Friday, March 5, 2021

Star Trek: Family

Episode: "Family"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 4, Episode 2
Original Air Date: October 1, 1990

"Family" is the unofficial Part 3 of the Best of Both Worlds arc.  The Enterprise docks in Earth's orbit for repairs after the encounter with the Borg.  In his own efforts at recovery from the trauma of abduction, Jean-Luc decides to visit his childhood home on a vineyard in France.  He hasn't been back in 20 years and it doesn't take long to piece together that a difficult relationship with his older brother Robert (Jeremy Kemp) is a major reason why.  Meanwhile, Worf's adoptive human parents (Theodore Bikel and Georgia Brown) visit him aboard the Enterprise and Beverly finds a holographic message her husband Jack made for Wesley before Jack died.

As I wrote last week, Picard's recovery from his brief though brutal assimilation with the Borg is the most interesting aspect of the story in the long term.  We learn a lot about our captain in "Family."  What begins as an uncomfortable visit with his brother ends with genuine tenderness.  For the first time, we see Picard shed his hero garb and allow himself a moment of human vulnerability.  It heals, bringing him closer to his brother and, indeed, closer to us.  His recovery will last the rest of his life but we are witness to an important first step.

The Worf story is sweet.  Bikel and Brown are wonderful, entirely believable as the well-intentioned, often over-bearing, endlessly loving parents.  They are worried about their son as he deals with his own personal trauma, his recent discommendation by the Klingons.  They worry they haven't done enough for him as parents, though Guinan, of course, sets them straight.  Worf holds them at arm's length for most of the story but in the end, he too is able to show his appreciation.

We're nearing the end of Wesley Crusher's tenure as a principal character.  As such, giving him a chance to come to terms with his father's passing is appropriate.  This tertiary plot is the weakest of the three but still has its merits.

Acting Notes

Jeremy Kemp was born Edmund Jeremy James Walker February 3, 1935 in Chesterfield, Derbyshire, England.  He studied at the Central School of Speech and Drama in London.

Kemp's most prominent TV role was Brigadier General Armin von Roon in two popular miniseries, The Winds of War and War and Remembrance.  Guest appearances included The Greatest American Hero, The Fall Guy and Murder, She Wrote.  His films included The Blue Max, Top Secret! and Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Kemp passed away in 2019.


  1. Great moment at the end of the episode. Also worthwhile that he considers leaving Starfleet, which itself might mirror Stewart’s own unknown fate as a member of the cast at the end of the previous season.

    1. Without a doubt, this arc is the most important Picard story so far.

  2. I love this episode because we learn about Picard and how much he is dealin with what happened to him. Worf’s parents really do know their boy, bye bye Wes

  3. Okay, I just wrote about Star Trek not pushing boundaries in your most recent episode review, and this one does just that.

    I wish they hadn't killed off his brother and nephew in Generations.

    1. But your point about hard scifi is well taken. Trek is comfortable pushing... some boundaries. And TNG kicks the snot out of TOS in character building, from the first episode onwards. Not even close. But as for the hard science, it's hard to feel they're not making up most of it as they go along. That, in a nutshell, is why they really shouldn't be trusted with time travel.

      There are so many interesting paths to follow, too: astrophysics, medicine, genetics, ecology... Why not a series led by a science officer, for instance? The ethics questions alone could fill a season's worth of episodes.

    2. LOL
      Discovery is... Well, the lead character is the science officer. However, she doesn't do a lot of science.

    3. Ha! Hadn't thought of that. There you have it: an opportunity.