Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 10/15/1990
Teleplay by John Whelpley & Jeri Taylor
Story by Ralph Phillips
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
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?