Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 72 (Ménage à Troi)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

The Ferengi were written into Star Trek: The Next Generation as a potential adversary, but came off as comic relief.  They were just too odd and funny to be taken seriously.  Still, they managed to come back throughout the series.  Then, there was Lwaxana Troi, mother of ship’s counselor Deanna Troi.  When I first watched The Next Generation, Lwaxana Troi came off as somewhat annoying.  I wondered if the character was being played for comic effect.  It wasn’t until years later (actually, during the run of Deep Space Nine) that I began to realize that there was more to the character.  Going back through some of the episodes, I’m beginning to see them in a different light.

One of those episodes was Ménage à Troi.  The Enterprise is orbiting Betazed, home to both Deanna and Lwaxana Troi, where a conference is wrapping up.  Lwaxana is on board, prodding her only child into thinking about giving her grandchildren one day.  Deanna and Commander William Riker had a thing once.  They’re able to work together, but that doesn’t stop Lwaxana from trying to drop a few hints.

Also on board is a Ferengi Daimon Tog, who is interested in Lwaxana and is none too shy about approaching her.  There’s also the whole telepathic angle.  Tog realizes that having a telepath around provide a nice advantage.  Lwaxana bluntly tells Tog that she’s not interested.  He eventually leaves.

Deanna and Riker are granted shore leave on Betazed, as they won’t be needed for their immediate mission.  Lwaxana manages to ‘run into’ them with a picnic.  As if that weren’t enough, Tog returns, rather insistent that Lwaxana come with him, and he won’t take no for an answer.  Really.  He has both Trois and Riker beamed to his ship and held in a cell.

His aide, Dr. Farek, wants to experiment directly, but Tog is so taken with Lwaxana that he holds off.  It isn’t until she tries to get access codes that he agrees to let Farek do his experiments.  Fortunately, Commander Riker is able to get a message out and Wesley Crusher manages to save the day.  The Enterprise is able to find Tog’s ship.  Lwaxana offers to submit if Tog releases Deanna and Riker, which to agrees to.  With Lwaxana being the only one still captive, it’s up to Captain Picard to save her, which he reluctantly agrees to do.

This is one of those episodes where the casual viewer will be lost.  You’d know all the major players and would probably catch a few of the jokes, but you’d need to know about the Ferengi and Lwaxana Troi to get a lot of it.  (For instance, you probably wouldn’t understand why Picard would be reluctant to help Lwaxana.)  In fact, there are a lot of things that I caught having seen the rest of The Next Generation and Deep Space Nine.  I’m not sure if any of this was planned or if it just worked out that way.

I have to admit that the title is a bit much.  I’m not sure I’d want to have to explain the meaning to a small child.  I’m also not sure that I want to think of Troi’s mother that way.  This was one of those odd titles where I’m not sure how it slipped past everyone.  You’d think that between the staff of the show, the network and everybody else, someone would have requested a new title.

Oddly, though, both Lwaxana and the Ferengi have been toned down.  I think that the writers realized that maybe the audience couldn’t handle both full throttle.  I also think that after a few years, someone figured that they may try to make Lwaxana a sympathetic character.  We begin to learn here that Lwaxana does want her daughter to be happy.  (It isn’t until much later that we find out why.)

I don’t recall particularly liking this episode.  The only thing that stood out over the years was the name.  I still can’t figure out why they named it that or, as I said, how they got away with it.  For those that follow Internet memes, I believe that this is the episode where the Picard WTF meme comes from.  It’s towards the end of the episode where Picard is trying to get Lwaxana back.  I don’t know if everyone will want to sit through the episode to watch it, but it is worth noting. 

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