Wesley falls for Saleeya, an attractive teenaged alien dignitary who is being transported by the Enterprise to where she assume leadership of her people – a role she sees as limiting and controlling. Saleeya chafes under the strict guardianship of Anya, her lifelong companion, and makes efforts to spend time with Wesley. Anya is a shapeshifter who is even willing to harm Enterprise crew members if she perceives them to be a threat to Saleeya, bringing her into conflict with Worf. When Wesley realizes that Saleeya is a shapeshifter as well, he is offended, but he reconciles with her before she leaves and adopts her new role.
Written by Scott Rubenstein and Leonard Mlodinow. Directed by Rob Bowman.
Well, here we have Wesley’s first (only?) full blown romance episode. Although as romances go, it’s pretty tame – which is fitting with the way Wesley has been developed. But in the end, a story that could have been nothing more than a second-rate puppy-love story ends up transcending that and being a second-rate puppy-love story featuring a bizarre little monkey creature that looks like something out of Land of the Lost.
Yes, The Dauphin is not a classic, especially when compared to the heights the show has reached in the previous couple of episodes. There is in fact only one Wesley-focused episode that I would consider a classic (if my memory’s opinions are correct) and it doesn’t come for many years, until after Wesley was no longer a regular character. The character was just not that compelling. All of the Next Generation characters could sometimes be difficult to relate to as “people” due to the semi-perfect world they came from, but Wesley struggled the most. He doesn’t seem to have any discernible personality traits beyond “very smart” and “a bit naive,” the writing of individual episodes does not usually give him many specifics to work with, and the actor’s performance overall lacks the human touches that the other regulars are generally able to bring to their characters.
That’s not the say that The Dauphin is a complete washout. It’s got some funny moments from Work, Riker, and Guinan as Wesley seeks relationship advice from his friends. And it gives Wesley one of his better moments toward the end, when he has a pretty believable response to finding out his new girlfriend is actually a shape-shifter. And the holographic vistas that Wesley show to Saleeya do look pretty impressive – Next Generation did do a consistently good job with its space vistas at this point.
However, the show’s efforts at realizing other types of imagery – such as Anya’s transformations, and others where the effect had to be composited with live action actors – were a lot less successful. It’s unfortunate, as stories often demanded it, but the show’s technology was by and large not up to the challenge. In this episode, it makes Worf in particular look silly as he is the one who deals the most with the monstrous form of Anya.
All of these positive and negative points ignore the story’s main failing, which is that right at the start, when Wesley first meets Saleeya and expresses his attraction to her, all of his colleagues and fellow officers should have stopped him in his tracks and declared to him very clearly something along the lines of, “Yes, Wesley, she is very attractive, but you know what? She’s essentially an alien princess who has lived in seclusion all of her life, and whose life is critical to the future of a civilization important enough to Federation to send the Enterprise to escort her. So, any potential relationship you might have with her can have no possible future and could potentially lead to an interstellar incident. And we’re on a ship with 1000 other people, including – surely – some other comely teenagers, so for heaven’s sake, don’t pursue her.
• Paddi Edwards, who plays Anya, was the voice of Flotsam & Jetsam in The Little Mermaid and the voice of Gozer in Ghostbusters.
• Madchen Amick, who plays Anya as a teenaged girl, was Shelly the waitress on Twin Peaks.
• Okaaaay, Anya as a small furry creature, is just silly, just plain silly.
• It’s a pretty funny bit when Worf gives Wesley relationship advice. “No, men do not roar,” says Worf. “Women roar. And they throw heavy objects.” “What do men do?” “They duck, a lot.”
• Riker and Guinan are also pretty funny in their flirty conversation, though it goes on a bit
• When trouble breaks out in sickbay, security shows up at sick bay extremely quickly, with Picard no less. Picard himself, is characteristically awesome, in the way he deals with Anya.
• After Anya’s threatening conversation with Worf, it’s surprising that Worf doesn’t wait Anya to re-enter the quarters she’s confined to before he leaves.
• Saleeya is weirdly aggressive in the scene where she sneaks off to be with Wesley. I just assumed it was Anya in disguise because she was acting so strangely.
• Guinan’s next bit of sharing profound wisdom with someone, again with Wesley. Ho hum.
Dialogue High Point
After some debate, my favorite is another line of Worf’s, after Wesley says that he will just go and talk to Saleeya instead of following his advice.
Go to her door. Beg like a human.