Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Perfect Mate   Rewatch 
May 27, 2021 2:47 AM - Season 5, Episode 21 - Subscribe

A superpowered mutant (Famke Janssen) needs guidance toward her destiny, so naturally, she turns to Patrick Stewart.

There was always Memory Alpha there to educate us in literature, history, art, sex:

• Of the story, Michael Piller commented, "We have Beverly argue the point that Kamala's mission amounts to prostitution. And we have Picard taking the other tack: that whether or not we approve, we can't change or interfere with the way these people are. And if you accept Roddenberry's vision, which we are built on, you have to respect that."

• The script was revised by a number of writers. According to Piller, the central issue was that the relationship between Picard and Kamala wasn't working. He remembered, "In a long memo to René Echevarria, I said this show does not work if the audience, at least the men, do not fall in love with this woman too. She must be fully rounded, bright, engaging, with a great personality and the audience should say, 'I see the problem for Picard.' If there's no magnetic electricity between the two of them and it doesn't happen for me as a man watching her, then the audience will not accept for one second that Picard would even give her a second thought."

• "Gary Perconte" was a pseudonym for Piller's friend Reuben Leder, who disliked the rewrites to his draft script. This was the only time that a writer requested a pseudonym during Piller's time on The Next Generation.

• An alternate ending proposed by Piller during production showed Picard intervening during the ceremony to stop the wedding, only to reveal that his abrupt intervention was only in his imagination, as the ceremony continued. Although Patrick Stewart liked the idea, Piller was overruled by Rick Berman. This scene is included as an extra on the TNG Season 5 Blu-ray.

• According to composer Jay Chattaway, the Kriosian musical instrument was represented by a Balinese Gamelan instrument. The producers brought in Balinese musicians to provide the piece of music heard in the episode.

• Patrick Stewart and Famke Janssen later worked together again in the X-Men films, playing Professor Charles Xavier and Jean Grey, respectively. Famke's character in this episode also introduces herself as an "empathic mutant", a description also shared by the character of Jean Grey from X-Men.

• Famke Janssen was offered the role of Jadzia Dax for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When Janssen turned the role down, actress Terry Farrell took her place. When initial tests with the original Trill make-up from "The Host" were unsatisfactory, the make-up crew remembered Kamala's spots and decided to use them on the Trill as seen on Deep Space 9. Hence the revised Trill makeup very much resembles that of the Kriosians with the characteristic spots.

• Max Grodénchik later appeared on Deep Space Nine as the recurring character Rom, another Ferengi, using similar prosthetic teeth with the prominently visible crooked tooth.

• The premise of this episode has resemblances to TOS: "Elaan of Troyius". In both episodes the Enterprise transports a female with unique properties (see Elasian tears) for an arranged marriage for diplomatic purposes, she becomes attached to the captain but eventually they part ways.

• Dolphins are revealed in this episode's dialogue to be aboard the Enterprise. In "Yesterday's Enterprise", an alternate timeline version of the ship was said to have a Cetacean Ops facility.

• Director Cliff Bole commented, "[I]t showed that Picard has a flaw, you can cut into his character […] that means you can continue to make that character work. I think this is a real case for Picard, because normally he wouldn't have allowed himself to be so vulnerable."


"Mr. Worf, assign the Ferengi to quarters. Not too close to mine."
- Riker

"Riker to bridge, if you need me I'll be on Holodeck 4."
- Riker, after nearly falling for Kamala's charms

"Nothing, nothing lies beneath. I'm really quite dull. I fall asleep each night with an old book in my hands."
"When a metamorph finds you interesting, do not take it lightly."
"Oh, I'm not taking it lightly, I'm just trying… to be as dull as possible."
- Picard and Kamala

"Even the walls of Jericho fell, captain."
- Kamala to Picard


Poster's Log:
Here's one that sure as shit hasn't aged well. If it wasn't for the skillful acting, dialogue, and pacing, you'd swear it came from season 1. I made a real effort to look past the misogyny and try to enjoy it on this rewatch, but I didn't succeed.

It doesn't help that, as Bernd points out, almost every plot beat here is eye-rollingly contrived. If "Perfect Mate" is still worth watching at all, IMO, it's for Patrick Stewart's acting.

This part of season five is pretty sloggy, but then it kicks WAY up in a couple eps.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Krios was mentioned as hosting a Klingon colony in "The Mind's Eye" (and also later gets a name drop on ENT). Whether Krios is one planet or two planets with very similar names is unclear in canon.

Tim O'Connor (Briam) was on the old Buck Rogers show.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (12 comments total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
This episode is TERRIBLE on paper. It manages to be less than terrible because of the chemistry between Patrick Stewart and Famke Jannsen. Praising Stewart is obvious of course, but the work she does is equally amazing. She really does come across as irresistible in every possible way, even though that's kinda gross when you really think about it.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:51 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Stewart and Janssen are fun to watch here (I especially enjoyed her "how about it, inexplicable horndog space miners? you in too, robot?" moment in ten forward) but the given that the entire plot hinges on every single crew member being either a) stupid or b) absent this is a tough slog. I mean, it's always fun to see gamelan instruments get screen time, but we didn't really need another "the holodeck is canonically for porn" moment, nor another "ferengi are comically inept" moment. Maybe they could have had some fun with bouncing Kamala off of LaForge, or letting her interact with "very explicitly not into girls" Dr. Crusher, but I guess no.
posted by phooky at 7:29 AM on May 27


"Riker to bridge, if you need me I'll be on Holodeck 4."
- Riker, after nearly falling for Kamala's charms


Once again, the worst job on the Enterprise...Holodeck cleanup crew.
posted by Thorzdad at 8:11 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Several cards here serve the same purpose in the two versionsof the game, with different implementations given the two edition's differences. Brute Force and Brute Force, for one, always a popular Klingon mission, where they send their buffest personnel to score lotsa points. Then there's Par Lenor vs Par Lenor, Lascivious Emissary and Qol vs Qol, Lascivious Lackey, who feature different skill lists based on the needs of the Ferengi affiliation in each version of the game. Oh, and the 2E versions interact with Rule cards or Ferenginar itself, as 2E Ferengi often do. Not bad.

Kamala, The Perfect Mate is decent skill filler. Telepathy is always good, and her dial-a-skill ability is especially handy.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:26 AM on May 27 [1 favorite]


If it wasn't for the skillful acting, dialogue, and pacing, you'd swear it came from season 1.

That's what struck me the most about the episode; even though it may have been meant as an update of "Elaan of Troyius", it basically seemed to substitute all-new plot contrivances and egregious fanservice for the older ones, in the manner of other S1 eps. Where did Data go after it was established that he was safe to be around Kamala? Why didn't Troi (who wasn't in the ep at all) give Kamala some pointers on how to be an empath and still preserve her own identity? Why was her cocoon not guarded better so that two Ferengi in full bumblefuck mode could screw things up? Even the relatively ridiculous plot device of Elaan's necklace just happening to be made out of dilithium crystals seemed more plausible. Janssen and Stewart do work well together (I generally liked her better as Jean Grey than Sophie Turner in the X-Men movies), and the bit where she ends up going through with it because she picked up Picard's sense of duty is a neat little bit of irony, but I'm not entirely sure that this ep really needed to be made.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:33 AM on May 27 [2 favorites]


I've started so many comments and then deleted everything because it's so hard to talk about this without flames—FLAMES!—on the sides of my face. But I'll just leave it at:

Just once, just ONCE I'd like to see this repugnant trope done with a man being trafficked into forced marriage to save a planet/ethnic group/faux medieval European country. And all his guardians are of the same gender, so his charms are lost on them.

(Oh and also I am forced to say that that is the most spectacular dress I have ever seen on these shows and has incredible handwork and it would be perfectly at home on a red carpet for a formal event even now, and Famke Janssen is spectacularly beautiful and as a former model wears it so well it makes me cry.)
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:21 PM on May 27 [6 favorites]


I never noticed before. When Famke smiles, she's a dead ringer for Lwaxana Troi. In fact, they share a lot of similar expressions. Kind of uncanny at times once I started looking for it.

(Oh and also I am forced to say that that is the most spectacular dress I have ever seen on these shows and has incredible handwork and it would be perfectly at home on a red carpet for a formal event even now, and Famke Janssen is spectacularly beautiful and as a former model wears it so well it makes me cry.)

That dress she wears most of the show? She does wear it well and its design, with the opaque fabric down over her hips and not quite see through fabric in front and behind, very alluring.
posted by Fukiyama at 12:31 PM on May 27


Kamala was the love interest that Jean-Luc deserved, but not the one that he needed (pesky writers and fans with their expectations and ships).
posted by Stuka at 12:37 PM on May 27


just ONCE I'd like to see this repugnant trope done with a man being trafficked into forced marriage to save

Does Paul Muad'dib and Irulan count? I guess kind of not because of the power dynamics and the explicit "...we who carry the name of concubine - history will call us wives" thing.

Philip Mountbatten in 'The Crown' ? But yeah, would love to see more explorations of (true) matriarchical societies.


the most spectacular dress

From Memory Alpha "Costume Designer Robert Blackman found creating the wedding gown particularly challenging, as in the script it was merely described as "the most incredible gown a woman has ever worn", giving no indication as to what it actually looked like."

The "regular" dress looks so much more awesome than the wedding gown.
posted by porpoise at 1:39 PM on May 27


Huh, I just realized that I'd interpreted the ending in a completely different way than the writers appear to have intended. Were we supposed to believe that Kamala had actually bonded with Picard? I was assuming that she hadn't, and that telling him she had was just her satisfying his "duty above all/doomed romance" fantasy. Basically, a comment on Picard only being able to get off on his creepy ideal of self-sacrifice. Also, her giving him a small personal out because what just went down was, as many have noted, not great.

"She will always love only me," thinks Picard, as the person who will primarily remember him as their wedding venue operator warps away
posted by phooky at 1:49 PM on May 27 [4 favorites]


Were we supposed to believe that Kamala had actually bonded with Picard?

I don't think TNG was sophisticated enough for the writers to have had Kamala lie to Picard to satisfy an unspoken fantasy. BermanTrek wasn't prestige television.
posted by Stuka at 3:49 PM on May 27 [2 favorites]


Related: Kamala's Dress sold for $4200 at Christie's in 2006.
posted by fairmettle at 2:03 AM on May 28 [2 favorites]


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