Ménage à Troi

All Lwaxana Troi wants is for her daughter, Deanna, to settle down and raise a family. Or that is all she wanted before she, Deanna and Commander Riker were kidnapped by a particularly unscrupulous Ferengi. Can they escape the fiendish Ferengi clutches? And is this the week we send young Wesley Crusher off to the academy? Find out when Mission Log indulges in a little Menage a Troi.

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  1. Durakken says:

    I think that both the episode and this podcast missed out on opportunities…

    With regards to exploring this episode on the podcast. You point out the sexism, you point out that the ferengi have obviously built up an empire that technologically advanced but are constantly shown to be bumbling fools that are sexist and cruel… and you point out that Ferengi’s are supposed to represent us… but that’s where you miss the mark. They’re not just some nebulous representation of us they are the writer’s reflection of western culture as of the late 80s/early 90s. So when they are commenting on the Ferengi they are literally commenting on us and our culture and how it operates. So what does that say of their view of modern men? It’s that modern men are stinky cruel cruel bumbling sexist fools who magically built an empire… and later I’m hoping you bring it up that the whole “sexism” part is there but not there at the same time as the women we see of the ferengi are shown to be largely respected, feared, and implied that they are the actual rulers of Ferenginar. Yes there is a “you’re not being a proper woman” thing going on, but if Quark is anything like other Ferengi which we are given to believe he is he’s more concerned with appearance rather than actually following those rules. So you can easily see that yes, the Ferengi are sexist against women…at the same time that the ferengi are portrayed as such is sexist against men which disgusting.

    Umox or however you spell it is just the stimulation of an erogenous zone. It’s not “sex” but sexual. It can be considered sexual harassment/assault. The is a bit to evaluate in terms of legality, but that’s the answer, even if Lwaxana doesn’t think it’s sexual.

    And that is actually what the show missed out on. If you were having a thoughtful episode, thinking about Betazed culture vs Ferengi culture the really interesting thing is that they’re virtually the same and highly compatible save for in one or two areas and that is that Ferengi women aren’t out about their dominance of the culture where as Betazed women seem very much to be. Both cultures practice nudity as the norm… the difference seems to come from Betazed is a lot more flamboyant where as Ferenginar is a lot more subdued and where the go opulant it is part of the con, rather than liking the opulance for its own sake, and this difference seems to have influenced their choice of clothing for women.One might argue that the opulance and flamboyancy isn’t actually a difference in itself but rather how it is expressed is the difference, which results in the very different appearances we get of the 2 cultures, Betazed being largely a garden planet while Ferenginar is a metropolis planet, but then again, a large chunk of ferengi culture was developed later and Betazed culture is hardly touched upon other than through lwaxana.

    • CmdrR says:

      I think the Ferengi can be more nuanced (esp. in DS9) but it’s really, really, really hard to get beyond that make-up. Mostly, they’re superficial characters. I’d love to see less cutesy make-up and more depth, but I’m not sure we’ll ever get around to doing that with the Ferengi. I’d love to see a real Trek story about the growing thuggishness in America by the self-professed ruling class — “you’re a dummy!” “immigrants are bad” “no such thing as science (if it interferes with my profits)” etc..

      • deaddropsd says:

        Yes, the makeup was just a bad idea. Overachieving to come up w something different from TOS. The Ferengi just never lived up to the villain they were supposed to be.

    • deaddropsd says:

      I think the Betazoids were comfortable w nudity at weddings which was really just an ill conceived plot device in my opinion…. I think the Ferengi were to represent capitalism gone amuck (is that the word? lol) or at least to an extreme where monetary value eclipsed all. The “clothe your female” bit from “The Last Outpost” was another ill conceived plot device that I think future episodes had to address, to maintain consistency. I agree w the neglecting of Betazoid culture. Yet another of TNGs many missed opportunities. I agree w the podcast mentioning the sudden lack of telepathy between Lwaxana and Deanna when it would have been the most helpful!!!-

      • CmdrR says:

        Trek has its share of one-off lines that created long-term headaches. My favorite (or least favorite, actually) is the nonsensical limitation that has Data incapable of using contractions. If he can’t say “can’t,” I don’t see him being officer material. There’s the question of whether Troi is an empath or a telepath. She’s only the latter with her mom, which makes no sense since she encounters other Betazoids in her travels. There’s also the on-again, off-again prohibition of “money.” No money in the 23rd/24th century… or do you mean no currency? Yet, there’s gambling, commerce, trade, etc.. It just doesn’t hold up.

        • deaddropsd says:

          agreed. several plot devices that they felt the need to continue…Lwaxana’s annoyingness…Riker staying, lol, Data’s contractions. I think the no money thing, meant no paper money dominating Earths lifestyles and sensibilities due to digital credits and/or replicators and major advances in medicines putting massive suffering and hunger on a global scale to a practical end.

    • deaddropsd says:

      the way to get the Ferengi “right” would have been to make them bigger, not sniveling and just serial rapists/very grabby. That sadly would have been more realistic if we are to believe they purchase naked females routinely. Interstellar pimps right?

      • Durakken says:

        The way to fix them and make them more of what they are supposed to be… and to make them far more villainous is make them closer to what capitalist culture is really like which is to show that there are large class distinctions with the top people being fairly good people, the people just under them being caniving and blood thirsty to take as much away from those lower than them as possible.

        Then instead of “buying women” which is just an idiotic thing built on misinformation and propaganda, what you do is have a women willingly doing all those things, because of the allure of power through money. And you have the great leaders of Ferengi culture have lots of women around him, not controlling him, but rather who he sees and able to create threat naratives about those they don’t like… And then you have women on the Ferengi ships throwing out the same types of horrid remarks towards the men of starfleet. They’re view must be “What kind of pathetic male doesn’t care about wealth and power?!”

        But no… we get the bumbling fool male ferengi and the female mary-sue ferengi. Heck, Quark very nearly turns into a mary-sue when he crosses dresses even.

        • deaddropsd says:

          that would have been a much more serious and threatening portrayal. Especially w women or men flocking to the Ferengi. Buying loyalty and infiltrating the highest levels of other organizations like the Obsidian Order or Tal Shiar or Section 31, but done w money. Yes, the feebleness of the Ferengis w regard to sexual favors and lust, definitely weakens them. Gosh, even their height/stature was a struck against them.

        • deaddropsd says:

          I think of the James Bond “Quantum of Solace” villains the “Quantum” organization which had people EVERYWHERE!! crazy when the MI-6 agent tries to kill “M” and 007, that’s some scary reach- if the Ferengi were characterized as that manipulative w money, power etc…woW

          • Durakken says:

            You know, come to think of it, that they act in anyway like they do is nonsensical unless you know where the ideas are coming from. We’re told that they’re capitalists from the start and they say that like it’s a bad thing. That’s the moronic marxist/communist ideology coming through in the writing and saying that and then we are treated to watching them incredibly unbecoming of that type of civilization.

            Think about it. You’re a merchant and you want to spread out and make as much money and grab as many opportunities as possible. Why in the world would you act xenophobic and aggressive like that? Why would you then also not have a natural swagger about you which is essential in a good businessman? If you want a good example of what the Ferengi ought to have been take a look at 1500s of asian cultures and how western empires interacted with them.

            #1. We’re going to sell you weapons
            #2. We’re going to buy those things which you think are worthless but hold high value.
            #3. We’re going to put on a show of great wealth even if we aren’t wealthy.
            #4. We’re going to do all of this in such a way that the politics goes our way and we can sell our worthless trinkets to your people and essetially gain you as our army.
            #5. If you don’t trade with us, we’ll blow you up.

            If you look at it like this TNG should have been mainly a culture clash between Capitalist mercantilism vs communism with dozens of episodes where the Enterprise comes into a clash with a group of Ferengi manipulating and interfering with various cultures and essentially making the Federation like garbage to the point where the Federation begins to fall apart which could have easily lead into the clash with the Cardassians, the Marquis, and a reunification of the Federation much stronger by the end of TNG/DS9

            The fact of the matter is however that to do that the writer would have had to present arguments for and against their own ideology which they certainly could not do, as they could never do, because their ideology has been bankrupt since it first was thought of and said as much by the person who came up with it.

            What’s interesting though is that this would have also set up the Federation showing that they are adaptable and explaining why the Ferengi would slowly become great allies over time, especially as the Borg start attacking the Alpha/Beta Quadrant.

            All in all this would have been a much better than the display we have and what happened in TNG/DS9/Ent and it wouldn’t have needed to alter much of the stories of TNG/DS9/Ent at all and those places where they changed they’d have been made lots better…

            For example, remember that episode where one planet is producing a drug for the other planet? Imagine if Picard had to deal with these Ferengi in that episode. That would have made that episode so much better, because now we’re dealing with a true question of morality. Picard can either not interfere and have the Ferengi help them, or he can interfere in which case he has to subvert the Prime Directive and take on a fight with the Ferengi in which case the morality become ambiguous but then would crystalize either one way or the other as “you got to weigh the consequences of your actions” or “If you believe something is wrong you need to take action to stop it” rather than “hey look we can sit here and have a superiority complex because we made 2 civilizations suffer for no good reason”

            And also, that could be a running theme, which it already sorta was. How much are we just going to let the Ferengi do as they please just because the Prime Directive says we have to pretty much…

            So yeah, a more realistic to what they were said to be would be way better than the bigoted propaganda driven variation we got/have. Changing them now wouldn’t be all that hard because we’ve still seen a very limited amount.

          • deaddropsd says:

            Great points about “Symbiosis”- The Ferengi could have been the antithesis to the Federation by interfering wherever profit was to be made and seducing worlds into their network or Ferengi Alliance w treasures, technology…- yes, the Prime Directive is tricky. I like the premise of not interfering w pre warp civilizations, but even societies w basic warp would still be too vulnerable to outside influence I think and at some point the Federation and Ferengi would have to bust heads. I recently visited Japan and thought of the US/West forcing their way into the Japanese market system and the negative effects on the relationship and then a century later a war. I always wished one of Kirk’s films revisited a planet from TOS to see what happened…(obviously not Khans) but a full on civilization that was interfered w/ to see how things were going. I also thought TNG should have done something like that…good stuff, thanks for the detailed analysis again!

          • We still wonder whatever became of the feeders of Vaal – or the Iotians from “A Piece of the Actions – or the guys from “A Taste of Armageddon”…

          • deaddropsd says:

            and let’s not forget the gangsters from “A Piece of the Action”! yup, lots of material that could have been revisited at least once by the TNG crew. **sigh**

          • Durakken says:

            What might be interesting dealing with cultures like “A Piece of the Action” is if they had they shown the Federation make first contact with them after their warp trials considering they should be just about making them or having their first Starfleet-esque ventures into space like what we see in Enterprise.

  2. Mike C. says:

    Classic episode that gave the Internet the famous Picard WTF meme.

  3. Fly_Dog says:

    The clothes, the clothes… Riker’s shirt was OK and Lwaxana’s everything was over the top, as expected, but after that? The pleats in Riker’s pants were kind of codpiece-ish and I’m trying to ignore what’s implied by the matching bulge in the back. Marina S dressed as a fluffy grape dessert? Was that revenge from Frakes for laughing at him on Angel One?


  4. CmdrR says:

    And we’ll stand here naked until you quit being sexist!

  5. deaddropsd says:

    Carel Struycken “Mr Homn”

  6. deaddropsd says:

    1. holy cow the Ferengi were such a joke as villains..impossible to take them seriously. big miscalculation when creating them.
    2. this field promotion of Wesley always bugged me. It’s not like we were in a state of war…which we will be soon, but oh well.
    3. I think I saw a Selay lizard guy from “Lonely Among Us”- wish they were shown more! the Anticans too!
    4. USS Zapata, named after Mexican revolutionary fighter Emiliano Zapata, killed 1919 age 39
    5. overall one of my least favorite episodes. Wish Betazed had been showcased more. At least we saw a garden..neat-o. We visited Q’oNos and Vulcan and never even got out to see the scenery…robbery.

  7. Kerry Reed says:

    Not for the first time Wesley misses his opportunity to join Star Fleet Academy, and have to wait another year for the “annual” test. Can anyone explain/theorize why Star Fleet only offers entrance exams once a year?!

    You make a great point during the podcast that he should have been able to take the oral exam remotely. It actually seems like it should be a standard practice.

    It also makes no sense to me that Star Fleet wouldn’t have frequent exams and entrance opportunities. After all, they have “people” from all over the galaxy traveling long distances – are we supposed to assume that it’s an annual exam based on Earth’s calendar year? How narrow minded.

    Enjoy the show – Thanks.

    • Judie Liri says:

      Maybe they have a lot of year-long courses, so if you don’t pass their exams up to a certain deadline, you have to wait another year.

    • deaddropsd says:

      I think at the time they were going for the SAT timing feel. I thought in general that was given at a certain time only? Of course it’s just their shortsightedness w regard to the development of Wesley, who no matter his intelligence, was completely an inappropriate choice to have on the bridge. Just silly, families on starships. Better to have him as a tinkering mad genius in his own quarters- but oh well, they needed the “Tiger Beat” teen heartthrob crowd.

    • nikkolya says:

      Starfleet Academy is similar to some of our current military academies like West Point or the Naval Academy where it is basically a college that also teaches you to be in the military. You apply, you get accepted and then you start your training/schooling, you start at a certain time and are considered part of the Class of (whatever year you should graduate) so it wouldn’t really make sense to have more than one annual entrance exam because even if they did it every quarter, for example, you still aren’t starting until the next year starts. Also Starfleet is supposed to be incredibly selective so it makes sense that they would limit how many times you can try and get in. After all, if you could apply every three months you’d probably eventually just fall into it whereas if you only have one opportunity every year it will weed out those who aren’t super dedicated. As for it being based on Earth’s calendar year…the Academy is located on Earth (as is Federation HQ) so why is that a surprise?

      • deaddropsd says:

        I think its the opinion of some that w other planets and species operating on different life spans or hibernation schedules and the great distances involved and the ability of tech to conduct business over a great distance….they would have more options…but I see your point…whew run on sentence..hahaha.

        • nikkolya says:

          I completely agree that there should be more accommodation for the varied species of the ST galaxy, and it is obvious that that lack of accommodation has in general lead to a lack of diversity in Starfleet itself, but Starfleet has always been pretty human-centric. Like I said, both Starfleet and the Federation HQs are on Earth (San Fransisco and Paris respectively) and while the Federation President has often been shown to be a non-human species, the heads of Starfleet are almost completely human, so naturally that would play out in how they run things. Now of course this is actually because of production needs for the show as makeup and special effects options are limited for making too many varied crew members, but in universe we haven’t really seen much in the way of vastly differently species from humans in Starfleet until you get to some of the novels like the Titan series (which is supposed to have one of the most diverse crews of any starship). I mean in TOS the only non-human is Spock (from a race that is, with a few cultural and physiological differences, pretty close to human anyway) and in TNG you mostly just have Worf (I don’t count Data since he was designed by a human to adapt primarily to human culture) and then later you get a (very) few other species like Ro (Bajoran). When you get to DS9 and Voyager you get a few more, but a good 90% of the crew is still human so it is only natural to make things more conducive to human needs (it is pretty much the same reason things in the military in our time are geared more toward men because women make up a very small number of the military. Not saying it is right, but that is the way it is). But it is true that Starfleet does have the tech and the means to make more accommodations and they really should, but once again, from a production standpoint there isn’t really much incentive (which is why you start seeing some really weird/creative species when you get to TAS…they didn’t have to worry about a makeup budget).

          • deaddropsd says:

            great points. My biggest gripe was that even established alien races were so underutilized in TNG. Tellarites, Andorians, Vulcans, would have been nice to see them on away missions for crying out loud! Deltans, Orions- ugh, the 1701-D seemed wayyyyy to homogenous, Boians! I wanted so much more. think of how the stories got rather played out toward the end, and just a little spice/variation could have added more to the episodes…sigh..oh well. Yeah, make up constraints etc, but even simple masks from a distance could have done the job for a few appearances….I liked DS9’s take on Quarks bar, lots of fun variety there, but your’re right the crew still could have been more varied. Benzites!! hahaha

          • nikkolya says:

            Yeah…there were a lot of missed opportunities, but I was just thinking about how even with away teams in general for TNG there was a little too much same-old-same-old. In TOS, while Kirk and Spock (and a lot of times McCoy) were pretty ubiquitous…there were usually other crew members on the away team that, despite not being main cast, still even usually got a name. Sure most of them either died or fell in love with Greek Gods or some combination thereof, but at least there was usually a new face or two with each away team…for TNG it was always the same people over and over with maybe once or twice a season having some random crew member along…so even with the mostly human crew they couldn’t manage to mix it up.

          • deaddropsd says:

            I heard that was due to royalties and having to pay for speech. Seems so awkward that the random people at conn and ops sometimes said NOTHING!! terrible…ugh, I recall some DS9 episode having a Benzite on away mission, it seemed groundbreaking!! arrrgggh. oh well, such is the order of Screen Actors Guild rules I guess. bummer.
            lol Greek Gods, or get killed, choose your fate

          • nikkolya says:

            Huh…that Benzite must have been after I stopped watching DS9. Admittedly DS9 kind of lost me during its first run. I’m looking forward to Mission Log getting around to DS9 because it might be the only way I’ll actually finish the series (it was the same thing for TOS…I had never seen all or even more than a handful of TOS episodes before Mission Log). Of course that will be another three or four years.

          • deaddropsd says:

            oooooh you are in for a TREAT!! DS9 was my favorite and it is the best of all. TOS is at a handicap because it was clipped too early. DS9 is wayyyyyy better than TNG for tooo many reasons to list here. I am happy for you to be able to enjoy from start to finish! I dabbled and Netflix’d parts of VOY and ENT, but this podcast will be my guide to get through those series’ which I really disliked at the time and lost interest. I have a hard time believing you won’t bumped DS9 to the top of your faves.

          • nikkolya says:

            We’ll have to see, but I am looking forward to the journey (or trek if you will). I couldn’t stand VOY when it was on, but I actually got into ENT (I liked the premise and I’m a huge Scott Bakula fan from back in the Quantum Leap days) but they just really dropped the ball with that series and did too many weird things with it and by the time they finally figured out how to fix it, the damage was done and it got cancelled. Either way, I’ll be glad to say (sometime in the 2030s) that I have officially seen all episodes of all series of Star Trek.

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      Agree, the whole limited entrance into Star Fleet seems silly. You have hundreds or thousands of officers that are needed, yet an extremely limited entrance routine.

  8. droopymcc says:

    I’ve heard a lot of expressions and sayings in my day, but I’d never heard the one about “the most toys”. I suspect I’m not the only one. Thanks for clearing up last week’s title.

  9. Wildride says:

    “I did not have sex with that Ferengi. Wait — What’s the definition of ‘is’ again?!?” – Lwaxana

  10. John Hart says:

    The way the Ferengi have been treated as simply The Bad Guys is a holdover of Gene Roddenberry’s era of television and life. Good guys were good while the bad guys were bad and had no positive virtues whatsoever. Nazis were bad even though not every person who joined the Nazi Party did so out of a blind belief in their sick ideology; some, like Oskar Schindler, did so either for profit or out of self preservation. Same with the Soviets during the Cold War — they were the ones out to destroy truth, justice and the American way and could in no way have anything positive about them. In Star Trek, this same mentality applied to the Romulans, the Cardassians, the Ferengi, and through Trek III the Klingons. Only when Worf joined the bridge of Enterprise-D and became “good” by Star Trek standards did we get to see the Klingons in a more positive light. Thank god Quark got the chance to rehabilitate the Ferengi image in Deep Space Nine.

    • deaddropsd says:

      I think Quarks brother Rom and Gala who was a weapons dealer type broadened our views on the Ferengi. Thank goodness. It does get old to have so many stereotypes for these characters…..

    • Endocrom . says:

      I was lucky enough to see DeForest Kelley at a con once and he mentioned how Star Trek isn’t deterring racism when it does this “all of this species are X” type thing, it was kind of surprising at the time but he had a point.

  11. Dave Steph Taylor says:


    1- I thought Riker and Troi were not an item. One shore leave and back together.

    2- Picard’s poetry recital is just fun.

    3- Lwaxana Troi’s has no cloths, covers up with a discarded shinny rag which magically becomes a dress.

    4- Smooth move Riker with the code, lucky wonder boy stuck around long enough.

    5- The Ferengi are a mixed bag. On one hand they are comical and just silly, yet they have technically powerful ships.

    • deaddropsd says:

      1. Riker and Troi are not officially a couple. I read that Sirtis and Frakes wanted it to be developed, but the writers were against it. Perhaps due to this 45 minute story constraint. Ugh, so short sighted in their thinking to reset mostly everything at the end of an episode. Infuriating really.
      5. The Ferengi were so poorly executed and utilized. See above for our high powered ruthless Ferengi versions…lol

      • Dave Steph Taylor says:

        Ya, it was not until the movies that their relationship was allowed to flourish.

        The Ferengi are so poorly utilized. A race that seems a legitimate rival to the Federation are a joke.

        • deaddropsd says:

          Yes, by the time of the rushed movies I think they just figured what the hell, why not? promotion to captain, get married, bring Wesley back…sigh.. Worf and Riker, no tension, jealousy? hahaha, oh well.

    • John Hart says:

      I also heard Marina Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes tried whenever they could do have unspoken moments between their characters on the bridge — a look, a gesture, whatever. Unfortunately, most of those got cut out.

  12. Muthsarah says:

    The ending almost redeems the episode. Almost.

    That’s about all I got. I still want to like Lwaxana. Actually, I do kinda like Lwaxana still. Kinda. A great idea, just…too broad. Too abrasive. Too off-putting. The fact that they had her show up just as Riker and Troi were about to kiss, after complaining so much about how Troi needs to settle down and find someone, and especially after (or am I just thinking of “Dark Page” again? I don’t watch this particular episode very often) critiquing her especially for screwing it up with him.

    Just very forced, surface-level “humor”. That I really wish I liked. Majel, and Marina too, deserve it.

    And there’s just nothing left to say about the Ferengi. Given that Season Three fixed so much that wasn’t previously working, this was the last shot TNG had to make something of them. Strike Three! Or Four. Who’s counting? It would take a whole other show to redeem them. TNG certainly never managed it.

    Just a sad, frustrating 35-40 minutes. And then one of the most enjoyable finales of them all. Whenever I go back and re-watch it (again, not often), it’s 100% for that one scene.

    • deaddropsd says:

      Yes, Lwaxana just tried too hard to be annoying. The voice, the nagging..ugh. I never really got too much from Wesley’s field promotion, but good for him!, lol- onto “Transfigurations”

  13. gizmochimp says:

    Regarding the Ferangi’s tech, I just assume they bought it all. I don’t think they have scientists developing this stuff. They just have the right connections and the $$$ to acquire it.

  14. Daniel R. Przybylski says:

    With all due respect to the people of Petaluma…