|Star Trek: The Next Generation episode|
|Episode no.||Season 4
|Directed by||Gabrielle Beaumont|
|Story by||Ralph Phillips|
|Featured music||Dennis McCarthy|
|Cinematography by||Marvin Rush|
|Original air date||October 15, 1990|
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship USS Enterprise-D. In this episode, The Enterprise rescues a Starfleet admiral's grandson, long thought dead, but who had been adopted and raised by the enemies who killed the boy's parents.
Jono keeps to himself, but shows strict obedience to Captain Picard, which together with some unexplained past injuries leads Doctor Crusher to suggest Jono may have been physically abused. It is determined that Jono is Jeremiah Rossa, a long-lost Federation citizen. His grandmother is a Starfleet admiral, and he was orphaned ten years ago when his parents were killed in a skirmish with the Talarians.
When the Captain introduces the topic of Jono's human family, Jono gets angry. After persistent effort by Picard, Jono's memories of the attack begin to return and a friendship develops between Jono and Wesley Crusher.
A Talarian ship arrives, and its Captain, Endar, asks for a status on his son, Jono. Ten years ago, Endar claimed Jono after Jono's parents were killed. This is part of the Talarian custom of adopting the children of slain enemies to replace their children who have died in battle. Endar explains Jono's injuries as the products of a boy trying to impress his father by participating in high-risk activities; Picard seems satisfied and observes that Endar seems to care for Jono. Picard allows Endar to see Jono, but when Jono says he wants to stay with Endar, Picard suspects the boy is afraid to say he wants to stay in the Federation. Endar insists that Jono will come back with him, even if the result is war between the Talarians and the Federation.
Returning to his vessel, Endar calls for reinforcements, as Picard decides to try to convince Jono to stay. After Jono receives a message from his grandmother, Picard takes the boy to play a form of racquetball, where Jono breaks down and cries. The crew believes they are making progress with the boy, but that night, Jono stabs the Captain. The dagger is deflected by Picard's sternum, and the wound is minor. The problem of where Jono should live is now compounded as Jono has committed a Federation crime.
When Picard learns that Jono feels he cannot betray Endar by befriending Picard, the Captain realizes he has been trying to impose his wishes on the boy. Just as Endar's patience is about to run out, Picard contacts the Talarians and lets them know he will let Jono go back. Jono bids Picard farewell with a Talarian ritual that is normally reserved for family members.
Future Deep Space Nine episode similarities
Suddenly Human, which aired in 1990, has strong similarities to the second season DS9 episode, Cardassians, which aired in 1993. In both Suddenly Human and Cardassians, a young male alien is living with a family of another species, who adopt him after the conclusion of a battle or war. In both episodes, the adopting family insists on the return of the child, while the biological family also fights for custody. Tensions rise as the question of custody is decided. In both episodes, custody is decided by the commanding officers present.
However, the episodes have different conclusions. In Suddenly Human, Captain Picard returns the young man Jono/Jeremiah Rossa to his adopting father because the young man is old enough to decide for himself with whom he wishes to live, and because it is the only life he has ever known. In Cardassians, Commander Benjamin Sisko removes the child from his caring Bajoran foster family when it is revealed that he was placed in foster care under false pretenses by another Cardassian.
Jamahl Epsicokhan of TrekNation's Jammer's Reviews, pointed out that this was the third TNG episode in a row to deal with family issues. Epsicokhan called Suddenly Human the least effective of the three family-oriented episodes, stating that the plot took too long to play out, that the storyline was flat in parts, and criticized the script. The reviewer was also disappointed that the Starfleet admiral's reaction to her request for custody being disregarded by Picard was left as an unresolved plot point.