Re-evaluating Wesley Crusher

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Winterwind, Mar 2, 2020.

  1. Winterwind

    Winterwind Commodore Commodore

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    Dumping on Wesley is a thing. Most of us have done it. The character is mocked and laughed at, some people actually directed their dislike of the character at Wil Wheaton... which is daft of course... but I've actually changed my mind.

    I'm doing a rewatch of TNG now, although it's the first time through for my wife, and I've discovered I actually like the character now. We watched The Dauphin this morning (just sitting down to The Icarus Factor now) and I groaned, telling my wife "Yeah, I hate this one" and surprisingly, as we watched, I really enjoyed it.

    I couldn't stand him when TNG first aired but, half way through S2 I actually like him and in S1 found myself thinking "Geez, give the kid a break, pull your heads out of your asses and listen to him" and my wife has commented a couple of times "That kid is a good little actor." Funny as he's the same age as me but we do tend to think of character's/actor's ages as fixed in the point of time we're seeing on screen.

    I find the character isn't the Mary Sue/Marty Stu I remember and fandom often makes him out to be. And I think Wheaton did a good job in the role. TNG had other issues, and Wesley Crusher/Will Wheaton wasn't one of them.

    Anyone else revised their opinion of Wesley?
     
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  2. Mutai Sho-Rin

    Mutai Sho-Rin Crusty Old Bastard Moderator

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    Interesting perspective. Wes/Will is just a few years older than our older daughter so I saw him through the eyes of a dad and liked him from the very beginning. His prodigious intellect was certainly somewhat exaggerated, even Mozart-like per The Traveler, but believable in a science fiction universe.
     
  3. NCC-73515

    NCC-73515 Commodore Commodore

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    I identified with him as a kid, and his 'superknowledge' that seemed to exceed that of academy graduates and command veterans was a problem the writers introduced. It's not Wil's fault. He did a great job with what they gave him to play.
     
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  4. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Except he very literally is. He's an author-insert character who sometimes saves everyone else.

    While I do find a lot of early Wesley insufferable, that's down to the often terrible plotting. eg: The stuff where Wesley realizes that Data is actually Lore wouldn't be so bad if they hadn't written every other character to be a complete imbecile.
     
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  5. Winterwind

    Winterwind Commodore Commodore

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    He's nowhere near as bad as I remember. TNG is my least favourite series but I don't see Wesley as the wunderkind that saves the day anymore than I see Kirk as the maverick rule breaker. Both reputations have been blown out of proportion.

    But yes, the senior staff were often written as idiots early on. Painfully so.
     
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  6. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Overall, maybe. But an early impression sticks easily, and Wesley saves them pretty much every third episode of season 1*. By the third or fourth time, that starts to get tedious and helps set a negative impression of him.

    I found a breakdown, which reckons he saved 'em about a quarter of the time in season one.
    https://www.herocollector.com/en-gb/Article/star-trek-wes-saves-the-day
     
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  7. Dryson

    Dryson Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I think Wesley was not a good fit for the show. At first he was okay but then he started getting too bratty or I'm The Son of the Chief Medical Officer of the Enterprise. Somewhere along the line I think his greed of capital and wanting off the ship to reign as a king got to him.
     
  8. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    He's pretty :shrug:-worthy, I liked him as a kid watching at 9 and never disliked him much, he clearly is a character designed for hopefully kids to like and invest in but that's OK, in part from not being overused and for fitting in as well with the rest of the show as he does.

    I think he only saved the ship two times in seasons 1-4 (incidentally once in a bad episode "The Naked Now" and once in a really good one "Datalore") and then in "The Game". Otherwise he can be annoying but not that often and the other characters usually do regard him as annoying when he is.
     
  9. Kor

    Kor Admiral Admiral

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    Yes, a stand-in for Eugene Wesley Roddnberry.

    Kor
     
  10. Winterwind

    Winterwind Commodore Commodore

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    Regardless, the character wasn't as bad as we often make him out to be. And while he fits the Mary Sue/Marty Stu criteria for creation, that's really about it. We're not talking Doogie Howser on the Enterprise here.

    I'm not a fan of kids myself when it comes to watching tele. We don't have any ourselves so kid characters hold no interest for us but Wesley wasn't that bad. The writing in general and the rest of the cast... oh, man S1 was painful.
     
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  11. STEPhon IT

    STEPhon IT Commodore Commodore

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    No. I thought of Wesley as a wholesome character and the fact the character was hated is news to me. I thought he was a very eager young boy who didn't have a father and searched for approval. He got that with Captain Picard, a person who wasn't comfortable being around children, a surrogate father figure. He grew so much as a character and I loved his camaraderie with the crew; he was a valued crewmember of the Enterprise and I was excited to see him return for an episode.
     
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  12. Thomas Elliot

    Thomas Elliot Commander Red Shirt

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    I don't even like the idea of Wesley being this kid with a grey sweater being allowed to help navigate on the bridge. Kind of ruins it for me. As a character he was okay I guess. But he's very much a Marty Stu.
    But it was all worth it for that episode when he was complicit in that coverup. Great episode.
     
  13. at Quark's

    at Quark's Commodore Commodore

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    Perhaps he could show up in the new Picard series, as a pedantic "higher" entity to give Picard advice. ... which would give Jean-Luc the opportunity to say something like:

    "Look, I started saying this 30 years ago... and I'm still saying it ..... SHUT UP, WESLEY !"

    Joking aside, I think they started Wesley out the wrong way, but made him a better character during the series. In the beginning he is just that almost above-human super genius that saves the ship too many times. He then becomes just a very bright child that is well ahead of standard schedule - still saves the ship on occasion but it becomes slightly more believable (well, within Star Trek norms, anyway). And then he starts having the kind of problems many adolescents have when they start to wonder if they should be on the career track their parents or other formative figures seem to imagine for them at all.
     
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  14. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Admiral Admiral

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    I think after he first season they started writing him much better. In the first season it got to the point where they had to make the adults dumber so Wesley could show them up. Later in his run he became more falliable and became a better character.

    If Wesley did appear in Picard I’d go the other direction, give him a smarty pants young kid on his ship who he tells to shut up,
     
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  15. CorporalCaptain

    CorporalCaptain Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I like S3-S5 Wesley best. Good Wesley episodes include "The Survivors," "The High Ground," "The Best of Both Worlds," and "The First Duty." In most of these, he's written as a smart kid, but still basically a kid. In "The First Duty" he's no longer a kid, but he's not mature either. The final Wesley episode when he ascends to the Astral Plane, or what the fuck ever it is that he does was completely ridiculous. "Spock's Brain" comes off as Citizen Kane by comparison to "Journey's End."
     
  16. suarezguy

    suarezguy Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    "Journey's End" was a little too out there and way too forced but I'm still bitter that Wesley later only got such a brief and perplexing final appearance in Nemesis.
     
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  17. Thomas Elliot

    Thomas Elliot Commander Red Shirt

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    I thought Wesley's last episode was "The First Duty". I was wondering how that fit in with him gaining some sort of space powers. I think I'll avoid "Journey's End."

    I have no problem with Will Wheaton. He was a good actor, but the character was so...generic, maybe? I was rewatching the episode with Lal, and Wesley's mom reminds him of his haircut and he groans, "Parents," and then says, "No offense," to Data. He's the perfectly good kid, who says totally inoffensive stuff like that. He's just there to have a kid on the show it seems.
    But when First Duty, and the episode where everyone on the ship gets possessed or addicted to that drug-like video game were good. Keep him off the bridge, and don't have him be a total genius and it works. Talented but not super genius.
     
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  18. RocketQueen

    RocketQueen Ensign Red Shirt

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    So this is my first ever watch-through of TNG, I am currently towards the end of Season 4. I literally Googled mid-season 1 when, if ever, Wesley Crusher would leave the Enterprise, because he annoyed me that much as a character. There was much rejoicing after the episode "Final Mission" in Season 4.
     
  19. Roundabout

    Roundabout Commander Red Shirt

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    Yes and no. I still don't like the character, but I don't dislike the character as intensely as I did when I first saw TNG. And I have to say that the character did get better as the show progressed.

    I could suspend a lot of disbelief, but seeing Wesley (especially before he became acting ensign) at the helm of the flagship of the fleet was too much. It was absurd that a kid, let alone a civilian, would be piloting the grandest ship of the fleet.

    That ugly sweatshirt, with the rainbow colored stripes that he wore, didn't help with the imagery. With Wesley sitting at the helm in his civvies, while everyone else was wearing their Starfleet uniform, made it seem as though Picard was running an amateur operation.



    There was one episode in particular that didn't help the character's reputation, at least for me. In "The Bonding", Beverly asked Wesley -- because he lost his father at an early age -- to talk and give comfort to Jeremy, the little boy who lost his parent. But Wesley was reluctant and he sulked about it.

    Wesley basically lived a privileged life with Starfleet, but he couldn't rise above his situation to give comfort to another boy who had no parent left. Wesley did eventually share something about his experience but after he was essentially forced to.
     
  20. Roundabout

    Roundabout Commander Red Shirt

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    About "Journey's End", I had mixed feelings about Wesley's last TNG appearance.

    When Worf, who was following Picard's orders, was covertly attempting to get the native American settlers to gather within a certain perimeter in order to forcibly beam them off the planet, Wesley stumbled upon the plan. Wesley then deliberately sabotaged the plan by yelling out to the settlers what Worf was up to. Wesley committed insubordination.

    I could understand Wesley brooding at the beginning of the episode. I could understand his wanting to choose his own path and to defy other people's expectations for him about a Starfleet career. I could sympathize about his situation. But when he displayed his defiant attitude by sabotaging Picard's plan to remove the settlers, that was unacceptable. That was insubordination.

    Just because things turned out ok, Wesley's action shouldn't have been excused as easily as it was.

    At the end, he still got a bon voyage farewell from Picard. Shouldn't Wesley at the very least have gotten a dishonorable discharge, or some Starfleet equivalent. But of course that wasn't going to happen.

    Apparently, Wesley didn't really pay any consequence for what happened in "The First Duty" or "Journey's End" because he wound up wearing a Starfleet uniform in NEM. Ensign Ro could only wish that Picard would go as easy on her as Picard did for Wesley.