Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 25
Original Air Date: June 1, 1992
|via Memory Alpha
The Enterprise discovers a mysterious alien probe. The probe emits a particle beam which penetrates the ship's shields and zaps Captain Picard rendering him unconscious, at least from the crew's perspective...
Picard is transported to another life on another world. He is Kamin on the relatively primitive Kataan. He is married. While he resists the new life at first, eventually he accepts it as his new reality. For 40 years. He has meaningful friendships, children, grandchildren. He learns to play the flute. He offers what scientific knowledge he has to help save a dying world. Eventually, just before his adventure ends, this second family explains everything: before their world was destroyed by a supernova, the Kataanians sent out the probe to find someone like him with whom they could share their culture.
"The Inner Light" is named for a Beatles song written by George Harrison, in turn inspired by Laozi's Tao Te Ching, the most important book most people have never read. Harrison's lyrics were based on the following passage:
Without going outside his door, one understands (all that takes place) under the sky; without looking out from his window, one sees the Tao of Heaven. The farther that one goes out (from himself), the less he knows. Therefore the sages got their knowledge without travelling; gave their (right) names to things without seeing them; and accomplished their ends without any purpose of doing so.
"The Inner Light" is a beautiful story. It's a popular choice for best Trek episode, not just for NextGen but for the entire franchise. Obtrusive though their approach certainly is, the gift the Kataanians grant Picard is profound. As Star Trek continues to grow in the 2020s, I would love to see deeper exploration of alien cultures and this episode provides an avenue for how that could work. The ex-pat perspective can be a meaningful one. My one regret is that the Kataanians are, at least physically, human.
I might be willing to jump on the best ever bandwagon if not for this: while it is an outstanding stand-alone story in its own right, I believe that in order to fully appreciate what "The Inner Light" is truly about, you need broader context. It is a glimpse of the other life Jean-Luc Picard could have lived. It is, in many ways, a sequel to Season 4's "Family." What if he'd stayed on the family farm instead of joining Starfleet? All of his fussing about water and soil on Kataan - couldn't he just as easily have devoted that same energy to growing grapes for wine in France? It's a nice life he has on Kataan. A wonderful life. As viewers, we are certainly grateful Picard made the choice he did. But in "The Inner Light," we feel with him the cost of that choice.
|via Mistresses Wiki
Margot Rose plays the role of Eline, Kamin's wife. She was born July 17, 1956 in Pittsburgh. She trained at Interlochen, Yale and North Carolina School of the Arts.
In addition to extensive stage work, Rose has guest-starred on numerous TV series including Hill Street Blues, E/R and The West Wing. "The Inner Light" is the first of her two Trek appearances. Films have included 48 Hrs. (in scenes with Denise Crosby), A Civil Action and Brewster's Millions. She's a composer, too, having written the score for the film Sordid Lives and the subsequent television series of the same name.