Season Seven, Episode 22
Written by Nicholas Sagan
Directed by Les Landau
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Capt Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Cmdr Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn as Lt Worf
Gates McFadden as Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr Data

Guest Cast:
Ken Olandt as Jason Vigo
Lee Arenberg as DaiMon Bok
Peter Slutsker as Birta
Amy Pietz as Lt Sandra Rhodes
Michelan Sisti as Tol
Majel Barrett as Computer Voice

Having bribed his way out of prison, Ferengi DaiMon Bok, returns to taunt Picard for killing his son and claims that he will kill Picard's son. That Picard has a son is news to him, but the Enterprise traces 23 year-old Jason Vigo whom Bok claims is his son. Picard recalls that many years ago he had a fling with Miranda Vigo, who is Jason's now dead mother, but she never told him that she had a son. A DNA test confirms that Picard and Jason are father and son. Picard is unsure how to deal with this son he never knew he had and Jason makes it clear that he isn't particularly interested in kindling any form of relationship. But as long as Bok is on the loose, Jason's life is in danger and his best bet is to stay on the Enterprise. But following a sudden attack triggered by a genetic disease, Jason is kidnapped by Bok via a long-range transporter beam. Picard uses the same transporter technology to rescue Jason, confronting Bok with the evidence that he tampered with Jason's DNA to make it appear he was Picard's son, causing the genetic disorder detected by Crusher. Bok is turned into the Ferengi authorities and Picard and Jason are returned to the Enterprise where they part company despite having formed a bond from the experience.


Interesting. Interesting, that is, to compare the final season of TNG with the final season of DS9. The latter ended its run by launching into a complex, multi-layered ten-hour arc that juggled numerous plots in a bid to tie up loose ends and resolve ongoing storylines. Those ten episodes covered a heck of a lot of ground -- almost too much at times. TNG, on the other hand, leisurely strolled toward its finishing line, business as usual up to the very last minute. Despite bringing back Wesley, Alexander and Ro for final appearances, the writers clearly didn't have a lot else they wanted to do. Which is the only explanation I can come up with for such pointless, time-wasting nonsense as Genesis, Masks and Emergence. Although certainly not the worst of the bunch in terms of quality, Bloodlines" is another episode that makes you scratch your head and wonder why on earth -- with a mere two episodes to go until the finale -- the writers felt the need to tell such an insignificant tale as this?

Bloodlines is an altogether pointless sequel to The Battle, a first season episode that wasn't all that great in the first place -- and certainly wasn't on my list of episodes that desperately begged follow-up. Apparently the writers had visited the set to get story ideas from the actors and Patrick Stewart came up with the the return of DaiMon Bok. As if it weren't already abundantly clear from the show's lagging quality, that the writers are at the desperate point of asking the actors to provide storylines pretty much underlines the creative rot that bludgeoned TNG's final days. Unfortunately, this is something that upcoming sister series Voyager was to inherit while TNG's two best writers, Ron Moore and Rene Echevarria went on to DS9 where, reinvigorated, they went on to pen some of their best work.

Back to the episode itself, an uneven concoction of standard revenge epic and soap opera, salvaged mainly by the strong performances of its two principals. Patrick Stewart is clearly having a field day as he acts his socks off, while Ken Oldant gives a charismatic performance as young Jason. It's actually quite enjoyable watching Picard grapple with parenthood, trying to make up for not being a part of Jason's life and determined not to recreate the troubled relationship he had with his own father. That part of the episode, despite precariously leaning into soap territory, works quietly well. Less impressive was the actual plot itself, a cut-and-paste "revenge thriller" that simply fails to sustain interest.

The search for Bok was about as dull as it gets and the episode largely failed to muster any sense of menace or urgency. Bok himself, inexplicably re-cast as Lee Arenberg, who played a different Ferengi only a dozen episodes ago (Force of Nature), is not in any imminent danger of being hailed as one of the great villains of Trek. As for the conclusion? Well, as anyone who has ever had to endure such horrors as Threshold, Genesis and Favorite Son will testify, one of Star Trek's deadliest kicks is that of DNA tampering. Simply put, it's a recipe for disaster.

Although its usage here doesn't bear a patch on Genesis the other week, it's still a rather jarring, forced attempt to add a "sci-fi" twist to an episode which would have been better served by digging a little deeper with both characters and providing some honest emotional pay-off. It would have been far braver had they jettisoned the whole "altered DNA" gimmick altogether and made Picard and Jason real father and son, thus making the episode count for something. Like I said, two episodes to go until the finale -- if they aren't brave enough to take risks now then what's the point in the first place, I ask you?

Rating: 4

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