On the one hand, focusing episodes of Star Trek the Next Generation on individual members of the crew is a good way to develop those characters, especially ones that would otherwise get lost in the shuffle. On the other, the episodes themselves still have to be good, and something about Troi-based episodes often…isn’t. That’s no fault to Marina SIrtis. As an actor, she can only do so much with the material she’s been given, but Jimmy and Tom aren’t the type to just skip episodes regardless of which character gets the spotlight. As it is, you can see what they have to say when we get an episode that involves Troi finding romance with a less-than-scrupulous negotiator below.
During negotiations for a stable wormhole, Troi starts a romance with one of negotiators.
jimmy: Well, that was painful.
tomk: I remember asking a coworker who is a big Trek fan who had the worst Next Generation episodes, Beverly or Troi. He didn’t even hesitate to say “Troi”. Beverly episodes at least show her getting excited about scientific discoveries sometimes.
jimmy: The scenes between Troi and Lloyd Braun were cringe worthy. His phone wasn’t even plugged in!
tomk: No wonder Riker just stepped aside.
jimmy: “If she’s happy, I’m happy.” Except for all those episodes where he gets extremely jealous.
tomk: Well, actor Matt McCoy may have had you shouting “Serenity now!” but I remember him as the guy who was brought in as a lesser replacement for Steve Guttenberg when Guttenberg stopped making Police Academy movies. Maybe he’s being brought in as a lesser replacement for Riker. They even both have bright blue eyes!
jimmy: McCoy is fine as an actor, but what he was given to work with here was horrible.
tomk: Well, I would be hard-pressed to name any Trek story with a legitimately romantic one-off pairing.
jimmy: And the whole thing was just creepy. Like the first scene between him and Troi. He just walks in her quarters (while she’s FaceStalking him) and then pretty much assaults her and then just goes on his way.
tomk: He even showed up with another girl…he’s like Riker without the whole “I get consent first” part.
jimmy: And then he buys an unstable wormhole. Because, I mean, a stable wormhole?? That will never happen!
tomk: And we’ll never hear from those Ferengi again either.
jimmy: Maybe in 80 years.
tomk: Or on some episode of Voyager.
jimmy: Either way, we certainly don’t care.
tomk: Jimmy cracked that corn, and we don’t care.
jimmy: Another episode that made me wonder what the hell they were thinking trying to make the Fernegi the big bads of TNG?
tomk: At least this one seemed to fit into something more species appropriate as some sort of low intelligence con men.
jimmy: Yes. They found quickly how to play them off, but that was not the original intent. But they invented the Borg, so we’ll cut them some slack.
tomk: They also invented the holodeck. And Lwaxana Troi. And the Hot Pocket.
jimmy: Hot Pockets are delicious.
tomk: Also, not something most people know they invented. Or I made it up. Have a Hot Pocket.
jimmy: Hot Pockets are delicious.
tomk: As delicious as avoiding Troi’s romantic main plot?
jimmy: Or as avoiding Troi and Crusher do yoga.
tomk: I would have thought you had some interest in “Troi and Crusher wear weird tights and stretch each other while they talk about sex” scene.
jimmy: Maybe if they weren’t dressed up like clowns in front of that infinite mirror.
tomk: You have some strange episodes in mind.
jimmy: I know you maybe have a little thing for Crusher, but I just found it was like watching my mom do aerobics or something. I spent a lot of time trying not to look at certain areas of the screen.
tomk: The scene didn’t work for me either. Not only does it fail the Bechdel Test, but it’s just…weird. It looks like they’re just doing stretches in a hallway.
jimmy: I can see Crusher and Troi getting together for a work out and talking about men. But the suits and the awkward stretches? And the mirror? Dear God, the mirror.
tomk: It is nice to think the only two women in the cast actually hang out off-duty.
jimmy: We had that episode where Riker and Worf exercised on the holodeck. I don’t think they talked about sex though.
tomk: That’s because on,y one of them gets any.
tomk: That, and the workout is Worf’s idea of sex. Don’t tell Riker.
jimmy: I dunno. Riker seems to be open to any challenge.
tomk: That is how he rolls.
Probably why he ended up in Worf’s workout in the first place.
jimmy: He’ll try anything once.
tomk: He may even try…negotiating for the rights to a wormhole.
jimmy: And losing, but really, winning.
tomk: He did better than the tall guy I am sure you recognized from somewhere else.
jimmy: I…did not.
tomk: Kevin Peter Hall? Hold on. I got a pic from one of his most famous roles.
jimmy: Oh, yeah, like I’d recognize him from that.
tomk: Are you the magical man from Happy Land in a gumdrop house from Lollipop Lane?
jimmy: No, but that sounds delicious.
tomk: More delicious than anything served by a Klingon servant who is actually the rightfully pissed chief of security?
jimmy: The Ferengi are idiots.
tomk: And yet somehow they are some sort of galactic power.
jimmy: Are they? A galactic power?
tomk: Well, they seem to hold their own without being part of the Federation, the Klingon Empire, the Romulan Star Empire, or the Cardassian Dominion.
jimmy: Until 2/3rds of them get trapped on the other side of the galaxy.
tomk: Eh, there are other Ferengi. It’s not like any of these guys are candidate for Grand Negas.
jimmy: You wouldn’t take dating advice from him, but otherwise, people should listen to Geordi.
tomk: And Data is good company if you want unintentional gallows humor.
jimmy: If I was going to get stuck on the other side of the galaxy with anyone, Data would be a good choice. Doesn’t need sleep or use up precious oxygen or food.
tomk: Someone should have told Tony Stark that.
jimmy: Nebula probably didn’t eat much.
tomk: But she was breathing.
jimmy: She was. And probably sleeping. So selfish.
tomk: Moot point. Geordi and Data were OK, and so were Tony and Nebula…at first…
jimmy: It was interesting to contrast this to DS9, which I haven’t watched in a very long time but you have. Do they talk much about the stable wormhole there being an anomaly? They pretty much say in this one that it could never happen.
tomk: Yes, that does come up rather early on. Like, the very first episode. So, you know, that’s baked into the premise. It’s why everybody wants a piece o’ Bajor.
jimmy: So you could say, this was almost like a DS9 prototype.
tomk: Or a Voyager one.
jimmy: Perhaps. But more the stable wormhole.
tomk: You mean a buddy comedy as two Ferengi bicker their way home over 80 years doesn’t interest you?
jimmy: Hmm…when you put it that way…
tomk: You’re right. Terrible idea.
jimmy: A Geordi And Data’s Excellent Adventure spinoff might have worked better.
tomk: True. You get a piece of pie for that idea. No one took you up on it, so you get pie instead of money.
What does it say when what appears to be the episode’s main plot–Troi’s brief romance with an amoral empath–is of less interest to us than, well, every other thing that happens in this episode?
jimmy: Maybe just in the way it was handled? It was all so cheesy and creepy. I had no interest in it or the yoga sex talk. And Troi’s big reveal of his empathic abilities didn’t seem to have much of an emotional impact. Especially since it had no effect on negotiations. He had already won those. Nice timing, Troi.
tomk: Wait…are you saying Troi’s abilities are not being portrayed as a particularly useful skill in an episode of this show? Shocking!
jimmy: Well, it took her 35 minutes to figure it out and then waiting until the last 2 minutes to tell anyone, AFTER, the negotiations were done.
tomk: His powers did work to get the Predator to quit and go home. Then again, he could have just been good at reading people’s body language and knew how to make people doubt themselves. It works on everyone except Riker, who never doubts himself in any situation ever.
jimmy: Good point. His power didn’t seem to buy him much more than any good negotiator/poker player that can “read the signs” would do.
tomk: Haven’t we made the same sorts of jokes about Troi’s powers in the past?
jimmy: I believe we have. Like in this one she was quick to point out the Ferengi were lying. I mean, duh, they’re the Ferengi. Thanks for the useful tip.
tomk: Or that the suspicious guy was hiding something. Or the creeper who’s been making time with her in her quarters is kind of a sleazeball.
jimmy: For the latter, maybe she didn’t want to see it.
tomk: She wanted to see…something else?
jimmy: Did she ever.
tomk: But, in the end, she stays on the Enterprise because she already has a job.
jimmy: And no one ever changes jobs.
tomk: Nope. No one. Not even O’Brien.
jimmy: Speaking of O’Brien. I thought it was funny when Picard hailed him and was like, “Chief O’Brien, this is Captain Picard…” like it was his first day on the ship.
tomk: That’s just good etiquette. You wanna make sure it’s Picard and not, I dunno, Captain Jake of the Night Crew.
jimmy: Or that time-displaced Picard that O’Brien found murdered.
tomk: Or that time Data…wait, we haven’t gotten to that one yet. Never mind.
jimmy: Don’t tease me.
tomk: Um…I could distract you with…Cousin Minka’s phone number?
jimmy: Consider me distracted.
tomk: That’s right. Minka Garcia.
jimmy: Hmm…does she like Krull?
jimmy: It’s risky, but I’m in.
tomk: Good. I’m sure even if you just hang around on the couch, playing Grand Theft Auto or something, it will still be a better connection between two characters than whatever was going on with Troi and Matt McCoy.
jimmy: Excellent segue. Yeah, they weren’t exactly swimming in chemistry. Troi had more chemistry arguing with the computer about real chocolate.
tomk: The computer she never notices has her mother’s voice?
jimmy: Yeah, that one.
tomk: Well, Troi isn’t all that observant anyway.
jimmy: For a ships counselor.
tomk: No wonder Guinan seems to be the person most folks go to for actual advice.
jimmy: You think Troi resents that? Maybe she doesn’t even notice.
tomk: She doesn’t notice a lot of things, so she’s probably fine. Then again, one counselor for everyone on a galaxy-class starship means she probably doesn’t mind when someone else takes up some of her slack.
jimmy: When you said that first I thought “one counselor for the whole ship does seem a bit odd”. But my second thought was, “how much counseling do these people need?”
tomk: Well, we never see those scenes. Even Beverly has other doctors in sickbay. Troi works alone.
jimmy: It’s only her part time job anyways. When she’s not busy on the bridge telling Picard that Villain Of The Week is being dishonest.
tomk: Man, that is a sweet job. Prime seat on the bridge, pointing out the obvious, and you get to hang out with Picard all the time.
jimmy: I’d do it.
tomk: Can you tell when suspicious people are lying? I mean, you could just say someone is hiding something and probably be right more often than not because just about everyone is probably hiding something. Don’t ask the Moose about that night in Barcelona.
jimmy: I tried once. We didn’t speak for a month.
tomk: It may have involved a blue-eyed empath who made deals on behalf of various other parties.
jimmy: Empathetic ability that he didn’t seem to need. In this case anyway.
tomk: Well, he made a bad deal in the end while working for parties unknown and the Ferengi. And then Troi dumped him. After she maybe ruined him. Serenity now!
jimmy: No wonder he went crazy before going back to Earth. And back in time.
tomk: Sending him back in time was the punishment.
jimmy: They probably just sent him through the wormhole.
tomk: Well, he will not be missed. Will you miss this episode?
jimmy: I will not. Definitely on the lower end of the rankings for me. You?
tomk: I forgot it already.
jimmy: Should we move onto something that’s hopefully more memorable?
tomk: Well, sure. If we went through a doomed one-off romance with Troi, we can surely get one next with Riker.
jimmy: More romance?
tomk: A doomed one-off one, yes.
tomk: Well, maybe this one will turn out better.
jimmy: Yeah, this doomed one-off romance is sure to work out better.