The Rewatch 152: Family

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 4.02 Family
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/0/33

Notable Guest Stars:

Theodore Bikel (Sergei/Sergey Rozhenko)- Bikel was a Academy Award nominated performer. He also worked with Samantha Eggar on a Columbo production.  He helped create the character of Captain von Trapp in the original production of The Sound of Music. The song Edelweiss was written specifically for him.
Samantha Eggar (Marie Picard).
Eggar was also an Academy award nominated performer, as well as a voice actress. She performed as Hera in the 1997 Hercules animated work. She also appeared in Doctor Doolittle (1967) as Eliza Fairfax along with Rex Harrison.
Jeremy Kemp (Robert Picard)
He had a varied career, but the highlight that I found was Darling Lili, which is a film with Julie Andrews and Rock Hudson.  Its actually not a bad movie and I recommend watching it.
Georgia Brown (Helena Rozhenko)-
Brown was most known for her work in theater, particularly the 1960 run of the musical Oliver!.  Part of the musical was rewritten for her to make use of her various talents.  She also got to perform on the Ed Sullivan Show the same evening as the Beatles, which I found interesting. You may also recognize her from guest appearances on Cheers and Murder She Wrote.

Review:

If there was a theme for the next four episodes, it’s the idea of family.  This episode obviously holds to that theme with a focus on Picard and Worf and to a lesser extent Wesley Crusher.

This episode isn’t particularly important to the overall arc of the show, but it is important if you like character focused stories. It is also the unofficial third part of “The Best of Both Words” arc, as Picard is dealing with the mental aftereffects with being made into the Borg.

To me, its obvious that they needed to do this story.  It’s a pet peeve of mine that so many shows do some awful stuff to their characters and they bounce back like nothing happened.  Some shows are better about it (ER for example, although they sometimes took it a step farther).  But Scifi in general is bad about dealing with mental health issues.  Episodic television in general is bad on physical injuries.  Some genres can get around time spans to deal with medical injuries (Scifi for example – Cue super healing!) but some don’t, then it seems super weird when the actor themselves has an injury and they have several months go by with these injuries.

In this episode, Picard has healed (physically) from his borg-related injuries. Psychologically he is still recovering, still trying to find himself after such a loss of control over his own being.  He decides to visit home while he is on earth.  I googled the city he mentions, and it is an actual city, though spelled differently then what it sounds like (which isn’t a surprise). Laval is in northern France, so you can actually go there.

Another improvement in Season 4 is that Troi is given a chance to show her status as a counselor.  She did to a point with Barclay in season 3, but here we are told she has spent awhile with Picard helping him deal with the aftereffects of his abduction.  I think one of the failures of previous seasons is not showing the characters excelling in their individual roles on the ship.  Troi was used as an emotional meter, almost just there to go “I sense a lot of danger, Captain.”  Its good to see her being a counselor rather then just Picard’s early warning system.

I still hold my theory that Picard sees some of his senior staff as pseudo-children.  Not in that they are children, but they hold the roles emotionally for him.  He and Will seem to have to have that father/son relationship and I think with Deanna as well he sees her as almost a daughter.  A later episode deals with his relationship with Wesley in particular who sees Picard as a father figure.

Back on Worf’s side of the episode, he must deal with his discommendation/dishonor and how it effects his relationship with his human parents. I think this episode shows both Worf;s backstory but also shows a happy healthy adoptive parent situation which honestly you don’t always see. These parents clearly love their son and try their best to understand the culture of his native people. Despite not always having the same reactions a Klingon parent would have, they make sure Worf knows he is loved and supported by them if no one else.

Overall this episode is pretty well acted, written and directed and I enjoyed it.  Is it important to the overall series?  Not necessarily but I still feel if you care deeply about knowing the characters who are in the show this is important to watch for both Picard and Worf, and to a lesser extent Wesley Crusher who has an ongoing plot arc from season 1 of dealing with his father’s death.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Michael Piller
  • Directed by Cliff Bole
  • So, production notes have it that Rick Berman and Gene Roddenberry were not happy with the script because it was more drama than action (Berman) and had animosity when the future is a utopia where we are beyond such things (Gene Roddenberry).  I disagree with both of these men because not dealing with the emotional/mental aftereffects of being captured, having your body modified and controlled by an outside entity and working towards killing your fellow colleagues would be wrong and unrealistic.
  • Several of the guest stars of this episode returned in later seasons. Bikel and Brown returned as the Rozhenkos, David Birkin returned as a younger Jean-Luc rather then Rene Picard, and Doug Wert would return once more as Jack Crusher.
  • One of the few episodes with no Bridge scenes.
  • Only episode that does not include Data, but given the next episode, he probably deserved the break.
  • Miles O’Brien’s rank is finally acknowledged as Chief Petty Officer.  There is a lot of development for Miles in this season.

Pros:

  • Character development for both Worf and Jean-Luc.  We get to meet their families, and how they deal with them.  And these families are important to the character going forward.  Unlike Riker’s father, they are mentioned again.
  • The showcase of the friendships beyond being good coworkers. These people genuinely care for one another.

Cons:

  • This would have been a perfect time to mention Riker seeing his Dad, but it looks like Kyle is missing in action.
  • I don’t really see this as a “con” per say, but its not really a pro.  Everyone in France speaks British English.  Was this a deliberate choice, since Stewart has a British accent, to make it seem like everyone in this little corner of France has such an accent?  Obviously, they spoke in English as this was an American TV-show but I’m going to guess we are to assume that despite hearing English and British accents, its really French and French accents.  At least that is the theory I’m going with.

Editing Note:  As of now, I have caught up to where I am watching/Reviewing so posts might not be every day but I’m going to try to get ahead again as I’m off due to a surgery and therefore have some extra time.
I’ll also be working on some other types of posts as well.

Screencap via Cygnus-X1.net

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