Delta Flyer, with Paris, Tuvok, and Samantha Wildman on board, crashes on a planetoid and is buried under kilometers of rock. Wildman’s daughter, Naomi, is taken care of by Neelix.
Guess that’s the story of the episode.
On a surface level, this is a terrible episode. The story is forgettable and has no tension since we know Tuvok or Paris will be killed (we’re not in Westeros yet). A lot of time is used to show a children’s story Naomi explores in Holodeck. And it’s full of Neelix, which is never a plus.
However, this is one of the few episodes where Neeling has its place and is not annoying. In most cases, he doesn’t add anything to the crew except of food, and his counseling is nowhere near Deanna Troi’s. At best, he is forgettable; at worst, he becomes annoying. It’s not the actor, as Ethan Phillips gives a lot of personality to this character, putting him above Wesley Crusher1. Here, his interactions with this little girl are what build the episode. He cares (as always), but his actions rarely have so much impact as here. Interspecies negotiations? Over his head. Battle with Borg? Nope. Being a caregiver? Perfection!
But how Neelix can become god-father in this post-religion world is beyond my understanding.
Nothing saves the Holodeck scenes. I guess it was too reminiscent of Wizard of Oz with all of its quirks, but it comes poorly here. The simulation was made for kids, and I see no point in showing so much of it here. Maybe the creators needed something to fill the full episode run with?
However, something that hit me hard was Neelix’s dilemmas about telling Naomi that her mother may be dead. There’s this dark thread between those sometimes charming but most often useless scenes. It hits too close to home for me.
Not enough Doctor in the last few episodes!
having said that I was very much into Wesley’s story, and I am still angry about his disappearance midway through TNG and the terrible scene in Picard. I want a spin-off! ↩︎