29 June 2016

The Mind's Eye

Episode: s4, ep 24

What Happens
Geordi is in a shuttle going to a conference on Riza, and Picard sent him a few days early for some holiday time. En route he's intercepted by a Romulan ship and abducted. They remove his visor and torture him with horrible images beamed directly into his brain using the neural implants that make his visor work. Meanwhile some guy who looks like Geordi is sent to the conference with Geordi's visor. Then the brainwashing begins.
The Romulans take Geordi to a simulation of 10 Forward and order him to kill Chief O'Brien. How they know what 10 Forward or O'Brien looks like I don't know. Geordi kills the simulated O'Brien with a phaser, then sits down for a drink, but he hesitated so the brainwashing continues. Meanwhile a Klingon ambassador comes to the Enterprise and asks Picard to come to a Klingon planet near the Federation border which has a separatist rebel problem. There are accusations that the Federation has been arming the rebels and Picard is determined to prove it isn't so. Geordi returns, talks about his great trip to Riza and spills drink over O'Brien in 10 Forward. The Klingon governor is suspicious of the Enterprise being there and shows the Federation weapons used by the rebels. Geordi and Data test them and find that though they are Federation design they have been charged by Romulan chargers (or something). The Romulans would benefit from the alliance between the Klingons and the Federation breaking. Data detects weird readings on the ship.
Geordi sneaks around a cargo bay and secretly beams weapons down to the planet, but of course they're intercepted and the Governor is even more convinced that the Federation is arming the rebels. Picard orders a full investigation and it is narrowed down to the cargo bay transporter, but Geordi has no memory of what he did. The Ambassador tells Picard that he should invite the Governor to see their investigation. Geordi goes to the Ambassador's quarters and the Ambassador instructs him to kill the Governor in the cargo bay in front of everyone and say he's doing it for the rebels. Later Geordi can't sleep and calls O'Brien, but doesn't know why. He goes to see Crusher about insomnia, and she suggests he seems fine but should get his visor checked next time they're at a star base. Data and Riker look into the weird readings, pretty sure they're some kind of communication to the Romulans. Data does computer work and the Computer identifies that the readings are like human brainwaves, and there aren't many devices on board that interact with those.
The Governor comes on board to see the investigation, he's still very skeptical. Geordi walks down corridors in a suspenseful fashion. Data investigates the shuttle and after more computer work he discovers that it has been tampered with and had been in a Romulan tractor beam. Data calls Geordi, who doesn't respond. Data checks where Geordi is and then orders Worf to apprehend him immediately. Worf is stopped from approaching by the Governor's Klingon guards, but he calls out as Geordi approaches and Picard stops his Chief Engineer from firing at the Governor. Picard doesn't know how to explain this, but then Data arrives and does. Turns out the only people who were near Geordi at the time of the weird readings were Picard and the Ambassador, one of them should have a transmitter device on them. The Ambassador refuses to be searched, but when the Governor says he'll search him and the Ambassador suddenly requests asylum from Picard, who says he'll grant it if he's exonerated of the crime. Geordi is very distressed to learn that he has false memories.

Oh Captain My Captain
Picard is met by the Ambassador who trusts him and thinks he'll be a good person to investigate what's going on. Picard seems to have been involved in various important Klingon things of late and so I guess he's got a good reputation, especially with those who like the current Klingon leadership (Picard was involved in choosing). The Governor is very suspicious that the Federation must be involved with the separatists and so he's distrustful of Picard. Picard is very insistent that the Federation do not get involved in the internal politics of their allies, though this is not an episode that requires Picard's eloquence very much. Remember when he used to solve most things with a speech at the end of episode.

Does Not Compute
Data mostly asks the Computer questions during his investigation, just as any human would. Plus it seems like the Computer immediately has the answers, it just won't tell you anything until you ask the right question. You can tell this was made in the early 90s; processing power, search terms and the time things take -plus Data's lack of connectivity- all seem kinda old-fashioned now. It'll take 3 hours for a random computer search to check 327 types of systems. I know it's more complicated than a google search but that seems kind of slow to me. Surely Data would be all the more effective if he could interface with the Computer directly, rather than delivering voice commands, though I suppose that would make bad TV.

Blind Engineering
I gotta feel bad for Geordi. Abduction, torture and brain washing. Poor guy! We don't know what images the Romulans are putting in his brain, but it's clear they're dreadful. He remembers the Riza trip, but has odd reactions to O'Brien. We get to see through Geordi's visor, the view is greenish and there are weird symbols and noises, which I think are supposed to be the Romulan signals. Geordi tries to investigate because it's his job, but while he's brainwashed he also knows how to cover his tracks. He's kind of at war with himself, without knowing it. After waking up and calling O'Brien for no reason Geordi starts to realise something is wrong and goes to Crusher, but the Romulans did their job well. There's something that looks a little different, but it only seems like a small thing and not something that will have a real impact on Geordi's health. I wonder how the Romulans got so much info about how Geordi's visor works? Also who was that guy they sent to the conference to take Geordi's place? I don' feel like there was enough about him and what actually happened on Riza. Did they use the visor recording to implant the false memories in Geordi? Suspenseful camera angles are used as Geordi approaches the cargo bay, it's pretty effective. Even if I kept thinking about Will Ferrell's character from Zoolander, which made things a bit more amusing than they were supposed to be. At the end Geordi's talk with Troi is so, so sad. He can't trust his memories, his mind has been violated and even though he is not my favourite character I feel so sad for him because it's horrible. This moment is played with such strong emotion by LeVar Burton.

Klingon Warrior
At first the Amabassador asks Picard if he can work with anyone other than Worf as his discommendation means all Klingons need to treat him as a pariah, and it makes things really awkward. Picard insists that Worf is his Chief Security Officer and he won't send anyone else in his place. Worf defends Picard's word and makes reference to his own perceived lack of honour, no surprise that he;s defensive about it. Surprisingly the Ambassador tells Worf that his killing of Duras means that some of the Klingon High Council would thank him, and that it was a truly Klingon thing to do. It's the first approval Worf's had from another Klingon for a while. I wonder how much the Ambassador knows about the truth behind Worf's status? I mean now that the leadership has changed can't the truth come out? I guess there's still enough people around who don't want it to, and maybe that it happened at all is bad enough.
When Data can't get to Geordi in time he calls Worf, since he is Chief of Security and conveniently near by. Worf is shocked that Data tells him to apprehend Geordi, but as soon as it's an order he does as he's told. Worf is stopped from getting to Geordi by the Governor's guards, perhaps they think he's going for Governor, though why Worf couldn't go around the group I don't know.  Worf has to call out to get everyone to look at Geordi, which means Picard is the one who actually stops and disarms Geordi just in time. I think is a shame for Worf because surely he should get to do this sort of thing.

It's Not Easy Being Troi
Geordi is shocked and angry and disbelieving. He remembers Riza, he tells Troi about it and though she is being compassionate and understanding she does have a kind of conversationally trick him into remembering what really happened and tells him to put his memories to one side. Geordi's distress and lack of certainty are horrible, but Troi assures him that it's a good sign, and she'll be there to help him get his memories back. I hope this process is shown on screen, or at east alluded to, not sure if it will be but after the trauma he;s been through geordi will need a lot of help.

Staff Meetings: 2
1. Picard and the Ambassador discuss the situation on the Klingon colony planet, and the Governor's accusation of Federation interference. Picard denies these completely and the Ambassador explains why he asked Picard aa
2. Geordi and Data report to Picard and the Ambassador about the transporter investigation and the tampered chips they've found. Only person on board with the relevant skills and no alibi is Geordi, suspicion doesn't fall on him and he's determined to find out what happened. Data mentions the weird readings he and Riker have been investigating. After they leave the Ambassador tells Picard he should invite the Governor to see their investigation as a sign of good faith.

The End
Geordi and Troi discuss what happened (see It's Not Easy Being Troi) and the process he'll need to go through. It's so sad because he'll have to put aside pleasant memories and relive his abuse. It's a powerful scene.

17 June 2016

The Host

Episode: s4, ep 23

Having seen DS9 first this episode is kind of confusing.

What Happens
Beverley is dating an ambassador who is being taken to mediate in a dispute between the populations of two moons. The relationship is passionate and secret, but the Ambassador has his own secret which bulges inside his stomach. The planet they're going to asked the Federation to help because the peoples of their two moons hate each other and due to recent developments are close to war. The Ambassador's father helped negotiate a previous settlement between the moons. The Ambassador refuses to use the transporters and despite safety concerns insists on getting a shuttle to the talks. Troi chats to Beverley and reveals that her relationship isn't really secret.
Riker asks to fly the Ambassador's shuttle, but as they're going to the mediation a ship appears from one of the moons and fires on them. The shuttle is damaged and the Ambassador injured; he tells Riker that the transporters will kill him. The Enterprise scares away the hostile ship and the shuttle returns. In sickbay Beverley is confused by the medical readings of her lover, it looks like he has a parasite and then his stomach bulges again. He tells her that he is the thing in his stomach, that the humanoid is only his host. This is how it works with Trills and so the Trill homeworld must be contacted to send another host or he'll die. WAIT, WHAT? He's a Trill? Just assume the rest of this episode is punctuated by me saying "That's not how Trills work!" This is not the best episode to watch when you've seen Deep Space 9 first. DS9 has a Trill as a main cast member and various other Trills and joined-Trill issues appear during the show.
In order to save the ambassador-worm (it's not called a symbiote yet) Beverley says she may have to put him in a human, Riker volunteers. The Ambassador is put into Riker and takes over, he still loves Beverley, but she's freaked out by the situation. The Ambassador insists on continuing with the negotiations, revealing to everyone that his "father" who dealt with this conflict before was actually him in a different host. I don't understand why this info is secret or why -if it is a big, species-wide secret- he's suddenly fine to reveal it now. He convinces both sides to accept him as mediator in Riker's body. Treatments keep the Ambassador inside Riker, but they're making both of them ill. After talking with Troi Beverley realises that she does still have feelings for the Ambassador even though he's inside Riker and so they sort of continue to date, or something. I'm not clear on how far they go, but they kiss and it's super weird.
The Ambassador says the drugs are killing Riker, so he moves the mediation forward. He tells Picard and Beverley that regardless of what happens with the negotiations he must be removed from Riker  that day or the Commander will die. The negotiations are successful (the details apparently do not matter in the slightest), but Riker/Ambassador looks dreadful. The Trill ship is still some distance away, so the Enterprise races to meet it. The new host arrives and Beverley is shocked to see that she is woman. After the surgical transfer the new Ambassador speaks to Beverley and says she still loves her. Beverley is cold and says that perhaps it's a human failing that she can't cope with this change (it's really not, Beverley).

Oh Captain, My Captain
The Ambassador identifies Picard as Beverley's old friend and starts trying to talk to him about her, and how serious she is about her Star Fleet career. Picard is really awkward and doesn't want to be in this convo while also trying to be polite because diplomacy. Plus it's a bit weird that the Ambassador is trying to have this talk with Beverley's friend/superior officer rather than her. Later he's really supportive to Beverley and gives her a hug and offers to talk things through, even though talking about that sort of stuff makes him awkward. He is being a good friend.

Riker: lover, adventurer, middle-manager
So weird!
As observed previously Riker is such a daredevil! He's throwing himself at any dangerous opportunity that comes his way.
Potentially dangerous shuttle-mission? Oh, me!
Dangerous, unprecedented hosting of an alien creature that'll take over your body? Yes, yes I'll do it!
Where does Will Riker go when the ambassador is in his body? Is he still able to sense things or is it like he's asleep? Should Beverley be kissing him if Riker doesn't want to kiss her? The consent issues here are really tricky. Riker gave consent to host the Ambassador, but it was hardly well-informed. The Ambassador keeps courting Beverley even though he must realise it's weird now he's inhabiting her colleague/friend, plus Riker's loaning his body for emergency/diplomatic reasons, not for relationship stuff.

Doctor Doctor
It's cool that Beverley has an episode that focuses on her and gets a romantic plotline, though this is the second time she's had a one-episode boyfriend with some kind of odd situation that means he leaves the ship. At least this time it's actually a proper relationship; they are pretty cute together and feel strongly for each other. There's humour and fun and intimacy, though I get the feeling the the Ambassador is more committed to the relationship. As a professional Beverley is excellent as ever, despite how upset and confused she must be that her lover died, kind of. Plus here's yet another unprecedented medical procedure that she's done (I'm guessing Wesley got his smarts from the maternal side). When things get weird between her and the Ambassador (and Riker's body) she uses her role as distancing tactic, trying to keep things professional though the Ambassador makes that difficult by pushing the issue, which isn't cool. Being weirded out by the situation in general is understandable, finding that a lover is in the body of a friend is even odder. Seeing Beverley and Riker kissing is so strange, I hope it never happens again, especially after her "like a brother" comment. (Eww!) The end (as I will discuss below) is not great and did make me annoyed at Beverley. She assumed the host would be male, which I suspect was due to her preferences. When the new host is female she doesn't make a big thing out of it, just gets on with her work (did the Trill just send the one host and not a specialist medical team?). Again she tries to use medical concerns to distance herself, and her being freaked out by a change she wasn't expecting makes sense, but that doesn't mean she gets to decide that it's a failing of her entire species. You don't get to talk for everyone, Beverley. At least she admits that her reaction it is a failing, even though she tries to justify it in a way that removes personal responsibility.

Girl Talk
Troi and Beverley chat in the ship's hairdressers/beauty parlour. Turns out they can colour your nails without polish in the future, which is amazing! That combined with the hair dye wand from the last hairdresser scene makes me wonder why people aren't changing their nail and hair colour all the time. Troi is a little too empathic about Beverley's relationship, her powers must be really good for office gossip. Though Troi suggests that Beverley's secret isn't that secret because it's clear something's going on. The first part of this scene is Bechdel-Wallace passing, it's about beauty treatments, so it's girlier than most of my conversations, but it counts. The rest isn't because it's about the Ambassador (who is/presents as male at this point). The later conversation in 10 Forward is also about the Ambassador, and weirdly that talk is Deanna getting Crusher to make out with someone in Riker's body. Well, not exactly but that's the outcome.
The conversation with the Ambassador at the end is also Bechdel-Wallace passing, as it's two women talking about their relationship.

Future is Better? 
It's really telling about US TV in the early 90s that Crusher is less accepting of her lover in a woman's body than in Riker's. She says she thinks of Will as like a brother, but she'll kiss him over kissing a woman who she knows is someone she loves on the inside. It's so heteronormative and bi-erasing and kinda transphobic (I mean I know the Ambassador isn't trans really, but I guess they're non-binary/genderqueer). I don't think this is how a progressive, accepting future is gonna look. I mean if Beverley can't handle it personally that's something that can be explored (it is a very new relationship and there have been sudden and unexpected changes), but it's treated like a gender change is an automatic deal-breaker for anyone and it's not. Bisexuals exist, but goodness knows society tries to pretend they don't. Plus cisgendered people have transgendered partners and those relationships are real, so don't act like three centuries from now folk are all still going to be freaking out about this.
The wrist-kiss and Beverley's icy admission of love are (I assume) closest Trek came to anything other than heterosexuality on screen, until a Trill-centric episode in DS9 some years later. It's telling to me that Trill characters are always involved because their gender changes almost provide an excuse for the non-het situation to arise. Homosexuality and bisexuality never really seem to be addressed with people whose gender presentation is fixed, I hope the new series will do better in this area. Plus it strikes me that while Trills are used by Trek to explore homosexuality/bisexuality there's an argument to be made for them representing people who aren't cisgendered. I mean the way Crusher suggests she's been deceived by her lover who was just being what he is by nature could be used to explore transphobic issues. Beverley's assumption that the new host would be male is what immediately made me think she wouldn't be. I've been referring to the ambassador as 'he' here, but that's only based on his presentation in most of the episode, there's no signal as to the best pronouns. There's more elements of this kind of thing in DS9, but it's not explicitly explored.

They're Trills, But Not as I Know Them
I know they only just came up with the idea of Trills in this episode and it's something that changes in the later series, but this is an even bigger change than what happens with the Ferengi and the Cardassians, who only look different. Where are the spots? What's with the foreheads? Why is the ambassador-worm bulging out of the host's stomach and why does it need to be scanned (or whatever that device was). Why does the ambassador only have one name and why does it seem like s/he's parasitically controlling the humanoids rather than symbiotically sharing bodies and memories? I'm pretty sure Dax used the transporters, or is that because they've been set up for Trills? Also it's not clear why -if Trills are also a Federation species who've been working as diplomats for at least 2 generations- it isn't known that they're joined. Troi comments they they know little about the species, but they're Federation citizens, it's not like all those new or reclusive species they deal with. Why keep it a secret? Clearly if Trills have special needs (like not using transporters) they should be upfront about it. Plus I'm pretty sure that somewhere out there Curzon Dax is negotiating with Klingons and putting Benjamin Sisko through his paces, so there are Trills in Star Fleet. I don't think a symbiote can live in a human, or it would've been mentioned, I mean the party line is that they can't live in most Trills. Also (and this goes for DS9 too) why don't they travel in pairs or groups, or at least with others near by, so that there's always an available host should there be an accident in space (as seems to happen).

Staff Meetings: 2
1. Senior staff, the Ambassador and the Governor of the planet discuss the situation with the two moons (the Ambassador and Dr Crusher arrive separately by different doors). The Governor explains that the moons hate each other and the planet thinks of them as squabbling children, but war is coming now because one moon found a cheap energy source that is causing climate change on the other moon. After everyone else has gone Troi tells Picard that she's getting emotional fluctuations from the Ambassador (which sounds like what she gets from everyone). Picard says that's normal for Trills even though they don't know much about them and he isn't an empath, but whatever.
2. Crusher tells senior staff that the Ambassador's body died, and a new host is hours away. She's doing well considering she's mourning. Data volunteers to act as a vessel (does he has cupboard space in there?) but it has to be a biological host. Picard says the Ambassador is vital to peace and though it's never been done a human host is suggested. Riker volunteers without much info.

The End
Beverley is reporting on her successful, unprecedented surgery when the Ambassador comes to thank her and say that she still loves her. Beverley is cold to her and tries to just keep it professional. She says she can't deal, but tries to say that's a human thing (bollocks!). The Ambassador is understanding, Beverley admits she still loves her. The Ambassador kisses her wrist as she did in her previous host. It should be bittersweet, but the handling and wider context of this moment pissed me off.

12 June 2016

X-Men: Apocalypse

We have been burned by X-Men films in the past (my husband still prefers to pretend Last Stand doesn't exist) and so we restrain our excitement and go without high hopes, which has mostly worked out well. X-Men: Apocalypse has some cool stuff in it, and is reasonable entertainment, but did not blow me away. It's very definitely a sequel, but because the two preceding films didn't mesh well parts were a sequel to one, and parts were a sequel to the other and it didn't feel like it all gelled. The story seemed to rely on knowledge of (and clips from) the previous films, but the X-Men franchise has not been anywhere near as consistent as the MCU for example (though I appreciate it pre-dates it), so too much harking back seems a little foolhardy. Though I guess they got to reuse a few set designs. Plus in many ways things being a bit confusing and not making much sense with what went before is very appropriate to the source material (my husband has explained portions of the Summers family tree to me, several times).

Those characters who were given much to do had reasonable plot lines, although they were often pretty standard and some were downright cliches. Bringing in new/old characters at different ages is hardly a novel trick for X-Men at this point, but it all feels a bit superficial when they haven't sufficiently aged the older new characters. Some new characters were not given much in the way of backstory or motivation, and while everyone can't get equal screen time it seemed like there was a lot of focus on established characters whose backstories are already known to us. Though bizarrely much of this examination of the previous characters didn't really fill the gaps so much as explain to us what we had already seen. Passing the baton is a tricky thing to navigate, but I think there was too much caution in this area, as though the younger/newer characters couldn't be trusted to engage our attention. There were some moments of meta, that were kind of amusing, but also seemed ill-advised and cockier than I feel is deserved. Overall it was fine, but I think they have to do something pretty different or particularly good to impress me at this point.

Spoilery Random Thoughts in list form - this is a thing now.

How much sand and grit and dirt does Psylocke have in her swimming costume? It occurred to me at Auschwitz and I could not stop thinking it in Cairo. It is unhygienic and she must be super itchy.

So that mother and daughter were always going to get fridged so hard. Did they have names? I don't recall. I mean they were obviously going to die so who actually cares? It is kind of tedious. Plus why is Magneto a family man working in a Polish refinery? Sure tell us all about that thing in Washington we already saw, but don't explain what happened between the films by any means. Why did he stop being Magneto, I mean that was the main thing he had any interest in?

Charles is happy and being a professor again after that period of drug abuse and self-pity in the 70s, which has left him curiously unravaged by time. I don't remember why he was sad in the first place to be honest.

Hank is at least pretty consistent, while also looking curiously young. Perhaps he has been experimenting again because if there's one thing this sequence of films has established about Dr Hank McCoy it is that he's very concerned by his looks.

It's cool that Mystique is some kind of icon for mutants. She's had the main surprising and different storyline in this half of the franchise, so good on her.

Are there female teachers at this school? Should two male teachers be wandering into a teenage girl's room at night. I mean I know Prof X is the only one who can help Jean, but shouldn't there be a lady there to chaperone or something?

So how many timelines are there now? I know they don't want me to think this, but tough it happened. I figure there's got to be at least 3 because bits of this tie up with some previous films, but none of it works with all of them. I mean if Kurt, Scott and Jean had all been there before then the events of X2 make no sense, but I don't think this can be in that timeline at all.

Yay, Nightcrawler! I do like Nightcrawler, glad he is there. If people say BAMF online my first instinct is always that they are saying Nightcrawler's teleporting noise, which can be confusing because I know it means something else.

Scott did not irritate me here, it may just be a matter of time but I find I'm never that bothered by Cyclops.

Moira McTaggert is back, yay! She didn't slap Charles when she found out what he had done to her, boo!

Seriously though it has been twenty one years since First Class and ten years since Days of Future Past, so a comment on how Moira's hardly aged a day doesn't cut it, especially as she has no mutant powers to explain it (not that most people's powers do). Stryker also looks pretty similar, and not like that guy with the beard at all. Quicksilver should look properly different, or should have been an actual teenager in the last one. Magneto manages to look a bit tortured, so maybe that helps. It's not like there aren't make-up effects that would do the work.

On a similar point how much older is Havok than Cyclops? Havok was a teen in the 60s and Cyclops is a teen in the 80s, so that's a fair age gap really, even though Havok somehow still looks like he's only a few years/a decade-maybe older than Scott. Their powers don't explain this.

I like that Charles doesn't realise he's lost his hair yet when he battles Apocalypse. From the trailers I thought it would get burned out by Cerebro. I expect that was a surprise, shame we didn't see it.

Quicksilver's sequence was good again, one of the better bits as beefore. His sequences show a lot of invention, which is cool. Why doesn't Quicksilver tell Magneto who he is? It's just kind of left there.

Sophie Turner's version of Jean is good (I'm not always that bothered by Jean as a character either). I quite liked her and thought it was cool that she got some proper fire. Though she can presumably remove Magneto's hat and then mind control him, so she's already better than Prof X.

Jubliee did not get much to do.

Why does Psylocke do anything that she does? I don't really know her at all, but sympathise for all the sand and dirt she'll be washing out of herself for weeks. Other than that I got no feelings about her.

Storm had some stuff to do at first, but then not so much.

Angel/Arcangel didn't have much to do either, and I thought he was supposed to be rich. Now I don't know much about him in this either, so maybe he was. Angel can be well used to show how mutant prejudice can affect someone from a privileged background, but here I guess he was just an American cage-fighter in Germany.

I'm not that bothered about Apocalypse. He is a fairly boring villain all things considered. I don't really understand why he disliked things so much considered the time period he lived through was pretty much when things were invented and popularised by humans.

Oh look, it's Wolverine again, for no real reason, except that he has to be there, I guess.

2 June 2016

Half A Life

Episode: s4, ep 22

A Lwaxana Troi episode where she gets to deal with some real emotional stuff and no one mocks her for her desires. Yay! Also, ohh the feels!

What Happens
Lwaxana is aboard and invites herself along with Picard as he welcomes a scientist from a reclusive species that has asked the Federation for help restoring their declining sun. Lwaxana latches onto the reserved scientist, shows him around and provides a picnic in Engineering while he's working. He shyly enjoys her attention (because finally someone should!), but doesn't join her for the evening. The Federation have found the scientist a suitable sun that they can run a test on, in the hopes that Federation tech can save his planet. They've known the sun is declining for generations and this particular scientist has spent 40 years working on the solution, and 3 of those were just the search for a test sun. The test seems to go well, but the sun gets too hot and goes explodey. The scientist is devastated, but thanks everyone for their help.
Lwaxana tries to comfort the scientist and he finds her company helpful, but regrets that they hadn't met sooner. He's devastated because he'd wanted to save his planet before he died, but now he's returning home without success and he will die when he gets there. Lwaxana is enraged to learn that on his world people have a ceremony when they turn 60 and are euthanised, she insists that Picard intervenes. Picard points out that he can't because Prime Directive, and Lwaxana tries to beam down to the planet to raise some hell, but Deanna points out that no one can let her. Deanna comforts her mother, who is crying and feeling her own mortality. Lwaxana and her scientist talk and spend the night together. Then they have a long -and at times heated- discussion about the custom, and she tries to convince him to ignore his beliefs and choose life.
The scientist discusses the test with Geordi and Data (well, they're there) and realises something about neutrinos which he might be able to fix if he had time. This realisation chimes with what Lwaxana told him and he requests asylum from Picard, he wants more time to work on his findings. He tells this to a Science Minister, who is appalled at the suggestion that he live past 60 and rejects the notion entirely. When the scientist says that anyone new would take longer to reach the same point he is dismissed, younger people take things over, that is the way of things and all of his loved ones are gathering to honour him. A couple of warships approach the Enterprise and Picard is told they'll attack if the Federation ship leaves with the scientist on board.
The scientist's daughter is sent to the Enterprise; she's appalled and distressed by her father's decision and blames Lwaxana for influencing him. She describes her disappointment and her fears that her father will leave their planet and die among strangers without being laid to rest with his family. He finds that all his work has been removed, meaning he can't continue to help save his planet. He tells Lwaxana that he's going to return home to die, he doesn't want to start a revolution or hurt those he loves. The thought of being with her is almost enough for him to stay, but not quite. She accepts his decision and joins him for his ceremony.

Oh Captain, My Captain
Initially Picard does his usual thing of unsuccessfully dodging Lwaxana, but luckily this whole schtick, which has gotten pretty old, only happens during the pre-credit scene, then Lwaxana meets the scientist. Later Picard has to explain why the Prime Directive means he can't interfere in another culture's rituals and practices, even if they seem dreadful to the Federation. When the scientist goes to Picard for asylum the Captain accepts, but refuses to advise him on whether he was right.

It's Not Easy Being A Troi
Deanna is only in this a little. At first she rolls her eyes at her mother a bit, joking about her being insatiable when she's dressing seductively. Which is odd when you consider Deanna is the one who explained that women of her age in their species are very sexual. Of course Lwaxana chides her daughter for not practising her telepathy and judges her based on her lack of love life. So I guess this is just a mother-daughter activity with them. Later Deanna comforts Lwaxana as she cries over the scientist's fate. Though Lwaxana is sad and angry (sometimes when some people get angry enough they start to cry, which just frustrates and makes you want to cry more) about the upcoming death, she's also reminded of her own mortality too. She tells Deanna about feeling tired and afraid, and Deanna kind of tangents it onto reassuring her mother that she's not going to get frail or senile before her time. This isn't really the issue here and is also not something Deanna can tell based on her mother's personality, because that's not how age-related conditions work. It is super nice that Lwaxana gets to have a good relationship with someone who truly reciprocates her feelings and is utterly charmed by her. I was getting really fed up of jokes about men avoiding her because she's out-spoken. Of course when Geordi sees that Lwaxana has attached herself to the scientist he makes a snide comment, because he can't just stand and watch.
I don't quite get how this whole Betazoidempathy/telepathy thing works. In last episode the Betazoid investigator could tell that someone was lying and hiding things, with more success than Deanna (who is also half-human, so fair enough), but he couldn't tell what they were actually thinking and it was only ever referred to as a feeling, which sounds more like empathy than telepathy. Lwaxana is definitely telepathic and can communicate mentally with her daughter and acts as though she has a sense of others thoughts (though it's likely she's exaggerating), but that may be something that only works with someone close to you. Deanna can only ever do telepathy with Riker and her mother. From Lwaxana's attitude it's clear she thinks Deanna can do more and that telepathy, rather than empathy, is the norm for her. It makes me wonder whether Lwaxana is particularly talented at the mental arts. It may explain why she has all those titles, and why she expected more from Deanna, despite that her genetic background wouldn't be so strong.

Future is Better
The scientist's culture is reclusive, isolationist and nearly xenophobic. Very little is known about them and they've only gone to outsiders because their planet is at risk. Though at least they realised their sun was in trouble, and are working on it with generations to go, so they're doing better than the Kryptonians. Even though he's happy to be working with the Federation the scientist has trouble imagining himself or his people living elsewhere besides the planet. Their sense of place and culture is clearly very strong. He regrets the situation he's in, both in terms of his work and meeting Lwaxana, but he doesn't think of changing his situation and argues against Lwaxana's demand that he does. This doesn't seem to be an area where social mores are up for discussion and I get the impression that rebellion is unusual or strongly discouraged. Institutionalised euthanasia is discussed and explored without the dialogue being preachy. Of course Lwaxana finds it horrifying and wasteful for people of only 60 to give up on their lives. The scientist tries to explain how terrible it was for old people a millennia ago, left to decay until their natural deaths, and that no one wants to be a burden or trapped in a life with such poor quality. It's a persuasive argument only because it highlights people's fears about aging, but it's also a terrible solution. These people have built their whole culture around the idea that people over 60 can't be of use, and Lwaxana's right that it's a terrible waste and far too young. There's been no work to improve people's lives or find cures for age-related illnesses. The scientist is only convinced by Lwaxana when he sees how he could make progress in his work, but when he realises that he won't be allowed to save his planet and that his decision will hurt his family he changes his mind back. He points out to Lwaxana that he's no revolutionary. It's so sad, but not surprising.

The Prime Directive Is A Harsh Mistress
I don't feel like these rules have been fully defined, but as these people aren't human (or another Federation species), I guess the Federation have decided they can't interfere. Though presumably this planet must be post-warp or technologically advanced enough to have contacted the Federation for help. Star Fleet are sharing their tech and resources to help presumably because they were asked and because this reclusive race are advanced enough that this doesn't count as interfering. Of course if they were pre-warp then Star-Fleet would be honour-bound to let them be destroyed when their sun exploded, but could totally have observed them in secret until that happened.

Staff Meetings: 1
The scientist explains how they're going to do something with some weapons to reignite a sun in a similar condition in the hopes of saving his own planet's star. Picard apologies that it has taken 3 years for the federation to find a suitable sun for testing.

The End
Picard regretfully wishes the scientist goodbye and asks him to tell his people that the Federation will be ready to help when they want to try again. Lwaxana arrives unexpectedly to join the scientist at his Resolution ceremony, as one of his loved ones. She assures Picard she won't cause trouble on the planet, and he gives her permission to disembark. Lwaxana and her scientist hold hands to beam down. It's so, so sad.