REAL LIFE - 3x22 - 5/5
Finally, I was beginning to worry I wouldn't be awarding any 5 star episodes this season, but here we have 'Real Life' which I find one of the most emotional episodes Trek has ever produced.
Picardo is just great throughout this episode as he experiences the variety that family life has to offer. His perfect family is just sickeningly hilarious by the way - I was literally laughing out loud at them and B'Elanna's reaction is just great. There's also some great touches when the family life becomes more serious, like the fact that Jeffrey is attracted to other cultures and thinking it's cool, like so many teenagers who are seeking to rebel in order to establish their own identity.
Now, whilst I have stated before that holodeck dramas don't really work for me, this is VERY different. The Doc's family may be un-real to us, but to him, they are VERY real and the emotional connection he feels is real and that's where the emotional core of this episode comes from and is why this is such an excellent episode. The Doctor learns through a horrific personal tragedy what life can be like for the rest of us and the ending to this is absolutely heartbreaking. I have no qualms in admitting this reduced me to tears.
The episode may have it's flaws and the external anomaly episode doesn't really connect with the Doctor's story at all, but I don't care. There's also some smaller stuff going on like the furthering of Paris and B'Elanna's storyline which is all well and good. Plus whilst I have found the CGI in this season has been a bit hit and miss, the special effects sequences in this episode are absolutely stunning.
At the end of the day though, the Doctor's storyline is the core of this episode and is so strong that it stands on it's own well enough and in conclusion, if this episode doesn't resonate with you on an emotional level you aren't human.