People like to tell you the name of the “flute episode” of Star Trek: The Next Generation

Did you know that if you call Star Trek The Next Generation’s 125th episode “the flute episode” you will always get corrected?

The flute episode, or “Inner Light” as it’s actually called (by huge nerds who insist on being Very Serious About Things) is a fan-favorite episode of the series.

But what is the flute episode of Star Trek, exactly

In the episode, the Enterprise encounters a space-thingy that does space-nonsense, resulting in Picard losing space-consciousness. Flash to the opening credits (probably the best opening credits music of all time). Picard wakes up in a small village in a rural community on a planet he’s never heard of.

His name is Kamin now, and he works with iron and has a wife and plays the flute.

He doesn’t know what’s real, but he gets to live an entire lifetime on Ressik while about 20 minutes passes back on the Enterprise. At some point, he accepts it as real. It feels real, and it basically is real. It’s real enough, as he manages to use the time to learn to play the flute.

Just go watch the episode, it’s S5E25 and it’s available on a lot of streaming services and it’s genuinely great. (It’s the one called Inner Light, FYI, if you hadn’t caught that.)

Just call it the Star Trek flute episode to get people excited

You can safely expect a few replies correcting you on basically any social network if you call it “the flute episode.” It’s fairly reliable as engagement bait. People want you to know a few key facts:

  • It’s called ‘Inner Light’
  • It’s Season 5, Episode 25 of The Next Generation
  • The episode won the 1993 Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation\
  • It sounds like this

If you leave out the name of the episode, you’ll improve your odds of getting that initial hit of engagement that makes the algorithm excited.

Here’s a couple examples:


I cheated a bit by also referencing the worst episode of Star Trek ever produced


Post by @misnerian
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So nerds, here’s the Star Trek flute episode trivia we’re here for

Here’s a few points of trivia for the next time I use the “call it the flute episode” trick. I might pull these out in subsequent replies to alert you of the bait and switch you’ve just experienced. Be forewarned.

If you’re really lucky, I’ll just drop the link here. But only if you’re kind of a dink about the whole thing.

4 more interesting pieces of trivia about Inner Light

If you’re still out here excitedly alerting me that it’s a Hugo-award-winning episode in season 5, you’re running on fumes. Here’s the good stuff:

Inner Light permanently impacted Picard’s character

People take this particularly seriously because the flute episode of Star Trek directly impacted the permanent state of series continuity. Traditionally viewed as what we’d now call “monster of the week” viewing, this wasn’t typical of this kind of TV back in the 90s.

If you didn’t own a VCR, you just missed the context anyways. No one saw every episode of a show. Unless they’re the kind of nerd that shows up on Twitter 30 years later to say that it’s called Inner Light, actually.

So the permanent impact to continuity was subtle, but amazing for the time:

  • The flute’s just out on his desk in subsequent episodes. You can see the flute. It’s the flute episode because the flutes the important thing.
  • In season 6 episode ‘Lessons’, Picard refers back to the events in Inner Light. He plays the flute with Lt. Commander Nella Daren, who also does music stuff.
  • And even in Picard, released decades later, Picard picks up the flute from his desk

You can learn to play the flute like Picard

The guy who actually played the flute (it wasn’t Patrick Stewart at all, you’ve been bamboozled) owns a music school in Los Angeles. He’ll give you a free flute lesson if you call them (seriously).

The kid that played Kamin’s son is actually Patrick Stewart’s son

Like, the actor’s son. He’s Picard’s son in another life, but for real, actually.

Some guy bought the actual flute for a lot of money

The original prop flute sold in 2006 for 48,000USD, completely blowing the estimated ~1000 out of the water.

Since the original Christie’s auction, the prop has since resold for 237,000 just a few years ago.

Seeing as it’s a symbol of some of the most absurd and over-the-top gaslighting ever performed, it’s kind of a weird prop to become such a wild symbol of Picard’s character. They gave him a wife and kids, made him believe it for decades. Why couldn’t they tell him about their world without convincing him he was the guy, anyways?

And with that, I’ll end on this fan-edit of Picard letting everything go to shit while he just sits there playing his flute: