Star Trek The Next Generation: Dark Page

“Aren’t you going to mingle, Mr. Woof?”

Lwaxana Troi is back on the Enterprise introducing a new race to the Federation, the Cairn, who communicate mostly through images, and a new man to her daughter, who communicates mostly through pauses.

What happens when the counselors need counseling? TNG tries to address this question in this emotional but, for me, ultimately lukewarm Troi family episode. Lwaxana’s increasing distress is at first apparently caused by the Cairn – but when Marques points out that there’s been a darkness in Lwaxana since they’ve met, it’s Troi who has to descend into the underworld to rescue Eurydice.

What I thought was really well done in this episode was Lwaxana. Sometimes she can seem histrionical, but I thought her characterization was on point. From the beginning – when she tries to get Troi to marry a telepathic diplomat – to the moment in the arboretum where we see Hedril falling into the water – Lwaxana perfectly shows the confusion, frustration she must be experiencing with her telepathic powers harming her. And then the dream representations of Lwaxana ranged from the terrifying to the pathetic. Majel Barrett showed an impressive range in this episode. And more – this is a character she’s managed to pull out so successfully across a range of episodes that we can even agree with Troi when she notices Lwaxana’s drab clothing.

I was also impressed by this simple story which required a few hallways and prostheses and wound up creating a world both inside and outside a mind.


Unfortunately for me there were some misses too. The revelation of Kestra and Lwaxana’s duplicity were horrendously sad, and appropriately so, and the fact that Troi’s father is dead kind of sets the frame for why Kestra was so well hidden. But then it turned out that Mr. Homn had some keepsakes from the child, making me wonder. Also, I was a little freaked out that this important woman diplomat basically fell into a coma and nobody from Betazed was like Hey, how’s our Fifth-house type daughter, youse guys? She’s not just a woman and a mother, she’s a professional.

In the end I guess what we really take away with us is the strength and determination of Troi. Except for a little wolf-running, she kept turning and facing obstacle after obstacle, even finding enough strength to leave her father when she had to. She played detective again and again (with a little help from Picard) to unravel the mystery and save her mother’s mind. And the truth is, Troi doesn’t need a man. She doesn’t need a husband. She might need a little light, bearded fun on the side, but she’s a fully realized, independent woman.

Quotables

“Your mother told me of your need. Yes... you need a husband.”

Bits and Pieces

The Cairn are a very new contact; this is the first time they’ve telepathied with another race.

Riker looks like he’s having too much fun in this episode. Even when Lwaxana is yelling at him to stop touching Troi, he looks almost as much amused as astonished. Probably thinking it will boost his reputation; bad Riker.

Troi has several changes of clothing in this episode, possibly the most I’ve ever seen her swap out.

Kirsten Dunst makes an early televised appearance in this episode as Hedril; she would soon become Claudia in Interview with the Vampire, and twenty years later, she’s dating Spider-Man. Great how life works out, isn’t it?

And its weird to juxtapose television shows from two eras. I couldn’t see the wolf on this episode without mentioning Game of Thrones.

Overall

Four out of five protective wolves.

1 comment:

Billie Doux said...

I thought it took too long to get to the point, but the scene where Lwaxana finally faced the truth made me cry.