Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Dauphin"

2.5 stars

Air date: 2/20/1989
Written by Scott Rubenstein & Leonard Mlodinow
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

In what might've been the most inevitable story concept in early TNG annals, the overly naive Wesley Crusher falls in love with the lovely Salia (Jaime Hubbard), a 16-year-old girl who has been raised from a very young age to rule the planet where the Enterprise is now transporting her. Salia is accompanied by her grandmotherly-like guardian Anya (Paddi Edwards), whose insistence that Salia stay focused on her destined duty (rather than on boys) plays like a mission of monomania.

I could take obvious potshots at the much-targeted Wesley Crusher for the sake of cheap entertainment value, but the fact of the matter is that I need to accord the character a certain level of fairness. So I'll start with the (surprisingly tempered and fair) potshot and then move on to the positive: Wesley is too obviously painted as a naïve boy, with that overly anxious Wil Wheaton smile and wonderment. (Yes, Wesley is young; does it need to be hammered over our heads with zero subtlety? I don't think it does.)

On the other hand, Wesley's naïvete does make for relevant story material and a different point of view vis-à-vis the rest of the bridge crew. The Wesley-falls-in-love story is handled with tact and innocence, which I will note as being to the episode's credit even as I admit my own personal impatience as a more cynical television viewer. I liked a scene where he seeks Riker's and Guinan's help, and they end up in a role-playing game that ultimately ignores Wesley's questions ("Shut up, kid").

What I really could've done without, however, is Anya's overprotectiveness, which takes on a ludicrous zeal that borders on the laughable. When Anya finds out a patient in sickbay has a disease that has an infinitesimal chance to infect Salia (on the order of nearly zero percent), she orders Pulaski to kill the patient and then turns into a bug-eyed monster that looks like it crawled out of a 1950s serial. Way too goofy. And one wonders why the Enterprise would even grant passage to such gross, arrogant presumption.

But there are some good character moments here, like Worf's grudging respect for Anya as a warrior/opponent, and especially the plight of Salia herself, who must forgo the pleasures of living her own life in favor of fulfilling her destined responsibilities. (That Salia herself is a shapeshifter is almost beside the point in terms of her character's arc.) Guinan's closing dialog with Wesley about the mutable nature of love is also fairly palatable.

Previous episode: The Measure of a Man
Next episode: Contagion

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60 comments on this post

Sun, Aug 19, 2012, 9:00pm (UTC -6)
1 star! NO PLOT
Wed, Nov 14, 2012, 6:29am (UTC -6)
This episode got me into TNG many years before. I still remember the fright I felt as a kid when that old lady transformed into that monster. I still like this episode after so many years, it has a lot of good scenes, especially the one between Riker and Guinan in Ten Forward. Wes is sympathetic and cute in this episode.

Oh, I forgot: Worf's screaming scared the hell out of me aswell. xD His face while describing the flirting ritual is priceless!

- "That is how the Klingon lures a mate."
- "Are you telling me to go yell at Salia?"
- "No. Men do not roar. Women roar...and they hurl heavy objects...and claw at you..."
- "What does the man do?"
- "He reads love poetry." [Worf regains his composure.] "He ducks a lot."
Sun, Mar 3, 2013, 10:38pm (UTC -6)
This is one of the episodes I never watch and the reason can be summed up in one word: Wesley. I simply don't like the character. It's completely implausible that a 16 year old boy would be at the helm of Starfleet's flap ship. Are we suppose to believe that with a ship fuel of Academy trained officers, nobody else is better qualified to pilot the Enterprise? Why Roddenberry invented this character is beyond me. I certainly don't intend to waste my time watching him fret over teenage crush.
Mon, Mar 4, 2013, 8:45am (UTC -6)
What really kills "The Dauphin" for me it's the bug-eyed monsters, was it really necessary? I guess the point was to show Wesley's point of view to the audience. Something like "what you thought it was pretty, it's actually nasty and scary inside". Still, it would have been better without that "metaphor".

Even then, I liked Wesley in this episode. All in all, it makes the boy genious all the more human. I think it was a first then, Wesley being proven wrong about something.

@ Xaxaos: That was some hilarious stuff, probably the best part of the episode. Worf was really into it.

@ Mike: What you say was exactly the same problem I had with Wesley Crusher during the first season. Everytime he saved the day, the rest of the crew must act like utter idiots to compensate, so Wes was like the only working mind there. It didn't feel natural at all.

But I'd say he got a lot better as a character starting from this season. I couldn't buy him saving the crew in "The Naked Now", but I can see Crusher being a friend of Geordi since both of them are huge engineering nerds.
William B
Wed, Mar 27, 2013, 5:14am (UTC -6)
You know, I actually like Wesley, some of the time, and I think I might like him more than Jammer does overall. But wow, I found this episode very hard to get through -- much more than "The Outrageous Okona" for example.

Basically, this really is not a one-hour episode plot. The episode's plot is that the Enterprise transports Salia and Anya to the other planet. Wesley and Salia briefly have a doomed romance. Anya is belligerent. Then they get to the planet. Meanwhile, the Ent crew gradually determine that the inhabitants of both planets are Alasomorphs, including Salia. That is the whole episode.

As is not atypical of a "doomed romance" story, nothing that happens in the episode ends with things particularly different than they were at the beginning; but in order to make this seem like it's actually a one hour show, information is portioned out at an alarmingly slow rate. Is the fact that Salia is a shapeshifter such a shock that it needs to be saved for the episode's end? Or do we have to wait 20 minutes before *we* find out that Anya is a shapeshifter and the crew does? Notably, the fact that Anya and Salia are shapeshifters doesn't affect the core plot at all -- which is that Wesley falls for a princess whose duty is to Her People and who can never have a normal life, which would be exactly the same whether she's humanoid or not. The real meat of the episode should be in the doomed romance and the tragedy of Salia, not in any of this irrelevant and extremely poorly F/X'd material.

I don't mind "princess doomed to miss out on a normal life" stories when done well -- I watched "Roman Holiday" lately, and "The Perfect Mate" which superficially is a similar story is an episode I think is one of the show's most underrated. But it's a particularly difficult match between Salia and Wesley's dopey idealism. Wesley just *keeps saying* how Salia will be able to go explore the stars and go to planets when she could simply tell him that she can't. The heartbreak is so *obvious* that it's difficult to get through all these scenes, and the writing and acting is deathly dull.

Also -- "Seeing her on the transporter pad, it was like seeing pure light." - child prodigy in time and space Wesley Crusher

Anyway. The Riker/Guinan flirting scene is fantastic, and I like Worf's yell and description of love poetry. I also very much like the Worf/Anya bond that eventually forms. (And there is something awesome and funny about Anya casually telling Pulaski to kill the patient so that he doesn't infect anyone else.)

1.5 stars.
Sat, May 25, 2013, 7:28pm (UTC -6)
Agree that the Klingon mating ritual bit was great... I like this episode because it took some risks with the aliens, they weren't the typical human look alikes, and Worf's granny-nemesis was an unusual challenger for him... not bad in my opinion, although like all early TNG a tad cheesy.
Thu, Sep 19, 2013, 10:07pm (UTC -6)
5 minutes of comedy gold surrounded by pure dreck. The 5 minutes should be obvious: Worf, Data, and Riker's advice to Wesley. The rest? Boring...

Wesley and Saria's "romance" sounds like it was written by a 12 year old. "She's perfect. Absolutely perfect." You met her for 15 seconds!!!

Hey, maybe that's really how teenager's think. But this isn't a TV show for 12 year old girls. Do we really care about My First Crush? An awkward teenage crush just makes for awkward and painful viewing.

Shapeshifters? Enh, whatever. Obviously expolored in far more detail in DS9. Not this episode's fault, of course, but if I recall correctly I wasn't that impressed way back when I first saw this episode long before I ever heard of Odo. It just wasn't that interesting.

OK, so the discovery that Anya could sneak out of her quarters was interesting. For 5 seconds. Then forcefield around quarters and problem solved. Yawn.

It doesn't help that the guest stars were poorly acted. Salia was not convincing as a ruler at all, and only moderately more convincing as a lovestruck teen. And Anya? Ridiculously over the top. I kept waiting for her to say "If you only knew the power of the Dark Side."

Just awful all around. Easily the worst episode of the season so far (and right after the best so far!) Maybe that's the theme for Season 2: maddeningly inconsistent. All the elements are there for the series to reach its fullest potential, and there are plenty of truly classic episodes. But it can also be as cringeworthy as some of Season 1 in between these excellent episodes.
Sun, Dec 8, 2013, 12:04pm (UTC -6)
I suggest doing an addendum to each review, episode by episode of how the extras are handled in TNG. Call it 'Extra Lense'. I love this show but the general direction of their behaviour and responses is preposterous. In this episode Worf primal screams on the brudge and nobody even turns to look. Classic.
Sun, Jul 26, 2015, 8:51pm (UTC -6)
I have mixed feelings about this episode. I like the originality of the story, but the execution is a bit rough. Yes, yes, Wesley can be quite annoying at times, but he's older now and bit more mature, and his storylines in Season 2 definitely improved, along with his acting... Some good moments in this episode. I laughed at Worf's telling Wesley to "go to quarters, beg like a human." Too funny. And the scene in Ten Forward with Riker and Guinan was well written and acted as well. Anya was a bit much to swallow, as she was way too overprotective... All in all, not a bad episode. 2.5 stars.
Diamond Dave
Tue, Aug 25, 2015, 1:34pm (UTC -6)
Wesley falls in love - isn't that a phrase to strike fear into the heart... But this is surprisingly good in many ways. The relationship between Salia and Wesley is played with tact, and her underlying duty adds a doomed element to their interplay. The wonderful scene between Riker and Guinan, and Worf's enthusiastic endorsement of Klingon mating practice, are true highlights.

On the debit side, the unfortunate creature effects are frankly ridiculous, and the character of Anya so overblown as to overpower what is actually quite a clever concept. That this is something of a missed opportunity for an episode that sounds so unpromising on paper is a triumph in itself. 2.5 stars.
Mon, Oct 19, 2015, 7:27am (UTC -6)
Everyone has covered the flaws in this well, but I still like it. I love Wil Wheaton, so that has obscured the hatred I used to have for Wesley. I think he's cute in this.

I couldn't find it again, but I once read something Wil Wheaton wrote about this episode. Jaime Hubbard is 10 years older than him, and he was really nervous working with her like this. But he managed to power through. I also think he said she was a really nice person. In any case, I think he said he really enjoyed doing this episode. (And of course, my memory of all that could be completely wrong!)

I think Jaime Hubbard was brilliant in this--and this was her first acting role! She did a great job in portraying Salia's dilemma and feelings of duty. (And Hubbard is apparently now working as a psychotherapist. I can totally see that--her empathy as she portrayed Salia was evident.)

One thing I hate hate hate--they should never have shown us what Salia's true form was. I remember feeling awe the first time I saw this and we see the reflection of light on Wesley's face. That was enough--just like Marcellus Wallace's briefcase. But then the camera actually shows us Salia--and she's a poofy light bulb. I have no skill at creating original stories--but I think I would be a great editor. "The Perfect Storm" should have cut when the ship climbed the giant wave and gone directly to the memorial at that point. Showing too much just because you can is often a disservice to our sense of awe.
Thu, Apr 28, 2016, 3:58pm (UTC -6)
i liked this one a lot more than i thought inwould. a low point was riker and guinans scene. Worf had some good scenes in this one.
Fri, May 13, 2016, 9:07pm (UTC -6)
I found it completely unbelievable that Wesley went around the ship asking everyone for advice on girls, what teenager does that!
Wed, Aug 10, 2016, 6:38pm (UTC -6)
No one mentioned the best part of the episode. Worf doesn't try to hit the shapeshifter when it's in the form of the monster, he waits till it's in the form of the old lady again and he pulls back like he's going to backhand her. Gets me in stitches every time.
Sun, Dec 25, 2016, 7:11pm (UTC -6)
I think there are a lot of layers to this episode that go unnoticed or at the very least, understated. Not only love, but duty and measure of responsibility. This extends past just Wesley and Salia but also onto Anya and Worf. It shys a bit from its potential to play up the young love angle but I would have liked a bit more input from the rest of the crew.

A lot of people don't like Wesley but I think he portrayed well... himself quite well. He's just a boy. Saying things like a girl is perfect on first contact is reasonably real. My only major gripe with this episode was this whole angle about how Salia being a shapeshifter was some sort of revealed betrayal to Wesley who is the TNG poster boy for diversity acceptance.
Tue, Mar 28, 2017, 1:40am (UTC -6)
I don't know I kinda liked Anya overpowering Worf as some disgusting screeching monster then trash talking him as a small older lady.

"You underestimated me in your sickbay. That is usually fatal." I like this line and how she delivers it, It doesn't sound like she's bluffing. I do agree though that there's little chance the Enterprise would put up with such dangerous behaviour
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 3:42pm (UTC -6)
In this week's episode of Space 1999 Maya finds herself abducted from Moonbase Alpha and press ganged into ending a war between two factions on a desolate planet.

Worse still Maya cannot even escape her fate by using her metamorphic abilities because her 'minder' turns out to be another Psychon.

Oh sorry-this was actually a TNG episode-are we sure though cos all those bug eyed monsters looked as crap as the ones Catherine Schell turned into in Space 1999.

Wesley kisses a gurl-oh for Pete's sake!

1 star
Wed, Mar 29, 2017, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
^ Ha! You win the internet.
Tue, May 2, 2017, 5:34pm (UTC -6)
This was a pretty terrible episode. I think the first commenter @unan sums it up just fine. So what is the plot? Transporting 2 shapeshifting aliens and teenage boy Wes happens to fall in love with one of them and has to get over lost love.
The highlights of the episode are Worf on the Klingon mating ritual and Riker/Guinan play acting - i.e. few and far between.
I have no issue with Wes being a teenager and falling for a girl -- but that can't be the predominant part of a TNG episode. The whole shapeshifter thing was stupid and unnecessary.
What is worthy also is that here's this "humanoid girl" who is supposed to fill a role to bridge 2 warring factions or races and how she longs for a different role but ultimately recognizes her purpose. But that aspect gets lost in the "Wes gets a crush" story and the over-protective shapeshifting guardian.
I don't see how Jammer rates this 2.5/4 stars. It was downright tedious. And after just watching "The Measure of a Man" borderline intolerable. For me 1/4 stars.
Sat, May 6, 2017, 11:38am (UTC -6)
It's interesting watching this in HD since it's more clear that the actress playing Salia is quite a bit older than Wil Wheaton. (Apparently she's a decade older.) And goodness. this is a stunningly beautiful woman. She's also quite charismatic, with a genuine smile that keeps the episode from being as dire as it could've been had they cast someone not able to convince of the character's interest in Wesley.

You know what, I like this episode. It's nothing spectacular, but there are some good moments. I like visual of Worf being challenged and threatened by an old woman. I like the monsters, as cheesy as they are. The sudden appearance of the bug-eyed Ewok thing before we know that these are shapeshifters is pretty unsettling. I like Riker and Guinan's, and Worf's scenes as they give increasingly unhelpful advice.

I even like how Wesley is written. He's still a weird and sort of creepy kid, but not in the blandly agreeable, "aw shucks" way that makes the character such an empty vessel most of the time. When he's on the holodeck waxing romantic about exploring space you get a sense of the Wesley that the show usually only goes as far as suggesting. It's a little off-putting how it seems like he's already decided that Salia is going to be staying on the Enterprise, but of course he would.
Sun, Jun 18, 2017, 1:10pm (UTC -6)
I am with grumpy_otter on this one: I like Wil Wheaton. This is the episode where he shines the most. He comes across as a genuinely nice and relatable person; every teenager who watches this episode will be able to put himself into Wesley's shoes and fantasize about meeting a girl like Salia himself, having his first romance. Although teenagers should not be considered the primary audience of Star Trek, it's appropriate to have an episode like that once in a while.

Sometimes, the appeal of an episode entirely boils down to the performance of the lead actors and the plot becomes secondary. "The Dauphin" was an episode like that. Both Wheaton and the guest actress showed a great performance.

The 2.5 stars are justified.

Side note on the Wesley character: I never hated him as much as other people did; the main fault was how the "child prodigy" angle was written in season 1. They could have done it much more subtly, especially in "The Naked Now", where Wesley shuts the adults out of the engine room, takes control of the ship, AND saves the day in the end. To be fair, it wasn't the only awful thing about this episode; Data getting intoxicated like the rest of the crew didn't make any sense either (leading to his quickie with Tasha Yar, which was in later episodes romanticized to have been a meaningful, intimate encounter). The character considerably improves until the middle of the season; so do yourself a favor and try to forget about those early episodes, when you think about Wesley.
Tue, Aug 22, 2017, 10:33pm (UTC -6)
I wonder if Riker/Guinan flirting scene was improvised, perhaps a bit? It's convincingly done, but also feels spontaneous. Apologies to Trekxperts who will produce the script!

Also want to say how I continue to enjoy Jammer's reviews and reader comments. Someone commented how it's a bit like moving through time and space.
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 6:04am (UTC -6)
I am way way more powerful than youuuu!
Picard: Yup, you are. Worf, confine her to quarters and post guards.


Trek eventually realized that fake looking monster aliens make the show look laughable. And they stopped doing it. Season 1 and 2 were suckers for it - as well as original Trek.
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 6:41am (UTC -6)
@DLPB - I assume you're not a fan of the Anticans and Selay then? ;)

I get why they were trying to do it, but the tech wasn't there for aliens that were that alien yet. I think my favorite really weird looking alien (not just a forehead or a nose crinkle) on TNG were the Nausicans. They looked pretty decent.
Wed, Oct 4, 2017, 2:25pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, when you keep to rational humanoid looks, you can make it look realistic. Wen you venture into squid heads... you better hope you have some impressive visuals. And even modern CGI has to be top notch to pull it off.

The Anticans didn't look as ridiculous as the Benzites. Man.... even the worst acid trip wouldn't come up with those freaks.
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 11:25am (UTC -6)
William B and Diamond Dave's comments above characterize my feelings about this one:

William B. --The Riker/Guinan flirting scene is fantastic, and I like Worf's yell and description of love poetry. I also very much like the Worf/Anya bond that eventually forms. (And there is something awesome and funny about Anya casually telling Pulaski to kill the patient so that he doesn't infect anyone else.)

Diamond Dave-- Wesley falls in love - isn't that a phrase to strike fear into the heart... But this is surprisingly good in many ways. The relationship between Salia and Wesley is played with tact, and her underlying duty adds a doomed element to their interplay. The wonderful scene between Riker and Guinan, and Worf's enthusiastic endorsement of Klingon mating practice, are true highlights.

3 stars
Sean Hagins
Sat, Nov 25, 2017, 5:10pm (UTC -6)
I almost never comment on these things, but I feel I must. Ok, I do get the Wesley hate when he is portrayed as the boy wonder superchild and all the regulars just look to him with awe. But this episode has none of that!

I remember watching it when it first came out-I was 13, and to me, it was a perfect episode! Granted, the girls I had crushes on were far younger (not just younger than the 27 year old actress, but younger than the 16 year old she was playing-I was 13, and I crushed on 11 to 13 year old girls at the time) but this is basically how I acted! Someone said that they couldn't believe Wes would ask advice of the crew-it is PRECISELY what I did! And the whole "she's perfect" is pretty much what I said of the girls I crushed on! We all need to stop being so jaded here-I truly think this works well.

Ironically, what I didn't like was the Guinan/Riker moment. It is funny that most here do. Actually, I thought the girl was a shapeshifter too, but that reveal took my older brother totally by surprise! (*He thought that it would turn out the the girl Wesley kissed would be the old woman trying to come on too fast to turn Wesley away)

You also have to remember that a lot of kids my age watched Star Trek, and to be honest, it is always a thrill for tweens and early teens to have someone close to their age on a TV show and for them to be the brilliant one whilst the adults are hopeless. Granted, some episodes went to far with that with Wesley. It might have worked better if he outsmarted the villians, but not our heroes of the show.

Anyway, that's just my take-I can recall these episodes from my childhood, and I honestly feel that as adults, and also, as a generation of internet users, and such, we can not see that a lot of things that annoy us (or some of us here) were actually perfect for teens/tweens of the '80s

And, just to give you an idea of the type of girls I liked, the only girl from Star Trek TNG that I can remember offhand that I thought was cute at the time was the girl in the episode where Picard was stuck in the turbolift that he called "Number One" She was probably about 12-14, but again, that was my age too

Although, I was honestly surprised to discover that the actress who played Wesley's love interest was so old!
Peter G.
Thu, Jan 18, 2018, 2:31pm (UTC -6)
Watched this one again yesterday and thought I'd reply to a few comments from the thread. This one's a necro from an old William B comment:

"Is the fact that Salia is a shapeshifter such a shock that it needs to be saved for the episode's end? Or do we have to wait 20 minutes before *we* find out that Anya is a shapeshifter and the crew does? Notably, the fact that Anya and Salia are shapeshifters doesn't affect the core plot at all -- which is that Wesley falls for a princess whose duty is to Her People and who can never have a normal life, which would be exactly the same whether she's humanoid or not. "

Sometimes we take the plots of these simple episodes too literally and miss that they're in the process of crafting a Trek world for us while also creating connections between Trek and Trek viewers. Does it materially matter to Wesley, or to Picard for that matter, that Salia is a shapeshifter? Not really. It's irrelevant in context of the literal story in terms of why she can't be with Wesley. It's not because she's a shapeshifter, but because she's on a diplomatic mission (to Alderaan). Right? Well, let's take a closer look. Throughout the episode Wesley's courting of her takes on a peculiar form. He's not just crushing on her as we might expect, but is suggesting very specific things to her about what she'll be able to see with him in the future. It looks like nothing much is going on - just some romantic talk and hope, but I don't think that's the core of it.

What's really going on is that, despite having grown up in sub-optimal conditions having lost his father, Wesley is depicted as being completely innocent, sheltered, and unaware of anything other than life in Starfleet facilities. It's not just that he's naive regarding being an adult, but he's naive as well regarding what life is like in the universe if you don't live on the Enterprise. Multiple times in the episode Wesley makes comments that, if misinterpreted, could come off as creepy, such as "One day you'll get to see all this for yourself", implying it will be with him. But where I think he's coming from is he sees life as being an adventure where the galaxy is at your fingertips and technology frees you to see the wonders. He has no comprehension that some people don't have the technology, or the society, or otherwise have obligations or obstacles that make it impossible to do anything they want. His naivete is a sort of nod to how a Trek viewer might view Trek, which would be to see utopia and think that in 300 years life will be paradise for all. Sisko and Eddington raise the same objection in DS9, that not everyone has it so easy, and one is quick to forget that while cruising around in a fancy starship. It could even be seen as an allegory for people living in first-world countries with so-called 'first world problems'.

This leads me back to Salia being a shapeshifter and why it's important. She may look like the humans on the Enterprise, and come across as kindred to those who don't know better, but in reality every part of her life (including her biology) is so different that they are really total strangers to each other. She does seem to love, and to dream, so there is that in common (another Trek theme), but otherwise Wesley and she have nothing in common. She can't have the life he has, nor even the choices he has. Someone like her needs to adapt to survive her situation and can't just be anyone she wants to be. Being portrayed as a shapeshifter is relevant in showing that she and Anya are required to shape themselves to suit their needs, rather than their wants. Wesley is free to just be Wesley (something it takes him until S7 to learn) but Salia needs to be someone *for others*, not of her own choice. And I think saving the surprise for the end is important too, because it's a way for the meta-narrative to say "Surprise, audience, not everyone is like you and has what you have. Your assumptions about others may not be correct, so be careful in deciding for them what they should or shouldn't be able to do." I don't think this episode is exactly Shakespeare, but there's more going on here than just a lame teen-crush episode with a surprise twist.

And @ Sean Hagins,

"You also have to remember that a lot of kids my age watched Star Trek, and to be honest, it is always a thrill for tweens and early teens to have someone close to their age on a TV show and for them to be the brilliant one whilst the adults are hopeless. "

This is something DISC fans are going to have to grapple with, which is that Trek used to appeal to people of all ages and was a show to grow up with. That was as true of TOS as it was of TNG and VOY, despite occasional bad moral unintentionally being portrayed in VOY. One doesn't even need a literal teenager to act as a proxy for a young, wonder-filled viewer. The ship itself and the people on it can exemplify that innocence, like Data does, and like any of them do when acting as explorers. But the Riker/Guinan scene here is a good example of giving the audience both sides of it: the young love-struck side, and the adult side where kid stuff is a nuisance getting in the way of the 'good stuff'. Part of TNG's appeal is even that the kid stuff and the adult stuff were often entwined or even the same thing, and that's a feat. TNG did that better than DS9, although DS9 certainly had some of it (Odo spinning as a top, for example).

What DISC gains in terms of keeping up with the market in fast pacing and dark themes it'll lose tenfold over in not being a show anyone can grow up with. At best it'll appeal to adults who have already been formed and are consuming it as yet another channel for entertainment. An episode like The Dauphin could never exist on that show, and although many TNG fans may consider it to be sub-par, it's still a good example of programming that deals with the issues in a delicate way while keeping light on its toes and not getting too down in the muck with existential crisis. The better parts of the episode resonate, but don't drag you down with them. The ending of the episode is arguably sad, but it's a happy sadness, because it highlights the hopeful fact that no amount of technology will take away from us the simple pleasures and pains of growing up and losing things we care about. TNG is about how even though everyone may experience those pains they can still emerge from them an enlightened, Federation person. Contrast that with DISC, where the tone of the show seems to suggest that when you go through bad stuff you end up permanently messed up and misunderstood forever. Granted, that does happen in real life so we can't call that premise unrealistic. But is it the message young people need to hear?
William B
Thu, Jan 18, 2018, 4:06pm (UTC -6)
@Peter: point. I had just started commenting at that time, and was a little less generous for the middling eps like this one, at times. In retrospect, the shapeshifter metaphor is pretty solid. Not just for the reasons you mention, but even on a basic level, the idea of a teen romance being about the discovery that one's image of one's crush being incomplete or even false. I made fun of the way Picard delivered the "she is an allasomorph" line, and I still think it's funny, but it is a way for the ep to caution Wesley against believing that Salia's outward appearance is accurate, without having there be malice behind her "deception." Wesley is an open book, so he assumes others are, but their outward shapes generally will not represent their true selves. But their true selves might be even more beautiful. And since it turns out that Wesley actually maybe *isn't* the permanent Starfleet prodigy he believes himself to be, there is also a message there that Wesley can maybe find his own beautiful true self too.
Peter G.
Fri, Jan 19, 2018, 12:11am (UTC -6)
@ William B,

If it sounded like I was chastising your old comment that's not how I meant it. My intent was to suggest that it's an episode so easy to dismiss that the viewer is almost lulled into doing so. I've seen it many times over the years and until this watch-though I never thought it meant much of anything, so I was certainly not singling you out but was at the very least including myself in the tend of people surmising that it was a mostly vacuous hour of TV. Now that I've seen it again my new estimation is that it's only moderately vacuous :)
Peter Swinkels
Fri, Mar 16, 2018, 4:11pm (UTC -6)
Worf was hilarious and I felt that the monster effects were decent. Especially for 80s tv and for once we didn't get yet another absurdly human alien.
Thu, May 24, 2018, 8:34am (UTC -6)
Worf talks about Klingon courtship rituals and grins. Guinan says shut up Wesley. and those are the only scenes worth watching. Fast forward to those scenes and move on to the next episode.
Sat, May 26, 2018, 12:50pm (UTC -6)
This episode was going the route of a porn, "Young twink bangs MILF"
Thu, Oct 25, 2018, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
Going all the way to 3.5 for this, because I think the script is really solid, even though the special effects and direction weren't able to do it justice. Wil Wheaton is excellent here, Jaime Hubbard too, and the episode has a lot of heart and plenty of good dialog. The young romance is handled maturely and sensitively. The unsubtle and overwrought performance of the actress playing Anya almost sinks the episode, as do the inadvertently hilarious monster transformation moments, but the problems are more in execution than the writing. Perhaps the biggest issue is that we never get the sense that Salia and Anya have known each other for 20 years, or that they love each other as if they were mother and daughter - the conflict between them is too one-note. But this gets props for being an excellent Wesley episode with a refreshingly strong guest star.

Just like I never got the Ferengi hate on DS9 or the Neelix hate on VOY, I don't get the Wesley hate with respect to TNG either. Yeah, early episodes misused him as the "boy genius who saves the ship", but from S2 on he was basically fine - much more relatable and less brash - and I always thought he was well-acted and a worthwhile character. Having him working alongside Geordi and Data in engineering added a good dynamic.
Thu, Jan 3, 2019, 6:39am (UTC -6)
Regardless of plot holes etc, this was entertaining, which is really the bottom line.

Sure, one would expect that just in being assigned the mission all necessary and available information would have been imparted- including the fact the people being transported are shapeshifters and also that they are extremely anxious about risk, infection etc- all points to be discussed beforehand.

If there is one point that I find offputting about Wesley, apart from his youth in a situation where highly trained high IQ personnel are queueing up for position, it is the depressing fact that apparently nepotism remains as ingrained in the 24th century as it is now.
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 12:05pm (UTC -6)
Some very sappy and cheesy moments (Yes im talking Anya's performance, and the shapeshifted monster costume and acting. Huge LOL at the flailing arms and howling.... what is this? TOS?)

However Jamie Hubbard And Will Wheaton actually crush it. (I wish she was in more ST eps!, she was a real cutie, and still is gorgeous) Good pairing there by casting directors.

Guinan's little lesson speech to Will about love at the end was also a tear jerker.

Overall Enjoyable. Especially coming after one of the biggest episodes of the season in Measure of a Man. (which now that I mention it, I will rewatch immediately!)
Fri, Mar 8, 2019, 5:47pm (UTC -6)
I liked the TNG episodes that had to do with the children onboard. Whether it be Alexander or Wesley or others. There were children onboard and their experiences growing up were fair game as plot and character development in my opinion.

This one wasn't as sickly sweet as some first love episodes on tv and I liked that. They spent time together and although they said they loved each other it wasn't the usual undying love sacharine...although since they only spent a short time together that is more realistic.

The bodyguard wasn't having any of the Starfleet BS and was stronger than Worf and company. I missed the whole premise as to why the Enterprise was transporting them.

the furry monsters they turned into were pretty hilarious.
7/10 for fun
Wed, May 22, 2019, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
The first half of the episode had several laugh-out-loud moments and so I'm very glad I didn't skip this one (going through and watching the highly rated episodes listed on this site). The second half had the bulk of the innocent young love story which was rather boring (though slightly better than the overly dramatic teen romances on tv/film these days). Anya mostly outshined Salia just from having more personality (or the Salia actress being directed to just stand there and look pretty?). Would have liked the story to show more about the shapeshifters and their world; sounded biologically, climatalogically, and politically complex. And I did appreciate that the aliens of the week were not, in essence, humanoid.
Wed, Aug 28, 2019, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting

--Attn, Wesley Crusher!! Pretty young girl aboard! He develops a magnetic attraction.

--Literally the difference between Night and Day causes the war on the Salia planet, says Data.

--So these folks are changlings of a sort?

--Wesley is having an Amok Time. Worf suggests he goes to Salia's door to beg like a human. I love Worf.

--Riker talking about Night and Day to Guinan. Really cute scene.

--Talk of life, is a life worth living if you're trapped, with no options, with no freedom? More duty vs personal desire stuff, left over from the last ep. Salia's duty to her people, Wesley's duty to the ship.

--The need for a hospitable environment to support life.

--Kind of silly. Love story is central but not very compelling. Riker and Guinan were much hotter! Their scene is the best thing in this ep.

--I guess there's a message here about love as well as life, but it's not coming through the thick sap.

--There's some kind of light and darkness thing going on here, but who knows what it's about.

--Very so-so, disappointing after the last ep.
Thu, Nov 21, 2019, 9:07am (UTC -6)
I'm now adding "Riker and Guinan flirting" to the list of "things I could easily watch for an entire episode".

"The crew playing poker" is already on that list.
Wed, Sep 16, 2020, 2:20am (UTC -6)
It’s a bit funny watching this from a 21st century viewpoint - today’s teens have complete access to the Internet and only the most sheltered would be asking adults for flirting advice. Wes was never a fan fave and his character has aged more poorly than the rest, I think.
Chris L
Thu, Feb 4, 2021, 1:43pm (UTC -6)
Kinda sweet story. Wesley grates, but the episode is a good one for him and takes him at face value for what he is and explores that: a naive kid.

Guinan saying “Shut up, kid” is worth an extra half star alone.

My main criticism is this felt like this would have functioned as a solid Wesley B-plot for some other main plot, but instead it was an entire episode.

Sun, Feb 28, 2021, 5:08pm (UTC -6)
As far as Wesley stories go this was not enjoyable but at least somewhat tolerable.

It is, however, the sort of story that suffers heavily from the episodic formula.

If TNG was a serial with over-arching plotlines then we could better develop the relationship between Wesley and the chick without having to rush to them being overwhelmed with attraction for each other after a mere glance. After a few episodes of developing this sideplot it would make Wesley's distraction during the engineering testing less ridiculous. Them being in love despite having never held hands.

Also - did I miss it or did they never follow-up on Picard telling Wesley to stay away from her and then 15 minutes later getting chest touches in his quarters?
Frank Offenhaus
Tue, Mar 16, 2021, 5:23pm (UTC -6)
The first episode I uncritically liked Wesley Crusher. When Riker was wooing Guinan in a way that no woman in reality would possibly endure, he's like "nah I'm good". Well done Wes.
Frake's Nightmare
Wed, Apr 28, 2021, 4:02pm (UTC -6)
Got to love those hairy beast costumes.
Wesley's jumpers - still in the 'ensign' grey union suit. Maybe he'd have had more luck if he'd romanced her in one of his old knitwears?
Tue, Jul 6, 2021, 3:11am (UTC -6)
1.5 stars. Mainly for the scenes between Riker and Guinan in Ten-Forward play-acting seduction techniques, and between Wesley and Saliya in the holodeck.

Otherwise, I found it quite difficult to stay zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz. Oops, sorry.
Thu, Jul 15, 2021, 12:05am (UTC -6)
Wesley discovers girls isn't a terribly compelling story, but it's used fairly reasonably.

It seems like an overall decent premise but not really fleshed out. I thought the Anya/Worf scene in sickbay was really good, as well as their later scenes, particularly when they argued about Worf's responsibilities. That's a fairly beefy conversation forTrek, considering how TNG tends to gloss over the intricacies of such matters with arrogant declarations.

It's quite a striking sight to see Worf about to strike an old lady. Plus, Anya is quite right- Worf completely bought her old lady ruse and it could have very easily been a deadly mistake.

I liked the sickbay scene, in that Pulaski at first casually dismissed Anya's concerns about the disease and pointed out the risk wasn't literally mathematically zero.

I took Anya's flipping out in sickbay being due to her being actually old, and that the old lady appearance was a fairly accurate representation of her real age. Basically, she's old and a bit senile and simply had an improper reaction. After all, for maximum safety, they should never have left their quarters.
Thu, Mar 17, 2022, 1:58am (UTC -6)
Lol I love to hate this episode. The ridiculously outrageous things that anya morphs into are so stupid and funny looking that I don't see how anyone can take any of this episode seriously. I mean really...wth was anya doing when she was alone with the girl in their room and she's just running atound like a deranged ewok...wth rofl
Wed, Apr 13, 2022, 9:33am (UTC -6)
I've not read the review or comments and I'm less than five minutes into the episode (didn't even hit the opening credits yet) but here are my thoughts/predictions:

1. Whatever whoozit crystal whatsit that Geordie took out to service will become indispensable when it deprives the Enterprise from being able to go into warp when some inevitable massively urgent emergency comes up. It's simply incredible, in the truest sense of the word, that a vessel like the Enterprise has no redundancies and contingencies in place so that you can take out an obviously pretty minor component without turning the entire ship into a canoe.

2. The young chica they beamed on board... - I wonder who she's going to get to sleep with, or at least seduce, possibly by way of deep, meaningful, (faux-)romatic convos.
Mon, May 16, 2022, 10:53pm (UTC -6)
Omg- that Anya monster costume was straight out of the old Power Rangers show! What the heck?
Tue, Jun 14, 2022, 6:56am (UTC -6)
The costume was hilarious. I also love how the extras never react to anything in this show. Worf starts screaming like an animal on the bridge, none of the other officers even look up.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Tue, Jun 14, 2022, 12:48pm (UTC -6)
"Worf starts screaming like an animal on the bridge, none of the other officers even look up."

This is season 2 Worf, so I figure he must do that every 10 minutes. The poor junior officers are probably so traumatized by it that they just succumb to ennui and despair.
Mon, Aug 8, 2022, 3:45pm (UTC -6)
I think I need to start keeping a list of "It would have made things so much easier if you had just told the truth in the first place" episodes.

I am a Wesley hater, since day 1, but Wil Wheaton did a good job in this one. Lousy character, lousy script, but fine acting.

Normally, I assign Wesley episodes 1 star but the "ducks a lot" and "Shut up, kid" moments bring this up to 1.5.
Gilligan’s Starship
Fri, Mar 24, 2023, 10:40am (UTC -6)
I loved the movie “ Stand By Me” and thought Wheaton was great in it, but Roddenberry’s “boy genius” character never made any sense to me, and why did they insist on dressing Wesley so ridiculously? He’s one of the characters that never grew on me.

It’s funny, thinking back to when my brother & I eagerly watched the premiere of TNG, we originally disliked almost ALL the characters!
Picard — who’s this old bald Frenchman with the Brit accent?
Riker— oh, here’s the young Kirk clone!
Data — ok, a combo of Spock & Pinocchio
Geordi — wtf, they just used one of those hair combs as his visor!
Troi— wait, they need a therapist on the bridge?
Worf— a Klingon on the bridge, now that IS awesome!!

In the end, I ended up loving them all, but it was “ a long road, gettin’ from there to here”😉
Peter G.
Fri, Mar 24, 2023, 1:43pm (UTC -6)
@ Gilligan's Starship,

"I loved the movie “ Stand By Me” and thought Wheaton was great in it, but Roddenberry’s “boy genius” character never made any sense to me, and why did they insist on dressing Wesley so ridiculously?"

Here's the problem: Stand By Me was Stephen King, who is masterful at creating three dimensional characters. What's more, Rob Reiner has a knack of getting good performances out of actors, perhaps because he was one himself. Especially when dealing with young actors you need a strong director and a strong connection between the actor and the material. Wesley didn't really have a character that existed on paper, he was just a Gene Roddenberry stand-in; or rather what Gene imagined himself to be as a kid (smarter than everyone else, loveable, not taken seriously enough). So the idea of Wesley was at best one-dimensional in the first place. When an adult actor with great instincts takens on a role that's thin on paper, they'll use their own self or their creativity and turn it into something. But you really can't expect that from a child actor, so this is where the director comes in. With a guest director (and a guest writer!) each week, I really don't see how a teenaged actor could end up feeling connected to anything in an exciting way. Even the likes of Patrick Stewart failed to find his rhythm in season 1, and he had all the training in the world. Wheaton was never going to get the kind of boost he would have needed to be lifted beyond being a Gene insert fanfic character.
Tue, May 16, 2023, 6:19am (UTC -6)
No one mentioned Mädchen Amick?!? She played the throwaway younger Anya (which made no narrative sense whatsoever); turns out she was the second choice to play Salia. Her first ever TV role, as it turns out:
Mon, Aug 7, 2023, 12:00am (UTC -6)
I don’t hate Wesley nearly as much as most people seem to. Of all the characters, I disliked the cloying and moralizing Dr. Beverly the most, and I found every single attempt at forcing romantic tension between her and Picard to be ludicrous.

A couple good scenes in this episode. Riker is always portrayed as having a great sense of humor, but his response when Wesley asked who the girl was, “uh, I think she’s a governess…” was actually quite funny.

I enjoyed the scene at the end with Guinan, where Wesley says he’ll never feel this way again, and was startled when he didn’t receive the obvious cliche he expected. That was good writing. Guinan is one of my favorite characters.
Sun, Sep 17, 2023, 5:46am (UTC -6)
I'm becoming convinced that Patti Edwards, who played the allasomorph Protector on this episode, also did the voice of the impatient Jaradan on "The Big Goodbye". I can't find any evidence to support my theory, but the vocal similarity is striking.
Sun, Sep 17, 2023, 5:48am (UTC -6)
...and it wasn't "Patti" Edwards, but rather "Paddi" Edwards. My mistake.
Peter G.
Sun, Sep 17, 2023, 7:34am (UTC -6)
...and it wasn't Paddi "Edwards", but rather Paddi "Cake." Your mistake.

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