Written by Ira Steven Behr
Directed by Chip Chalmers
Season 3, Episode 19
Production episode 40273-167
Original air date: April 2, 1990
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