‘Suddenly Human’ (TNG) (TV)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is a ‘TNG’ episode that looks into Picard as a parental father figure, a role he’s reluctant to undertake but gradually becomes good at it. Picard finds himself parenting this long-lost human boy.

‘Suddenly Human’ begins when the Enterprise responds to a distress call from a Talarian vessel. An away team led by Commander Riker beams over to the Talarian vessel to rescue the surviving crew.

The survivors happen to be five teenagers who are also boys. Four happen to be Talarian, while the fifth is human. The human boy happens to be Chad Allen as Jono, who was adopted by the Talarians.

I have to tell you, I don’t consider this as one of my favourite ‘Star Trek’ episodes from the ‘TNG’ series. But having watched it again, the story itself is reasonably decent and was mesmerising to see.

I suppose the issue I have with this episode is the boy Jono himself. Chad Allen delivers a fine performance in the episode, but I’m not happy with how he was raised up by this enemy alien race.

Jono was once Jeremiah Rossa, a long-lost son of two parents in the Federation. His parents were killed when the Talaraians attacked their colony. Jeremiah was adopted by the Talarian leader Endar.

I find the attitude and behaviour Jono has as a human boy being like a Talarian quite unnerving. It’s a shock he took on the Talarian mannerisms and traditions and not be disturbed by them all this time.

I also question why Endar would want to adopt Jeremiah and rename him Jono, since he murdered his parents. It does make for an unusual character development, but it’s not properly explored here.

Even the Federation, Starfleet and Picard question Endar’s actions as he explains himself. It’s soon decided that the Federation are going to take Jeremiah back, despite Endar’s claims of wanting him.

Jono forms this unusual respect and obedience to Picard when he meets him. Counsellor Troi suggests that Picard becomes a father figure to Jono, but Picard is reluctant to take aboard this task.

Picard doesn’t feel comfortable with children and the task of guiding Jono isn’t really what he’s used to in Starfleet. He manages to forbid Jono doing any Talarian traditions he’s acquired over the years.

He also lets Jono stay in his quarters when the boy isn’t happy with the ones he’s given. Jono plays loud Talarian music at some point in the TV tale, to which Picard commands to stop when he enters.

There are moments when Picard helps Jono recall his human family. Jono is first angered and doesn’t want to talk about it. But Jono soon has memories of his family returning to him during the TV story.

Gradually as the episode develops, Jono begins to see more of his human family’s history including a video letter from his grandmother who is a Starfleet admiral. This gets so difficult for Jono to accept.

Picard and Jono soon play a game of racquetball, which seems to go well at first. But Jono soon gets more memories flooding back about his parents’ deaths. He soon breaks down and cries like a baby.

There’s also a scene in Ten Forward where Jono meets Wesley and accidentally smashes a bowl of ice cream/banana split all over him. It’s a very funny scene and I laughed out loud when I watched it.

But these scenes of Jono becoming more human don’t actually make him change and accept his humanity. During the night in Picard’s quarters, Jono attacks the captain as he stabs him with a knife.

This act of violence transpires to Picard that Jono’s wishes have not been considered by anyone. Picard says Jono should make his own decision about whether he wants to stay with the Federation.

As well as Chad Allen as Jono, there’s Sherman Howard as Endar, Jono’s adoptive father who seems to really love him. Barbara Townsend also guest stars as Admiral Rossa, Jono’s human grandmother.

‘Suddenly Human’ isn’t what I consider a great ‘Star Trek’ episode. It’s fairly decent about Picard being a father figure to Jono. But the episode’s conclusion didn’t satisfy me with points unresolved.

In fact, this episode should have had more of Wesley interacting with Jono and seeing them as friends. There’s also this sexism thing where Jono and the Talarians believe the males are superior.

‘Suddenly Human’ rating – 5/10

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