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When The Bough Breaks (episode)

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"When The Bough Breaks"
TNG, Episode 1x17
Production number: 40271-118
First aired: 15 February 1988
17th of 176 produced in TNG
16th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
121st of 728 released in all
Passive resistance
Written By
Hannah Louise Shearer

Directed By
Kim Manners
41509.1 (2364)
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Wesley Crusher must protect a group of kidnapped Enterprise children while Captain Picard fights for their release.

SummaryEdit

Wesley scanned by Aldean probe

"Don't touch him!"

While investigating the Epsilon Mynos system, the crew of the USS Enterprise-D are witness to the revealing of the legendary planet Aldea. Radue, leader of the Aldeans, contacts the ship and asks to meet with them. Suddenly, Radue and Rashella appear on the bridge, startling everyone, notably Dr. Crusher, as they did not undergo decontamination procedures, but they quickly explain that the Enterprise's transporters won't work because of the planet's shields. They also show visible signs of discomfort, which they justify by not being used to bright lights and soon afterwards they beam back on the planet.

Commander Riker, Deanna Troi, and Dr. Crusher are transported to the surface of Aldea, and they're quickly welcomed into their small community. However, the Aldean's motives are quickly revealed, as Radue explains that he wishes to acquire some of the Enterprise's children, in exchange for technology. This outrages both Riker and Crusher, and Troi explains that Human children are prized above all else in their society; other species might be able to contribute. Then Radue explains that the Aldean society is dying out, and they've become infertile. Riker expresses his sympathy, but declines their trade offer and they are all returned to the ship. Meanwhile, strange beams of light come from the planet, scanning everyone on board but focused on the children, human children.

Picard faces scared parents

Picard faces a group of scared parents

Suddenly, disappearances of some of the children are reported, including Wesley Crusher. The Captain is infuriated, and contacts Radue, demanding to have their children back. Radue appears on the viewscreen and informs Picard that the children will be well looked after, and that they'll want for nothing. Picard and Doctor Crusher are transported to the planet to negotiate for "compensation" for the children.

On Aldea, Wesley and the children get to meet their foster parents, and are quickly enticed by the skill-enhancing instruments that are offered to them. Wesley, however, is not impressed by the Aldeans and wants to know more about the computer system known as the Custodian, which takes care of the Aldeans. With Duana, Wesley interacts with the Custodian and learns the controls. He also asks whats behind one of the doors, and Duana responds that she doesn't know.

Doctor Crusher demands to see Wesley, and while with him, she coordinates a covert scan of Duana. Still not satisfied with the agreement, negotiations break down and the away team are sent back to the ship.

Aldean holographic toy

A land of magic

Picard insists the children be returned, Radue is adamant that the children will remain on Aldea, and he displays the planet's power by blasting the ship three days away from the planet (at warp 9.) Radue contacts them again, and claims that he could very easily push the Enterprise so far away that by the time they returned their children would be grandparents.

During the return trip, Dr. Crusher analyzes the covert scan and discovers that Duana is suffering from acute radiation poisoning, which is the reason why their society has become infertile.

Meanwhile, Wesley convinces the other children to go on hunger strike, in an attempt to make the Aldeans return them to the ship.

Upon the Enterprise's return, Radue, angered by the children's actions, contacts Picard again, and demands that he makes the children co-operate. While they are being beamed down, Riker and Data make it through the shield and begin disabling the Custodian. Doctor Crusher tries to convince Radue that the cause of their infertility is the planetary shield and cloaking device affecting their ozone layer. Eventually, even the children will become affected.

Wesley uses custodian

Wesley and the Custodian

Radue insists that their scientists would've known but she retorts that they have been so reliant on their technology, they have lost track; if they discontinue use of the shield and cloak, the radiation effects should be reversible. Just then, Picard arrives with the children, saying they are going home. Radue attempts to beam him away but his commands to the Custodian are not responding; Riker and Data have disabled it. Picard has Enterprise to beam up the children. When they are gone, Radue curses that Picard has destroyed them. The captain says they are doing the exact opposite.

The Aldeans, lead by the Starfleet personnel, go to the mysterious door, and find what Data identifies as a huge power source, which has been powering their community, but which has also been slowly killing them. Radue muses that they all need to relearn how to look after themselves. The Enterprise leaves Aldea, with all the children safely back on board. Alexandra, one of the children, comes to the bridge to thank and hug Picard. When she leaves, everyone on the bridge giggles behind the captain's back as Alexandra's plush toy was stuck to his back.

Log EntriesEdit

Memorable QuotesEdit

"Data, find a way to defeat that shield."
"That may be impossible, sir."
"Things are only impossible until they're not."
"Yes, sir."

- Picard and Data


"It's Aldea, Captain. It has to be."

- Riker, to Picard after the fabled planet suddenly appears in front of the Enterprise


"We need some of your children."

- Radue


"Our children are not for sale at any price."

- Beverly Crusher, to Radue


"What's your hurry, Harry?"

- William Riker, to Harry Bernard after he runs into him


"Captain, we will continue these discussions when you have calmed down."

- Radue, to Picard after kidnapping children from the Enterprise-D


"The Aldeans are suffering from a form of radiation poisoning."
"Is that what made them sterile?"

- Crusher and Picard


"OK, kids. Let's go home."

- Wesley Crusher


"The legend will die but the people will live."

- Picard


"Captain, I am not aware of regulation 6.57."
"No Data, neither am I."
"I see sir. (Pause, understands) Oh, I see sir!'"

- Data and Picard

Background information Edit

Production history Edit

Production Edit

  • "Aldea" is Spanish for "village."
  • "Aldea" was not the originally scripted name for the planet. In the teaser, when Riker is telling everyone about Aldea, you can see Jonathan Frakes mouthing some other word (and you can clearly hear that all his lines containing "Aldea" were subsequently looped).
  • This is the only Star Trek episode directed by Kim Manners.

Cast and characters Edit

Continuity Edit

Special and visual effects Edit

  • The visual effect of the Enterprise-D being blasted far away from Aldea is reused in "Q Who" and "Tin Man".

Sets, props, and costumes Edit

Custodian studio model Custodian power room
Okuda's maquette of the Custodian's power engine...
...and as featured in the episode
  • The Aldean's planetary shield and cloaking device was not a full scale set piece but rather a three foot long maquette, as was revealed in the Reading Rainbow's episode "The Bionic Bunny Show". Effects Supervisor Robert Legato explained that it was kit-bashed out of parts from model-kits of aircraft carriers, tanks and cars. Michael Okuda elaborated in 2012, "I built the Aldean reactor core. Rob Legato and Gary Hutzel came to me and asked me to work with them on that shot. They needed something cool and powerful looking, but had no money in the budget to build anything. I had an idea for an internally-lit structure that would be seen mostly in silhouette. The advantage of this would be that the model could be fairly simple, but would look dramatic because of lighting. I used parts from several children's toys and model kits, including a Space Shuttle launch tower. I think I even used some left-over pieces from the Star Trek: TMP space dock model in the base. Rick Sternbach helped out with some of the scaffolding around the core. The core of the model was a clear acrylic tube with a fluorescent tube in it. Wrapped around the tube was a sheet of high-contrast black and white film with a pattern that I designed for this. The design incorporated lots of vertical lines and a series of hexagons, which was one of the signature graphic elements that I had used for this planet. Later, I used the same art for the back wall of the Klingon transporter room and the back wall of a Starfleet interrogation room. Rob and Gary loved the model and made it look like this huge, mysterious, powerful reactor." [1]

Music Edit

Reception Edit

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit

Co-stars Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

14th century; 21st century; Aldea; Aldean; Aran; Atlantis; calcium; calculus; cancer; carbon monoxide; chromosome; cloaking device; Custodian; dolphin; Earth; Epsilon Mynos system; First Appointee; fish; flurocarbon; gamma ray; gravity; industrial waste byproducts; medical doctor; magnetic field; medical tricorder; Milky Way Galaxy; msg; musician; Neinman; neutrino; nitrogen; nuclear radiation; number one; oceanography; oxygen; ozone layer; passive resistance; personal hygiene; planetary defense system; potassium; Progenitor; quark; radiation poisoning; red dye number two; repulsor beam; Romulans; sculptor; sculpture; shields; solar field; Starfleet Regulations; three-dimensional chess; trace elements; ultraviolet radiation; unit; visible light; vitamin; waste management; water; Xerxes VII; Zadar IV; Zena

External links Edit


Previous episode:
"Too Short a Season"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 1
Next episode:
"Home Soil"

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