Episode of the Week: 4x04 "Suddenly Human"

Discussion in 'The Next Generation' started by Jeyl, Jan 20, 2014.

  1. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    [​IMG]
    [​IMG]

    What?! What is this? Jeri Taylor, a female writer and producer joining the TNG creative staff? Man, talk about good timing. Even though Season 4 has given us some great episodes thus far, it's still carrying that "Women Haters" club banner with it's stories so intently focused on the male cast members that the female character can't even do their jobs. It's nice that after the departure of DC Fontana early on that TNG brought along another female talent into the creative process, and Jeri Taylor certainly has promise given that this is what the cast thought of her by the end of the series.

    You know TNG was bad when the female cast members say that it took a female writer and producer to show that the female characters mattered as characters. Let's see how Jeri handles her first outing!

    We open our episode with the crew discovering a lone survivor on a damaged alien ship. At first they think he's one of the aliens since he wears the same kind of uniform as the rest of the alien crew, but it turns out this boy was kidnapped when this race of aliens attacked a human colony, killed his parents and took the him so they could make him one of their own. Our heroes than decide that since he was kidnapped, he should rejoin human society. Problem is that this alien race is very strict and runs on a "women don't matter" stature which presents our crew with certain obstacles they must over come. So, this seems like a good opportunity to have our female characters take part in Jeremiah's development. Beverly herself raised her son essentially on her own and Troi can use her telepathic abilities to better understand Jeremiah's condition and how to better help him all while trying to have him adapt to the fact that women can have authority too. So in the briefing room,

    TROI: I don't think I can do anything, Captain.
    PICARD: Why not?
    CRUSHER: Troi's right. It's very clear that the boy does not respond well to women.
    DATA: The Talarians are a rigidly patriarchical society, sir.
    TROI: Jeremiah needs to build a relationship with a man, a father figure with whom he can explore his origins. And I think it should be you, Captain.​

    :ack:

    Did this episode literally have Troi and Beverly say they can't do anything because they're women? And it gets better. The only relative that Jeremiah has is a star fleet admiral who just happens to be female! I'm sure that upon realizing this incredible discovery that there is a surviving member of her family who she thought was MURDERED that she and the boy will have the chance to meet and- HA! Just kidding. The crew just return the boy back to the aliens and the admiral will no doubt be lectured by Picard that this was the right thing to do and she should just get over it. She should be happy in knowing that her grandson is alive and happy in a culture that's openly sexist, cold-blooded and condone kidnapping children and making them one of their own. Happy endings all around!

    CONCLUSION:
    I've rarely thrown my my arms up in defeat at an episode, but after so much attention and focus has been dedicated to the male characters this season, having an episode where both the main female cast members say they don't work because they're women was just... WILL SOMEONE CUT THESE LADIES SOME SLACK ALREADY?!?! And Jono is nothing special either since he comes off more of an exaggerated "rebellious rock and roll" teenager with daddy issues.

    STINGER:
    Wesley gets creamed.
     
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 30, 2001
    Location:
    Per Ardua
    Definitely on my list of Craptacular TNG episodes.
     
  3. Armored Saint

    Armored Saint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
    Location:
    Quebec City
    As I just said in another thread, when I saw this episode it was "Grrrrreat a warrior race, so orrrriginal". It's an inverted "Heart of Glory".
     
  4. Armored Saint

    Armored Saint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
    Location:
    Quebec City
    You're going too fast. They were at the first step of their intervention plan, establishing the contact. At this moment, Troi and Crusher needed to be rationnal and not idelogical. It's wat they did.

    If Picard had decided to keep Jeremiah with them, the gender issues would have been inserted into a reeducation process.

    Saying to him, "You're human, forget right now the Tellarian lifestyle and adapt to the human culture" would have been a second abduction.
     
  5. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Nov 20, 2012
    Yeah, I don't think you're reading the episode correctly. For a boy raised in a patriarchal society it would not have been productive to try to force him to connect with women. Suggesting a powerful father figure try to relate with him instead was just the smart approach to that situation. If they had convinced him to come back to the Federation, then in the long run he would have needed to learn to accept women as equals, but expecting that change over a day or two is not realistic.

    Also, do you really think it would have been best for the boy to forcefully take him away from everything he knows just because we feel our culture is morally superior?

    It's certainly not the greatest episode ever, but I don't think the things you mention are the problems with it.
     
  6. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    ^Coincidentally, the episode was also directed by a woman.

    Not a very good episode. The season started off so strongly, so it was due for a stinker. An episode of DS9 "Cardassians" tackled a similar issue, and concluded with the child returning to his blood family. Different reasons, of course, but I think Cardassians worked better than Suddenly Human.

    The Federation really needs to do a better job in choosing where it puts its colonies. Placing them so close to a belligerent alien race is a bad idea. The Talarians kill hundreds of Federation citizens, wipe out a colony, and the Federation's response is to make nice and create a treaty? Nuke the bastards!

    I hope Locutus destroys the script:

    [​IMG]
     
  7. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Jul 25, 2012
    Location:
    Va. Beach, VA
    I remember this being an absolute snooze fest.
     
  8. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    That's not really what bothers me about this episode. What bothers me is that the only reason this gender issue exists was to make "Suddenly Human" a Picard episode. Jeremaiah doesn't learn to tolerate the female gender at the end, because that's not the point of the story. It's about the moral implications of taking a child, even though he was abducted, away from a family that raised him and for all intents and purposes love him.

    That's what it's all about. The gender issue was not meant to introduce a character flaw that the protagonist has to overcome, but to ensure that the female characters don't do their job. The show isn't trying to find ways to make the female characters work, it's trying to find ways to make them NOT work.
     
  9. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Just as I tried to express in my Jeri Taylor bit, just because you bring in female talent to work on a show doesn't mean you're going to get better or even interesting female characters as a result. Sometimes it can be quite the opposite in some cases. "The Naked Now" being a painful early TNG example, and any Voyager episode written by Jeri Taylor. You just need to have someone who actually cares about these characters and do interesting things with them. TNG as a whole doesn't really show signs that it wants to move in that direction. It will, but not yet.
     
  10. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

    Joined:
    Jul 16, 2001
    Location:
    Kansas City
    I really find this episode boring. It has it's moments, sure, but overall it's just tiring to get through.
     
  11. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Nov 27, 2012
    Location:
    Bay Area, CA
    There's definitely something to be said about good and bad guest stars, especially when episodes revolve around them. You don't really notice the good ones, but you suuuuure notice the bad ones.

    I didn't get anything out of the Jono kid. I don't know if it's him or the script. Going into that annoying hum sure didn't help. The only child actor who I felt did a great job was the kid who played Ethan/"Jean-Luc" in Future Imperfect.
     
  12. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2008
    Location:
    Liverpool, UK
    I thought Season 4 was one of the best? This and last week are making me blaspheme that scripture.

    This should have been a Riker episode. Surely?

    Picard sure gets his uniform on quickly when he leaves sickbay to deliver the boy back to his captors. I can only assume he was still feeling a little lousy after being "raped" by the Borg and then stabbed by a teenager. Must have affected his ability to reason.
     
  13. The Old Mixer

    The Old Mixer Clean Old Mod Moderator

    Joined:
    Feb 4, 2002
    Location:
    Somewhere in Connecticut
    So much cringe in this one, but it borders on "so bad it's good" territory. I get some chuckles out of it.

    It's also about the opportunity to take Picard out of his comfort zone by forcing him to deal with children, as is also the case (more humorously) in "Disaster".

    What about the actor who played Rene and "Rascals" Picard?
     
  14. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    An opportunity to take Picard out of his comfort zone? The episodes we've had so far this season is nothing but Picard out of his comfort zones. The season opened with a shot of Picard as Locutus followed by him killing thousands of his Starfleet comrades and almost assimilating the Earth. The following episode had him coming to terms with the horrors of living with those experiences while at the same time trying to deal with his feelings on wanting to continue his career in Starfleet and dealing with his disapproving brother. Oh! That episode also dealt with Picard dealing with a nosy child as well! Even after that with the first post-borg episode, Data manages to take complete control of the the Enterprise that leaves Picard in a situation where he literally can't do anything.

    So yeah, we've actually done the "picard out of his comfort zone" this season, WITH KIDS NO LESS!
     
  15. Pondwater

    Pondwater Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Joined:
    Jan 27, 2011
    Location:
    Other side of the tracks
    I kind of felt bad for Jono.
     
  16. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 10, 2013
    Location:
    Ladies love Riker's beard.
    I think it's unfortunate that there was all this unnecessary hype over Taylor joining because she's woman and that being a woman would mean better characterizations for the female characters, because I don't think that ever happened. They sort of did the same thing in 1995 when billing Taylor as the co-creator of VOYAGER and the fact that Janeway was a female, but on most circumstances Taylor wrote Janeway the worst, often falling into that Mary Sue trap. Trek didn't need a female writer to serve the female characters better, it needed GOOD writers, regardless of gender. Not to say Taylor wasn't good, she delivered some great episodes here and there (looking at her credits, "The Wounded" is one of my favorites), but I don't think she was in league with the heavy hitters like Moore, Behr, Piller, ect.
     
  17. Armored Saint

    Armored Saint Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

    Joined:
    Oct 26, 2012
    Location:
    Quebec City
    On the other hand, there's rarely a story when a character is able to do his job as usual whitout any problem or doesn't have to do it into a critical situation. In The Enemy, if Beverly had been able to treat the Romulan as a Vulcan, it would have only been some words in a Captain's log, not a plot.
    You're not wrong, but I think you overcalculate it. I don't think they worked with statistics or a grid about covered themes. It's easy to make this kind of analysis when the season is totally done. It's not the same deal you're developping it.

    Jeri Taylor also worked on Unification and made the novelization. As Suddenly Human, this story explores the father/son love and the difficulty to express it. In the novel, D'Tan as a great affection for Spock. In Suddenly Human, you can see the love between the kid and his adoptive father when they knock their heads eachother. So, of course it's not a female empowerment episode, but through the virile atmosphere you see something else.

    If I was a demagogue, I would reproach you to ask that women do their job of taking care of a kid.:p:p
     
  18. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    You bring up an interesting point with the whole father/son dynamic detail. Not only has Season Four put Picard out of his comfort zone in every episode thus far, "Suddenly Human" is also the third episode in a row that deals with characters having a father/son story line. We got it with Wesley in Family, Data in Brothers, and now Picard in Suddenly Human. We're kind of running a little stale here especially with this episode kind of being "bad".

    Yep. And soon we'll be getting another one of those "father/son" dynamics very soon with this season which will take the extra step of removing a well liked female character by playing the "Women in Refrigerators" trope to it's absolute depiction. Do your worst, Ron Moore.
     
  19. Rory1080p

    Rory1080p Lieutenant Red Shirt

    Joined:
    Sep 18, 2012
    Location:
    Somerset, England
    really really didn't like this episode, just so much about it was badly done, as has been said the Talarians are just awful as a species and really seem a confused concept throughout the show, I also hate the fact that it basically says "hey, it's a messed up person who need support but will we use the councillor? NO, let's use Picard and make it super awkward" and then worse still the kid goes back to the aliens who killed his family??? just as he is remembering his life before???: NO NO NO NO NO, this is really a very bad episode that just goes so much away from what Trek should be about, I forgot how bad it was till I rewatched it on the blu-ray recently, but seriously, it's one of those really bad episodes that lets the show down for sure.
     
  20. Jeyl

    Jeyl Commodore Commodore

    Joined:
    Feb 19, 2009
    Location:
    Asheville, NC
    Oh, geez. I just thought of something. These aliens murdered this child's parents and essentially "assimilated" him into their culture without his consent. That detail alone could have made for some interesting comparisons for Picard being assimilated by the Borg, not to mention giving him some genuine motivation in wanting to take part in this. Both the aliens and the Borg captured a life form through brutal force and made it one of them without their consent (Picard through choice and Jeremiah through inability). After what Picard experienced with the Borg, wouldn't he be more hostile towards Aliens who do this sort of thing and committed to bringing Jeremiah back to his own race?