Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, February 6, 2023

ST:TNG Season Five, Episode Twenty "Cost of Living"

ST: TNG Season Five, Episode Twenty "Cost of Living"
Production Order: 20
Air Order: 20
Stardate: 45733.6
Original Air Date: April 20, 1992

This cold opening is wild, y'all.
We start out pretty much in the middle of a sentence, with Worf yelling that the photon torpedoes are ready. I had to restart the episode a few times before realizing that that's just where it starts.
The basic gist is: they're near a planet, and an asteroid is about to hit, threatening to send the inhabitants the way of the dinosaurs. Did the people of this planet contact Starfleet/the Enterprise to ask for help? Dunno. That part isn't important, so it doesn't come up.
Anyway, they blow it up. Data reports that there's still a chunk big enough to cause catastrophic damage, and that it'll hit the planet's atmosphere in less than one minute. But the core of this chunk is made of something that will not be destroyed by another torpedo. 
Worf attempts a tractor beam, but reports that the core of this hard-ass Gusher fruit snack will not allow it to be tractored away safely, so Picard says to use the deflector dish to make a particle beam, and that finally does the trick.
The asteroid disintegrates, Data proclaims that it is no longer a threat, Picard tells the helm to put them back on course, and glitter rains down on the E as it flies away.

Opening credits and stuff.

We jump right into a new scene after the credits. 
Alexander and Worf are in Troi's office, rehashing an argument.
Worf told Alexander yesterday that he needed to put his dirty clothes in the 24th century version of a hamper before he could play, and Alexander is arguing that the rule doesn't apply today, as Worf hadn't said it today. Basically, Worf didn't make it clear that this rule was a Forever Rule, and Alexander is playing semantics.
Troi is over it. Bickering Klingons are probably more chaos than she's used to in her office.
She suggests a contract between them, where they each get to do things they want after the obligations set down in said contract are fulfilled.
Alexander is suspicious. "You mean I have to do what he says."
"No, I mean that you're both bound to the contract," she corrects.
"That's bribery," growls Worf.
UGH. I spent a long time in early childhood education, and you know who howls about "bribery" regarding kids when a reward system is suggested?
a. People who declare that they deserve a beer after their hard day of work;
b. People who think that yelling at their kid will solve the problem, a sort of "beatings will continue until morale improves;"
c. People who refuse to recognize that the yelling isn't ever going to work.
This Venn Diagram is a circle.
If you feel a rising need to shoot down a reward system by calling it bribery, you need to STFU.
Which Worf needs to do right now.
Shut the fuck up, Worf.
Anyway, she recognizes that Alexander has a point, and asks him what he'd like from Worf.
"No yelling," Alexander requests.
Worf starts to yell that he does not yell, then catches himself, and repeats quietly and calmly that he does not yell.
Sassy Troi Moment: "Well then, you should have no trouble with that part."
She wraps up the session by suggesting that they return to quarters and talk about what they'd each like in their contracts.
Worf reluctantly agrees, and as they're leaving, Troi pulls Alexander aside, and tells him that even if it doesn't feel like it, Worf cares enough about him to set rules. That most children eventually grow to appreciate their parents...

... a line of dialogue that was only added because of the next second, where Riker calls Troi to tell her that her mother just came aboard.
"Oh, fuck me," sighs Troi.
"IT'S MOTHER!" Lwaxana Troi calls over Riker's open comm as she steps off the transporter pad. "I have good news - I'm getting married!"
Hmmm, do you also feel that the office scene ending with Lwaxana coming aboard would have made a much better cold open, with the marriage announcement coming just before the credit break? Yeah, me too. Which makes that asteroid scene feel like like an "episode's too long, need another scene" addition, but it's not. They have an unrelated, kind of unremarkable sci-fi B-plot shoehorned into this episode, and needed to set it up before Lwaxana came aboard.

So instead of a credits break, we go straight to Ten Forward, where Troi drops heavily into a chair while Lwaxana holds court, walking and talking about how Ten Forward would be a lovely setting for a wedding. She intends to get married on the Enterprise. Like, in a few days.
"This is sudden," Troi objects. "Who is this guy? How long have you known him? Where did you meet?"
Lwaxana cheerfully calls her "plodding," and asks where she got such pedestrian genes, asking all these questions.
Probably from her father. You know, the guy you selected to have children with, Lwaxana.
"These are not weird questions!" Troi insists. "Who is he?"
Lwaxana starts going off about how her new man is "absolute perfection," and so awesome, and finally answers that "he's Campio, third minister to the conference of judges to the planet Kostolain." Gosh, are you sure he's suited to Lwaxana Troi, daughter of the Fifth House, holder of the sacred Chalice of Rixx, and heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed?
But it turns out that she's never actually met Campio. They've been texting via Space Tinder, and decided to get married.
Troi is unimpressed. "Don't you think you should meet the man you're marrying before you commit to spending your life with him?"
Sassy Lwaxana Moment: "Deanna, I love you, but you do make everything sound like an epitaph."

Worf and Alexander come in, arguing. Worf apologizes for the interruption, and tells Troi that they are having trouble with the contract. Troi introduces Alexander to her mother, and Lwaxana gushes over the younger Klingon, telling him that she once knew a tall warrior named Alexander... and I think she starts making herself out to be Cleopatra? Anyway, she calls him "Little Warrior" (which is kind of a fitting nickname for a Klingon, tbh), but then interrupts her own thoughts to demand "what contract???"
Troi cheerfully explains that it's a father-son contract, but Lwaxana is disgusted, and informs them all that "contracts are for people that don't trust each other."
"I'm guessing that if he breaks the contract, he'll be punished?" she demands.
Worf puts it in kindlier terms, but agrees.
"Uh-huh, and if you break the contract, what is he going to do about it?"
Yeah, Mr Woof. Who sanctions you? Can he haul you up in front of Counselor Troi if you fail to uphold your part of the contract?
Troi starts to tell her mother to butt out, but then Lwaxana tells Alexander that the point to life is to enjoy enjoyment, and that he shouldn't be worrying about some dumb old contract.
Deanna is done. Worf is done. Lwaxana and Alexander are BFFs now.

Picard and Riker are walking through the corridor, and Picard is bitching about the fact that Lwaxana Troi just fucking shows up whenever she wants to, and pulls her shenanigans on his ship, all because her daughter is one of his officers, and he's over it.
Riker replies that their heading will take them near where the groom is going to be, in about 31 hours, and that Lwaxana also picked the E to hold her wedding because she feels that the honor of giving away the bride should fall to Picard.
You know the sheer joy that Riker felt in "Manhunt" when Troi told Picard that her mother's sex drive had possibly quadrupled, and that Lwaxana had chosen Picard as a potential mate? Yeah, he's got that same level of amusement now.
They stop. There's a reconsideration.
Angry, Yet Sassy Picard Moment: "Permission for an onboard wedding is granted, Number One. Nothing would please me more than to give away Mrs Troi."

But then as they walk away, the camera swings upward to a corner near the ceiling, and there's a glittery, moving... something.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Alexander is fidgeting with the laptop in Troi's office when Lwaxana comes in, looking for Deanna. He admits that he's shown up early for their appointment to avoid having to deal with his father.
"I hate him," says Alexander. "He's all about rules. I wish my mother was here, but she died."
Lwaxana is sympathetic, and says that they should go do something fun.
"Let's go have a mud bath on a colony of free-thinkers!"
So they go, hand-in-hand, down the corridor to the holodecks, where she knocks on the wall to get the attention of the computer, creating another delightful scene where Majel Barrett talks to herself.
"Hey," says Majel. "You got the Parallax Colony on Shiralea VI?"
"I do," replies Majel.
They go in, and are greeted by a head in a bubble.

The head says nothing, and Lwaxana tells Alexander that it's a wind dancer, and that it stands guard over the colony, and keeps out anyone whose heart is not joyous. She kisses the bubble, and it appears to blush, then leads them into the colony.
Okay, this episode won Emmy awards for both costume design and make-up, so you're getting pics of all of these alien weirdos.
First up, fire sculptor:

Next up is the juggler, and he gets a bunch of lines and becomes the de facto tour guide of the colony program, so I'll grab a few of him. This dude has extra shoulder blades and ears that connect like headphones and L-shaped eyebrows that grow out from his forehead.

He invites them to Laughing Hour, and when they say they're here for a mud bath, he decides to go with them. He tells Alexander that he never drops a ball, because they're his worlds.
They all move on, and the juggler invites a matching pair of people to join the mud bath gang. This matched set argue about whether or not they will join in. The juggler tells Alexander that they argue because they're friends.

Then there's this guy. He stands and talks in a low, slow voice about lessons of the day, and how every moment needs to have a purpose. He ends with "The higher... the fewer..." which... I dunno. Colony of free-thinkers. Just go with it.

Alexander goes back to the contrarian couple, and tells them in a low, slow voice, "the higherrrrr, the fewerrrrr." They look puzzled. He's baffled them with bullshit.
Lwaxana laughs and says that he's opened his mind to more than just fighting.

Back in Worf's quarters, our resident Klingon is on his knees, digging stuff out from underneath the couch, including dirty clothes and something that looks like a handheld game. There is much grumbling about his kid. It's a very... parental moment.
Troi drops in. "Alexander didn't show for his appointment. Is he not here?"
Worf is annoyed. He addresses the ceiling. "Majel, where is Alexander Rozhenko?"
"Holodeck," replies Majel.
Troi asks Majel if Alexander is alone, and Majel replies that he's with Lwaxana.
Given that Alexander's reward for fulfilling his contract was getting to fight monsters on the holodeck, neither is surprised.

Back in the bath, the yellow Higher/Fewer guy, who seems to be labeled in the credits as "poet," makes a toast to "all the creatures within us." They all touch cups.

Alexander asks Lwaxana about "the creature within us" comment, and she explains that everyone has little people within themselves that represent thoughts and feelings, and you carry them wherever you go.
Lwaxana: "The secret is not the variety of life, it's the variety of us."
I just love how stoked Brian Bonsall appears to be in this scene. "Me and some aliens sit in a big tub of mud? Really?"
It's Little Kid Energy.

Also, those cups are edible, so they all toasted, drank whatever was inside, and are now happily munching on the containers.
Entertainment is called for, and some music starts.

Meanwhile, Worf and Troi have entered the holodeck. They're approached by the floating head gatekeeper bubble, who tries to play the same games that it played with Alexander and Lwaxana. Instead, Worf swats at it and the bubble pops.

The entertainment has arrived, and she's sporting body-paint-as-costume.

Every time I see something like this, I wonder how long it took that poor dancer to "get into costume."
Hours, probably. First, careful paint following an intricate pattern, then painstaking application of all of those little scales.
All for ten seconds on camera where she dances like an Orion slave girl, and the poet guy blows her kisses like your least favorite uncle.
Then who should show up but Counselor Troi and The Fun-Time Ruiner Band.
They're wearing their best "you're in so much trouble" eyebrows, and because she wants to continue to be thought of as easygoing, Lwaxana invites them in.
Nothing doing.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Later, after she's put on clothes, Lwaxana gets lectured by her daughter... who has a point. Troi tells her that she's trying to teach Alexander responsibility, and it isn't helping anything that Lwaxana is giving him a bunch of mixed messages.
Sassy Lwaxana Moment: "I exposed you to all sorts of mixed messages when you were that age. You still turned out deadly dull."
Lwaxana Troi: making bad parenting look funny.
She then stuffs fruit in her mouth so that she's talking with her mouth full for the next few lines.
"You need to butt out," Troi insists. "Plan your wedding instead. It's three days away."
Lwaxana shrugs this off. "Nah, Mr Homn is doing all of that. And Campio sent his mother's wedding dress to us, so Mr Homn is altering it to fit me."
Troi is outraged. "You're not going to be naked at your own wedding?"
Sorry, what?
Is... there some kind of cultural thing behind that? Going into a committed relationship with nothing to hide, or something?
Memory Alpha: "During a Betazoid wedding, tradition dictated that all people present must appear without clothing, at the wedding ceremony, to honor the act of love the ceremony commemorated."
Yeah, Imma RSVP no, but thanks for inviting me. Just post the pics to Faceb...
Um, just describe it to me.
"Campio's culture is more conservative," sighs Lwaxana. "I'm adjusting and compromising and shit. It's fine."
Girl, are you compromising, or are you heading down the path to erasing your own personality?
She orders tea from the replicator, but gets a cup full of sausages instead. She fishes the sausages out and drinks the gross-ass tea in the bottom of the cup.

In the next scene, we find out that it's not Lwaxana's computer illiteracy that's mucking up her ability to use the replicator. Data and La Forge exposit that there have been over 200 complaints about busted replicators in the last few hours, and they haven't found the reason. There's an energy fluctuation in an access tube, so they decide to check it out.
For some reason, they change clothes. They're now wearing those worker bee coverall things, which is unexplained. I mean, they crawl through these tubes all the time in regulation uniforms, so why did they change now?

Anyway, they take off a panel, and do a scan, and La Forge says it looks mostly okay, but then the panel starts leaking pink slime.
Um. That's not great, guys. Last I checked, that foretells the coming of Viggo.

Lwaxana is trying on her wedding dress, and oh, lordy.
What is this ensemble?

She is also not impressed, and complains to Mr Homn about having to wear anything at all.
"Can we make it more... naked? Like, can we lower the bodice?"
He takes a look, then shakes his head. She suggests raising the hemline, and he shakes his head again.
Sassy Lwaxana Moment: "What a constant joy you are."
The door chimes, and it's Alexander. There's some decent physical comedy here, where a small Klingon child has to look way, way up to see Mr Homn, whose mouth is full of straight pins from his tailoring duties.
I feel like Carel Struycken doesn't get enough credit for his comedic timing.

Alexander wants to apologize to Lwaxana, just in case he got her into trouble. She hugs him and tells him that she isn't in trouble, except where this dress is involved.
"What's it for?"
"I'm getting married." 
You don't sound very enthusiastic, L.
"Why?" asks Alexander.
Sassy Lwaxana Moment: "You sure my daughter didn't send you?"
She explains that people get married when they want to spend their lives with someone. When he muses that a person must like someone a whole lot to want to spend their life with someone else, she gives a sad, quiet speech about how it's easy when you're young and vibrant, and have a lot of choice; but when you're older and your choices are limited, you compromise and settle for someone who's maybe just... okay... to keep from being alone.
Majel Barrett doesn't really have to work to sell it here. Gene Roddenberry had just died four months earlier, and this speech probably sucked to recite.
They exchange a smile, and he holds her arm in support, cuz Alexander is a good friend.

Upstairs, La Forge and Data explain to Picard and Riker that the replicator system panel components had turned into goo.
"We don't know what the deal is, though."
The ship rocks.
Worf calls out that the inertial dampers are failing. Riker says they've lost attitude control, and are moving to backup systems. Data reports that they've lost helm control.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

The shaking continues when we return from commercial, but they soon get it under control with backup generators. They continue on their way, but at impulse speed, which is like a stroll. Picard asks the senior officers to get to the bottom of why the inertial dampers failed.
Thirty minutes later, and La Forge is setting a glass tube of pink goo on the Obs Lounge table.
You don't gotta tell me twice: y'all got guh-guh-guh-ghosts in the machine.

"The metals in the inertial damper systems have converted to this gelatinous goo, same as the ones in the replicator system," says La Forge. "We don't know why."
"Those systems are unrelated," frowns Picard. "Keep looking into it."
The transporter room calls Picard: Minister Campio is beaming aboard.
(And I thought that was weird, because they had an emergency in space, but they managed to limp to Kostolain in 30 minutes? But nah. Campio is beaming over from a small ship.)

Campio beams over, and hey, it's that guy.
That guy that's in everything, and voices every character.
Tony Jay.

I've just noticed that the black-on-black patches on Campio's jacket match
 the silver-on-silver patches on the wedding dress

Tony Jay's earlobes are melting, has no one told him?
Anyway, Lwaxana greets him in a big, flowery way, cuz it's Lwaxana, and he tells her that she's lovely. She steps up to kiss him, but a hand comes between her lips and Campio.
"No need to be too familiar," says the hand's owner.
"Oh, yeah. This is the protocol master, Erko," says Campio. "We don't need to acknowledge his existence, for the most part."
Picard hurries in and introduces himself, and apologizes for being late, because he was taking care of ship's business. There's an awkward moment where he offers his hand to Campio to shake in greeting, but Campio serenely bows to him instead, making Picard slowly lower his hand.
Anyway, Troi is introduced to her new stepfather, and then Lwaxana takes over again, asking wtf is up with having a protocol master?
"Gotta make sure things are proper," says Campio.
"Sure, sure," agrees Lwaxana, with all of the enthusiasm of a dead fish.
Girl: pomp and circumstance. Not your scene. Run.

Upstairs, La Forge and Data are going over the chemical composition of the goo and affected parts of the replicator and damper systems. They eventually realize that there's an organism on the ship that is eating nitrium (both present in those affected systems), and the pink slime is the castoff waste.
The goo is poo, ewwww.
"Aw, shit," says La Forge. "There's nitrium in the dilithium chamber, and the power transfer conduits."
"Cool, so we're fucked," says Data. 
Well, they needed to Disable the Ship, and I guess that's a good way to do it.
La Forge and Data jump up and head to the lift to see if they can stop the organism from eating the ship's innards.

Worf and Alexander are in their quarters. Worf is putting dinner on the table, and Alexander is... yelling the word "HA!" Not in any kind of joyful way. Just yelling that noise.
Bud, you're being annoying. Like, I'm not your parent, and I want to eject you out the airlock.
When questioned about his actions, Alexander proclaims that it is his Laughing Hour.
Sassy Worf Moment: "It is your dinner hour."
He picks up Alexander by the elbows and sits his ass at the table.
And honestly? He's upholding his part of the contract. He wants to yell at this nonsense. He's struggling to maintain his composure, but he does maintain it.
"I have another appointment with Mrs Troi to talk about happy wisdom," Alexander announces. He gets up from the table and starts to leave.
Worf asks where tf he thinks he's going.
"I gave my word I would meet up with Mrs Troi," says Alexander. "I thought you said a Klingon never goes back on his word. I am confused, Father."
"You can see her after," says Worf. "Sit down and eat."
Alexander walks up to Worf and simply says, "the higher, the fewer," before walking out.
Worf breaks some crunchy little piece of food in frustration.

Alexander turns up in Lwaxana's quarters, just as Erko is telling Campio and Lwaxana that they need to start talking about wedding stuff. But Lwaxana isn't into it.
"Ooh, sorry. I promised Alexander we'd go for another mud bath."
They try to head out, but are blocked by Worf, who has shown up with reinforcement, in the form of Deanna.
"It's his dinner time," growls Worf.
"Okay, then. Picnic before mud bath!"
There's some physical comedy where Lwaxana and Alexander try to leave, but are essentially penned in by Campio (who is insistent that they do wedding stuff now); Erko (who is very concerned that she's being too casual with Campio, and not taking wedding stuff seriously); and Worf and Deanna (who want Alexander to finish his dinner). She tells Mr Homn to take care of her guests while she's gone.
Lwaxana tries to get Campio to agree to let them go for their soak for 30 minutes, and he tries to compromise by saying that Alexander can hang out in the room if they sit and talk wedding prep now.
"Hell no!" says Erko. "It's not okay to have a kid present during this consultation. It's also not okay for a servant to be there."
He tries appealing to the level-headed daughter, but Deanna points out that her mother is a runaway bride. They all look around: Lwaxana and Alexander snuck out.

Downstairs, Data and La Forge have determined that the dilithium chamber and energy transfer conduits are in tact, but scans of a nearby access panel that the organism has at least made it down to that level. They remove the panel, and the glitter organism shimmers up a wall. Pink goo drips down into the panel.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Lwaxana and Alexander are sitting on the edge of the mud bath when the juggler comes by, looking downtrodden. He tells Alexander that he was juggling, and caught one of the balls in his mouth.
"Tasted good, so I ate it. Then I ate the others. Now I have none. If you ever have a world, plan ahead: don't eat it!"
Alexander laughs, because how the hell else does one respond to that? Then he turns to Lwaxana, who he's perceived as being less than excited about her upcoming nuptials.
"That guy you're marrying... he wouldn't ever take a mud bath, would he?"
"He might," she starts to say, then ends with, "yeah, probably not."
They start to leave, and he suggests that maybe she asks one of those creatures inside of her to help her out here, seeing as how she's unhappy.
When she asks impatiently what he's talking about, he apologizes, but she hugs him quickly and tells him not to.
Oops, the holodeck is melting. Time to go.

Down in Engineering, Data and La Forge are telling Picard about how they think the organism is one that eats metal, specifically nitrium.
"Sucks to be us, because there's nitrium everywhere on this ship," says La Forge. "It could eat its way through our life support and engines."
"Hey, didn't that asteroid we blew up have a squishy nitrium center?" Picard asks.
Data responds in the affirmative.
"And it was from the Pellaris field, right? What if we went back there? Offer the organism a buffet of nitrium."
Sure, but I have two concerns:
 - this B-plot is like the one from "Galaxy's Child," where a baby... thing has attached itself to the Enterprise, and they have to find others of its kind to drop it off;
- you don't know where that organism came from. You're assuming it came from the asteroid field. It could be that you're introducing an invasive species.
Nitrium-based food for thought.
Picard pages Riker and ask how long to the Pellaris field. The answer is five hours, 20 minutes at warp nine. They set the course, but Data points out that if the thing eats the ship, they might not get there in time. (Again... like "Galaxy's Child.")
They briefly discuss how a certain gas can make the organism cold enough that it won't eat as quickly, and La Forge points out that by the time they sense the energy fluctuations, the organism has eaten the nitrium and gone on to its next meal.
There's a power fluctuation, and La Forge tells them that the backup generators have failed, and they need to switch to the backup backups.
They leave him in Engineering and get in the lift.

Picard asks Data if he has any idea of how to get the organism away from the ship and into the asteroid field, and Data suggests pumping nitrium into a particle beam and shooting it at the asteroid field.
"Oh, like bread crumbs," says Picard. "Okay, start on that plan when we hit the bridge."
But then the lift slows, and the power flickers, and goo drips down into the lift car.
"The speed is fluctuating," says Data, as though Picard isn't standing right there.
"Computer, stop at the next level," says Picard.
What's going to happen? Will they get trapped in the lift? Will the car fall like it did in "Disaster"? Will they have to get off at another level and climb their way up to the top of the ship through the Jeffries Tubes, eating up the time that Data needs to calculate the particle beam reconfiguration?
"Oh, it dropped us off at the bridge," says Data, prying the doors open. They even line up nicely with the floor.
Crap, that was anticlimactic. That felt like a waste of dramatic music. Was the episode running short or something?

Red alert is in full effect on the bridge, and a number of things happen at once: through La Forge, we learn that the organism has reached parts of the warp core, and the ship has slowed down to just under warp six. They definitely won't make it to the asteroid field in time now. Life support starts failing on certain decks, and people are starting to show signs of sweating through their uniforms. 
Jae sighting!

Picard orders the evacuation of these decks, sending people to congregate on specific decks with emergency life support. Engineering is in chaos, and someone in the background sprays the warp core (or a spot near it) with something that looks like a fire extinguisher.
Picard asks Data for an ETA at their current speed, and Data returns with just under 2.5 hours.
"We may pass out," pants Picard, as life support is clearly failing on the bridge. "If that happens, you have to do the thing, Data."
Oof, the number of times that Data is called upon to Do The Thing Because Everyone Else May Die... maybe it's best that he doesn't have an emotion chip. That could weigh heavily on a person.

So Data does the thing, and we see him roll up on the asteroid field...
... and I know those are space rocks, but they look like bits of chocolate candy.

It's a field of Buncha Crunch.

Oop, and Data has less than one minute to fire off the particle beam into the asteroid field to ditch the goo-making organism, because Majel is telling him that the integrity of the dilithium chamber is about to fail. He parks the E, transfers the remaining power of the warp core to life support, and reconfigures the particle beam to drop those bread crumbs for the organism to follow.
The lights on the bridge switch from red alert to regular daytime lights.
He turns on the beam, and there's a cool shot of the beam and the glittery organism, against the backdrop of the underside of the ship.

The bridge crew starts waking up, and Data tells a groggy Picard that he Did The Thing. Picard thanks him, and sets Worf to the task of checking for casualties with La Forge.

Picard's Log 45733.6: "All of our temp repairs are done, and now, on to the wedding."

People are gathered in Ten Forward, which has been decorated to look like a swanky hotel lobby in the 1990s. Picard and Riker are wearing their dress uniforms. Mr Homn is dressed more formally, Deanna has switched into a nice dress that sort of resembles her blue dress. Campio is wearing some kind of ceremonial cuff around his shoulders. But it's clear that they've been waiting a while. Worf is sitting boredly in a chair. As is Alexander. 

Worf: "This is a waste of my time."
Alexander: "My girl deserves better."

People are milling about. Erko goes to the Ten Forward doors, and looks out into the corridor in annoyance.
"You'd think she'd be on time to her own wedding," Riker says quietly to Picard.
Then we hear the doors whoosh open.

That side-eye smirk to the Kostolainians, tho


U jelly, bro?

Bahaha, fucking Erko

Erko grabs Campio, and they flee, scandalized. Lwaxana just shrugs. That shit was never going to work, anyway.

"Thank gods, I thought I was going to have to spend holidays with that asshole."

In our final scene, we return to the free spirit colony on the holodeck.
And after ditching that stick in the mud Campio, Lwaxana Troi, true queen that she is, is wearing a literal fucking crown in the mud bath.

She muses on the fact that she had set out to teach Alexander about the joys of life, but that he ended up reminding her to not let go of those joys.
Brian Bonsall with the big Little Kid Energy again that's so charming.

Check out the wig they've put on Deanna. It's giving Grecian Muse. Or Marge Simpson.

"We still have to learn to live in the real world," she reminds them.
"Only when necessary," agrees Lwaxana.
And Mr Woof, coming in hot with that last line of the episode:

So this is not a ground-breaking or thought-provoking episode, but it's not crap, either. It's mostly character-building and heavy on interpersonal relationships, adding to two themes we have already been exploring: Worf struggles with parenting; and Lwaxana Troi is uncomfortable with aging. Neither is necessarily needed to further the overall story of the Enterprise, but it does the round the characters out.
We know that Worf was dragged kicking and screaming into parenthood, and that he foisted the responsibility off onto his parents initially, but has since taken up the mantle. We know he's having a hard time, but he's trying. That's important. He's shown putting in the effort to not only provide for his child, but to actually raise a decent human, one tiny step at a time.
Lwaxana Troi is not a series regular, but we see her taking shape from a mostly two-dimensional irritant in her daughter's life, to someone with whom we can experience the discomforts that come with aging. This crew is already thought of as being older and more experienced that the TOS crew, but Lwaxana opens the door to the choices presented to us as we get older, and how those choices shape our later years.
Overall, I like this episode. It's fun and funny, and the physical comedy is good. The make-up and costuming are great. It's light-hearted without being slapstick, and the sad moment when Lwaxana explains to Alexander why she's settling... you understand why she's choosing that path. It's a nice little addition to season five.

Fun Facts:
- The first draft of this episode was written by Peter Allan Fields (executive script consultant). He did not like the B-plot, but was okay with it being there once it became obvious that Lwaxana's friendship with Alexander was going to be the main focus of the episode. "We don't want to do them all like that. This is a science-fiction show and the science is fun, but in this case it was the personal story that was most important."
- There was a scene cut from the final script that involves Deanna and Worf talking about parents and children, where Deanna tells Worf about how Lwaxana ruined her sixth birthday party, by disappearing halfway through, and showing up later dressed as a Koropian princess, carried on a sedan chair by four men. (YIKES. YIKES ON BIKES.) They joke about the adage that grandparents and grandchildren get along because they share a common enemy. This scene was meant to build the initial ground for a Worf-Troi romance.
- Michael Westmore, the make-up designer, said that he never knew what was going to land in his lap project-wise, due largely to the holodeck. He enjoyed making the characters from the Parallax colony.
- The poet's hair and beard were made from dyed hemp rope. Each strand was hand-laid.
- Good Morning America was on the set during this shoot.
- There's a Ligonian glavin (the spiky glove with claw thing) on display in Worf's quarters. (No, I cannot write the word "glavin" without hearing it said in Professorr Frink's voice from "The Simpsons.")

- Christopher Halstead (First Learner) will later appear in DS9.

- Albie Selznick (the juggler) will appear twice (as different characters) in Voyager.
- Larry A Hankin (the wind dancer) is a fairly well-known character actor, whom you've probably seen before. He'll appear three times in Voyager, as the same character.

- Hankin's wind dancer scenes were not filmed during principal photography, but filmed nearly a month later, when the crew was filming "Imaginary Friend."
- This is the second appearance for background actor Holiday Freeman (she first appeared as a Jnaii civilian in "The Outcast"). She'll appear multiple times over the remaining seasons of TNG (mostly as an Enterprise crewmember) before appearing in the backgrounds of DS9 and Voyager. In this episode, she plays the companion of the First Learner.

- Director Winrich Kolbe remarked that this episode "...was fluff, but nice fluff." He noted that sometimes, Star Trek episodes get to feeling similar. "After a while, you just want to throw your hands up, 'Okay guys, you know what to do.' You want to go to the director of photography and say, 'Just shoot the damn thing. You can reach me at my home number.' This type of episode is exciting to me. I suddenly had to direct comedy." He also said that he and Majel got on like a house on fire: "We had a tremedous rapport and loved working together." 
- Rick Berman was uncertain of how the episode would turn out, but once costuming, make-up, and visual effects were added, he found it "charming." He credits Michael Dorn with giving a "funny, great performance."
- Along with Emmy awards for costuming and make-up, this episode was also nominated for Hairstyling.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 2
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 1
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 0
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Ro Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Worf Moment: 2
To date: 3
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Picard Moments: 1
To date:  1
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Keiko Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Troi Moments: 1
To date: 4
Sassy Guinan Moments: 0
To Date: 1
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 4
To date: 10
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 35
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
To date: 9
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 4
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 2
Picard Maneuvers: 0
To date: 18
Tea, Earl Grey: 0 (Lwaxana ordered Jestral tea)
To date: 7
Mentions of the number 47: 0
To date: 2

Behold, Morna the Mighty!