Another instance of Jean-Luc not choosing his own clothes or narrative. In this case, he doesn’t even remember he’s the human captain of a starship exploring space and in fact these clothes don’t physically exist outside the memories of a long dead civilization implanted in his subconscious. “The Inner Light” is a very Star Trek-y episode of Star Trek.
This episode is widely beloved. It’s heartwarming and tragic, cautionary and creepy – while Jean-Luc clearly considers his experience a kind of first contact rather than an invasion of the body-snatchers type encounter, the probe implants 40 years worth of memories of someone else’s life directly into his brain without so much as a by your leave – and ultimately life affirming. And most important to this discussion: it has great costuming.
As Jean-Luc and the audience travel through Kamin’s life, he is dressed as the dying planet. All of the costumes are vaguely greco-roman and have a kind of tie-dye effect in mainly pastels which is in keeping with the ‘sunset of civilization’ motif.
Jean-Luc/Kamin starts out in the blues, greens, and browns of a healthy Earth-like planet – it’s most vivid in the cap above, he really looks like he’s wearing what he’s looking down on.
Then as time goes by, Jean-Luc/Kamin wears first burnt orange:
Then a pale gold:
And finally, when it’s time for the probe to be launched as the planet dies, what looks like the washed out remains of his first look, the very last cloud in a dying sky:
The costumes also link characters.
Kamin’s bestie Bareil, the other person concerned about the drought, wears his same blue and green color scheme.
Kamin’s daughter Maribor, who follows him into science and then parenting, also progresses from burnt orange to yellow:
But one step behind her father (I seriously love that so much).
Her son is dressed in mostly yellow to match Maribor, and by association Kamin, but with a pop of green to represent his rebirth in Picard’s memories.
Kamin’s wife, Eline, who comes to represent the life both Kamin and Jean-Luc misses by always staring at the sky, is dressed in pinks and purples:
And their son, Bareil
is dressed to match her, not Kamin, with whom he quarrels.
But in his final appearance he more closely resembles his father in color and cut.
See how Bareil’s jacket has the same line as the one Kamin wears at his Name Day celebration, where the infant Bareil is wearing yellow — like his nephew in the final scene.
The costuming and set design – see how the vines dry out through the years — tell the story visually, complimenting the script and action. All that plus the score highlighted by the haunting melody of Kamin/Picard’s flute and it’s no wonder this is considered one of the best episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation.