Written by Nicholas Sagan, Rene Echevarria, and Naren Shankar
Directed by Les Landau
Family came out of the woodwork (is there woodwork on a starship?) during the seventh and final season of Star Trek: The Next Generation. It seemed that every crew member had an experience with a long-lost or previously unseen relative. Not to be outdone by the underlings, Bloodlines represents Captain Picard’s turn.
Reaching back to the first season episode The Battle, writer Nick Sagan brings back the Ferengi DaiMon Bock (portrayed Lee Arenberg). Captain Picard (portrayed by Patrick Stewart) receives a transmission from Bok, who blames Picard for his son’s death years before. Bok states that he has located Picard’s son, Jason Vigo (portrayed by Ken Olandt), and he will kill him out of revenge. Picard did have a relationship with his mother, Miranda, but knew nothing of a child that resulted from that relationship.
The crew locates Jason on the planet Camor V. Picard warns him he is in danger because Bok thinks Jason is Picard’s son. The two take a test and it reveals that Picard is the young man’s father.
It is awkward between the two men as Picard attempts to get to know Jason, all the while Bok is hovering around making threats and creating a very tense situation. Jason informs Picard he will leave as soon as the crisis is over and that he has no intention of continuing their relationship.
Jason later collapses, and Dr. Crusher (portrayed by Gates McFadden) informs him he has a degenerative neurological disorder. She digs further while Bok continues to dog the Enterprise, trying to get a transporter lock on Jason…
Part of the problem is that there’s no emotional vested interest in Jason. It would have been better were Jason the child of Marta, whom Picard knew in Starfleet Academy and was shown to have spent at least one night with Picard in the episode Tapestry. For Jason to be brought to fans who know nothing of Picard’s relationship with his mother doesn’t do anything to bond the fans to the character.
I won’t give away the ending, but the other problem is that there is no payoff in the end. I finished the episode feeling that the story hadn’t been furthered at all. Picard had an opportunity to grow here and have another family connection outside of his brother and nephew. That might have hindered the writers for a couple of the movies, but at least there would have been a purpose to Bloodlines.
One thing is clear… You’ll never look at your hairline again the same way…
I was at a convention once and that line was discussed. No one was sure if Patrick Stewart would actually say it. Stewart does a great job with the material he is given. I felt Picard’s anguish and confusion in the situation. He is a sport to go along with all of this at this point in the series run. It would have been easily for him to say he was above a lot of what is done here and the writers could have used another cast member.
That is also part of the problem – the episode is not something which I felt could have only been written for Picard. It could have gone to Riker or even Geordi with only a slight shift in who was seeking revenge for some mis-deed, real or imagined.
Ken Olandt was mis-cast as Jason as well. He just doesn’t seem that into the part or doesn’t have a real handle on how to play it. He’s attractive to look at, but that’s about it. It would have been better to cast an actor who could sink his teeth into the role and do something with it rather than someone who looked good but really brought nothing to the role. I really didn’t care after this whether or not Picard would continue his relationship with Jason. Olandt did nothing to make the character someone I cared about or something less than disposable.
In the end, this is just not that good of an episode. It’s lacking in just about every area that normally makes the stories contained in episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation compelling to watch. Pass it by unless you really have nothing else to do.