'Star Trek: The Next Generation': The Top 10 Episodes

Image credit: Robbie Robinson

3. THE INNER LIGHT

LOG ENTRY A mysterious probe — is there any other kind? — shoots some sort of beam into the captain's brain, and whammo: A knocked-out Picard is suddenly a man named ''Kamin,'' a married metal weaver on the planet of Kataan. While the Enterprise crew quickly assesses the situation, years pass for Picard as he begins to accept, and then embrace, his new existence as a father, grandfather, struggling flautist, and armchair scientist horrified to discover Kataan is a dying planet. At a ripe old age, Kamin witnesses the launching of a probe — the very one, in fact, that started this journey — and with all of Kamin's loved ones around him, Picard awakes on the Enterprise having lived a third of a lifetime in less than an hour.

CRITIQUE Using a sci-fi conceit to tap into a surprisingly deep well of subtle emotional storytelling, this was TNG at its most moving. Patrick Stewart should have won an Emmy for the final scene alone: Picard, in his quarters, silently and ardently clutching Kamin's flute, his only tangible reminder of the full family life he himself could never have.

TRIVIA Stewart's real-life son, Daniel, played Kamin's son, the first time the two had worked together on camera. — Adam B. Vary

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