Star Trek The Next Generation: Captain's Holiday

"You loathe going on vacations. Once you're there you have a marvelous time."

In one of the weirder, but possibly more entertaining, episodes of the Next Generation, Patrick Stewart shows off the gifts his parents gave him in an engaging Indiana Jones-style romp through the resort planet of Risa while a mysterious woman, Vash, draws him into a little problem of her own.

Let's get this straight: I certainly think he needs a vacation. I love Patrick Stewart, and I love Picard. But am I the only one who thinks one of the writers was having a bit of a revenge moment here somewhere? Or possibly one of the accountants: I'm fairly certain costuming took a vacation this week. For a large part of this episode, Picard is dressed in tanning-booth resort wear, and our aliens looked like refugees from a circus. Whether the costumers were on strike or this was intentional, it led to a beautiful array of Picard:

Picard waving sexual idols...

Picard opening himself to the sun....

Picard majestically condescending to aliens...

Picard, the original Elegant Millionaire.
Yep, Patrick Stewart is the team player who does it all for the team. And I'll be damned if he doesn't pull it off. To a large extent you forget the lack of clothing; Stewart looks as poised out of his uniform as in it. It almost justifies the what-the-heck plot, which starts out promisingly: Picard needs a vacation. He's not only grunting, he's staring obsessively at work PADDs. I thought Troi threatening Picard with her mother was hilarious, and certainly more effective than the Doctor's diatribe. It's a measure of how much more comfortable this crew is with each other that they can now joke and engage this way. They've come far.

But once Picard gets to Risa for his vacation, things begin going nuts. Riker's tricked Picard into advertising a hunt for jamaharon with one of the natives; Picard's discussion with the "hotel employee" was hilarious. Then he meets the devious Vash, and things get more interesting. You see, there's something Vash is after. Which Ferengi are also after. And apparently visitors from the future. It almost doesn't matter: the point is more how Picard is always ahead of the treacherous Vash, and how she's undone both by his outpredicting her and by his not exactly caring. Are these two soul mates? No, but the responsibility-laden Picard has to see the unburdened Vash as what he could be, maybe, if things had gone differently.

The Ferengi return in this episode as one of Vash's enemies, Sovak. Unfortunately it seemed like another stereotype caricature, this one with horrible 80's clothing stolen from my grandmother's friend in Brooklyn. That the Ferengi could come through this, and become the more complex race they were in future episodes, is testament of their strength as an imaginary figment of something.

I'm sorry someone dressed you in this.
The light, sitcom-ish feel has the benefit of letting us relax into a light, sitcomish story. The Tox Uthat, that mysterious artifact from the future, turns out to be a mystical-powers diamond. Vash turns out to be a criminal double agent of sorts (and a girl; this makes sense, since everyone knows a diamond is a girl's best friend.) Nothing here is really lasting in terms of a greater story arc; Picard even orders the Uthat destroyed. All that's really left is a new connection with Vash, and maybe a tiny bit more humanity visible in Captain Picard.

And the memories, good or ill, of a Starship Captain in eight thin inches of Spandex. And a tiny robe.

Bits and Pieces

Transporter Code 14 is code for "blow up whatever I'm holding," basically.

Jennifer Hetrick, who plays Vash, apparently dated Patrick Stewart in real life at some point. Not surprising: great energy between the two this episode. 

Quotables

Vash: You know, Jean-Luc, it's lucky for you we met. If it wasn't for me, you'd still be back there sitting in the sun, relaxing.
Picard: That happens to be why I came to Risa.
Vash: I'm sure you hated every minute of it. That kind of vacation isn't for a man like you. You need excitement.
Picard: Excitement? Spending in a damp cave? Chasing after something we shall probably never find?
Vash: You're enjoying yourself, aren't you?
Picard: Yes.
Vash: I just wanted to hear you say it.

Sovak: She betrayed me, and used my money to make her way here.
Vash: It didn't happen that way.
Sovak: She's a greedy and unscrupulous woman.

Overall

I actually loved it and had a great time watching. Sometimes good scifi does the most banal stupid normal human things and turns them on its head. In this case, the Captain has everything completely in hand from beginning to end; I didn't feel much suspense. What I did enjoy was seeing the human, humorous side of the Captain appear in full. 3 and a half secretive Captain smiles.

3 comments:

Mark Greig said...

I never much cared for this episode but this review is bloody hilarious.

Juliette said...

Great review! Love the illustrations. I can never get over Riker sending Picard to a notorious sex resort on holiday, but it's good fun and a light 'comedy' episode that's actually reasonably funny, so that's good.

Billie Doux said...

I'm certain this episode was the result of the producers finally acknowledging that Patrick Stewart had unexpectedly become a sex symbol. I think they'd expected it to be Jonathan Frakes, but no. :)

Wonderful review, Joseph. Lol.