Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 1/6/1992
Teleplay by Grant Rosenberg
Story by Sara Charno & Stuart Charno
Directed by Robert Scheerer
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
Worf's human mother comes aboard the Enterprise and brings with her Worf's son Alexander, whom she intends to leave with Worf. The Rozhenkos are getting too old to properly care for a young boy who is misbehaving and needs his real father's influence in his life. This naturally turns Worf's duty-centric life upside down.
There's a scene where Worf stands in Picard's ready room and the intercom beeps; it's Alexander's teacher, who wants to schedule a parent-teacher conference. Beep again; this time Crusher, who wants to schedule the boy for a doctor's appointment. The humor is kind of obvious, but I enjoy this stuff nonetheless; it's always fun seeing the ultra-stern Worf thrown Human Situation 101 curveballs that are decidedly outside his comfort zone of Stern Security Guy.
This reasonable family drama is set against the testing of a new form of propulsion called the Soliton Wave, an experimental method of accelerating a ship to warp speed without warp engines. Geordi is positively giddy over the notion of witnessing this test, which is akin to breaking the sound barrier. The technical details of this Soliton Wave are plausible and simple enough to play well. But never mind any of that, because this is a character outing.
Alexander has behavioral issues. I'm not sure if the implication here is that Alexander's behavioral issues stem from his "Klingon tendencies," but such an implication wouldn't surprise me given that humanity has become so perfect that I can't even see the possibility a human child could or would — gasp — steal something. Worf finds himself stymied over the fact that Alexander does not obey him and continues to misbehave in school. After a second incident, he concludes Alexander must be sent to a Klingon boarding school to receive the proper guidance. (That seems like an awful quick conclusion to reach, but since this is an hour of TV, I'll grant it in the interest of dramatic expediency.)
No, this is not groundbreaking family drama. But it does offer a rare perspective of the domestic side of what is essentially a warp-speed traveling community. In particular, Worf's discussion with Troi reveals that Worf is considering sending Alexander away for the boy's sake and not his own. And it shows Troi being actually useful in the way her position was intended — as a counselor trying to help Worf deal with thoughts and feelings about this problem, with far less judgment than we often see from her in such situations.
Of course, there's no shortage of overcooked disaster-related storylines in TNG's fifth season, that's for sure. Spatial anomalies, nuclear winters, stellar fragments, and here this Soliton Wave, which ends up growing out of control and threatening to hit yet another colony. So the Enterprise must stop it. The way this jeopardy premise ends up directly affecting Alexander (who gets trapped under a beam after contrived disaster circumstances) is silly and predictable, but ultimately this story is about a father doing right by his son, and deciding he must be there for him. Not too shabby.