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.|
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.|
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.
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?
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.
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.
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