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Star Trek: TNG – The Inner Light (A Review)

September 25th, 2009 . by Tim Babb (TANcast's #1 Host/Editor Fan)

30 Days and 30 Blogs: Day 25

Trek haters be warned…thar’ be Trek a’comin’!

During the 5th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation there was an episode entitles “The Inner Light.” If you’re even a casual fan of the show, you probably know it. The episode won a Hugo Award, was nominated for an Emmy, and is consistently among the highest rated episodes in all of Star Trek.

It’s also one of my favorite episodes of Trek. It was recently on WGN so I made sure to save it on the DVR. I’ll describe the episode as briefly as I can. Captain Picard and the usual crew are on the bridge when a strange probe floats by. All of a sudden the probe sends out some beam and Picard falls down unconscious. When he wakes up, he’s on strange planet and everyone is calling him “Kamin.” He lives out a full lifetime on that planet in the span of 25 minutes. To summarize the plot more than this does the episode a huge disservice. You really should watch it, even if you’re not a fan of the Trek (hence I have saved it to watch with my wife) “The Inner Light” represents so much about what I like about Star Trek, yet is really an atypical episode.

There is no “villain” in the episode. No hostile alien attacking (Unless you count the probe attaching to Picard as an “attack.”) Most of the regular crew are barely in the episode…in fact Troi makes no appearance at all. There isn’t a great load of technical babble like there is in many episodes. There is a little to set up the premise of Picard’s predicament, but mostly it’s just Picard living a life on a drought plagued planet.

But what it does manage to do is deliver some great character moments. Despite all the rockets and lasers, Star Trek’s appeal has always been it’s great characters. And they manage to get some great drama out of this whole new set of characters that you didn’t know 30 minutes ago, but they tug violently at your heart strings for the bitter sweet finale of the episode. Plus it’s just such an interesting concept. What if you fell asleep tonight and then spent what seemed like 40 years living another life? …but then when you wake up…and you’re back in your bed…only one night had passed. How do you go back to your life after you’ve spent what seemed like 4 decades being somewhere else and someone else? Or imagine if you woke up tomorrow and all the experiences you’ve had up until now weren’t “real.” You had to go back to a whole other life that you’d forgotten about. Doesn’t that set our imagination on fire?!

To top it off, there is a haunting melody that Picard learns to play on a special flute. Which Picard plays as the show fades to credits. It is one of those songs that runs around in your head long after the tv is off, stirring up emotions as it goes. It was good enough to be fleshed out into a full orchestrated piece for Star Trek’s 30th anniversary and you can hear it in my Star Trek themed Kingdom Comedy.

I know I’m not the first to write about this episode, nor have I probably even come close to breaking new ground in my “analysis,” but I felt I should throw my two cents about this episode. It is a great episode of television that not only entertains but truly makes you feel something. It’s a shame some people will never see it because they don’t watch “that nerdy Star Trek crap.”

5 Responses to “Star Trek: TNG – The Inner Light (A Review)”

  1. Geoff Says:

    Oh man, I haven’t watched that episode in years. I actually forgot about it. As I recall now, it really was that great.

    It’s a shame when anything that has real worth is ignored because of uninformed prejudice. But sometimes it’s nice to be part of a group that knows something others don’t. It allows us to be smug. šŸ˜›

  2. Mike (TANcast's #1 Fan) Says:

    I don’t ignore it because it’s “that nerdy Star Trek crap.” I like nerdy crap… except Star Trek. I used to enjoy TNG, but not so much any more.

  3. David Says:

    Honestly, I count it as the best Star Trek episode ever, if not the best episode I’ve ever seen of anything on TV (though that might be a tough call to make). That melody which plays into the start of the opening credits made me cry the first time. And the second time. And, at some point in the future, it probably will again.

  4. Jon Says:

    My only problem is… These people can make a probe that can follow the Enterprise and match it’s speed. This probe can get into someones mind and create this totally interactive “life”. Yet, they cannot build a vessel to transport some of thier own to another planet. In the episode Picard/Kamin suggests evacuation and is told they barely have the technology to launch a missile.
    I enjoyed the episode, but it seems they could have built a ship to take at least some of the population to a safe haven.

  5. Annoying Spambot Says:

    For awhile,I believed i was afraid Star Trek was a dying franchise. Then JJ Abrams came along. Great touch. The scene with kid Kirk was a bit too quirky in the movie, though it was very hot in the trailer. Star Trek XI breathed new life into this favorite Roddenberry world. I’d like to see all of this Enterprise cast recurrence for more outings. I grew up with the first series. Heck, my dad got us a color TV just so we could see Star Trek every Friday evening. These days, I’m stuck on these new actors. In MHO, they have breathed life into their characters and made them their own. I, personally, am awaiting more.

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