125 – The Inner Light

Grade: A

The Inner Light (1992) on IMDb


The Enterprise discovers an ancient probe, floating in space. Suddenly, the probe sends out a signal and attaches itself to Captain Picard. He is rendered unconscious and awakens on another planet, the husband of a woman named Eline.


This is it. Hands down, this is by far my very favorite episode in the entire Next Generation series. This is TNG’s answer to City on the Edge of Forever. Both of these episodes are love stories that take place in some kind of alternate reality. In both cases, the captains are profoundly and emotionally affected by the events that take place. And both of them seem much more human to us after we see them go through these episodes. Not coincidentally, this was the second time that Star Trek had been given a Hugo Award. The first time was for City on the Edge of Forever.

I still remember the first time I saw this episode. It had a profound impact on me, and it still does each time I watch it. I never get tired of seeing this. If I ever become a writer, this is the kind of work I would like to do.

This was also the first time in many episodes when I was really impressed with the music. It’s a haunting yet deeply emotional melody that is a perfect match for what Picard must be feeling – especially right at the end of the episode. This is the first time that they used different music for the closing scene, but it is completely appropriate.

The acting and directing in this episode were outstanding. I love the scene when Eline dies and she makes Kamin promise to put away his shoes. But I also love all the scenes between Kamin and his children. We’ve heard numerous times that Picard does not like to be around little children, but here, he proves himself wrong. By all accounts shown in this episode, he’s an exceptional father.

If you only see one Next Generation episode, watch this one. It very literally is the best work this group has ever done – including films.

Of Note

Apparently, this is Patrick Stewart’s favorite episode of this series. I agree with him – it’s definitely among his very best performances in this series.