STNG Season 5, Episode 25: “The Inner Light”

The Inner Light (episode)

TNG, Episode 5×25

An alien probe controls and disables Captain Picard, who wakes up as “Kamin,” a resident of the planet Kataan. While the crew of the Enterprisetries to jar the probe’s influence, “Kamin” lives through the final, dying decades of his homeworld in the span of approximately twenty minutes in the form of an interactive “ancestor simulation”.


Captain’s log, Stardate 45944.1. Following a magnetic wave survey of the Parvenium sector, we have detected an object which we cannot immediately identify.”

As the USS Enterprise-D encounters an unknown space probe, it emits a low level nucleonic beam at Captain Jean-Luc Picard. Picard faints, and Commander Riker catches his fall but he soon awakens with a strange woman calling him “Kamin“. He quickly learns that he is not on a holodeck simulation; in fact, he is no longer on the Enterprise, and nobody has even heard of the Enterprise.

Over the next few days, Picard discovers many new facts about his “new” existence. His name is Kamin, and he has a friend named Batai. The woman he first meets is his wife Eline, and he is an iron-weaver who enjoys playing his flute but has never been able to master it. Finally, Picard learns that he now lives in the community of Ressik on the planet Kataan, a world that has never made contact with any alien species.

Back on the Enterprise, Riker calls sickbay for help, as Picard has fallen into a coma. Dr. Beverly Crusher arrives with Ogawa and Martinez and discovers Picard is undergoing tremendous neurological activity – his neurotransmitter levels are off the scale. It seems the alien probe has locked itself onto Picard. Dr. Crusher advises Riker against destroying the probe in that the captain may be injured, so they wait.



Meanwhile, five years have passed on Kataan, and “Kamin” has become integrated into his new society. He suggests to the visiting administrator that atmospheric condensers are needed to survive the extended drought they are currently experiencing. His ideas are rejected, but Batai notes that it is the first time Kamin has spoken as a member of the community in years. Later that evening, Batai and Kamin sit outside while Kamin plays Frère Jacques on his flute. After Eline asks Batai to leave for his home, she and Kamin begin to plan for a family, starting with the construction of a nursery.

Back on the Enterprise, Geordi La Forge has launched a probe to follow the alien probe’s ion trail back to its source. Data has determined a method of disrupting the beam, and they make plans to implement Data’s idea and cut the connection to Picard.

Once again, several years have passed on Kataan. Kamin and Eline are in the middle of a “naming ceremony” for their second child, named Batai (for their late friend, who had passed a year before). Right after the ceremony, as the reception begins, Kamin suddenly collapses. On the Enterprise, Dr. Crusher tries in vain to save Picard. Data reestablishes the beam, thereby stabilizing Picard’s condition.

Ten years have passed on Kataan, and Kamin, together with his adult daughter Meribor, have found that the soil in their yard is simply dead. The sun’s radiation has sterilized the dirt making it incapable of supporting life, a process that is implied to be wiping out all plant life on the planet.

La Forge has managed to trace the alien probe’s path back to the system of Kataan, which contains no habitable planets as the star went nova approximately one thousand years earlier.

Many more years have passed on Kataan, and Kamin is visibly elderly. Using his telescope, he has discovered that the drought will continue indefinitely, and the planet may be doomed. He argues with a government administrator, who tells him in confidence that the government scientists had come to the same conclusion two years earlier. Kamin pleads with him that an evacuation, even of a handful of people, must be attempted, but the pained administrator points out to Kamin that they simply do not have the technological capability for spaceflight of that magnitude, having only recently started launching unmanned missiles into orbit. Reluctantly, the administrator shares with Kamin that there is an effort underway to save “some” piece of the civilization, though he will reveal no more about it. Kamin’s son Batai arrives and informs him that something is wrong with his wife Eline, and the pair rush home. Shortly afterward, Eline dies a natural death, and Kamin grieves.

Years later, an extremely old Kamin is playing with his grandchild, Meribor’s son, named Kamie. He laments that his grandson deserves a long and full life, but like the rest of their world he will not survive. Kamin reluctantly goes along with the pair to join everyone in the community to view “the launching”, which only he seems not to know about. Kamin asks, “What is it they’re launching?

His daughter, Meribor: “You know it, father. You’ve already seen it.

Seen it? What are you talking about? I haven’t seen any missile.

Batai: “Yes, you have, old friend. Don’t you remember?

Kamin turns to see his old friend, Batai, but in the prime of his life. Batai explains, “You saw it just before you came here. We hoped our probe would encounter someone in the future – someone who could be a teacher, someone who could tell the others about us.”

Oh… oh, it’s me… isn’t it? I’m the someone. I’m the one it finds. That’s what this launching is – a probe that finds me in the future!

Yes, my love…

Kamin's family

Kamin’s family, at the end of the Kataan probe simulation

Stunned, Kamin turns and sees Eline, glowing in youthful beauty, with the rest of his family. She says, “The rest of us have been gone a thousand years. If you remember what we were…and how we lived…then we’ll have found life again.“”Eline….

As the missile launches…

Now we live in you. Tell them of us…my darling…

Picard regains consciousness on the bridge of the Enterprise as the alien probe breaks contact by ceasing its beam. After the initial disorientation, he discovers that he has lived an entire lifetime in the course of twenty to twenty-five real-time minutes. Riker orders the probe brought into a shuttlebay with a tractor beam onboard the ship for further study. As Picard approaches the entrance to the turbolift to accompany Dr. Crusher to sickbay, he instinctively raises his right hand to touch the door mechanism he remembers from Ressik.

Later, Riker delivers to Picard a small box found inside the alien probe in his quarters. Picard opens it to find the flute which he still vividly remembers from his life as Kamin. Once Riker leaves, he plays the tune he had played at his “son’s” naming ceremony.

Memorable quotes Edit

Computer, freeze program. Computer, end program!

Picard, as he finds himself as Kamin with his wife Eline tending to him

Are you in charge here?!
In charge?
I want to be returned to my ship immediately!”
What…ship is that?

Picard as Kamin when he first meets Batai

You think that this… your life is a dream?
This is not my life! I know that much.

Eline and Picard as Kamin

You’ve been dreaming about that starship of yours again, haven’t you?

Eline, five years after Kamin’s ‘recovery’

I’m not brooding. I’m immersed in my music! … I find that it helps me to think, but the real surprise is that I enjoy it so much.
No, the real surprise is that you may actually be improving!

Picard as Kamin (playing the flute) and Batai

I always believed that I didn’t need children to complete my life. Now, I couldn’t imagine life without them.

Picard as Kamin, when he becomes a father to Meribor and Batai

Go carefully, Batai

Eline. as Batai leaves her home

Seize the time, Meribor – live now! Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.

Picard, as Kamin, to his daughter

Remember… put your shoes away.

Eline‘s last words to Kamin on her deathbed

Now we live in you. Tell them of us… my darling.


Background informationEdit

Story and scriptEdit

Directing Inner Light

Patrick Stewart, Jennifer Nash, and Peter Lauritson

I’ve always felt that the experience in “Inner Light” would’ve been the most profound experience in Picard’s life and changed him irrevocably. However, that wasn’t our intention when we were creating the episode. We were after a good hour of TV, and the larger implications of how this would really screw somebody up didn’t hit home with us until later (that’s sometimes a danger in TV – you’re so focused on just getting the show produced every week that sometimes you suffer from the “can’t see the forest for the trees” syndrome). We never intended the show to completely upend his character and force a radical change in the series, so we contented ourselves with a single follow-up in “Lessons“. (AOL chat, 1997)


Sternbach - The Inner Light script

Sternbach and “The Inner Light” script

  • While attending a production staff meeting during the making of this episode, Rick Sternbach drew on his script preliminary designs for Star Trek: Deep Space NineDeep Space 9 itself.
  • Only a few scenes were filmed on the regular sets. The bridge and Picard’s quartersare the only parts of the Enterprise-D that are seen.
  • Jay Chattaway composed the music for this episode, including the Ressikan flute solo played by Kamin and Picard. Chattaway later expanded this piece into a six-minute orchestral suite for The Best of Star Trek, Volume One. The Ressikan melody has similarities to the Scottish tune Skye Boat Song, also known asSpeed Bonny Boat. (citation needededit)
  • The long view on Ressik was a matte painting created by Visual Effects Producer Dan Curry. (Star Trek: The Magazine Volume 1, Issue 3,  p. 19) For the 2012 remastered version of the episode the view was recreated digitally by Max Gabl, staying as close to the original as possible. As to the reasons for doing so, Gabl has explained, “I think most of them are total recreations. Because the planets we’re looking at from the original [TNG]series are very low-res and blurry. There’s no way to put more detail into those, so it’s basically all recreation. Mike Okuda tells us exactly what we need in there, and it’s just back and forth – playing it and seeing what the details are going to look like and then I put them in, compare with the old, [Mike will] look at it, I’ll make the changes and that’s how it goes.[1]
  • First UK airdate: 7 June 1995


  • Not only did Kamin and his family receive old-age make-up, many of the villagers seen over the years were aged to give a consistent look.
  • In a cut scene, it is revealed that the soup Eline prepared for Kamin, very much to his delight, is called “kenomay”.
  • Before still accepting his identity as Kamin, Picard is practicing on the flute the melody of Frère Jacques, a Frenchsong he sung while climbing the turbolift with the children in “Disaster“.
  • Kamin pleads with Meribor to “make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again.” Picard would later echo those words to Commander Riker following the destruction of the USS Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations.


Patrick and Daniel Stewart

Father and son – Patrick and Daniel Stewart

  • Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) does not appear in this episode.
  • Patrick Stewart’s son, Daniel Stewart, portrays Kamin’s son, Batai, during his life on Kataan.
  • Stewart remembered, “I’m having the earliest makeup call of any actor in the history ofStar Trek. My makeup call on Monday was 1:00 am, my set call was 7:00 am. So I left home round about midnight.” (“Departmental Briefing Year Five” (“Production”), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)

Sets and propsEdit

Reception Edit

  • Patrick Stewart nominated this episode as the greatest acting challenge he faced in the seven years of The Next Generation. (“Mission Overview Year Five” (“The Inner Light”), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
  • Peter Lauritson named this episode as definitely one of the favourite Star Trek episodes. (“Departmental Briefing Year Five” (“Production”), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
  • Michael Westmore noted that “The Inner Light” was a show Patrick [Stewart] should have won an Emmy for. (“Departmental Briefing Year Five” (“Production”), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
  • Entertainment Weekly ranked this episode #3 on their list of “The Top 10 Episodes” to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. [2]
  • Michael Piller named this episode (along with “The Measure Of A Man” and “The Offspring“) as one of his favorite TNG episodes, “because they had remarkable emotional impacts. And they genuinely explored the Human condition, which this franchise does better than any other when it does it well.” (AOL chat, 1997)
  • The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode as one of the “Ten Essential Episodes” from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • This episode was featured in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Viewers Choice Marathon.
  • In the TNG Season 5 DVD collection, the menu for this episode features the flute solo.
  • A sequel was planned, but it was scrapped. The story, called “The Outer Light,” was adapted as a comic on [3]
  • A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, pp. 58-60.
  • Writer Peter Allan Fields praises Patrick Stewart’s performance but has the highest praise for guest actress Margot Rose; “She was absolutely superb, no ifs, ands or buts! I was grateful to have written something that an actress of that caliber had brought to life. She was excellent. I had never seen her before. I saw dailies, so I saw aspects of her performance that, unfortunately, the audience never got to see because the show ran long. They had to take out seven minutes.” (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, p. 25)

Remastered versionEdit


Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit

Co-star Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stand-ins Edit


administrator; anaerobic bacteria; atmospheric condenser; blood pressure; botany; cardiac induction; cc; ceramic alloy;cortical stimulator; crystalline emiristol; Dannick; deflector shield; delactovine; dream; Federation; fever; fibrogenic activity; Frère Jacques; holodeck; hospital; iron weaver; isocortex; Kamin; Kataan; Kataan probe; Kataan star system;magnetic wave survey; mathematics; missile; music; naming ceremony; neurotransmitter; Northern province; nova;nucleonic beam; nursery; paricium; Parvenium sector; porch; probe; radioactive; Ressik; Ressikan flute; Shuttlebay 2;Silarian sector; skin protector; somatophysical failure; soup; sun; Starbase 218; star chart; Starfleet; synaptic response;talgonite; telescope; thruster; tree; vegetable stew; voice-transit conductor; water

Unreferenced materialEdit

Gustafson; Ring cycle; Wagner, Richard

External linkEdit

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