ST:TNG - “Half a Life” A Review by SRC

This jewel aired in season 4 of ST:TNG, it is possibly my favorite Trek episode ever, from any series. David Ogden Stiers (Major Charles Emerson Winchester III from M.A.S.H.) guest stars as a scientist named Timicin, visiting the Enterprise to conduct an experiment that he hopes will stabilize his home worlds dying sun.

Aboard the Enterprise, he meets and falls in love with Lwaxana Troi, who is outraged when she discovers that after his mission is finished he is to return to his planet and commit ritual suicide. In Timicin's culture, people end their life at a predetermined age, both as population control and to avoid suffering the debilitating effects of old age. Timicin's mission is unsuccessful, and he believes that with more time, he can develop a technique that will work to save his home world from eventual destruction.

But, alas, he has no more time. He MUST return home and die with his family at the appointed time. Lwaxana Troi finally convinces Timicin that he should continue to live and he seeks asylum aboard the Enterprise. Picard’s decision to grant asylum to Timicin ignites an incident between Timicin’s home world and the Federation. Timicin’s daughter Dara (played by Michelle Forbes, who also played Ensign Ro in ST:TNG) visits the Enterprise to try to convince her father to come home and do what is expected of him by his culture and traditions. The situation is eventually resolved when Timicin decides to return to his planet and end his life. Even though she is adamantly opposed to his decision, Lwaxana Troi accompanies Timicin to his planet so that she can be with him as his life ends.

This episode speaks to me because it deals with issues that are relevant outside of science fiction, such as life and death, assisted suicide and true love. In fact, the "science" part of this episode, Timicin’s experiment, is basically lost in the background as the story of love and sacrifice is told. The episode is very well written and flows well. Majel Barrett Rodenberry plays Lwaxana Troi fantastically and shows us a more serious side of her character than previously seen. David Ogden Stiers is, in my opinion, one of the great actors of his generation, and truly underrated. He delivers a magnificent performance. ~ SRC


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