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SYFY WIRE Warp Factor

The Inner Light gave Patrick Stewart his biggest Star Trek acting challenge [Warp Factor 4.3]

By Brian Silliman

Jean-Luc Picard went through a lot in seven seasons of Star Trek: The Next Generation. From Borg assimilation, to Cardassian torture, to defending all of humanity to an all-powerful being, there was practically no acting challenge that Sir Patrick Stewart didn't have thrown at him. The most challenging episode? Picard's journey into the life of a man named Kamin in Season 5's "The Inner Light."

This is a famous episode, often cited as one of Trek's all-time best. This is with good reason. On the surface, the tale is simple — Picard gets the memories of a long-lost civilization beamed into his head by a probe, and he lives out the life of one of those people. A lifetime for him only lasts 25 minutes in reality. The themes and power of the story are far more complex.

An experience such as this would change a person forever, and this was something that the writers somewhat overlooked at the time. They didn't realize that they were making a drop-dead classic that would never be forgotten, they were only seeking to make a great episode of the series. Well, mission accomplished on that front. If anyone questions whether Picard ever forgot Kamin, the Ressikans, and the other lifetime he lived, the continuing appearance of Kamin's flute puts that to rest.

Picard displays the flute, and even breaks it out for jam sessions in Season 6. Composer Jeff Russo used the sound of the flute (as well as some of the melody played in this episode) as the basis for part of the main theme of Star Trek: Picard.

When it comes to Sir Patrick Stewart's biggest TNG acting challenge? Yes, you could say that he rose to it and left it in the dust. It is one of his finest performances, which really is saying something. Welcome back to Warp Factor, where we're celebrating this landmark episode. Jean-Luc never goes back to the carpet store.