Picard is brought into a an existing character who has a wife, best friend, hobbies, and an occupation. Was he placed in someone's existing story from Kataan? Or did the Kataan people just build a generic (or common) person as a framework for the experience they wanted to impart on whomever the probe found?

Eventually he decides to have children with his wife. Are they the actual children of the person whose life he assumed? Or are they just a fabrication of the simulation extrapolating Picard's personality and the woman he was paired with?

  • I believe it was all a mirror (within certain bounds) of someone's life. IIRC at the end everyone tells him not to be sad, that they live on in his memories. But I don't have a quote for that.
    – Xantec
    Jan 24, 2012 at 18:32
  • 6
    I would say that Inner Light was quite arguably THE best single episode of the entire TNG run!
    – eidylon
    Jan 24, 2012 at 18:35

1 Answer 1


The kataan people made a portable "holodeck". Picard lived in this "faster-than-realtime"-holodeck, and everything around him was constructed to let the observer learn about the culture of the Kataan.

From the episode:

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!"

And later:

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."

The observation made by Picard (or any person who would pick up the probe-signal) would have lived this holodeck-version of a life with the Kataan's like for example Data lives the life of Sherlock Holmes in the same manner.

  • 3
    Nitpic: The holodeck is an outgrowth of transporter technology and everything in it has a physical existence. What Picard experiences is a full-immersion virtual reality projected directly into his conscious mind. Apr 24, 2012 at 16:54
  • 1
    So if they had this amazing holodeck mind simulation technology they couldn't build spaceships?
    – user16416
    Jun 18, 2014 at 0:16
  • @user16416: Good point, but their society might just not be interested in space exploration, maybe due to cultural and/or religious believes ("We are the center of the universe", "There is nothing out there anyway", etc.) but concentrated themselves on other technologies, like mind protection, e.g. for entertainment. Keep in mind Picard lift in a rural area, apparently in a time of economic crisis, which could explain why he didn't had much technologies there, while it could still exist on the planet, in some big city, owned by rich people etc. Jan 16, 2019 at 7:20

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.