A reader of this webpage e-mailed me recently with the following observation:
How can you say Wesley Crusher replaced someone at the Enterprise’s helm and took their job? The person doing Wesley’s job in the first season was Geordi, and in the second season he became Chief Engineer, so the position was vacant and Picard could fill it with anyone and no one lost their job.
Yes, I will grant that the navigator of the Enterprise-D in Next Generation‘s first season was Geordi LaForge, and second season he became the ship’s permanent chief engineer. Yes, the position was vacant. Yes, Picard could fill it with whomever he chose. This does not mean, however, that Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher was the most qualified person aboard the Enterprise to serve as navigator. On the contrary, there would have been people aboard the Enterprise who had been to the Academy, who had trained in simulators and had actual field experience in piloting very large starships. What qualified Wesley to be the person on the bridge, piloting the Enterprise? I’ll be damned if I know, and I bet no one else does, either.
I have no objections to Wesley Crusher as a character. I feel he was a real missed opportunity for original storytelling, however. He was the first Trek civilian regular, until the writers and producers decided to make him just another member of the crew. My point is that Wesley should never have been just another crew member.
The judges of Pocket’s Strange New Worlds contest may think my premise is flawed. But deep down I know it’s not.