(written from a Production point of view)
Worf's foster brother violates the Prime Directive by saving a group of villagers from a doomed planet.
The USS Enterprise-D answers a distress call from the planet Boraal II: It is experiencing atmospheric dissipation and will be rendered uninhabitable in just a few hours. Lieutenant Worf is especially concerned with this recent development as his foster brother, Nikolai Rozhenko, is assigned to the cultural observation post on the planet. Worf asks Captain Picard for his permission to beam down and see if his foster brother is all right. Picard, concerned that Worf's visit may conflict with the Prime Directive, agrees, but says that Worf must be surgically altered to pass as a Boraalan. After his alteration into a Boraalan by Dr. Crusher, Worf beams down to a cave where energy is detected. Shortly after, Worf finds Rozhenko and many Boraalans inside the cave and discovers that Rozhenko has broken the Prime Directive by shielding the cave, to help the Boraalans survive.
When Worf enters the cavern protecting the Boraalans, he is questioned by a male Boraalan named Vorin, who assumes that the storm on the surface has stopped, since Worf was able to make it to the caves alive. Worf refuses to answer the question and only wants to speak to his brother. Worf asks Rozhenko why he did this. Rozhenko says that he was unable to stay at his observation post and watch the Boraalans slowly die. Worf says that the captain will most definitely want to speak with him. Back on board the Enterprise, Rozhenko explains his actions to the senior staff, including Captain Picard. Rozhenko says that he wants to save the village by creating an atmospheric bubble over a small section of the planet, which will protect the Boraalans. Picard refuses to compound the damage that Rozhenko has inflicted upon the Prime Directive and the Boraalan culture. Rozhenko is at once disappointed about Picard's decision and asks to transmit his logs back to the ship, stating that the only way he will now be able to save the Boraalan culture is by preserving it in a museum. Worf tries to heal his brother's pain by helping him to transmit the logs to the ship, but Rozhenko refuses his help.
Later on the bridge, Rozhenko goes to the science station at the back on the bridge to transmit his logs to the ship's computer. There, the crew witnesses the imminent destruction of Boraal II. Picard reminds everyone on the bridge that this is one of the few times that they must face the ramifications of the Prime Directive and to honor it. Rozhenko tells the captain that he finds no honor whatsoever in what the crew is doing and leaves the bridge before Boraal is destroyed. Then, a plasmonic burst hits the ship and causes a power drain. Worf finds out that the drain is coming from deck ten. Riker asks Worf to go down to the deck with a security team. Worf makes his way down to deck ten, and then to the holodeck. Worf attempts to enter the holodeck, but the controls have been overridden. Suddenly, the doors slide open anyway, and Worf then hears Rozhenko's voice, drawing Worf towards the mouth of a cave. Rozhenko stands at the mouth with a PADD in his hand and reveals that one group of Boraalans did not die, but were beamed aboard the Enterprise-D just before the destruction of their homeworld. Worf is shocked at his brother's actions, another blatant disregard of the Prime Directive.
Later, in a corridor, Rozhenko explains that he was able to make the plasmonic bursts look like they overloaded the ship's sensors so he could beam up the Boraalans without anyone on the ship noticing. The plan worked perfectly. Worf is dismayed at his brother's increasingly delinquent behavior and says during a conversation in a turbolift that he wants nothing to do with him after his actions. Rozhenko is sent to Picard's ready room where he is berated by the captain for his actions, and is told that as well as destroying his career, the Enterprise now has a group of unaware Boraalans on board while the crew has no idea what to do with them. Rozhenko reveals that he did not beam up the Boraalans without a plan; he plans to find a new class M planet for the Boraalans and to gradually change the terrain on the holodeck so it will appear that the Boraalans are traveling through the caves towards their new home. Although he is still very unhappy about the whole situation, Picard is forced to conclude that there are no alternatives, so they'll give the plan a try.
Picard, Geordi La Forge, Dr. Crusher, and Data meet in Stellar cartography to find a new home for the Boraalans. However, La Forge finds out that the holodeck is malfunctioning, its image processor destroyed by the atmospheric dissipation, and that it is not a question of how the holodeck will cease to function, but when. Rozhenko prepares to go back into the holodeck to prepare the Boraalans for their journey, but Picard is unwilling to leave him alone with them after all the trouble he's caused and asks Worf to accompany his brother. Worf is initially unwilling and suggests possibly sending someone else, like Counselor Troi, but Picard is unwilling to confuse the Boraalans further by introducing another new person to them. Worf is forced to agree.
Rozhenko and Worf return to the holodeck simulation and announce to the Boraalans that their village was destroyed and there is nothing left. The Boraalans are dismayed to hear this, but Rozhenko says that they will be able to find a new home and that it is a great distance from their present location and they must hurry. Worf says that it will be very different from the home they knew; even the stars in their new home may look different. Vorin asks why they would be different and how Worf knows that they will be safe at their new home. Rozhenko backs up Worf by saying that Worf is a seer and knows that they will be safe. Suddenly, a woman named Tarrana screams because she sees the holodeck grid flashing in a pool of water. Worf tries to calm down the Boraalans by saying that it is an omen, the Sign of La Forge, supposedly a good omen. La Forge understands Worf's predicament and fixes the problem. Rozhenko announces that their journey to their new home is blessed. He later goes over to Worf and says that they make quite a team. Worf says bluntly that they are not a team.
Meanwhile, in stellar cartography, Data and Dr. Crusher are searching space for a new homeworld for the Boraalans. They come up with two solutions, Draygo IV or Vacca VI in the Vaccan system, located in the Cabral sector. The Draygo system is located only three light years away from Cardassian space and there are constant border disputes in the area, which rules it out, so Data and Dr. Crusher choose Vacca VI despite Crusher's worries due to the planet having a less hospitable environment than the Boraalans are used to. She also struggles with the profound importance on their selection of a new homeworld for the Boraalans – how will the Vaccan system be affected in the future by their society, will the climate be suitable for them, will they flourish on their new home? Data believes that they can make no guarantees on what the future may hold, they must simply make the best choice they can. Finally settling on Vacca VI, the Enterprise will reach the planet in 42 hours. In the holodeck, Worf notices that Rozhenko has become close with a Boraalan named Dobara. As he is noticing them, Vorin is drawing a chronicle, which documents the history of his village, including Worf and Rozhenko leading them to safety. Worf then announces that they must leave now. Vorin then realizes that he is missing one of his chronicles. Worf asks him to leave it behind, but Vorin says that without it, the village's future means nothing. Worf allows him to go. An elder Boraalan asks Worf to help him with his gear and asks him that if he does not make it to the Boraalans' new home, he wants Worf to become his daughter's husband. Worf assures the elder that they will make it.
Vorin finds his scroll, but just as he is about to leave, he sees the holodeck arch half embedded in a cavern of rocks. He puts his hand into it, which dissolves the holo-image surrounding the door. The door opens at Vorin's approach, and he steps out into the Enterprise's corridors, shocked by what he sees.
Vorin, afraid and confused, makes his way to Ten Forward, where a group on onlookers begin to crowd around him. Fortunately, Deanna Troi and Commander Riker are in the lounge, and they quickly realize what has occurred. They ask everyone else to back away from Vorin. Troi explains that they are both friends of Rozhenko and Worf. Vorin asks where he is and he is subsequently brought to sickbay, where Dr. Crusher announces to Captain Picard that his neuro-physiology is too complicated, so she cannot perform a memory wipe. Picard is now forced to explain that Vorin and the rest of his village has spent the last two days on the Enterprise and not on their homeworld.
In the holodeck, Worf finds out that Vorin was able to exit the holodeck, and informs Rozhenko that Vorin will have to make a choice: if he wants to stay on the Enterprise, or to return to the holodeck and forever keep his knowledge a secret. Worf then accuses Nikolai of having never changed from the disobedient man he was when he was younger, always causing chaos wherever he went, refusing to take any responsibility for his actions and causing their parents to always worry about what kind of trouble he would be getting in next. Rozhenko argues that Worf was the perfect son and that he has become too involved in Starfleet protocols to think of others, but Worf counters that at least he didn't make their mother cry all the time. Soon after, Worf realizes that the holodeck malfunctions are increasing and talks to La Forge through his combadge. Later, Dobara approaches Worf while he is alone to tell him that Rozhenko is deeply distraught from their arguments. Dobara then informs Worf that she wishes to consider Worf a part of her family, as Dobara is carrying Rozhenko's child.
The Enterprise arrives at Vacca VI, but it will be a few hours before the transporter will be able to beam down the Boraalans, and Picard has one more problem to take care of: Vorin. Picard goes to Vorin's quarters and asks him what he wants to do. Vorin announces that he wants to go back to his people, but he does not know what to tell them. Picard asks what would happen if Vorin if he intends to tell the truth, and reminds him that his fellow villagers might think that he was hallucinating or that he is insane, which Vorin cannot live with; but if they believed him, it would destroy his people's beliefs. Vorin knows that he cannot tell the truth, but he cannot live with the secret. Picard offers Vorin to stay on the Enterprise but Vorin tells Picard that he will need more time.
Worf and Rozhenko get into yet another argument, this time about Rozhenko's upcoming fatherhood. They are about to come to blows when the holodeck begins to malfunction and is about to fail. Worf contacts Commander La Forge and asks him to generate lightning storms and thunder, so that it looks like a massive storm. After all the Boraalans have been herded into their tents by Rozhenko, Worf tells La Forge to beam down the Boraalans to Vacca VI. A few seconds later, the Boraalans, including Worf and Rozhenko, beam down in an identical spot on Vacca VI, where the "storms" have suddenly stopped.
Captain's log: Stardate 47427.2. The Boraalans have safely reached the site of what will eventually become their new village. None of them suspect they ever left their home planet. However, our success has come at a high price.
Picard notes that the mission was a success, but their success has come at a high price; Vorin, utterly unable to make a choice, committed an apparently ritualistic suicide in his quarters. Picard states to Dr. Crusher that he wishes Vorin could have bridged the gap between their two cultures and that he could have gotten to know the Boraalan man better.
Worf returns to Vacca VI to say goodbye to his brother. Rozhenko announces that he will replace Vorin as the new village chronicle and he will stay with the Boraalans. Worf smiles and jokes that Rozhenko was never an artist, and they share a small laugh. Rozhenko laments that their parents would probably not understand his actions, but Worf promises he will explain to them that he was happy. Worf and his brother embrace, and Worf asks if he may take Vorin's chronicle away with him. Rozhenko assents, and the Enterprise-D warps away from Vacca VI, the new homeworld of the Boraalans.
"Are the two of you close?"
"We are brothers."
- - Crusher and Worf, discussing Nikolai Rozhenko
"…They deserve the chance to survive. And isn't that what the Prime Directive was truly intended to do? To allow cultures to survive and grow naturally?"
"Not exactly. The Prime Directive was designed to ensure non-interference."
"But aren't we interfering either way? If we take no action, it's a conscious decision to let the Boraalans die."
"Exactly. We have the power to save some of them. All we have to do is exercise it."
- - Nikolai Rozhenko, Deanna Troi, and Beverly Crusher during the staff meeting
"This is one of those times when we must face the ramifications of the Prime Directive and honor those lives which we cannot save."
"I find no honor in this whatsoever, captain."
- - Jean-Luc Picard and Nikolai Rozhenko
"I wasn't going to let those people die just because your captain started quoting Federation dogma."
- - Nikolai Rozhenko
"Duty? That's all that really matters to you, isn't it? I refuse to be bound by an abstraction."
- - Nikolai Rozhenko
"How can we grow when everything that made us who we are is gone?"
- - Vorin, discovering his homeworld has been destroyed
"This is my brother, Worf! He's come to help us."
- - Nikolai Rozhenko, to the Boraalans
"I can't tell them the truth… but I don't think I can live with a secret."
- - Vorin, explaining his dilemma to Picard
"Worf, very good work. Apparently we don't make such a bad team after all."
"We are not a "team"!"
- - Nikolai Rozhenko and Worf
"How could you have mated with a Boraalan? What were you thinking?!"
- - Worf, discovering Nikolai is the father to Dobara's child
"It is the sign of La Forge."
- - Worf, in the role of a Boraalan seer, explaining a holodeck malfunction as an omen
"If I had been more like you… We wouldn't have had so many problems.'"
"No. If you had been more like me, these people would not be here now. You gave them a chance at a new life."
- - Nikolai Rozhenko and Worf
"The storms will not return."
"As I said he would, my brother Worf has saved us all."
- - Worf and Nikolai Rozhenko, after the Boraalans have been beamed down to Vacca VI
"'The village will need a new chronicler. Someone has to begin it. My child will need a father. My place is here, I'm finally taking responsibility."
- - Nikolai Rozhenko
"I will have to explain this to mother and father."
"They won't understand."
"They may. I will tell them that you are happy."
- - Worf and Nikolai Rozhenko, saying farewell
- First draft script: 18 October 1993
- Final draft script: 27 October 1993 
- Filmed: 28 October 1993 – 8 November 1993
- Premiere airdate: 17 January 1994
- First UK airdate: 3 April 1996
Story and production
- "Homeward" was filmed between Thursday 28 October 1993 and Monday 8 November 1993 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16 and on location at Griffith Park's Bronson Canyon.
- During the location shooting in Griffith Park's Bronson Canyon in which the location stood in as surface of Boraal II the crew had to break the filming on 2 November 1993 because of the heavy wildfires in that area. According to line producer Merri D. Howard, director Alexander Singer was thankful that the area they'd chosen did not burn down and that it was not necessary to search for a similar location. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Spike Steingasser's story is based on material by William N. Stape.
- This is the last episode of the series to be directed by Alexander Singer.
- First UK airdate: 3 April 1996
- This is the first time on the series that Michael Dorn (Worf) appears without Klingon make-up. However, it is not until DS9's "Far Beyond the Stars" that he wears no prosthetics at all, in his role as Willie Hawkins (an episode which also featured Penny Johnson).
- The footage of the planet Vacca VI is a reused image of Qo'noS from "Sins of the Father".
- The idea of using a holodeck to transplant an alien race without their knowledge would later be used in Star Trek: Insurrection, when the Son'a work with the Federation to remove the Ba'ku from their homeworld, although in this case the relocation is motivated by the Son'a desire to render the planet uninhabitable and control its youth-restoring properties rather than being motivated by necessity to save the people. During early development of the film, Michael Piller and Rick Berman referred to this plot point as a "Sorvino Switch" after "Homeward" guest star Paul Sorvino. (Fade In: From Idea to Final Draft)
- The stardate for this episode would have it taking place before the previous episode "The Pegasus", that episode taking place on Stardate 47457.1.
- Keith R.A. DeCandido, a reviewer for Tor.com, gave this episode a rating of "Warp Factor 1" which is considered a poor rating. He explained his low rating: "I lost considerable respect for Jean-Luc Picard as a character in this episode, as he spews tons of self-righteous twaddle in defense of making sure people die the way they were “supposed” to. The Picard of this episode is compassionless, heartless, and despicable. The point of the Prime Directive is to avoid imperialism, basically—to keep from contaminating two cultures (the ones being interfered with and the ones interfering). But the equivalency between that level of protection (and self-protection) and letting an entire culture die for no good reason that this episode postulates is appalling. There is something seriously wrong with your Star Trek episode when your theoretical heroes are trying to kill people (well, okay, let them die, but it amounts to the same thing) and your antagonist whom the script desperately wants to paint as the bad guy is the person who’s actually saving lives."
- Zack Handlen, a reviewer for the A.V. Club, had a much more positive outlook on the episode: "Maybe that’s also why Picard and the others spend so much time talking about the Prime Directive, and reminding each other of the importance of noninterference at the drop of a hat. They’re faced with situations which test their resolve on a regular basis, and these are really tough tests. We’re talking living, breathing sentient beings, and playing god, and not being able to see the consequences of your actions in the long term. That’s the really scary part right there, and the reason why staying aloof, even when it seems impossible, makes the most sense in the long run."
Cast and characters
- Penny Johnson later went on to play the regular role of Kasidy Yates in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- Brian Markinson also appears in DS9 as Elias Giger in "In the Cards" and on Star Trek: Voyager as both Pete Durst and Sulan in "Faces".
- Several of the Boraalan background performers appeared previously or in later Star Trek episodes, including Pam Blackwell, Uriah Carr, Gunnel Eriksson, Chris Blackwood, Ted Parker, and Toni Taylor.
- In the non-canon Star Trek: The Next Generation - Starfleet Academy novels of Peter David, Worf's foster brother was named Simon.
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 83, 11 July 1994
- As part of the TNG Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
Special appearance by
- Pam Blackwell as Boraalan
- Chris Blackwood as Boraalan
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Uriah Carr as Boraalan
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- Keno Deary as Boraalan
- Elliot Durant III as operations division ensign
- Gunnel Eriksson as Boraalan
- Keith Gearhart as operations division ensign
- Bill Hagy as operations division officer
- Fumiko Hamada as command division officer
- Kerry Hoyt as operations division ensign
- Gary Hunter as science division officer
- Mary Marshall as Boraalan
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- George Michael as Boraalan
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- Ted Parker as
- S. Reed as
- Joyce Robinson as Gates
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division ensign
- Toni Taylor as Boraalan
- Nick Trisko as Boraalan
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Carl David Burks – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Claudette – stand-in for Penny Johnson
- Michael Echols – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis and Susan Christy
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes and Paul Sorvino
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
47; ability; abstraction; acceleration; accusation; atmosphere; atmospheric dissipation; Boraalan; Boraal II; Boraal II/Vacca VI transformation; Cabral sector; Cardassian sector; cave; chef; chronicle; chronicle (title); class M; cultural observer; day; Dobara's unborn child; dogma; drawing; Draygo IV; EPS distribution net; EPS system; EPS transfer link; Federation; foster brother; Gault; Gault colony; generation; holodeck; hologrid; holo-programs; hour; illusion; interspecies reproduction; ion storm; log recorder; madman; materialization error; memory wipe; mesosphere; minute; neurophysiology; number one; place; plasmonic energy burst; Prime Directive; radiation storm; resolution failure; ritual suicide; Rozhenko, Helena; Rozhenko, Sergey; seer; Sign of La Forge; Starfleet Academy; stratosphere; Starbase 87; surgically altered (surgical alteration); synchronous orbit; traveler; troposphere; Vaccan system; Vacca VI; village; weep
- Class M Planet Search - 1126: carnivore; desert; forest; fresh water; habitable sector; humidity; land mass; mountain; oxygen; polar region; rotation; salt water; square kilometer; tidal flow; TLM; TWM; volcanic activity; water mass
- "Homeward" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Homeward" at Wikipedia
- "Homeward" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Homeward" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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