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Old April 11 2008, 11:19 PM   #1
Rear Admiral
The Bonding

Plot Summary: Archaeologist Marla Aster is killed by a millennia-old explosive buried on a planet by a race destroyed in its final war. Worf blames himself for the tragedy, and Picard is faced with telling Lieutenant Astor's young son that his mother has died. Troi worries both about Worf's internalizing his guilt and Jeremy Astor's inability to express his grief and anger. Worf wishes to perform the Klingon bonding ceremony, the R'uustai, with Jeremy, but both Troi and Crusher think it may be too soon for the child to accept such a step. They suggest that Wesley share his own experiences of having lost a parent in the line of duty; Wesley, however, is reluctant to reopen those old wounds. Meanwhile, an alien presence visits the Enterprise and takes on the form of Marla Aster, who promises Jeremy that they will live on the planet together in their old house from Earth and she will never leave him again. When Worf discovers her presence, Picard orders scientific teams to figure out how the alien is reaching the ship from the planet's surface and sends Troi to try to make Jeremy acknowledge that the presence of this miraculous person who can transform their quarters into their former home cannot possibly be his real mother. Aster admits to Picard that she is an energy being who survived the war on the planet below and vowed that no one else would suffer as a result of that conflict. She wishes to take responsibility for Jeremy's happiness, but Picard insists that part of being human is feeling grief. Wesley helps the younger boy to face his loss by admitting that he hated Picard for a long time because Picard had led the mission that killed Jack Crusher, just as Worf led the mission that killed Marla Aster. Jeremy chooses to stay on the ship and agrees to perform the R'uustai with Worf.

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Old April 12 2008, 12:14 AM   #2
Rear Admiral
Re: The Bonding

The Bonding is one of my favorite TNG episodes. I've never understood why so many find it lacking.

I thought it was an emotional hour crammed full of nicely done character scenes--Troi/Picard in the turbolift discussing having children onboard, Riker/Worf, Worf/Jeremy, Bev/Wes talking about Jack and his death, the reflective Data/Riker exchange in Ten Forward where Data tries to understand how familiarity affects the weight of a loss felt by a person and Riker bringing up Tasha with that poignant statement about if every one felt the loss of a single life as keenly as we do of that of a loved one history wouldn't be so bloody. Troi was put to good effect here and her counsel to Worf or Picard or Jeremy all rang true. I liked Wes' role and how he finally opens up about blaming Picard for his dad's death.

I loved Picard's speech at the end of the hour about death to the entity was quite moving. I enjoyed the mystery and the idea that there had been two forms of life on the planet and that the non-corporeal beings had witnessed so much death that they felt compelled to spare Jeremy suffering. And I actually liked Jeremy and I thought the scene at the end was a nice way to close the hour out.

Overall everything just felt natural and real.
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Old April 12 2008, 12:26 AM   #3
Lieutenant Commander
Location: Indianapolis, IN, USA
Re: The Bonding

I've always felt this episode was a clunker. I believe there's no such thing as a good child actor, and this episode lends further credence to that theory.

I can't think of one redeeming quality. And the more I think about it the more I realize I shouldn't try to remember. For example, the old noggin just summed forth that Wesley had around five minutes of screentime, all whiny.

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Old April 12 2008, 08:34 AM   #4
Re: The Bonding

First, the review itself was thoughtful and well written. I think MEG agrees with you, "startrekwatcher", but also points out some of the weaker plot points. It's hard to portray such ideas about death and grief in a one-hour TV drama. All-in-all, I thought the episode was one of the strongest of that season.

Also, it's patently obvious that "T.Geiger" has never acted or lost anyone close to him/her. Am I wrong? When it happens, and it will, let me know if you get all "whiny".
Looking to build Element #137 (Feynmanium)
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Old April 12 2008, 10:10 AM   #5
Jack Bauer
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Location: Jack Bauer
Re: The Bonding

I always thought it was a good episode. I heard that the kid who played Jeremy was a major pain in the ass on set. And one good thing came from this got Ron Moore into the Star Trek door.
"See you in another life, brotha." - Desmond David Hume - Lost
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Old April 12 2008, 06:45 PM   #6
Rear Admiral
Re: The Bonding

Pioneer wrote: View Post
I think MEG agrees with you, "startrekwatcher", but also points out some of the weaker plot points.
I just was actually referring to the way a lot of fans look down on this episode not MEG. I just always found that it was under-appreciated.
It's hard to portray such ideas about death and grief in a one-hour TV drama.
Agreed and for that very reason I thought "The Bonding" should get a lot more credit. It nicely covered a whole array of reactions and I actually was emotionally invested in Jeremy and his loss which is impressive given as MEG pointed out we never really knew Marla Aster except for the recordings.

And I know the child actor gets slammed a lot but I think a lot of what is perceived as bad acting really was just his trying to come across as numb and in shock to the loss.
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Old April 14 2008, 03:58 AM   #7
DorkBoy [TM]
Re: The Bonding

Good review, I agree with most all of it.

I have always felt like The Bonding is actually one of the weaker episodes of Season 3, which is a testament to just how good that season was, because this episode is pretty good.

It's cool to go back and watch some of these and realize "This was Ron Moore's FIRST episode." Same with Piller a few episodes back. Funny how things really came together for Star Trek that year.
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