ST:TNG Treadmill Review #39: Family

Season 4 Episode 2
Original airdate: September 29, 1990

Netflix Synopsis

The crew of the Enterprise returns to Earth for shore leave. Still recovering from his experience with the Borg, Picard meets up with his brother.

My Brief Review

This episode plays a little bit like an episode of Fantasy Island — three separate and, really, totally unrelated stories. The common thread is in the title: family.

The setting: Earth. Enterprise is under repair, and the crew gets some shore leave at home. In the main story, Picard, still suffering from his traumatic assimilation by the Borg, retreats to his family vineyard in France, where his elder brother is not exactly pleased to see him. In the second story, Worf’s human adoptive parents come on board and embarrass him. And in the third, barely developed story (which seems to exist only to pad out the runtime and underscore “family”), Dr. Crusher receives a container of possessions from her late husband Jack, including his Starfleet uniform (the style worn in the Original Series movies of the ’80s) and a holographic message he had recorded for the infant Wesley, shortly before being killed in the line of duty.

The Wes story is fine, but totally throwaway. The Worf story is humorous and… uh… well… humanizes Worf a bit. But Picard’s story is really the essence of the episode and is fairly powerful. How does one recover from a traumatic experience? Will Picard retreat to life back on Earth, hiding from the dangers in space? Or will he find a way to live with what he’s been through and persevere in space? Is his brother just a major dick, or is he trying to teach Jean-Luc a lesson? (Take a guess.)

I have one huge issue with a scientific detail in this episode. An old friend, Louis, is part of a massive project to try to — get this — raise a new subcontinent in the ocean (the project is even called “Atlantis”). It’s run into some technical issues, and could really benefit from a smart and decisive leader like Picard to get things back on track.

But here’s the problem: WATER DISPLACEMENT. This project makes absolutely no sense, because if that amount of land were raised in the middle of the ocean, it would cause a rise in sea level beyond the worst projections of 21st century climate change. The whole project doesn’t even make any sense. What’s the point? It’s purely a literary device in the show, so that the choice Picard faces is not just between staying in space or retreating home, but literally hiding at the bottom of the ocean. I get it. It’s just completely inane.

Memorable Moment

Jean-Luc and his brother Robert mud wrestling in the vineyard.

Crew Rando

OK, he’s not part of the crew, but he is Starfleet (retired)… Worf’s dad, Chief Petty Officer Sergey Rozhenko!

Distance Rating: 3K

IMDb score: 8.4/10