The character of Lwaxana Troi is…not always welcome on the Enterprise, either for the viewer or the crew of the ship. That comes down to more how she’s played as a more comic relief character that often isn’t very funny. But sometimes the writers remembered Majel Barrett actually is a talented actress and gives her something more dramatic while keeping her in-character.
That may be this episode, as discussed by Jimmy and Tom, on the subject of elder care.
“Half a Life”
Lwaxanna Troi romances a scientist from an alien world, but she doesn’t care much for one of his planet’s old traditions.
jimmy: Ensign Ro looks a lot different than I remember.
tomk: It’s that hairdo.
jimmy: So, when aliens have these crazy hairdos, are they natural or do the planets have longer days and thus time to spend in front of a mirror?
tomk: I dunno. Probably why the older man was bald.
jimmy: Lwaxana didn’t seem to mind. But then she does have a thing for Picard.
tomk: Well, she didn’t see the new guy in his true form.
jimmy: Still bald, so she’s still interested.
tomk: You may have a point there. I think you earned a bowl of mac and cheese.
jimmy: Which we do not call Kraft Dinner as Watson likes to troll.
tomk: Yes. He is a troll. Have a bag of money.
jimmy: Now we’re talking!
So, any…controversy might almost be too strong a word…over this episode with it’s premise that senior citizens are a waste and should be disposed of?
tomk: None that I know of. It seems to be addressing how the elderly are treated in general. How different is societally forced euthanasia compared to just shutting old timers up in nursing homes to eventually die?
The new gif app isn’t as accurate.
jimmy: The fax machine does make good waffles. He’s not wrong about that.
tomk: Canada has interesting technology. You could probably reignite that sun right now and have a hearty breakfast at the same time.
jimmy: How do you know I didn’t?
tomk: Because then Dr.Timicin wouldn’t need to do it.
jimmy: He couldn’t anyway. And I hope there was nothing important around that test star that they obliterated.
tomk: Just the planet Krypton.
jimmy: Ouch. Too soon?
tomk: Centuries in the future?
jimmy: That shit is tough to get over.
tomk: Well, this is the universe where Kryptonians are all jerks.
jimmy: Well, then Timicin did us a favor.
tomk: Oh, there’s always at least one survivor.
jimmy: One shouldn’t cause much trouble. Unlike a daughter that wants you dead.
tomk: She only wanted her father to uphold planetary traditions.
jimmy: I know, but it’s pretty harsh. Especially when he didn’t want to.
tomk: I wonder if those guys would have fixed their sun by now if they’d just stop killing off their old scientists.
I mean, Timicin is on the verge of finding the solution here. What’s to say he wouldn’t have it figured out in the next few months?
tomk: He even points out it would be quicker if he trained his replacement.
jimmy: That’s too logical. Makes more sense to let the sun burn out.
tomk: They are an intelligent people who can sometimes be talked out of something by Lwaxana Troi. Hmmm, no wonder most of the crew seemed to be spending as little time as possible on camera.
jimmy: When it comes to killing yourself when you don’t really want too, I don’t think it took much for Ms Troi to convince him.
tomk: Really? Picard might reconsider if it meant spending less time with Mrs. Troi.
jimmy: His trying to sneak through the corridor at the beginning to avoid her was funny.
tomk: It doesn’t work when it’s a telepath who doesn’t understand the concept of personal space.
jimmy: A telepath that can’t read his mind saying “get away from me, woman!” Actually, you don’t even need to be telepathic to see that.
tomk: And she is somehow an ambassador.
jimmy: Self-appointed I believe. Or was it just to get her off-planet as much as possible?
tomk: I see you’ve subscribed to my newsletter for the “get her off-world a lot” theory.
jimmy: It’s an easy sell.
tomk: Can I interest you in my theory that Geordi uses his VISOR to look under everyone’s uniforms?
jimmy: Yes. And do you have one of those visors on hand? Uh…Watson wants to know.
tomk: Hasn’t been invented yet.
jimmy: Damn you, future technology!
tomk: I’d give you a consolation snack, but the bag of money was this episode’s snack budget.
jimmy: I’ll use the money to pick us up a couple of parfaits. Everyone loves parfaits.
tomk: True, but this episode was actually a good showcase for Majel Barrett. The script kept her behaving in-character but wasn’t trying to just be some out-of-place sitcom character. Lwaxana actually cared for Timicin. She just didn’t understand the custom and hated it. Apparently, the Prime Directive isn’t really taught in Ambassador School.
jimmy: Given how often it’s violated, her plea to Picard wouldn’t necessarily fall on deaf ears.
tomk: Picard tends to pay more attention to it than others.
He’ll even mansplain it to Beverly.
jimmy: Especially when it doesn’t affect a member of the main cast.
tomk: Well, I think it is safe to say Lwaxana is the most “regular” character on the show to do something like this. I don’t think a show made in the 90s would have let, say, Troi or Crusher have a relationship with a man Timicin’s age, and Lwaxana is known for, well, interfering all the time.
Why not let her interfere with a whole culture and do what she thinks is right? She isn’t the type to just accept it when people don’t meet her personal standards.
jimmy: Not really about personal standards here though. Most cultures would probably disagree with such a tradition.
Even the Klingons don’t do this. If you live that long they just let you waste away with a dishonorable death. Hmm…is that better?
tomk: I’m still not sure how long Klingons live since some from the original series reappeared in Deep Space Nine and still able to fight as well as the younger ones.
I think it comes down more to letting the old grow old and be cared for. Like I said, this episode seems to be playing with the idea that many people today don’t treat their elders very well, or even don’t know what to do with them.
jimmy: I get that. And yeah, they get shunted off to retirement homes or whatever, but they are generally not the highest active ranked scientist in a society on the verge of annihilation.
And maybe they have different life spans than humans, and I know 60 today is a lot different than 60 in the early 90’s, but it still seems pretty young to cap a lifespan.
tomk: That was probably part of the point. I mean, I know of at least one other show that did the whole “kill the elders when they reach a certain age” bit.
jimmy: Though they didn’t kill Grandma in the end.
tomk: That’s because Robby Sinclair was a better ambassador for change than Lwaxana Troi.
And I will take “sentences I never thought I would write” for 600 now.
I never thought Dinosaurs would ever come up in a chat.
tomk: You should phrase that in the form of a question.
jimmy: What are shows I can’t believe I know trivia about?
tomk: How much did you wager?
jimmy: I boobs.
tomk: Well, the Beaver got the Daily Double, even though I think the Moose was giving him signals, so you came in second ahead of Watson.
jimmy: That’s all that matters.
tomk: True. Did you learn something from this episode?
jimmy: Ensign Ro is not very nice to her dad.
tomk: He gave her that hairdo.
jimmy: I can’t blame her then.
tomk: Ready to move on?
tomk: How about a Dr. Crusher episode filmed while Gates McFadden was seven months pregnant?
jimmy: She’s been pregnant this whole time?
tomk: I don’t know about the whole time…
jimmy: Well, of late.
jimmy: I never noticed.
tomk: Then they did a good job hiding it.
jimmy: Indeed. But we’ll see how they do now that I know.
tomk: Also, we meet a Trill, like Dax from DS9.
jimmy: We like Dax. Well, Dax 1.0.
tomk: I wouldn’t know about the other one. Ready?
Titans “Caul’s Folly”
Comic Review: The Judas Coin
Noteworthy Issues: Supergirl: Woman Of Tomorrow #5 (November, 2021)