Star Trek

Star Trek

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Monday, March 28, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Five "Haven"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Five "Haven"
Production Order: 5
Air Order: 11
Stardate: 41294.5
Original Air Date: November 30, 1987

Okay, so just to reiterate - last week I reviewed "The Last Outpost," which was production number seven, by mistake. I was going in air order then rather than production order, as I'd originally thought. I didn't realize this until I was done with the post, and it was too late to write another, so I just tossed it up online. This week is episode five, next week I'll do six, and the following week I'll cover episode eight. Should be smooth sailing from there, as I checked the charts a thousand times or so and corrected my earlier numbering mistakes.
(Also, if you're following along on Netflix, the numbering is a bit different. Not only do they go by air order, but they consider the pilot to be one episode rather than two, and so only list 25 episodes for this season. While the original airing showed the full pilot at once, it was split into two episodes for syndication. The numbering system used in Memory Alpha lists it as episodes one and two, making the second episode "three.")
In the meantime, I'm rewarding myself a Facepalm for not paying closer attention:

http://bloonsconception.wikia.com/wiki/User_blog:Meta07/Facepalm


*******



Picard's Log 41294.5: "Going to Haven, this one planet, for some shore leave. Fortunately, there aren't any giant fucking rabbits here."

Picard and Data have a brief discussion on the bridge about how this place has a reputation for magically healing ailments and broken hearts. Data thinks it's bullshit

Next, we get some Girl-O-Vision, where two lovely ladies in sparkly togas cheerfully play harps, and we're supposed to believe that these girls live on Haven and are probably entertaining some lucky guest.


But then the camera pans back, and we find out that it's just Riker jacking off to some holographic videos in his quarters ("Hot Haveners V: Naughty Nymphos in Space.")


But then Yar calls to cock-block him from... himself, I guess, and he's forced to shut it off and meet her in the transporter room. She's all upset because something is being beamed up to them from Haven, and she has no idea what, but her security senses are tingling. Frankly, I'm calling bullshit on that. The transporter chief on Haven can't give her a description?
They beam it up, and... it's a box with a face on it. Really? They really could not have said, "Hey Enterprise, we're beaming up a box with a face on it"?
The face is like, asleep or something. Then Troi randomly walks in and asks what's going on, and the face comes alive, saying that it has a message for her. "Lwaxana Troi and the Miller family are beaming up! It's party time!" Then the face goes back to sleep, and the front bottom panel of the box opens, spilling jewels and shit everywhere.

This was Armin Shimerman's first job for Star Trek, as this episode was filmed
before "The Last Outpost."

Troi is completely freaked out. She says the jewels and things are wedding gifts, and when Riker asks who's getting married, she replies sadly, "I am."
Those "wedding gifts" had better not be her dowry. I will cut a bitch.
Quiet, less-dramatic music. Commercial break.


When we return, she and Riker are in the ready room with Picard. She gives him some exposition by way of backstory: her father, a human, was best friends with Steven Miller, also a human. It's Betazoid tradition to have arranged marriages, so when their kids were little, Deanna was promised to Steven's son, Wyatt. Riker is hella pissed, pointing out that neither of these men were Betazoid, and that she shouldn't have to go through with it. Troi admits that she was hoping that if she traveled far enough away with Starfleet, and put years and distance between herself and the Millers, that everyone would forget. But she appears to be going through with the thing, telling Picard that she and Wyatt won't be staying with the E. Picard decides to just congratulate her. Then he leaves on some pretense that we don't get to hear about, because it's more important that Troi and Riker be alone to talk than it is for Picard to have someplace legitimate to go.


She calls him Bill again, even though the subtitles say Will. He's weirded out by this whole thing, and she points out that they broke up because he wants to be a starship captain, more than he wants her. He really wants his captaincy and to eat it, too. She says she knows he cares "within those limits." I get the feeling, based on the dialog, that there's supposed to be a drawn-out pause here, where he doesn't look at her, because she then asks, "Did you hear what I said?" But it's tagged onto the end of her speech about him caring within the limits, so he doesn't have time to react. It's strange. They end with her requesting that he dance at her wedding, and he agrees. He exits as Data enters. Data says the Miller wedding party wants to know if they can come on board. She nods and leaves. Data is left behind, and I'm left wondering why the hell everyone is hanging out in Picard's office when he isn't there.

Troi goes to the transporter room to meet the Millers. It's been so long that Steven and Victoria Miller barely recognize her. They hug her, nonetheless. Wyatt steps forward shyly and introduces himself. They shake hands. Victoria Miller wipes her eyes daintily and tells Picard that she knew romance was still alive somewhere. They shook hands, lady. No one re-enacted scenes from Pride and Prejudice.



Wyatt gives Troi a chameleon rose, which is like a floral mood ring, and which is kind of a hilarious gift to give a telepathic empath.
There's some awkwardness when Troi asks where her mother is, and while Wyatt tries to smooth it over, Victoria spells it out: she and Lwaxana hate one another. The three move out into the corridor so they can be shown to their quarters. Troi tells Picard that Wyatt was surprised when he saw Deanna... she was not what he expected. She then warns Picard that her mother is "eccentric."
Then the transporter is turned and BAM!
FUCK YEAH, MAJEL BARRETT!
FUCK YEAH, LWAXANA TROI!


Lwaxana is pleased that the captain himself came to greet her, and even though she has a valet with her, she tells Picard that she's going to allow him to carry her luggage. He agrees, but it seems she packed her gold kruggerands and the thing is hernia-inducing, so Deanna is forced to bark at her mother in the corridor that it's inappropriate to ask a starship captain to carry your damn luggage. So the big dude gets the luggage, and Lwaxana starts prattling to Picard that her last valet wanted to bang her, so she had to let him go. 
"His thoughts became truly pornographic," she actually says as they get in the lift.
Then she goes on about how Steven Miller is the same, and Picard has to pause her so he can tell the lift where they need to go. She proceeds to tell the lift at large that the Millers are awful, and how she's outgrown them, because Betazoids grow more than "your typical plodding human." Picard is starting to turn his head so he can roll his eyes.
When Deanna's verbal protests go ignored, she tells her mother telepathically to STFU. Of course, this pleases Lwaxana, who had stated out complaining that Deanna wants to communicate verbally instead of telepathically.
They reach Lwaxana's quarters and Picard cannot back out of the room fast enough. "Well, you guys have thingstotalkaboutsoI'llgo, laters."
"Oh, okay. You may go," she dismisses him.
Deanna is appalled. Picard is relieved.
The counselor then explains to her mother that she wishes to communicate verbally because humans often think one thing and say another. Eventually, the conversation comes back around to the whole arranged marriage thing, and Lwaxana apologizes to her daughter. Steven Miller found her on Betazoid and reminded her that they had made this agreement a million years ago, and I guess it was made all official then, like Spock and T'Pring

Ugh, like mother, like daughter: why are they both wearing those jeweled things
in their hair? Is this supposed to be some kind of Betazoid thing?

Deanna admits that she really doesn't want to do this whole arranged marriage thing, but she'll go through with it anyway, because members of the generation before her made an agreement when she was too young to protest that she and this one dude should be shackled to one another for life.

Back on the bridge, a message has come in for the E, and a pretty woman appears on-screen. She has a light accent that I can't place, but it's pleasant. So this is Valeda, the Electorine of Haven. And apparently, she has a problem. There's a ship headed for Haven, and it won't communicate with them. Haven doesn't have any defensive capabilities (say what?), so it's up to the E to blow them out of the sky. Before you scream, "Do your own dirty work, lady!" you should know that the Federation's treaty with Haven is that Starfleet will indeed, do their dirty work.


Wyatt is being all emo in his quarters when Deanna pays him a visit to apologize for her mother's behavior.
"It's cool. She's kind of persistently honest," he says, which Deanna says is a great description of Lwaxana, and frankly, it is.
They're awkward. Like, coffee date at Starbucks awkward. He says he's a medical doctor and asks if she can read his thoughts. She admits that only happens on occasion, and it's really only happened with Riker. She doesn't say Riker, but you know that's who she's talking about. He asks if he has competition. She replies that he doesn't.


Deanna asks about a little display of drawings on the table, a display that he came onboard clutching. She correctly guesses that he thought that she was this woman, and was surprised to see that she wasn't. He admits that the woman in the drawings is a face he's seen in his dreams since he was very little, and that he assumed that it was Deanna, because Deanna is Betazoid, and he thought she might be projecting herself into his dreams. 

I don't know who those other two are, but the girl in the middle is clearly supposed
to be Ann-Margaret.


She apologizes for not being that girl, and he folds up the display and tells her not to, that the drawings and assumptions he  made were based on "childhood fantasies" and that she's beautiful and shouldn't compare herself to this stuff. He's clutching the display like a frightened child with a teddy bear. My god, this dude's body language screams "insecure." He's one pair of glasses away from being George McFly from "Back to the Future."


Picard's Personal Log: "This arranged marriage thing is kind of bullshit. Who even does that anymore? Wish I could help her get out of it."

Picard is on the bridge. They've gone to check out the approaching hostile ship in Haven space, and he's kind of gobsmacked when he realizes that it's a Terellian ship. Everyone else is surprised as well. Riker gives the helpful exposition that the Terellians are supposedly extinct, but this is not like when you're watching Doctor Who and someone is surprised when the doctor says he's Gallifreyan. They're apprehensive about this ship - it is actually a threat to them without having fired a weapon at all. Picard calls for Crusher.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!


When we return, the senior officers are gathered in the briefing room. Data gives exposition on this ship that could supposedly destroy them all: Tarella was similar to Earth. Two groups of people hated one another, and one group unleashed a biological weapon on the other, with the result that everyone became infected. Anyone who escaped Tarella got sick and infected the other worlds where they landed. Eventually, other worlds began hunting them down and shooting them out of the sky. So now we have a ship that was probably damaged in some fight, limping through space at sub-warp. and heading for the planet with the mythological following that one can be cured of all ailments there.
"We have a problem," says Picard. "We have to protect Haven, but our by-laws say we have to protect the Terellians, too. Think about that shit while you're at Deanna's engagement party tonight, cool?"
Riker stomps out of the room.


We skip ahead to the engagement party. Victoria Miller asks Picard to perform the ceremony. He agrees, provided that everyone is in agreement with it.
"No way," says Lwaxana. "You're not Betazoid, and don't know how to do Betazoid ceremonies."
"What? This will be an Earth ceremony," insists Victoria.
"Here I thought you had no sense of humor," purrs Lwaxana, before launching into an angry rant about how backward Earth traditions are. "Terrible, Captain, to see a woman go downhill like this."
Shit, dude. When did this become Real Housewives of the Milky Way?
Lwaxana insists that her valet, Mr Homn, will do the ceremony, and when Steven objects to Mr Homn not speaking ever, Lwaxana yells back that he's adept in sign language.



Nope. Wrong answer. Cuz somehow, Lwaxana Troi is titled, and while we don't know what those titles mean, she can bet she's gonna throw that shit back at you.
She's Lwaxana Troi, Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx,



Picard kind of smooths things over here, before Victoria gets her eyes clawed out. Later, he gives a toast at dinner. For some dumbshit reason that baffles me, Lwaxana and Victoria are sat next to one another. I get that it's easier for filming and story purposes, but you'd think that someone would pull aside the party planner and tell them that the seating chart sucks, especially given that the mothers of the couple had a shouting match a few minutes earlier.
This scene is a bit complicated, with several things going on at once. Everyone seems vaguely on edge to begin with, having just watched Lwaxana and Victoria get into it, and who are seated together now. Deanna and Wyatt also seem awkward seated next to one another. Then you have Mr Homn, who is tossing back glasses of alcohol at a stupid rate in the background, while hitting a gong every time Lwaxana takes a bite of food. Data is circling the room, fascinated by the unfolding soap opera in front of him. Riker clearly wants to leave. Wyatt brings up the fact that there's a plague ship approaching them, and everyone looks uncomfortable. Picard confirms it hesitantly.
Wyatt is excited. He's very familiar with the Terellians, and thinks they could beam over medical supplies with anyone having to come into contact with the ship. Crusher says she's glad there's another doctor on board for her to confer with about this problem.
Victoria is over the gong and gets on Lwaxana's case. Apparently, the gong thing is how Betazoids give thanks for their food.


Check out how they're sitting. Victoria is trying to take up as little space as possible at the table so she doesn't end up touching Lwaxana by accident. Lwaxana, by contrast, is taking up as much room as possible. So it seems that the leafy branch would up Lwaxana's arm is some kind of sentient plant, which she's forgotten about until it gets restless. Then she channels Endora from "Bewitched," and asks if Victoria likes pets.
Victoria says in this smarmy voice that she loves them, but screams a moment later when Lwaxana's pet branch crawls onto her arm. Riker is done. He stomps out.
Data asks Lwaxana about the Betazed wedding ceremony. She gleefully tells him that everyone goes naked, and we see fancy, dressed-up Yar in her super 80's hair. Pat Benatar security, yo.


Of course Victoria is appalled. But Lwaxana takes this opportunity to take several more digs at her, including, "Don't worry, dear. Your body's not that bad" and "Your husband quite likes the idea of seeing me naked."
Deanna loses her shit at this point and storms out, putting the smack-down on that gong in the process and yelling at everyone about their "petty bickering."
Data has a request:


Deanna finds Riker on the holodeck, running a desert program and sulking like a five-year-old.
You know, just when I thought I couldn't hate her jumpsuit and be-jeweled beehive anymore, they dress it up by making a pink splotchy version and adding a long ponytail to the beehive. Atrocious.


And you know, between Wyatt clutching his drawings, Lwaxana Troi taking up half the table, and Riker sitting like a little kid, this episode has become body-language heavy. It's not terrible, just obvious.
She tries to go all psychologist on him, talking about how "young human males have trouble separating platonic love and physical love," and he's all, "Have you discussed this with Wyatt? Think you should."
Then who should show up but Third Wheel Wyatt.
Wyatt is taken in by the awesomeness of the holodeck, and almost misses that Riker is nasty to him.


"Beeteedubs, this is the guy I used to bang," Deanna tells Wyatt. "He doesn't like that we're getting married."
Wyatt is actually a nice guy about it. She had told him earlier that she and Riker were no longer an item because Riker wanted to be a captain more than a mate.
"I bet having a relationship is hard when you're a captain," says Wyatt reasonably.
Riker decides that too many people have crashed his party, and he leaves.
Wyatt tells Deanna that her outburst has caused their mothers to compromise. Picard will do the ceremony, Mr Homn will be the best man, and some people will be naked.
"I caught my father practicing "naked" in the mirror," jokes Wyatt, demonstrating. It's actually pretty funny, and Deanna laughs.


He asks if she really wants to go through with it, and she replies yes, and they kiss. The music swells way too much for as tentative as a kiss as that was. Sure, he seems pretty nice, and she laughed at his joke, but they just met like, twelve hours ago, and for the sole purpose of getting married because their parents set it up decades earlier. I don't ship it, Star Trek. Sorry.



Picard's Log, supplemental: "Dude, that ship is still coming, and still not answering us."

The Electorine calls to plead with Picard to destroy the ship.
"Can't do it," he replies.
She signs off. Yar says she can disable the ship with a phaser burst, but he asks, "What then?" They're within transporter range, and could just beam down. He has a point.
Instead, they opt to use a tractor beam to tow the ship out of transporter range, which they do.
Data suggests that they might not be answering, because they might all be dead, and the ship might have flown there on automation.
But then the viewscreen crackles. Surprise! It's Wyatt's Dream Girl.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Is that you, Daryl Hannah?

Picard's Log 41249.6: "WTF?"

The dude in the chair on Terellian ship comes to the front of the viewscreen and moves the girl aside. No indication is given as to why she was standing there in the first place, so my best guess is that it was strictly for dramatic reveal. This guy, who says his name is Wrenn, is clearly in charge.
"Hey, there," says Wrenn. "Is there a dude named Wyatt onboard?"
Right on cue, Wyatt gets off the lift, clutching his teddy bear drawings.
Wrenn and the blonde chick, Ariana, are amazed to see him. "You've come, just as you promised," she tells Wyatt.
He's amazed that she looks so much like the drawings, as he's never seen her before.
Wrenn admits to Picard that they still carry the disease that killed their people, and that there are only eight of them now. They want some uninhabited island or someplace where they won't come into contact with the people of Haven.
"Um, it's not my planet," says Picard. "I can pass on the request, though."
"We intend to die here," says Wrenn. "Even if we die while stuck in your tractor beam."
Well, that's shitty.



Wyatt goes to Lwaxana for advice, which is kind of funny, because she seems like the last person someone would go to advice for, but she's actually pretty helpful here. She quickly accesses his thoughts to get the whole thing from his perspective, then sits him down and tells him that the answer is too simple for most humans to grasp. She doesn't mean this unkindly, as she explains that humans don't really want to believe the answer, or they'll go to great lengths to explain it away, or whatever, but Occam's Razor comes into play here: the simplest answer is the most correct.
"All life is bound together. You believe that, and so does Ariana, which is why you guys are so connected."



Dr Crusher goes into sick bay and finds Wyatt dressed in his travelling clothes, getting the medical supplies ready. he's acting like he did when he would clutch his drawings, only he doesn't have the drawings there anymore.
She asks if he's feeling okay.
"Wedding nerves," he replies. Liar.
She disappears into the office to send a message to Picard that the supplies are ready to beam over, and he steals a hypo-spray.
Then he goes to the ceremony site and stares at his parents for a moment before saying, "Please take care of each other."
He turns to Deanna. "You're really pretty." And he gives her a tiny kiss before leaving. She clearly knows what's up.



Wyatt takes the supplies to the transporter room. The chief there tells him that Crusher had him set the coordinates already (so convenient!) and that they're just waiting on Picard's orders to send them through. Wyatt hypos the chief, and I guess he knows something about transporter functions, because he sets it to send him over, then hops on the pad.
Geordi sees too late that someone is transporting over to the plague ship and isn't able to override it.
I thought that we wouldn't get another location for this episode, that they would just show Wyatt on the viewscreen with Wrenn and Ariana, but I was wrong.
Wyatt materializes on the transporter pad of the Tarellian ship, then he walks through what is clearly Ariana's gallery, all drawings of him at different ages.

Except that one on the left. That's a portal into an A-Ha video.

He's greeted by the Tarellians, who tell him that they knew he would beam over, just as soon as they saw that he was real. This meeting is kind of as awkward as when he met Deanna again. Everyone is nice and polite, but facing a future with big changes.

Back on the bridge, Victoria and Steven have stormed the castle and Victoria demands to know how Picard could have let her baby transport over with "those lepers." That's pretty fucking bitchy, Victoria.
The viewscreen comes on, and Wyatt is there with the Tarellians. Wrenn says that Picard can turn off the tractor beam, because they aren't going to Haven anymore. Turns out the thing they wanted beamed over to their ship.
"Sooo, hey," Wyatt addresses his parents. "Can't come back now. Gonna cure these people. Or you know, try. Also, sorry we're not getting married, Deanna. Thought I was coming here for you, but it turns out I was coming here for Ariana."
"It's all good," says Deanna. "I'm happy for you guys."



The tractor beam is released, the Tarellian ship limps away.
Later, the Millers beam back to Haven. "Keep the chest," says Steven. "You'll have use for it someday."
What? What chest? Wait, does he mean that box full of jewels with the creepy Armin Shimerman face on it? Can you imagine keeping that thing, and it coming back to life when ever you entered the same room.
"Hey, Deanna. Whazzuuuuup? Here's some jewelry." And it just dumps a bunch of rubies or whatever onto your bedroom rug.
Also, "you'll have use for it someday"? What the fuck kind of comment is that? "Here's all these wedding gifts. You should keep those for when you find another man that isn't our son." Frankly, not mentioning the chest at all would have been a better thing to say. How about "Goodbye, sorry it didn't work out"? I guess they're kind of in a bad place because their son chose "lepers" over them, but that's no reason to be rude. Deanna didn't do anything.
Anyway, once the Millers are gone, Lwaxana sweeps in with Homn in tow.
"Maybe, instead of wasting this trip, I should marry the captain," she says cheerfully. Deanna and Picard both look mildly alarmed.
"No, too old," she says dismissively. She turns her cougar eye on Riker, who seems amused by the thought.


She climbs up on the transporter pad and Mr Homn pauses next to Picard.
"Thank you for the drinks."
Picard and Riker exchange looks. Riker again looks like he's holding in a laugh.
Lwaxana's last action before de-materializing is to accuse Picard of aiming pornographic thoughts at her.
"Joking," says Deanna. "She was joking."

And the Doctor loses five quid to Rose.


Sometime later, Picard tells Riker to get them the hell out of there, and he tells Deanna that he's glad that she's staying with the ship. I guess they got their shore leave, or maybe not...? I dunno. They leave. The end.


This episode wasn't too bad. The previous ones filmed before it were all direct rip-offs of TOS episodes, and this one didn't strike me as being that similar to other original series stories, so it has that going for it. So I guess I'll pick it apart: arranged marriages suck when the couple gets no say in the outcome. They aren't totally worthless when you're trying to join two countries in treaties, but they still kind of suck for the immediate parties involved. As far as I can tell, most of those had the outcome of "and they tolerated each other ever after." Victoria and Albert of England seemed to be the exception there. I know that modern-day India still does arranged marriage, but the people involved get a say. It seems to run more like a dating service, where you check out potential mates, date them and figure out if you want to get married. But in this case, Deanna's father Ian strikes me as a better guy than setting his daughter up like this. It's probably because I'm extrapolating from stuff we learn later about him, but it seems pretty douchey to me to say, "Hey, bestie. I have a girl and you have a boy, and they're kind of the same age, so let's make it a thing, when they grow up, that they should get married." Like... no. Parents do not and should not get a say in who their kids marry. Period. The end.
Also, why was Deanna okay with this? She reassured both her mother and Wyatt that she was fine going forward, but that was after meeting Wyatt. Was it just because Wyatt wasn't an asshole? Because she also told Picard prior to meeting Wyatt that she was going to do it, then confirmed it to Riker. We know that Wyatt most likely agreed because he thought Deanna was Ariana. Then he waffled once he realized she wasn't. But was Deanna getting anything out of this? "Genetic bonding" and "vows" were both mentioned, but no more information given, so it sounds Steven and Ian were like, "let's do this thing" and their wives went along with it. I guess she was doing it out of tradition, but the various sites I checked said that there was nothing to keep her from breaking tradition if she really wanted to do so.



So let's talk Lwaxana. Now, Number One was awesome, but we got practically none of her. And Chapel was pretty good, but TOS liked to mess with her hair, and only give her one line per episode, which is BS. Nope, Lwaxana Troi is my most-favorite Majel Barrett character. She's brash and tacky and yes, "persistently honest." But she also brings in comedy relief, and keeps an episode from getting too heavy. In later episodes her storylines will still feature comedy, but will be peppered with poignant truths and heartbreak. She's a character who turns out to be far more interesting and deep than one would anticipate.
I finally went and checked out those titles she always introduces herself with, and of course, they're just as unimpressive as you'd think. But nobody in-universe is going to bother looking those up, so she can spout on about them all she likes and no one will ever call her on it. Firstly, she's a "daughter of the Fifth House." The Fifth House is Betazed's government. Girlfriend is basically stating that she's a citizen of Betazed. "Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx": Deanna later describes said chalice as being a "dusty clay pot that grows mold." And "Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed"? We don't really find out what these artifacts are or do, but they're treated like trinkets or knick-knacks at home. It's all crap. But it's bedazzled crap, like so many of the outfits Lwaxana sports.
The Millers are all kind of boring and unremarkable, but they would have to be in order to play off of Lwaxana well. Victoria is just likeable enough that even when she gets a bit bitchy, you're not going to write her off completely. But you will gleefully watch her go ten rounds with Lwaxana.


Our side story turns out to be our twist here, in that the resolution of our main story comes with the resolution of the B, rather than the other way around. Oftentimes, a B story will resolve independently of the A, so that the A story will require a completely different resolution. Basically, the plague ship is the B story to the arranged marriage A story, and since we're fairly certain that a main cast member would not leave the series so quickly, there needed to be a reason for Deanna not to marry Wyatt. In this case, Wyatt beams over to a plague ship and can never come back. Resolution of B leads to resolution of A. The storyline of the B plot was pretty good, though: I liked that we have eight remaining survivors of biological warfare, men without a country. That's pretty damn interesting. Toss in Wyatt's weird connection with Ariana. That's a good, solid B-plot right there. There was not a lot of full-cast interaction, as most of the story revolved around Deanna, and sometimes their lines seemed shoe-horned in, but I guess that part was okay. I think the thing that might have made this episode better is if we had gotten it later in the season, when more time could have been given to exploring Deanna and Riker's previous relationship. It would have made scenes with Riker that much richer, because viewers would have had time to decide if they shipped that or not.




Fun Facts:
- This is only one of two times that Armin Shimerman appears on Star Trek without his Ferengi make-up. The other time occurs on DS9, when he is seen as a sort of human version of Quark.
- This is the second and last episode where Troi calls Riker "Bill." Thank god.
- The woman who plays Valeda, the Electorine of Haven, will later play a Vulcan in the 2009 Star Trek reboot movie.
- This is the only episode to feature the Enterprise dining room. Most future formal occasions are held in Ten Forward.
- This episode is only one of two in which Worf does not appear, the other being "Code of Honor." Supposedly, an earlier draft of the script had lines for both Worf and Wesley (also absent for this episode), but they were either cut or given to other characters. A final script has some lines about why Worf and Wesley are not present, but those appear to have been cut as well.
- The captain's chair on the Tarellian ship ends up in Worf's quarters (though presumably they washed it in bleach to get all the plague germs off first).
- Robert Ellenstein, who played Steven Miller, also played the Federation president in The One With The Whales. He was good friends with Leonard Nimoy, and had also worked with Star Trek alums De Kelley, Diana Muldaur, and Stephen Collins (Will Decker in movie #1).
-This is the only episode where Mr Homn speaks, making him Star Trek's Silent Bob.
- If Mr Homn seems really familiar to you, it's mostly likely because you've seen him play Lurch in the Addams Family movies. Carel Struycken was also featured in Men in Black, an episode of Voyager, and several second-season episodes of Twin Peaks. Coincidentally, the last time Star Trek needed someone to play the strong silent type, they hired Ted Cassidy to play Ruk, a big baddie on "What Are Little Girls Made Of?". Ted Cassidy played (drumroll, please) Lurch on The Addams Family tv show. For further connections, both this episode and "Little Girls" heavily feature Majel Barrett.

Let's play...
What The Hell is Lwaxana Troi Wearing?

Lwaxana Troi dresses like my aunt, an outrageous older lady with colorful, sometimes tacky taste. Occasionally, the things they put Lwaxana in are delightful, and enhance her character. But sometimes this stuff is just awful.


When we first meet her, Lwaxana Troi is wearing a belted red-orange dress and matching flats with a multi-colored jacket over the top that comes off as a dark red. The jacket is a bit shapeless, and not my favorite.


Later, she ditches the jacket, and we see that while the dress has a nice shape, that belt is not so much a belt as it is sequined braiding that is laid over pretty much every seam on the dress. The keyhole openings on the sleeves are a nice detail, but that braiding either has to go, or just be relegated to a belt. Unfortunately, they stuck the same jeweled thing in her hair as in Deanna's. Ugh.


At the engagement party, Lwaxana has selected a patterned, shimmery gown of reds and purples, and a necklace of reddish jewels. The dress seems rather modest, until she turns around...


Hello, Nurse! (lol) That shit's open all the way down to her lower back, with a swingy sort of Grecian drape. The red flowers in her hair are nice.

Stay tuned next time for.... What the Hell is Lwaxana Troi Wearing?

*******

A few weeks ago, I brought home this tea with Bob Marley on the label. Roomie was all excited because that's her scene, but I told her nope, I was drinking it for the blog. I've reached the point where I'm going to start repeating reviews by accident if I don't write them down, and I knew I hadn't had any Bob Marley tea yet.
This bottled tea is Marley's Mellow Mood, and it's hard to miss. The label, which covers the whole bottle, is red, yellow and green and features a laughing pic of Marley. The one I drank was Green Tea with Honey, and it's supposed to be a "relaxation drink." They put all these little warnings on the label like it's medication or something. "Don't drink this unless you want to feel really relaxed. Don't mix this with alcohol." No, there's no weed in it. I don't think they could get away with that. But it does include valerian root, chamomile, lemon balm extract, passionflower extract and hops extract.
"How does it taste?" Pretty good. It's sweetened with both cane sugar and honey.
"Are you relaxed?" I guess? But it's Sunday, and I've been chilling in sweats on the couch with my cat all day, so I was already there. Didn't need tea to fix that. I guess I'm kind of drowsy? But it's late enough that I could just be naturally drowsy.
"And how do you feel, post-tea?" Honestly? Pretty crappy. Like, I feel gross after drinking that. I'm not saying you will too, but it's possible that something in this tea (or a combination of somethings) isn't agreeing with me.
I won't be buying this one again, and I'm kind of not looking forward to trying the other Marley tea that I bought at the same time.















Curie

Monday, March 21, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Seven "The Last Outpost"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Seven "The Last Outpost"
Production Order: 7
Air Order: 5
Stardate: 41366.4
Original Air Date: October 19, 1987

Okay, I've got a bit of a boo-boo here: weeks ago, reader Mark told me that production order and air order for TNG did not go together, much like TOS. This was not super-obvious to me when I went looking for it earlier in Wikipedia and Memory Alpha, so I had assumed that air order/production order were one and the same. I think the difference here comes from TOS fans adamantly insisting that production order should be viewing order, so Wiki and Memory Alpha made a bigger deal of displaying that, whereas it doesn't seem to be as big a deal with TNG (though I could be wrong there.) I made a mental note to check up on it, and then forgot to do so. I got lucky with "Encounter at Farpoint," "The Naked Now" and "Code of Honor" all falling into place in order.


But I remembered half-way through this post write-up that I needed to look up production order, and lo and behold, two episodes fall between "Code of Honor" and "The Last Outpost." I FUBAR'd that a bit. My bad. Next week I'll do "Haven" and pick up with production order instead of air order, and get shit back on track.

*******


You know how, when you've watched every episode in a series a few times, you start to get to know which episodes you really like, and which ones you'd rather not watch ever again? This episode is one that I'd be okay never watching again. I hate this episode. Even when I'm just putting the series on in the background while I craft or something, I skip this episode. It grates on me. A good indicator of such things is the Netflix episode queue. The little red progression line under each episode lets you know which episodes you've watched all the way through last time, and which ones were paused somewhere in the middle. The ones I end up skipping typically have a shorter line under them because it's taken me to the opening credits to sigh and say, "Oh, yeah. This episode." Then I switch to the next one. Generally, all of my red episode bars go a portion of the way across. Except this one. This may be my most hated episode of this season. The bar for this episode is grey, meaning that when Netflix tries to cue it up automatically, I stop it before it reaches any part of the actual episode. I don't want the stink of "The Last Outpost" on my Netflix queue.


But now I get to watch it twice, for the sake of blogging correctly, and that little red line is going to show up on my Netflix queue.
I must like you guys a lot.

*******

Picard's Log 41386.4 "The Ferengi stole some thing from one of our unmanned outposts, so we're gonna track them down and see if we can get it back. We're not super-familiar with the Ferengi, so this could be kind of cool."



Now, I'm not rightly sure what the Ferengi took, but Picard identified it with the phrase "T-9" and in my little world, a T-9 is a fancy-ass calculator, so I'm just gonna say that the Ferengi stole a calculator. (T-9 can also refer to a form of texting used on certain cell phones, or a brand of lubricant. All of these are acceptable when filed under "Funny shit the Ferengi stole that we're gonna hunt them down for to get back.")

So they catch up to the ship in an unexplored system, and check out the ass-end of it. (The ship, not the system.) Personally, I think it looks like an angry pastry with lights, but that's me. The sensors on the E are telling them that the Ferengi ship is slowing down, and that there are energy fluctuations coming from it. Data posits that their engines may have malfunctioned. Geordi makes a sarcastic comment that's pretty funny, but I have to wonder - if no one knows anything about these people, then why is Geordi coping such an attitude? Is he referring to the only thing we know about the Ferengi, which is the rumor that they eat their enemies?


Picard and Riker both find the ship to be cool, and Data, when prompted, says he doesn't know anything about the tech used by the Ferengi, except that there are guesses that their tech is about equal to that of the Federation.
The Ferengi fire on the E, but Picard guesses it's like a warning shot. The E's power starts to fail.
The other ship slows and turns around. The model-work here is really fabulous.



Picard is about to open hailing frequencies when the conn notices that they are being dragged forward. Everything shuts down.
"The fuck?" asks Picard.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

In case you missed it, the opening goes like this:
Two dogs, one wearing a Federation collar, and one wearing a Ferengi collar, approach each other on the sidewalk. They sniff one another, and the Ferengi dog seems to get sick. He barks at the Federation dog, and it seems to paralyze him.



So now the E and her crew are dead in the water, with their power being drained. Picard tries to call Engineering to get some info but isn't getting any response, so he sends Geordi down to get a report. Troi, Picard's secret weapon, is saying that she's not getting anything from the Ferengi, which could mean that they have the ability to shield themselves. 
(An interesting question comes to mind here: what is Troi's range? So far, she's needed to either be close to someone to catch their feelings, or she can do so if the viewscreen is on and they're talking to someone on the bridge, but neither is the case here. It's just one ship floating in the vicinity of another, and given how large those ships are, they must be miles apart. How could she get a reading off of someone that far away? Is that possible?) 


There's a brief discussion that the Ferengi may know as little about the Federation as the Feds know about them, and Riker says that all the Ferengi may know is that the E is in their control. All eyes turn to Data. It bugged me back in TOS when Kirk would have no information and just look at Spock for the answer, because Spock was not a walking dictionary, but was sometimes treated as such. Here, I don't take issue with them doing the same thing to Data. As an android, not only is he a walking dictionary, but a walking set of Encyclopedia Brittanicas of Everything Federation. If Data has no inkling, then you can go on a lengthy search through the computer banks, but a lot of the time you can at least get a clue as to where to look from your friendly local android.
In this case, Data admits that all he has is "hearsay and third-person accounts," most of which conflict. Riker starts to lose his temper, so Data tells him that what doesn't conflict is that the Ferengi are described as being like "Yankee traders of the 18th and 19th centuries," sailing through space looking for business opportunities.


That puts a bit of a spring into Riker's step, as the Ferengi are being described like his own forebears (Americans).
"Naw, these guys are like, the worst that capitalism has to offer," Data corrects.
Robber barons, yo. Pirates. The dicks of society. Fucking Martin Shkreli, the PharmaBro.
"They operate under the philosophy of caveat emptor - buyer beware." Then he adds, "I doubt they wear red, white and blue, or look like Uncle Sam."
After again getting no response from Geordi, Picard sends Riker down to check on him. Everyone discusses Data's allusion to Uncle Sam and red, white and blue that leads to Picard once again getting about prideful about being French. I know that this tiny bit where he states that the proper flag colors are blue, white and red is supposed to be character development, but it's padding, and we all know it. Why the hell else would they be talking about flag colors when it isn't tied to anything else in this episode?

We go down to Engineering, where Riker is talking to Geordi. This part is simultaneously confusing and interesting. They're talking about the current limitations of the ship, but there is no engineering chief in sight. In our first three episodes, there was most definitely a chief, though not the same one each time. (Sarah MacDougal is the Chief Engineering Officer for third shift, and we'll also see Argyle, Lynch and Logan, who probably all cover different shifts as well. Notice something, though? With the exception of Logan, all of our CEOs have Scottish last names. Argyle actually has a slight accent. Is this a cute nod to Scotty, or are the nods to TOS getting old?)

The console they;re using here is known on-set as "the pool table." It's actually a
left-over from The One With the Whales, and this is the first time it's appeared.
It'll be altered a bit over the next few episodes, but will remain in place.

Anyway, Geordi is bustling around Engineering, sans CEO, like he owns the place. He's accessing stuff at panels and explaining to Riker what's going on. It's interesting that a conn officer would know so much about the Engineering department. I know that command officers need to have a basic working knowledge of the engineering section, but Geordi's far exceeds that. Are they foreshadowing this far in advance Geordi's switching to Ops? For that matter, was it always planned that way, or did they just say, "That guy at conn - we should make him CEO"? Right now it seems a little out of place, because we just know him as that one helmsman, but it's possible they had plans for him way back when.
Geordi and Riker exchange some jargon regarding the situation and come up with a plan where they're gonna "downshift and kick it into warp nine," thus escaping. Geordi gives directions to a gold shirt at a nearby console. Seriously, it's like he's already been promoted. This new development would fit better if we'd seen him down in Engineering more often. But as of this viewing, we haven't. It's possible it doesn't make sense to me because the did some stuff in "Haven" and "Where No One Has Gone Before" that pertains to it, but the viewing public won't see those until later.

Back on the bridge, Riker explain the plan to Picard, while Worf suggests that they open fire on the Ferengis. Nobody knows what's going on with the other ship because they haven't spoken to anyone over there. So, armed with a plan, Picard opens hailing frequencies.
"Hey you over there! Give us back our calculator!"
Then he closes them and tells Riker that "sometimes the best way to fight is not to be there."
"He will triumph who knows when to fight and when not to fight," quotes Riker.
Picard is pleased that the Academy still teaches the philosophies of Sun Tzu.
So they have engines ready and weapons as well, and they get things all powered up... and the Enterprise goes goes puttputtputt.


Now they're out of options. Stuck in space with no place to go, a stolen calculator that they can't get back, some dudes who won't talk to them... and now someone has hacked into the E's database and is reading all their files. They assume that it's the Ferengi, because why wouldn't it be?
"Oh, no!" says Picard. "My Troi-Riker fanfic!"
"Um, hey," says Troi. "How about that planet that we're kind of orbiting?"
"Oh, yeah. Hey, Data. Get us some info on that planet," Picard instructs.


Then while Data is doing that, Picard calls a conference in the briefing room to get ideas. It's about what you'd expect. Worf and Yar recommend blowing the Ferengi ship out of the sky.
"No way," replies Picard. "That's an act of war."
"They fired on us first," points out Yar.
Typically, Troi wants to talk to them.
"They weren't answering back," Picard protests.
"We weren't saying anything they wanted to hear," she replies.
These are all good points. He asks if anyone has anything else to say, and they leave. He tells Will that they don't have any more options, and must avoid annihilation.


When he returns to the bridge a moment later, he opens hailing frequencies and tells the Ferengi that he would like to request their terms of surrender.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log 41386.5: "Recap."

While they wait for the response from the Ferengi, Worf and Yar busily tell Picard that they have a little power left to fire weapons at the other ship. I get that they're security (or Yar is, anyway), but why is their immediate and only answer, "Let's blow them away!'? Picard tells them to cool their jets, that no one is blowing anyone away.
The audio comes on, and a dude calling himself DaiMon Tarr tells them that unconditional surrender is unacceptable, and that they'll die before that happens. Picard makes a WTF? face at his bridge crew before miming to Yar to close the frequencies.



It's suddenly clear that whatever is holding the E is holding the Ferengi ship as well, but the Ferengi don't know that, and thought Picard was asking for their surrender. He quickly asks Geordi to find out what the hell is holding both ships. Then when he opens the channel again, he starts speaking as though in the middle of a sentence.
"...and also, we can't accept your surrender unless you contact us visually."
"Um, we didn't get the first half of your message, but we don't do visuals," growls Tarr.
Nevertheless, he puts up his visage, while requesting that the E do the same. For some reason, Tarr is huge and the background is blank. But this is our scary pirate alien, friends.


Tarr begrudgingly tells Picard that the E is superior to their own ship. He offers to return the stolen calculator and kill his second officers, as per the Ferengi code.
"Shit, dude. That could be us," whispers Data to Geordi.
"Yeah, lemme talk to my staff," Picard tells Tarr.

They go back into the briefing room again, and there's two little boys in there, playing with models. Riker shoos them out, shrugging it off to Picard as "boys will be boys, Captain." Gross. Is that outmoded "boys will be boys" crap still around in the 24th century? That shit needs to go away. Also, what are those kids doing there, anyway? Riker scolds them, saying that they know that that area is off-limits, but why are they not in school? And how did they manage to get up to that level without adults noticing them?
Picard and Riker, Data and Geordi all go into the briefing room. Geordi has launched a probe at the planet, and Data has been looking at the info. He brings it up and starts to talk while fiddling with a Chinese Finger Trap that the boys left on the table.


The planet and device that is holding them hostage was once part of the Tkon Empire, which contained trillions of people, but has been extinct for 600,000 years. The planet was an outpost. This is where Data stops, because he's stupidly gotten his fingers caught in that dumb trap, which you knew was going to happen the second he picked it up, And let's get real here: there's no way he would have not known about Chinese Finger Traps, and how they work, let alone not see how to keep himself from getting trapped in it. The dude is obsessed with humans and becoming one. He would totes have encountered this by computer already.


He says the solution eludes him. I'm pretty sure you can science your way out of this, Data. Geordi laughs and says "My hero!" before Picard frees him in irritation. Data's been functioning for 30+ years. I can see him getting stuck in one of these in his first few years, but by now, he should have figured out how to free himself with the mass amounts of information he's collected. It's kind of a silly way of adding character development. However, his examination and muttering of "interesting" when Picard frees him is more in-line with further character development of Data.
The info from the probe comes in, and it shows that the force field is definitely coming from the planet and holding both ships. Data reports that, even though the force field comes from the planet, there are no life-forms on it. The Tkon Empire collapsed when their sun went supernova, and this may be their farthest-flung outpost.
Geordi suggests that the Ferengi may have found out about this force field, and will be pissed about having surrendered to the E previously.
"Meh, let's team up with them," suggests Picard. "We're supposed to find out about them, anyway."

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Recap."

On the bridge, Yar tells Picard that she has to shut down the shields to revert the remaining power to life-support. 
Picard gets Tarr back on-screen. He tries to dance around the fact that the Ferengi falsely surrendered to them, but Tarr calls him on it.
"Fine, we bullshitted you," Picard says dismissively. "We have to work together to get the hell out of here."
I'd like to know why there's some kind of IMAX thing going on with Tarr. Why isn't he normal-sized? Is he later going to grind their bones to make his bread?


Tarr argues that he's only gonna do what's profitable, and Data whispers, "Yankee trader." Really, Data? Gossip?
The DaiMon demands to know what a Yankee trader is, and while Geordi is gob-smacked that Tarr heard that, Picard takes it in stride.
"Naw, it's cool. He only noticed that you guys do the profit thing," Picard explains.
Tarr and Picard get into an argument about the stolen calculator, and both claim that the planet it was on belongs to their side, and blah, blah, blah. This argument, in conjunction with the main issue, is like one of those weird side dishes that comes with a frozen tv dinner. The correct response to that is "what?... why?" At one point during this "discussion" Picard looks away to roll his eyes.
He barks at the DaiMon that this is of no consequence while they're both being trapped by this planet, so he suggests that they share information. He uses the word "trade," hella smart because that's a word that Tarr likes and picks up on. They agree to exchange information and beam down to a set of coordinates on the surface to do a joint away mission.

Most of these scenes are Tarr's face looming in the background
with the back of Picard's head in the foreground.

When they end the transmission, Picard's bridge crew all tell Picard that he can't trust Tarr. Data figured out that the visuals Tarr was using of himself were "distorted." I guess that explains the giant face and the blank background. Riker intends to continue with the away mission, but he asks for Worf as well, just to be on the safe side.
The away team goes down to the transporter room, and Data gives Riker a warning about how they won't be able to communicate with the E, based on the power drain.
"Anything else?" snaps Riker.
"Yeah, they won't be able to beam us back, either."
To which Geordi replies to Riker:


Damn, I do not recall season one Geordi being this sassy. He's like Book Harry.
The away team beams down, but Riker re-materializes by himself in a landscape that's rocky with dead trees and huge outcroppings of crystals. There's thunder, lightning, and evidence that the Tkon Empire supported itself by selling vast amounts of fog machines to other systems. Riker walks around yelling for the others.


He finds Data on one of those outcroppings of crystals. The android talks a bit about how they must have gotten separated because of the force fields, then they briefly discuss the crystals.
"Nothing to write home about," Data finishes.
When Riker looks askance at him, Data asks if he used the term correctly. But Last Outpost Riker seems to have zero sense of humor and no time for this shit, so he simply tells Data to get a move on. They find Geordi hanging upside-down from a tree. He materialized this way, his foot stuck.
"What are you doing up there?" Riker demands.
What are you stupid, Riker?



"I'm having a rest," Geordi replies sarcastically.
I think Geordi is the designated comic relief in this episode.
But how does he get out of the tree? He spies a trio of Ferengi nearby, and when he points them skulking behind some crystals, they shoot at him with these energy whip things.


Unfortunately, the others get shocked as well, and everyone collapses on the ground. Brent Spiner remembers that he is playing an android, and falls back with his arms straight up in the air, as they were out in front of him trying to help Geordi when he got shocked. I like that little bit of detail.

Picard's Log, supplemental: "So this sucks. Been six hours since our away team left. Our environmentals are going out. Most of the time, we could survive with life support for a few months on reserve power, but that dumb energy-draining device is taking our back-up stuff, too."

Picard and Troi are wandering through groups of families clustered in the dark in one small area, handing out blankets. Crusher makes her first appearance checking people. Picard says that, even in orbit, they'll hit minus 200 degrees soon enough, and Crusher replies that they won't have to worry about anything past negative seventy. Cheerful.



Downstairs, we see that one of the Ferengi has stolen Riker's comm badge while he was out. I'm curious: is the timeline down here the same as upstairs? Has the away team been unconscious for six hours now? And what have the Ferengi been doing in the meantime, as we see them stealing the badge at the beginning of this scene? They've found Worf and taken him out as well, as they drag his body into the same area.
And there he is, friends. Armin Shimmerman, the most famous Ferengi of them all. He plays Letek here, who is clearly in charge of the Ferengi away team.


One of the Ferengi (Mordoc) wonders aloud if they've broken their promise to Picard, and Letek replies that they'll just say that the humans broke their agreement first. They marvel at the fact that the comm badge is gold, and what a waste it is to wear such a valuable metal. Riker wakes up just as the electrical storm overhead increases, and the Ferengi scream and hold their enormous ears. he argues with them for a second, but they are so busy being angry and deafened, that the rest of the E's away team takes the opportunity to jump up and grab them.
So there's a cheesy fight scene, and the Ferengi act like rabid Pomeranians. It's kind of cute when Riker grabs one in this WWE spinning move and yells that he's got this one. Like, no dude. He appears to be gnawing on your neck. You guys are slow-dancing at a middle school dance when the teacher isn't looking. That's what you're doing.


Yar appears on an outcropping rock like some avenging angel of death, framed by more lightning strikes, and yells at them to stop. You forgot she was on the away team, didn't you? Yeah, I forgot too, and I've seen this episode a bunch of times. She's got a phaser, and the Ferengi know she isn't fucking around, so all of the boys stop rolling around in the dirt and separate.


Turns out they're more concerned about her gender than the damn phaser... just like the Ligonians.
Shit, 1987. Was a female security chief such an issue that you keep having to bring it up?
Apparently, the Ferengi are appalled that humans would choose to "work with females, arm them, and force them to wear clothing". Nice.


Upstairs, Picard breathlessly tells Crusher that he's diverted the last of the energy to the family decks, then asks where Wes is. She tells him that he's in their quarters, and that she was tempted to give him a sedative. They get a bit snippy with each other when he declares that it's better not to, so that Wes can meet his death awake. Oh, hell no. You did not just poke the Mama Bear, Picard.
"Is that a male perspective?" she demands.
He walks away and has nothing more to say than a muttered, "Rubbish."


Yar has decided that she's sick of this misogynistic-space-asshole bullshit, and she fires her stun-setting phaser at the Ferengi. But instead of hitting one of them, the energy fired gets sucked up in some crystal formations behind the aliens. Everybody goes, "Huh?" and then Letek tries to snap that energy whip at the humans. That is also absorbed by the crystals.


The away team is confused, because the whips were working earlier, but they figure out that something has changed. Geordi reports that his VISOR has been picking up strange energy patterns, and they decide that the whole planet is one giant power collector. Then Zordon appears over that bridge to the left and makes them all Power Rangers.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!


"Who meets the challenge?" yells Zordon.
Do they have to cross the bridge or something?
Is a little dog riding another dog going to pop out an lash at their shins with a tiny spear?
The Ferengi volunteer Riker for the challenge, and sensing that there really are no options, Riker shrugs and says, "Yeah, okay."
Remember, Riker: the answer you want to give is, "African swallow, or European swallow?"
So Zordon declares that he is Portal 3-6 of the Tkon Empire, and asks who is petitioning to enter it.
Riker yells back that the Tkon Empire no longer exists, and Zordon swirls around and becomes an old dude in some robes. 
He looks down at this new form, and I shit you not, says, "Bipedal. Excellent."


Then he asks why they'd lie about the Empire being gone. The Ferengi are dancing around like gleeful evil children, declaring how the humans are liars.
Data steps forward and says that the Empire fell to a supernova, and that the Portal must have been inactive for hundreds of thousands of years.
The Ferengi move forward and start their arguments about how hoomans are liars and attacked them without provocation. And Riker's just standing there like, "do you believe this shit?"


Letek and his cronies lay it on thick, saying that the hoomans keep weapons away from backward worlds, and destroy commerce opportunities.
The Portal asks if this is true.
"Totes," replies Riker.
Then Letek goes in for the kill, Ferengi-style: he talks about how they clothe their women, and why this is the biggest perversion of all.


Yay, fundamentalist ideals!
Yar nearly breaks Mordoc's wrist when he barks at her to submit.
Riker tells her to knock it off, then says to the Portal, "Yeah, we have more faults to list."
Data lists off that the Federation has sometimes allowed civilizations to fall, and has at times allowed the weak to be overtaken by the strong and powerful. The Portal decides to challenge Riker. Worf wants to do it instead, wants to beat the Portal's ass, but Riker tells him no.
Then the Portal says, "He will triumph who knows when to fight and when not to fight,"
Awww, y'all! It wasn't the Ferengi who snooped through their files!


The Portal comes at him like he's going to chop off Riker's head, but the first officer does not flinch. Instead, he asks how the Portal knows his name. Then he gives this answer:


This is the right thing to say. The Portal says that he likes Sun Tzu, and that the human philosophies are like those of the Tkon Empire. He basically spits at the feet of the Ferengi, and he and Riker talk like they're old drinking buddies. Riker requests power for their ship, and the Portal just kind of waves his hand and says it's done.
A model shot of the ship shows the lights coming back on, and the bridge crew starts waking up at their stations.
Beverly groggily reaches over and touches Picard's neck. You're totes supposed to make the connection between her tenderly touching his cheek and taking his pulse. She accidentally calls him "Jean" before correcting herself and calling him, "Captain."
The writers definitely want you to ship this.

Ship it. Ship it good.

Downstairs, Riker does a walk-and-talk with the Portal, who says he was tempted to destroy both ships when they were doing battle, but then they decided to cooperate, so he decided to watch and see what happened. The Ferengi hop excitedly around them, trying to get their ship turned back on and declaring that they had the same answer, and had given it to Riker earlier. The Portal asks if he should destroy the Ferengi, and it gets a bit preachy and self-congratulatory here.
"No, then they would learn nothing," smiles Riker. "I see them as being the way we were several hundred years ago, only with advanced technology. How can we hate what we once were? They may grow and learn."
The Portal says he will go back to sleep, and vanishes in a puff of smoke.


Upstairs, both ships are seen to have power. Picard gives his compliments to Yar and Worf, then to Data and Geordi. 
"Something to write home about," says Data cheerfully.
"That's pretty human," Geordi compliments him.
Data is wearing another Chinese Finger Trap for some reason. So is Riker.
Riker reports that the stolen calculator is being beamed back to the E, because the Portal told the Ferengi to do so.
"Can I beam over a box of the Chinese Finger Traps as a thank-you?" he asks Picard.


Our parting shot is of Geordi's hands on the console, also caught in the finger trap, because why the fuck not?


Sooo, why does Lady Archon hate this episode so much? Many reasons, but let's start with the first: I hate wasted potential. Hate it. And here, the writers had the opportunity to come up with something awesome for the Ferengi, and they blew it.
"But this was only the first episode that featured them. Cut the writers some slack."
I could, but I've seen the rest of this series, and I can tell you now: the Ferengi do not improve. They continue to be squandered as a new race of alien and as potential rivals. In fact, I've noticed this weird trend that happened at least from TOS to DS9 concerning alien races and how they are handled: each series will present a number of new species, and they will have one they go gangbusters on, and one they fuck up completely. In TOS, they went gangbusters on the Vulcans through Spock, and they built a fabulous world with interesting characters. But they blew it with the Klingons, which were all over the place. They could never seem to nail down what it meant to be Klingon. The awesome part about this trend is that it seems like the following series will pick up that FUBAR and correct it. So TNG, through Worf, makes the Klingons a fabulous race of warriors that struggles with philosophies of death and honor, throwing in some crazy politics and giving them a robust sense of humor. TNG really nailed the whole Klingon thing (with a bit of help from some foundational stuff done in the TOS films). But TNG wasted the potential of the Ferengi as a race of people mostly interested in commerce. In "The Last Outpost" they mention commerce a few times, but they're mostly just short assholes who run their mouths a lot. On DS9, through Quark, the Ferengi become not the laughingstock of the galaxy, but clever and resourceful, frequently operating around the law. Their humorous parts encourage us to laugh with them rather than at them.


My next complaint? This episode is kind of boring. Three-quarters of the show elapses before we even get to see our quarry in person. I never realized that until I watched it carefully all the way through this last time and noted how long it took for Letek & Co to show up. Mostly what I remembered about this episode prior to watching again was the fight scene on the planet, and those dumb whips that look like foam-rubber snakes painted blue. In truth, that fight scene last less than a minute, and you only ever see those whips in action twice. So what's left? A bunch of talking and confusion, a dude in bad "old people" make-up, Geordi being sassy, and the Tkon stuff. I don't mind those last two, though. In actuality, the Tkon stuff was really interesting. I liked the idea of old relics of long-extinct cultures being found... stuff that isn't pottery shards. (I do really like pottery shards, but that's such a small part of a culture, you know?) That was actually my favorite part of TOS' "That Which Survives," where the last piece of an automatic security system was activated and attempted to kill Kirk, Spock and Sulu.


Issue number three: TNG is five episodes in, and with the exception of the two-parter pilot, every episode of this new show has been a rip-off of the old one. "The Naked Now" actually stole their script from "The Naked Time." And "Code of Honor" is a blatant gender-reversed "Amok Time." "The Last Outpost" is "Arena." Think about it, and see how well it matches up: Kirk & Co are chasing some unknown alien through an unexplored area of the galaxy when both ships are paralyzed. Representatives from each ship end up on the surface, where it is expected they will fight. They do fight. Some smarty-pants alien appears to talk to the humans, who have won the fight. The smarty-pants alien admits that he was behind the ship-paralyzing, and he has learned that humans have the potential to be more. The smarty-pants alien then asks the human if he would like it if he destroyed the alien who lost. "No," says the human. "We will be benevolent and let them go." Both parties are released by the smarty-pants alien. The difference between "Arena" and "Outpost" is that "Outpost" then stole their end-gag from not only TOS ("The Trouble with Tribbles"), but also the same gag from TAS ("More Troubles, More Tribbles"). It's a gag that was funny once, became less so the second time, and even less the third. And what was the point in putting those traps on Riker and Geordi at the end? Come up with your own stories, TNG! TOS wasn't that great to begin with, why are you stealing all of their stories as well?


In the end, I just wasn't as impressed by this episode, and I thought it fell flat in many ways.


Fun Facts:
- Armin Shimerman says that he took the role of Quark in DS9 to make up for "The Last Outpost."
- This only one of two times that the energy whip will appear in Star Trek. The other comes during an episode of DS9, when Quark encounters a Ferengi action figure, which comes with a whip.
- The shape of the Ferengi ship is based on the shape of a horseshoe crab.
- Data uses a few contractions in this episode. The fact that, as an android, he is incapable of using contractions, has not been established yet.
- The blade of the halberd held by the Portal is in the shape of the Tkon Empire logo.

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I haven't been drinking as much tea of late because I've got this lingering chest cold with a hacking cough, and to be terribly honest, I had had enough of tea with honey. So I switched it up this week and just did honey. Okay, honey and hot water. Honey tea? Anyway, my plan was to essentially spackle my raw throat with sticky goo, and it pretty much worked. It's kind of cloying if you don't like honey, but it's got some cool antibacterial qualities, so I figure that makes up for it.