** (2 stars out of 5)
Like the Oh-Ree-Ons to the Orions, there's somebody out there called Talarians (not
to be confused with the plague-ridden Tarellians). Talarians are hard-asses with hard heads. Martial culture, male-dominated, and when captured they make a profoundly irritating whine called the B'Nar. I don't intend to capture one and I'm truly sorry our crew did today.
One of the little bastards setting undetectable explosives is a formerly missing 14-year-old human boy called Jeremiah Rossa. His parents died with the rest of the Federation colony on Galen IV. Young Rossa is now Jono, a humourless Spartan-esque soldier bonded with his Talarian Captain Endar. (Not Ender or Endor, more's the pity. I miss the Ewoks...)
Jono has no respect for females, so Troi insists Picard be the one to help the boy understand his human heritage, with an eye to eventually giving him back to Admiral Grandmother.
Picard acknowledges to Troi that he probably skipped his childhood altogether in the single-minded pursuit of a Starfleet Captaincy.
Endar arrives in his warship Q'Maire and demands the return of his son. Having lost his biological son to conflict with humans on Castal I, his customs allow him to claim a child of the enemy, as per the movie 'The Searchers'.
I don't understand the inconsistency in Talarian weapons tech. They have subspace proximity detonators which can outfox Federation sensors, but their warship offensive weapons are "too primitive" to harm Enterprise? The hell?
Jono is an agitated, active youth. He wants to go running along the river by his home. Rather than simply accommodate him on the holodeck, (say for example in horseback riding which we know Picard and Jono have in common) Picard takes him out for TRON racquetball, and the noises of the game give the kid horrible flashbacks. (Not of TRON. TRON was great.)
After some forced slapstick (stabbing a banana split so it splatters Wesley), Jono stabs Picard in his sleep. (Not with his banana.)
Dr. Crusher quickly puts the Captain to rights, but Jono must be turned over to the authorities for attempted murder. Or turned over to Endar unless they want the Talarians to go to war with humans again.
"Suddenly Human" raises the spectre of child abuse but seems to be saying that for society to interfere in such matters is the bigger crime. Actually, I'm not sure that's what it's about either, but if it is, I totally disagree. It is not wrong to try to help if you think someone is being kidnapped and hurt. I might be reading too much into this, since it's not very engaging, and it's bafflingly inconclusive. Still, Jeri Taylor, eh? That's a writer to watch.