Star Trek: The Next Generation – Hero Worship [5.11]

Data rescues Timothy, a young boy who is the only survivor of a disaster in space.  Timothy who has lost his parents, bonds with Data and even begins to imagine himself as an android in order to cope with his grief.  The Enterprise becomes trapped by the same crisis that destroyed the other ship.  Timothy wrongly believes that he is the cause of his ship’s destruction, but he learns the truth even as he is able to help the Enterprise escape.

Teleplay by Joe Menosky. Story by Hilary Bader. Directed by Patrick Stewart.

Previous Episode: New Ground • Next Episode: Violations

Back when this show was first airing, there were a few weeks between this episode and the previous one (New Ground), so it probably didn’t feel so strange to have back-to-back installments about main characters bonding with small children which are set almost entirely on board the ship.  In today’s modern culture of binge-viewing, though, it comes across as a little repetitive

Still, when considered on its own, Hero Worship isn’t a bad episode.  You really feel for poor Timothy, and the revelation that he blames himself for his family’s death is well done (though perhaps it’s a little disappointing that the crew doesn’t have some new alien baddie to fight).  The plot doesn’t have any reals surprises – it is especially obvious to every viewer from the get-go that the Enterprise is going to get stuck in that black cluster and nearly get destroyed trying to escape at the story’s conclusion.  Indeed, it’s probably a bit of a contractual obligation that if we’re going to fly a starship into a mysterious cluster of anything in space, than we better get stuck in it.

Nonetheless, it’s a nice story for Data (although not for any of the other regulars, except perhaps Troi), offering some tender moments for the character, and a decent summary of his character’s overall story.  However, it is entirely inconsequential in the long run of the series.

Guest Cast:
Joshua Harris, who plays Timothy, was Christopher Ewing in 100 episodes or so of Dallas, and also played a 6 six year old Donald Westphall (the character normally played by Ed Flanders) in an episode of St. Elsewhere.

Shout Out to the Past
The Breen are referenced for the second, but again do not appear, and do not appear for some time

• Patrick Stewart directs his second episode, once again to little fanfare or impact.

• Interesting line from Data,  “The servo mechanisms in my neck are designed to approximate human movements. I did not realize the effect was so distracting.”

• Data’s brushing process with Timothy’s hair is a bit odd.

• Timothy’s “uniform” sort of anticipates the uniforms from Deep Space Nine.  Have we seen them before?  On cadets, perhaps?

• Data carrying the sleeping Timothy to the couch is sort of tender and sweet.

• This episode is a good example of Troi functioning as a counselor.

• Even with Timothy’s needs, it’s odd that Data is not on the bridge during this whole journey into the Black Cluster.  Maybe the mission of trying to find out what Timothy actually saw was just too important.  (OK, as I was typing this, Data was just called to the Bridge.)

• Once again, Data saves the day without explaining anything (kind of like in Part 2 of Redemption), just demanding that people do what he says.  He doesn’t have time to explain things, but he does have time to stare at the Captain meaningfully

Dialogue High Point
Not surprising that Data gets the best line in this story, but it is a good one:

I would gladly risk feeling bad at times if it also meant that I could also taste my dessert.

Previous Episode: New Ground • Next Episode: Violations


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