Friday, October 11, 2013

Star Trek TNG "The Inner Light" episode summation and review

"The Inner Light" was the 25th episode of season 5. It was written by Morgan Gendel and Peter Allen Fields.


The show begins with the crew doing a survey of magnetic wave in a remote area of the quadrant. They find a satellite, a probe that beams a ray of energy through the ship and Captain Picard is rendered unconscious.

Then the show becomes two separate stories; the one occurring on the bridge where a medical team lead by Dr. Crusher is monitoring Picard's vital signs and trying to figure out how to release the grip the probe's energy  has on him, and the one occurring in Picard's mind.

To Picard, he has been transported to a place he's never seen and learns he's the husband of an indigenous woman named Eline. He at first assumes it's a holodeck generated program and then decides to explore the planet and find some answers. His wife is concerned about  his health and treats him with kid gloves and a bowl of homemade soup.

His life goes by at a clip, going from being on the planet's surface while working on how to return to the Enterprise, to having children and learning about the planet's limited existence.

Their technology only goes so far, for they are able to develop a probe in which to download all information about their civilization and people and launch it into space. But they have not developed warp drive capability, although this is not the focus of the episode.


Jean Luc Picard gradually settles into this new life as a husband, then father, of two children---one, a son, who chooses to focus on his music talent rather than the sciences he's dabble in such as botany and archeology;  and two, a daughter who is more interested in science than pursuing matters relating to love and relationships. Picard the father has concerns for both children but leaves them to their desired life choices.

Life on this planet is communal with appointed leaders and decision makers. At one point, Picard suggests a way to harness water vapor from the atmosphere to make water, a resource the community is slowly losing due to the changing weather patterns caused by the planets main energy star that in the final stages of going Nova. His idea is rejected and he goes back to his wife, resigned to the fact that his ideas won't have much influence on the community's leadership.

Picard, referred to Eline and the community as Kamin, settles into domestic life, learning the flute and telling Eline that he once viewed children as a complication ( as Picard did) but now can't imagine a life without them.

Fast forward to Kamin as elderly grandfather, playing around on the floor with his grandson as he is talked into joining the community to witness the launch of the probe. As he sits on the sidelines not particularly interested, he is joined by a now young and alive Eline and his best friend Betai who inform him that he's already seen the probe---aboard the Enterprise.

It all comes back. Kamin knows now that he IS and has been Jean Luc Picard the whole time. At this point, the probe releases its grip on Picard's brain and he awakens, thrilled to see his old comrades on the bridge but also confused. He takes time off from duty to reflect on his experience and share it in order to let future generations know about the people who once existence and how they lived.

The highlights of the episode were when Dr. Crusher almost loses Picard when they prematurely release him from the probe's grip; seeing Picard settle into a role in which he would otherwise never embark (and asking Eline permission to build a nursery); and the way he clutches the flute, the same one he learned to play on the planet, after Riker hands it to him in his quarters and telling his captain that it was found inside a box inside the probe.


This episode wasn't in my top favorites, but deserves an honorable mention for it's change of pace story. It's a favorite among fans of the series because we get to see Jean Luc Picard as he'd be as a husband and father and living in a time where there is no Starfleet. Like the episode "Family," this is a Captain Picard vehicle. It's another look into the man and character behind the Starfleet uniform and the humanity that is within, contrasted to the rough outer exterior of the Starfleet captain.

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