Star Trek 183: Family

183. Family

FORMULA: The Icarus Factor + Sins of the Father + Shore Leave + The Way to Eden

WHY WE LIKE IT: Picard's breakdown. The episode is heartfelt.

WHY WE DON'T: Worf's parents are over the top. The episode is saccharine sweet.

REVIEW: A rather quiet episode after all that action is a welcome change of pace, though the three family stories aren't of equivalent value. The jewel of the bunch is obviously the Picard story. Though it starts with some humor, with Troi psychoanalyzing him, and then the meeting with his nephew René, it quickly becomes a character study. We learn a lot about Picard's youth and values, but also about how much he was hurt by the Borg. The Best of Both Worlds definitely had consequences, and they aren't neatly glossed over for once. Picard's final breakdown in the vineyard is wrenching (even if slightly ruined by all the mud on their faces), and we discover that his brother Robert isn't such a bad guy after all, pushing his buttons in order to bring about catharsis. It does get a bit schmaltzy in places, as with the final shot of René looking at the stars, but like the rest of the episode, its heart is in the right place. Indeed, if there's one thing about this episode, it's that it is sincere in its sentimentality. And that's enough to forgive it its over-sweetness (and massacred French).

The B-plot concerns Worf's parents visiting him aboard the Enterprise, and it's mostly played for laughs. Mr. and Mrs. Rozhenko are memorable and sweet, but very nearly caricatures. His mother is especially fawning, stressing her love for him a little too much, not only in dialogue, but in performance. It gets a bit wearing, though again, it's all very sincere, and never quite cloying. The two do make a nice tag team, as she keeps her husband from letting his enthusiasm run away with him. O'Brien and Guinan get some good bits in this section.

As for the C-plot, it's only a couple of scenes dealing with a long-lost message from Jack to Wesley Crusher. Nothing too original there, but it works, and Gates MacFadden, as usual, does the most of her few appearances. Again, this is worthy, heartfelt material, but you can hear the violins playing.

LESSON: Brothers forgive. (Oh wait, that may be the lesson for the NEXT episode.)

REWATCHABILITY - High: Very nearly Medium, but the performances are worth it, and the Picard section in particular is a necessary epilogue to The Best of Both Worlds.


Dan said...

It was so nice that they didn't go straight from "Best of Both Worlds" to another "If we increase the level chronton particles in the tachyon stream, we can reverse the polarity of the hoofizz and restore yadda yadda yadda" episode. Giving at least a bit of thought to the aftermath of Picard's ordeal was highly necessary. And while some of it was kind of schmaltzy, Patrick Stewart is really excellent in this episode, and the fight in the vineyard is a perfect way to break the tension between the brothers and get to the underlying emotion.

The Worf stuff is pretty silly, though.

Alain Degrace said...

In my review of all episodes thanks to Netflix, this was the episode I was most looking forward too. It touched me greatly when I was younger, and it still does get to me. Picard, this larger than life leader, broken by the Borg, strong in the eyes of all his officers is shown still needing a bigger shoulder to cry on. I enjoyed Worf's parents as well. She might be playing a little over the top, but I know a mother in my life that acts pretty much the same way when her boy is around. Overall, this is, and will always be, my favorite episode.

Siskoid said...

I've met many a mother like that since, but even they make me feel like I've walked into a sitcom.

A lovely episode it's true.


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