28 June 2017

New Ground

Episode: s5, ep 10

This episode is relevant to me, as I'm a new parent myself. Going to have to figure out being a working parent in a few months.

What Happens
The Enterprise is helping test a new propulsion system which lets a ship surf on a big space wave rather than use a warp engine. Geordi is super excited. Worf gets a call from his mother, she wants to visit while he's near. She arrives with Worf's son, Alexander and it's soon clear that she and Worf's father want Worf to take his son. Worf is resistant to the idea, but doesn't say no. He tries to navigate being a working, single father, though he isn't keen to give up his duties. Troi asks Worf how things are going and pushes him to join in parent-child activities to socialise with other parents. On a trip to see some animal displays (turns out to be in one of the ship's labs, but that's not explained until later so I had no clue where they were at first. A holodeck? A planet?) Alexander and Worf are aloof and not socialising. The teacher tries to gently correct Alexander's behaviour when he takes something, but Worf makes a big thing out of it. Worf has a serious talk with Alexander about honour and then tells Troi that it's all sorted now. Oh no, dear sweet Worf, no.
Meanwhile the propulsion test means the Enterprise has to follow close behind the test ship on the wave. At first it works and the results are amazing, but it swiftly loses energy and the test ship explodes. They have to make minor repairs before they can follow the wave again. Worf is called to see Alexander's teacher, who says Alexander is very bright but also disruptive and bullying, plus he lies when he's caught misbehaving. The teacher suggests chatting together with Troi, but Worf goes off to find his son, who is using Worf's holodeck programme without permission. Worf tells him off and says he'll send him to a Klingon school. Troi talks to Worf about how he feels about sending Alexander away, and suggests he consider how Alexander might have felt when he was sent away the first time and how these feelings might explain the boy's actions. She also talks to Worf about Alexander's mother, and how Worf left things with her.
The space wave has grown bigger and stronger and will destroy a planet because it's too powerful to be stopped as planned. Geordi has 2 plans, the more likely one means going through the wave to get ahead of it. The shields are still damaged, so it'll be bumpy and risky. Worf is called to a meeting and tells Alexander to stay in their quarters. Alexander goes to look at the animals again (well, duh), and he's in the lab when the ship is damaged. There's a fire in the lab and the Computer reveals to the Bridge crew (including Worf) that Alexander is there. Worf and Riker are allowed to go save him, but Picard warns that they have 3 minutes before that part of the ship will be flooded with radiation when the wave is stopped. Worf has to lift a beam to saves his son, and Alexander persuades Riker to save some endangered animals. Picard deploys the torpedoes before he knows Riker, Worf and Alexander are safe.

Oh My Captain
Picard makes allowances for Worf being late to a meeting and being interrupted by calls about getting Alexander settled on board (I guess comm badges don't have a Busy setting and it's not standard practice to check where people are before hailing them). The Captain says Worf should care for his son ahead of security matters. It's nice that the Enterprise seems to be an encouraging and helpful environment for parents, and Picard is super understanding.
The other side of this is that space is dangerous, they encounter trouble all the time and in extreme situations Picard must prioritise lives accordingly. He can't delay stopping the wave, for Riker, Worf and Alexander, because a whole planet is in danger. He does warn Riker and Worf of the short timescale, and you can see he's worried and tries to hold off giving the order as long as he can.

Blind Engineering
Geordi is super excited about the space wave propulsion experiment and squees at Data and Worf. Neither are particularly responsive. Geordi compares it to when the sound barrier was broken, or the first warp drive test.* Geordi decides to find an engineer to geek-out with because his mates just don't get it. Later Geordi is super pleased that Riker points out this technology could make Engineers obsolete. In a utopian society like the Federation it seems people aren't afraid of how new technology will impact their livelihoods, because I guess everyone is taken care of. Plus there seem to be various ways to live your passion even if it's an old-fashioned skill, that's presumably why bars and restaurants still exist even though replicators can feed everyone.

Klingon Warrior
Worf is totally not ready for parenting, and admits that he would rather face combat. Of course he's from a culture that praises fighting and he's trained for combat, whereas parenting isn't something Worf has prepared for. Also I have no idea how it's viewed in Klingon culture, but they don't strike me as nurturing folk. At least Worf doesn't push back on his mother, it's understandable that his parents didn't plan on another bout of child rearing when they were older. He tries to lecture her about raising a Klingon boy, though I expect no human woman knows more about that than Helena Rozhenko. Worf's parenting style is kinda confrontational, but again that's what he's prepared for. The teacher tries to gently correct Alexander's behaviour, giving him space to admit what happened and framing it as a misunderstanding; then Worf blunders in being stern with the teacher and Alexander. Worf thinks that a single lecture about honour will make Alexander behave. He's told that Alexander is smart but aggressive at school (after like day? timescales are unclear here) and continues to lie when caught misbehaving. Worf tracks him down to the holodeck and seems quietly proud of his son's physical skills. He doesn't let his pride show and tells Alexander off for lying and says he'll send him to a Klingon school. Shipping the kid off once seems to be his only threat, he needs to expand his repertoire. It's only after a conversation with Troi that Worf is able to consider Alexander's feelings and acknowledge his own. I'm not sure if ignoring your feelings is a Klingon thing or a Worf thing.

It's Not Easy Being Troi
Troi is in her primary role as Counsellor here, which is where she excels. She suggests Worf goes on a father-son field trip (I don't really understand why seeing animals is segregated by gender) to meet other parents. Later when she checks in with Worf she tries to warn him that kids don't usually change their behaviour after a single conversation, and offers her help. Worf doesn't resent her getting involved, and doesn't seem uncomfortable with her checking in. That said, he's not very forthcoming with his feelings, so even after the teacher suggests talking to Troi counselling isn't Worf's first instinct. After a confrontation where Worf tells Alexander he'll send him to Klingon school he finally goes to see Troi. She asks him if he discussed this with Alexander, but Worf doesn't think you discuss things with kids, you just tell them how it's gonna be. Troi asks questions in aneutral tone and says it's not her place to approve or disapprove of his parenting when Worf gets defensive. Troi asks Worf to consider Alexander's feelings when he was sent away right after his mother died, and Worf concedes that the boy might've felt abandoned. She points out children don't know how to deal with their feelings, so they just act on them. Then she switches to talking about Alexander's mother, and how Worf felt about her before she died. He admits that he was angry and they argued because she didn't tell Worf about their son. Troi validates Worf's feelings, of course he was angry, but that doesn't mean he didn't love her. She points out that both father and son have healing to do and should try to do it together.

Staff Meetings: 2
1. The Doctor running the propulsion test explains it to senior staff. The Enterprise will need to stay really close to the test ship to get the readings.
2. Geordi explains that wave is growing, Worf arrives late having been called from a discussion with Alexander. Geordi has 2 plans for stopping it: (a try and create an inverse wave with their engines, or (b get ahead of the wave and create an explosion in front of it. (a means they'd have to match the wave exactly and it keeps growing, so that would be very difficult. (b is more likely to work, but dangerous to the ship because they can't go over it, they can't go under it, they can't go around it, so they'll have to go through it. With the shields damaged from the explosion it will be risky.

Won't Somebody Think of the Children?
Been a while since I used this heading, but as the episode focuses on a child it's appropriate. I understand Worf's concern about having Alexander on board, space is really dangerous, but Star Fleet is fine with it and lots of crew have their kids with them. I think my main query is, who's looking after Alexander when he isn't in school? Despite Picard giving Worf time to be with his son it seems that being Chief of Security involves being on duty outside school hours. (What are the school hours? There are obviously different shifts, but there's no natural day and night, so are there shofts of crew/families/classes that operate on different times to others? Or is there an arbitrary day/night shift, so some folk are forced to be a bit out of sync? Based on [night shift in Data's day - link?] I suspect it's the latter.) Is there a creche or childcare service that allows crew with unpredictable hours to leave their children with someone qualified/familiar? There's no sign of such a thing, though could be that Worf doesn't use it. When Worf is called to an important meeting he instructs Alexander to stay, even though he's just been told the child is defiant. How often are kids just left unsupervised? Or is this just Worf being careless? There doesn't seem to be a Computer setting or AI that monitors children and lets parents know where they are or what's happening. Alexander took his father's weapon to a holodeck unaccompanied, and Worf wasn't alerted until he asked where Alexander was. Plus Alexander was in a lab that should have been evacuated, and had a fire in it and the air was almost vented before Data noticed there was a life sign there. Shouldn't the Computer have flagged up that there was a person -a child- in there? Seriously all this future tech and young kids are just wandering around unsupervised, armed and able to wander into dangerous places.

The End
In sickbay Crusher confirms Alexander has few injuries. The boy asks if his father is in trouble, and then if he's in trouble. Worf gently tells him not to worry about that now. Alexander promises to behave at Klingon school and make his father proud, but Worf suggests that it could be a greater challenge to live on board but they can face it together. Alexander agrees. It's a sweet scene.

* Geordi even mentions what it would be like to actually see Zephram Cochrane and the first warp drive. Sound familiar? I recall that a few episodes ago Spock did a brief compare and contrast between Picard and Kirk. Is this the series where they got the ideas for the films? What next? Will Romulans "unsucessfully" try to clone Picard? Or... y'know, something about Insurrection?

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