10. The Dauphin

Great news. This episode is an allasomorph, a shapeshifter, which makes it a perfect episode. And a terrible one. And an average one. And a toaster…

The Dauphin

is about these two teenagers, Salia and Wesley, one raised with freedom and one raised without, about experiencing something for the first time, and about seeing past your own ideas of others and then just loving them because of who they are.

Salia

is up first. The most important thing about her is “what” she is. As a product of both Daled IV’s warring cultures, she’s accepted by both sides, which means her blood has determined how she was raised. She’s taken to Klavdia III, where she is protected and raised to remain neutral.

Now she’s the last and only chance for peace on Daled IV. She’s returning as the world’s leader.

But then she takes sleeping pills and sneaks out and eats gelato and gets a haircut.

Just kidding. She doesn’t get a haircut.

But as she says, no one ever asks what she wants. “What she is” led to how she was raised, resulting in a lack of freedom and heaps of unmet desires. She wants a friend her own age. Sometimes she even asks her governess to be someone her own age. And she does.

But still that’s not enough, which brings us to

Wesley.

He happens to be standing in the corridor holding a metaphor when Salia passes by. Magnet. I mean holding a magnet. She’s drawn to him and they meet. And they talk. About the magnet.

Wesley may be the same age, but the way they were raised couldn’t be more different. His education emphasises freedom, not security. He is constantly given the opportunity to gather information and make a choice. Opportunities to explore that which is before him.

And that’s what happens next. He’s late with the magnet, and doesn’t get into trouble. He does a horrible job, and still Geordi’s cool. Wesley openly talks about the girl and how he can’t stop thinking about her. He almost blows up the ship with his shoddy workmanship. Still not a rebuke.

Instead he’s thrown out of engineering and sent to explore the new phase of his teenage existence. How? By chatting her up.

First he seeks advice from the men who agreed to help raise him. Here’s how it breaks down:

Geordi just go talk to her/ be yourself
Worf use passion & poetry
Data it’s all about biological compatibility
Picard Wesley awkwardly passes by not daring to ask him (wonderful subtle humor)
Riker use over the top cheesy lines

Ultimately he goes with Geordi’s recommendation. Or at least that’s all he’s left with once she starts just talking to him.

Chooses to Obey

In any event raised in an action environment that gave him options rather than took them away, Wesley doesn’t seem to have the unmet desires that Salia does, so when Picard gives him orders that are difficult to follow (step away from her, stop seeing her), he chooses to obey for the good of the ship.

People usually make the right decisions when they have experience making decisions.

Protectors

of course are good things. We see examples. Dr. P steps in front of her patient when Anya becomes a monster. Worf protects Dr. P. Wesley tries to protect Salia. And all the monstering Anya does is to protect Salia. Of course, she goes too far and is

Overprotective

to the point of being harmful to others. She disrupts the engine repairs with her kibitzing.

(Side note: Geordi really should’ve planned the engine overhaul a little better. I mean waiting until they were involved in a diplomatic mission to take the engines off line. That’s just poor planning. Department heads have got to be more on top of that kind of thing.)

And she demands Dr. P kill a sick patient before his infectious disease can spread to Salia.

(Side note: Dr. P says there’s no risk of infection, but then how did the crewman get infected?)

And she cannot trust others to do the protecting for her.

(Side note: you have to wonder why she needs so much protection since she’s accepted by both cultures. Who wants to harm her?)

In other words, she’s putting the needs of one above the needs of many. Unless you think about the people dying in war on Daled IV.  I bet there are more people dying there than living on the Enterprise.

What they make her give

in the name of security are freedom, individuality, and will. As a result, she has no friends and too few experiences, which has left her with an openness that’s dangerous. She trusts Wesley too quickly, invites him into her room and past security without even knowing him.

They go to the holodeck and tour the galaxy and stick their hands in the mouth of truth. Wesley pretends his is bitten off. (It gets me every time).

She admits she’s learned much, but not firsthand. If wisdom is an accumulation of experiences that lead to good judgement, than her education has left her without it. How can she make a good leader? The security around her is an obstacle to her future leadership.

Finally, they make her hide her true self. Or at the least a part of herself. She has a monster in her, and moments of pure, beautiful light. But until she met Wesley she’d learned to keep those parts from others. Out of needless fear based on notions that something might happen.

Salia’s growth

occurs when she overcomes this. She transforms in front of Wesley and from that moment on, she’s no longer the child that needed protection. After exerting her individuality and accepting every part of herself, she’s taken her first step towards becoming a leader.

Unfortunately Wesley isn’t at all cool with her wookie suit, but that doesn’t make her turn back on that realization. She’s accepted herself on her own terms and not on others.

Wesley’s growth

comes slower. He’s experiencing love for the first time, and the fight between Anya and Salia plus the deception (she’s not all that human) have left him embarrassed and angry. Once he gets over that he learns other people have multiple facets, and loving someone means accepting everything. Even their wookie suit.

That’s why he can go to the transporter room and see her off. That’s why he can look on her in her energy form and see beauty.

Then he walks out of the transporter room, the camera low and in front of him, moving just ahead, the corridor silent, loaming above him, and though you get the sense he wants to, he doesn’t look back.

First Love

in this episode represents experience. Two characters with little experience encounter something new, and they learn about themselves through it. Both become wiser. One of the best parts comes when Guinan consoles Wesley.

She tells him he’ll never feel the same again because every time’s different. Each experience is different and they affect us differently. Maybe Wesley wants to feel better by forgetting, but Guinan’s like, no. Don’t forget. Remember and be wiser.

The Riker Guinan Scene

is the only part of this episode that I remember, and I was surprised by how well I remembered it. I could recite some of Riker’s lines, and I haven’t seen this since at least the late 90s. It’s amazing what leaves an impression. How deep that impression can be.

Having said all that I do find it creepy. Sure the lines are cheesy, but that doesn’t bother me much. Are they messing with Wesley or are they sincere? If they’re sincere, is it just a game? What about Deanna? What about Minuet? OK I’ll give you Minuet, but what about Deanna? Is their interaction there just for giggles?

Despite all that, I’ve got to admit I kind of love it. The shut up kid line is delivered well for comedy. The glint in Riker’s eyes, and the sincerity with which he speaks. Some great acting from both Frakes and Whoopi Goldberg.

It’s a scene that could disappear from the episode, and the story would be unaffected. But what a loss that would be.

Morals, messages, and meanings

  1. Don’t objectify people – even with the best of intentions it’s harmful
  2. Give people choices. Don’t take them away
  3. People with experience making choices tend to have better judgement
  4. Protecting is good, but over protection is harmful
  5. Accept every facet of a person–even their wookie suit
  6. Learn from your experiences

Does it hold up?

I guess not.

Let’s just forgive the bad special effects. I figure you can forgive an episode one thing at least.

It’s not horrible. The actress playing Anya isn’t bad, nor is the acting from Wil Wheaton and the lady who played Salia. We got to see some real good stuff from Frakes and Whoopi Goldberg.

However, there are some storytelling issues. First off, there’s a pretty big age difference between the actress playing Salia and Wil Wheaton. It makes it look like a boy’s wish fulfillment when he gets to kiss the babysitter.

And then the storytelling just didn’t earn the scene with Anya and Worf, though the acting was good. Nor did it earn Wesley’s transformation. He suddenly accepts Salia for everything she is. No explanation. It’s thrust on us, and therefore isn’t satisfying.

I can’t shake the feeling any moment Salia will say, “The Enterprise, by all means the Enterprise. I will cherish my visit here in memory as long as I live.”

I think the Dauphin would be a lot happier in Season One. Not here. Not right after the Measure of a Man.

 

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