Memory Alpha

  • View history

Chad Allen ( born 5 June 1974 ; age 49) is the American actor who played Jono in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fourth season episode " Suddenly Human ". Performing on television since the age of four, he is perhaps best known for his role as Matthew Cooper on the CBS series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman .

  • 1 Personal life
  • 2.1 1978 – 1992
  • 2.2 Dr. Quinn and beyond
  • 2.3 2010 and beyond
  • 3 External links

Personal life [ ]

Allen was born in Cerritos, California, and he grew up in Long Beach. He was the youngest of four boys and was born along with his twin sister, Charity. When he began acting, it was decided that "Chad Lazzari" was a name more fitting for a "dark-haired Italian" rather than a boy with blond hair and blue eyes, so his professional name became "Chad Allen."

In 1996, Allen was outed as gay when a tabloid published photographs of him kissing another man. Since then, Allen has become an open advocate of the gay community. In 2006, he appeared on the CNN talk show Larry King Live to support the legalizing of gay marriage.

1978 – 1992 [ ]

Beaumont and Allen

With director Gabrielle Beaumont during the production of " Suddenly Human "

Allen's first acting job was a commercial for fast food restaurant McDonald's at the age of four. When he was six, he filmed a role in the pilot episode of the CBS medical drama Cutter to Houston , which later had a brief run in 1983. Fellow Star Trek alumni K Callan , Jim Metzler , and Noble Willingham were regulars on this series. In 1981, director Michael Vejar cast Allen in an episode of Simon & Simon with Michael Ansara .

Between 1983 and 1988, Allen appeared as Tommy, the autistic son of Dr. Donald Westphall, on the NBC medical drama St. Elsewhere . Although initially a minor role, Allen's character took on a greater significance during the show's final episode, in which it was indicated that the entire series had taken place in his mind. Many Star Trek veterans had regular or recurring roles on St. Elsewhere , including William Daniels , Ed Begley, Jr. , Ellen Bry , Ronny Cox , Bruce Greenwood , Norman Lloyd , Deborah May , France Nuyen , Kavi Raz , Jennifer Savidge , Alfre Woodard , and Jane Wyatt .

From 1986 through 1988, Allen was a regular cast member on the NBC drama series Our House . Allen was nominated for three Young Artist Awards for his work on this series, winning one. He then became a regular on the short-lived NBC sitcom My Two Dads , winning another Young Artist Award.

Allen made his film debut in the science fiction/horror comedy TerrorVision , about a family whose satellite TV system becomes a passageway to an alien world. Gerrit Graham portrayed Allen's character's father in this film, while Bert Remsen played his grandfather. Allen received a Young Artist Award nomination for his performance in this film.

Allen has also been nominated by the Young Artist Awards for his guest appearance on the adventure series Airwolf (in an episode with James Whitmore, Jr. ) and for his recurring role as Rob on the sitcom Webster (which starred Eugene Roche ). He was also nominated for his performance in the 1985 NBC TV movie Code of Vengeance and for voicing Charlie Brown in the animated 1986 TV special Happy New Year, Charlie Brown!

His other credits during the 1980s include three other TV movies which aired in 1985: Not My Kid (with Andrew Robinson ), The Bad Seed (with Anne Haney , Richard Kiley , and David Ogden Stiers ), and A Death in California (with Michael Cavanaugh , Bruce Gray , Kerrie Keane , William Lucking , John McLiam , Joel Polis , Liam Sullivan , Kenneth Tigar , Granville Van Dusen , George D. Wallace , and Fritz Weaver ). He also guest-starred on such shows as Tales from the Darkside (with Seymour Cassel ) and Hunter (directed by Alexander Singer ). In the early 1990s, Allen starred in such TV movies as Camp Cucamonga (with Richard Herd ) and Murder in New Hampshire: The Pamela Wojas Smart Story (with Larry Drake ).

Dr. Quinn and beyond [ ]

In 1992, Allen was offered the role of Matthew Cooper on Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman . He signed on for the show's pilot to earn money for his college tuition, believing it would not be picked up as a series. Dr. Quinn was not only picked up, it ended up lasting for six years. Allen's co-stars on Dr. Quinn included Joe Lando , who previously appeared in Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home , and Erika Flores , who played Marissa Flores in the Next Generation episode " Disaster ". Many other Star Trek veterans had significant roles on this series, including Barbara Babcock , Michelle C. Bonilla , Nick Ramus , Gail Strickland , and Helene Udy .

After Dr. Quinn came to an end in 1998, Allen made guest appearances on The Love Boat: The Next Wave (directed by Anson Williams and starring Phil Morris ) in 1998 and NYPD Blue (starring Gordon Clapp and Sharon Lawrence ) in 1999. Allen made a second appearance on NYPD Blue , playing a different character, in a 2004 episode with fellow Next Generation guest star Steven Anderson .

In 2005, Allen and Star Trek: Enterprise guest star Brett Rickaby played the younger and older versions of the same character in an episode of Cold Case (The episode also feature fellow Next Generation guest stars Daniel Roebuck and Patti Tippo ). Allen has also appeared on such shows as Charmed , Criminal Minds , and CSI: Miami . For the latter, he appeared in an episode with Enterprise regular Jolene Blalock . In 2008, he had a recurring role on the soap opera General Hospital: Night Shift .

In addition to his many TV guest appearances, Allen has also starred in such recent films as What Matters Most (with Jim Metzler and Marshall R. Teague ), A Mother's Testimony (a TV movie with Keith Szarabajka ), Paris (with Biff Yeager ), Downtown: A Street Tale (with John Savage ), and End of the Spear . He has also starred as gay detective Donald Strachey in several films, from Third Man Out in 2005 through Ice Blues in 2008.

2010 and beyond [ ]

In 2010, Allen portrayed Loogie in the comedy Spork , with Richard Riehle , on which he also worked as producer. He then portrayed Lance Robinson in the Dexter episode "Everything Is Illuminated", with Peter Weller and Shawn Crowder . Allen worked also as co-producer on the documentary Hollywood to Dollywood , a television documentary about Dolly Parton . Allen himself and Leslie Jordan were interviewed on this documentary.

Allen later appeared in the horror film Fright Flick (2011) and the romance For Better of for Worse (2011, with Stanley Kamel ).

In 2015, Allen announced his retirement from acting to become a clinical psychologist.

External links [ ]

  • ChadAllenOnline.com – official fan site
  • Chad Allen at StarTrek.com
  • Chad Allen at the Internet Movie Database
  • Chad Allen at Wikipedia
  • 3 Star Trek: Discovery

Home Page

Search this site

Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Suddenly Human”

2 stars.

Air date: 10/15/1990 Teleplay by John Whelpley & Jeri Taylor Story by Ralph Phillips Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Review Text

An Enterprise rescue team beams aboard a damaged Talarian ship piloted by teenage crew members who have been injured in an accident. One of the boys, Jono (Chad Allen) turns out to be human, and a medical examination shows evidence of previous injuries that indicate possible long-term abuse. How did this human boy end up with the Talarians?

It turns out Jono is actually Jerimiah Rossa, a boy whose parents were killed at the hands of the Talarians in an attack a decade earlier. A Talarian captain named Endar (Sherman Howard) has raised the boy as his son ever since. Uh-oh — here comes a 24th-century custody dispute. Should the boy remain with the father that raised him or be returned to his human grandmother?

"Suddenly Human" is the third family-themed story in a row, but by far the least effective. The story takes way too long to get moving, spending time on annoying "culture shock" scenes like where Jono refuses to talk and instead makes a high-pitched squeal of defiance. I say a vow of silence would've been preferable. I also find it a little off-putting that Crusher's evidence of broken bones would automatically be assumed (wrongly) to have been possible past abuse, even torture, at the hands of his father. She should work for DCFS.

Picard takes Jono under his wing and tries reconnecting the boy to his long-forgotten human past. Meanwhile, Endar sits and waits for a verdict on whether his son will be returned to him, and seems ready to go to war if he doesn't get the right answer. All of which plays as flat and obvious (not that I didn't understand Endar's feelings). The episode culminates with a torn Jono, in a moment of desperation, stabbing Picard in the chest as he sleeps. This prompts Picard to realize Jono should be reunited with the Talarian father who raised him. Fine, except Picard's unilateral decision seems hugely simplistic and hurriedly arrived at. What about the grandmother's custody rights? Does she have any? Considering she's a Starfleet admiral, don't you think she might have a few choice words for Picard?

Previous episode: Brothers Next episode: Remember Me

Like this site? Support it by buying Jammer a coffee .

◄ Season Index

Comment Section

133 comments on this post.

What struck me about Suddenly Human was its naked political correctness. Because Talarian society reflects more America of the 1950s than the PC 2000s it is to be disdained? My prediction: the Federation like the US today, is on its way to societal senescence while the Talarians are on the way up. In a 100 years, the Talarians will be the ascendent culture and the Federation falling rapidly into decadence.

Nathan Gibson

Just an awful episode. Awful.

I hope stviateur is trolling. The only way Talarian society resembles America in the 50s is that it's patriarchal.

I was actually stunned by how terrible this episode is. My girlfriend and I laughed the whole way through. A few of my "favourite" moments: 1. When Jono unironically asks how Worf can possibly hang out with humans all the time when he's not human, just like he himself is not human! The boy's not too bright, is he? (Yes, this might be the point, but the writing is not nuanced enough to be credible.) 2. When Troi convinces Picard that he has to take over a parental role for Jono because he is male, as if he is the only male on the ship. Yes, there is the matter that Jono has "only responded to" Picard, but there was a point of making everyone else who had interacted with Jono up to that point female, except Worf, whom Jono did seem interested in talking to. And yes, Jono does respond to captains -- but jeez, there ARE other men on the ship, and the episode has to do more work to establish that he really won't listen to someone else. One of the central premises of the episode -- that Picard suddenly starts becoming a foster parent, effectively -- is shockingly undermotivated. 3. When Troi answers Picard's statement that he clearly is unqualified to be a parental figure to a traumatized teenage boy from a culture Picard knows nothing about and who dislikes his human heritage, and to convince the boy to turn all-human, with "did you ever have friends as a child?" And then her speech about how most people don't know how to be a parent right away, but they get good at it, and Picard will be surprised how good he is, as if Picard's task with Jono is basically equivalent to starting to raise a newborn and Picard will get really good at it any minute. These may be the worst Troi scenes of the series (and while I like Troi a lot more than most, that is still saying something). 4. How Jono just says "Yeah, I used to live in the captain's quarters!" and so Picard brings him to live with him immediately, because, well! Obviously if Jono used to live in the captain's quarters, he has to now. I like too that it's still a shock later on when Endar claims to be Jono's father -- it's kind of a shame that the episode didn't follow the implications of that statement, which is that he would likely be either the captain's foster child or lover. 5. Picard coming in and seeing Jono listening to Talarian Space Heavy Metal. Shut that noise off, whippersnapper! And don't you dare listen to that noise on my ship! There is something breathakingly funny about the creative bankruptcy of watching them try to find stories to tell about Picard as reluctant foster parent, and they settle on "teenager listens to annoying music." 6. Picard's response to Jono telling him "I am going insane because I'm not allowed to cry (grieving sound) or listen to my heavy metal!" is not to say, "Well, you can do those things while I'm out but please, it annoys me when I'm here" but "maybe instead I'll show you SPACE RACQUETBALL!" 7. Space racquetball looks incredibly stupid, though maybe not as stupid as space-something-jitsu from "The Icarus Factor." 8. Jono having an emotional breakdown while playing space racquetball because the sounds are kind of like the sounds of weapons discharging (?) is particularly laughable given that this is a guy who has seen and been in combat for basically his entire life, and racquetball is a lot less like combat than actual combat. Of course, the reason his memories are triggered at this time is because he has so very recently been shown pictures of his family. But it still doesn't make the rather extreme stretch between racquetball and PTSD from when he was a young child any less ridiculous and funny. 9. What even is that banana split scene? Do any banana splits in the real world look that particular colour of white? When Data said that he does not understand why this is funny, I was right there with him. 10. Generally speaking, the episode just pushes too extreme to create conflict. Jono's foster father is not just demanding that Jono be returned to him, he is READY TO GO TO WAR. Jono feels so much shame that he wants to die, so he STABS PICARD HOPING TO KILL HIM. And so on. 11. The creative bankruptcy of the episode becomes really clear at the end, when Jono is trying to explain what he was missing about his life, and says that he misses...running along the river, listening to his space heavy metal...victory with his brothers. On the one hand, I get that it's good to have Jono miss things that have already been clearly indicated. On the other, Jono even seems to be struggling to come up with a list of even three things he misses about his old life, and one of them is "running along the river," which for some reason cracks me up every time I think of it. (No, I don't think it would actually be wrong for someone in real life to miss "running along the river" if that was their...hobby in life. But it sounds so unconvincing as the central thing about his life that he can't live without. Dude, Earth has many rivers!) 12. Anyway, I don't really know how I feel, "objectively," about Picard's last-minute decision to send Jono back with his foster father. I also think that in reality Endar is not abusive, as discussed. And yet, the idea that convinces Picard that Jono really should go back to his better life with Endar is that Jono feels so guilty that for a couple minutes he was not miserable missing Endar. I'd say that if someone is willing to commit murder-suicide because of guilt over laughing over a banana split when you should be sitting around being sad missing their father every second, this is not actually a sign that they are all that healthy and it certainly is not what I would call proof that his father is NOT abusive, since making someone feel intense, suicidal guilt if they ever consider living with someone else is how a lot abuse works. 13. Similarly, Picard's final speech is really hard to take. There was a crime committed on the Enterprise, but it was not the crime of someone stabbing me in my sleep! It was the crime of GOOD INTENTIONS. You know, to be honest, I think stabbing someone in their sleep is still a crime even if there were criminally good intentions going on elsewhere. Fortunately, the episode offered some great opportunities for MST3K-style mockery. One line I'm proud of. Right after Picard and Riker walk away from Jono and Wesley in Ten-Forward: PICARD: Look at him. He's a different person. RIKER: Who would have thought we'd see him laugh out loud like that? PICARD: Just half an hour ago he was crying like a baby. ME AS RIKER: Yep, Wesley has come a long way. Anyway, for the record, again, I don't know whether I'd describe Picard's decision as right or wrong -- this episode really is too silly for me to take it quite seriously. I do appreciate that the episode tried not to make anyone the bad guy, though the end result is largely that everyone looks equally silly. Even so, something in the episode must have worked, because I did find Jono's final moment with Picard on the transporter pad -- where he removes his gloves -- rather touching. I suppose this says that the episode did enough right to maybe warrant 1.5 stars rather than 1.

Hmmmm I disagree completely with all of you. I really liked this episode and it touched me deeply. Sure, some of the dialogue/script was clumsy and there is the usual "subtle as a sledgehammer" - delivery which is, I think, mostly due to the one-hour format of the show but there are few episodes of TNG that *don*t* have that, so maybe I just got used to it by now. I overlook it like I overlook the 60s special effects in TOS. I liked this episode MUCH more than "Family" (large parts of which I just LOATHED. Basically everything that was set in the French village). I wish there would have been a hint at the end that Jono would seek contact with his grandmother the Admiral and maybe him introducing some of his humanity into his life with the Talarians.

While the episode is quite dull and hyper-inflated with fluff, I agree with the conclusion and don't understand why they didn't reach it sooner. There's a DS9 episode that handles the same concept much better, showing that this is a more complex situation than presented in TNG. However, it is a good idea to consider that a foster father does have rights over the boy. He's used to the alien culture. Though the dad should definitely let the dumb kid visit his Earth family, assuming the little brat can get over his habit of stabbing people.

@Moonie That's one of the problems I have with this episode. It's not unreasonable that he might have gone back with his adoptive family, but the episode is pretty clear that the door is closed on his humanity. It appears there will be no visits from his human relatives. Star Trek does this so often, when a character straddles two worlds, they are forced to choose one and abandon the other - usually abandoning the human part. A hint that his adoptive parents will respect his humanity, and allow visits, would have improved the episode. He might have made a good ambassador to the Federation when he grew up.

SkepticalMI

This sadly reminds me of a Season 1 episode. There's an interesting concept here, one that deals in a difficult moral issue. How do you deal with an adoptive child when both parties have significant claim to the child? How important is it to accept one's native culture vs one's adaptive culture? How do you insure that the child in question can make an adequate choice? All of these are potentially interesting questions to ask, and can make the episode interesting. Unfortunately, the episode made a mess of things, lurching around the main problem with heavy-handed commentary and a boring weak plot. Consider Justice as a comparable episode, which is hardly a compliment. Another comparison is the bizarre smugness that occasionally rears its ugly head in Trek that was all too common in Season 1. Stabbing a captain isn't the crime, the crime is telling a boy about his heritage? Yeah, I get what they were saying, but that was very heavy-handed. As much as I love the wonderful Picard speeches, this one was bad. Part of the problem is the silly side plot of having Picard as a father. The logic that it had to be Picard as the surrogate father was not well thought out, and seeing Picard try to deal with the kid was not amusing or useful to the plot. It just wasted time. Also, Jono stabbing Picard came out of nowhere. I realized they tried to explain it via Jono's strange attempt to commit suicide, but that didn't make sense either. His dad was in orbit, and the negotiations hadn't finished yet. Oh, but he laughed a bit. So what? Are the Talarians really that xenophobic and rigid? It's possible, I guess, but it doesn't really move the plot along. He stabs Picard, people complain, then Picard decides to let him go back. The end. Meanwhile, all of these extraneous actions prevented what should have been an interesting parallel, one that they even brought up and then promptly ignored. Worf should have been a focus, given that he was orphaned due to a war and adopted and brought to a different planet by another species. He should have been the natural surrogate for Jono, not Picard. Of course, when offered the choice between human culture and Klingon one, he choice Klingon. And Jono also choice the warrior culture. Clearly, the episode is telling us that enlightened human culture is lame and warrior cultures rock... Despite my complaints, this isn't exactly a bad episode. Just not a very good one. So at least it's slightly better than season 1 in execution, but still well below the typical quality of late.

Overall, I didn't like this episode. I'm particularly angered by the scene in Picard's ready room with his captor "father". His explanation of his son's injuries is the equivalent of "My wife is clumsy. She walked into the door." The scene with Jeremiah (not Jono) and Endar first meeting on the Enterprise also had the uncomfortable vibe of an abusive parent attempting to keep his child from saying something incriminating about them. Couldn't anyone see how quickly Endar gets enraged when Riker hails him?! He goes from zero to pissed in two seconds. Jeremiah was not given a chance to integrate his repressed memories or really explore his human heritage. Playing raquetball, eating a sundae and goofing with Wesley in 10 Forward doesn't cut it. And despite what his captors say, he's only sixteen. He doesn't know enough to know what's best what's best for him. This episode does have it's interesting aspects. The whole father/son relationship seemed to have a homoerotic subtext, especially with Jeremiah's penetrating his symbolic father (Picard) with a knife. Jeremiah's line to Picard "As I grow closer and closer to you . . ." had a distinct double entendre, as did their transporter room Eskimo kiss. Also, a nice understated score to the episode. It really held back until the final scene, where it helped give a little emotional lift to what was otherwise really a terrible ending. This show had no moral legs to stand on. Summary: They never should have sent Jeremiah back. He was kidnapped and brainwashed and abused. End of story.

I forgot to mention this in my review earlier, but this was another episode where Troi asks inappropriate questions which seem designed to pull off mental scabs. If I didn't know better, I'd say that Troi gets off on making others feel pain. It's never seems to be enough for her just to make a point with a logical defense, she really seems to go for the jugular an awful lot. As we saw with Suder on Voyager, it's definitely possible Betazoids can get addicted to the strong emotions of others. Naybe that's why she freaked out when she lost her powers in "the Loss": she simply couldn't get her fix.

I liked this episode, especially the racquetball and banana split scenes, although I would have also liked more use of Worf and suggestion of more contact with humans. I liked that Endar felt alien and antagonistic to make the ending surprising but not wrong. Picard and others in Starfleet coming to regret interfering on the basis of good intentions feels in-character although there could have been better development-that the crew was really trying to push Jono rather than just give him a choice and that he was more (but more gradually) traumatized by the inner conflict.

@ Andrew I disagree wholeheatedly!!! Endar was antagonistic because he was from a warlike race that kills parents in front of their children and then abducts these children back to their world, where entire personalities and heritages are systematically replaced by the violent primitive thinking of an alien culture. And what of Jeremiah's numerous significant injuries which so alarmed Dr. Crusher? The explanation offered in the episode was laughable. Jeremiah should NEVER have been sent back because HE DIDN'T BELONG WITH THEM IN THE FIRST PLACE. He was kidnapped and mentally and physically abused. The more I think about it, the more I really hate this episode. It's basically a apologist argument for abusive upbringings in "foreign places." I hate the message it sends, and I hate the way it puts a great character like Picard in a bad light. A personal note: I was adopted and raised by someone originally from another country. I was abused a lot as a child, and I still remember watching this for the first time at age 12. I totally understood Jeremiah's internal conflict, feeling love for people that can't or won't express it to you, people that you don't really have a connection with, despite all your best efforts. I still remember despairing when Picard bought Endar's lies about the abuse, and I can also recall being really upset when Jeremiah was sent back. This episode actually contributed to my staying silent, and that is something that I guess still gets to me a little. Sometimes the moral IS important. How anyone can like this episode is beyond me. Truly a ZERO STAR episode.

@Dave - I don't like this episode but I think "It's basically a apologist argument for abusive upbringings in "foreign places." is a bizarrely off base argument. There is a difference between coming from a culture where it's acceptable to beat your kid and coming from a culture where it's acceptable to let your kids do things American parents would find dangerous. Before helicopter parenting kids jumped their bikes over ditches without helmets on, climbed trees/buildings, ran across roofs, played outdoors, used jungle gyms (those are basically not even allowed anymore) and you know what? They broke arms and stuff. I am not defending this episode but the writers intended it to be canonical that Endar was NOT abusing Jeremiah. Fractured ribs? A broken arm? A concussion? Back in the day you could get such from climbing a tree, playing on a jungle gym and some football on the pavement in a parking lot. "Have you ever had a son desperately try to win your approval, your respect? Jono broke his ribs riding on a t'stayan. Six hooves. A very powerful beast. The arm, in a contest with other youths. He endured the pain and won the competition. One day, he will be a great warrior." If you think that line is BS you're reading something into the episode that is not there. Given your upbringing (which I am sorry for) it does not surprise me that you read them as lies. But the episode was not written to have them be lies, the actor did not deliver them as lies and Picard (who is our hero and we're supposed to trust his judgement) states his complete belief in these lines. My cousin got a serious concussion falling off a horse and that's not a really powerful 6 hooved beast. Children's games in warrior cultures would be rougher than here, but even human cultures are not immune. Heck, even humans in the 24th century play dangerous games. Parrises squares killed the Doctor's daughter! I'm not telling you to like this episode, to agree with Picard or to agree with the decision. I personally sided with Sisko in Cardassians, so I'd technically side against Picard here. But those lines are not lies and if you read them as such it's entirely a product of how your life colored this episode for you.

@ Robert After viewing how warlike Endar's race is (and how prone to violence Endar himself is) I find it very doubtful that a human boy forced to become an alien (in that kind of culture) wasn't physically abused. If you DO buy that Jeremiah did it all to himself, why didn't Dr. Crusher see those as injuries relating to a fall? She seemed quite convinced there was more there, and Jeremiah's behavior reinforced her suspicions. I think I'd trust Dr. Crusher's 24th Century forensic evidence before I trusted some enraged kidnapper's excuses. But setting that all aside, HE WAS STILL KIDNAPPED AGAINST HIS WILL AND MENTALLY ABUSED!!! No matter which way you slice it, Jeremiah was stolen from his parents (who were murdered in front of him) and forced to become the very thing he should despise. In my opinion the murder of one's parents, kidnapping, the breaking of one's will, and the repression of his kinder past DEFINITELY QUALIFIES as abuse. And that is IF YOU SET THE QUESTION OF PHYSICAL ABUSE ASIDE. Maybe that's because people don't view mental abuse in the same way they view physical abuse? I don't know. It all comes down to whether you think Jeremiah was abused. I think it's pretty obvious he was, no matter WHAT kind of childhood I may have had.

I'm afraid I agree with Robert, here. Qualifying something as abuse requires cultural context. After all, indoctrinating children with a religious belief that condones suicide bombing or wife-beating is, in my view a kind of child-abuse, but cultural relativism demands that such behaviour be viewed, in context, as simply the continuation of social traditions. It seems clear that Jono was not singled out for treatment by the Talarians, but was treated as any Talarian boy would have been. Now, we may not approve of their culture, but it isn't fair to single out his treatment as abuse when his behaviour suggests he's not atypical for a Talarian. To echo what Robert said, this isn't a great boy-raised-by-wolves story, but I don't find it offensive, nor do I believe for a moment the episode is condoning child-abuse.

@ Robert For the record, I do appreciate your sympathy. (Star Trek fans really are nice people for the most part). I just feel that my interpretation of this episode is not dependent on having an abusive childhood, and my gut reaction was that you were dismissing my points because of my history with this episode.

@ Elliot I think you are splitting hairs. "After all, indoctrinating children with a religious belief that condones suicide bombing or wife-beating is, in my view a kind of child-abuse, but cultural relativism demands that such behaviour be viewed, in context, as simply the continuation of social traditions." Slavery was a social tradition. So was child labor. And racism., And homophobia. And religious oppression. Either something is wrong or it isn't, and all the cultural relativism in the world isn't going to make those bruises vanish or make someone un-raped. Just because something is "cultural" doesn't mean it is worth preserving or defending. "To echo what Robert said, this isn't a great boy-raised-by-wolves story, but I don't find it offensive, nor do I believe for a moment the episode is condoning child-abuse." So it's not abusive to murder a kid's parents, kidnap him, and destroy his personality and heritage to the extent he is willing to murder someone before the age of 16?! That's the DEFINITION OF ABUSE, and if you think Picard made the right choice in rewarding the kidnapper, I think you are beyond wrong.

I accidentally posted as Robert at 11:56 AM (sorry, I was getting passionate and wasn't paying attention to where I was typing).

@Dave : "Just because something is 'cultural' doesn't mean it is worth preserving or defending." I totally agree with this! But, what needs to change is the cultural practice, right? We wouldn't accuse a devoutly religious man telling his daughter that she ought to submit to her husband of abusing his daughter, but we still would want to change this cultural practice. Likewise, I don't think Endar was abusing Jono, but, should the Tamarians ever join the Federation, their cultural practices would have to change.

Even calling him Jono is abuse. How do you think it felt to be a small child and be told your name is not your name anymore, your parents are not your parents and never were, and everything you were taught about respect and tolerance was wrong?! That's ABUSE. "Cultural practices" is a red herring argument. This should have been treated as a criminal case, and Picard should have told Endar to shove his violent threats up his ass. (I highly doubt his species would have gone to war over a kidnapee, especially since the Federation could crush them).

I am sorry, but it isn't cut and dry for me. Abuse is defined as "the improper use of something; misuse; misapplication." Improper is defined as "not in accordance with accepted rules or standards, especially of morality or honesty." Thus in order to call something abuse, the standards by which something can be called improper have to be agreed upon. Clearly between these two cultures, human and Talarian, they do not agree. If a human did these things, it *would* be abuse.

@ Elliot Abuse is an umbrella term . . . but dictionary definitions aside, in it's colloquial usage you know exactly what I am referring to. Let's get our heads out of the dictionary and back into the real world. Don't like the word "abuse"? How about Jeremiah was "violated"? Jeremiah was "traumatized"? Or maybe just, "What happened to Jeremiah was WRONG." In the end, they are all just adjectives. My gut tells me returning a teenage kidnapee to their abductor is wrong. Doubly so when you consider that A) the abductor killed the kid's parents and B) the kid is comfortable with murdering a veritable stranger. Child abuse and kidnapping are the last things anyone should be attempting to rationalize, in my opinion.

And I must say, this whole line of thinking "it's just their way of doing things" is kind of a cop out. Think about it: it's very convenient when one can say "tsk, tsk" but not actually have to take a stand against something that is wrong. That's not the kind of lesson Star Trek should be sending, but apparently, that's the one that's being received.

Your gut, nor mine nor Picard's is not the measuring stick by which we should be judging the morality of other cultures. You have decided that Jono's treatment was wrong, and made clear what your position would be in this situation. The episode even has a character for you, Beverly (as an aside, this is exactly what I prefer in TNG over DS9, there's usually someone in the debate to voice counterarguments). That does not end the debate. You see it as wrong, and you made your case, I am saying that it is more complicated than that. "Wrong" is not an absolute, it is a cultural consensus.

"I just feel that my interpretation of this episode is not dependent on having an abusive childhood, and my gut reaction was that you were dismissing my points because of my history with this episode. " I think you viewed Endar as LYING because of your past, where the episode paints his words as the truth. I'm not saying that he wasn't abused at all, especially from a human perspective. I just think that Endar truly does love him and from a certain mindset being forced to care for children that you caused to be orphaned might even be an enlightened philosophy. "ENDAR: I lost my son at the hands of humans during the conflict over Castal One. Talarian custom allows me to claim the son of a slain enemy." From my HUMAN perspective, if my wife and I were killed I'd want my child to go to whomever it specified in my will and certainly not my killers, have their name/identity removed, etc. But to me, the fact that Endar loves Jeremiah the same as he would a Talarian son seems evident by the episode and is not really up for interpretation. He had a rough and tumble childhood, likely doing things that the physically tougher Talarians would get hurt doing (all ST aliens seem stronger than us physically) and Endar is not physically abusing him. I think Endar is a loving parent and is not abusing Jeremiah. But Jeremiah is human and from a human perspective everything that has happened to this boy is wrong. If I were Picard I would have made the opposite choice. I was mostly taking issue with your repeated comments that Endar is lying, which the episode does not support, not necessarily your conjecture that returning him to the people who killed his parents and took him away from his life was a good idea. "I still remember despairing when Picard bought Endar's lies about the abuse" "The scene with Jeremiah (not Jono) and Endar first meeting on the Enterprise also had the uncomfortable vibe of an abusive parent attempting to keep his child from saying something incriminating about them." "It's basically a apologist argument for abusive upbringings in "foreign places."" "I totally understood Jeremiah's internal conflict, feeling love for people that can't or won't express it to you, people that you don't really have a connection with, despite all your best efforts." These are the lines I took issue with that I feel may be colored by your life. I don't think Endar is lying, I DO think he loves Jeremiah and gives him love, I don't think the episode supported their reunion as uncomfortable, and I don't buy Picard as gullible or "buying" anything false. I actually think the whole episode is really, really interesting up until the part in which Picard sends him back, and then it slams into a brick wall.

Also, if I were the admiral and it was my grandchild Picard would spend the rest of his career as an Ensign scrubbing plasma conduits, assuming he didn't spend the rest of his life on a penal colony somewhere for deciding that without any power to do so.

Elliot said "Your gut, nor mine nor Picard's is not the measuring stick by which we should be judging the morality of other cultures." reply: Actually, it is. This is a show that regularly asks the viewers to make moral choices and to question their own decision-making processes. We, as viewers, were very much being asked to pick a side by the time the credits rolled. How does any rational human decide that kidnapping and child abuse is something that could be "right"? How could anyone think that is something we shouldn't judge harshly? How could anyone think that is something not worth taking a stand against? Let's be real. If your neighbors were immigrants and they were abusing their children, would you say "well, it's just their way"? I'd hope the answer is no, but I'm starting to wonder. Elliot said "The episode even has a character for you, Beverly (as an aside, this is exactly what I prefer in TNG over DS9, there's usually someone in the debate to voice counterarguments)." reply: Beverly wasn't expressing a counterargument, she was EXPRESSING HER MEDICAL OPINION. I found Picard's dismissal of her 24th Century forensic evidence (after the father says one sentence about it) to be out of character for Picard. It's even sadder that the viewers don't seem to care about him casually brushing aside her concerns. By the way, I'm not sure what you mean by "a character for you", but somehow that doesn't seem like a compliment. Elliot said "You see it as wrong, and you made your case, I am saying that it is more complicated than that. "Wrong" is not an absolute, it is a cultural consensus." reply: Remember when I said this episode is an "apologist argument for abusive upbringings in foreign places"? Thanks for proving my point.

One last comment. What I think is interesting about these pair of episodes ("Cardassians"/"Suddenly Human") is that when I was young I wanted to keep Jeremiah AND Rugal. I wanted to keep Rugal because of my feelings towards the Cardassians. As I'm older and have children I think Sisko is right and Picard was wrong.

"By the way, I'm not sure what you mean by "a character for you", but somehow that doesn't seem like a compliment" I don't think Elliott meant anything by that, only that... in TNG a few characters always seemed to disagree with the final verdict, which was nice because there was always someone for the viewer to identify with, even if they disagreed with the episode.

@ Robert Thanks for being understanding. I admit that personal experiences can color perception, so yes, in that sense, I may have sided with Dr. Crusher right from the start, but still . . . She had a LOT of evidence and was VERY certain how one would get those injuries. Picard's explorations of her concerns were beyond pathetic. And why weren't Counselor Troi and Dr. Crusher involved in talking to the kidnapping parent? They're the medical experts. If the episode hadn't made Dr. Crusher's protests such a big deal, I wouldn't have either.

"How does any rational human decide that kidnapping and child abuse is something that could be "right"?" Rationality allows a human to understand (not decide) that with cultural practices there is not "right" or "wrong", just different. "Right" depends upon a set of circumstances, a context which allows us to judge actions against a social contract. Your knee-jerk reaction to this situation is a testament to the episode's emotional relevance to you, but not evidence of a "correct" answer. For the record, I am not condoning Picard's actions in the end--I actually need to rewatch the episode before I make my final call. But his approach the situation is laudable: collecting evidence and weighing the pros and cons rationally. Beverly's analysis of Jono's injuries reflects the way 24th century humans raise their young (apparently), but takes no accounting of Talarian culture. Picard, the archæologist, takes an unbiased view. Robert is correct, that I only meant that Beverly's position is the most similar to your own.

@ Elliot I'm kind of bummed you'd assume my reaction is a "knee-jerk" one, and thus, dismiss my points as ones based on illogic and emotion. I will agree with you on one point. The fact that you are still calling him Jono tells me you REALLY need to rewatch this episode.

"She had a LOT of evidence and was VERY certain how one would get those injuries. Picard's explorations of her concerns were beyond pathetic. And why weren't Counselor Troi and Dr. Crusher involved in talking to the kidnapping parent? They're the medical experts." It was bait and switch. The intent of the writers was to put it in your head that they were abusing this boy (possibly even BECAUSE he was human) and then bring Endar in and spin it 180. I'm SURE a lot of important details get glossed over/hashed out off screen in other episodes and this one probably bothers you more for personal reasons. I mean, I just assumed Picard gave Deanna a look off screen and she nodded ("I sense no deception from him") and that she sensed no fear when Endar was brought near the boy.

And actually "CRUSHER: Two previously fractured ribs, a broken arm, and a low grade concussion. There might be neurological impairment. I'd like to examine him further. Jean-Luc, the Talarians have been known to be ruthless to their enemies. I think there's a real possibility they may have brutalised the child. PICARD: Isn't it possible the injuries were caused prior to his captivity? CRUSHER: Not likely. He's been with them a long time. Long enough to assimilate their cultural traits, and calcium trace patterns indicate the injuries took place during the past seven years. PICARD: But if they have abused the boy, why would he so devoutly wish to return to them? CRUSHER: It's not uncommon. It was identified centuries ago as the Stockholm syndrome. " She's not even sure. A lot of her conjecture of abuse is based on prejudice against a former enemy. For what it's worth I really don't think you're wrong about the episode's moral being wrong or Picard screwing up. I just think your view of Endar is wrong. I don't see him as the villain of the piece.

@Dave : Forgive me if that came across as condescending. It was not meant to be. I found your reaction to be knee-jerk because you seem unwilling to confront the episode's moral dilemma on its own terms. You have brought your own preconceptions with you and refused to set them aside to consider the arguments in the show, it seems. I call him "Jono" because that is who he believes himself to be. Whether or not he "should" have been raised to be Jono is moot--it has been done, and that is who he is.

@ Robert They returned the boy after ONLY SEVEN YEARS OF CAPTIVITY? I'm even less inclined to think those injuries were all from rough-and-tumble play. He repressed HIS ENTIRE HUMAN CHILDHOOD in 2500 days?! THIS IS AN OBVIOUS SIGN OF ABUSE. I hate Picard's decision even more now.

@ Elliot Thanks for saying that. I just detest this episode because of the conclusions it makes the viewer draw. It was one of the only times Star Trek ever tackled child abuse as a serious topic and it's a crying shame this is what resulted.

@Dave : Check out "Child's Play" and "And the Children Shall Lead" for other examples of Trek tackling the subject. This isn't the last word on the matter. For the record, Piller is quoted saying "We got some pretty angry letters on that show. They said, 'How can you let an abused child go back to the people who are abusing him?' We really brought the child abuse issue up because it was the right and natural thing to bring up in the context in the story. There are real parallels to stories that go on in today's world about parents who fight over custody and one says there's been abuse. Who do you believe? But mostly, it was a cultural clash story. It was a story of someone who was human who had been raised in a totally alien environment. Is he human any longer? That's really what that story was about."

@ Elliot I'll watch Child's Play in the next few days and I'll let you know what I think. hopefully I'll have a more positive opinion. (I haven't seen that one since the late 90's, maybe earlier). As far as Michael Piller's comments go, the fact that he mentioned all the angry letters and felt it necessary to explain what the episode was supposed to be about (that long after it aired) tells me that this episode really did mix its messages.

Coming back late but I don't think the episode requires the viewer to accept the Talarians' initial violence and kidnapping as justified or even acceptable to accept the conclusion that it would also be wrong to force Jono to change or put him under traumatic pressure (although again I think it could have been better developed that the crew was doing so).

I agree with Jammer's 2-star rating on this episode, which was one of the weaker ones in this season. On the child abuse issue, I'm inclined to go with what seems to have been the writer's intention: that Jeremiah/Jono was not in fact physically abused by his adoptive father. This is a fictional story, after all, so there is no larger truth to uncover beyond the one the writers put in the script. That said, the episode does raise an interesting question of how to judge an alien cultural practice (a military officer's kidnapping of an enemy's orphaned son to replace his own dead child) but then seems to fumble the handling of this complex subject with a very pat and arbitrary answer. Even to our relatively "unenlightened" 21st-century sensibilities, spiriting away an orphan child whose civilian parents one has just killed in war is only compounding the wrong that was committed - regardless of whether or not a nurturing environment was subsequently provided for the kid. That said, forcibly returning said kid to his original culture after 12+ years of acclimation would also not have been a solution without any downside. It seems to me that Picard was caught between a rock and hard place here, and his seemingly arbitrary and single-handed decision to send the kid back is not characteristic of his usual careful deliberations. That said, my biggest complaints with this episode were that: 1) Troi more or less forces Picard to take the boy under his wing when the obvious choice would be Worf; 2) no mention is made of any communication between Picard and the admiral/grandparent before the final decision (which makes me wonder that Picard didn't end up taking the Earth job from "Family" subsequent to his being drummed out of Starfleet!); and 3) there is no reference to the boy's ability to continue rediscovering his human roots and potentially growing up to become some kind of cross-cultural ambassador.

I agree with Jammer. The decision regarding Jono's permanent custody was not Picard's to make. Picard had temporary custody of Jono and could have allowed the Federation's courts to sort it out. It didn't even seem like the child's biological grandmother was consulted, and if anyone had priority in this matter, it would have been her, not just because of biology but also because she was a Star Fleet Admiral. Who is Picard to award custody of a stolen child to his kidnappers? The only thing that could have made this situation worse was if Jono had been a girl and Picard sent her back to live with the Talarians, knowing how sexist and patriarchal they were, but then again, if Jono had been female, she most likely wouldn't have been allowed to travel in space, and Endar would have let her die as a baby, or better yet, shot her on site. Better to let Jono go back to a culture that oppresses women so he can continue feeling threatened by the idea of his own grandmother outranking a man. Good Job, Picard!

I turned this one off. I didn't want to but the boy was making that noise, and Patrick Stewart was telling me not to watch with his eyes.

So, "Suddenly Human" .... .... .... .... It's got two good aspects, but I'll get to those later. First, let me just ask a few questions. 1.) How is it that everyone knows that Talarian society is rigidly patriarchal and yet they all act genuinely surprised that Jono doesn't respond at all well to any kind of female authority figure? Seriously folks, this isn't rocket science. He comes from a patriarchy. You know he comes from a patriarchy. And yet you're surprised that he doesn't respond well to women, especially women in authority? At one point, in Sickbay, they have Crusher, Troi and a nameless female nurse trying to restrain and calm him. People, this isn't going to work! Congrats, writers. You just managed to make both female main characters (as well as the male ones by extension) look like complete morons! 2.) Why is everyone so concerned about Endar possibly starting a war over this? At one point, it's explicitly stated that Talarian warships pose absolutely no threat to the Enterprise. Even with three on one odds, the Enterprise is easily in the superior position. And doesn't that mean that Starfleet, in general, has nothing to fear from the Talarians? Yet, after opening stating that they pose no threat, we're expected to take them as serious adversaries to the Enterprise at the end of the episode. I say let Endar shoot all his missiles and then you can all sit around and have a good laugh at him. 3.) Why is evidence of broken bones and a past concussion immediately assumed to evidence of abuse? That is just absurd and apparently only there to help move an already weak story along. It does a poor job of it because, again, it makes our heroes look stupid. 4.) Why does Picard just jump to the decision to return Jono to Endar. I admit that it was most likely the correct action to take, but, wow, does it feel rushed. Doesn't Admiral Grandma get a say in this? Doesn't she even merit a notification? How does Jono feel about his human heritage? Is he going to incorporate it into his life or is he going to completely ignore it. The episode spends a great deal of time expecting us to emotionally invest in this decision and yet gives us none of the weight/baggage we need to do that investing. Returning Jono to the only family he's basically ever known is, again, probably the right decision. You can't just rip him away from that. But, you also can't expect us to completely ignore the other side. We really needed a better explanation for Picard's decision instead of "well, he stabbed me in my sleep so he should go back with you now." But, there are some good things. First, I'm glad the-powers-that-be took the time to further humanize Picard. I really criticized "Captain's Holiday" for trying that, but these past few episodes have been doing a much better job. The scene where he takes Jono in his arms and comforts him on the racquetball court nicely shows Picard's softer side. Still, even with this endorsement, I think "Suddenly Human" would have been better with the genders reversed and the story about a teenaged girl from a matriarchy having to come to terms with her human ancestry with Troi or Crusher as the "foster parent." That, at least, would have offered a fresh twist on a rather flat story idea. Second, the final scene with Jono and Picard in the transporter room; it's genuinely touching. It works because it's kind of subtle. Usually, when Trek wants to teach the viewers about tolerance and accepting others for who they are, they get out their trusty 2-by-4 and proceed to smash us across the face repeatedly with it. Here, they actually trust to the viewers' intelligence to read somewhat between the lines. Nicely done. Overall, it's a pretty poorly conceived episode with a few scenes that slightly elevate it. 3/10

Diamond Dave

This does indeed feel like a Season 1 episode. There is a really good idea at the core here, in looking at the concept of cultural assimilation. We already have an example of that in Worf, which they blow past with nary a mention. The rest is heavy handed and leaden. Picard and Jono must learn to find common ground, in and learning about each other, must learn something of themselves (as the old film trailers might have it). But given that the conclusion is Jono stabbing Picard through the chest, leading to a revelation that (basically) the Talarians love their kids too and home is a relative not absolute concept. This all seemed a little morally ambiguous to me, and while there were some good scenes (including the banana split scene), 2 stars it is.

Troi's counseling only worked when the scripted called for it. I say that because it didn't work in this episode at all, again, she's useless. Why didn't Troi say anything about how it would be wrong and damaging to removing a teenager from what he has know as home so quickly??? Doesn't Starfleet have to respect other culture's views and beliefs that's different from there own???? Or does this only apply when the script calls for it as well????? One thing's for sure, the fans haven't learned from that... It's only Jono and Picard at the end that come to that conclusion, everyone else, like "counselor" Troi, are clueless to this... and besides, it's not up to Picard or Admiral Grandma to make that choice, it's Jono's choice, he's at that age to make it for himself. And about the so-called abuse... half of you people are just making shit up, coming up with your own conclusions, your own head-canon, the episode was not written to for people to come up with there own biased answers... get your heads out of your asses!

I have to say I certainly would've given this episode an extra star (although I'm not exactly pushing the boat out). I found the treatment of Jono by the childless Picard to be rather revealing. Up until the last moments, he is essentially an object to be fought over and whose own thoughts and desires are dismissed as misguided. Interestingly, the same could be said for a lot of the comments here, which I would call a success for the writers. We agonise over in-universe minutiae to justify Picard, or Endar, or the nature of the Tellarian civilisation as violently abusive. To me, Jono is a teenage boy who is eager to please his father. He's obviously competitive and likes to play rough - surely it's not that difficult to believe a sporty teenage boy might suffer some broken bones? One final thought: Endar lost his child at the hands of humans. He later found an orphaned child of his enemy, who would've almost certainly died if left alone, and took him to be raised in love and brotherhood. I find that faintly noble.

Weak episode in my mind, personally preferred how Sisko handled the situation on DS9 in "Cardassians". The Talarian war threat should have been played up more with several more ships, maybe references of build up along he border, or a plotting villain wanting to use the custody issue as a "pretense" to take some Federation colony. If you take the two episodes side by side, you can see two different versions of Starfleet being expoused, being both a nosy-neighbor with good intentions and bad PC, or a judge of people/cultures by relative issues behind deeper issues of political/historical issues. Picard evolves to be a better "classically moral" captain than Sisko in the same moralistic way of Kirk, but Sisko is far more realistic and far less utopian in contrast, making Sisko a better wartime leader without moral restraint as later episodes of DS9 demonstrate.

This was a terrible episode. I found this website searching for controversy surrounding this episode and found little other than user comments here. There is no way that kid should have been given back. Not sure how this played in whatever year it was originally released but after 3 seasons this is the first episode I really disliked.

DutchStudent192

Lot of obvious mistakes in logic as mentioned by so many others above. but I mostly feel they did not expand on the REAL issue at hand : free will. One element not going in deep here is "age of self-determination" and given how cultures and idea's (especially in america as opposed to us europeans) give significant important to age barriers. age when it's legal to drive, here 18, some nations 16, 15, 14 other even 21 or 21. age when your allowed to vote? age when your allowed to have sex? here 16, other nations 12, usa 18... age when your allowed to drink, used to be 16, now 18, other nations vary.. age when your allowed to refuse medical treatment or chooice to get treatment (and your parents cease to stop decieding for you) here 16, until that age treatment may be forced or denied upon you, again age differ per nation. and than we add the cultural centuries, of era's past in the mix... we see that society always has struggled with this concept of when is a person allowed to deciede for him/herself. And even if one is allowed to deciede, we had things like laws forbidding driving, drinking, drugs, or on the other hands laws that obligate you to follow education to a certain age, stay indoor after dark, etc.. -> again very different per culture.. finally personally, is a person allowed to waste his/her own lie? should a suicidal person given self-governance and allowed to, or should he be seen as mentally ill, and hence his right of self-determination nullified? Should the same count for an addict? And for a homeless beggar? And for a person just bumming through life? And for a person who does not make chooices based on what he likes/wimps, not what would give the most certain route to succes? you see it boils down to free will. -is the boy ALLOWED to determine himself, sure in their culture he is, but is he in the federation culture, he is after all only 14 what IS age of concent for them? -at what age is a citicen of the federation allowed to leave the federation and nullify that citycenship? and what does one do if the law and character do not line up, does one follow the intention of the law or the letter? (one can easely imagine how one 15yo can fully freely chooice for sex, with the 19yo he or she chooices, while some 20yo are still so immature, the relations they jump into are pure taking advantage) Likewise one can see how somebody who just had his wife running away on him with the kids, should not be allowed to buy to much alcohol, or commit suicide, and should be denied self-determination in that regard but when a mortally ill 87yo person wants to die with some dignity And thats where it boils down to IS this boy even capable of making this chooice. Legally the case is clear, the boy was taken illigally, theis customs be damned he was a citycen of the federation and as such telarian law had no place when the "adoption" was done, the boy is simply a POW, and by law the federation is obligated to extract him, no matter how anyone feels. And I don't think the federation allowed someone to give up membership or be self-governing as young as 14, though at least they should have mentioned that law. (If that age of concent was higher than 14yo, the case was by law closed) and a very interesting conflict of the admiral shielding with the law, picard forced to uphold that law, and the boy clearly wanting to leave.. could have arised. Law or personal chooice, what should take preference? could have been a very interesting chooice, especially if the prospect of war was about enforicing federation law and not so much protecting the boy. Add to that in the mix the question if the boy even should be allowed to chooice freely even IF he was of age of concent by federation law. Given how there are clear psychological signs that could be used to say he is not "capable" to make such a decision and as such a federation law would place him under custody of the law, by law making him a minor no matter his age, and not allowed to self-determine. made more complex because he is clearly wise for his years and the arbitrairy age line drawn by law does not take this character difference into account.. That would add a very nice "what is a legal age of self determination" in the mix. and "should a person have the right to ruin his/her own life, even if mentally unstable?" and "age of concent, should it be the letter or the spirit of the law?" given how panicing usa people are about if somebody who is even a day to young, no matter how mature, does certain things, while having no problem letting people rot in the streets who clearly need psychological help, and the many difference in cultures watching trek, this could have been a very interesting episode. alas.. the writers lacked the capability to mine this or the goldmine it could have been.

"but cultural relativism demands..." lol. Bankrupt ideologies FTW!!!!

Oh get over yourselves, he wasn't abused and it was quite clearly the writer's position that he wasn't abused. Did none of you break a few bones as a kid? I certainly did - mostly my own stupid fault :-) Meh episode tho, may go a little higher than Jammer tho - 2.5 stars.

Princess Cthulu

Dumb episode, but the argument in the comments is even dumber.

This marks the only episode to date where I intensely disagree with William B's chronically brilliant comments. It wasn't great but it wasn't bad. It was worth 2 stars, even 2.5. Two, probably, because the ending was a mess. But the best, most affecting part of it was Jono saying he missed running along the river. William B! It is clear you've never loved a river. I have. I loved the best river in the world. I beat myself bloody on it for years and years. Froze my feet on its docks, knew triumph and heartbreak and drama on it, saw a thousand sunrises on it. Couldn't get enough of it. Ran along it whenever I could. Sometimes I see flash up on the screen in movies, and the sight still chokes me up after all these years. Don't tell me, "Big deal, earth has other rivers." The only one I ever loved is the one I knew every bend of and could steer in the dark, the one I gave half my life to. Jono broke my damn heart with his "running along a river" line. I knew right then he belonged back on Talaria. Quit laughing! This is so totally a thing!

Worf would have been a better to choice to watch over the kid than Picard.

The politics of the episode are horrible. It addresses a current debate around several genocidal processes, which actually happens only in the media, because international courts have already cleared it. International courts have established that raising kidnapped children as the children of the parents' murderers is in itself a crime that continues to be committed until the situation is over. The rights of the children to their identity should be respected. in this case, they are crushed, as this episode makes an argument for ignoring the rights of kidnapped children to have their identity returned to them. At the same level as the justification of racism, rape, or torture, this is one of the most unethical maneuvers in this kind of serial. sick to the bone.

Good Lord, this argument. The regulars around this site will pontificate over the prime directive forever but when an actually difficult decision comes up which requires choosing between respecting a culture or damning it by your own standards, an awful lot of you damn it with self-righteous impunity. The boy wasn't abused. Whether the boy should even be considered human after most of his formative years were spent in another culture is highly questionable at best. And yet, ultimately, the reason the boy's genetic humanity is emphasized by any of you is because it is the one link the might justify taking him from what has clearly become his culture. If this were a Tellarian boy whom the Enterprise comes across by accident and discovers 'abuse', it would be a clear prime directive matter and they would not have the slightest prerogative to take the kid. Elliot is right. What constitutes abuse and what doesn't is a consensus matter, a standard element of culture. Imagine a socialist arguing that, because this is a capitalist patriarchy which subjects its people to intense and possibly traumatic competition for their welfare, we should not be allowed to raise children in this country. By their view, and *by the views of some political radicals here*, they are right. Is it right for them to take your children? Please. It was a bad episode because it was poorly produced and written, but it was not a bad episode because the message was immoral.

In his comments on June 26, 2013, William B. expressed many of my thoughts on this one. I too would have given it 1 star, but the ending embrace did touch me enough to give it 1 1/2 stars.

Forgive an old lawyer but actually Jean Luc -stabbing someone in the chest with a dagger constitutes a crime in my book while advocating for one party in a custody dispute is probably ,at its worst, unwise but not any sort of crime ( unless things have radically changed in a few centuries). I think the problem with this episode is that they missed the story-it ought to have been another court room drama but then again no one would have been invested in the guest characters so it would have been a huge bore-wait a minute it was a huge pointless bore anyway.

Surprised that the reaction to this one has been negative. Aside from the cheeseball acting of the guest stars, I thought this was an excellent episode. It's basically the tale of a feudal, Japanese Samurai. When China invades his people's territories, he leads an attack and massacres them, with only a Chinese boy surviving. As per his customs, he takes this Chinese boy as his own and raises him to be a warrior samurai. The Chinese boy never experiences his culture and has only a vague memory of his parents. The Chinese boy becomes a samurai warrior and loves his family and his new (admittedly deeply feudalistic, patriarchal, exploitative) culture. He occasionally cuts himself with his kitana blade. Peace relations form between China and Japan. A bald Chinese captain encounters the samurai boy and demands he be taken back to China. Realizes he is wrong, and that all culture - even love - constitutes a kind of indoctrination. Returns home to eat noodles.

I thought this was a good episode until the end. Johno tried to murder Picard in a completely cold blooded and ruthless manner and everyone seems to just brush it off with the attitude of “oh that poor confused boy! It’s our fault for trying to help!”. There’s no way someone could stab a person in the chest with a dagger while they were sleeping and then no one seems to care. Just ridiculous

Quick thought about the title (was just reminded because I saw the ep pop up on the comment feed): I like how it refers not just to Jono, but also to *Picard*, who suddenly has to behave in a human (i.e. fallible, personal) role as temporary foster parent, rather than in his more traditional Renaissance Man, and also identifies his actions as wrongheaded (again, fallible) at the end. In retrospect, it might have been cool if the reason he had survived Jono's attack is because Jono stabbed him in the heart, and his artificial heart could withstand it -- it might connect the story to Picard's youth and also his emotional disconnection (his iron heart is maybe a metaphor for Picard's desire to keep emotional distance from others).

William B: or even better if jono stabbed into his chest and his electrical work and starts being electrocuted. Then Picard jumps up, says “haha you little bastard! I never did like kids!” and then throws him out of the open cargo bay doors by the seat of the pants

Sarjenka's Little Brother

I feel sorry for any episode that had to follow behind BOBW and Family. Guest star Chad Allen is definitely a striking looking young man/boy.

Not a lot to like about this episode. It started with that annoying hum of defiance from Jono then Troi lecturing Picard on being a father figure and then just turning over the kid to the Talarians without getting any kind of closure from Admiral Granny. I did like the brief bit of introspection Picard did about his childhood -- how he was singularly focused on getting into Star Fleet and why he cringed at being a father figure. This was a bizarre custody battle -- we get some idea of the culture clash between the Talarians and Federation where the aliens will go to war over 1 boy, although some pretty scary stuff happens in custody battles in our society too. But ultimately it's too simple -- Picard after getting stabbed and then realizing they could not convince Jono to remain with humans finally acknowledge what the boy wants. So this makes it seem like the Enterprise crew (mainly Picard, Troi) are pretty foolish. It was pretty clear Endar and Jono had a good relationship and there was no abuse. I don't think the actor playing Jono gave a particularly convincing performance for when he was haunted by the human memories (collapsing playing racquetball. Picard did play the part of uncomfortable father figure well. And he did bounce back pretty quickly from a stab in the chest... 2 stars for "Suddenly Human" -- weak episode that could have been something out of Seasons 1 or 2. Could have been a stronger episode with a more convincing performance from Jono (reactions seemed somewhat arbitrary) or greater emphasis on what's right for the boy rather than what's right for the Federation. Interesting that this episode fleshes out the Talarian race, which I believe was first mentioned in "Heart of Glory". Wonder if we will hear more from them...

I thought this was very funny, and it increased my respect for Captain Picard. First Troi quizzes him, then she leaves him in the lurch so he can act as the boy’s substitute father: that was harsh. I don’t think a Starship captain should have to shoulder that kind of responsibility, when he has an entire crew to look after; especially when the crew is a thousand strong. Worf should have been been Jono’s substitute father, rather than Picard, as others have already said. 2.5 stars.

What is it with people thinking Jono is a boytoy for Endar to bang? Now Jono and Wesley together, that would be epic twink porn.

@JerJer Only if it’s post expulsion (or was he only suspended? Can’t remember) from the academy Wesley. Johno and Wesley, the bad boys of the universe star in: Trek Twinks In space no one can hear your hairless body scream

This whole episode feels like it's from the first season. Strange episode. And couldn't they think of something else for the kid to do when upset other than that stupid "Banar" Good God was that annoying!

Here's a thought: if you send out distress calls and then rig your ships to self-destruct when aided , don't really expect anyone to come help you when you really need it.

This episode was ridiculous. While it brought up an interesting moral dilemma with far-reaching real world implications, the ending was absurdly horrible. A child prisoner of war illegally given up for adoption. He had unconfirmed signs of physical abuse but certain signs of psychological damage, from collapsing in emotional agony to a form of attempted suicide by police. This resulted from said kidnapping and an outright called by name Stockholm Syndrome. His 2500 day brainwashing is so extensive he has made almost no progress from his psychological damage and as a child still wants to stay with his kidnapper. So against the wishes of his legitimate defacto legal guardian grandmother who also outranks the captain, and without the recommendation of the medical personnel who should have clearly had the child under 24/7 observation, the victim is returned to the abuser who's laughably incapable military couldn't be a credible threat in war without fake SOS signals. Picard should be in prison in life, dishonorably discharged, and used as a textbook bad example for all ethics classes to come.

Frank Earnest

I'm glad to see a healthy amount of criticism for this episode in the Star Trek community. Late in the story, Jeremiah's trauma works its way to the surface, resulting in an emotional break and an attempted murder/suicide by cop (thanks, Derrick). And what's the solution? Bury it! Suppress it! Send him back and pretend this whole affair never happened! The hell with therapy, grief processing, and rehabilitation; it's too late for that to work with a teenager! Screw Endar's claim to a ward; we can safely assume those Talarian jerks started the whole conflict and, therefore, Endar's son is just a loss he'll have to live with. Mess with the bull, get the horns. Jeremiah is a POW who should've been returned per the treaty terms. This makes Endar a war criminal who should've been seized as soon as he was within Enterprise's grasp. A resultant war to either permanently reform or suppress this belligerent race would be well past due.

6/10 this is an after school special

I appreciate this episode because it walks the walk on cultural relativism. So often we hear that Starfleet is bound to respect the customs of others but we constantly see them try to change others, the episode where Riker corrupted the alien from a genderless society against it's culture or made a fuss about Worf wanting to die comes to mind, or when Spock tried to get a gang pf collaborators to turn Romulus into a democracy. Even if Endar was being abusive by western human standards, either by giving beatings or working him very hard, which I believe he was, that is an internal issue for their society, I am of the firm belief that there is no objective right or wrong, only rights and wrongs for oneself, one's culture and one's morals, if the Talarians or the Chinese for that matter want to eat their sons alive for back sassing them or something like that, it might seem crazy to me and wrong according to my culture but that's not my business and all that matters is that it's right to and for them

Cultural relativism stops when Human Rights are violated. Emphasis on humans. Talarians are free to set their own abusive culture for their own children, but inflicting it to human stolen children? Nope. Even if they believe its ok, even if the human children are taught to believe its ok, its not ok. Suppose Jono was a female child, being used as a house slave, occasionally for sex, without any education and prospect.

Well, certainly continuing with our Family theme here, but - not great. Lots of silly, the most absurd thing being the way Jono's attempted murder of Captain Picard is just sorta brushed off. No biggie, kid's OK to return home! Though it went in the opposite direction, Picard's quick decision about the boy's fate reminded me of Sisko sending the Cardassian boy, who had been raised by Bajorans, home to Cardassia. I realize now that I was wrong to ding Sisko for his hasty, unilateral decision-making - he was merely following established precedent. Kinda dull. A few good moments.

the kid is a terrible actor.

He was later on Dr. Quinn: Medicine Woman and still late came out of the closet. Apparently was acting in Christian films at the time and got turfed for being gay. Sad story.

This episode is very personal to me. I am Russian, my mother is Canadian born, it was very important to my mother that I went to Canada for university...I did and I hated it, the culture was so wrong to me, the values so out of line with my own, I found myself perpetually angry and disgusted. During my first holiday I returned home, my mother convinced me to return, that it was right for my future to have a degree from the University of Toronto. 10 days after my return to Canada I had to go to Church Street for something, I don’t remember what, but I saw two people doing something that would never be allowed where I come from, it was not the first time I saw it but this time it made me so angry that I returned to my residence immediately, packed my things and took a taxi to the airport, I left my Canadian papers in an ashtray. That was 5 years ago and it was the best choice that I ever made! So I understand how Jono feels here, to live in a strong culture all of your life and then be stuck among a weird, effeminate and lost culture who do things wrong is excruciating, especially when they act as though you’re the one who isn’t right!

@sergei, happy new year - never live in an effeminate and lost culture against your will. Get back home to mum. Haha!

Yeah if people think great country they think Russia. Always nice to see when people snap in these comment sections.

@Booming, I mean, as a Canadian that knows Toronto is the most American part of Canada, I was going to initially leave a comment, but I decided I didn't need to enter into a patriotism measuring contest. ... Aw crud. ;-P

It’s fascinating that an episode others have treated as a trans analogy (If not by design) here becomes something about that by you shouldn’t stay in a culture that’s insufficiently macho. Ink blot-like.

Odd episode, this one. Not that interesting. It works I guess as an allegory of those biological vs adoptive parent stories that sometime occur in real life, sometimes involving abducted or stolen children - there was one in the news a couple of years ago. But I didn't find it very interesting until there's a standoff between the Enterprise and the Talarians, at the end - and then only mildly so. It's weird that the kid tries to murder Picard, but gets away with it completely. Even stranger that there's no hard feelings at all, and even a touching moment between Picard and his would-be murderer at the conclusion.

This was a drag to get through. I think it's worse than most S1 and S2 episodes. Just terrible.

This one belonged in the seventh season. Bleh. The whole dilemma just seems so artificial. It is basically a family custody issue, but it’s not like the kid is four years old. Why does it have to be so binary? Would the adopted father really not want the kid to explore his human roots? And this all plays out so simplistically, if I were Picard, as soon as Endar fired at the Enterprise, I would have ended any consideration of returning the kid to him. Of course, conveniently, the alien ship is powerful enough to rival the Enterprise, despite dozens of reasons that makes no sense. The way Jono is written with the noble warrior adolescent thing is just annoying.

Gaius Maximus

I always find the message of the episode to be absolutely morally repellent. Apparently killing some people and abducting their child makes you the rightful parent of that child as long as you evade justice long enough to brainwash him into thinking he belongs with you. I wonder exactly how long you need to keep your abducted child away from his real family before you gain this moral right to him. I guess if you’re one of those people who cuts a baby out of its mother’s womb and runs off with it, you’re automatically the rightful parent and should get to keep it, because, hey, it’s never known any other parent, right? Just appalling and disgraceful.

@ Gaius Maximum, You're probably right so long as we see everyone involved as being metaphors for humans on planet Earth. But if we really take them as aliens, then it may be possible to see this as the law of a foreign power having to be respected even though we find it repugnant. In this case, claiming ownership of a child (for its own good) as a result of slaying his parents. There is something even vaguely Klingon about it, or maybe even Old Testamenty, in terms of the idea of having to take responsibility for the dependents of those you kill. But in modern terms, yeah, it's hard to swallow that the child could really be considered to be theirs. This episode now starts to remind me a bit of DS9's "Cardassians", with the scenarios slightly inverted: here it's the child of nice people claimed by the aggressive people, whereas in Cardassians it's the child of a not-so-nice guy stolen and subsequently brought up by...welll, actually, some more not-so-nice people.

Bob (a different one)

"Hey, you want to watch Suddenly Human?" Me: /high-pitched squeal of defiance Season 4 was, maybe, TNG at its very peak, but this story is extremely tired. It seesaws between stale and annoying for me. The "what to do with a white child raised by Indians" plot had been used by virtually every western series on television in the 1950s and 60s. And there were a LOT of westerns during that era. Scenes like the one where Picard walks in and hears the kids weird music had a very big Silent Generation vs Boomers vibe, too. Positives: - I liked the aliens uniforms, minus their helmets. - I liked the performance of the alien captain. - I liked the scene where Picard admits to Troi that he isn't comfortable around children. "...really?" - I also liked the final scene between Picard and the boy.

Although I can't disagree with the criticisms This has a couple of perfectly classic scenes, Troi talking to Picard in his ready room showcases a rare chemistry, and gives Stewart some nice comic moments to play well. 2. Riker informing Endar the kid tried to murder Picard and now Riker's in charge, with the subsequent threat made by Endar exposing the subtle ways Riker responds to a threat vs. Picard, and Mr. Worf's apparent tamped-down zeal for Riker's more aggressive reaction. It's a wonderful character moment embedded within the 'chain-of-command' detailing, and set and photographed in a choice situation (emotionally-motivated threat). While these dynamics are all nothing new, I had fun. Plus there is another ice cream scene in ten forward, though nowhere near as tantalizing as "The Game"'s.

I loved this episode - surprised to see how disliked it seems to be. It was a rare solid performance by a child actor. Yeah it was trope-y but a lot of that was only in retrospect. I think people forget the times. Dances With Wolves was one of the first major motion pictures to cast the 'good guys' in a negative light. This is a different time - showing the Federation as the wrong place for this child ran contrary to a lot of the threads of pro-Imperialism/American exceptionalism that were still pretty current in our society at that time. My main qualm with it sounds petty but it annoyed THE SHIT out of me. Why, in the everloving fuck, would Worf OF ALL PEOPLE say that a child isn't worth a war. The Klingon notion of honor that we've seen to this point is that it's perfectly fine to shed any amount of blood because someone questioned your orders. But a child that, for all Worf knew, was kidnapped and tortured? Worf should have been dying to kick the shit out of the Telarians over this.

Interesting moral dilemma: do you rehabilitate a wolf child (a very long hard journey) or do you return it to the wolves? That is the root myth of this story. However, the Talarians are not wolves, so the question might be: would you take a child born in America then reared in Italy so that he had become 100% Italian, back to the States to be “re-educated”? (I was thinking of the guy who just won the Olympic 100 metres). That’s not a good parallel either. There isn’t one, this being a sci-fi story.. however, the moral dilemma remains - do you look on the boy as human and ‘snatch’ him back, or do you return him to the aliens who raised him and who he regards as his natural home? Though not a typical TNG story, it was quite well done in a rather slow-moving way. It was also good to see both Troi and Crusher making Picard uncomfortable with their irrefutable female logic, and by getting to the heart of the matter. Jean-Luc positively writhed when Deanna quizzed him about children and his own childhood! The ending was perhaps a little predictable, but it “seemed right “. The boy was given the choice in the matter which ultimately is how it should be, especially after Endar was shown to be a good parent and not an abuser. Just one small point: why are there valuable Starfleet crew employed as waiters in 10-F? Surely, Wesley could have gone to the replicator and ordered his own banana splits??

I don't understand how anyone thought this was okay. Imagine someone had adopted a Korean boy and when he was 14 a random, large group of Korean travelers abducted him. Then they tried to convince him to renounce his American/British/Aussie/wherever-you-are-reading-this-from ways and act Korean as well as force him to deal with the abandonment via violent death of his birth parents before he was emotionally ready to. What the actual fuck? Plenty of people were adopting across ethnicities in 1990, what writer thought this was not only a sensible plot in 1990, but that it would still be a dilemma in the 24th century???

MyNameIsElian

Elian Gonzalez is the real life story of this custody. Giving the boy back to his father is the only logical conclusion. Watching that carnival play out close up and personal, there was never a justification to keep Elian in the US. Regardless of the backstory, which are often lies and made up nonsense, unless there is a clear case of abuse, leaving children with those who raise them is the best cause until they are emancipated or of legal age.

I think 14 is old enough to say, "No, under no circumstances do I want to go with you to a country I don't remember because I was a baby." Kidnapping or not, he would also have been dead if not adopted because, well, baby.

Lol I actively hate this episode. That high pitch wail is so LOUD and my god....it goes on FOREVER. Then it stops and ur like ok finally....only for it to happen again and again. When the Ferengi scream their ultra high pitch alarm scream in episodes of DS9 it's funny and isn't at a relative volume or frequency that shreds my ears and brain. I watched this episode for the first time in years as part of my binge before it's removed from Netflix on April 1st and I really expect to never watch it again lol

As a retired family court judge, had I been hearing this custody case I would have wanted to know much more about what this adolescent wanted and why. The older a child gets, the more their opinion counts, but that is not the only factor. The attempted murder of Picard was NOT determinative of the child’s wants or needs. It was a huge red flag that needed much more analysis. Picard just unilaterally deciding this complex case, without any input from Star Fleet or the Admiral, was ridiculous. Even given the 50 minute episode time limit.

The kids start howling... aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand I'm out. Next!

This episode was another example of my issues with TNG federation. Constantly backing down and bending over to inferior and hostile alien races that capture, kidnap, and/or brutalize Federation citizens and the crew is worried about offending said race, even when their ships are no match at all for the Enterprise.

I was going to write a word or two about the lukewarm reaction from the Federation but Rob in his previous comment hit the nail on the head. The whole concept revolves around Tamarian 'tradition' where Endar claimed a child of his enemy which is, by Federation standards, inadmissible and the discussion and repercussions should've gone much further than Picard's little speck on the wrist about how Federation authorities should've been notified. The surfacing flashbacks experienced by Jeremiah really point to a deep-seated trauma suffered by the boy and there is no way it only started manifesting itself when he came aboard the Enterprise. Maybe he wasn't fully conscious of the fact when he was growing up, but on some level he was certainly aware that he was raised in a society with values completely opposite to that of his own people, by people who murdered his parents right in front of him. The episode unfortunately doesn't really explore it in great detail nor does it give its audience a satisfying conclusion to its drama, which unfortunately brings me to my final point here - rewatching TNG in 2022, I realize that a lot of the issues the series as a whole tackles are simply impossible to set up, execute and bring to a satisfying ending in a very limited time slot attributed to each episode, and it is in that stubbornly episodic format where TNG shows its age the most. DS9 did it so much better - it didn't insist on season long arcs but it certainly didn't shy away from having multiple episodes in a row deal with a specific theme, nor did it shy away from revisiting old ideas and plot threads. In TNG, for the most part, guest stars, aliens or ideas of the week are gone forever as soon as the final credits roll at the end (with a few notable exceptions, of course, which coincidentally make up for some of the best TNG had to offer).

Filip, I understand where you're coming from. However, I have opposite take. The episodic nature of TNG is, to me, one of its strongest aspects. It forces a level of narrative discipline and efficiency that shows today often lack. To be able to tell Inner Light in 45 minutes is astonishing. On a side note - it's worth watching this and other great TNG episodes with commercials (or at least 5 min breaks) as we did back in the day. It actually impacts the viewing experience.

Okay, I've held off for years before saying this, but from the time I first saw this episode in its first run, I have been frustrated by it as another example of Trek's repeated casual acceptance of misogyny as just another culturally relative attribute not to be interfered with or even disapproved of in an alien society. Oddly enough, on my most recent viewing just now, the Pluto stream had a glitch, so I don't know for sure if they edited out the line after Jono learns that his birth grandmother is a Starfleet admiral when he says something like, "Among my people, no woman can have authority over a man." But that line will not leave my memory. Instead of showing the boy feeling a swell of pride that his ancestress holds such an important and respected position, it is merely another reason to reject his own humanity, because in his adoptive culture, his maleness gives him automatically elevated importance, which he (not surprisingly) does not want to give up. Picard is uncomfortable about this reaction, but not enough to end up saying, "Hey, maybe this alien culture is too sick to leave a human boy within, even if he has been brainwashed to love it. Maybe he's not ENTITLED to keep loving an excuse to look down on his grandmother. He's not too young to know better, or too old to learn better." But if the deal was going to be that Federation ethics required Jono, never again to be Jeremiah, to be returned to "the only father he'd ever (well, recently) known," then I'd have liked this ethic at least to be consistent. The DS9 episode "Cardassians" irritated me, too, when Sisko decided to rip a boy from his Bajoran adoptive parents. When I look at the two episodes back to back, its hard to escape the sense that in Trek, "all men outrank all women" is an adopted attitude not worth getting upset about while "Cardassia has done some things it should be ashamed of, like enslavement and near-genocide (when Cardassia has in fact done those things)" is a terrible thing to let a child grow up believing. I take the contrast personally.

@ Trish, I think there are some differences between the two episodes worth mentioning. In Cardassians the two most important issues IMO are that Rugel has been brought up to hate himself, and that he was intentionally lost, i.e. kidnapped, from his rightful parents. I think that makes it different enough that the cultural statements the episodes may or may not be making sort of have to take a back seat. Things in this episode are different enough from that so as to make the comparison difficult. I, too, wonder whether Netflix for instance makes cuts that I'm not noticing, as I tend to watch TNG on Netflix rather than going to my Blu-ray version. If I was following along with the transcript maybe I would discover some strange things. I don't know why streaming services would make cuts to online content since they're not need for ad space or to fit into a time slot, and it's not like Netflix owns the rights, enabling them to sell of viewing rights to a TV network and thus making it convenient to have a ready-to-go cut version. As to whether Jono should be allowed to remain with an alien culture that is antithetical to human values, I think Picard of all people would demand that the culture be respected even if he disagrees vehemently with it. I think in circumstances like this one must unfortunately take a cultural relativist position, because otherwise you would end up in the untenable role of arbitrating over which cultures are "too sick" based on your own standard. Certainly that kind of judgement would be frowned on in the Federation. For instance let's say a human child was brought up on Kronos: no doubt a pacifist would insist that being trained from a young age as a warrior is "sick" and the child should be taken away. I'm not sure how you avoid that kind of scenario unless you prevent yourself making that kind of judgement in the first place. Just imagine what would happen today if, publicly and officially, a legal official designated a foreign culture to be "too sick" to allow a child to be brought up there. Even though some people may in fact feel that way privately.

@Peter G. Ir probably will not surprise you to hear that I look at the matter differently. Although I think it is important for people from different cultures to listen to each other and have respect for one another's autonomy, a stance of imperative cultural relativism cannot help but devolve into an oxymoron, because that attitude itself is culturally determined, and it can offer you no guidance when you encounter a culture that does not accept it. I firmly believe there are times when it's appropriate to disapprove of another culture's position on something. It takes a very high bar to go beyond disapproval to a right and/or obligation to try to persuade them to change it, and higher still to take direct action, but sometimes those bars can be met. Most people would probably agree that genocide is such a case, but anything less than that requires a lot more discernment and is open to a lot more debate. I think both of these episodes are intended to explore the issue of the limits of cultural relativism, and that can be a very interesting theme. However, using intercultural adoption as a vehicle for constructing such an episode muddies the waters. In neither of these cases is the Federation in a position of even considering whether it should interfere in how another society chooses to raise its own children with its own cultural values. Instead, these are children born in one culture being raised in another without the consent or even knowledge of their birth family. I would argue that the bar is quite a bit lower on whether there is any right to "interfere", because someone has already interfered, and it's a question of whether that interference can be mitigated, or will simply be allowed to stand. In other words, it's not as if the Federation is swooping onto the Klingon homeworld and forcing the schools to replace combat drills with craft projects for children who are, after all, Klingons. It's more like if they demanded that a school turn over a Vulcan child who had been kidnapped and sent there, even though the child by then was very good with a bat'leth and wanted to have surgery to make him look Klingon. I do not see Rugel's and Jono's situations as so very different from each other. Both Rugel and Jono were kidnapped. One thing that is a bit different is that in Jono's case, the kidnapper held a culturally determined belief that he had a right to do so, but this was a "right" not agreed to by the culture from which the boy was taken. If Jono had been returned to his original family, he would have been taken away from the very person who had performed the kidnapping. It's hard to imagine a case in the real world in which we would ordinarily leave a child in the custody of their kidnapper just because the kidnapper thought they were doing the right thing, or because by the time the child was found the kidnapper had had enough time to brainwash the child. In Rugel's case, on the other hand, the person who performed the kidnapping knew full well what he was doing. However, the adoptive family had nothing to do with the cruel machinations that had resulted in the child being kept from his original family. They thought they were taking in an abandoned orphan. Both boys were taught self-hatred, though I think not intentionally. It is incredibly obvious with Rugel, but he is not really so different from Jono. For both, it was a side effect of being taught to hold the attitudes of their adoptive culture, because in both cases, that included contempt (and in Rugel's case open hatred) of the people with whom they shared an irrevocable biological identity. Jono's horror at his high-ranking grandmother and his initial unwillingness to touch "anything alien" with an ungloved hand are as real of indications of self-loathing as Rugel's statements about Cardassian crimes. Jono's attack on Picard is very like Rugel's attack on Garak: a defensive gesture against the people from whom he came when one of them comes uncomfortably close to recognizing him as one of their own. Both are trapped in very messy situations not of their making which I would not want the responsibility of sorting out. Regarding the cultural misogyny, however, it's not only in cases of adoption that it comes up. Many non-human cultures are portrayed as having some degree of subjugation based on gender. In Angel One, the matriarchal society is portrayed as being in a state of "evolution" toward a more egalitarian culture of which it's clear the Federation approves. However, it seems that the patriarchy found in more alien cultures is seen as something that, even if distasteful from a Federation perspective, is just the way things are, an integral part of the alien species' "alienness." I'm glad that male Vulcans didn't continue to be portrayed as ordering brusquely, "My wife, attend," like Sarek in Journey to Babel, or as telling a bride like T'Pring in Amok Time that if she wants a divorce she must accept becoming the property of whichever man fought to the death for her (a requirement made all the more unsettling because it came from the lips of the seemingly very powerful, perhaps matriarchal, T'Pau.) But even in the TNG period, it's perfectly obvious to Klingons that women don't belong on the Council. And then there's the Ferengi … It just seems that patriarchy gets a more or less free pass if it's a tradition within a non-human society, while the one unambiguously matriarchal society needs to "evolve." I'm not sure how to communicate how threatening that can feel to a female Trek fan. It sort of suggests that even in a mostly optimistic view of the future, no matter how many centuries go by, equality will never really be won. It also suggests that in the here and now, or at least at the time such episodes were written, patriarchy as the virtual default value of societies made up of supposedly intelligent beings was a presumption acceptable to the writers or at least presumed by the writers to be acceptable to the target audience. Either way, when it crops up, I find it a distraction from all the things I do enjoy about Trek.

@ Trish, I wasn't really describing the Federation's (according to me) cultural relativism as being my person position, but rather one that Picard would most likely adopt. And this isn't necessarily because he's the paragon of virtue and therefore this must be a virtue; but rather because what he stands for is Federation principles, and one of those happens to be making extreme compromises with cultures that have antithetical beliefs. One thing Journey to Babel (and to a small extent ENT S4) showed was that races that would have effectively been enemies have to not only attend councils together but actually have to inhabit a common body of law and culture. That just can't happen if one "true" morality is put forward as correct and the others erroneous. You would have to bow down to the idea that no one morality could be raised above the others *within that system*. That doesn't actually mean that there is no objective morality, but rather than the society of the Federation could not assert it a priori. And I think Picard would champion this compromise as a diplomat. To him, the correct morality would be one that enables co-existence. I think there is still room within that to believe in superior (or outright best) moral facts, and to hope that cooperating with others will allow them to realize those truths in time. That seems to be Trek's thesis, in any case. Regarding Rugel and Jono, I agree there are some similarities. One thing that I think is really telling, though, is the nature of why each of them attacked someone. Rugel seems to have attacked Garak out of pure hatred of Cardassians (including himself). And I get the idea that Rugel's adoptive parents wouldn't want him returned to his biological father is because of their feelings toward Cardassians. But let's say Rugel had been a Vulcan child stranded during the occupation, and that child's parents found their way back to Bajor once Sisko was in charge, I find it hard to believe that they'd refuse to give him back in the same manner. The way the episode was written, it almost seemed like they were using him as a kind of personal revenge, taking their hatred out on him even while claiming to love him. But with Jono, he really did feel like be belonged to the Talarians, and based on his speech to Picard it seems to me he was trying to commit suicide by Captain in order to avoid betraying his father and his way of life. So that alone makes a huge difference, in terms of the relationship between the two sets of parents and children. Now I could see an ironic interpretation of the suicide as it actually being the only way he could make Picard his new 'father', by dying to him and thus confirming Picard as his true superior. So that perhaps complicates the matter somewhat. And maybe it matters as well that Jono's birth parents are dead, whereas Rugel's father is alive and apparently wants him back. I agree with you, though, that a kidnapper's personal beliefs wouldn't affect whether they get to keep a kidnapped child. But in this case as it's a spoils of war situation, I'm not sure how that would end up playing out in respecting Talarian law. That's probably getting too much into the weeds anyhow. My main point was that I think Picard's penchant for diplomacy makes for a rational case in this episode of respecting Jono's adopted values and those of the Talarians, whereas in DS9 Sisko seemed more prone to right wrongs in just but diplomatically messy ways. Angering the Bajorans by sending Rugel home was perhaps a price he was willing to pay to (a) stick it to Dukat, (b) undo a plot, and (c) prevent Rugel being subjected to any further humiliation on Bajor. It's also worth mentioning that the 'kidnapping' in Rugel's case was perpetrated by his father's own people, so the analogy would be if a human colonist had intentionally given Jono away to the Talarians to put one over on their neighbor. Regarding patriarchy vs matriarchy, maybe it's just my bias as a man but I guess I never felt a pull one way or another in Trek. While TOS did have to deal with the restrictions by network execs. there seem to be some cases of strong women being shown. I just watched The Enterprise Incident the other day, which I've always held up as an excellent example of a non-sexualized female lead in an episode who exhibits command authority. And even though she's put in an evening dress I still never felt she was being sexualized, which is interesting. TNG made more overt moves to portray matriarchy, or at least women in important positions. Among the Romulans we have Sela, who although not 'in charge' is certainly a VIP, and the Betazoids seem to be matriarchal (although unfortunately this doesn't come off as terribly flattering, mostly due to how Lwaxana is written). But on DS9 the Bajorans may be the best example we have of a sort of matriarchal society (even though the Kai can be a man in theory). I suppose we could cite VOY as being matriarchal just by virtue of Janeway's position as lord of the ship. It does seem inescapable, though, that even if the writers intended no bias they did seem to mostly default to patriarchal alien races. I actually think Denise Crosby leaving TNG hurt the show's credibility as gender balanced since she was the only female officer not in a caregiving role, even putting aside the pure numbers balance. Kira on DS9 was a good reprieve from this particular situation. And incidentally (and I think this has been proposed before), in Angel One it seems the reason the matriarchy there needs to evolve is because it's being used as an inverse look at patriarchy, showing us how we'd agree it needs to change if the mirror image was the case (i.e. modern Americans would agree with the feminist message if it was men subjugated to women). So the matriarchy needing to change is a way of saying that patriarchy needs to change. I don't think it's really saying anything about how an actual matriarchy would or wouldn't function.

@Peter G. Many of your points are well taken, regarding the pragmatic motivation of the relativism portrayed in the Trek universe. It's perhaps less a moral statement (even when it sounds like a moral pronouncement) than the simplest way of making things work so the stories can happen. I do think, though, that there is a big difference between portraying a woman in a position of power and portraying a society as "matriarchal." The Federation as portrayed on Voyager does not become matriarchal just because the captain is female, and I would not say that the Federation is portrayed as patriarchal in other Trek series just because the captains are male. Certainly, Vulcan society isn't portrayed as matriarchal even though T'Pau is clearly a very powerful woman. A matriarchal society doesn't have husbands bossing their wives around as Sarek does (and human wives accepting it as "a better way than ours," as Amanda does), or have women like T'Pring become legal "property" of a man. (When Spock chooses to give up his claim to her, he doesn't say to her, "Go with Stonn, if that's what you want." He says to Stonn, "She is yours." Basically, all involved, including T'Pring, accept that she is Spock's to give away.) A society in which, unlike Vulcan, no woman can outrank any man is clearly patriarchal; that's practically the definition of patriarchy. Interestingly, the writers have that one difference with the Federation be the fork in the road that ultimately leads Jono not to embrace his humanity. That is what makes him so upset he needs to "run by the river," so Picard takes him to the racketball court where his emotional breakthrough occurs. The story being told needed there to be some fork in that road. I just wish patriarchy hadn't been the writers' choice of what the fork would be based on. There are so many other cultural values that could have been chosen, many of which might have made me more sympathetic to Jono's desire to remain Talarian than "I want to be more important than half the population." I know they want it to be something that rubs a bit against the Federation view of society, so in a sense my reaction is a sign that the writers succeeded. But for me, it rubs TOO much to do its job within the story. It draws me out of the story too much. I freely admit that the fact that it's my half of the population Jono wants to automatically outrank that makes this plot point a lot more personal to me than I would expect it to be to a male viewer.

Trish, since Voyager is cut off from the rest of humanity, it could be argued that the Federation (as portrayed in that show) is matriarchal. Certainly, the majority of the strong characters on the ship are female. And Janeway makes a real point of mentoring Torres and Seven. Focusing her attention on their development. Only Paris is given any attention, and that's a mixed bag.

@ Trish, I agree that it may be noteworthy that they chose the man/woman axis as a crisis point for Jono in this episode, where in theory they could have perhaps chosen another one. However, maybe not, for one reason: the story seems to me more about Jono needing a father figure than about which society is better or appeals to him more. He *needs* his adoptive father to be his father, because otherwise he has no one. One could argue that, hey, why wouldn't an adoptive mother be just as good, or an adoptive grandmother even? Isn't it sexist that it has to be a father? I happen to think that a child is not indifferent to the sex of his/her role model, and that it may in fact make a difference to a young boy whether he has a father or not. The story seems to be saying that Jono's connection to Captain Endar is so important that he won't even entertain the possibility of choosing any other way, which I think is why he hits a crisis point when he starts connecting with Picard: once he has a new option for a father he is automatically betraying Endar. If I'm right about that then it really had to be a man/woman issue since the issue of him specifically wanting a strong father figure is central to the plot. Rejecting a grandmother-figure isn't just an arbitrary sticking point (one that ruffled your feathers perhaps unintentionally) but in fact the core of the character story. The episode is saying to *to Jono* a mother figure would not work as well as a father figure, period end of story. That ends up being played out as a dispute between two cultures, but I think that aspect is really just an elaboration of the character's individual needs.

Merry Christmas to all who celebrate it! @Peter G. I agree that sometimes young people need role models of their own gender, and that this episode is telling a story about a boy torn between two potential father figures. However, I am not following why the fact that Jono's internal conflict is about his need for a specifically male role model means that he has to reject any women having any place of authority over his father figure. (That's how I interpret his "She outranks YOU?" line.) Surely he doesn't feel a need for his father to be of the absolute highest rank; I would think that Endar has superiors in the Talarian command structure. They just are not and, as the episode is written, cannot be women. Wouldn't it reinforce the idea that Jono's conflict is over two possible father figures if it were something truly about Picard himself, not something about the throwaway character of Jono's grandmother, that was something that the boy perceived as a bridge too far? For example perhaps it could have been the fact that Picard sees himself as more a diplomat and explorer than a warrior. Endar has trained Jono to be a soldier, as he himself is a soldier. To embrace Picard as a father figure could thus be seen as not just embracing humanity, but as directly rejecting Endar. @Darmok I'm afraid I'm not following you, either. There is only one captain of Voyager, and so that person is going to be either a man or a woman. I don't see how if the captain had been a man, that would mean that Voyager society had become patriarchal even if the culture from which it was involuntarily splintered off was not. The fact that the captain is a woman doesn't automatically mean it's a matriarchy. In-universe, it's not because of her gender that Janeway is the captain, any more than because she's a dog lover. Is Chakotay not a strong character in your estimation? He outranks everyone on the ship except for Janeway, and he was himself a captain until his ship was lost. Tuvok is next in line, and he is also male. In a matriarchal society, surely two of the top three positions would not be held by men. You have to get all the way down to the chief engineer to be able to consider the command structure half and half. Even that 50/50 balance doesn't hold if you consider the Chief Medical Officer, the position held by Bones McCoy, part of the upper echelon. The Doctor's character is certainly a strong one within the ensemble. He is in a sense without gender because he's a hologram, but he is clearly portrayed as male, because he has been programmed based on a male human, his creator. In fact, if you look at the entire cast of "regular," weekly characters, six of the nine at any one period are male, and only half as many female: Chakotay, Tuvok, the Doctor, Kim, Paris, Neelix, Janeway, Torres, and Kes/Seven (you can't count both Kes and Seven separately for this purpose, because at a production level, one was required to leave for the other to be added. Essentially, they occupy the same "female slot."). There's Seska at first, but she is soon reduced to semi-regular status and then disappears, and is not replaced. I would say that's not a sign of a matriarchy. Not necessarily a patriarchy, either, but certainly not a matriarchy. I think when you expect a TV series, or for that matter life, to work as a patriarchy, seeing any women at all may look as if the women have completely taken over. But they haven't. They just do exist, too. Not even in as great of numbers, just enough to matter.

Merry Christmas to you too! @ Trish, "However, I am not following why the fact that Jono's internal conflict is about his need for a specifically male role model means that he has to reject any women having any place of authority over his father figure." For this to make sense you really need to map the entire cultural dichotomy into a personal one about Jono's need for a father. The reason why a woman can't outrank a man in his mind (i.e. the Talarian mind) is simply because no woman can be his father, and the father is the end-all for him in terms of who he respects. And this doesn't require a gendered political reading to be understandable: so long as we restrict our level of analysis to the family rather than the society, it doesn't seem so strange that the father is of far more supreme importance than some obscure social figures who aren't actually present in the boy's life. And in fact we don't require a contrivance of analysis to think in these terms, as I suspect there are many real world examples - even in our own societies - that demonstrate how superior a family parent is to some hypothetical 'superior' person in the society. To a child or even young adolescent, it shouldn't be strange at all to assume that a parent is more of an authority figure in a young person's life than a senator or even the President. Those people may be famous, but they are not parents. And that's just the psychological perspective; I imagine there are also many societies historically where the parent is in fact the *ultimate* authority over the child, full stop, including senators and the President. If I'm guessing correctly, if you went back to the founding of the U.S., no one would claim the POTUS was "in charge" of the father of a family, or even had the remotest amount of authority over him. Now this is technically complicated by the fact that Endar is a "captain" and thus may fall within some hierarchical command structure. But as that aspect isn't ever explored we might just as easily assume that the Talarians are tribal and that a "captain" is the ultimate authority over his own clan or family group. So that aspect may be a wash if we wondered about the political side of it. But what I wanted to focus on was the family side of it, and from that perspective (still keeping in mind I'm assuming the premise that Jono needs, above all, a stronger father figure) there is no one in the universe who could outrank his father. I will grant that this general argument addresses the major insinuations of the story and perhaps allows us to understand the "no one can outrank a man" argument as being a personal need for paternal authority rather than as some kind of statement of cultural importance. This becomes harder to accept at face value when he is even shocked that Worf takes orders from a female superior, since Worf isn't the captain. My best answer to this point is just that if we're seeing all of this from Jono's perspective then it might make sense to assume that, being still immature, he identifies maleness as being tied to his father, and the idea of men all outranking women as being tied to his father being the embodiment of authority. Sort of an illogical generalization on his part. Perhaps you might find this explanation satisfactory. I don't really have any need to prove that the episode isn't really employing a patriarchal bias even subconsciously among the writing staff, but I guess I'm seeing that there are many built-in story elements that seem to make the paternal authority issue directly relevant to Jono as a character and even to his extreme need for men to always be seen as higher than women. Yes, it's painted as a generally held Talarian attribute, but going with my general thesis that races on Trek (especially TNG in particular) tend to be examples of human traits rather than attempts to portray anything actually alien, I think the Talarian "race" is maybe best seen as an example of the orphaned or tribal boy who absolutely requires a strong paternal figure to be the center of his world for purely personal reasons. We could perhaps imagine a story about such a person would involve all sorts of elements that could be construed as sexism or other isms if we generalized these elements into being about humanity in general. That's why I'm suggesting that maybe we should restrict our ideas about gendered authority in the episode to Jono alone (and to the archetype he speaks for) rather than to see it as a story about different social systems competing with each other. I see it more like asking what kind of ideas someone like Jono would have to conjure up to support his internal conception of his father as everything, and what sort of person might have he grown up to be had someone like Picard been his father. In momentarily seeing Picard as a father figure Jono became "suddenly Human", i.e. a different person with different conceptual needs, and this was incompatible with all of his previous understandings. You know, the more I analyze these third-rate episodes the more I realize that TNG writing tended to have a lot of really good levels built into them, even when the teleplay is fairly lame. The quality of the meta-narrative writing was just so far superior back then to how TV is written now. Sorry if that was a bit long-winded.

Trish, Chakotay is a weak character that capitulates quickly to Janeway. Series long, Janeway faces down threats. Refuses to be intimidated. Chakotay often seeks to avoid conflict, even if it means the crew never makes it home. Neelix is a complete putz. Harry Kim is weak and subservient. His character growth is nominal. Tuvok is completely subservient to Janeway. While he periodically offers good counsel, he rarely pushes back. His character development is nominal as well. Paris is headstrong and often foolish. He has moments where he evinces strong leadership. But then he also has reckless and impetuous moments. He isn't exactly command material. The Doctor isn't human so it's difficult to view him like the rest of the crew. Though I will concede that he makes great strides during the show. Seven and Torres are, next to Janeway, the most intelligent and strong-willed of the crew. Janeway takes a peculiarly strong interest in their development. Obviously their unusual backgrounds factor into this. But the fact remains they are dominant personalities that the men generally capitulate to. The fact that 6 of the 9 main cast are men only reinforces my point. They have the majority yet the women clearly rule the ship. And thank God for that. Otherwise, Voyager never would have made it home.

@Peter G. I agree that the depth of the writing in Trek and in TNG in general has much more depth in addressing issues of the human condition than people sometimes give it credit for, and that it is by analyzing in these almost ridiculous levels of detail that the depth becomes most evident. Even when, as in this case, the writers are portraying something I am not enjoying and that is distracting me from just enjoying the narrative at a superficial level, it gives me real respect for their skill as storytellers. They have created characters that seem as complex as real people, living in a universe that likewise seem very real. Even though you and I do not agree on this specific issue, our discussion of it seems to be helping both of us appreciate how much is in there, even if we don't put the same weight on different parts of it. To me, your theory (if I am understanding the theory correctly) that Jono is only saying that a woman cannot outrank a man is because he personally cannot have ANYONE outrank his father is not supported by the lines in the script, and it doesn't make sense to me that he would say what he says if it weren't a statement about Talarian society as a whole. It's the fact that so many alien societies in Trek are not just patriarchal but openly misogynistic (and that this is often treated by even the regular characters as a more or less neutral cultural factor) that I find so distracting. Trek does sometimes deal with issues at a societal level, so even though this particular episode is focusing on a very individual journey of identity (something else Trek does remarkably well), I believe the social issue is also truly there. You and I may never come to see it the same way. That is part of the nature of art sometimes, that some of its meaning is in the eye of the beholder.

@Darmok I think I see better now what you are talking about with Voyager, not necessarily that the society portrayed in Voyager is matriarchal in-universe, but that at the creative production level, there was a disproportionate focus on developing the female characters. In a sense, the studio became matriarchal for that series, which affected the product they created. The reason I said above that "in-universe" Janeway's gender did not make her the captain was because I realize that at production level, her sex was absolutely the most important thing about the character, to be the first female captain as one of the main characters in a Trek series. The writers also seem to have made a deliberate effort to give the other female characters a lot more to do than deliver a mere catch line like Uhura's "Hailing frequencies open" or Troi's "He's definitely hiding something." This was to "even out" an area where Trek, reflecting its times, had previously been lacking, and the farther we get out from it (and the more balanced our own real-world society becomes) the more dated and heavy-handed it starts to look. But I think it needs to be seen as a necessary "affirmative action" stage that helped people get used to both male and female characters having depth and importance, both in-universe and in the amount of creative attention they receive. Without that awkward stage, things tend not to get better.

@ Trish, "To me, your theory (if I am understanding the theory correctly) that Jono is only saying that a woman cannot outrank a man is because he personally cannot have ANYONE outrank his father is not supported by the lines in the script, and it doesn't make sense to me that he would say what he says if it weren't a statement about Talarian society as a whole." I guess all I can say is that if the statement was coming from a well-adjusted individual (like a Klingon at the height of his powers) then we'd have to take it at face value that this is just the way their society is. But since Jono is very overtly shown to be immature, even childish (the keening seems to me almost infantile), that any statements about his culture need to sort of taken with the same grain of salt you'd take if you asked an 8 year old about how the world works. It's not that it isn't his viewpoint, but more than he isn't capable of giving a well-considered statement about reality, so what we're hearing is of low value as a cultural statement. I guess it could be the converse - that an immature society is going to yield people with poor quality social statements. By the way I don't disagree with you that in general the bias will be anti-female rather than anti-make. And in fact I have a general theory about this: due to the fact that the feminine is the more important force in the world, the foremost type of corruption is going to be a corruption and trampling of the feminine. So it will not only be a writing bias that suggests the feminine is submerged out of sight, but may well be a subconsciously accurate description of really is the norm: that the masculine force overwhelms the feminine, alternatively trying to dominate it or distort it. So what you perceive to be a flaw in TNG writing may in some fashion be seen as a true representation of how things go unless very active steps are taken to give full glory to the feminine (as for example Marian Catholicism does).

@Peter "if you asked an 8 year old about how the world works. It's not that it isn't his viewpoint, but more than he isn't capable of giving a well-considered statement about reality, so what we're hearing is of low value as a cultural statement." When it comes to gender and power dynamics related to that, children have a more or less complete understanding around the age of 5 and can express that.

I don't even think adults - or experts even - have a complete understanding of it. As if gender or power dynamics are a simple thing.

Complete understanding is probably confusing. What I meant is that children at that age can if asked point out gendered behaviors and societal norms. Jobs, color, toys, how to move, what to wear and so on. "As if gender or power dynamics are a simple thing." In quite a few areas they are, like who is in charge or who is expected to do what.

@ Booming, "In quite a few areas they are, like who is in charge or who is expected to do what." We are getting off-topic with this but I'll be super-brief: I think Western conceptions of power has grossly misunderstood what "in charge" means, and how power is exercised in real world situations. Being the one to say "you do this" doesn't actually mean that person has power. It's a very complicated subject, and I'd rather just leave it at that.

Ohhh that is so mean! Now my brain is going to circle that "Western conception" sentence until the end of time...

It's ok, just have some more tequila :)

Ok... I guess the salt will come from my tears...

@Peter G. I have to say, deciding that the character is unreliable seems like kind of a cop-out. Are there unreliable characters? Of course. In a sense, all characters are unreliable, because their lines are conditioned by the background and personality the writer has given them. But choosing not to trust a line the writer has put in a character's mouth has to be based on something in the script, not just on not wanting to engage with what it would mean if the character were telling the truth. The script gives us no particular reason to think that Jono is inaccurate on the specific issue of gender roles among his adopted people. If Jono were going to be inaccurate about something, why gender relations, instead of something else? To resort to that as a way of waving off the line's implications comes across as a way of just dodging my question. The dodge doesn't actually work, anyway. Whether the belief that women cannot hold positions of authority is pervasive in Talarian society or is specific to Jono, my real question remains: Why do attitudes like this keep getting written, while the reactions written to it are often mild or nonexistent? My original point wasn't about him, or about Talarian society, or anything in-universe. It was that at the creative level, patriarchy and even outright misogyny have been used as lazy shortcuts to portraying alien societies. If it had been done once or twice, it could have been just a dramatic device for the needs of a specific story. When it happens again and again, with almost all the alien cultures we get to know well enough to know whether it's patriarchal or not, it becomes normalized, as if this is just the way the universe works. And that's pretty much what you're saying you think might be the case: That this is just the way the universe works, and it must simply be accepted. I'm not okay with that. I'm not okay with it either in Trek or in my own church. I realize it would be SO much easier for men if I and all other women were. But that much, I can say with confidence, is not how the universe works. After all, just because there's gravity doesn't mean no one can stand up off the ground. Misogyny is common in the universe as we know it, but it doesn't have to stay that way.

@ Trish, "I have to say, deciding that the character is unreliable seems like kind of a cop-out." Well, yes, in a way. But I do think it matters whether a character is intentionally shown as being immature, versus being an educated and rational person, when making a pronouncement about values. Just as a random example, take Salia from S2's The Dauphin. She seems to express some sentiments nearer to the start of the episode which I think are intentionally meant to reflect a child-like attitude rather than a considered opinion. Her guardian is portrayed as "a meanie" (as my daughter would call it), but this too seems to be channeled through a child's lens. Now in that episode we see a transition of Salia's perspective since that story is about her becoming a ruler, but the example is meant to show that what we're told about what's right from her POV is governed by what we're supposed to understand about her bearing in life. All I was trying to suggest was that they went quite a bit out of their way to portray Jono as immature, which must influence how we take his statements. So yes, it's kind of a cop out, but one that has structural basis in the story. "And that's pretty much what you're saying you think might be the case: That this is just the way the universe works, and it must simply be accepted. I'm not okay with that. I'm not okay with it either in Trek or in my own church." I wasn't so much theorizing about why it's ok, but rather just observing that it's no accident that bulldozing over the feminine is common (which btw I don't agree is automatically equivalent to misogyny). In other words, if the Trek universe portrays it as so, then perhaps we might see it as being an accurate portrayal of what an actual inhabited universe might look like, i.e. with many cultures around that do not properly give space for the feminine. It is possible to observe this in a value-neutral way: for example if I suggest that it is possibly quite difficult to make space for the feminine, then it might not come across as hateful for a species (or culture) to have failed to do so, but rather merely be a sign of its lack of sophistication. That's just a way of looking at it as a possible alternative to what you feel is behind it. Another thing I've faced (and that I've led discussions on) in arts environments is what sorts of thing emerge from chiefly male writers versus female writers. It's possible for a male writer, like e.g. David Mamet or Aaron Sorkin, to have some great strengths and some natural weaknesses in their writing, and for these weaknesses to perhaps cluster to some degree around their gender. That most writers thus far have been men will no doubt have some effect, but again I'm hesitant to agree that a weakness in writing - for instance not being great at writing female characters, or even feminine worldviews - is equivalent to misogyny. Now what might legitimately called misogyny would be disallowing women *to be* writers, or to decline to hire them, and to the extent that this has been the case historically I would agree with you on those grounds.

@Peter G. I couldn't bring myself to come back to this one until now, over two months later. It really sounds like you think that if a type of hatred or contempt is common enough, then it stops really being hatred or contempt, and becomes just kind of a lack refined etiquette. It probably doesn't surprise you to hear that I don't share that belief. I think it's a lot easier to believe it if you yourself have never been, and cannot realistically imagine that you will ever be, on the receiving end. If you have or you can, it NEVER becomes just a "lack of sophistication." It's morally wrong.

@ Trish, What I'm suggesting is that it doesn't require hatred or contempt for something to be anti-feminine (or anti-anything). Some people can make things hard for women out of contempt, but some may do it because it requires extraordinary effort to reverse that. Example: tech companies with a bro culture didn't initiate those cultures because they hate women. It's just a natural result of unsophisticated young men who end up wielding a lot of power in a newish industry. But for women to feel welcome and even safe there, the men would have to actually modify their work culture, and it might not even be clear to them how to do that. They weren't misogynists, so what's the problem? Solving that requires not only consideration, but also time, and of course the strong desire to include women. Now to be fair some bro culture places actually are misogynist, but plenty that aren't have the same culture problem. All I'm saying is things can be complicated. In Trek I guess I don't have a problem with a portrayal of a complicated imperfect universe. In fact most of the alien races (for better or worse) are portrayed as being flawed in some way, perhaps exemplifying an aspect of ourselves that requires work. I think this episode makes it clear enough that Jono is miserable in this culture no matter what he says, but Picard's dilemma is that "respect" for a culture involves having to accept that a 'bad' culture is still one that needs its own space. Not liking their culture can't be a reason for him to take Jono away, otherwise he'd basically always side against every other culture, which would be ruinous for the Federation.

@Peter G. My whole point in this matter, however, is that one specific way of being an "imperfect culture" keeps being portrayed in Trek again and again and AGAIN, sometimes with relatively little sign of acknowledging it as imperfect, just "alien." It's not about whether Picard should have taken away from the Talarian culture. The Talarian culture doesn't really exist. Jono doesn't exist. Picard doesn't exist (gasp!). My issue isn't an in-universe thing. It's about the writers (including some female writers) who have found it so natural to keep building worlds with that one specific imperfection. There are so many possible social ills to choose from if the story requires an alien culture to have a glaring imperfection. That one just seems to be overrepresented in their alien world-building, so much so that it's hard to believe it's an accident. That repeated creative decision shows a problem in the real world you and I both have to live in, not just in fictional Talaria. And fictional Vulcan. And fictional Ferenginar. And fictional Kronos. And fictional Trabe (the Kazon homeworld). And fictional Neural ("A Private Little War"). And … well, at least as many alien worlds as not. In all fairness, they do sometimes portray different glaring imperfections, such as the exploitation of manual laborers in "The Cloudminders." But oddly enough, when our intrepid heroes witness THAT imperfection, they plunge in and change things. Those heroes, of course, like Talaria, don't exist. Only the writers who created them.

@ Trish, That's very reasonable. But I wonder whether the repetition of the anti-feminine trope might not just be a lack of creativity, rather than the presence of prejudice. Then again I rather respect a lot of the TNG thematic writing. But maybe when finding social ills to represent they just went for low hanging fruit over and over. The TNG Romulans at least seem to be a departure from this, and DS9 perhaps does a better job of showing that Klingon women can be respected, even though the culture is hugely patriarchal. The Vulcan situation is a little weird, as some parts look regressive from our perspective and yet T'Pau is the highest-stationed Vulcan we see until ENT. I do think the Ferengi are a special exception as they are overtly meant to show weaknesses in America, specifically. Yankee traders, and all that. And in DS9 at any rate the portrayal of their sexism is so satiric that it's outright played as comedy, to say nothing that almost everyone present is embarassed by it. At least the Bajorans seem to have an egalitarian society.

@Peter G. Bajor is really a good example, I think, of what can be done if you depart from the very lowest-hanging fruit, AND if you take seriously that social ills are actually "ills" rather than "just the way things are" (which is the heart of my objection to the way-overused misogynistic themes). Bajoran society seems to have had gender equality for as long as anyone there recalls, but they have not always been "egalitarian" in a full sense. They used to have a rigid caste system that was not just different roles to make society work, but a hierarchical ranking system by birth. They only gave it up in order to fight the Cardassians, and showed how readily they could slip back into it when the pseudo-Emissary from the past told them to. Major Kira's arc in the series is an illustration of how the passionate hatred of Cardassians that got Bajor through the occupation was itself something that had to be grappled with and put into a bigger perspective. She even sort of adopts a Cardassian as a father figure. I think that allows her hatred of Dukat to be more clearly a response to Dukat's actions, rather than mere speciesism.

Others have said this but it seems that Worf was the likley candidate to guide Jono to transition. He is a war orphan who learned humanity by later adoption, liked to wail and listen to horrid alien music when stressed. HIs identified culture is patriarchal and honor-obsessed.

Jonas Mbele

Picard essentially returned a kidnapped child to the terrorists who murdered his family. It was wrong, period. Can you imagine a western military officer finding a child from some NATO country in the middle east, fully indoctrinated in ISIL philosophy but still young enough to be deconditioned and deciding, I'll just give him back to ISIL because well, he's a terrorist now. Its codswallop.

@Jonas Mbele The Tellerians aren't portrayed as a terrorist group, but as a recognized society that's the equivalent of a nation, so let's change the comparison. Let's say that during the civil war between Ethiopia and Eritrea, an Ethiopian boy's parents were killed or they had to desert a place and the boy was left behind. An Eritrean soldier took the child home and raised him. Much later, the boy at age 17 was in military uniform and fighting in Tigray. The area is in chaos, and in this chaos, a reporter for the UN interviews him, gets some of his story, and the family he was born into make a claim on him. He doesn't want to go back to Ethiopia, but back to his adopted family in Eritrea. Apologies if the ages and history of the Ethiopian/Eritrean conflict aren't 100% in line, but I encourage you to look into it. Should the UN intervene to send him to the family in Ethiopia?

A small thing but Jono is 14 and presumably below an age of majority, so the Federation evidently can act against his wishes if they want.

I think we can assume from the episode that the Tellerians see his age, 14, as the right age to start making decisions as an adult. It's another cultural difference: the age of legal majority isn't the same everywhere. Do you respect your own cultural POV at the expense of the other culture? The metaphor's a little more clever than we've been giving it credit for.

Submit a comment

Den of Geek

Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Suddenly Human

Star Trek: TNG delivers a bottle episode so called because you need a bottle to get through it. Here's James' look at Suddenly Human...

jono star trek the next generation

  • Share on Facebook (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on Twitter (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on Linkedin (opens in a new tab)
  • Share on email (opens in a new tab)

This review contains spoilers.

4.4 Suddenly Human

After stumbling upon a Talarian starship which has suffered an engine malfunction, causing injury to the small crew, the Enterprise rescues the injured to discover that one of the five boys isn’t a Talarian at all – he’s a human!

The boy, named Jono, is initially defiant. He and his shipmates do nothing but rock and howl, like Wesley before his latest Starfleet entrance exam. Only when Picard arrives and is identified as the Captain do they engage with their rescuers, and Jono makes a formal request to return home. Meaning with the Talarians. At first, Picard is unsure what to do.

Ad – content continues below

An investigation by Dr. Crusher has discovered evidence that Jono has suffered multiple severe injuries over the last few years, and she believes that his captors brutalised him. They discover his real/previous identity as Jeremiah Rossa, the believed-dead grandson of a Starfleet Admiral. So as if this wasn’t a difficult enough situation, Picard now has to deal with pressure from his boss to not give away her miraculously-resurrected grandchild. He resolves to help Jono find his human side, and despite his protestations, Troi points out there he’s the only one there qualified to do it.

What follows is basically a montage of odd-couple type scenes where Picard stumbles over Jono listening to weird teenager music, or getting upset because Jono’s touching the priceless knick-knacks he keeps lying around his quarters. Although the two don’t get on, Jono has a grudging respect for Picard, and slowly rediscovers his lost humanity through the medium of collapsing and screaming, clutching his head as he remembers the Talarian attack that killed his parents so many years ago.

Unfortunately there’s only one therapist on board and Troi’s already used her strange administrative powers to defer responsibility onto Picard. Because hey, there’s nothing else he has to be doing (apparently).

Eventually a Talarian rescue ship arrives and Picard hands over the four Talarians they rescued (oh yeah, those guys) but insists Jono stays with them. The captain, Endar, reveals that he’s Jono’s adoptive father and explains that he took the child under Talarian custom after humans killed his son. Picard is confused by this moral ambiguity, and accuses Endar of injuring the boy. Endar explains that Jono wasn’t beaten, he’s just a bit rough on the old space-football pitch. Picard accepts this, but informs Endar that Jono will be reunited with his human grandmother.

Understandably, Endar is upset and threatens war with the Federation, then gives Picard an arbitrary amount of time to decide, so that the episode can proceed unhindered by plot logic. With this window of opportunity, Picard and Jono head off to play racquetball then follow it up with a banana split in to Ten-Forward – you know, normal human activities. Jono causes much hilarity when he covers Wesley in banana dessert, and then Riker has to explain “slapstick” to Starfleet’s most advanced robo-mind. It’s good that they’ve got time to laugh in the face of war.

That night, a confused and conflicted Jono decides to stab Picard while he sleeps. Crusher saves his life and Jono is arrested. Endar chooses now to demand the return of his son, and Riker informs him that he’s now in jail. Endar responds by giving them 5 minutes to comply with his request, or a space-battle will occur!

Worried for the show’s budget, Picard speaks to Jono, who expects that he’ll be put to death. This convinces Picard his values and beliefs are so Talarian that he belongs with his loving, caring, non-abusive adoptive family. You know, like he did all along. Endar calls off the attack, Jono thanks Picard for seeing sense, and at last, everyone is happy. Except Jono’s grandmother, who’s been kind of out of the loop on this.

Get the best of Den of Geek delivered right to your inbox!

TNG WTF: This episode marks the first appearance of the futuristic sport, racquetball, or as I like to think of it, tri-dimensional racquetball. It bears some resemblance to actual racquetball which seems to be quite similar to squash. It also seems to be a product of the peculiarly American trait of playing completely different sports to the rest of the world, which makes me think it’s slightly wishful thinking to imagine it being played several hundred years in the future. I have no idea whether the TNG version is anything like the real one, but then it’s likely no-one on TNG knows either.

TNG LOL: Troi’s dressing-down of Picard is pretty funny, not least because she treats him like a child and then basically says “lol get over it” before flouncing out of his office while he scowls. I laughed, anyway.

To boldly go: The episode opens with them responding to the initial distress call. No word on what mission they’re interrupting to do so, but hey, those gaseous anomalies will still be there in the morning.

Who’s that face?: Admiral Connaught Rossa was Mildred Potter in the first season of AfterMASH. As august a role as anyone could hope for.

Time until meeting: 26:14. Picard, Troi, Endar and Jono meet to discuss Jono’s fate.

Captain’s Log: You may have noticed that this episode is a bottle show. So-called because a bottle’s the only way you’re getting all the way through it. This is an episode with all the worst excesses of TNG ‘s didacticism on show. Everyone knows what’s best for the boy, and even when they change their mind they don’t seem to address the consequences of their suddenly-corrected decision. Presumably Admiral Rossa, having had a single communication with her long-lost grandson, is going to be sending Picard a very stern letter of disapproval when she figures out what he did.

I mean, I get the conflict at the heart of the episode, and understand that it’s largely hinged on the relationship between Picard and Jono, but nothing surrounding that works. At the end of the episode I don’t feel like Picard has really connected with Jono (not least because of a murder attempt that comes out of nowhere) and the progress made reconnecting Jono with his human side is completely ignored. You can’t put that genie back in the bottle, especially when he’s clearly having PTSD-style flashbacks to his supposedly-forgotten attack. The ideas are there in the script, but the details don’t sell it at all. And for that matter, neither does Jono, whose acting inexperience really can’t stand up against Patrick Stewart.

Read James’ look-back at the previous episode, Brothers, here .

Follow our  Twitter feed for faster news and bad jokes right here . And be our  Facebook chum here .

James Hunt

Suddenly Human

4th episode of the 4th season of star trek: the next generation / from wikipedia, the free encyclopedia, dear wikiwand ai, let's keep it short by simply answering these key questions:.

Can you list the top facts and stats about Suddenly Human?

Summarize this article for a 10 year old

" Suddenly Human " is the 78th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation , the fourth episode of the fourth season .

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D . In this episode, the Enterprise rescues a Starfleet admiral's grandson, long thought dead, but who had been adopted and raised by the enemies who killed the boy's parents.

jono star trek the next generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation : "Suddenly Human"/"Remember Me"

"Suddenly Human"

Or  The One Where Picard Gets A Roommate Who Majors In Stabbing

I'm all for Picard-centric storylines, and "Suddenly Human" makes good use of the character's on-going issues with children, but it's odd that Worf wasn't more involved with the plot. Jono, the human boy adopted by a Talarian starship captain after the Talarians kill the boy's parents, isn't exactly in the same situation as the Klingon, but it's close enough that I'm surprised Troi didn't try and force the two to bond through their shared experiences. Troi is a big one for forcing that sort of behavior on people. I think she just gets bored wandering around the ship in her absurdly low-cut uniform, so when a crisis occurs that requires her expertise, she just goes full puppet-master and starts pulling the strings for her own amusement. Perhaps Worf had displeased her; perhaps his gruff, straightforward manner was unresponsive to her psychological meddling. Whatever the reason (and yes, there is a reasonable plot explanation for this), when Jono needs someone to lean on in his time of crisis, Troi turns to Picard. Who gets all sputtery.

Related Content

If you ever want definitive proof that  TNG  has gone from being a weak show with strong elements, to just being strong overall, well, you could watch any one of at least half a dozen classics we've gone through in the past few weeks. "Human" isn't quite the same level as, say, "Yesterday's Enterprise," but it is very, very good, and one of the reasons it's so impressive is that it takes a subject that could've been mishandled in any number of ways and manages to stick the landing perfectly. The  Enterprise  finds a damaged ship with five people on board. Four of them are Talarian men; the fifth is a human. Our heroes soon determine that the human has surviving family back on Earth, and they decide it's their job to bring Jono back to his "real" family. Also, they don't really trust the Talarians, and Beverly finds the boy has been injured in such a way that leads everyone to assume child abuse.

Imagine how this would've been handled earlier in the show's run. Contemplate that for a moment on the Tree of Woe. It definitely would've been child abuse, that's for sure, and Picard would've gotten closer to the young man, ultimately convincing him to betray his adopted culture for the inherently superior human one, right before Picard would give a speech about how great humanity is and how a person's heritage would eventually shine through. Something like that, anyway. There would've been no question that Jono belonged back on Earth, however long he'd spent with his new "dad," and that dad would've almost certainly been a villain. Maybe it wouldn't have been that bad, but I can't imagine it being much good, because in the early going,  TNG  lacked the courage of its convictions. It wanted to see the crew of the  Enterprise  triumphant, not chastened, and in order for "Human" to work, Picard and the others … well, they have to be  wrong .

There's a great scene two-thirds of the way through the episode which is mostly great because of what follows immediately after it. Picard brings the gradually thawing Jono to Ten-Forward, where they meet Riker, Wesley, and Data. Wesley is enjoying a banana split, and he offers it to Jono, with a typically dorky Wesley comment. Jono fails to master the complicated art of consuming soft fruit and frozen milk, and splatters a large portion of the dessert on Wesley. Riker starts laughing, and Wesley, and then Picard, and Jono, relieved, join in. Later, at the bar, Picard and Riker talk about how far Jono has come since his rescue, the implication being that he'll be fitted into a Starfleet uniform himself soon enough.

Next scene (or thereabouts): Jono wakes up in the middle of the night from troubled sleep, sneaks into Picard's room, and stabs him in the chest.

It's not a nightmare, it's not a fantasy sequence, and while we don't see the knife connect, we do see the results; this isn't a commercial break fake-out, where we come back and find that Jono has merely gutted a mattress. Good old Jono, who keens to mourn, plays a good game of space racquetball, and is occasionally troubled by horrible, mind-wrenching memories of his past, attacks Picard, who has been nothing but kind to him. It's a shocking moment in an episode that had generally seemed to be playing the safe game: Jono's "rehabilitation" from the Talarian experience was going apace, and while yes, his adoptive father, Endar, was threatening to start a war if his son wasn't returned to him, that was the sort of plot complication that could easily be worked around. Hell, "Human" even provides a possible solution: Jono is at the age of decision, which means that it's time for him to start calling his own shots, which means that, were he to tell Endar and the others to take a hike, a hike would be taken by them, post haste.

That's not what happens, though, and the assault on Picard is one of the reasons that Picard ultimately realizes he's been approaching the problem in the wrong way. Up until this, "Human" wasn't a bad episode. Picard's efforts to connect with the boy, Troi's insistence that he do so despite Picard's clear reluctance, Jono's odd behavior—they're all beats we've seen on the show before, but given how solid the ensemble is clicking by now, it was entertaining enough. Endar's appearance, and his non-creeapazoid status, starts amping up the ambiguity, but it isn't till Picard's final speech that the episode turns from an enjoyable but somewhat rote exercise in social reintegration into something much more satisfying. After an hour in which every human character on the show is determined to force Jono to do what they think is right, Picard finally acknowledges that Jono is old enough to make his own choices, and clearly, he's made his choice, at least for now.

Today's two-fer is going to be a little shorter than usual, as it's my vacation week, and I've got some serious Thanksgiving to get up to. Thankfully, neither of these episodes really requires a whole lot of unpacking. "Human" is by far the superior of the two, though. It's always a good sign when a show is willing to let its leads be occasionally wrong.  TNG  is not an anti-hero drama like  The Sopranos  or  The Shield . Picard and the rest of his team are unquestionably decent and brave and true. But without the occasional lapses into arrogance or anger or cultural blindness their heroism is cheapened into something tinny and without cost. Picard learns the right lesson here and sends Jono back home. Their final parting, with Jono embracing the captain with the same gesture he used to embrace his father earlier (and even removing a glove before he does it) is beautifully done, right down to the slightly haunted look on Picard's face. But that moment wouldn't be worth as much if it hadn't taken a gaping chest wound to achieve it.

Stray Observations:

  • Chad Allen plays Jono. He was one of Jane Seymour's kids on  Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman.  I have nothing to add to that.
  • It's could be a cheat that Jono is unable to kill a defenseless, sleeping Picard, but I'll give it a pass.
  • "You're probably not aware of this, but I've never been particularly comfortable around children."
  • Space racquetball: lame or lamest?

"Remember Me"

Or  The One Where Beverly Keeps Losing Track Of … Er … Where Was I?

A story always needs to be a few steps ahead of its audience. That doesn't necessarily mean the characters have to be; some of the best stories ever told featured protagonists with, at best, a dim understanding of their circumstances. But the consciousness behind the tale needs to be aware of both what the audience knows directly and what they've almost certainly been able to piece together on their own. As audiences become increasingly savvy to the tricks of the genre trade, their comprehension becomes harder to judge. It's crucial, though. If you assume the audience understands more than they actually do, you risk alienating them and losing their emotional investment. If you underestimate them, though, you run the risk of boring them to tears.

It's the latter which gave me problems during "Remember Me," which features Beverly Crusher trying to solve the mystery of the rapidly disappearing  Enterprise  crew. The episode has its merits. The introduction of the central mystery is done with an admirable casualness, and the idea of people vanishing so entirely that every record of their existence vanishes with them is one of those collective nightmare style concepts that always has some potency, no matter how poorly handled. And while the execution leaves a little to be desired, it's nice to see The Traveler return, last having been seen in "Where No One Has Gone Before," aka, one of the first episodes of the show that wasn't terrible. We haven't had a traditional crazy-sci-fi-shit-happens ep in a little while, and I'm always a sucker for those. Unfortunately, there isn't enough story here to really carry a full hour, at least not as presented here, and because of that, we spend too much time waiting for Beverly and the show to catch up with us.

It's fun to have a Beverly episode again, though, isn't it? And we know it's a Beverly episode right away, because her log sets the scene. The  Enterprise  is at a Starbase, and Beverly is welcoming an old friend on board, her mentor Dr. Quaice. The doctor's wife died recently, and he's decided he needs a change of scenery; he also reminds Beverly the importance of staying connected to the people we love, which is important because otherwise when it came time to create a magical new universe she might've made up something involve leotards. Quaice's Pep-Talk of Imminent Doom also inspires the good doctor to go visit Wesley in Engineering. Things are surprisingly tense; Geordi is actually snappish, which is not a quality you usually see in him. Wesley's doing some crazy warp bubble magic thing, and while Beverly watches, there's a flash of purple light. Wesley doesn't understand what it means, and by the time he thinks to look, Beverly is gone.

Now, it's very possible that one could watch this scene and not immediately realize the light caused Beverly to disappear. I'll be honest, I didn't catch it. Soon after, we see her paying a visit to Dr. Quaice's quarters, only to find he (and his belongings) have vanished. There's no indication there's anything wrong with the ship or that Beverly herself is in danger (beyond the general sense that people disappearing isn't really good for anyone's health), and that's the best way to play this kind of twist; don't draw attention to it at all. I'm sure there are some clever folks who realized what was happening, but that's to be expected. There's always going to be someone who can see through a plot twist. That doesn't mean you shouldn't ever try to surprise anyone else.

The problem comes when, after Quaice fails to show himself and Data can find no record of the doctor in the computer, Picard takes Beverly to Engineering, and Wesley explains how he was working on this warp bubble, but they hadn't been able to stabilize it. Beverly theorizes that Quaice may have been trapped in the bubble, but no one suggests that it might have been Beverly herself that was trapped. This is because everyone else in the bubble apart from Beverly is a construct she created, and if she doesn't know something, they won't know it. Since Beverly is a doctor, I suppose it's only natural that she would assume that she would assume everyone else was sick and she was fine or something like that.

However, most everyone else watching at home will have figured out that Beverly is the source of the disturbance, and that furthermore, this isn't the "real"  Enterprise . So we spend the next fifteen minutes watching as the problem escalates, hoping that she'll ask the most obvious question, and getting increasingly uninterested when she doesn't. At least, that's how my experience went. Having the ship's crew disappear is a lot less creepy when you're fairly sure none of them were really around at all (I mean, beyond the standard sense of them being fictional constructs), and the fact that the disappearances never vary turns it into a waiting game. Sooner or later, she'll realize what's going on, and then the next phase of the plot can kick in. Until then, we're stuck with second verse, same as the first.

What's odd is that when the episode does finally change its game-plan and let us in on the secret we already know, that doesn't fix the problem. Or rather, it fixes one problem but creates new ones to replace it. Beverly keeps seeing this strange light, and she believes it's dangerous, when in fact, it's a connection between the warp reality and the actual reality. Wesley and Geordi are struggling to  re-create their experiment to bring her home and failing. It's only when the Traveler himself puts in an appearance that they manage to create a link that lasts long enough to work, and even that's a near thing.

It should be suspenseful, and there's drama in the idea of Beverly fighting against the one thing that could save her. In cutting away from Beverly, though, the ep loses one of its main points of interest: her increased isolation, and her horror at not knowing what's happening. It's strange, because showing us the real ship is basically putting us on the same page as the show, which is what I wanted, and yet I mostly just found myself wishing we could focus on Beverly again. It doesn't help that the Traveler is really not that great of a character; his nonsensical Zen platitudes sounded refreshingly simple in season one, but here, they just play like a sad  Star Wars  rip-off, and the less said about Wesley's gifts with the Force, the better.

"Remember" isn't terrible. Gates McFadden really gives it her all, and I liked her big monologue on the bridge near the end as she tries to logic her way out of her problem. The image of the ship disappearing around her is terrific, as is the way Wesley vanishes. Turn a corner, and he's gone. Because of a certain level of stalling and because it brought in some old plotting best left forgotten, the episode fails to live up to its concept. It's passable entertainment, but, if you'll pardon the pun, ultimately forgettable.

  • Okay, so I guess this week's review wasn't  that  short. Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!
  • Next week, we look at "Legacy" and "Reunion."

Star Trek home

  • More to Explore
  • Series & Movies

Coming Soon

Blast, that page isn’t here yet. Return to the homepage or try a search .

If you think there should be something here, please reach out for support .

  • Show Spoilers
  • Night Vision
  • Sticky Header
  • Highlight Links

jono star trek the next generation

Follow TV Tropes

http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/YMMV/StarTrekTheNextGenerationS4E4SuddenlyHuman

YMMV / Star Trek: The Next Generation S4E4 "Suddenly Human"

Edit locked.

  • Esoteric Happy Ending : Jono's return to the Talarians is treated as a mostly happy ending, but there are still a lot of problems left unresolved. Jono's grandmother, who was so happy to have the last of her line returned to her, must now be informed that he has turned his back on her. Jono will also go back to live with an alien species. Given how xenophobic they are of other species, it seems likely that he will face a lot of adversity being respected by his compatriots throughout his life. It's also possible that the seeds of uncertainty about his origins that Picard planted will not go away, and he will continue feeling as though he doesn't fully belong to either Talarian or human society.
  • Harsher in Hindsight : Jono's adopted father, in trying to persuade Picard to return Jono to him, asks if he's ever been a father. Give him another 30 years .
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot : Jono's situation is practically tailor-made to create interesting interactions with Worf, being a Foil to the Klingon's experience growing up in an alien culture, but the writers never caught onto it, and Worf himself never even mentions the similarity or reacts differently because of it.

Important Links

  • Action Adventure
  • Commercials
  • Crime & Punishment
  • Professional Wrestling
  • Speculative Fiction
  • Sports Story
  • Animation (Western)
  • Music And Sound Effects
  • Print Media
  • Sequential Art
  • Tabletop Games
  • Applied Phlebotinum
  • Characterization
  • Characters As Device
  • Narrative Devices
  • British Telly
  • The Contributors
  • Creator Speak
  • Derivative Works
  • Laws And Formulas
  • Show Business
  • Split Personality
  • Truth And Lies
  • Truth In Television
  • Fate And Prophecy
  • Edit Reasons
  • Isolated Pages
  • Images List
  • Recent Videos
  • Crowner Activity
  • Un-typed Pages
  • Recent Page Type Changes
  • Trope Entry
  • Character Sheet
  • Playing With
  • Creating New Redirects
  • Cross Wicking
  • Tips for Editing
  • Text Formatting Rules
  • Handling Spoilers
  • Administrivia
  • Trope Repair Shop
  • Image Pickin'

Advertisement:

jono star trek the next generation

an image, when javascript is unavailable

Jonathan Frakes Looks Back at His ‘Star Trek’ TV Directing Career, From ‘Next Generation’ to the ‘Strange New Worlds’-‘Lower Decks’ Crossover

By Adam B. Vary

Adam B. Vary

Senior Entertainment Writer

  • Marvel Sets Vision Series for 2026 With Paul Bettany, ‘Star Trek: Picard’ EP Terry Matalas as Showrunner (EXCLUSIVE) 22 hours ago
  • Marvel’s New ‘X-Men’ Movie Lands ‘Hunger Games’ Screenwriter Michael Lesslie 2 days ago
  • Simon Kinberg in Talks to Produce ‘Star Trek’ Prequel Film 2 days ago

Babs Olusanmokun as Dr. M'Benga, Jack Quaid as Boimler and Ethan Peck as Spock appearing in Star Trek: Strange New Worlds, streaming on Paramount+, 2023. Photo Cr: Michael Gibson/Paramount+

“Woo!”

That’s Jonathan Frakes ’ reaction when he’s told he’s probably worked on more iterations of “ Star Trek ” than any other person alive.

“I’ll take it!” he says with a massive grin.

Popular on Variety

That expertise was particularly important for his 222nd episode of “Trek,” directing last Saturday’s outrageously entertaining episode of “ Star Trek: Strange New Worlds .”

Titled “Those Old Scientists,” the episode posed a unique directorial challenge: Two characters from the animated “Lower Decks,” Ens. Brad Boimler (Jack Quaid) and Ens. Beckett Mariner (Tawny Newsome), meet the crew of the Enterprise when they travel back in time 120 years — and into live action, with Quaid and Newsome embodying their roles for the first time.

“Those Old Scientists” deftly weaves the madcap comedy from “Lower Decks” into the more grounded tone of “Strange New Worlds.” The episode mines humor out of Boimler and Mariner’s starry-eyed interactions with their heroes — like Anson Mount’s Capt. Pike, Ethan Peck’s Spock, Rebecca Romijn’s Number One, and Celia Rose Gooding’s Uhura. But Frakes never lets the episode curdle into fan worship, or spiral into silliness; instead, it becomes a poignant (and deeply funny) expression of how “Trek” has captivated multiple generations of fans for over half a century.

Frakes also had the advantage that he’d directed Mount, Peck and Romijn when they originated their roles on Season 2 of “Discovery.”

“I knew from having done ‘Discovery’ for a year with Anson that he is really sneaky funny, even though you don’t see much of that with Pike,” Frakes says. “Rebecca, she’s a singer as well as a comedian. And Ethan has a delightful sense of humor. So I secretly knew that this was going to be a playground.”

Frakes was especially thrilled when executive producers Henry Alonso Myers and Akiva Goldsman, and the episode’s writers Kathryn Lyn and Bill Wolkoff, allowed Quaid and Newsome to improvise during several of their scenes. “Which doesn’t happen a lot on ‘Star Trek,’ as you probably have heard,” Frakes says. “I mean, especially in our fucking show” — i.e. “Next Gen” — “they were so strict. It was like we were doing Shakespeare or Chekhov.”

Frakes says one of the funniest moments of the episode — when Mariner tells Boimler that she didn’t expect young Spock would be so hot — was improvised by Newsome, and eventually, that energy “had an infectious effect” on the “Strange New Worlds” cast as well.

“It was just fantastic,” he says. “Maybe this will open some eyes.”

To commemorate his “Trek” directing career, the 70-year-old filmmaker shared (in an interview conducted before the SAG-AFTRA strike) some candid memories and insights from some of the standout episodes he’s helmed over the past 33 years — and the one he regrets doing.

“The Offspring” “The Next Generation,” Season 3, Episode 16 First aired March 12, 1990

Frakes’ directorial debut is one of the best episodes ever of “Next Gen,” in which the android Lt. Cmdr. Data (Brent Spiner) attempts to create an android child he names Lal (Hallie Todd). Wrangling his fellow actors, however, proved to be a challenge.

“It happened to be a Data episode, which are always great, because Brent is a genius. The sound department gave me a bullhorn. I had a lot of support, including from my acting company. But I realized what these other directors had gone through and what assholes we were. And I had not a leg to stand on in terms of asking them to behave.”

“The Drumhead” “The Next Generation,” Season 4, Episode 21 First aired April 29, 1991

This courtroom thriller — guest starring classic Hollywood star Jean Simmons, then 62, as a Starfleet admiral obsessively investigating a possible conspiracy on the Enterprise — featured some particularly inventive camerawork. That was a rare event for “Next Gen,” which followed a far more locked down, straightforward style of cinematography that Frakes says was driven by showrunner and executive producer Rick Berman.

“I tried to stretch the envelope. Rick was very strict. He was very traditional in his cutting. I wouldn’t say I broke any boundaries. But I wasn’t told not to do it, so I did it. I was very big on connecting questions to answers. I remember moving around the room and climbing up and down and staying with people, instead it being cut, cut, cut, cut. I love when you connect what someone has said to the person who it said about or to.

“The wonderful Jean Simmons had asked to be on the show because she was a massive Trekkie. She and her friends used to watch on Thursday nights. What a great get for ‘Star Trek.’”

“Past Tense Part II” “Deep Space Nine,” Season 3, Episode 12 First aired Jan. 9, 1995

“Deep Space Nine” starred Avery Brooks as Commander Benjamin Sisko, who oversaw the crew of the titular space station, including the unscrupulous bartender Quark (Armin Shimerman) and the studious chief of operations, Chief Miles O’Brien (Colm Meaney), who had originated the character on “Next Gen.” The second half of this two-part episode is largely set in a speculative San Francisco in 2024, in which profound inequities are leading to an unstable society.

“It felt like a period episode to me — and now it’s essentially a contemporary show. We went for sort of a low and wide, gritty, lot of side light look.

“It was a very different show. I knew Armin and Colm, but all the other actors were new to me. And this was a more serious set than ‘Next Gen.’ I really loved Avery’s acting. I loved him in ‘A Man Called Hawk.’ Remember ‘Hawk’? I was a fan. Like every episode of television, you either make it or break it in prep. So if you’re prepared, and you have a plan, and you can sell that plan to your cast, at least in my experience, that’s when you have success. They trust that you know what you want to do, and they can help to execute it, everybody wins.”

“Projections” “Voyager,” Season 2, Episode 3 First aired Sept. 11, 1995

“Picardo and Dwight together? Trouble. First of all, they were two of the most clever characters, Barclay and the Doctor. But both actors are so facile and so quick. That was, again, the luck of the draw, because as I’ve said many times, you get 26 episodes in a season, they’re not all going to be home runs. That episode was a blast, and primarily because of those two actors.”

In the episode, the Doctor finds himself presented with the possibility that he’s a real person and not a hologram, but the rest of the crew of Voyager are simulations. The what-is-reality plot mirrored a similar storyline for one of Riker’s standout episodes of “Next Gen,” “Frame of Mind.”

“The lead voices of the writing staff certainly influenced that whole era, the Berman era, of ‘Star Trek.’ Shows were similar in flavor and shows were similarly produced, because of Rick. There was a tonal similarity to that that there is now with the new new ‘Trek,’ in which we are encouraged to shoot the thrill. It’s very cinematic in a way that our shows were not, necessarily.”

“These Are the Voyages…” “Enterprise,” Season 4, Episode 22 First aired May 13, 2005

“Enterprise” — a prequel series starring Scott Bakula as Capt. Jonathan Archer, who commanded the first warp-capable starship to bear the name Enterprise — was canceled in its fourth season, the first time that had happened to a “Trek” show since the original series in the 1960s. For the “Enterprise” series finale, Berman and fellow executive producer Brannon Braga wrote a framing device set during the era of “Next Gen” and featuring Riker and Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi. It was a similar conceit to the “Strange New Worlds”/“Lower Decks” crossover, in which “Trek” characters from the 24th century look back on an earlier era of “Trek” for inspiration. But as a send-off for “Enterprise,” it proved to be awkward in the extreme.

“We didn’t quite fit. It was sold as, ‘Oh, come on and do the episode, it will be a Valentine to the fans’ — it wasn’t a Valentine to the fans. The fans didn’t want to see us. Scott Bakula was such a mensch about it, but all these other ‘Trek’ shows went seven seasons. Nobody wanted to be on a ‘Star Trek’ show that didn’t get to go to seven. And the inherent insult in having characters from another series that had done well come in to essentially close the books on his episode — it just felt so wrong to me. I mean, it was a good episode. We had a blast doing it in many ways. The more I think about it, the more I hear from fans about it in particular, it may not have been the best choice we’ve made on ‘Star Trek.’ Again, they’re not all home runs. It’s just unfortunate that that was the last episode of that show.”

“Despite Yourself” “Discovery,” Season 1, Episode 10 First aired Jan. 7, 2018

“That was my new home, ‘Discovery.’ And that first episode, getting to know Sonequa — she’s very special, on a lot of levels. She’s not only a fantastic actor, but she is a great leader and very spiritual. She was very welcoming. I was very glad to be part of that company in the beginning of the series. To a person, they said, ‘So what’s this going to be like? What are the conventions like?’ They were all being welcomed into the family in a way. Every new show has a different reaction from fans, but we’re all a big family. I mean, it sounds a little Pollyanna, but it’s really true.”

“Discovery” will end its run with its fifth season, which is set to premiere in 2024. According to Frakes, that wasn’t quite the plan.

“I directed the first half of the finale of Season 5, which turned out to be the real finale. So that was a very emotional end as well. When we did it, we didn’t know it was the end. And then [‘Discovery’ executive producer and director] Olatunde Osunsanmi had to go back up and do two or three days of new stuff to actually make the finale the finale.”

“No Win Scenario” “Picard,” Season 3, Episode 4 First aired March 9, 2023

Frakes reprised his performance as Riker in one episode of Season 1 of “Picard,” but he was still shocked when executive producer Terry Matalas invited him and the rest of the “Next Gen” cast back for the third and final season of the show. Frakes had directed several episodes in the first two seasons of “Picard,” but in Season 3, Riker is effectively a second lead alongside Picard, and in “No Win Scenario,” he’s faced with leading the crew of the U.S.S. Titan out of an impossible situation. Frakes had never directed an episode of TV that also required so much of him as an actor.

“On ‘Next Gen,’ I was assigned episodes that were Riker-light, consciously. On the third season of ‘Picard,’ when it was clear that I was going to be in all 10 episodes, the powers that be didn’t want me to direct and get distracted from playing Riker. But the director of Episodes 3 and 4 was not able to come down from Canada to do it, so I was able to step in. And I’m sure they did not plan on me having to do a big fat Riker episode, which, in a way, I think helped me as Riker.

“As a director, you’ve got a lot going on. And the less you’re thinking about the acting, often, the better the acting is. I’m married to [‘General Hospital’ star] Genie Francis, who’s a wonderful actor and a wonderful wife and a wonderful coach. I remember distinctly she said to me, ‘You don’t have to worry about playing Riker worrying about being a leader. What you do every day when you go to work [as a director] is lead a couple hundred people through the thing. So stop stressing about that.’”

“I think they can’t deny not only the fan reaction, but the fact that the numbers put the show at the Top 10 on the streaming charts. And that season of ‘Star Trek: Picard’ was arguably the among the best seasons of any ‘Star Trek’ — I think we all agree on that. I mean, ‘Star Trek’ fans are loyal. It’s not millions and millions of people, and it’s not the youngest fandom in the world. But I am an eternal optimist, and I believe in a perfect world, they will find the assets and the energy and hire Terry to put together this ‘Legacy’ show and that will, in fact, come to fruition.”

More From Our Brands

Cassie breaks silence after sean combs attack video: ‘believe victims the first time’, craig ellwood’s smith house is up for grabs in l.a. at $3.5 million, tko group combines ufc and wwe live events, the best loofahs and body scrubbers, according to dermatologists, 2024 nba playoffs: how to watch the conference finals online, verify it's you, please log in.

Quantcast

Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes Nailed It In Explaining Why Strange New Worlds Is Arguably Fans' Favorite Show Since The Next Generation

He makes a great point.

From the time it premiered, critics and audiences alike praised Star Trek: Strange New Worlds , and the series has won over enough for Paramount+ to have the confidence to renew it for Season 4 before Season 3 has even aired. Even as a fan of every show that's been released, I would say it's arguably the most popular show of the franchise since The Next Generation , though it took a conversation with director Jonathan Frakes to really drive that home for me.

I had the honor of speaking to Frakes ahead of the arrival of the latest Discovery episode he directed, "Lagrange Point," which will be available to watch with a Paramount+ subscription . I mentioned Strange New Worlds to Frakes, knowing he recently completed work on an episode for Season 3, and in response to me asking if he believes the wait for the new episodes in 2025 will be worth it, he said this:

Certainly. The one I just finished is spectacular. They take big swings on Strange New Worlds. I think that the fact that they are stand-alone episodes has made this, arguably, the favorite Star Trek since Next Gen, probably.

When it comes to Star Trek , everything is debatable. That said, it does seem as though Strange New Worlds has the most fans on board compared to the other shows of the new era. Taking big swings certainly plays a part in that, as Jonathan Frakes said, and I don't think there's any denying its done that.

Whether it's pushing forward the franchise universe's timeline of World War III or when exactly Khan Noonien Singh was born , Star Trek: Strange New Worlds has not only done that, but found ways to reconcile it with the previously existing canon. Jonathan Frakes said some people deserve credit for that and listed them by name:

And that's attributed to Alex [Kurtzman] and Akiva [Goldsman] and Henry Alonso Myers and Chris Fisher and all the people who have encouraged it. They try to assign a director to an episode that they believe will be able to enhance whatever that particular 'movie of the week' episode is. And it's, I think, pretty effective. The one I did last year, 'Those Old Scientists,' with the crossover of cartoon characters coming in? That's a big chance to take, and it worked wonderfully. The musical, again, worked wonderfully. I'm very proud of and impressed with the swings that the producers of Strange New Worlds take.

It's no surprise to see Frakes mention any of those names listed above. Akiva Goldsman initially pitched the idea for Star Trek: Strange New Worlds in the Discovery Season 1 writer' room, and top brass Alex Kurtzman paved the way for it with the story while acting as showrunner in Discovery Season 2. Of course, Goldsman and Henry Alonso Myers share showrunner duties for SNW, and Fisher is an EP on the series, along with the rest.

Georgiou and Ortegas

I would love for this to be true.

It remains to be seen if Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will still be the franchise's golden child in the future as Seasons 3 and 4 arrive and other upcoming Star Trek shows pop up on the scene. For now, however, it holds the top title, and while Jonathan Frakes has admitted the praise can be bittersweet to see sometimes, we're lucky as fans to see him contribute to it as often as he has.

Strange New Worlds Season 3 will presumably pick up where the end of Season 2 left off. After a tense conflict with the Gorn escalated, Pike was faced with the decision to retreat and avoid engaging the species further, or to try to save the crew members left on the Gorn ship. I would reckon there's not much suspense on what decision he's going to make if you watch the show, but I'm eager to see the new season finally arrive in 2025 all the same.

CINEMABLEND NEWSLETTER

Your Daily Blend of Entertainment News

Those who are counting the days until Star Trek: Strange New Worlds returns can watch old episodes right now on Paramount+. I'd also recommend anyone check out the final season of Discovery while they're there, as this season has arguably been the best one yet.

Mick Joest is a Content Producer for CinemaBlend with his hand in an eclectic mix of television goodness. Star Trek is his main jam, but he also regularly reports on happenings in the world of Star Trek, WWE, Doctor Who, 90 Day Fiancé, Quantum Leap, and Big Brother. He graduated from the University of Southern Indiana with a degree in Journalism and a minor in Radio and Television. He's great at hosting panels and appearing on podcasts if given the chance as well.

After Tracker Added Jensen Ackles, Justin Hartley Shares Story Behind Recruiting The Supernatural Star: 'Give The People What They Want'

My Adventures With Superman Creators Explain Why The Season 2 Premiere Delivered That Big Jor-El Twist: ‘What Is Maximally Frustrating To Our Characters?’

Star Trek’s Jonathan Frakes Praises Sonequa Martin-Green, And Explains Why He's Thankful He Didn’t Know About Discovery’s Cancellation While Directing Penultimate Episode

Most Popular

  • 2 'Maybe I Shouldn't Be Here': The Dangerous Recreational Activity Chris Hemsworth Did During Extraction's Production That Could Have Been A Serious Problem For The Film
  • 3 'CBS Will Tell You It's Ending': Tom Selleck Talks Blue Bloods’ Cancellation And That Time He Threw Chicken Filming A Reagan Family Dinner Scene
  • 4 The 100 Best Sitcoms Of All Time, According To CinemaBlend
  • 5 Bridgerton Has A Benedict Problem, And Here's How I Think They Can Fix It

jono star trek the next generation

jono star trek the next generation

Tig Notaro Talks the Future of Jett Reno After ‘Star Trek: Discovery,' Being a PA with Alex Kurtzman in the '90s & More

"I always tell people it just feels like ‘Tig in space.'"

That's Tig Notaro on her "Star Trek: Discovery" character, Jett Reno, who's a deadpan wisecracking, nickname-assigning engineer on the show. Out of the blue, Jett will call another character "Bobcat" or suddenly reveal an expected part of her past, such as her former life as a bookseller or bartender. Gauntlet thrown to Paramount+ to release the recipe for Jett's "Seven of Limes."

Needless to say, Jett's become a fan favorite, and in a new interview with IndieWire, Notaro opens up a bit about just how much Jett means to her too - a lot.

"Yeah, who knows?" Notaro said when asked if there's a chance we could continue to see Jett on "Star Trek: Starfleet Academy," the planned series that will take place after "Discovery" wraps up. "Maybe the full-blown Jett Reno spinoff. I'm hoping that I can continue on somewhere, somehow, because I do feel like it is such a fun character, and I have been very spoiled by the writers and everybody. I've had such a great time, and I just hope that there is a future for Jett Reno somewhere."

Notaro feels a profound identification with Reno, down to the odd jobs it's constantly being revealed Reno has worked in her life: "I feel like it makes sense for the character's scrappiness, that there's been so many different paths that she's gone down, and different jobs and experiences that, again, I relate to as a person. I feel like I've done so many different odd jobs that I was never on a clear path. I feel like for so long in my life, I was just jumping from one random thing to the next, and I feel like all of those experiences, I'm very thankful for."

One of those experiences literally led her to acting on "Star Trek: Discovery" in the first place. Back in the '90s, Notaro met future "Trek" franchise overlord Alex Kurtzman, while they were both PA'ing in Hollywood to start their careers.

"We both worked for Sam Raimi's production company," Notaro said of Kurtzman. "Over the years, we were both assistants, and he obviously went on to bigger and better things, even within the company as a writer, and then executive producer, and showrunner for different things like ‘Xena' and ‘Hercules.' Yeah, then he went off on his own, and I'd run into him here and there. Then when they were about to go into season two for ‘Discovery,' he brought me in for a meeting about this character. That's kind of when I thought, oh, cool, I'll probably do an episode or two. Now I'm neck deep in the ‘Star Trek' world."

You'd never know it, because Reno, as an engineer, is responsible for spouting much of the technical jargon on the show, but Notaro feels like she's never gotten more comfortable with the franchise's trademark technobabble: "No, no, no. I do not. I struggle through it, but I remind everyone I was doing my best and endlessly thankful for the patience of the cast and crew. I'm typically on tour doing stand up, and then I would pop into set [in Toronto] and do an episode or two, and then leave again."

But tongue-tying dialogue aside, Notaro loves everything about "Star Trek," including what it represents at this moment in time.

"I feel like it represents what the world could and should be," she said. "I can't claim that I've followed ‘Star Trek' from day one, but my brother and I were very into the original series when we were kids. I know everyone says this but it is really such an honor to be a part of a show that is putting so much positivity and hope out there, which it's always needed, but I feel like it's so crucial these days. I guess there are people that, of course, would be upset with hope, and joy, and openness, but in general it's not hurting anybody's feelings."

"Star Trek" has always been a trailblazer, with franchise creator Gene Roddenberry even wanting to push the show in a more inclusive direction beyond what network TV would then allow. But the series have become even that much more welcoming in recent vintage, featuring more LGBTQ characters especially.

"Well, I think all the time about how as a kid, it took me forever to figure myself out, which always surprises people," Notaro said. "They feel like, you meet me now and you're like, ‘Oh, of course, you've understood who you are from day one,' but that's not the case at all. I think that the older I get, the more I really realize the importance of - how can you not understand the importance of? - visibility and inclusivity? I just think about how amazing that would have been as a kid to see the extent that ‘Star Trek' has been inclusive and the visibility there. It's really remarkable, and so another source of pride."

The finale of "Star Trek: Discovery" will stream Thursday, May 30 on Paramount+.

More from IndieWire

  • 'The Sympathizer' Finale Reflected the 'Tortured' Audition Process for Star Hoa Xuande
  • Over 6 Seasons of 'The Crown,' the Royal Family Changed - So Did the Cinematography

Tig Notaro Talks the Future of Jett Reno After ‘Star Trek: Discovery,' Being a PA with Alex Kurtzman in the '90s & More

  • Cast & crew
  • User reviews

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Michael Dorn, Jonathan Frakes, Gates McFadden, Marina Sirtis, Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

Set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk's 5-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers sets off in the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on its own mission to go where no one has gone before. Set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk's 5-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers sets off in the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on its own mission to go where no one has gone before. Set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk's 5-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers sets off in the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on its own mission to go where no one has gone before.

  • Gene Roddenberry
  • Patrick Stewart
  • Brent Spiner
  • Jonathan Frakes
  • 321 User reviews
  • 162 Critic reviews
  • 39 wins & 61 nominations total

Episodes 176

The Best of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Photos 3429

Jonathan Frakes and Patrick Stewart in Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987)

  • Captain Jean-Luc Picard …

Brent Spiner

  • Lieutenant Commander Data …

Jonathan Frakes

  • Commander William Thomas 'Will' Riker …

LeVar Burton

  • Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge …

Marina Sirtis

  • Counselor Deanna Troi

Michael Dorn

  • Lieutenant Worf …

Gates McFadden

  • Doctor Beverly Crusher …

Majel Barrett

  • Enterprise Computer …

Wil Wheaton

  • Wesley Crusher …

Colm Meaney

  • Chief Miles O'Brien …
  • Youngblood …

Denise Crosby

  • Lieutenant Natasha 'Tasha' Yar …

Whoopi Goldberg

  • Doctor Katherine Pulaski …

Patti Yasutake

  • Nurse Alyssa Ogawa …

Dennis Madalone

  • Ansata Terrorist …

Michelle Forbes

  • Ensign Ro Laren …

Rosalind Chao

  • Keiko O'Brien …
  • All cast & crew
  • Production, box office & more at IMDbPro

Stellar Photos From the "Star Trek" TV Universe

Nichelle Nichols and Sonequa Martin-Green at an event for Star Trek: Discovery (2017)

More like this

Star Trek: Voyager

Did you know

  • Trivia Almost everyone in the cast became life-long friends. At LeVar Burton 's 1992 wedding, Brent Spiner served as best man, and Sir Patrick Stewart , Jonathan Frakes , and Michael Dorn all served as ushers. Man of the People (1992) (#6.3) aired on that day.
  • Goofs It is claimed that Data can't use contractions (Can't, Isn't, Don't, etc) yet there are several instances throughout the series where he does. One of the first such examples is heard in Encounter at Farpoint (1987) , where Data uses the word "Can't" while the Enterprise is being chased by Q's "ship".

[repeated line]

Capt. Picard : Engage!

  • Crazy credits The model of the Enterprise used in the opening credits is so detailed, a tiny figure can be seen walking past a window just before the vessel jumps to warp speed.
  • Alternate versions The first and last episodes were originally broadcast as two-hour TV movies, and were later re-edited into two one-hour episodes each. Both edits involved removing some scenes from each episode.
  • Connections Edited into Reading Rainbow: The Bionic Bunny Show (1988)

User reviews 321

  • Jun 2, 1999

Exceptional Robots on Film & TV

Production art

  • How many seasons does Star Trek: The Next Generation have? Powered by Alexa
  • Who is the captain of the USS Enterprise?
  • Did any cast members of the original Star Trek series appear in The Next Generation?
  • September 26, 1987 (United States)
  • United States
  • Official Facebook
  • Official site
  • Star Trek: TNG
  • Donald C. Tillman Water Reclamation Plant - 6100 Woodley Avenue, Van Nuys, Los Angeles, California, USA (location)
  • Paramount Television
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro

Technical specs

  • Runtime 45 minutes
  • Dolby Stereo

Related news

Contribute to this page.

  • IMDb Answers: Help fill gaps in our data
  • Learn more about contributing

More to explore

Production art

Recently viewed

IMAGES

  1. Jono (Star Trek TNG)

    jono star trek the next generation

  2. Jonathan Del Arco Biography(2019)! Gay Activist, actor, net worth

    jono star trek the next generation

  3. STAR TREK; THE NEXT GENERATION TV Show Poster

    jono star trek the next generation

  4. Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV Series 1987–1994)

    jono star trek the next generation

  5. YARN

    jono star trek the next generation

  6. Star Trek: Resurgence Issue #1 Review

    jono star trek the next generation

VIDEO

  1. Star Trek Next Generation

  2. Star Trek Next Generation Bit Composed

  3. Astonished

  4. Juno: New Origins

COMMENTS

  1. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Suddenly Human (TV Episode 1990)

    Suddenly Human: Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont. With Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Michael Dorn. On a rescue mission to an alien shipwrecked training mission, they discover one of its trainees to be a human.

  2. Jono

    Jono, born Jeremiah Rossa, was the Human surrogate son of the Talarian captain Endar and grandson of Starfleet Vice Admiral Connaught Rossa. The son of Connor and Moira Rossa, Jeremiah was born in 2353 at the Galen IV colony. Jeremiah's parents were both killed during a Talarian attack on the colony during the Galen border conflict in 2357. However, he was subsequently claimed by the Talarian ...

  3. Suddenly Human (episode)

    Jono finds his quarters like a cage, and still wants to perform the B'Nar. Picard orders him to stop and asks what he can do instead. Jono says he always lived with his captain, which Picard immediately resists, but nevertheless he accepts Jono to his quarters. ... (Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, pp. 130 & 133) Jeri ...

  4. Suddenly Human

    Suddenly Human. " Suddenly Human " is the 78th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the fourth episode of the fourth season . Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, the Enterprise rescues a ...

  5. Chad Allen

    Chad Allen (born 5 June 1974; age 49) is the American actor who played Jono in the Star Trek: The Next Generation fourth season episode "Suddenly Human". Performing on television since the age of four, he is perhaps best known for his role as Matthew Cooper on the CBS series Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman. Allen was born in Cerritos, California, and he grew up in Long Beach. He was the youngest of ...

  6. "Suddenly Human"

    In-depth critical reviews of Star Trek and some other sci-fi series. Includes all episodes of Star Trek: The Original Series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise, Discovery, Picard, Lower Decks, Prodigy, and Strange New Worlds. Also, Star Wars, the new Battlestar Galactica, and The Orville.

  7. Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Suddenly Human

    4.4 Suddenly Human. After stumbling upon a Talarian starship which has suffered an engine malfunction, causing injury to the small crew, the Enterprise rescues the injured to discover that one of ...

  8. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Suddenly Human (TV Episode 1990 ...

    Synopsis. The Enterprise rescues a small group Talarian adolescents, all wearing uniforms. They were on a training mission when they had a radiation leak on board and one of them, Jono (Chad Allen), turns out to be human. Their ship had issued a distress call, but Talarians are fierce warriors and have been known to issue distress calls from ...

  9. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Suddenly Human (TV Episode 1990 ...

    "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Suddenly Human (TV Episode 1990) Chad Allen as Jono. Menu. Movies. Release Calendar Top 250 Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Movie News India Movie Spotlight. ... Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 4/ 4ª Temporada) a list of 26 titles created 4 months ago ...

  10. Suddenly Human

    In this episode, the Enterprise rescues a Starfleet admiral's grandson, long thought dead, but who had been adopted and raised by the enemies who killed the boy's parents. "Suddenly Human" is the 78th episode of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the fourth episode of the fourth season.

  11. Suddenly Human : r/TNG

    Suddenly Human. I think the episodic nature of TNG is felt very acutely when one considers an episode such as Suddenly Human. If you recall, Jono's sole surviving blood relative was his grandmother, a Starfleet admiral. The admiral was elated at the prospect of getting Jono back, and then Picard decides to return Jono to his adopted alien ...

  12. Star Trek: The Next Generation: "Suddenly Human"/"Remember Me"

    Reviews Star Trek: The Next Generation ... Jono, the human boy adopted by a Talarian starship captain after the Talarians kill the boy's parents, isn't exactly in the same situation as the Klingon ...

  13. Chad Allen (actor)

    Chad Allen (born June 5, 1974) is an American retired actor and psychologist.Beginning his career at the age of seven, Allen is a three time Young Artist Award winner and GLAAD Media Award honoree. He was a teen idol during the late 1980s as David Witherspoon on the NBC family drama Our House and as Zach Nichols on the NBC sitcom My Two Dads before transitioning to an adult career as Matthew ...

  14. Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S4E4 "Suddenly Human"

    The human boy, Jono, turns out to have been raised by the Talarians as one of their own from an early age, to the point that he does not recognize himself as human. He treats the human crew of the Enterprise with derision until Picard arrives, and Jono's rigid upbringing forces him to respect the authority of a captain.

  15. Coming Soon

    If you think there should be something here, please reach out for support.

  16. TNG

    That it was possible to integrate yourself into a society completely differently from that which you were born; if a Klingon could make it in the Federation, a human could make it in Talarian society. Speaking with Worf would not have made Jono want reconciliation with his human family, it would have only made his desire to stay with the only ...

  17. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Suddenly Human (TV Episode 1990 ...

    [Picard has suggested to Endar that Jono's broken arm and ribs may have been caused by mistreatment] ... Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 4) a list of 26 titles created 13 Aug 2015 ja vimos a list of 41 titles created 10 Nov 2020 Favourite Episodes Of Star Trek a list of 24 titles ...

  18. YMMV / Star Trek: The Next Generation S4E4 "Suddenly Human"

    Star Trek: The Next Generation S4E4 "Suddenly Human". Esoteric Happy Ending: Jono's return to the Talarians is treated as a mostly happy ending, but there are still a lot of problems left unresolved. Jono's grandmother, who was so happy to have the last of her line returned to her, must now be informed that he has turned his back on her.

  19. 'Star Trek': Jonathan Frakes on Directing Next Generation, Lower Decks

    Frakes' "Star Trek" history truly is something to behold. He joined the franchise in 1987 as part of the cast of " Star Trek: The Next Generation ," playing the rakish Commander William ...

  20. Star Trek: The Next Generation

    Star Trek TV series. Star Trek: The Next Generation ( TNG) is an American science fiction television series created by Gene Roddenberry. It originally aired from September 28, 1987, to May 23, 1994, in syndication, spanning 178 episodes over seven seasons. The third series in the Star Trek franchise, it was inspired by Star Trek: The Original ...

  21. "Star Trek: The Next Generation" Suddenly Human (TV Episode 1990 ...

    Cast (in credits order) complete, awaiting verification. Patrick Stewart. ... Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Jonathan Frakes. ... Commander William Thomas 'Will' Riker. LeVar Burton.

  22. Star Trek's Jonathan Frakes Nailed It In Explaining Why Strange New

    It remains to be seen if Star Trek: Strange New Worlds will still be the franchise's golden child in the future as Seasons 3 and 4 arrive and other upcoming Star Trek shows pop up on the scene ...

  23. Tig Notaro Talks the Future of Jett Reno After 'Star Trek ...

    One of those experiences literally led her to acting on "Star Trek: Discovery" in the first place. Back in the '90s, Notaro met future "Trek" franchise overlord Alex Kurtzman, while they were both ...

  24. Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV Series 1987-1994)

    Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV Series 1987-1994) Chad Allen as Jono. Menu. Movies. Release Calendar Top 250 Movies Most Popular Movies Browse Movies by Genre Top Box Office Showtimes & Tickets Movie News India Movie Spotlight. TV Shows.

  25. Star Trek: The Next Generation (TV Series 1987-1994)

    Star Trek: The Next Generation: Created by Gene Roddenberry. With Patrick Stewart, Jonathan Frakes, LeVar Burton, Marina Sirtis. Set almost 100 years after Captain Kirk's 5-year mission, a new generation of Starfleet officers sets off in the U.S.S. Enterprise-D on its own mission to go where no one has gone before.