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The Child

Series : The Next Generation Rating : 0
Disc No : 2.1 Episode : 26
First Aired : 21 Nov 1988 Stardate : 42073.1
Director : Robert Bowman Year : 2365
Writers : Jaron Summers, Jon Povill, Maurice Hurley Season : 2
Guest Cast :
Amick Byram as Ian Andrew Troi
Colm Meaney as Miles Edward O'Brien
Dawn Arnemann as Miss Gladstone
Diana Muldaur as Dr. Katherine Pulaski
Dore Keller as Crew member
Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
R. J. Williams as Ian Andrew Troi
Seymour Cassel as Lieutenant Commander Hester Dealt
Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan
Zachary Benjamin as Ian Andrew Troi
Moral :
Understanding : The best way to know a way of life is to live it
Guest Reviews :
Rating : 0.0000 for 1 reviewsView existing reviewsAdd your own review
YATI : Pulaski claims that the child's DNA is exactly the same as Troi's... so why is the child a boy when Troi is a woman? Surely the child should have grown up to look like Troi's identical twin sister.

When Troi is about to give birth, Pulaski offers her a painkiller and then claims that it will in no way diminish the experience of childbirth. Isn't this rather a sweeping and subjective viewpoint? Some women consider enduring the pain a significant part of the experience, what right does Pulaski have to simply dismiss this viewpoint out of hand?

Worst Moment : Take your pick... the whole premise sucks, but my personal most silly moment is the idea that the radiation is making the viruses more active.
Body Count : Ian Andrew 'dies', but in reality he just changes back to his original form and leaves.
Factoid : This episode is the first of season 2, and several changes are made to the show's format; Geordi is promoted to Chief Engineer, and Worf to Chief Security Officer. Ten forward is seen for the first time, as is one of the shuttle bays. Riker's beard appears, and Worf's golden sash changes to a more solid silver one. Pulaski arrives, Dr Crusher's character having been ditched, and Guinan appears.

This episode was originally written for the proposed Star Trek II television series in the late 70's.

This episode is a nominee for the DITL "Worst of Trek" award.

Quote : "One is my name. The other is not." - Data to Pulaski, on her mispronunciation of his name.

Plotline

The Enterprise-D is travelling through space when a small glowing ball of energy penetrates the ship. Passing through various decks, it eventually reaches Deanna Troi's quarters, where it moves under the bedclothes...

The following day Captain Picard learns that the new Chief medical Officer, Katherine Pulaski, has arrived on the ship but failed to check in. He rather grumpily tracks her down to ten forward and arrives to greet her, only to find her comforting a visibly upset Troi; the Counsellor is pregnant, apparently as a result of the light - an energy being. Investigation reveals that the foetus is maturing at an incredible rate, and will be born in a matter of hours. Worf favours aborting the pregnancy, but whilst the senior officers are discussing the issue Troi asserts that the baby will in fact be born, whether they like it or not.

The ship proceeds with its mission, which is to help fight an outbreak of deadly plasma plague in the Rachelis system by transferring various samples of plasma plagues from a research facility. The samples are so dangerous that it is practically impossible to destroy them and impossible to contain them unless they are kept in total stasis, and Geordi has built a custom-designed containment vessel for the purpose.

Troi gives birth, with Lieutenant Commander Data in attendance to help her. She names the child Ian Troi after her father.

Shortly after the child is born, Lieutenant Dealt, a specialist in plasma plague who is accompanying the samples, reports that they are becoming active within the containment vessel - and will soon break free and contaminate the ship. Picard considers dumping the entire containment vessel into space, but Dealt assures him the plagues will break free anyway and then drift through space until they encounter a planet, with disasterous results.

Ian Troi continues to grow at a fantastic pace, becoming a child capable of walking and talking within hours. He declines to answer any questions about his origin, but Troi and Pulaski realise that he is deliberately seeking to expose himself to different sensations, including pain.

As the situation with the plasma plagues becomes critical, Ian admits that in fact he is the source of the radiation which is making them become active - and the only way to stop it is to end his life. Despite Troi's distraught objections, Ian dies moments later; the glowing ball of energy reappears and communicates with Troi for a moment before leaving, revealing that Ian was an alien life form who chose a rather unusual method of assuming corporeal form to investigate how the crew of the Enterprise live - not realising the danger he would cause.

With his death the plasma plagues revert to their inactive state, and the ship proceeds on its mission.

Wesley, who has been scheduled to leave the Enterprise to join his mother at Starfleet Medical, discusses his future with the ship's new bartender, Guinan. Wesley decides that he wants to stay on board the ship, and Picard agrees to the request - with the proviso that the senior officers will tutor him in various aspects of growing up.

Analysis

Really, really, not a good episode.

The idea of the energy being who wants to try out being Human is an old one, but having it done through an actual pregnancy is an interesting twist on it. But after that... the whole thing is just not that plausible.

For instance, the plasma plagues. It's virtually inconceivable that these things couldn't simply be destroyed; are they really immune to phaser fire? And even if they are, they are certainly not immune to transporter dematerialisation, because the transporter was used to bring them aboard. So why not do the wide-dispersal thing with the transporter and destroy them that way? The crew considers dumping them in space, and Dealt says it might contaminate a planet - but if they were dumped in interstellar space it would take them millions of years to drift off to some nearby system! And even if we assume that's a problem, why not dump them on an uninhabited planet? Then there's nothing for them to kill and no way for them to spread. Or dump them in a star for that matter; even if they could survive that environment, it's not terribly likely they could escape it.

So, a poorly manufactured threat. The idea that radiation is causing this problem is rather daft too. I guess we can say that since plasma plague seems to be something entirely unlike a normal biological life form, there's no real way to know how it would react to something like radiation. But it just seems... lazy, somehow. Feels like one of those old fifties sci-fi movies where radiation could do all sorts of silly things like make ants grow ten feet long.

The only moment in the whole episode that really grabbed my interest was the meeting where Worf suggests aborting the pregnancy. It's a perfectly valid argument for him to make, especially coming from the head of security; and I'm glad to see that the others seriously considered it - too often in TNG Worf would suggest some militarily sensible approach to a problem only to have it pretty much dismissed out of hand. But what is really interesting is that Troi shortcuts the entire argument by telling Picard that she will have the child - telling, mind, not asking. And Picard instantly makes it perfectly clear that the issue is therefore settled. It's nice to see TNG tackle a politically sensitive subject like this, and do so without being over the top preachy about it - rather than telling us what the Federation's attitude to such things is, they just casually show us.

Welcome as it is, this just wasn't enough to redeem this mess of an episode. Zero stars, and a definite poor start to season 2.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 777 Last updated : 28 Jan 2007