Overall Ep :
First Aired :
20 Feb 1989
Season Ep :
Security puts in an unbelievably good showing in this episode. When Anya transforms into a monster in sickbay, Pulaski calls for help. A security team, accompanied by no less than the captain of the ship, arrives some three seconds later! That's quite some response time they have there!
Great Moment :
I love the holodeck scene in the neutrino clouds at Russo VI. I have no idea what this place is supposed to be, but it looks gorgeous.
Body Count :
The term "Dauphin" referred to the heir to the French throne between the 14th and 19th centuries.
Sixteen year old Wil Wheaton performed his very first on screen kiss in the episode - with an actress ten years older than himself!
The Enterprise is transporting a young girl, Salia, from Klavdia III to Daled IV. Daled IV is a planet which exists half in permanent daylight, half in permanent night. The dayside and nightside inhabitants have been locked in a prolonged war, with no apparent end in sight. Salia was sent to Klavdia III as a child so that she could grow up without the influence of either culture, in hopes that she could return and end the war in an impartial and unbiased fashion.
Salia is accompanied by her guardian, Anya, an elderly woman who is fiercely, even obsessively, protective of her charge. On visiting the sickbay Anya demands that a sick patient be killed so that he does not infect Salia. When Pulaski declines, Salia transforms into a huge beast. She backs off, but it is revealed that both women are shape shifters.
Meanwhile Salia has a chance encounter with Wesley, and is quite taken with the young man. The two sneak off to spend time together, Wesley showing Salia a few of the wonders of the galaxy on the holodeck. Anya grumpily puts a stop to the trysts, much to the dismay of both parties.
Eventually the ship reaches Daled III, and Salia prepares to beam down. Wesley bids her goodbye in the transporter room, asking if he can see her true form before she leaves. Salia turns into a glowing being moments before she beams down.
In the aftermath Wesley tells Guinan that he will never feel this way about anybody again, and is surprised when she agrees. Guinan assures Wesley that whilst there will be other loves in his life, each one will be different. A somewhat comforted Wesley watches as the ship heads away to its next mission.
This episode suffers from being a Wesley-centered one. Much as I like Wil Wheaton - or his public image, anyway! - the character of Wesley is an annoying one, and so any episode focusing on him is a struggle. In this episode, Wesley falls in love with a beautiful alien girl, only to find that she's a big furry monster. Well, we all have moments like that don't we?
The character of Anya is also a rather weird one. She's over the top, yes, but she's SO over the top that it becomes absurd. What sort of culture does she come from, that she turns around to her hosts and demands that they start killing people because of some tiny theoretical possibility of harm? And even if her culture is so warped and horrific that it justifies such absurdly over the top bodyguarding, the fact is that she's on the Enterprise-D now. She's in an environment that is almost totally safe, and yet she keeps acting as if she is surrounded by terrible enemies. All it accomplishes is to make Anya look foolish, undercutting her character's credibility. It would be far more effective if the episode had generated some sort of real, actual threat, something which Picard was willing to risk but Anya was not. Paint it so that it's a judgment call, where there's a real possibility that Anya could be right. Then you have a clash which is actually interesting rather than just silly.
As an example, let's say that Starfleet intelligence had reports that an assassin might in fact have been placed aboard the ship. Picard and his officers cannot imagine how this could happen, and tend to give the report little weight. Suspicion falls on a group of new officers who transferred aboard at their last Starbase stop - the ship stopped at Starbase 173 in the previous episode so that's even a nice little continuity nod! Anya demands that all of these officers be placed in the brig, and Picard refuses. Then a bomb explodes in the quarters below Salia's! It's only pure luck that she wasn't there - make it happen whilst she's in the holodeck with Wesley, rather than in her quarters where she's supposed to be. Computer records have been blanked, so nobody knows who was where at the time, and one of the new officers has no witnesses to where he was. Now you have a genuine reason why Anya might want the man killed, whilst Picard might refuse. And you could even round it off by having the assassin be another shapeshifter, imitating a member of the crew - thus tying nicely into the premise. Ah, what might have been.
As it is, Salia probably comes off best in this episode. She plays the innocent young woman pretty well, convincingly curious about the galaxy around her which she has so long been denied. Indeed since Wesley becomes her main portal to learning about such things, it's even a vaguely plausible motive for her attraction towards him!
Overall, not a great episode at all.