Second Union

Second Union


“Last night while I slept… something, which I can only describe as a presence, entered my body.”

Oh wow, Troi gets pregnant, right? There are two camps that have different reactions to this episode. The first camp says, “This is a mission of exploration, seeking out strange new worlds, yadda-yadda-yadda.” The other camp says, “This is rape.” It could be. A form of rape; involuntary sexual congress in some form I can’t easily identify. “The Child” was Star Trek: The Next Generation’s second season premiere episode, and I didn’t plan on reviewing it, but I watched it for the umpteenth time last night, and I had a few thoughts. First off, we’ve had some changes. Worf’s baldric, uniform, and skin color have changed. Geordi is now chief engineer, and as is par for the course, he becomes insufferable because of it.

Beverly’s been put off the ship. Well, she was promoted to an administrative position, heading Starfleet Medical. This is a doctor who doesn’t know how to cure headaches, has no idea what a cold is, and believes that people don’t fear death in the 24th century, but yeah, we might bring her back so make her the head of Starfleet Medical for now. Enter Kate Pulaski (Diana Muldaur) and her sassy, no-nonsense, “kiss my grits” approach to medicine. Nobody likes her (in fact, Picard was prepared to chew her out in their first interaction), but Troi trusts her, probably more than perpetually frantic Beverly Crusher, to deliver her baby.

Pulaski notes that Deanna will deliver the baby in 36 hours, and there is no indication of any genetics outside of Human and Betazoid DNA. The discussion among the senior officers is very interesting. Worf wants to abort the baby. Riker is, of course, protective of Troi. Data wants to study the baby. Picard, rather unwisely*, accedes to Troi’s wish to keep her baby. (She’s keeping her baby, ooh-oh, she’s gonna keep her baby) In the middle of all of this, the Enterprise is to ferry some nasty viruses to a planet in need of medicine to cure a plague. The great character actor Seymour Cassel plays the eccentric scientist, Hester Dealt, in charge of transporting the viruses.

Deanna goes into labor and asks Data to be the “father” in the delivery room as she gives birth. Old-school New York City cinematographer Eddie Brown’s close-ups of Marina Sirtis are some of the most beautiful I’ve ever seen. The quality of the production as a whole seems to have been stepped up. This is one of a few Next Generation episodes to have shot additional scenes that were deleted from the finished episode. Deanna names her child Ian Andrew after her father and he grows at an alarming rate. After only a few hours, he looks to be about four years of age. Ian tells Picard, “Please don’t worry. Everything is okay,” which is just about the creepiest thing you don’t wanna hear from a child.

A problem develops despite Geordi’s guarantee that his containment module will keep the ship and crew safe. The viruses are starting to grow, which means there is something on the ship that is stimulating the growth. It turns out it’s Ian, and he knows this, so he decides he should “leave.” Deanna takes this the wrong way, meaning he’s going to kill himself. Ian’s “mission” was not unlike the mission of the Enterprise – to boldly go, yadda-yadda-yadda. He learns about a people or a civilization by going through the process of being born and living as a person in that civilization. What’s wrong with a hot cup of coffee and a handshake?

I must admit I never considered the “rape” aspect of this until I started reading Zack Handlen’s AV Club reviews nearly ten years before. Even after all of this, Hester Dealt tells Geordi they may never find a cure for the plague! What?! Wesley, after a pep talk from Ten Forward bartender, the mysterious Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg), asks Picard for permission to remain on board the ship. Picard agrees as long as Data makes sure he does his homework, Riker talks to him about the birds and the bees, and Worf tucks him in at night.

*The oft-repeated mission statement of Starfleet and the Federation is to seek out and contact alien life. There was never a provision for involuntary alien impregnation, nor would Troi insist on carrying the alien child to term were it not for the writers (Jaron Summers and Maurice Hurley, working from Jon Povill’s Star Trek: Phase II script) changing the characterizations of Picard and Troi for this episode. In any other similar scenario, the child would not be permitted to live. Picard’s decision makes very little sense given the danger of their mission.

Star Trek Rewind explores the Star Trek universe. From Archer to Janeway, Kirk to Picard, and Georgiou to Sisko — boldly read what no one has read before!

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