Saturday, 29 April 2017

Half a Life

"It deals with the whole issue of growing old and how society deals with the elderly and, in my mind, it was one of the most pertinent story-lines I have done."
Les Landau, director

"Half a Life", the 96th episode of "The Next Generation" - a morality play about ageism - was first released in 1991 (via). Dr. Timicin of the planet Kaelon II boards the Starship Enterprise in order to test an experiment that is supposed to save his planet. Lwaxana Troi - daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, the Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed - and Dr. Timicin fall in love with each other. Timicin, however, has to return to his planet to dutifully die. As he is turning 60, he is expected to commit suicide as society cannot be expected to take care of the elderly (via).

Some excerpts:

LWAXANA: I don't know. I just can't accept that fate will allow me to meet him like this and then take him away. I mean, he's not ill. He hasn't had a tragic accident. He's just going to die, and for no good reason. Because his society has decided that he's too old, so they just dispose of him as though his life no longer had value or meaning. You can't possibly understand at your age, but at mine, sometimes you feel tired and afraid.


TIMICIN: I want to explain. I want very much for you to understand. Fifteen or twenty centuries ago, we had no Resolution. We had no such concern for our elders. As people aged, their health failed, they became invalids. Those whose families could no longer care for them were put away in deathwatch facilities, where they waited in loneliness for the end to come, sometimes for years. They had meant something, and they were forced to live beyond that, into a time of meaning nothing, of knowing they could now only be the beneficiaries of younger people's patience. We are no longer that cruel, Lwaxana.

LWAXANA: No, no, you're not cruel to them. You just kill them.

TIMICIN: The Resolution is a celebration of life. It allows us to end our lives with dignity.

LWAXANA: A celebration of life. It sounds very noble, very caring. What you're really saying is you got rid of the problem by getting rid of the people.

TIMICIN: It may sound that way, but it is a time of transition. One generation passing on the responsibilities of life to the next.

LWAXANA: What about the responsibility of caring of the elderly?

TIMICIN: That would place a dreadful burden on the children.

LWAXANA: We raise them, we care for them, we suffer for them. We keep them from harm their whole lives. Eventually, it's their turn to take care of us.

TIMICIN: No parent should expect to be paid back for the love they've given their children.

LWAXANA: Well why the hell not?


LWAXANA: But it makes no sense. Some of your people could still be active at seventy or eighty, and others might be seriously ill at fifty.

(transcript via)

According to a British survey carried out in 2011, the elderly believe they have become invisible in today's youth-obsessed society, they feel ignored, silenced, written off and ridiculed. One participant said that young people talked to the elderly "as if they want us to go away and die" (via).

images via and via and via


  1. I didn't realize how profound it was, back in the 90s.

    1. This is so wonderful about Star Trek, you can discover so much. The Simpsons have a similar effect, don't they? I should start a Simpsons series ;-)