The Price

There is a seemingly stable wormhole and control of it is up for negotiation. Counselor Troi is taken with one of the negotiators, though he is hiding a secret that may win him the negotiations, but lose him her heart. Meanwhile, Data and Geordi are looking deep into the wormhole. It may not be all it is supposed to be. All of that plus Ferengi, when we put The Price in the Mission Log.

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  • Wildride

    “Fine, fine — But who gets the chairs?!?”

    • Worf shoulda targ slapped that clown…!

  • Durakken

    With regards to the replicator “Real food” vs “Fake food”. I’m pretty sure they carry organic compounds in some way that are put together, rather than taking chemicals and putting them together, because we already know that a lot of organic stuff isn’t possible to make with the replicator, but that’s inconsequential. The difference between real and fake I would argue that it is the danger and consequence part that make the experience different. I don’t know your personal experiences so it’s hard to use a comparison, but the basic reason difference is if you mess up in the holodeck, you’re safe. If you mess up on an actual mountain you’re not. Even if you do everything right in a real mountain things can go wrong and so you still have to get over the mental fear of putting yourself in that situation, where as in the holodeck, even if you turn off the safeties it is still not all that dangerous because you still have all the scanners on you in the middle of a facility that isn’t cut off that can call for help, and can turn back on the safeties, and you can just teleport directly to a med bay or even have the room turn into a medbay. So at worst you still stand a far better chance of living after a serious mistake in a holodeck than you are from a minor mistake or no mistakes in reality. And because there is always that distinction or illusion in some way the difference between the two will produce different overall feelings.

    Let’s set up the idea of using abilities to manipulate people in another light. Is me knowing that on a biological level that “love” is caused by a certain drug mix. Is it wrong for me to inject someone with that drug? What if I know how to cause it naturally and I set up a situation to cause that to occur? Is that wrong for me to do? Is that love real or is it made up? What if I do some research on the person I have a crush on and find out their likes and dislikes and then use those in my approach to that crush and when we’re dating. Is that wrong? How is that any more wrong than learning, while in a relationship with that person, that they like, say coffee in the morning and so you prepare coffee in the morning for them to wake up to, not because you like it, but because they like it and you want them to be happy so they like you. With each of these, they are all manipulations to cause feelings to occur in a person for them to act in a way that you want. What is the difference?

    Further, on this line of questioning, you left out a very importatant thing that we know exists that causes mass amount of mental trauma, though I respect the decision not to bring it up as it might not be appropriate for the podcast. There are situations in life where a person can cause biological reactions in other people that are good feelings, but just because those actions cause those feelings, we as a society do not consider the actions to be ok. So when you argue that “Well he knows how this is making her feel” that can be taken as it’s ok to take immoral unconsensual acts as long as they are creating what we would consider positive feeling generally. So the question here is, what makes what Ral does any better than those types of actions? In my opinion there is a point where whether or not the manipulated feelings feel good or not if you do not have the person your manipulating’s consent to do so you are in the wrong and should stop.

    • I think the food issue was just a question of low calorie substitutes vs more tasty real chocolate. decaf vs regular… I think the limitations of the replicator are interesting…sure would like to taste that stuff!! hahaha, Klingon gagh!! For abilities, I took it that Devinoni Ral was only empathic. Not telepathic which is a whole other level of manipulation. Ral could sense emotions despite what people say, he could feel their fear, concerns or deceit. I think as long as he is not chemically drugging anyone, or psychically manipulating their minds, it’s all fair, especially when dealing w a fellow empath.

  • nathankc

    Was Riker the poker player bluffing Ral when he acts nonplussed over Ral’s ham handed attempt at baiting him over Deanna? Assuming Ral can feel Riker’s emotions, he probably wasn’t guessing when he and Riker were in Ten Forward and he was gloating over winning over Deanna. Somebody messes up here – either Ral entirely misred Riker the entire show and thus Riker is correct when he calls Ral on his first bad play or Riker does feel that way deep down (maybe sometime in the future we will see if this relationship ends up going anywhere?) and thus his chugging a drink to hide the emotion and running away.

    • I believe Riker really meant that he wants Deanna to be happy. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out and if Riker wanted Deanna, he should have put more work into it, which clearly he did NOT do in the entire 7 year run….

  • average episode…my issues
    1. Why send a manned shuttlecraft? geez people, send dozens of probes!! over the course of weeks and months to establish the stability of the wormhole…duh, ok ok needed to rush for the 44 minute episode deadline..ugh..again the lack of story arcs precludes this plot device…
    2. sexuality.KIRK, Troi, Jadzia…Kira, Ezri…Bashir..people have sex. I think Trek wanted to convey the message it is fun, healthy and a necessary part of life that we should not feel guilty about. But, there are consequences…disease, pregnancy…heartache… I think the aerobics scene was a way to access the characters sexy feminine side. I truly disliked Seven of Nines character. boobs, high heels, skin tight outfit…just goes to show you that no matter the moral high ground Trek aspires too, its primary demographic is males 18-35, and the studio probably reminds the writers of that…lol.
    3. The wormhole itself..even if unstable, (degree to be determined..) is NOT a dry well. Even if the wormhole was only stable on one side and random on another, hello?!!? explorers, where are you? a reason I did not like Voyager was the premise, flung far out beyond…they want to limp home…ugh…start lining up deep space exploration ships, with lots of replicators and good matches for couples and send ships through the Barzan wormhole I say…w lots of Federation flags…hahaha,
    4. wow, Leyor was the Predator…? wow , just wow…
    5. I like the consistency w the Alpha, Delta, Gamma quadrants…establishing that was key…remember Sulu’s Excelsior was mapping the Beta quadrant in VI:Undiscovered Country….

    • Durakken

      Something that you have to keep in mind is that you have to limit the use of technology a lot of times because if you don’t sci-fi shows become boring and hard for people to relate.

      It’s pretty hard to make a show when people aren’t willing to suspend good story telling in some senses… It’s a problem i run into often when trying to come up with stories and lore for those stories. The reality is, there is a reason something like Star Trek isn’t a realistic setting no matter how much people want to believe it is. It’s because supposing we have the level of tech that is had in ST the only point in traveling in space is diaspora and just because. Exploring and other such things are far better accomplished by launching a probe network that continues to scan and fly outward rather than random travellers flying about…

      • very true…my friends get me on that point often!! I think the limitations of 45 minutes and minimal story arcs (pretty much none) in TNG and a very rigid number of cast members to play w/ limited their storytelling depth. I do appreciate episodes that are character driven rather than explosion/gratuitous effects laden…(Michael Bay).I keep having to remind myself TNG is juuuussst hitting their stride as these episodes come out….better and better!!

  • Matt McCoy, “Devinoni Ral”

    • Jerry Stokes

      The real McCoy.

  • Troy Brooks

    Did anyone else think that the music was to loud during many of the Ral/Deanna scenes? It not only made it difficult to listen to dialogue, it really took me completely out of the scene.

  • Brontosaurus

    I believe the answer that we’re looking for with regards to STTNG fashion exists as http://sttngfashion.tumblr.com/, also known as “Fashion it so,” for all your Star Trek TNG fashion critique needs.

  • nathankc

    Matt McCoy is doing Hartford Insurance commercials now. I have no need for it but I soon found myself hanging up the phone and having their most expensive policy..not sure what happened…. 😉

  • “The Price” originally aired in 1989, establishing the concepts of Delta, Gamma Quadrants, and of course an unmentioned Beta. Star Trek VI:The Undiscovered Country, Captain Sulu mentions the Beta Quadrant…cool….

  • Kristian Marie Kbot McKee

    I’m actually kind of surprised the camel toe got on the air. It took a long time for me to look at Beverly without blushing and feeling like I knew a dirty secret about my mom….good thing Wesley wasn’t there to walk in. ^__- would make him feel strange, but also….strange. ….

  • mc900

    I think that Ken’s crush on Ral is clouding his empathic senses just a bit. Ral plays to win- everything. It’s the one thing he has in life it’s the most important thing in his life. He is the kind of guy that fist pumps a long put. He may have developed some real feelings for Troi but that doesn’t preclude the possibility that he still saw one prize left on the field and another way to walk away with a trophy- WIN and beat his competition-Riker. By claiming Deanna – he gets another victory.

    • Ha! Well those are all points we discussed on that show. I personally saw Ral’s complete obsession with “winning” as stripping out his sense of morality – whether it was a trade negotiation or over Troi.

    • Durakken

      Enjoying victory and making competitions of little things I don’t think is a problem. The problem is a thing we don’t get to see and that is if you take it to the point of Victory at all costs. When you go there, the “win” becomes the point rather than showing prowess or anything else one might compete for. When that happens you begin crossing lines that one generally shouldn’t cross.

  • Daniel J. Margrave

    Never cared for this episode. Matt McCoy creeped me out every bit as much as that “exercise” scene with Crusher. And maybe to the point about the “real” ice cream sundae, maybe Troi programmed the replicator to sass her back whenever she complained about the “real” ice cream sundae, so she could fit in her colorless spacesuit. And of course, that dress that we all liked so much . . .

  • Cygnus-X1


    John, I’ve been curious for a while now as to where the TV/movie-related meme, “…blow ’em up real good” originates from, but I haven’t been able to find it by Googling. From the sound of it, my guess would be a John Wayne movie. Do you know where it comes from? There’s something irresistibly funny about “He blow ’em up REAL good.”

    • Heh heh… it’s from an SCTV sketch called “Farm Film Celebrity Blow Up.” 🙂

      • Cygnus-X1

        Thank you!

        Ha! He didn’t like Antonioni’s “Blow Up” because nothing blows up in it!

    • Still waiting for someone to get the jazz reference in “The Price” recap…

      • Cygnus-X1

        hmm…I do enjoy Jazz standards, but I’m afraid that your reference has eluded me.

  • Cygnus-X1

    On the issue of whether or not Devinoni Ral’s undisclosed use of his empathic ability is ethical or not, I submit that it is not unethical in the way that he uses them.

    Ral’s ability would only disadvantage a bidder who was being dishonest in terms of presenting publicly a position, demeanor or offer that was not true to that bidder’s actual thoughts and/or feelings about same. A bidder who was transparent in his dealings—an open book, so to speak—could not be disadvantaged by Ral’s knowing that bidder’s actual thoughts and feelings (because that bidder’s actual thoughts and feelings would already be made public by the bidder, himself). The only reason that Ral’s undisclosed empathic ability is even an issue is that Deanna assumes some sort of integrity to the whole negotiation process. But, if all the bidders are employing definitively dishonest strategies—lying, bluffing, manipulation—in order to get what they want, then the whole negotiation process really is not particularly “ethical” in terms of what people say prior to actually reaching the point where they must live up to what they have said. If a bidder promises something as part of his bid, wins the bid, and then fails to deliver on his promise, then that would be unethical conduct. But, if whatever the bidders say prior to actually having to deliver on it, so long as they don’t break any promises when the time comes to deliver, is not bound by any sort of adherence to honesty—in other words if lying, bluffing and manipulating are par for the course (and these strategies and skills are regularly lauded in real-life negotiation as well as in fictional negotiations, including Riker’s bluffing at poker)—then there really is no “ethic” for Ral to violate with his keener ability to know the motivations of his opponents. As Ral says, he’s just better at it than his opponents. And if his opponents could do what Ral does, they most certainly would. Because the goal therein is to win the prize. The negotiators are selected for their ability to win, not for their adherence to Boy Scout integrity. You can be certain that if Riker had won the negotiation by bluffing—by being intentionally dishonest—he would have been cheered in the end. Ral is just able to tell when opponent bidders, like Riker, are being dishonest. So, I say: You plays your money, you takes your chances.

    • Cygnus-X1

      I just got to the part where Ken expresses this all much more succinctly in this podcast as: “Don’t hate the player; hate the game.” And “he’s doing his job.”

      Absolutely right.

      As for Ral’s behavior outside of the negotiation, or what Ral’s motivations vis-a-vis Riker are, that’s a different issue.

  • Cygnus-X1

    As for whether this episode holds up, I think you guys are short-changing it a bit. I’d rank it as a middling episode, to be sure, but it’s still very effective at holding my attention and vesting my interest in the characters and the outcome of the story. The variations on the overarching “negotiation” theme—the Ferengi approach, Ral’s approach, Riker’s approach—the ethical dilemma presented with respect to Ral’s approach, how Ral’s approach carries over into his personal life, and the lesson that Riker teaches Ral about his friendship with Deanna being impervious to Ral’s negotiation tactics, all add up to a meaningful theme that gives us, as you put it, something “meaty” to ponder.

    So, in this episode we have (1) a compelling story, (2) entertainment, and (3) some thematic nutrition for our minds and souls to fortify the fun, sugar cereal. I don’t see how you can characterize that all as a failure, notwithstanding the 1980s, “Let’s get physical” aerobics wardrobe in one scene, and some slightly awkward and creepy love-making (in the older sense of the phrase). Why not look past the superficial stuff and give credit for the more substantial, thoughtful stuff? No need to throw the baby out with the bath water on this one.