Saturday, July 22, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 129 (Man of the People)

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

The Enterprise responds to a distress call; two are ships attacking a third ship. The Enterprise scares off the two attacking ships. The one in distress is carrying an ambassador that’s to negotiate peace between two warring people. The Enterprise agrees to escort the ambassador and his mother the rest of the way. The mother is rude and aggressive towards Troi with no apparent motive or reason.

The ambassador’s mother dies en route. He asks Counselor Troi, the only empath aboard, to help him with a ceremony. Once it’s over, Troi knows that he’s done something, but it’s too late. Troi starts to act strangely; she has sex with an officer and starts to age rapidly. Eventually, she starts acting like the ambassador’s mother. Dr. Crusher wants an autopsy, but the ambassador refuses.

When a very elderly Troi walks into the transporter room, everyone knows that something is up. Crusher has Troi taken to sickbay and insists that the ambassador come along. The ambassador beams down to the planet to start his mission anyway, but Picard allows Dr. Crusher to do an autopsy over the wishes of the ambassador. It turns out that the woman, despite looking very elderly, has the interior organs of a 30-year-old woman and thus not the ambassador’s mother.

The ambassador seems to have a psychic link with Troi. When confronted about it, the ambassador admits what he’s up to. He used the woman (and is now using Troi) as a “receptacle” for negative emotions, which allows him to concentrate on his mission. Usually, the women live a long time, but Troi is aging very rapidly. The only way to undo what the ambassador did is to kill Troi and wait to revive her so that the link is broken. Once this is done, the ambassador ages rapidly and dies.

First off, there’s no real attempt to explain Troi’s rapid aging or miraculous and speedy recovery. The special effects and makeup are great, but you have to not question it. Theoretically, when hair grays, darker hair should still be there. It would look like the opposite of having your roots show. Troi’s hair all becomes gray, then returns to normal when the link is broken

The title, “Man of the People”, is a reference to his apparent altruistic intentions. He’s there to help the people of a planet without regard for any sort of compensation. He asks Picard if Troi’s life is so valuable that she should be saved and the inhabitants of the planet be allowed to continue to fight. It seems like a little bit of the writing was sacrificed for the benefit of the episode’s message. Presumably, Troi’s rapid aging and recovery were used to show the negative effects of what the ambassador was doing and how severing the connection returned her to normal.

I’d have to give the episode three stars. It’s not a great episode, but it wasn’t horrible. The acting and effects were good. It was really only the story that I didn’t like. I felt like there could have been more of an explanation. For instance, is the ambassador’s ability something that others in his species possess? Why was Troi so much more adversely affected? There was little or nothing said about either of these questions.

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