I've since watched all three seasons of the original series, finally seeing what creator Gene Roddenberry wanted all of us to embrace in his depiction of humanity. The show was never about action, but rather a different look at humans and how they cope with different situations: What drives us to explore, what motivates us to put others before ourselves, what about the human condition can we learn from different experiences, etc. I feel this episode of The Next Generation is one of those few that re-captures the essence of what Roddenberry was attempting to convey.
In this episode, we see some profound moments from several key castmembers, most notably Worf, and Wesley. Since Worf led the awayteam, he feels compelled to help the boy move past his mothers death, being an orphan himself. Wesley struggles with wanting to help the boy after his mother suggests that Wes talk with the orphan, relate to him. Wesley's experience with losing his own father takes prominence in this episode because, towards the end, we finally see that the young acting-Ensign never fully confronted that day in his life.
What is compelling however, is watching Picard navigate his way through a deliberation with an alien that wants to give the boy's mother back...in a way. With near Q-like powers, this being of energy can transform the look of a room into a house, and can change their form into whatever they want. In this case, it took the form of the boy's deceased mother in an effort to lure him down to the planet, apparently guilty that it felt indirectly responsible for the crewmembers death. Anyone who has not coped with death, or does not fully grasp why death is such a pivotal circumstance in life, should watch this episode. As Picard points out, it is a natural course of life, but also one in which it helps us to grow. Finding ways to channel our feelings, seeking others to help us through, and finally finding closure (in this case, Worf leading the boy through a Klingon ceremony to honor his mother's death) is tough, but has to be done to move on and live. This episode also signifies that, by avoiding the reality of the situation, no matter how much it hurts, can often be even more painful when reality does in fact present itself. Instead of putting off, perhaps it best to get through it, learn, and keep living. The only complaints I had regarding this episode was the abrupt ending, and the acting of the orphan. You can't ask for much when it comes to a kid, but most of the lines and acting were a little deadpan. Other than that, I feel that this episode summed up Trek's ideology rather nicely. It evokes the human spirit, asks those hard question to which we would rather avoid, and explores another facet of the human equation we are all so desperately trying to figure out.