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Star Trek The Next Generation: The Price

"Who needs rational when your toes curl?"

I moaned out loud when I realized I'd gotten the bad Troi romance episode. At least the idea of a stable wormhole connecting to a far off part of the galaxy was pretty darned interesting. So let's postpone the painful part of this review, and talk about the wormhole first.

The idea of a stable wormhole is very cool and gee, it could be the source of a zillion new Star Trek stories. The early scene at the reception in Ten Forward was fun, and reminded me a lot of "Journey to Babel." I liked the little detail that the wormhole popped up every 233 minutes, because it's so weirdly specific. I also liked that the Barzan were represented by Bhavani, a middle-aged woman, because in the 1980s and 1990s, that was usually a guy. And I liked the metal things that curved over her face to her mouth because even though they didn't state it out loud, I could assume it was to help her breathe in an alien atmosphere. Nice detail.

But did they have to bring in the Ferengi, my least favorite recurring Star Trek aliens ever? They're the worst, aren't they? Am I forgetting a species that is even more dislikable? And tell me why would anyone volunteer to check out that wormhole in a tiny shuttle and risk getting stuck in the Delta quadrant a century away at warp nine, and hey, that's a whole other quadrant than the one they were originally selling, where Geordi might have spent the rest of his short life starving in a shuttlecraft alone with Data?

Most importantly, why would the Federation bid on a supposedly stable wormhole that hasn't even been fully tested yet?

Okay, back to the A plot. Or was it the B plot?

Unlike many Next Gen fans, I like Troi, and always have. Marina Sirtis isn't Meryl Streep, but she did the best she could with a character that, let's face it, was mostly just stuffed in sexy outfits and always got shortchanged in the plot department. And there isn't anything wrong with the actual Troi plot in this episode. It showed that like all of us, she gets tired when she has a long day, that she has a favorite indulgence, that she is capable of going overboard and not thinking clearly when she's strongly attracted to someone, and that when it comes right down to it, her loyalty to the Enterprise and its captain and crew is unshakeable.

So why is this episode reeking of uncomfortable sexism? Is it just that I can't imagine instantly falling for a guy that obviously smarmy, electric blue eyes or not? Is it the way he messed up her hairdo before they'd spent two minutes together? Was it the cringeworthy oil scene, or the one where he carried her off to bed like Rhett Butler and Scarlett O'Hara? (I hope I didn't just spoil Gone With the Wind for you.) And if she's half Betazoid and he's only a quarter, how come she didn't know what he was? (And if they'd had kids, how much Betazoid would those kids have had? I'm terrible with fractions.)

Ral went over the line so quickly, too, tracking down Riker and practically going "Nyah nyah ni-nyah nyah, I'm having sex with Troi and you're not." Fortunately, Riker wasn't thrown an iota. (Of course, he's a Zen master of the poker face, so maybe I'm wrong and he was deeply pissed.) And Ral topped that off by trying to convince Troi that reading emotions and using his secret knowledge to manipulate people during critical negotiations was exactly like Troi doing her job on the Enterprise, helping her captain figure out what aliens with dangerous weapons might do, counseling crew members under stress and dealing with grief.

And then he goes, please run away with me and help me develop a conscience. He actually pretty much said that exact thing. Did anyone think she'd go? She has an actual important job on a starship and everything, while he had a date to the reception that he dropped like a hot potato, making it easy to assume he'd do the same with Troi next week. She obviously would have been much better off with the chocolate sundae. Except the replicator was giving her a hard time about it, which just isn't fair.

One more thing. I have to give a special mention to the Troi/Crusher exercise scene in very tight, colorful leotards, green for the redhead, pink for the brunette, holding hands as they stretched and talked girl talk about sex. This was an opportunity for a good scene, too, because when you think about it, who else can the ship's chief medical officer and head shrink confide in but each other? Why couldn't they have shown the two of them lounging around in Crusher's office eating lunch together and talking shop? (Where is that image coming from? Is there a future scene with them doing that?)

But no. "Who needs rational when your toes curl?" A swing and a miss. Strike out.

Bits and pieces:

-- Stardate 43385.6. Barzan 2. and the Delta quadrant.

-- Our lovers were calling each other Troi and Ral. Not Deanna and Devinoni. If my name was Devinoni, I'd probably prefer my last name, too.

-- The Chrysalians, who sounded like a planetary Switzerland, had a human negotiating for them. Were they human, too? If not, and I got the impression they weren't (correct me if I'm wrong), why would they trust a human with something so critical? I hope they fired him.

-- Two Ferengi got stuck in the Delta quadrant forever. Too bad. Am I remembering that we get back to them at some future time? (And that's a big yes! Here's a link to Juliette's review of the Voyager episode, "False Profits".)

-- Beverly's shorter hair was back. I seem to recall that Gates McFadden had very long hair she wouldn't have cut, so maybe last week they were trying out her real hair. And then maybe they changed their minds. Wigs take less time than styling really long hair.


Riker: "May I escort you, Ms. Troi?"
Troi: "Just tell me there's some chocolate here."

DaiMon Goss:"We'll need chairs."
Picard: "I am Captain Picard of the Enterprise. I am serving as host for these proceedings."
DaiMon Goss: "Good. Then see to it that we get some chairs."
Picard: "Let me explain..."
DaiMon Goss:"Fine, fine! Just have your Klingon servant get us some chairs."
Worf: (furious) "I'm in charge of security."
DaiMon Goss: "Then who gets the chairs?"

Mendoza: "You must play poker, Commander."
Riker: "Poker. Is that a game of some sort?"
I loved Riker's poker face during this exchange.

Picard: "The Federation could end up owning the proverbial lemon."
Data: "Proverbial lemon, sir?"
Picard: "Later, Data."

Three out of four proverbial lemons for the stable wormhole plot. One out of four proverbial lemons for the romance plot. Zero out of four for the exercise scene. What does that make? Probably lemonade,

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


  1. The TNG Ferengi were pretty awful. The talk about not caring about rationality when your toes curl really ticks me off. There was a show called Remington Steele and during the first season the female lead, Laura, and her female friend talked about how sexy Remington Steele was that having a fling with him would be a teeth rocking experience. Laura replied that she had worked too hard to give everything up just to have her teeth rocked, a response that I loved. I wish that attitude had shown up here.

    Note: In the second season of RS TPTB told Stephanie Zimbalist that Laura needed to be less hard and suddenly teeth rocking became more important than her career, but for at least one season we had a woman who cared more about her work life than good sex.

  2. There's nothing wrong with the Ferengi besides the fact that they're hideous anti-Semitic caricatures, plus everything they ever do and say. Apart from that, they're golden.

  3. Those two Ferengi reappear in Star Trek Voyager's episode False Profits. The fact they got that Voyager episode is probably the best thing about this episode - and it wasn't that great a Voyager episode!

    Excellent review Billie. Hit the nail on the head. We all laughed out loud during that exercise scene when we rewatched this one...

  4. What I like the most about this episode, is not the episode itself, but that it seems to have the seeds of what's going to turn out to be the next two incarnations of Star Trek in the future. Both into one episode. Whoever wrote it was visionary. We have a stable wormhole, the basis for DS9 and a ship (in this case a Ferengi one) stranded in the Delta quadrant wich is the basis for Voyager of course. I found that interesting. Is like the writers, or Brandon Braga, look back on this particular episode for inspiration. Facinating.

  5. Thanks so much for the great comments. LOL, TheShadowKnows -- couldn't have said it better.

    Juliette, I knew that episode sounded very familiar. :) I'll add a link to my review.

  6. Well, it was the 80's, and aerobics was all the rage... the only thing you did not point out (and my (female) First Officer pointed out immediately) is that, along with the exercise routine, and the cute leotards, and the sexy talk, was a huge mirror -- so the boys can check out every angle! I remember having to talk my XO down from destroying her own television. --JB

  7. I'd be a hypocrite if I said the exercise scene offended me the first time I saw it... since I was a 19 year old male at the time.

    Today I'd say it's pretty tacky, but it still beats the gruesome "decontamination" scenes on Enterprise. The only thing worse than those is the Hardees (aka Carl's Junior) commercials where a hot model eats some revolting-looking burger and slobbers all over herself. Those manage the amazing feat of making food AND sex look unappealing.

  8. McFadden wore wigs through most of TNG. And Sirtis was usually sporting add-on hairpieces.

  9. (And if they'd had kids, how much Betazoid would those kids have had?)

    If Deanna is 12/24ths Betazoid, and he is 6/24ths, which is 18/24ths in total; their children would be 9/24ths, or 3/8ths, Betazoid.

  10. I thought for a moment I had fouled up my arithmetic. I read the page very late at night :)

    3/8ths Betazoid does not sound very empathetic to me :)

  11. When Ral first came to Troi’s room, I assumed that they used to know one another and had been lovers back then; otherwise, Ral would have been acting like a creepy jerk. But no, they’ve never met before; he really IS a creepy jerk. And THIS is the guy they give Troi who’s supposed to curl her toes? This guy would make ME curl my fingers — so that I could punch him in the face. :-)

    I read a lot of (TOS) fan fiction, and while much of it is dreck, some of it is really quite fine. If FAN FICTION authors can write better romantic dialogue than this, what is wrong with the supposedly professional writers who wrote this episode? It’s as if they’ve never gone on a date before or never met an actual female. No wonder Data was TNG's breakout character, because the writers of this episode showed his level of understanding of humanity.

    Marina Sirtis sure was beautiful, though, especially with those Betazoid eyes. She’s a better actress than I’ve given her credit for, if she could even pretend to be interested in this sleezebag.

  12. I've always like Troi as well, although this one is NOT her finest moment! This show came out when I was in high school so that aerobics scene was a positive for me, but I also liked Dr. Crusher a bit more than Counselor Troi, but I do still like both.

    Ferengi are a terrible mix of stereotypes as TheShadowKnows points out, and they're just kind of goofy, so I don't take them seriously. Now, I like goofy at times, one of my favorite sci-fi races are Star Control's Spathi, a race of devout cowards, but it doesn't work well for the Ferengi since they come off as bumbling buffoons, kind of like KAOS from Get Smart, but KAOS was supposed to be silly.

    Wormhole idea good, most of the rest bad.


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