Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 76 (Suddenly Human)

Note: This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

There were a lot of less-than-memorable episodes from the various Star Trek series.  There were even a few from Star Trek Voyager that, despite having watched them all when the aired, I had no meaningful recollection of.  I remembered The Next Generation’s “Suddenly Human” for a few scenes, but mostly for the title.

The episode centers around a boy that’s rescued from a damaged Talarian ship.  What’s so special about this boy?  As you might imagine, he’s human.  He was raised by Talarians when the outpost where he and his parents lived was attacked.  His parents were killed, so the captain of the Talarian ship took the boy in as his own and started calling him Jono.

Jono comes off as kind of abrasive.  He doesn’t understand human culture, as he was taken at a young age.  Since Talarians have a male-dominated society, he doesn’t respond to the female crewmembers.  He does, however, respect the ship’s male captain, Picard.  It’s up to Picard to try to understand Jono and what happened to him.  Picard doesn’t seem to deal well with children, which has been an issue in the past.

When Jono’s adoptive father, Captain Endar, shows up, Endar takes custody of the four Talarian children.  When he doesn’t get Jono, he demands his immediate return.  Complicating matters is the fact that the child is actually the grandson of an admiral.  Both of her children are dead, making Jono her only grandchild.  (Yes, female.  It confuses Jono that Picard has to take orders from a woman.)

Since the Federation doesn’t have a great relationship with the Talarians, Picard’s only real hope is to persuade Jono to stay.  He doesn’t want to have to force the issue and I doubt official channels would do anything.  In the end, Picard realizes that what’s best for Jono may not be what Picard thinks or hopes is best for Jono and allows him to go back with Endar.

I seem to remember the series more fondly, especially from the fourth season on.  This may have to do with the fact that I was in middle school and high school when the series first aired, so I was viewing it with a different perspective.  I do recall not particularly liking this episode, probably because I didn’t like Jono that much.  I don’t know that I would have been much different if I were in that situation.  Still, there was a lot of unexplored potential with the episode

For instance, Worf is the opposite of Jono.  Worf was a non-human raised by humans.  I’m not sure what was done to see if Worf had any family in the Klingon Empire, so it may be a little different, but you’d think Worf would at least talk to the kid and try to bond with him a little more.  We also don’t see much of the kid’s grandmother.  You’d think she’d be leaning on Picard to do something.  At the very least, I’d expect something either at the end of the episode or later in the series about how Picard dropped the ball getting her grandson back.  At the very least, you’d think Picard would mention to Endar that the kid has a hopeful (and important) relative back on Earth.

One of the advantages of having Netflix’s streaming services is that you can watch the entire series without worrying about wasting a DVD on a series of bad episodes.  If you don’t want to watch it, you can easily skip it.  I could see someone liking the episode, but I didn’t particularly like it.  (I’d avoid getting it on VHS if you’re into that sort of stuff.)  Overall, there’s very little impact on later episodes, so you wouldn’t lose anything if you missed this episode. 

No comments :