Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 96 (Half a Life)

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

Lwaxana Troi can be a bit grating.  She likes to live to the fullest and often imposes herself on others, particularly Captain Picard.  I’ve often wondered if the character was meant to appear just once, in Manhunt.  However, she has appeared in several Next Generation and Deep Space Nine episodes.  The character did seem to grow over her appearances.  In Half a Life, the character’s fourth appearance, she gets passage on the Enterprise and meets Dr. Timicin.

Tinicin is trying to save his planet, or rather the dying star which his planet orbits.  His race is rather reclusive, meaning little is known about them, but Lwaxana takes a liking to him, which he politely refuses at first.  Eventually, he admits to liking her, as well.  There’s just one catch:  His people commit suicide at the age of 60 and he’s just four days shy.  This is done to prevent children from having the burden of taking care of deteriorating parents.

Lwaxana doesn’t understand.  He’s in perfect health.  In fact, he may even save his entire race.  And why 60?  It’s conceivable to live to be 80 without problem or to get some horrible disease at 50.  (Timicin points out that it would be more cruel to make the family decide the age.)  He eventually seeks asylum on the Enterprise, but reconsiders when he realizes that his planet stops answering his hails.  Even if he does find a solution for his planet, it won’t matter.  Eventually, Lwaxana realizes that she won’t be able to change anything and accepts his decision.

This is one of those episodes that changes with time.  When the episode first aired, I was 15.  I had never really had to deal with the issue.  However, I’ve come to realize that having to take care of a dying relative isn’t easy.  If there is more than one family member taking care of a dying parent, it rarely ever seems like it’s fair.  That’s not even mentioning the cost of medical care or having to put them in a nursing home.

On the other hand, it is arbitrary to have a set cutoff.  Tinicin has a grandson that won’t have any meaningful recollection of him.  It will take time for another scientist to take over his work.  It seems rather rigid not to allow an exception.  It also seems equally as horrible to know that your loved one will die on a particular day.  Even if it were culturally engrained, I don’t know that I’d want to deal with knowing I’ll die on my sixtieth birthday.

Given the situation, there is no easy answer.  Tinicin comments that things might have been different if they had met years earlier, but would it have been?  He still would have had to deal with his “Resolution,” as it’s called.  There’s no mention when people normally retire on his planet.  (Yes, Tinicin is working days before his Resolution, but he is trying to save a planet.)

This is one of those episodes where it would be interesting to have some change occur and revisit the planet a hundred years down the line.  There’s a reason that the Federation isn’t allowed to interfere in the development of other worlds. 

No comments :