06. Lonely Among Us

But I kid…

Orange is back. Orange is the official name I’ve given to Wesley’s sweater. I consider it a personal adversary of mine. I was in college before I found out that some people didn’t like the Wesley character. That’s because I’d forgotten all about orange.

Please tell me this is the last we’ll see of it.

Yellow is the new red. Shirt that is. I wonder if we’ll see a pattern of this. A yellow shirt from engineering shows up, contradicts the captain when the captain is too demanding, and then said yellow shirt is dispatched to the great dilithium crystal chamber in the sky.

Poor Singh. Sure he got rid of Wesley so he could take credit for fixing the engines, but he did it so nicely.

How about that music when Picard learns that Singh died? That was straight out of Miami Vice.

Cool dress uniforms, though. This is the first time we get to see them, which is odd considering the nature of the mission with the Ligonians.

Is it just me or is Counselor Troi hot? I mean literally. Is she hot or something? She’s wearing her hair all up, and if that v line gets any lower… I’m just saying, clearly Betazoids need cooler life-support settings.

I was glad to see Worf getting more lines. It was clear he was in trouble though. Long shots of of someone doing something mundane like checking the sensors is never a good thing. Great stunt work.

I also loved that sneer when he was unconscious. It was an ironic kind of love, though.

Here’s a question: was the blue light was something unplanned that was added later? Geordi’s description to Picard seemed odd. As if he wasn’t supposed to be able to see the light.

Why oh why would Lieutenant Yar ever be liaising with diplomats? She was arrogant, condescending, and on the nose, and this was her best presentation to date. It seems clear to me that there is a Yar problem, and they’re going to have to do something about it…

Geordi became the second person to speak the obscure language of French.

Again Riker skates through this episode. He’s a greasy one. Nothing sticks.

Papa Picard

As I continue to focus on the relationships, Lonely Among Us seemed intent on doing the same thing. We see several characters having a quick one-on-one with the captain, and those conversation revealed the relationship between them and Picard. I noticed that I could kind of categorize how Picard relates to them by thinking about how formal they are with each other and how much Picard acts like a superior. When I did that, it came out like this.

 

Formal
Superior Geordi, Data, Singh Equals
Yar Riker, Deanna, Dr. C
Casual

 

Two interesting things:

  1. Yar is by herself. She does seem to have a unique relationship with the captain. He is very fatherly towards her to the point that he spoils her a bit. He lets her get away with things like saying neither the Sely or Anticans would be good enough to join the Federation. If Geordi or Data said that man alive he would let them hear about it.
  1. The people he relates to casually and as equals (or casual-like and close to equals), are the people involved in love relationships (or something love like). Clearly there are strong emotions between Picard and Dr. C, and that comes out big time in this episode.  And Riker and Deanna have been a thing from the get go as well. Their duties keep them apart, and maybe the fact that they can each relate to that has allowed them to grow closer.

It was so hard to finish writing that last sentence because in my head I was hearing Beavis and Butthead say, “He just wrote duties.”

 The Rape of Worf and Dr. C

One of Counselor Troi’s duties is hypnotism. Talk about old school. But to make it look futuristic she has a fancy flashy light thingy. That unfortunately looks like it came straight off the set of TOS. That means its a late 1960s idea of a futuristic flashy light thingy which is perfect because so is hypnotism. (I mean… Oh nevermind.)

Dr. C’s description of being possessed sounded very much like a description of being raped. When she finished, Troi casually says, Yep that’s what Worf said too.

Really? I want to see Worf say that. Not Dr. C, and it’s not just the acting.

I suspect we didn’t see Worf because they didn’t want to make him look weak and they didn’t mind making Dr. C look weak. I have a big problem with that. Being a victim of such a terrible thing doesn’t make you weak, and that would’ve been a better message to send.

Plus I don’t want to see the female members of the crew constantly portraying the victims. This thing possessed Worf, the ship, and Captain Picard as well as Dr. C. But she’s the only one forced to play it as a victim.

I wanted to see her sneer and blow it off, and then see Worf describe his violation.

As a result of that scene, I had no sympathy for the energy alien. Lonely Among Us tries to compare three groups of aliens. Two are corporeal and one isn’t. Two we can easily understand. One we can’t. But when all is said and done, that energy being is more like the Federation than the aliens playing tag in the dark on the Enterprise.

However, if you added to that the fact that the energy being is a rapist, then forget about it. Even if it went around raping the crew by accident. I have no sympathy for it. And his grand alien speech at the end, via Picard, all sounds like a lie.

The result is that all aliens seem bad, and the Federation is a homosapiens only club.

Who’s Lonely Here

Which brings us back to Worf.

At the end of the episode, possessed Picard zaps the crew. While being zapped, Worf yells,

“I’d help you if you let me.”

It was a quick line, and I’d say it was a throw away, but that it was haunting. What did he mean? Where did that come from?

I had to completely fabricate meaning and reason, and this what I came up with.

Worf can relate to what the alien is feeling. The confusion, anger, and fear that comes with trying to blend in when you’re an alien, including the constant need to change who you naturally are (represented by his learning about the sensors to impress the captain instead of gaining his favor in a more warrior like fashion). Worf understands and relates to all of this because he is the sole Klingon on the ship–a token of diversity in the homosapiens only club.

Thus possessed Picard’s speech strikes a chord with him. He forgets that he too was violated, and he sympathizes with the energy being.

Data experiences it to a lesser degree. I mean look at how Riker has been laughing at him this whole time. He’s as much an outsider as Worf. That’s also why he can understand what the energy being wants, and he tells the alien as much.

Thus the lonely among us are the people who are different when difference isn’t tolerated. They are the Worfs and Datas and energy beings who try hard to be what they are not to overcome their difference when really what is needed is acceptance. 

Morals, Messages, and Meanings

In no particular order…

  1. Be more accepting – nuff said.
  1. Learn from literature – Picard quotes Charles Dickson (“time and tide wait for none”) and mentions Sherlock Holmes. Which shows he’s learned from them and they are a part of who he is. Data studies Holmes and impersonates him for comedic effect, but the result is that he proves his maxim that a mystery is only a mystery as long as it remains uninvestigated. That becomes indubitably a part of him.
  1. If you see something say something – A lot of trouble could’ve been avoided if Dr. C had said from the get go, “Captain, I have no idea how I got here.” Why wouldn’t she? Picard knew something was up, yet he said nothing. Data saw her accessing navigation and said nothing. He saw her confusion when she was dispossessed. He said nothing. Geordi saw Picard get possessed and said nothing. Everyone knew the captain was compromised yet they said nothing because their sense of loyalty made it too hard. You can solve mysteries if you’re not honest about yourself or honest to others.
  1. Meat is murder – Just look at that disgusted expression on Yar’s face.
  1. Don’t forget who you are – if Picard honestly did want to explore the verse as energy, he learned a lesson. Energy may be great, but it ain’t you babe.
  1. Stick to the org chart – that is until the person at the top tries to hurt himself.

Does it hold up?

I’m going to go with “No.”

I hate to blame writers.

I feel like whenever things go well the writing is forgotten, but when things go badly the writing is blamed.

And to be fair, the acting from Gates Mcfadden and Wil Wheaton was subpar.

I would’ve said the same thing about Patrick Stewart and his possessed acting, but the second time through I really appreciated how you could see his authority drain right out of him once he was possessed.

But the problem with this episode is the writing.

You know that confusion that Picard felt after he returned at the end of the episode? That’s how I felt the whole time I was watching this episode. Maybe the blue energy got to me too.

But I suspect it was the disconnect between the energy cloud storyline and the diplomats storyline that was the real culprit. I was hoping in the end a connection between the two would be revealed. That it would’ve been present the whole time but carefully hidden.

Instead I ended up thinking, this is the worst red herring I’ve ever tasted. Maybe that’s because it was made from fish synthesized using a transporter.

I haven’t read anything about this episode and haven’t listened to the Mission Log podcast yet, but I’m willing to bet that the episode was running short and that everything about the diplomats was added later. It feels that uneven.

What I really hope, though, is that he doesn’t say that Gene Roddenberry wrote that part. Because the aliens are treated (by the production I mean) condescendingly.

If we were take all the episodes in which the transporter was used to magically resolve the problem, how many of them would’ve been written by D. C. Fontana?

Well now I’m exhausted from writing all this. If you’re skimming through, as well you should be, and missed the Who’s Lonely Here part, I recommend it more than the others. I was on a roll there.

 

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