Bloodlines (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 7, Episode 22) Angry Ferengi threatens a son Picard didn’t know he had

Rewatching ST:TNG

The Ferengi whose revenge scheme (s1e8 “The Battle“) involved planting a large thought-control device in the cabin of the starship Picard abandoned 15 years ago in order to force Picard to relive flashbacks of a battle is back, this time using a probe to announce his plan to kill a young man he says is Picard’s son. But soon the Enterprise-D finds the man and beams him safely aboard, but…um… It’s complicated.

Picard had a fling with Jason Vigo’s mother 24 years ago, but lost touch with her. Crusher confirms that Vigo is indeed Picard’s son. But, um… It’s complicated.

I found the episode awkward and forced. Picard is heroic and focused. Jason is cynical and drifting. Picard explores the stars. Jason explores caves, which are, like, opposites. Get it? (Jason mentions “spelunking,” but as I learned while researching Colossal Cave Adventure, a popular bumper sticker in caving country reads “Cavers rescue spelunkers.”)

Jason asks about the financial value of Picard’s archeological trinkets, and hits on Counsellor Troi.

Picard goes to Crusher for advice. He wants to back off, but Crusher advises persistence and patience. Jason warns Picard there’s no particular reason for them to get to know each other, as he plans to go off on his own as soon as he can.

Bok somehow visits Picard in his quarters, repeating his melodramatic threat against Jason’s life. A probe shows up and explodes in a flash of light that Data translates as a coded message, “My revenge is at hand.” Then Bok shows up in Picard’s ready room, with more melodramatic speechifying. Data and LaForge suspect he is using plot contrivance particles to technobabble the jimberjam, which means the scriptwriters are about to defy some of their own in-universe rules for the sake of the plot.

Jason has been having hand tremors and seizures. Crusher says his situation is treatable, but fortunately for the story, it’s serious enough to make him a more sympathetic character.

Although the plot of this episode is a mess, and the “protagonist discovers he has an adult son he didn’t know about” trope is not exactly fresh, the episode leaves room for a long scene in which Jason is rock climbing on the holodeck, and Picard climbs up to join him on a ledge. It’s a good two-character scene, as Picard asks after his former lover, and listens to Jason’s story. I get the idea that the writers started with this scene, then looked for an excuse to use it somewhere.

Even though Bok is a disgraced former commander and convict, the technobabble scenes are designed to invite us to pretty please take Bok’s threats seriously, even though the Enterprise-D is supposed to be the Federation’s flagship. For a first- or second-season episode, this would have been okay, but this close to the series finale, this episode was a real disappointment.