Plot Synopsis: Worf decides to take into his house the child of a slain subordinate, but the child is having trouble accepting his mother’s death, especially when she mysteriously reappears.
Plot A and B Analysis: Worf is down on a planet checking out some ruins with his team when there’s an explosion, and after an emergency beam out one of his team is DOA. A serviceable teaser. Plot A is about Worf and Jeremy Aster, there is not plot B. Captain Picard tells Jeremy his mom is toast, Troi goes to work trying to help him and Worf wants to get close since he was in charge of the team. Everyone talks about death, then things get mighty weird when his mom reappears in his quarters. The plot moves along with Troi trying to coax Jeremy toward reality while an alien race try to bring him down to the planet so they can babysit him for his whole life. It’s an episode that means to deal with a very sensitive topic, the death of family, but it just comes across as a strange episode.
Favorite Scenes: Probably Wil Wheaton’s performance, dredging up the death of his father which is sprinkled throughout the episode. I will say there’s something that Troi said that has stuck with me. It’s with me now especially, given my chosen profession. In Picard’s ready room he and Troi are talking about how Jeremy is doing, and Picard says his role ends when he breaks the news but hers is just beginning, implying she has the harder job.
Troi: We deal with our pain in many different ways, but over the years I’ve discovered it is in our joy that the uniqueness of each individual is revealed. If I can help a person back to a state of joy…well, my role has its rewards.
Use of Cast/Characters: Another side of Picard is shown here, and the weight of a captain’s duty is visible in his performance. It’s nice to see, and further fleshes him out. Riker, Data and Geordi don’t do a lot in this episode. Troi gets significant screen time, and we get to see her serve a useful purpose in this episode. She is the touchstone, the one Picard and Worf go to for help here, and it’s nice to see. This episode makes a good case for the presence of a counselor on a starship, particularly as someone the captain can talk to when he can’t talk to anyone in the chain of command. I don’t think it should be a bridge position, but she is valuable. Worf is used pretty well too as we see him affected by the death of someone under his command, probably for the first time. Dorn just always gives a good performance. Doctor and Wesley Crusher are given time as well, and there is a nice mother/son scene in sickbay between the two of them. Wil Wheaton in particular really is flexing his acting muscles here. Susan Powell does a solid job as Marla Aster, and while Gabriel Damon isn’t great as Jeremy, but hey, he’s just a kid. Colm Meaney is around more often these days, but he doesn’t do much yet.
Blu Ray Version: Another gorgeously detailed planet. The film grain that was apparent in season two doesn’t seem to be around for season three, thank goodness. The close shots of Koinonia around 18:33 are actually an image of Valles Marineris on Mars. It’s been made cleaner and clearer and looks even more like the surface of Mars. The animation of the Koinonian life form leaving the planet at 31:21 has some in-jokes. Greenberg return 374 refers to Don Greenberg, the visual effects supervisor. Sarpaul Operator refers to Sarah Paul, a visual effects coordinator who was involved in remastering TNG.
Nitpicks: I guess I don’t have many nitpicks for this one. Ron Moore usually writes a pretty tight script. One weird thing is what’s with the blue screen behind Worf and the kid? Are they in Worf’s quarters and he just has a gigantic blue wall? I don’t get it.
Overall Impression: This is a dichotomous episode, in that half of it is good and half of it just doesn’t work. Ron Moore is one of those writers similar to Tracy Torme who really focuses on character development. This serves him well in future episodes, and while virtually everything having to do with facing death aboard a starship works, virtually everything relating to the aliens doesn’t. This episode is not an enjoyable one to watch, it’s one of those I dread having to see. It’s not really a ‘bad’ episode per se, it’s just not a good one, it gets too bogged down in its own story. I rate this episode 2 out of 5 stars.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: This is the script that Ron Moore submitted because his girlfriend at the time was involved with TNG in some capacity. He wrote the script for this episode and she got him on the lot, and Michael Piller liked it when he was desperately looking for scripts in the third season. Thus this was the first script Moore ever sold and is the beginning of a great addition to the writing staff for TNG, even if you wouldn’t know it from this episode. This is the first episode where we see force fields being used in the corridors of the Enterprise. The computer core room in this episode is the last time you’ll ever see it. At around the 18:30 mark when an energy source on the planet’s surface is detected, the main viewing screen displays and zooms in on a picture of Valles Marinaris on Mars.
Missable/Unmissable? Missable. Go to the next one, it’s much better.