TRiL: This Episode of Star Trek Made Me a Fan Forever
By now, you that as well as being a pretty serious fan of video games and some questionable movies (I’ll defend the latest Power Rangers movie to the ends of the Earth.), I’m also a huge fan of Star Trek, and it all started with one episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
The episode in question is simply called Family. I just watched it for the fifth time on Netflix earlier today. It is the first regular season episode after the crew manages to pry Captain Picard away from the Borg in The Best of Both Worlds Part 2. It has no space battles. There aren’t any Star Fleet Admirals talking trash or leaders of alien colonies doing things that they shouldn’t. No one dies.
Captain Picard cries. With the Enterprise undergoing a refit, he goes back to his family home in France. I like this episode because it gives you a taste of what Picard’s home life was really like and it doesn’t sound great. His brother clearly bullies him, and his dad sounds like he belonged on a 1990s episode of Maury for being a miserable person to be around. It’s our best taste yet of the Picard when he’s most vulnerable: away from the command chair. There in France, in a pile of mud, the slickest, calmest, most clever man in all science-fiction weeps at what he’s had to endure at the hands of the Borg.
As silly as this sounds, I remember thinking to myself, “Wow, captains are people too.” I’ve seen every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation four times now, but this episode will always be my favorite. It underscores how powerful even a throwaway episode of TV can be when it has the right mix of writing and prior character development.
For the record, my favorite Star Trek show ever is Voyager, which is a great moral failing, I’m told. I’m also not that big a fan of the original show. You know where to send the messages.