Star Trek 185: Suddenly Human

185. Suddenly Human

FORMULA: The Bonding + Sins of the Father + Charlie X

WHY WE LIKE IT: I actually like Endar, but not much else.

WHY WE DON'T: Jono's wailing. Starfleet at its most sanctimonious. Lots of out-of-character business. And a most annoying "guest" culture.

REVIEW: I understand that TNG is all about family (as opposed to TOS' friendship theme), but while it usually works when we're dealing with the main characters' families, shows about other people's turn out deathly dull. As was the case with The Bonding, Suddenly Human asks us to care about some guest stars, and sorry, but I find Jono to be a waste of screen time. These Talarians (and there are already to many species with a similar name) have a most annoying culture, between their mourning lamentations, dreadful electronic music and contempt of women.

Endar is a better character, more thoughtful than you would give the race credit based on the example given by their teens, and his scenes do resonate truly. This is no doubt a credit to Sherman Howard who plays him, but Chad Allen (Jono) doesn't quite have the same acting chops. Then again, the psychology of the character is pretty badly written, with some over-the-top repressed memories crippling him. It's pretty melodramatic. And he may be badly directed as well, if I go by that stabbing scene where he just seems to plant his dagger into the bed and not Picard.

And what's with Starfleet in this episode? Where's the respect for other cultures? Isn't it hypocritical to embrace Worf, but not let Jono live in a different culture? The physical abuse issue is just a red herring to push things along, but it never pans out and seems both misplaced and slightly offensive. Picard finally realizes what is the right thing to do, but he should've seen it from the start. This is just one of many out-of-character moments in the episode. I mean, racketball? Since when? Why not bring Jono to the holodeck where he can actually run along a river or whatever actually relaxes him, instead of inventing a sport for Picard? Just to blow the effects budget on a glowing ball? Why does he even forbid the kid his music while HE's not around? And how does Jono get into the captain's quarters in the middle of the night shift? I don't even buy Picard's discomfort with children in this episode, not after his warming up to Wesley and true rapport with René just a few episodes ago. Fun to see him squirm when Troi gives him the assignment, but really, since when is she in charge?

Everyone except Picard, Troi and Crusher only get token scenes. Worf and Riker might've made better mentors for Jono, and Wesley could have been contrasted with him. But nope, just a boring slapstick scene for the latter two and Data. When we finally saw Geordi, I was actually startled awake! This is a terrible use of the regulars, Picard included.

LESSON: Adults just don't understand.

REWATCHABILITY - Low: Seemingly written by someone with only a passing familiarity with the characters and ethics of the show and a muddled message about abuse. Pass on it.

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