TNG Episode 1.17: When the Bough Breaks

In which won’t somebody please think of the children?

Memory Alpha says: The children of the Enterprise-D are kidnapped by a dying race that has mysteriously become infertile en masse. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
I have zero memory of this episode, and I’m sure not excited about it. I hope I don’t need to use the ‘dullsville’ tag again. I wonder when the next cool episode of this show is?

  • Riker kind of likes little kids running into his legs. Again, he demonstrates that he knows the names of seemingly all the little kids on the Enterprise, which is one of the aspects of his character I find rather lovable.
  • So in The Future, small boys who are thigh-high to a Riker are already learning calculus… but they hate it. That’s a bit sad and hothousey.
  • Riker limps onto the bridge, and greets Data by pulling a finger-gun at him. That’s adorkable. Is this going to be a Riker Is Cute episode?
  • I really like the fact that Picard alludes to Hansel and Gretel with his trail of breadcrumbs analogy, since this is going to be a story about stealing children. I always think the real villains of that story are the parents, though, and I really hate H and G’s father, who lets his new wife talk him into abandoning his children in the forest.
  • Beverly’s hair is looking lovely! They’ve lightened it up a lot with some wavy layers. It looks bouncy and I want to hug her and feel it brush against my cheek.
  • Poor Riker has to deliver some really clunky lines to a confused Tasha about the ‘wondrous, mythical’ planet of Aldea. Frankly, I don’t see Riker being that excited about any planet that doesn’t offer free jazz concerts and frisky ladies. Perhaps jazz concerts and frisky ladies are what he has in mind when he mentions ‘art and culture.’
  • Interesting application of Deanna’s inconsistent psychic powers: she can detect an entire cloaked planet. Shouldn’t she also be able to detect cloaked ships? That would be hella useful. ‘Captain! Dozens of minds are approaching us! They feel Romulan and warbirdy.
  • And so, because Deanna Troi had a funny feeling, the Enterprise discovers an entire hidden planet that nobody could find for centuries.
  • In this scene, Beverly is on the bridge for no reason. She hasn’t even had any important lines. I know Bones used to just come up and hang out from time to time, but that doesn’t seem so in character for Bev. Like with Bones, I always got the impression it was because he got a little bit bored and lonely and wanted to see his friend Jim and take a few shots at Spock (seriously, if Spock had pigtails Bones would dip them in an inkwell). Beverly seems more emotionally self-contained than that.
  • A pretty lady answers the phone! Riker looks jazzed, and Picard comes over shy as he introduces himself. Actually, she’s not just pretty, she’s lovely. And appears to be sitting in a groovy geodesic dome.
  • The beautiful lady and a total Hey It’s That Guy! unexpectedly beam in on the bridge, and I really want to see if I can remember who he is without having to look it up.
  • Bev is upset that they haven’t been through ‘decontamination,’ so who knows what kind of cooties they have. At least they brought Picard a totally awkward hostess gift! Haha! It’s a cornucopia full of pink flowers! Picard hands it off to Riker, who just sticks it on the Wesley seats beside the main command chairs. I think this man was Deep Throat in The X-Files.
  • Curiously, the Aldeans beam off Riker (the person who is keenest on them) and Beverly and Deanna (the people who are most suspicious of them).
  • Wesley and Data are having an endearing little nerd chat when a yellow beam shines into the bridge and zaps Wesley. Picard barks ‘Don’t touch him!’ because frankly he is hoping this kills Wesley without him being responsible. (I vacillate between ‘Picard loves Wesley really’ and ‘Picard detests Wesley’ with erratic frequency.)
  • I see Riker is noshing.
  • Deanna’s hair accessories are looking particularly sparkly today.
  • So these people have a Children of Men problem – they are having no more children, and their youngest is the stunner who answered the phone earlier. I love her ridiculous side-ponytail-braid hairstyle.
  • Now, when Deep Throat proposes a trade of Federation children for Aldean knowledge, Deanna says that might be acceptable to other races, but humans are unusually attached to their offspring.  Of any of the major species we’ve encountered in Star Trek, do any of them seem unattached to their offspring? Even the bastard Cardies love their kids to bits. The whole point of ‘Devil in the Dark’ was how much the Horta loved her children and how miserable she was that they were being killed. Also, even in a civilisation doing as well as Earth, there must be orphan children who would be better off adopted into families than living in foster care or group homes. As long as the whole thing was closely and carefully supervised to make sure the children were being adopted as family members and brought up with love and kindness (not a shitty situation like the Home Children scheme, in which many of the child migrants ended up as virtual slaves), I really could see it being a good thing for all concerned. Beverly sternly says ‘Our children are not for sale at any price,’ which is kind of a dim view to take of adoption.
  • Just taking a selection of other children from around the Enterprise does not seem like a great response to all this. I would have thought Wesley was a bit old to be any good as an adopted child who you want to become a full member of your society. This episode must’ve sucked for Wil Wheaton.
  • Interesting to note that the Aldeans have taken two boys (not including Harry, who ran into Riker during the teaser) but four little girls. I wonder if they prefer daughters? Wes has absolutely no chemistry with the other children, which is pretty understandable for a fourteen-year-old boy who desperately wants to be counted among the adults. The little girl standing next to him is spectacularly unfortunate-looking – round-shouldered, pudgy in the way pre-adolescent girls sometimes get shortly before their hips and boobs come along to make sense of their shape, wearing an unflattering saggy dress and with frizzy, mop-like hair. I am not calling her an ugly kid, just saying that Star Trek caught her at possibly the most awkward period of her life and immortalised it on video. All the others look pretty cute, especially the little carrot-topped girl in the coral frock.
  • Oh the little red-haired girl is freaking adorable. Her dress gives her butterfly wings! My ovaries hurt!
  • Little red-haired Alexandra’s mother is called Toyah, and she has mall hair and way too much makeup. She also, apparently, works in Engineering, where I’m sure her huge hair is a daily impediment to her duties.
  • I doubt anyone thought ‘the risks’ included their children being abducted by childless aliens.
  • I wonder if Aldeans are genetically compatible with humans, and if some sort of intermarriage programme would enable them to breed again. I mean, even if they got to keep Wesley and the other kids, that would mean their next generation wasn’t genetically Aldean anyway. Ew, and Wesley and the other boy would have to marry the little girls when they grew up.
  • Actually, I think the other little boy is supposed to be Harry, because his father is the one who was yelling about calculus. I just didn’t recognise him. I like Harry’s dad’s accent.
  • Oh Jesus Alexandra is adorable. The super-pretty lady is playing with her. I would want to keep her too. Alexandra is clearly not at all upset about being away from Toyah and her hair.
  • Harry looks rightly suspicious of his new parents, who reckon they’re going to turn him into an artist. Well, at least it’s not calculus, right Harry?
  • Katie gets given to an apparently single old man. Creeeeeeeeeepy.
  • Wesley’s hair is hilarious. It’s doing this little cockatoo crest thing at the front.
  • Super pretty lady has already totally bonded with Alexandra and won’t let her designated adoptive parents take her. No wonder, because as I believe I may have mentioned, Alexandra is adorable.
  • So Wesley gets introduced to the Custodian computer, which is obviously a huge mistake. Pretty Okudagrams, though. So this is yer basic ‘these people are childishly dependent on their computer’ story.
  • So are the Aldeans right that Harry has a talent for sculpture that just isn’t being recognised and encouraged? This episode is, perhaps inadvertently, painting a rather dim picture of Fed education, in terms of how well it engages children and brings out their individual abilities. Alexandra is getting to play a cool hologram game.
  • Data’s second ‘Oh! I see, sir’ is Alexandra levels of adorable, and Riker’s smile suggests that he thinks so too.  Jesus Christ he’s cute. Why am I so susceptible today? I’m not ovulating.
  • It’s just so short-sighted of the Aldeans not to try to arrange legitimate adoptions. There’s a buttload of Cardassian and Bajoran war orphans that they could have for nothing. Okay, Cardassian children aren’t very cute, but they’re spunky and durable and they’ll eat anything.
  • Wesley is the world’s worst person to try to pass something surreptitiously. He turns his hand right over and opens it up – I know it’s to show it to the camera, but clearly stealth and Wesley are not acquainted.
  • What was up with that gesture Wesley made behind Duana’s head? It looked like he was trying to pet her hair but didn’t actually want to touch her. Came out really creepy. Oh, he was doing something with the device Beverly passed him, and he gave it back to her. How’s that going to pay off?
  • Data is sitting with his legs really far apart. I don’t know why I’m noticing that, other than ‘if Data is in a scene I will be staring at him.’
  • Someone’s car alarm is going off in the street and it’s annoying me, particularly because the Enterprise‘s red alert sirens are going and they’re out of synch.
  • Katie is getting a sort of psychic music lesson on a thing in between an autoharp and a Simon game. It does look like a really cool instrument, and I like its rainbow light keys. Awwww, but the song in her heart is a sad one.
  • Harry is making cool carvings, and calculus suxxxx. No arguments here.
  • Picard: Data, find a way to defeat that shield!
    Data: That may be impossible, sir.
    Picard: Things are only impossible until they’re not!
    Data: Yes, sir. (looks completely bewildered, my ovaries hurt, etcetera)
  • Beverly comes in and drops some knowledge, because she is as competent as she is groovy. I suppose the idea will be that the power source for the Custodian is harming the population with leaky radiation.
  • Awww, Harry made a dolphin! But how much work is there for an oceanographer on the Enterprise? I know they visit planets with oceans, but they don’t spend a lot of time on them.
  • Wesley’s actually being quite the grown-up little man here. You go, space princess!
  • Why is Wesley whispering? If the Custodian whispered back, it would be hilarious. But it doesn’t.
  • Wesley creeps up on Katie while she’s sleeping. Oddly, he shushes her with his pinkie sticking out, like he’s throwing up goats.
  • It’s the ozone layer? Boooooo. Anyway, I’m from New Zealand, we have no ozone layer for most of the year, and we’re still having babies.
  • Whoa, hey, there are two little boys in the group now, and I could only see one when they were first brought onto Aldea. Maybe that explains why I was confused about whether Harry came along. The poor little pudgy potato-shaped girl hasn’t got her own storyline, not like Harry, Alexandra or Katie. She doesn’t even get to speak.
  • The way Wesley slows down his voice to say ‘passive resistance’ sounds super condescending. Ha ha, Alexandra is petting a toy rat in front of her on the table.
  • Oh my God Alexandra is wearing Jellies. The blessing of Claudia Kishi is upon this episode.
  • Yay, Beverly can fix the Aldeans!
  • Harry’s adoptive mom brings the kids a yummy deli platter, and Alexandra wants some. Wesley is actually really sweet talking to her, and he kisses her on top of the head and it doesn’t seem forced or creepy. Awww. Well, everyone wants to kiss Alexandra, because did I mention she’s adorable.If you exposed people to Data and Alexandra at the same time, they might die of cuteness.
  • You know, if Wes came up with the passive resistance idea on his own, that’s pretty good for a dweeby teen boy.
  • Haha, look how creeped out Picard is by the children. He gets a hug from Alexandra. He is bewildered and repelled, partly because she rubs her toy rat on his face.
    Dweeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeee.
  • Good God, do I want Picard to have a kid one day. If she’s a darling little red-haired girl, that would be perfect.
  • Bev is being nice and assertive here. And she is pissed off, not just as a mum but as a goddamn scientist.
  • The super pretty lady is smart and open-minded too! When Deep Throat’s sleeve button doesn’t work, Wesley looks adorkably stoked in the background. Seriously, he looks like he wants to squee.
  • Oh my God all the little girls have been wearing Jellies for the whole episode.
  • Wow, I don’t know how they did this set, I presume a combination of matte painting and miniatures and composite shots, but it is awesome-looking.
  • So Harry and his father’s conflicts are resolved instantaneously. That kid is going to grow up hating calculus so bad.
  • Wesley brings Alexandra onto the bridge, to give Picard a little bunch of flowers. Picard barks ‘Wesley!’ in a tone of barely suppressed panic. Keep the little cute thing away from me, it makes me feel weird and gooshy!
  • Picard bobs down on one knee, looking incredibly uncomfortable, and gets his second hug of the episode.
  • a floral tribute
  • Plinky pizzicato music plays, which I always find an irritating ‘you must now be amused’ signal, as Picard gets up, looking at his little branch of flowers (okay, so this is also the second time Picard is given pink flowers in this episode) and the others giggle because Alexandra has (deliberately?) stuck her fluffy rat to the back of his uniform. Data is so confused.

Okay, I had no real expectations going into this one, but it was fist-bitingly cute, and a really nice palate cleanser after that snorefest with Jameson. And Wesley actually acquitted himself really well – he was brave and sensible and didn’t do anything too implausible or arrogant. I feel so much better!

Gosh, I’m feeling so cheery, I want to check in with O’Brien. What’s the word, Chief-not-yet-Chief?

‘That was some Rumpelstiltskin shit.’

ETA: For a more fashion-forward view of this episode, go here!

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2 Responses to “TNG Episode 1.17: When the Bough Breaks”

  1. Tea Drinker Says:

    I love Deanna’s inconsistent telepathic powers.

    The Aldean’s do come across as kind of dumb. Do they really think they can repopulate their society with 6 kids who aren’t even the right ratio of boys to girls, unless maybe they practice some kind of pologamy? And they’re all different ages – who do they expect Wesley to pair off with? They don’t seem to have thought this project through.


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