(written from a Production point of view)
Counselor Troi is shocked to find out she is pregnant; Wesley Crusher is weighing his options for the future, with the help of the mysterious proprietor of the ship's lounge, Ten Forward. (Season premiere)
The USS Enterprise-D is in the midst of a rendezvous with the USS Repulse. As a Repulse shuttle leaves the Enterprise's hangar bay, Commander Riker contacts the Repulse and says they are on their way. The Repulse's command officer acknowledges and asks that Riker give his regards to his captain. Riker then goes to report to Captain Picard's ready room, where the ship's new chief engineer, Geordi La Forge, explains to both Picard and Riker about the containment module he's constructing in one of the ship's cargo bays. The containment module is to hold dangerous specimens of plasma plague that the Enterprise is going to be transferring for research to the Rachelis system in the hopes of developing an antidote.
Meanwhile, as the Enterprise begins to head for Rachelis at impulse, an energy pulse enters the ship. The pulse goes through the Enterprise's corridors and crew quarters until it comes across Counselor Troi, asleep in her quarters. The life-force entity decides to settle in her womb, and Troi suddenly wakes up as she felt her body being impregnated by the alien entity.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 42073.1. There has been an outbreak of an unclassified plasma plague in the Rachelis system. We are on an emergency run to collect specimens of the deadly plague and transport them to Science Station Tango Sierra, where hopefully an antidote can be produced."
The Enterprise also has a new chief medical officer; Doctor Katherine Pulaski has replaced Doctor Crusher, who has left the ship to head Starfleet Medical. Captain Picard is annoyed when the new doctor fails to check in with him and is surprised when after calling down to sickbay, Picard discovers that Pulaski has already found the ship's Ten Forward lounge and he goes down there to meet her. He's met by Wesley Crusher coming out from a turbolift, who has temporarily remained aboard Enterprise and will shortly be joining his mother. Picard apologizes that their mission will delay that reunion, but Wesley says it gives him time to work on some projects before he leaves.
When he admits that leaving the Enterprise will be difficult, Picard says service in Starfleet is always like that and it will be part of the life that Wesley is choosing and then is forced to agree when Wesley comments that Enterprise isn't just any other ship. Upon arriving at Ten Forward, Picard is pointed to Pulaski by Guinan, the lounge's bartender. When he arrives at her table, he finds her with Troi and as Picard begins lecturing Pulaski about protocol, she interrupts him and asks him to sit down as he needs to hear what they are talking about. Picard sits down and is informed that Troi is pregnant.
Shortly after, in a staff meeting in the observation lounge, Picard briefly introduces Dr. Pulaski to Worf, Data, and Riker, saying they'll handle formal introductions later as Riker reaches out to shake her hand. He then announces to the senior staff (minus La Forge, who has just finished with the construction of the containment module and is restarting Enterprise's warp drive) that Troi is pregnant, which surprises Riker and he says so. Troi says it's even more of a surprise for her. Pulaski takes over and then reports on two separate examinations of Troi. The first exam shows the fetus at a rather early stage of development but still rather advanced considering she and Troi believe conception took place eleven hours previous, news which shocks Riker. Pulaski says the news just gets better as a second examination, which took place a few hours later shows that the fetus seems to have gained several weeks of growth. Pulaski says that at that rate, Troi will be ready to give birth in only 36 hours, while the normal Betazoid gestation period is ten months.
Riker turns to Troi and, while he doesn't mean to sound indelicate, he demands to know who the father is. Troi says that while she slept the night before, something that she can only describe as a presence entered her body. Riker asks Pulaski what the baby is, and she says it is a male Human/Betazoid hybrid, exactly as Troi and there is no evidence of any genetic material other than hers.
Worf believes that the child represents a threat to the Enterprise's security and should be aborted. Data says to Picard that doing so would deprive them of the opportunity to study this new lifeform. Worf says that laboratory analysis should still be possible if there is an abortion. When Riker asks if there would be any risks to Troi in such a procedure, Troi (who has been loudly hearing the baby's heartbeat as the others discuss the situation) finally speaks to Picard and says that he should do what is necessary to protect Enterprise, but that she is going to have this baby. At this, Picard therefore amicably states that the discussion is over.
Several hours later, Troi's pregnancy has progressed rapidly, as Pulaski had predicted. Troi has changed into less formal clothing to accommodate her expanding womb. Meanwhile, the Enterprise arrives at the 'aucdet IX Federation research station to pick up the samples of deadly plasma plague as well as a medical trustee named Hester Dealt, who will supervise the transfer of plasma plague specimens to the Enterprise and then later to the Rachelis system. He asks Picard if he can inspect the containment module and explains that while he doesn't mean to sound distrustful of Picard's crew, it is only that they can't afford to make any kind of mistakes with these specimens. Picard agrees but he tells Dealt he wants a complete, detailed manifest of everything he intends to bring aboard the ship. Picard then has Data download the inventory and cross-reference it with the medical computer, while Riker arranges for Dealt to be transported aboard.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. Although it's been fourteen hours since we arrived at 'aucdet IX, Hester Dealt has still not completed inspection of the containment unit. A transfer will not be permitted until he's assured of zero growth during our voyage. Meanwhile, the desperate pleas from the Rachelis system continue."
After receiving the final manifest, Picard sends Data to sickbay to review it with Dr. Pulaski. As Data heads for sickbay, he encounters Troi in a corridor, who has entered labor and asks for Data's help. When they arrive in sickbay, Data calls for Worf to bring his security team to sickbay. When Pulaski asks if that's necessary, Data says it is per Picard's orders. When Pulaski tells Troi that the father is usually present for deliveries that she's conducted, Data volunteers to fill in. Pulaski at first refuses, saying that Troi will need a comforting Human touch and not a cold hand of technology, but Troi assures the doctor that Data will do fine. After Worf and his team arrive, Pulaski tells him to stay back and that while she understands the need for them to be there, she insists they stay out from underfoot.
As they wait for the birth, Troi tells Data that he doesn't need to be nervous, but just be there for her. Data says he's not nervous but intrigued. He then asks Troi some rapid-fire questions about the baby which amuse her but then she interrupts him when labor intensifies. He then calls for Pulaski who comes over and the birthing process begins. Pulaski asks if Troi wants something for the pain, although it won't diminish the experience at all. Troi says she has not felt any pain which surprises Pulaski. Then very shortly afterward, the baby is born.
Pulaski cleans him off and then hands him to Troi, asking if easy births are the norm for Betazoids and Troi says it's not, at least according to her mother. Data thanks Troi for the opportunity to observe the birth and states that it was remarkable. Pulaski asks Troi if she has a name and she says he will be named Ian Andrew, after her late father.
Then Riker (who came in during the birth) steps up and tells Troi that the baby is beautiful, just like her. He then bends down and kisses her cheek. Pulaski asks Troi how she feels, and she says she feels wonderful and thanks Pulaski for everything. But after only a few hours, when Pulaski and Picard come to check on Troi, they are shocked to find out that Ian has grown into a young boy, appearing the age of four and is already able to speak. Ian tells Picard not to worry and that everything will be fine.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We are faced with two major problems. Troi's child and the deadly cargo we are about to take on. In the hours since his birth, Troi's baby has continued his rapid growth and now appears, physically and mentally, to be a child of eight. Still, there is no indication as to who he is, or why he is here."
Data and Dr. Pulaski are performing research on the manifest list in sickbay. It is taking longer than expected to categorize the specimens. It appears a significant number of them are genetically engineered. She deems this an excessive amount of engineering and informs Picard of the danger to the ship. Data then goes to Transporter room 3, joining Lieutenant Miles O'Brien, for the transport of the virus. O'Brien beams it up in batches without incident.
Meanwhile, Troi is taking care of Ian. She brings him to play with a litter of puppies in the ship's nursery. He's quite tactile, according to the officer there, Miss Gladstone. At supper, Picard and Dr. Pulaski check in. Ian, wanting to experience the hot temperature of his soup, inserts his finger, only to be burnt. He then is confused when his face is wet from his subsequent crying. He then implies he knows why he is on the Enterprise but is not quite ready to articulate it.
In Ten Forward, Wesley walks over to look out into space at one of the lounge's large viewports. He contemplates his departure from the Enterprise, as he was expected to join his mother at Starfleet Medical during her duration there. While doing so, he is observed by new shipmate, Guinan. The two carry on a conversation about his status on the Enterprise and what is in his best interest.
The Enterprise leaves for Rachelis, however, before long the containment module shows a serious malfunction.
La Forge is having trouble isolating the problem with the containment. One of the specimens is now showing growth. Riker, Data, and Dr. Pulaski all converge on the cargo bay. They cannot release the module or else they will risk the plague growing into a spore until it hits a planet or another ship, which they cannot allow. La Forge is showing all the right environmental settings for the containment, and sensor malfunctions don't seem to be the problem. Studying the etiology report for the virus, Dr. Pulaski discovers it was a mutated strain developed by a Dr. Susan Nuress during an outbreak of plasma plague in the Oby system. She also uncovers that it was bombarded by Eichner radiation. She speculates that this particular radiation could be the reason for the virus' growth. However, they rule out known sources.
Meanwhile, Troi is putting Ian to bed. Ian states that he is the source of the problem and that only he can resolve the situation. Troi realizes he is deciding to die and calls a medical emergency. Shortly after, Ian passes away in the arms of Troi.
Dr. Pulaski arrives with Data and Riker to Troi's quarters. She verifies Ian's death, and Data scans him, determining that he is the source of the radiation. Several minutes later, Ian transforms back to the glowing white light that visited Troi earlier and thanks her for the experience. Ian explains he is a lifeform who was curious about the Enterprise crew when passing by and thought the best way to learn about them was to experience their lives as one of them, so he implanted himself in Troi's womb, becoming her child to do so. The light leaves the ship, and La Forge calls in, saying the containment is stabilized. Troi is left to grieve.
The Enterprise reaches the science station and begins to transport both Dealt and the virus. Meanwhile, Wesley meets with Picard and requests that he be allowed to stay on the Enterprise. Picard doesn't decide right away, feeling that the decision wasn't his responsibility alone and that allowing Wesley to remain would create difficulties for all. Picard decides that Data could assume responsibility for Wesley's studies. When Riker asks "Who will tuck him in at night?", Worf accepts that responsibility and Troi expresses confidence that Wes will get his sleep. Picard agrees that the practical is then taken care of but as there's much more to growing up than just the practical matters, he then asks Riker if he would be interested in serving in that regard, and Riker agrees. With that taken care of, Picard tells Wesley to communicate with his mother at Starfleet Medical, giving her Picard's regards and telling her that Picard has approved Wesley's request to stay on the Enterprise, but that the final decision would be hers. Wesley is grateful and enthusiastically believes that Beverly will agree.
Wesley Crusher becomes the regular conn (helm) officer on the bridge as La Forge is relocated as chief engineer to the rear of the bridge. Picard orders Ensign Crusher to break the Enterprise out of orbit from Science Station Tango Sierra and take the ship to the Morgana Quadrant.
"Chief engineer. It still has a nice ring to it."
- - Riker, on Geordi La Forge's recent promotion to chief engineer of the Enterprise
"I don't mean to be indelicate… but who's the father?"
- - William T. Riker
"With all your neural nets, algorithms, and heuristics, is there some combination that makes up a circuit for bruised feelings?"
- - Pulaski, after Data corrects her after she mispronounced his name
"Captain, we have a… a malfunction in the containment area."
- - La Forge, Picard and Hester Dealt
"Last night while I slept… something, which I can only describe as a presence, entered my body."
- - Deanna Troi
"A lifeform of unknown origin and intent is breeding right now inside Counselor Troi."
- - Jean-Luc Picard
"Data." (pronounced "Datt-uh")
"Data." (pronounced "Dayt-uh")
"My name. You pronounced it 'Datt-uh.'"
"What's the difference?"
"One is my name. The other is not."
- - Pulaski and Data, regarding the proper pronunciation of his name
"And who will tuck him in at night?"
"Come on, Commander."
"I will accept that responsibility."
- - William Riker and Wesley Crusher, with Worf chiming in
- Mentioned by Burton Armus, in a one-page memo listing five one-liners for second season stories in development: 11 August 1988
- Third revised final draft script: 20 September 1988 
- Premiere airdate: 21 November 1988
- First UK airdate: 3 April 1991
- This episode was actually a rewrite of an episode with the same title written for Star Trek: Phase II, a series that was scrapped in favor of producing Star Trek: The Motion Picture. In the Phase II script by Jaron Summers and Jon Povill, Ilia (and later, the USS Enterprise) was "impregnated." This episode and "Devil's Due" were earmarked for possible recycling for Star Trek: The Next Generation, in anticipation of what became a lengthy Screen Writers' Guild strike which delayed production on Season 2. In the original Phase II story, Ilia gave birth to a baby girl, Irska, who posed a similar threat to the Enterprise by having a weakening effect on the ship's hull. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 66)) In the first draft script, though, the alien child considered Uhura and Chekov as possible host bodies before finally settling on Ilia. The Enterprise soon encountered an alien cylinder that endangered the ship and crew by creating problems that only the child, Irska, had the means to resolve. (Star Trek Phase II: The Lost Series) Maurice Hurley stated that his rewrites were based on the Phase II story rather than the original script, which he never read. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 173)
- According to Director Rob Bowman, "The idea of carrying the bug on board in the containment grid came from the movie Sorcerer, which came from a French movie The Wages of Fear in which wet dynamite had to be taken across the jungle. That was our thread of jeopardy." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 173)
Cast and characters
- Before this episode (but after Stardate 41986.0), Lieutenant junior grade Geordi La Forge was promoted to lieutenant and became chief engineer of the Enterprise-D, and both he and Lieutenant jg. Worf switched to the operations division.
- This episode introduced the characters of Katherine Pulaski and Guinan. Dr. Beverly Crusher is explained to have left the ship to become head of Starfleet Medical. Actress Gates McFadden left at the end of Season 1, hence this is the first episode of the series in which she does not appear.
- Academy Award winner Whoopi Goldberg asked Gene Roddenberry (through her friend LeVar Burton) to create a recurring role for her because she was a big fan of the show. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 64))
- Rob Bowman was granted permission by Rick Berman to use extra cameras and equipment for this episode. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 173) Consequently, this installment was a rare example in which a camera crane was used (in common with the fifth season episode "Power Play"). (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p. 14) Bowman explained, "As far as my involvement, I think that being the first episode of the second season, my thrust was to make sure we gave the audience something that would justify their wait over the summer for the first episode. Simply put, it was just that. Here's our audience of loyal Trekkies [....] I said, 'We must give them a great first episode to welcome them back, instead of kind of resting on our laurels.' That was the agreement between Rick Berman and I, and we went a little bit extra on quite a bit." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 173)
- Troi actress Marina Sirtis revealed in an interview that her "big fat stomach" in this episode was filled with birdseed. ("Selected Crew Analysis Year Two", TNG Season 2 DVD special feature)
- In this episode, Composer Dennis McCarthy heralded the return of TNG with a "triumphant" rendition of "Picard's Theme".
Several scenes were filmed but later cut from the episode during editing. These scenes came to light in March 2013, when Canadian Star Trek collector Cyril "Patchou" Paciullo (owning workprints of several more Next Generation episodes) uploaded the contents of an early workprint VHS tape of the episode to the internet. 
- Act 2, Scenes 31-32 – Deanna Troi retires to her quarters and speaks to her yet-unborn child.
- Act 2, Scene 34 – Hester Dealt and Geordi La Forge discuss the status of the containment module.
- Act 2, Scene 42-44 – Pieces of the Troi birthing scene, including Katherine Pulaski announcing Ian Troi's gender and weight (6lbs, 3oz), Jean-Luc Picard congratulating Deanna Troi, and Riker dismissing Worf and his security team.
- Act 3, Scene 53 – Miles O'Brien and Data work to transport the virus aboard; Data identifies himself to the computer by his full name ("NFN NMI Data"). (NFN NMI = No First Name No Middle Initial)
- Act 3, Scene 59 – An extended visit with Troi and Ian in their quarters; Ian dumps a beverage on his lap to experience the sensation.
- Act 4, Scene 76 – Wesley Crusher arrives on the bridge after his last discussion with Guinan.
Paciullo submitted his tapes to TrekCore, who in turn brought him into contact with CBS.  However, the tape of this episode was discovered far too late for the deleted scenes to be incorporated in the remastered episode, or otherwise be included on the 2012 TNG Season 2 Blu-ray release, as were his tapes of the third season episodes "Evolution" and "The Bonding" for inclusion on their 2013 corresponding release. Still, his tapes of the fourth season episodes "The Wounded" and "Brothers" were uncovered just in time for the deleted scenes to be remastered in high definition and incorporated as part of the bonus features "Deleted Scenes" on the TNG Season 4 Blu-ray set. The tapes, nine in total, were acquired by Paciullo as Lot 77, estimated at US$200-$400, at the Propworx' The official STAR TREK prop and costume auction of 8 August 2010 for US$360 (including buyer's premium). 
- Scene numbers derived from script. 
- The conn and ops seats at the front of the bridge are now upright, instead of heavily reclined as they were in Season 1.
- Ten Forward debuts in this episode. It is located on Deck 10, Forward Station 1. The turbolift command to get there will later be shortened to "Deck 10, Forward," or simply "Ten Forward."
- The ship computer erroneously refers to Shuttlebay 2 as "Docking Bay 3" after the shuttlecraft from the USS Repulse exits the Enterprise.
- The panel that Dr. Katharine Pulaski brings up to research the origins of the plasma plague contains the names of TNG staff members Rob Bowman, Maurice Hurley, Jaron Sommers, Jon Povill, Robert Legato, and Gary Hutzel.
- Deanna Troi debuts her maroon casual attire in this episode.
- This is also the first episode in which Riker wears a beard. He gained it after Jonathan Frakes returned for filming having grown it, intending to shave it off for the new season. During the hiatus, he appeared with Gene Roddenberry at a convention. Roddenberry asked the audience for their opinion of Frakes' beard. The resulting cheering convinced Roddenberry to ask him to keep it and the beard became an iconic part of the character. It also coined the phrase "Growing the Beard" in which a show starts to turn good.  Frakes eventually shaved it off ten years later in Star Trek: Insurrection (although he regrew it by the time Star Trek Nemesis came around).
- Troi is seen wearing a new hairstyle, which is kept throughout the rest of the season; the hair is long, in loose, neat curls, and taken back from her face, held by a headband.
- This episode marks the first appearance of Worf's silver baldric, which he kept throughout the remainder of The Next Generation, throughout his stint on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and in all four TNG movies. His previous (gold fabric) baldric was of the type worn by Klingon commanders in Star Trek: The Original Series. This episode also shows that Worf is now the official permanent security chief, having been made "acting" chief of security following the death of Natasha Yar in "Skin of Evil".
- This is the only second season episode to have Beverly Crusher referenced. She is seen in archive footage in Season 2 finale "Shades of Gray".
- This is the first episode where Wesley Crusher wears a combadge, even though he was made an acting ensign in Season 1 and there is nothing to indicate a status change since that time. Wesley also debuts his gray "acting ensign's" uniform, which he wears until the end of third season episode "Ménage à Troi".
- From this episode on, the transporter will be "energized" by running the hand above the three "glow strips" on the console, similar to how Star Trek: The Original Series' transporter was activated. Those glow strips have been on the console since the beginning of the series, but had not previously been used to energize the transporter.
- The warp speed visual effect, shown from inside the Enterprise-D, debuts in this episode. On Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, it was modified to include a "flash" at the end of the sequence.
- Director Rob Bowman recalled, "I remember it being a very nice show for Marina Sirtis. She had a little bit more leeway to work with and expose her character, and I thought she came through with flying colors. Photographically, I know we went for more of a feature look, although the consensus from the studio was that it was too dark and looked too much like a feature, so we brightened it up a little." ("Rob Bowman – Director of a Dozen", The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 10, p. 18)
- A mission report for this episode, by Will Murray, was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 5, pp. 13-16.
- Maurice Hurley noted, "'The Child' suffered from being the first episode of the second season more than anything else." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 173)
- Composer Dennis McCarthy cited the opening theme of "The Child" as his favorite theme. ("Departmental Briefing Year Two: Production – Music", TNG Season 2 DVD special feature)
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Music Composition for a Series (Dramatic Underscore) (Dennis McCarthy).
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 14, catalog number VHR 2467, 3 June 1991
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 2.1, catalog number VHR 4737, 1 March 1999
- As part of the TNG Season 2 DVD collection
- As part of the TNG Season 2 Blu-ray collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Wil Wheaton as Wesley Crusher
Special appearance by
Special guest star
- R.J. Williams as Ian
- Colm Meaney as Transporter Chief
- Dawn Arnemann as Miss Gladstone
- Zachary Benjamin as Young Ian
- Dore Keller as Crewman
- Arratia as Alfonse Pacelli
- Majel Barrett as female computer voice
- Josh Bell as Ian Troi (infant)
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Dexter Clay as an operations division officer
- Jeffrey Deacon as command division officer
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Tricia Stewart as nurse
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Unknown performers as
- James G. Becker – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Darrell Burris – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Dexter Clay – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Jeffrey Deacon – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Wil Wheaton
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- File=870173/8364: address; DNA sequence code; enzyme data; file; genetic analysis; genetic data; infectious virus unit
- Etiology: Bowman, Rob; case; Hurley, Maurice; Hutzel infection; Legato infection; medication; northern continent of Oby VI; mortality; Oby VI; percent; Povill, Jon; principal investigator; research associate; section; treatment
- Evolution of Intelligent Life on Planet Denkir IV: Delphoidia; Delphoidia cochrani; Delphoidia cochrani obliquidens; Delphoidia cochrani tempus; Delphoidia moroboshi; Delphoidia moroboshi lum; Neopictis; Neopictis gourami; Neopictis spinotap; Neopictis spinotap cochrani; Oceosauroida; Oceosauroida mendo; Oceosauroida mendo shinobu; Oceosauroida mendo shutaro; Oniboshi lum; Oniboshi lum ran; Oniobshi benten; Squaluformus; Squaluformus vino; Squaluformus vino shiro; Vermacelli alfredo
- "The Child" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Child" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Child" at Wikipedia
- "The Child" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
"The Neutral Zone"
|Star Trek: The Next Generation
"Where Silence Has Lease"