(written from a Production point of view)
Picard falls in love with one of his subordinates, but he can't deal with having to order her into dangerous situations.
Captain Picard is up and active early in the morning. Entering the bridge at 0300 hours, he finds out from Data that Stellar cartography has ordered the shutdown of several systems he wishes to use, such as communications, as he had wanted to contact a Doctor Mowray at his archaeological dig on Landris II. Understanding initially of the blackout request from stellar cartography and not wishing to override it, Picard goes to his ready room and requests to look at excavation schematics of the site but finds that the library computer is offline as well. Picard goes to his replicator to make his usual order of Earl Grey tea but finds that even the replicator systems are down as well. He decides to head down there and see what they are working on that requires so many systems on the ship to be shut down.
Entering stellar cartography, Picard finds that the room is almost completely dark and hears a voice telling him to either leave or stay but to allow the door to be closed behind him immediately. Despite the entrance to stellar cartography remaining open for only a short time, Picard's unanticipated arrival causes the experiment to fail and the voice the captain had heard in the dark orders the computer to turn on the lights. The female Starfleet officer tells Picard that he just ruined four hours of work by coming in. Picard responds that she could have taken the simple precaution of locking the door. She turns around, now a little less angry knowing that she is speaking to her commanding officer. Picard assumes she is the new head of the department, Lieutenant commander Nella Daren. She explains that she and her team were working on constructing a mathematical model of an emerging star system and explains that they were taking very precise gravimetric readings. She notes that it would not have taken much to throw the readings off. Picard can see that she is very strong-willed and he instantly takes a liking to her.
The USS Enterprise-D is heading to the Borgolis Nebula for scientific study. Picard says it will be interesting to see what comes out of it. He heads to dinner with Doctor Crusher. Picard tells her that they will be close enough during their journey that she will be able to slip away for a few days and visit her son Wesley. She thanks Picard for this and during their meal, Picard brings up Daren and her research since it captured his interest. Afterwards, they head to a musical performance in Ten Forward with Commander Data, Ensign Cheney and, to Picard's surprise, Commander Daren on piano. They begin with Chopin's Trio in G minor.
After the concert is a reception. Picard and Crusher congratulate Data and Daren, and Data notices the increased applause volume. Data and Crusher leave to congratulate Cheney, leaving Picard and Daren. They have a brief discussion about her performance during which she discovers that he is an amateur musician. He remarks on her musical choices, and she replies that he should expect the unexpected, echoing his remark to her earlier.
Daren goes to Riker to request more time on the arrays since her team is in the middle of tracking a gas flow pattern. However, it's already been claimed by engineering to conduct warp field tests. She pushes, but Riker can only promise to give her time tomorrow. She has to live with it.
Daren comes to Picard's quarters as he is working on Bach's Third Brandenburg Concerto. She is immediately interested in the Ressikan flute he is playing, and asks how long he has played it. He simply responds, "a long time" and initially refrains from playing in front of her. She asks to try it, and he ends up demonstrating. She entices him to join her in duet while she plays along with a portable piano. He's having a lot of fun with the improvisations she brings out in him.
The next day, both Picard and Daren are in a great mood. Picard asks Riker to fence with him jovially. Riker says he's not good, but, like Daren said last night, Picard replies "it doesn't matter as long as you enjoy it." Daren, meanwhile, gets treated for an arm strain in sickbay, informing Crusher that she spent time with Picard the previous night.
The two begin playing duets on a regular basis. Daren brings Picard that night to the fourth intersect in Jefferies tube 25, which she says is the most acoustically perfect spot on the ship. This time, she plays Beethoven's "Piano Sonata Number 14." Picard shares with her the folk melody he learned during life as Kamin on the planet Kataan, but does not tell her its origin. The two begin playing a duet of the melody, which could be heard in main engineering by Geordi La Forge who, confused, enters the Jefferies tube junction to try and work out where it is coming from. However, when Data enters the junction too, the music has stopped, because back in the tube, Picard and Daren are sharing a passionate kiss.
Later, Picard and Daren ride in a turbolift when another crew member enters. Picard immediately stops their personal conversation and changes his demeanor to professional and gets off at his stop. In the meantime, The Federation outpost at Bersallis III reports a period of fire storms beginning and the Enterprise goes to study the phenomenon.
In his ready room, Picard asks Counselor Troi about his relationship with Daren, expressing his concerns that becoming involved with a subordinate could compromise his objectivity. Troi reassures him, so he then goes to stellar cartography to talk to Daren. He apologizes for his behavior in the turbolift, and assures her that he is just inexperienced with this type of relationship. He also assures her that he is not given to casual relationships. He takes her to his quarters and explains to her the story of his time as Kamin, and the significance of his music to him.
Daren catches Commander Riker to ask about Cabot's transfer to her department from quantum mechanics. He doesn't want to grant the request, but feels uncomfortable due to her relationship with Captain Picard. He discusses this with Picard who assures him that he is free to do his job as usual. Picard later shares the experience with Daren and explains that they need to be aware of other people's perceptions. They get on with their evening when Worf reports in that the firestorms on Bersallis III have changed their speed and heading and begin to head towards the outpost. They request evacuation, and so Picard has to leave.
In the observation lounge, the senior staff as well as Daren and Marquez discuss the situation. They determine that there will not be enough time to evacuate. Daren suggests using thermal deflector units that she used to study a plasma geyser on Melnos IV to create a "firewall" to block the storms temporarily. La Forge and Data confirm the idea, stating that the units require personnel to operate. Picard approves and Riker gets to work, ordering Commander Daren to lead the deflector deployment, Data to coordinate the evacuation, Marquez to track the storm, and Crusher to get their patients up to the Enterprise. When everyone is dismissed, Picard expresses concern for Daren, but she reminds him that they agreed not to let the relationship get in the way of their work.
The Enterprise arrives at the planet. Marquez beams down first and informs them they have 50 minutes before the storm hits. In the hustle of the rest of the team getting in place to transport, Daren and Picard share a silent last look.
The team has been on the planet for thirty minutes. Progress is good, though the storm gains speed and La Forge reports that the ionization from the storm is slowing down the evacuation efforts. Soon, all of the infirmary patients are brought aboard. They realize the deflector teams will need to stay near the deflectors since the remote control won't work. All of the colonists are evacuated but the storm hits before the last two perimeter teams, including Daren's, can be retrieved. Given the nature and severity of the storms, the officers are presumed dead.
Retreating to his quarters, Picard anxiously waits for news. He catches sight of his flute on the nearby table, but cannot bring himself to look at it and closes the box it is housed in. Just then, Worf reports that, against all the odds, some of the crew have survived. He goes to the transporter room, but does not find Daren among them. As he is about to leave, Daren is beamed aboard with another survivor, Deng. Eight crew members ultimately lost their lives.
Later, Daren explains to Picard how they managed to survive by modifying their phasers to create pockets of safety. She and Deng survived but they lost Richardson. Picard tells her about the moment in his quarters when he thought that she was dead. He tells her that he has lost people under his command, people who were very dear to him, but never someone he has been in love with. And when he believed that she was dead, he began to shut down: he did not want to think or feel and all he could focus on was how his music would never again bring him any joy.
Picard and Daren realize that they can never have a relationship while she is under his command where he is responsible for putting her life in jeopardy in the line of duty. They discuss whether one of them could give up their career and follow the other, but immediately realize that this would not be satisfactory to either of them. Hence, Daren decides to apply for transfer. Picard suggests that they coordinate their shore leaves together, but both know that their relationship will never be the same again. The two share one last kiss and she asks Picard to promise her that he will not give up his music.
- "Captain's log, stardate 46693.1. We have entered the Bersallis star system and are making preparations to evacuate the Federation outpost on the third planet."
- "Captain's log, stardate 46697.2. Although we succeeded in rescuing all six hundred forty three Bersallin colonists we lost eight crewmembers. Let the record show that they gave their lives in the performance of their duty."
"Whoever you are, you just ruined four hours of work."
"You might have taken the simple precaution of locking the door."
- - Nella Daren to Picard after he accidentally destroyed a delicate experiment Stellar Cartography was running
"Well, you're new on the Enterprise. You'll have to learn to expect the unexpected."
- - Picard, to Daren
"I noticed that the applause this evening exceeded average decibel levels."
"I guess that means they enjoyed themselves."
"I think that much was obvious."
- - Data, Nella Daren and Picard after the concert
"Well captain, now that I'm on your ship maybe you should start expecting the unexpected."
- - Nella Daren, to Picard
"Excellent. Now perhaps you can tell me what was so important that it required depriving the captain of his cup of Earl Grey."
"Earl Grey? No wonder you can't sleep."
- - Picard and Daren
"What kind of flute is that?"
"I've never seen one before."
"They're not made anymore."
- - Daren and Picard, referencing The Inner Light
"I can assure you that I am not given to casual relationships."
- - Picard, to Daren
"Do you know where we are?"
"Yes, this the the fourth intersect in Jefferies tube twenty five."
"No – this is the most acoustically perfect spot on this ship."
- - Daren and Picard
- Final draft script: 25 January 1993 
- Premiere airdate: 5 April 1993
- First UK airdate: 15 November 1995
Story and script
- "Lessons" began as a story idea from Michael Piller during a meeting of the writing staff in the fifth season. Piller considered that it would be interesting to have a romance for Picard in which he was attracted to someone under his command. Jeri Taylor only offered weak support at the time and the idea was not further pursued. The story was resurrected late in the sixth season as the writers were struggling for ideas. Taylor assigned freelancers Ron Wilkerson and Jean Louise Matthias to write the teleplay. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 276)
- Wilkerson noted that, like their later "Lower Decks", "what was important was not the mission but the relationship of the people." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., pp. 242 & 282))
- Originally, Brannon Braga was scheduled to provide an uncredited staff polish to the script, but he switched with René Echevarria as he was not satisfied with the romance in "Aquiel". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 242))
- René Echevarria recalled that, in contrast to previous Picard romances, the producers deliberately cast an actress who would appear closer in age to Patrick Stewart. "We wanted somebody who had weight as opposed to it being just purely sexual." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 276)
- Jeri Taylor held meetings with Wendy Neuss and Dennis McCarthy to discuss the necessary music buildup for the duet scene. She remembered, "The music had to reflect that she was making him feel comfortable and letting him kind of test these strange waters and being gentle with him, not overwhelming him with a 'look at me – see how good I am!' kind of attitude." Neuss believed that the final result had "a real synergy, a constant feeding back, getting better at what they do." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 242))
- Pianist Natalie Martin served as both Wendy Hughes' photo double and recorded the piano music. Patrick Stewart performed his own flute fingering for many shots in the teaching scenes, supplemented with closeups featuring Noel Webb and John Mayham. Webb also served as hand double for Brent Spiner in the scene where Data plays violin in a trio. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 242))
- Dan Curry and Ronald B. Moore created the fire storm by spilling liquid nitrogen onto black velvet draped over a table and pointing an air hose at it. The effect was enhanced by computer and digitally painted into the background of the live action. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 242))
Sets and props
- Makeup & Effects Laboratories created two versions of Daren's portable piano – a strip made of stretchy plastic that could be rolled up and a solid version that Wendy Hughes could pretend to play. Don Coleman from MEL revealed, "No one here plays piano so we didn't know what the layout of the keys should be. We just worked off of the sketch we got from the Star Trek art department, and whoever did it probably didn't play piano, either. No one noticed until they brought in the musician who was going to help the actress rehearse her hand movements. He had a fit because the keys were all wrong. We had a bit of flack on that one!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 300)
- Picard's beloved Ressikan flute, which he learned to play during "The Inner Light", makes several appearances during this episode.
- Stellar cartography is first seen in this episode, though is much less elaborate than in Star Trek Generations.
- While Picard and Daren are playing music in the Jefferies tube, a matte painting is used to simulate a long access tunnel. This is the third time on The Next Generation following the episodes "The Game" and "Starship Mine".
- Jeri Taylor was pleased with episode, commenting that there was "true substance and genuine warmth" in the relationship between Picard and Daren. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 242)) In another interview she noted, "It had an honesty and simplicity to it that was very engaging. Wendy Hughes, who is a wonderful actress, made the whole relationship believable. You believed that Picard would be enchanted with this woman and I was wrong [to have such a] lukewarm response to it at the beginning. It turned into something that was sweet and endearing." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 276)
- Director Robert Wiemer agreed. "The script was a pleasure and we had really turned-on performances. If we'd had only moderate performances it would have fallen flat." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 242))
- Michael Piller remarked, "It's sort of a Brief Encounter on the starship Enterprise, and I thought that Wendy Hughes was perfect casting. You really had to have that magic to make things work. It was a low-key ending, but I thought it worked well rather than the potential hand-wringing." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 276)
- Brannon Braga believed that the concept was flawed as it did not have a significant science fiction component, unlike episodes such as "The Host". However, he praised René Echevarria's contributions to the script, noting that "There's always something about René's writing that's very touching. He always finds the genuine emotion." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 276)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 73, catalog number VHR 2731, 22 November 1993
- As part of the TNG Season 6 DVD collection
- As part of the Region 2 release of the Star Trek: The Next Generation - Jean-Luc Picard 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 guest star
- David Keith Anderson as Armstrong
- Debbie David as Russell
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- Robert Cox as Marquez
- Debra Dilley as operations ensign
- Gunnel Eriksson as sciences officer
- Star Halm as Ten Forward waitress
- Grace Harrell as civilian
- Melanie Hathorn as sciences officer
- Kerry Hoyt as operations ensign
- Gary Hunter as sciences officer
- Jan Kelley as Cheney
- Ron Large as command officer
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Rad Milo as operations ensign
- Michael Moorehead as sciences ensign
- Joycelyn Robinson as Gates
- Irving Ross as Bersallis III colonist
- Sissy Sessions as operations ensign
- Noriko Suzuki as operations ensign
- John Tampoya as operations ensign
- Oliver Theess as command officer
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Debbie David – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Michael Echols – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
14th century; acoustics; amateur; arpeggio; Bach, Johann Sebastian; Beck; Bersallin sun; Bersallis III; Bersallis III science station; Bersallis system; Borgolis Nebula; Cabot; C; Chopin, Frédéric; chord; co-worker; Crusher, Wesley; cup; cycle; Daren herbal tea blend number three; department; department head; duet; Earl Grey tea; Engineering; Federation; fire storm; folk melody; fractal particle motion; "Frère Jacques"; geyser; Havana; herbal tea; Jefferies tube; Kataan; Kataan probe; Kataan star system primary; Kerelian; Kerelian tenor; kilometer per hour; kiss; Landris II; Mataline II; Mataline II piano; Melnos IV; meter; Mowray; number one; nurse; obstetrics specialist; phenomenon; piano; Piano Sonata Number 14; plasma; protective shield; quantum mechanics; resonance chamber; Ressik; Ressikan flute; shore leave; Starbase 218; spectral analysis; stellar sciences; Stellar cartography; temperature; tenor; Thelka IV; thermal deflector unit; Third Brandenburg Concerto; transporter; transporter lock; transporter pad; Trio in G minor; turbolift; warp field test; wind
- "Lessons" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Lessons" at Wikipedia
- "Lessons" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Lessons" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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