Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Dauphin”

“The Dauphin”
Written by Scott Rubinstein & Leonard Mlodinow
Directed by Rob Bowman
Season 2, Episode 10
Production episode 40272-136
Original air date: February 20, 1989
Stardate: 42568.8

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is ferrying Salia, the leader of Daled IV, from Klavdia III. She has been raised on the very inhospitable planet until she became of age to rule Daled, living only with her guardian, Anya.

When she beams on board, Anya refuses to allow Salia to get a tour of the ship, though she is obviously fascinated by it. She crosses paths with Wes in a corridor, and immediately starts talking to him. Wes goes into full-on teenaged, “OMG, it’s a girrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrl!” mode and gets all spacey and goofy and stuff, asking both Riker and Data about her.

Salia is obviously also interested, as she asks Picard about Wes. She also is apprehensive about becoming the leader who will unite her fractious planet (she is the daughter of the leaders of the opposing sides, who died shortly after her birth).

When La Forge dismisses a very distracted Wes from his engineering duties, he goes to other crewmembers for advice, that ranges in usefulness from nonexistent to actively detrimental to Wes’s cause. Finally, he goes to Salia’s quarters, and shows her how to use the food slots, then takes her to the holodeck, so she can experience other planets.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

Worf takes Anya on a tour of the ship. She gets in La Forge’s way for a bit, then sees that a patient in sickbay has a flu that might infect Salia — the chances are infinitesmal, but Anya insists that the patient be killed. When Pulaski and Worf refuse (for obvious reasons), Anya changes shape into a big hairy monster. Security and Picard arrive to help Worf — who needs it, as Anya is kicking his ass all over the place — but she backs down when Picard reminds her that he’s the biggest badass on the ship.

Salia sneaks out of her quarters and sees Wes. However, Anya does likewise and tries to stop them. Salia reveals then that she is also a shapechanger.

They arrive at Daled IV. Salia tries to give Wes a final goodbye, but he blows her off in typical mopey teenage fashion. But he gets over it and says a proper goodbye in the transporter room (complete with a taste of the chocolate mousse they shared). She changes into her natural form — a glowy mess of light — and beams down.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi senses that Salia and Anya’s emotions don’t match what they are, the first hint that they’re shapechangers. She also advises Picard that Anya’s emotional relationship to Salia is that of a mother.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: La Forge is doing maintenance on the deuterium control conduit, which apparently isn’t standard procedure, though he does find a defocused area.

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf gets his ass kicked by an old woman.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

If I Only Had a Brain…: Data describes Daled IV’s conflict as being the difference between night and day, totally missing that it’s a colloquialism. (The planet only rotates once on its axis, so one side is always in night-time, and the other side is always in daylight.)

What Happens on the Holodeck, Stays on the Holodeck: Wes shows Salia a couple of planets, including an asteroid field where the asteroids make sounds that occasionally fall into harmony. It’s actually pretty nifty.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

I’m a Doctor, Not an Escalator: Anya wants to kill one of Pulaski’s patients, which gets Pulaski’s back up, as that’s her job, dammit….

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Wes goes to Worf for courtship advice (his first mistake), and he describes Klingon mating rituals: women roar and throw heavy objects, while men recite love poetry and duck a lot. Riker is even less helpful, demonstrating his own flirting moves on Guinan, but they get more caught up in the flriting than in actually helping Wes. Data also gets in on the act, saying that they are probably reproductively compatible. (To be fair, he didn’t know she was a glowy ball of light at the time.)

The Boy!?: This is The Episode Where Wes Falls In Love. It’s the classic story. Boy meets girl. Boy and girl meet cute. (Actually, they meet geeky; she identifies the engine part he’s carrying to engineering.) Boy and girl each inquire about the other to third parties. Girl contrives a feeble excuse to get boy into her quarters. Boy and girl share chocolate mousse and go to the holodeck. Girl’s guardian turns into a slavering hairy monster of doom, and then girl does likewise, putting a damper on boy’s feeling. Boy and girl say goodbye before girl turns into glowing ball of light. Like I said — classic story.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

Syntheholics Anonymous. Guinan is the only person who actually gives Wes good advice. When Salia runs out of Ten-Forward, she points out to Wes that sometimes women want to be chased, and later she helps Wes through the post-breakup doldrums after Salia beams away.

Welcome Aboard: Jamie Hubbard is ten years older than Wil Wheaton, but you’d never know it from this episode, where they both look 16. Paddi Edwards is quite effective as Anya — you don’t (entirely) burst out laughing when she and Worf exchange warrior pleasantries about beating each other up. There’s also a cameo by a pre-Twin Peaks Madchen Amick, as a form Anya takes in order to give Salia friendly advice that would come better from a contemporary than a mother-figure.

I Believe I Said That: “Go to her door — beg like a human.”

Worf, giving Wes relationship advice.

Trivial matters: Pulaski, Picard, and Worf’s shock at a shapechanger is a bit odd, considering that the original and animated series gave us shapechangers in “The Man Trap,” “Whom Gods Destroy,” and “The Survivor.” Pulaski’s ignorance is particularly galling — she makes reference to something in a textbook, as if such creatures are unheard of.

Peter David had Klaa and Vixis engaging in the Klingon courting rituals Worf describes in this episode in an issue of the Star Trek comic book for DC Comics ca. 1990.

On the DVD commentary for season 5 of TNG, Wil Wheaton said: “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.”

Make it So: “Tell me again about my eyes.” You can see the paint dripping off this paint-by-numbers plot. Not a single cliché goes unturned in this bog-standard episode that is low on character development (nothing happens to Wes that doesn’t happen to every single teenager, and there isn’t a thing in this that makes it unique to Wes), lower on surprises, and thus lowest on interest. There are a few half-hearted moments of humor, but there’s not much there. It’s a sad commentary on an episode when the most interesting scenes are between Worf and an old woman pretending to be a great warrior.

 

Warp factor rating: 3


Keith R.A. DeCandido has written a tremendous amount of Star Trek fiction that features Klingons, but not a single one of them had a male reciting love poetry while a woman threw heavy objects at him. He considers this a point of pride. His latest novel is Guilt in Innocence, which is part of “Tales from the Scattered Earth,” a shared-world science fiction concept that he is co-authoring along with Aaron Rosenberg (author of several Star Trek: Starfleet Corps of Engineers stories), Steve Lockley, Steven Savile, and David Niall Wilson. Find out more about Keith at his web site, which is a portal to (among many other things) his Facebook page, his Twitter feed, his blog, and his twice-monthly podcast, Dead Kitchen Radio.

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