Star Trek: The Next Generation – Bloodlines [7.22]

Picard’s old enemy, the Ferengi DaiMon Bok, returns, threatening to kill a son that Picard never knew he had.  Picard connects with the young man, Jason Vigo, and the two begin an uneasy relationship.  Picard eventually discovers that Jason has been genetically altered to appear to be Picard’s son as part of a revenge plot of Bok’s.  Picard and Jason depart, having grown closer through their experience.

Written by Nicholas Sagan. Directed by Les Landau.

Previous Episode: Firstborn • Next Episode: Emergence

Even back when Next Generation was first on, I used to hear about Patrick Stewart saying that one story he’d like to visit on the show is to have his enemy, DaiMon Bok from the first season episode, The Battle, return to face Picard again.  It’s hard to imagine why he was so consistent about this, since The Battle is a pretty bad piece of television, and DaiMon Bok not a particularly interesting character.

Bloodlines is a bit of an improvement over the first season mess, but like a lot of this last run of Next Generation episodes, it’s forgettable and irrelevant.  Maybe if Bloodlines had come earlier in the show’s run, then something could have been built of the whole story of Picard discovering, even falsely, that he’s a father, in terms of genuinely developing the character.  Or maybe they could have done something really daring and given Picard an actual son.  But then, Generations wouldn’t have made any sense.

Anyway, Bloodlines isn’t bad.  Jason Vigo is exactly the sort of character who could have been excessively annoying, but Ken Olandt is actually likable and charming, a little bit like how Okona was supposed to be in The Outrageous Okona, but done a lot more effectively.  And it’s nice to see Picard go on this journey, even if it sort of goes nowhere.

Guest Cast:
• Lee Arenberg, who plays DaiMon Bok, previously played DaiMon Prak in Force of Nature.  He also had appearances in Deep Space Nine, Voyager, and Enterprise.  He played Kramer’s friend Mike in a couple of episodes of Seinfeld, including one in which he and George argued over a parking space, and in which he was caught calling Jerry a “phony” (and failed to convince him it was really slang for something good).

• Peter Marx plays Birta.  He previously appeared in Suspicions and Ménage à Troi, and also had a role in Voyager in the two-part Year of Hell episode.

• Amy Pietz plays Lt. Rhodes.  She was a regular in the series Caroline in the City (as Annie), and appeared in several episodes of The Office as one of Michael Scott’s girlfriends.

• Michelan Sisti plays Tol.  He played the body of Michelangelo, the Teenaged Mutant Ninja Turtle in the two live action movies in the early 1990’s.  He’s also been involved in voicing Muppets since the 1990’s.

Shout Out to the Past:
• Of course the episode refers numerous times to The Battle and Picard’s previous encounter with DaiMon Bok.

Setting Up the Future:
• Umm, nothing.  Unless you can say that this episode precipitated Picard being so stressed out at at the idea of the Picard name coming to an end Generations.

• Your son!  What??!!  It’s a pretty good teaser, really.  Brief, to the point, and full of tension and promise.

• Picard orders “Tea, earl grey, hot,” from the replicator twice in this episode.

• Picard’s conversation with Dr. Crusher is a bit underwritten, though a nice touch in the episode.

• Vigo was one of the names of Picard’s crew members on the Stargazer, right?  Just a coincidence?

• Jason does his best to put the moves on Deanna.  Gratefully, she’s having none of it.  Lt. Rhodes, on the other hand, seems a bit more easily manipulated.

• The scene where Bok appears on board the ship to threaten Picard is a little silly but not bad.  “You cannot put a price on a life,” says Picard.  Bok replies, “Oh, but you can, Picard.  You can pay me with your son’s life…You don’t have any choice.  I insist on being paid.”

• Dr. Crusher’s speech about parenting rings true to me:  “I don’t think anyone is born knowing how to be a parent.  You just sort of figure it out as you go.  But the one quality that tends to be a requirement for parenthood is patience.”

• There’s a reference to the Rules of Acquisition, popularized in Deep Space Nine.

• Others have pointed out that this is the third episode in a row to focus on a conflict between a parent and a son.

• Sad story about how Jason’s mother died:  “And then one day she was attacked by two men in the street in broad daylight for the food she was carrying.  If she’d just given it to them, they probably wouldn’t have hurt her.  But she knew how important the food was to us.  So they killed her.”

• It’s a good scene between father and son in the holodeck.

• Picard is pretty grim and determined when Jason is kidnapped

• He resequenced his DNA???!!  What??!  How can you do that?

• Bok’s crew abandon him at the end of the episode, just like in his last appearance.  Ferengi crews never stick with that guy.

Dialogue High Point
A moment of unexpected levity between Picard and Jason:

But one thing is clear.  You’ll never look at your hairline again in the same way.

Previous Episode: Firstborn • Next Episode: Emergence

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