Sunday, May 14, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 121 (The Perfect Mate)

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

The Enterprise is transporting an ambassador from Krios and his cargo to a designated point in space. The ambassador won’t say what the cargo is. All he’ll say is that it’s very fragile, irreplaceable and is supposed to end a centuries-long war between two worlds. En route to the worlds’ midway point, the Enterprise gets a distress call; two Ferengi are in a ship that’s about to explode. The Enterprise gets them out just in time. With that, the ship is back on its original course, agreeing to drop the Ferengi off after their current mission is over.

The trouble with Ferengi is that they always seem to be up to something. They’re very greedy and will do anything for the right price. They’ve orchestrated the distress call to get onboard the Enterprise. Don’t ask me how they knew that what they wanted would be on the Enterprise or how they properly timed the fake distress call; where there’s a will, there’s a way.

It’s obvious that they want what the ambassador has. One of them tries to buddy up to the ambassador while the other breaks into the cargo bay to scan the ambassador’s cargo. Before the second Ferengi can complete his scans, security walks in on him. Having been startled, the Ferengi loses his balance and causes the cargo to fall to the ground. The cargo turns out to be a woman, who comes out of stasis; the empath, named Kamala, is supposed to marry the leader of the other planet. What makes her so special? She’s an empath capable of molding her personality to whatever a potential mate could want. (Thus making her The Perfect Mate.) Male empaths are common among her people, but female ones occur only once every seven generations.

At first, Captain Picard voices strong objections to a sentient person being used as a gift. However, he comes to accept that there’s nothing he can do about it. However, when the Ferengi injure the Krois Ambassador, Picard has to take over for him. In spending so much time with Picard, Kamala eventually imprints Picard’s desires onto herself. Picard is a perfect gentleman, even after she imprints herself, pointing out that Kamala is supposed to marry someone else, even if he doesn’t agree with the nature of that marriage. Eventually, the Enterprise reaches its destination and the wedding happens. Kamala can still sense her husband’s desires, although she’ll always be Picard’s perfect mate.

This is one of the more complex story lines. At first, it’s about Kamala being used as a gift. It’s not nice, but Picard has no right to dictate policy or law to a foreign culture. Kamala is more than just a pretty, affable woman. She’s intelligent and strong. To have her used is something that not everyone can just accept.

There’s also the Ferengi’s desire to kidnap her, but the Ferengi are really nothing more than a joke. For years to follow, this episode (one line, really) became a joke among my friends and family. The Ferengi were originally intended to be an adversary to the Federation, but never quite came across as a serious threat. Normally, it would have been amazing that someone could have broken into the cargo bay that easily, especially considering the ambassador’s insistence on extra care. However, Ferengi eventually became known as a race that stops at nothing to get what they want.

The main storyline has to do with Picard being put in a difficult situation. Not only does he not agree with how Kamala is being used, but he also knows what Kamala is and what it would mean to spend so much time with her. He has to do something that he feels to be wrong to help end a war.

It’s a good episode that can be enjoyed by anyone. I’d say four stars. 

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