Copyright 1998 Marlene Taylor
Cost: very cheap (The usual cast, no guest stars, shipboard story)
(Shot of the ship cruising through space. Very pretty.)
Picard (voiceover): Captain's Log, Stardate 4281960 (after 6 pm 6422757). Things have been very quiet aboard the Enterprise for the last few weeks and we are awaiting new orders from Starfleet. We have no visitors aboard the ship at this time, so I expect something to go wrong with one of the crew very soon. I have the ship's computer monitoring everyone's movements very carefully.
(Scene: Interior of bridge. Everyone working. Picard in his chair. Riker sits next to him with his legs spread as wide as possible, Troi on the other side gazing at Riker.)
Riker: Things are still quiet, Captain. Just what are you expecting?
Picard: I'm not sure, but it will happen soon. I hear our ratings have fallen. Do you sense anything, Counsellor?
Troi (knitting brows): I sense confusion.
(They all roll their eyes. Picard looks around impatiently for someone else to bother)
Picard: Data, anything out there? Please say there's something out there.
Data: Why...yes sir, sensors are picking up a class M planet straight ahead.
Riker: Thank God.
Worf: They are hailing us, sir. They call their planet "wesley".
Picard: Wonderful. Tell them we want to come down and visit. We're bored to death up here waiting for something to happen.
Worf: Yes sir. Captain, may I respectfully inquire as to why I, as head of security, have to function as the ship's switchboard operator?
Picard: Shut up, Worf. Riker, put together an Away Team. Take all the actors whose names appear in the opening credits. That will reduce the chances of anyone getting killed.
Riker: May I take Troi also? We might be able to trade her for something valuable.
Picard: Good idea. If there's any danger, put her in front of you.
(Riker, Troi, Data, and Worf get into the turbo-lift)
Oh, and Will - if you find any women - seduce them.
Riker: Aye aye, sir.
(The doors close. Picard sits down. A long minute passes in which nothing happens and he looks anxious. Suddenly Worf's replacement pipes up)
WR: Captain, message from the surface! Priority One!
Picard: Put it on the main viewer, ensign.
(He stands up and pulls his jacket down, the first of 567 times he will do this during this episode. On the main viewscreen we see the Away Team being held at weapon point [these guns should look like Wham-O Air Blasters, as featured in "Santa Claus Conquers the Martians"]. The Wesleyans all look like humans with bad haircuts and ugly shoes. The leader is a post-pubescent guy and speaks in a whiny voice)
Leader: Ah, Captain Picard of the great ship Enterprise. We've been waiting for you.
Picard: Let my people go!
Leader: That's what Moses said. All in good time. First, you will turn your ship over to me. Then I will become Captain of the Enterprise and ruler of all I survey. So shake a leg, old man, or I start turning these people into dog food.
(Tight close up on his grinning, evil face. Then a zoom into Picard's worried, tense face)
CUT TO COMMERCIAL
(Act One: On the bridge. Picard is seated, but still manages to pull down his jacket as we focus on him. He signals to Worf's Replacement to turn on the audio)
Picard: Whom do I have the...honor of addressing?
Leader: Just call me Wil. Shall I start roasting? (he takes aim at Riker, who throws Troi in front of him)
Picard: No! Wait! I'm sure we can work something out. Please let some of my crew return. Commander Riker, how many in your party?
Riker: Five, sir. I took a faceless ensign with me just in case.
Picard: OK, we can leave him as a hostage. Wil, or whatever your name is, you can keep him as a token of my good faith. I would do anything to save the life of just one of my crewmembers. And I know that Ensign Johnson there would die for his ship. They all would.
Leader (Wil): All right, you can have the others. They were beginning to annoy me, anyway. But you'd better turn the ship over in the next 40 minutes or the show won't have a good ending. (he grabs Ensign Johnson and holds the gun to his head) Beam 'em up.
(They shimmer away. As they do we hear Ensign Johnson shout)
Johnson: HEY! I never said ANYTHING about dying for this lousy ship! Come back! You bastards! Come back or I'll tell them what really happened between Picard and Pulaski! HEY!Come -
(He is cut off as the screen snaps to space again. The Away Team comes through the turbo lift again and follows Picard into the Conference Room. They all sit down and Picard fidgets with his crystal)
Picard: Analysis. And make it snappy.
Data: A strange planet. So different, but yet so like Earth.
Riker: Obviously they want the ship for some purpose of their own. From what we saw they don't lack technology or arms.
Data: What about legs?
Picard: Shut up, Data. Troi, what do you sense about this "Wil" person?
Troi: He's hiding something.
(They all groan.)
Picard: Thanks a lot, counsellor. Remind me to have your quarters moved to steerage. Suggestions? Worf?
Worf (rising): I say we take immediate action. If you let me go down there with a team of highly trained specialists (he walks to Picard), we could surround the leader and his army (takes the crystal out of Picard's hand) and CRUSH THEM (breaks the crystal into a million pieces and leaves the dust in Picard's lap).
Picard (scared): Uh, thanks, Worf. Maybe later. (smiles nervously) There's something about this that seems so familiar to me. Maybe there's something here we're missing. Data, I want you and Ensign Crusher to check all connections and information you can find about this planet and its history. Check all the ship's data banks, including the big encyclopedia downstairs - the unabridged one.
Data: Yes sir. Where is Ensign Crusher?
Riker: Computer, locate Wesley Crusher.
Computer: Wesley Crusher is in his quarters, masturbating to "Like an Angel" by Madonna.
Data: I'll get right on it, sir. (he leaves)
Troi: Captain, may I leave? I have a hairdresser's appointment.
Picard: Yes, both of you get out of here. I need to be alone with Riker.
Riker: Sir, I don't know what you're thinking, but frankly, I'm not into older men.
Picard: Can it, Will. We're in trouble. We've now got 35 minutes to wrap this up and I don't even think we have a plot. Why do they want our ship? Why don't we just leave Ensign Jackson -
Riker: Johnson, sir.
Picard: Johnson, whatever, down there and get the hell out of here? I've done it before, it's standard Starfleet procedure in these situations. And what is it about their leader that seems so damn familiar?
Riker: It's my duty as First Officer to keep you from abandoning the story halfway through the episode, so let's just figure this out and then go to Raisa. It's been 4 hours since I got laid and I'm getting twitchy.
Picard: OK, maybe Data will come up with something. Commander, shouldn't there be a subplot popping in about now? If one doesn't happen in the next 20 seconds, create one.
Riker: Yes sir.
(They sit and look at the window. Picard draws patterns in the crystal dust. 20 LONG seconds pass. At the last moment, the intercom beeps. They both start up in relief)
Voice: Crusher to Captain Picard.
Picard: Go ahead, Beverly. Do you have a subplot for us?
Voice: Yes, I think I do. Could you come down to Sickbay? And hurry. It's time to go to a commercial. Cue that music.
(Dramatic music as Picard and Riker run to the door)
Picard: On my way.
CUT TO COMMERCIAL
(Act Two: Int. Sickbay. Crusher seated in front of her computer; as Picard and Riker enter we see her switch off the game she's playing and pull up a data sheet.)
Picard: What have you discovered, Doctor? (pulls down jacket; so does Riker)
Crusher: I think you'll find this very interesting, Captain. And if you don't, I can always make something else up. Look at this (points to display).
Riker: It looks like Flying Toasters to me.
Crusher: Oops, wrong program. Here it is. I did a scan of the surface of the planet with my special super secret medical sensors, and you know what? There's nobody down there.
Picard: Doctor, are you sure?
Riker: That's impossible. They held us at gunpoint. I saw them, I talked to them, I smelled them. They were wearing some kind of sweet cologne, like Canoe or something. I'm an Old Spice man, so it was pretty offensive.
Crusher: Sorry, Will, but that was a hologram threatening your life. It's all a massive holographic program.
Picard: But how could someone transfer the power of the holodeck to an entire planetary surface? Maybe they found a way to affect our sensors as well so we only think the whole planet's populated.
Riker: Possible. Who could have done all this? And to what end?
Crusher: Perhaps Q?
Picard: No, he's been in three episodes this season already. Ditto Romulans - there's not enough money in the budget to do the makeup and costumes again.
Riker: That would leave only some new alien race - which we're not scheduled to run into for another few episodes - or somebody already on the ship, a humanoid without special clothes or bumpy foreheads. Now who on the ship has that knowledge?
Picard: Beats me. Let's ask everybody else. I feel like having another meeting. You should come this time, Doctor, we need another token woman there.
Crusher: Jean-Luc, you're such a male chauvinist pork chop. You really need to get laid - it might loosen you up some.
Picard: Shut up, Beverly. Let's go. Turn out the lights when you leave - the utilities bill was unbelievable last month.
(Cut to conference room again. Crusher is finishing her spiel.)
Crusher: ...and that's the story. Pretty weird, huh?
Picard: Now who is capable of pulling this off?
Data: Sir, all of us in this room, half of the engineering staff, 8 of the technical staff, 2 guys who work in the galley, and that group of hackers that meets every Tuesday in Ten-Forward.
Worf: We should interrogate everyone, sir. Request that I use the cattle prods and the truth drugs.
Picard: Not just yet, although I'm just as eager to wrench the truth out of somebody as you are, Lieutenant. There must be an easier way of figuring this out.
LaForge: If there is a hologram program running on the planet, it must be coming from somewhere. We should try to track the power source. I think I could probably do that in a couple of minutes, Captain. Please let me do it. I need the air time - getting paid by the line really kills my paycheck. Data gets more lines that me, and he's just a machine. Jesus. I know I'm a minority, but I thought we fixed that pay equity stuff back in the 21st century.
Crusher: Don't believe it, Geordi. Ask Troi how much she gets paid.
Riker: How much do you get, Troi?
Troi: Well, you know they hired me under Affirmative Action for Half Breeds -
Picard: Will you all shut up about money?!? We have a serious problem on our hands! That hologram is still a threat to Ensign Johanson -
Riker: Johnson, sir.
Picard: Johnson, right, whatever. The power creating it could still kill him.
Worf: I say we leave him. He's weak and worthless. What DID happen between you and Pulaski, anyway?
Data: I agree. One life is not worth wasting all this time debating salaries. And, just for the record, I might not make as much as all of you, but I save more because I have no expenses. So there.
LaForge: Yeah, let's leave him.
ALL: OK, good, glad that's solved...(they get up to leave)
Picard: COME BACK HERE! (they sit down quickly, embarrassed) I'm not leaving him down there - the Actor's Union would sue me! And this is my ship and what I say goes! Stand up! (they do) Sit down! (they do) Go "MOO"! (they do) See? And it's none of your business what happened with Pulaski, although I'm not sorry that she fell down that turboshaft. You, LaForge, find out about that power source! Worf, round up the usual suspects! And Riker, you take the bridge. I need a drink.
CUT TO COMMERCIAL
(Act Three: Engineering. LaForge, Data, and Wesley Crusher are looking at the screen, which is displaying a very advanced version of Space Invaders. Data is playing and his score is in the trillions.)
Wesley: Come on, Data, I'm never gonna get my turn.
Data: I have noticed a tendency among humans to profess the desire to play by the rules in a game of skill, but actually break those rules when the game is not going in their favor. Interesting.
LaForge: Everybody cheats, Data. It's not getting caught that's the hard part. Uh, don't tell Picard I said that.
Data: Shouldn't we get to work, Commander? I mean, it's almost lunchtime and we still have to find that power source.
Wesley: Oh come on, it'll only take you a minute to do that. Play another game. I challenge you.
LaForge: OK. We do have to pad out this third act anyway. Computer, restart game. (computer plays Pac-Man noises)
Data: If it is the third act, shouldn't we go to a commercial now?
LaForge: No, something dramatic has to happen first.
CUT TO BRIDGE
(Silence. Everyone sitting around looking bored. Picard looks up from examining his nails and sees they are on; he clears his throat and pulls down his jacket. They all look startled and spring into action as the bridge noises become audible.)
Worf: Captain, message from the planet's surface.
Picard: On screen, Mr. Worf.
(We see Wil, the Leader, pointing his Air-Blaster at Ensign Johnson. He looks pissed)
Picard: Yes, this is the Enterprise, how may I help you?
Leader (Wil): I'm getting tired of waiting, old man. You have only 10 minutes to wrap this up - and that's not counting commercials.
Riker: We know you and your civilization are holograms, and we'll put a stop to you somehow, just you wait.
Leader (Wil):: So what? I can kill this jarhead just the same. (he makes as if to pull the trigger)
Johnson: Picard, you son of a bitch! Get me out of here NOW! This is NOT in my contract!
Picard: Shut up, Janssen.
Riker: Johnson, sir.
Picard: Whatever. We'll have you back in the next act. Hold on, man.
Troi: He's frightened, sir.
ALL: Oh, shut up.
CUT TO COMMERCIAL
(Int. Conference Room. Picard, Riker, Troi, Crusher, Worf, Data, LaForge. LaForge is writing frantically on a padd and they all look at him impatiently. Finally he looks up.)
LaForge: Oh, sorry. I'm ready now.
Picard: What do we have?
Worf: I interrogated all the possible suspects, Captain. They told me nothing useful...about THIS situation.
Riker: Ensign Johnson is still alive and protesting. The hologram still hasn't let him go. Time is running short, Captain.
Data: My research turned up nothing conclusive about the planet or is supposed inhabitants.
Picard: You're all pretty useless. No bonuses this month, for sure. What about you, LaForge?
LaForge: Let me just punch this all in...there it is on the big screen. The source of the power for the holograms is in...Wesley Crusher's quarters!
ALL: (Gasps of amazement) How can this be? What? How? Why?
Picard: Why couldn't you have told us this before?
LaForge: It would have ruined the pacing.
Crusher: I can't believe it. He's a psychopath. My husband was right - we should have left him in the forest to be raised by wolves.
Picard: Computer, locate Wesley Crusher.
Computer: Wesley Crusher is on Holodeck 4, playing with Lego pieces the size of mattresses.
Riker: Let's all go to his quarters so we can surprise him.
Picard: Right. Data, you take the bridge. I don't think we need anymore sly humor built on your lack of human understanding.
Crusher: Wait till I get my hands on him. He won't be able to sit down for weeks.
CUT TO COMMERCIAL
(Act Four: Int. Wesley's quarters. The door opens and we see Picard, Riker, Worf, and Crusher walk in. The room is incredibly cluttered with papers, books, diskettes, and videotapes. It looks like a typical writer's apartment.)
Crusher: What a goddamn mess. I knew he couldn't be trusted to clean his own room.
Picard: What...is all this?
Riker: (picks up some paper off the top of a large pile) Captain, have a look at this. I think I'm beginning to understand what's going on.
Picard: What is it, Number One?
Riker: God, I hate it when you call me that. Look, it's a script. A script for this show.
Picard: "Ethics", written by Wesley Crusher. Oh my God.
Crusher: Look, they're all over. All the scripts for all the shows.
Riker: It's Wesley who's been making us go through these stupid adventures. No wonder the dialogue's been so bad lately.
Picard: I can't believe it. All the time it was him.
Worf: (coming around the corner from another room) Captain, I found the source of the holograms and I've disconnected it.
Picard: How did you manage it so quickly?
Worf: It had an on/off switch.
Riker: Captain, it's all beginning to make sense now. Think about the plots of the shows. Think about how many times Wesley has saved the ship. Think about the way the Klingons are dressed - they look like rejects from a Kiss concert.
Picard: You're right. This show could only be the product of the imagination of an adolescent boy, one who's really into computers and role-playing games and Renaissance Faires. And we've been playing his game all this time.
Crusher: We've got to stop him. He wants the Enterprise and he'll stop at nothing to have it.
Worf: I'll kill him, sir.
Picard: No, we can't do that. His contract isn't up yet. We'll have to figure out a way to get him off the ship and have him return only for guest appearances until the season is over. Let's think quickly now.
CUT TO HALLWAY
(We see Wesley walking along, looking smug. He pauses in front of the door to his quarters; as it opens Worf pulls him roughly inside.)
Worf: Do not resist. I mean it, punk. (holds him in a much more powerful grip than is necessary)
Wesley: What? WHAT?
Riker: Just what the hell's going on here, Wesley?
Picard: The game's up, Wesley. We're on to your scheme.
Crusher: I'm ashamed of you, boy. If your father were alive he'd kick your ass from here to Omicron Ceti 2.
Wesley: All right, so what? Let me go, Worf.
Picard: Let him go. There'll be plenty of time for that later on. Explain yourself.
Wesley: Yes, it's true. I've been writing the scripts for the show, and why not? I was in a hit movie and I deserve more than walk-on bits every week. None of you were in hit movies, were you? The best you could do, Captain, was "I, Claudius" with that ridiculous hairpiece; it made you look like the president of Hair Club for Roman Centurions. So I wrote the scripts and I know what's going to happen. And now I want the ship. I want to be Captain of the Enterprise and follow in the steps of my personal hero, James T. Kirk. (a hush falls over the room at the sound of his name. Old theme music starts up)
Picard: STOP THAT MUSIC! You may think you have the upper hand, Wesley, but we're not your puppets. If you don't stop all this and let Ensign Johnson go -
Riker: Johnson, sir.
Picard: I SAID Johnson! If you don't stop, we'll refuse to cooperate. We'll just stop acting.
Worf: As if we were ever acting. (looks disgusted)
Picard: Shut up, Worf. Everyone stop acting. That's an order.
(Everyone just stands around. Silence, which grows very loud. Second tick by)
Wesley: It doesn't matter! I can make this a 2 part episode! (getting nervous) Come on, cut it out - the ratings are dropping, I can hear them! This is dead air - bad TV! My scripts never have dead air!
(More silence. Wesley gets desperate to keep the show on the air)
Wesley: All right! I'll make a deal.
Picard: Hah! OK, weasel, here it is: Let that extra go and stop having yourself save the ship in every episode. For now, you should go away to Starfleet Academy for a season and come back when your voice has changed.
Wesley: All right. But when I come back, this ship is mine. I'm going to write a script that has me save the entire galaxy and no one can stop me. By that time I'll be old enough to sleep with the producer and then I can do ANYTHING. Just you wait.
Riker: Mr. Worf, throw him in the brig.
Worf: Yes SIR. (with happy anticipation. Wesley looks very scared as they leave)
Picard: C'mon, let's get a drink. (they begin to exit)
Crusher: Jean-Luc, what did happen between you and Pulaski?
CUT TO COMMERCIAL
(On the bridge. Picard voiceover:)
Picard: Captain's Log. Wednesday, tea time. With the crisis over and Ensign Johnson safely back on the ship, I have time to reflect on what has just happened in the brig. Unfortunately the censors cut it out of the script.
Riker: They cut it out of the script?
Picard: Yeah, too offensive. We still have to have advertising, Will. Where's Troi?
Riker: I sent her down to keep Wesley company. I wonder why he never wrote her out of the series.
Data: Examination of Wesley Crusher's personal log indicates that he had hopes of becoming romantically involved with her, Commander.
Riker: Well, he can have her. One woman could never satisfy me.
Picard: You tell 'em, Number One.
Worf: Captain, aren't you concerned about what Wesley will do when he gets back from Starfleet?
Picard: No, Mr. Worf, because I happen to know that the series will be cancelled by then. We have nothing to worry about. (he pulls down his jacket)
Riker: And how do you know that, Captain?
Picard: Well, who do you think sleeps with the producer now?
Riker: (shocked) You mean...you TOO?
(cue the whimsical music as everybody laughs except Data, who mutters "idiots" under his breath. Roll credits)