Monday, October 21, 2013

TWITrek Character Insight No. 71: The Traveler

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight!  This week, we profile The Traveler, a recurring character on TNG.

 The Traveler, 2370

The Traveler is a mysterious all-powerful being that the crew of the Enterprise encounters shortly after the initial meeting with Q. Unlike Q, The Traveler takes more of a curiosity-based and exploratory interest in humanity and other races than the Continuum, which sees humanity like we see insects on the ground. That leads The Traveler to be far less adversarial than the iconic character played by John de Lancie.

The Traveler is first seen as an undercover agent helping Starfleet propulsion expert Kosinski develop a revolutionary new method of warp drive, perhaps an early predecessor to the transwarp drive discussed at length in Voyager. Unfortunately, the transwarp theory turns out to be bogus and Wesley Crusher sees right through Kosinski to the true genius in The Traveler. He reveals the true power of his mind and explains that his abilities are based on focusing the energy of thoughts to alter time and space.

The Traveler explains his admiration of what he sees in Wesley to Captain Picard, who subsequently give shim a field commission of ensign. So we have The Traveler to blame for all those dumb Wesley episodes throughout the length of TNG. Thanks, Mr. The Traveler. <>

However, we eventually have The Traveler to thank for ridding us of the Wesley phneomenon. The Traveler helps Wesley begin to understand his innate potential of harnessing thoughts when he helps Wesley save his mother from being trapped in her own universe. A few years later, The Traveler encourages Wesley to resign his commission and be mentored on the path to becoming like The Traveler. The Traveler was intended to be revealed as Boothby, but that revelation was scrapped in the final cut of the episode Journey's End.

Just like that, Wesley exit stage right. However, his legacy as a Traveler lives on in the books for TNG.

 Our notable quote this week comes from Where No One Has Gone Before:
The Traveler: You do understand, don't you, that thought is the basis of all reality. The energy of thought, to put in your terms, is very powerful.

Actor: Eric Menyuk played The Traveler, and the role was a consolation prize for narrowly losing out on the role of Data to Brent Spiner. He retired from acting in 1998 following some minor roles in movies such as The Babysitter and The Air Up There (yes, with Kevin Bacon).

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