Follow TV Tropes


Recap / Star Trek The Next Generation S 7 E 12 Homeward

Go To
Apparently, Kasidy Yates also decided to disguise herself as a Boraalan.

Original air date: January 18, 1994

The Enterprise has arrived at Boraal II, which is undergoing a natural planetary disaster that will render it uninhabitable within two days. Worf's adopted brother Nicolai is stationed as a cultural observer on the planet. In spite of never getting along well with his rule-breaking brother, Worf beams down to check on him after getting surgically altered to look like a native Boralaan. He's dismayed to find that Nicolai is living openly with the Boralaans and has sheltered a group of them in caves using Federation technology. Introducing Worf as a seer from a distant village, Nicolai makes an excuse to leave and report to the Enterprise.

On the ship, Nicolai urges Picard to save the Boralaans that still remain. Crusher agrees, but Picard and the other officers stand firm: this is exactly what the Prime Directive rule of noninterference is against. Nicolai argues that doing nothing is just as much a choice as doing something, but Picard is unmoved and forbids Nicolai from returning. Everyone convenes on the bridge to watch the final moments as the planet becomes uninhabitable. But after Nicolai leaves, the ship starts having power issues. Worf goes to investigate and discovers that Nicolai has beamed his Boralaan village into the holodeck without their knowledge. Outraged, Worf hauls his brother before the captain.

The unrepentant Nicolai argues that what's done is done. They must now find a place to deposit the Boralaans. He proposes pretending to lead them through the holographic caves while the ship travels to a suitable planet. He will then lead them to a holographic spot on the surface that is an exact replica of a spot on the new planet, and they'll all be transported down without the Boralaans becoming any wiser, preserving their native culture while saving them at the same time. Picard is unenthusiastic but sees no other options, so he agrees to the plan as long as Worf goes along with Nicolai to prevent any further funny business.

Worf and Nicolai rejoin the Boralaans, and they begin their journey. Things are complicated by the fact that the holodeck is malfunctioning, causing parts of the terrain to glitch and fade out. Worf explains one incident as a good omen for their journey, which calms the refugees. While the group makes their fake journey, Crusher and Data find a suitable planet. Drago IV is nicely habitable but too close to the border of Cardassian space. Vacca VI is nicely isolated but less hospitable. The pair note the momentous effects their decision will have and ultimately settle on Vacca VI.

In the holodeck, Worf gets to know some of the Boralaans, including Vorin, the local chronicler. Worf is even more angry at his brother for this further breach in the rules. The pair argue about their childhood, with Worf the dutiful son and Nicolai the rebel. Meanwhile, Vorin goes looking for a dropped portion of his chronicle and discovers the exit to the holodeck due to a glitch. He stumbles agape through the halls until he reaches Ten-Forward, where Troi and Riker find him. Because of reasons, Crusher can't perform a memory wipe, so they are forced to introduce Vorin to 24th century society. He's not pleased.

In the holodeck, the group is nearing its destination. Worf learns that Nicolai has impregnated one of the locals, taking his outrage at his brother to new heights. The reignites their old arguments, and the pair are about to come to blows when the holodeck finally starts breaking down completely. Nicolai announces that the storms have returned and urges everyone to get into their tents. Geordi adds some storm effects to sell the idea. As the Boralaans seek shelter, the ship transports them all down to Vacca VI. When they emerge, Nicolai announces that Worf has banished the storms forever, and they are now safe. On the ship, however, things aren't as rejoiceful. Faced with the choice of abandoning his people or living with the terrible knowledge of the outside world, Vorin has chosen to commit ritual suicide.

Nicolai has decided to stay with the Boralaans and become their new chronicler. Worf promises to break the news to their parents and help them understand that Nicolai is happy. They embrace as brothers, and Worf takes Vorin's chronicle with him as a souvenir.


  • Apocalypse How: Boraal II suffers a Class 6, losing its entire atmosphere and being reduced to a sterile rock.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The Boraalans are beginning anew at another world and Worf reconciles with Nikolai, but Vorin has killed himself after learning what's happened to his homeworld, and it's questionable whether the fifteen survivors can even rebuild their species on this new planet.
  • Boldly Coming: Nikolai got really close to the Boraalans.
  • Call-Back: Worf having a foster brother was mentioned once back in Season 1's "Heart of Glory" (albeit no name was given at the time).
  • Culture Shock: Basically what happens with Vorin. Compared to how advanced the Enterprise crew is, the Boraalans are primitive in their technology and ways of living. The poor guy is absolutely terrified.
  • Driven to Suicide: A Boraalan named Vorin wanders outside of the Holodeck and learns the truth: that his home planet has been destroyed and some advanced aliens have created a simulation to keep his people calm while they're being relocated. He doesn't take it well.
  • God Guise: Downplayed. Geordi never actually makes an in-person appearance on the holodeck, but Worf invokes his name to explain away a holodeck glitch, and from there on out he's clearly having a good time being a god.
  • Handwave: Once again, Crusher can't erase an alien's memory to preserve the Prime Directive because of his complicated brain, so they'll have to actually deal with the situation.
  • Happily Adopted: Ultimately Worf and Nikolai are shown to have the sibling version of this. Despite their arguments over the fate of the Boraalans and past history, the two always make it clear that they consider each other brothers despite their differences. When Worf first meets the Boraalans, Nikolai immediately introduces Worf as his brother when he could have easily just introduced Worf as a friend, and even during their subsequent arguments neither of them bring up their different biologies, clearly talking about the Rozhenkos as their shared parents rather than Nikolai in particular drawing any kind of line.
  • Homeworld Evacuation: Nikolai covertly rescues fifteen people from Boraal II before the planet loses its atmosphere, and enlists the Enterprise's help in relocating them to a new homeworld.
  • Indy Ploy: Deconstructed. Failing to convince Picard to help, Nikolai intends to transport the group of Boraalans to a new planet. He covertly beams them aboard, but without even being sure he can get the crew to help. Additionally, the malfunctions to the systems threaten unraveling the entire ruse, with Vorin wandering off and ultimately dying. Worf condemns Nikolai for never fully thinking things through and expecting others to clean up the messes.
    Worf: Then you should've considered that before you beamed him onboard, but you never think of the consequences of your acts.
    Nikolai: If you mean by that that I'm willing to do something while others hesitate, that's true.
    Worf: Everywhere you go, you create chaos. How many times did our parents lie awake at night wondering what kind of trouble you were in?
  • Interspecies Romance: Nikolai with a Boraalan, which would've led to interesting discoveries if the Boraalans had DNA testing and found out some of their population have alien genes. However, with such a small starting population, the human genes will likely have spread throughout the entire Boraalan species by the time they reach that tech level.
  • Mirthless Laughter: When Picard discusses options with Vorin- who dearly wants to return to his people, but doesn't believe he can keep such a massive secret for the rest of his life- whether they will believe him if he tells them, Vorin reacts with this before replying that he can't be sure. It's understandable, since he knows only too well that it will certainly turn out badly; either they will think he's insane or their entire worldview will be destroyed.
  • Not Even Bothering with the Accent: Paul Sorvino does not share his parents' accent, though it's possible Nicolai trained himself out of it in order to better fit in with the Boraalans.
  • Protagonist-Centered Morality: Nikolai's aspirations to save the Boraalans from complete extinction is considered a gross violation of the Prime Directive, and while none of the crew of the Enterprise particularly like abandoning them, it's still treated as the greater moral good in this situation. This is in spite of the fact that the entire race is about to die out; it's hard to imagine any "cultural contamination" being worse than the entire culture and all its people going extinct. They didn't even bring the situation on themselves through their own actions or deliberate negligence, which would have kinda-sorta justified leaving them to their self-inflicted fate.
  • Recycled Premise: The whole plan to relocate the villagers was later going to be reused on the Ba'ku in Star Trek: Insurrection. Reportedly, Rick Berman and Michael Piller were aware of this—calling the plan the "Sorvino Switch" during the movie's development.
  • Retcon: Earlier episodes with Worf's parents characterized him as a wild, willful child who was difficult to handle, causing them to decide that they can't raise another Klingon child in their old age. This episode establishes that Worf was actually the dutiful, rule-abiding son, while Nicolai was the hellion.
  • Rubber-Forehead Aliens: The Boraalans have funny noses but are otherwise human. Worf wears a full-head covering while in disguise as a Boralaan, most likely so that the illusion of Michael Dorn's Klingon makeup won't be ruined by seeing him looking mostly human.
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Prime Directive be damned, Nikolai is determined to save the Boraalans.
  • Sibling Rivalry: During their arguing, it's implied the brothers have long had issues over how their parents allegedly perceive Worf as "the perfect son" and Nikolai as the one who causes headaches.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Worf and Nikolai couldn't be more opposite. Worf is outraged at Nikolai's irresponsible actions, and Nikolai is horrified that rules and regulations mean more to Worf than saving lives. As the episode progresses, they understand each other's methods a lot more and come to a reconciliation.
  • Spot the Thread: Vorin asks a lot of pointed questions when Worf and Nicolai give their bogus explanations for what's going on, but the pair manage to deflect them all.
  • Transplanted Aliens: Here, the issue is how to keep the aliens from realizing they've been transplanted.
  • The War on Straw: The Prime Directive is meant to prevent exploitation or cultural contamination of species who have not advanced to the level of Faster-Than-Light Travel (when they would inevitably contact other species anyway). A disaster that would kill everyone on the planet obviously makes these issues moot, so the entire plot is an unnecessary Conflict Ball.
  • What the Hell, Hero?:
    • Nikolai's overall reaction to the Enterprise crew being willing to just let the people on the planet die in the name of the Prime Directive.
    • Worf does this to Nikolai a lot, but the biggest is when he learns his brother has mated with Dobara.