Captain’s log: stardate 45944.1
First airing on 1 June, 1992 this superior episode, and always a fan favourite was penned by Morgan Gendel and Peter Allen Fields from a story developed by Gendel.
After Picard (Patrick Stewart) is scanned by an unknown probe, he collapses on the bridge.
When he awakens he finds himself on unknown world, with a family, job, and life. He is called Kamin, and his wife, Eline (Margot Rose) puts up with his claims of being a captain of a starship.
While on that very starship, the Enterprise’s first officer, Riker (Jonathan Frakes), Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Data (Brent Spiner) try to figure out what is going on with their injured, and comatose captain.
However, as the years pass, Picard becomes invested in the life he lives on a planet he learns is called Kataan. He raises a family, children, all while he works to save a doomed planet from an environmental disaster, the planet is plagued by a seemingly unending drought.
He lives a long, satisfying life on Kataan, even though he is unable to find a way to save it. But that life comes to mean so much to him, and the reveal at the end of the episode is beautifully done, and makes the tale all the more poignant.
Stewart’s own son, Daniel, plays Kamin’s son in the episode.
Quite possibly one of the best Trek episodes ever written it remains a classic, features an emotionally engaging performance by Stewart, and tells a gorgeous story as it does. And of course, there is the beautiful piece of music that Picard plays on his flute.
The episode walked away with a Hugo award for Best Dramatic Presentation.
Captain’s log: stardate 45959.1
Season five came to its conclusion on 15 June, 1992. Written by Joe Menosky and Michael Piller from a story by Menosky, the episode features some time travel and some soul-sucking aliens.
The Enterprise is summoned to Earth when an archaeological discovery brings the fate of Data into question. It seems they unearthed his remains, from the 19th century.
As the crew investigate, the trail leads them to a far distant planet where Data gets snapped up in a temporal vortex, and ends up in 19th century where he encounters Guinan (Whoopi Goldberg)! and a nosy Samuel Clemens (Jerry Hardin in his second appearance on the series).
Troi’s (Marina Sirtis) abilities actually add a rather spooky moment to the episode while Picard and the rest ruminate over the possibilities of what happened to Data and how it ties into the planet they are now on.
Data’s arrival in the 19th century gives some entertaining moments, and also plays nicely into the story, not to mention the reveal of Guinan’s existence there (and of course she has no idea how Data is, but she will). There is a lot of humour as Data attempts to navigate the time, and understand the people who inhabit it, while trying to track down the aliens who are travelling through the vortex.
The episode is fairly well constructed, gives us a different version of Mark Twain (as well as an encounter with Jack London (Michael Aron)), and lets Data and his friends deal with the possibility of his death. It also takes its time doling out events and information, making it a mystery.
The episode ends with a cliffhanger as Picard, Riker, Geordi (LeVar Burton), Crusher, and Troi all follow the aliens through the vortex to the past.
The Human Adventure continues Thursday…