On a routine archeological expedition led by Worf, an exploding land mine kills Dr. Marla Aster. Captain Picard and Counselor Troi have to tell Aster's son Jeremy, whose father had died a few years earlier, that he is now an orphan. However, Jeremy is not alone. An energy being from the planet comes aboard the Enterprise and assumes the appearance of Jeremy's mother. Once upon a time the planet had two races: the energy beings and corporal creatures that became extinct after generations of warfare. The energy beings will make amends for the accident by creating a home for Jeremy on the surface, where they will recreate everything he could ever want: his mother, friends, and a family. Meanwhile, also feeling responsible for what has happened, Worf attempts to bond with young Jeremy as well, teaching him about the Klingon approach to death. The energy beings are insistent that they can better provide for Jeremy than the crew of the Enterprise. Jeremy, of course, wants to be with his "mother." Picard cannot allow this, but can he prevent the powerful energy beings from doing what they want?
"The Bonding" is one of those Next Generation episodes that remembers to deal with the consequences of having families on the new and improved Enterprise. For Worf there is not only the sense of obligation since he was the leader of the away team on the mission where Marla Aster was killed, but there is also his identification with the Jeremy as an orphan. Ironically, the energy beings from the planet parallel both of these feelings as well. Ultimately, the nice touch about this episode is that the energy beings are as benevolent towards the fragile physical beings as Picard and his crew routinely are towards the various suffering creatures they encounter while cruising around the Star Trek universe. Next to Picard, Worf was always the Next Generation character who was least comfortable with small children. "The Bonding" prepares the way for the introduction of Alexander into Worf's life in a few seasons, and continues the exploration of his Klingon heritage, which becomes more and more pronounced with each season as well.