Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Child"

2 stars

Air date: 11/21/1988
Written by Jaron Summers & Jon Povill and Maurice Hurley
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

As the Enterprise embarks on yet another humanitarian mission to stop yet another deadly plague, a strange and unexpected thing happens in mid-journey: Counselor Troi announces she's pregnant. "Who's the father?" Riker asks accusingly. "There is none," Troi responds.

The height of this episode's wit comes with a funny-in-its-savageness remark by Worf, whose utterly pragmatic Klingon-security-officer response to this mysterious, alien-influenced immaculate conception is simply that it must be terminated at once in order to wall off all possible risk. (Just think of how this could've been the ultimate launching-off point for an abortion-debate episode. Never mind.) The story's sci-fi gimmick is that the pregnancy proceeds at a vastly accelerated rate, such that Troi is giving birth to a son named Ian by the second act. The baby's accelerated growth proceeds from there, and Ian is an eight-year-old boy within 24 hours.

The problem with this story is that it has far too little curiosity in Ian or Troi (for most of the episode, their mother/son scenes meander with precious little original insight or interest), and far too much curiosity in the technobabble subplot, involving a deadly substance sealed in a container for transport to another facility. Some mysterious radiation is causing the seal to crack; if the substance gets out, everyone on the ship will die. The tedious tech details of the radiation, the leak, and the resulting threat drag on needlessly long, causing all interest to drain from the story.

And what about Ian? The story doesn't deal with him nearly enough, until the closing scenes where we learn he's the source of the mysterious radiation, and that he was born to Troi to learn about the human life cycle. Ian's self-sacrifice (or a reversion to his true energy state, if that's the same thing) makes for a good emotional scene that Marina Sirtis delivers on, but the sci-fi themes are familiar.

The episode's serviceable supporting material surrounds Wesley's question of whether to join his recently reassigned mother at Starfleet Medical, the introduction of the abrasive new McCoy-wannabe Dr. Katherine Pulaski (Diana Muldaur), and Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg) as the bartender of Ten-Forward, the Enterprise's new (or at least previously unseen) refreshment lounge.

Previous episode: The Neutral Zone
Next episode: Where Silence Has Lease

◄ Season Index

127 comments on this review

idiotghos
Mon, Oct 15, 2007, 11:11pm (UTC -5)
I wish I could make a comment on Dr. Pulaski, but I can't remember even the slightest detail about her.
Grumpy Otter
Tue, Oct 23, 2007, 2:29pm (UTC -5)
I must make one very positive comment about Season Two, and that is that we were free of Dr. Crusher. Pulaski was so much more of a tough, actual real-seeming doctor than Crusher's simpering "sweetness." The pseudo sexual tension between Crusher and Picard was enough to make me ill.

From the moment Pulaski walked on the scene and took charge in "The Child," I was rooting for her to be a permanent replacement. But alas.

How I long for the days when the doctor was offspring-free!
Franco
Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 9:03am (UTC -5)
Hello from Italy.
This is the first time I comment on this great site and I'd like to begin with a particular aspect of TNG season 2 on which I ask for your opinions.

The topic is DR. PULASKI, magnificently played by Diana Muldaur.

I just finished to watch again TNG season 2 and I think that Pulaski has been a fresh breeze in the slow beginning of TNG (first and second seasons).
I have read so many bad reviews about her but why?

If you compared her character with another strong character like Data, for ex., I could even understand. But if we compare her with Dr. Crusher, there is no match.
Dr. Crusher is one of the most boring and absolutely not pushed characters of all Star Trek season; you see or you don't see her, is not important.
Dr. Pulaski instead has a strong personality; someone compared her to Dr. McCoy but I'd rather say that she is just strong, determined, very human, even nice in some comic moments with Data and Picard (not speaking about the klingon ceremony that she shares with Worf).
Many fans think that she is unpolite just because, at the beginning, she innocently underestimate the real complexity of Data (but later in the season, she seems to appreciate him very much).
Basically, in just 1 season, Dr. Pulaski has a greater evolution than Dr. Crusher in 6 seasons!

So, at last, I'd like to know what you have against this poor and underestimated character.
It could have been great to have her for the whole series.
papa
Fri, Apr 22, 2011, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Franco's assessment of Dr. Pulaski.

Having been raised on classic Star Trek (we don't need no steenkin' "OS"!), I was often annoyed by the character of Dr. Crusher. Dr. Pulaski was a refreshing change, in spite of some rough scripts in early season 2, and in spite of (or maybe because of) the obvious homage to Dr. McCoy.

I think Dr. Pulaski got off on the wrong foot with a lot of TNG fans because of her initial antagonism with the much-beloved Mr. Data. Personally, I think they lost a chance to tell some very interesting stories concerning the natures of artificial and human intelligence by dropping that antagonism, or skepticism, so soon.

The character of Dr. Pulaski was developed nicely over the course of season 2. I would have liked the character to been kept and further developed in later seasons. In view of the relationship that was developing between her and Worf the character would have been an asset in the Klingon Cycle stories that developed through the series. I could also see the character fitting in the DS9 milieu.
Franco
Sat, Apr 23, 2011, 1:51am (UTC -5)
Papa.

I agree perfectly with what you write.

I add something more. It's right when you say that most of TNG fans hated her because of her skepticism for Data, at the beginning of the season.
But, come on, this is humanity; she does not underestimate him or humiliate him, she just has some doubts about the real complexity of Data. Later in the season, she seems to like him, even to understand him better than others.

Not speaking about the moment she shares with Worf which witnesses a development of the character.

Then I personally like that human and witty behaviour of her, above all with Picard; they have some communication problems at the beginning but you can feel that there is a lot of respect between Picard and Pulaski.

She is nice, sharp, brave and with strong personality; as Papa wrote, if she were in DS9 maybe fans would have loved her very much. Because DS9 focuses on characters.

I just say, let's not forget Pulaski from the universe of Star Trek characters.
papa
Sun, Apr 24, 2011, 1:40am (UTC -5)
Just to add one more note of Pulaski appreciation, it was nice to see Diana Muldaur again after she guest starred in two TOS episodes. She was hot in the red mini-uniform in "Return to Tomorrow".
Franco
Sun, Apr 24, 2011, 2:43am (UTC -5)
Diana Muldaur is a good actress. Yep, she was twice in TOS (one is the episode you were referring to, "Return to tomorrow", and the other one is "Is there in truth no beauty?").
stviateur
Tue, May 10, 2011, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
In watching season two for the first time in decades, I was struck once again by the contradictions inherent in the PC future of the Trek universe: In season one everyone falls all over themselves to declare the viability of a point of light found in "Home Soil" but in "The Child" abortion of Troi's child is discussed with nary a sign of concern. So all sentient life no matter what form it may take or how insignificant it is is worth moving heaven and earth to protect but an unborn human child isn't?
grumpy_otter
Sun, Jun 5, 2011, 11:32am (UTC -5)
So nice to see some love for Pulaski, Franco and papa--I sometimes thought I was the only one.

I commented on this (way above) a few years ago--Pulaski would wipe the floor with Crusher! She was so much more complex and not nearly so weak and whiny.
Paul
Sun, Jun 12, 2011, 10:26am (UTC -5)
Yes, Pulaski love at last!

I never really understood all that hate towards her. I guess it's because of the way she treated Data at the start of the season. But come on, she was a rare gem in TNG as a character who was actually fully human. She had prejudices, quirks, was pretty impatient and in your face -- a hugely differnt character when compared to all the others who were oh just so 24th century perfect.

And the tea ceremony with Worf was just fantastic. It shows her deep appreciation of other cultures on a fundamental level, not only as some politically correct mantra with no real substance.

Me likes Pulaski very much :)
Grumpy
Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 9:34am (UTC -5)
Continuing a tangent from "Schisms" (of all places)... another point in Pulaski's favor, often unremarked, is her uniform. Her sensible smock was the most dignified costume in all of Season 2. Imagine how different the series would've felt if the crew had all worn jackets like hers. Heck, the high collars were largely responsible for the turnaround in Season 3!
William
Wed, Aug 29, 2012, 6:40pm (UTC -5)
I was a fan of Dr. Crusher and Dr. Pulaski, but I was sorry to see Pulaski last just one season.

As for "The Child," it was bad. I was really fearing for this show at this time, but great episodes weren't far away!
Jhoh
Tue, Sep 18, 2012, 6:45am (UTC -5)
Personally, I always thought the dislike for Polaski wasn't so much her character as the fact that season 2 was horrible episode after horrible episode after horrible episode. That and she seemed somewhat like a gorgon.

Oddly enough she was in the TOS episode "Return to Tomorrow" and was quite attractive in that. Of course that was the 60s. And attractiveness isn't a prerequisite for a good character.
Rikko
Fri, Dec 7, 2012, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
First episode of the season and it was just there. It didn't scare me as much as William, but it didn't excite me either. I'd say I thought S2 would play out just like the first (fortunately, I was wrong). At least, we got Marina Sirtis doing what she knows best: To Cry.

There were also a couple of changes, all for the better: Riker's beard (just the way I remembered him to be), the character of Guinan and Ten-Forward (that place gave TNG a much needed feeling of a lively place) and, of course, Dr. Pulaski.

I must admit my first impression of her was negative: In "The Child" she struck me as a character that knows too much, exactly what was needed for the plot to move forward. And that gave me Wesley Crusher's vibes all over again.

But as the episodes go on, I learned to like her. Franco, Papa, Grumpy and Paul: I totally agree with you guys, high five!

One thing about her that would have never gone anywhere is the forced Picard-Dr love interest. I can buy Beverly Crusher as a potential lover, but Pulaski?? Both Picard and her are too strong-willed to be attracted to each other.

I didn't notice how much I've become used to her until S3 and her magic departure. Crusher is a weaker character and a weaker actress. With all due respect to Gates McFadden, sometimes she says "Captain" like she was acting in a porno movie.
Jay
Sat, Dec 15, 2012, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Pulaski sez...

"if I were to examine her now, I wouldn't be able to tell that she had a baby or had ever had a baby"

but...how did she make that determination except by examining her...what was with the "if"?
William B
Wed, Apr 3, 2013, 7:59am (UTC -5)
My big problem with this episode was that I couldn't understand why Troi was so blase about having the kid and about his rapid growth; we don't really get any scenes from Troi's POV about how she *feels* about him. I talked about it with my girlfriend (who is watching the show for the first time) and it took a long time to figure out why we reacted to the episode differently; she mostly liked it (or, rather, didn't understand why I was so critical of it, given that it's not exactly below the standard of quality set by season one, which is fair). Mostly though she felt that it was possible that the child would stop growing at a certain point and then stay a pre-teen and stay on the ship; I thought it was most likely that even if the kid hadn't disappeared into light at the episode's end, he would just keep aging at an accelerated rate and die within a week or two. I suppose there isn't actually enough information either way. Troi's relative lack of reaction to the ordeal she's put through while it's happening still doesn't work for me, but it makes more sense if on some level she thought that there would be time to sort her feelings out.

The other big problem is that I was not sure what the point of all of this is -- what aspect of the human condition is being illuminated here? Eventually I hit on the idea that maybe this is about the sorrows of parenting as a whole -- it is the experience of all parents, I guess, that they have children, raise them, and "before you know it" (ha) they grow up and leave and find their own way in the universe. It just happens with Troi and her "son" at a really accelerated rate. This thematic point is strengthened by having Wesley decide to leave the nest in this episode, too, staying on the Enterprise rather than joining his mother; so we effectively get the same story (son "grows up" and leaves mother behind) from the perspective of both a mother (Troi, through metaphor/SF) and the son (Wesley, more literally). That made me feel more charitable toward the episode, but it still doesn't emotionally land for me because I can never really get into Troi's headspace.

I read that the inspiration for the "carrying the plague" material was the French film The Wages of Fear, in which there is a truck carrying dynamite which is (of course) highly explosive. That movie is thrilling, suspenseful, and highly recommended; this episode's adaptation is, er, not. Part of it is that it's much easier to get a sense of danger within a film in which it is highly possible the trucks will actually blow up, and in which we have a really good understanding of how difficult it is to navigate difficult terrain and that type of thing.

Anyway, yeah, 2 stars.
William B
Wed, Apr 3, 2013, 8:03am (UTC -5)
Incidentally, I agree about earlier comments Pulaski -- I think she's a good character, very well acted, and highly underrated by the fandom. There is a clearer arc for her over the course of the season (her thawing out with respect to Data) than many characters get over the series as a whole. This episode isn't actually a great vehicle for her, though, because she exhibits as little curiosity about Ian as the episode as a whole does.
T'Paul
Thu, May 23, 2013, 4:04pm (UTC -5)
Ditto Pulanski, I think TNG needed a McCoy... As to the weaknesses of the child, well, I think it was tough to be too interested in him when he only lasted a few days and in the midst of a potentially life-threatening medical transfer!
Colton
Wed, Jul 10, 2013, 12:28pm (UTC -5)
TNG on BluRay FTW! TNG on DVD FTL!
Reverend Spork
Sat, Aug 24, 2013, 12:06am (UTC -5)
Another incredibly annoying Troi episode. Sirtis had a distressing tendency to overact in the first two seasons, and this episode was but one example. As for Pulaski, Muldaur is certainly a better actress than McFadden, but Dr. Crusher was a more interesting character. I think Pulaski suffered from the writers' lack of ability to give her a deeper character other than the Grouchy Skeptic and her one-dimensional arguments with Data.
Jons
Tue, Dec 24, 2013, 5:32pm (UTC -5)
I'm trying very, very hard to like TNG as much as ENT and VOY... But I couldn't stand the first episodes of the first season and I'm trying this one because I've been told the second season is much better.

Well not going by this episode, which was one of (if not THE) lamest episodes of Star Trek I've seen. Slow, boring, completely pointless.
Doug B
Sun, Dec 29, 2013, 12:30pm (UTC -5)
This is also a writer's strike casualty -- just as Shades of Grey was in a different way at the end of the season. The strike was in the summer of 1988. This was originally a script intended for the aborted series Star Trek: Phase II, which sorta morphed into the first Trek film. They did a quick rewrite on the script so they could get started right after the strike ended. Troi's part was originally Ilia's.
Roland
Sun, Apr 13, 2014, 6:33am (UTC -5)
Although the ratings are low for a reason I do think this was a great episode, great because of its campiness. How did they make up this stupid story? Anyway it was really amusing to see. I had the idea that the second general secretly was jealous that someone else gotten Crusher pregnant. It is good that if they cannot make a good espide at least make it campy and worth to laugh about.
Andrew
Sun, Jun 8, 2014, 11:41am (UTC -5)
The developments of the Ian and container plotlines, including their connection, felt too predictable and thus the episode slow. Dr. Pulaski had a few moments in the season but in the early episodes she felt way too much like a McCoy knockoff.
Liam
Sat, Sep 13, 2014, 9:57pm (UTC -5)
I agree with the 2 star rating, an ok episode but very little of interest going on. I didn't like how the senior staff dealt with Troi in the briefing. They all coldly discuss her pregnancy like she's not even there, while Riker just acts like some jealous prick. "I don't mean to be indelicate, but who is the father?!" Finally she has to remind them all that she's still a person.
BearHeart
Thu, Nov 20, 2014, 9:37am (UTC -5)
Pulaski has all the arrogance and bombast of McCoy with none of the charm. Throughout the season, she persists in condescending, not only to Data, but to everyone around her. She's just an annoying character, and not at all compelling.

The problem is not Diana Muldaur -- she's an excellent actor. It's just this character -- she's never given any depth or humanity. It's like she's only there to lecture and pontificate.
Nicolas
Tue, Jan 13, 2015, 3:05pm (UTC -5)
Reading all this discussion about Pulaski, I suppose this is as good a place as any to talk about the Cast Reunion feature that was included on the TNG Season 2 Blu-Ray set. Not only was Diana Muldaur absent but Denise Crosby as well, which in both cases I thought was a shame. It seems they only invited those who were regulars for more than one season (Wil Wheaton WAS there even though he left early season 4).
Pam
Tue, Apr 21, 2015, 6:09am (UTC -5)
Just watched this creeptastic episode (yay, Netflix!), and I agree with a lot of the comments. The two main story lines are disjointed and without much tension. I spent most of the first half cringing whenever Troi was on screen, but I did feel a bit of vindication on her part in regards to Riker. His charming outburst questioning the identity of the "child's" father had me triumphantly (mentally) crowing, "In your face, Will Riker!" His wishy-washiness when it came to Troi always irritated me.

As for the virus plot... Zzzz. Dr. Porn-Stache's majestic facial hair was more riveting.

The one saving grace of the episode, I felt, came from an unlikely source: Wesley Crusher. He was helped along by Golberg's Guinan, of course. The conversation after she joined him at the viewport was one of the most genuinely human moments Wes ever had. The Ten Forward set provided an overall depth to the atmosphere of the Enterprise that we didn't realize we were missing until it appeared. It was a nascent glimpse of the Enterprise as being more than just a tin can full of random people. It was also a community.

Then Wes had to ruin the whole moment by, well, becoming Wes again.

Overall, this creepy/boring episode get's about a star from me, and that only because of Whoopie Golberg's injection of some much-needed class into it.
Shannon
Sat, Jul 25, 2015, 5:45pm (UTC -5)
On its own, this episode is mediocre at best, but I actually like it as as the Season 2 starter for several reasons. First off, Season 1 for the most part was terrible. Dull storylines, bad writing, bad directing, and... well, it was just bad! I like that this story focuses on Riker and Troi, as those two bothered me more in Season 1 than any of the other characters. Riker was too militaristic and stiff, while Troi was just plain annoying. Both are shown in a much different light to start Season 2, softer in their approach and much more relatable... and the beard was a nice touch! Worf isn't so wide-eyed and naive anymore, and Geordi is now the Chief Engineer, again, another nice touch... On its own, not so good, but as the kickoff to the season by focusing on character development, not too shabby!
petulant
Mon, Aug 10, 2015, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
I loved Pulaski and it seems she's a character you either love or hate, it's such a shame that she just disappeared at the end of season 2, she really deserved better than that.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Aug 22, 2015, 11:29am (UTC -5)
I suppose this episode has a lot to introduce - notably Pulaski and Guinan and Ten-Forward, but also good to see Chief O'Brien and Riker's beard! - at the start of season 2.

It's then no real surprise that the story is a lightweight one that perhaps could have been developed further - although I thought that the implication that Ian would grow old and die was clearly present and it was nice that it was underplayed and not rammed in our face. I suppose the plot mechanism required a swift death, but having a kid (albeit an alien energy being) die first up in a series is a ballsy move. 2.5 stars.
Trajan
Thu, Mar 31, 2016, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
I remember mishearing when Pulaski was introduced. I thought she was introduced as 'Captain Doctor Pulaski' and I thought: oh excellent- they've introduced a very senior medic as chief medical officer on the flagship and, although she won't be able to interfere with the command structure, she will have the opportunity to influence things significantly because they will be obliged to respect her opinion on all matters. Then I realised I'd misheard and she wasn't a captain at all and then she turned out to be a one-dimensional character who never got enough development. I'm not surprised she polarises opinion. It's a shame the actress never got the opportunity to cut loose with the character.
nothingoriginal55
Mon, Apr 18, 2016, 11:32am (UTC -5)
The tension in season two seemed forced and unnatural. However, i liked Pulaski, Guinan, and the introduction of ten forward. I also the officer shuffling with Worf as security officer,and Geordi as chief engineer. We also get to see the borg in season two which was cool.
I do believe this season also suffered from a writers strike, i dont really know the details about this tho.
Franco
Sat, Aug 13, 2016, 6:52am (UTC -5)
Wow, finally you can write openly and admit that Pulaski was a very good character :-) It's so nice to see that after all these years there are many fans of her!
And to whom says that Pulaski's character development was not so good in this season, I invite you to watch it again: Pulaski is much more "evident" in one season than Crusher in 6 seasons!
Concerning a possible Pulaski-Picard affair, who did ask for that? If Pulaski stayed in TNG, we would have laughed a lot for this combination Picard-Pulaski-Data and her curiosity to learn about new cultures (see the episode with Worf).
mephyve
Wed, Sep 28, 2016, 5:42am (UTC -5)
Couldn't stand Pulaski. Glad to see her go.
Beej
Thu, Nov 10, 2016, 12:34am (UTC -5)
I mostly dislike Pulaski for the very mundane reason that back during its original airing I didn't become a regular viewer of the show until season three, and so it's hard to accept anyone else other than Beverly Crusher as ship's doctor.

But that said, rewatching season 2, I'm starting to learn to hate Pulaski all over again for her treatment of Data and for just generally being a little too abrasive.
Tara
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 2:27am (UTC -5)
I'm rewatching the second season now and am loving Pulaski. I never used to have an opinion about her one way or the other. I think what's happened is that I got used to being bored to death by Dr Beverley Blamd, and the spicier Pulaski now stands out on welcome relief.

Does B Crusher have any personality at all? Besides "dedicated doctor" and "worried mother"... What words would describe her?
Chrome
Mon, Jan 23, 2017, 9:20am (UTC -5)
@Tara

"Does B Crusher have any personality at all? Besides "dedicated doctor" and "worried mother"... What words would describe her?"

She outwitted the Borg when in command of the Enterprise, so "Skilled Leader" comes to mind. Also, of course "The Dancing Doctor" from "Data's Day" :)
Lizzy
Wed, Jan 25, 2017, 1:21pm (UTC -5)
I was a teen when I saw TNG the first time. And I remember having a crush on Wesley - and with the beginning of season 2 I can remember why. He was really cute then .
And to all the guys who found him annoying: not much more so than Deanna, whom you all liked just for her looks.
borusa
Fri, Jan 27, 2017, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery.
This episode borrows a Space 1999 story.
Not an auspicious start but the abrasive Pulaski is an improvement on her predecessor albeit too much like McCoy.Geordi and Worf of course work better in their new roles.
Linda
Sun, Mar 26, 2017, 9:51am (UTC -5)
At the senior staff meeting, Troi seems to anticipate the reaction of the others: she purposefully chooses a seat away from everyone else. Picard announces that Troi is pregnant, but it’s not until he adds that Troi’s going to have a baby that the others whip their heads around to stare at her. I know guys need stuff spelled out, but geez! Riker, Troi’s former Imazdi and the guy who beds whoever at the drop of a hat accusingly asks who the father is. The men go on to discuss the situation as though Troi is not even in the room. When Troi announces no matter what, she’s going to have the baby, Picard declares the meeting over. It seems to me that they would still need to discuss logistics. Though later Picard arranges for the presence of security forces at the birth of the child.

I understand some of Jammer’s criticism, but though we’re given a minimal of scenes, it is clear that Troi has some sort of bond or understanding or sense or communication with the life growing, quickly, within her. And her explanation to Picard that Ian will explain himself when he is cognitively able seems possibly valid. That ultimately that entity intruded on the Enterprise out of innocent curiosity is believable, since it exits as soon as it realizes it poses a threat.

Having Data at Troi’s side during the child’s delivery was effective. Having Riker soften when he actually sees the child’s delivery was also effective. But later, after the child’s death, no one gives a comfortingly comment or gesture to a distraught Troi. Guess she was inconsolable.

I agree that the script set up a premise that seemed to fall a bit flat. But something during the final scene, where the men each take a share in the responsibility of looking after Wesley since his mother will not be present, made me wonder if the male staff members had perhaps been touched by the way events unfolded.

As the opening episode of season two, changes have been made: Worf had already been made security head, now Georgi is head of Engineering and there’s a new doctor. The kind of changes one would expect on a ship. Spoiler alert: In the opening credits of the second season, the actress for the doctor is always listed as special guest star, leading one to wonder if Pulaski was always intended to be temporary. After Crusher returns, the crew remains intact (except for Wesley’s exit) and in the same positions for the duration of the series. Those actors would work well together, but Riker seemed to hang around longer than was fitting for his character.
Rahul
Tue, Apr 18, 2017, 4:28pm (UTC -5)
Thought this was a clumsy episode - plenty of questions raised about the nature of the child and ultimately the answers are still bizarre.
I never minded Crusher as a character but Pulaski is quite different as others have noted. As a big fan of TOS, it's good to see her - as I liked her roles in the 2 TOS episodes. She does seem to take a greater authority about her tasks and is more direct.
Wesley's story about staying with the Enterprise and interaction with Guinan probably makes the most sense about this episode. I do like Guinan's psychiatrist roles.
I also thought Troi's role as mother giving birth was done well and her raising of the child was well-acted but it only becomes sort of clear at the end what was going on -- which is a bizarre tale tied to the hazardous cargo the ship was transporting. Anyhow, not a memorable episode for me. 1.5/4 stars.
Fandabidozi
Thu, May 11, 2017, 9:41am (UTC -5)
This is my first time watching Star Trek: TNG so I'm finding the comments very interesting. Season 1 was fun and I really enjoyed it, as with this episode. I wonder if fans returning to the series find it's not as good as they remember it, or having seen later episodes, they know how much better it will get? For me, it's pretty much exactly what I was expecting and I'm loving it.
Thoughts on this episode... Everyhthing looks better than season one, I don't know if that's the direction or the sets got an overhaul. It all feels more cinematic.
Was surprised to see Beverley gone, though I've kinda been spoiled on that now :P
Diana Muldaur Is a brilliant actress, loved her on L.A. Law back in the day, great addition to the cast.
Whoopi Goldberg! I love her. I knew she was in the series but wasn't expecting her till much later on. Awesome!
Miles O'Brien!! Obviously very important going forwards and this was yet another surprise.
So, much to like about this episode. Don't think I've been quite as floored by a shake up since Babylon 5 series 2.
Robert
Thu, May 11, 2017, 10:17am (UTC -5)
@Fandabidozi - Welcome! Are you new to Trek or TNG? You seem to know Miles maybe?

Anyways...

"wonder if fans returning to the series find it's not as good as they remember it, or having seen later episodes, they know how much better it will get? "

This. There are about 10 episodes between all of S1/S2 that are up to the quality of the rest of the series. Season 3-6 are pretty stellar. And 7, while looking a bit long in the tooth in some places, is merely not as good as 3-6. It's definitely still above 1&2. And it ends on a crazy high note.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Wed, Jan 17, 2018, 12:05am (UTC -5)
Better than I remembered, though it's mostly the outer edges that save the show.

At the core, it doesn't work. There's simply not enough Troi/Ian time for there to be any emotional payoff at the end.

However, "The Child" definitely shows they've thought some things out from Season 1. I like how the changes are presented with little fanfare or exposition.

And I may be the only "Next Gen" fan who liked Dr. Crusher and Dr. Pulaski. I wish they had been on a show or two together.
Trent
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 10:37am (UTC -5)
I feel this is an underrated episode, thanks solely to Rob Bowman's direction; his touch saves a number of episodes. Here he gives us some brooding, dark lighting, shows us new 10 Forward and Medical Bay sets, and he peppers his episode with little scenes or brief segments which really convey the feel of a large ship crewed by hundreds, each with their own little jobs.

The new warp effect - we see a ship go to warp from inside 10 Forward - is also great, as are other little Rob Bowman touches (we view characters through windows from a perspective outside the ship, Picard and Wesley share a near silent turbolift ride, we see Riker watching from afar as Troi gives birth etc). Rob's always trying to approach worn-out material from a fresh angle, and his episodes have a wonderful quality, plesantly relaxing and/or lethargic, yet able to expertly ramp up tension.
William B
Mon, Feb 5, 2018, 12:05pm (UTC -5)
@Trent, I went from mildly liking the episode when I was young, to strongly disliking it when I thought about it before watching it a few years ago, to somewhat disliking it when watching it, to being more positive about it after talking it over with my wife (then-girlfriend) who generally liked it. I think it's worth noting that there is something about it that is different from s1 tonally and suggests the way the show's writers, cast and especially directors (Bowman especially) are experimenting and trying to find what it is about the show that works. The Wesley material and the smooth, quiet introduction of the cast shake-ups (Geordi's movement to Engineering, Pulaski and Guinan's introduction) work very well for me, and there is a kind of sensitivity in the way the Troi material is handled -- Riker's reaction, for example -- that resonate, even though there is something both well-worn and relatively pointless about the Ian material directly. The only headway I've ever made with what this story is really about, besides the TNG-era optimism of the idea that aliens will be as curious about us as we are about them, and that apparent violations of personal sovereignty in this case might be forgivable lapses in beings who are not yet aware of what boundaries we consider important, is the sped-up notion of children as beings who briefly visit and then disappear from a mother's life, told from the perspective of the mother (Troi/Ian) and the child (Wesley/absent Beverly). This still doesn't quite gel with what I *remember to be* (though I could be wrong -- it has been a while) Troi's quasi-serene, nearly-disinterested reaction to the goings on, which I think is partly a signal that the writers and maybe Marina Sirtis hadn't gotten a handle on Troi as a person yet and were treating her as some magical symbol of distant, incomprehensible femininity ("Goddess of Empathy," as the Hollow Pursuits take would go) or something. But the episode has its moments, and I particularly remember the tone and visuals, particularly in the just-introduced Ten Forward, being impressive; I wouldn't mind revisiting it.
Preachy Petrus
Thu, Mar 8, 2018, 4:49pm (UTC -5)
Strength of character is not the same as a lack of self restraint and wisdom, decency, dignity, and loving are not the same as know it all, boring or simpering. Go ahead and hate me.
Prince of Space
Thu, Apr 5, 2018, 4:36am (UTC -5)
^ Years from now, since Jammers’ site is eternal, people will be reading these comments and still be saying, “What the heck is Petrus talking about!?!”

Hello, future people... are there flying cars yet in your time?
Peter
Tue, Apr 17, 2018, 5:01am (UTC -5)
I'm heartened by the warm reception that Pulaski has received from above commenters; I thought she was a great character and far superior to Dr Crusher, who I always thought rather bland.

Again, I must carry the torch for unloved counsellor Troi. I loved all her scenes and was genuinely touched by her grief at Ian's moving on.

One other thing I noticed about this episode is just how well directed and framed each shot is. The show has moved on a long way from Season 1 and is increasingly looking like the prestige sci fi drama most people remember TNG to be.
JerJer
Wed, May 16, 2018, 12:33pm (UTC -5)
What a lame boring episode.

Haven't seen a TNG episode for 20 years...have been working through the series having just finished the entire series of DS9. What a (backwards) change in Miles!

Troi is cloying and annoying. So is Riker. Used to watch TNG all the time in the 90s...but not liking as I remembered it. Maybe just have to wait for S.3 for things to get better.
mephyve
Sat, May 19, 2018, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
I'll take the blandness of Beverley over the abrasive arrogance of Pulaski any day. Beverley was easier on the eyes too.
mephyve
Sun, May 20, 2018, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
BTW, I'm sure that the biblical immaculate conception disdn't imvolve penetration. Troi was raped and apparently liked it this time.
Melkor
Wed, Jul 18, 2018, 4:01pm (UTC -5)
Really? So many comments, and only one mentions, that Troi was RAPED?
Silly
Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 9:35pm (UTC -5)
It was nuts that they just allowed Troi's mystery possession pregnancy while in the middle of a critical and dangerous mission.

They should have put her in a shuttle or whatever with a doctor since she was determined to have the baby.

One nice touch-- in the briefing when they reveal it's some sort of alien pregnancy, Worf turns and stares at her. It's nice because Worf is typically depicted in a very non subtle way.
Meister
Sun, Mar 3, 2019, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
I liked the overall structure of this one and the interplay at the end of the two stories. I guess this was the intro to Dr Pulaski. When I watched this 30 years ago, my overall preference was for Dr Crusher over Dr Pulaski I think due to my impression of Dr Pulaski's overall brusqueness. Now I appreciate her more. (Except how she treats Data , I guess she was given the role to be dismissive of Data somewhat comparable to Bones dismissing Spock?)

She is professional and direct; she assumes a role and behaviour you would expect on a mission as important as theirs where the staff are expected to be professional and she has an important role as chief medical officer and not just a friendly neighbourhood country doctor.

Troi wasn't too bad. Riker and Worf were pathetic in their unprofessional and emotional reaction to her pregnancy. Riker was possessive and jealous. The way they spoke about Troi as if she was a possession just says it all. I liked the way Troi shut them down and Picard backed her up. Nice!

But this was quite a big episode in terms of a friendly creature creating a human baby and accelerating its growth. Wouldn't you expect Troi to be going to Earth to be interviewed etc. It is just brushed off in the episodic world of TNG. This is where I miss DS9.

7.5/10
Markus
Wed, Mar 6, 2019, 11:34pm (UTC -5)
The first thing I notice popping open Season 2 is the vastly improved camera work. Better panning, closeups, and a lot more angles. It’s very noticeable after having watched all of Season 1 together. Also, Riker looking sexy with that new beard and Worf and Laforge in their new gold uniforms.

I can’t make up my mind between Crusher/Polaski. I do think Polaski got way too much hate and I always liked her. But I also like Crusher too, probably more for sentimental and nostalgic value despite that I can now see the weaknesses in her character better.
Trent
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 9:39pm (UTC -5)
Markus said: "I can’t make up my mind between Crusher/Polaski. I do think Polaski got way too much hate and I always liked her."

I think Pulaski simply got better material to work with. Crusher got maybe two scripts which pushed her character somewhere interesting. Pulaski was getting meaty little scenes from the get-go. She was like a little pit-bull, always clawing at the main cast, and I liked this quality about her.

As for this episode, which I've just seen a third time, I still think it's underrated. Here we have a tale of a son growing and losing a mother (Wesley losing Beverly) and a mother losing a fast-growing son (Troi losing her alien kid), both plots hinging on the child's hunger for exploration. For it's first half, it's also a pleasantly creepy and horrific episode. And one whose themes of (re)birth work nicely (accidentally? intentionally? unconventionally?) as a season 2 premiere.

It's big flaw, however, is how Troi is written once she gives birth. She far too readily, and hokily, becomes a maternal caricature. She seems to forget that she's given birth to a creepy alien baby, and instead parades it about the ship like she's a 1950s housewife. Virtually every scene with Troi once she's given birth, is awful, especially when she finally loses the kid, breaks down, and nobody (not even Riker!) offers her a hug or condolences. It's a shame this half of the arc is botched, because everything else in this episode is extremely good.
No scarcity economics
Tue, May 7, 2019, 8:28pm (UTC -5)
You found out Ian was born to Troi to learn the human life cycle? Was this stated in the episode or was the conclusion made from the obvious implication of Ian's existence? I don't recall the child ever explaining himself, besides that he was the source of the "deadly substance", which was called a plasma virus by the way.
No scarcity economics
Tue, May 7, 2019, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
Excuse me, source of the Eichner radiation agitation of deadly substance is what I meant to say.
Lizzy DataLover
Fri, May 10, 2019, 11:07pm (UTC -5)
Dr. Katherine Pulaski is A FUCKING COLDHEARTED BITCH. She was a horrible replacement for the caring Dr. Crusher, and was unbelievably insufferable to say the least. And don't even get me started on her treatment of poor innocent Data. "Counselor Troi needs the warm touch of a human, not the cold hand of technology." The fuck???? What kind of a randomly horrible thing is that to say? And Data continues to he as nice as HUMANLY possible to her, and yet every time he's around she feels the sudden urge to rip him a brand new one. It's ridiculous.

Also, this episode sucked. It's only redeeming scene was of course with Data being all fascinated and mystified by the miraculous birth taking place before him. That was the true curious, life-loving side of him; that enchanted look on his face; that we so unfortunately didn't get to see too much of after the first couple seasons.
Dave in MN
Sat, May 11, 2019, 9:15am (UTC -5)
@ Lizzy Datalover

I have to agree with you.

Pulaski is racist to Data. There's another episode where she calls Data "it" and she's constantly ragging on him for not meeting up to her standard of sentience, self-agency and respect.

I also don't care for her attitude: "I'm gonna do what I want because I'm a badass doctor and if you don't like it, kiss my ass."

No, you aren't a superhero. See those pips on your uniform, Pulaski? That's called your "rank" and you have one because you are part of a quasi-military organization with a hierarchical structure.

Also, your bedside manner sucks.
Chrome
Sat, May 11, 2019, 10:58am (UTC -5)
Not that I’m a big Pulaski fan, but this season sets up somewhat of an arc where Pulaski distrusts Data and technology generally but she gradually learns that her preconceptions about artificial life are completely wrong. This culminates in some great payoffs for the Data-Pulaski relationship later in “The Measure of a Man” and “Peak Performance” where Pulaski accepts Data and starts rooting for him.
Lizzy DataLover
Tue, May 14, 2019, 9:02pm (UTC -5)
@ Dave in MN

I'm so glad I have people on my side in this. You're right she is racist to Data. Which completely does not fit into the realm of Star Trek. Sure, McCoy gave Spock a hard time once and a while, but I think it was more of a "just remember you're not the God of logic or anything, you have frailties just like the rest of us" sort of way. Which Spock obviously didn't think of himself like that, but like all vulcans he knew he was somewhat superior to humans, even though he did have the same basic emotions and possible struggles as we do. So he was just trying to remind him of that, as I think most people were.

Dr. Pulaski on the other hand is snapping at Data in a "just remember you're place among humans. You're the tricorder, I'm the person, and don't you step out of that line" sort of way. And even if she eventually became more tolerable of him, *key word being tolerable* I think she still refused to see him entirely on the same level as everyone else she knew. When she called him "it" she apologized saying she wasn't used to working with non-living devices, which is one of the worst possible insults you could give Data because not only does it degrade him to the level of a thing, but it says that he has no life whatsoever, which at least would have been something.

I think that says it all right there on just how willing she is to accept that which is different. Which is what Star Trek was founded on, was it not?
Thomas
Tue, May 14, 2019, 10:54pm (UTC -5)
@Lizzy

What is it exactly you find objectionable about Dr. Pulaski's attitude toward Data? As far as I'm concerned, if we upgrade Data from a machine to a living thing, then by necessity we downgrade all living things to an assembly of matter and limbs. Do you really find nothing special about life that it can be described as an arrangement of molecules and nothing more than that?
Lizzy DataLover
Tue, May 14, 2019, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
@Thomas

The very fact that you said download Data from "a machine to a living thing" was the point I was trying to make about Pulaski. Data is already a living thing. At least IMO. I see life as the force that connects us all and integrates everything into existence. It does not matter whether one is organic or mechanical. *at least IMO.* I tried to make a similar point when posting about The Measure Of A Man.

Data is a living being entirely unique, and not necessarily describable by our standards for life. And his incredibly human qualities show that time and again. Every time I watch an episode I can plainly see that he is much more than just a computer with limbs, he is a life. And my problem is, that that just never seemed to click with Dr. Pulaski, at least not until much later. Everyone else on the Enterprise *with the exception of any rare moments of doubt* accepted him rather easily for who is was, rather than what. They talk to him like he is any other member of the crew. Pulaski however, treated him as if he were less. And she never gave herself one spare moment to believe that perhaps she could think of him as more than just an artifical imitation of man, but as an actual man. She simply ignored that possibility, telling herself 'now remember, he's artifical, you should make a big deal out of it' even at times when that wasn't something that really even mattered.

So you should really be questioning her belief in life, because it seems she is very close minded to the possibilities of what it could be.
Thomas
Tue, May 14, 2019, 11:45pm (UTC -5)
@Lizzie

The problem as I see it is that you are not sufficiently distinguishing between appearance and reality. You say you can plainly see that Data is alive. But if a computer could appear to walk, talk and interact with others and yet still be completely unaware it is doing so, would it still under your definition be considered alive? Just because Data appears to do these things and appears to imitate life doesn't necessarily mean anything. Yes, Pulaski is prejudiced but that by itself does not mean she is wrong about Data. We treat computers as if they are 'less' than human and most people would say there are valid reasons for doing so. If in truth Data is no more than a extremely complicated and intelligent computer then by placing him on the same level as living beings we are devaluing life itself. And even leaving aside consciousness, perhaps Dr. Pulaski was aware that as of 2019, humans were yet to create anything more intelligent than the simplest living organism, and with good reason doubted Soong's ability to synthesize life in any form whatsoever.
Lizzy DataLover
Tue, May 14, 2019, 11:46pm (UTC -5)
Whoops I meant upgrade not download. :P

But seriously dude why do you think that? Is it so hard to believe that maybe life is more than just being born flesh and blood? Giving Data the title of 'living status' does not mean that we, by comparison are anything less. In fact by inviting the possibility of Data being more than he supposedly is, actually means life is even more than just what you're made out of. Why should only organic beings be allowed to have life? I'm not saying that any old tricorder is alive and sentient, *although ya never know*;) I'm saying that if Data, a being with a positronic brain of all things, can be truly alive, then that means that life *is* more than just an arrangement of molecules and is something far greater, something much more mystical than we'll ever know.

And one more thing; Star Trek is a show about life and all its different forms, and exploring and learning to understand those different forms. So if this is truly how you believe then I question why you watch it.
Thomas
Wed, May 15, 2019, 12:25am (UTC -5)
"I'm saying that if Data, a being with a positronic brain of all things, can be truly alive, then that means that life *is* more than just an arrangement of molecules and is something far greater, something much more mystical than we'll ever know."

And yet Soong knew enough to be able to create it. You can't have it both ways: either life is completely demystified by Soong's ability to create it, or Data and any other arrangement of matter does not give rise to life on any other level than in appearance. If we accept that Soong can create life out of matter, we have to accept it is no more mystical than a machine.

These issues are all ones I find interesting and believe Star Trek is open to and encourages their discussion. That's why I watch it.
Lizzy DataLover
Wed, May 15, 2019, 12:34am (UTC -5)
@Thomas

You said *if* he is an extremely complicated and intelligent computer. What if he's not? Then what? Is that so hard to believe? You really need to watch The Measure Of A Man. Because in that episode Captain Louvois says that these very questions are meant for saints and philosophers. Although I doubt even they could give us our answer. This is a *big* issue which we may never have the true answer to.

Although being the fighter I am, I would like to add another thing: you also compared Data to a computer that walks and talks and interacts with people without being aware of doing so. But Data is aware. He knows exactly who and what he is. He even aspires and even *desires* to improve himself and become more than whatever he truly is. And the same for his brother Lore, who is, basically, a very complex person with a very complex personality. He even holds malace towards his father for both condemning him to an existence that will always be questioned, *like right now* and for treating him like nothing more than a machine himself, by tearing him apart and leaving him behind. I dont know, sounds pretty alive to me.

You know you remind me a lot of Commander Maddox in that way, but everyone kinda hated that guy's guts so...
Charles
Wed, May 15, 2019, 7:58am (UTC -5)
Siri and Alexa are alive too. They say hello and goodbye, they let me know what songs I should listen too before I even ask, and they’re just so darn polite. I can’t stand it when people are rude to Siri!
Dave in MN
Wed, May 15, 2019, 8:40am (UTC -5)
Too bad we can't post a poll on here.

Simple question: Is Data alive?

My vote is yes.
Lizzy DataLover
Wed, May 15, 2019, 10:13am (UTC -5)
My vote is also yes Dave. I just hope that I've gotten through to either Thomas or someone out there who doesn't want to believe in the power of Data. I also hope that if he's still listening we can agree to disagree on this one because I will keep fighting for Data until the end so this could go on forever. :)

Star Trek power!!
Chrome
Wed, May 15, 2019, 1:12pm (UTC -5)
Saying Data is alive is answering the easy question. The show itself never really sides with Pulaski and - while Maddox puts on a good show vis-à-vis Riker - I don't think we as the audience are ever really meant to take the position that Data is merely a machine. The show gives Data a soul. He's something more special, more unique, and more *alive* than a mere machine. And that is the showrunners' intent.

A more difficult question that I think Thomas and Charles are getting at is: when do we start recognizing AI as life in our time? Obviously Siri is not alive, but what is she missing that would make her like Data? A physical body? A more complex social program?

Lizzy and Dave, if someone told you today that they just created artificial life that's similar to a human's, would you readily embrace it a revolution, or would you like to see this life in action first before making a decision? I think it's normal to have a little Pulaski-like skepticism in a unique situation like this. Being skeptical doesn't make you "racist", it just means you like to have more facts before you decide.
Lizzy DataLover
Wed, May 15, 2019, 1:24pm (UTC -5)
@Chrome

I guess I do have to agree with everything you said. *mostly the nice things you said about Data* ;) and perhaps you're right if someone approached me and said they just created sentient artifical life I may want to see for myself. Siri and Alexa *no offense Charles I love them too* are obviously very different from Data and not entirely comparable in this situation, so presenting them may not be as impressive. But if you gave me someone as complex and human like as Data, I may be very well inclined to believe that perhaps there is something to the whole AI thing.

And you're right, we are meant to be on Data's side every step of the way, so I'm obviously more inclined to defend him than I might be in real life. But I have to say, that if the time ever does come when someone out there is able to create a being like him I will be eager to see the potential.

I just love Data so much I cant help but see him for the wonderfully kindhearted man he is! XD
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Wed, May 15, 2019, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
Data is obviously sentient and sapient.

Not sure why TNG insisted on using the word "alive" in this context, which is kinda misleading. Amoebas are also alive, after all.
Lizzy DataLover
Wed, May 15, 2019, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

Awesome name by the way. It's true that Data is obviously sentient and sapient based on the way he acts and integrates himself into society and the relationships he has with others. But I for one would like to think he is more than just a self aware collection of circuits and sub processors, and is truly the mechanical equivalent of a living human being with needs and feelings. Okay well I know the feelings part is kind of on shaky ground, but if you've seen all the Data episodes, then you know he's got a lot more going on than he believes. ;)

What's that Data? You say you can't feel anything? Ok sure I believe you. (Wink wink winkity wink)
Lizzy DataLover
Wed, May 15, 2019, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
Also, commenting on what Chrome said, I would like to say that I do understand how one might be skeptical in this situation, but there is a difference between being skeptical and being flat out disrespectful. Data is an officer, and a darn good one at that, a member of the team, and is considered sentient and even *alive* (as his service record supposedly states) by Starfleet. So going in with a closed mind, but willing to explore his possibilities would have been much more tolerable than the way Pulaski basically snorts at Data and gives him such a holier than thou attitude all the time.

I really just don't appreciate the rude disrespectful and frankly unprofessional manner she presents to him. Always spewing "oh God, not this *thing* again" under her breath constantly. (Although she actually just said it all straight to his face which was far worse.)
Booming
Thu, May 16, 2019, 4:52am (UTC -5)
To throw a wrench into this little machine love fest.

Data is not alive.

He misses two main aspects of life.
- He or should I say IT doesn't procreate
- His or should I say ... ehh the right English word... ehh its?... processes can be inactive for an infinite amount of time. You can switch him off for a million years and then switch him on and he will be as good as new.

Also Pulaski had some spunk while Crusher was just a humanoid care bear. She was absolutely right to question the green emotionless machine!
Fake
Thu, May 16, 2019, 6:20am (UTC -5)
I guess you can call me “it” since the vasectomy.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 16, 2019, 7:29am (UTC -5)
@Lizzy Datalover

You misunderstood me. I'm on your side here :-)

I completely agree with you that Data has all the important qualities that humans have. He is a person no less than you or I. In fact, I find him to be a far better person then most humans I know.

My point was simply that the TNG writers often confused "being alive" with "being a person" when these terms refer to two completely different things. An amoeba is alive, but we don't consider it a person. The traditional definition of life (movement, growth, procreation etc) are simply not relevant to the issue at hand.

TL;DR

Data is a conscious, intelligent, self-aware being with desires and goals, and that makes him a person. That's all that matters.

@Booming
*cough* Lal *cough*
Booming
Thu, May 16, 2019, 7:32am (UTC -5)
If you are a machine then I would have called you it from the moment of your activation! Are you a machine?

Alives first!
Booming
Thu, May 16, 2019, 7:38am (UTC -5)
@ Omicron
HA! You walked right into my trap. Muahaha. Lal wasn't like Data and more importantly Lal wasn't from Data.

There are three ways to procreate: Mitosis, meiosis and parasitic lifeforms.

Only because this talking tricorder walked into a tool shed and made another machine doesn't mean that he procreates.
OmicronThetaDeltaPhi
Thu, May 16, 2019, 8:20am (UTC -5)
@Booming

You're too smart and too sensitive a person to actually believe what you just wrote.

I've noticed a trend in the stuff you wrote in the past day or so. You've become more and more confrontational while also making less and less sense. I guess you're in one of those "I'm bored and life sucks so I'm going to troll Jammer's site with random provocative musings" phases, aren't you?

Pity. I was really starting to enjoy our conversations in the past few days.
Lizzy DataLover
Thu, May 16, 2019, 12:00pm (UTC -5)
@OmicronThetaDeltaPhi

I do see your point and I'm glad you're on my side. Thank you for defending Data in my absence!!

@Booming

How dare you call him an "it". How dare you. Hoooow dare you. You're worse than Pulaski. I am no longer going to acknowledge you on this board.

And this is Star Trek man! Anyone can be alive if they want to be! HOPE FOR THE FUTURE!!!!
Booming
Thu, May 16, 2019, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
@ Omicron
Do we actually know each other that well already. Troubling. It is true. I'm stressed out again. Decisions. I feel like being on the Hindenburg and Lakehurst is in sight.

No, I don't think Data is a soulless machine. Apart from the actual discussion, he is clearly written as being alive. Just playing devils advocate.

Seriously though two important signs of life are procreation and constant patterns like cells metabolizing. But there is no real fixed definition laid out by some council in Switzerland which means that anything can be defined as being alive.

People here often start discussing stuff without clearly defining the words they are talking about which bothers me.
Lizzy DataLover
Thu, May 16, 2019, 4:46pm (UTC -5)
You are all making very good points I just hate it when people talk crap about Data. He's such a wonderful character, and to me he just seems like such a wonderful person. Every time some dumb jerky extra comes on the show and gives him *that look* I just get soooooooo pissed off. It's like, whhhhyyyyyyyyy????

I know I'm getting emotional here. But I seriously think that there is real potential in who Data is, and what could soon become him in our actual future.

Also is it too late to change my username to Data Got The feels?? Lol
Caramel
Thu, Jun 27, 2019, 9:19pm (UTC -5)
I definitely agree w/all those who hated Pulaski. I never liked her. I just saw this episode, and I guess I didn't realize she was such an uber bitch to Data for no reason when I was younger. Her attitude toward him in this episode is ridiculous. She mispronounces his name, then pronounces it correctly, and the says "whatever" b/c she doesn't actually care. Even if I thought he was just a machine, if he took the time to correct the pronunciation of his name, I would call him by the name he wanted me to use!
Springy
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 6:18am (UTC -5)
Well, a so-so start to the Season, but I'll take it.

Ep seems to be about LIFE. What is life, is man made life (Data, genetically engineered viruses) really life? When does life begin, what defines it? Pulaski asks Data if he could possibly have feelings; Picard asks if Ian can talk and Ian comments on his wet face and hurt finger.

And lots of talk of growth: life means growth and change.

In our exploration of what constitutes life, we even get an abortion discussion, complete with fetus on screen and a bunch of men discussing what should happen to Troi's body. Days later asks Deanna if her unborn child is sentient.

But ultimately, Life is defined by Death - lots of references to the crew's, and the desperately ill victims' of an outbreak,
vulnerability to death, and of course, Ian dies.

And there's love and attachment and sustenance - We have a motherless child (Wes) and a childless mother (Deanna). Fortunately, Worf volunteers to tuck Wes took bed. Others must sustain him

Lots going on in the ep, but I'm too tired to think.

Picard has never played with puppies???

Average offering overall.

Ciao, Treksters
Chrome
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 10:36am (UTC -5)
@Springy

It's interesting, I often pass over this episode but reading your comments makes me think that this season tends to talk about "What is life and death?" and "What is the nature of life?" quite often. Feels like season two had quite the group of philosophers on board its writing team. :-)
William B
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 12:11pm (UTC -5)
This episode contains one of the strongest pieces of evidence for Wesley as Mary Sue, which is that upon getting *Whoopi Goldberg* to be on the show, the very first use they put her to is to convince Wesley to stay. I say that half-joking and half with affection.

In retrospect I feel a little better about this one than I did earlier on. I think that the material surrounding the transitions and introductions and (offscreen) departures (Beverly, Wesley, Pulaski, Guinan) is pretty good, and looking at the Ian Andrew material through the lens of the cast reshuffling makes the episode broadly about not just life but about the way people (especially children) enter and leave our lives.
William B
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 12:14pm (UTC -5)
And of course Riker's beard, Geordi's being in Engineering, Worf's security post being more official. It's pretty low-key. Most of what's good about this episode is really quite incidental to the main story (which is a hastily rewritten script from the, following Worf's suggestion, killed-in-infancy Star Trek II series).
Springy
Fri, Aug 9, 2019, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
@William B

There is a focus on children, but I think all the changes and comings and goings and such are part of the overall "growth and change" that is shown.

We're conceived, we're born, we grow physically and emotionally and intellectually, we experience joy and sorrows, pleasure and pain, we age, we die. Change and growth is a constant from start to finish.

@Chrome

I think the first Season had a lot of episodes about the past - the impact of the past, the need to let go of it, etc. This Season seems to be taking a different turn.

PULASKI : Read the review and comments and want to add: I love Pulaski. She's a scientist and she's trying to categorize Data. She's never seen anything like him. She knows he's a machine.

And though the ep focuses more on childhood and living in general, there's a hint of what we'll see more of: Not just what it means to be alive, but what it means to be human. Pulaski's pokes at Data all Season long, figuring out just what he is. Pulaski is a very strong and straightforward person and she does it in her own way.

The idea that her acerbic nature is somehow worse than McCoy's - can't see that AT ALL. I love both characters. I like Beverly OK, but Pulaski better. Wish we could have had them both. Might've made for a good friendship and some nice tension.
Fenn
Tue, Nov 19, 2019, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
I found myself liking Wesley's part in this episode the best, strangely enough. Guinan can basically make anyone interesting, can't she? I'm on my first full watch-through after having seen some scattered episodes, and suffice to say, I'm *very* glad to be finally encountering her.

The episode as a whole? It feels almost irresponsible to do something like this in a show that's so episodic, where the inconceivable (heh) experience of impregnation-gestation-childbirth-childrearing-suddenly your kid's reverted to a point of light and flown off into space... has no consequences ever again? It trivialises the whole experience, really, because Troi's no different ever again. (At least, as far as I've seen.)

The ending also seems kind of pointless. In-universe, they could've got the space kid off the ship rather than having him choose to fly off forever. Though out-of-universe, I guess that's a lot more time dealing with a child actor in the cast... not that they didn't keep having kids around anyway...

No judgement on Pulaski yet: this is the first I'm seeing of her. I did find the whole "dahta"/"dayta" scene amusing, though -- I'm fond of stern characters who can still chuckle now and then.

Picard needs more puppies in his life... though having said that, promo material for his upcoming series makes it look like he did take that advice in the end!
Yanks
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Fenn,

"It feels almost irresponsible to do something like this in a show that's so episodic, where the inconceivable (heh) experience of impregnation-gestation-childbirth-childrearing-suddenly your kid's reverted to a point of light and flown off into space... has no consequences ever again? It trivialises the whole experience, really, because Troi's no different ever again. (At least, as far as I've seen.)"

I didn't care at all about this watching this episode. I really fail to see why so many have issues with this episode.

Trivializes? What would make you happy, that she was brutally scared for life? ... or someone was mind raped (Inner light) or everyone starts going bat-crap crazy (VOY: Memorial)?

I for one, am happy that an encounter with an advanced life form didn't end with a huge misunderstanding, a battle or someone dying.

I'd say Troi gained a wonderful, life altering experience here. I'd think she'd tell you that as well.

This is one of my favorite TNG episodes.
Fenn
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 11:03am (UTC -5)
Yanks: nothing quite that drastic. Childbirth, motherhood and losing a child are all deeply affecting experiences, ones that clearly have an impact on Troi... for the length of this episode and no further. I'm not asking that she sob about it every second of her screentime, or for the Enterprise to hire a Ship's Counsellor Counsellor just for her, but I feel putting such life-changing events in one episode and then never discussing them again... doesn't really do them justice.

"What would make you happy, that she was brutally scared for life? ... or someone was mind raped (Inner light) or everyone starts going bat-crap crazy (VOY: Memorial)?"

These are all extremely negative consequences, assuming I see it as a purely traumatising event. What Troi goes through here is more than just that, and I get the impression that you think so too. I know an experience like this would indeed change someone -- and yet, having watched several episodes ahead now, there's simply no sign of it having done so.

Consequences I *would* be interested in seeing that aren't pain and suffering like you suggest: a renewed appreciation for new life born from having birthed and nurtured new life herself; drawing upon her experience in future episodes, potentially bettering her in her role as counsellor because she now understands these experiences on a deeper level; empathy on a personal level with other crew members who've had similar experiences with motherhood or parenting in general (where's Crusher when you need her, or perhaps Keiko when she turns up).

(Haven't watched VOY, but it's funny you mention The Inner Light, because that's one of the scattered future episodes I have seen, and I think Picard having lived a whole other life within his life is similarly done a disservice by the show simply continuing as usual. Mentally, he's a much older man by the time that episode's done, and while he does get that fantastic scene with his flute at the end, everything's naturally reset once the next episode begins. I hear it gets a single-followup later, but having that be *all* the attention devoted to decades lived in a different life cheapens what I feel is a fantastic episode.)

"I'd say Troi gained a wonderful, life altering experience here. I'd think she'd tell you that as well."

My problem is that there's no sign of her life having been altered by this. She can't tell me this because she doesn't express a single thing about her experience after the end credits have rolled. Someone could skip this episode and notice nothing different about Troi; that proves that the show fails to treat it as a life-altering experience.

The issues I've expressed are not with the episode. They're with the ongoing show *after* the episode.
Fenn
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 11:08am (UTC -5)
One more note for Yanks: the fact that I've watched less than half of TNG so far means that my knowledge here isn't complete.

If you can cite at least two moments from episodes after this one in which Troi shows this was a life-altering experience for her -- whether positive, negative or a complicated bittersweet mix of both -- then I'll be proven wrong, and gladly so, because that's all I was hoping for.

From what I've seen so far (up to The Schizoid Man, plus several episodes from Seasons 3-6), there's been nothing.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 11:09am (UTC -5)
@ Fenn,

It sounds more like you're objecting to network television in general in the 80's and 90's rather than anything TNG did. They literally were not allowed to create long-form continuity in the manner you suggest, as it would require new viewers to have seen old episodes in order to understand what's going on. They did get away from some long-term stuff, like Worf's disgrace arc, but aside from something very planned out like that they couldn't just have carry-over from one episodic adventure to the next. That's just not how the show is designed.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 11:34am (UTC -5)
Peter's right; it's just one of the quirks of TNG. Keep in mind the show didn't get picked up by a major network, so doing these syndicated episodic shows were literally what kept the show in business. Sure, it would have been nice if "The Neutral Zone" and "Conspiracy" lined up better with "Q Who", but judged as episodic material it's still very high quality.

This particular episode I believe was a rewritten Phase II script. So, it makes sense that the writing team of the time would care less about charting continuity for this show and spend that effort on its original creations like the Q, Romulan, and Klingon material.
Top Hat
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 11:46am (UTC -5)
In contemporaneous reviews of TNG like those of Timothy W. Lynch, or indeed the first version of The Nitpicker's Guides, it was a common critique even when TNG was on the air that what should be life-changing events for the characters tend to get forgotten immediately afterwards. For what it's worth, this is not just a post hoc issue.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 11:52am (UTC -5)
@ Top Hat,

That's fair, but on the other hand I doubt most reviewers back then knew much about TV executive rules. One thing that *is* post hoc is forgetting that until the mid-90's there was no internet and no access to the thought process of most people in the industry to outsiders. Now you can go read blog posts, AMA's, online reviews and other info, but back then if it wasn't in a press release it didn't exist. What we now know about 80's and 90's TV is most likely way more than the public knew at the time. Although I'm sure there were the odd people who objected to the reset button even back then, I don't know what standard they thought they were holding TNG to since all syndicated shows (and most others besides) worked the same way. DS9 was a bit groundbreaking on that front, and apparently it took some doing to get the ok to do even that.
Top Hat
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 12:29pm (UTC -5)
There were already digital spaces of fan interaction in the late '80s (there were Star Trek newsgroups and BBs in the 80s -- that's where Lynch uploaded his reviews), plus "meatspace" environments like fanclubs (which distributed their own fanzines) and conventions. I know people who had lunch with the likes of Ron Moore at conventions in the early '90s... the writers were arguably more accessible then than now, when there are a thousand cameras on them. A smaller circle of interactivity, to be sure, but i don't think it's valid to construct TNG's viewers as perfect innocents, cloistered off into their own corners of ignorance.

I take the point that most TV was fairly unserialized in the 1980s (short of events like a character leaving or dying or whatever) other than soap operas; as an aside, I'm not sure why we always like the pretend those are complete separate to the rest of TV, especially since shows like Dynasty, Falcon Crest and Dallas essentially ported the daytime soap format over to weekly evening TV. But there were shows like Hill Street Blues and L.A. that were praised precisely because they had ongoing plot arcs and let their characters change and grow over time. As you indicate, it's a slightly different ball game in syndication. I'm just not sure why that means "I don't like the Reset Button" is thus an invalid criticism, or that it's necessarily founded in ignorance (a person can wish for something to be different while understanding why it is not, no?). After all, the reason why we see more serialization later on is in part because audiences demonstrated a taste for it.
Peter G.
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 12:38pm (UTC -5)
@ Top Hat,

Good points about BBS's and such. In general I think fan interactions with celebrities are infinitely higher now than in the past, but it may also be true that certain niches of Hollywood workers like writers may have had less celebrity and thus more approachability in the past.

As for my nixing the criticism, I'm totally ok with not liking the rest button. I, myself, have a problem with it actually. All I'm saying is that it's not fair to call out TNG for it as if they had an artistic choice and made a decision to nix any character development episode to episode. It really wasn't their call, and if reviewers in the 80's/90's complained about it then I must surmise they were aware of this, or else they'd be complaining about the networks instead of the show. Admittedly that's a guess on my part. VOY, however, it's much more fair to call out for that since they had every opportunity to carry forward character changes but for the most part kept not only the format but the reset button TNG-style.
Chrome
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 1:01pm (UTC -5)
I've mentioned this in other sections, but one issue with post-hoc criticism of the reset button for TNG is that it's coming from people who are streaming these in complete order or in any order they'd like -- on demand. Similarly, professional reviewers watched every single episode in order because...it was their job!

The reality of the viewing situation for the common viewer of TNG was that local networks aired episodes out of order and on weird dates. I watched TNG during its original broadcast starting around season 4, but my local networks would dance around with episode order and clump earlier season episodes with the new ones. Honestly, it was somewhat confusing what season we were on. That's the deal with syndication, it's not consistent like your Netflix stream or even your UPN-guaranteed weekly time slot.

To that end, throwing out a bunch of callbacks and continuity nods just doesn't pay off in syndication. If during "Face of the Enemy" Troi said something like "I haven't been this violated since I gave birth to an alien baby!", a large number of the audience would be scratching their heads. This is the perspective you need to keep in mind.

FWIW, TNG's writers snuck in some interesting story arcs despite the studio restrictions. Peter mentioned the Worf material but the Tasha story thread worked really well too, among others.
Springy
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 1:41pm (UTC -5)
I actually think that there are episodes that do refer back to this one, and the fact that this traumatic experience has stayed with Troi.

I could only remember one instance, so I looked up the wording, in The Offspring:

TROI: Why should biology rather than technology determine whether it is a child? Data has created an offspring. A new life out of his own being. To me, that suggests a child. If he wishes to call Lal his child, then who are we to argue? 
PICARD: Well, if he must, but I fail to understand how a five foot android with heuristic learning systems and the strength of a ten men can be called a child. 
TROI: You've never been a parent.

That last line - that's a deliberate reference, I think.

I have a vague feeling I've noted others as we went along.

Not that it didn't deserve a bit more attention and emphasis for get character development, but my feeling is that it wasn't zero.

If any more examples come to me, I'll post it. I'm thinking possibly with Lwaxana . . .
Booming
Wed, Nov 20, 2019, 1:45pm (UTC -5)
I think it has become clear that what TNG needed were 15 minutes of flashbacks in every episode.

Wouldn't that have been fantastic?!

No. #deathtoflashbacks
Top Hat
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 12:15pm (UTC -5)
As early as season one, extended arcs were underway (the conspiracy plotline, laying the foundation for the Borg). So it's not like this was absent entirely, and once the studio was convinced that two-parters were viable, there were more of them. Mostly long-running plots taper off rather than conclude (like with the Romulans, for instance), seemingly dying of neglect or lack of ideas. TNG is significantly more arc-driven than TOS, which borders on being an anthology-style show built around consistent characters and has precious few call backs to earlier episodes.

However, the TNG characters do feel a little static, and there's a built-in implausibility that none of these characters would move on to other career opportunities. It's easy to understand why marker forces determined this and still find a bit of a weakness in the show.
Chrome
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
"However, the TNG characters do feel a little static, and there's a built-in implausibility that none of these characters would move on to other career opportunities. It's easy to understand why marker [sic] forces determined this and still find a bit of a weakness in the show."

Right, but that's like post-hoc criticizing the Seinfeld characters for spending nine years talking about nothing and never moving on with their lives. While the show was airing and a longtime after, this was an award-winning formula for a television series. I think the issue with the criticism we're discussing is that it fails to see the forest from the trees.
Top Hat
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
I've already established that this not simply a post hoc critique; it's a critique that contemporary viewers shared.

I don't want to belabour the point but Seinfeld is an odd example, since it had long-running arcs (the "Jerry" pilot and the Susan-George relationship, notably), supporting characters and callbacks galore, plus it shook up the format on occasion by giving George and Elaine new jobs, introducing new supporting players like David Puddy, etc. It's true that the characters don't change a ton (although they do grow more cartoonish over time, along with the tone of the show), but the show cleverly underwrites that because these characters are examples of arrested development, basically incapable of change. And it was a top-rated show throughout its whole run.

In short, I think that television while TNG was on the air was a far more varied and dynamic environment than this characterization. The characters are as static as they are on TNG because that's the way the producers liked it (and a certain amount of baggage from TOS), not because viewers wouldn't have stood for it or because this wasn't being done on other shows.
Chrome
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 2:10pm (UTC -5)
I think you missed the point I was making with Seinfeld and I'm sorry for that. My argument is that syndication prohibited excessively long story threads in TNG, but in fact the more episodic nature contributed to TNG's success because of its fragmented airing schedule. So, like with my Seinfeld example, a criticism against TNG lacking continuity is actually a criticism about what helped make it a hit series.

'The characters are as static as they are on TNG because that's the way the producers liked it (and a certain amount of baggage from TOS)"

This is wrong. It's documented in many TNG behind-the-scenes books (ex: The Unauthorized Behind-The-Scenes Story of The Next Generation) that the producers and writers would've loved to do more continuity and eventually got their chance in DS9. Thus, it wasn't until TNG earned its success with syndication that the showrunners could do what they really wanted.
Peter G.
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 2:13pm (UTC -5)
@ Top Hat,

I've got to agree with Chrome on this one. TNG didn't just air the way it did because of laziness or something, it's because people wanted to see their beloved characters having new adventures. It's like Sherlock Holmes or any other serial - you don't want to tune in to see how Sherlock has changed since the whole point of those stories is that he won't change. TNG isn't identical to that but still we want to see those characters as-is: that's the formula for episodic adventure shows. You can dislike that formula, but it's no accident or mere convenience.

That said, if we're comparing TNG character arcs to those on Seinfeld (heck if I know why we are) there are plenty of character shifts over the series. In early TNG Picard's character is light-years away from the end. I mean, they practically ret-conned who he was by S3. By the finale he's come all the way around from being the outsider who doesn't interact with others. Data starts off like this naive pinocchio character and by the end others are looking to him for wisdom. Riker had an actually overt arc about why his ambition is in conflict with him staying on the Enterprise, and this develops all the way until first BoBW and then finally Second Chances, where we see that he's changed quite a lot from a Captain Kirk type into a bit more of a family man in his own way, making less brash and more mature decisions. Worf also changed and got fleshed out a lot over the seasons, going from snarly Klingon to withdrawn loner to reluctant sweetie to having a sense of humor and being much more open to human ideas. Hey, even Wesley matures - he realizes he should leave the show!

But seriously, these are really significant changes. What they *do not* do, however, is to introduce a plot twist into one episoide (like, Deanna is heartbroken over a failed romance like in The Price) and then have her still 'getting over it' in the next episode. They never do stuff like that, for multiple reaons which include too many continuity concerns, having different writers for each not writing in the same room, and losing the sense of serialization. So there are arc that subtly go along, but not episode-to-episode developments where the next one is referencing the one before. But that *does not* mean the characters are static.
Top Hat
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
"What they *do not* do, however, is to introduce a plot twist into one episode (like, Deanna is heartbroken over a failed romance like in The Price) and then have her still 'getting over it' in the next episode. "

Of course, they actually do do that in "Family," one of the reasons why it's one of the series' most anomalous episodes. It's possible to think of TNG as a sort of halfway house between the almost complete self-contained format of TOS and the mixed standalone-plot arc formats of both DS9 and Voyager.

Perhaps there's a need to distinguish between character arcs and shifts in characterization. The latter are reasonably inevitable, at least insofar as the actors find their footing as the character and the writers notice, and TNG certainly does have them, and I have not claimed otherwise. In my experience the critiques that the characters don't change enough on TNG are focused around events like "The Inner Light" or "Chain of Command" where the series largely proceeds as if life-changing traumas haven't just happened, with maybe a bit of explicit follow-up in time (like in "Lessons"). I would agree that Riker has one of the most sustained and clearly designed character arcs, but also it feels truncated after "The Best of Both Worlds," only occasionally surfacing again. It might've been interesting to see him becoming more comfortable with being a career executive officer, but of course they wanted to preserve the option to promote him eventually.

My master point here, to go back to "The Child," is that I do dislike it when someone's complaint of "these events palpably change this character and they don't" are answered with a chorus of "BUT SYNDICATION!" or whatever. Not that anyone has been quite that dismissive here, I'm exaggerating.
Peter G.
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
But realistically what other answer can there be other than "but syndication!" It's the answer. The show isn't and never could be a soap opera like nu-BSG was.
Chrome
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
Top Hat wrote:

"My master point here, to go back to "The Child," is that I do dislike it when someone's complaint of "these events palpably change this character and they don't" are answered with a chorus of 'BUT SYNDICATION!'"

I don't think anyone's making the case that a life-altering event shouldn't impact a character, logically. Surely, we can all agree it should and would, even if it happens offstage. I think the discussion is more along the lines of "would that have made the show better while it aired?" and with syndication the answer is a murky one. Just speaking from personal experience, I don't think I caught many of TNG's ongoing story threads that it did have until years later on rewatch. But I know some folks here (William B has some really great insights about Riker and Data's story arcs that I miss) are really good at arranging together the material of TNG despite the show's admittedly fragmented nature.
Top Hat
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 3:36pm (UTC -5)
"But realistically what other answer can there be other than "but syndication!" It's the answer."

A critique does not necessarily call for an "answer." It can just stand as a critique. The fact that there is a real-world explanation for it does not make invalid in itself.
Top Hat
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 4:09pm (UTC -5)
To add to the above, I'm all for providing historical/industrial context, but it shouldn't be done in the spirit of invalidating someone's perspective.

And to perhaps wrap it back to "The Child," it's perhaps worth noting that there female characters got the smallest share of what character arcs there were on TNG.
Peter G.
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
@ Top Hat,

"And to perhaps wrap it back to "The Child," it's perhaps worth noting that there female characters got the smallest share of what character arcs there were on TNG."

Agreed, and it's too bad. However I would personally lay this at the feet of Berman and Roddenberry, as the error IMO lay in the character bibles and then in the casting. McFadden is IMO easily the worst actor on the show, and Sirtis isn't that far behind. I actually like Sirtis on screen sometimes, as her offscreen role as the 'cast mom' really shows in her interactions onscreen, where you can really see the others like her. So there's that, at least. But the whole 'empath advisor thing' was a complete bust from the word go, and was embarrassing in S1 while they still tried to push that angle. And they replaced it with nothing. For Crusher it was "I'm a doctor!" and not much else other than her past with Jean-Luc, which rarely appeared in scripts.

So between the lame characters they had to deal with and the typically lame performances early on, it no doubt became a chicken and egg problem at a certain point. Why would a writer write a script for the uninteresting character, with the actor who can't handle carrying a scene anyhow? Ah, we might argue that such scripts are exactly what's needed to get them out of that hole in the first place. Sure, except that if the result is less than satisfactory then that creates further disincentive to do so again. I wish they had found way to salvage Crusher and Troi so that they could be on the level of Data, Worf, and maybe Riker, but they just couldn't for whatever reason.

But yeah it really is too bad.
Top Hat
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
Not to always hit the "DS9 was better" button, but when they realized that the conception of "What if Yoda were a supermodel?" wasn't working with Terry Farrell's range, they felt around with Dax until they found stuff that did suit her: "Action Barbie" crossed with sardonic party girl. One senses that if it had been TNG, they would have just largely stuck her on the shelf.
Jason R.
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
It is such a crying shame they swapped out Pulawski after Season 2. Even in Season 2 with the weaker scripts she was vastly better than Crusher or Troi. She actually had real gravitas and presence. I loved her scenes with Data and Worf. Who knows what they would have done with her in Season 3 but I think it would have improved the show alot and actually yielded a female character to rival Riker or Worf in popularity. Sighhhhh instead we got Dr. Crusher for 4 more seasons ...
William B
Fri, Nov 22, 2019, 6:43pm (UTC -5)
I think additionally it's worth noting that even if it wasn't always the writers' preference, there are big advantages to the model wherein not every significant event in a character's life has to be followed up on. I love texts that are careful to follow through on major events and it would have been great to see more of that on TNG, but it can also be freeing to be able to have stories which would be difficult to follow up on "realistically." SPOILERS but The Inner Light is followed up on to a degree, yes, but not commensurate with the way Picard's life could have been changed, maybe...BUT the thing is, if they had to significantly change the character and do years of follow up to a significant one-off, the consequence would be that they would simply not do some of these significant one offs. I'm not really a fan of this episode and I'm not sure the benefit within the ep outweighs the cost of minimal follow up (or perhaps none, but I think Springy is right that there are probably some indirect or implicit references), but I think there are cases where the show gets big mileage out of doing one off, anthology-esque stories that also rely on our knowledge of the crew's character, and that affect the characters' long term trajectory only discreetly (if at all).
wolfstar
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 8:01am (UTC -5)
There are also big advantages to not following up on, or having call-banks to, terrible episodes that are best forgotten. It's best not to remind people of them. So I wouldn't have considered it smart from a writer's perspective to have Troi reference the events of this episode in, say, Dark Page, The Loss or Face Of The Enemy - especially as The Child was written for another series and character and poorly adapted to TNG. The show still hadn't decided what it was at this point. For the most part, having a call-back to a bad episode during a good episode only harms it.
Top Hat
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 11:20am (UTC -5)
Side question: was this actually thought of as "terrible episode" until recently? I realize critical consensus is now firmly against it, and not wrongly, because of the question of consent. But thinking back to '90s, I can't recall it being mentioned often as a "worst of TNG" episode... not that it was especially loved, just that it was thought of as a fairly unremarkable mid-tier episode. I suppose something like "The Royale" has the opposite trajectory: time has seemed to at least partially redeem it due to its flat-out strangeness.
William B
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 12:18pm (UTC -5)
@Top Hat, I don't think it was ever super popular, but no I don't recall it being mentioned as a Worst Episode. I think it partly benefits from starting season 2. The first episode featuring Guinan and Ten-Forward (and Pulaski, for those of us fond of her) and Geordi in Engineering can't be all bad.
Top Hat
Sat, Nov 23, 2019, 4:43pm (UTC -5)
Plus New Look Riker. It also has mostly shaken off the stiffness of the previous season and feels smooth and competent, even in its mediocrity. The cinematography is much improved, less flat.
P'kard
Tue, Jan 21, 2020, 11:18pm (UTC -5)
Pulaskis "folksy" racism and bigotry was cringe inducing. I know she was meant to "challenge" the rest of the crew but you can do that without utilizing such a totally loathsome character.
Gerontius
Wed, Apr 15, 2020, 7:34am (UTC -5)
A long time since I saw this episode. I can't remember noticing Pulaski as being particularly abrasive. Her attitude to Dara seemed reasonable enough - the thing is, he was a totally unfamiliar type of individual, the only android anything like him in existence. Very reasonably her first reaction would have been to see him as a machine - and you wouldn't generally think of a machine, however advanced as having a sexual gender, except in the way people do sometimes tend in a rather jocular way to call their car in those terms. (Vehicles traditionally do seem to be spoken of as female - and there have been issues in the last few years about this being seen as being sexist, and even banned in some contexts...)

As for the way Dara's name should be pronounced, that's a word where people do actually differ as to how they say it. I've got a surname where people often mispronounce it; when I spell it out they often correct the way I pronounce it - "Oh, you mean ..." It never worries me, and I don't take it a indicating prejudice.

All in all I felt this episode worked well, the cast felt more at ease with each other.
I agree that it would have made sense to have more indications of the repercussions of Troi's experience here in subsequent episodes - but as with Picard later and the Inner Light I think it's fair enough to accept that even where people have undergone life-changing events, they well may not talk about them in those terms subsequently very often. That doesn't mean that they may not have continuing effects on them, and on the way their characters might change - changes which in fact were to be observed, especially in how Picard developed in later episodes (and also in the recent series "Picard".)
Buckbart
Thu, May 28, 2020, 12:08pm (UTC -5)
“Counselor Troi got pregnant by something unknown, had a baby in days, and it’s growing in years instead of days.”

Okay, no special measures needed. Carry on.

C’mon ...

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