a Klingon ship
    “The Measure of a Man” – Data’s relationship with Tasha is referenced, reminding the audience of her importance and impact; Bruce Maddox is introduced; Picard and Riker are pitted against each other for the first time
    “The Icarus Factor” – Riker is offered command of the Aries, but declines, marking the second time he had declined a promotion to captain
    “Q Who” – Q returns as a direct result of the events in “Hide” and introduces the Federation to the Borg, with lasting consequences, establishing Q as a legitimate threat instead of a mere trickster
    “Samaritan Snare” – Picard tells the story of his artificial heart; Wesley takes the Academy exams a second time, but is apparently again unsuccessful since he remains on the Enterprise
    “The Emissary” – K’Ehleyr is introduced and her relationship with Worf is established; Alexander is conceived
    “Peak Performance” – the events of this episode are a direct result of “Q Who”; Picard and Riker are pitted against each other for a second time, this time in a manner directly analogous to the battle between the Enterprise (Hathaway) and Locutus’ cube (Enterprise)

    Season 3:
    “Evolution” – the Borg are referenced and the audience is reminded how seriously the crew takes them as a threat; this is the “recent experience with nanotechnology” referenced in “TBOBW”
    “The Bonding” – Tasha’s death is referenced, reminding the audience of her importance and impact
    “Deja Q” – Q is expelled from the Continuum, implicitly as a direct result of his failure in “Hide” compounded with his actions in “Q Who”; Picard helps Q, creating a debt which Q will later attempt to repay
    “Yesterday’s Enterprise” – Tasha crosses into the prime reality from the alternate reality when she joins the crew of the Enterprise-C; Sela is conceived as a direct result of the events in this episode
    “Sins of the Father” – Duras is introduced and Worf’s conflict with Duras begins; Kurn is introduced, using Riker’s previous officer exchange as an excuse to board the Enterprise and meet Worf; K’mpec is introduced; Duras’ father is revealed to have been colluding with the Romulans; Worf accepts discommendation from the Klingon High Council, becoming persona non grata for over a year
    “Captain’s Holiday” – Picard has a fling with Vash
    “Sarek” – Sarek is reintroduced and his illness is established
    “Ménage a Troi” – Wesley is accepted into the Academy, but misses his ride and apparently his chance to attend; Wesley’s commission is formalized and he becomes an ensign
    “The Best of Both Worlds” – the Borg invade the Federation; Riker is offered command of the Melbourne, his third potential captaincy of his career; Picard is captured by the Borg and assimilated; Picard/Locutus is pitted against Riker

    Season 4:
    “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II” – Riker squares off against Picard/Locutus; the Battle of Wolf 359 occurs; Picard is rescued from the Borg; the Borg cube is destroyed, saving Earth and possibly the entire Federation; the Enterprise is heavily damaged as a result of these two episodes
    “Family” – the Enterprise undergoes major repairs; it is revealed that Riker declined his third promotion offer; Picard recovers from his ordeal with the Borg; Wesley confronts his father’s legacy in Starfleet; Worf’s parents visit him and express concern for his discommendation; O’Brien gets a full name and some depth
    “Brothers” – Lore returns and kills Noonien Soong; Lore gains the ability to manipulate Data
    “Remember Me” – the Traveler returns and the audience is reminded that Wesley is special; Beverly looks perfectly comfortable in the captain’s chair
    “Legacy” – Tasha’s sister is introduced and the audience is reminded of her importance and impact
    “Reunion” – K’Ehleyr returns and Alexander is introduced; K’mpec is murdered, creating a power vacuum; Gowran is introduced and established as a direct rival of Duras for control of the Klingon Empire; Duras is revealed to be colluding with the Romulans; Duras murders K’Ehleyr and Worf kills Duras in revenge, allowing Gowran to ascend uncontested; Alexander leaves the Enterprise to be cared for by Worf’s parents
    “Final Mission” – Wesley leaves to attend the Academy
    “Data’s Day” – Bruce Maddox from “Measure” is referenced; O’Brien and Keiko get married
    “The Wounded” – O’Brien and Keiko’s marriage is explored; the Cardassians are introduced and their tenuous peace with the Federation is established
    “Qpid” – Q returns and attempts to repay his debt from “Deja Q” by helping Picard win back Vash
    “The Drumhead” – the Battle of Wolf 359 and Picard’s assimilation are directly referenced and the devastation is quantified; J’Dan is revealed to be a spy for the Romulans, establishing that the Romulan-Klingon collusion extends beyond Duras
    “The Mind’s Eye” – the Romulan-Klingon collusion is expanded upon; Sela is introduced, but her appearance remains a mystery
    “Redemption” – the Duras family engages Gowran in a civil war shortly after Gowran is installed as chancellor; Worf regains his honor and Kurn’s parentage is revealed; Worf leaves Starfleet; Sela is revealed to be directly influencing the civil war; Sela’s resemblance to Tasha is established

    Season 5:
    “Redemption II” – Sela’s parentage is established and “Yesterday’s” is directly referenced; Sela and Data come into conflict; Gowran is victorious in the civil war; Romulan influence in Klingon politics is defeated; the Duras family is defeated but not killed; Worf returns to Starfleet
    “Ensign Ro” – Ro is introduced; the Cardassians are revealed to be skilled manipulators; the Cardassian/Bajoran conflict is established; Picard takes a chance on Ro
    “Silicon Avatar” – the crystalline entity returns and is destroyed; Lore is directly referenced, reminding the audience how dangerous he is
    “Disaster” – Deanna is forced to take command of the Enterprise (or, at least the bridge) despite her inexperience; Deanna and Ro come into conflict; Keiko gives birth to Molly
    “Unification I” – Sarek dies; Spock is reintroduced and his quest for Vulcan/Romulan reunification is established; Sela is the antagonist
    “Unification II” – Spock’s attempt at reunification inspires an underground movement on Romulus; Sela and Data meet; Sela is defeated and never seen again, despite not being killed
    “New Ground” – Worf’s mother returns Alexander to him; K’Ehleyr and her death are directly referenced; Deanna takes an active role in Worf’s parenting
    “Ethics” – Worf asks Deanna to be Alexander’s guardian in the event of his death, revealing the depth of respect and trust he has for her
    “The First Duty” – Wesley’s future in Starfleet is put in jeopardy and his career is besmirched; Sito is introduced
    “I Borg” – Picard is revealed to be affected still by his assimilation by the Borg; Hugh is introduced; the nature of the Borg is expanded upon; Picard decides not to try to destroy the Borg, but instead to use Hugh’s newfound individuality to disrupt them

    Season 6:
    “True Q” – Q returns and his elevated position and newfound loyalty to the Continuum are established
    “Rascals” – Ro’s traumatic childhood at the hands of the Cardassians is explored; O’Brien and Keiko’s marriage is tested; Molly is a toddler
    “Chain of Command, Part I” – the Cardassians are revealed to have withdrawn from Bajor; Picard is captured by the Cardassians in an elaborate trap
    “Chain of Command, Part II” – Picard is tortured by the Cardassians; a Cardassian invasion of the Federation is thwarted; the Cardassians return Picard to Starfleet
    “Face of the Enemy” – Deanna goes undercover on a Romulan ship as a result of a defection initiated by Spock’s underground movement
    “Tapestry” – Q returns and sends Picard back in time to relive the experience which gave him an artificial heart
    “Descent” – a group of individualized Borg attack the Federation; Picard catches heat for his decision in “I Borg”; Lore is revealed to be controlling the group of Borg; Data apparently joins Lore; Beverly is left in command of the Enterprise

    Season 7:
    “Descent, Part II” – it is revealed that Lore is using the emotion chip he stole in “Brothers” to manipulate Data; Beverly demonstrates her command abilities; Hugh returns and helps the crew defeat the Borg; Data defeats Lore and disassembles him
    "Attached” – Picard and Beverly’s mutual attraction is revealed and explored; they decide to stay friends
    “Parallels” – in one of many alternate realities Worf visits, he and Deanna are married, inspiring him to begin a relationship with her in the prime reality
    “Lower Decks” – Sito returns and is redeemed; Sito dies
    “Thine Own Self” – Beverly’s command qualifications are explained; the events of “Disaster” and a conversation with Beverly inspire Deanna to achieve those same qualifications; Deanna is promoted to commander and gains the skills to command the Enterprise
    “Eye of the Beholder” – Deanna’s hallucination reveals that Worf’s attraction to her is reciprocated
    “Genesis” – Deanna and Worf’s relationship deepens
    “Journey’s End” – Wesley leaves Starfleet to become a companion of the Traveler; the seeds of the Maquis are planted
    “Firstborn” – Worf and Alexander reach an understanding as father and son; the Duras family is revealed to be alive and well, though with considerably less power and influence
    “Preemptive Strike” – Ro returns only to defect to the Maquis, betraying Picard in the process
    “All Good Things…” – Q returns and moves Picard back and forth through time; Q reveals that the trial from “Encounter” did not end until now, and that humanity has been found guilty and will be destroyed; Worf and Deanna get serious, causing a rift between Worf and Riker in one possible future; the rift is avoided in the present; Tasha and O’Brien return; the events of “Encounter” are revisited; Beverly and Picard get involved in one version of the present, and married and divorced in one possible future; Beverly is a starship captain in one possible future; Picard and all three versions of the crew band together to save humanity, the quadrant, and possibly the galaxy; Q reveals that though humanity has been exonerated, the trial never ends

    TL;DR: the above list of episodes covers every story arc connected to the Q and/or Borg episodes.

    If anyone has as much time on their hands as me and thinks I missed an episode or two, chime in. Otherwise, tell me what you think of my list and reasoning.
    Last edited: Mar 30, 2015
  2. Myko

    Myko Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Sep 15, 2004
    Stockholm, Sweden
    This is a fun list and a neat little project, but could you put some line breaks in to make it easier to read?
  3. DavidGutierrez

    DavidGutierrez Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Apr 24, 2012
    I hope that's better.
  4. Ghrakh

    Ghrakh Captain Captain

    Sep 8, 2008
    Probably minor, but S1 "11001001" has Minuet who reappears in S4 "Future Imperfect". Anyway good read. Might look good as a graph.
  5. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 9, 2012
    The Enterprise's Restroom
    Interesting reading this DavidGutierrez , and thanks very much for sharing it. :) Tying those episodes together as you have really demonstrates what I and a few others were saying over in another thread recently: that TNG does in fact have a very good sense of continuity, even if it isn't strictly "serialized" (as we currently understand it today).

    The first TNG movie ("Generations") also ties in strongly with the TV series 'arc' to various degrees, not just with the emotion chip being referenced again (a call back to "Descent"), but also with the villain Soren's backstory explicitly mentioning the Borg, (which can be traced back to a line of dialogue from Guinan in season two's "Q Who").

    "First Contact" on the other hand could be said to be a reboot of sorts... it acknowledges Locutus and that backstory, but deliberately ignores certain developments since "I Borg". YMMV on this one. ;)
  6. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral In Memoriam

    Nov 22, 2012
    Melakon's grave
  7. Lance

    Lance Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    May 9, 2012
    The Enterprise's Restroom
    One further observation I will make about the OP's list is that "Coming Of Age" explicitly back-references events from "Naked Now", "Justice", "Where No One..." and "The Battle" (in the scene where Remmick interrogates the crew about strange things that have happened on their mission so far). So, if we're including "Coming of Age", then it stands to reason that "Justice" and "The Battle" should be added to the Season One list as well.
    (And if we're including "The Battle", then we might as well include "Bloodlines" in Season Seven, as it saw the return of Daimon Bok.) :)
  8. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Nov 27, 2012
    Bay Area, CA
    I would also include The Enemy and The Defector in that list. It brings strong attention to Worf's feelings about Romulans which comes up often over the next two seasons. It introduces Tomalak, who sadly wasn't used again technically (illusion in Future Imperfect and from a negated timeline in All Good Things). Galorndon Core is established, which comes up again in Unification. Plus it sets up the overall arc that the Romulans are up to no good against the Federation which comes to its full fruition in season 4.

    That would have come much sooner, but they opted to make BOBW to end season 3, and pushed Redemption to the end of season 4.