Jan 17 2012 1:45pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Captain’s Holiday”

“Captain’s Holiday”
Written by Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Chip Chalmers
Season 3, Episode 19
Production episode 40273-167
Original air date: April 2, 1990
Stardate: 43745.2

Captain’s log: Two Vorgons show up on the pleasure planet Risa, asking for the lodgings for Captain Jean-Luc Picard, but there’s no record of his ever having stayed there. But the aliens are convinced that he will come, so they wait.

On the Enterprise, Picard returns from two weeks of intense and difficult negotiations of a treaty. Picard is snappish and irritable, and is in need of the one thing he’ll never willingly take: a vacation.

One by one, they come to harass him: Crusher points out the medical need for him to relax, Riker extolls the virtues of Risa as a vacation spot, Troi mentions that her mother’s going to join them on Starbase 12, at which point Picard gives in.

Picard packs his bags, including some “light reading” (one of the books he’s taking is Ulysses by James Joyce, which is nobody’s definition of light anything), Riker requests that Picard bring him back a Horga’hn, and Worf fails to convince Picard to let him assign a security guard to him for his stay.

Picard arrives and is suddenly kissed by a woman who is obviously hiding from a Ferengi (though Picard doesn’t see the Ferengi). He then relaxes with a book, only to have five different women ask if he requires anything—a swim, a massage. The fifth woman expresses confusion, because he’s displaying a Horga’hn. It turns out that displaying a Horga’hn is an invitation for jamaharon. Riker, it seems, set him up.

The Ferengi who watched Picard kiss the woman approaches Picard. His name is Sovak, and he speaks cryptically about a disc and a woman. After Picard tells him off, the woman comes over to talk to him. Her name is Vash, and she tries to get to know him better—when Sovak sees them together, asking for the disc, Vash says she doesn’t have it while slipping it into Picard’s pocket.

Arriving at his quarters, Picard finds the two Vorgons, who claim to be from the 27th century. They are seeking the Tox Utat, a device from the future that can destroy a sun. It was taken by criminals to the 22nd century. Picard has heard of the Utat, but thought it to be a legend. The Vorgons are convinced that Picard will find it on Risa at this time.

Picard then finds the disc in his pocket and brings it to Vash’s rooms—which were trashed by Sovak trying to find the disc. Vash reveals that she was the assistant to Professor Samuel Estragon, who had dedicated his life to finding the Utat until he died. The disc has his notes and data acquired right before he died, indicating a location on Risa where the Utat is buried.

After Picard punches Sovak in the nose, he and Vash travel to the caves. When they arrive at the site of the Utat, according to Estragon’s notes, both the two Vorgons and Sovak show up. While the Vorgons observe, wanting to see this moment in history, Sovak holds a gun on Picard and Vash, forcing them to dig. However, hours later, they find nothing. The Utat isn’t where it’s supposed to be. The Vorgons are disappointed and teleport away. Sovak loses it and starts digging himself, convinced that the Utat has to be there.

Vash and Picard return to the resort empty-handed. The Enterprise achieves orbit, and Picard orders Riker to engage Transporter Code 14 at his order.

Picard finds Vash trying to sneak out of the resort, and asks her where the Utat is. He figures out that Vash had already retrieved it, but had to set up a second expedition to get Sovak off her trail.

When she shows him the Utat, the Vorgons appear, demanding the Utat. Picard, not willing to trust them, orders Transporter Code 14, then puts his combadge on the Utat, which then explodes—at which point the Vorgons reveal that history showed that Picard destroyed the Utat on Risa. Satisfied, they bugger off.

Vash and Picard have a smoochy goodbye and then Picard returns to the ship, rested and relaxed.

Thank you, Counselor Obvious: Troi was with Picard while negotiating the treaty, and is the first to point out that he needs R&R.

No sex, please, we’re Starfleet: Picard and Vash share a shiny sleeping bag while heading off to find the Tox Utat, and are rolling in the hay soon thereafter (though not before Picard steals the covers). Despite Vash lying to him repeatedly, they part on good terms, those terms involving tongue....

I believe I said that: “The Horga’hn is for a friend.”

“I see. Someone close to you?”


“Someone you love?”

“I wouldn’t go that far.”

Picard and Joval discussing Riker

Welcome aboard: Jennifer Hetrick is a low-rent Karen Allen as Vash. She’s neither as sexy nor as vampy nor as sleazy as the role calls for. Her sense of mischief is too low-watt, her seductive techniques not nearly convincing, her chemistry with Sir Patrick Stewart limp. However, she will return in “Qpid” and on Deep Space Nine’s “Q-Less.”

After his Peter Lorre-esque turn here, Max Grodénchik will return in a recurring role on DS9 as another Ferengi, Quark’s brother Rom.

Karen Landry and Michael Champion are pretty awful as the Vorgons, though I suspect they were having trouble even talking under that silly makeup. Deirdre Imershein is charming as Joval—she’ll return as Watley in DS9’s “Trials and Tribble-ations.”

Trivial matters: Besides her two subsequent televised appearances, Vash also appears in the Millennium trilogy by Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens, and has a role in Rising Son by S.D. Perry.

This is the first mention and appearance of the pleasure planet Risa, which will continue to be mentioned repeatedly on all the spinoffs, with actual visits in “The Game,” DS9’s “Let He Who Is Without Sin…” and Enterprise’s “Two Days and Two Nights” and “The Seventh.”

Chip Chalmers makes his directorial debut in this episode, and he will go on to helm many episodes of both TNG and DS9.

Make it so: “You are outrageous!” This wants to be a more fun episode than it actually is. There are moments that are entertaining, and it’s fun to see Picard—the cerebral captain—having an adventure, getting the girl, and so on. For that matter, one of Sir Patrick Stewart’s funniest moments on camera is when he grunts in response to Riker’s congratulations on finishing the negotiations. (Though his anticipating Riker’s extolling the virtues of the women on Risa is a close second...)

Sadly, the episode is undermined by a plot that’s even more ridiculous than expected for such a caper story (time travelling aliens? really?), by Jennifer Hetrick’s lukewarm performance as Vash, and by an episode that just feels pointless.


Warp factor rating: 3

Keith R.A. DeCandido writes books. In 2012, he’ll write more books. If you go to his web site, you can order his books. Isn’t technology awesome?

1. strongdreams
Hetrick was sexy enough when I was 15.

However, you did fail to mention Picard's unfortunate short shorts.
2. tigeraid
As soon as I saw the post, I said to myself "And so we've come to this..."

I know Picard's a sexy beast and all, but most of the wardrobe for the whole episode just made watching the thing uncomfortable. Can't take the guy seriously in a speedo...
Jeff Weston
3. JWezy
I always liked Vash. After all, this is Picard, not Kirk - the woman has to live up to his standards, at least. She couldn't be too sleazy, or it wouldn't be in character.

The other thing I always liked about this episode was the fact that Picard simply can't have a normal holiday. Something has to happen (even something as unbelievable as this plot) to keep him from either living out his own dream vacation (reading) or the dream vacation prescribed for him (Risa).

And the immediate aftermath of the connversation quoted in "I Believe I Said That" always made me laugh - Picard discreetly flips the end of the towel over the Horga'hn, hoping nobody will notice.
4. Mike S.
This episode has some ideas that had potential. I actually liked the idea of time-travelers from the future. Maybe they should have been humans, and they could have kidnapped him, and taken him to 27th centuary Earth, for instance (something that would be done on later series, specifically, the season 2 premiere of Enterprise, which was an underrated episode, IMO).

However, the Indiana Jones analogy is just a little too thick in this episode, IMO. It could be done well , but here, it looks like they are just making fun of Indy, not honoring the writers' and producers' love for it. Later on, we'll get episodes like "The Mind's Eye", and "Starship Mine", which are obviously based on "The Manchurian Candidate" and "Die Hard", respectivly. Those episodes, though flawed, at least keep the analogy subtle enough to appreciate those shows in it's own right, and they don't come across as a bad Mel Brooks spoof, which is what this episode does.
Jeff Weston
5. JWezy
One more thing - I recently saw the DS9 episode in which Vash appears, and I still found her amusing, ambiguous, morally flexible, and sexy. And I always have a good word to say for a show or movie that can present someone (be it Patrick Stewart or Jennifer Hetrick) in a sexy role without any worry about age. Sexy is all between the ears, and they both were able to sell it (to me, at least).

And therefore, extra props for Lwaxana Troi and any episode that even refers to her...
6. Zenspinner
I think this episode is one that works as an ideal more than it does when actually watching it. To wit, for years I've remembered that funny episode where Captain Picard takes a vacation, not having seen it since the first time it was broadcast. Then reading this review I remembered all the faults...no, Picard and whats-her-face didn't seem to have particularly good chemistry...plot? I didn't remember a plot. I just remembered that the Captain desperately needed to get laid, which was accomplished almost in spite of Riker's hilarious machinations. Those were really the only things I took away from it. (I didn't even remember Picard's short-shorts, sadly enough.)

I've had several of my illusions shattered during this run, but enough of these reviews have been good enough to prove that it was really the show I was remembering, not just being 20-something and hanging out with my friends. I had started to worry.
j p
7. sps49
I'm pleased that Picard apparently shares my opinion of Troi's mom.

I hate Risa. The idea of a pleasure planet (of Hats) is okay, but TNG executes sexy SO BADLY. Ugh. Displaying your " 'orGAN"? Riker must love the place because it's the only place where he can get laid.

And I think those shorts were too short even at the time.

Edited to add time-sucking link.
8. Nate_
Wasn't Risa mentioned in the original series s well?
9. Mike Kelm
I have one issue (beyond the costume department, which is an ongoing issue)... This device never should have been from the future- how exactly could Picard have even heard of a device that was smuggled from the future to the past and then never, ever used? Let alone that there are a bunch of archeologists running around trying to find something that isn't that old anyways? I think you could either have this as an ancient artifcat of unknown power, which allows the archeologist/captain to be involved or a future weapon of unknown power, which allows the heroic captain to get involved, but as a mash of the two, it just fails.
Hell, if you're going to send something back in time, why to some planet that was already heaivly trafficed at the time you went (see the Enterprise episodes that take place here)? Why not to some world that has been unpopulated and unvisisted for millenia? Why not some lifeless hunk of rock in orbit around some uninhabited planet? Was under the Eiffel Tower in Paris busy that day?
Great idea, but too many plotholes and inconsistencies to make it pan out.
rob mcCathy
10. roblewmac
More proof people join starfleet cuz cvilian fashions are FREAKISLY ugly!
rob mcCathy
11. roblewmac
More proof people join starfleet cuz cvilian fashions are FREAKISLY ugly!
Margot Virzana
13. LuvURphleb
Hate tor. Com mobile.
Sorry for double post.
I like this episode. Ive always liked vash and never thought someone else should have taken the role. I like how chris bennett talked about the vorgons in the novel watching the clock. And i just enjoyed this. Ive never analyzed it an while its not my favorite its fun to watch.
j p
14. sps49
Nate @8-

No. Never.
15. Christopher L. Bennett
@#6: No, Risa was first mentioned in this episode. TOS did have a reference or two to "Wrigley's Pleasure Planet."

@#13: Thanks! Yes, one of the chapters in my DTI: Watching the Clock was a followup to this episode (though one that took place before it, what with timey-wimey stuff and all), and I tried to explain some of the lingering questions left by it. (There's even a cameo by Joval, though it's implicit -- I had no opportunity to reference her by name.)

The thing that's always puzzled me about this episode is that, at the time it was first aired, I could've sworn I'd heard the name "Tox Uthat" used before somewhere. But apparently it wasn't. I must've been thinking of something similar-sounding, but I've never been able to figure out what gave me that impression.

And I agree that Jennifer Hetrick wasn't nearly as sexy or intriguing as she was supposed to be. Plus I felt she was too young for Picard. I never found his attraction to her convincing.

But it was amazing to go back to this episode after DS9 and realize how unrecognizable Max Grodenchik was here. Sovak is nothing like Rom (well, not like the character Rom became -- Grodenchik's performance in his first DS9 episode or two, when the character was undefined, is more Sovak-like).
16. P.J.
I promise you Jennifer Hetrick is about 80 times sexier than anyone who wrote, edited or commented on this article. And yes, I am including myself.
Andrew Love
17. AndyLove
One thing I liked about this episode was the little riff on "Shore Leave" in the opening scenes - Crusher tries to trick Picard into taking a vacation the same way McCoy tried with Kirk (by describing an unnamed crewmember whose efficiency is declining because of a refusal to take leave), but Picard doesn't fall for it. A much better allusion to the previous series than the dreadful "Naked Now."
18. Tehanu
And I agree that Jennifer Hetrick wasn't nearly as sexy or intriguing as she was supposed to be. Plus I felt she was too young for Picard. I never found his attraction to her convincing.
Um ... First of all, too young? Not in a world where women like Anna Nicole Smith marry elderly billionaires. Plus I'm pretty sure that in real life Jennifer Hetrick actually caused the breakup of Patrick Stewart's marriage, when a paparazzo photographed him coming out of her house at 6 o'clock one morning. No chemistry? Eye of the beholder and all that, but ... are you kidding?
19. Christopher L. Bennett
I'm just saying that I think it would've worked better to cast a more mature actress, someone who could convey a sense of having been around the block a few times and who had sufficient weight as an actress to balance Patrick Stewart more effectively. Maybe someone like, ohh, Stockard Channing, for instance.
20. Brian Eberhardt
I remember the jokes my friends and I made about this episode. Which I won't post here. (They were crude male teenager jokes).

The actors went through the motions and said their lines. It lacked in interest.
Michael Burstein
21. mabfan
Well, I guess I'm going to disagree with Keith here. I enjoyed Hetrick's performance as Vash, appreciated the time travel plot, and find this episode more worthy than a 3 rating. It's not the greatest episode TNG ever did, but if I channel-surf and come across it, I always watch it.

-- Michael A. Burstein
22. Nate_
Risa was mentioned in TOS:
Keith DeCandido
23. krad
Erm, Nate? You do know that isn't an actual episode of TOS, right????

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
24. Nate_
@23 No, I didn't know that was an April fool's day joke. If I had known would I have linked to it from here?

Okay, that explains why I couldn't find the details elsewhere.
Keith DeCandido
25. krad
Nate: Well, I figured the words "april-fools" in the URL you posted might've clued you in. ;) No worries.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
john mullen
26. johntheirishmongol
I have to agree that there was little chemistry between Picard and Vash but I always thought that was because Picard didn't have any appeal. Vash was fun and sexy.
27. RichF
I always wished they had come up with a better name than "Vash". It sounds too much like the French word "vache" which means "cow". ("Fetchez la vache!")
Nate Shouse
28. MnemonicNate
It's good to see diversity in the comments! Trek brings a lot of different people with different ideas together, and that's a great thing.

I agree with krad on this one: Vash never seemed that intriguing to me, and it seems both in this episode and the latter "Qpid", Vash and Picard's scenes feel "forced"--almost Lifetime-afternoon-movie forced. I'm not saying it's terrible, but I guess I would've liked something subtle at first, then growing in intensity...I guess I'm a sucker for the Kirk/Edith Keeler moments.
29. DianeB
I always hated Vash because I was a Picard/Crusher 'shipper, but I never thought she was as awful as others have said here. And I've seen Jennifer Hetrick a couple times at cons, and she was always kind to the fans, which counts for a lot in my book.

Still and all, this episode was a mixed bag of good and bad; not one of my favorites, but containing enough entertaining bits to be worthy enough. And Krad, you did a great re-watch, as usual. :)
30. gibson99
I always found this episode to be decent light-hearted fun. On an episodic show it's nice to have a break from the more serious fare. As far as Vash not being vampy enough, I think having it toned down matched her up with Picard better.

Speaking of Picard, him in that ridiculous outfit was one of the sexiest moments in Trek ever.
31. Pah
Risa is an interesting part of the Star Trek Universe because it seems to suggest the Klingons are on to something when they claim that the Federation is weak. That is, it is not the fact that such a planet exists, but the fact that it is such a popular place for High Ranking Star Fleet officers to take vacations. If one considers what kind of people take vacations at places that offer what Risa offers and little more, say, Ibiza, one can see that it is not the kind of people that that would abide by the values of Star Fleet or the Federation.

I think the DS9 episode hints at this problematic, but in a failed way, that is this nagging suspision is put in the mouth of fanatics. Still, what they say seem to have some truth to it - a civilization who's ideal relaxation consists of only the pleasures Risa offers is hardly a very progressive one, but rather one in a state of decadence.
32. Terror and Love
"Never suffer a time traveller to live" - Old Pirate saying.
Bob Weld
33. WaitingShadows
I would agree with most people by saying both that this isn't the greatest episode, and that Vash isn't the most spellbinding actress. That being said, I'm surprised no one mentioned that the actress that played Vash also had a guest appearance on the '90s alternate reality show Sliders. It was the one where that Earth doesn't think that nuclear bombs are possible and the Earth is about to be destroyed by an asteroid. I was thrilled to see her in it just because of Star Trek.

Also, on an unrelated note, a long time ago, I read a reference by KRAD that he wrote a story in Seven Deadly Sins, the short story collection. I bought it online and just finished reading his story (he wrote the Klingon story, The Unhappy Ones). I thought it was great, the best so far in the book (of course, I haven't finished reading the last three stories). I will have to get more of his work, can anyone recommend other stories of his that they liked?
Joseph Newton
34. crzydroid
I noticed this time around that the Tox Uthat is pretty much the same thing as the Trilithium device/weapon that Soren invents in Generations.
35. DarthSkeptical
I'm gonna have to part company with Keith on this one.  I've always thought the chemistry between Stewart and Hetrick was largely what the script demanded of it.  The whole point of the acting exercise was to create ambiguity.  Is Vash actually attracted to Picard, or just using him? Does Picard ever completely let down his guard around her?  The story is, I feel, about hesitancy, not full-throated thunderbolt-of-love chemistry.  It's there to show us at least as much about why Picard can't fall in love as to demonstrate an instance of him tentatively doing so.    I'm not quite sure what better chemistry you can expect out of a con artist and an emotionally stunted guy like Picard.  

To compare this to Harrison Ford/ Karen Allen is completely unfair.  The two relationships are nothing alike, except that they both involve people interested in archaeology.  This is more the initial scenes of  When Harry Met Sally  than Raiders.  Of course, the other plot elements impinge on how much Stewart and Hetrick can actively deliver the fun of Crustal and Ryan.  But that's hardly the fault of the two actors, who have the chemistry the script allows.

It's not a stellar episode, of course, but a 3 is far too harsh.  It's a slightly above average episode.  It lives up to, but does not exceed, the promise of most holidays.  As with all vacations, it was fun doing something different, but ya got just drunk enough and just sunburnt enough that you're glad to be back in your normal routine by the next episode.

Oh and even if you don't like Hetrick's chemistry with Stewart here, it's heads and shoulders above anything McFadden gave us at any point.  You absolutely can understand why Picard would be attracted to Vash.  At no point was the Crusher/Picard thing ever this resonant.  The Doctor and the Captain were always, "They're attracted to each other because they are."  Here there's common academic interest, "bad girl syndrome", daddy issues, "war makes strange bedfellows"  — basically the Batman/Catwoman schtick.  What's the Crusher/Picard rationale?  To this day, I still don't know.

Now, It's not the best Picard romance — I still think that's the woman in ST IX.  But it's the most plausible one we got on TV.
36. Ashcom
As with several others, I'm going to have to disagree with this review at least with regard to Jennifer Hetrick. To me, she was the only good thing about this episode, which otherwise has a highly contrived opening, a preposterous McGuffin, and an adventure story featuring almost no adventure whatsoever. However I thought, when I first saw it and again watching it now, that the only redeeming feature was the chemistry between Picard and Vash and that she actually seemed so much more a perfect fit for him than Dr Crusher ever did.
Dante Hopkins
37. DanteHopkins
The only thing I disagree with here, Keith, is about Jennifer Hetrick as Vash. When I first watched I thought she was sexy as hell, even sexier because of her flexible morals and disregard of the rules. I still find her sexy, and her portrayal of Vash was good enough that even Jean-Luc Picard could not resist her, as any of us in Picard's place certainly would not have been able to.

Its a interesting episode to watch Picard out of uniform on an adventure with a hot, if morally ambiguous chick, outmaneuvering an annoying Ferengi, beating the aforementioned hot chick at her own game, and outmaneuvering two annoying time-aliens. A decent hour, that's made worth it by Deirdre Imershein's far too brief appearance (talk about a missed oppurtunity for the good Captain. Rawr.)
38. JohnC
I am more aligned with Darthskeptical's views - excellent points, especially in pointing out the awkwardness of TNG scenes involving any intimacy between Picard and Crusher. The irony is, in just the last episode before this one, "fake" Picard wooed Crusher, and he seemed to have a better handle on her than the real one ever did. ;) As for the wardrobe, I think Americans (and I'm born and raised in Florida, BTW) tend to be annoyingly critical and even prudish about men's swimsuits. In most parts of the world, Picard's trunks would fit right in (pun intended). I think the baggy knee-length shorts we wear to the beach are impractical and unnecessary. As for the female wardrobes here, I'm glad to see that the brazilian swimsuit cut has not gone out of style in the 24th century. Obrigado!
MaGnUs von Tesla
39. lordmagnusen
I just watched Q-Less, and I was surprised by how much Hetrick aged between episodes, and it had been 3 years, 4 at most. Either that, or her make-up on DS9 was worse than on TNG. And Picard's short shorts are just one more nail in the coffin of the wardrobe department's ability to create civilian clothing for the 24th century humans.

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