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Menage a Troi

Review

Series : The Next Generation Rating : 1
Disc No : 3.5 Episode : 71
First Aired : 28 May 1990 Stardate : 43930.7
Director : Robert Legato Year : 2366
Writers : Fred Bronson, Susan Sackett Season : 3
Guest Cast :
Carel Struycken as Mister Homn
Ethan Phillips as Doctor Farek
Frank Corsentino as DaiMon Tog
Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi
Peter Slutsker as Nibor
Rudolph Willrich as Reittan Grax
Moral :
Threesomes : They sound like a good idea... but you'd be surprised
YATI : I guess this can't be classified as a real nit as such, because there's nothing inherently impossible about it - but I find it really hard to believe that Riker reads Ferengi fluently enough to use the computer systems without any difficulty.

In Star Trek: Insurrection, Deanna claims that she has never kissed Riker with a beard before. This is one of the episodes in which she does just that.

Reittan Grax says "Betazeds" instead of "Betazoids" in the first scene.

This episode claims that Ferengi cannot be sensed empathically or telepathically by Bajorans. Except that they have been, in the prior episodes. "The Last Outpost", "The Battle" and "The Price". Nevertheless, it would be reinforced in several future episodes that Betazoids cannot read Ferengi minds.

Data states that the energy being expended by the Gamma Erandi nebula is 5.34x10^41 Watts. This is more than the combined energy output of every sun in our galaxy. About ten thousand times more, actually.
Great Moment : Picard professing his love for Lwaxana.
Body Count : Zero.
Factoid : When Wesley was promoted to full Ensign at the end of this episode Gene Rodenberry presented Will Wheaton with his own Ensign's bars, earned thirty years earlier. General Colin Powell, who was visiting the set, also attended the ceremony.

Director Robert Legato would later remember that since Gene's wife Majel Barrett featured heavily, Gene himself was on set for much of the filming. Although this made Legato initially nervous, he noted that both Gene and Majel were very nice to him and completely supportive.

The common internet meme which shows Picard with his hand outstretched, usually depicting him as reacting incredulously to something, comes from his speech to Tog at the climax of this episode.

Shots from Ten Forward in this episode were used for the Ten Forward scene used in the Enterprise finale "These Are the Voyages..."

This is the first episode to establish that the Ferengi ears are a major erogenous zone, and that caressing them is referred to as "oo-mox", a Ferengi sexual practice apparently equivalent to masturbation.

This is the first episode ever to show Betazed.

The episode title refers to the French term, "Ménage à trois", meaning "household/party of three". The term is often used to refer to a sexual act involving three participants.

Plotline

The Enterprise-D is attending the biennial Trade Agreements Conference on Betazed. Ferengi representatives are present at the conference for the first time, and Captain Picard has reluctantly allowed them on board the ship for the closing reception. In Ten Forward Riker beats one of the Ferengi, Nibor, at 3-D chess. Another Ferengi, DaiMon Tog, finds himself infatuated with Lwaxana Troi, who is also in attendance. Lwaxana loudly spurns his affections, humiliating him in front of everyone. Tog doesn't seem at all put off by this.

After the reception, Lwaxana and Deanna talk in Lwaxana's quarters. As usual, Lwaxana presses Deanna to marry and have a family of her own, whilst Deanna protests that the Enterprise-D crew are her family. The two argue, and Deanna storms out.

In the ready room, Picard and Geordi talk about how Wesley has helped on a recent upgrade to the ships neutrino counters. Wesley is due to leave for Starfleet Academy as soon as he completes the oral portion of the exam. Picard grants shore leave on Betazed to Riker and Troi, since the ship's mission to map the Gamma Erandi Nebula is expected to be routine.

On Betazed, Riker and Deanna visit a romantic spot that is a favourite of theirs. When Lwaxana interrupts with a picnic, it turns out that her father used to bring her here as well. DaiMon Tog beams down to try and woo Lwaxana again, and when she again refuses he abducts all three of them by beaming them to his ship and knocking them unconscious. When they wake Tog beams the two women to a new compartment, leaving them naked in accordance with Ferengi custom when he beams them right out of their clothing. He beams Deanna back to the cell, and again attempts to seduce Lwaxana. She plays along this time, hoping to use his lust to her advantage.

Back on the Enterprise-D, Wesley has passed his written exam and is ready to go to the Academy to take the oral exam. Picard learns that Riker, Deanna and Lwaxana have vanished from Betazed.

Riker play chess game with the Ferengi guarding their cell, using the distraction of the game to knock the guard out and escape. He tries to contact the Enterprise-D, but the comm system is locked down and Tog's access code is needed for any message. Lwaxana tries to get the code from Tog, but Farek stops him just before he reveals it. He convinces Tog to let him use mind probes on Lwaxana in an attempt to learn about her telepathic ability.


Meanwhile Riker looks for a minor system not protected by access codes. He finds that dampening and un-dampening the subspace interference suppressor will let him send a message, though it is dubious that it would be recognised as such by anybody else.

Wesley is doing some sensor work, hurrying to be ready to depart for the USS Bradbury to go to the Academy. Just as he is getting ready to beam away he realises that the sensor distortions he picked up are actually a message - they were in the pattern of the music played at the closing reception on the Enterprise at the start of the episode. He chooses to remain on the Enterprise-D to help, missing his connection and so making sure he will not be able to get into Starfleet Academy this year after all.

Riker, on the ship, manages to stop Farek from mind probes on Lwaxana. She agrees to stay with Tog of her own free will, so long as Tog lets Riker and Deanna go. He consents to this.

When the Enterprise-D arrives, Lwaxana tells Picard that their "relationship" is over. Picard assumes the role of a jealous lover in order to convince Tog that he will go to any lengths to get his girlfriend back, threatening to destroy Tog's ship on the basis that he'd rather Lwaxana die than that he lose her. Tog relents and beams Lwaxana back to the ship. Lwaxana is delighted with Picard's declarations of love, much to his embarrassment.

Captain Picard tells Wesley that the commandant of Starfleet Academy has sent a message inviting him to reapply next year. Wesley states that he intends to, but Picard says that after all Wesley has done for the ship and crew, it is no longer good enough to have him as an "acting Ensign". He grants a field promotion to full Ensign for Wesley, who is delighted to don a Starfleet uniform and take his first shift on the bridge.

Analysis

Ugh.

What an you say about this? It reminds me heavily of the phrase (I forget who came up with it) that throughout Trek the Ferengi transitioned from "Failed villain to failed comic relief".

On the one hand, we have a potentially serious situation; a kidnapping! Threat to our heroes! But it never feels threatening, because the Ferengi simply aren't threatening. You get the impression that Riker could have just broken out of the cell and killed all the Ferengi on the ship if he'd really wanted to. Not that I'm saying he actually could have or would have, just that it feels that way because he's just so much more of a badass than they are. And so there's no real threat here to be had.

On the other hand you have a "comedic" side, in which the Ferengi have done this because Tog has the hots for Lwaxana, and in which Picard must declare love for her to get her back. That was probably the genesis for this episode, I suspect - "hey, let's have a situation in which Picard has to pretend to be in love with Lwaxana!" It's a ridiculous premise and a ridiculous resolution, and it's Just. Not. Funny.

Why not a zero? Well, Patrick Stewart does a good job in his overblown love declaration, making the best of a stupid idea. We do get to see Betazed, at least, so there's that. Majel Barrett is always good as Lwaxana, and it was nice to see Deanna snapping back at her mother's constant infantilisation of her and interference in her life.

Plus, we got that internet meme out of it. So there's that.

Special Edition

The remastered version has the usual improved image quality.
Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 9,270 Last updated : 29 Aug 2016