The USS Enterprise-D has met the Excelsior-class starship USS Fearless in order to take on a Starfleet propulsion specialist who will perform an upgrade on the warp drive. He has already performed the upgrade on the Fearless, as well as the USS Ajax. Both these ships reported an increase in engine efficiency. Riker, however, is not convinced. He and Data have run a controlled test of the formulae that the engineer, Kosinski, has sent over, and found them to have no effect. Picard reasons that there’s no harm in letting him come over and attempt the upgrade, especially since it doesn’t change the hardware.
Riker is still skeptical, so Picard sends him to meet Kosinski when he beams aboard, along with his assistant. Riker, Troi, and Chief Engineer Argyle go to meet him in the transporter room. Kosinski is pompous and arrogant. He asks why the captain isn’t there to meet him and demands to be taken to engineering. As he leaves, Troi comments to Riker that Kosinski is as he appears – loud and arrogant – but she can sense nothing from his assistant, not even his presence.
In engineering, Riker questions Kosinski about what he is going to do and asks him to explain his formulae. At first Kosinski resists, but eventually agrees to explain himself – in the most arrogant and patronising way possible – to Riker and Argyle. Meanwhile Wesley, who is also in engineering working on a school project, watches the assistant enter the formulae on the auxiliary panel and suggests various changes to the inputs. Kosinski shoves Riker out of the way, and shouts at “the boy” – Wesley – to not play with the auxiliary panel that his assistant is sitting at. As Kosinski and his assistant prepare to test out the adjustments, Picard orders La Forge to take the Enterprise to warp 1.5.
As the ship accelerates, both Kosinski and his assistant enter various information. Suddenly a console alarm goes off and Kosinski shouts at the assistant, who has made an error. Outside the ship, the Enterprise‘s engines suddenly engage with a massive burst of speed. The assistant grabs his console and starts to “phase” in and out of view, noticed only by Wesley.
On the bridge, La Forge tells the captain they are passing warp 10, and Data later says that their velocity is off the scale. The Enterprise hurtles through space, with phenomena whizzing past at extremely high speed. Picard orders that they reverse engines (which Data comments on as having never been done at their current speed), and the Enterprise flashes out of warp. When asked for the ship’s position, La Forge replies incredulously that they have traveled 2,700,000 light years.
They are now in the galaxy M33, and at maximum warp it will take them over three hundred years to get home.
Picard records a log entry, musing that Starfleet may never receive it. La Forge reports that a message has already been sent to Starfleet, which Data says, at subspace, will take 51 years 10 months 9 weeks 16 days… and then Picard snaps at him to stop.
Kosinski, Riker, and Argyle arrive on the bridge. Picard asks them what happened and Kosinski replies that he made “a mistake, a wonderful mistake”. He is highly excited, claiming he has broken the warp barrier. Argyle suggests that it should be called the Kosinski Scale, but the sarcasm is lost in Kosinski’s overinflated opinion of himself, suggesting that his name will go down in history. However, hearing the procedure that Kosinski used, Commander Riker isn’t convinced.
Picard asks Kosinski if he can do it again, to take them home. “Of course I can” he says, and heads back to engineering. Looking around at his crew, Picard invites comment.
- Troi says that Kosinski believes he’s right
- Worf can’t trust his as he’s already made a mistake once
- La Forge doesn’t think they have a choice but to allow Kosinski to get them home
- Data is interested in studying the environment
Picard believes that, if they can get home, Starfleet can use Kosinski’s technique to get back to their current position with a science vessel, and orders that Kosinski gets them home.
Down in engineering, Wesley is talking to the assistant. He realizes that the assistant has been performing the “upgrades” all along, and that Kosinski is just a joke. The assistant tells him he means no harm to the ship or the crew – he made a mistake. He is exhausted now, and Wes offers to get his mother, but the assistant declines. Wes then says that from looking at the warp equations he thinks time and space and thought are all one thing. This surprises the assistant, who tells him never to say such a thing again “in a world that’s not ready for it.”
Wes tries to tell Riker about the assistant, but he won’t listen. Kosinski sets up to return them home, and the Enterprise shoots into warp with another tremendous burst of speed. As they input the equations, it becomes obvious to Kosinski that it is not working. Then Riker sees the assistant as he starts to “phase” again and then collapse across the console.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise picks up incredible speed moving into untold measurements. On the viewscreen, spatial phenomena streak past faster and faster into indistinguishable light blurs. Picard orders full stop, and the Enterprise blasts out of warp once more, but they are certainly not back in their own galaxy. Outside the ship, clouds of cosmic dust and energy beings swim in a never-ending blue abyss. Data concludes that they must be at the edge of the known universe, “where none have gone before.“
The Enterprise is now a billion light years from the Milky Way Galaxy in the other direction. In frustration, Picard leaves for engineering.
The crew now starts to see things that cannot be there. Worf is at his station when he suddenly sees a Klingon targ in front of him, his childhood pet. Yar also sees it but it disappears just as quickly. Then she sees her pet cat and is back on the colony where she grew up, trying to avoid a rape gang. La Forge touches her and she snaps out of it. When the turbolift doors open, Picard almost steps out into open space before throwing himself back inside. The doors open again and he goes into a corridor. He meets two crewmen running away from some unseen pursuer. Further down the corridor, he sees an ensign in a cargo bay dancing ballet while elsewhere, another crewman is performing the first movement of Mozart’s Eine Kleine Nachtmusik with a baroque-looking string quartet.
The visions of thought seeming to become visual reality soon become more evident to the captain when he then sees his dead mother drinking tea in a corridor, and starts to talk to her before he is interrupted by Riker. When he looks back, she’s gone. Picard realizes he must get the crew’s attention quickly to prevent their thoughts from causing a catastrophe. He immediately orders general quarters and goes to engineering. He tells the crew that they are in a region of space where thoughts become reality, and that they must try to subdue their thoughts.
In engineering, Dr. Crusher is examining the now unconscious assistant. Riker informs Picard that it was the assistant the whole time, not Kosinski – who thought it was him. It was Wesley who worked it out. Riker admits that Wesley tried to tell him twice, but he didn’t listen.
Crusher informs the captain that the assistant is dying.
The assistant is brought to sickbay, where Picard tells Crusher to wake him. They must leave this place before their own thoughts cause the ship to be destroyed. The assistant wakes and tells Picard that he is a Traveler from another plane of existence. He is traveling through their galaxy, observing them, using his knowledge of propulsion to get passage on Starfleet ships. Kosinski is just his cover. He meant no harm to the Enterprise. He tells them Humans shouldn’t be here until their distant future, until they have learned to control their thoughts. Picard asks him if he can get them home. He tells him he will try.
Riker asks the traveler why there has been no record of his kind in the past, to which the traveler replies that humans have been “uninteresting” to them, and it’s only now that they have merited attention.
He then asks for a private word with Picard. The others leave and the Traveler tells Picard that people like Wesley are the reason that he travels. He compares him to Mozart, only instead of music, Wes has, or will have, the ability to manipulate time, space, and thought. He urges Picard to encourage Wes, but not to tell him or Beverly any of this. He weakens, and Picard helps him up to Riker to go to engineering.
Picard hurries to the bridge, helping a crewman on the way to put out a fire he has created in his thoughts.
Captains Log: “Any time entry is meaningless…”
The Traveler prepares to engineering and Picard makes a ship-wide announcement, telling everyone to concentrate on home and on the Traveler’s well being. They follow the same procedure as before: the ship jumps to warp 1.5 and the Traveler uses his powers to attempt to send them back. He starts to struggle in his work, until Wesley holds out his hand and the Traveler takes hold of it, if only briefly. It’s as if the contact with Wesley has channeled energy to him. He starts to “phase” in and out as before, and the ship accelerates and hurtles through space. Suddenly, the Traveler disappears altogether and the Enterprise finds itself right back where it started.
Mindful of the Traveler’s advice, Picard calls Wesley to the bridge and thanks him for his part in their successful return. He offers Wesley to sit at the command post, but Riker tells him that his own order prevents him from allowing it. So, he then makes him an acting ensign, “for conduct in the true spirit and traditions of Starfleet.” He instructs Riker to make out a duty roster for him and tells him to learn the ship and its operations from top to bottom. Then Wesley takes a seat on the bridge as the Enterprise resumes course.
Part one of a multi-season Arc: The Traveler
Not related to the second TOS pilot “Where No Man Has Gone Before“
Maman played by Herta Ware