Friday, September 25, 2020

Star Trek: The Bonding

Episode: "The Bonding"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3, Episode 5
Original Air Date: October 23, 1989

The Bonding (episode) | Memory Alpha | Fandom
via Memory Alpha

Worf leads an away team to investigate a planet once inhabited by Koinonians.  A long abandoned explosive detonates and Marla Aster, a member of the team, is killed.  Picard must break the news to her now orphaned son Jeremy.  Worf wishes to reach out to the boy and invite him to join in the R'uustai, a Klingon bonding ritual.  To complicate matters, an alien entity has appeared aboard the Enterprise in the form of Jeremy's mother.

As previously stated, I am not a fan of Trek stories about children.  It's the one theme they handle more clumsily than time travel.  On the other hand, I love Worf stories.  This is not the last time these two opinions will come into direct conflict in the same episode.  That said, I admire the confrontation with grief.  It's a good episode for Worf, for Troi, for Dr. Crusher, for Picard and, most interestingly, for Wesley.  Obviously, Marla Aster's death brings up memories of his father's death in similar circumstances.  The more the writers got away from the wunderkind story line and the more they allowed him to be a real person, the better his character worked.  "The Bonding" is a good example.

Acting Notes

Susan Powell | Memory Alpha | Fandom
via Memory Alpha

Susan Gay Powell (Marla Aster) was born July 12, 1947 in Pitt County, North Carolina.  She has had a long career in television including appearances on The Six Million Dollar Man, B.J. and the Bear and T.J. Hooker, starring William Shatner.


  1. Another one I don't remember.
    On the other hand, I finally got my review for East of Eden written. It's up today.

  2. It certainly helped to humanize him. I’m not sure Worf and kids went well together in general, except maybe the second O’Brien baby (ah, very little acting involved for that kid). But as a Worf spotlight, it was the first step in actually knowing what to do with him, and probably helped point in the direction of Alexander (which at least spun out of a lot of fruitful Klingon drama!).

    1. It definitely helped prepare for Alexander, for better or for worse.

  3. I'd have to give this episode a failing grade. Just too many thrown together troupes for me. Yes, the children on the Enterprise angle is my main dislike. After that you have yet another entity on the Enterprise who causes trouble.

    Yeah, the character development of Wesley is the one saving grace.

    I think I understand Roddenberry's intention by including families on the TNG Enterprise. The Encounter At Farpoint novelization said something about making the separate Federation species develop more of a sense of unity.

    But being that the Enterprise was going into unknown and possibly hostile territory the concept always struck me as ridiculous. Now on a starship running between different planets in settled space, I could see that.

    1. It's a good point. In terms of narrative possibilities, having the families on board is wonderful. In real world practical terms, it would be no end of mess.