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Star Trek TNG - Season 7 - Episode 13

Star Trek TNG - 7x13 - Homeward

Originally Aired: 1994-1-17

Synopsis:
Worf's brother tries to save a doomed alien race. [DVD]

My Rating - 5

Fan Rating Average - 5.15

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 24 4 2 8 8 16 25 20 26 5 5

Problems
- Isn't leaving Nikolai with the Boraalans just the kind of cultural contamination this whole episode was trying to avoid? He's introducing alien DNA into a pre warp culture!

Factoids
- Penny Johnson, who plays Dobara in this episode will go on to play Kasidy Yates on DS9.

Remarkable Scenes
- Nikolai transporting the Boraalans onto the Enterprise without permission.
- Worf callring the holodeck malfuction an omen. "The sign of LaForge."
- One of the aliens escaping the holodeck.
- Picard trying to convince the escaped alien to stay with the Federation.
- The stunt transporting the Boraalans to their new home.
- The escaped Boraalan committing suicide.
- Worf making up with Nikolai and proclaiming his actions honorable.

My Review
This episode features a very complex issue concerning the morality of the prime directive. A primitive culture is facing annihilation. If the Federation doesn't help, they all die. Personally, I don't see how letting them all die is preferable to saving them. Faced with 1. contaminating their culture and 2. making a concious decision to let their culture be destroyed despite the fact that you can easily save it, option 1. seems the best choice. That said, I agree with Nikolai's decision in this episode. Obviously, Nikolai crosses the line impregnating one of the villagers. But at least I agree with him on the principle that doomed people should be saved whenever possible. It disappoints me that Nikolai is not forcibly separated from his "new home" because an alien procreating with another species covertly is clearly just the sort of prime directive violation everyone was trying to avoid in the first place! The Boraalans will have (admittedly small) amounts of human DNA in their future generations! Despite that, I enjoyed the episode anyway, as it makes us all take a good hard look at the prime directive and just how well it applies to certain situations.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-06-22 at 9:56pm:
    Problem:

    When the one Boraalan left the holodeck and dissapeared, never to come back, why didn't any other members of his species notice he was gone? Surely he had family.
  • From Wing Fat on 2007-10-03 at 12:22am:
    This episode has many holes. How did Nikolai have the knowledge and authorization necessary to lock the chief security officer (Worf) out of the holodeck (not to mention rigging that whole stunt in the first place)? Nikolai committed a laundry list of Starfleet violations, wouldn't Picard be bound to take him to a Starbase for some kind of hearing and punishment? Why is it one of the few remaining (and most prominent) Boraalans disappears and the others just go about their business like nothing happened? What's going to happen when Nikolai's baby is born and, because it's half human, doesn't have the same facial features as the other Boraalans? And less significantly, isn't that huge grin on Worf's face after he asks LaForge to generate a storm a bit out of character?
  • From JRPoole on 2008-10-29 at 3:55pm:
    The noted problems aside, I think this episode is mostly successful. I love episodes that explore the prime directive, and this is one of the stronger ones, perhaps even better than the proto-Vulcan society episode from a few seasons ago (can't recall the title).

    I think Nikolai is absolutely right here. However, the best decision would have been to save as many of the Boraalans as possible and not even try to do a cover-up. They're going to die without Federation help. I don't see how saving as many of them as possible is a violation of the prime directive. Obviously, it's best not to interfere, but it's better than letting them die.

    The best solution would have been to beam as many of them up as possible, keep them together, explain the situation as well as possible, and find them a new place to live. Not a perfect solution, but the best one possible. That would also erase the problem of leaving Nikolai with the Boraalans. I just don't see how leaving them to die is in the spirit of the prime directive at all. It ensures non-interference in cultural affairs and societal development. Here there's going to be no development without Federation assistance, and you might even argue that not helping them violates the prime directive because it allows a culture to be destroyed rather than preserved.
  • From djb on 2009-01-26 at 12:49pm:
    Atmospheric dissipation?! Are you effing kidding me?!?!! Make up as much Treknobabble as you want; you'll never convince me that a planet's atmosphere will spontaneously ... go away.

    That aside, this episode definitely reminded me of Who Watches the Watchers (season 3), which was actually one of my favorite episodes. Far better than this one.

    I do like the moral quandary it brings up. I'm surprised that Picard, who was always such a bleeding heart (second only to Crusher) took such a firm stance on this issue. After all, non-interference is kind of moot when there's nothing to interfere with.

    Imagine how neat it would be if they just beamed them all into the holodeck, told them "we're aliens, from another planet; your world is dying; we're taking you to another one," then beamed them down to their new planet. The story would pass down from one generation to another until it just became myth, and most people wouldn't believe it. Then, a few thousand years later, the Boraalans achieve warp, they make contact with the federation (assuming it still exists), and maybe find out from federation records that the story was true after all! That would be awesome.

    In addition to the issue already raised about obvious interference on Nikolai's part, this also occurred to me: what about his surgical implants? Could they last permanently? What if they became damaged? The jig would be up. I also wonder if the handful of Boraalans we saw have a large enough gene pool to repopulate a planet (the same issue brought up in Up The Long Ladder in season 1). Oh well.

    Interesting ideas, but poorly executed.

    Oh, and Worf's grin isn't out of character. He just doesn't do it very much. It adds depth to his character.
  • From Tallifer on 2011-03-13 at 3:56am:
    Unbeliveably bad.

    1. The prime directive is made to look ridiculous here. "Is it better to save life or to kill?"

    2. But on the other hand, a culture which cannot survive without the same plot of land is not worth saving. The stray Boralan commits suicide because life in a universe of other cultures is unacceptable. Good riddance. Imagine if all the countless ethnic groups who have made happy lives in the Americas had thought that way.

    3. Worf looks stupid in his disguise, and the whole Boralan male costume is horrible. Another reason top leave them on their dying planet.

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