Season Four - TNG

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Family

Written by Ronald D. Moore, Susanne Lambdin, Bryan Stewart, and Joe Menosky
Directed by Les Landau

This episode – although separated numerically from The Best of Both Worlds Part II by two other episodes – immediately followed the fourth-season opener. This is important because Family is almost part three of that story.

After the devastation the Enterprise, as well as the Federation, has experienced at the hands of the Borg race, the ship returns to spacedock orbiting earth for repairs. While there, it gives certain characters the chance to reunite with family members.

In the case of Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), it means returning to his family’s vineyard in LeBarre, France, now run by his brother, Robert (portrayed by Jeremy Kemp), who lives at the vineyard with his wife and son (portrayed by Samantha Eggar and David Tristan Birkin). Picard must deal with all the feelings brought about by his kidnap and torture at the hands of the Borg, as well as the fact that he was forced into aiding the Borg against the Federation.

Right from the beginning, there is a sense that this will be a pivotal point for the Captain. As he’s preparing to leave for his shore leave, he gives a glance back at his quarters that almost seems to hint that he feels like he is looking at it for the last time.

His interaction with Robert is important because it gives great insight into the type of person Jean-Luc Picard has always been, and how what happened with the Borg affected him. Picard even debates leaving the Enterprise to take on a project on Earth. Patrick Stewart’s acting is wonderful here as he portrays the anguish and the need for the comfort of his boyhood home. It is his older brother who finally pushes him into acknowledging all of the emotions and helplessness he felt; something he cannot do with his crew; the captain cannot let down the facade.

The second character who must deal with his family is Worf (Michael Dorn). Orphaned as a boy in the Khitomer Massacre, Worf was adopted and raised by human parents of Russian descent. With the Enterprise orbiting the planet, Sergey and Helena Rozhenko (portrayed by Theodore Bikel and Georgia Brown) come aboard for a visit. They know of Worf’s discommendation ( see Sins of the Father) but don’t know how to approach him on it. It makes for an all-around uncomfortable situation until the proud and traditional Worf finally opens up to them.

This is important to Worf on his journey in finding his Klingon roots. It will transcend both this series and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine when Worf joins that cast.

Finally, we have a story involving Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) receiving a box of her late-husband’s belongings. In it is a recording he made for his son around the time of his birth. Feeling that Wesley (Wil Wheaton) is old enough to view it, she gives it to him. For quite some time, Wesley is reluctant to view the recording, but finally goes to the holo-deck (a virtual reality room that people in this time can only dream of) and gets to see the father he barely remembers.

The episode is a complete character piece, but unlike other pieces, it never seems to drag at all. The credit must go to the actors involved – Stewart, Dorn, Wheaton – all give terrific performances that convey what their characters are going through at the time.

If there’s one problem it’s that at the end of The Best of Both Worlds Part II, it was hinted that Riker would have his own command. It would seem logical that the situation would be dealt with here as well, but it is never addressed. My thoughts are that it was cut out due to time constraints, but it is an important piece of the puzzle that is never addressed.

Casual viewers of the series will be confused if they haven’t seen many of the episodes leading up to this, particularly The Best of Both Worlds Part I and The Best of Both Worlds Part II. For fans, however, this is a terrific piece that takes our crew out of its usual setting and lets us see them in a very different light.

Previous episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Brothers

Next episode (link): Star Trek: The Next Generation – Remember Me

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