The Koinonians wiped themselves out, but their war left traps behind. On a mission under Worf's command, the archeologist Lt. Marla Aster is killed by one of their bombs. Just as this episode kills my interest stone dead.
The tragedy has orphaned Aster's 12 year old son, Jeremy. It awakens old ghosts for Wes, and for Worf.
And then it literally awakens some ghosts.
"I'm all alone now, sir," says Jeremy to the Captain.
"On the starship Enterprise, no one is alone."
Two scenes later, Jeremy is watching home movies on his PADD. ALONE. By himself. Troi is working to get Jeremy to express his anger. Is abandoning a recently orphaned child part of that plan?
Worf wants the R'uustai ritual to make Jeremy his brother.
Even knowing it's coming, my guts still turn to water when Lt. Aster, out of focus, around a corner, calls out in sing-song: 'Jeremy...'.
Along with the music, the Koinonian Mom illusion is creepsville. But in the best social services tradition, Worf and Troi physically snatch the kid away from Faux Mommy. These beings can recreate his home, his mom, even his cat. Like a holodeck, only more terrifying. They plan to remove any need Jeremy might have, even for grief.
The spectral Koinonians are dishonoured by the damage the long-dead physical Koinonians have caused, and cannot understand the human motive. "What is so noble about sorrow?"
"It is at the heart of our nature to feel pain and joy," says Picard.
Wesley tells Picard of the anger he felt toward him for surviving when his father didn't. Jeremy tells Worf the same. Then Jeremy accepts Worf's offer of brotherhood.
Ultimately, Troi and the others DO save Jeremy from a potential Charlie Evans fate. So, call it a win.
Except that, like Charlie, Jeremy disappears forever and no one mentions him on screen ever again. If you liked him, you can assume it all worked out.
Ronald D. Moore's "The Bonding" will be followed by many fine stories by a fine writer. It's just that this one never worked that well for me.