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The Bonding

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Series :
The Next Generation
Rating :
Disc No :
Episode :
First Aired :
23 Oct 1989
Stardate :
Director :
Year :
Writers :
Season :
Guest Cast :
Early in the episode, Troi recommends that Jeremy must not be left alone in the aftermath of his mother's death. Just minutes later we see Jeremy sitting in his quarters all alone, surrounded by mementos of his dead mother!
Great Moment :
Worf's Klingon ceremony when he bonds with Jeremy. This is still very early days for the Klingons in TNG, and it was an interesting look into their culture.
Body Count :
Just one, Marla, and we don't get to see that on screen.
Factoid :
This story reveals that Worf was six years old when his parents were killed, and that Wesley lost his father when he was less than twelve.

This was Ron D. Moore's first Star Trek episode.


The Enterprise-D is investigating an apparently uninhabited planet. The planet was inhabited by a species called the Koinonians, but it is believed that the entire population was killed in a war. Worf leads an away team, but an explosion occurs and one of the team, Lieutenant Marla Aster, is killed.

Her 12 year old son, Jeremy Aster, is aboard the ship. Since his father died when he was a child, Jeremy is now an orphan. Picard orders Geordi to lead another away team to investigate what happened on the surface and goes to see Jeremy along with Troi. Jeremy seems to take the news calmly, but comments that he is now alone - to which Picard replies that nobody is ever truly alone on the Enterprise.

Data and Riker talk about Aster's passing in ten forward. Data admits that he feels more sense of loss over Yar than he does about Aster, and wonders why this should be so. Riker comments that if everybody did feel that way there would probably not be many wars. Worf, meanwhile, is feeling upset over Aster's death and ponders performing a Klingon ritual with Jeremy which will bond the two together for life. Troi is more cautious, but Worf does introduce himself to Jeremy. Dr. Crusher asks Wesley to talk to Jeremy, figuring that he might be of help since he lost his own father.

Back on the bridge, Data detects an energy buildup on the surface of the planet. The energy expands up and out, reaching the ship. Moments later Jeremy is alone in his quarters when his mother appears. She explains that a mistake was made - she's not really dead, and has decided that they will live together on the planet. Worf walks in on the conversation and calls Picard. Aster is intercepted as she leads Jeremy into the transporter room; she explains her plan to take Jeremy, but vanishes when Picard forces Jeremy to leave.

Aster soon returns, transforming her quarters into a replica of her home on Earth for Jeremy. Troi argues with her but she is adamant that she and Jeremy should live on the planet together. Geordi is able to modify the shields to block the energy from the planet, and Aster and the room recreation vanishes. However the block doesn't last long, and soon Aster returns to be with Jeremy despite all efforts to stop her. They shut down the transporters to stop her from taking Jeremy, and Picard talks to Aster. She explains that there were two races of Koinonians, a physical species and an energy species. When the physical beings destroyed themselves in the war, the energy beings swore that they would never let another person be killed on the planet. They were upset over Aster's death, and feel that they owe Jeremy a happy life with a recreation of his mother in recompense.

Picard and the others explain that death and loss is a normal, if sad, part of Human life which Jeremy has to learn to cope with. He points out that if he lived on the planet Jeremy would have no friends, career, or family. Wesley and Worf both confirm that they have lost family and went through bad experiences but were ultimately stronger for them. Worf offers to perform the R'uustai ritual with Jeremy, to make him a member of Worf's house and provide him with a family link. Aster agrees to leave Jeremy with the Enterprise crew, satisfied that they can provide for him better than her people. Worf and Jeremy perform the ritual.


This one really doesn't work for me very much. There really isn't much of a story here - the whole episode could be summed up as "People shouldn't have to deal with death" - "Oh yes they should" - "Oh, okay then." I don't mind an exploration of the implications of loss, and how it's dealt with... but we don't actually really get that here. Jeremy takes the loss calmly, and it seems like they are setting up a story where he's in denial only to break down and admit his grief at the end. Instead, he just keeps on taking it calmly. They play out a story about whether he should deal with loss or not, but that's kind of pointless - obviously he should, everybody should and does. It's kind of a no brainer. And when that point is made the alien leaves and Jeremy simply goes on not reacting at all.

Contrast this to the DS9 pilot, which has a similar theme. In that episode Sisko also has to teach aliens that Humans are a species that has to deal with grief and loss. But they make the point that whilst he talks about this, he is not actually doing it - and as a result Sisko breaks down as his grief overwhelms his denial, and he finally begins to actually practice what he preaches. The Bonding talks the same talk, but that's all it does.

© Graham & Ian Kennedy Page views : 38,491 Last updated : 24 Nov 2014