Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 78 (Family)

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

I tend to like continuity in a TV series.  I like that I can watch something that builds on previous episodes.  Star Trek: The Next Generation was good at that.  The episode Family was the perfect example.  All three stories draw on previous stories.  One story has Captain Picard visiting his brother and sister-in law in France.  On board, Worf’s adoptive parents visit him.  A third story, which is kind of minor, has Doctor Crusher debating whether or not to show her son a recording that his late father made for him when he was young.

The production number, as you can tell, was number 78, but aired right after episode 75, Best of Both Worlds II.  (If you’re watching the series, you may want to watch it in order they aired.  If you’re watching through Netflix, you don’t have to worry.)  In Best of Both Worlds, Captain Picard is assimilated by a race called the Borg and forced to help them attack the Federation.  He comes back and basically gets in a fight with his brother, who was always a little jealous of him.  Picard has to decide if he wants to leave Starfleet and return to Earth.

Worf is worried that his parents won’t understand a recent discommendation from the Klingon Empire, which happened in last season’s Sins of the Father.  Worf feels that no human could understand this aspect of Klingon heritage, but they’re his parents, even if they’re his adoptive parents.  This does lead to some humorous moments, though, since Worf’s father was a chief petty officer on the Intrepid.  (He has all the specs for the Galaxy-Class starships at home.)

Wesley gets to see his father.  It’s not a well-developed aspect of the episode, but it does draw on a lot of others.  Wesley’s father died when he was young.  He’s had to come to terms with this, which is not easy for anyone.  Now, Doctor Crusher has one of what was supposed to be many recordings for Wesley.  Does she show it to him knowing the effect it may have on him?  She comes to realize that he’s old enough.

As you might imagine, you’ll probably be a little lost if you haven’t seen the series.  You could probably follow it and would get most of it, but if you started with this episode, then went back and watched the previous episodes, you’d look at this one differently.

One thing that I’ve always found odd was that the show never deals with aftermath.  The Enterprise often leaves a planet and we have to imagine what might happen.  Here, we get to see the effects of several decisions.  We get to see Picard as being more human rather than this distant captain, mostly because of his assimilation.  Worf wants to deal with the aftermath of his discommendation alone, but realizes that he doesn’t have to.

I do find it odd that TV series will often have theme episodes like this, where all three stories have the same theme.  It works here because if you’re visiting Earth and the ship is being repaired, you’d think that people would want to visit family.  The only one that seemed maybe a little forced was Wesley’s story.  The recording was among items that Dr. Crusher had in storage.  Having the items sent up reminded her that she had the recording.

It’s episodes like this that make watching a series worth it.  I do remember much of the episode and I do recall thinking of it fondly.  It’s something that helped the show (and the characters) progress.  I know it seems that there are a few Trek episodes I didn’t like, especially with Voyager, but the shows did have their moments. 

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