The Good: Patrick Stewart's acting
The Bad: Obvious plot, Thematically disappointing, Character
The Basics: When a son Picard never knew he had pops up around the same time as an old adversary, the audience is left unsurprised and unimpressed with "Bloodlines."
I have, in many of my reviews, complained that the seventh season of Star Trek The Next Generation seemed ridiculously preoccupied with filling in backstory of the various characters. For most of them, this came far too late as the series was ending and the producers knew that. As a result, it seems somewhat insane that with four episodes to go, the show introduces a son Picard never knew he had. The episode is "Bloodlines" and it's pretty bad.
The starship Enterprise is poking around the galaxy when it begins to receive messages that threaten Captain Picard, messages from Daimon Bok, the Ferengi who sought revenge on Picard in the first season episode "The Battle" (reviewed here!). Bok is up to his usual thing, but the threats come around the same time that Picard discovers Jason Vigo, a son Picard apparently had as the result of an illicit affair in his youth.
Please! Viewers of Star Trek are not stupid and it insults my intelligence (and yours) to write the plot of the episode as if it were shocking that the two events were not necessarily related. Want to save yourself an hour of your life? The two are related and Bok's search for revenge now extends to him wanting Jason dead, too. I bet you saw that coming.
The problem is, everyone does. There's nothing surprising or significant about "Bloodlines." Instead, it feels like a cheap setup and as a result, the payoff is entirely anticlimactic. There's nothing here to be shocked or surprised about, there is nothing that resonates on an emotional level here.
Unlike the episode "Suddenly Human" (reviewed here!), from the show's fourth season, there is no emotional resonance between the characters of Picard and Jason Vigo. There is no connection that gets formed between the two people to become emotionally invested in Jason. We watch, we might wonder if it's true, but in the end, it's hard to care. Moreover, Picard - who has spent seven years becoming accustomed to children - seems particularly phased by Jason, in a way that seems very inorganic for the way his character has developed. That is to say that Picard's difficulty with children at the beginning of the series had to do with their youth and lack of discipline. Suddenly finding he had an adult child, one he openly admits he was never a father to (not biologically, you understand), should not throw the character as much as it seems to.
Conversely, Patrick Stewart's acting in this episode is phenomenal. He plays Picard with a very different manner than we have seen him before. Stewart continues - even this late in the game - to illustrate his range and he makes great efforts to play Picard as a man who is taking this somewhat ridiculous situation seriously. Stewart is a real professional and him sitting through this episode is a testament to that.
And it's not like he had a lot of help. Guest star Ken Olandt as Jason Vigo is . . . bland. Cast no doubt for his looks, he reminds us of the importance of finding an actor who is actually able to act. Olandt does little to endear us to Vigo and he never seems quite comfortable with the role. Similarly, Lee Arenberg, who plays Bok makes us wonder why the role was recast (Frank Corsentino who played him with a wonderful over-the-top quality in "The Battle" was still alive when this episode was made). Arenberg shows up, but he plays Bok without any real menace.
In short, "Bloodlines" is a disappointing sequel to "The Battle," made perhaps more disappointing by its resolution, which is almost identical to that of the previous episode. "Bloodlines" has little to recommend it to fans of Star Trek, let alone to people who are not fans of the series or science fiction in general. At least it is the show's last real disappointment. Had it come earlier in the series and the circumstances been different (i.e. they handled it in an adult manner as Star Trek Deep Space Nine would have), it likely would have been fine. But this, after all, is Star Trek The Next Generation and like most Trek outings, it tries not to focus too much on consequences over long arcs.
[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Seventh Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the final season by clicking here!
For other Star Trek episode, DVD or movie reviews, please be sure to visit my index page on the subject by clicking here!
© 2011, 2008, 2004 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.
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