It’s lonely at the top. In my career I have heard this phrase many times and it is a very true statement. When you are in charge of a team, a store, a starship, you have to be careful with just how close you become with your subordinates. Get too close and you risk everything. Picard learns this the hard way in the episode that originally aired on April 5, 1993. This is Lessons.
Stardate 46693.1 Lessons
Picard finds love in the form of a subordinate officer aboard his own ship. Soon he finds out the hard way why fraternizing isn’t considered appropriate behavior.
Picard rises early to do some personal research only to find he can not get any work done due to someone in stellar cartography taking up all of the system resources. When he investigates he finds the staff working in the dark and mistakenly disrupts their experiment. There he meets Lt Commander Nella Daren, a woman he finds quite fascinating.
Later he attends a recital with Doctor Crusher and finds Commander Daren as one of the performers. During the performance he finds her performance delightful and develops a kinship with her. They realize that they have a connection with one another in music and soon, after playing music together in Picard’s quarters (no really, this isn’t a euphemism), this becomes more of a bond.
Later, Nella shows Picard the ‘most acoustically perfect place on the ship’ (again, no euphemism here). There they play music together, specifically the Inner Light theme he learned while living as Kamin (way back in season Five). The music drifts through the ship and can even be heard by LaForge in Engineering. They soon find themselves kissing one another.
As they continue their relationship it becomes awkward for Picard. He approaches Troi about his concerns and she expresses that she is happy for them as are the rest of the crew. He talks to Kamin about his concerns and she understands. Later, he explains the origins of the song he played with her prior. He has not told many people of his experience and to him, his music reminds him of his life as Kamin. With this bond, they begin a deeper relationship (Okay, this time there was one…).
Their relationship is put to the test when Nella is assigned to an away team that will face great danger. Although Picard knows that she is capable of the job, he doesn’t want to put her in any sort of danger. She goes anyhow, telling Picard that they agreed to not let their relationship interfere with their duties. When the events get to the point where Nella’s life is at stake, Picard finds himself having a hard time with his command. It soon looks as if Commander Darren has died in the line of duty and Picard finds himself lost without her. When survivors are found, he is elated to find that Nella has survived but also realizes that he can not perform as Captain while worrying about a specific crew member he has feelings for.
Mutually they agree that they can not pursue a relationship while on the same ship and it would not be fair to either of them for one of them to give up their career in Starfleet. Commander Daren puts in for a transfer knowing that it would be best for them both.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a really solid one-off Picard-centric episode that really gets a chance to explore his personal side. Picard rarely gets a chance to have a real relationship. This is one that honestly could have worked but, as they parted, they both knew they would never see one another again. It’s a sad tale but one that is very much a Picard story. While in command of the Enterprise, the ship is his mistress and no one else can ever be in her place.
Now that we have a new Picard series in the works, one can only hope we get a chance to see Lt Commander Daren once again. It would be interesting to see where their lives have taken them and if they can, once again, find a spark between the two.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Sadly we never see nor hear from Lt Commander Daren again. I really wish they could have worked out a relationship. It would have been awesome to see Picard find that one thing he has been missing his whole life…love.
We have another moment that references the events of The Inner Light. This really shows how impactful that particular event made on Picard. This marks the first time we know of that Picard has told the full story of his experiences to anyone.
There is a short moment between Nela and Beverly that somewhat betrays Beverly’s feelings for Picard. You almost get a sense of jealousy when she learns that they have been playing music together…
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Late To The Game 7/5/2020 (Originally published 11/30/2018)
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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