Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Price   Rewatch 
October 12, 2020 7:30 AM - Season 3, Episode 8 - Subscribe

The Enterprise hosts negotiations for possession of the only known stable wormhole.

Memory Alpha will be serving as host for these proceedings.

Story and script
  • The revised final draft script includes several scenes that were not in the final episode, including a short session Troi has with O'Brien that deals with his girlfriend Mitzi, Wesley telling the Counselor about troubles he had with his mother because she wouldn't let him stay overnight at a party on the holodeck, and more background about the Chrysalians.
  • For the scene where Crusher and Troi are shown practicing aerobics, the exercise room was a redress of a part of main engineering; the "pool table" was removed and two mirrors were erected – one to hide the master systems display, and the other at the opposite end of this part of the engineering set.
  • In the scene immediately after Crusher and Troi's exercise, according to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 109), Goss is referring to the size of his "sex organ" when he is making a revealing gesture to a Starfleet crewwoman in Ten Forward.
  • This episode was the first to firmly establish that the galaxy is divided into four quadrants.
  • This episode features two of what became major plot points for subsequent series. As in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, the episode deals with the discovery of a wormhole that leads to the Gamma Quadrant. Similarly, as in Star Trek: Voyager, a ship becomes lost in the Delta Quadrant.
  • The crew of USS Voyager will encounter Arridor, Kol and the Barzan wormhole in the Star Trek: Voyager third season episode "False Profits".
  • This is also the first time that the Ferengi pod is seen and that Counselor Troi's love for chocolate is revealed.
  • Because they are represented here by a Human who is one-quarter Betazoid, no one knows what a Chrysalian looks like.
  • As of this episode, the Ferengi are still under the mistaken impression that gold has a high value in the galaxy at large as they seem to think offering an apparently small amount of it will tip the scales in their favor. However, the shape of the "gold" the Ferengi offer is very similar to that of gold-pressed latinum later seen frequently in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • It is established in TNG: "Ménage à Troi" that the Ferengi brain cannot be telepathically read by Betazoids. However, in this episode, Counselor Troi declares that she can "sense DaiMon Goss' deception."
  • This episode introduces the Barzans. A Barzan, Nhan, later appeared as a 23rd century Starfleet officer in the second season of Star Trek: Discovery.
Poster’s Log:
Troi’s line, “God forbid I should miss my first look at the wormhole”, is an interesting bit of Human speech for someone mostly raised by her Betazoid mom.

This wormhole is visually very different from its Deep Space Nine counterpart. I actually prefer this one - it’s got something very visually non-Euclidian in the presentation that’s not as strong in the DS9 version.

Matt McCoy, here playing Devinoni Ral, would go on to star in the movie “The Hand That Rocks The Cradle”, also featuring John de Lancie. While they’ve aged in very different ways, McCoy always struck me as the late ‘80s poor man’s Alec Baldwin.

Three other performers to highlight - Scott Thomson, playing DaiMon Goss, is probably much better known for playing Chad Copeland in 3 of the first 4 Police Academy movies; Dan Shor (Dr. Arridor) gained fame as Billy the Kid in Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure and first came to SF viewers’ attention as Rom in Tron; and Kevin Peter Hall (Leyor, the Caldonian negotiator) was better known to audiences as the original Predator and as Harry the Sasquatch in Harry and the Hendersons.

Poster’s log, supplemental:
This is a fun one. We get our first non-threatening Ferengi, a little romance, and a rare early interaction between Crusher and Troi. Riker’s bristling during the Ten-Forward conversation with Ral is well-played and we’ll see that “you’ve just made your first mistake” body language again next season.

I loved seeing Arridor and Kol re-appear years later on Voyager, in what seemed a fitting denouement to their story line.
posted by hanov3r (15 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite
I also love the Arridor and Kol VOY episode (FF previously) but this TNG outing seems to get tougher to watch each time. Ral's manner throughout the episode is the personality equivalent of the wonderful German term backpfeifengesicht, and Troi reacting to him with anything other than projectile vomiting just makes me shake my head sadly. And the aerobics scene…cccccccould have been done differently.

I do really like the story concept—its sci-fi elements, its diplomacy elements, and the way its climax demonstrates Troi's integrity. But I think I'm at the point where I like what this episode is about more than actually watching it. I'd feel differently if they'd cut the aerobics scene and cast someone else as Ral—which is funny because I liked him as post-breakdown-Lloyd Braun on Seinfeld.

The head Barzan lady has this wonderfully weird moment at the start of the climactic bridge scene where somebody offers her a chair and she throws her hands up and looks down in what was probably meant to be an exotically alien gesture but instead comes off as "I am SO DONE with this wormhole crap" or, possibly, "Get me the hell off this set and get my agent on the phone."

Wesley telling the Counselor about troubles he had with his mother because she wouldn't let him stay overnight at a party on the holodeck

I LOL'ed.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 8:13 AM on October 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Ral really is creepy. The way he stares at her in Ten Forward and then plays with her hair in her office, oooh! Their entire relationship is just kind of made up out of thin air based on the idea that Ral and his one-fourth Betazoid heritage can allow him to read Troi's mind. Usually in these one episode romances, they are kinda sorta plausible. Not this time. The writers created some kind of conflict with Troi where she was suddenly consumed by her role as counselor and Ral was able to utilize this. That was a bit hard to get around. Maybe those deleted scenes with O'Brien and Wes would have fleshed out her being a bit fed up with the job which is what Ral sensed?

I think the Memory Alpha article on this one has been edited, or I read about it someplace else, but the stretching scene is well regarded as they were able to shoot in a set with opposing mirrors without getting the crew and equipment caught in either of the mirrors.

The Barzans at the end of this one don't come off as very honorable. The Federation is defending their wormhole from the Ferengi aggressors, but the premier goes along with Ral's suggestion that this is between the Fed and the Ferengi. Gosh.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:18 AM on October 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

The first time that I watched this episode was when we were doing the VOY rewatch, and I liked it better than "False Profits"; I still think that it's a better episode, simply because it fulfills its premise better. Even in the Federation, or in Federation-adjacent societies, there are still people who want to make a buck, and however genuine his affections for Troi might have been, Ral was on the job the whole time. (I even caught myself wondering if his seduction of Troi might have been a tactic to keep her from fulfilling a corresponding function for the Federation at the negotiations; I'm not sure that that was conclusively ruled out, which isn't exactly a criticism of the episode IMO.) I completely get COB's backpfeifengesicht reaction, and wonder if the issue of empaths or telepaths (at least those who can sense thoughts and feelings at a distance, unlike Vulcans, usually) at negotiations isn't brought up in future episodes because the Federation simply forbids it, in the same manner as genetic engineering. (Which puts Betazoids in an interesting place, but anyway.) A few random thoughts about the rest of it:

- I think that they could have tightened up the scenes with the dueling shuttlecraft a bit in order to be able to show the counseling scenes.

- The aerobics scene was a bit confusing, because at first it looks like they're in a corridor, and then I was kind of peering at the mirror to see if it was somehow a force field that had been modded to reflect light. Of course, the holodecks would really be ideal for working out, as with Worf's exercise/combat program; you wouldn't have to worry about what to wear (Lower Decks has Mariner showing Tendi an all-nude Olympic training program, which Tendi notes is "very detailed", wink wink nudge nudge) and you could have a giant spider help you with your stretching ("Your adductors are pretty tight today. Rough day on the bridge?" "I tell ya, Shelob, some days..."), but I also appreciate that people want to do regular old meatspace workouts with their friends.

- With all the talk about poker, I expected them to bust out the table and show a game; maybe they couldn't figure out where to fit it in the ep?

- Despite the Barzans not being in the Federation in the 24C, we've seen one, Nhan, as part of the crew of both the Enterprise and the Discovery in DIS.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:48 AM on October 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Day-Player Romantic Interests on ST: TNG always read creepy to me, especially the men. It's the combination of late 80s early 90s male grooming styles coupled with the weird unitard aesthetic of the show. Gross. It makes it hard to imagine anyone having any sexual feelings whatsoever... At the risk of being too crass, how does one hide an erection in these outfits??
posted by wabbittwax at 9:25 AM on October 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

"The Enemy" followed by "The Price". Real creative names!

Cards of the episode from the Star Trek CCG:
Premiere('94): Devinoni Ral; Wormhole; Wormhole Negotiations.
Alternate Universe('95): Latinum Payoff.
Blaze of Glory('99): Chart Stellar Cluster.
Rules of Acquisition('99): Goss; Ferengi Shuttle.
Second Edition('02): Bhavani; Leyor; Seth Mendoza; Chart Stellar Cluster; Wormhole Negotiations.
Strange New Worlds('05): Goss, Direct Negotiator.

Wormhole is one of our lovely Overpowered Premiere cards that let you arbitrarily move yours(or your opponent's) ships anywhere. Far away from their missions, to another quadrant with no escape, etc. You better believe there's a silver bullet.

Wormhole Negotiations is worth a lot of points, and was set up to give each of the original affiliations a way to solve it 'the way they're good at': Diplomatic Feds, Honorable Klingons, Treacherous Romulans. Very good card played in a ton of decks.

We get some 'retcons' in card form: Goss's gold becomes a 'latinum' prize. Likewise, Goss transforms WN into a Ferengi mission. Meanwhile over in Second Edition, the missions get numerical attribute requirements so you (mostly) can't solve with just a few personnel.
posted by StarkRoads at 9:37 AM on October 12, 2020 [1 favorite]

Day-Player Romantic Interests on ST: TNG always read creepy to me, especially the men. It's the combination of late 80s early 90s male grooming styles coupled with the weird unitard aesthetic of the show. Gross. It makes it hard to imagine anyone having any sexual feelings whatsoever... At the risk of being too crass, how does one hide an erection in these outfits??

Like that white thing Ral wore to their dinner where they argued. Just one big loose nightshirt type thing made out of something yarn-y.

The interesting thing about Ral is he comes off as disliking Federation life. In his first entry into Troi's quarters, remarks how the decor is so Federation and then adds a moment later he dislikes conformity.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:11 AM on October 12, 2020

At the risk of being too crass, how does one hide an erection in these outfits??

As Gene Roddenberry once said, "In the 24th century, they won't care."
posted by Servo5678 at 11:01 AM on October 12, 2020

This episode made my skin crawl. Like, Ral was so monstrously creeptastic, I just can't even. The negging. The shushing. The hair-touching. Ugh. And I don't think it's (just) a case of miscasting -- though the actor has zero chemistry with Sirtis, is there an actor on the planet who could make those lines and actions appealing? I certainly can't imagine it.

Thankfully, all of the TNG-watching podcasts I'm listening to for this rewatch (Trekabout, Greatest Generation, and The Next Conversation) slammed this episode for its creepiness in different and entertaining ways, so I at least got some reward for suffering through it.
posted by oh yeah! at 5:02 PM on October 12, 2020 [5 favorites]

Others have made all the good points so I don’t need to but I groaned out loud when I saw this was that episode. And Ral looks so plastic, which only adds to his creepiness, but the amazing thing is he sounds plastic. The soft-porn aerobics workout clothes and stretching was gross back then and has only aged into infuriating.

posted by kitten kaboodle at 11:54 PM on October 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

What are your interpretations of what Ral meant by saying he felt responsible for Riker because of Deanna? What exactly was he supposed to be driving at there? That portion of the conversation has always eluded me.
posted by Fukiyama at 8:19 AM on October 14, 2020

Here's the transcript:
RAL: You know, I feel responsible for you in a way. Related. Deanna. We both love Deanna. Oh, in different ways, of course.
RIKER: I will remove the burden of that responsibility right now. My relationship with Deanna stands very well on its own without any help from you.
RAL: Of course it does. Of course it does. It's just that, well, she's an extraordinary woman. Brilliant. Lovely. Very passionate. And she could have been yours, Will, but you just didn't do enough to keep her. And now, well, I'm here, and I'm going to take her too.
RIKER: That's the first bad play I've seen you make. If you can bring happiness into Deanna's life, nothing would please me more. You know, you're really not such a bad sort, Ral, except you don't have any values, beyond the value of today's bid, that is. Deanna is just the woman to bring some meaning to your sorry existence, if you're smart enough to take it. I doubt that you are. To the last mile.
I've always interpreted it as kind of equivalent to Ral saying "I pity you," but phrasing it as "responsible/related" sounds more buddy-buddy/diplomatic in that oily Ral way.

I guess it could also be seen as a dominance play in a new-stepdad sense. "We both love Deanna" in this context sounds a lot like "We both love your mother, so you'd better surrender to my authority."

That reminds me: about the only thing I like about Devinoni Ral? His name. That's a good plausible sci-fi name.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:04 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

Presumably the switch from gold to gold-pressed latinum was for the same reason TOS switched from having lithium to dilithium in the warp drive: A fictional material has to be made up because the real material doesn't have the properties needed. I would guess the switch was supposed to be retroactive, since the DS9 Morn episode involves gold-pressed latinum being in use as of a year before this episode (and Quark refers to gold as "worthless"). In this case, I assume either Goss is using "gold" as a shorthand for "gold-pressed latinum", or he's trying to pull a fast one on what he considers to be a primitive society.
posted by ckape at 9:53 AM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

He's messing with Riker's head. "I feel so bad about how depressed you're going to be after I beat you and take the woman you still love". Trying for an advantage in the negotiations.
posted by InfidelZombie at 6:42 PM on October 14, 2020 [1 favorite]

That reminds me: about the only thing I like about Devinoni Ral? His name. That's a good plausible sci-fi name.

If not a good, plausible Belgian name. Or a good, plausible Betazoid name, since he’s keeping that on the down low. Who knows about regional naming trends 3 centuries from now though I guess.

Picard telling Troi to wear ‘any old thing’ is funny because, again, everyone is in uniform in Ten Forward. People only ever seem to get out of uniform for holodeck larping and corridor aerobics (dinner dates that take place entirely within your quarters don’t count).
posted by rodlymight at 7:33 PM on October 14, 2020

This episode is one of those which make Fashion It So truly shine.
posted by Urtylug at 6:22 AM on October 19, 2020

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