Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Manhunt”

“Manhunt”
Written by Terry Devereaux
Directed by Rob Bowman
Season 2, Episode 19
Production episode 40272-145
Original air date: June 10, 1989
Stardate: 42859.2

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise beams aboard a delegation of Antedeans, who are being brought to Pacifica for a conference where it will be determined if Antede might join the Federation. The two Antedeans beam aboard in a self-induced stasis, which is how they deal with the trauma of space travel.

Another delegate arrives via shuttlecraft: Troi’s mother Lwaxana, who is representing Betazed at the conference, much to her daughter’s chagrin. She arrives on board, compliments Picard on his legs, makes Riker carry her luggage, insults the Antedeans, and tells Troi that men are commodities. She also mentions to Picard that she’s holding a welcome dinner as an ambassadorial function.

Picard shows up for dinner only to find out that it’s a romantic dinner for two, rather than the state dinner for the entire senior staff that he was expecting. He manages to deflect Lwaxana’s advances, most notably by contriving an excuse for Data to come join them and babble endlessly.

Only then does Troi reveal that her mother is going through the Phase, when middle-aged Betazoid women’s sex drive quadruples. Lwaxana is dealing with it by trying to find a new husband, and Picard is her target.

Not particularly wanting to marry her, but not wanting to insult her either, Picard hides on the holodeck in a Dixon Hill program.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

Undaunted, Lwaxana starts going through the other men on the ship, including Wes, Worf, and La Forge, before announcing to the entire bridge that she’s going to marry Riker — which comes as a surprise to everyone, especially Riker.

Riker goes to the holodeck to let Picard know that they’ve almost arrived at Pacifica. Lwaxana follows him in, and finds herself intrigued with Rex the bartender — not realizing that he’s a hologram until Picard tells her.

Feeling humiliated, Lwaxana beams down to the conference — but not before telepathically discovering that the now-awake Antedeans have no peaceful intent, that they are planning to blow up the conference with ultritium lined in their robes. Worf takes the delegates away.

Lwaxana beams off, not having found a husband, but having saved the conference and the Enterprise‘s reputation.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi’s primary role is to be her mother’s foil (of course, pretty much everyone is Lwaxana’s straight man…).

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf admires the piscine Antedeans as a “handsome” race.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

If I Only Had a Brain…: Data goes out of his way to ask Riker to accompany him on the holodeck, putting on period clothes, pretending to be from South America again, and — then nothing. He just sits at the bar and takes up space. Weird. He also does his fake laugh while he, Riker, and Wes are gossipping about Lwaxana. In addition, Picard uses Data as — er, uh, what is the male equivalent of cock-blocking?

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Lwaxana’s at her sexual peak, and does exactly what the episode title indicates she’ll do. After failing to land Picard, she checks out the other males in the opening credits. Wes is too young. Worf is too Klingon (humans are apparently her kink). She goes off to check out La Forge, but we don’t actually see the result (which is probably for the best). Then she just announces that she’s marrying Riker without consulting him before honing in on the holographic Rex. Bizarrely, for an episode in which a character is at her sexual prime, nobody ever even comes close to the possibility of having sex. It’s entirely related to landing a husband.

The Boy!?: Wes judges the Antedeans by how icky they look, which Data describes as the last human prejudice. (Of course, it’s apparently also a Betazoid prejudice, as Lwaxana’s even worse than Wes in judging this particular book by its cover.) This results in a cute conversation between Wes and Worf on the subject of how Wes initially judged Worf by his appearance.

I’m a Doctor, Not an Escalator: Pulaski mostly gets to run her tricorder over the comatose Antedeans a lot. Exciting stuff!

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

Welcome Aboard: Following in Whoopi Goldberg’s footsteps, Mick Fleetwood of Fleetwood Mac is a longtime Star Trek fan who wanted to appear on the show, so he appeared as one of the Antedeans, which involved him being covered in enough fishy makeup to render him utterly unrecognizable as the drummer of one of the great bands of the 1970s and 1980s.

Meanwhile, Majel Barrett, Carel Struycken, and Rhonda Aldrich all return as, respectively, Lwaxana, Mr. Homn, and Dixon Hill’s secretary Madeline. Robert Costanzo plays a holographic thug, which isn’t exactly a stretch, given his resumé, and Rod Arrants is thoroughly unremarkable as Rex. (Barrett also does the voice of the computer, and at one point Lwaxana asks the computer for directions, thus enabling Barrett to talk to herself.)

However, the most entertaining thing about this episode is a thirty-second cameo as another of the holographic thugs by Robert O’Reilly, who would go on to play the major recurring role of Klingon Chancellor Gowron on both TNG and Deep Space Nine. You can only tell it’s him when you see his eyes….

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

I Believe I Said That: “Yes, it’s something Troi warned me about when we first started to see each other. A Betazoid woman when she goes through this phase quadruples her sex drive.”

“Or more.”

“Or more? You never told me that.”

“I didn’t want to frighten you.”

Riker explaining the phase to Picard, Troi clarifying a point, and Riker reacting. After this, he gives Troi the biggest shit-eating grin in history.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

Trivial Matters: Tracey Tormé wrote this episode under a pseudonym, just as he did “The Royale” — though it’s a different pseudonym — in which he revisits two of his season one scripts, “Haven” (which introduced Lwaxana and Mr. Homn) and “The Big Goodbye” (which introduced Picard’s interest in playing Dixon Hill on the holodeck).

This episode would establish the pattern of Lwaxana appearing once a season on a Trek show for nine straight years. The only TNG season she missed was the sixth, but during that 1992/93 season, she appeared on Deep Space Nine. After TNG went off the air she appeared once a season on DS9 in its third and fourth seasons, finally ending the streak after appearing in “The Muse.”

Make it So: “Mother, what are you doing?” A pretty dreadful episode that solidifed most people’s fears that a Lwaxana episode was likely to suck. In particular the titular manhunt plays like a badly written 1940s screwball comedy, with Lwaxana daffily stumbling about the ship making an idiot of herself, apparently hardly able to even function — she barely gets how to operate the computer, doesn’t know what a turbolift is called, thinks the transporter has eaten her legs, doesn’t even get what a holodeck is — while trying to land a man to marry. Most peculiarly, this desire for matrimony stems from an increase in her sex drive, which strikes me as entirely the wrong solution to the problem.

Nothing in this episode ever really completes itself. The Antedeans are introduced to great fanfare at the top of the episode, then are all but forgotten for most of it aside from occasional glances, until Lwaxana exposes their treachery in a too-quick scene at the end. Picard’s escape to the Dixon Hill program comes with tremendous promise, including Dix having to save Rex the bartender from a bad guy, but it never pays off — neither does Data’s presence in the program, even after he goes to the trouble of dressing up. Finally, Lwaxana’s own quest also goes unfulfilled as well.

The episode has its moments, particularly Data’s babbling being used by Picard to deflect Lwaxana, but it’s mostly a complete dud.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido:

 

Warp factor rating: 2


Keith R.A. DeCandido wrote a Lwaxana Troi story for the Tales of the Dominion War anthology, which chronicled the fall of Betazed that was alluded to in the Deep Space Nine episode “In the Pale Moonlight.” The story, entitled “The Ceremony of Innocence is Drowned,” won the Psi Phi Award for Best Star Trek Short Story for 2004. Find out more about Keith at his web site, which is a portal to (among many other things) purchasing his latest books (SCPD: The Case of the Claw, Unicorn Precinct, and Guilt in Innocence: A Tale of the Scattered Earth), his Facebook page, his Twitter feed, his blog, and his podcasts, Dead Kitchen Radio, The Chronic Rift, and the Parsec Award-winning HG World.

25 Comments

Subscribe to this thread