Episode Reviews (26)
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Beautifully conceived, beautifully written, beautifully acted.
Despite developing some arcs and continuity, TNG was largely a static show. Characters didn't change much once their identities were settled early on, and what happened to them in one episode did not affect them in later ones. The two main exceptions were Worf and Picard. Picard, in particular, was subjected to some events that impacted his life so drastically that the writers simply couldn't pretend they never happened.
Thus it's interesting that near the end of TNG's 5th season, the producers chose to include a trilogy that collectively offer a very rich study of Picard's character. "The Perfect Mate" explored Picard's lonely life and his desire for a relationship, setting up "The Inner Light". "I, Borg" provided emotional closure for his shattering experience with the Borg, clearing the way for another life-changing event. And "The Inner Light" completes the trilogy.
Picard's experience with the dying civilization of Kataan is so richly portrayed that we find it completely convincing. Picard's inner life seems as real to us as to him; as Kataan heads toward its doom, we become sad, despite the fact that we have never heard of it before. It almost feels like this episode could have stretched out over 90 minutes and more of Kataan's story could have been told, but the 45 minute span forces a discipline that keeps the episode running perfectly the whole way through. The ending of the episode - first, his reunions with the ones he loved on Kataan, then the return to the Enterprise, and finally the flute scene - is full of emotional power. It's not surprising that other reviewers mention shedding a tear. Patrick Stewart gives an exceptional performance, but the supporting cast offers a great assist. The woman playing Eline did a superb job in the role.
Clever title indeed
The Inner Light perfectly describes not only Captain Picard's inner light but the illumination of the human psyche. The aching love Eline cascades on a seemingly reluctant husband(kamen) is almost hard to watch. The aging progression was perfectly spaced and timed, as the unique bond between them grows at every stop. Margot Rose's depiction as the devoted wife was brilliant - as was Stewart's grumpy complement. The connection at the end with the aged Stewart and the recurrence of his 2 biggest admirers from the past was startling, if a little confusing. In the end, the sad reflection of a beautiful life lived, (in 25 minutes!) whilst playing the remnant recorder from that life, is heart wrenching. TNG's pinnacle episode.moreless
Appreciated for the wrong reasons
I loved Patrick Stewart's performance in this episode. I think he did a fantastic job but I think the supporting cast is largely responsible for his standout performance. They prepared the emotional framework central to the plot. Huge thumbs up to the writers for engineering such a perfect vehicle for a story in this genre.
Good episode, but very implausible
Great acting, very moving episode, and well done ending. A few problems really stick out though (forgiven because of the excellent reasons mentioned above). If this civilization is not advanced beyond sending the unmanned rocket, just how the heck do they create this probe that not only penetrates the Enterprise shields; Crusher can't figure out a way with 23rd century medical technology how to disconnect it from Picard. Not to mention they have Picard live an entire life in 25 minutes. I suppose maybe these people put all their effort into researching this type of technology, but it is still a glaring plot mistake IMHO. Still, I really enjoyed this episode and you feel bad for those people, and Picard at the end.moreless
To experience several decades of an alternate lifetime - a generation - in 30 seconds!
While the average rating is 9.4, quite high, there are some reviewers that feel it might be over-rated relative to some other standout episodes. This might be true for those reviewers who have their own "fav" episodes. But - for me - this is standout because it is a (fairly) unique approach, and certainly for ST TNG, to some classic Sci-Fi concepts like the alternate-reality/universe, time-compression, memory-implant, etc..
The fact that it is quite well-acted (perhaps an understatement) and told within the confines of the 38-minute (1-hour) format makes it even more of an achievement IMFAO (In My F* Arrogant Opinion, as opposed to Laughing My F* A* Off)... darn the folks that thought lowercase 'L' and uppercase "I" (eye) should use an identical symbol in virtually every font. ;-) L != I but l == I ??? Crazy... darn that ADD of mine also. Apologies for a non-review review, but I'd only echo much of the praise from previous reviews anyway - as I said, it's classic for it's atypical presentation (for TNG) and it's new approach to some classic Sci-Fi concepts... I'll leave 0.5 off my rating for posterity. It's still my fav, or is at least tied with ... ;-)moreless
An excellent and unique part of Star Trek: The Next Generation....
.... "The Inner Light" is great character piece for Patrick Stewart/Jean-Luc Picard and is subsequently one of the strongest episodes of the entire TNG series. Picard, despite having his memory of the Enterprise fully intact, suddenly finds himself on a different planet and with a different life and a family.
I will put myself out on a limb however, and honestly say that I do find "The Inner Light" to be a slightly overrated episode.
"The Inner Light" is very well written, acted and fairly well shot - however, I would not place it at the very top of the series. Watching Picard live out a full life as a husband, father and statesman opens the door for Patrick Stewart to shine and is very satisfying to the audience to see Picard being able to live a life he would sometimes regret not pursuing. "The Inner Light" is a high quality TNG episode because the Jean-Luc Picard character is such a great character and Patrick Stewart is so good playing that character; but it is not the most re-watchable episode simply because it is so emotionally heavy and feels so unlike the brand of sci-fi that Star Trek usually delivers.
I am supposed to give "The Inner Light" nothing but praise - and it deserves much praise - but I will take a number of TNG episodes ahead of it, regardless of how good it in fact is.moreless
A Must See
Named after a Beatles B side, this is without a doubt one of the greatest Star Trek episodes of all time and perhaps the pinnacle of the franchise on television. The episode has no villains, no conflict, no shocking plot twist, and no technobabble; just Picard in a "Quantum Leap" style plot learning to play a flute and adapting to an adopted culture. Stewart (with the guest stars, all engaging in their own right, serving as his supporting cast) plays Picard's gradual acceptance and appreciation for the new situation so powerfully that we as viewers can't help but develop the same feelings as the Captain, leaving us as moved and transformed as Picard himself by the end. Truly a must see for everyone, Star Trek fan or not, this episode should have won Patrick Stewart an Emmy. (It did win the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, ending a dry spell for the franchise that went back to 1968. It was the third of four Star Trek episodes to win the award.)moreless
Picard gets ZAPPED by a probe which brain-washes him to believe he's a citizen on an alien world...
Well written and nicely acted... this episode does stand-out among the series, but isn't really anything special imo... I mean, it's touching and all, but basically a filler episode... doesn't have any bearing on the rest of the episodes, I don't think Picard even mentions it again, despite being such a pivotal experience in his life... much like some of the other good episodes of this series, the lack of follow-up on it kinda irritates me... I mean, they have a strong story which could fundamentally change a major character... but by time the next episode rolls around, everything is back to normal...moreless
Enterprise encounters and alien probe and Picard falls unconscious. He wakes up in a different life, married to a woman he's never met. This world is dying. Picard comes to accept his new life and tries to save his new world.
One of the finest and most touching episodes of the series. Patrick Stewart shows what a fine actor he is. During the episode the viewer is left to wonder what is going on, if this is all in Picard's mind or if it is really happening. We see Picard go through stages of disbelief to final acceptance. He comes to love his new wife and world and learns to play a flute like instrument. In his golden years, Picard loses his wife and witnesses the launch of a probe into space. The ending is quite touching in that it turns out the probe installed a sort of program in Picard's mind. The purpose was to let other civilizations know that this world and it's people had existed and were now gone. Absolutely beautiful.moreless
The perfect Picard-featured episode.
This is a phenomenal episode. The plot never drags, the sci-fi elements are interesting, and Patrick Stewart gives a great performance.
The time jumps were my favorite part of the episode. It was amazing to me to see someone like Captain Picard say "let's build a nursery." Someone who dislikes children so much, and yet, after five years in his own head, he's been persuaded to have children with a women he had previously never known.
The depth of emotion from Picard here is terrific. He knows the sun is dying, and the planet along with it. His grandson, who he's playing with, won't live long past his current age. I teared up at the end when Picard plays the flute in his quarters, and I hardly ever cry at TV.
Looking at the long-term effects from this episode, it seems like this would have even more of an effect on Picard than "The Best of Both Worlds." He lived an entire life with a family he grew to love and cherish, only to have that taken away, and to re-enter his life on the Enterprise. For most men that would constitute some serious post-traumatic stress disorder; but Picard is made of sterner stuff than most men.
Definitely one of the best I've seen, and I can see why it was put on the Star Trek Viewer's Choice Marathon before the series finale.moreless