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Star Trek The Next Generation: Haven

"I should warn you, sir. My mother is a little... eccentric."

In an obvious comic take-off of the Original Series episode "Amok Time," Deanna Troi is sandbagged into a Betazoid arranged marriage with, of all actors, the future ubervillain T-Bag.

Okay. It's not so much that they would have gotten past such nonsense as arranged marriages by this time, but that Wyatt Miller and his parents are human, not Betazoid. Why would they ever agree to participating in such an extreme Betazoid custom? The life-long psychic connection that Wyatt had with what's-her-face on the Tarellian plague ship made no sense, either. And both of these major plot problems could have been fixed by making the Millers Betazoid. Why weren't they?

The insertion of the planet Haven and its mythical healing powers into the story was pointless, too, although I did like the idea of the Tarellians just wanting a leper colony of their own so that they could die in relative proximity to other beings. And there was a brief mention of a Stargate that got me all intrigued, but that was it: a mention.

Anyway, enough complaining. Because this episode introduced a continuing character that I've always liked.

Lwaxana Troi is bright, brassy, over the top and in your face, and a much better character for Majel Barrett than her previous Star Trek incarnations. I loved the gong. And the pet vine wrapped around her arm. And the suitcase. And Picard's expression as he was trying to carry the suitcase. And the way Lwaxana kept making Picard wildly uncomfortable with sexual innuendo.

Although the best thing about Lwaxana Troi might be her sidekick, Mr. Homn, who was so tall, gray and silent that he blended into the walls of the ship. His unobtrusive drinking binge was a lot of fun. So was Data's reaction to Lwaxana, Mr. Homn, and the entire bickering wedding party. Brent Spiner's expressions were just wonderful.

It was also fun and understandable (okay, and a bit annoying) that Troi turned into an embarrassed, tantrummy teenager around her mother. I was also disappointed that she was instantly ready to give up a desirable career to marry Wyatt. He kept talking about how beautiful Troi was, and I know, it was the eighties, but Troi is also intelligent, accomplished, charming, adventurous, and a professional psychologist on a Starfleet vessel. Wyatt may have been cute, rather shy and sweet as well as a medical doctor, and that made him something of a marital prize, but you can't tell me Troi didn't heave a huge sigh of relief alone in her quarters after the episode.

The previous Riker/Troi relationship that was mentioned in the pilot finally came up again, but all it did was make Riker look like an ass. His dog-in-the-manger "I want to be a starship captain but I also want you to hang around in the background and continue to adore me" attitude was ridiculous. So was that opener in his quarters with the hologram of the two pretty women playing the harp. Was that supposed to be a tasteful Star Trek nod at the possibility of pornographic holograms? I think at this point they were trying to make Riker the girl-chasing hound dog that Kirk once was. Even the names are similar. Kirk. Riker. All those hard consonants.

The other thing in this episode that stood out for me was the way too obtrusive use of the color red. It was like the director of this episode decided to observe Valentine's Day in a great big way. Lwaxana's outfit, Troi's waistband, the matching jewels in their hair, Wyatt's sweater, the holodeck scene with the red rocks and magenta sky and Troi in that godawful pink and red version of her "uniform." Even the walls of the Tarellian ship were pinky purple.

And everyone just walked into Riker's holodeck program again. Maybe there really is no pornographic holography. Maybe the holodeck can be locked, and Riker didn't bother doing that because he was just brooding while sitting on a red rock. Okay, that works. What is it we used to call fans finding a way to explain something that didn't work? Fan-wanking?

Bits and pieces:

-- The message box pinata early in the episode featured Armin Shimerman as the box. I never would have known.

-- Lwaxana Troi is the "Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed." This is a phrase we most certainly will hear again.

-- At Betazoid weddings, everyone is naked. It's a fun idea. But I'm trying to picture everyone naked at the last wedding I attended, and I really, really can't.

-- The rose that changes color, sort of like a mood ring, turned white when Troi held it. But that was it. It could have been interesting. Imagine if Picard had been holding it while Lwaxana was accusing him of having naughty thoughts about her.

-- "Imzadi" means "my beloved."

-- Majel Barrett was Gene Roddenberry's wife as well as a star of the Star Trek pilot "The Cage" and a former cast member of the Original Series. But it wasn't just nepotism because she did a great job and also looked like she could have been Troi's mother. There was a resemblance other than the big black contact lenses.

-- "Rob Knepper," who is known now as Robert Knepper, has a very busy career mostly playing villains. He was convincing as a sweet young man, though. He has range.

-- In this week's hair report, Troi let her hair down but not that much, which actually matched what happened to her character. Crusher got a new do that I thought was a lot more professional. And during the dinner party, Tasha Yar's hair was a foot high. Loved it.

-- Shouldn't this episode have been called "Lwaxana" instead of "Haven"?


Crusher: "The Tarellians had reached Earth's twentieth century level of knowledge. That's all you need if you're a damned fool."

Troi: "Stop this petty bickering, all of you! Especially you, Mother."
Data: "Could you please continue the petty bickering? I find it most intriguing."

Picard: (to Data) "You're circling the room like a buzzard."

Wyatt: "Your mother relented. And I just caught my father practicing naked in front of his mirror."

Lwaxana: "I'm always serious, dear boy. It's only my pleasant nature that makes it appear otherwise."

Mr. Homn: "Thank you for the drinks."
Memory Alpha says that this was Mr. Homn's only spoken line in the entire series.

Troi: "That was meant as a joke, Captain."
Picard: "I was not amused."

Not a great episode, but fun was had. Two out of four pet vines,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. You're correct about the similarities in the names Kirk and Riker. That's how Riker got his name. You just switch the consonants around. Kirk becomes Rikr. Just add the "e."

    (This is according to my book "Star Trek 2.0 FAQ.")

  2. Hi, Kathy -- yes, I bet I heard that somewhere, way back when, and my subconscious must have retained it. :)

  3. I really like this one, largely because of Lwaxana. And it's a huge improvement on what we've seen so far - I might say it's the first good episode...

  4. Lots of fun but not as fun as your review Billie! I had similar thoughts throughout and love the term fan-wanking. It would have to get pretty desperate for some of these episodes.

  5. This review put into words my slight discomfort about Riker's behavior (as well as the odd hologram women scene) so well! Words I hadn't found. It's a joy to read these reviews with their smart critiques of things-that-didn't-age-so-well.

  6. Frank, thank you for the kind words. We all had a lot of fun with these TNG episodes, even though some stuff indeed didn't age well.

  7. I haven't seen the 'fan-wank' term in some time, it's and amusing, and often appropriate way of putting things.

    Riker is quite the jerk early on, isn't he? I still recall the jokes about him shoulder charging all the doors in his early days too. He does get much better, but he's definitely not great here.

    Lwaxana is super fun here, and Majel Barret deserves a ton of credit for just how excellent she is in the role.

    That issue you mentioned, about Troi being more than just beautiful is certainly true! I hate it when these shows focus on just that, and ignore other aspects of a character, or when they ruin it with bad writing, like what they did to Leela in the abysmal 'Invisible Enemy' in classic Who.

    Flawed but fun, and it shows TNG getting better as it develops.

  8. Lwaxana Troi always reminded me of Mrs. Roper on Three's Company.


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