Plot Synopsis: Wesley falls in love with the new leader of a war-torn planet.
Plot A and B Analysis: The teaser here is lukewarm. The Enterprise arrives at a planet (don’t worry about remembering the names of any of the planets in this episode, you won’t care) and beams up a girl who is destined to rule a world, and the crew is basically there to give her and her governess transportation. Wesley runs into her and is immediately smitten. Plot A revolves around Salia and Wes, there is no plot B. Data is a talking head for a couple of minutes and explains how important Salia is, bringing peace to the planet, yadda yadda. There’s a scene where the ‘governess’ of Salia is gone and a young hot chick is talking to her, then a second later she’s an over-sized teddy bear. So yeah, she’s a shape-shifter. Wes meanwhile, is distracted and can’t work so he goes and asks advice on how to talk to girls. Later Salia’s governess gets a tour of the Enterprise where she promptly makes a mess. Wes goes on a date which is ok for a while then gets messy too. Really this plot just rambles on like a person you meet a party who loves the sound of their own voice, saying nothing.
Favorite Scenes: Worf demonstrating how a Klingon “lures a mate,” and Riker and Guinan’s interchanges are my favorite scenes, and maybe the only enjoyable ones. The brief holodeck scenes are pretty, showing off some really nice special effects. I wish they’d done more of that in the early seasons. The final scene with Wes and Guinan is salvageable.
Use of Cast/Characters: Picard, Geordi, Troi, Data and Dr. Pulaski all have about the same to do in this episode, which is not a lot. Frakes has one memorable scene where Riker is “seducing” Guinan for Wes’s benefit and Whoopi is good in that one too, as well as helping make the last scene of the episode not suck. Dorn has an enjoyable scene as Worf instructing Wes, and then later he’s about to get his butt whupped (yet again) by Anya before Picard intercedes. This episode is all about Wesley Crusher though, and he gets more screen time here than in the rest of the entire season combined, with the sole exception of Samaritan Snare. He gets a lot of development here as he falls in love for the first time, and of course it’s an impossible one. Still I don’t think he ticked anyone off in this episode, so that’s something. Jamie Hubbard as Salia actually turns in a decent performance in this lackluster entry, she comes across as sweet and I didn’t wince once. Paddi Edwards as Anya is pretty good also I guess.
Blu Ray Version: This is maybe only the second planet of the season that I am impressed with. If you watch it you can see the clouds and atmosphere sliding across the surface of the world, it’s a cool effect–in fact both worlds are nice. There is some intermittent grain in this episode, but I guess I’m getting used to it. The transformation sequence/effect of Anya was improved, as the intermediate stages are much crisper. It still stands up as an impressive effect, worthy of an Emmy. Frame advance it, it’s outstanding. The two beautiful sceneries Wes shows Salia had to be recreated from scratch, and are utterly gorgeous. Take a look around 34:52–if you’ll notice, Salia is standing in front of a mirror when she transforms back into a girl…but there’s no reflection until the camera cuts back to her.
Nitpicks: If Salia carries the rank of head of state, shouldn’t Picard and Riker be wearing their dress uniforms when they first meet? Just wondering. At about 19 minutes in Wes gets his first real time with Salia, and in her quarters why are the freakin’ lights off? It doesn’t create a sense of intimacy, it just looks dark. I’m sorry, but when Wes hears the word ‘allasamorph’ he should not automatically know what it means.
Overall Impression: Boring! This episode is ostensibly about the first time Wes falls in love, but boring is a better word to sum this episode up. This is 45 minutes of a whole lot of forgettable love story. You know, looking back I’ve really started feeling bad for Wil Wheaton. The poor kid grew up loving Trek and was basically getting his dream job on this show, and for the majority of the time he was on it he was hated by most of the fans of Trek. Try to imagine what it’s like to be a teenager and pretty much hating yourself anyway, then having to go to conventions and defend your character to strangers; meanwhile the producers don’t even want to give you prominent roles in episodes anymore and when you finally get one it’s an episode like this. Thank goodness the rest of the cast really liked him and looked out for him. The special effects in this episode are more prominent and are actually pretty good, especially for the late 80’s. I rate this episode 2 out of 5 stars and I have the feeling that might be a bit generous.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: This is the one and only time we ever see Wesley Crusher’s quarters. The title of this episode actually makes sense once you understand what a dauphin is. It literally means dolphin in French, but it’s used to denote the crown prince of a nation. Since Salia is the upcoming ruler of a planet I guess I can live with that. This episode contains Wil Wheaton’s first on-screen kiss, and it was to a girl 10 years older than him *high five.* The real story here is the special effects. They were amazing in 1988, and the transformation scenes consisted of using a painted morph scene, and hand animating the sequence from pic to pic. Rob Bowman the director really hated the actual monster outfits though and minimized their use as much as he could. Paddi, who played Anya, was the person who played the voice of Gozer on Ghostbusters, believe it or not! Madchen Amick is the actress playing the teenage girl briefly in Salia’s quarters. She was actually the runner-up to play Salia so I guess the producers threw her a bone because they liked her. I’m glad she’s in it, because holy cow she is smokin’ hot. I mean why wasn’t this girl in my life?? She’ll go on to be best known for her work on Twin Peaks as battered wife Shelly Johnson, so if you want more of her go there. I found a nice little Wil Wheaton anecdote, here it is:
I used to get a lot of mileage out of this joke I’d tell at conventions. The first girl that Wesley fell in love with turned out to be a shape-shifter who turned into a hideous monster, y’know after he had exposed his soul to her. Which happened a lot to me in my personal life. And I was glad Star Trek was able to capture that parallel.
Missable/Unmissable? Uh yeah…missable. Totally missable. Luckily the next episode is better.