Star Trek: The Next Generation: Haven   Rewatch 
May 8, 2020 10:50 AM - Season 1, Episode 11 - Subscribe

MA synopsis: “Tensions mount as Counselor Troi's arranged marriage nears, and her mother takes a liking for Captain Picard. Meanwhile, a plague ship threatens the planet where they are meeting.” Introducing the fabulous Lwaxana Troi!

The Enterprise arrives at the planet Haven. A weird silver box is beamed aboard and the humanoid face on it announces the impending arrival of guests. (The box is played by Armin Shimerman, but uncredited, in his first Trek role - his previously broadcast performance as a Ferengi was his second shot performance in a Trek episode, after this.). Deanna’s fiancé, Wyatt Miller, and his parents arrive, shortly followed by her mother, Lwaxana Troi, accompanied by her valet, Mr. Homn.

Wyatt’s mother is comedically overbearing but, of course, has nothin’ on Lwaxana. Deanna and Wyatt are uncertain about completing their betrothal. “Bill” Riker and Deanna discuss their relationship, and Riker is pretty clearly unhappy that she’s marrying Wyatt. Wyatt is a doctor and seems perfectly nice, but is weirdly preoccupied with an apparently imaginary woman.

Then, long-range sensors identify an approaching vessel as Tarellian, which causes consternation. It seems the Tarellians developed an uncurable bioweapon and used it, which caused them to be exiled from their homeworld and to wander the galaxy in quarantine ships. They had been thought to have been wiped out in a conflict eight years before.

The Tarellians contact Enterprise and Deanna recognizes one of the Tarellians as the woman from Wyatt’s preoccupation. He does too, and since his medical speciality is epidemiology, he sneaks onto the Tarellian ship, meaning that he too will carry the disease. The Tarellians then leave.

I left out a lot of detail here, including comedy scenes featuring the Millers and Lwaxana, and a minor element of the Tarellian plot involving them as a perceived threat to Haven and seeking to settle there in isolation.

Poster’s Log:

Recycled TOS elements sort of include “Journey to Babel,” in the person of a crewperson’s mother; “Elaan of Troius”; the incurable bioengineered disease of “Miri”, Spock’s arranged marriage in “Amok Time”, and the unique appearance of Mr. Homn, who resembles Ruk from “What Are Little Girls Made Of?”

Mr. Homn is played by Carel Struycken, and he also portrayed Lurch in the 1990s Addams Family films. Ruk was played by Ted Cassidy, who portrayed Lurch in the 1960s Addams Family television show. Mr. Homn will appear on TNG in a total of six episodes.

The main event here is the return of Majel Barrett to Trek, of course. We all also know for her roles, respectively, as the first Number One and as Christine Chapel on TOS, and as Gene Roddenberry’s wife. It’s not too far fetched to think of her not only as Deanna’s mother, but as the mother of Star Trek itself. I am not knowledgeable about her personal life, but CoB started us off with a link to a primer on Gene Roddenberry’s colorful life and she was very much a partner in that. So perhaps her comedic overbearingness and tendency to induce awkard moments due to offcolor oversharing may be a deliberate act of self-satire. I generally find Barrett’s appearances as amusing as they are intended to be and this episode is no exception.

The weird early TNG fixation on nudity surfaces again in the script as the Betazoid marriage ceremony is described. Is this a Gene thing again? Well, probably. But the episode is credited to one Tracy Tormé, who is the singer Mel Tormé’s son. Tormé went on to co-create the television series “Sliders” with the director of this episode, Richard Compton.

I don’t really think I have that much to say about this episode. It treats the apparent near-extinction of a species rather lightly, I guess. The in-production portrait drawings of Wyatt and Ariana are weirdly amateurish. Other than that, it was fine.

I also felt like the show was generally respectful of the concept of arranged marriage while still having it both ways by yanking the rug out from under the wedding in order to retain Deanna as a character. I suppose that goes back to “Amok Time”, which both appears to treat the invented Vulcan tradition respectfully and at the same time provides an opportunity for the seething youth of 1960s Vulcan to challenge it in the name of true love, or something. Here neither Deanna nor Wyatt gives a big speech passionately denouncing the tradition - he just runs away to join his, um, psychic space hottie and they can no longer hold the wedding.
posted by mwhybark (12 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Elsewhere on MA:
• "Originally, Gene Roddenberry conceived Betazoid females as having four breasts. He was persuaded not to use this idea by writer D.C. Fontana."

• Also, apparently the Tarellian bioengineered disease is NOT the occasionally-mentioned Terrellian plague.

But then, the Berman era had like six different species called "T*r*lians" or "T*l*rians." Surprised they never had a species called the Rotarians.

I generally find Barrett’s appearances as amusing as they are intended to be and this episode is no exception.

This might be the first time I've brought myself to rewatch this one since I was in high school. I remembered quite a bit of it (such as the hair on Tarellian Mystery Destiny Lady, the presence of Pinsky himself, Raye Birk, and the fact that Wyatt's dad was also the president of the Federation in Voyage Home), but I remembered my overall impression of it as having been a lot less bearable than it was rewatching it this week.

I credit DS9 for a lot of this, because it gave the Lwaxana character a gravity that TNG rarely if ever did, which I can't seem to help but retroactively apply to this rewatch. All the same, it seems like her character was established here with a little more skill and thoughtfulness than I would have surmised based only on my memory impressions.

I also credit Patrick Stewart's comedy chops, which we don't see a ton of in TNG IIRC; I actually laughed a few times here, almost always during Picard scenes.

This one also may have been more bearable in light of comparison with some of these last few, which this manages, somehow, not to be as icky or incompetent as.

The in-production portrait drawings of Wyatt and Ariana are weirdly amateurish.

I suspect they were a collaborative effort—that each depiction had a different artist. The Wyatt portraits ran the gamut of "That's not Wyatt, that's Steve Winwood!" to actually eerily accurate.

Here neither Deanna nor Wyatt gives a big speech passionately denouncing the tradition

Perhaps it's for the best that the season one writing/showrunning crew didn't try to really drill down into such a fraught topic.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:33 AM on May 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

But then, the Berman era had like six different species called "T*r*lians" or "T*l*rians." Surprised they never had a species called the Rotarians.

Yeah, even watching these first time around I was struck by how frequently slight variations of the name came up. At least the repeated uses of the number 47 were a conscious and ongoing in-joke. This just looked like carelessness.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 12:11 PM on May 8, 2020

I always felt I should disapprove of Lwaxana episodes, but I never could, and I think it's because Majel Barrett is a good actress.
posted by acrasis at 3:28 PM on May 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

Ah, yes. This is the episode that gave us "considering the Tarellian situation " as a euphemism for...well, a euphemism.
posted by Naberius at 4:20 PM on May 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

It's funny seeing Robert Knepper (Wyatt) at his ethereally-beautiful phase, since he found his niche in more recent decades at playing creepy villains. I remember when I saw this episode premiere, I was so happy to recognize him as Wyatt from when I had seen him onstage at the Public Theater in NYC as Lysander in maybe my favorite production of "A Midsummer Night's Dream" ever. It was a field trip for my high school English class, and I loved it so much that I convinced my parents to get tickets for another performance so I could see it again with them. Joe Morton as Oberon, F. Murray Abraham as Bottom, Elizabeth McGovern as Hermia, and Geoffrey Owens (Elvin from The Cosby Show) as Puck.
posted by oh yeah! at 4:34 PM on May 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

So was there any particular reason the plague rat race had to wander around in starships? Couldn't they have found a nice uninhabited planet to colonize?
posted by happyroach at 8:30 PM on May 8, 2020 [1 favorite]

So these Tarellians had the equivalent of a late 20th century level of technology, with warp-capable starships and transporter beams, of course. Maybe Lwaxana is right about humans being a bit thick, we don’t figure those out until much later.

Groovy bead curtains in the passenger cabin, and I see the wallpaper corridor has returned.

Love how pissed Riker is about having to leave his hologram harp-women. This show continues to be more horny than I remembered, in a gross uncle kind of way (4 breasts Gene??).
posted by rodlymight at 8:39 PM on May 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

I'm with COB in that I tend to think that I like Lwaxana better now because of her appearances on DS9; her real affection for Odo helped engender a corresponding affection in me that I hadn't gotten from her earlier appearances as Space Aunt Mame.

The thing that really struck me about this episode, though, is that it's a great character development episode... for Wyatt. Think about it; the whole episode centers around his meeting the woman he was betrothed to years ago, a nice enough lady that he has no chemistry with, while in the meantime he longs for the woman of his dreams... and through an amazing coincidence, he meets that very woman, and because he just happens to be a doctor, he can go off with them and cure them and have amazing space adventures. Doesn't that sound like a pilot for a spin-off? It wouldn't even be the first time that Trek tried that, with TOS' "Assignment: Earth" and its very Doctor Who-ish protagonist, Gary Seven. (Nor, IMO, will it be the last time in TNG, with next season's "The Outrageous Okona" featuring the likewise protagonish Billy Campbell.) Too bad for the regular cast member that this episode allegedly centered around.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:13 PM on May 8, 2020 [3 favorites]

Also, we're given a happy ending but aren't the Havenites just going to ask the next non-Federation starship that drops by to kablaminate the plague ship? At impulse speed, it's going to be hanging around that system for a looong time. RIP Wyatt, we hardly knew ye.
posted by rodlymight at 10:59 AM on May 9, 2020 [1 favorite]

Once more, we discover that Roddenberry is the worst thing to happen to Star Trek. I like to imagine that D.C. Fontana always had tranquilizer darts handy.
posted by GenjiandProust at 6:11 PM on May 10, 2020 [2 favorites]

This is the one with the super 80s hairdos at the formal dinner, right?
posted by StarkRoads at 11:16 AM on May 11, 2020

Generally can't stand Lwaxana (Even less so knowing Barrett was apparently cool with Roddenberry being a casting couch rapist) but I do love seeing Picard squirm and seethe.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 8:37 PM on May 15, 2020

« Older Top Chef: Restaurant Wars...   |  Siren: Northern Exposure... Newer »

You are not logged in, either login or create an account to post comments