Saturday, September 12, 2009

Star Trek: The Next Generation--"The Price"

The third season of TNG is unique in that it makes the horrible combination of Troi and the Ferengi in the same episode, not once, but twice. What were they thinking? Taking the most unpopular character and adding the worst villain alien race in trek on two separate occasions without offering usa good chance to flee in terror after the first travesty/ it is inhuman!

I am going to call this one the worst episode of the season for many reasons, but the main one is the moral issue of Betazoids using their empathic powers to manipulate people is finally addressed, judged, and then completely ignored, save for sporadic plot devices, for the rest of the series. That is fine in trek logic since the culprit in question is only half Betazoid and hiding his ability, so the issue of his dishonesty can be cast on the fact he is hiding his abilities, not the fact he is using them in the first place to gain a negotiating advantage.

Just to compare, Troi’s main job is as ship’s counselor. Her empathic abilities do not present as much of a problem there, since a counselor’s role is to get to the bottom of how her clients really feel. You cannot hide anything from her, though, and that can be unsettling even if one is voluntarily seeking her help. Considering many go to Ten Forward to talk to Guinan instead, I would say many feel awkward about troi.

But her secondary job is to “read” new aliens the ship encounters so they can have an advantage in dealing with them. Such an act is much grayer as she is keeping this fact from whoever she is reading and therefore does not have consent.

That is the same thing Ral, the secret half-Betazoid in question is doing, except he is going for a negotiating advantage over opponents in securing the rights to a wormhole rather than the diplomatic or military advantage Picard normally seeks from Troi. So why is Ral a bad guy and Troi not? Solely because he is the guest star, near as I can tell.

The wormhole winds up being unstable, so it is worthless. Two Ferengi wind up trapped in the Deelta Quadrant when the wormhole collapses. Their misadventures are followed up in a VOY episode years later. Of all the episodes that could have had sequel, this is the one the powers that be at VOY chose. Blegh.

Skip this one if at all possible.

Rating: * (out of 5)

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