The Perfect Mate

Captain Picard meets his ideal woman: she’s brilliant, bold, adventurous, independent. Of course she is, because Kamala is a metamorph who becomes the perfect woman for every man she meets. Unfortunately, she’s destined for a life of servitude to a man who is definitely not Picard. The Perfect Mate goes into this week’s Mission Log.

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  1. Dave Steph Taylor says:

    Such a sweet story with a sad ending.

    Are they ever gonna learn not to let random strangers wander the Enterprise? Seriously, someone needs to talk to Worf about this.

  2. CmdrR says:

    “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” Podcasts! You announced it. I’m putting the popcorn on now!!

  3. CmdrR says:

    So, Kamala wants Picard and Picard wants Kamala, while Alrik is only interested in business. I think I have the perfect solution: Have Alrik marry one of the Ferengi! A dolphin can be best man. This is such a great emotionally-centered story, with a ‘you’re getting on that plane with Kamala or I’ll mention a hill of space beans’ moment at the end. (Too bad they already had an episode called “We’ll Always Have Paris.”)
    I’m interested in why you (and a lot of posters) hate Vash so much. There are very few times when Picard truly falls for a woman during the series. To me, Vash is Picard’s ‘opposites attract’ moment, while Kamala is two kindred spirits meeting. (btw, Stewart obviously saw something in Jennifer Hetrick, since the two were engaged.) Anyhoo — Thanks for a great podcast & commiserations about next week’s ordeal.

    • Vash was a decent character, but it seemed like they missed an opportunity to make her really great. Or maybe it was the circumstance. In any case, this episode seemed to really nail the emotional side of Picard better (to us anyway).

      • Judie Liri says:

        Regardless of what they were like in real life, onscreen Jennifer and Patrick didn’t have the same chemistry that Famke has with him.

      • deaddropsd says:

        I really disliked Vash…man, kinda jerky, but I just didn’t like her looks. I also felt the return w “Q” taking an interest in her and then a cameo on DS9 was terrible. I felt like wayyyy more other characters deserved a repeat visit.

    • CmdrR says:

      As Picard’s Jewish mother (figuratively), I would agree that Kamala is a better match, especially for Picard whose mind is always hungry. While I credit the writers of TNG a lot, there are times when the credit goes to the actors, as in the case of Famke Jannsen, who brings more than is on the page for this story. (Likewise, you asked whether the Ferengi of DS9 are more developed; yes, but only over time and only because of the excellent work of Armin Shimerman, Max Grodenchik, Aron Eisenberg, and many of the guest Ferengi stars. We finally get layers to the campy profit-crazed would-be villains.)

      • Dave Steph Taylor says:

        But as the episode discusses, she morphs to fit the man she is with, she spends the most time with Picard.

        Just rewatch the bar scene in 10 Forward. She easily could be the unnamed guys perfect match, becoming a party animal.

        • CmdrR says:

          In this case, more is fine. Picard has many facets to his character, many interests. He can keep pace drinking with Scotty… discuss archeology and history… spout Shakespeare… and fight Romulans. If Kamala grabs a character trait here or there, she might bring Jean Luc even more interests over time.

        • Earl Green says:

          We’re just lucky that the 24th century’s answer to Booger wasn’t hanging in Ten Forward that night, thinking to himself, “Man, the woman of my dreams would be able to stand toe to toe with me in a belching contest.”

          • Dave Steph Taylor says:


            Just look at how differently she acts towards Riker in their brief interactions.

        • deaddropsd says:

          yeah, she turned party girl quick but there would have been some fights for sure….dang, this could get rated X really fast….

  4. CmdrR says:

    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/93ac9b0562890dc12230af5ca0e86d9e23a0b5e56b2473016c1ed8c02eee67dd.jpg “Buck Rogers in the 25th Century” Podcasts! You announced it. I’m putting the popcorn on now!!

  5. Wildride says:

    “… It’s like meeting the mate of your dreams, then meeting her arranged spouse …”

  6. Troy Brooks says:

    I really dislike the basic idea that to be a “perfect mate” you need to change everything about yourself.
    I know this will get some hate, but I liked this episode better when Kamala was called Elaan of Troyius

    • Troy – I don’t think the show is any any way siding with the idea that the “perfect mate” should change everything about her/himself. It’s raising that question then grappling with all the fallout.

      • Troy Brooks says:

        But Kamala does change everything about herself based on who is nearby.
        I have to say that if this was a TOS episode you would have talked about it being sexist for an hour

        • Yes, because she is biologically driven to do so – and this is what causes so much concern/consideration/debate in the people around her. The episode is not in any way advocating that this is a preferred way for a (human) person to be which is why it’s such an interesting take on free will. We had a discussion in the podcast about how/why these points were being made and specifically why we felt like it wasn’t a sexist message.

          • Dave Steph Taylor says:

            Her biology wants her to mate and change.

            Look to the natural world for some crazy mating rituals.

          • Troy Brooks says:

            I heard your justifications on the episode, I just disagreed with them.
            I might have been more comfortable with this episode if it would have had a different title. It just felt like it was sending a bunch of girls the message that to be the perfect girlfriend they had to become what their boyfriends wanted.

          • But if that was the message (and we don’t think it was) then why is it something that causes so much pain and heartbreak for the people involved? Again, just because there is a particular premise explored doesn’t mean the script is advocating for it.

          • DesertDweller79 says:

            Because Picard doesn’t let her go because he didn’t like that she was changing herself to be what he wanted. If that had been the reason *then* the episode would maybe have been as interesting as you say it is. But no. Picard liked that part. He lets her go because he values duty more than love.

            Which, really, is something we already knew about him.

          • Dave Steph Taylor says:

            Ya, they made the point that this is where her biology wanted her to go.

            my guess that the biggest reason people are upset is that only the lady changes.

          • John, I’ve had some discussions about whether sex workers who really enjoy their jobs should be considered being used or not. This is similar … it raises questions about whether they REALLY think it’s a great job or whether they’re just rationalizing it because they feel they have no choice. And we discuss this because we can’t imagine how they would have made this choice if they had other options. But maybe they did! In Kamala’s case, it’s really interesting because she comes to terms with it specifically by taking on Picard’s sense of duty. That’s the gut-wrenching part of this episode. That, and the fact that Picard knows he’s (indirectly) responsible for it.

          • deaddropsd says:

            I think the hosts on Risa, would be a good example. Would they bang a customer just because it’s in their nature to keep guests happy? The financial motive in a world w/o money would come up, but I think its safe to say, there is money in the 24th century…credits.

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      Thus the uncomfortable situation.

      The prime Directive is in full effect here. We don’t get it, but have to allow it as she is not doing it against her will.

    • deaddropsd says:

      no hate at all..completely agree w you….

  7. JimgDenver says:

    I really love this episode and thought the Mission Log analysis was excellent as always. I was just a bit surprised that Elaan of Troyius didn’t come up in the discussion in some way. I couldn’t help thinking about that TOS episode (which I also enjoy) while watching this one. TNG certainly explored a lot of issues beyond Elaan but really similar in many ways. Maybe I’m the only one who saw the parallel.

    Love your show guys!!

    • Totally fair – “Elaan…” shares some similarities, but I guess we maybe maybe an effort to just focus on this one so we didn’t get too bogged down in the pros/cons of each.

    • Earl Green says:

      We didn’t see Kamala wolf down an entire Cornish game hen without picking up a utensil here; I reserve judgement on any comparisons until we have an opportunity to assess her skills in that area. πŸ™‚

  8. Earl Green says:

    Bravo for wading into shark-infested waters with this one. This episodes troubles me on a lot of levels, not least of which is kind of the “soul mate” angle that Ken put across better than I’ve ever been able to articulate. Some of the potentially sexist overtones have always nagged at me a bit too; you’re right, since this is a different, non-human species/biology/set of values, our own frames of reference have nothing that really compares in a meaningful way.

    Interesting, but not mentioned here, is the visual depiction of Alrik; he’s like a spotted version of Professor Parsafoot from Jason of Star Command. (Sorry if I just totally lost anyone who wasn’t a kid in the ’70s.) In some ways, it’s like the makeup and hair departments are dropping barely subtle visual cues that Alrik just isn’t in Kamala’s “league”. It might been a much more effective momentary shocker if Alrik had been devastatingly handsome on the outside, giving the audience a moment of “oh, well, that’s all right then” before revealing that he’s more fixated on quatloos and couldn’t care less about Kamala if he tried. Instead, they’re telegraphing from the outset that this is a mismatch. This episode makes some interesting and deliberate decisions about when it wants to be subtle and when it wants to whack the viewer over the head with it. (The mentioned deleted scene would’ve been another whack over the head – one whack, perhaps, too far. I can’t completely disagree with Rick Berman there.)

    Seriously, anyone ever seen these two guys in the same place at the same time? And do either of them know where the dolphins are? https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/38c53c025035e5f91fcb279e80436e8ee9eaac2e29a5723c7c33c7a120182b70.jpg

    • Nice reference to “Jason…” Not as good an opening theme as “Space Academy,” but who am I to argue with the presence of SID HAIG!
      Interesting idea – I kind of wish they had gone a different route for Alrik too. They probably could have ended the same way with the same emotional impact, but it would have been interesting to give the audience a little diversion at first.

      • Earl Green says:

        The Space Academy theme is impressive (though my heart belongs to the Ark II theme), but Jason has 100% more Doohan.

        I like how quickly Data catches on to the fact that he’s miscalculated when Kamala tries to ditch him in Ten Forward. Good gut check there for someone who only has android guts…

  9. DesertDweller79 says:

    I find myself on the side of Troy Brooks. I have always disliked this episode because I find it incredibly sexist. I re-watched the episode and listened to your whole podcast. I really wanted you two to convince me otherwise. I was pretty excited when you said you didn’t think it was sexist and here’s why…..

    And then spent the podcast talking about how she’s an object, driven entirely by biological imperative. She’s never a real person. She’s just an object. Play-doh, indeed.

    Nah. The episode is still a sexist male fantasy. Having a character say, “Oh, but it’s usually MEN who are like this!” doesn’t make it not a sexist male fantasy. That’s just a cheat used by the writers to cover their ass. You can say “SEE! We’re not sexist!” but when you then spend the whole episode depicting male fantasy you undercut that argument. Ask yourself this: If it is usually men in this species who are metamorphs, why aren’t we seeing that? THAT is an idea not usually depicted in American mass entertainment. I suspect the only answer is: We wanted to tell a male fantasy. (Or, more depressingly, we never even thought of doing it the other way.)

    TNG doesn’t exist in a vacuum. There are decades of precedent in Hollywood of treating women like fantasy objects. Star Trek itself doesn’t have a great history when it comes to how it treats female characters. Even TNG has depicted this same thing before: S1 – Riker w/Minuet in the holodeck. Then returned to it in “Future Imperfect” where an alien read Minuet (not Troi, for instance) as the woman Riker was carrying a torch for. Except she was an object created in the holodeck to match his fantasy.

    So in the end, Picard “falls in love” with his fantasy of what a woman should be. He even turns her into someone who would give up love for duty! Just like himself!

    It was a valiant effort by you guys, but no. I still think the episode is sexist.

    • I see where you’re coming from – I really do. I had hoped that we made our best points during the show, but it’s a complex subject. We talk about how Kamala is an object because she is following her biology? We are all “biology” following our evolutionary imperative. Doesn’t mean we are any less of value or should be devalued by anyone. Framing (part of) our conversation that way was not meant to devalue her.

      And, yes, I agree with you that the premise could very well have been treated as a piece of male fantasy-fulfillment, but as you point out, this doesn’t exist in a vacuum. If this had been the premise of a 1930s pulp novel, then very likely it would have played out as exceedingly sexist. This episode, though (even if we admit there are faults), still allows the characters and the audience through them to actually be concerned about Kamala’s level of free will and her ability to grow, develop and make choices on her own. If this had been a story of Riker merely falling for the “perfect woman” (again) it might have been something very different.

      • Dave Steph Taylor says:

        This episode really walks the line between sexist and not. Again, it is the idea that this is what Kamala wants that makes the difference.

        • Earl Green says:

          Perfect Mate is kind of a Rorshach test for sexism, and a lot of the results it generates seem to hinge on whether or not disbelief can be suspended with regard to Kamala being the product of alien DNA and alien values. I too can see why it generates this reaction; on a certain gut level it puts me on yellow alert as well. The characters acknowledge it as troubling, but whether or not that is enough is a judgement call varying from viewer to viewer.

          • Judie Liri says:

            I think the episode is about sexism. However, it criticizes this sexist behavior, so I don’t think it is sexist. Maybe a little old fashioned for today, but it was done more than 20 years ago. The episode is not PC. and it has ‘triggers’. But I don’t care because today’s PC culture prevents discussion of real problematic issues in fear of it being offensive, and that is detrimental to progress. Not to mention it causes ignorance to thrive and you end up with some schools banning Huckleberry Finn.

          • deaddropsd says:

            Consent is key imo. Women get labeled slut or whore, but men get congratulations. Absolutely unfair nonsense. Having said that, I do believe that some emotional connections regarding sex are generally gonna be way more profound and volatile w women than men. Kamala consented to this, it is her call. Many men clamor for sex, beg, pay and commit crimes for it…yet we cannot have serious/productive discussions on legalizing prostitution or the like. Just so taboo. We have a long way to go.

        • deaddropsd says:

          sexist, but she made her choice. The idea that war could not be stopped unless this wedding/gift exchange happened is a bit silly. “By all means, keep fighting you fools, I’m getting the girl!”!- Picard should have said, thereby altering the course of X-men movies forever!

    • deaddropsd says:

      I haven’t finished the podcast, but I think it has to be sexist, because we just don’t give men as gifts….boom, mic drop…lol, phaser drop.

    • Konservenknilch says:

      I totally get that, but then I imagined the alternative. A strapping male metamorph comes on board, so only only Crusher and Troy are there to fall head over heels for him, probably discussing him during aerobics in skimpy suits with their butts shoved in the camera. I can really do without that (again).

    • deaddropsd says:

      Can anyone say “Westworld”?- fantasy of men personified… woW. I was thinking of Patrick Stewart’s age w his new wife who is about the age of the blond teenager from “Disaster” when they were stuck in the elevator. I know, age is sometimes just a number, but still interesting. Kirk and his green chick, or the dabo girls on DS9. I think sex, fantasies, and all the imbalances that come w it regarding men and women will never truly end. As long as there is consent for chosen way of life, not torture or slavery, I think it’s just going to be a fact of life forever….

  10. deaddropsd says:

    not sure the context of this pic…he looks a bit rough, but he could be playing role..?
    Tim O’Connor age 89! still around!

  11. Aaron says:

    Is the planet Krios the home of the Kriosians from The Mind’s Eye???

  12. Wildride says:

    A note about security: Starfleet seems like the early internet/web in this respect. “We’re all good people, so we don’t need to worry about it because we’ll all just know not to do bad things.” A naΓ―ve approach that, even if it was true, certainly doesn’t account for what’s going to happen once you get beyond your own insular confines. Of course the real reason is “well, we need this to happen, so …”

    It’s very hard not to think of Kamala as being treated as a signing bonus for Ulrik. I mean, maybe they had a whole thing back on their planet where they totally made sure that, once she became an adult capable of making her own choices, that she was truly in favor of this match.

    An interesting comparison is Devil’s Due. In this Kamala is Ulrik’s prize for signing a peace accord. In Devil’s Due, Picard would have been Ardra’s prize for winning the arbitration. Sure, in that case it’s all a con, but whatever. As an audience, we’re sure not meant to think that’s OK.

    “Captain, perhaps I should deal with Kamala.”
    “You, Counselor?!? Why you?”
    “Well, we are both empaths, I’ve have experience with arranged marriages and, oh that’s right, I’m a woman.”
    “I don’t get your point. OK, send the machine to keep her company.”
    “Dude, you suck!”
    “That’s not what your Mom says.”
    “That’s exactly what my Mom says. She said it twice, just last week.”
    “I don’t know why I hang around with you people.”

    • Sombody get @Wildride a job as script editor on the new show.

    • deaddropsd says:

      you’re crazy! lol, crazy funny!- yeah, Troi and Kamala getting attracted to each other would have just been to much for me as a 20 year old in 1992, lol, probably still even now!-

      • Judie Liri says:

        Attracted maybe, but Betazoids are practical (Deanna said so in the episode that should never be referred to by name), so I’m sure Deanna, realising the impropriety of the situation, would have found some other outlet.
        I don’t know about Beverly, though. Under the mother-doctor exterior there’s a mischievousness. πŸ˜‰

  13. deaddropsd says:

    Was running late…! One thing I thought/wished they had done, was have some unaccounted time where Picard was with Kamala late, or even slept over, and it was left unclear if he had banged her…sorry, had sex w her. I really think that would have been a game changer. Darn this method of storytelling, because, she really should have been featured again. I had always wanted a thread for the series to figure into a TNG movie a la Khan in TWOK., but dang it would have been nice to have Kamala as a love interest for Picard in Insurrection instead of what’s her name….
    The Ferengi were just useless, terrible and another perfect example of this failed choice as credible adversary to the Federation. If only the Cardassians had been featured in “The Last Outpost”, built upon heavily…sigh….

  14. Wildride says:

    “I am for you, Ulrik of Valt.”
    “Augh! Don’t touch me!”
    “What’s wrong?”
    “I don’t want all my cells disrupted!”
    “Wrong episode. You’re thinking of That Which Remains. This is The Perfect Mate.”
    “Oh, alright. Good. In that case, you can touch me all you want.”
    “That’s OK: I’m good.”

  15. nathankc says:

    I like the idea for the deleted scene – but what if, being a form of telepath, it was an intentional hallucination she planted on Picard, maybe to get him to intervene – to act on what she thinks he would want?

  16. Mike Serpa says:

    Still watching the episode, and haven’t listened to the podcast yet, but lol’ed at “If you want me I’ll be in Holodeck Four.” I’ll start using this instead of Jayne’s “I’ll be in my bunk” from now on.

  17. John Anderton says:

    Is this a sexist episode?

    It could be sexist in that it condones:

    1) Arranged Marriage
    2) A female Metamorph whose personality, goals and character depend on ‘her’ man

    ‘1’ should be outlawed as a prerequisite for Federation membership. It denies the woman’s freedom to make her own choice, in effect making her a slave.

    ‘2’ Also seems self evident.

    Ray claims it is not sexist because of the existence of male Metamorphs. But I find that unconvincing, as does others here.

    John claims we are all Metamorphs. After all, we all do things to help others. We all do things to attract the opposite sex

    But that is not the objection to sexism. The objection is about the abuse, harm or the restriction of a woman’s freedom and development.

    Now if the episode made it clear that metamorphs were somehow protected from abuse – perhaps by the training of the spouse, then it might be OK. But the episode makes no mention of this.

    Further, if this episode condemned the idea of the Metamorph, that would be fine. But Metamorphs are a species that seem to be bred to like their subjugation, so the episode fails there too.

    The reason why the sexism of the show doesn’t bother people is because of the nature of the story. Picard gives the woman her own drive for identity and self-awareness which is a great thing, and it is why I like the episode. But another man – perhaps a miner – would yield to a horrific outcome, and might be another story altogether.