the story: Picard and Crusher become tethered to each other's thoughts.
what it all means: If "Dark Page" initiated the seventh season's efforts to dig deeper into the familiar characters of the series, "Attached" is the episode that finally offered some time to one of the show's longstanding unfulfilled teases: the relationship between Picard and Crusher.
Part of the series backstory is that the good captain and his first medical officer previously served together, and that Crusher's husband died under Picard's command. This kind of necessarily resulted in a complicated would-be romance that never quite happened (somewhat amusingly spun further in "All Good Things...," the final episode, in which they finally did get married...but then ended up divorced). They could often be seen hanging out socially together, in their private quarters, but that was about as far as it ever went. Until "Attached," no episode had really even tried to explore it directly. ("The Arsenal of Freedom" from the first season also saw they trapped together, but nothing like the events here transpired.)
But once they could literally not get away from each other, it becomes an entirely different matter. Crusher usually needed a strong tether to break free from her natural inertia as a character (all charm, no wit), and Picard is as good a tether as you can find. Like the earlier "Liaisons" after someone in the writers room figured out how to make that particular story less disposable, "Attached" is also a version of a story that has reliably provided great material in the franchise ("Shuttlepod One" from Enterprise, for instance), in which two characters are forced to spend time together, and everyone wins because of it.
The episode around this scenario is somewhat generic and underdeveloped, but that can easily be forgiven, considering.
franchise- Sorry, this is a private viewing party!
- series - For Next Gen fans, thank you!
- character - Specifically, Picard/Crusher shippers!
- essential - I mean, seriously!