Written by Frank Abatemarco, Brannon Braga, and Rene Echevarria
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
The Enterprise beams on board Ves Alkar (portrayed by Charles Lucia), a Federation Ambassador who’s transport ship was under attack. Immediately upon his arrival, is sickly mother (portrayed by Susan French) threatens Counselor Troi (Marina Sirtis). The old woman appears to be a victim of dementia.
When Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) receives orders to escort the Ambassador to his destination, Troi takes the opportunity to get to know the Ambassador better. Another unpleasant encounter leaves Troi greatly distressed.
When his “mother” dies, he asks Counselor Troi to participate in a meditation ceremony, traditional among his people, the Lumerians. Troi comes away from this ceremony quite a changed woman. It becomes apparent to the rest of the crew that Ves Alkar somehow is linked to Troi. He channels his negative energy through her, slowly killing her, but enabling him to be a top negotiator. The woman he came on board with was not his mother, but another woman whom he had connected with in this fashion.
This episode has so many layers, yet none of them are clearly fleshed out. On one level, there is the story of whether or not it is worth one person’s life to be able to achieve peace between warring factions. Ves Alkar’s charge is to bring peace to two viciously warring factions. The passing mention of the two sides indicates the fighting has been terrible. If Alkar can bring peace to them, is it worth the sacrifice of one life?
Yet this question is glossed over in favor of posturing on the part of the Enterprise crew. Picard rightly defends Troi and attempts to protect her from Alkar and sever her connection to him. The cost of his actions is never mentioned or dealt with. Have the negotiations broken down and the terrible fighting continued?
The makeup effects on Marina Sirtis as Alkar channels this negative energy to her is good. Unfortunately, all that is ruined by the swift transformation back to her old self once Alkar is forced to release his hold on her. The transformation is entirely too swift which makes it unrealistic. It would have been better had the effects lingered for a bit and she gradually return to who she was at the beginning.
The acting is mediocre. Sirtis does her best with what she’s given, but the material is poor. At one point she is put in a slinky dress and seduces a young ensign Mrs.-Robinson-style. It’s probably the best scene of the entire show when Commander Riker (Jonathan Frakes) walks in on them. However, the rest of the time she seems to be merely a shrieking shrew, hardly something to show off her range.
The guest-star Charles Lucia is completely devoid of charisma, making me wonder how there could be any belief of a woman being attracted to this negotiator at all. It’s just a poorly written episode with no seeming purpose or direction. Other than the one scene, there is no real payoff for fans, nor is there anything carried over to the future that makes it worth watching. Not quite as bad as some other episodes of the series, it’s still one I’d pass on seeing again.
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