Season Two - TNG

Star Trek: The Next Generation – Manhunt

Written by Tracy Torme, Hans Beimler, Richard Manning, and Melinda M. Snodgrass
Directed by Rob Bowman

In the first season of Star Trek: The Next Generation, we were introduced to Lwaxana Troi, the overbearing, outspoken mother of the ship’s counselor, Deanna Troi (Marina Sirtis). Since the character of Lwaxana is portrayed by Majel Barrett Roddenberry – wife of Star Trek creator and executive producer Gene Roddenberry, is it no wonder that she turns up every now and then in the Star Trek universe?

That’s not to say Lwaxana isn’t a fun character to come across now and then. Here, there is a diplomatic conference about to get underway on the planet Pacifica and the Enterprise is providing transport to several diplomats, one of whom happens to be Lwaxana.

Unfortunately – at least for the men aboard the Enterprise, Lwaxana is just entering the Betazoid equivalent of menopause, causing her sexual drive to increase threefold. In their culture, the only proper thing for a woman of this age to do is be married so she has an outlet for this sexual energy. Troi’s father passed away years before and Lwaxana is looking for someone to be that person. She has set her sights on Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart).

Not wishing to offend the diplomat, Picard takes cover on the holodeck – a virtual reality room on steroids. Here he has created stories based on Dixon Hill, a detective from the 1940’s era, and immerses himself in the story.

When Captain Picard is unavailable to Lwaxana due to “ship’s business”, she then decides that Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) will do just fine, despite the fact that he was once involved with her daughter.

This is a very lighthearted episode that begs not to be taken seriously. From the intensity with which she prowls the ship looking for Captain Picard to the cavalier way she announces that the other diplomats on board are really assassins, Lwaxana dominates the story. It is whimsical and lighthearted rather than tension-filled.

There is no real character build-up here on the part of the main characters unless you include Lwaxana. We do learn a bit more about Betazoids, and after one scene we now know that Captain Picard is aware of the previous involvement between Commander Riker and Counselor Troi.

The secondary story with the transportation of what seems to be Antedian diplomats is gratuitous until the end. Finally, we see a non-humanoid alien as a member of the Federation. Too often they seem few and far between. However, much of their story throughout the show seems to have no real purpose other than giving other crew members some air time. It is not until the very end when Lwaxana uses her Betazoid telepathic capabilities to find out they are assassins that their presence seems to make any sense. I couldn’t see the Enterprise being used as a transport ship for a single diplomat, and even only two does not make sense. Surely there were others that could have been brought aboard? The Enterprise should have been fairly bustling with diplomats. It would be the equivalent of using the QE2 to transport the French and British envoys to a conference while everyone else finds their own way.

I also don’t know how wise it is to unleash a woman who has triple the sex drive on a conference. Wouldn’t she just set her sights on someone there now?

To enjoy this episode, you need a double suspension of disbelief. You have the usual one that goes along with any television show – especially science fiction. There is also a suspension of what is the norm in the Star Trek universe as well. It can be enjoyable to watch – even if it’s not one of the best.

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