Monday, May 12, 2014

Character Insight No. 96: Jack Crusher

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight!  This week, we profile Jack Crusher from TNG.
(Ahh, the holodeck...)

Jack Crusher is the former husband of Dr. Beverly Crusher, and the father of Wesley. He is one of the only characters along with Moriarty to show up in multiple episodes, yet only as a flashback, vision, or hologram rather than a living character.

Crusher served aboard the Stargazer with Captain Picard during his first command, and they served together for a number of years. When faced with a life-or-death choice during an away mission, Picard has to deal with letting his trusted friend die as a result of an accident, and this dynamic between Picard and Dr. Crusher continues throughout the TNG series.

Jack Crusher's first appearance is as a hologram recording he creates for Wesley right after his son's birth. Beverly delivers this to Wesley on his 18th birthday, and Wesley receives a rare chance to interact with his father briefly thanks to this recording. Jack also appears as a corpse in a flashback forced upon Dr. Crusher by an alien, on the day which Picard brought his body back from the fatal accident on the Stargazer.

A little later, Jack appears in a vision quest that Wesley undertakes on a Native American world, and this vision tells Wesley he must now blaze his own trail after following his father's footsteps for most of his life. Thus, Wesley feels like he can move on later as a Traveler rather than continue down the Starfleet path.

(Quote of the Week)
Jack Crusher: You've reached the end, Wesley.
Wesley Crusher: The end of what?
Jack Crusher: This journey - one you started a long time ago. When I left you and your mother.
Wesley Crusher: You mean when you died.
Jack Crusher: You set out on a journey that wasn't your own. Now it's time to find a path that is truly yours. Don't follow me any further.

One of the more memorable anecdotes about Jack is that he proposes to Beverly with a gag gift, a book entitled How To Advance Your Career Through Marriage. One can only figure the same proposal would work on Will and Thomas Riker!

On screen, Picard never acts on his deep feelings for Beverly because he feels like that would disrespect the memory of his close friend Jack. However, in the novel series these two characters do eventually make a couple following the departure of Riker and Troi for the USS Titan, and it makes for a good complex set of relationship stories.

Doug Wert plays Crusher, and he has a long acting career highlighted by being a pretty face on some big soap operas, including One Life to Live, As The World Turns, and The Young and the Restless.

Thanks to Sunshine for the suggestion! Follow her at @SFCaptSunshine and let's have more good suggestions!

Until next time, live long and prosper...

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