Star Trek 272: Homeward

272. Homeward

FORMULA: Who Watches the Watchers + Ship in a Bottle + True Q

WHY WE LIKE IT: The clever premise.

WHY WE DON'T: Stupidest application of the Prime Directive, ever.

REVIEW: Yet another long-lost family member shows up (only ever mentioned back in Heart of Glory), Nikolai Rozhenko, Worf's foster brother. He's played by Paul Sorvino, looking kind of like his father, but sans accent. Some hold that Sorvino is wasted in the role, and perhaps they're right, but I rather think that he's simply too good for what's written. His presence and charisma make us like him and truth be told, his plan to save the Boraalans is both clever and reasonable. And it's Picard who plays the role of the "idiot admiral".

Because that's the real problem with this episode. We've seen the Prime Directive be broken often enough in the past to know when it's being unfairly applied. And saving the last tribe of a culture from a planet that's being destroyed (and randomly destroyed at that, not by their own hand) falls into the moral space that would allow us to excuse breaking the Directive. Unfortunately, Picard is miscast as the antagonist throughout, as a pencil-pushing hardliner who's only given reason by a manufactured holodeck glitch (and yet, Nikolai and Worf successfully navigate these difficulties). We expect Picard to DO THE RIGHT THING, no matter how much wrist-slapping he's suffered, and indeed, the last episode was all about free thinking. It just doesn't make sense. Throw in his maladroit handling of the Vorin situation (not studying up on their cultural context and then spilling the beans, leading to the young man's suicide), and you have a very poor showing for the captain.

So you spend the whole episode rooting for Nikolai and Worf (this is a good episode for Worf - especially with Nikolai refusing to indulge in the cliché of rehashing childhood problems too much) and the charming fantasy quest they've set up for the Boraalans. It's a wonder that the episode still "works" given the annoying reversal of roles (normally Nikolai would be an obsessive, unethical scientist and Picard would be "right"), but it does. That's saying something, given that there are so many small problems, such as the final beam-out making reversing what we learned in Realm of Fear (maybe that's not such a problem), or Worf taking the chronicle with him, depriving the village of its "life-blood".

LESSON: Nikolai had to save Kasidy Yates, after all.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: A good Worf episode with a very smart use of the holodeck and a sympathetic guest star, it's too bad it becomes borderline Medium when you take into account Picard's criminal mischaracterization.

3 comments:

De said...

Back when I was writing web pages, we would call errant brackets from mistyped code "The Sign of LaForge."

We thought it was funny...

Siskoid said...

It IS!

Anonymous said...

I actually stumbled across this blog after just rewatching this episode and being torn by simultaneously realizing I was more charmed by this episode than I'd remembered... but wanting to shake the writer for the final moment.

Dear God! After a villager risks being left behind to save just a single scroll from the village chronicle (and ultimately, faces the trauma of discovering himself on this enterprise instead of safely on his home planet).... Nicolai casually allows Worf to waltz off to the sunrise with *another* section of the chronicle! How dense was the writer at *that* moment??? Sigh. Needed to vent. Thanks for the outlet.

BTW, I'd add that not only was Picard out of character, but so was Beverly. She's usually the *first* one clamouring to hold the sacredness of human life above the prime directive... she nary says a word here... and even then, only to bemoan the weight of the responsibility of choice.

 

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