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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ST:TNG:110 - "New Ground" (Stardate: 45376.3) - this is the 10th
episode of the 5th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Worf gets a surprise visit from his mother (Georgia Brown in her second appearance as Helena Rozhenko) who brings Alexander to the Enterprise (this time played by "Family Ties" alum Brian Bonsall, in a first of many appearances). But it's not just a visit, his mother says that she and Worf's father can no longer take care of Alexander (since they are getting old) - so Worf must learn to deal with his son wanting to stay on the Enterprise permanently (even though Worf is completely against this).
At the same time, the Enterprise is picked to test a new propulsion method called a soliton wave (basically surfing along a warp current instead of using Warp Drive Nacelles anymore).
But when the experiment goes awry and Alexander becomes trapped in a bio lab, can Worf deal with the situation, come to terms with Alexander's abandonment issues.
Trivia note: Geordi mentions that seeing the soliton wave testing is like watching Zephram Cochrane perform the first warp test (which they do later on in Star Trek: First Contact!). We also get to see the Enterprise school in this episode, which Alexander is enrolled to (as well as a field trip to the Enterprise zoo!). And, we hear the legend of the fight between Kahless (the first Klingon Emperor) and his brother Moroth, as well as see Worf's calisthenics program again, and hear mention of Worf's mate/Alexander's mother, the late K'Ehleyr.
I find the episodes when Alexander shows up to be rather tiresome. I guess a kid actor has to be really good to draw my attention. I know Worf must accept responsibility for his child, but it seems to be a distraction from the science fiction element. Alexander is angry about being dumped on Earth with his grandparents and acts out when he is brought to the Enterprise. Worf uses his Klingon thing to demand obedience from his son. At no time does he consider the young lad's experience of losing his mother (and his father). Worf is too proud to accept help, seeing himself as a failure for not being the perfect father. Meanwhile, a scientist is testing a wave structure in space that will up the warp potential to many times the current limitations. When a crisis occurs with this, Worf must constantly contend with his son's problems. Eventually, the little guy gets into big trouble. I know that it is necessary to bring the psychological world into an ensemble cast like this and show Worf's human upbringing, but it becomes a bit sappy at times.
Worf's son, Alexander, unexpectedly arrives on the Enterprise along
with Worf's mother. It seems that she and Worf's father are having
problems with the boy and they think it best that Worf keep him and
show him a good manly example. Unfortunately, Worf is about as
qualified to parent as he would be teaching ballet--and he has no end
of trouble with the child. Mostly it's because the boy has never felt
wanted and is a burden to everyone--and Worf never makes this easier
because of his own difficulty with emotions (other than anger) and
tenderness. Together, they work on it...and by the end there is a
glimmer of hope that things will work out for the better.
I never was thrilled with Alexander on the show simply because the kid went from an infant to a 6 year-old almost instantly. I hate this sort of logical mess, as it always seemed contrived and silly. However, it is mildly interesting and you could show these episodes to teens to show them how NOT to parent!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
A scientist on Belena III has developed a new system that will enable
ships to travel at warp speeds without the need for warp drives by
creating a wave that the ships will effectively surf on. The Enterprise
has been invited to observe the test and inevitably something goes
wrong; the test ship explodes and the wave increases in magnitude as it
heads towards the destination planet; it grows to powerful to dissipate
as planned and could destroy the planet if the crew of the Enterprise
doesn't come up with a plan.
In a second plot strand Worf's son Alexander comes aboard the Enterprise; Worf's human adoptive parents had been raising him but found him too difficult and thought he needed to be with his father. He quickly becomes a problem for Worf after he is caught stealing a toy at school then lies about it. Worf gives him a lecture about Klingon honour and he promises to behave. He is soon misbehaving again and Worf considers sending him to a strict Klingon school. He is told to stay in Worf's quarters but goes out and is put in danger when the Enterprise is getting into position to destroy the deadly wave.
This episode was somewhat disappointing; the story involving the new propulsion system was fairly light and was mainly there to create a danger at the end of the episode. The story involving Worf and his son is clearly what this episode is really about and unfortunately it is just too soapy. Child characters in 'Star Trek' have a habit of being more annoying than sympathetic and Alexander is no exception. It also raises the question as to why there are any children living on the ship given how often they are sent on dangerous missions; a question nobody on board even seems to consider! Overall a rather disappointing episode in this usually reliable series.
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