Friday, January 18, 2013

The Next Generation 3x5 "The Bonding"


"The Bonding" has a somewhat awkward legacy constantly working against it.  It's not the only time a Next Generation main character bonds with a young boy who's just experienced the loss of his family. Here I'm not even thinking of Alexander.  I thinking, rather of "Hero Worship" from the fifth season, in which another boy bonds with (and imitates) Data.  In this instance, you can absolutely not compete with Data.  Sorry, Worf.

Actually, there's a nice redemptive element, regardless of whether or not you end up unfavorably comparing it to another episode.  Various members of the main cast get to reflect on losses they themselves have experienced.  Wesley is one of them.  Sometimes it can be easy to forget that his father Jack plays an important part of Next Generation mythology, because he's dead by the start of the series, and Wesley himself is usually defined by just about every other element of his character.  Tasha Yar is brought up, perhaps in anticipation of her unexpected return later in the season.  And of course Worf, who lost his parents when he, too, was a boy.  That's what the episode ultimately pivots around, Picard asking Worf to watch over the boy, which Worf takes to mean basically inducting him into Klingon culture and his own family.  Worf's relationship with all things Klingon (it being alien to Starfleet, and him being alien to his own people, even though like Spock before him he became an iconic representation of the people who rejected him) could sometimes seem a little forced, and "The Bonding" is one such example.  It didn't have to have anything to do with being Klingon, but then, it's also an episode that fans can point to in the development of Klingon culture (not surprising, because this is Ronald D. Moore's breakthrough, and his work in Star Trek became known for his Klingon material), so if you like that and don't necessarily care how it happens, you'll probably enjoy "The Bonding" for that alone.

franchise * series * essential * character

Notable guest-stars:
Colm Meaney

Memory Alpha summary.

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