Survivors Guilt. If you were to survive in the wake of a major catastrophe, how would you react? Would you close off your emotions or would you become a thrill seeker? In this episode, that originally aired on January 27, 1992, we encounter a young boy who takes comfort in the most unusual of people. This is Hero Worship.
Stardate 45397.3 Hero Worship
The Enterprise rescues a young boy from the wreckage of a damaged Starship. The boy soon attaches himself to Data in an attempt cope with the loss of his family.
After finding the Starship Vico, they find that it has been damaged beyond repair and that most of the crew have been killed. They soon come across the only survivor, a young boy named Timothy. Data rescues the child and returns to the Enterprise with him as the crew begin investigating the cause of the ships destruction.
It soon becomes apparent that Timothy is not handling the death of his parents well and only finds solace in the vicinity of his rescuer Data. Timothy indicates that the ship was boarded by people who killed the crew and destroyed the ship. He says that they didn’t see him and that is the only reason he survived.
As Geordi and Data explore the logs of the Vico, they find that there is no indication of a boarding party nor an attack on the ship. Picard and Troi feel that Timothy may be lying or unable to express the real events due to his trauma. Troi asks Data to work with the boy as Data seems to be the only person Timothy is comfortable with. Data begins working with Timothy and soon, after learning that Data experiences no emotions or pain, Timothy begins to emulate his Android hero.
After discussing the matter with Troi and Picard, it is determined that Data needs to assist and even encourage Timothy’s transition into an Android. Data begins to work with him in this adjustment period. As they begin to bond, Data continues to work on getting Timothy to open up about his personal feelings and issues. It is slow going, but it seems that something is starting to emerge. Data and Troi begin to notice that, when in class, Timothy is beginning to drop his Android persona. Troi encourages Data to continue to work with the boy as they are approaching a breakthrough.
After exploring the area, Picard and the crew realize that there was no chance that another ship attacked the ship. Troi, Picard and Data discuss the matter with Timothy and find out that the boy feels that he was responsible for the death of his crew and his family. He made up the story of the attack as he thought he accidentally caused the explosion when his arm struck a panel when the ship was struck by something. Soon the Enterprise begins to be struck by the same waves and Data works with Timothy to see what he remembers. It seems that the ships shields being struck by the waves caused the destruction of the Vico and Timothy’s experience has now helped save the Enterprise.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is another episode directed by Patrick Stewart and, to be honest, it is his best work as a director at this point. He does a wonderful job with the pacing and the narrative making sure that the main story blended in with the secondary story, something that isn’t easy to do in this series.
This episode is filled with great visuals and interesting parallels that shows how Timothy is dealing with the loss of his family and ships crew. Joshua Harris, the actor who plays Timothy, also does a terrific job in portraying the guilt ridden boy.
The story itself is about dealing with guilt and grief. It focuses on a child who is experiencing survivors guilt and, in this, needs to find a way to break from his emotions. This is a very real thing and many people deal with this very instance when they survive extreme situations that others die in. One of the more famous instances of Survivors guilt is that of Waylon Jennings story of turning down a seat on the plane that claimed Buddy Holly’s life. He casually commented to Holly that he ‘hoped his plane crashed’ and ironically it happened. This of course cause him to languish afterward until he came to accept that this crash was not his fault.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We learn that Geordi nearly died in a fire when he was a child before he got his first VISOR. This experience lived with him for much of his life and still haunts him occasionally.
The teachers on the Enterprise seem to be a little impatient with ‘problem children’ as we saw in the last episode with Alexander and now with Timothy. This guy is a little bit better than the lady in the last episode but it seems that educational funding isn’t high on the priority list for Starfleet. In his defense though, the teacher was dealing with an emotionally distraught boy in this case. The blame really lies in Troi’s lap. Who drops a kid in school after surviving the death of an entire ships crew?
We never see nor hear from Timothy again. We find out that his father was the second in command of the Vico while his mother was the ship’s systems Engineer. Outside of that, we never learn any more.
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Late To The Game 3/8/2020 (Originally published 9/12/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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