When the Enterprise rescues five teenagers from a Talarian training vessel, they are surprised to discover that one of the boys is actually a human. Jono was born Jeremiah Rossa, but he has lived as a Talarian for as long as he can remember. Should Picard help Jono rediscover his human roots, or return him to his Talarian family?
The family theme continues in this episode, as Picard has to overcome his awkwardness with children and step up to be a father figure for a human boy who was raised in an alien culture. There’s a bit of a Star Trek moral dilemma here – Jono identifies as a Talarian and loves his adoptive father, but is it Stockholm syndrome? Is he being abused or mistreated by the Talarians? Is it Picard’s moral duty to rescue him and return him to his human family?
The episode does well in exploring both sides of the argument, exposing Jono’s feelings both past and present, and his ensuing confusion. It’s also good that the episode doesn’t go for the “Starfleet knows best” angle – instead, Picard realises his arrogance and lets Jono return to the Talarians. And in case you’re worrying, no, his father wasn’t abusing him.
The Talarians – wannabe Klingons
Now that the Klingons are the Federation’s allies, this episode wouldn’t really have worked with them, and so instead we get the Klingons-lite, the Talarians.
- The Klingons have full forehead ridges, the Talarians have only upper forehead ridges.
- The Talarians are fiercely patriarchal, whereas the Klingons are only about 95% patriarchal – female warriors do appear from time to time.
- A Klingon becomes an adult in their mid-teens by undergoing a ritual known as the Age of Ascension. A Talarian male becomes an adult at fourteen, and must undergo a ritual known as the Age of Decision.
- Both Klingons and Talarians were once enemies of the Federation, but are now largely at peace.
- Despite being a significant enough galactic power to be able to attack and destroy human colonies, the Talarians have only been mentioned once before this point – in Heart of Glory.
- The Talarians make a keening sound when mourning. Klingons roar to warn the afterlife that a warrior is coming.
Other points of note
- Whilst playing racquetball with Picard was a good way to burn off some energy and trigger some PTSD, if Jono wanted to go running, why didn’t Picard take him to the holodeck? They could even have programmed some of his favourite locations (and yes, I get that the reason is probably ‘budget’, but I like things to make sense in-universe too).
Summary – Suddenly Human: A selection of standard narrative elements come together to make a decent story.