23 May 2015


Episode: s4, ep 2

A really strong emotional episode that deals with the issues Picard and Worf have hanging over them. Not the kind of thing I've come to expect from this show.

What Happens
The Enterprise is being fixed near Earth after the 'Borg incident'. Worf's parents (his adopted, human ones) have requested a visit, Worf seems... displeased. Picard is going to his family home for the first time in 20 years, Troi finds this interesting but says it's understandable after what he went through. Dr Crusher gets a box of her late-husband's things out of storage, including a recording he made when Wesley was a baby, she wonders whether it would be good for Wesley to see it.
Picard encounters his nephew (Rene) and sister-in-law (Marie), whom he has never met before. He and his brother have issues, which makes them hard to be around. Robert (the T is silent) Picard is a traditionalist like Picard senior was and doesn't like technology. Jean-Luc meets up with his old friend Louis who tries to headhunt Jean-Luc to help with a project to raise the floor of the Atlantic and create a new continent. Jean-Luc considers his future while being very stoic and brushing off his brother's rudeness. Marie offers sound advice and tries to stop the brothers from making the atmosphere in the house unbearable.
Worf's adoptive parents, Sergey and Helena Rozhenko, visit him from Russia. They are both very excited and not as reserved as Worf would like. His father was an engineer and wants to look at all the parts of the Enterprise. Both of them are worried about Worf and speak to Geordi and Guinan about him. Worf told them about his disgrace in the Klingon Empire, and though they don't fully understand the implications they know it has affected him badly. There are hints of what Worf was like as a child, and the difficulty of him being raised in a human community.
Picard and his brother get into a fight after Robert tactlessly questions Picard about what he went through with the Borg. They end up mud-wrestling amid the family vines and this releases the pent up tension, allowing Jean-Luc to finally react to the terrible things he was forced to do. Although this doesn't remove all the ill-feeling between them, the pair bond and get drunk together. Jean-Luc decides it is time to return to the Enterprise and Robert is less worried about his son dreaming of following in his uncle's footsteps.
Beverly Crusher gives Wesley the recording his father made and Wesley watches it in the holodeck.

Oh Captain My Captain
The Picard sign for recovery
Picard hasn't been home in 20 years, and while Star Fleet can mean people are away from home for a long time it's clear that this absence is unusually long. His talk with Troi reveals time has passed while ship and Captain have been recovering. Picard's physical recovery seems to have been smooth, but psychologically there's still work to be done. He mentions nightmares, but says they've stopped, and it sounds like Troi has been working with him in her Counsellor role. He's grateful for her help, but also dislikes her being analytical and I can only imagine he was a difficult patient.
Jean-Luc has never met his sister-in-law or young nephew before, though Marie has kept up communication with him. My mother is ten years younger than my uncle, and she says she never felt like she knew her brother well until she got to know him  through his wife. This isn't the same situation, but it made me think of that. Jean-Luc is friendly to his nephew, for all his claims of not being good with children he develops a rapport with the boy, but his relationship with Rene only appears a little. Rene is a symbol of the future of the Picard family.
Jean-Luc and Robert have a fraught relationship which involves resentment, jealousy and bullying, as well as the spectre of their father whose attitudes were a lot like Robert's. At first Robert seems grumpy and the issue appears to be his distrust and fear of technology. His brother flies a starship and he may not have electricity (the lighting might have been electric but nothing else was, the house looked a century old now, in the future it must look ancient -no wonder his poor wife has asked about getting a replicator). It's soon clear that their different lifestyles and how they got on with their father aren't the only issues at play. Robert behaves like a dick, and though Jean-Luc tries to be a polite guest at first he soon rises to his brother's taunts. The pair argue and accuse over long-held feelings and end up in a brother-on-brother mud wrestling fight. This seems to be what Robert wanted -though I certainly don't think think that justified saying Jean-Luc deserved what happened to him, nor am I entirely convinced that this was all some cunning plan of Robert's to get his brother to open up. Then again it's very easy to get personal when arguing with siblings. I have no trouble believing Robert bullied Jean-Luc. Much as I dislike Robert and his attitude, as an eldest sibling who didn't rebel against parental values and who experienced a certain amount of jealousy growing up, some of the stuff he says rings true. The wrestling stops with both brothers laughing at themselves, then Jean-Luc starts crying and grimacing as he finally confronts what the Borg did to him, and what they made him do to others. On his mud-covered face the smiles and grimaces form the same mouth-shape, but are so different in context. Both actors deliver excellent performances so the emotions feel very authentic.

Like Capt Picard his entire family seems French but sounds English (the actors are all British). They live in Le Barre in North-east France and grow wine in the traditional way. My earlier theory of Britain conquering France or France conquering Britain, leading to a blending of the cultures, is neither proved nor disproved by this episode.
Rene, Marie and Robert (pronounced Ro-bear) all have English accents, but their names are pronounced in the French way and they use occasional French words (Salut!). Towards the end the two brothers sing drunkenly in French. When saying goodbye (not au revoir) the adults all kiss each other on both cheeks, which is definitely not a British thing.
Then there is the confusing case of Jean-Luc's friend, who also has an English accent. His name is spelled Louis according to the credits (which I think of as the French way, though that doesn't always apply), but is pronounced the English way (Lewis) by everyone. I do not know if he is meant to be English or French? I assume French but then why wouldn't everyone call him "Lou-ee"? It is puzzling.
Of course it could be that this is a US show and if you're going to have Europeans speaking in English you'd better have their accents be something close to Received Pronunciation as that's what the viewers expect to hear from this side of the pond.

Klingon Warrior
I think Odo has this same chair.
I like to think they talk about it when
Worf's on DS9.
Worf wants to avoid spending time with his parents, and tries making excuses. Riker doesn't buy it (he had to spend time with his dad, and their relationship is terrible). Worf's parents turn out to be enthusiastic Russians, his father was an Engineer and is happily geeking out about the ship and telling everyone that he has the specs at home. Worf's mother clearly wants to dote on her son, but also knows he won't accept that, so she tries to keep his father in line and stop him from embarrassing Worf. Worf is just embarrassed anyway, aware that his controlled and reserved manner is undercut by his parents excitement. At one point he even tells them this, and his mother acknowledges that they aren't behaving as he'd like them to, but his father points out they're excited. The Rozhenkos tell Guinan that they knew it would be difficult raising a lone Klingon, and that they let him find out about his own culture by himself. He didn't have other Klingons about, but equally they never tried to make him human, and Guinan praises that. It's interesting that as a child he insisted on eating Klingon food, presumably his way of connecting to his identity, and it's nice that Helena learned to cook Klingon dishes for him.
It's Riker who first suggests that perhaps Worf is concerned about his Klingon dishonour, which I wasn't expecting as it happened more than 6 episodes ago and in a different series. Worf tells Riker that only a Klingon could understand his pain, but when Worf isn't present his parents' concern is evident. Sergey should be bursting to ask Geordi about the engines, but as soon as they're alone he wants a word about his son (though we don't hear that conversation). They eventually tell Worf that they know he's troubled but they will support him, even if he finds their support "too human". He admits that he wasn't sure if he wanted to see them, but he's glad they came.
I suspect that Worf has difficulty being in a support network. While growing up he no doubt felt isolated from all the humans around him (even supportive family members) and leaned on his Klingon identity, he often distances himself from stuff he has decided is "human". That said Worf doesn't seem entirely comfortable in Klingon company either, not helped by other Klingons question/taunting him about being too human/soft due to his Star Fleet position. He didn't grow up around other Klingons and most of his Klingon knowledge was theoretical while he was a child. He's not spent much time in Klingon society and so his pain at being dishonourably barred from it must be great.

The Crushers
Near the beginning Beverly Crusher questions whether she should show Wesley the recording of hisfather as she feels he's just starting to get over his father's death (I have no idea how long Jack Crusher has been dead, but I guess Wesley may have been struggling with it more than we've seen). Troi advises that it might be good for Wesley. Near the end of the episode Wesley sees the recording. We don't seen Beverly give him the recording, or talk to him about it. There are no scenes with mother and son together. The Crushers are only shown as a family unit when it is necessary in an episode, otherwise they seem fairly separate.
Jack Crusher gushes about being a new father and how that feels, happy and overwhelming it seems. He's optimistic about the future and also apologises for the absences his work will force upon them (I'm sure the irony doesn't need pointing out). It's sad that this bright and enthusiastic young man is dead. Wesley says goodbye to his father and it is sad. There's not much more to this story. This feels like a sub-subplot, we've seen Wesley's reactions to his father's death before and in more detail. I guess this is nice to have, but unlike Picard and Worf's stories it doesn't feel necessary.

Guinan's Hat: Navy Blue
When Worf's parents are looking at the stars Guinan introduces herself and asks about Worf. She praises the Rozhenkos for they way the raised Worf, even as they protest they didn't do anything special. It's not false modesty on their part, they did what they thought was right, but equally taking in an abandoned child and adopting him even though he is very different from you and your community is quite a thing. They admit that Worf isn't close to them (which is probably part of his distancing thing) but Guinan points out that it may be true on one level, but on another Worf looks to them for home rather than the Klingon Empire. The whole exchange between Guinan and the Rozhenkos is really lovely.

The End
Picard returns to the Enterprise as Worf's parents are leaving. Worf introduces them, perhaps with less trepidation than before, and Picard smiles as he leaves the warm family scene.
On Earth, Rene Picard looks up at the stars and dreams, his father Robert is content to let him

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