Star Trek: The Next Generation: Dark Page   Rewatch 
October 8, 2021 2:41 AM - Season 7, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Troi takes a look at what's in the book of her mother's memories.

I wrote it down in Memory Alpha sho I wouldn't have to remember:

• Jeri Taylor recalled, "There was a great reluctance to do this episode and "Phantasms" back to back, but it was one of those predicaments where we didn't have anything else ready to go. "Dark Page" had been around a long, long time and it had undergone many permutations. Hilary Bader had pitched this story and it just never seemed to work. It started as a Dr. Crusher story and went through every possible combination of people on the Enterprise. It wasn't until we hit upon Troi and Mrs. Troi that it really seemed to work, and then it was a long time before we could figure out what the secret was that is hurting Mrs. Troi."

• René Echevarria, who gave an uncredited polish to the episode's script, noted the difficulty in finding a dark enough secret that after seven years wouldn't portray Lwaxana too unsympathetically.

• Echevarria regretted having been forced to tone down Maques' comical attempts at language.

• Split-screen shots against a blue screen were used to allow characters to interact with the wolf, which although trained was still dangerous. Peter Lauritson commented, "Nobody wanted to be there with the wolf except Dan Curry." Kirsten Dunst petted a stand rather than the wolf, with the animal matted in later. The wolf's growl was achieved by giving it a lick of a meaty bone and then filming its reaction when a trainer moved as if to take it.

• Marina Sirtis performed her own stunt when apparently jumping into space: she leapt off a blue-screened platform onto air mattresses.

• This episode is one of a few in which the Enterprise bridge is not seen, along with "Family" and "Liaisons".

• This episode is referenced in DS9: "The Muse". There, Lwaxana gives Kestra's death as one of the reasons she is unwilling to give up her unborn son according to Tavnian law.

• This is Lwaxana's last appearance in TNG. Her next appearance is in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Fascination".

• Mr. Homn was to appear in the episode, but Carel Struycken was unavailable. Consequently, this is the only TNG episode in which Lwaxana appears but Mr. Homn does not.

Norman Large had previously played the Romulan proconsul Neral in "Unification I" and "Unification II", as well as Kobheerian captain Viterian in DS9: "Duet".

• This marks the final appearance of Deanna Troi and Lwaxana Troi together on-screen.

• Jeri Taylor remarked, "Ultimately, I think it worked really well and was an emotional episode. It provided a depth to Mrs. Troi's character that we had not seen before." Naren Shankar commented, "I think Rene, who did the production re-write on the episode, did a magnificent job on the show. It's sort of like The Joy Luck Club. It was better than I expected. It was quite touching in many ways."

"Actually, it's a very efficient way of communication. If two Cairn were having this conversation, it would have been over minutes ago!"
- Lwaxana Troi and Picard

"Aren't you going to mingle, Mr. Woof?"
"I do not care for telepaths. They make me... uneasy."
"Don't worry. The Cairn couldn't read your thoughts even if they wanted to. Your brain isn't sophisticated enough."
- Lwaxana Troi and Worf

Poster's Log:
This is probably only my third time seeing this one, and not for a long time, but my general memory of it proved accurate: lots of Lwaxana crying. And though it's a fine pseudo-send-off for the Lwaxana character, what struck me this time is that the script basically doesn't allow Majel to do much else (besides her big explanation scene), which is striking given the subject matter. Also striking: it turns out Mr. Homn is way more astute and clever than we suspected.

Speaking of striking: Lwaxana actually slaps Picard's ass in a blink-and-you-miss-it moment in Ten Forward.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Norman Large : chin :: Robert O'Reilly : eyeballs.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (6 comments total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
So. When my oldest child was about seven months old, my in-laws came by to look after the kid and my spouse and I took our first trip without him. We were already nervous and missing him terribly, so as we settled in for our flight, we decided it would be a good idea to take our minds off of everything by watching this new sci-fi flick that had just come out.

Friends, that flick was Arrival. Fuuuuuuuuuck.

Anyway, I'm pretty sensitive to "dead kid" narratives nowadays. Used as a device to motivate a revenge fantasy (*cough* *cough* Silicon Avatar *cough*) or other plot, it's cheap and manipulative, but done well it can hit me in all the feels. This was done well. It didn't have me ugly-crying all the way to Stockholm, but I did want to give Lwaxana a hug by the end.

Although, coming on my heels of Phantasms, I thought this might be more motivated by:
PA: *bursts into writer's room, panting*: Uh, hey, guys. Guys.
WRITER: What's up?
PA: So, uh, do you know how much it costs to accidentally rent a fisheye lens for two weeks?
WRITER: Uh, no.
PA: *panic edging into his voice* So, uh, look, it turns out it costs a lot, and
posted by phooky at 11:00 AM on October 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

WRT the mention above of DS9, Lwaxana had already appeared in "The Forsaken", and after this ep, would be in "Fascination" and "The Muse." They're all flawed episodes, but have their redeeming moments, and in "The Forsaken" and "The Muse", those are directly Lwaxana-related. (In "Fascination", that's mostly due to the O'Briens.) I'd initially disliked the character because she was a bit much of a much, but I think that there was a deliberate effort to rehabilitate her from being a kind of tiresome Space Aunt Mame; TNG's "Half a Life" was also striking in that regard; this episode suggests that the revelation may have something to do with why she tries so hard to pair up, not just for herself but on Deanna's behalf. In "The Muse", she talks to Odo about losing Kestra, and then mentions that sometimes pregnant Betazoids can sense the feelings of their unborn babies. I didn't actually watch this episode until now, and of course had the big revelation at the end spoiled long ago, but it's still pretty emotional.

The rest of the cast is pretty good. I was a bit distracted by Kirsten Dunst's makeup, since it didn't look as real as Large's; that may have had to do with child actors having stricter rules regarding how long they are allowed on set each day, so maybe they had to put on her prosthetics more quickly or something. Missed Mr. Homn, though.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:24 AM on October 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Cards of the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Maques was somewhat usable at the time, there weren't that many Empaths around. Speaking of Empaths, Wolf provides them some protection and a neat callback to Realm of Fear. Maques, Cairn Delegate returned in Second Edition with much the same purpose, but was more valuable in the metagame due to powerful Dilemmas such as Telepathic Deception and Gomtuu Shock Wave.

Ian Andrew Troi is kind of the standout here, standing as part of the demi-Bridge Crew from the Alternate Universe set. Wesley wasn't too impressed with him at the time. I always kinda liked this card, maybe mostly because of the deep crimson and gold uniform contrasted with the blue Federation border.
posted by StarkRoads at 2:20 PM on October 8, 2021

Since I'm allergic to Lwaxana episodes, I've hardly ever rewatched this one and spent a goodly portion tuning her out or wondering when we'd have the reveal that Maques was yet another mind-rapey telepathic villain. They certainly shot him that way a lot, with the low camera angling up and the intense face glaring almost into the camera.

I didn't remember what her trauma was, though, so I kept watching, and boy howdy, were the feels unexpected--it's been years since my twin died, and this was a story about losing a daughter, yet I found myself getting really, really emotional, especially when Deanna was saying she had a sister she never knew and asking to hear everything about her. That was such a gut-punch, and Lwaxana trying to bury those memories reminded me of the feeling I struggle with that my sister's memory has been lost to time and I'm the only person left who knew her or thinks about her.

In a frequently tossed-off, lackluster season, I'm surprised the show could still manage to wring such feelings out of an episode (and in one starring a character I dislike intensely, no less). Also: Aww, baby Kirsten Dunst, awww. I mentioned to my friend that we always talk about seeing baby actor so-and-so in old things, but this time it's almost literal.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 3:08 PM on October 8, 2021 [6 favorites]

I rewatched this one a few years ago, and the scene that suck with me the most is a fairly rote conference room scene where the bridge crew plan their investigation into Lwaxana's illness.

It's a bit of filler — we know that the problem won't be solved by Data and Geordi investigating space whatsits, so why spend time on it. But that's what's powerful about the scene. A crew member has family that's going through a crisis, and so Lwaxana gets an all-hands-on-deck investigation. They take it as seriously as a ship-threatening anomaly.

It's a powerful statement about community care, and taking seriously the medical concerns of older women.
posted by Banknote of the year at 8:48 AM on October 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

A telepathic race that communicates by frowning angrily at each other doesn’t really feel like a friendly place.
posted by hanov3r at 5:08 PM on October 9, 2021

« Older Maid: Maid...   |  Ted Lasso: Inverting the Pyram... Newer »

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