19. Manhunt

In this episode, Deanna’s mother, Lwaxana Troi, and Captain Picard seek to escape external pressures through nostalgia. I swear. Bear with me.

Plus there’s a whole other beauty is in the eye of the beholder so don’t judge people by how they look theme in there too.

Let’s take them in that order.

Lwaxana

faces external forces in the form of “the phase,” biological changes taking place in her body. It’s kind of the Betazoid equivalent to menopause, but in the case of Betazoids, the woman’s sex drive is quadrupled.

There’s social pressures to keep women from having sex with too many partners because it’s said the only honorable option for her is to focus all that sexual energy on one man and marry him. So Lwaxana is looking for a man.

Here’s where the nostalgia comes in. When she thinks of marriage, she remembers her deceased husband, Deanna’s father, and she wants to restore the happiness she enjoyed with him. This means she’s looking for someone like him, a human. She sets her sights on Picard.

Picard

faces external forces in the form of Lwaxana setting her sights on him. He realizes she’s going through “the phase,” and as a diplomat and as Deanna’s mother (and as a person), he wants to protect her dignity and help her save face by evading her advances without openly rejecting her.

Here’s where his nostalgia comes in. He retreats to the holodeck to relive Dixon Hill stories. When they become too violent for him, he asks for more ambiance and less violence. He’s there to relive the fun of the era, and he marvels at the sights, the money, and the way people speak.

Frustration

greets both of them, for they try to recapture the past and are confounded by problems of the present, and find that the ideal past only exists in their own thoughts. Plus being so inwardly looking causes them to miss things going on around them.

Despite being a telepath, Lwaxana misses the fact that she is making everyone uncomfortable. She even misses Picard’s true feelings, as well as Riker’s. Picard almost misses that he’s transporting assassins.

Looking backwards is all well and good, but not at the cost of the present.

The Unexpected

is the most rewarding because Lwaxana went to the holodeck to meet Riker, and found the place Picard escapes to. She has no expectations there, so she finds something she can enjoy.

Also I thought it was nice that they allowed her to enjoy the moment, but then told her the truth. (Implausible that she would be so ignorant of the technology, but nice.)

The Beauty in the eye of the beholder theme

comes from the Antedean spies story line. These two people are beamed aboard for transport to Pacifica, and a lot of talk is made of what they look like. Worf thinks they’re handsome. Lwaxana (too extreme) thinks they look like a fish dinner, and Wes thinks they look strange. Data tells Wes: “Judging a being by its physical appearance is the last major human prejudice.” (What about that prejudice against nonorganic life?)

And Worf asks what Wes thought when they first met. Wes said he thought the same way about Worf at first, but now he thinks he’s handsome for a Klingon. Condescending and racist?

Granted, but we see Wes going through the process of accepting difference. We shouldn’t ignore that difference exists. It is a fact. Being judgmental of difference is bad. Still Wes has to learn that. And he has to learn how to not be judgemental. We all have to. When he says, “For a Klingon,” Worf doesn’t have to say a thing, Wes realizes the mistake.

Lwaxana continues to make sexist and racist comments (about humans and Antedeans), and learns nothing. It might just be the biological changes that are overwhelming her. That’s why I love the way the crew treats her. They’re shocked by her at times, but they’re always careful with her dignity.

As if they’ve agreed that though Lwaxana violates rules of good conduct, they won’t violate those rules when dealing with her.

Inappropriate

behavior – Dr. P and Deanna laughing about Lwaxana’s condition, and Picard predicament.

sentence – animals are always at best when hunted or when hunting. I doubt art comes from being hunted or hunting. Maybe if we’re judging how fast an animal can run.

Corruption

as seen in the abuse of office. 1) Antedeans who pose as ambassadors to assassinate people at conference. 2) Lwaxana who uses position as ambassador to try and find a man.

Morals, messages, and meanings

  1. You can’t escape your present in the past
  2. The ideal past only exists in your head
  3. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder
  4. Difference is a fact, so reacting to it is natural, but it’s best to learn not to judge it
  5. Always treat others with respect (even when they are disrespectful)

Does it hold up?

No.

First let’s just calmly say the physical appearances lesson is underdeveloped.

Now about Lwaxana and “the phase.” Why’s it funny that her sexual drive is increased? Because she’s a woman? Because she’s older? Neither is cool. Riker’s laughing at her is off putting. (See how calm I’m being?)

The worst part of Lwaxana’s problem is the pressure her society is putting on her because of the physical needs she has but that she must contain. That pressure sounds like something they should explore more. Betazoids shouldn’t be so uptight if it’s a natural part of their aging process to become extremely sexually active later in life.

It’s too bad since we could fix it with lots and lots of casual sex.

That’s only one problem. The change that’s overcome Lwaxana as a character is another. In Haven, Lwaxana had depth, but in Manhunt she’s Archie Bunker. She says terrible, racist things, makes the other characters uncomfortable, and remains self absorbed.

The storytelling attempts to redeem her by having her reveal the two Antedeans are assassins, but it’s just not enough.

(And it’s just ridiculous for the suicide bombers wearing explosives to shrug, say “aw shucks” and then just allow themselves to be escorted from the transporter platform. Agh! I don’t even want to get started down this rabbit hole.)

Majel Barrett deserves better, and frankly so does Lwaxana.

I watched this twice. There’s a fairly good chance I’ll never, ever, ever see it again.

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