The Rewatch 104: The Child

Series: Star Trek The Next Generation
Episode: 2.01 The Child (11/21/88) (Season Premire)
Rating: 2/5
Redshirt Status: 0 /3

Notable Guest Stars:
 Whoopi Goldberg– Guinan.  She would appear as Guinan several times across the series, and played a major tole in the 1994 film Generations.  If you don’t know who Whoopi Goldberg is, I suggest you share your method of ignoring pop culture.  She is known for many films and tv shows, currently the talk show the View.
Seymour Cassel – Hester Dealt. He was a prolific actor, and even showed up in The Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou.
R.J Williams – Ian Andrew Troi. He no longer acts, but instead runs Young Hollywood, an entertainment company.
Colm Meaney – Transporter Chief. Or Miles O’Brien. I’m not really going to point him out much because as far as I am concerned he’s a main character for Star Trek. Same with Whoopi Goldburg. Guinan shows up often enough to be considered a medium character. (There should be a term between major and minor.)
Diana Mulder – Katherine Pulaski. She was a guest star in two TOS episodes, and would remain a main character for season 2.

Review:

 I do not like this episode, which is odd considering it’s a Troi focused episode and I love Deanna Troi as a character.  But it fails in so many ways, and there are elements of this episode that frankly just creep me out.

The episode starts with a white light dot floating through the ship and then inserting itself into Deanna Troi, which is weird to watch.  She wakes up the next morning and sees the new physician, Dr. Katherine Pulaski who confirms she is pregnant and is rapidly developing.  This is a miraculous pregnancy considering Deanna had no say in its beginnings, its rapid growth rate, and the fact that despite this happening to her body way faster than what it was meant to take she has no problems. 

36 hour pregnancy, and she doesn’t get painful stretch marks, or any other pregnancy symptom.  Which I would think would be enhanced given the rapidness of the pregnancy. Then again, the enity made sure to duplicate Deanna’s biological data.

Beyond that, the conference room scene has so many issues.  No one seems to ask Deanna what she wants, so it ends up being a bunch of men who are not directly effected discussing her pregnancy.  The focus on the fetus seems to be an pro-life commentary rather then giving Deanna the choice.  I think if they had skipped that bit, and just had Deanna state she was going to have the baby, it would have seemed that she had made a choice. Consent and choice is a very important theme for me, and I found the lack of it in this episode a bit offputting.

Riker is out of character this whole episode.  First off, he’s her Imzadi.  They have a low-level at least psychological connection. He should have had a better clue as to how she was feeling.  Instead they have him spending the episode acting like a jealous ex.  Which makes no sense because they were friends and otherwise he would have concern for her over everything else.  They showed that last season.

But no, he angry asks who the father is.  Because Deanna would have announced a normal pregnancy like this, of course.  Then he stands outside her doorway instead of beside her like a creeper, and doesn’t offer any comfort when she ultimately looses her child. Where is the friendship they had developed before?

This episode does nothing about the psychological issues that would come from this situation either.  Deanna would not be just normal after all this. This is traumatic in many ways.  Traumatic to her body, and her mind once she becomes connected to the child.  Yet they act like she just moved on like she got grilled cheese sandwich rather than a cheeseburger.

The plasma plague element of the episode was underutilized, and could have made a more interesting episode, but no instead we force a woman to carry an alien baby whose apparently a clone of her except it’s a boy (unless Betazoid genetics work differently, Deanna would only have two XX chromosomes to give…it should have been a daughter).

The third little plot line is that Wesley wants to stay on Enterprise.  Maurice Hurley had fired Gates McFadden (Bad idea, Hurley) and now they had to figure out why Wesley would be still on the ship.  Apparently Beverly already agreed to allow him to finish something on board so he’s been there on his own for a bit.  Which makes no sense given her behavior in the first season.  So this is also another OOC moment in this episode with many. Of course, a running problem with TNG is that the forget that Wesley is a teenager (16ish in this episode). Riker is being changed to life coach while Data takes his place as Starfleet Studies coordinator.  I will give the show points for that scene, it shows the family feel they keep saying is there, and I liked that.  So the last bit of the episode is okay.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Jaron Summers, Jon Povill and Maurice Hurley.
  • Directed by Rob Bowman
  • This story was originally written for Phase II which never went past pre-production.  It was used due to the ongoing issues because of the 1988 writer’s guild strike.
  • Riker having a beard is because of how close the shooting schedule of North and South II  was to this season starting.  He had to grow a beard for his role in the miniseries and when he came back the make-up team decided it was a good look for him and let it stay.
  • First episode without Dr. Crusher and with Dr. Pulaski.
  • First episode with Guinan, a character named after Mary “Texas” Guinan who owned a speakeasy during prohibition. 

Pros:

  •  Deanna Troi looks much more comfortable now.  Her outfit is still uncomfortable looking, but she doesn’t look like she’s having migrains from that hair.
  • Riker has his beard.  Its always weird watching Season 1 because you got so used to him having one.  Its weird seeing him without.  Now after watching the first season its still a little odd seeing him with one. 
  • Geordi is Chief Engineer.  And he’ll stay. Which is more then you could say about the half dozen they had their first year.
  • Worf is officially Chief of Security.  He has his new suit and everything.

Cons:

  • This episode does not help my feeling that Deanna Troi is Illia remade.
  •  This episode is kind of creepy to me, with vague rape themes as well as personal autonomy issues that are not addressed.  Also the traumatic aftermath of a child’s death is ignored.
  • Riker was out of character.

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