Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Bloodlines”

Written by Nicholas Sagan
Directed by Les Landau
Season 7, Episode 22
Production episode 40276-274
Original air date: May 2, 1994
Stardate: 47829.1

Captain’s Log: A probe approaches the Enterprise, which hails Picard by name and projects a hologram onto the bridge. The image is of DaiMon Bok, who claims to have found Picard’s son, Jason Vigo. He plans to kill Vigo just as Picard killed Bok’s son at Maxia Zeta fifteen years ago.

This comes as rather a shock to Picard, who has no idea who Jason Vigo is. He has Worf bring the probe on board, Data search the records for Jason Vigo (he suggests starting with a woman from the New Gaul colony named Miranda Vigo), and Riker query the Ferengi government as to why and how Bok has regained his rank after losing it in “The Battle.”

Data finds a picture of Vigo, who is twenty-three years old, and he and his mother settled on Camor V, a planet that has dodgy planetary records. Riker very carefully does not ask the obvious question, but Picard goes ahead and answers it anyhow: he was involved with Miranda Vigo for a short time about twenty-four years earlier. It was a two-week romance, and she never mentioned being pregnant, but Picard feels that it would’ve been in character for her not to mention it and raise the child on her own.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Bloodlines

They arrive at Camor V. Data is able to find Vigo and beam him aboard in mid-spelunk (the kid’s a major climber), at which point Picard brings him up to speed on the situation. Vigo was never told who his father was, so it’s possible that Picard is him—he also informs Picard that his mother died a few years ago.

Vigo agrees to a genetic test, which reveals that he is, in fact, Picard’s son. Picard then brings him to his quarters for an attempt at bonding, which fails. However, Picard wishes to keep Vigo on board until the situation with Bok is resolved.

Data and La Forge are working on trying to figure out where the probe came from. Meanwhile, a Ferengi official named Girta assures Picard that Bok was not only relieved of command, but imprisoned, until he bought his way out of jail two years earlier. Girta is only willing to admit that he was last seen in the Dorias Cluster, which has some twenty star systems—but La Forge and Data found residue on the probe indicating it was near a particular type of quasar, one of which can be found in that cluster. The Enterprise heads to the Xendi Sabu system.

Picard sees an image of Bok in his quarters. There’s no sign that Bok was actually there, nor evidence of a hologram or another mental projection like the one he used the last time. La Forge continues to investigate while Worf assigns a security detail to Vigo. Meanwhile, Data alerts Picard to Vigo’s criminal record: petty theft, disorderly conduct, trespassing, and assorted other misdemeanors.

Vigo goes to Ten-Forward, where the two guards are making him nervous. Picard makes attempt #2 at bonding, and that fails even more spectacularly. A probe appears near the Enterprise and then explodes, but the explosion provides a display in Ferengi code that Data translates to, “My revenge is at hand.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Bloodlines

Bok appears in Picard’s ready room, saying that he insists on being paid for the loss of his son. Then he disappears in what appears to be a Ferengi transporter beam. Right after that, Vigo’s security detail reports a medical emergency: Vigo is having an awful seizure. Crusher diagnoses him with Forrester-Trent Syndrome, a degenerative nerve disorder. It’s also hereditary, but Picard doesn’t have it, and as far as Vigo knows, his mother didn’t, either.

La Forge and Data determine that Bok is using a subspace transporter, which is unstable and impractical, but which can also work over long distances. Picard then joins Vigo on the holodeck, where he’s indulging his rock climbing fetish. The captain climbs up to join him, and makes attempt #3 at bonding, which works a bit better by virtue of Picard asking about Miranda. Vigo is also rather surprised to realize that Picard knows all about his criminal record.

Crusher calls Picard to sickbay with a revelation: he isn’t Vigo’s father. His DNA was altered to make it appear that Picard was his father, a side effect of which was to give Vigo Forrester-Trent Syndrome.

Bok is able to beam Vigo off the Enterprise despite La Forge’s efforts to stop it. However, Data traces the beam and the subsequent gloating transmission from Bok to find the source. La Forge and Data modify the transporter to work as a subspace transporter that puts Picard on Bok’s bridge. Picard reveals that Vigo is not his son, which prompts Tol, one of his crew, to lament that he’ll never pay the ransom. But there is no ransom, and Bok is not a true DaiMon. Tol, realizing there’s no profit and that he and the crew were deceived, takes Bok into custody.

Vigo stays on board long enough to get his Forrester-Trent treated, and then goes back home to Camor V. Picard gives him an archaeological relic as a gift before he beams back.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Bloodlines

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Subspace transporters work over much greater distances, but are unstable and dangerous. This doesn’t prevent them from working absolutely perfectly every single time they’re used in this episode.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi checks in on Vigo, offering her professional services. Vigo prefers instead to flirt with her, and poorly at that.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Bloodlines

If I Only Had a Brain…: Data’s sheer awesomeness keeps the plot moving, as he’s able to figure out that Bok is using a subspace transporter, finds out everything about Vigo, and is even able to find Vigo on a planet full of people.

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Picard’s womanizing ways seen in “Tapestry” apparently continued into adulthood, as he had a two-week romance with Miranda Vigo, and promptly forgot all about her.

I Believe I Said That: “But one thing is clear: you’ll never look at your hairline again in the same way.”

Picard, providing Vigo with the ugly truth about being his son.

Welcome Aboard: The character of Bok returns, but this time played by Lee Arenberg, who previously played two other Ferengi on “Force of Nature” and Deep Space Nine’s “The Nagus.” Frank Corsentino played Bok in “The Battle,” as well as two other Ferengi in “Ménàge à Troi” and Voyager’s “Inside Man,” but he was unavailable for this episode. Peter Slutsker also plays his third Ferengi as Birta, having been different Ferengi in “Ménàge à Troi” and “Suspicions,” while Michelan Sisti makes his only Ferengi appearance as Tol. Ken Olandt plays Jason Vigo as a smarmy asshole.

Trivial Matters: This episode is a sequel to “The Battle,” with Bok continuing to attempt revenge against Picard for the death of his son at Maxia Zeta.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Bloodlines

One of the names Picard called out in “The Battle” when he relived Maxia Zeta was “Vigo,” the weapons officer. When he wrote the novel Reunion, which provided details about Picard’s crew on the Stargazer, Michael Jan Friedman had Vigo as a male Pandrilite. Sagan’s script for this episode originally had a line that Miranda Vigo was the sister of the weapons officer, though it was cut. As yet, the relationship, if any, between the Pandrilite Vigo and the human Miranda Vigo has not been addressed.

This episode came about when co-executive producer Jeri Taylor asked Sir Patrick Stewart if there were any outstanding plot/character points he thought should be addressed before the show ended, and Stewart mentioned Bok. Taylor then gave Nick Sagan the assignment to write it. Sagan named Forrester-Trent Syndrome after the writer of “The Battle” (Larry Forrester) and the lead singer of Nine Inch Nails (Trent Reznor).

Make it So: “I have a life back on Camor.” The biggest problem with this episode is honestly in the recasting of Frank Corsentino with Lee Arenberg. Allegedly, the producers couldn’t find Corsentino (though they found him eventually when Voyager’s “Inside Man” came ’round), but Arenberg spends the entire episode being absolutely nothing like Corsentino. It’s easy to just dismiss the Ferengi as all being alike, but—leaving aside that Armin Shimerman, Aron Eisenberg, and Max Grodénchik spent seven years on Deep Space Nine proving that wrong—this episode is a strong case against that. The Bok of “The Battle” was a father who was devastated by the loss of his son. There was an emotional hook to his revenge. But Arenberg, sadly, just plays Bok as someone who shouts a lot. This will serve him well in other roles (particularly on Enterprise as a Tellarite ambassador), but makes the character considerably less interesting here.

Not that the episode doesn’t have dozens of other problems, like its complete inability to commit to its premise. It could’ve been cool if Picard really did have a long-lost son and he was kind of a dick, but the show refuses to actually pursue the interesting path, instead having it be a technobabble solution where Bok basically created a son in order to devastate Picard by killing him.

On top of that, Bok’s whole plan relies upon the use of a subspace transporter, which they pulled directly out of their asses so that Bok could properly torture Picard. Lip service is paid to its danger, but that danger is never actually shown. It’s not like, say, the dimensional shift in “The High Ground,” where the risk in using the technology is front and center. Subspace transporting is dangerous only because Data says it is and we’ve never seen it before or since, but it does everything it’s supposed to do in this story without any ill effects. It’s the laziest of lazy technobabble writing.

And then in the end, Bok pulls the same trick on his fellow Ferengi that he pulled in “The Battle,” lying about the profit in the mission, and it doesn’t work this time, either. If we saw Bok as someone who was suffering legitimate grief about his son, it might have been more interesting, but nobody seemed interested in showing genuine emotion in this episode.

Including, sadly, the guy atop the credits. Picard’s reaction to a long-lost son is surprisingly muted, his bonding attempts perfunctory and flat. Compare this episode to DS9’s pilot episode “Emissary” and the look on Picard’s face when Sisko reveals that he was a survivor of Wolf 359. Sir Patrick Stewart recoils as if he’s been slapped, and devastation and horror is writ large on his face. He manages more in that single closeup on “Emissary” than he can manage to scrape together at any point in this episode.

The story of Picard discovering a long-lost son and having him targeted could’ve been a good one. This ain’t it.


Warp factor rating: 3

Keith R.A. DeCandido is in the midst of his promotion to second-degree black belt in karate as he does this rewatch. If all goes well, he’ll have that second stripe by the time the rewatch for “Emergence” goes live….


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