Episode

253

Sub Rosa

Beverly’s recently deceased, 100-year-old grandmother had a 34-year-old boyfriend. It is cool though. He was actually 800-years-old. It is not cool though. He was a ghost. No wait! He was a candle! NO WAIT! He was an anaphasic being. Or was he Nana-phasic? So much to unpack when Dr. Crusher packs up and leaves the Enterprise. We are putting Sub Rosa into the Mission Log.

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Discussion

  • Robert Hackett

    Well folks, I have been insulting this episode for over a month in anticipation of it coming. I recently saw this on BBC America, and it is worse than I remember. Bad writing, illogical actions of the Starfleet crew, and bad acting from Gates McFadden. She is a fine actor, but this episode is amateur hour. Ghost stories and Star Trek do not mix. Just stupid and insulting. I always wonder when episodes like this are being filmed if the actors ever speak up and realize how crappy a show they are making.

    • Yup. Never thought any TNG episode was scary. Closest was “Night Terrors” w music. But that was offset by Troi ass shots….

  • Burstingfoam

    This is my Star Trek guilty pleasure. It’s a shocker in almost every respect, and yet I can’t help but enjoy it, and I’d rather watch it a hundred times than see last week’s horror show just once. My only real complaint is that it doesn’t go far enough – imagine a version that really embraced the trashiness, and cast Fabio Lanzoni as Ronin…

    • Dave Taylor

      Pretty sure you are in the minority on this one.

      • Burstingfoam

        Absolutely, and that’s fine. I’m not going to defend it in any logical way (and as someone British, its version of Scotland is almost as awful as the various Irish representations we’ve had over the years), but I can’t help it. I enjoy it. Sometimes we all need a little trash in our lives.

  • Dave Taylor

    I remember this one being bad. Yup, it was.

    Perhaps if they had spent a little less time showing Beverly in Ghostly Rapture then this might have had a chance. The premise is interesting and creepy and had potential but no.

    • Robert Hackett

      Yes, those scenes where she is “getting to know” her new “friend” are very uncomfortable to watch. Talk about an ICK factor.

      • Ectoplasm gets everywhere.

      • Dave Taylor

        Felt uncomfortable. If my wife had walked in she would have thought I was watching a soft porn.

  • Liam McMullin

    I saw Sub Rosa when I was 11. I knew what was happening. I didn’t like it then either. This was an embarrassment to watch with parents home. Dad did get a good laugh when he walked in right as Beverly’s grandma sat up in her coffin, though.

  • You know the string of crappy , unredeemable episodes based on how a VHS tape recorded from tv sat on shelf unwatched…. this episode and other S7 turds were on that tape.

  • Muthsarah

    I love this episode so, so much. In the way that I love Whom Gods Destroy, or The Man With The Golden Gun. It’s just ridiculous, and the cast seems to know it. It’s wonderful seeing the series take a page from Harlequin, because in any rational universe, it absolutely should not be doing that.

    I understand how embarrassing and uncomfortable this episode can be for others, but for me, it’s a hoot. Trek would be poorer without it. Sometimes mistakes can be enriching, or at least make for interesting memories.

  • CmdrR

    Is this Nanna? Or just some forgotten thread from Season One?
    PICARD: Your grandmother was a doctor?
    CRUSHER: No.
    PICARD: Oh. She was a botanist, then?
    CRUSHER: No. She helped to colonise Arveda Three.
    PICARD: Arveda Three? That’s such a tragedy. Did she survive?
    CRUSHER: Yes. Once the medical supplies had run out, she had to use what was at hand. So she learned all about roots and herbs, and then taught it to me.
    PICARD: You were part of that colony. I didn’t know that. But then there must be a lot of things about you that I don’t know.
    CRUSHER: Quite a few.

    • You know what would’ve been better than the episode we got?

      Nana vs. Nanites.
      Also, indigestion. Indigestion would’ve been better.

    • this is from “Arsenal of Freedom” the deep chat while injured/separated from the rest of the group…sigh…TNG never fleshed out Crusher and La Forge enough…..I even think Riker should have had more depth…

  • CmdrR

    I still say Picard should have hit Ronan in the fontanel (which never closes, because he’s a Taltos), grabbed his ice cream, and been done with it.
    Was anyone else frustrated when Picard mentioned that Beverley’s eyes had turned green? I was expected a close-up of some kind. Even in the screen shots, it’s hard to see. Ugh. Another worthless detail. Does she have to wear contacts for the rest of the series?
    Yes, this sucked. On so many levels. Even the sets looked sub par.

  • Wow, a real Mission Log rarity! You guys took an episode I already disliked because of the sheer cheese quotient, and made me utterly *loathe* it because of the misfired message that I hadn’t picked up on. Holy crap. At least we got to revive one of Patrick Stewart’s Saturday Night Live sketch, though maybe “Phil McCracken, Scottish Therapist” should’ve made a house call too, considering how much angerrrrrrrrrrr fandom directs at Sub Rosa.

    The one piece of praise I can work up for Sub Rosa is for Gates McFadden. The scene where she takes the candle into her quarters, lights it, and then kind of rocks herself back and forth in a near-fetal position waiting for Ronin to show up….she is doing a scarily good job of portraying the body language of an addict there. For me, that’s almost more uncomfortable to watch than Beverly getting it on with the Video Toaster. Speaking of…

    I remember reading – and I forget if it was in Larry Nemecek’s TNG Companion or in Mark Altman’s annual Trek-stravaganza for Cinefantastique magazine – that the Newtek Video Toaster was used to do Ronin’s ethereal / gaseous form. At about the same time this episode premiered, I was working in TV at a small-market low-power station for which an Amiga with the Video Toaster bundle was all we would ever need, ever, to do anything. Ever. First off, it amuses me to think that TNG’s FX department was using the same slow-rendering juggernaut that I was using, and second, I think the effects in question had to be done with Lightwave 3D, which was part of the Toaster package. Lightwave was pretty powerful – at the same time Sub Rosa aired, Babylon 5 was using an Amiga render farm and Lightwave to do their *whole show* – but from my experience with that gear, directing/controlling the green cloud had to have been a huge pain in the butt, especially in the time constraints of weekly TV production.

    There is virtually nothing about this episode that works. But for Imaginary Friend and Code Of Honor, this might have been TNG’s absolute nadir. I watched the majority of TNG with a friend of mine – we were in high school when the show started and in college when it finished – and this episode had us snickering and asking “What was *that*?” by the end of it. When Beverly’s grandmother suddenly sits up, it was a laugh-out-loud moment (even though it wasn’t meant to be). Sub Rosa insults the viewer’s intelligence and does no favors to a character who, just a few seasons ago, had enough confidence, rationality and self-control to state that if nothing was wrong with her, something must be wrong with the universe. Definitely something wrong with the universe in this one.

  • I minor nitpickish concern…
    When they exhumed the coffin, they just beamed it out of the ground? Would the dirt not collapse at this point as there is suddenly a void under it? How do they propose to get it back in place?

    • CmdrR

      Tractor beam/repulsor shovels. 😉

    • They simultaneously beam an appropriate quantity of creamy nougat into the resulting void.

  • Konservenknilch

    Yay, my least favorite TNG episode -_-
    Yes, even below Justice and Code of Honor, those at least had the excuse of being in S1. For S7, this is just embarrassing and a real disservice to Crushers character. If she at least worked herself out of the spell on her own, but no…

    It’s also a bit odd that Ronan is simply killed in the end, surely there could have been a non-lethal technobabble method. Nobody even bats and eye on that (except Crusher of course, sigh).

    • Yup..absolute garbage. Just inexcusable at this point in the show’s run. I recall thinking DS9 was probably poaching their good stories and writers from TNG by this point….but man…this is just horrible.

    • Dave Taylor

      Ya, if I had found my grandma’s erotic writings, I would NEVER red it.

  • Daniel Harlan

    Sub Rosa delivered one of the most memorable and lamentable lines in TV history: “there’s no such thing as a ghost, you’re some sort of anaphasic lifeform”. In it’s despicable way, this line exposes the fact this episode could have been a great ghost story, or better yet this could have been a classic story of abusive power masquerading as weakness: Ronin begging Beverly for his life, manipulating her with his pleas to his needs, invoking her family heritage, to get her to sacrifice her freedom and submit to his desires. And Beverly finally gathering her inner strength to reclaim her life, her freedom and individuality.

    This story can be found buried in this show, but when Ronin turns out to be just a silly alien, it’s more of a cop-out so prime-time viewers aren’t exposed to stories of rapists and other abusers. ‘Man-against-alien life form’ plots by definition makes for a weak plot because, duh, they’re alien and don’t fit in the human ‘universe’ of struggles. Vulcans, Romulans, Klingons, even Species 831–whatever are at least adjunct humans that reveal struggles against our own internal weaknesses (see DS9 ‘Paradise Lost’). Anaphasic lifeforms are just a way of saying “all this crap you and your ancestors went through doesn’t apply to anyone else in the known universe, but have a warm cup of tea and it will all be better. You’re next shift starts in 4 hours, don’t be late”

    • Dave Taylor

      Agreed. The premise was there for a fascinating show but they went weird with it

    • Species 8472…I think TNG was supposed to avoid space pirates and space vampires? oh well, this turd of an episode was complete waste of Crusher time. I felt the same about “Suspicions”. Opportunities to flesh out her character were sadly, squandered!

    • damnit..no vomit emoji option in this system!!

  • The Bengineer

    On the idea of people duplicating Scotland else where I happened to listen to this awesome episode of 99percentinvisible about that very same thing that happens currently. You can give it a listen here. https://99percentinvisible.org/episodes/page/15#play

    • Konservenknilch

      It’s a pity that we never see just a random federation colony, only these crappy themed villages or cultists in their barns. Yorktown in Beyond was probably the closest we got to regular life.

  • John Anderton

    I have often asked myself, is this now the worst episode ever of Star Trek?

    1) Absolutely horrible theme justifying abuse of women
    2) Actually an episode of Dark Shadows, not Star Trek
    3) Cringe worthy dialog, which we are now still struggling to get our of our minds.
    4) Complete mistreatment of characters

    A lot of episodes are just boring (the Royale), or have no character development (Legacy, Disaster, The Gambit), or are contrived (most), or just repulsive (the Price, Qpid) or have Lwaxana in them, or are sickening like Justice, or some are just creepy like The Child. Some even have creepy themes (the Perfect Mate, lessons) but are still good episodes.

    But this has got to be worse than the rest of those, I would think.

    • Dave Taylor

      The guys tried, but even they had a hard time finding anything redeemable in this episode.

    • Space Vampires…basically like Buck Rogers in the 25th Century….googling now….

      • One of the all-time most iconic episodes from Buck Rogers…

      • Konservenknilch

        Are those ears on backwards? o_O

      • Muthsarah

        Oh my….

        Please tell me what this is from.

        • lol…looks like the Eagle from Muppet Show…

    • Durakken

      No… All of discovery is so far the worst of Star Trek… I’ll take this episode that is trying to put out a good message and failing vs spreading hate and violent rhetoric.

      • John Anderton

        I just realized that Discovery must be ‘cannon’.

  • Toni M

    I always thought this episode was pretty much a direct copy of Anne Rice’s “The Witching Hour”/”Lasher” story.

  • Durakken

    I disliked this episode just because the texture of everything in the episode has always felt different from star trek.

    As far as the Ronin thing. I’m more of the mind that it’s not comparable to say Weinstein or anything like that and I think Crusher acted unbecoming of a Starfleet officer here. Understandable, but wrong. Ronin is a life form, that as far as she knows, has to bind with a biological being to keep alive. We have no idea if the… other stuff… is just a natural result of that process or him doing that because he is in survival mode. For all we know he dislikes it as much as it puts us all off, but he has to do it to survive so does it.

    Crusher should have take the candle and “Nanna’s Casket” to the Enterprise and do some research, see if there is a way to help Ronin out and not have to bind to people, or now that you know of Ronin you can actually make it a consensual thing rather than one party having to force it or die and the other side be taken advantage of and have their life derailed. They can scan for others like Ronin and they can then create a system like the Trill and trill Symbionts and not to mention if these creatures live for a long time imagine the history and and knowledge they can pass on.

    • I kept thinking of “The Entity” w Barbara Hershey…way more violent though and clearly rape. This was a bit less obvious, seemed kinda like psychic intrusion like “Violations”? oh well, still a turd of an episode…see my Space Vampire pic! lol

    • wchmara

      Not the first time in TNG that a crewmember took a life for less than the established moral reasons…and everybody just shrugs it off as a non-issue.
      Riker killing Yuta.
      Riker and Pulaski killing their clones.

  • Scrappy

    I blocked out most of this episode from my memory and will continue to do so. This was terrible. But I do like that the weather and environmental systems can recreate Scotland. Having had 4 successive hurricanes this year in the Caribbean and North America, geo-engineering seems like what we should be focusing on. We will have to focus on it sooner or later to combat global warming.

  • Archibald

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/975445c0a9102dd3dcaea728c0c9feb45fe73e4c68b6706aeae95e7ce0a11784.jpg

    I’m among the haters of this episode. I only saw it once when originally broadcast and I’m not sure I made it all the way through. I think I bailed half way through. I’m going to go way out on a limb here but what your podcast discussion of this episode made me think of was the “Kissing Burglar” episode of the FLINTSTONES (episode 3.16).

    “Wilma is charmed by the exploits of the Kissing Burglar, a criminal whose m.o. involves leaving a rose and a kiss for the lady of the house. Her comment that she has nothing worth stealing annoys Fred, who decides to teach her a lesson by posing as the burglar–on the very night the real one shows up.”

    It’s an episode that bothered me as a kid and still rubs me the wrong way. The scenario can easily be looked at as a weird “bored sex life (Wilma has “nothing worth stealing”) livened up with a metaphoric rape (kissing an unconscious woman during a home violation) as being romantic.”

    This kind of stuff was (is still?) in the popular culture (ie. being ravaged followed by swooning love in a Harlequin Romance “bodice ripper” novel) for women.

  • Matthew Burns

    The hate for this one is Big! I have to watch again… cant remember hating it….

  • Eryn Mills

    I remember seeing this episode when I was in high school, and I had just read a bunch of Ann Rice novels. When this aired, I thought, “They lifted this right from the [Title of Mayfair Witch Novel I Had Just Read].” The main character sleeps with a ghost that had been with her family for years. I remember liking the book and the book series–give me a break, I was fifteen or so–right up until I saw this episode. After watching Beverly in the throes of PG passion, it grossed me out and I quit reading Ann Rice, and I still try to not watch this episode. Seeing this episode was too much of walking in on someone doing something you don’t want to walk in on, let alone the incestuous aspect of it. “I’m shtupping Grandma’s boyfriend, it’s a tradition.”

    That being said, I just found out that there’s a beer in my town that was named after my great-grandfather, and I feel weird about trying it. I drink all sorts of drinks with other people’s names on it, and it doesn’t bother me one jot, they’re all lovely, but drinking a beer with my great-grandfather’s name on it weirds me out for some reason. I don’t feel odd about other people drinking it, but me? It just feels wrong.

    • I have to assume shows grasp for ideas like this once in awhile… just modify something in the news, or currently popular etc….

  • Pete2174

    I know it’s a bad episode but I still consider it a guilty pleasure.. It features lots of Gates and that time I had a major crush on her. Looking back it’s still a poor episode but Gates still looks great.

  • CmdrR
    • Ok… I have to share… I looked her up…Amanda Petticoat or something…sad, she got into porn and died of cervical cancer in the 1980s…w Wikipedia and IMDB, it has been pretty sad, intriguing, bizarre to see what people have been up to. Wesley Crushers shape shifting brief romance gal, the Traveler warp field guy, Search for Spock young Spock actor…wow, just wow….. but yeah, talk about mixed messages w the above gif….holy cow Kirk was crazy! hahahaha, what a player…..

      • CmdrR

        Your Trek list mostly is a reflection of Hollywood’s culture of rewarding the superficial and punishing aging. I threw up the GIF mostly for fun, but it’s true — as they say in the podcast — that sometimes film and TV don’t know what they want to say on the subject of relationships. You could write a book on all the awful mixed messages… or on Trek stars who got into trouble… or about sexy actors such as Angelique Pettyjohn who reached an end point in selling their looks… or on writers who turned out stories that celebrate/fail to acknowledge abusive behavior. And before I leave it all at Hollywood’s doorstep… there’s a whole lot more in every aspect of life. We humans really suck at relationships. Maybe some clever TV show can show us some positive lessons…

  • Daniel R. Przybylski

    John mentioned a program shown at various times of the day…

    I recall an interview with Sylvester McCoy (no relation 😉 on a local PBS affiliate which was known for showing British sci-fi, and the host mentioned the idea that Dr. Who is funny in how it’s an adult show in the U.S. and a kids’ show in the U.K. Mr. McCoy quickly interrupted to say that it is a family show. Another good example is the original Muppet Show. Sure it was the puppets from Sesame Street, but it was a show that the whole family could sit and enjoy.