Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, March 12, 2018

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Twenty-Five "Transfigurations"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Twenty-Five "Transfigurations"
Production Order: 25
Air Order: 25
Stardate: 43957.2
Original Air Date: June 4, 1990

Picard's Log 43957.2: "Gonna map an uncharted star system. Should be awesome, mostly because the actual mapping is boring, and we can all sit in our quarters and catch up on our shows."

Worf and Geordi are sitting at the bar in Ten Forward. Geordi's crushing on some girl at a table behind them. He tells Worf which one, and Worf turns to check her out. Good to know that in the 24th century they still have "don't look, don't look, don't look!"
It leads to a good comical set-up:
Geordi: "Don't stare!"
Worf: "Why not?"
Geordi: "Because she'll see."
Worf: "Good."

And the blind man turns and looks at his friend through the VISOR that covers his aforementioned eyes. He lets it go. They're in Ten Forward because of the ol' Geordi-is-awkward-with-girls trope. He's decided to start being coached by a dude who lacks subtlety. Geordi asks Worf what he should say.
"Forget words. Scent is more important."
Sassy Geordi Moment: "...thanks, Worf. That helps a lot."
The girl in question comes to the bar to drop off her empty glass and greets Geordi.
He awkwardly stammers through some small talk.
Worf, in the background, looks like he's going to phaser himself so he doesn't have to witness Geordi's slow murder by conversation.
"Okay, see you around." She turns to go back to her table, touching him on the arm briefly as she passes.
She touched your arm, Geordi.
She touched your arm, Geordi.
Shit, I'm aro-ace, and even I know that means she likes you.
Worf drowns his sorrows by downing his drink in one fell swoop.
Geordi gets pages to the transporter room.

Geordi runs into Riker, Dr Crusher and Data in the corridor. Apparently, they're all on an away team, which is beaming down to the surface of some planet. They've found a little one-person spaceship crash-landed there, and the humanoid survivor is quickly becoming a humanoid casualty.
They hit surface-side and find the guy, and holy shit, is he a wreck.

Not only is he missing the lower half of his left arm, but also the left half of his face. He looks like Mazikeen from The Sandman, without her mask.
Crusher does her scans and announces that this guy is ready to kick the bucket any moment now, but she thinks she might be able to help him, if she can get him to sick bay. But she can't just transport him, because he's too delicate right now.
"Okay, who volunteers as tribute?"
Geordi jumps in before she even says what she wants from him.
She sticks a do-hickey to this guy's brain (no, really: right to it. Is that okay? Seems like it wouldn't be). Then she slaps one on Geordi's forehead.
"I'm gonna splice your nervous systems together."
Okay, maybe lead with that next time. Like, before you stick that thing on your volunteer's head.
"I can unhook you if something goes sideways," she assures him.
He agrees, though he looks wary.
She switches it on, and there's an energy surge, and a little ball of light jumps from the wounded guy into Geordi's forehead device.
He gasps, but says he's okay.
She has them beamed to sick bay.

Dramatic music! Opening credits!

When we come back, we're in some kind of sick bay mega-lab.
Crusher and some Blue shirts are working diligently to get this dude up and running again. They talk a lot of 24th-century medical science, like introducing a man-made helpful virus to get some shit done on the inside, and prepping him for surgery. Crusher tells a lesser Blue to give Geordi a full bio-scan to make sure he's okay after that energy surge.

On the bridge, Riker and Data tell Picard about the ship, which seemed to be an escape pod. Worf's scans back this up by saying he found bits and pieces of metals and stuff in orbit, as well as evidence of weapons fire. So, a fight, an escape pod, and a crash.
Picard is holding what appears to be a glass Nalgene water bottle, and they all say that it's the last part of the escape pod's computer system. He gives it to Data to hook up to the E's computers so they can grab some info on their guy down in sick bay.

Back down in sick bay, a lesser Blue is handing Crusher a glass of water, and I guess we're meant to take that as Crusher working around the clock and ignoring her own self-care. Another Blue tells Crusher that they've successfully reattached his arm.
Geordi comes in, and she tells him that he's free to go, because his bio-scan came up clean. He replies that he feels great, and leaves.
Picard enters to ask about the mysterious injured guy.
"He's awesome," says Crusher. "I thought he was gonna die for sure, but he's bounced back like a champ. Things is, it's not entirely me. His body has crazy self-healing powers." She leads him over to a screen and pulls up some video (maybe a live-feed?) that shows cells regenerating. "It's not cells repairing his injuries. These are his regular cells, mutating."
"Possibly it's part of his natural healing process."
Not cancer?
"I can't stop it, anyway. Hopefully it's okay."

Geordi, Data and Worf are sitting in Ten Forward talking shop around that Nalgene-bottle-that-is-actually-an-alien-computer. Or rather, Geordi and Data are talking shop. Worf looks bored. He is the wrong kind of Gold for this convo.
He finally gets annoyed and says that they did not come here to work. They came here to relax.
"I'm relaxed," protests Geordi. "Actually, I feel awesome. Actually actually...."
He spies Christy at the bar and intercepts her before she can leave.
"I'm going to arboretum," she smiles.
When he asks if she'd like some company, she says she would, but didn't think he would be into it.
He hands her some smooth-ass line about how there are a lot of things about him that would surprise her. They leave Ten Forward together.
"I have been tutoring Geordi," Worf tells Data, taking all the credit.

Crusher's Log 43958.8: "I took that dude off life-support because frankly, in the day and a half that we've had him, most of his organs have pretty much repaired themselves to the point where they can function without our help. I'm calling him John Doe because I have no idea what his actual name is."

Crusher is standing next to the bed with John Doe on it, talking to some other Blue shirt, when he wakes up and grabs her hand. She jumps a mile.
"I am alive," he says, amazed. He thanks her. "Who am I?"
Nope, not "where am I?" John Doe doesn't know his own name, either.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

I think his bed is made of that foam that people pack stuff with. It actually
looks pretty comfy.

Picard's Log 43960.6: "Still doing the map thing. That guy John Doe is healing hella fast."

Crusher gives John some kind of medical treatment involving lasers, then asks how he's doing.
"Pretty awesome, actually."
"You're about six weeks ahead of my planned rehabilitation schedule. I'm gonna put these bands on your arms and legs to stimulate the electrical impulses to help you move them. But remember: you've been off your feet for almost a month," she smiles.
"I feel strong enough to fly," he declares. He stands well enough on his own, but starts to pitch over almost immediately. "Okay, how about I walk first?"
He takes it slower, and walks a very slow circle around the treatment chair. He starts to keel over again, but is caught by Picard, who has just come in.
"You're doing really well!" says Picard.
"I have a fabulous doctor," says John. There's an extended flirt-smile thing between he and Crusher.
"Have you remembered anything about who you are?" asks Picard.
John sits back down in the treatment chair. "Nope. My memories start when I woke up in sick bay. Dr Crusher says you think I was in a battle of some kind?"
"You were in an escape pod, and we thought we might have seen some debris that indicated a battle."
"It's weird not knowing who I am or where I'm from," admits John.
"Have you tried using our equipment to fire up his memories again?" Picard asks Crusher.
"Yeah, his brain patterns are too different for our stuff," she admits. "Does nothing. We're hoping his brain will just start giving up the ghost on its own."
John Doe makes a face and writhes a little bit in the chair, and Picard worries that he is relapsing. But John and Crusher says that it's a pain associated with his cell mutation, which has nothing to do with his crash injuries. And neither of them know what this cell mutation thing is about, either.

Riker is waiting for the turbolift. When the doors open, Geordi and Christy are inside, making out. She smiles at Riker as she exits, and Riker gets in the turbolift in her place.
"You've been seeing a lot of her this month," Riker remarks.
"Yeah, I feel awesome. Don't know why. Just more confident."

O'Brien stumbles into sick bay holding his arm.
"Kayaking on the holodeck again," he tells Crusher.
She scans him and says his shoulder is dislocated, and that she'll set up some kind of medical thing to help fix it.
Wes comes in to confirm dinner with his mother. He talks to O'Brien about his shoulder and "kayaking again," then asks John how he's doing.
John takes a smooth walk around the room as evidence that he's doing well, then says that Crusher has promised to take him on a tour of the ship the next day.
Sassy Moment: "You might not believe this, but sick bay is boring."
Wes grins. He was probably raised a bit in sick bays and labs, and that shit is not fun for a kid. I totally get this. My parents ran an insurance agency.
"Dying over here!" O'Brien yells to Crusher in the next room.
Dude, be more dramatic. You're gonna live.
John walks to O'Brien. "Don't worry, you'll be okay."
He touches O'Brien on the shoulder in a reassuring way, but there's weird yellow glow, and O'Brien reports that the pain is gone.
Crusher comes running in and takes a scan. "It's totally healed. What did you do?" she asks John.
"I just touches him," shrugs John, mystified.
She scans his hand, and they all look nonplussed.

Later, the Crushers are having dinner in Beverly's quarters.
"Nobody can figure out what the deal is," she tells Wes.
"I like that guy," he replies.
"Everybody does. Everybody's talking about how much they like him. He's charming."
"What about you? Do you like him?"
"Are you asking if I'm romantically involved with him?" she asks.
"You said it, I didn't," he laughs.
"Hmmm, not really interested in romance with him per se, but it's different. More like a spiritual connection."

Geordi enters the bridge and goes to Data at Science.
"Hey, I think we've been thinking about this all wrong."
He puts the Nalgene bottle down on the console.
What follows is several minutes of scientific jargon and gobbledegook, where they figure out how to make the thing give up the info they want. They get some navigational maps from it, but Majel doesn't know how to read them, because they aren't finished mapping this system.
After some more retooling and guesses and adding in the stuff they have already mapped, they get a better guess at the trajectory of where John Doe's ship might have come from.
They let Picard know.

Picard goes to sick bay with the news that they figured out where John Doe's home planet is.
"We can take you back."
John Doe is alarmed. "NO, that's a bad idea! Cannot go back!"
"Why not?" Picard and Crusher ask. "Are you remembering stuff?"
"Not really," he admits. "I mean... I know that I can't go back there just yet. I think there were others with me, and we were escaping something. But I still can't figure out who I am, who they were, or why we were escaping. Sorry, I didn't mean to shout."
"It's cool," says Picard. "We won't be in that system for another three weeks, so we'll have time to figure some stuff out first."
Crusher sees Picard out, and while they're gone, John arches his back. That weird yellow glow appears in his chest, then subsides.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Crusher and John are in Ten Forward, having a drink. Crusher is taking him on that tour she promised, but because it's his first time outside of sick bay, she wants to limit the trip so as not to overexert him. He's pretty dazzled by the ship and by the people in it.
"It's so cool that there are so many different kinds of people, but they all work together."
"Is that weird?" she asks.
"I dunno. Feels unusual. Like, I don't remember my people completely but I do feel like this would not be the way that things were done by them. I got this weird sense of clarity yesterday."
"With the energy pulse?" she asks. He nods. "Maybe that and the pain are linked to the cell mutation. I wish I could help you more."
"No, you've helped me a lot. I wish I could repay you."
"Our friendship is repayment enough," she smiles.
"I'm also enjoying our friendship," he says acrefully, "but I'm on some kind of journey, and I have to complete it before I stop to consider other things."
She doesn't look happy, but nods. He has to do the thing before he can put their relationship first.

Back on the bridge, Worf reports a ship on an intercept course. Its about 11 hours away, and hauling ass to where the E is. Picard asks Worf to hail the unknown ship, but he gets no response.
"Hail them every 30 minutes or so," says Picard. "Kinda want to know who's in such a hurry to get here."
Maybe it's the welcoming committee, Picard. You did just stroll in and start mapping the place instead of checking to see if someone lived here.

John is in sick bay, sitting at one of the consoles, when the glowing energy pulse appears in his chest again. He falls out of the chair and alarms go off. A Blue shirt rushes in and calls for Crusher. He tells her that the pain is getting worse. The Blue shirt asks if Crusher wants to give John a painkiller, but Crusher says his system is so different that it wouldn't make a difference.
"I need to get off the ship!" says John suddenly.
He bolts out of sick bay, with Crusher rushing after him.
She's forced to stop in the corridor and call security.
John ends up in one of the shuttle bays, where Geordi and some Gold shirts are doing maintenance on one of the shuttles. But he's up in the control booth thing above them, and nobody notices him. He pushes buttons. The energy surge moves through him again.

Crusher and some security Golds arrive in the shuttle bay, but they are downstairs on the floor. She looks up and sees him in the booth.
Worf yells at John to get down, but John ignores him.
The set-up for the shuttle bay is weird. In order to access the booth, Worf has to exit the shuttle bay, go to the turbolift next door, and take it up to the next level.
I never noticed that there aren't any stairs on this ship. That's awesome for ADA standards, but less awesome in an emergency. Worf has to stand in the corridor and wait for the lift to come back down, then get in and wait for it to take him up to the control booth. Is there not an emergency ladder, like in a Jeffries tube?
Anyway, he gets up there and tells John to step away from the controls, that he needs to go back to sick bay. John opens the shuttle bay doors, but not the forcefield that holds the air in.
 A concerned John tells Worf to stay back, that he can't control what's happening to him. There's another energy surge, but this time, it does not stay contained to John's body. It radiates outward, and pushes Worf over the railing and down onto the shuttle bay floor.
Crusher and Geordi rush forward, and Crusher takes a scan.
"His neck is broken. No life signs." She calls for a resuscitation unit.
John appears next to them. (I didn't see him jump, so I guess he took the turbolift?) One of the Golds tries to hold him at phaser-point, but Crusher stops him. John puts his hands on Worf's neck, and the glow appears.
Worf sits up like nothing happened.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

John is hauled into the ready room to face Picard's wrath. Picard is pissed that John tried to steal a shuttle craft, and nearly killed a member of his crew.
"He also saved Worf!" interjects Crusher.
"Uh-huh," replies Picard. "That's why he's here, and not in the brig!"
John admits that he doesn't know why he tried to steal the shuttle, just that he's afraid for the crew. He thinks he might be dangerous, and attempted escape.
Crusher scans him and says that the cell mutation has increased by a lot.
Data calls to say that the alien ship is within weapons range, and Picard excuses himself, telling Crusher to keep an eye on John.
They exit the ready room.
While waiting for the lift, Geordi approaches and thanks John.
"When we were connected on the planet, you gave me something, like more confidence."
John smiles. "I don't think I did. Maybe it just unlocked something you already had."

The ship comes onscreen, and Worf says the aliens are scanning them, and finally answering their hails. Then the screen shows the inside of the alien ship, and a dude is sitting front and center.
"Oh shit, it's Sunad," murmurs John.
Picard signals to Worf to mute the link, then asks John if he knows that dude.
"Yes and no?" John replies. "Like I remember that his name is Sunad and that he's dangerous, but nothing else."
When Worf unmutes the screen, the guy says that he's Commander Sunad of Zalkon, and that Picard is trespassing in their space.
Seriously, who the hell's job was it to ring the doorbell and see if anyone was home before flying in and starting a huge mapping project?
Picard starts to apologize, but Sunad cuts him off to demand return of John, "a Zalkonian citizen."
"He's a guest on our ship," Picard explains. "We found him dying in a shipwreck and nursed him back to health."
"Oh." Sunad smiles in a creepy way. "You aided and abetted a criminal. He escaped from us with three others. The others are dead, and we figured he was as well. Give him back to us so we can finish our job."
Kill him. They're gonna kill him.
"Sorry, what was his crime?" asks Picard, suspicious.
Sunad: "He is a disruptive influence. He spreads lies. He encourages dissent. He disturbs the natural order of our society."
Okay, kiddies: if someone tells you that a person is a criminal, and then lists stuff like this when questioned about their crimes, you can tell several things about the situation: A) those charges are bullshit; B) the government is most likely corrupt as fuck; and C) the person making the request to get the "criminal" back is most likely a sadistic asshole who will take delight in torturing and/or killing the person who is accused of committing these bullshit "crimes."

Sunad gives them two hours to hand over John, then cuts off the viewscreen. Picard turns and asks for info. Worf and Geordi tell him that the other ship has weapons, speed and maneuverability to match the E.
"Sunad hates John," Troi provides. "But here's the other thing: Zalkonians are afraid of John. Couldn't tell you why, though."
Picard leaves Data in charge of the bridge and pulls John and some others into the Obs Lounge for a meeting. There, John admits that he doesn't feel like a criminal, but he has no idea if what Sunad told them was true.
"I feel like I'm a danger to your crew, but that this is bigger than just me," he adds. "I'll surrender to them if I have to."
Picard says he wants to think about the situation for a while, and John exits.
Then the others discuss the ramifications of the situation. Crusher thinks the charges are crap (they are) and that Sunad will kill John if they hand him over (they will). Picard argues that the E isn't here to personally judge the Zalkonian culture (that's true), but that he also feels that John's life means more than just that of a criminal. Troi agrees. She says that Sunad feels personally threatened by John.
"I know how I would feel if the situation were reversed, and some aliens were holding a Federation citizen hostage," puts in Riker.
Troi points out that Zalkonians feel like the E shouldn't be involved at all, and they can't understand why the E's crew wouldn't immediately turn John over.
"But we are involved," says Crusher. "I saved his life so what - they could hunt him down and take it away again?"

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's two hours are up, and there's Sunad, demanding that the E turn over John again.
"Give us our prisoner, then GTFO," he tells Picard.
"Tell me more about his crimes," Picard presses. I get the feeling that he's stalling for time.
"None of your beeswax," spits Sunad.
"You should know something," says Picard. "While he was here, the Zalkonian developed powers. Powers to heal himself and others, and even bring back the dead."
"Lies! He has gotten to you, too!"
When Picard won't give up the goods quickly enough, Sunad nods to some guy behind him, who fiddles with some buttons on their ship, and Picard stops abruptly, and clutches at his throat. Everyone on the bridge follows suit. Then everyone on the ship.

In sick bay, Crusher is on the floor holding her throat.
"Can't breathe," she croaks at John.
He puts his hand on her chest, and the glow occurs, and she breathes deeply.
"I remember who and what I am," he tells her.
They move into a corridor and find someone choking on the floor. Not knowing what's going on, she pulls out her tricorder, but he stops her and places a hand on the crew member's chest. That person breathes easily. Recognizing that he won't be able to help everyone in this way, John touches the nearest panel, and the energy surge ripples through the ship.

They reach the bridge just as the surge does. People start getting up off the ground.
On the screen, Sunad tells his guys to start firing weapons at the Enterprise. John steps forward and tells him that he won't be harming anyone on the E anymore. He holds out his hand, and there's a light flash, and Sunad is standing on the bridge of the E.

And then we get a nice juxtaposition here:
John: "Don't be afraid. I won't harm you."
Sunad: "Kill him, Captain! He's dangerous!"
"Yeeeaaahhh," says John. "You and the government have been telling our people that for generations, but none of it is true." John looks at Picard. "Our species is on the verge of moving toward becoming beings of energy. Every time someone started to exhibit these changes, they were killed. The society is afraid of these changes, but shouldn't be. They were afraid that these changes would undermine their authority. So four of us left Zalkon, to see what would happen if we let the changes come to fruition. But they hunted us down and killed the other three. I'm about to become the first of my kind to change over."

There's one final surge, and John becomes a figure of glowing yellow-orange.

"Don't be afraid," John says to Sunad again.
But Sunad backs away from John's hand ("hand") and yells "Don't touch me!"
"Okay," says John. "But I'm going back to Zalkonia, and I'm going to tell the others that they can join me. And some of them will."
He lifts his hand again and Sunad is returned to his ship.
On the viewscreen, the ship turns and flies away.

The Zalkonian ship looks like a vibrator

John turns to Picard and Riker.
"I'm going to go back to my people now."
"It's out job to seek out life forms. We feel privileged to have been at the emergence of a new species," replies Picard.
John touches Crusher's cheek. "You restored my life and gave me so much more. I am grateful."
He becomes a ball of moving energy, then flies out through the skylight while the others watch, before flying off into space.


Initial response to this episode: I still wish that it had been swapped in the line-up with "Menage a Troi." While this episode also had some light-hearted goofy scenes (Worf coaching Geordi on dating), it had more brevity than "Menage a Troi" and would have been an easier palette-cleanser than that episode.
What's good about this episode:
It was written by Rene Eschevarria, who wrote "The Offspring" and he was not yet part of the regular writing staff. Michael Piller called him in New York and asked if he could help with a story they started about the E crew finding someone who was mostly dead, then basically rebuilding this person from scratch with 24th-century medical technology, no one knowing who he was. Eschevarria ended up putting the spin on it that we had seen stories between humanoids, and stories between humanoids and beings of pure energy, but never the in-between process. He found the idea intriguing, and the writing staff liked it, so that's how they took the story.
This episode has some good sci-fi elements. We get up-close with the 24th-century medical tech, and see Crusher fighting like hell over weeks to get this guy up and running again. It's a little glimpse into that world outside of the usual few seconds we typically get. Then we get a dose of humanoid-becoming-energy-being, and that's pretty good sci-fi, too. This might make a good novel. (Surprisingly, no one took up the mantle of novelizing this episode.) 
What's less fabulous:
Crusher's relationship with John was a little fuzzy. While that's more realistic and closer to real life, that kind of relationship plays out better over a longer period of time in a television show, like her relationship with Picard. For an hour-long show, you should either get into it or not. There isn't time to pussy-foot around - your audience will get frustrated. The fact that she feels a spiritual connection to him more than a romantic one didn't play out very well. It's a rather nuanced concept, and again, might have played out nicely if they intended to keep him on as a regular over several episodes or seasons, but the fact that they had to add it in to John's amnesia, mysterious cell mutation, and everything else surrounding having this arcane guy onboard, it got lost in the shuffle. However, I do applaud them showing a widow/single mother with a romantic life, and also them showing the conversation with her kid about the subject. I feel like it's only recently that they've started showing people in her position as having romantic aspirations. I mean, it exists, people get remarried all the time, and they deal with it, but it seems like even in the early 90's (when this was filmed) that they were still tiptoe-ing around the subject matter.
The down-low:
As much decent stuff that this episode has, it doesn't really stand-out. I cringe calling an okay episode "forgettable," but there isn't really anything that makes a person say, "Oh, I loved that episode!" What's more, it's joined at the end of season three (a solid season) by the episode where Sarek loses his mind, by a Betazoid sex romp (more infamous than famous), and by "Best of Both Worlds," which is a rollercoaster. And I know they can't all be super-mega-ultra-fantastic, and that for some "good enough" is good enough, but sadly, "Transfigurations" just gets lost in the mix.

Fun Facts:

- John Doe is never given a name onscreen, but in a first draft of the script, his Zalkonian name is G'il Inar.
- The transformation of John Doe is mostly done on-camera with very little after-production effects added. Actor Mark LaMura was wearing an all-over orange bodysuit that glowed when they filmed with a special film.
- This is the first time we see the large lab set (the med lab). It will later be used as the stellar cartography set, as well as others.
- This is the first episode where we hear of O'Brien's love of kayaking on the holodeck. This activity and the dislocated shoulder will come up again on DS9.
- John Doe's left arm is lost in the crash. While it appears to have been replaced with an artificial one, spoken dialogue suggests that the lower half of the arm was found in the wreckage and reattached.
- Sunad is an inversion of TNG writer Richard Danus. Danus worked on "Deja Q" and "Booby Trap," as well as two episodes of DS9.
- Actor Charles Dennis (Sunad) will appear in an episode of Enterprise.
- This is the second time we've seen Christy Henshaw. She also had that disastrous date with Geordi on the holodeck beach in "Booby Trap."

Director Tom Benko with Julie Warner and LeVar Burton

Red deaths: 0
To date 1
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 1
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 127
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
To date: 1
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 1
To date: 12
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 8
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 14
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 12
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 6
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 7
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 1
To date: 6
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 28
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 2
To date: 28
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 5
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 3
Picard Maneuvers: 2
To date: 37
Tea, Earl Grey: 1
To date: 5

Handsome Boris

Monday, March 5, 2018

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Twenty-Four "Menage a Troi"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Twenty-Four "Menage a Troi"
Production Order: 24
Air Order: 24
Stardate: 43930.7
Original Air Date: May 28. 1990

Sorry there was no post last week. I got half-way through my post, then failed hard at panels four and five of bluechair's "Busy Work" webtoon:


Picard's Log 43930.7: "So we went to this trade conference on Betazed, and for the first time ever, the Ferengi were allowed to come. We're hosting an after party in Ten Forward, and even though I hate those little shits, I'm being diplomatic and letting them on board for the party."

Everybody is in Ten Forward, having a nice, civil time. An alien guy is playing some kind of cool chimed instrument with mallets. It sounds like a Peruvian pan flute.

Riker is playing 3-D chess with a Ferengi. It's all in good fun until the Ferengi loses. Then he claims that the game was unfair, and that he couldn't concentrate with the flute music. Wes laughs at this notion. It's a pretty weak argument.

Nearby, Picard and Data are talking to Reittan Grax, a Betazoid official who seems to have been in charge of the conference. Things went well, and Grax says he was pleasantly surprised at how well-behaved the Ferengi were. Both he and Picard voice their unease with the Ferengi as a race, and Grax mentions how Betazoids cannot read Ferengi minds. Data has one of those "Thank you, Mr Data" moments were he gives too much info and has to be told to shut up. This time it's about Ferengi brain lobe arrangement.
"It was nice of you to invite Lwaxana Troi," says Picard.
"Yeah, I was an old friend of her first husband Ian, and I've known Deanna since she was a kid."
*low whistle* Ferengi and Lwaxana Troi? This must be Picard's least favorite party ever. He seems to be okay with it, though.

As ever, Deanna is nearby at a table with Lwaxana, looking like she's exhausted. I would be too. Having a mother like that probably requires a lot of spoons.
Lwaxana chides Deanna for not pretending that she's happy to see her mother, and Deanna chides her back for using telepathy amongst non-telepaths.
"You mean talk with my mouth full?" Lwaxana asks telepathically.
That's a good point. I bet dinner conversation is much easier on Betazed.
Unfortunately, when Lwaxana does speak aloud, it's to fall back onto her same old argument: when will Deanna get married and drop babies? Also, she might have been happier had she stayed on Betazed. Ugh, do all moms do this, or just mine and Deanna's?
Riker approaches the table and asks if they need anything, because he's a hella good friend. Deanna, sensing a way out, takes him by the arm and leads him away to the bar, but not before Lwaxana makes a bunch of faces that all mean, "he's cute, make babies with him," and also "he's cute, we were once engaged, remember?"

Deanna and Riker walking to the bar is a nice segue to a pair of Ferengi standing a little ways down the bar. One of them is being gross and creepy and scamming on Lwaxana, now eating by herself. The other calls her repulsive, and -
holy shit! It's Ethan Phillips!

And DaiMon Bok!

Anyway, the creeper is thinking about both of his bottom lines, the profit kind and the naked kind. He wants to hook up with Lwaxana, but also use her telepathy to get him ahead in negotiations. The Neelix Ferengi agrees that telepathy would be useful, but is pretty sure that Lwaxana wouldn't help them.
The creeper approaches her table and introduces himself as DaiMon Tog of the Krayton. (Not Bok. This is another Ferengi played by Frank Corsentino.)
She coldly excuses herself and says she needs to talk to Picard, leaving him at the table.
But when she tries to join Picard's group, he quickly makes the excuse that he needs to show Reittan Grax some kind of replacement part that they just got on some of the sliding doors on the lifts or something. It's a total bullshit excuse, and Grax looks amused as Picard leads him away. This is not Grax's first rodeo with Lwaxana.

Tog approaches Lwaxana again.
Majel Barrett is a rather tall woman at 5'9" and Frank Corsentino is not a tall guy, so Lwaxana looks like a freaking Amazon next to him. It makes their interactions that more more interesting. He looks like a small insect bothering her, buzzing around her, and she looks like one good swat would send him across the room.
And the shit that he says to her in this scene forces her to verbally swat him away.
Tog: "Lwaxana Troi, I desire you."
Lwaxana: "What?"
Tog: "You see, your Betazoid skills would be very useful to me, and I find you very attractive. I am willing to pay handsomely for you."

Lwaxana: "I don't believe this."
(She turns to leave, because fuck this fuckboi and his propositioning her.)
Tog: "You must be aware that every female has her price."
Fuckboi fuckboi fuckboi fuckboi.
Lwaxana: (turning slowly and dangerously back around) "Let's get one thing straight, little man. I am not for sale. (begins walking around him) And if by chance, I were to become available, (voice rises in pitch) I would rather eat Orion wing-slugs than deal with a toad-faced TROLL like you. So go away and find yourself someone else to become your property."
And she storms out, because good for her.
Her response has attracted attention from the other party-goers.

Tog: "As you wish."

Neelix Ferengi approaches Tog, admonishes him for humiliating them both, and asks if they can GTFO of here.
And because he's a fuckboi, Tog makes several statements about how he's now more attracted to Lwaxana, and how he'll have her.

Dramatic music because that shit isn't okay! Opening credits break!

When we return, Deanna passes Worf in the corridor and has a Sassy Moment:
"Are we at war with the Ferengi yet?"
"No, they left. Lol, your mom's pretty awesome for telling off Tog."
"Yeah, I'll tell her. She'll be thrilled."
She goes into Lwaxana's quarters. Her mother is lying on the couch, and complains that she had to center herself after Tog insulted her.
"I'm a daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx!"
 Sassy Troi Moment: "The Sacred Chalice of Rixx is an old clay pot with some mold growing inside it."
She sits down and they have a good conversation where she apologizes for walking away at the party, and Lwaxana explains that she sometimes comes on a little strong because Deanna is all she has, and she just wants her to be happy.

"I am happy," Deanna replies.
"Yeah, but how much happiness can you get out of being there for someone else, and never being there for yourself?"
Um... I get how she could be advocating for self-care here, but...
"My work is satisfying."
"Yeah, but how satisfying can that be? What about a family?" mean constantly being there for others and rarely being there for yourself? You're all over the place, Lwaxana.
"These people are my family," Deanna points out.
"Straight up: I'm talking about you getting married and having a baby. That's what made me happy. At least until now."
OMG, I can't even.
First, thinking that whatever makes you happy will make someone else happy... no.
Then, hella guilt trip... NO.
"Okay," says Deanna, trying not to smack her mother. "I might get married in the future, but it'll be when I want to, and not because you're insisting."
"Yeah, well, the ship's sailed with Riker. You ruined that."
"What the fucking fuck?" Deanna demands. "How did I ruin anything? We're really good friends!"
"I see we can't talk about this," says Lwaxana, throwing her hands up.
Noooooo, Deanna tried to talk to you, and you tried to gaslight her and guilt her into doing what you wanted.
Deanna starts to storm out, and Lwaxana calls her Little One, so Deanna blows up at her for not addressing her like an adult. Then she storms out.
Lwaxana tells her telepathically that if she needs her at all, she'll be back home on Betazed. She starts to call Deanna Little One out of habit, then cringes at her mistake and corrects herself. Half a point for trying, Lwaxana.

We switch over to the ready room, where Data, Wes and Geordi are telling Riker and Picard how they've finished a project ahead of schedule. Riker and Picard congratulate them, then Picard says that Wes will be missed. Apparently, he passed the written portion of the Starfleet Academy exam, and now has to do the oral part.
(Okay, I'm kind of over this "Wes is going to go to the Academy... someday" thing. He takes the exam, he doesn't get in. He misses the exam. He takes one, but still needs to take another. Ship the kid off, or don't. Quit yanking us around, and inventing more exams and reasons that he hasn't gone to complete his training. Wait until Wil Wheaton needs time off to film a movie or something, then send Wes to the Academy.)
The E has taken off to do some mapping project. They'll return later to Betazed to drop Wes off so he can catch a transport ship to the exam site.
After the boys have left, Picard tells Riker that he needs to take a fucking vacation.
"Troi was smart enough to request it, looks like I'm gonna have to force you."
What's up with Starfleet members forcing each other to take leave?

Deanna and Riker are walking through some kind of botanical garden on Betazed, and while his outfit is okay, it looks like Deanna was just wrapped in some loose giant ribbon with colored tights and heels. I mean, there are some good parts, but...
They look for some plant, then find it and reminisce about how they had some good times at this garden. They kiss, but guess who's in the background with her parasol and her valet? And holy crap, does her dress have a bustle?

And look, she packed them a lunch.
Lwaxana's dress is delightfully tacky. It's like they built an old-school dress with mutton-chop sleeves, and a bustle, but then cut the front panel off and covered it in flowers they got at the dollar store.

Deanna and Riker aren't thrilled, but they sit down to eat, anyway. Lwaxana offers Riker an oskoid, which is actually just a leaf of purple lettuce.
"The sap that's running through the veins keeps it warm," she says cheerfully.
They make faces at her, cuz that's creepy.
She starts in again about the marriage thing, and sends Mr Homn off to pick berries before suggesting that she can also leave if Riker and Deanna want to be alone.
Deanna starts to tell her mother to fuck off.
Sassy Riker Moment: he cheerfully offers her an oskoid.

Great. Look who just beamed in.

Tog declares that he couldn't get Lwaxana out of his mind, so he turned his ship around and came back. He offers her some dried-ass flowers, which she tosses away.
"Beam the hell back to your ship before you create an interstellar incident," she growls at him.
"Cool," he replies, and he tells his ship to beam up four.
"Oh, hell naw!" yells Riker, but it's too late.
They all beam up.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

When we come back, the trio is in the brig of the Krayton. Riker wakes up first, then helps the others up.
Riker guesses that they're on the Krayton, and tries to walk out of the brig, only to get shocked when he hits the forcefield.

I... really? He sees two beds attached to the wall, in a small room with no door, and two dudes sitting in the next room playing 3-D chess, but he doesn't guess that they're in the brig? Seems obvious to me, Commander.
The Ferengi who lost the chess game to Riker earlier is called Nibor, though I don't recall if they ever actually mention his name on camera. Anyway, he comms Tog to say that the prisoners are awake, and then Lwaxana and Deanna disappear... leaving their clothes in a heap on the brig floor.
They reappear someplace else on the ship, totally naked. Neelix-Ferengi walks in and tells them that "females do not deserve the honor of clothing."
Gross. Remember in that first episode how the Ferengi there were all weirded out that Yar had clothes and a job? Yeah.

Tog comes in and apologizes to them, saying that "the doctor" is not used to dealing with Betazoid females. He's actually being non-creepy at this moment, but then he ruins it by offering to make Lwaxana a business proposition.
Lwaxana grabs a couple of blankets off an exam table and she and Deanna wrap themselves up in them.
"Fuck off, Tog."
Tog moves back into business mode and says that her telepathic powers could bring them both great power.
"Why would I want to bring you profit?"
"To keep your daughter healthy and alive," sneers the doctor.
Telepathically, Deanna says she's uncomfortable with where this is going, but Lwaxana thinks she can control the situation.

She asks to meet with Tog alone, and he kicks out the doctor (whose name is Farek), and then beams Deanna back to the cell.
Once alone, he suggests that they "talk," then presses a button to make a bed emerge from the wall.
Fucking gross.
Lwaxana realizes exactly to what extent she'll to go to "control the situation."

Back in Engineering, Data congratulates Wes on passing the written exam, and they get into a convo about the fact that Wes will most likely not be posted back to the Enterprise when he finishes the Academy. Wes had not thought of this possibility before, and he's a little anxious about leaving now. Geordi tries to be a good friend and says that Picard will probably request him once he graduates, but tosses some reality in by mentioning that this, of course, hinges on whether or not Picard is still commanding the E then. He and Data then talk about how this is part of being human, accepting growth and change, and this will be a good thing for Wes.
The acting ensign appears unconvinced.

Deanna is in the brig when Lwaxana tells her telepathically that Tog has given her a dress that's "perfectly hideous."
Deanna then quietly reports to Riker that her mother seems fine. He's watching Nibor play 3-D chess with some other Ferengi, and giving commentary.
"That's a shit move," he remarks.
"Whatever, I'll win."
He loses.
The other Ferengi wheezily laughs, then takes off.
Nibor sets up the board again, and after some bickering, he and Riker play, with him moving the pieces as Riker directs.

We switch back to Lwaxana and Tog. The dress she's wearing is actually not completely terrible, and is actually pretty in character with Lwaxana. I could see her choosing that for herself.
Anyway, she tries to lie to Tog while he makes them drinks, saying that she found him "intriguing" when they first met.
He chuckles. Tog is not stupid. "You mean revolting," he corrects.
She admits to it, and because she's playing a game, she asks if he forgives her. There's a weird dynamic here. He wants her physically and well, financially, so he goes after her, but he's fully aware that she is really not into him. But he also seems to be falling for her crap on a certain level, which is weird. I guess the point is that he's aware that she finds him awful, but that he knows that she knows, and thinks this is her playing along? What does he guess might be her motivation for this? Keeping Deanna safe? He seemed to reject that when Farek suggested it, yet he also seemed to be the one behind the idea of beaming Deanna and Riker up along with Lwaxana. We're kind of all over the place here.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

The E has arrived at their phenomenon, and Picard is dazzled by the power of it, but it's only job as a subplot is to temporarily Disable the Ship, to create so much interference that communication goes down for a little while.

Riker has tired of playing chess from across the room, and tells Nibor to go fuck himself. Nibor is suspicious. He thinks Riker is trying to let him out of the cell so he can escape. Riker argues that he has nowhere to go, and Nibor still has Deanna locked up, so Nibor foolishly lets him out, and they sit down to finish the game.
In Tog's bedroom, Lwaxana is busy telling him all about her husbands. His eyes are glazed over, and he interrupts to tell her that hearing about her previous lovers makes him jealous. She tries a new tactic, running her fingers over the edge of her ears and telling him how attractive they are.
"Ooh, I've never had oo-mox as good as this."

Handjob. She gave him a Ferengi handjob.

Riker has clearly just knocked Nibor the fuck out, and released Deanna. They go straight to the computer while Lwaxana tells Deanna that she has Tog very relaxed. (Hint... still giving him a handjob. Blech.) The computer tells them to go to hell, that only Tog can access it.
Deanna asks her mother to get the access codes from Tog.

The E leaves the vicinity of the thing they were charting or mapping or checking out or whatever, and communication comes back.
"Betazed tried to call," announces Data. "Calling again."
Reittan tells Picard that Riker, Deanna and Lwaxana have disappeared.
Dramatic music!

On the Krayton, Lwaxana is continuing her oo-mox while Tog waxes on about how awesome he is.
"We're a good team."
Lwaxana Sassy Moment: "How sweet."
"I'm very smart."
Lwaxana Sassy Moment: "How clever."
"This is totes going to work out."
Lwaxana Sassy Moment: "How repugnant."
Lwaxana Sassy Moment: "I said "how romantic.""

She offers him a drink and asks if the replicator knows how to make a certain "pleasure-enhancing" drink.
"I'll teach your computer how to make it," she says in a sultry manner. Then she turns as though she only just remembered and exclaims, "Oh! I'll need your access code!"
He starts to give it to her, and I can't believe he fell for that shit.
Neither can Dr Farek, who rushes in and tells Tog to shut his mouth.
Lwaxana tries to stammer out that she was only going to use his codes to make Tog a drink, but Farek is having none of this. He yells at Tog for being naive, then says he wants to experiment on Lwaxana. This has clearly been discussed between them before, and Tog says he doesn't want Farek doing it, as the equipment that Farek wants to use could kill Lwaxana.
Farek is unconcerned. "If we figure out how to replicate her powers, then we won't need her. We could use them for ourselves."
Tog, embarrassed by the fact that he allowed some great oo-mox to blindside him, begrudgingly agrees, and Farek drags Lwaxana off.

Data and Worf beam down to Betazed when the E returns. They take a big away team, who scatter around the pond where the picnic took place, scanning everything. Rettan tells Worf that he didn't get anything good out of Mr Homn, just that the trio disappeared when he was off picking berries. (Query: what did that interview look like?)
Data comes up the bank with those flowers that Tog tried to give Lwaxana. "Hey, I found these. They're indigenous to one of the Ferengi worlds."

Worf, Data and Geordi meet with Picard in the ready room and form a plan to look for the possible Ferengi who may have kidnapped Riker and the Trois. One of the things they plan to try is monitoring Ferengi communication. They assume that Riker will try to send a message.

Meanwhile, Riker and Deanna are trying to figure out a way to send a message. Without Tog's access codes, they're kind of screwed. Riker finally decides that the best way to get around this is to attach the communique to something innocuous, so if the Ferengi look at it, it'll seem like just subspace noise. He picks one of the Krayton's engine systems. 

Farek has strapped Lwaxana into his machine and is busy scrambling her brains. She screams. Deanna can feel it and doubles over in pain, telling Riker that her mother is being tortured.

The E is orbiting Betazed, monitoring Ferengi communication systems. Geordi mentions that the Ferengi scramble all of their messages, and that those are almost impossible to decode. Data thanks Wes for helping him, but says that he better go soon, because the USS Bradbury is waiting to take him to his exams. They work a few more minutes before Worf says that the Bradbury is calling to say they need to leave now to keep their schedule. Picard tells Wes that he needs to leave now.
Wes sighs and climbs into the lift.
He almost misses that his mother is waiting for him in the transporter room with his luggage. They hug, and she asks him why he's so distracted.
"We're doing this thing where we're looking for messages sent by Riker," he explains. "Something about it seems familiar."
"Familiar in the messages?"
"No... in the static!"
His face lights up and he dashes off the pad and down the corridor.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Wes rushes back to the bridge to try to tell Picard about the static. Picard tries to insist that he get to the Bradbury.
"No, no, I found Riker's message in the static!"
Picard pauses, tells Worf to send the Bradbury on it's way, and they step over to the science station.
"Riker picked a system that makes subspace static, then added a sound that sounds like more static," Wes explains, pulling up the sound of the system on the speakers. He hears the sound and asks Data to isolate it. Presented alone, the noise he hears is a series of little blips.
"All warp engines make that noise," argues Geordi.
"No, it's the rhythm of the flute music at the banquet!" says Wes.
"Oh, yeah...." the others respond.
Sorry, but that is crap. I'm okay with the occasional stretch-of-the-imagination plot point, but in order to make this work, Riker had to choose some kind of pattern that they would recognize days later. According to Reittan, Betazed was trying to get a hold of the E for two days, and while it's possible that Betazed has a different number of hours per day than the Terran 24, the writers are not going to confuse the issue by tossing that in unless it directly affects the plot. So two days. 48 hours the Trois and Riker have been gone, plus however long the E has been sitting in orbit, trying to figure out where they went. Plus however many hours had passed between that after-party and when they had been kidnapped by Tog. A considerable amount of time has passed. Are we really supposed to believe that all of these people recall some music they listened to as background noise at a party several days ago? Enough that they could recognize it as played in staticky blips in the background noise of a warp engine?
Come on, y'all.
Not to mention the fact that the E's crew members needed to pick up on the fact that they'd been taken by a Ferengi, and then listen to subspace noise made by Ferengi ships and isolate that one ship's warp engines, and figure out which engine noise to check.
There are too many layers and coincidences here.

They figure out where the Krayton is, and warp towards it.

On the Krayton, Riker has burst into Dr Farek's lab with a Ferengi phaser. He forces Farek to stop the torture machine, but Tog is right behind him, also with a phaser. Now Riker and the Trois are in the same boat as they were before. I guess the E is on it's way, though they don't know that yet.
Lwaxana, rescued from the torture device, is now willing to make a deal.
"Deanna isn't good for you, she's only half-Betazoid. And they're both Starfleet, so that organization will be hunting you down until the day you die. Let them go, and I'll stay with you, and help you with negotiations."
Tog isn't sure she's playing him or not, and voices distrust.
Both Riker and Deanna tell her that this is not a good choice. One has to wonder if she is actually playing a game, but when she speaks to Deanna telepathically, she tells her daughter to just let her sacrifice herself here.
Tog pauses, then he and Lwaxana shake hands on the deal.

One of the crew announces to Tog that a Federation ship is coming toward them at high warp. He replies back to the crewman that he should inform the Enterprise that two of their people will be beamed back to their ship, while the third will be staying behind.
"The fuck?" demands Farek.
"She gave her word," says Tog, and he and Lwaxana leave the lab, arm in arm, talking about handjobs.
Farek takes Deanna and Riker to the transporter room.

They beam directly onto the bridge. (I don't know if Ferengi transporters don't work well with Federation ones, or...? Why didn't they beam them to the E's transporter room? Did they not trust the E's transporters, or what?)
"My mother doesn't want to stay behind," Deanna immediately tells Picard."She bought our freedom."
Picard decides to call Tog.
On the screen, Lwaxana brings Tog a drink and cuddles up to him. "Why can't you understand that it's over between us, Jean-Luc?" she asks.
Deanna quietly asks Worf to mute the sound, then explains to Picard that it's a ruse, and that Lwaxana wants Picard to fight to get her back.
The look he gives her says, "Are you fucking kidding me?'
Riker looks amused as hell.
Picard unmutes the sound and stumbles over some declarations about how it isn't over, and he won't let her go. You can tell this is not his thing at all.
"You still care?" she asks dramatically.
Oh, this is awkward. So awkward. Might as well get a boombox and some Peter Gabriel.

He gets an idea. Go with your strengths.
He quotes Shakespeare at her. All the sonnets about declarations of love and happiness and drowning in her eyes, blah, blah, blah.
"Tell me more!" she swoons.

Surprise, that meme is actually about Shakespeare. Riker in the background, tho.

The bridge crew exchanges WTF? faces.
"WTH? He's one of your past lovers?" demands Tog.
"You didn't want to hear it," shrugs Lwaxana. She turns to the screen. "NO, Jean-Luc. We're over. And you can't keep killing all my boyfriends. Your jealousy is crazy!"
"Wait, killing?" asks Tog.
Picard jumps on this shit. "Oh, fuck that! You're a dead man, Tog! You've got ten seconds to beam her back into my arms or I destroy your ship. Arm the torpedoes, Worf!"
Tog is done. He's also panicking. "But you'll blow her up, too!"
Picard gives the Tennyson-version answer of "Oh, well."
Then he starts counting down. He gets to 4 before Tog beams Lwaxana to the bridge of the Enterprise.
She rushes over and sits on his lap. "You crazy, jealous fool!" she purrs.
"You're not gonna tell anybody about this, are you?" asks Tog.
"What, like let your superiors know that you've made some shit choices, and that maybe you aren't fit to be a DaiMon? We'll see."

Once the screen is off, he becomes all business and thanks her stiffly for saving his people.
She purrs and says that she was fully convinced by his speeches.
Worf rolls his eyes so hard you'd think he would injure himself.

He stands up abruptly, offers her his chair, and says he'll get her home quickly.
Then he walks forward and announces to Wes that they need to return to Betazed.
"Warp nine," he whispers to Wes. "Warp nine, warp nine."

Picard is in his ready room later when Wes comes in.
"So hey, the dude in charge of exams is sad that you missed them. He hopes you'll reapply next year."
"I totes intend to apply again," Wes insists.
"It's cool," says Picard. "You can hang out here and be brilliant for another year." He studies Wes.
"What?" asks Wes warily.
"Weeeellll, I've been letting you hang out here as an acting ensign, doing ensign stuff and being part of the crew. Gonna make you an actual ensign."
He shakes Wes' hand. 

Later, everyone is on the bridge preparing to leave Betazed. The lift opens and Ensign Crusher walks in in his new uniform. It suits him. He sits in his spot at the conn, and Picard tells him where to go.

So let's start with what bugs me most about this episode: the placement.
Star Trek does three kinds of episodes. The first is the goofy/jokey/clowny/funny episode. That's this episode. The second is a medium-seriousness episode, which is what Star Trek does most often. The third is the crazy-serious episode. "Sarek" was a crazy-serious episode. It was one of those that make you think long and hard about complex issues, and which you remember for years afterward. It gives you the feels. Sometimes this show thinks the audience needs a palette-cleanser, and it'll toss in one of those clowny episodes just for funsies. Most of the time, this doesn't bother me. But following a heavy episode like "Sarek," which features the mental breakdown of an aging dignitary, with a goofy episode that talks about Ferengi handjobs seems inappropriate. In truth, I wish "Sarek" had been followed by the next episode "Transfigurations" because it's a medium episode. Episode 26 is another heavy episode, and it's okay to show a goofy episode before those, so why couldn't they have switched "Transfigurations" and "Menage a Troi"? I suppose it's moot. It's possible that they hadn't completed the script for "Transfigurations" at that point, or one of a hundred other reasons why the episode fell in the order they did, but it bothers me all the same.
Overall, this episode is okay. It's a goofy episode, and those aren't terrible in general. I don't think it's as good as "The Big Goodbye," but the goofy episodes aren't necessarily meant to be good, just fun. 

Some things I liked: the color palette and costuming. The outfits worn on Betazed were bright and colorful, and represented the characters well. Deanna's dress was flowy and ethereal in an architectural kind of way, with muted jewel tones. Riker's shirt was bright, but his outfit overall was simple and well-tailored, which works well with his personality of a well-ordered but fun-loving Starfleet officer. And Lwaxana... holy crap, I love her wardrobe. It's always a jumble of bright colors and weird textures and often a lot of decolletage. It's so delightfully tacky. The Ferengi palette was great, too. The costumer used a lot of greys, blacks and dark greens, mixing matte fabrics with shiny ones. The palette and tone remind me of beetles, and I like that there was some spill-over, where Farek eliminated Deanna and Lwaxana's clothing, and they were forced to make-do by wrapping themselves in Ferengi medical blankets that matches that same dark green/shiny/muted color scheme. And then the dress Tog gave Lwaxana, while she proclaimed it to be hideous, not only followed the kind of dress that Lwaxana would wear, but was also in the same Ferengi color scheme.

Something I have mixed feelings about: Lwaxana Troi. I love this character. She's fun and ridiculous, and fantastic to play against Deanna, who plays the straight-man when her mother comes on board. She's tacky and loud, and when Tog gets gross with her at the beginning of the episode, she puts him the fuck in his place, as she should. She isn't afraid to speak her mind, and I love her confidence. 
That being said, she's a crap parent. While it seems like hounding your grown children for grandchildren is a typical thing for older women, she goes about it in an awful way, being manipulative and hauling out a bit of gaslighting ("you ruined a relationship with Riker"). She's narcissistic and needs to be in the spotlight at all times. You get the feeling that she and Deanna love one another, and that there are times when she really tries, but they're very different people. Deanna knows that her mother sets off emotions in her that she doesn't like, and she tries to limit the time when they're together. She seems to carry a bit of guilt around because of that, but logic tells her that Lwaxana might be slightly toxic for her, so her distance still makes sense. Deanna's personality also plays into this well: children with parents who have extreme personalities or who are manipulative will tend to be straight-laced, or to go in the opposite direction of that parent. (For instance, children of hoarders are sometimes neat freaks.) In this case, Deanna has a much quieter personality than her mother. Her clothing is simple and often one color. She does her job competently, and rarely makes waves. She strives to be the opposite of her mother.
It bothers me that Lwaxana Troi was as manipulative as she was in this episode. Oddly, for such a light episode, her behavior during the argument was heavier than normal. She might hint at some creepy matchmaking for her daughter in other episodes, but outright accusing Deanna of ruining a relationship with Riker was awful. I suppose that makes her more three-dimensional and a better character overall, but it creeps me out all the same.
The low-down: an okay episode with great costuming choices, but terrible placement in the episode line-up. 

Fun Facts:

- Tog was also the name of a Ferengi passenger on a Saturday Night Live skit called Love Boat: The Next Generation. Patrick Stewart hosted that episode.
-Along with Bok and Tog, Frank Corsentino will play another Ferengi (Gegis) on Voyager. Peter Slutsker (Nibor) will play two more Ferengi on TNG later. Ethan Philips (best known as Neelix on Voyager) will play another Ferengi on Enterprise. Between these and the Ferengi played by Armin Shimmerman, I almost want to make a joke in poor taste about how all Ferengi look alike.

Slutsker and Gene Rod

- The oskoid was originally a phallic-looking plant, making Lwaxana's comment about the sap keeping it warm extra creepy.
- The garden where the Betazed scenes were filmed was the Huntington Library Botanical Garden in Pasadena, CA. This is same place where "Justice" was filmed.
- DaiMon Tog's security access code "Kei-ee Yuri Dah-teh-ee" is a reference to the anime "Dirty Pair." Kei and Yuri were the main characters on that show.
- Gene Rod had cast Wil Wheaton personally because young Wil reminded Gene of himself. When Wesley Crusher received a field promotion on this episode, Gene held a ceremony where he gave Wil his second lieutenant bars from the Army Air Corps. (The second lieutenant is equivalent to ensign in the Navy.) General Colin Powell attended.

Colin Powell and LeVar Burton
- Picard's love speech comes from the following sonnets: 147, 141, 18, and 116. Another line comes from Othello, and the last one comes from Alfred Tennyson's "In Memoriam AHH."
- This is the first time that a cochrane is mentioned on screen as a unit of subspace distortion. The unit is named after Zefram Cochrane.
- The Ferengi torture chair is actually a dental chair.
- This is the first time that we see the Ferengi hand phaser.
- This is the first time that we see Deanna Troi's lavender and grey jumpsuit.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 0
To date:1
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 127
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
To date: 1
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 11
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 8
Sassy Riker Moments: 1
To date: 14
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 12
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 6
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Troi Moments: 2
To date: 7
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 4
To date: 5
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 28
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
To date: 26
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 5
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 1
To date: 3
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 35
Tea, Earl Grey: 1
To date: 5

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