Thursday, July 23, 2015

The Next Generation 4x2 "Family"

rating: ****

Memory Alpha summary

via Ode to Jo & Katniss
Picard's happy thoughts include
his brother being cloned by Pakleds.
"We need wine.  Wine is good."
The only episode that could possibly have topped "The Best of Both Worlds Part 2" as a follow-up to the dramatic third season finale in fact followed it, making that three classics in succession, surely the best of times.

Unless you're Picard and your efforts at recuperating from the Borg ordeal somehow find you at great odds with your brother all over again, just like the old days, very much another thing best left in the past.  Except the experience becomes wonderfully cathartic.  (By the way, if you've never seen "Family" but have seen Star Trek Generations, watching the episode helps make sense of Picard's emotional troubles there.)

Other than Picard, the big winner of the episode is Worf, whose human foster parents we finally meet, and they're just about what you'd expect for how he turned out.  It's every bit a strong continuation of Worf's ascension to the forefront, along with Picard, of the series.  If you're wondering where Data, the third member of Next Generation's big three, is during the episode, because he's the only member of the cast left out, you'll have to wait until the next episode, "Brothers."

The legacy of "Family" is keen.  Enterprise reprises the concept in "Home," following the events of the Xindi third season (it's another classic, by the way).  In a lot of ways, it's also a template of how Deep Space Nine would operate throughout its run, taking a more thoughtful approach to the lives of its characters, something Voyager did in a much more insular fashion (by necessity), while Enterprise was a mix of both.  In a sense, it's the birth of what the franchise would become, a flowering and broadening of the storytelling capabilities so that the main characters weren't so often lost in the shuffle of a given episode, needing to rely less on gimmicks for dramatic heft.  Who better to kick it off than Patrick Stewart?

four quarter analysis
franchise * series * essential * character

notable guest-stars:
Colm Meaney
Whoopi Goldberg

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