Thu
Sep 15 2011 1:04pm

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

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “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: “The Dauphin”

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: “The Dauphin”

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: “The Dauphin”

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: “The Dauphin”

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: “The Dauphin”

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.

27 comments
Hammerlock
1. Hammerlock
I can't argue the ultimate judgement of the ep, but I'd just like to juxtapose two statements from it:
"(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)"


with
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.



Jus' sayin'.
David Stumme
2. grenadier
There's a blink and you'll miss it cameo by Mädchen (Twin Peaks) Amick in this episode, as the young version of Anya that consoles Salia early in the episode.
Hammerlock
3. Mike S.
I have it a 3/10, also. 8 for Worf/Anya scenes, 2 for Wesley/Salia scenes, average to a 5.

However, 1 point off for having no plot whatsoever, and another point off for the fact that Worf and Wesley are the only main characters with anything to do here, makes it a 3/10. I suppose anything after "Measure of a Man" seems like a downer, but they really should have thought of something better.

In fact, Season 2, after showing promise early, is about to hit another rough patch of shows, that they don't really recover from until either "Pen Pals", or especially, "Q Who."
Hammerlock
4. Rootboy
I saw the description for this one as "Wesley has a crush" and my expectations plummeted so low that I ended up being kind of pleasantly surprised by it. The "Wesley asks for dating advice" sequence is pretty funny (Season 4's "In Theory" has a similar sequence involving data).
Hammerlock
5. Scavenger
While not a great episode, it's not actively bad either.
And I love the Riker/Guinan part.
Margot Virzana
6. LuvURphleb
I love the scene where riker and guinan play flirt for wesley.
At one point wes butts in saying, " i dont think this..."
And guinan gives him a disdainful look and says "shut up kid."
Always makes me laugh. K
Hammerlock
7. Christopher L. Bennett
I see Anya more as a great warrior pretending to be an old woman. Your way is funnier, though.

Ahh, Madchen Amick. This was my introduction to her (and apparently everyone else's, since it's her first IMDb credit), and she was the most memorable thing about the episode for me. I think I kinda liked Jamie Hubbard too.

The crew's unfamiliarity with shapeshifters is just another example of TNG's attempt to divorce itself from TOS continuity and stand apart, or even be a soft reboot of sorts. It wasn't until later, when we got producers who were lifelong Trek fans, that the modern shows started embracing continuity with TOS instead of avoiding it.

Since Salia was (evidently) female, shouldn't this episode have more properly been called "The Dauphine?"
Keith DeCandido
8. krad
GAH! I meant to mention Amick in the "Welcome aboard" segment. Will go edit now.....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Keith DeCandido
9. krad
Hammerlock: Those are details, but the basic love story is completely standard, for all that it has SFnal touches -- the protective mother figure just has the ability to be even more protective because she turns into a slavering hairy beast of doom....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Hammerlock
10. wiredog
It's a pity Wil Wheaton never got more than halfway through the first season with his reviews. I'd love to see his review of this episode.
Hammerlock
11. JMH
Because "I'm a Trekkie and that means I can warp anything into continuity", I grew up with the distinct impression that because Kirk was an explorer vessel from a relatively young period of the Federation, a lot of the planets he visited never were visited again and some might actually be classified.

(I'm not the only person who pretends that Enterprise never happened, right? Nor the only person who lives in an alternative universe where ST:10 was actually a movie adaptation of Q Squared? Anyone?)

It makes sense to me that your average member of the Federation would be shocked to see something they've only read about in books. It's one thing to intellectually know something, and it's another thing to viscerally know something, and the contrast can be jarring sometimes. You'd *think* they'd be better trained to cover for it, but...
Margot Virzana
12. LuvURphleb
No you are not alone in believing enterprise does not exist. It never happened. I hear tales of a jonathan archer but his story has yet to be told. It could all be myth.
Hammerlock
13. Cool Bev
Filmsack, a podcast that reviews and discusses films that stream on Netflix, did a commentary track on this ep last week. http://filmsack.com/2011/09/film-sack-88-bonus-sack-the-one-about-the-dauphin-tng/
Hammerlock
14. Chessara
@11: Actually, in my little piece of the multiverse, DS9 never happenned, never mind Enterprise! :p
Hammerlock
15. Christopher L. Bennett
I don't believe in removing any entire Trek series from continuity. They all have their good parts and their bad parts.

But it is a good point that it's a very big universe and nobody can be reasonably expected to be conversant with every part of it. How many of us even have an exhaustive knowledge of every nationality and ethnic group that exists on our planet, let alone every known species of animal or insect? The Federation has knowledge of thousands of different planetary systems. That's a prohibitive amount of information for any one person to be familiar with. Poul Anderson made a big point of this in his van Rijn/Flandry universe -- that the entirety of explored or settled space was too big for anyone even to be aware of every part of it, let alone for it all to be uniformly governed.

Sure, it's easier with computers to store all that data, but still, any given individual is likely to know most of the species encountered over the long history of Star Trek only through what they've read about them. Particularly if we're talking about a species that isn't a member of the Federation, that might keep to itself rather than be part of an egalitarian community where intermixing is common. For instance, the Vendorians are a quarantined species, so probably very few people have ever met one. And Kirk thought Chameloids were mythical, so there can't have been very many of them around.
Hammerlock
16. Megaduck
Christopher L. Bennett @15

You would expect however, the crew to read up on the biology and history of any passengers they happened to transport. Pulaski, for example, shouldn't she know what to do if one of the passengers gets sick? Not to mention diplomatic considerations and cultural taboos that the crew need to be aware of to avoid a diplomatic incident.

My problem is the idea that no one knows they are shape shifters. You get three options here,

Either Daled IV is part of the federation which is why they asked the federation flagship to transport its ruler which begs the questions of how the heck the federation didn't know the ruler of one of its own planets was a shape shifter. (And what about the rest of the race?)

Daled IV could be a major ally that didn't trust its navy or space fleet to transport its ruler so it asked a neutral party (The federation) to do the transport. This then begs the question of how the federation got diplomatic relations with a species and never figured out they could shape shift. You'd think that would be a major part of the culture and hard to hide.

Finally, Daled IV is a new discovery and this is a close to first contact situation so the information on the species is spotty. Which then brings up the question of why they heck they trust the federation enough to put their ruler on the federation flag ship.
Hammerlock
17. Pendard
Awful episode. But I always loved the scene where Riker and Guinan get carried away flirting. That's the great thing about TNG, there's something good in every episode. (Except "Sub Rosa.")
David Stumme
18. grenadier
Keith said:

GAH! I meant to mention Amick in the "Welcome aboard" segment. Will go edit now.....


Yeah, that's the kind of thing you usually mention, so I figured it was worth pointing out for you. :-)
Jenny Thrash
19. Sihaya
Megaduck@#16: Maybe only the royalty of the planet is shapeshifting. They could be a different species or have a genetic trait that rarely appears outside the ruling classes. At the time I first watched this episode I felt exactly the same way that you do. But these days I can think of examples of historic royalty who guarded their private secrets so very thoroughly. The Emperors of China were plenty good at walling themselves off, when necessary. And in England there were times when the only people who could legally attend to the king were members of nobility, themselves. Even today's world leaders are understandably loath to hand their medical secrets to anybody other than their personal physicians.

I can imagine Anya telling the Federation, "I am her personal caretaker, and I will be tending to her need while we're onboard. Her medical records remain classified." At this the Federation has to decide whether to take her and risk a medical incident, or dig in and require her records, risking the possibility that she will seek less secure transport and fall into danger. The Federation doesn't have much real choice.
Hammerlock
20. Seryddwr
@11, 12, 14: much as I like Scott Bakula in Quantum Leap, I too have the greatest difficulties thinking that Star Trek: Enterprise is more than a figment of my imagination, created as a result of the disappointment that scarred my soul after watching Star Trek: Insurrection.

I missed 'The Dauphin' when it first aired on British TV in the late 80s. Then I missed it again during the first re-run, circa 1996/7 (I think), making it one of perhaps three or four I'd missed. I finally saw it about ten years ago. And thought it was garbage. Glad to see I've got my ever-trusty finger on the fannish pulse. Next!
Hammerlock
21. Christopher L. Bennett
@16: Okay, but you run into the same sort of problems with the Trill in "The Host." How can they be UFP members without anyone knowing they're symbiotic? Especially given later retcons that they've been interacting with UFP member worlds since the 22nd century. You've also got the Vulcans keeping pon farr secret from offworlders, and the Stratosians keeping the Federation from finding out they have an oppressed servant class. The Federation consistently seems to be respectful to a fault of its members' right to privacy.
Hammerlock
22. JasonD
I thought Enterprise was very entertaining for what it was, and since the film reboot, it's now the only continuity that is being used. I almost choked on popcorn when Scotty made reference to "Admiral Archer's pet beagle."

Also, to back up the possibility that things discovered in TOS would not carry over to TNG, Kirk's main draw was that he was a space cowboy and only followed regs when it suited him. I can imagine him copy/pasting reports to Starfleet Command every week, consisting of nothing more than "Went to planet, stuff happened, Crewman X got turned into a dust cube, left."
Hammerlock
23. Chessara
@22: Oh no no no no! You couldn't be more wrong there! Kirk would not alter records and mis-represent things when it was his ship's mission to seek out new life etc etc...Not to mention that even if he wanted to, the Enterprise computer kept very accurate records of everything that went on. I refer you to the TOS episode "Court Martial" for an interesting take on this subject :)
Hammerlock
24. Christopher L. Bennett
@22: "Kirk's main draw was that he was a space cowboy and only followed regs when it suited him."

That's completely untrue, as Keith has skillfully argued in Star Trek Magazine and elsewhere. The Kirk of TOS was a professional military man who usually did things by the book and obeyed orders even when he didn't want to -- for instance, following Ambassador Fox's order to make contact with Eminiar 7 even though he didn't agree with it, and following Admiral Westervliet's order to leave McCoy on Yonada (at least until the situation changed). He might bend the letter of his orders when the situation called for it, as in "The Galileo Seven," but he was just as often the one defending regulations, as in "The Omega Glory." The only time in TOS that he blatantly defied a direct order was in "Amok Time." And the only time it happened in the movies was The Search for Spock. In both cases, he only violated orders and regs when extraordinary circumstances compelled him to. Yet somehow this has been exaggerated into the totally incorrect notion of Kirk as a hothead who ignored the rules -- which is a nonsensical idea because he'd never earn or keep a starship command if that were so.
Keith DeCandido
25. krad
Thanks for the plug! Christopher is referring to my article "Just Following Orders," which appeared in the November/December 2008 issue of Star Trek Magazine (#141 in the UK, #14 in the U.S.).

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Justin Devlin
28. EnsignJayburd
I was rather dismayed when the lovely Shelley Johnson turned into a freaking Ewok...
Hammerlock
29. Ashcom
This episode does, however, cement something that has been becoming obvious since the beginning of season 2.

Who does Wes go to to get the best advice and help with his emotional problems? Guinan. Who does everyone in this series so far go to for help with their emotional problems? Guinan. Who, indeed, later on, does Troi go to for help with her emotional problems? Guinan.

So explain again exactly what it is a "ship's councillor" does?

Subscribe to this thread

Receive notification by email when a new comment is added. You must be a registered user to subscribe to threads.
Post a comment