This episode reminds us that these are people and that they have lives — and that the actions they take do have consequences. Picard was assimilated by the Borg and forced to lead a massacre. Worf was exiled from his own people as a pariah and traitor. These aren’t things that you just recover from in time for your next adventure.
For one week, we get to see the characters that we’ve come to know and enjoy for three years actually be people. Picard returns to the life he abandoned. Worf visits with his parents. Wes gets to learn a bit more about the father he never really knew. Riker and Troi plan a vacation to Venezuela. La Forge gets to hear embarrassing stories about a crewmate’s childhood. Heck, we even learn a bit about O’Brien — not just his name and full rank, but also that his father’s a lecherous old bastard.