Article taken from SYFY Wire.
It’s the 30th anniversary of when Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s pilot episode, “Encounter at Farpoint” first transmitted. As you can imagine, SYFY WIRE is going to do a lot of coverage on the subject, because TNG is great, and everybody loves it.
One thing that had been absent in our discussion (until I, your hero, brought it up) was a rundown of the greatest moments for some of TNG’s best characters.
TNG anniversaries have come and gone, and it always feels like it’s Picard and Data who get the love. Which, I mean, yeah. I get it. They’re great. But, as of now, we are only doing 5 of these “best character moments” articles to celebrate TNG‘s 30th, and I don’t want to go for the obvious. I want someone other than Baldie McFluteFlute and Ol’ Golden Eyes to feel the spotlight on their skin for a change.
So my opening salvo is for the first mom of Star Trek: Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden), because I believe she does not get the love and adoration she so richly deserves. She didn’t even get a Funko Pop! figure. I mean, c’mon!
No, “being a mom” is not going to be one of her top 5 moments below. “Being a mom” is not a moment, but also, I think too many women (Beverly included) are defined by their motherhood, and nothing else. Yes, she is a mom. Yes, she told Wesley to shut up that one time. But I’m interested in the independent lady stuff, the stuff that will make you throw your proverbial hands up at me.
So, if you might say to Ms. Crusher, “Girl, I didn’t know you could get down like that,” now is the time for Beverly to show you how she could get down like that. And for me to stop quoting Destiny’s Child. I guess.
Beverly Crusher’s YouTube Makeup Tutorial
I know I wasn’t going to talk about this, but I will say: from early on, it is clear that being a single mom of an annoying super-genius makes it difficult for Beverly to explore her own sexuality. Her husband’s dead. She’s raising this kid on her own. What time or privacy does she have to indulge in the healthy activity that is enjoying her own sexual identity? When’s Crusher gonna get hers?
Which is why I love Beverly’s scenes in the Season 1 episode, “The Big Goodbye.” I love that she wears seamed stockings; I love that she shifts her skirt up her knee a little until she realizes the woman she’s imitating is a prostitute.
Alas, Crusher is a woman struggling to even enjoy the consequence-free (well, sort of) fantasy world of the holodeck, despite the fact that her son is nowhere to be seen. I like the honesty of that, but my favorite scene in that episode is when, despite knowing her inspiration is a sex worker, Beverly embraces imitating this woman, primping her hair, fixing her makeup, and otherwise getting her life.
I love that Beverly wants to revel in the pleasures of mid-20th century beauty, but still can’t quite get herself to return the affections of the holographic police officer who is all about it. I think that moment — where Beverly is comedically too in control of herself, where she walks right up to the line of making time with this photonic dude, but then winds up full-on swallowing the gum he gave her before nervously walking away — defines a lot of who she is versus who she wants to be.
Also, I still cannot believe Data blocks Picard/Crusher from doing it on Detective Hill’s desk. So close, Beverly! We’ll talk more about Picard shenanigans later, though.
Beverly Crusher: The Girl in the Bubble Universe
Beverly Crusher might be the most self-sufficient person on board the Enterprise D. There’s an episode called “Remember Me” in which Bev winds up in a bubble universe where, one by one, everyone but her is disappearing, and only she realizes it’s happening. What I like about this episode is that, while in the main world everyone is flipping out, Beverly is just straight-up following the clues and trying to work out what’s happening.
Even when only Beverly and Picard remain on the ship, she’s still working the problem. And when she’s completely alone, does Beverly Crusher lose her mind? Nope! I can’t tell if the best Beverly moment from this episode is when she calmly thinks, “If there’s nothing wrong with me, there must be something wrong with the universe,” or when the computer is being dumb, and Beverly literally waves the computer off like it’s some basic dude wasting her valuable time.
Either way, Beverly figures the whole thing out on her own and keeps her cool, while Wesley and the Trekkie BoyZ damn near lose their minds and only save the day because the Traveler turns up. Where would these boys be without Dr. Beverly Crusher, I dare not examine.
Doctor Beverly Crusher
I mean, y’all, Beverly’s the ship’s doctor, so we should probably talk about that. There are a lot of doctorly moments, but I think the most medical episode the show ever had was “Ethics,” where Worf’s spine gets broken and he decides to commit suicide rather than live without the full use of his body.
“Ethics” is one of those episodes where a lot of people get really juicy, emotional stuff. Worf, Riker, Troi… even Alexander gets really meaty lines to deliver.
For me, though, Beverly comes out way on top. You know how there’s about a million episodes where Picard draws a moral line? You ever notice how, almost without exception, people usually fall in line, and he’s proven to be absolutely right? Kinda makes it easy to be Picard. Beverly doesn’t get that certainty in the end, but she still stands her moral ground.
So there’s this neurological specialist, Dr. Toby Russell, who rolls in and convinces Worf to undergo this brand new, experimental, unapproved operation, despite Crusher telling Russell not to even mention it. Worf lives, yes. Worf returns to full motor function, yes. But Beverly’s summation of this decision — “You gambled, he won” — is absolutely savage in its honesty.
And Beverly is right! Yes, there’s a favorable outcome, but that was pure luck. So while Dr. Russell may feel justified, Beverly can only feel concerned for the next person’s life that Russell risks, who will almost certainly not be so lucky.
It’s easy to draw a moral line when everyone’s on your side. It’s much harder to draw one when nobody’s listening. And that is why Beverly Crusher is such a bomb doctor.
Beverly Crusher: Space Bro
Here is a thing I really appreciated about Star Trek: The Next Generation: There’s no office-style mean girl nonsense, and I believe that Beverly Crusher is largely the reason. She’s 100% cool with doing space aerobics while attentively listening to Troi’s sexcapades. Beverly and Troi talk about their career stuff together in “Thine Own Self,” where Beverly lauds her homie for wanting to become official, senior staff, and be able to run the ship sometimes. Also, big ups for taking the comm, even on the night shift, Bev.
But, wow, does nothing ever compare to that moment in “Qpid” when Crusher comes face-to-face with Picard’s favorite side piece, Vash. Do you remember Vash? Picard meets her on Risa (the sex planet) where they do archaeology together, which is also code for sex. Vash shows up on the Enterprise unexpectedly, and when Beverly comes by to get her usual tea and scones with Captain Jean-Luc “Not sure this is what I call ethical polyamory” Picard, she seizes the moment to get to know Vash. And you can tell they both know what’s up; they both know Picard hasn’t been honest; and they just silently drag him for a while before going off for a cool Enterprise tour.
I’m glad Beverly and Troi are friends, but I would’ve paid a lot of money to see a show called Beverly and Vash: Space Bros.
Beverly Crusher: Candle Enthusiast
One of the things that should 100% bother you is the lack of action Beverly Crusher gets in the seven years of Trek TV and four movies she appears in. And you should especially be mad at Captain Jean-Luc “not in front of the men, Beverly” Picard. This dude gets so much play, and leaves Beverly strung along the whole time. I can think of two aliens Beverly almost hooks up with before they either “evolve” into a genital-less, glowing bodystocking or become a woman. It’s weird that people are still hetero in the 24th, but everyone’s entitled to their freaky kinks, so let’s all be cool to Bev on this one.
I also think it is very telling that most TNG fans hate on the Season 7 episode “Sub Rosa,” in which Beverly finally, if briefly, gets hers. Please note: This happens shortly after “Attached,” where Beverly and Jean-Luc are joined telepathically, and they still don’t get down. If it doesn’t happen, then, ladies… I mean, I’m no Dear Abby, but I think it’s safe to say it’s time to pull out the toys and take care of yourself.
And Beverly excels at that in “Sub Rosa,” which is an episode wherein she discovers that her grandmother has a candle that houses a sex ghost in it. Yes. A “candle.” Very subtle, TNG. And while the sex ghost does ultimately wind up being abusive, I will say that the moment in which Picard comes to Beverly’s cottage, and she outright dismisses him so she can get her candle swerve on, is priceless. Jean-Luc is so jealous, meanwhile Beverly gets, uh… what she needs so hard her eyes literally change color.
But nothing is better than Crusher giving Jean-Luc a wicked case of the butt hurts. After seven seasons, the man was owed.