The First Duty
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|"The First Duty"|
|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
Cadet Wesley Crusher testifies at an accident inquiry.
|Episode no.||Season 5
|Directed by||Paul Lynch|
|Featured music||Jay Chattaway|
|Original air date||March 30, 1992|
"The First Duty" is the 119th episode of the American syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 19th episode of the show's fifth season. It featured the return of former regular castmember Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher as well as the first of three appearances by Ray Walston as Boothby.
In this episode, while visiting Starfleet Cadet Wesley Crusher at Starfleet Academy, the crew of the Federation Starfleet starship USS Enterprise learn of an accident that claimed the life of a cadet.
The Enterprise returns to Earth, where Captain Picard is scheduled to deliver the commencement address at Starfleet Academy's graduation ceremony. However, the crew comes to learn of an accident during flight training that has injured Wesley Crusher, and caused the death of another squad member, Joshua Albert. Picard, concerned, orders his crew to investigate the accident, and discovers evidence that Wesley's squad was attempting to perform a banned maneuver called the "Kolvoord Starburst." Picard accosts Wesley and demands to know the truth, but Wesley refuses to answer him. Picard reminds him of his Starfleet duty.
Wesley is torn between telling the truth and the demands of his squad leader, Nick Locarno, who insists that he states the accident was Joshua's fault. Locarno attempts to coerce Wesley into keeping with the lie, making Wesley question his friendship at odds with his role and duty as a Starfleet Officer.
At the hearing, Wesley is driven by Picard's trust in him, the emotions of Joshua's father and his loyalty to his team and their friendship. The Admiral decides, in the absence of conclusive proof of any further wrongdoing (aside from rendering an incorrect flight plan, and allowing a squad member to fly unprepared) to take away the squad's flight privileges and issue formal reprimands. Before she can close the hearing, though, Wesley steps up and reveals the truth behind the accident.
Realizing he cannot hide it any longer, Locarno admits that he instigated the lie and pressured the rest of the squad to support it. He is expelled from the Academy, while Wesley and the rest of the squad lose the past year's academic credits. Wesley is disappointed in himself, but Picard encourages him that while the immediate future will be difficult, he will eventually regain the trust of his classmates, and the respect that comes with it.
Future character appearances
The minor character Sito Jaxa would later appear significantly in the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode "Lower Decks", where it emerges that Picard requested her assignment to the Enterprise because he wanted to give her a fair chance to redeem herself.
Influence on franchise
McNeill's Nicolas Locarno would serve as the template for the character of Tom Paris on Star Trek:Voyager. Originally producers were searching for a different actor than McNeill. However after many auditions it was suggested to simply bring McNeill in to play the part since they were using his character as a model for Tom Paris already.
- "Lower Decks", the seventh season episode prominently featuring then-Ensign Sito Jaxa.
- Dump and Burn
- Immelmann turn
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set Season 5, Disk 7, "Memorable Missions" featurette
- "'Star Trek: The Next Generation':The Top 10 Episodes". EW.com. 2007-09-20. Retrieved 2012-07-10.
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set, volume 5, disc 5, selection 3
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