Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Hero Worship"

1.5 stars

Air date: 1/27/1992
Teleplay by Joe Menosky
Story by Hilary J. Bader
Directed by Patrick Stewart

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The story editors must've been asleep at the wheel to let "Hero Worship" air right after "New Ground" — or at all, for that matter. I mean, didn't we just watch a child-centric character story framed by a technobabble-plentiful jeopardy problem-of-the-week? Both episodes even feature a scene where a child is trapped under a heavy metal beam. (I always love how heavy beams trap people unharmed under them, rather than crushing them.)

Where I could get on board with "New Ground" and its welcome Worf-centrism, I found "Hero Worship" to be completely and totally dramatically inert. It relies on a child guest character we have no connection to, and then uses particularly unconvincing second-rate psychobabble to justify its lame premise. The kid, named Timothy (Joshua Harris), is the lone survivor of a ravaged ship whose crew included his parents, who were killed in what Timothy initially describes as an alien attack. But there are questions about Timothy's credibility. Timothy befriends Data (who saved him from underneath the aforementioned metal beam) and retreats into a manufactured persona (explained by the aforementioned second-rate psychobabble) where he imitates Data's android movements and speech patterns.

I'm sure someone thought the idea of a kid imitating Data would be "cute" and/or "funny." Potentially, maybe, but not as executed. It's mostly just boring (featuring numerous scenes of the aforementioned dramatically inert variety) and goes on for interminable length. There's a contrived scene, for example, where the kid tries to build a model tower by putting up floor supports along one side and then trying to place the floor on top without putting up the supports for it on the other side. He's surprised and frustrated when it collapses, so Data explains his error. (Duh!) Funny how Timothy earlier had no problem constructing the floor beneath the one that collapses. The fact that Data is the one at the center of a story about a child coping with a traumatic loss doesn't say much for Troi's already questionable usefulness as a character with the title "counselor."

The mystery of what destroyed Timothy's ship is solved with clues that are obvious to the audience too long before they are obvious to the Enterprise crew. Overall, this plays as another strike against the series' unlikely notion of having children on board Federation starships, where alien attacks and/or dangerous spatial anomalies abound.

Previous episode: New Ground
Next episode: Violations

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89 comments on this post

Fri, Apr 1, 2011, 1:08pm (UTC -6)
And I can't believe you gave Hero Worship 1.5 stars--it isn't a classic but a solid 3 star outing. Who cares if it is another kid-centered episode?

Timothy was well drawn and sympathetic, the Data/Timothy interactions were realistic/warm/comfortable and what make the episode for me involving, I didn't think the emulation by Timothy of Data was psychobabble--the kid witnesses the death of his parents and the crew of the ship, he thinks he triggered it and hears Data has no emotions so the kid decides to pretend he has no emotions--seems like a reasonable coping mechanism. And Troi did play a role--she guided Data in how to handle Timothy and checked in on them. She just didn't hand it over to Data and washed her hands of it.

Te episode I thought also sported some nice visuals inside the nebula
Sat, Apr 2, 2011, 3:48pm (UTC -6)
I'd give this one two stars. The basic idea wasn't bad, but the execution and especially the ending were lackluster. In all fairness though, it was during filming of this episode that the cast & crew were informed of Gene Roddenberry's death. So I can forgive them for dropping the ball.
Sun, Apr 10, 2011, 5:33pm (UTC -6)
I enjoyed this episode, I thought you would give it at least 2.5 stars
Thu, Apr 14, 2011, 12:15am (UTC -6)
I couldn't agree more with this review. In addition to not caring about Timothy as the child-ex-machina of the week, I found myself hating him from the beginning. When he arrives on the Enterprise with a bunch of corny poor-me lines delivered with amateurish sighs and ho-hums, he comes off like the tattle-tale in elementary school who was best friends with the teacher but who the other kids hated. It doesn't help that the entire Enterprise crew is automatically subordinate to his impudence, feeding us more terrible cliches about Timothy's traumatic experience. There's just no substance to this episode to hold the attention. The so-called jeopardy problem of the week isn't even a space anomaly or opponent, but instead pure ignorance by the crew (another strike against the episode). But perhaps this is fitting somehow given the ignorance of the producers in letting this dud air. I was slightly amused by Brent Spiner's reaction at the end when the "cured" Timothy says their friendship is "acceptable" - Spiner looks genuinely shocked, as if to say, "Damn - this kid may be the one to finally activate the emotion of hatred in my positronic brain."
Fri, May 13, 2011, 7:08pm (UTC -6)
As I stated in the previous review, this episode makes far FAR better of the child-centric psychology angle. Why? #1 Brent Spiner is (as usual) tremendously engaging and compelling. This episode features the wonder and quirky fascination of TOS and earlier TNG. It might be "cute" but it plays into exactly what I remember when I was a kid watching TNG/TOS/VOY, namely Hero Worship. What a kawinkidink.

While we can't live for ever in these fictional and impossible creations of this wondrous universe, it does us a lot of good to imitate them for a while. It rejuvenates the mind and spirit and can be the means by which we cope with our own inadequacies and guilt.

3 stars.
Wed, Aug 10, 2011, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
At last! Someone finally points out the obvious ridiculosity of having women and children aboard a starship that week after week is either fighting interstellar battles of in danger of being destroyed by some stellar catastrophe! Thanks Jammer for saving my sanity!

As for Troi's competence as counselor, wouldn't it have made more sense to assign timothy to a human family aboard ship? The normal surroundings of human home life you would think would be a far preferable environment than palming the kid over to a walking toaster/computer.
Thu, Sep 8, 2011, 8:46pm (UTC -6)
With respect, I must agree with the poster in New Ground who said you had it and this episode reversed. I thought this was by far stronger.

Alexander seemed like a whiny kid acting up because he was a brat. Perhaps that wasn’t the intention, but that’s how it came across. I didn’t get the troubled youth vibe from that episode. In this one though, I totally get the damaged kid vibe. Ultimately the kid lies to ‘protect himself’ (he doesn’t steal and act up, affecting others which has no connection to the problem, as Alexander does). At least he thinks he’s protecting himself because he feels guilt for the death of his parents which he believes he caused. And the crew has to figure this mystery out because ultimately the boy holds the key to saving the ship. Also, the boy’s relationship with Data allows Data to save the ship. This is far better than the previous episode’s child-in-completely-random-jeopardy premise.

Also, as I’m sure there were children of the late-60s who dressed up and wanted to act like Spock, I’m sure there were children of the early 90s who wanted to be like Data. I think the boy’s idolization of Data was believable and relatable (especially since the kid is feeling the immense guilt of believing he killed his parents [and others] – an emotionless android seems like a good shell to hide within). Okay, they took it a bit to the extreme, with the boy pretending to be a robot, but the premise was sound.

It could have given Troi a legitimate ‘something to do’ episode. You make a reasonable point that Troi is somewhat limited from doing her job because the kid will only deal with Data, but I feel like she did have some input. You also make a fair point about the kid building the tower. I put that down to bad direction or execution, as I’m sure they could have come up with a ‘building step’ that the kid could have failed at without making him look completely stupid.
Captain Tripps
Thu, Oct 6, 2011, 9:27pm (UTC -6)
Odd to dismiss something as psycho-babble that's actually common and observable, especially in children (and at times much more severe than this). Then again other posters who liked this episode are doing the same thing to Alexander's burgeoning kleptomania and pathological lying, traits that shouldn't be surprising in an adolescent dealing with the death of one parent and the perceived rejection by the other.

Playing them back to back is a pretty glaring error, tho it's not the first time two story of the week episodes in a row shared similar themes explored with different characters.
Sun, Feb 5, 2012, 5:48pm (UTC -6)

"At last! Someone finally points out the obvious ridiculosity of having women and children aboard a starship"

How utterly ridiculous indeed! Women on spaceships! They get their food from machines, so what are women good for?

What's next? Women voting or driving cars? Absurd...
Thu, Jun 7, 2012, 9:04am (UTC -6)
Ooo.. Classic Next Gen corny pointlessness.

Good review Jammer but what are the 1.5 stars for?
Nick P.
Sun, Jul 15, 2012, 10:09pm (UTC -6)
I'm on the side of the "likers" of this episode. I agree completely that this was poorly done and airing right after the Alexander one was stupid. But this was one of the more interesting "sci-fi" premises of the 5th season, and I thought the kid modeling Data did all right. Also, I am of the age where back then I did model this guys (Picard, not data), so i completely bought the premise.

But anyways, the acting in this one was VERY dull. the acting in most of the last 3 seasons was dull. Watch the acting in "booby-trap" or "time-squared", and those were far more believable "in a dangerous void" scenes. I just never bought this crew was in danger in these scenes. But I think that was this cast aging, I thought this was one of the better 5-th season episodes.
Clint the Cool Guy
Fri, Nov 9, 2012, 8:56am (UTC -6)
I just watched this episode again. Gave it another chance, but yeah, I agree it is really weak.

One of the biggets fails in it its depiction of 23rd century school life. Star Trek: TNG was always bad about this, but this episode was one of the worst. Here, Timothy's school looks like a damn preschool!

What, is he supposed to be 11 or 12? Should probably be 5th or 6th grade. But the kids here don't do math or science. Instead, they work on "sculpture" (play with building blocks), and gather around to listen to the teacher read them stories, just like circle time.

Later, they even all sit together on bright-colored, preschool-y looking furniture to sing... "Row row row your boat"??? What 12 year old do you know still sings that? What 5 year old for that matter? Maybe they had just watched Star Trek V, and were doing it as a homage to Spock.

Maybe it wasn't a school at all. Maybe it was an insane asylum. That would explain why at the end it looked like Troi and Data were watching the kid through a one-way mirror.

This to me just underscores the biggest failing of TNG, and that is depicting the Enterprise as just a big cruise liner in space. It's the Love Boat, only with aliens. It's fitting that career women should be on the ship. But kids? Give me a break! This was a lame concept from the beginning, and never got better. It worked better for DS9, since it made more sense. Luckily, they learned their lesson and ditched the kids for Voyager! We won't even talk about the series that came after that...
Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 12:49pm (UTC -6)
I wouldn't be quite as harsh as others on this episode, but it's still pretty lame. Timothy and Data's interactions are cute and (somewhat) affecting but the pacing of the episode is glacial. The resolution similarly is pat and anticlimactic.

However, I still don't really mind this episode as much as "New Ground", if only because there's little to *actively* dislike about it. I always found the teacher character in that episode grating, and Worf's parenting naivete tiresome. Here we have a reasonable if simple story of a boy who latches onto Data to deal (and avoid dealing) with the deaths of his parents. The problem is that it really goes no further than that. While I don't have any problem with a bit of a downer for an ending, this would have been better as B story or subplot. I should say that both episodes are still far more tolerable than "Imaginary Friend".

Were I to go back and rewrite this episode, there would have been more survivors, and the episode would have followed the challenges of dealing with the tragedy for several characters. An investigation into the destruction of the Vico would run alongside this, but hopefully without the absurd Enterprise-in-jeopardy premise.
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 9:07pm (UTC -6)
"Captain ... ?'
"Yes useless counsellor ?"
IWe should have the android babysit the boy and do my job for me. After all, who needs his services to solve this mystery?"
"Very good useless counsellor. Make it so."
days later ...
"Captain ... ?'
"Yes useless counsellor?"
"The boy thinks he's an android."
"What do you suggest, useless counsellor?"
"I think we should turn him into an android. After all, I like having Data do my job."
"Of course useless counsellor. Make it so"
Was there a writer's strike that week?
Mon, Jul 22, 2013, 9:15pm (UTC -6)
Wow, I didn't read Jammer's review until after I gave my synopsis. I guess we were watching the same show.
William B
Wed, Jul 24, 2013, 7:26am (UTC -6)
It's interesting how divisive this episode is -- well, maybe not that divisive, since it seems as if more than half the posters agree with Jammer that this is a bad show. Still, count me among the people who enjoyed it. Elliott, TH and Captain Tripps get it right, IMO. I don't know that the extent to which Timothy takes his android persona is 100% believable, but the idea of a child taking on a new persona in the wake of a personal tragedy is entirely credible, as is the idea of a child identifying with Data (or Spock, or indeed any of these characters) who are so stunningly heroic. If Timothy were an adult, I might be a little annoyed about the non-revelation of the apparent source of his trauma being guilt over "causing" his parents' death, which is quickly dispelled; and yet, it seems to me a good way to get into survivor's guilt and the way human irrationality works to find ways to blame oneself for catastrophes. Imitating Data and valuing rationality is part of, I think, what allows him to recognize that he really was not at fault when a rational explanation is provided for him, and this in turn allows him to re-access his memories of the accident and thus save the ship.

The story perhaps covers some familiar beats with Data, but I think it's a touching story for him as well -- Troi gets it right when she asks at the end if Data is a bit sad and lonely having lost Timothy. Again, Data is insulated from the worst pain because he doesn't have feelings (per se), but he did have a moment in time in which he was less alone. That Timothy not only would eventually stop being like Data but that it was Data's duty to move Timothy away from being like him, eventually, with imitating Data just being a pit stop, helps drive home how much Data believes himself deficient and the way in which this is reinforced. Data's task is to be a mentor to Timothy exactly until Timothy is well enough to realize that he has something Data can never have, and then let him go. Timothy, meanwhile, gives the perspective that Data is better than humans, something which should be said every now and again, because Data is mentally/physically superior in so many ways, even though ultimately emotionally he is a dead end, and Timothy will have to form a new life away from him.

There are significant flaws here -- in particular, there is not even the slightest effort to suggest where Timothy is going to go, and as Clint points out earlier, what is up with that school? Aren't kids Timothy's age supposed to be learning calculus or something? Still, I quite like it. I'd say 3 stars.
Wed, Dec 4, 2013, 6:06pm (UTC -6)
I'am only a teen but I myself tend to copy similar traits from Star Trek characters. I copy the way Spock walks with his hands behind his back,I copy the way Data has perfect sentences some of the time because I tend to speak before I think, and I try to walk the way how it make them look fast walking but they are not.
Thu, May 8, 2014, 9:47pm (UTC -6)
This season sure has a lot of the styrafoam beam-lifting and barrel falling.

I like this episode just a bit more, as William B said, I'd say three stars. Elliot puts it really nicely scroll up to see his post.

Not really a classic Data episode like the offspring / pen pals or anything, but it's definitely better than some other earlier kid-centric episode.

This is one of those episodes that I could imagine seeing on TV and being entertained and satisfied the by the end of it. Fun with a bit of a sense of wonder.
Tue, Sep 30, 2014, 2:24pm (UTC -6)
@Clint the Cool Guy: You're right, TNG never did school well. Ideas about 24th Century education seem to contradict each other within the series.

In Season One (the episode where the kids are abducted by the Aldeans) there's a father scolding his perhaps 8 year-old son for not doing well on (or not completing) his calculus assignments. This fits in well with the notion that somehow mathematical or other school subjects of today will be "child's play" to the children of tomorrow - although I strongly disagree with this idea. I don't think the 12-16 hours, 6 days a week of Grammar School that Shakespeare endured - which was largely lessons on Latin and the Classical authors, such as Ovid - would be tolerable in the slightest to today's generation of kids. And I doubt that calculus will ever be "easy" for kids to learn, unless we genetically engineer future generations, or make learning by osmosis (computer-to-brain link up) possible.

But nor do I agree with the Montessori pre-school setup that passes for "school" on TNG. Or maybe they only meet up to have play time together, and learn the core subjects on their own in their quarters? I don't get it.
Thu, Oct 23, 2014, 4:26pm (UTC -6)
I agree with the other comments above praising this episode, for the same reasons.
Sun, Mar 8, 2015, 9:44pm (UTC -6)
The architecture scene is just brutal. Did the director just not care? The kid obviously built the base of the thing, and then can't figure to put up another level by putting up *both* sides of pillars first?

What the...?

Of course they could have been going for the frustrated-kid angle, but it sure didn't seem that way to me.

I'm honestly iffy on this one. The plot with the boy slightly works, and I thought once he started pretending to be an android was when it was the most interesting. On the other hand, it's awfully boring and I don't feel like Data gets enough material that's significant. Like Jammer, I feel that a psychotherapy plot that only includes Troi as a secondary character exposes how badly botched her presence on the whole show is.

The tech plot was fine, but I was less thrilled about Timothy recollecting various technobabble and then Data deducing the solution from that. It honestly just makes our heroes look bad and drags the ending down at least half a star for me. I think I agree with Jammer's 1.5 star rating. Not an out and out terrible outing, but more an okay one that has more than a few noticeable dents.
Fri, Apr 3, 2015, 7:56pm (UTC -6)
This episode is off. Not because I don't agree with Deanna treatment plan. I can totally buy that. But the kid is too old. That kid is at least 10. Ten year old simply do not behave like that, unless they are much more troubled than Timothy. If he was 5 or 6, or even up to 8 I can see this happening. But not 10. It doesn't help that the kid is a very mediocre actor. I agree with the school being weird. Those kids are in middle school. They won't be singing row your boat in canon randomly. Again if this was 5 or 6 year olds it would be one thing.

They do drag the ending out too long.

Data saves the episode from being terrible though.
Mon, Apr 20, 2015, 12:43pm (UTC -6)
The worst aspect of this episode is the order in which it aired. Why show two child-centered stories back-to-back like this? Had the show just been moved to a Saturday morning time slot?

Standing on its own, it wasn't so bad. I found it believable that an emotionally devastated child would choose to emulate the emotionless strength of his android rescuer. I also found the boy's acting, right down to imitating some of Spiner's vocal inflections and mannerisms, to be pretty impressive. We're talking about a 10 or 11-year-old actor here.

While it may be contrived, I also liked the way it turned out that the "attack" on the Vico was not an actual attack. Although, again, the science of gravity fields having such an effect on most of the Enterprise's systems seems implausible. Doesn't the ship encounter strong gravity fields on a daily basis? If it's a question of sheer scale in the black sector (100's of collapsed proto-stars), wouldn't that be a good argument for a ship to study the area from a relatively safe distance?

As others have pointed out, this episode also demonstrates why it's not a good idea to have children on starships. Not only is it risky, it also apparently leads to terrible education! Story time, playing with blocks, and "Row, Row, Row Your Boat" singalongs for 10 and 11-year-old students?!? Judging by what little we saw in Alexander's classroom in the previous episode, it looks like the curriculum gets simpler as the kids get older. So I guess failing schools have become an even worse problem a few centuries from today. "EVERY child left behind!" might be the motto of the Federation's education ministry. Or is this just subtle way to highlight what an auto-didactic young genius Wesley Crusher must have been?
Mon, Jul 6, 2015, 12:16pm (UTC -6)
I liked this episode maybe 2-1/2 stars (and I liked it more when it was new). Some of the nit-picky critiques do point out flaws that really don't present themselves with a cursory viewing of the episode.
I'm not sure why it would be a problem having two kid oriented episodes in a row. I'd also add that "New Ground" is a Worf episode and "Hero Worship" is a Data episode. The thesis of the episode is to contrast Data's desire to be human with this kid who wants to be android. I actually think the kid was fairly good at the role.
While many people ignore the tech talk in episodes, I enjoyed how the solution to the problem was actually the reverse of what they were doing (Powering the shields would make the problem worse). A good lesson for thinking outside the box.
Thu, Aug 6, 2015, 8:22am (UTC -6)
Wow, I'm amazed at the level of dislike this episode is getting. I've always thought of it as a rather average episode, personally. There's nothing particularly great about it and there's nothing particularly horrible about it either.

Was it a mistake to air "Hero Worship" immediately after "New Ground"? Maybe. But I don't think that really harms it. Is Troi's part in it pathetic? Again, maybe. But, then, she's more useful here than in a lot of other episodes, so.... meh?

Ultimately, what is there to really say about "Hero Worship"? It's an episode centered around a boy impersonating Data. That's it. It gives us some nice, pleasant scenes with Data and Timothy interacting. But, again, that's it. What about the B-plot? Well, yes, it's essentially the same idea as "New Ground," but at least here it "felt" more integrated with the A-plot. It actually did center around Timothy and his story while the B-plot in "New Ground" in no way, shape or form revolved around Alexander until he was needlessly thrown into it.

Really, the only thing that sticks out in my memory after watching it is the question "what's going to happen to Timothy now?" Needless to say, that isn't answered. Does he have living relatives? Will he stay on the Enterprise? Will he have to be adopted now? Will someone on the Enterprise, like Data, have to care for him permanently? I suppose that could be a demerit against the episode, but I can't bring myself to do it.

From here on out, I think I'm to view this as a my "museum-quality specimen" of a run-of-the-mill TNG episode.

Diamond Dave
Thu, Sep 24, 2015, 3:18pm (UTC -6)
The similarities with the previous episode are indeed marked, but for me the main difference between this and New Ground is that here with Data we got no real character progression, and with Worf we did.

This does some things well. The kid gives a sterling performance, and some of the scenes with Data are nicely handled. The "I cannot take pride in my accomplishments..." scene is particularly well observed, I thought. And I feel that Troi again plays a constructive role.

But it's dead slow, the conclusion somewhat underwhelming, and you leave with no real sense of engagement - this episode just is. There's nothing actively bad here... just not too much to champion.

Some nice effects work on the Vico though. 2 stars.
Michael Wallis
Sun, May 22, 2016, 9:03pm (UTC -6)
Timothy is vastly preferable to the petaq Alexander. Therefore 3 stars.
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 6:19pm (UTC -6)
If Jamahl Epsicokhan can somehow give Star Trek Into Darkness 4 stars and Star Wars The Force Awakens 5 and half stars... then he has lost all credibility in reviewing anything.
William B
Thu, Sep 22, 2016, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
That would be some trick, for him to give those films those ratings while also giving them 3 and 3.5 stars.
Fri, Sep 23, 2016, 12:56am (UTC -6)
Entering a mysterious and dangerous nebula which destroyed a previous ship: sounds like a good time to separate the saucer section.
Sat, Mar 25, 2017, 4:38am (UTC -6)
I just watched this episode for the very first time, it was always something I skipped because the premise seemed boring. Young boy emulates Data and attaches himself to him sounded trite and cliched.

Instead I was pleasantly surprised. The episode moved forward at a fairly brisk pace, and I thought that it presented a fairly realistic view of the effects of PTSD, which the boy was obviously suffering from. He was a great actor and had a lot of chemistry with Data, and as others have pointed out before me it was cute.

It's been my observation that Jammer and some of the fans don't seem to like ST episodes with kids and I do agree that some kid actors can be really hammy, but I thought this was a decent episode, and the kid did a stellar job in his performance. I liked the ending where he helped Data figure out that it was the shield harmonics causing the distortions in the graviton bubble.

It would have been nice closure to see where the kid ends up - presumably they offloaded him at the nearest Starbase or sent him back to Earth where he was returned to his closest living relatives. But of course this is just another denouement that's quietly forgotten, just like that episode where Riker finds that alien kid who pretends to be his son, is sort of adopted by Riker, then completely consigned to the back burner.
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 11:55pm (UTC -6)
As a friend pointed out, the kid's (Joshua Harris) performance was exceptional; it must've been very hard for a boy of 12 to imitate an android with no emotions (and still keep a straight face.) For this alone, the episode should be awarded 2 stars.

Troi explained that she couldn't council the boy, who was traumatized, because he'd closed himself off to most strangers, all but Data, who had saved his life. However, I do agree with the earlier comment: her function was as a counselor (ship shrink) and she failed miserably in this in this episode. It was due to this episode alone, that I'm glad there are no counselors on smaller ships like Voyager.

Ezri Dax pulled of a decent counselor on DS9, mainly because she was working through her own issues of multiple personalities, due to getting a symbiant without being trained for it. (This was done to save the life of the Dax symbiont during transport on the USS Destiny; Ezri was the only Trill on board.)

All in all, Hero Worship was a fairly decent episode, if only because it showed how the crew handled the sole survivor of a ship disaster, a traumatized child. I just feel it could've been written better. Perhaps a scene where Timothy screams in his sleep, reliving the disaster, and waking up crying, with Data trying for comfort him. That would've been far better than the ridiculous castle-building scene!
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 10:15pm (UTC -6)
Hello Everyone!


Yes... the castle-building scene. My youngest Grandson is three, and he would be able to figure out you have to have supports before putting up more parts. I've seen him do it! :) I don't care how traumatized he was, the young'un should have been able to figure that out. I never liked that particular scene, because it felt forced to let Data have a teaching moment.

Regards... RT
Peter G.
Thu, Apr 27, 2017, 2:51pm (UTC -6)
I just watched this one again last night after avoiding it for several years, and to my chagrin I realize that I like this one a lot. I had sort of remembered it as a pointless technobabble problem of the week, as Jammer says, and I guess I never took that much note of the Data side-story.

However now I've seen it again this strikes me not as a technobabble plot but rather as an unintended follow-up to "The Offspring." The latter is more affective and moving, and is unified in its central story, and so of course that makes it a better episode. However there are some moving parts in "Hero Worship" that far exceed the quality of the overall machine. Timothy strikes me as being a mirror image of what Lal went through; he experiences a trauma and in cope wants to be an emotionless android, whereas Lol wants to be more human, and after her trauma ends up being able to feel for the first time. I felt the same father-child relationship here as I did in "The Offspring", and in some ways it was even sadder here because whereas Lal had her father by her side Timothy was searching for a parent in Data.

Another thought struck me while watching it, which is that Data's approach to hardship may well have been instructive to Timothy even aside from the fact of simply being good supportive company for him. Once Data accepts Timothy as a android, combs his hair back, and they do 'android things' together a sort of calm seems to pass over Timothy which goes beyond merely pretending that he has no feelings. In fact, pretending that he didn't feel pain seemed in fact to result in an inner calm and focus in him. I suspect there's something in here that hints at why Data is such a beloved figure among TNG fans: it's not just that he has cool abilities and has quirky mannerisms, and in fact I think those are almost irrelevant to Data's appeal. I believe that his chief characteristic that I always found inspiring was the sense of peace and ease he exudes. It's not that he's good at things, but that he never loses his air of innocence, and this is something that would always be a good example for a child. Another thing setting Data apart as a father-figure is that he approaches everyone with that sense of curiosity, which has as its premise a respect for the object of his curiosity. A human counselor would no doubt have been all over someone like Timothy trying to get them to grieve, talk about what happened, and so forth (in other words treating him like a patient), whereas Data gave him an environment where he could first feel like he had the freedom to be whoever he was, and to then deal with the issue in his own time.

I'll give credit to one more thing the episode got out of me, which was sadness for Data, although not as much as I felt in "The Offspring". In Ten-Forward, just as Timothy is lamenting having feelings, Data speaks of lamenting not having them, and while we know Data is trying to help him, at the same time we know he means it. Each of them, in their own way, is struggling to be more like the other and regrets their limitations. While Data doesn't 'get over it' within this episode, at the same time the atmosphere the two of them create does suggest that the two of them are working through their issues together, rather than Data merely taking care of the traumatized boy.

Jammer is surely right that the episode's structure is lacking, but overall it seemed like the lion's share of material was about Data and Timothy. I wouldn't call this one great, but the good material is strong enough that I would certainly grade it as above average overall. Very few TNG episodes successfully use guest stars to legitimately deal with ongoing issues the stars are going through. The Klingon episodes in TNG were particularly good about this, and we got the occasional Picard outings such as "Family", but overall the guests of the week don't tend to have as much importance to the main casts as I feel Timothy did for Data in this one. I was almost sorry that Timothy couldn't have been brought back at some point, maybe living on the Enterprise as Data's ward or something.
Tue, Sep 12, 2017, 3:34pm (UTC -6)
Boring episode -- slow moving, overly slow to develop with a weak payoff. Seems episodes with children do not work out well on TNG like "New Ground", which I didn't like either.

This story doesn't really have any charm, for me. It's not like Data in "In Theory" where he explores dating a human female. Here you've got some random kid who somehow survived his ship getting destroyed and we have no background on him. It wasn't even entertaining when he started acting like Data.

As for the random technobabble problem of the week, I think it's fine how the crew goes about trying to figure out what happened to the ship -- standard stuff. Then it gets pretty obvious that they have to drop their shields at the end. The kid's initial lies (chalk it up due to trauma, I suppose) made it potentially interesting if there was another race that destroyed the ship. Then the kid thinks he killed everybody on board the ship by pressing the wrong computer button -- I couldn't rationalize why he'd say that and blame himself. The crew convinces him otherwise pretty quick.

1 star for "Hero Worship". A low point for S5 TNG. There's the potential for some decent sci-fi here but it's not really explored, some technobabble that ultimately leads to a very simple solution. Nothing particularly well done about this nondescript episode. The premise isn't particularly strong either.
Derek D
Thu, Dec 28, 2017, 12:06am (UTC -6)
As I'm rewatching Season 5 I came up to this episode and thought about skipping it because I remember not liking it before. Watched it anyway and came to the same conclusion--weak, boring episode. 1 1/2 stars
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Feb 21, 2018, 8:10pm (UTC -6)
I never really liked this episode, but I don't hate it either. Airing it right after New Ground definitely drags it down.

Regarding the school, the model building scene, and the way Timothy is behaving, it seems to me he was supposed to be younger, but they probably couldn't find an actor who could handle the part. With such an aggressive production schedule they wouldn't have had the time to redo the writing, sets, or much else. The other kids in the school look at least a couple years younger, but we don't see a lot of them so it's hard to tell.
Sean Hagins
Wed, Mar 21, 2018, 6:12pm (UTC -6)
I really liked this episode when it came out, and I still do! But we all have our opinions.
Charley Newman
Wed, Aug 1, 2018, 11:23pm (UTC -6)
I really liked this episode. I certainly felt that it was a lot stronger than "New Ground". I'll be honest, at the end of this episode, I was genuinely tearing up. I'd give it a 7/10.
Mon, Sep 3, 2018, 12:04am (UTC -6)
One star. Who cares about this kid or his therapy? What does any of this have to do with TNG? Pointless episode, I have to say.
Wed, Sep 12, 2018, 4:24pm (UTC -6)
TNG should have stayed away from cod psychology and who would consider it a good idea to have a grieving child assisted by an emotionally dead robot?
Apart from the fact that Data is of course nothing like that as executed by Brent Spiner.

Void reflecting shields back at you?
Whatever-not interested.
Thu, Oct 4, 2018, 3:37pm (UTC -6)
While I tend to agree that this isn't anywhere near TNG's finest moments, it still has a thematic solidity to it that is sometimes glaringly absent from most episodes. For example, the scene with Data helping to build the model. Taken on face value, it's an absurd and contrived scene, though thematically it makes sense. Timothy was attempting to build a complex persona upon turbulent and uncertain foundations, thus it was bound to collapse. Then there's the rather dull plot which involves some space distortion or whatnot serving as a mortal threat. Ho-hum, sure. Again, however, we have thematic tie-in based around the idea of putting up shields as a barrier to block out internal damage, which in turn only renders the damage more intense.

I just thought I'd point out these somewhat subtle frameworks as a means to defend what is nevertheless still a problematic episode, mostly because (as others have noted) of its unfortunate placement in the season and a character who never quite manages to embody the script's conflict enough to resonate. Fair play to actor Joshua Harris and Patrick Stewart in the director's chair, however. They did what they could with a promising but otherwise half-baked script.
Wed, Nov 21, 2018, 9:57pm (UTC -6)
"with clues that are obvious to the audience too long before they are obvious to the Enterprise crew"

In the Futurama episode where they are filming a TV show episode for the Omicronians, Fry says something like "surprising the audience makes them scared, and doing something clever makes them feel stupid".

In my watch-through of ST:TNG, I notice again and again and again a similar trope of attempting to make the audience feel smart. It happens almost every episode that there will be something obvious to the viewer that is not obvious to the characters. I'm pretty sure this is just a cheap trick to attempt to make the viewer feel smart, but they overdo it so much that it's just irritating.
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 12:20pm (UTC -6)

+1 for a Data episode although I don't think taste buds are part of emotions. TNG missed an opportunity to look at many things that make us go: senses, perceptions, hormones, instincts, thinking, emotions and their interaction. It stayed so simple most of the time.

Also +1 for Troi being a good counsellor. That's two in a row. But where is Alexander in this episode. He may have been a good playmate for Timothy.
Fri, Apr 19, 2019, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
@Dave We ARE smart. We make things go!
Tue, Apr 28, 2020, 11:33pm (UTC -6)
Ahh The great Mom-Rewatch of 2020 continues! My mom guessed the kid would act like Data a good 5 minutes before the show even broached the subject. I agree with the "audience smart" thing.
And Miester i agree they could have at least done a two-for and included Alexander in this episode!!
Wed, Apr 29, 2020, 9:06pm (UTC -6)
I am incapable of hating this episode. I feel nothing for this episode. I note that it was of sufficient minutes to fill its time slot and thus served its main function. But I believe it lacks aesthetic qualities that would merit a more thorough examination of its shortcomings.
Sat, May 16, 2020, 10:54pm (UTC -6)
This was a good episode, you’re wrong.

Credible plot, interesting twist, and sympathetic character in Timothy.
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 4:14am (UTC -6)
I thought it was a pretty fair episode, a lot better than i remembered it. An interesting contrast to the previous one - I think placing the two together made sense in theory, though perhaps it was a shame they couldn't have found a way to interweave them. (Though I can't imagine the two boys getting on well together too readily.)

The school and the building bits were a bit lame, but I don't think that mattered much. What did work, and what was central to the episode, was the relationship with Data. There was a parallel with The Offspring, with Data tentatively building a link with a child in his care, and then losing it.

One character was excluded who could have greatly enriched the episode - - Data's cat, Spot.

I quite disagree with those who complained about the pacing as glacial. I loathe too much breakneck action, and much prefer taking enough time. But tastes differ.
Jason R.
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 5:48am (UTC -6)
Count me among the supporters of this episode. I thought the relationship between Timothy and Data was totally plausible and still do. As a kid I thought Data was amazing and might have imitated him too if I could have. More than any other character, Data was the one I would have wanted to be like at Timothy's age. It's more than just him not having emotions and being this invulnerable being - there is just this serene calm that makes you just know that everything is going to be alright. This is the guy you want in your corner as a kid more than Riker, more than Worf or for that matter Thor or Ironman or whatever superhero. There really is something special to Spiner's performance.

That said one thing that really rubs me the wrong way with this is the way the senior staff are hemming and hawing over Timothy constantly. I can't quite put my finger on it but something about those scenes of Troi and the others worrying so much about this little kid's emotional upset is really grating and pretentious.
Jason R.
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 5:51am (UTC -6)
I also just can't stand the combination of that name and hairdo. It's just this cloying Lassie-ish Leave it to Beaver vibe. Wesley had alot of that too. You just wanna punch this kid.
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 6:21am (UTC -6)
I agree with Jammer here. Never liked it.

Troy obviously found her degree in a cereal box. Not only does she think that it is good for the kid to follow his psychosis but also encourages other to support that mental state. She's gonna get sued, for sure.
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 6:58am (UTC -6)
Boomer - Many highly qualified therapists will get their clients to explore traumas, and some will tell you it's the only way to resolve them.
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 9:35am (UTC -6)
Many even more highly qualified therapists will tell you that feeding a psychosis is not the same as exploring trauma under the watchful eye of a therapist.

Data is literally incapable of empathy and does not understand emotions because he doesn't have any. Sending a child in emotional turmoil to him is probably the worst decision a therapist could make. It is equivalent to sending the boy to a well-meaning psychopath.
Peter G.
Wed, Aug 5, 2020, 10:37am (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

Since there is no sign here of a psychosis I'm not sure that any of that applies. It is never stated that Timothy is having an actual delusion that he is an android, nor is any emotional content in the episode indicative of a psychotic break. He's just hiding behind roleplay and imitating his hero, you know, just like the title of the episode says. It's not called hero psychosis, it's called hero worship. So no, it's not dangerous to allow him to explore being calm and at peace while he gives himself time to come to terms with what's happened. It's also not bad to let him develop a bond with someone he trusts (Data) so that he doesn't have to live the trauma alone.

It's a very nice episode, and I agree it's typically underrated. This is one of the 'watch anytime' ones.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 2:46am (UTC -6)
I think there are clear signs of a psychosis, on the other hand we both don't know much about that stuff. We both may be wrong.

The resolution is a little clean for my taste. The people who made it said something like:" Data wants to be human, now a kid wants to be Data." That drives the plot, not what kind of mental problem the kid has.

Still for me the episode did not work and Troy often says stuff that sounds sciency but has actual therapists probably up in arms.

It is interesting how many people here wanted to be Data. I guess it makes sense in a way, being an unfeeling robot who is constantly confused by the emotional beings surrounding him (theme: antagonistic relationship to ones own feelings; not uncommon in males, especially in older birth cohorts). Super strength, smart, fast.

I always identified with Picard, though. Reserved, respectful, thoughtful, baldsexy(tm).
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 3:11am (UTC -6)
Many therapists may agree with you Booming, but they are wrong.

I've seen more than one kid being sent down a downward spiral (sometimes an IRREVERSIBLE downward spiral) due to therapists who label his methods of coping as a "psychosis".

I've seen this approach leading to self-destruction, stunted social development, and in more than a few cases - suicide. I've also helped more than one kid to recover their self-respect and their ability to heal, after this kind of damage was done to them.

And you know something else? I've discovered that when kids are treated with respect and are given the proper time to heal, they eventually grow out of the need for such coping mechanisms - all by themselves.

Just like Timothy grew out of it, eventually, in this episode.

In short, I can tell you from my own experience in this field: Troi was 100% right. My respect to her grew considerably after this episode.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 3:57am (UTC -6)
I would be more impressed by this episode (which I haven't seen for years) if it did depict a psychotic break, with Troi encouraging Timothy to explore it. That was a theme being explored in the psychiatric literature of the 1990s, with the re-characterization of psychosis as a harmful state to be suppressed with medication, towards viewing it as a spiritual emergency which when explored in a supportive environment confers vast benefits upon a successful resolution.

It may not turn out to be a valid approach based on how it's depicted in the episode, but this is science fiction and based on the current science it's a perfectly valid topic to explore as a possibility. Handheld medical devices emitting magical blue healing rays are far more unlikely.

But then, I'm probably in the minority in thinking the decline of Trek is very much linked to its unwillingness to question current paradigms of thinking.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 4:29am (UTC -6)
While I understand the sentiment, even though I don't understand under what circumstances one could acquire your insights, in the end it is not a stretch to say that trained doctors will be right more often, than laymen. In other words only because a bridge collapses every now and then doesn't mean that all engineers are incompetent. But that debate is now off topic. I guess we have to disagree on the subject.

Yeah the Human mind is complex. Many people now learn a lot about medical research.

The depiction in the episode is rather unfortunate because of the interrogation of the kid at the end. That the boy blames himself is also something a therapist should assume as likely. It is a fairly common pattern to blame oneself when bad things happen. But outright calling the kid a liar, forcing the kid to have a mental breakdown in front of several people... ouch. That they find out that way how to save the ship and then it's all "back to normal" stuff for the kid. I just find it very convenient.

"I'm probably in the minority in thinking the decline of Trek is very much linked to its unwillingness to question current paradigms of thinking."
I don't think that NuTrek is interested in questioning anything. These are fast and shallow action shows. What current paradigms of thinking do you think they should tackle?
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 5:39am (UTC -6)

Different therapists use different approaches. Some agree with your view, some don't. And I don't particularly care which side is the majority. What's important is what's helpful and what's harmful.

And I'm telling you that the approach you're condoning SIMPLY DOES NOT WORK in real life.

Now, you say that we don't understand the human mind? I completely agree. This is exactly why we shouldn't fall in love with pet theories that sound nice on paper. We should, instead, rely on things that actually work to improve the lives of the people we are trying to help.

And I'm really curious to hear from you:

How come you feel so confident in your beliefs about the proper way to help kids in emotional distress?

What actual experience do you have in this field?

(and nice try calling this discussion off-topic, when it's one of the main themes of this episode)

"I would be more impressed by this episode (which I haven't seen for years) if it did depict a psychotic break, with Troi encouraging Timothy to explore it."

That could have been a *very* interesting episode. But it's also a completely different story (and a story that's much easier to botch).

Honestly, I don't think Star Trek - even in it's prime - was ever that bold on this topic. They sometimes come close, like with this episode, or DS9's "It's only a Paper Moon", or VOY's "Latent Image". But as progressive as Trek often was on other issues, it was usually hopelessly backwards on the mental health front.

Maybe the Orville will pick this idea one day? They've already done an effective message episode on the horrors of conforming kids to social expectations (complete with blaming the victims for their own plight). They seem to have the balls to do this kind of stories, which Trek usually lacks.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 6:47am (UTC -6)
"Now, you say that we don't understand the human mind? I completely agree."
I did not say that. The Human mind is complex which means that something that works in 90% of the cases is still a viable treatment.

To answer your two questions or one big question. Social science research and medical research have very similar research techniques. Both are probabilistic sciences and not deterministic ones. Which means in effect that you never have a 100% effect rate. Both work within strong boundaries because measures done because of scientists/doctors can be harmful.

To give two examples, If you make primary/elementary schools mandatory (in effect a social scientific experiment) then the literacy rate will go up as high as 90-98% (depending on the definition) but not 100%. Reason here would be: people refuse to learn, low IQ, no official status (illegal immigrants) and so on

If you have a very good medical cure then it will still not work for a few percent
and you will never have a pill that cures 100% because the Human body is also very complex.

Personally I have read hundreds of studies that involved children in some form. So I have some understanding. I also almost studied medicine and read psychological or medical studies sometimes because these fields still interest me.
In addition, quite a few told me that I am like a therapist for them which I don't like but have grudgingly accepted at this point.

What is your expertise apart from the described personal experience? And were these experiences with children or with adults describing their childhood?

See why I wanted to end this. Now I have written a page about stuff most people here aren't interested in and I cut it all extremely short already. :(
Jason R.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 7:57am (UTC -6)
Booming it's hard to believe that any therapist would describe what's depicted on screen as "psychosis". Troi's approach didn't strike me as outrageous FWIW but I am no therapist (although like you, I have had to read probably 1,000+ psych reports over the years)
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 8:40am (UTC -6)

I may have read some books and articles about the horrors of war, but I would never dream of lecturing an actual war veteran about the subject.

Seriously, what is it with so many people on the internet, that they think sitting in their comfy chairs and reading a bunch of books magically turns them into some kind of expert?

I just love this bit:
"What is your expertise apart from the described personal experience?"

You mean, apart from:

1. Volunteering in the field for over a decade and directly guiding dozen of kids and parents in need.
2. Seeing hundreds of cases develop over time with my own eyes, and directly observing what works and what doesn't.
3. Personally being in exactly the same position in the past, as these kids are in the present, and personally feeling the crushing effect of your "wonderful" ideas put to action (as well as witnessing the same effect in others, so I know I wasn't an atypical case).

That's my personal experience.

And you're asking what expertise I've got "besides that"?

Yeah, well... I admit I haven't read quite as many... ehm... *studies* as you have. Guess this means I have no choice but to concede to your vastly superior intellect.

@Jason R.
"It's hard to believe that any therapist would describe what's depicted on screen as 'psychosis'."

Yes and no.

You are right that they won't use that specific word in this situation, since there's no actual delusion involved.

But many would still regard Timothy's coping mechanism as something that's as unhealthy as an actual psychosis, and would recommend similarly drastic treatments. In short, they'll still think of Timothy as "crazy" and will do everything in their power to get that craziness out of him.

Troi's idea, to let the kid grow out of the pretense in his own time and at his own
pace, would be literally unthinkable to these people.

Hence my passionate reply to Booming. Because such therapists do exist (even if Booming used the wrong technical term) and their methods nearly always do more harm than good.

(at best/worst, such attempts succeed at snapping the person out of it before he is emotionally ready to do so, leading to much more severe problems later)
Jason R.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 9:21am (UTC -6)
Okay I defer to those with more knowledge on the topic but it just seemed to me that we were not intended to think that Timothy literally believed he was an android. It was a fantasy taken a bit far as a coping mechanism but not an actual delusion - which I presumed was a prerequisite for a psychotic break.

I mean even as an adult I am capable of having a strong emotional reaction to something unreal (like a scary movie) without literally believing a monster is going to get me. And a child's imagination is so much more malleable.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 11:41am (UTC -6)
You are easily insulted. My question was just about if you have received any actual medical training beyond being part of what I suppose is some kind of victims support group for psychological malpractice.
Well, have a nice day. I have *studies* to read.

@Jason R.
I saw it a as a psychosis. That the kid actually believes to be an android. I guess the borders between psychosis and very elevated make believe are fuzzy. But hey for really clearing that up we would need a therapist who would probably say that it's just a show and we should get a life.
Jason R.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 11:53am (UTC -6)
My six year old was once building a sand castle at the beach and was busy explaining to me all the details like this is the garage and this is the living room etc... then I pointed to the stick she planted at the top and asked her if that was the flagpole. Her response was a bemused "no daddy that's just a stick..." like I was delusional or something haha.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 12:04pm (UTC -6)
@Jason R.

Jason, you are 100% correct.

Sorry if my previous reply wasn't clear on that.

I'll try to rephrase it to make it clearer:

No psychology expert or therapist will categorize Timothy's fantasy as a psychotic break. The reason is exactly the one you stated: It's clearly just a fantasy, rather than a delusion.


There *are* psychology experts who think that "a fantasy that goes a bit far" is almost as bad as an actual psychotic break. They view it is as a pointless escape from reality which serves no long-term purpose, and will never go away on its own.

It is these experts who would deem Troi's approach to be grossly irresponsible.

It is these experts that Booming refered to (even though he used the wrong technical term of "psychosis" for the condition).

And it is these people whose view I've vehemently argued against, due to what I've personally observed and experienced.

Hopefully, I've managed to explain myself clearly, this time.
(I guess that starting my previous reply with "yes and no" did not serve the goal of being clear lol)
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 12:07pm (UTC -6)
@ Booming,

"I saw it a as a psychosis. That the kid actually believes to be an android. I guess the borders between psychosis and very elevated make believe are fuzzy."

I think it might be more accurate to say that in regards to a TV show like TNG, which combines some degree of verisimilitude with some degree of meta-theme or mythical content, you need to pick your axis of examination before getting too literal about what is being portrayed on-screen. If the show is giving us a 'mythical' case of hero-worship, contrasting the desire to be human with the desire to be emotionless after a trauma, then what we have is an allegorical tale about different aspects of what we'd wish in different circumstances. If you wanted to look at it as, say, hard sci-fi, then you'd want the tech to make sense; and if you wanted to look at it as a realistic portrayal of trauma management, then you'd want the details to be accurate and the therapy to be sensible.

It sounds to me like you want to read the episode literally, that this is a portrayal of trauma and how it's being handled. Ok, if we're going down that road then you need to really stick to what's on-screen and not add anything. If this is meant to be a literal portrayal of psychosis (notwithstanding Omicron's opinion that this actually could be realistic as portrayed) then we would expect a delusional or psychotic person to be treated *for that*. You don't handle a schizophrenic person as if he's just depressed or upset, for example. If you are looking for signs of delusion or other psychosis then I would expect the therapy to match that in some way, shape, or form. This may be the realm of a therapist, but it strikes me as being unreasonable also to suppose this is an actually delusional or psychotic person who 'gets over it' in a few days of playing at being an android. Does a delusion go away that easily? I don't know, honestly, but supposing the literal content on-screen to be a bona fide delusion seems like quite a stretch to me.

I know your response seems to be something to the effect that the therapy doesn't match psychosis situation because it's bad therapy; but this seems a bit circular to me. It should be more likely to conclude that it doesn't match the therapy for a psychosis because it isn't a psychosis. And that's if we're being literal. I think this incongruity seems even more strongly to suggest that we shouldn't be going for a literalist interpretation of the episode. You may note that people with an interest or specialty will often tend to stick its nose into matters that don't relate to it; for instance someone in real estate will watch Seinfeld's first season and will want to criticize how Costanza is portrayed as a realtor, notwithstanding the fact that the show isn't about realty and doesn't even take him seriously as a realtor, even though it does contain scenes of him showing off homes. And of course we have plenty of shows with courtroom episodes where the lawyer in the room will boast that they got XYZ wrong, even though narratively it's beside the point. It's at least worth asking yourself whether you're doing that here.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 1:11pm (UTC -6)
@ Peter G.
Thanks for the write up.

To me it just seemed odd. The kid lost his parents. Probably one of the most traumatizing experience a child can have. So yeah I saw his behavior as psychotic. One of the main gripes with this episode is how the kids development is driven by what the plot needs not what seemed realistic to me. I guess it all depends on if you find the relationship between Data and the kid emotionally engaging. I did not.

To quote from Jammer:"It relies on a child guest character we have no connection to, and then uses particularly unconvincing second-rate psychobabble to justify its lame premise."
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 1:22pm (UTC -6)
Well I'll disagree with Jammer on this one, but I do maintain that we really need to get away from seeing this as a tech plot for it to work. Hero Worship does the two quintessential TNG things that work so well: 1) Has a story focused on Data, and 2) tells a 'tech plot' that is actually about character on a meta level. Booby Trap is an example of this same thing, a character-driven story where the tech plot tells us about the person's character. In Booby Trap the issue was Geordi as he relates to people, and how the technology gets him stuck. Here the tech plot is about how raising the shields (iirc) is what's causing the problem, and how counter-intuitively one needs to lower the shields to protect oneself from the crisis. That maps on Timothy's trauma, where eventually the shields must be lowered in order to face his problem. It makes sense to raise them initially, but after some time and reasoning is applied, must be lowered again lest the increasing shield power fuel your own destruction. I find this tidy and efficient as a tech plot, but works nicely with Timothy's meta-narrative.

The one sticking point I can sympathize with is the reliance on a young guest star for any TV series - a risk at the best of times. In this case because he was tethered to Spiner for most of it I think that they were able to work with each other nicely. If it was more of an Imaginary Friend type episode it would have suffered far more for it, trying to have multiple scenes only with the child.
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 2:44pm (UTC -6)

Stop wasting my time with your drivel.

Thank you.


I agree.

If we want to know the episode's intentions, all we need to do is observe Timothy's behavior. It's obviously nothing more than a game of "let's pretend" taken to an extreme.

Moreover, we get to see the exact moment he decides to start with this fantasy: When he is alone looking in the mirror, right after Data told him that androids feel no emotions.

As for the psychotic breakdown angle: What evidence is there for it? What we see onscreen doesn't match either the standard TV stereotype of a psychotic breakdown or the real thing (which is quite different).

And regarding the question of realism vs allegory:

Expecting the show to be "realistic" doesn't really change the above conclusion, unless we want to argue that "genuinely deluding yourself into thinking you're an android" is a realistic response to a personal loss...
James G
Tue, Aug 18, 2020, 12:36pm (UTC -6)
I can certainly see a similarity of theme between this one and the previous episode, but I found this one much more engaging. I did smile when the old "trapped under a beam" cliche came out again, though.

I found it engaging and interesting. The aspect about the dark cluster and its strange powers was perhaps a bit undercooked. Perhaps if the Enterprise had been in peril for the last 30 minutes, and only the boy held the secret to their escape. Or something.

Even so, a good one. I care slightly less about whether the symptoms of the boy's trauma are realistic than whether a Heisenberg Compensator would work in the real world.

Not a lot to nit-pick in this one, either.
Fri, Aug 28, 2020, 10:05am (UTC -6)
I rather feel that medical expertise in relation to mental issues is roughly at the same kind of level of development that medical expertise in other respects was back in the 18th century. Back then that would have meant relying on bleeding patients as the treatment of choice for all kinds of conditions, often with lethal consequences.

I agree with those who would refrain from reading this as any kind of realistic narrative of how to deal with traumatised kids. It was centrally about Data, and the fable was about the way that the same quality can be seen by different people in a completely different way - Data "longs" to be able to feel emotion even if that means suffering, Timothy sees putting up a barrier to emotion as the way to avoid suffering.

And the business of putting up shields potentially causing disaster rather than avoid it neatly ties into that. In principal a very neatly designed episode, with the A and B plots reinforcing each other. It could have been better written and timed maybe. It deserves to be recycled some time in some format.
Thu, Jan 28, 2021, 7:54pm (UTC -6)
Another good Data-centric episode. Cute dialogues between him and the little boy. This deserves more than 1.5 star.
Park G
Mon, Mar 1, 2021, 7:00am (UTC -6)
You have absolutely ridiculous takes on so many solid episodes. Honestly, I read your reviews more to laugh at your ridiculous viewpoints than for any credible critical analysis.
Paulus Marius Rex
Fri, Mar 5, 2021, 9:21pm (UTC -6)
I love what you do Jammer and I have immmmmmense respect for your work. So I mean this in the best possible spirit. It’s hard to come across a rating and review like this one and not feel you have a bias against TNG. Considering the quality of this episode - and how much my kids loved it the other day - but especially considering the quality of this episode as compared to the vast majority of Discovery episodes, it’s hard to square the consistently generous ratings you’ve given to Discovery. Sure the special effects are nice, but the writing is consistently terrible (my opinion, I’ll grant) and nowhere near the standard of TNG. Leaving the other series aside, comparing these two on your site feels weird. If this is 1.5 then there should be a whole lot more disco episodes with a similar or lower rating. IMHO of course!
Thu, Mar 25, 2021, 4:55pm (UTC -6)
1 1/2 stars feels about right for this. There might be some potential in the kid idolizing Data plot, but it wasn’t really taken anywhere interesting and the kid was starting to get a bit grating by the end. And speaking of the end, the climax was just silly. Sure, we as an audience were clued in before Data solved the problem, but the real problem for me was how Data acted as he solved it. He had plenty of time to explain the shields were magnifying the problem, but instead chose to use that time to convey his belief in his plan with a silent stare. Dramatic effect? Maybe, but since we as an audience already knew what was happening, and because it was played out for a couple seconds too long, it ended up just being laughable.
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 12:20am (UTC -6)
Hero Worship

TNG season 5 episode 11

"Timothy's a boy feeling a great deal of pain. But he is a boy again.”

- Troi

2 1/2 stars (out of 4)

At this point in TNG’s run the writers have entered a period where the “sci-fi” B plots almost don’t matter.

Last week in “New Ground” the B plot was about some revolutionary yet ultimately inconsequential warp-without-warp drive technology, but all that really mattered was Worf’s relationship with Alexander. Before that we had “A Matter of Time,” in which the Enterprise came riding to the rescue of a planet suffering severe climate change, but all that really mattered was a 22nd con man and his interactions with the crew. And on and on like that for much of Season 5.

So it hardly comes as any surprise that the “sci” B plot of “Hero Worship” makes essentially no difference to the episode. What matters is that Data gets to be a dad, again.

In season 3, Data got his first taste of parenthood. In my review of “The Offspring,” I wrote how interesting it was to see Data, a sci-fi stand-in for an asexual autistic man, to have a daughter. Here the good folks at TNG take the next logical step. Data, asexual and autistic as ever, adopts a boy who is transitioning to an android.

In a line that would likely get TNG cancelled today, Troi explains the situation,

TROI: I know it sounds unusual, but it is understandable. Technically, it's called enantiodromia. Conversion into the opposite. Timothy went from human to machine, from being emotional to being emotionless. But the underlying trauma is still there. He's just found a new way to suppress it.

This marks the second episode in a row where Troi is actually pretty damn good at doing her job!

Last week in “New Ground,” some of the best scenes are Troi counseling Worf. Because, as Dr. Franklin says in the Babylon 5 episode “The Believers," sometimes, before you can heal the child, you have to heal the parent. This week, some of the best scenes (the only good scenes?) are between Data and Troi.

TROI: I'd say he's beginning the process of letting go of that fantasy.

DATA: Then my work with him is done.

TROI: No, I don't think it is, Data. A laugh is one step in the right direction. We need to help him take a few more steps.

TNG has an interesting way of exploring parenting. Other than Crusher (and of course O’Brien), none of the crew actually have their kids with them during the course of the show.

For a few episodes here and there Worf comes the closest.

Now Worf is an excellent character with many endearing qualities, not the least of which are bravery, loyalty, and honor. His friendship with Riker is a highlight for me (in “The Icarus Factor” Worf wants to join Riker if Riker leaves to become a captain). But in the thread for “Suddenly Human,” @Crobert made an interesting comment: "Why, in the everloving fuck, would Worf OF ALL PEOPLE say that a child isn't worth a war.” I think the sad truth is that Worf is just not a very good father. Which is really interesting, because Worf is a great guy, a great officer, a fantastic character, but the writers were brave enough to make him deeply flawed. And perhaps his greatest flaw - much to Alexander’s detriment - is that throughout TNG and DS9, Worf is just not a very good dad (and, given what happens to Kurn in the end, Worf wasn’t a very good big brother either).

Speaking of “Suddenly Human,” that fantastic episode is probably Picard’s finest turn at surrogate father. Again Troi is the key. She refuses to allow Picard to pass that buck on that job,

TROI: Jeremiah needs to build a relationship with a man, a father figure with whom he can explore his origins. And I think it should be you, Captain.

PICARD: Oh, no, Counsellor! Oh, no, Counsellor, I don't think so. He needs someone who is trained in these things.

TROI: But you are the only person with whom he has shown any connection. If he is to find his humanity then you are the only one who can help him. It's up to you, Captain.

Both Picard and Jeremiah come out better for the experience.

Given how poorly @Jammer has reviewed all three - Suddenly Human, New Ground, and Hero Worship - I can only surmise these reviews were written before @Jammer was thrust into the deep end of fatherhood.

Which brings us back to the episode at hand, and Data’s turn as surrogate father to Timothy.

Probably the most endearing scene is Data trying his level best to comb Timothy’s hair, but the boy just won’t keep his head still! There are other good moments, like when the foster father and son go out for ice-cream shakes, and Data says he wishes he could enjoy everything he’s been blessed with in this life,

DATA: I cannot take pride in my abilities. I cannot take pleasure in my accomplishments.

What does it mean to not be able to feel? How does having children give you a second chance to perhaps experience feelings and emotions you were not capable of before? In the end, what does it mean to be a good father.

Picard was the father Jeremiah needed in “Suddenly Human,” even if that meant in the end, giving him away. In contrast, Worf didn’t even know his own son’s birthday in “New Ground.” And things hardly change by the time we get to DS9’s “Sons and Daughters,” in which Worf didn’t know Alexander had enlisted,

WORF: I know we have not seen each other for some time, but let us talk as father and son.

ALEXANDER: I am not here to call you father. I am here to serve the Empire.

WORF: Serving the Empire was not one of your priorities when last we spoke.

ALEXANDER: As you say, that was some time ago.

Here, Data turns out - for the second time (the first was Lal) - to actually be a pretty damn good dad. In “Hero Worship,” Data is the father that Timothy needs. He gives the boy the time and attention and the feeling of safety and stability that allows Timothy to feel pain, and to start to heal.

This is by no means a great episode. It isn’t even a very good one. But it is a solid contribution to Data’s story, and for that I am grateful.
Tue, Apr 13, 2021, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
Wheras Trois psychobabbel relates to existing psychological theories that are used, the technobabbel is more or less babbel with words taken from science and put together.

So this episode is quite well describing a psychological trauma and a method to heal it.

What I like with Star Trek TOS, TNG and DS9 are the atempts to take various aspects of life and fantasy putting it in sci-fi environment. The two latest episodes where quite psychological and wery much relating to situation tha we can exparience today.

Did I thinke that the episode was good? Using stars I give it 2.5
Fri, Sep 24, 2021, 2:16am (UTC -6)
1.5 stars, Jammer? What are you playing at?! This episode may not be in my top 10, but it’s nevertheless very good. For a start, Joshua Harris is a far far better actor than the kid who played Alexander. The imitation of Data was both funny and poignant and, as Troi clearly understood, quite natural after Data rescued him from what must have seemed like imminent death.

The story of the Viko was also well developed: a ship that thought its own echoes were an attack by aliens, raised its shields, and so destroyed itself as the gravitron (!!) waves tore it apart. The way this gradually emerged, and the very real dramatic tension of the closing scenes, was effective.

Ultimately though, this is an episode about human psychology, and the stresses caused by PTSD, which Timothy was experiencing. His interactions with Data taught us as much about the android as about what it means to be a child living through extreme circumstances. It is not your typical TNG episode, but it was a vast improvement on New Ground. I’d give it a solid 3 stars.

Two trivial questions:

1. We seem to have a permanent helm now. Anyone know who she is? (Rather than just “ensign”)
2. How come Picard sometimes wears his new uniform, sometimes the old one that causes all male crew members apart from Data to tug down in the Picard Manoeuvre?!
Fri, Oct 29, 2021, 6:58pm (UTC -6)
I agree that this kid was a better actor and of all the children episodes it was probably the best but that’s not saying much. The number of children episodes in the show is horrible. If I could have taken them all out I would.

To go from Trek episodes that are not child friendly to those catering to kids is bizarre. And a number of them end up infantilizing Data or turning him, Troi, and Worf into bland bores.

The current Treks are getting better and better without kiddy episodes. For all the complaints about Discovery, I’m appreciating it.
Sun, Nov 21, 2021, 10:55pm (UTC -6)
This is certainly no "The Measure of a Man," or "The Inner Light," But I didn't think it was that bad; Maybe 2 or 2.5 stars. I disagree with Jammer's issue with the psychobabble. I thought it was reasonable, not that I'm a psychologist or anything, but it sounded plausible. As for the ending, I didn't connect the dots before our heroes when I originally saw it so I think it's logical to assume that not every member of the audience necessarily would have either.
Lawrence Bullock
Sun, Feb 27, 2022, 10:58pm (UTC -6)
I was just so relieved when the poor ensign finally got to say a line of dialogue at the episode's conclusion that wasn't "Yes sir." Seriously, she said "Yes sir" three frigging times before she got to say "Navigation is coming back on line." I let out a cheer. I've been a day player (Murder, She Wrote) and can relate.
Lawrence Bullock
Sun, Feb 27, 2022, 11:02pm (UTC -6)
I take it back. She did have an additional non -"Yes sir" line at the start.
Evil Sponge
Sun, Mar 27, 2022, 2:40am (UTC -6)
Minor nitpick time - can anyone remember any other time when the crew orders the shields to be set to a less-than-100% strength? Why not just say "shields up" like normal (other than "because otherwise the plot wouldn't work)?
Wed, May 11, 2022, 2:00pm (UTC -6)
Quite a polarizing episode, judging by the comments. I myself didn't love it, didn't hate it, and I marginally liked it more than I disliked it.

Any episode with a kid gets a thumbs-down from me. I don't care whose kid it is or how he/she got there. I'm interested in the science part of sci-fi, and a kid is by definition going to be useless on that score. There's inevitably going to be some faux-soppy drama, some emotionalization (yes, it's a word! or should be!), and some usual kid crap.

On which note, I draw a stark distinction between psychobabble and technobabble. The former is indeed extraneous at best and downright annoying most of the rest of the time. Technobabble IS NEEDED in a sci-fi show for pretty obvious reasons. There's no comparing the two.


The kid was kinda annoying but not as much as Worf's (really HATED that episode - boring as watching paint dry!!!) and there was some good "spatial anomaly" of the week to keep them on their toes... - passable, as a background window that you sometimes bring to the foreground when things heat up and destruction is imminent.
Sun, Aug 7, 2022, 8:58pm (UTC -6)
I do not have an automatic objection to "kid episodes," and in fact I have always enjoyed this particular one. But something that has always bothered me about it and some of the other "guest child actor of the week" episodes is that the series regulars are routinely shown making implicit promises to children that we see no sign they ever keep, and I don't find that very heroic.

I realize that in most cases (Alexander was an exception), the child is not going to become a regular or semi-regular character. But there could have been snippets of dialogue to let us know that the powerful relationships we saw form did continue. Data could tell Geordi about visiting Timothy at his aunt and uncle's house on SomePlanet V on his last shore leave. Riker could mention to the captain composing a subspace message to Barash and hoping the youngster didn't mind his calling him "Jean Luc." Worf's foster mother could talk about how much "your little brother" Jeremy enjoyed her rokeg blood pie.

Instead, it is as if our Starfleet officers never even crossed paths with these children.
Michael Miller
Fri, Sep 15, 2023, 3:18pm (UTC -6)
I felt like at the end data could have been more convincing with the "drop the shields" issue. He could have quickly said "no time to explain" or "the shields are causing it", not just stand there staring at the Captain for 5 seconds hoping he would trust him. That was very dumb in my opinion.
Sun, Oct 8, 2023, 10:05pm (UTC -6)
Why is the crew not freaking out that their sensors missed the kid's lifescan when they scanned the ship? He wasn't even in cryo-sleep or a coma or something. How often has the Enterprise (& other starfleet vessels) scanned wreckage & blithely flown away abandoning victims due to a faulty scan? And that's just on a tiny ship, how about a space station, a planet bound city after an earthquake (or scanning a new planet for lifeforms)?

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