The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The Inner Light

When an alien probe locks onto Picard, he awakens as Kamin, an iron weaver on the planet Kataan. Years pass for Picard as he tries to make sense of his predicament and settle into his new life, unaware that he is actually unconscious on the bridge of the Enterprise. Meanwhile, Riker and Crusher must decide what to do about their captain and his connection to the probe.

Even though there’s much to discuss about how this episode actually works, it still ranks as one of my favourites. It’s an excellent chance to see Picard in a different role, stepping away from the starship captain to live an entire life on an alien planet. He’s Picard, yet not Picard, and having experiences – such as raising children – that the real Picard will never know. There’s also a bittersweet ending, as the life he’s now come to accept and love, is revealed to just be a memory of a long dead civilisation; although, conversely, that does make the individual deaths of his wife and best friend less sad in their own right.

The Ressikan probe

  • Once again, Worf’s suggestions are ignored. Why is he even on the bridge? Oh, right, to fire phasers and open hailing frequencies.
  • What is it that Picard experiences from the probe? Is it the real life of a man named Kamin, or is it more like a holodeck experience, where what happens is influenced by what Picard actually said and did? It seemed like Picard’s memories of his real life as a starship captain were key to what he said and did during the experience, but obviously the real Kamin wouldn’t have known or done any of that.
  • Was Picard accumulating memories at the rate of several decades over twenty five minutes, or was he just seeing the excerpts of a life, the way we were? The human brain forms memories at the rate of one minute per minute, so what technology was being used to project them at a much faster rate? If the people of Kataan had such advanced technology, why did they spend so much time developing that instead of ways to help or save their people?
  • What about the long term effects on Picard’s personality and sense of self in suddenly having lived a second lifetime? Obviously this wouldn’t be touched upon in a weekly story show like TNG, but we should consider it nonetheless.

Summary – The Inner Light: Picard learns how to play the flute.

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