Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Manhunt"

*

Air date: 6/19/1989
Written by Terry Devereaux
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Lwaxana Troi comes aboard the ship in the midst of a Betazoid phase that's equivalent to a human woman's menopause, with the Betazoid side effect being the quadrupling (or more) of her sex drive. Lwaxana begins romantically pursuing Picard, which forces him to go into hiding in the holodeck novel world of Dixon Hill in order to avoid her, while avoiding offending her.

"Manhunt" has got to be one of the most padded-out, pointless filler episodes in the entire series' run (with the obvious exception of "Shades of Gray," which we'll get to shortly). It wants to be a comedy with no hard plot — which is fine in concept — but the comedy scenes aren't funny enough and are padded to embarrassing length with meandering material that simply goes nowhere and accomplishes nothing.

It's starts out reasonably, with Lwaxana being her usual attention-starved self — and not even in an off-putting way; she's kind of a likable motormouth. Picard becomes her unwitting one-on-one dinner guest in a situation he didn't expect. His solution is to invite Data to fill the awkward pauses. Not a bad comic concept. But the longer the episode goes on, the more tiresome and pointless it grows, until by the end we're positively baffled: What is the point of all this? The answer is: There isn't one. This is an episode about behavior (I'm at a loss to qualify "behavior" with a useful adjective) put to no purpose.

There are scenes in the holodeck that exist simply to fill time and accomplish nothing the least bit important to anything. They aren't nearly interesting or fun enough to distract from the fact they're pointless. This whole episode is utterly inexplicable.

Previous episode: Up the Long Ladder
Next episode: The Emissary

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35 comments on this review

Paul C
Tue, Sep 20, 2011, 7:10pm (UTC -5)
Manhunt

2 more inexplicable things about this ep.

1 Data laughs
2 Mick Fleetwood is in it as an alien whose face you can't see. What is the point?
Mike Caracappa
Mon, Sep 24, 2012, 3:53am (UTC -5)
There is one plus, a brief appearance by Robert O'Reilly (who goes on after this to play Gowron). You know it's him just when you see his eyes :)
xaaos
Wed, Nov 21, 2012, 10:31am (UTC -5)
Deanna "I sense he is hiding something" Troi and of course her mother, should have neven been on TNG.

Quite boring episode.

Data's laugh was "artificial", and it's not the first time he did it. I really love it whenever he does it. And the scene with Q and his "gift" to Data is one of the best Star Trek moments in my opinion.
DPC
Sat, Dec 29, 2012, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
Bizarre episode.

Lwaxana Troi's humor is a little better in this script, but she feels out of place in the new style season 2 puts in for the show... later episodes treat Lwaxana more blandly, which doesn't help matters either.

Mick Fleetwood is the second rock star (Michelle Phillips being the first, in "We'll Always Have Paris") to appear in TNG. What's nice is that you're waiting all 40 minutes and then realize he plays a fish that not only Worf finds handsome, but proves Russell T Davies was not the first sci-fi writer to come up with inter-species lust. Worf's reaction was pretty solid, and kept sufficiently brief. A whole episode devoted to such soap opera would fall flat, and it would be heavyhanded as well. This story has Worf appreciating the form and letting the audience viewer decide if he's hornball or not. Which makes that scene more mature than any number of later TNG episodes that would play this card and heavyhandedly so...

Data's laugh was an attempt to use rote to repeat a process other people were using. Until season 3, it wasn't really said that Data being an android meant he was not programmed to imitate. (Ditto for "Measure of a Man" where, in a scene cut from the final presentation, Data exclaims "I am pleased!" to Picard in his ready room over the legal battle to follow...) And, in this episode and "Deja Q" (where Q lets him laugh like a real person), both scenes are well-thought out in context, and well-realized by Brent Spiner.

The plot, where Lwaxana is chasing Picard is played up both comedically and seriously. I'm not sure what to think of it. In the right mood, it's a funny story, but in many ways it's just bizarre and feels out of place.

Especially as half the jokes from Lwaxana's original story are repeated here. Only without Yar's friz hair stealing the show in the process. But this time around, it's Data and his technobabble that steal the show, as does Majel Barrett for her top-notch performance.

How come Lwaxana cannot figure out that Picard has zero interest in her, despite her reading his mind without his permission?! Perhaps she is saving face by lying to everyone, but the acting suggests otherwise (even after dinner when she tells Troi how he was thinking of dirty things).

Interesting, both of the early-era Lwaxana stories were written by Tracy Torme but were so heavily rewritten that he demanded a pseudonym be used instead.

It's nowhere near as bad as "The Okona" story, though...

Of course, Picard goes and hides in the holodeck, so she goes after Riker (who, oddly, doesn't accept the advances, despite his hitching with everyone this side of Riza... and the other side, and every side in between...)

You're definitely right; once Picard gets to the holodeck things really fall apart. Nothing happens, except Lwaxana drooling over everybody.
William B
Tue, Apr 2, 2013, 5:29pm (UTC -5)
Probably the best joke in the episode is, as other posters have noted, putting Mick Fleetwood in the episode as a fish-creature who spends most of the episode in stasis, then turns out to be identified as an assassin at the last minute because Lwaxana happens to be in the same room as him.

Very little in this episode strikes me as *bad* per se. It's not funny, but it's not *un*funny, exactly. I feel like if most of the scenes of this episode were placed within other episodes as some sort of tension relief, they wouldn't play so badly. The problem is that the whole episode is relief from tension that never exists. I do tend to wonder what Tracy Torme's original script was like.

I guess Jammer's 1 star rating is probably appropriate. This is a case though where star ratings really fail to capture the episode. One star so usually means "bad" that it feels unfair to assign it to this episode in which almost nothing goes so very wrong. It just never really develops into anything interesting. Probably 1.5 from me, though I am not really sure about that.
William B
Mon, Apr 8, 2013, 8:11pm (UTC -5)
I forgot to mention, but there is one thing that I think is *genuinely* bad here, which is the notion that the recipient of *aggressive* sexual advances has a responsibility to avoid hurting the aggressor's feelings so much that they have to hide from them. I get that Deanna wants to protect her mother's feelings, but surely no means no and no one has to be so worried about the feelings of someone making them that uncomfortable. This is made even worse by the fact that Lwaxana Troi is a high-ranking diplomat from a matriarchal society, which means that she has tremendous power -- which seems to me to indicate that if she's to wield that power fairly, she should be able to handle someone's rejection. Hopefully Betazoid men have some kind of coping strategy so that they are allowed to not marry whom they choose not to marry.
Rikko
Tue, Apr 9, 2013, 4:40pm (UTC -5)
Ugh, I hate episodes about Lwaxana Troi.

It's like the Ferengi effect: Characters could get a bit better or at least tolerable after a few times, but their stories are always so bad.

@ Paul C: I don't remember Data's laugh :( But I remember the conversation with Lwaxana, that scene and Worf's "What a handsome race" were the only really fun bits of the episode.

@ Xaaos: By definition, everything in Data is artificial, hah.

Nah, but I get what you mean.

@ William B. : Because it was played as a comedy I don't see a problem with this, just your typical situation with characters acting dumb or otherwise they wouldn't be able to fill the hour with this.
Jack
Mon, Apr 7, 2014, 7:40pm (UTC -5)
So a Batazoid woman entering Betazoid midlife gets extra honry and seeks out a man who eventually becomes her husband...but...what if she's already married? Not all Betazoid women are widows like Troi is.
Elliott
Sun, Jul 6, 2014, 2:16am (UTC -5)
There's a lot of memorable comedy in this episode. Yes, it's pretty much a pointless romp, but I think 1 star is too low. 2 in my book.

Anyone else catch the bit about Geordi being Lwaxana's next target?

LWAXANA : Well, who's next, Mr Homm?

[Mr Homm covers his eyes with his hand]

LWAXANA : Ahh...

[they leave]
Paul M.
Sun, Jul 6, 2014, 5:32am (UTC -5)
I agree with Elliott. This episode is actually quite enjoyable in a silly sort of way. Better than expected.
Eileen
Fri, Jul 11, 2014, 9:42pm (UTC -5)
I like Worf's comment: "What a handsome race." It always makes me laugh for some reason. It is a very silly episode, but I'd up it to two stars just for that comment plus some of the expressions on Picard's face during the dinner...oh yeah And for Mr. Ho's chug a lug!
Duke of Earl Grey
Tue, Sep 9, 2014, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
I actually have a soft spot for this one, and while I wouldn't call it "good", I find it harmlessly pleasant, and I'd give it a solid 2 stars. I always get a good laugh from the scenes in Dixon Hill's office, where the computer seems almost to stubbornly ignore Picard's requests. He just wants a nice, relaxing hour in the holodeck, yet the computer insists on throwing in increasingly scarier thugs and bigger guns. And that's how I feel about this episode. Sometimes it's nice to have a quiet episode, with barely a hint of jeopardy or even plot, "more ambiance; less substance."
Ash
Fri, Jan 16, 2015, 9:44am (UTC -5)
Wesley telling Worf that he's a handsome Klingon and Worf's reaction was just gold.
Chris
Tue, Jun 30, 2015, 4:33pm (UTC -5)
Picard shouting "Computer, freeze programme!" as a goon nearly blows him away with a Tommy Gun is priceless. Stewart's face is hilarious as he throws himself back against the wall.
Andrew
Sun, Jul 26, 2015, 12:16pm (UTC -5)
The plot was extremely thin and somewhat dumb but Stewart was very enjoyable and Barrett also pretty funny.
jzmacdaddy
Mon, Aug 17, 2015, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
The best part(s) of this episode were when Troi Told Riker her sex drive would quadruple (loved the look on his face). Shortly after that when Troi told Picard Lwaxana chose him, Riker says "congratulations sir!"...Makes me laugh every time.
NCC-1701-Z
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
The scene where Picard got Data to bore Lwaxana was quite funny. Other than that, though...how to express my opinion of the rest of the episode in Darmok speak? Sherlock, shooting a happy face in the wall!
Diamond Dave
Thu, Aug 27, 2015, 3:43pm (UTC -5)
Lwaxana episode and holodeck episode all rolled up into one? Hallelujah! I suppose this was planned as an out and out comedy extravaganza, and to be fair there are some laughs in here (Worf's admiration of the "handsome" Antedeans in particular).

But overall it's completely inconsequential, the holodeck sequences are utterly irrelevant (and worse that that, boring), and the conclusion comes completely out of left field. 3 stinkers in a row then. 1 star.
Mike
Sun, Nov 22, 2015, 5:59am (UTC -5)
I remain absolutely baffled why the character Luxuwanna Troi even exists. Is an again woman with an insatiable sex drive suppose to be funny or intriguing or what? I don't get it. I'm just embarrassed for Majel Barrett. This used to be Nurse Chapel in the original Star Trek and she's come to this. Her zaniness and zest for life seem forced, unconvincing and hollow. And I just roll my eyes everyone she tells us she's a Daughter of the Fifth House of blah, blah, blah because it's such an obvious contrivance. We know practially nothing about Betazed government or society so what is this suppose to mean to us? Why does she, an ambassador, keep showing up a ship that's suppose to be on an exploration of deep space anyway?

Manhunt was absolutely pointless. Just as pointless as the character it focuses on.
Jason R.
Thu, Feb 25, 2016, 12:01pm (UTC -5)
I like how Lwaxana comments casually to Deanna that humans should bring back slavery. What a lovely lady.
Raphael Bloch
Fri, Feb 3, 2017, 6:41pm (UTC -5)
Silly episode, but I agree with @Chris: the Dixon Hill office scenes were hilarious.
tara
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 11:07am (UTC -5)
On this one, I request second opinions.

I found the character of Lwaxana distasteful because it seemed to me that she was being ridiculed largely because of her demographic: look! she's a female of a certain age who wants sex and pursues men! Obviously Picard's not interested in her when he rates women like Vash! How pathetic and mockable, that she would pursue a man of her own age and looks and status.

(She is the age of Picard. And she has the lusty forthrightness of Riker.)

Maybe I've got it wrong. Maybe the comedy is supposed to come, not from the juxtaposition of her age and gender with her sexual desire, but strictly from her goofy "Me and my sacred chalice!" character that drives everyone nuts.

But I can't shake the feeling that she's meant to be a kind of stereotypical bogeyman for males, in the same category as "the repressed spinster librarian", "the puritanical old church lady" and (more favorably, because she's attractive), "the Mrs. Robinson."

I throw open the floor for a discussion...
Del_Duio
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 11:50am (UTC -5)
Tara, you seem like an intelligent person I just don't know why you're cherry picking Trek episodes to try to find things wrong in regards to how women are treated. Like that seems like that's ALL you do around here.

Don't you enjoy the shows at all? Sometimes everything's not meant to be a great battle of the sexes debate, you know?
tara
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 12:13pm (UTC -5)
Del,
I do tend to focus on what I don't like more than what I do - and what I don't like (especially in the early seasons) is mostly the corny stuff and the sexist stuff.

I started commenting on, I think, "Captain's Holiday" - because I rewatched the episode, then came to this site and saw that my viewpoint was not represented in any previous comments. Even the people who liked it, didn't like it for the reasons I like it.

In this season, season two, I think you'll see that the episodes I felt moved to comment on were the following: "Time Squared" (which I praised, though I was disappointed in the ways it ended up falling short of the character stuff it could have had), "Up the long ladder" (which I criticized for the Dumb Irish stuff but admitted was kind of a guilty pleasure), and "The Emissary" which I flat-out loved. (And yes, ,I loved it for K'Eylar as well as the Worf/K'ehlar dynamic).

This site manages to have many people discussing the technical implausibility of some devices ("Mirror-world episodes and time-travel episodes just couldn't happen because....") Those aren't things that bug me - or interest me - so I just skip over the comments with a shrug. You might try it. There are dozens of comments on each episode; if mine don't interest you, that's okay.

Jason R.
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 1:26pm (UTC -5)
What always bugged me about Lwaxana is just the wasted opportunity. She's this powerful telepath, the only one in the series, and all the writers can think to do with her is play her as some pathetic man-eating buffoon. It would be equivalent to having Data, the show''s only android, working as the ship"s bartender a la Conundrum, showing up only as a punch line for comedy episodes. What a waste.

By the way, I always wonder with her: how can she keep pursuing Picard despite the disgust that so obviously permeates every encounter. Or is the joke on us? Is Picard secretly lusting after her non stop as she claims?
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 1:39pm (UTC -5)
@ Tara,

I think Lwaxana is a character that will be hard to inspect seriously, primarily because I think she was intended as little more than a joke. It was an excuse to include Barrett in the series and let her have some fun, and maybe Lwaxana's excessive behavior is in some way a nod to the fact that Barrett 'owns the place' as it were, having been married to the father of Trek.

If we're going to treat Lwaxana seriously, though, I think the place to start isn't with her gender but rather with her telepathic powers, which the show mentions but treats as a joke rather than as a sci-fi premise. When observing how seriously Babylon 5 took the idea of telepathy, we can look back on episodes like this one and note that someone who could actually read minds (and did so with impunity at all times) and still 'not get' the hint isn't about being a woman, or a matriarch, or someone of a particular age; it's more like a piece of anti-humor meant to take the piss out of Trek. The Federation is egalitarian? Well she is an aristocrat! Trek abhors inequality? She endorses slavery! People in the future respect each other's privacy? She will read your mind and blurt out loud what you're thinking, ha! ha!

She's sort of a proto-DS9 Ferengi type character whose purpose seems to be to highlight Federation values by flouting them. In this case, as in the case of the Ferengi, I feel like they missed the mark and ended up making it look like she was just an annoying lady. Maybe that was the trouble - they were probably also going for the 'annoying close relation' trope, and baked that into a satire of a Federation VIP. The result ends up looking like a mishmash played for humor that neither says anything pointed nor is particularly funny. That being said I don't exactly hate her as a character, but I do view her as a failure when compared to Nurse Chapel, who I thought contributed very positively to some TOS episodes.

Maybe I should be more charitable and assume she was meant as a pastiche of how annoying patriarchal attitudes can be to the women in a modern society? Could this be a way of highlighting how objectionable it could be for a man in 1980's society to feel entitled to chase women in the workplace? I really don't know. Maybe this is what they intended and our annoyance with her is a successful piece of irony. I just never felt that it came across as much of anything.
Peremensoe
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
I can get something out of looking at Trek from a lot of different angles. It's part of my continuing interest in Trek, that there *are* so many angles to look at, and so many different people looking. If tara sees an angle that hasn't been represented, I want to hear it.


Lwaxana may have been conceived as little more than comedic relief, but eventually we get "Dark Page," which doesn't entirely work but certainly isn't a joke, and "Half a Life," which I count as pretty classically Trekkian, and finally her scenes with Odo. She's about relationships, loneliness, aging, losing versus letting go.
tara
Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
Thanks for the responses... and, I will say, especially Peter G.

"Majel Barrett having a good time on the set" makes sense. Maybe it's a character largely designed by her and intended to showcase the actor's own personality and sense of humor and acting strengths. In the meta-universe, if I pull myself out of TNG's own world and just watch like a woman on the sofa looking for entertainment, I can be fine with that. If the actor had fun being Lwaxana, and the other actors had fun playing off her, then okay. Good for them.

The role of taking the piss out of the Federation and their smug perfection was a really important one - beautifully played by Q, and also by the outsiders Ro and Barclay and the "Lower Decks" set and the occasional alien race ("The High Ground", maybe?) through whose eyes we see the regulars as a bit more questionable and tarnished than the Official Narrative presents them. You make me want to watch the next Lwaxana episode with a more open mind to see if she's part of the same lineage.

As to her telepathic abilities and their misuse... I've never thought about that. She was so goofy that it was never completely clear to me whether her mind-readings were accurate or invented, and whether she reported them accurately or otherwise. I kind of settled on the idea that she could vaguely sense strong thoughts but that her own big personality trumped accuracy in reporting. Thus, she sensed Picard responding to her sexually in sort of a normal-man way - "Mmm, nice curves in that dress" - and could also read his follow-up thought of "Oh God, but this bloody woman is as annoying as ever!" And then she always chose to somewhat vengefully embarrass him by announcing to everyone present the first thought, but not the second.

So basically: broad comedy, and actors having fun, and I'd do best to check my brain at the opening credits and go with the flow... That helps, actually.

And, all the yesses to the shout-out to Babylon Five! Where telepaths were a serious matter and a force to be reckoned with. (Until season five, when that Byron guy showed up and combed his mane and made annoying speeches.)
tara
Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 6:36pm (UTC -5)
And Peremensoe: the Odo scene in the elevator on Ds9 was great. Actually, it was the moment that made me wish Lwaxana had been more of a person and less of a caricature from the beginning. Even zany aunts and dancing clowns take off their wigs sometimes - and more importantly, even when they're wearing their wigs and cavorting around, they've got reasons for it. They have to still be people underneath the wacky makeup.
Outsider65
Sat, Mar 4, 2017, 3:28am (UTC -5)
I always thought it was hilarious when they used Data as a chaperone. Poor guy can't have been as oblivious to it as he acted but he finally got someone to sit through him reading Wikipedia articles to them so he probably didn't mind.
Caedus
Mon, Apr 24, 2017, 11:19pm (UTC -5)
This is so remarkably funny. We know Betazoids are federation members but they seem like a potential security threat-why isn't that explored? Not to mention terrifying in a personal sense-if your Joe Ensign and you think the Betazoid rep is good lookin she'll know it, if a betazoid thinks so about you-it would be very uncomfortable-no telling what sort of gentle prodding or manipulation they could use to get their way.
N
Wed, May 3, 2017, 4:39pm (UTC -5)
Lwaxana Troi comes onto Wesley then outs two fish as suicide bombers. Best. Episode. Ever.
Chuck
Mon, May 15, 2017, 1:47pm (UTC -5)

Just some random responses. Having fun reading through this board:

@ tara -- I sadly concur, but sometimes you have to suspend all intelligence to enjoy a forum, movie, TV show, whatever. That is by no means meant critically (of you or of STNG) -- I find this unavoidably true with a lot of Hollywood today. I am a (real) scientist, so I tend to dissect the science of anything purporting to BE scientific. There are STNG eps that I DETEST because of the bogus science within. The only way to bypass that is simply to disengage and take what entertainment comes my way, even as comedy if I must.

@N - LOVED your May 3 entry. Seriously, can't read that one-liner without audibly cracking up!
Rahul
Tue, May 23, 2017, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
Some scenes were truly kind of funny - Lwaxana is an comedic character, no doubt and her making Picard uncomfortable was funny at first but then got tiring quickly. Data remains the one character with the most comedic potential in TNG.
The fish creatures were silly - the time in the holodeck was supposed to be humorous but I wasn't amused.
This is one of the weakest TNG episodes - just no plot, slow paced - overall boring.
Majel Barrett is a great actress - really enjoyed her roles in TOS "Amok Time" and "What Are Little Girls Made Of?" Her role as a comic figure in TNG I suppose is one way to include her in the series - she plays the role well, although it doesn't make for great episodes overall to say the least.
When I noticed Mick Fleetwood's name at the start I then started wondering what his role was - didn't see it stated in the credits after the episode. And so he's one of those fish assassins?? What a waste.
This one only gets 0.5 star -- 60 mins. of my life I'll never get back.
borusa
Thu, Jun 1, 2017, 1:29pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer entirely.
I guess Mick Fleetwood must be a big trek fan -I only hope he enjoyed his Trek outing because I imagine he is in a minority.
Lwaxana Troi is a pretty pointless character in any situation-there is a very half- hearted attempt to demonstrate some purpose for her in exposing the two fishy assassins but it is best forgotten .
All of the supporting characters came off poorly.
Stewart cannot get into the role of a Philip Marlowe style american private eye to save his life so I just cannot see how we are ever supposed to believe Picard is an afficionado of such things.

I did however like the inability of the computer to avoid trying to kill the Captain.

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