Welcome back to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I am doing an episode-by-episode watch, recap, and reaction and blogging about it here. There will be no spoilers for the series beyond the current episode. You can find my prior recaps HERE.
For those of you that don’t want to read the long recap, I provide a quick episode summary here at the top. You can also just scroll down to the “REACTION” heading below.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
As The Enterprise arrives at the planet Haven, Troi gets a message from the planet’s surface. She was betrothed as a child to a young human named Wyatt Miller, whose parents were best friends with her late father, and now her would-be husband is ready to get married. As a result, she has no choice but to go through with it and leave the Enterprise. A lot of the episode centers around the interpersonal conflict between Troi’s abrasive and overly honest mother, Lwaxana, and Troi’s soon-to-be human in-laws.
Complicating their time on Haven, a starship from the thought-to-be-extinct Tarellian race arrives. The race of people carry a disease that will kill anyone of any species who come into contact with them. Surprising to all, Wyatt – Troi’s hunband-to-be – has been having visions of a woman on the plague ship for his entire life. He is also a doctor who has studied the Tarellian disease. The episode reaches a climax as Wyatt decides to call off his wedding to Troi and board the ship to attempt to cure its passengers.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:
Captain’s Log Stardate 41294.5
The Enterprise is on its way to a planet called simply Haven, a planet so renowned for it beauty and peacefulness that some believe it to have mystical healing powers.
On the bridge, Picard says that legend says the world has been known to mend souls and heal broken hearts. Data tells him the legends are totally unsupported by facts.
Riker is sitting on a chair, alone and with a smirk, while two women, wearing glittery metallic colored dresses play the harp for him. He is annoyed when he gets a message on his comm device from Yar saying that he is needed at Transporter 1. Riker gets up and turns off the hologram of the women telling them that duty calls.
Riker finds Yar at the Transporter room and appears annoyed when asking her about whether she needs him. She says she does and that an unknown object is beaming aboard the ship from Haven. It arrives and looks like a silver painting with a silver face on it. Troi enters the room and asks what is going on. As soon as she enters, the painting opens its eyes and says that it has a message for Deanna Troi.
Painting: Lwaxana Troi and the Miller family will soon arrive. Rejoice! The day will soon be at hand.
When the message is delivered, the painting resumes… being a painting. Troi backs up saying “no” over and over. Just then, a compartment below the painting opens up and reveals innumerable jewels. Troi tells Riker and Yar that the jewels are a banding gift – what humans would call a wedding present.
Riker: Who is getting married?
Troi: I am.
Troi explains the situation to Picard while Riker is in the room. Troi states that she did not expect this to occur due to her travel and time away on the Enterprise. She explains that genetic bonding is a betazoid tradition. Her father’s closest friend is a human named Steven Miller. She is to marry his son. Picard asks if she and her husband will be staying with the ship after the wedding and she says no. Riker looks saddest of all. Picard reads the room, tells her congratulations for now, and leaves her alone with Riker.
She states that more than anything, he wants to be a starship captain. He tells her that he wants more than only that but she reminds him that the other things he wants are within those limits. She suggests that they dance at her wedding and he tells her that he will try. Riker leaves and Data enters as he is leaving. He informs Troi that planet Haven wishes to beam the Miller wedding party aboard.
Picard and Troi greet the Millers. The Millers include Steven, Victoria, and Troi’s husband-to-be, Wyatt. Upon meeting each other for the first time, Wyatt seems quite taken with Troi and he gives her a chameleon rose that changes color with the mood of its owner. Troi asks when her mother is arriving and Wyatt tells her that she is still down on the planet. Instead of answering immediately, Wyatt asks Picard if there is a place for his parents to rest. In the awkward exchange between the older humans before they leave, VIctoria Miller states that Lwaxana Troi will not beam aboard until they leave first.
Wyatt and the Miller parents leave. Two more are set to beam up. Picard states that Troi’s future husband seems like a fine young man. She says she agrees, however, she notes that she is a surprise of some sort to him. She does not yet know why. Just before Troi’s mother beams aboard, she warns Picard that her mother is a little eccentric. We see what she means right away. Her mother arrives, with a giant gray man standing behind her silently, speaking telepathically to Troi. We hear her tell Troi to converse with her telepathically in return and Troi refuses, continuing to reply verbally. She tells Picard that he must be the Captain and he says Troi made him aware of her telepathic abilities. She replies she did not need telepathy.
Who else would they send to greet me but the Captain?
She tells Picard that he may carry her luggage. Troi is shocked but Picard says he is indebted to her for Troi’s time on his vessel. However, he struggles mightily to even lift the luggage and hurries them out of the transporter room to where Momma Troi will be staying.
In the hallway, Troi calls an end to Picard’s efforts at carrying her mother’s luggage. She tells the giant gray man that if he is her mother’s valet that he needs to please valet. Picard seems relieved and tells the man that he does not want to be in the way of him doing his duties. Troi’s mother takes Picard by the arm and tells him about her previous valet. She says he was too attracted to her and that his thoughts regarding her became practically pornographic. Troi’s mother is an avalanche of conversation. She asks the Captain how he finds the Millers and hardly lets him answer before telling him that she finds it shocking how much they have changed over the years. She notes that she herself has probably also changed a lot through the years because of the fact she is a Betazoid. She believes her species grows much more than a typical plodding human.
Troi telepathically tells her to stop and Momma Troi seems pleased that she used telepathy. She stops talking. At her room, Picard asks her if she likes her accommodations. She says the room is small but adequate. She asks him to adjust the temperate to a civilized degree and he again complies. Momma Troi then tells Picard that he is allowed to leave. Troi is horrified. They have a conversation about how humans and betazoids are different. Betazoids are (apparently) completely honest. Humans, by contrast, often say one thing while thinking or feeling another. Troi tells her mother than she does not use telepathy exclusively because doing so would cause confusion among the humans.
More somberly, Troi’s mother tells her that she is sorry about the wedding. She says that Steven Miller tracked her down and reminded her about vows they once made. Troi tells her mother that she is having trouble with those vows but promises to honor them nonetheless. Her mother then tells Troi that she may find Wyatt to be special and states that she has felt remarkable depth in him.
On the bridge, Geordi tells Captain that a message is coming from the planet. Captain Picard tells him to put the message on screen. Valeda, first Elector of Haven, appears on screen. She greets Picard and then tells him that a vessel has entered their planet’s space and is refusing communication. Refusal of communication, according to Valeda, is inherently hostile. Haven’s treaty with The Federation includes an obligation on the part of The Federation to provide defense when called upon. Picard agrees to perform that function and states that he hopes it does not become a defense matter.
Troi visits Wyatt in his quarters and apologizes for the behavior of her mother. Wyatt says he appreciates honesty. Troi replies that she never lets up and Wyatt agrees that her honest can be a bit persistent. Troi notes that the honesty is a betazoid trait and she promises to try to be only half as annoying. Wyatt tries to tell her about himself. He is a medical doctor. Troi replies that this must be what her mother felt about him and she tells Wyatt that she believes they may be able to read each other eventually. Wyatt asks if he can take that as a compliment and Troi says yes. Troi admits that she has only had one relationship where she and her partner could read each other. She further confesses that the man is currently on the Enterprise. Wyatt asks if he has competition and she says no. She tells him the man wants primarily to be a starship captain. Wyatt says he primarily wants to cure people. Troi offers that she is a trained psychologist and that they might be able to work together.
Troi points out some art in Wyatt’s quarters and says that she thought he would tell her he is an artist. Wyatt notes that it will be hard to keep secrets from her. She looks at portraits of a woman and realizes why Wyatt was surprised when they met. He thought she would be that woman. Wyatt tells her that he has seen that face ever since he was a boy.
Wyatt: When I close my eyes at night I can hear her whispering my name and knowing you were Betazoid I just assumed it was you projecting yourself into my mind.
Troi: I’m sorry I’m not what you hoped for.
Wyatt: No. Please don’t mistake a childish fantasy for disappointment. You are so beautiful. I feel honored.
On the bridge, Data tells the Captain to look at the viewer. There is an unidentified vessel traveling at sub warp speed. They magnify the image of the vessel and identify it as a Tarellian vessel. Riker comments that he thought all the Tarellians were dead. Picard sits down and calls to Dr. Crusher in sick bay stating that the matter is urgent.
Picard: They must not be permitted to destroy us. Or the planet.
Picard calls a bridge officers meeting. Dr. Crusher is there. We learn that the Tarellians had a civil war wherein biological weapons were used by one side against the other. However, the side that unleashed the weapon became themselves infected. The Tarellians carried their infection to other worlds, spreading it, leading other worlds to make efforts to destroy them entirely. Prior to this encounter, it was believed that the last remaining Tarellian vessel was destroyed eight years ago.
Data informs Picard that this vessel will reach Haven in thirteen hours. Picard’s trouble is that Federation policy requires the Enterprise to protect Haven but it also requires them to protect all life forms – including the Tarellians. He asks his crew to come up with some answers.
Picard states that they will have some time for the “pre joining annoucement” of Deanna Troi. Riker hears PIcard say this, shares a look with Troi, and then walks out of the room. Picard notices but goes on as if nothing has happened.
At an event that looks something like a wedding’s rehearsal dinner, the Millers ask Picard if he will perform the wedding the following day. He says, of course, provided that all parties request it. Troi’s mother interrupts and says that all parties do not request it noting that he is not practiced in Betazoid traditions and customs. Picard agrees that he is unqualified to lead a Betazoid ceremony. Mrs. Miller interrupts arguing that Picard is qualified to lead a traditional earth ceremony and she states further that this wedding will be a traditional earth ceremony.
Troi’s mother describes an earth wedding as backward while Victoria Miller states that the Miller family is living on earth now. Their argument is now loud enough to draw attention from other reception-goers. Troi’s mother says that her valet will officiate the wedding. The Millers are flabbergasted and point out that her valet cannot even talk. Troi’s mother states that her valet is adept in sign language and that the matter is closed.
Victoria Miller: Who are you to tell us what we should do?
Momma Troi: Your ignorance is astonishing. I am Lwaxana Troi, daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Reason, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed. [flatly] Who are you?
Picard interrupts to say that it is a Starfleet tradition that disputes are not permitted and that he therefore declares all disputes resolved. Everyone seems to just accept the decree.
Later, Picard gives a toast to the young couple, their families, and he states a hope that the union be a productive one. Wyatt asks Picard at dinner if it is true that a Tarellian ship is heading toward Haven. Picard confirms that it is true. While Wyatt tries to tell the bridge crew of his interest in the Tarellians and his background studying them, the valet of Troi’s mother begins banging a gong of some sort in the background, at random. Dr. Crusher asks for Wyatt’s assistance and he offers an idea about sending supplies to their ship without sending anyone on board and risking infection. Dr. Crusher tells him the sick bay is at his disposal.
Picard pulls Data aside and tells him that he is circling the room like a buzzard. Data replies that perhaps he does not find the environment as intriguing as he does. Victoria Miller asks Troi’s mother if her valet must continue banging the gong and Momma Troi tells her that she knows the gong banging is the Betazoid way of giving thanks for the food they eat. Victoria points out that she never did that before. Lwaxana Troi says that unlike other people, she is growing.
Just then, we see a leaf moving of its own volition on Momma Troi’s arm. Momma Troi asks Victoria if she likes pets and the other woman says yes. Her planet begins crawling from her own arm onto Victoria’s arm causing the other woman to scream. Riker looks at Troi’s mom like he dodged a bullet and asks Picard if he can excuse himself to consider the Tarellian situation. Picard allows it.
After Riker leaves, Data asks Mrs. Troi if she will tell him more about the Betazed ceremony that she mentioned. She is delighted and tells him the ceremony is ancient and widely regarded as the most beautiful in the universe. All guests at a traditional Betazoid wedding go unclothed to honor the act of love being celebrated. Yar is stunned. Mrs. Troi tells Victoria not to worry and that her body is not that bad. She continues by saying that Steven Miller likes the idea of seeing her up close.
Momma Troi: You did know that he’s attracted to me, didn’t you?
Troi finally explodes at her mother about the petty bickering. She throws the gong to the ground as she storms out of the room. Momma Troi continues to eat, unbothered. Yar laughs quietly to herself after.
After Troi leaves, Data asks Troi’s mother and the Millers to continue the petty bickering because he finds it most intriguing.
Troi finds Riker alone in the holodeck. He is in a desert landscape. She asks if she may join him. He tells her that he will miss her. She says she should have anticipated his reaction and she notes that young human males often struggle to separate platonic love from physical love. Wyatt arrives and finds the holodeck to be incredible. Riker tells him that they were just talking about him. Wyatt notes that Riker is the one who wants to be a Starship captain that Troi mentioned to him earlier. He wishes Riker luck in that ambition. Riker excuses himself.
Wyatt tells Troi that he appreciates what she did at the dinner and he tells her that she shamed them into a compromise. The ceremony will be half human and have Betazed. Some of the participants in the wedding will go naked – though not Wyatt’s mother – and none of the guests will go naked. When asked how it was managed, Wyatt says that Troi’s mother relented. He also shares that he just caught his father practicing naked in front of the mirror.
He sits down next to Troi and asks her if she really wants to go through with the wedding. She says that she does. He says he is a lucky man and they kiss.
Picard narrates that all attempts to communicate with the Tarellian ship have failed and that he is growing concerned. He receives a communication from the planet. Valeda, who he spoke with earlier, is deeply concerned that the ship is now within transporter range. She implores Picard to take action now before the planet becomes a graveyard.
Picard tells Yar to target a tractor beam on the Tarellian ship. Once the ship is locked by the tractor beam and unable to transport, the Enterprise finally gets a video communication from the ship. Standing in the center of the viewing screen is a woman. She looks exactly like the woman we saw in the drawings from Wyatt’s quarters. Troi points this out to everyone on the bridge.
In the next scene, Picard narrates via his Log that they are orbiting Haven with the Tarellian vessel locked in their tractor beam.
P: Question. What strange combination of circumstances has caused a woman from out of someone’s imagination to appear on the plague ship.
On the bridge, the Enterprise hails the Tarellian vessel again. The woman does not answer. However, another man calling himself Wrenn finally speaks and asks if there is one aboard their vessel called Wyatt. As he asks the question, Dr. Crusher and Wyatt enter onto the bridge. Wyatt sees the woman on the screen and is stunned into silence. They see him in turn. The man looks at the younger mystery woman on the plague ship, while speaking to the bridge.
Wrenn: Ariana is right. He is here, daughter.
Picard asks the Tarellians if they still carry the infection and Wrenn says that they do. Picard tells him that they are concerned their people have come to Haven due to legends about the planet. He expresses to Wrenn his deep concern for the people below. Wrenn asks to be on a peninsula, near the water, far from the population. Picard says that he will present their needs to the planet below. Wrenn tells Picard that they intend to die there and if they die while caged by the tractor beam, then so be it.
Wyatt approaches Momma Troi and asks for her help resolving the mystery woman, Ariana, and himself. She tells him that the problem is too simple for most humans to understand. She says that all life is bound together. Wyatt tells her that he has always wondered if that is so. Troi’s mother quickly changes the subject after Wyatt seems to arrive at an epiphany. She asks him which of her hair accessories will look best on her naked.
Wyatt is in the sick bay, readying supplies, when Dr. Crusher enters and asks him if he is feeling alright. He tells her he has wedding nerves. As he follows her out, he sneaks a dose of something into his coat pocket as he goes.
Wyatt carrying supplies goes to his parents’ quarters. His mother is complaining about Wyatt’s father taking his clothes off for the barbaric wedding ceremony. Wyatt simply replies to them to take care of each other. He turns to Troi and tells her that she is beautiful. He kisses her again.
In the transporter room, Wyatt is told he can sit the supplies in the pad. He puts something against the transporter worker’s arm and causes him to pass out. Wyatt then sets the coordinates and beams away with the supplies.
On the bridge, Geordi tells Picard that someone is transporting to the Tarellian ship. Picard orders to override but it is too late.
Wyatt is alone on the plague ship. He looks around in awe and wonder. Behind his back, Wrenn greets him. Wyatt turns and Wrenn tells him that their people thought he was a dream. Wyatt tells them he brought medicines and supplies. The mystery woman steps forward and says she knew he would be this brave.
The Millers are understandably upset with Picard for allowing their son to transport to the Arellian ship. He says he wishes he could have stopped it. The Tarellians come on screen. Wyatt tells his mother that he plans to continue the work to heal these people and the mystery blonde haired woman says that she knows he will do it.
He apologizes to Troi. He says he thought he was coming to Haven to meet his destiny but he was surprised to find it was Ariana who drew him there. Troi tells him that she is happy for him and Ariana also.
As the Millers leave, Steven Miller tells Troi to keep the chest filled with jewels as she will have use for it someday. As they leave, Troi’s mother enters. She suggests that rather than leave right way, perhaps she should stay for a while and take on a new mate. She goes on to say that Picard is highly attracted to her but that he is too old. Troi’s mother than walks over to Riker and suggests that she choose him. This elicits a terse reply from Troi saying that Riker has other obligations. As her valet follows her onto the transport device, he stops and says “thank you for the drinks” to the Captain. Everyone is astonished.
Troi’s mother advises her telepathically to remember her heritage as she leaves. Just before commanding the teleportation man that he may energize, Lwaxana Troi tells Picard – with a look of shock – that even Zedo never had such thoughts about her.
Before Picard can reply, she leaves. Troi tells Picard that it was meant as a joke and he tells her quite tersely that he was not amused.
On the bridge, Picard tells the room that their destiny is elsewhere and he tells Troi that he is glad her destiny is with them on the ship. “Engage.”
I have mixed feelings about this episode. On the one hand, it followed a discernible writing structure. There was a primary plot and a sub-plot. I had not realized how much my brain wants that format, for this show, until it was finally given to me. Not only that, the two plots connected at the climax of the episode!
From a “this feels like a profressional script” standpoint, well done, TNG. It took a while but you made it.
The bad news is that I did not particularly enjoy the substances of these two subplots.
- Troi is getting married
- A plague ship from a planet that nearly wiped itself out with bio warfare is threatening the safety of the planet Haven.
Let’s talk about point number 1 first.
- Troi being from a planet that has arranged marriage / weird ceremonies? Makes sense. She is not human. The show made a running gag out of everyone at a Betazoid wedding being naked. Maybe I have read too much sci-fi and fantasy over the years but I did not find any of this all that shocking. HOWEVER. Troi’s planet sending wedding presents that feature terrifying talking paintings? ::shudders:: Honestly, that painting thing yelling “Rejoice” might be the scariest thing I have seen on my entire blog so far.
- Riker is ticked off about Troi getting married. In case you forgot – and why would you not have forgotten – Riker and Troi have a romantic history which was alluded to during the pilot. Since then, the show has not hinted at him having feelings for her… at all. Like… AT ALL. In fact, Riker was more excited about Alien Sex Planet a couple episodes back than anyone else on The Enterprise and Troi went with him on that Away Team. Further, when *this* episode started, Riker was alone in his quarters being played the sexy harp by a couple of young attractive female holograms. He was pretty angry with Yar for forcing him to turn it off. To what end exactly was that hologram leading?
- Troi’s mother. Lwaxana. Oof. Her job in this episode was to be an annoyance and to ruffle the feathers of the crew of The Enterprise. Fine. I can appreciate the comedic intent of that. I just just think she did it too well. It might have helped to redeem the time we spent with her if we learned as the episode ended that she knew about Wyatt and Ariana all along and was using her Betazoid abilities to manipulate events in that direction. But… no.
And the plague ship?
- Somehow, hundreds of years in the future, we can teleport our molecules from one position to another and travel at warp speed in starships… but we cannot cure late 20th century ailments (this is how the disease is contextualized on the show) consistently?
- This plague is supposedly ultra-deadly… and yet the crew of the Tarellian vessel shows no symptoms of any kind and they have also apparently been living with the disease for years on their own.
Eventually the two plots merge. We learn that Wyatt has been having visions about Ariana from the plague ship for his entire life. We are not told how or why this is happening. Lwaxana just kind of hand waves the explanation for it away as something natural that humans typically overlook.
I assume Wyatt is going to die. Now, if Wesley Crusher had been sent to the plague ship, I think he could solve the mystery of their sickness. My guess is that Wyatt fails in that endeavor – just as everyone else in the galaxy so far has failed. But at least he and his true love will die together.
- No Wesley or Worf in this episode. Maybe everyone needed a Worf break after he almost engaged in Klingon sex ON THE BRIDGE during “Hide and Q.” No Wesley, either. Perhaps in his case, child labor law limits were applied to young Wil Wheaton.
- Troi’s mother, Lwaxana, was portrayed by Majel Barrett, the wife of Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek.) After a long career in film, she passed away in 2008. However, her voice continues to work as the voice of computers within the Star Trek universe.