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The Inner Light (episode)

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"The Inner Light"
TNG, Episode 5x25
Production number: 40275-225
First aired: 1 June 1992
124th of 176 produced in TNG
124th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
232nd of 728 released in all
Picard playing Ressikan Flute
Teleplay By
Morgan Gendel and Peter Allan Fields

Story By
Morgan Gendel

Directed By
Peter Lauritson
45944.1 (2368)
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An alien probe controls and disables Captain Picard, who wakes up as "Kamin," a resident of the planet Kataan. While the crew of the Enterprise tries to jar the probe's influence, "Kamin" lives through the dying days of his homeworld.


"Captain's log, Stardate 45944.1. Following a magnetic wave survey of the Parvenium system, we have detected an object which we cannot immediately identify."

As the USS Enterprise-D encounters an unknown space probe, it emits a low level nucleonic beam at Jean-Luc Picard. Picard faints, but soon awakens with a strange woman calling him "Kamin". He soon learns that he is not on a holodeck simulation; in fact, he is no longer on the Enterprise, and nobody has even heard of the Enterprise.

Over the next few days, Picard discovers many new facts about his "new" existence. His name is Kamin, and he has a friend named Batai. The woman he first meets is his wife Eline, and he is an ironweaver who enjoys playing his flute. Finally, Picard learns that he now lives in the community of Ressik on the planet Kataan.

Back on the Enterprise, Riker calls sickbay for help, as Picard falls into a coma. Beverly Crusher arrives and discovers Picard is undergoing tremendous neurological activity. It seems the alien probe has locked itself onto Picard. Dr. Crusher advises against destroying the probe in that the Captain may be injured, so they wait.



Five years have passed on Kataan, and we notice that "Kamin" has become integrated into his new society. He suggests to the visiting administrator that atmospheric condensers are needed to survive the extended drought they are currently experiencing. His ideas are rejected, but Batai notes that it is the first time Kamin has spoken as a member of the community in years. Later that evening, Kamin and Eline plan for a family.

Back on the Enterprise, La Forge has launched a probe to follow the alien probe's ion trail back to its source. Data has determined a method of disrupting the beam, and they make plans to implement Data's idea.

Once again, several years have passed on Kataan. Kamin and Eline are in the middle of a "naming ceremony" for their second child, named Batai (for their late friend). Right after the ceremony, Kamin suddenly collapses. On the Enterprise, Dr. Crusher tries in vain to stabilize Picard. Data reestablishes the beam, thereby stabilizing Picard's condition.

Ten years have passed on Kataan, and Kamin, together with his adult daughter Meribor, have found that the soil is simply dead. The sun's radiation has sterilized the soil making it incapable of supporting life.

La Forge has managed to trace the alien probe's path back to the system of Kataan, which contains no habitable planets as the star went nova approximately one thousand years earlier.

Many more years have passed on Kataan, and Kamin is visibly old. Using his telescope, he has discovered that the drought will continue indefinitely, and the planet may be doomed. He argues with a government administrator, who tells him in confidence that the government scientists came to the same conclusion two years earlier. Kamin pleads with him that an evacuation, even of a handful of people, must be attempted, but the pained administrator points out to Kamin that they simply do not have the technological capability for spaceflight of that magnitude, having only recently started launching unmanned probes into orbit. Reluctantly, the administrator shares with Kamin that there is an effort underway to save "some" piece of the civilization, though he will reveal no more about it. Later, Eline dies a natural death, and Kamin grieves.

Years later, an extremely old Kamin is playing with his grandchild, Meribor's son. He laments that his grandson deserves a long and full life, but like the rest of their world he will not survive. Kamin goes along with everyone else to view "the launching", which only he seems not to know about. Kamin asks, "What is it they're launching?"

His daughter, Meribor: "You know it, father. You've already seen it."

"Seen it? What are you talking about? I haven't seen any missile."

Batai: "Yes, you have, old friend. Don't you remember?"

Kamin turns to see his old friend, Batai, but in the prime of his life. Batai explains, "You saw it just before you came here. We hoped our probe would encounter someone in the future – someone who could be a teacher, someone who could tell the others about us."

"Oh... oh, it's me... isn't it? I'm the someone. I'm the one it finds. That's what this launching is – a probe that finds me in the future!"

"Yes, my love..."

Kamin's family

Kamin's family, at the end of the Kataan probe simulation

Stunned, Kamin turns and sees Eline, glowing in youthful beauty, with the rest of his family. She says, "The rest of us have been gone a thousand years. If you remember what we were...and how we lived...then we'll have found life again."


As the missile launches...

"Now we live in you. Tell them of darling..."

Picard regains consciousness on the bridge of the Enterprise as the alien probe breaks contact. After the initial disorientation, he discovers that he has lived an entire lifetime in the course of 20 to 25 real-time minutes. Riker orders the probe loaded onboard the ship for further study. As Picard approaches the entrance to the turbolift to accompany Dr. Crusher to sickbay, he instinctively raises his right hand to touch the door mechanism he remembers from Ressik.

Later, Riker delivers to Picard a small box found inside the alien probe. Picard opens it to find the flute which he still vividly remembers from his life as Kamin. Once Riker leaves, he plays the tune he had played at his "son's" naming ceremony.

Memorable Quotes

"You've been dreaming about that starship of yours again, haven't you?"

- Eline, five years after Kamin's 'recovery.'

"I'm not brooding. I'm immersed in my music! ... I find that it helps me to think, but the real surprise is that I enjoy it so much."
"No, the real surprise is that you may actually be improving!"

- Kamin (playing the flute) and Batai

"Seize the time, Meribor - live now! Make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again."

- Picard, as Kamin, to his daughter.

"Remember... put your shoes away."

- Eline's last words to Kamin on her deathbed.

"Now we live in you. Tell them of us... my darling."

- Eline

Background information

Story and script

I've always felt that the experience in "Inner Light" would've been the most profound experience in Picard's life and changed him irrevocably. However, that wasn't our intention when we were creating the episode. We were after a good hour of TV, and the larger implications of how this would really screw somebody up didn't hit home with us until later (that's sometimes a danger in TV – you're so focused on just getting the show produced every week that sometimes you suffer from the "can't see the forest for the trees" syndrome). We never intended the show to completely upend his character and force a radical change in the series, so we contented ourselves with a single follow-up in "Lessons". (AOL chat, 1997)


Sternbach - The Inner Light script

Sternbach and "The Inner Light" script

  • While attending a production staff meeting during the making of this episode, Rick Sternbach drew on his script preliminary designs for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - Deep Space 9 itself.
  • Only a few scenes were filmed on the regular sets. The bridge and Picard's quarters are the only parts of the Enterprise-D that are seen.
  • Jay Chattaway composed the music for this episode, including the Ressikan flute solo played by Kamin and Picard. Chattaway later expanded this piece into a six-minute orchestral suite that is available on "The Best of Star Trek: 30th Anniversary Special" soundtrack CD. The Ressikan melody has similarities to the Scottish tune 'Skye Boat Song', also known as 'Speed Bonny Boat'.
  • First UK airdate: 7 June 1995


  • Not only did Kamin and his family receive old-age make-up, many of the villagers seen over the years were aged to give a consistent look.
  • In a cut scene, it is revealed that the soup Eline prepared for Kamin, very much to his delight, is called "kenomay".
  • Before still accepting his identity as Kamin, Picard is practicing on the flute the melody of Frère Jacques, a French song he sung while climbing the turbolift with the children in "Disaster".
  • Kamin pleads with Meribor to "make now always the most precious time. Now will never come again." Picard would later echo those words to Commander Riker following the destruction of the Enterprise-D in Star Trek Generations.


Patrick and Daniel Stewart

Father and son - Patrick and Daniel Stewart

  • Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) does not appear in this episode.
  • Patrick Stewart's son, Daniel Stewart, portrays Kamin's son, Batai, during his life on Kataan.
  • Stewart remembered, "I'm having the earliest makeup call of any actor in the history of Star Trek. My makeup call on Monday was 1:00 a.m., my set call was 7:00 a.m. So I left home roundabout midnight." ("Departmental Briefing Year Five" ("Production"), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)

Sets and props


  • Patrick Stewart nominated this episode as the greatest acting challenge he faced in the seven years of The Next Generation. ("Mission Overview Year Five" ("The Inner Light"), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
  • Peter Lauritson named this episode as definitely one of the favourite Star Trek episodes. ("Departmental Briefing Year Five" ("Production"), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
  • Michael Westmore noted that "The Inner Light" was a show Patrick [Stewart] should have won an Emmy for. ("Departmental Briefing Year Five" ("Production"), TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
  • Entertainment Weekly ranked this episode #3 on their list of "The Top 10 Episodes" to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. [1]
  • Michael Piller named this episode (along with "The Measure Of A Man" and "The Offspring") as one of his favorite TNG episodes, "because they had remarkable emotional impacts. And they genuinely explored the human condition, which this franchise does better than any other when it does it well." (AOL chat, 1997)
  • The book Star Trek 101, by Terry J. Erdmann and Paula M. Block, lists this episode as one of the "Ten Essential Episodes" from Star Trek: The Next Generation.
  • This episode was featured in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Viewers Choice Marathon.
  • In the TNG Season 5 DVD collection, the menu for this episode features the flute solo.
  • A sequel was planned, but it was scrapped. The story, called "The Outer Light," was adapted as a comic on [2]
  • A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, pp. 58-60.
  • Writer Peter Allan Fields praises Patrick Stewart's performance but has the highest praise for guest actress Margot Rose; "She was absolutely superb, no ifs, ands or buts! I was grateful to have written something that an actress of that caliber had brought to life. She was excellent. I had never seen her before. I saw dailies, so I saw aspects of her performance that, unfortunatly, the audience never got to see because the show ran long. They had to take out seven minutes." (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, p. 25)

Remastered version


Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars


Uncredited co-stars



administrator; anaerobic bacteria; atmospheric condenser; blood pressure; botany; cardiac induction; cc; ceramic alloy; cerebrum; cortical stimulator; crystalline emiristol; Dannick; deflector shield; delactovine; dream; Federation; fever; fibrogenic activity; Frère Jacques; holodeck; hospital; iron weaver; isocortex; Kamin; Kataan; Kataan probe; Kataan star system; magnetic wave survey; mathematics; missile; music; naming ceremony; neurotransmitter; Northern province; nova; nucleonic beam; paricium; Parvenium system; probe; radioactive; Ressik; Ressikan flute; Shuttlebay 2; Silarian sector; skin protector; somatophysical failure; soup; sun; star chart; Starfleet; synaptic response; talgonite; telescope; thruster; tree; vegetable stew; voice-transit conductor; water

External link

Previous episode:
"The Next Phase"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5
Next episode:
"Time's Arrow"

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