Star Trek: The Next Generation: Liaisons   Rewatch 
September 20, 2021 8:35 AM - Season 7, Episode 2 - Subscribe

As alien dignitaries visit the ship, Picard's shuttle crashes on a desolate planet where he meets a woman who has been stranded there for seven years.

Perhaps there is someone here who does know the answer. You. Are you smarter than Memory Alpha?

Story and script
  • The original story by Roger Eschbacher & Jaq Greenspon was a homage to Stephen King's novel Misery, in which a mentally disturbed fan holds a novelist captive. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 317) René Echevarria recalled, "It was actually pitched very slyly by the writers, who pitched it as a kind of a take on on Star Trek-obsessed fans and that's what made me smile and at least pass it on." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 290)
  • Chocolate-covered raisins were originally bought for Loquel's poker-game snack, but this was changed at the last minute when it was discovered that Paul Eiding was allergic to chocolate. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 262))
  • This is the first episode in which Worf, Troi, and Beverly Crusher are seen in their dress uniforms.
  • This is one of only three TNG episodes to not feature the Enterprise-D bridge, the others being "Family" and "Dark Page".
  • This is one of only five TNG episodes that doesn't have a stardate although Picard does confirm it is seven years from the stardate Anna tells him that denotes the date of her crash. The others are "Symbiosis", "First Contact", "Tapestry", and "Sub Rosa".
Poster's Log:

The opening scene between Worf and Riker is very out-of-character. I can't really imagine a Commander complaining to a junior officer in as petulant a voice as Riker uses here. The interaction between Worf and Data at the banquet is almost as bad; Data has never casually insulted a crewmember in that way.

Picard thinks Voval is conscious enough to speak to after crashing, and tells him to "try to remain conscious". Wouldn't that trigger some suspicion when Anna's sole response is "he's dead"?

"My name is Ambassador Voval". No, your TITLE is Ambassador. Your name is still Voval.
posted by hanov3r (16 comments total) 4 users marked this as a favorite

Liked this one! I thought Misery homage was pretty direct; I mean, I was thinking "this is just like Misery" and I've never even seen Misery.

The costumers gave the game away early by putting that huge gold ornament in the middle of that one dude's chest, and then having Anna continually playing with a similarly shaped and placed ornament afterwards. You can't just have a Chekhov's Ornament like that! People are gonna talk.

The weird Data/Worf interaction was a followup to the previous episode, to let the audience know that although Lore's emotion chip was destroyed, his enormous jerk chip had been recovered intact.
posted by phooky at 10:04 AM on September 20, 2021 [5 favorites]

Note to self: "Data's enormous jerk chip" is a great sockpuppet name.
posted by hanov3r at 10:33 AM on September 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

Oddly, I didn't get the Misery connection, even though I'm a big Stephen King fan. Maybe because I know a bit too much inside baseball, and thus that it's not only a meditation on King's interactions with his own fans, but also on his then-active drug and alcohol addiction. But, as is, the episode doesn't have the stalky terror of Misery; the closest that Trek seems to have come to that was VOY's "Alter Ego", i.e. Catfishing IN SPAAAAACE. This ep might have pulled it off if it had established that Anna had actually deliberately caused the energy drain that led to the shuttle crash (something that I've always suspected that Annie Wilkes did to Paul Sheldon, although I don't think that it's in the text); maybe she'd read about the legendary Picard and just couldn't stop herself from being the galaxy's worst stan.

Instead, though, we get a last-act twist, that it was just Love LARPing from The Aliens With the Worst Way of Finding Out About Other Species' Inner Lives. I mean, in the past, I've questioned other aliens' doing similar shenanigans by wondering what their results would be if they tried that crap with the Klingons. Here, one of them literally does that with a Klingon, and moreover the one with the least sense of humor about that sort of thing. At least Dessert Guy wasn't that bad, except maybe for his own health. Picard's restraint at the end was admirable.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:06 AM on September 20, 2021

maybe she'd read about the legendary Picard and just couldn't stop herself from being the galaxy's worst stan.

I had the same thought after I read the Echevarria quote above. I got the Misery connection but I didn't get the Trekkie connection; OTOH, had she actually been a Picard stan, that might have been too on-the-nose.

Not to mention even more uncomfortable than the Picard story here is, because of the genuinely poignant performance by Barbara Williams (who MA informs us was married to Tom Hayden!). After  Vulva   Mulva  Voval's reveal, Picard should've been like, "You created a performance THAT convincing based only on some old personal logs? …Have you considered theatre?"

Voval actor Eric Pierpoint is one of those Trek "that guy"s. MA tells us he "had previously auditioned unsuccessfully for the roles of William T. Riker, Benjamin Sisko, and Kathryn Janeway (before it became a female role) and was excited to be able to play a Starfleet captain" (in DS9: "For the Uniform").
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 11:35 AM on September 20, 2021 [4 favorites]

And Detective George Francisco!

...Alien Nation doesn't get any love, I tell you what...
posted by Kyol at 12:24 PM on September 20, 2021 [6 favorites]

When I watched this episode, I had one pretty big question: so, if Jean-Luc had been down to clown, would Voval have actually "gone all the way" with him? I imagine that would have made for an awkward debriefing (no pun intended) when Picard has to report back to Starfleet about the mission.

Admiral: "Were you able to establish friendly relations with the Iyaarans?"

Picard: "Ahem, well, in a manner of speaking..."

Admiral: "What does that mean? Did you get to know them?"

Picard: "I certainly know one of them quite ... intimately..."
posted by Saxon Kane at 1:14 PM on September 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

if Jean-Luc had been down to clown

See, this is why Pulaski should have stuck around. (Early-season Riker would have worked, too.)
posted by phooky at 2:18 PM on September 20, 2021

Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:

They never made any.
...okay, the semi-official fan community released Intuition in 2018, which like Einstein from a couple episodes ago incorporates the CCG's cardback into an image from the show. Cute.
posted by StarkRoads at 3:38 PM on September 20, 2021 [1 favorite]

This thread is golden. I’ve been going through a really rough patch lately and these comments are making me laugh out loud. Cheeses, I especially love the vulva mulva voval bit.

I guess there’s not a lot to say about the episode as a whole, is there? I kind of checked out after the misogynistic bullshit at the beginning about dresses.

Also I feel like it should have been called Fuck Around and Find Out.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:51 PM on September 20, 2021 [3 favorites]

I've watched through TNG many, many times, and I always forget about this episode.
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 7:59 PM on September 20, 2021

Looking ahead, it seems like season 7 has a lot of forgettable ones: not necessarily bad, but just…inessential, not striking. I forgot about the one with Data's mom for a long time, for example.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:51 AM on September 21, 2021 [4 favorites]

There does seem to be a lot of wrapping-up stuff in this season. "OK, here's the deal with Wesley. We didn't use Ro much lately and she didn't go to DS9 because Michelle Forbes is doing movies, so here's her deal. Worf's popular, we can do a few Worf episodes. We should also do a Beverly episode, so... [looks at the story pitch, frowns, then shrugs] ...oh, what the heck."
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:34 AM on September 21, 2021 [3 favorites]

Yeah, I think the first time I made a concerted effort to watch TNG on home video I was sort of let down at the end - finally both the writers and the audience knew the characters, so things could just happen without so much "as you know", everybody was chummy and played well off of each other, MAN it was just coming TOGETHER and it's now it's OVER?!??!?!

Subsequent rewatches have been less charitable. I mean, they're fine, it's all fine, but the wrapping-up-ness of it is more evident, yeah.
posted by Kyol at 10:46 AM on September 21, 2021

"Liaisons" is one of those episodes where TNG wasn't just on cruise control, but was texting on its cell phone at the same time. This one is really really really by the numbers, right down the boring alien costumes and ridiculous alien shuttle pod. Everyone had a shuttle pod in late TNG! But... BUT! "Liaisons" is worth the price of admission for "Anna's" performance alone. Her demanding, her pleading(!!!) that Jean-Luc love her never gets old. Never.

(Seriously, the auxiliary craft was a real weakness in TNG's later seasons. I've mentioned before that there is a lot about Trek that I can overlook. But the auxiliary craft was an area where TNG regressed and it didn't have to be that way. The show needlessly created continuity errors by mismixing-and-mismatching the exteriors and interiors of the Starfleet shuttles. And every other alien that came along seemed to have a little pod that was somehow capable of interstellar flight. Ugh.)
posted by Stuka at 6:49 PM on September 21, 2021 [1 favorite]

A lot of these later episodes seem focused on Picard getting his dick wet, which I'm led to believe is thanks to Sir Patrick's direct request.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 6:59 PM on September 21, 2021

Interesting, I didn't catch the Misery reference, possibly because I haven't seen or read it. Instead I was getting strong Calypso/Odysseus references but I guess they aren't that dissimilar.

When it became obvious that Volvo and Anna were the same (before the actual reveal) I really was wondering how Picard would react when he realised. That whole scene with her forcing herself on him was really unpleasant, and I think he was way too forgiving at the end.
posted by Athanassiel at 4:52 AM on March 15, 2022

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