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Family

Review

Series : The Next Generation Rating : 5
Disc No : 4.1 Episode : 75
First Aired : 1 Oct 1990 Stardate : 44012.3
Director : Les Landau Year : 2367
Writers : Ronald D. Moore Season : 4
Guest Cast :
Carl David Burks as Russell
Colm Meaney as Miles Edward O'Brien
David Tristan Birkin as Rene Picard
Dennis Creaghan as Louis
Doug Wert as Jack Crusher
Georgia Brown as Helena Rozhenko
Jeremy Kemp as Robert Picard
Samantha Eggar as Marie Picard
Theodore Bikel as Sergey Rozhenko
Moral :
Family : You may like them, you may not. But they are yours, and you are theirs, and you will always need each other.
YATI : When Wesley starts up the message from his father, there is no communicator pin on his uniform. Yet a few moments later one magically appears between changes of shot. Why would Crusher have edited the pin from some parts of the program?

We see the constellation of Orion in the sky at the end of the episode, but the three stars in the belt are in a straight line. In the real Orion, one of the stars is offset from the others. Perhaps the T'Kon Empire moved the star!
Great Moment : Picard's fight with his brother, followed by their getting roaring drunk.
Body Count : None.
Factoid : This was the first episode in Next Generation history which did not have a scene set on the bridge.

The episode started life when Michael Piller began trying to persuade the Executive Producers that having Picard be back to normal one episode after his de-assimilation would not make any sense. He suggested that showing Picard wrestling with his experience whilst the Enterprise was in orbit being repaired could make for a good character piece. At first, Rick Berman insisted that a sci-fi sub-plot be added. Suggestions included a child stowaway on the ship, or a wormhole that caused crewmembers to vanish. The latter of these ideas would, of course, be recycled into the main plot of "Remember Me". Berman finally accepted that the show should be about family relationships, and so subplots about Worf and his parents and Wesley and his father were added. The resulting episode was well thought of once completed.

Pillar found that Jack Crusher's message to Wesley hit home with him, as he had recently had a daughter himself.

Jack Crusher's message originally revealed that Wesley's middle name was Robert. He also mentioned an ancestor who was a horse thief on Nimbus III, the 'Planet of Galactic Peace' seen in Star Trek V, another who fought for the Confederacy at Bull Run, and one who died at Space Station Salem-One, Pearl Harbor-type disaster mentioned by Picard.

Brent Spiner is not in the episode, the only Next Generation episode he ever missed.

O'Brien's rank notoriously changed around in early TNG. This episode firmly established the he is a Chief Petty Officer, and that his full name is Miles Edward O'Brien. These aspects of the character would remain fixed from then on. Making him an enlisted man was Ron Moore's idea, as he thought it would broaden the show.

Director Les Landau considers this one of the best episodes of Star Trek ever made.

Plotline

In the aftermath of the Borg incident, the Enterprise-D is docked at Earth Station McKinley for repairs. Lieutenant Worf's parents visit the ship, much to his embarrassment. They want to discuss his discommendation. Worf refuses to discuss it, and the visit proves to be quite awkward until Guinan has a talk with his mother, assuring her that although Worf takes a very 'Klingon' attitude to life, he still thinks of them as his parents.

Meanwhile Doctor Crusher takes delivery of a chest she has been keeping in storage on Earth. It contains various mementos of her late husband Jack's mementos, including a chip with a holographic recording which he made for Wesley when Wesley was only 70 days old. Beverly worries about what emotions the message may stir up, since it is not that long since Wesley finally put his father's death behind him. Nevertheless, she gives the message to him. Wesley finds his father talking about how daunted he is at being a father, feeling he knows nothing about the role, and apologises for the mistakes he will surely make. He tells Wesley that even as a baby Jack can see the faces of everyone he loves in him, along with himself. Wesley is moved by the message, and says a final goodbye to his father as it ends.

In the main story, Captain Picard visits his family's vineyard in La Barre, France, which is run by his elder brother Robert and his wife Marie. He meets Robert and Marie's son, René, and the two hit it off. Robert and Picard prove to have a rather adversarial relationship, with Picard resenting Robert bullying him as a child and Robert confessing that he was jealous of how successful Picard was academically. Robert blames Picard for abandoning the family business, and worries that his presence will inspire René's already considerable interest in what life is like in space.

Picard wonders about his own future in Starfleet, prompting family friend Louis to offer him the directorship of the Atlantis project, which is attempting to create a new artificial continent in the Atlantic ocean. Picard seems tempted, and agrees to meet with the project directors.

Later he meets with Robert again and the two argue when Robert probes Picard about his Borg experiences. They begin to brawl, rolling around in the mud as they struggle - before finally breaking down laughing at the absurdity of it all. Picard's laughter soon turns to tears as he confesses to how badly the Borg hurt him and wonders whether he can live with what he went through. Robert tells him that he must find a way, and that he will have to decide whether to do so on the Enterprise or under the sea with the Atlantis project. The two return home and get drunk together, tracking vast amounts of mud into the house, much to Marie's outrage.

Picard leaves, he and Robert having put a lot of bad feeling behind them. Robert, watching his son looking at the stars and dreaming about life out there, tells Marie to "let him dream".

Analysis

In these days of long-running plots and character arcs Family may seem like nothing out of the ordinary, but when it was first shown there really hadn't been much like it in Star Trek television. The reset button was the norm, with things happening to characters that really should be life-changing, only for the character to be back to normal the following week.

In Family we get to see just how badly Picard's experiences in Best of Both Worlds affected him. Patrick Stewart plays it superbly, of course, giving us a Picard who is both completely recognisable but also clearly one driven by anger and humiliation over what was done to him. And the way the episode ties that in to his history with his brother is very well done indeed. Wonderful stuff.

The B stories are weaker, but both are still pretty decent. Worf's story continues his ongoing character arc, showing him still struggling with his alienation from his people. It's nice to see that there was some Human influence on him too, and nice to see him falling back on that for love and support.

The Wesley story is probably the weakest. We get a fairly standard message from his father, saying the usual things that writers like to have fathers say in these situations. And yes, it lets Wesley say goodbye to his dad. But honestly, even his mother points out that Wesley has already come to terms with that - so what's the point of showing him do so again? Still, it's not a bad plot as such, just not as good as the others.

Special Edition

The special edition has the usual improved image quality and effects.
Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 17,880 Last updated : 24 Oct 2018