Jan 6 2012 3:15pm

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

Housekeeping note: This week’s Tuesday-Friday schedule is now the new norm. Moving forward, new installments of the TNG Rewatch will appear mid-day every Tuesday and Friday. We’ll have “Sins of the Father” on Tuesday and “Allegiance” on Friday. Please adjust your lives accordingly...

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on “The Offspring”

“The Offpsring”
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Jonathan Frakes
Season 3, Episode 16
Production episode 40273-164
Original air date: March 12, 1990
Stardate: 43657.0

Captain’s Log: Data, after attending a cybernetics conference, spends every spare moment in the lab. After several weeks, he unveils what he’s been working on to La Forge, Troi, and Wes: a child named Lal (the Hindi word for “beloved”). Data has been able to do what only Noonien Soong had been able to accomplish previously.

Picard is apprehensive to say the least, precisely because this is so momentous. His initial complaint is that Data did not consult him. Data, justifiably, points out that he has not observed other members of the crew consulting the captain on their procreation.

Data wishes his child to choose gender and form, and Lal decides to appear as a human female. She learns quickly, and with each neural transfer Data makes from his own brain her abilities and philosophical inquiries improve and increase. Data tries sending her to school, but that doesn’t entirely work as she is not well enough socialized for the older children and too advanced for the younger ones.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on “The Offspring”

Starfleet Command, in the person of Admiral Haftel, is concerned that the Enterprise isn’t the right atmosphere for the new android, and that Data’s presence might well retard her development. Haftel comes to the Enterprise to inspect Lal and to see if she should remain on board (though it’s a show, really — he has no intention of doing anything other than take her). Picard does not feel that he can just order Lal away from her father, as androids are sentient beings with rights that he himself helped define.

Since school isn’t working, Data has Lal work with Guinan in Ten-Forward. It’s a good place to observe humanity. She learns about holding hands and kissing, to sometimes comic effect — but when she realizes that she is different from everyone around her, she questions why Data continues to try to be more human when he can’t be. He says that he’s struggled with that question all of his life. She then holds his hand. (She also uses contractions, something Data has never mastered.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on “The Offspring”

Haftel interviews Lal, making it clear that she’s to come to the Daystrom Annex on Galor IV with him — and without Data. Lal has no desire to do so, and Picard asks her what she wants.

She says she wishes to stay on board with her father, at which point Picard excuses her. She goes to Troi, because she is feeling emotions: fear at being taken away from her father.

Haftel then talks to Data, who refuses to volunteer to release her to the admiral. She is his daughter, and to give her up would violate every tenet of human parenting he has learned. So Haftel orders Data to turn her over, which, of course, he follows —

— until Picard belays the order. He will not allow Haftel to break up the family.

However, before Picard and Haftel can argue about it further, Troi calls Data in a panic. Lal is malfunctioning — though that malfunction is emotional awareness. Unfortunately, it’s also a symptom of a cascade failure. With Haftel’s help, Data tries to repair her, but every time Data attempts to fix a pathway, another one breaks down. There’s nothing to be done. Lal’s final words are that she loves her father.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on “The Offspring”

Data incorporates Lal’s memories back into his own positronic brain, so she will live on, in a manner of speaking.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: A new sub-micron matrix transfer technology enabled Data to transfer his positronic brain into another android.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi refuses to play along with Picard’s initial reluctance to think of Lal as a child, pointing out that Data is a father and Lal is his daughter, no matter how different it might be from the human method of procreation. To his credit, Picard comes around to this notion fairly quickly, but it’s to Troi’s credit that she’s already there from jump.

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data creates what he thinks is only the third Soong-type android after himself and Lore (since he’s not yet aware of Julianna Tainer and B-4, who will be revealed to him in “Inheritance” and Star Trek Nemesis, respectively) and the only other one still active (since he believes Lore to be lost after the events of “Datalore”; he’ll learn the error of that belief in “Brothers”). He is aware of his unique place in the universe, and is concerned that, if something should happen to him, he will be lost. By reproducing, he ameliorates that concern. (Haftel throws that argument back in his face later on by telling Data that having the only two Soong-type androids be on the same ship, one that gets into firefights and stuff, might not be such a hot idea.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on “The Offspring”

The Boy!?: When Wes was a child, he had trouble fitting in that was very similar to what Lal goes through. Crusher shares this with Data to help him figure out how to deal with Lal’s problems.

Syntheholics Anonymous: Guinan provides useful guidance to Lal in interpersonal interactions during the latter’s brief tenure as a waitress. She also does a mediocre job of trying to convince Haftel that it’s a good idea. (“Come on, Admiral — you’ve been in a few bars yourself” — not exactly a comment designed to get on Haftel’s good side...)

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Having just learned about kissing from Guinan (who had to correct Lal’s misapprehension that two humans were biting each other), Lal decides to give it a shot by kissing Riker (who has just come back on board after personal leave and doesn’t know about Lal). Data walks in on her kissing the first officer and asks what his intentions are toward his daughter. The look on Riker’s face when he exclaims, “Your daughter!?” is priceless. (Since this was Frakes’s first time directing, Riker’s screen time was limited to only two scenes, but he certainly made the most of that one.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on “The Offspring”

I Believe I Said That: “There are times, sir, when men of good consicence cannot blindly follow orders. You acknowledge their sentience, but ignore their personal liberties and freedom. Order a man to turn his child over to the state? Not while I am his captain.”

Picard to Haftel when the latter tries to order Data to turn Lal over to him.

Welcome aboard. Nicolas Coster is fairly inadequate as Haftel — honestly, his portrayal is one of the episode’s few flaws.

However, the episode is made by Hallie Todd, who is simply fantastic as Lal. She modulates impressively from awkward to capable. Given less than 40 minutes to show Lal’s evolution and emotional collapse, she accomplishes it magnificently, being utterly convincing at every stage from the difficult beginning to the accomplished middle to the tragic end.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on “The Offspring”

Trivial Matters: This is the first script by Rene Echevarria who, like Ronald D. Moore before him, sold it as a spec script and parlayed it into a staff position. Echevarria would remain on staff for the rest of TNG’s run and, like Moore, move on to Deep Space Nine. He’s since worked on The 4400, Now and Again, Dark Angel, Medium, and Castle, among others, and is currently an executive producer of Terra Nova (working alongside Brannon Braga, who also got his start on TNG).

It’s also the first directorial endeavor by Frakes, and also the first time that a cast member of a Trek TV show has directed an episode of a Trek show. (He’s the third cast member to direct any kind of Trek endeavor, after Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner.) His effort was groundbreaking, as “The Offspring” broke the dam, and several other Trek actors have would go on to become directors (Patrick Stewart, LeVar Burton, and Michael Dorn among his castmates, as well as several actors from DS9 and Voyager). Frakes himself has gone on to become a top TV director.

This episode is a sequel of sorts to “The Measure of a Man.” In that episode, Picard established android’s rights within Starfleet, but — as, for example, former slaves during the Reconstruction era in the U.S. can attest — passing the law is only the first step. Changing people’s perceptions takes a bit longer.

Make it So: “Why is the sky black?” For the second time this season, Michael Piller picks a winner off the slush pile.

One of the primary complaints about TNG by its detractors (and even sometimes by its fans) is that the characters didn’t really change that much over the seasons. While that argument has merit for some, it most assuredly does not for Data, and this is a prime example. What happens in this episode is obviously shaped by his experiences, both specific (learning his origins in “Datalore,” being officially considered his own person in “The Measure of a Man,” bonding with Sarjenka in “Pen Pals,” possibly even his Q-granted laugh in “Déjà Q” and being flirted with in “The Ensigns of Command”) and in general (serving on a ship with families and children), as a scientific breakthrough enables him to take another step on the road to humanity.

The joy here is less in watching Lal’s development — though that is fun — than in watching Data’s. He learns to be a parent, and gets to experience the joy of discovery that he went through all over again. Spiner beautifully plays it, and puts the lie to the notion (codified in this season) that Data has no emotions. (Though the script itself recognizes this in the person of Crusher who expresses skepticism at Data’s declaration that he can’t feel love for Lal.) In particular, Data’s facial expressions as he helps Lal through various learning processes is delightful.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on “The Offspring”

Of less interest is Picard’s arguments with Starfleet, mainly because Haftel is such a straw bad guy, played with minimal conviction by Coster. Some (okay, my housemates while I was watching this) have complained that the episode makes no sense because Picard already established android rights a year earlier. But changing laws doesn’t change attitudes, and there’s still a prejudice against androids, keeping some folks from thinking of them as people (Picard himself has it when he first learns of Lal).

This is an excellent episode, continuing the development of one of the show’s most compelling characters.


Warp factor rating: 9

Keith R.A. DeCandido wrote a conversation between Data and an inspector on the subject of his ability to feel emotions in his novel A Time for War, a Time for Peace, one of his many works of Star Trek fiction. Go to his web site for links to his blog, his Facebook page, his Twitter feed, not to mention ways in which you can buy his incredibly awesome books like the fantastical police procedurals SCPD: The Case of the Claw and Unicorn Precinct.

Other Alias
1. ghostcrab311
The part that I remember the most clearly is at the end, when (I am pretty sure it was) Haftel comes out of the lab, talking in astonishment about how fast Data's hands were moving, trying to save Lal. One of the most emotional moments of the series, for me, anyway.
2. don3comp
"The Measure of a Man" writer Melinda Snodgrass had reservations about this episode; she wasn't sure it was time for the show to go back down the road she had taken it.

Personally, I agree that it is a wonderful character development piece for Data. Just as the heroes in "The Wizard of Oz" didn't need the Wizard's gifts, Data didn't need the emotion chip. (This is proven especially true when Data shows remorse for his actions in "Descent," but I know I'm jumping the phaser by a few seasons.)

I actually disagree with Keith about the conflict between Picard and Starfleet. Haftel may be a "straw bad guy," but seeing Picard (again) fight Starfleet on behalf of Data is a not insignificant step forward toward Picard's evolution from standing above his crew to walking among them (an evolution which Keith, of course, mentioned in a Biography show about the series).

All this aside, my favorite scene is the one in which Wes tosses the ball to Lal, and she raises her hands to catch it seconds after it bounces off of her.
Michael Burstein
3. mabfan
"Please adjust your lives accordingly..."

Tuesday/Friday? Nooooooo! :-)

This is a fine episode, and I didn't realize until now that it was Echevarria's first script. (He's a writer we make a point of following from series to series. In fact, I distinctly remember watching the pilot of The 4400 and wondering why it was so good, until I saw his name in the credits. Then I understood.)

I do have one major problem with this episode. I can still recall that when I first saw it, I very quickly came to the conclusion that Lal was going to die at the end. It was too obvious to me that the character couldn't stay on the ship (because then the actress would have to join the cast), and I couldn't see the episode ending with her being forced to leave with Haftel. Furthermore, if she did live, it would imply that Data now knew how to build more androids, and wouldn't that be a game-changer? So, knowing how the episode was going to have to end from the very start cast its gloom over everything I saw.

-- Michael A. Burstein
4. dav
The ending always stuck with me as well. Haftel's reactions and the resolution. It was among the most emotional events I ever remember witnessing on the show (or in the movies).

Love this one. Not in my top five, but I always stop and watch it when it's on. Because the actual social aspects had already been mined in Measure of a Man, I find this a little fluffier story that focuses on character building. So, it doesn't have the social significance, but does get you with the story itself.
5. D. D. Syrdal
Possibly my fav ep of all. At the end when Data tells Lal that he can't feel love and she looks at him and says "I will feel it for both of us" gets me every time. One of the most poignant lines ever.
6. Rootboy
Probably my favorite Data episode. It doesn't usually make the TNG top 10 lists - I guess following Yesterday's Enterprise makes people forget it a bit? - but I think it's up there.
Evan Langlinais
7. Skwid
Yep. This is a strong contender for best episode ever for me, as well, and Haftel's delivery coming out of the operation at the end...just heart-rending. I was always sad Data never had a chance to try again.
Margot Virzana
8. LuvURphleb
I liked Haftel simply for him being an unlikable man. You start to realize that the jerks always become admirals whereas the true heros and men of honor are still captains. EG: jellico.
But it makes you love picard even more because he is not afraid to step out of line and take the heat because... He knows its right.
Jellico, Haftel,... They can follow orders and show out of the box thinking to get their rank but they also never step out of line even if its necessary.
Every time i watch this episode i want to skidoo into the show and slap Haftel so i consider that good for him to get such a strong emotional reaponse.
9. gibson99
I didn't think Haftel was too much of a straw man. People in powerful positions ignoring the law (or interpreting it their own way) is nothing new.

He does seem kind of one-dimensionally stern throughout the episode, but that makes his emotional moment at the end all the more powerful a scene.
10. Christopher L. Bennett
I have to disagree with Keith about Nicholas Coster. I've always felt his performance in the post-surgery scene, the one that previous commenters have called out already, was very powerful and moving.

What I've always found interesting was how similar Lal's death was to Rayna Kapec's in TOS -- in both cases, it was triggered by the android's first real emotional crisis. It led me to believe that Soong may have learned cybernetics from Flint, and Jeffrey Lang incorporated a similar idea into his TNG novel Immortal Coil. I figure that the reason Soong built Data without emotions was because his (and Flint's) previous positronic brains had the same cascade-failure problem when faced with emotional crises, so Soong designed a brain that was non-emotive and planned to get back to the emotion problem later. I figure Lore was a failed attempt to solve the cascade-failure problem. Instead of collapsing when faced with emotional dilemmas, Lore's brain resolved the dilemmas by quashing all feeling for others and being motivated only by his own self-interest, rendering him a sociopath.

But I wish this episode hadn't codified the "Data can't use contractions" idea. It makes no sense that he couldn't figure out how to do it, and he often did use contractions in the early first season. People think that "Datalore" established that he couldn't use contractions, but it actually only said that he tended not to use them, that he spoke formally as a matter of habit or preference.
Katy Maziarz
11. ArtfulMagpie
I'll admit it....I am completely unable to watch this episode without just sobbing at the end. When Data says he cannot feel love for her and Lal says she'll feel enough love for both of them...oh, man. I lose it. Without fail.
Keith DeCandido
12. krad
I suddenly feel like the only person who was wholly unmoved by Haftel's speechifying at the end. I really thought Coster was wooden and unconvincing, even in that scene, though he was better there than he was in the rest of the episode. He wasn't even a convincing bureaucrat, which might have worked with a blander affect, he was just another old white guy with a scratchy voice. Yawn.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
rob mcCathy
14. roblewmac
Data has no emotions but wants a child? WHY?
Keith DeCandido
15. krad
roblewmac: He explains that in the episode. He is (he believes at this point) the last of his kind, and if he is destroyed, his entire species will be lost.

Also the notion that he has no emotions is, honestly, hokum, and I've always thought it to be horse hockey. Hell, Crusher ridicules the notion in this very episode.

As I said in the rewatch, I addressed this in Chapter 9 of my novel A Time for War, a Time for Peace, when Data is being questioned by the head of an inspection tour.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
16. Anony
No reason to think Data stopped trying. Maybe he continued to do offscreen research into the problems and never found an answer. Or being logical, he could have kept a successful creation secret so that it couldn't be taken for study.

A standard computer could be programmed to use any grammar, but Data is not a standard computer, despite his ability to use computer storage and calculation. Maybe Data's complicated mental pathways happen to have a random natural bias against using contractions. Damage and birth defects can have all sorts of weird effects on how a real brain handles language, so why not a simulated brain?
rob mcCathy
17. roblewmac
He likes music he likes fiction, he clearly prefers sex with one gender over the other, he clearly likes Jordi and Wesely better than let's say Lore. The idea that he cannot LOVE something that he built is a cheap heart string grab.
18. Christopher L. Bennett
@16: Data routinely used contractions in the early first season -- even using them once or twice in the first half of "Datalore," the very episode whose second half depended on the premise that he habitually didn't use them. (That episode was a mess.) He quite notably used a contraction in the climax of "We'll Always Have Paris" near the end of season 1 -- "It's me!" He often used contractions when quoting other people's words or playing fictional characters. And he did continue to use contractions from time to time throughout the rest of the series, though Spiner and/or the producers claimed he was just talking fast. The evidence just doesn't support the idea that he was incapable of it, rather than simply not in the habit of it.
19. JMH
I feel like I might have said this before, but this is a beautiful example of my theory. I don't think Data doesn't have emotions, I think that Data is programmed to think he doesn't have emotions. All the emotion chip, in my option, is is something that negates that programming. Hence how Lore can jerk Data around; he's not inducing emotions so much as he's removing an inability to perceive existing ones, which makes far more sense.
And again, brain issues in humans make this entirely plausible.
I wonder if the problem is a lack of time and experiences to knit the neural net together. Give them awareness of emotions from the get-go, and they end up in a feedback loop they can't resolve? But with maturity this is less of a problem? Data has little difficulty with the emotion chip later (beyond its novelty creating distraction, which is to be expected).
20. John R. Ellis
I always thought what was meant originally was Data doesn't experience emotions in the same way humans do, so he's unable to fully realize he shares more with his crew than he thinks he does. His friends are able to discern this, but learned long ago that arguing with him about it was futile.

Granted, some episodes try to play it that he genuinely doesn't have emotions, period, but those are rare compared to the "he's got them, he just doesn't understand them" camp.
Nate Shouse
21. MnemonicNate
I find it interesting that this is the only time in TNG we see (albeit briefly) an Andorian...and I think we go through DS9 and Voyager without them, too, and yet it's one of the choices Lal selects for her final appearance.

The power of the ending lies in the audience *wishing* that Data could feel, because we've grown to love the bond between Data and Lal through the episode, and while we're feeling the loss, and Lal's feeling the loss, Data cannot. There are so many "If only you could..." moments with Data in TNG, especially post-third season.

I only wonder why Data didn't take the opportunity to work on Lore in Season 7, after he's been dismantled. I would think Data would relish the idea of trying again to mimick Soong's work and create another lifeform like himself.

Great images on this review, btw.
Teresa Jusino
22. TeresaJusino
This has always been one of my favorite TNG episodes of all time along with "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Sarek." (What can I say? I like to cry, apparently.)

But I also have a bone to pick with Rene Echevarria (not really). This ep came out when I was 11 going on 12, and I was heavy into writing TNG stories in a spiral-bound notebook I carried everywhere. And because I thought Data was cool, I wrote a story where Data had an android daughter (imagining, of course, that I was her). Then I saw this episode, and was all "STAR TREK STOLE SOMETHING FROM MY BRAIN!"

Stupid collective unconscious. :)
Jenny Thrash
23. Sihaya
What's really spooky about this episode is that the beige colors and lighting typical of the Enterprise set really reminds me of hospital birthing floors and NICUs.

As for the admiral, I think his problem is that his character spends most of the episode representing a system or an institutional viewpoint rather than an individual's. I mean, I think that it's his function to be a chorus. Then all of a sudden at the end, he's supposed to suddenly be a new, individual character. The flip is jarring, and the actor does the best he can with what he's got.

I agree it's one of the best episodes overall.
24. Chessara
I agree with all who have said this is one of the best of TNG! It's definitely in my Top 5. I can never manage to watch it without at least shedding a tear here and there...and this time around was no exception!!!!!

Like #5 and others have said, that line at the end...just opens the flood gates... :)

@19: I really like your theory! ;)

And Keith, this episode's a 10 if there ever was one!! :p

I've been really busy pretty much for the last two months, but now that I almost caught up...whew!!! What a amazing run from Deja Q to this one! And I've still got Sins of the Father to watch! I love TNG!!!!!! *blush*
25. Terror and Love
This was one of the episodes that hit me the hardest during my rewatch. Much like "Measure of a Man".

My eyes they were quite wet. (The rewatch has been so good for me). Cant believe how much didnt impact me as younger Terror and Love. Its like a new show now with all its beautiful concepts.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
26. Lisamarie
I have a little boy (almost a year old) and I hope I can be as good a parent as Data :)

Regarding Data feeling emotions or love, I am also in the camp that he feels them (or is close) but doesn't realize it. But then again, I also believe love is much more than emotion, and is more an act of will. So I think Data certainly can and does love.
Alyssa Tuma
27. AlyssaT
One of the few that I can remember with complete clarity where I was when I saw it for the first time: Babysitting. The kid was in bed and I was up late watching TV. The end brought me to some pretty unexpected tears ("thank you for my life" -- sheesh, that one just GETS me!). The parents came home right after the ending, and I had to quickly explain that their child was safe and sound... I was just bawling at an android father/daughter tale.

I was too young to catch the series during the initial run, so I came to TNG via the wonderfully complicated world of reruns. It made it tough to be a disciplined viewer, especially as a tween. But this was the episode that made me a committed fan. So solid for so many reasons (all of which are touched on above).
28. Pau
A great episode. I can't help but feel that Haftel's been hard done by in this review, though. Yes, he is a 'straw bad guy', but his attitude is entirely in keeping with Starfleet, which is protrayed overall as a benevolent, liberal, inclusive entity but which also has its bad side - bureaucracy, hierarchy, petty rules and ruthlessly ambitious career freaks. I imagine Haftel to be kind of how Bruce Maddox would be as an admiral: concerned only with science and the furtherment of technology. And as the review pointed out, changing laws is one thing, changing attitudes quite another. Anyway, a great episode and a stunning performance from the actress playing Lal.
29. Lupin, Arsene
"So without understanding humor, I have somehow mastered it!"

Love this episode. This blog is JUST what I needed to start watching through some of my old favorites again.
Dante Hopkins
30. DanteHopkins
This episode (and "Yesterday's Enterprise" right before it) are my earliest memories of Star Trek in general, and like other have posted here, I was a commited fan as soon as I watched this one. I was only 9 going on 10 when the episode originally aired so I couldn't watch like I wanted to, but the following year I watched the new episodes regularly starting at season 5 ( I was able to catch on the previous seasons in reruns as TNG was in syndication back then.) For those reasons, and the fact the episode is so profound and beautifully well-acted, "The Offspring" holds a special place in my heart. It made me a fan of Star Trek in general, and I had to have more.

Even as a 10-year-old, I cried at the end, especially during Lal's farewell, and still do to this day (not ashamed to admit that.) The whole episode is a joyride with an incredibly sad and poignant ending, as I believed as a kid (and now as a 32-year-old) that Data loved Lal without question, even is his own way. "I will feel it for both of us." Incredibly powerful. A back-to-back 10 with "Yesterday's Enterprise."
31. JohnC
Count me among those who, very much against my will, got all sniffly at the end. But it wasn't the "I will feel it for both of us" line, it was Lal looking into Data's eyes and saying "Thank you for my life." Wow.
32. Tom Green
I don't remember how I found this rewatch in the first place (I'm not a regular visitor to, but when I decided to buy the Blu-Ray discs to go back and watch the series from the beginning, I knew I would be going through this as I went through the discs.

I can see that I'm going through this rewatch in the same way that some others have, with some of those people explicitly stating my view and some people implying it. I originally started watching during the 3rd season with my dad when I was 8, and the show finished when I was 13. My dad asked me recently why I felt the need to go through the Blu-Rays since I had already seen most of the episodes. I told him that a big part of it was knowing I would watch the episodes differently as a 32 year old. And this example is such a prime example of it. 8 year old me - "Oh, Data made another android. Cool." 32 year old me - "What a powerful episode about a sentinent being's rights and the love of a father and a child." It's so much fun "rediscovering" many parts of this series that I simply couldn't appreciate the first time around as a child.
33. Strahan
I thought the Andorian representation was weird; aren't they supposed to be blue or white? Weird too that every single part was green, clothes and all, like they were lazy and just took someone in a furry antennae hat and adjusted the tint, lol

34. Josh Luz
Lest we forget, Gates McFadden would also go on to direct an episode (even if a number of fans would rather forget the episode in question).

And reading the "Genesis" page, I'm glad she got some props for her skill there.
35. Zelbinian
Yeah, the turn from hard-ass, beauracracy-serving Admiral to actual human being was jarring at first, but the end of the speech rescued it, for me. At first I was like "Whaaaaaaaat, you suddenly care now?" But then when he described watching Data work, it made a lot more sense, especially combined with the overwhelmed delivery; he didn't want to care about Data and Lal but he couldn't help himself after watching that display.

The only real sore spot for me here is Sirtis is unusually stiff and leaden as Troi in this one. She's not the best actor on the show, but she's usually pretty good at making her lines seem natural and conversational even when the lines are a little absurd. I wonder what happened there.

My favorite scene was the Riker scene, by far. You'd think after the dealings in "A Matter of Perspective" and this episode, a dude would swear off the womanizing.

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