Oct 17 2011 1:20pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Manhunt”

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

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: “Manhunt”

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: “Manhunt”

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: “Manhunt”

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: “Manhunt”

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: “Manhunt”


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.

1. don3comp
Tracy Torme was bitter about the rewrites to his script: "'The Royale" I just shrugged off, but I felt they were mutilating 'Manhunt.'" If he and Harlan Ellison ever talked about "Trek" rewrites, I'd love to hear that conversation!

Given that the antedians are among the more alien-looking aliens (meaning they're not humans with forehead ridges), it's too bad that more wasn't done with them.

I agree this definitely isn't one of the stronger episodes, though between the antedian design and the funny dessert scene, I probably would rate it higher than your 2.

But in the end, I think I have to agree with Rex. A woman with "looks and bucks" quadruple her usual sex drive is looking to get lucky. GUYS, WHAT IS YOUR PROBLEM?!? : )
2. don3comp
I also would up the rating on the strength of Majel Barett's charming performance (and those by Stewart and Spiner), which for me manages to rise above the script.
3. Mike S.
I perfer this episode to "Up the Long Ladder." That one was trying to send a serious message, but it got lost in the humor.

At least this episode is basically and out-and-out comedy. It's by no means a classic episode of TNG, nor is it a terribly important one. It's just a rip-roaring good time, and I think it's effective if you can just go with it (Majel Barrett was very good, IMO - so was Diana Mulduar in the scene with Deanna Troi). My only complaint is that Picard's constant changing of the Holodeck program goes on way too long (I'm guessing this episode was running short).

Like I said, not on my "favorites" list, but not on my "least favorites" list either.
Sim Tambem
4. Daedos
"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."

What exactly does that mean?
5. Scavenger
I confess that I like this one too as a more comedic 'day in the life' episode. It's not great, but it's not offensive, and It feels like the cast is having fun in it.

@4: KRAD is making a marriage is the end of sex joke there
Chris Lough
6. TorChris
@4 & @5. I took it more as a logical inconsistency. If Lwaxana just needs sex, why doesn't she lock herself on a holodeck/go to Risa/etc? (Riker probably does that all the time!) It's fine if it's established in the story that she can't have sex until married for some biological/cultural/logistical reason, but that's not made clear. (Come to think of it, that probably would have given the story a good sense of urgency beneath the humor. Is it too late to rewrite this episode?)
Keith DeCandido
7. krad
Chris is correct -- my point is that, if you're confronted with an increased sex drive, you should, y'know, go have sex. *laughs* The episode doesn't make it at all clear if this is a temporary or permanent state, but the implication is that it's temporary, which is all the more reason to avoid a permanent pairing. Plus there's the fact that the promise is never fulfilled -- she doesn't find anyone.

As for the rating of this vs. "Up the Long Ladder," folks should keep in mind that the warp factor rating is, by far, the least important part of any rewatch entry. :) But ultimately I rate "UtLL" higher than "Manhunt" based on the fact that, when I watch "UtLL," I laugh. When I watch "Manhunt," I cringe.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
8. DavidA (still)
Majel Barret is consistently excellent, and it is too bad it is almost always in the service a sill role in generally bad-to-mediocre scripts. She deserved better. I'm still sorry we never got to see her as Number One.
9. Edgar Governo
It really is for the best that we never see her hit on La Forge. After a few suggestive references to him "getting her engines working," she would've blithely started telling him, "Why, you'd have to be blind not to...oh."

No one needs to see that awkward conversation onscreen.
Adrian J.
10. LightningStorm
IMO the other side of "cock-blocking" should be .. uhm... not terribly
sure of the netiquette or TOS here so I'll be not direct and say it
rhymes with "swat".

And KRAD, you keep saying that but we all keep harping on it, these warp factor ratings should be highly scientific and stand up to extremely close scrutiny! lol ;) This is the internet man! What are you thinking putting a rating on something based on not much.
11. Gerry__Quinn
The Federation should organise some sort of interplanetary travel / matchmaking service to bring together Vulcan men with Pon Farr, Betazoid women with Ku'gar or whatever it's called, and any other humanoid species with similar periodic episodes...
12. critter42
@11 - ?
13. Christopher L. Bennett
I think Lwaxana was fairly consistently established as something of a traditionalist when it came to marriage and family, even if she was rather an iconoclast otherwise. Heck, she went so far as to arrange a marriage for her daughter. So I think there's precedent to explain why her reaction to an increased sex drive is to seek a husband rather than just a fling. She may go through husbands like she goes through wigs, but she still generally wants to be married to the men she gets together with (though Timicin is a notable exception).
14. Bobob
Lwaxana Troi was by far the worst thing in TNG, both the characterization and performances. But I guess Gene's wife must have a job.
15. Seryddwr
Oh look - an episode in which nothing happens. One of the worst TNG episodes ever. 'The Dauphin' looks good alongside this drivel.

Krad: 'But ultimately I rate "UtLL" higher than "Manhunt" based on the fact that, when I watch "UtLL," I laugh. When I watch "Manhunt," I cringe.'

What he said. The episode is unwatchable, plain and simple.
16. Pendard
I've always loved the fact that Lwaxana can't make the Enterprise's computer work, since Majel Barrett plays both parts.

Yes, this episode is pretty bad. I'm glad KRAD rated it so low, I was afraid he was getting soft after the sweetheart deal "Up the Long Ladder" got from him last time. But Majel plays Lwaxana to the hilt, as usual, and that's always worth watching.
Nate Shouse
17. MnemonicNate
Yay for Dixon Hill, though. That'll save this one from a "1" in my book.
18. Anony
I remember very little from this episode, but I was always fond of the out-of-nowhere exposure of the fish plans at the end. It was a nice break from how seriously the throwaway alien plot of the week is usually presented.
20. Coemgenus
There is a kind of elegance to the juxtaposition of Picard going on the holodeck to solve a fake mystery while Lwaxana does the captain's job of solving a real mystery by pointing out that the Antideans plan to do murder. Picard might've put those Dixon Hill skills to work in his day job! The ending was so rushed, though, that it obscured this point, if that was indeed the writers' intent.
21. Electone
Still better than most of the Season 7 garbage.
22. 1337SkeetBobeet

There may be some elegance to the concept, but the execution was awful and there was absolutely no justice done to the concept. There was no foreshadowing of any terror plots. Felt more like a cop-out to bring an ending to this meandering episode and give
Lwaxana a little more substance so she's not simply a ludicrously socially awkward horny old-woman. How is it that her intellect is great enough to read minds but somehow not great enough to tell that nobody wants her around?

If you find consistent stupidity thrown at you to be fun, then yes, this episode is roller coaster of fun.
Brian Murry
23. troopers151
No fan of Dixon Hill but tolerate it. Amusing episode. First post thanks.
Edward Chinevere
24. Drawde
I'm not a big fan of the "manhunt" of it all, but I would watch "Lwaxana in Space" so it get a pass from me on that front.

However- I LOVE the end where she exposes the antedeans. Several commenters refer to this as "throw away" - but I think it's a fantastic twist that's delivered with perfect flair. Essentially, the viewership, like the captain and the crew, have at this point completely dismissed Lwaxana as any kind of useful person on the basis of her flamboyance, when she turns everything on its head by solving a problem they didn't even know they had with a single sentence. Commentary on anyone whose opinion has ever been dismissed on the basis of them being too "peculiar."

It can also be perceived as commentary on how human-centric (and american-centric; and vanilla-american-centric) the show is. Lwaxana, like all the white dudes, forgets that the rest of the universe doesn't see things the way she does. She almost FORGOT to tell them that they were terrorists because she just assumed everyone knew - it was so obvious to her. I think that's fabulous.
25. Jacob H
I believe the female equivalent of cock-blocking is called clam-jamming

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