Written by Fred Bronson, Susan Sackett, and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Robert Legato
Every now and then, just when you think Star Trek: The Next Generation is taking itself way too seriously, along comes a fun episode chock full of humor in an outrageous setting.
In this case, the main story has to do with a Ferengi Daimon (or Starship Captain) falling for Lwaxana Troi (portrayed by Majel Barrett-Roddenberry). For anyone who doesn’t know, Lwaxana is Counselor Troi’s (Marina Sirtis) mother whom we met briefly in the first season episode Haven. Lwaxana is brazen, outspoken, and thoroughly annoying to her daughter as well as Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) and Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes).
The Ferengi are a society dominated by the need for profit above all else. They are also a patriarchal society. Men are elevated above all and women are not treated well. Daimon Tog (portrayed by Frank Corsentino) becomes enchanted with Lwaxana after she rebuffs him at a reception following a trade conference on her home planet of Betazed.
Riker and Troi take shore leave together. It’s nothing romantic, just two friends enjoying a bit of downtime. Lwaxana has other ideas. Before she can set her plan in motion, the three of them are abducted back to Tog’s vessel which immediately leaves orbit.
The three plot an escape, but are thwarted by a sinister Ferengi physician, Dr. Farek (portrayed by Ethan Phillips). He wishes to study Lwaxana’s brain and learn how to make use of her psychic abilities.
Eventually, Riker manages to find a way to send a message in code back to the Enterprise. Lwaxana negotiates for their freedom by offering to stay with Daimon Tog and use her psychic abilities to help in negotiations. Tog agrees.
However, all is not lost for Lwaxana. Upon arrival, Picard takes on the role of jealous suitor, threatening Tog and wooing Lwaxana by reciting Shakespeare. With all of the Enterprise‘s phasers and photon torpedoes trained on his vessel, Tog decides it would be a good idea to return Lwaxana to her “lover”.
Majel Barrett-Roddenberry is perfect as the over-the-top Lwaxana. Most of the humor surrounds her or involves her during this episode. Watching both Picard and Riker try to dodge her during the reception is hilarious. Watching her “seduce” Tog by rubbing his ears is equally funny as her discomfort is evident. Part of the joke is because of the way Ferengis look; short of stature with huge ears on their heads and pointed teeth. Even better is when the tables are turned and we see her utter joy at Picard’s recitations and his discomfort after she is back on board the Enterprise.
Patrick Stewart gets to do something he does so well, and that is reciting Shakespeare. That scene alone is worth the rest of the episode. Frakes and Sirtis are really nothing more than straight-men to Lwaxana’s brazen behavior, especially before they are abducted from Betazed.
The performances by the actors as Ferengis is also terrific. It’s no wonder the producers of Star Trek: Voyager chose to bring Ethan Phillips back for a role in that series as Neelix. He does a terrific job as an evil doctor under all the makeup,
A secondary plot here involves Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton). Once again, we have the child figuring something out and saving everyone when all of the adults cannot. He sacrifices taking a final oral examination which will gain him entrance into Starfleet Academy to help out his friends.
I thought this to be a bit contrived. If he could hear the signal in the static, surely the android Data (Brent Spiner) should have been able to as well. This entire subplot could have been jettisoned, but it does lead to Wesley’s promotion to full ensign, and Picard having him complete Academy courses while on board the Enterprise.
This is not a great episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation, but it is a fun one. Viewers who are not followers of the series will have trouble understanding Lwaxana’s history with her daughter and the other crewmembers. For fans, however, it’s just fun.