» » Star Trek: The Next Generation The Inner Light (1987–1994)

Short summary

Not long after the Enterprise approaches an unknown buoy or satellite, Captain Picard falls unconscious on the bridge. He awakens in a village where he is married but also something of a village eccentric who thinks he is a spaceship captain by the name of Picard. His wife Eline tries to soothe him and his good friend Batai does not judge him. He lives a full life, has children and grows old. The planet he is on is dying however, suffering from a long and seemingly permanent drought. On board the Enterprise, the crew does its best to revive their unconscious captain but to no avail.

The young version of Batai, Kamin's son, is played by Daniel Stewart, the real life son of Patrick Stewart.

Considered by many to be the best and most touching episode of Звездный путь: Следующее поколение (1987). It's the favorite episode of Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher, who did not appear in this episode, nor most of the 5th season), and Patrick Stewart.

Won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation. The award was given at the World Science Fiction Convention in San Francisco. Звездный путь: Следующее поколение: The Inner Light (1992) was the first Trek episode to win since the Звёздный путь (1966) episode Звёздный путь: The City on the Edge of Forever (1967).

The flute was sold at the Christie's Auction House in New York on 2006/10/06 for $48,000 (the buyer won it with a bid of $40,000). It is a non-playing prop.

The episode was named after The Beatles 1968 song, The Inner Light. Writer of the episode, Morgan Gendel commented that the George Harrison composition "captured the theme of the show: that Picard experienced a lifetime of memories all in his head."

The theme that Picard plays on his flute was turned into a full orchestral piece for Звёздный путь (1966)'s 30th anniversary.

Star Trek producer Ronald D. Moore commented: "I've always felt that the experience in Звездный путь: Следующее поколение: The Inner Light (1992) would have been the most profound thing in Picard's life and changed him irrevocably. But that wasn't our intention when we created the episode. We were after a good hour of TV. The larger implications of how this could really screw somebody up didn't hit home with us until later. That's sometimes a danger in TV-you're so focused on getting the show made every week that sometimes you suffer from the "can't see the forest from the trees" syndrome. We never intended it to completely upend Picard's character and force a radical change in the series, so we contented ourselves with a single follow-up in Звездный путь: Следующее поколение: Lessons (1993)."

Patrick Stewart nominated this episode as the greatest acting challenge he faced in the seven years of The Next Generation.

At the 50th anniversary "Star Trek" convention in Las Vegas in August 2016, fans voted this the third best episode of the "Star Trek" franchise after Звёздный путь: The City on the Edge of Forever (1967) and Звездный путь: Дальний космос 9: In the Pale Moonlight (1998).

A lasting reminder of Picard's life as Kamin continues throughout the series. The flute plays a huge role in the Season 6 episode Звездный путь: Следующее поколение: Lessons (1993), where Picard falls for a member of the crew who encourages his musical side. He performs a duet of the "Inner Light" version.

Kamin's telescope seems to be a Dobsonian reflector, a design popular among home telescope builders.

Picard's Ressikan flute appears again as a background prop in Picard's ready room in a number of season 6 and 7 episodes of Звездный путь: Следующее поколение (1987), as well as in a deleted scene from Звездный путь: Возмездие (2002), in which Data removes it from its box and examines it while talking to Picard.

Picard (as Kamin) is practicing on the flute the melody of Frère Jacques, a French song he sang while climbing the turbolift with the children in "Disaster".

When the flute was auctioned, the directors didn't "factor in the emotional fury generated around it." It was in such high demand by collectors. Denise Okuda, a Star Trek scenic artist commented "That's the item people say they really have to have, because it is so iconic to a much-beloved episode." The flute eventually went for an astounding $48,000.

While attending a production staff meeting during the making of this episode, Rick Sternbach drew on his script preliminary designs for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, Deep Space 9 itself.

Jay Chattaway composed the music for this episode, including the Ressikan flute solo played by Kamin and Picard. Chattaway later expanded this piece into a six-minute orchestral suite for The Best of Star Trek, Volume One. The Ressikan melody has similarities to the Scottish tune Skye Boat Song, also known as Speed Bonny Boat.

This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series.

This is listed as one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" of Звездный путь: Следующее поколение (1987) in the 2008 reference book "Star Trek 101" by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann.

In a cut scene, it is revealed that the soup Eline prepared for Kamin, very much to his delight, is called "kenomay".

Not only did Patrick Stewart and his family get make-up to age them, but many other members of the village were aged to give it a consistent look.

The organic metal side-table, featured multiple times in Kamin's house, was created by the art department and purposely aged to look the part. Its base has an organic feel to it, like a mangrove tree, but was also fully metal. Kamin (Patrick Stewart) can be seen sitting next to it in multiple scenes, or later in the story seen crawling under it with his grandchild. The iconic table was auctioned off by IAW in 2007, and is now in possession of a Belgian collector.

"The Inner Light" featured a brief scene (Picard's hiking trip) filmed on location at Bronson Canyon in Griffith Park. The scene was later upgraded with matte paintings.

A humanoid statue seen in Kamin's building is a large replica of a marble Cycladic idol.

According to Jay Chattaway, the Ressikan flute was chosen for its photogenic ability because a typical flute is held in front of the actor's face. His composition for the Ressikan flute became one of the most requested pieces in the Paramount Pictures library.

The Bridge and Picard's quarters are the only regular sets seen in this episode. Everything else is set on Kataan.

This takes place in 2368.

Marina Sirtis doesn't appear in this episode.

While Picard's musical instrument is universally referred to as a flute, it is in fact a type of whistle, an example of which is the instrument played on Paul Simon's "Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes." The tones played were actually produced by a soprano recorder. Being a non-functioning prop, Stewart simply moved his fingers while listening to a playback on the set, which was later replaced by a high-quality version in the soundtrack.

Kamin pleads with Meribor to "make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." Picard would later echo those words to Commander Riker following the destruction of the USS Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations.

User reviews

  • comment
    • Author: mIni-Like
    I have heard many comments, all true I might add, about how great the cast in this one was.

    However,I think the wife really sold it and the entire show makes it because she plays it so well. In a few of the scenes she is simply radiant.

    I think this wonderful actress may have surpassed her own abilities with this script. I think most actors that are fortunate to find work find that one role where it all just comes together.

    This episode should have cleaned up at any awards show. Too bad no one was looking. How is it possible that anyone watched this and didn't think it worthy of an award?

    Someday maybe Hollywood will get it. While the technical stuff is all fine and good, only a good story can be made into a great movie or episode. And this story was really good.
  • comment
    • Author: Contancia
    Ask any Star Trek TNG fan to list their five favorite episodes and The Inner Light will make almost every list. Rightfully so. This is one of the best episodes in Star Trek lore. Maybe the best – and built on a good story. Other reviews have described the plot of Picard living another lifetime in 20 minutes while mentally tethered to an alien probe. It is poignant, touching, beautiful, painful. What strikes me is the unseen epilogue.

    Think about it. How can a person resume one life after experiencing another? From Picard's standpoint, he lived about 30 – 40 real years as someone else, only to be dropped back into his Starfleet life in an instant. Can he even remember how to be Captain after that long? Can he remember procedures and technical details and even the names of people he hasn't seen in decades? How painful his grief must be to have lost his wife years before, then his children. He outlived them all, and nobody else he encounters has any memory of them. In fact, it never really happened at all. Where is a support group for this? Recovering from a Borg assimilation seems almost pedestrian by comparison. He has lost a family, a world and a life. He is further tasked with honoring the wishes of a dead civilization that longed to be remembered. One wonders how a man as private as Picard will be able to tell of these people and share his pain and deal with his grief.

    In all likelihood, he would handle this mostly in private. Maybe he would pull out the old flute – the only tangible reminder of his other life – and play it in the quiet of his own quarters. Great idea. The simple little melody is incredibly poignant as it speaks in just a few notes of the loss he must feel. It seems most viewers feel that loss as well. This viewer certainly did – the almost tangible sadness has made the tears well up some at the end. Kudos for a great episode.
  • comment
    • Author: Iaran
    I cannot watch this episode without a box of tissues. I can cry on cue now without even thinking about it.

    There are layers upon layers of depth to this tale. We learn about love and sacrifice and the desire to keep the memory of people alive.

    I get sucked in at how Eline loves Picard absolutely despite his failings, and how he learns to love her unconditionally and give himself into the moment. When she's dying and says to him "Put away your shoes." I absolutely lose it. She handles her dying with dignity wanting to be alone with her husband letting him know exactly what he means to her.

    He learns that having children can be life altering. And yet, that's how we continue on is through our children. He loves how he teaches his daughter to love science and his son to love art.

    The acting in this was superb. The actors really gave themselves over into the characters that were richly developed in the script. I also like how they left you feeling a bit raw at the end with the haunting melody playing as the ship flew on. I could feel Picard's pain as he watched her die, as he looked at his grandson knowing the planet was dying.

    My husband and I once sat there and tried to figure out which of the ST:TNG episodes were really sci fi and which were "Romeo and Juliet in outer space" (Thank you Philip K. Dick for that quote). I don't feel this one was truly sci fi. Nor is it a morality play. It's an intense story of how we as people live our lives and hope that we make a difference somehow. And it's one of our favorites. Thank you, Morgan Gendel, for an amazing story, and thank you to all of the actors for trusting the tale and making it come alive.
  • comment
    • Author: Flarik
    The best episode of TNG ever. I have never bought a video of any episode of any TV series. However, I came across this one a few years after it was shown and bought it just so I could watch it anytime I wanted. Getting a lump in my throat just thinking about it ! I agree with the overall opinions of others the episode and Patrick Stewart should have received an Emmy. I have seen some of his Shakespearian roles and the character he portrays here is as close to, if not as good as some of the roles he has played on stage. As a matter of fact, there are times throughout the scenes on the planet, it seems as though they are acting out the roles on a stage, rather than on a TV set. The entire cast of the people on the planet deserve credit for their efforts and acting abilities.
  • comment
    • Author: Amhirishes
    I will admit that I am not a die-hard Star Trek fan. I am more of casual fan who watches the show occasionally and nabs the occasional DVD. In fact before watching this on the recently released "Alternate Realities" DVD box set, I really don't think I had seen this episode before. I say that with regret because out of the many episodes of The Next Generation I have seen, I would have no issue with calling this one of the best i have seen if not the best.

    For one thing there's the performance of Patrick Stewart. Stewart gets to step out of his role of Jean-Luc Picard to play Kamin, a simple man living in simple world. Stewart portrays first Picard then to Kamin and the truth is that if it wasn't for the occasional scenes on the Enterprise the transition would be complete because even though Stewart plays both roles they are completely different people. It's a fantastic performance to say the least and a true shame that Stewart wasn't even nominated for an Emmy for this performance.

    Around Stewart is a terrific supporting cast. There the villagers made up of Richard Riehle and Scott Jaeck in speaking roles who both do well. Then there's Kammin's family including Jennifer Nash as his daughter Meribor and Patrick Stewart's own son Daniel Stewart as Batai. The true standout though of the supporting cast is Margot Rose as Kamin's wife Eline. Like Stewart, it is a shame that Rose wasn't even nominated for an Emmy Award because she gives an excellent performance.

    Yet behind all the excellent performances there lies the script. Writers Morgan Gendel and Peter Allan Fields created a story that while set on another planet is more of a human drama then it is a science fiction story. True it has science fiction elements all in it (it wouldn't be Star Trek without them) but these two writers in this script reveal a basic truth about science fiction: a science fiction story is only as compelling as the human story within it. The Inner Light be lack space battles but it has more then enough heart to make up for it and is all the better for it.

    From the performance of Patrick Stewart to the supporting cast and the script, The Inner Light is a first rate episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. That is because, that while it may be lacking in the seemingly prerequisite space battles and aliens, it has a fascinating human drama playing out not beneath it all but at the forefront of it all. In fact, The Inner Light is all the better for it. If you want to see what makes a great science fiction story see this episode.
  • comment
    • Author: superstar
    This beautiful, profound episode gets me every time I watch it. It hits me on so many levels. Having had 2 wives die unexpectedly, the first from cancer and the second during childbirth, and living with the memory of the love that we shared, this episode stirs up emotion in me that I just cannot contain. From another ST:TNG episode there is a line that says something about death being that point in which one exists only in the memories of others. But it is not an end. The reappearance of Eline and Batai near the conclusion and the final scene with Picard and the flute reaffirm this in a marvelous and inspiring way, and resonates with me in ways that make me feel both sad and joyous at the same time.

    The way the Resikans preserve their memories and lives through Picard is one of the most touching, deep, and profound stories that has ever been told in any genre and through any media. And the fact that it has this impact on me (and obviously others considering the comments posted here) makes me feel alive and energized.

    For anyone who has not seen "The Inner Light," you must do so. Buy it. Rent it. Catch it in reruns, but do not miss it. Let it wash over you and if it makes you weep, then let the tears flow. You will be a better person for it.
  • comment
    • Author: Llbery
    I feel certain that the writers of Inner Light intended a comparison with The City On The Edge Of Forever, and it's good to see it recognized by Star Trek affictionados, and reviewers here.

    The premise of how Picard enters this alternative life, is not particularly strong, any more than how Kirk and Spock enter their's in search of McCoy, but it doesn't matter because what then follows is totally believable and totally absorbing. We are allowed to lose ourselves completely in the non-Federation story line and the Enterprise and its crew are sensibly left almost completely out of it. In Inner Light we see the Enterprise only as a reminder of where Picard should be, but for the rest of the time we enter his world and alternate life as fully as he does. Giving the painfully private Picard an entire family is genius. He was the only man in TNG that could have been chosen by the Probe. And it ends like waking from a blissful, though heart-renderingly sad dream. Brilliant acting, stupendous writing and totally absorbing, it puts Inner Light up there with Time Squared and Darmok as the best TNG episodes for me. and yeah, I cry when I watch it too.
  • comment
    • Author: Nidora
    This episode, in my mind, has always been the absolute best of the series. Stewart really got the opportunity to show what he can do. The writing is exceptional as well.

    The relationship Picard builds with Eline is very believable and you get the sense that he has really experienced many years as a husband and father. The characters, especially his family, all have a great deal of depth and it's easy to build an emotional attachment to them all.

    This episode shows what can be done with really good Sci Fi. It's not about the technology. It's about the story.
  • comment
    • Author: caster
    Toddhavista (review above me) must be smoking CRACK !!!! That was possibly the best episode of Star Trek TNG ever! It's primarily focus is Patrick (Jean-Luc Piccard) and how he lives an entire lifetime (within 1/2 hour) on a planet that's been extinct 1000 years, due to a supernova. Rather than focus on some new technology, it brings home the point that life is for living, in the now, not later! It's, if nothing else, an episode in the style of the original Star Trek, where social commentary was veiled with SCI-FI Metaphor. I remember it vividly and was pleased to see it again, recently on the SciFi channel! The music, especially the flute melody is haunting. Definitely NOT a holodeck episode (like toddhavista says).
  • comment
    • Author: Cae
    This is, hands down, my favourite TNG episode, and I have seen all of them, some numerous times. I had the opportunity to see this again today, and felt compelled to comment on it. Perhaps it is because I am aging (60-something), and now a grandfather, and seeing my life so rapidly slipping by me. My theory of the perception of the passage of time is that your perception of the length of of any finite period of time is in inverse proportion to the amount of life experience you have. If you are 10, one year is 10% of your life -- a long time. When you are 50, one year is 2% of your life. It seems to pass 5 times as quickly as when you were 10. So, my life is passing quickly, as Picard's did in this story. Maybe that's why I relate to it so readily.

    Then there is the acting. Eline is beautifully and skilfully portrayed. I almost fell for her myself. She is sweet, loving, kind and gentle. Yet she challenges Kamin when she should, and he listens to her. When she returns at the end, my throat tightens up with emotion. She also is beautiful without being flashy (I hope you know what I mean).

    Batai is a great friend. Perhaps because I have found very few really good friends in my life, I find the relationship of Kamin with Batai as appealing. It is touching when Kamin and Eline name their second child after Batai. It is even more touching when he also returns at the end.

    Kamin's daughter Meribor is a delight. I have two daughters, and see parts of both of them in her. She seems so natural for the part. When she says "I love you father"... it gets me every time.

    The only slightly disappointing point is that the aging makeup for Kamin got less believable as the show progressed. At the end it was difficult to continue to suspend belief.

    Patrick Stewart deserved acclaim for this portrayal. The scene at the end, when he exclaims "Oh, it's me -- it's me that it finds" when he realizes that the probe is destined to contact him -- is so believable. And his reaction to the crew when he returns to the Enterprise seems just right. Finally, as he clutches his flute to his chest, I can almost feel his character's angst at having loved and lost, and the depth of the plethora of emotions that would necessarily encompass someone who had experienced something like this.

    I am saving this one on tape. It is so poignant and touching that I simply must see it again from time to time, to touch some of those thoughts that are too often submerged in my own life.
  • comment
    • Author: Not-the-Same
    I didn't see these TNG shows when they first came out, but this spring I watched them all on DVD...

    Without any question at all... this episode is the best of all.

    It is what the "City on the edge of forever" was to the original.

    Philip K Dick would be proud of this space drama ! As a girl who like space shows, I could especially relate to the strong father daughter scene...

    Watching Picard age and mature... it was great.

    What was even better is that the writers... some of them.. in the future... KEPT this as part of his mature character...

    THAT is something you don't see in most TV writing.

    Hands down, this one is the peek best of TNG !
  • comment
    • Author: Cerana
    My greatest joy in watching this series, after discovering the actors for the first time in Season 1, was in watching the writers challenge the actors to show their talents. 42-minute episodes in continuing series are difficult circumstances for an individual actor to shine, especially when the series depends so heavily on the strength of the ensemble.

    "The Inner Light" is right up there with "City on the Edge of Forever" from TOS for that rare blend of writing and acting that is necessary to be recognized by peers and given an award. Every character in the story, every development as well, was true to the series core (and not just to the Star Trek universe). The culture of the Kataanians was nuanced, evoking its differences efficiently (something that's very hard to do in the limited time given). I was particularly taken by the use of language, with such phrases as "go carefully" and "happy day", familiar for meaning and context, very different by comparison to what the viewer is used to hearing.

    I can imagine the shuddering going on around the "holodeck episode" syndrome, and in large part I can sympathize with it. I would urge the viewer to give "The Inner Light" a break, though, because this story stands alone in every respect, and makes best use of the plot device.

    I'm 50 years old. I've seen four TV shows that brought tears to my eyes. This one stands at the top of that list, because the first time I saw it I cried as well. No higher accolade can I offer.

    Her part was small, though very important to the story, but I'd like to give special mention to Jennifer Nash as Meribor. She was an equal partner with Patrick Stewart in every scene they shared, which was every scene she appeared in. I could well imagine Meribor in command of a starship one day, if it wasn't clear that she was already dead and gone for a thousand years. Truly her father's daughter in the story.

    I had to stop short of giving this a 10 out of 10. The aging effect, particularly for Picard, was distracting towards the end and not very believable. I would have hoped they'd spend a little more of their budget and get his transformation right (something TOS seemed able to do successfully with a lot less money). The face became rigid for both Picard and Eline. The actors might as well have been doing voice over at couple of spots, for all they could emote through the prosthetics.
  • comment
    • Author: Aurizar
    ST:TNG:125 - "The Inner Light" (Stardate: 45944.1) - this is the 25th episode of the 5th season of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    In this 1993 Hugo-winning episode, TNG has indeed reached its maturity. This is a very smart episode, with a great storyline, amazing writing, memorable characters we care about.

    The episode concerns the Enterprise encountering an unknown alien probe that fires a mysterious particle beam and knocks Picard unconscious. When he wakes up, he is now in unfamiliar territory, now known as "Kamin" on the planet Kataan. He soon learns the value of family (including a son named Batai played by Patrick Stewart's real-life son, Daniel Stewart), which Picard has never had, as well as learning to play the Kataanian flute, as the many years pass.

    Why is Picard here? Is he really Kamin? Find out in this thought-provoking episode.

    Trivia note: the Kataanian flute will be seen/mentioned in future episodes and a deleted scene from Star Trek: Nemesis. Also, Patti Yasutake makes another appearance as Nurse Alyssa Ogawa.
  • comment
    • Author: Fearlessdweller
    I was caught by surprise with this episode one day while faithfully watching TNG. It sucked me in and spit me out into another dimension of reality. I have seen life differently every since. This episode reflects the eastern philosophy that this life experience is really a dream and not reality at all. To live a lifetime in 25 minutes rings a strangely familiar chord. Think about it. Dreams seem like they transpire over a much longer period time than they really do, maybe just a few minutes. You awake to find yourself somewhat displaced. My bet is that when you end this life experience, the Inner Light will be your reality. I challenge you to see this life as a Lucid Dream, and actively participate in its outcome. I can't watch this episode without experiencing the same feeling every time. It's either genius in writing or a message from the higher reality, like the scene from Total Recall where Quaid is being coaxed to wake up.
  • comment
    • Author: Gri
    It's been almost twenty years now since I first saw "The Inner Light," and I still think it's the best episode of any Star Trek series. The writing, acting and direction are nothing short of brilliant. I was sitting there on 8 Sep 1966 for the premiere of what we now call Trek Classic, and I have never seen them do better than "The Inner Light." Hence, it gets a perfect 10 from me. Whoever called it TNG's "City on the Edge of Forever" was not mistaken, although I think the edge for "best ever episode" goes to "The Inner Light."

    It seems odd, really, that the best episodes of Classic and TNG are more or less Star Trek in name only. The Trekkish trappings are all there at the top and bottom of both episodes, but in the middle we get a wonderful story about these characters, who in each case are far removed from their normal time, place and circumstance.

    What an achievement this episode was. Writing about this has made me miss the series all over again.
  • comment
    • Author: Mave
    This episode is proof of how brilliant an actor Patrick Stewart is. When a probe's beam knocks Picard down he is suddenly in this 'other' life. He refuses to accept his predicament and insists he is not supposed to be there. Minutes pass on the Enterprise and years pass within Jean Luc, now known as Kamin's life. Crusher tries to revive the Captain to no avail. The warmth and friendliness on the planet Kamin is on, Kataan, is beautiful and somewhat blissful. The planet is doomed because of a massive draught and it's people are aware of their plight and have accepted it and, with a sense of spirit have united to plant trees as an affirmation of life. Kamin's beloved wife, Eleen asks repeatedly for him to give up the life he so clings to and start living in this one and start a family. Eventually Kamin has a family, two children and plays a flute. Eleen dies and Kamin is left a widower. Into old age we see a launching that a grumpy old Kamin reluctantly attends. His daughter tells him he's already seen the probe before he came here. Eleen appears, as does his dead friend and they explain that they wanted someone from the future to be a teacher and tell of their planet in a touching heart warming scene. Picard awakens on the Enterprise and is startled to discover that less than a half hour has elapsed. The probe is taken aboard and Kamin's flute is on it and Picard wistfully holds it to his chest and then plays the Kataanian tune remembering the people. Fans should know that Batai the older is played by Daniel Stewart, son of Patrick. This is one of the best episodes of the series by a wide margin
  • comment
    • Author: Kahavor
    Can't believe it took twenty years to watch this. I'm always leary when people state things like "One of television's finest hours" (which was stated in a review for Deep Space Nine's the Vistor). I thought that episode was good, not great etc. Also a movie like the Godfather tends to have people state that it's one of the best movies ever. Which I thought it was just good also. I had my guard up before this episode. This episode was simply amazing and could be worthy of the "One of television finest hours" mantra. The music at the end stays with you. And you can feel Picard's difficulty of having to adjust to his former life. You know it's good when it inspired me to write my first review.
  • comment
    • Author: generation of new
    "The Inner Light" is a brilliantly written and haunting show. It is by far the best episode of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" but I also think it's the best show of any of the hundreds of episodes of any of the Star Trek's THAT good.

    The show begins with a probe nearing the Enterprise. Suddenly, a beam shoots onto the bridge and hits Picard. In the next scene, Picard awakens on a planet--one he's never seen and never heard of. When he tries to talk about his life on the Enterprise, no one seems to believe or understand--to them, he is just a member of their community and always has been. And, through the course of the show, Picard's new persona lives, loves and grows old in this new world. What happens next I won't just have to see this one.

    It's hard to put into words what's so great about this one. Suffice to say that it IS and this is why it has an enormously high score of 9.3! Overall, it's haunting, very intelligently written and totally unique. See this show!
  • comment
    • Author: Vudozilkree
    No spoilers. This was simply the best episode in a series with a LOT of "best episodes". It is moving, beautiful, melodic, heart-breaking, and in the end at its core...uplifting.

    Life goes on, but you have to LIVE IT NOW.

    I'd recommend this to anyone regardless of genre' as it is simply a magnificent story, well told.

    "Put away your shoes" will resonate in my mind when I think of this episode, probably for the rest of my life, and in the end when it comes to any form of entertainment...what more can one ask for?

    10 out of 10 from me. Until this episode, "Family" in season 4 struck a nerve the most. It is on the same shelf, but The Inner Light sits slightly higher.
  • comment
    • Author: Alsath
    In this episode, the Enterprise comes across an oddly shaped probe dating back thousands of years, with no habitable world for lightyears around it. Suddenly it 'shoots' something at Picard, and the Captain wakes up in a desert town, with people who have supposedly known him all his life, and a wife who listens as he tells of his "delusion" of being a Starship captain named Jean-Luc Picard, when their own race is just on the cusp of space technology.

    For the next 45 minutes of air time, and 25 minutes of Picard's life, he lives out an entire 50 years or so in this life, not returning to the Enterprise, raising a family and working to solve the problem of a drought that is threatening the entire planet.

    Picard's experiences on this planet gradually shape him, as he begins to reject his life as "Jean-Luc Picard" as a delusion, and spends the next several decades of his life living on this world, dealing with the typical issues of family life such as raising his children, trying to accept his son's decision to drop out of school to become a musician, and his life-long project of trying to save the planet from drying up and dying.

    Then comes the very end, which took what could have been just an odd and arbitrary, yet still very good episode, and made it spectacular, mind-blowing, and heartbreaking.
  • comment
    • Author: Lightbinder
    Well, toddisatvha, I always wondered what it would be like to encounter someone with no soul. Congratulations on being my first.

    This is the best Star Trek episode ever. An actor is a master when he can make you forget he's acting. That happened for me with so many of the characters in this episode.

    The idea is a trick of the mind. What is important is that these long dead people will go on in one of the greatest human minds set into fiction. The character, a beloved one for many years, is inexorably affected by this experience, which he felt as real - not as a holodeck simulation which he could dismiss as fictional.

    Maybe you do have a soul. Perhaps you simply have no heart.
  • comment
    • Author: Wire
    "The single best hour of television" someone said. This is the only episode where one truly feels what Jean-Luc feels, especially as he returns to the Enterprise.
  • comment
    • Author: Erennge
    Every time I watch this episode I have a deeper respect for the story and production of the episode. Not to mention Sir Patrick Stewart's acting in this episode is at his best. Which is hard to believe since he's one of the best actors in my opinion.
  • comment
    • Author: Manazar
    I'm just a newbie "Star Trek" watcher. My dad taped dozens of episodes back when they originally aired, and now I watch them as my VCR permits. The tape on which this episode was recorded has some sort of tracking problem; one minute it's functioning normally and the next minute it's on double speed--or worse, mute static. But this episode makes it all worth putting up with! I'd put up with the stupid VCR acting out just so I could see it again...and again! I glanced through other users' reviews and saw the same words over and over again: beautiful...touching...poignant. And they are so true. Each moment of Picard's life as Kamin reveals something about his personality that you didn't know before. And at the climax, in which the probe is launched and Kamin reaffirms his identity as a captain, Eline's words to him are so emphatically tear-jerking: "The rest of us have been gone a thousand years. If you remember what we were, and how we lived, then we'll have found life again. Now we live in you. Tell them of darling." Every time I watch the episode (it's been at least ten times I've seen it), I forget just how sad and wonderful it is. Then I find myself crying at the end when Picard picks up his old, familiar flute and plays that song. I tell you, whoever composed that melody was a genius; it was perfect for the moment. It captures everything Picard/Kamin felt and what you're feeling watching him. And I am so glad they kept the song, replaying it in Season Six's "Lessons". I myself recorded it on my cell phone for later. It's worth keeping, and the episode is without a doubt worth watching again and again.
  • comment
    • Author: felt boot
    How does this episode hold only a 9.4/10? Not only is it one of the best episodes of Trek ever made, it is likely the best hour of television ever broadcast.

    This episode embodies the core of Star Trek: to seek out new life and new civilizations. It not only reveals a new civilization to viewers, but also explores what it means to be a civilization.

    I can count one one hand the number of movies and TV episodes that have brought me to tears, but this one does it every time I watch it.
  • Episode complete credited cast:
    Patrick Stewart Patrick Stewart - Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
    Jonathan Frakes Jonathan Frakes - Cmdr. William Riker
    LeVar Burton LeVar Burton - Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
    Michael Dorn Michael Dorn - Lt. Worf
    Gates McFadden Gates McFadden - Dr. Beverly Crusher
    Marina Sirtis Marina Sirtis - Counselor Deanna Troi (credit only)
    Brent Spiner Brent Spiner - Lt. Commander Data
    Margot Rose Margot Rose - Eline
    Richard Riehle Richard Riehle - Batai
    Scott Jaeck Scott Jaeck - Administrator
    Jennifer Nash Jennifer Nash - Meribor
    Patti Yasutake Patti Yasutake - Nurse Alyssa Ogawa
    Daniel Stewart Daniel Stewart - Young Batai
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