Picard’s shuttlecraft crash lands and he is rescued by a woman holds him captive because she is in love with him. However, it turns out the woman is really an alien ambassador in disguise attempting to understand the human custom of love. Meanwhile, other alien ambassadors attempt to understand “pleasure” from Troi and “antagonism” from Worf.
Teleplay by Jeanne Carrigan-Fauci & Lisa Rich. Story by Roger Eschbacher & Jaq Greenspon. Directed by Cliff Bole.
It’s been a while since I viewed an episode of Next Generation. Part of that is because I’ve been busy, or traveling. But some of it is also because I’m a bit unenthusiastic about much of Season Seven of Next Generation, and a big part of that is because I haven’t been looking forward to re-watching Liaisons in particular.
There are certainly worse episodes of the series, but it’s hard to find one in which the premise itself is more ridiculous than what we see here: an alien race (who look just like humans) understand everything about human culture except love, antagonism and pleasure. Oh, and also children, kidnapping and crime. But they know how to pilot a space ship, communicate with language, eat food, kiss, and all sorts of human behavior. The one who supposedly doesn’t understand antagonism seems to have no difficulty understand who to antagonize or how to antagonize, so really what’s the issue? What these aliens “don’t understand” is so obviously contrived and forced that the ending reveal just robs any enjoyment one might have had.
Of course, this isn’t the first absurdly contrived premise the show has had. I mean really, an alien race who are advanced enough to erase everyone’s memory but can’t build a torpedo? So a silly premise does not necessarily make a bad episode. But in this case, there’s not much to hold up the episode outside of the surprise. The main action, between Picard and “Anna” just isn’t all that engaging, perhaps because the story can’t really commit to the idea of a real crazy lady holding Picard prisoner. The only bright spot is the subplot with Worf simply because there are some funny moments in there – like with Riker at the start or the brief moment with Geordi (both mentioned below).
But otherwise it’s only a middling episode which is made worse when it’s revealed that the only threat around is just how stupid these new aliens are.
• Eric Pierpoint plays Voval. He is best known for starring in the TV version of Alien Nation, as well as co-starring in the TV series version of Fame. He also starred in the short-lived TV series Hot Pursuit (sort of a mash-up of Hart to Hart and The Fugitive). Additionally, he had roles in all the subsequent Star Trek series, including a recurring part as Harris in Enterprise.
• Paul Eiding plays Ambassador Loquel. He has had about a zillion voice roles, including as Max Tennyson in the whole Ben Ten franchise, and as “Additional Voices” or simply “Voice” for movies like Wall*E, Monsters University, Up, Iron Giant, and lots more.
• Ricky D’Shon Collins makes his first of three appearances on the series as Eric – a character I had no memory of whatsoever. He was also the voice of Vince in 129 episodes of Recess.
Shout out to the Past:
• Nothing except for the ongoing bit about Troi loving chocolate.
Setting Up the Future:
• Nothing really, except for the fact that Eric will appear again a couple of times.
• Riker’s response to Worf’s complaint about the dress uniform looking like dresses is funny. “That is an incredibly outmoded and sexist attitude. I’m surprised at you. Besides, you look good in a dress.”
• Similarly’s Geordi’s response to the “You. Are you smarter than this one?” (“Why do you ask?”) is amazingly tactful and one of the episode’s best moments.
• Deck 8 is an unfinished multipurpose deck? I didn’t know that.
• The expression on young Eric’s face when the ambassador is examining him is priceless. The Ambassador has a good understanding that he must ask the boy’s mother permission to give him dessert.
• Apparently this is one of only three episodes of Next Generation not to feature any scenes on the Bridge
• Another funny rant from Worf: “I am going to kill him! With my bare hands, I will take him by the throat and I will rip out his oesophagus!”
• And another funny exchange is with Troi and Riker, where Troi says that her otherwise pleasant ambassador is testing her limits in enjoying dessert. “You see? You see? They are insane!” It’s a funny moment, well delivered.
• The season’s first poker game, between Worf, Riker, Troi and the two ambassadors.
• “You are an insulting, pompous fool, and if you were not an Ambassador, I would disembowel you right here!” It’s funny who Loquel keeps eating during the altercation between Worf and Byleth. Incidentally, Riker is very late with his order to Worf to stop fighting. He can even be seen standing still in the background for one quick shot.
Dialogue High Point
All the best dialogue of the episode is said either by or to Worf. I think in the end my favorite is the exchange with Data. Data tells Worf to try to focus on elements of commonality with the ambassador he is struggling with. Worf responds that the ambassador is demanding, tempermental and rude. Data responds:
You share all of those qualities in abundance. Perhaps you should try to build on your similarities.
It’s a bit obvious, but the joke still works.