Plot Synopsis: Tensions mount as Counselor Troi’s arranged marriage nears. Meanwhile, a plague ship threatens the planet where they are meeting.
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser here isn’t that great. We’re at a planet called Haven, we see Riker watching some kind of 24th-century holographic ladies playing harps in his quarters(ok…) when he gets called down to the transporter pad. He’s irritated at Yar who was pretty much just doing her duty, Troi wanders in for no reason at all, and whaddaya know a voice-activated magic box starts talking to her. Plot A involves the impending marriage of Deanna, plot B is the Tarellian ship. As we return we meet the prospective groom, Wyatt, and his parents, both of whom seem nice; then we meet Troi’s mother, who’s all kinds of eccentric. After a bit more with Troi, her mother and Wyatt plot B rears its head. It’s a dreaded Tarellian vessel, carrying a plague that virtually wiped out their entire race, and they want some face-to-face time with Haven, which some think has healing powers. There’s a bit of a sticky wicket here, because since Haven has no way to defend itself the Federation’s treaty requires the Enterprise to intercede–but hey, the poor suckers seem pretty nice. What to do? Tensions are supposed to mount as the (potentially naked) wedding approaches, but we really don’t feel it. The Tarellian problem is supposed to be a big moral issue but it really doesn’t feel like it either. The episode ends in a way a teenage boy would want it to, and then it’s over.
Favorite Scenes: Patrick Stewart carrying luggage is kinda funny. The scene where Wyatt and Deanna are first alone in his quarters together works because the awkwardness of that situation feels genuine. Most of the scenes involving Lwaxana are pretty funny, as she is a breath of fresh air in this stale episode. The dinner scene in particular is enjoyable, and is probably the best in the episode. I’ve got to say, in that same scene Tasha’s hair just looks terrific, and for some reason I’ve remembered it for all these years.
Use of Cast/Characters: Wil Wheaton and Michael Dorn don’t appear in this episode. This is our third character-centered episode, and this time around it’s Marina Sirtis. She actually does a pretty decent job of acting here, and her character is center stage as she gets tons of development. She comes across as mature and likable, and we sympathize with her. This and Farpoint are about the only episodes that we see Troi’s limited telepathy. This is Majel Barrett’s first episode, she will have a recurring role playing Deanna Troi’s mother, Lwaxana; she is also the voice of the Enterprise computer. Majel is famous for being Gene Roddenberry’s wife, and she appeared in a few of the original series episodes as well. Majel almost single-handedly makes this episode watchable. She comes across as likable and full of character, she makes an immediate impression and maintains it throughout. Rob Knepper does a pretty fair job as Wyatt Miller: he seems nice, and not all that confident but in a way that’s sympathetic. You never really believe he could be a doctor though. Riker gets a lot of face time here, but not really to his credit. Frakes seems to be acting as if he’s still on a soap opera, but somehow he’s also a petulant boy in dealing with Troi’s situation; it’s not a particularly appealing combination. Other than Picard, nobody else in the cast really has anything to do in this episode. Data does have one funny line, so that’s something?
Blu Ray Version: Gorgeous as always, but nothing particularly special. The planet is huge and sharp but for some reason, even though they are similar, it’s not as beautiful as the one in Justice. If you look at the face on the gift box, now you are able to see that one of his eyes is red, the other one black. In the shot of the Electorine we can see waves that actually move in the background.
Nitpicks: I like the idea of the chameleon rose, but it didn’t really turn color much, just staying white which was incongruent and distracting. Would’ve been cool to see a bit more of it. And I’m glad that “Bill” never caught on with Riker, I was getting tired of it. While Lwaxana’s clothing is nice, otherwise the costumes on this show really aren’t that great–the last outfit we see Wyatt in makes it look like he just came out of Mork & Mindy.
Overall Impression: If I were tactful I’d say this episode was “deliberately paced.” If I were honest I’d say it was slow. There’s just not a lot here that’s interesting, in fact if it weren’t for Majel Barrett I’d say most of the viewers might not have made it awake through the whole thing. Troi comes across as the kind of character you could actually like: mature, interesting, and a little fiery at times. We can sympathize with her completely. Those are about the only good points though. The episode feels pretty “original series-y” and also comes across as a soap opera at times. The ending is something I’d like in my own life. Heck, a super-hot girl literally out of Wyatt’s dreams is there and wanting him? Sign me up! Anyway, I rate this episode 2 out of 5 stars.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: This episode is the 10th episode aired, it was actually the 4th one made. Not sure why they waited so long to air it. Lots of info to be had here. Marina Sirtis was told to adopt some form of exotic accent when she was working on her character, as she was a Betazoid. She does, then this episode rolls around and Majel Barrett has a typical American accent…so the writers come up with a brilliant idea: “Oh, well the accent was from your father.” But isn’t her dad human? Whatever. According to Wil Wheaton he was intimidated that the boss’s wife was going to be working with them, but within 15 minutes of her being there the whole cast fell in love with her because she was so funny and kind and enjoyable to be around. Multiple cast members have reported loving whenever they would do an episode with her. Tracy Tormé wrote this episode and he and Richard Compton, who directed it, went on to write and produce the show Sliders. Rob Knepper who stars as Wyatt later portrays the character of Samuel Sullivan on the TV show Heroes. As we’ll see as the show progresses, Star Trek is the cradle of several folks who went on to become famous and successful. Armin Shimerman (who played Quark on DS9) is the face in the gift box, and this is actually the first role he ever played on Star Trek: this episode was aired tenth but actually was the fourth one made, putting it two episodes before his appearance in The Last Outpost. I don’t know why they delayed airing it either, it’s better than episode 2, 3, 4 and 6 which would’ve surrounded it. Also, pay attention to the command chair on the Tarellian ship, it was used in Worf’s quarters repeatedly for the rest of the series. This episode was nominated for an Emmy in the category of Outstanding Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series. Yay. What else…this episode is where we learn that when a ship is caught in a tractor beam it’s impossible to beam out, though others can beam in.
Missable/Unmissable? Missable. It’s not outright terrible but nothing that you’ll regret missing. The following episode is definitely unmissable, one of the finest of season one.