Star Trek: The Next Generation

“The Bonding”

2 stars.

Air date: 10/23/1989
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review Text

During a routine archeological mission commanded by Worf, Lt. Aster (Susan Powell) is killed by a land mine from a long-forgotten war. She leaves behind a 12-year-old son on the Enterprise, Jeremy (Gabriel Damon), whose father is also dead. The command staff must break the news to Jeremy and deal with the aftermath.

"The Bonding" is the episode that Ronald D. Moore famously sold as a spec script, which ultimately led to him being hired as a writer on TNG. It's got some of the hallmarks of Moore in it (real-world military issues, Klingon customs), but it's also got a number of Trek clichés (fantasy versus reality, aliens with remarkable powers). As these things go, the episode is on the upper end of mediocrity.

The show is best when it confronts head-on the fact that a starship can be a dangerous place where people die. It also confronts the issue of children being on board the ship. At one point, Picard says flat-out that he has always had his doubts about it. The best scenes involve Worf, who must deal with the fact that someone has died under his command. His scene at the end with Jeremy, where they undergo the Klingon bonding ritual, has a mildly intriguing resonance. Other reasonable scenes feature the inclusion of Wesley in Jeremy's grieving process; Wesley approaches the situation from personal experience.

But the show is worst when it's (too frequently) documenting the mysterious alien presence, which appears to Jeremy as his mother and supplies him with a fantasy that re-creates a pleasant memory. You can feel the air going out of the story when Jeremy's dead mother suddenly returns, as if she were a ghost. (Aliens as dead people = silly and boring. Susan Powell's performance = wooden and ineffective.) Fortunately, this premise is somewhat redeemed by its dialog. When it comes to exploring the human condition via long-winded philosophy, no one does it better than Picard, who has a decent speech about facing the realities that life deals us. But it's not enough to elevate a frequently lackluster hour.

Previous episode: Who Watches the Watchers
Next episode: Booby Trap

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55 comments on this post

    This episode isn't particularly bad, nor is it particularly good, so 2/4 rating seems right to me too. One point brought up by the episode though - why are children left alone in their quarters? Shouldn't they always be with an adult? And certainly a child that essentially just lost his entire family? Jeremy had no family left on the Enterprise. I have to second Picard's doubts about the wisdom of having children aboard a starship that may have to be sent to dangerous situations, like the Neutral Zone border.

    One idea that would make this more palatable would a medium sized craft that attached/detached from the Enterprise hull. Whenever Picard knew the Enterprise would be in a possibly dangerous situation, he can put the children in the "Child Care" craft, which would be self-sufficient, and after the dangerous mission has passed, pick the children. Then the Starfleet crew could still have their families close without their children having to share the same risks.

    Corey, you just explained the premise behind "saucer separation." They had intended that to be a regular part of the show, but the FX were some cumbersome (photographically and narratively) that it was only repeated once after the pliot. (Not counting BoBW2 and Generations, when saucer sep was done for different reasons.) It was always easier to pretend families weren't aboard when the plot didn't require them.

    Hypothetically, in which stories should the saucer have been left safely behind?

    @Grumpy: You're absolutely right. Separation is only even mentioned a handful of other times in the series, even though it would have been useful in a lot of episodes ("The Pegasus" comes to mind).

    I'd add that there was a sort of branding issue, as well. If viewers tuned in randomly and saw the star drive of the Enterprise, that would throw them for a loop. Also, the star drive by itself kind of looked dumb.

    Last point: The fact that the saucer section didn't have warp engines was a major problem. It couldn't really escape quickly, so Picard and Riker would have had to know well in advance that they were encountering something dangerous.

    @Grumpy: There's quite a few episodes where leaving the kids behind so to speak would have been reasonable: "Angel One" (Enterprise was due to go to an outpost, possibly coming under Romulan attack, not where you want your kids), "The Defector", "The Enemy", BOBW, "Where Silence has Lease" (remember Picard did self-destruct that episode!), I'm sure there are others. And you are right, my description fits the saucer section perfectly. Paul you are right too, the ship minus saucer section is not aesthetically pleasing at all.

    Even though the Saucer section didn't have warp drive, presumably it had communications and could call for help if necessary from Starfleet. Ironically, a cloaking device would have been the perfect solution - Federation really shot itself in the foot with its Treaty of Algernon I think it's called that bans cloaking devices for Federation only.

    Slight BSG spoilers: I told my girlfriend, who has seen BSG, that Ron Moore's first episode featured militarism and an angel. She thought I was joking. ;)

    Admittedly, part of the reason it took so long for me to continue my TNG rewatch after the strong "Who Watches the Watchers?" is, er, this episode. The Ghost Of Marla Aster doesn't appear until (on the DVD) time 21:40 out of 45:32; up until that point while not thrilling or exceptional the episode was certainly solid. And then, um, well....

    Using a sci-fi concept to explore an idea is pretty much what a Trek episode should do, and the idea of examining a child's reaction to a parent's unexpected death by having an alien indulge the child's understandable desire to not have said parent really be dead to them is a fairly good one. The idea that the alien is trying to help rather than harm the child helps, too, particularly since it helps get at the idea that a child’s desires run counter to what is actually good for the child. As Picard says, living with the alien Marla Aster would essentially be living in a memory rather than continuing his life, which would certainly be a temptation for the Jeremy (and Troi points out that moving on with his life and forming other quasi-familial attachments too quickly, such as that proposed by Worf, would make him feel guilty) but is no substitute for his life, which will continue.

    The problem is really the execution. The premise could have worked, but because the emotional core of this story lies pretty much entirely with Jeremy Aster and his relationship with his mother, the characterization in both writing and acting for both Jeremy and for alien/ghost Marla really needs to work well to sell a) the depth of Jeremy’s pain, b) the depth of the bond between a mother and son as each other’s only family, c) the impossibility of the illusion of Marla Aster being able to make up for the real thing, d) the temptation for Jeremy to take what he can get nonetheless. Frankly, none of these are particularly sold. Jammer notes how weak the acting is for alien/ghost Marla is; the acting on the boy is unconvincing too. I am sympathetic to the problem of finding good child actors and playing the devastation of losing a parent is a particularly difficult task. Still, the way Jeremy is portrayed—both in writing and in acting—is essentially as a blank, passive, frozen child, who half-heartedly goes along with the woman claiming to be his mother and half-heartedly accepts it when she turns out not to be that woman, until finally he yells at Worf exactly on cue when the story needs him to express “anger.” For a child to be emotionally numb after a parent’s death, especially when they’ve experienced a parent’s death before, is realistic, but on some level if Jeremy is to be the core of the story it has to be possible for us in the audience to know at least some of what he is thinking and feeling or to sense that he at least cares what is happening to him; his reaction to his mother being back/going down to the planet/oh his mother’s not real/now his mother is clearly outlining in dull exposition why she, as an alien, is interested in making his life better are basically all the same.

    The episode works best when it’s about the main cast (more on that in a bit), but incorporating the main cast actually hobbles the Asters story even more when it gets to the climax. There, in which Picard carts Wesley on screen to tell Picard that he used to be angry at Picard for having led the mission, so that Jeremy can get his catharsis by yelling at Worf so that Worf can now ask Jeremy to join in the bonding, so that alien-Marla can leave. It's an attempt to pull together all the threads of the episode -- the perspectives of Worf, Wesley, Picard, Troi, Jeremy, and alien-Marla -- into one scene. But the effect just falls flat because these perspectives don't flow seamlessly into one another. The scene seems to suggest that the only reason Jeremy is willing to accept an alien posing as his mother is that he hasn’t been able to express his anger at Worf, and that once he has expressed his anger at Worf (in one line) all that is required is for Worf to accept him into his family for that anger to dissipate and move into a healthy place. This display is also all that’s required for the alien Marla to recognize that she is not wanted or needed and to walk away. In case it’s not obvious, though, while no doubt Jeremy does have anger at Worf (and probably undifferentiated anger in all directions), surely the idea of his mother being alive again would be attractive not just because he is suffering from bottling that anger at specific people but because his single mother is dead and that is terrible.

    The climactic scene has Wesley talking almost exclusively to Picard rather than Jeremy, which is a good choice for the series overall—the moment adds depth to Wesley’s admiration for and anxiety around Picard, and Picard represents both what his father stood for and what lost him his father—but feels out of place within the scene about Jeremy. Worf’s jumping from Jeremy’s declaration of anger to his offer of the bonding ritual also makes Worf look self-centered rather than like he is actually listening. To be clear, I don’t think this is Worf or Wesley’s “fault” (whatever that means), but the contrivance of attempting to resolve all these plot threads at once makes none of them work as well as they might have otherwise.

    So onto the good so I can end this on a positive note. This is an episode with a real sense of history, using Lt. Aster’s death as a springboard from which to examine the way the crew feels about death, especially the senselessness of death and the death of a parent, making use of and bringing into tighter focus the experiences of the main cast. The Riker-Data conversation about how much one’s closeness to the deceased affects one’s feelings about it, eventually talking about Tasha, the Wes-Beverly scene about their memories of Jack Crusher, and Picard and Troi’s conversation about their respective roles in the grieving process (and the benefits that can have). Best of all is the Worf material, where the feelings all swirl together: Klingon/human culture issues, dealing with the responsibilities of command for the first time (and that will continue to be relevant to his story into his DS9 days), his unresolved/semi-resolved feelings about his parents’ death and his salvation by Starfleet and his human family, his difficulty reconciling the pointlessness of Lt. Aster’s death with his warrior code. The Worf/Troi scene is splendidly directed, with the grating keeping their faces separate until Troi convinces Worf to talk to her, and it’s an early scene which suggests the depth of their connection to come (regardless of whether or not the season seven romance is an appropriate exploration of that).

    2 stars sounds right.

    All I want to add to the families aboard the Enterprise dilemma is that it makes for a more lively ship, and it's a good excuse as to why there always seem to be new Starfleet people you've never seen before or sudden patients for Troi, etc.

    Now, I share the general feeling of William B on this one. I think the plot was fairly ok until that point when the ghost appeared. That was just dumb.

    Worf was pretty convincing as a guy experiencing some sort of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, but the boy lacked expressions. I can understand feeling a bit numb, but instead of that it felt like the guy simply wasn't expressing himself enough. That's not good acting.

    So, I want to discuss what I think it's the main issue with this: The guest actors don't have enough time to develop their characters. Just one episode doesn't cut it. It's not totally their fault. They only have some 20 to 30 minutes to "shine" and we'll never see those faces again. I doubt the directors and writers give them much attention and orientation.

    Just think how much time the main cast needed to feel right in their roles. They spent a good part of two entire seasons experimenting and adjusting their personalities the entire time.

    There are a lot of bad actors here and there; after all, John De Lancie's Q is wonderful from the start; but even the worst of them all could get better if TNG didn't have such a "use it once and destroy" mentality.

    The standalone nature of most TNG episodes works fine if you want different stories and a sense of wonder each episode at a time, but it has some unwanted effects like this serious problem with guest actors.

    Anyway, that's my take on this. What do you guys think?

    Alas, it's unfortunate that there was never an episode showing Jeremy and that weird alien from Future Imperfect as college roommates, bitter that their respective adoptive families abandoned them...

    It's odd. I see the same problems that other people had, but I didn't really feel them as much. Take, for example, the bad acting by the kid. Yes, bad acting. But did it detract that much? Did we need it to understand the depth of his pain? We can relate to what Jeremy is feeling, we can understand it already. The family structure is well known, it's universal, it's relatable immediately. Yes, it would have been preferable if that actor was better, but Jeremy's pain wasn't really the point of the episode. How everyone deals with death is the theme. So we can deal somewhat with one poor actor.

    And the actor for his mom? Well, she's a weird alien being acting as his mom. If it's poorly done, at least it's an excuse.

    The pivotal scene, of course, is when everyone gets together and finally convinces ghost mom to leave. Frankly, the scene is a mess. Picard and Wesley have a long talk while ignoring Jeremy, Jeremy's outburst at Worf was blatantly on cue, Worf's response was hardly diplomatic and came out of the blue, but somehow he convinced Jeremy. And then the scene just ended.

    Despite being a mess, it was still powerful. I guess because the ghost subplot was weak, we didn't really care about that resolution. And the resolution was a foregone conclusion anyway. So we got some great scenes with Wesley and Picard, we had a great speech by Picard, and we had Worf showing a heart behind his gruff demeanor. So why do we care about the weak plot when it had such good moments?

    As a random aside, since the ghost took off without a word, we don't know what actually convinced her. Yes, it seemed odd that Jeremy's outburst would have convinced her, but it could have been a combination of everything.

    Another aspect of the show I liked was that the pacing was so good for the silly energy being trying to take over the ship plot aspect. Everyone was acting like professioinals doing their job. More importantly, everyone was acting like professionals who were used to being in positions of authority. So often, everyone just sits around being dumb while one character (Picard, usually) takes over. So I like it when it actually appears realistic (BoBW was another one that did it well). It's a small touch, but I liked it.

    So by no means is this a great episode. But perhaps it is at least a slightly good one.

    The best scene was when Patches appeared and stared right into the camera for a moment. What a cutie! :)

    I really want to like this episode, but it's just so bland, bland, bland.

    Jeremy's only surviving parent is killed and his reaction is "how, sir?" = WTF! This kid hardly shows any emotion throughout the episode. Even in his "climatic" confrontation with Worf, he barely registers as upset. How much of this is due the unrealistic, and (let's face it) stupid, ideas Roddenberry often forced on the show and how much is due to the young actor, I don't know. But it just sucks the life and drama out of everything.

    I'm inclined to think the fault lies with Roddenberry because even Wesley, Beverly and Picard are off emotionally. They all act as if they're not really affected by any of this, even though their dialogue suggests otherwise. The only one who shows any genuine feeling is Worf, and that's what saves this episode. Every Worf scene steals the show (from his insistence in Sickbay to join Picard and Troi in telling Jeremy what happened to his moody/hurt/angry dialogue with Troi concerning the Bonding).

    I think it is funny, however, that we never see Jeremy again. He probably took one look at his new family tree and thought "damn, I should have went with Ghost Mom."


    @Luke - It's totally fair for you to not buy the acting from the child in the final confrontation scene... but prior to that I think he was supposed to be in shock. At least that was my read on the episode.

    I agree with most of these reviews, but I felt the kid was a bit short-changed. He had the potential to be a good actor. It seemed to me that it was his direction that was off. He basically had to sit there while the adults talked about him over his head. I had the impression of a kid who was trying to be stoic, perhaps attempting to emulate the good captain. He's already experienced the loss of one parent, and maybe at that time was told to be a good little soldier, be strong for your mother, blah blah blah. I know this is supposed to be an enlightened future, but there are still slightly sexist elements to the episodes here and there, so it's a possibility.

    I felt there was a subtlety to his acting that was hampered by the lackluster script. An example of that subtlety is in one of the scenes where he is hugging his "mother," and you can see in his face that he knows it's not really her, but, well, he's twelve, and his mother had just cone back to life. Who wouldn't fight hard for that fantasy to be reality, even against one's own better judgement?

    It certainly had the potential to be a lot more, not to mention the potential of the character to show up again here and there throughout TNG's--or even DS9's--run. I'm hoping someone has appropriated this character and had fun with him, either in a fanfic or a novel. I'm on the hunt now. Because how many human children are Bonded to a Klingon? That's a great backstory, such a missed opportunity by the Star Trek writers. Hopefully someone else out there has picked up the ball.

    i dont think this is a particularly interesting story for me personally bit objectively I can see what it's trying to do. "Redshirts" died on TOS Star Trek all the time and always we just moved on as of it affects no one. Well, in real life that doesn't happen. Give TNG some credit for dealing with the death of a crewman in the way real humans would have to.
    For Beverly and Wes it's about having to relive their own loss. For Picard we revisit the unwanted responsibily of having children on a ship of the line in the first. Worf just wants to do the Klingon thing and bond, dammit, NOW. Data makes us examine the perfunctory rituals of greiving. And Troi is just the voice of reason because she knows what's appropriate for everybody. And of course Geordi has nothing to do as usual.

    Now Jeremy -- or really the boy who has the play him -- is in the most interesting spot because he's the one who really has to take it most personally. And don't be too hard on him. I've personally been through what he's been through and I was also stoic and brave not because you are but because THAT'S WHAT EVERYONE WANTS YOU TO BE! That is especially true for boys.

    Ghost Mom was awful but she was suppose to be. Come on. It's an alien who doesn't really know anything about being anyone's "mom" and that was the point, right?

    For me personally, this episode is fantastic as long as I don't have to watch it. That said... it is a genuine ensemble show with a great idea for its main metaphor/device to examine death, so maybe it's better than I gave it credit for -- getting past the execution to the idea behind it, the Astors stuff probably wouldn't bring the episode down so much.

    This starts off as an interesting riff on the nature of grief, and examines it from a number of different character perspectives. As an audience it's difficult to be too invested, given this is a previously unseen character that has died, but at least the themes are universal enough to identify with.

    Once the 'ghost' enters, it becomes a rather more obvious and laboured examination of the topic, leading to an extended therapy session in which Troi helps Jeremy and Wesley come to terms with their loss and the alien recognises that all will be well.

    As a character piece it works nicely enough, but it never really transcends its topic and becomes anything more than OK. 2 stars.

    I don't know what it is about Deanna Troi, but God, do I hate her. "I sense anger" really...what a useless statement. This could have been a good show for to shine in, but instead its Worf and Data that steal the show. I'm curious - does Troi ever get a good story?

    nothingoriginal55, you never heard of the Good Troi Episode?

    It's "Face of the Enemy" in season 6.

    Okay, since a lot of people are wondering what the hell was with kid's reaction: Originally, Moore pitched the story as a kid overcome with grief bonding with a hologram of his mom. However, Roddenberry rejected it, saying people do not grieve, they simply accept death in the future. So Piller had to rewrite the story, essentially making it about how stupid that idea is. Really surprised nobody here heard about that.

    Personally, enjoyed it. Certainly not the most entertaining or thought-provoking hour of TV but not exactly bad either. I particularly like Worf's sub-plot.

    I have a hard time eating this one because it was solidly good in some respects and pretty weak in others. I thought the high points were pretty high. The redshirt is dead, but for once we learn her name and see the grieving kid she leaves behind - and that's a story worth telling.

    Worf's guilt and his Kilingoniness - "There's no enemy I can take vengeance on!" - are really well done. I liked that his respect for Astor and sense of duty toward everyone under his command presages his behavior in "Lower Decks" - a nice piece of character consistency and an endearing trait.

    Wesley's speech to Picard was affecting and I was surprised and impressed by his acting skills in that scene. He (both character and actor) has certainly come a long way since season one.

    The most awkward scene to me was the framing around Wesley's speech to Picard. He enters the room somewhat reticently - and is then prodded by Troi and Picard both, until he exposes his intimate feelings and pain in front of about five of his colleagues. Clearly he has agreed to talk about his dad to the kid, but did he agree to make a public spectacle of himself? The scene would have worked better with just Picard, Wes, and Jeremy, but of course they needed the whole gang there to have the neat wrap-up.

    Other problems:

    Jeremy let fake-mom and the fantasy world go far too easily. He should have been doubly devastated to lose her twice, and doubly enraged at the heartless bastards of the Enterprise. I mean, first they got his mom killed and then they drove her away when she came back for him, with his cat and his home and the fulfillment of all his wishes? That's just cruel. Having your mom back is way better than lighting candles in some Klingon ritual. It just is. Sorry, Worf.

    Also Jeremy and Worf are now "brothers"... But Worf never mentions the child again, does he? So the Bonding doesn't seem to mean much. This casts Worf in a bad light, in retrospect. (I suppose Jeremyleft the ship soon after, but that doesn't completely excuse the hollowness of the ritual: Worf now has a kid "brother" on earth whom he is never going to see or have anything to do with.)

    Err... "Rating" this one. Not eating it. Although yes, that too.

    From the first poster: "One point brought up by the episode though - why are children left alone in their quarters? Shouldn't they always be with an adult?"

    Do parents always leave children with an adult now? Especially 12 year olds? This always puzzled me about modern America, where we seem to want to wrap our children in blankets and sit guard on them for 18 years, rather than teach them how to live in the world, be free to make their own mistakes, and learn how to cope with mistakes (in addition to respecting them as increasingly capable individuals). And then Americans wonder why an entire generation of youth is weak-minded, weak-willed, and unable to cope with adversity.

    And America is supposed to be such an individualistic country, whereas other communal cultures are just fine letting their kids take the bus/train to school by themselves as early as 5 or 6 years old!

    So we see Worf go through this ceremony to look after the child... yet we never see or hear from him again. Why did they need to introduce alexander when worf already basically had a child he had to take care of?

    I was liking this episode until the alien energy creates an image of the boy's mom and then the episode goes sideways.
    Didn't know where the show was going other than showing different angles of grieving for the loss - good to see how Picard handled his different duties.
    I was not a fan of Troi (again) in this episode. Didn't like her line at the end when she tells Jeremy he should be angry at Worf like Wes was angry at Picard.
    Hard to blame the kid's acting - maybe the initial reaction is shock but I think we should expect to see him bawling his eyes out at some point.
    Anyhow, a lot of this episode is very bland, sterile when we could see a more emotional response from the crew - kind of like Tasha's death except nobody really knew the archeologist who died.
    The alien presence with its powers to make the kid happy is a bit ridiculous but it's a plot device for Picard to give his decent speech about the human need to deal with death. Was expecting it to take on a sinister persona for some reason...
    Overall a mediocre episode with some decent themes just not executed as well, not very engaging - especially the 2nd half - Rating: 2 stars.

    Ron Moore got much better ,so say we all.
    This was ruined by the Trek cliches of powerful energy force being thingies invading the ship, the usual 'it is getting into the computers Captain' and illusions.
    It was a riff on Charley X from TOS,surely?
    I agree that the Worf scenes are best but ,for once, I did not mind Troi's involvement.

    What's striking about mid-period TNG, when compared to other Treks, is how deadly serious it was and how stark its long periods of silence were. TNG at this time oft cultivated a sense of quiet gravity - people spend much of this episode literally mentally dwelling on things - that you don't really see elsewhere in Trek.

    Ah, this is a TOUGH crowd. I liked this better than the rest of you.

    Though I wish they had been brave enough to do this story without the energy aliens. I guess they felt like the audience wasn't ready for an episode where all the action happens in the opening.

    Plus, we get to hear Worf say, "Jeremy Aster." And I don't get tired of that for some reason.

    Too bad they didn't plant the Asters in an earlier episode, even briefly, to give the story more relevance. And too bad Jeremy didn't show up later. LOTS of potential there.

    But still, it tugged at my heart strings. Those of us on Drema are more emotional open, I guess.

    Also some nice touches on how a death affects the various crew members, especially in terms of their duties.

    I always think people underrate this episode. It shows aliens acting rather alien but with a relatable goal and motivation. The killing of Marla and its impact on Jeremy clearly freaked them out.

    It was also wisely pointed out by Troi and Picard that the alien’s plan didn’t make much sense. The faux Marla was obviously unprepared to respond to that argument.

    I also found the portrayal of faux Marla very convincing as a mother.

    What a completely boring snoozefest.

    Glad I had something to do while this drone on and on in the background.

    And the boy was yet another throwaway character.

    So Work does a ritual bonding with the kid. Tells the kid "we're brothers now, you're in my House." AND...the kid is never seen or heard of or spoken of ever again in Trek. Even Alexander dropped in on DS9.

    Who needs a ship counselor when you have a Worf on board? Troubled? Depressed? Oppressed? Anxious? Just see Worf. He has a Klingon ritual to meet all your mental deficiencies. Guaranteed relief! (If your lucky, he may even throw in a hug from the beautiful Deanna Troi.)

    Ummmmm...if Marla Aster was 3 meters BEHIND Worf....AND "bore the full brunt of the explosion" then why was Worf only bleeding from his front? Just a nitpick, but I actually like this episode....EXCEPT we never see the boy again....guess Klingon rituals arent really that serious....kinda like at a funeral, when relatives say we'll talk....but you never hear from them again...sooooo much potential wasted!

    I think this episode is great and the issues it touches are so deep.

    There was an interesting A story about loss and grief which was ruined by trying to tie a B story into the A story. This doesn't work emotionally. The B story needed to be completely independent of the A story and involve a different set of characters. I don't want to nitpick the same way twice in a row but Voyager actually did this better where it put Naomi's mother in danger and made the A story be about Naomi and Neelix confronting the potential loss of Naomi's mother while the B story was about the away team trying to save themselves.

    In order for the B story in this TNG episode to work it would have to focus on someone who has lost their loved one a long time ago rather than ten seconds ago before the audience had time to decide how they feel. For instance if Jeremy had lost his mother two episodes ago this story might work, but he just lost his mother ten seconds ago. It was simply too confusing.

    6/10 filler episode.

    I am not sure what this one added. Maybe Wesley showing more of his self rather than chirpy science boy.

    Another average ep.

    Story was acceptably engaging, though not exactly full of action/adventure.

    The Worf part was the best part, but I know that we never see Jeremy again.

    Troi spoon-feeding Jeremy about how he must be feeling about Worf (he must also be angry at Worf, since Wes was angry at Picard) was quite annoying toward the end. She needs to go back to Counselor School. Don't they have professionals consulting on these scripts?

    We were spoon fed the moral of the story as well: Better to face reality (both inner and outer) and experience a real life, accepting the joys and sorrows - than to fool yourself with rose-colored glasses.

    So, I accept this ep as the mediocre offering it is, and grieve the hour I have lost.


    Average 'Twilight Zone' type episode. The major flaw with this one is that the kid's personality and reactions are a bit Midwich Cuckoo-ish - he's far too calm when he's told his mother has died, and indeed when he believes he's been reunited with her.

    Not the young actor's fault, of course.

    A very touching story which is about how human beings (and Klingons) deal with loss, pain and the maintenance or decay of our own nemories. IMO this episode is an inversion of the Prime Directive baseline. In other words, an alien culture is attempting to interfere with the natural course of events on the Enterprise following the death of Marla Aster. The alien interference is well intentioned but such assistance is unwanted and inimical to what is best for our species. As Picard says: "It is the heart of our nature to feel pain...and joy."

    It was well acted and reminds me of what Kirk says to the equally well intentioned Sybok in the much maligned film Star Trek 5:

    "I need my pain."
    Such statements are dead on and really worth contemplating, not dismissing as hokey.

    Good scenes with Wesley, Beverly, Troi, Worf, and lot of great O'Brien moments looking freaked out as the blue energy darts about in Transporter Room 3.


    This is a rather interesting episode, and I echo the dialogue is a high point.

    Troi and Picard's joint duty in this shows an intriguing facet of procedure. Further, the scene in which Picard is called to talk to the boy in the corridor, to warn him that thing is not his mother, allows for an appealing gravitas that, though standard in the characterization, feels specially plausible here.

    The episode is quiet, stimulating.

    Michael Dorn saves this one from sliding into pure boredom. And to be honest, probably Will Wheaton’s best scene in having to confront his hero.

    In this episode, Troi actively ruins what could have been a pretty good scene. When they bring in Wesley to talk about how he felt about Picard, that's good. I like the interaction, Wheaton does a good job and it sets up the talk with Jeremy.

    Then fucking Troi starts putting words in the kid's mouth, "you must be very angry", "Isn't that right?". Then when Jeremy confronts Worf fucking TROI starts answering "He can't answer that", even Picard is like "Worf's an orphan too", like ffs let the characters speak for themselves. I didn't much care for Troi before and in this episode I actively hate her being there, episode would have been better without her. Also can't understand after 1 seasons and change why Picard is so popular though he's had some great moments at least, Troi's had nothing.

    If you overlook the goofy alien aspect of this episode, you can appreciate the character development shown here. Picard has come full circle from the awkward encounters with children in Season 1 to his touching "no one is alone on the Enterprise" comment. Wesley and Beverly really show their human side as they are still dealing with the death of Jack. Worf shows the touch of fatherhood that we will see again with Alexander. I appreciate that they dealt with a real issue of losing a loved one in the line of duty, even if other parts of the episode were weak.

    So Troi can't use her powers when people are feeling a lot of emotions around her?

    Oh that's cool, good thing for her that humans don't feel emotions most days otherwise she'd never, ever be able to pin point anything.

    BONES: The ship's counsellor says we should beam up the away team, right now.
    KIRK: The ship's WHAT?? Oh, beam them up anyway.
    KIRK: What's the matter with her?
    BONES: She's dead, Jim.
    KIRK. Bummer. Ok, let's beam another lot of redshirts down. Doesn't matter a whole lot if they die.
    BONES: She's an archaeologist Jim, not a redshirt.
    KIRK: Yeah yeah. Not a regular crew member though. Why are we getting so bothered about it, for heaven's sake?

    Good to see Trek at last addressing the notion of grief and loss, though devoting an entire episode to it is a bit .. over the top. And there's one moment in it that's so ludicrous I'm still laughing.

    JEREMY (to Worf): Are you a Klingon?
    LMAO. Had he been confined to quarters all his life, that he didn't recognise the single Klingon on the ship!

    2 stars seems fair.

    Not a fan of the child actor's performance. Not that he's a bad actor overall, but he apparently didn't want to appear on this show and it shows in his couldn't-give-two-craps performance.

    As for the episode itself, it's just kinda...meh. Not bad but not something that I would eagerly watch again.

    This episode had good atmospherics. It was scary when that alien first appeared and the fact that she/it was trying to kidnap Jeremy into oblivion on the planet continued the horror. The crew was trying mightily to get rid of this alien threat but oh so carefully. It seemed like they might lose the child at any moment. The dark lighting and theme of death permeated the overall effect. The final scene with Worf and Jeremy was great: Together they are conquering their grief and fear of death, by lighting candles in the dark.

    Pretty middle of the road episode, but I always give bonus points for stories where the alien of the week wasn't evil but was really just trying to help and messing it up because of how alien they were. It's something I associate so much with TNG and feel like I don't get much from other shows.

    I made it halfway through this one before I bailed.

    Look, I understand losing a parent. My Dad passed away more than four years ago, and I've still not gotten over it. I think it may even be harder for adults than for kids, because we have more memories of and with our deceased parent and we're also, unfortunately, able to ask existential questions, including: Why on earth did we accumulate so many memories and so many experiences with our mom/dad, only for him/her to die and for us to be without that parent as if he/she never existed? Ah, the futility of life...

    All that said, this was an excruciatingly boring episode. I don't know the kid or his mom, so I don't care about either of them. 'Sides, I don't watch a sci-fi show for personal drama and Narnia-type fantasy. This kind of stuff could be a footnote, maybe a B-story, but not the focus of an entire hour-long episode.

    How you can rate this horrible piece of unwatchable, maudlin dreck as 2 stars when you pan eps like “The Outragous Okona” which yes are stupid but at least are silly and have moments of genuine humor, is completely beyond me.

    I quite like this episode. The premise goes to interesting places and the scene where Picard confronts the alien doppelganger is a showcase for Stewart.

    While not as good as season 3’s classic eps, this is a low-key success that not only brought us Ron Moore, but signaled the show’s ongoing commitment to character driven stories under the helm of Michael Piller.

    3 stars.

    What was the point at the beginning when Troi screams out to beam up the away team? Can she "sense" land mines? THe only thing she could sense is either the loss of kid Mom or the reaction of the team which meant the danger had already happened. Also, it creates a false sense of foreboding that the death was the result of a current malevolent act which we learn it wasn't.

    I have recently come to learn of the concepts of the "idiot episode" and the "idiot ball." The latter being an episode or movie or book whose plot requires at least one character to be so dumb as not to do the obvious, sensible thing. The former is a metaphorical object that moves from character to character, like a talking stick.

    So I'm watching The Bonding with those in mind and Worf encounters the fakemom, and tells that captain that Lt Aster is in the boy's cabin. And everybody immediately understands the implication and starts acting appropriately. And I'm thinking, cool, no idiots.

    But on reflection the tired trope of energy beings were idiots. They could have contacted the Enterprise upon its arrival and explained the situation on the planet. Or they could have contacted the ship after Aster's death and explained the situation.

    These aliens had lots of experience with corporeal beings, although it was thousands of years in the past.

    And then, the fakemom just leaves. So the Enterprise just leaves. What about the Continuing Mission? Why not try to have useful interaction with the energy aliens?

    And the boy's disappearance after this episode also bugs me. This Klingon bonding thing seems important, but evidence of following shows argues the opposite.

    I think 2/4 is right.

    I have to admit, I was waiting for the inevitable scene where alien mom kicks Worf's butt, but it never happened for once!

    2.5 for me, as I found some of the dialogue quite effective...


    I agree, I love that the aliens were behaving in a noble manner, not just evil of the week aliens. I agree there was much potential wasted here... after all, in a way the aliens are behaving as ridiculous as Worf is. They explicitly mention the history of the planet was dishonorable (using that exact word) and react in a likely emotional manner to implement a plan that... ain't going to work.

    I actually thought the kid in this episode did a pretty good job, although his other role in Robocop 2 was a little distracting. I kept thinking he was going to take out an uzi and empty a clip into Worf lol

    Jeremy Aster sucks as a Klingon. His house is a house of traitors without honor. He should've gotten laughed at by Gowron in a later episode

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