Star Trek: The Next Generation

“Cost of Living”

1 star.

Air date: 4/20/1992
Written by Peter Allan Fields
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review Text

Here's a great idea: Let's get two of arguably the most annoying recurring characters in the annals of TNG and pair them together for long stretches of time! And put them together in one of the corniest, worst-conceived holodeck programs ever depicted! While undermining any attempt to take seriously the fact that Worf is a single parent trying to raise a brat of a son! And tie it all together with a wedding premise that makes no sense whatsoever! And to throw a bone to the sci-fi fans who don't want to watch only lame characterization, let's have Yet Another Season Five Enterprise Jeopardy Premise!

"Cost of Living" is pretty much an obnoxious mess of an hour that fails as comedy, fails as drama, fails as technobabble disaster, and fails at making me want to see another story about Alexander (played by the generally grating child actor Brian Bonsall) ever again. The arrival of perennial motormouth Lwaxana Troi should've been a warning indicator. (The thing is, Lwaxana is not inherently awful as played by Majel Barrett; it's the writing that time and again seems to saddle her with these bad sitcom plots and obnoxious behavior.)

Let's start with the impending wedding: Why is Lwaxana agreeing to marry a guy (and vice versa), sight unseen, who clearly is not a match at all for her free-spirit personality? This is doomed to failure from the very first frame, and all I could do was wonder why either of these people were wasting their time. Then we have the pairing of Alexander and Lwaxana, the latter who takes on a sort of crazy-aunt role and undermines everything Deanna and Worf are trying to accomplish in teaching Alexander rules (which wasn't exactly a plot that was going swimmingly as it was). It's yet another example of how poorly this show depicts children as a part of the ship's daily reality. Meanwhile, the holodeck scenes are mostly unwatchable, and I couldn't help but wonder why Lwaxana seemed to think a striptease-like dancer qualified as appropriate "entertainment" for a child of Alexander's age.

There are plenty of weakly portrayed scenes here that make a mockery of Worf's attempts to raise a child, perhaps none more so than Alexander's need to have a "laughing hour" during dinner hour. Ugh.

The riveting sci-fi plot here is that the Enterprise has come down with a nasty case of space termites that are eating through the ship. This subplot is largely ignored until the last act or so, in which it becomes yet another race against the clock to find the technobabble solution while the computer ticks down the minutes and seconds until the contrived calamity will supposedly destroy the ship. Yawn.

Regrettably, I think there might be a subtext to Lwaxana's story here, who has dialogue about old age and loneliness that could be read as sadly poignant given the death of Barrett's real-life husband and Trek creator, Gene Roddenberry, only a few months prior to the episode being made. But given the end result, I hate to think that "Cost of Living" was in any way intended as a memory to the man.

Previous episode: The First Duty
Next episode: The Perfect Mate

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117 comments on this post

    Whenever my DVR grabs this one, I fast forward to the wedding scene, and that's all I watch of this one. It's a least a good laugh.

    But seriously--WHAT was that holodeck program? That was fun?

    I myself watch this one for the old-age allegory. Forget the subtext about Gene, it's genuinely moving and well played by Barret. The Alexander/Worf stuff is as cheesy and stupid as it was earlier this season in "New Ground."

    I have to disagree about Lwaxana being "annoying." I always enjoy her presence, though often the stories around her are a yawn or wince.

    1.5 stars

    If you want to see Majel Barrett excel in a serious Sci-Fi TV role, you have to see her in Babylon 5's 3rd season epidode 'Point of No Return' as Lady Morela. The episode currently is rated 9.5/10 in (too bad you have to see the whole B5 arc that led to that episode to truly appreciate her relevations...)

    I've heard it suggested somewhere that Majel played Lwaxana as a version of herself. (Think of the DS9 episode where she tells Odo that nobody has seen her real hair.) I have also heard that she was a wonderful and caring person - Wil Wheaton mentions this, for example. So I do wonder about the expression of loneliness. I also read that Majel had partial native american roots, and my native american friend has some of the same attitudes as Lwaxana, which if you don't understand the context do make her annoying in ways that aren't easy to fathom (though, yeah, L is annoying in other ways too). A complex puzzle.

    Having followed your site for more than 14 years, the reviews are always well worth waiting for and reading, regardless of some less charitable commentators. This episode was one of the most startlingly misconceived I have ever seen. The holodeck scenes have dated exceptionally badly and Messrs Dorn,Burton and even Stewart look simply bored. Unarguably Peter Allan Fields least impressive hour. From a writer who either scripted or wrote the teleplays for 'the Inner Light' and the DS9 episodes 'Duet' and 'In the Pale Moonlight' it is beyond my comprehension what he was thinking here. Would probably have gone for 0.5 stars. A strong contender, even taking into account the First Season, for the weakest episode ever bar 'Shades of Grey'.

    The only Luxwanna Troi I can stand is her first appearance in DS9. She was very good in that. Her writing was much better, and when she took off her wig to show her 'real' self, she showed she could act as more than one character.

    This episode though? Bloody awful.

    And was anyone seriously disturbed by the final scenes where 1) Luxhwana shows up naked at her wedding with children in attendance? and 2) the final group mud bath scene? Ich!

    @pviateur: Well, if homosexuality is something you find intrusive upon "family programming" I suppose I shouldn't be surprised you are equally disturbed by something as innocuous as nudity.

    Then again, your nitpicking at equally innocuous plot holes should tell me all I need to know about your level of appreciation for art.

    And why would a betazoid woman like Lwaxanna think it at all odd to show up nude for her wedding in front of children? That's the custom, in fact, everyone at the wedding would have been nude. In a society that finds that normal, there is no problem because no one is there to oogle and no one believes that the nude body is an object of sin.

    Lwaxana Troi's appearances on TNG and DS9 were good ones exactly twice -- "Half a Life" and "The Forsaken". Majel Barrett was a terrific actress; like you said, Jammer, it's what she's given that matters here.

    "Cost of Living" is easily one of the elder Troi's absolute worst appearances.

    Am I the only one who found something Freudian in Lwaxana's tea coming out full of sausages?

    In the closing mud scene, why was WOrk neck depe in the mud when the others were about chest;d think Worf was the shortest of them...either that or he;s at the deep end of the mudpit.

    Also, what was with Troi's Cher-like coiffure in that scene?

    One of three episodes I watched at double speed rather than my normal 1.4x (the others were Shades of Gray and Sub Rosa).

    Were you really disturbed by that priv? That's a bit of a puritan attitude, there's nothing inherently wrong with nudity. She came as she was, and if the episode had any theme it was be who you are.

    I agree with the general consensus here that this episode is exceptionally weak. I also liked the comments about Lwaxana's expression of loneliness - I felt that, if you took them in a bubble, it was a great moment of dialogue, truly heartfelt. But the context in which the lines were spoken was a complete waste. The episode was over for me the moment we met her entirely implausible groom-to-be.

    Best way to view these episodes is on the PC where one can readily skip the painful scenes. Children and silly-females have no place on Star Trek. Not much to redeem but the would-be husband and his advisor's formal stances acted as some counterpoint. Of course we had the parallel plot of the infection as some modicum of distraction.

    All would have been forgiven if the final wedding scene had been full-frontal.

    I'm no fan of Lwaxanna or Alexander (or this episode) but I have to say that the way she 'gets him' and can connect with him makes some sense.

    And provides further evidence of Deanna's overall crappiness as a counsellor, and therfore uselessness as a character. Surely she must see that the fundamental issue between Worf and Alexander is that they are not connecting and that the child needs some fun in his life in addition to rules and responsibilities.

    Great points, John. This could have been an easy, even poignant Deanna-Worf character story--hopefully just a b-story--about differing methods of "reaching" Alexander. That would have even given much more believeable fodder for their (ridiculous) Season 7 romance. Bringing Lwaxana to the Worf-Troi-Alexander storyline was a disaster. No more than one half-star for Majel Barrett at least giving this material her best effort.

    Well, a veeeery bad one indeed. However, I do have to admit that during the 'loneliness' speech, watching Majel's eyes made it hit home. I was moved as I wondered if she thought of her husband while acting the scene. It's hard not to think of the elderly in your lives, say grandparents or parents for that matter, as that scene played.

    But I agree with the rest here otherwise.

    I don't mind this episode that much... I think Alexander was as he should have been and Worf as well... I also think that the Lwaxana theme was a reasonable issue for her character to go through.

    Maybe she is the "crazy aunt" of Star Trek but all families do have 'em, and it makes the show a bit less dry than it could be. It doesn't hurt to have a few cringes every now and again, we can't all be model starfleet officers and we shouldn't take ourselves so seriously either. It's good to shake up the dynamic a bit too...

    Plus I think the "fun" shown on the holodeck was as "fun" as "fun" could ever be as conceived by TNG.

    This one begs to be buried in a landfill in the Mexican desert, with the Atari ET games. Move along folks, nothing to see here.

    After the one-two punch of "Cause and Effect" and "The First Duty" which redeems the season which had been floundering in its first half ("Darmok" and a few other strong shows aside) comes the season's most difficult-to-watch episode. The good news is that Lwaxana's story, shorn of its excesses, is actually touching -- while her scene, talking to Alexander about growing old and being forced to compromise, is a tiny bit forced in comparison to other scenes in the episode, it still pinpoints an emotion recognizable both to aging at large and to Lwaxana's character in particular. Her obsession with finding a husband -- Picard, Riker, Timicin -- has led her to the stage where anyone who consents to be with her, and to escape from a doomed marriage Lwaxana does have to face her fear of being alone, and acknowledge that loneliness is bearable if she does not compromise the core of who she is. The idea that Majel Barrett is devastated by the loss of Gene, and the emphasis on the disconnect between parents and children, suggest the extent to which the elderly struggle somewhat alone with this, though eventually the gap can be bridged. Certainly the idea of having Lwaxana bond with Alexander over being the only people in the show's main recurring cast of quite their generation was a bad one in terms of entertainment value, but it does make some sense that both are reeling from a permanent loss (Alexander's mother, Lwaxana's husband and, perhaps, even Timicin, maybe the last real shot at love she had) and are unable to communicate even with the parent/child (Worf, Deanna) who experience that loss with them, because of a generation divide. And so the bare-bare-bare-bones idea of the episode does have some value.

    The trouble is, alas, besides that one scene -- of Lwaxana telling Alexander of her loneliness -- nothing in this episode plays as even tolerable, let alone genuine or insightful. Worf and Deanna are flattened to one-dimension, and Alexander is...well, Alexander is very rarely more than one-dimensional, and certainly is not so here. Lwaxana perhaps manages to be at least a two-dimensional cartoon here, though it feels as if her personality alters significantly scene-to-scene. Worst of all is Lwaxana's groom-to-be, written as such an excess of stodginess that it's impossible to imagine why he would even consider marrying Lwaxana; at least Lwaxana's desperate loneliness is clearly established. The holodeck program is cheesy, and only a few moments are anything but grating (I do like Worf popping that floating head).

    Oh yeah apparently there's a sci-fi jeopardy plot in this episode. I am pretty sure it didn't make sense, though I couldn't even quite pay attention. (I love how everyone on the whole ship falls unconscious and that this has zero impact on the Lwaxana plot.) 1 star.

    I though that watching the scene with Lwaxana and Alexander in the absurd land was the most embarrassed-for-all-concerned episode Star Trek could ever fathom and could never possibly top.

    And then Voyager introduced Flotter.

    "There's nothing wrong with nudity"

    Really, people, really? Fine. Go out in the street with no clothes on. Pfft.

    There's a time and a place to be naked. It's not with children, and it's not in public. Outside of a nudist colony, I suppose.

    The episode? One of the worst ever. Top ten.

    @Nissa, but didn't you get the meaning of that scene??

    I often seem to disagree with the rest of you all - heck, I even like Nemesis,lol. This wasn't brilliant, but - worst ever? No way. I can easily think of about a dozen worse episodes in TOS and TNG. I this episode actually redeemed Lwaxana Troi for me. She and Alexander are not characters I'm too fond of, but I think they worked well together here.

    I think the metal parasite scheme was very lame. But I liked everything else. This is one of the best mrs. Troi episodes and I found the interactions between word and Alexander very realistic? Deanna is providing the good, solid advice but children like people who are a bit kooky. I wish we had that holodeck program available here. There is a huge lack of laughter and whimsy in our culture right now...far greater since 9//11. Which is why the most reliable news program on cable is on Comedy Central . When a culture marginalized those who are a bit different, it loses its heart. Via mud baths!

    Oh...and there was nothing at all risqué about the nudity. I think it is possible that we would have dropped a lot of nonsense about body shame by the 24th century. The only persons who looked at Mrs. Troi in askance were elderly males. Everyone else was fine with it. Children like running around without their clothes on. It is an appropriate and no sexual display of nudity.

    Alright so this isn't a very good episode. But I kinda like some parts of it. I kind of enjoy the strangeness of the holodeck program for one thing, floating heads in bubbles and jugglers.

    Just saw this episode a couple of days ago. Not sure what lesson was being promoted. "The idea of thinking about what you are doing is an unenlightened notion"? "Adults are silly unless they act like children"? "We are supposed to embrace our cultural differences-unless of course our culture is to overplan, then run like heck!"?

    Just a horrible, preachy, poorly grounded episode.

    It's funny, during the earlier part of the episode, I wondered, "Is this the one with that weird holodeck program with the face-bubble and the mudbaths? No, that must have been from a season or two back." Nope, this was the one, it turns out.

    Not that I hate that scene. I loved that part as a kid, and i still do - it's nostalgic for me. I was Alexander's age (or less) when I first watched that episode, and the holodeck program was always somewhat confusing/creepy (with the face-bubble head esp.) but also enjoyable and fascinating, from the juggler to the pontificator (and I always forget about the fire-shaper, who is just kind of boring). I never noticed the 'lewdness' of the sexy alien dancer as a kid, and every time I see the latter part of that scene, I always look forward to Worf punching out the face-bubble head. :p

    All that said, yeah, it's not a very good episode at all - 1.5 stars, maybe. And the only good things about Minister Campio as a potential husband for Lwaxana is that it gave Tony Jay a way onto the show (YAY!), and we get to see his shocked, speechless face as Lwaxana strolls naked into the wedding party. :D Also, there's more Mr. Homm and his silent smirking, which I enjoy.

    The alien parasite of the week, while fun, was just there for filler - it didn't jive AT ALL with the Lwaxana/Campio/Troi/Worf thing. And of course, right after they solve the mystery and get the parasite off the ship, everything instantly returns to normal, and the wedding plans were in no way affected. Yah-huh.

    I forgot to say that the reason I thought the "free-spirited" holodeck program must have been from an earlier season was because it felt a bit cheaply produced, and the whole concept seemed so first- or second-season. But no, this is Season 5. And right after "The First Duty" too, jeez. LOL.

    I also forgot to add that I was more sympathetic to Alexander this episode. Except when he's having his laughing hour and being an annoying little shit to Worf.

    An episode so bad even my 11 year old didn't like it. I can't think of a worse episode in all Trekdom. This should have probably gotten a 'Jammer Zero Stars-(tm)' in my opinion but 1 star isn't too far off.

    12 year old me hated this episode. I'm going to have to rewatch it (just to be a completist, I guess).

    Anyways, people keep talking about how inappropriate it is for Lwaxana to be naked around Alexander.

    She's Betazoid. Their culture obviously doesn't have the same concerns over nudity. (Maybe being telepathic makes embarrassment over nudity unnecessary?) Think about it: it's so not a big deal, it's a compulsory part of their wedding ceremonies.

    At least we get to see Tony Jay (Lwaxana's groom) and hear his incredible voice!

    I'm going to go against the tide here and say I rather enjoyed this episode. True, it's not a 4 or even 3 star effort, but I'd give it solid 2 or 2.5. But then I took it as a comedic episode. Taken seriously, it doesn't really work.

    Starting with the opening scene, in which the asteroid they are trying to prevent from destroying a planet has a "nitrium and chondrite" core. What is up with all these new elements that are supposedly going to be discovered in the next couple of centuries? I'd love to have a look at a TNG-era periodic table! Seriously, I realize that later in the episode, nitrium is explained as a complex molecule, which the metal parasite is breaking down into simpler components that resemble clean motor oil or honey. But then it would be normal for them to have described the asteroid by it's basic elemental composition -- iron and nickel, would be my guess if it's non-rocky and not mostly ice.

    Most of the episode was good for laugh lines. There's Lwaxana's e-Harmony groom, whom she's never met before. I can actually see why some dating software algorithm may have mistakenly paired them. Both the groom and Lxana make a very big deal about appearances, social class trappings or other such silly formalities. (Think "holder of the sacred chalice of Rixx," for example.) But Lxaxana's free-spirited personality is obviously at odds with the groom's very hidebound nature. I laughed out loud when Picard said he'd love to "give that woman away," and when Alexander threw that silly "the higher the fewer" proclamation in Worf's non-comprehending face, and when Worf asked if "you're just supposed to sit here," in a mud bath.

    I realize that Majel Barret is playing quite an annoying character. But she does a marvelous job of it and it's not her fault the character is written mostly to be annoying. I also admit to looking up her age when the episode was filmed (60) and I must say she was a knockout. Hollywood (and TV land) seems to have decided somewhere along the line that any female actress over 35 cannot possibly be considered sexy and should only be cast in grandmotherly roles, if they are to be seen at all. What BS!

    As for the comment that nudity was inappropriate in front of a child, I completely disagree. It's all about the context. We know from previous episodes that, at a Betazoid wedding, it's customary for all of the wedding party to be in the nude. It's not sexy under the circumstances. In this instance it was also entirely appropriate, because it underscored the point that the marriage can't work if the groom can't even accept the bride as she truly is -- literally with nothing hidden or held back.

    Deanna's reaction to the news that her mother is on board mirrors mine. This is a pretty dreadful episode. I did like Worf swatting the balloon head and the juggler eating his worlds. The actors actually do a pretty good job with poor material.

    When I first started watching this episode I was surprised by how well Lwaxana and Alexander worked together, though confused by why on earth an episode would focus on that pairing. Then they arrived at the holodeck Land of Oz...

    I stand by my fondness for Lwaxana, though, despite the fact that many of her plotlines (including in this episode) are horrendous. Her mannerisms remind me of women I know in real life, believe it or not, and I just love the way Picard and Deanna act when she's around. (Those are among the few occasions I find Deanna tolerable.)

    Wow. I did not expect such a negative reaction to "Cost of Living." I guess that means it's three episodes in a row now that I have to massively disagree with the majority; because, I kind of liked this one.

    The main reason why is because they finally - finally! - managed to do the near-impossible. They managed to make Lwaxana an actually tolerable character! Is she still rather two-dimensional? Well, yes, she is that. But I don't care. She is actually kind of appealing this time. This is what she should have been right from the get-go - a free-spirit who comes in, throws a monkey wrench into the system and introduces a little bit of well-intentioned chaos into the daily life of the Enterprise. Up until now, she's been portrayed as someone who is so unbelievably blind to the disruption she causes and someone who thinks she's better than everyone else - in a word, insufferable. Here, she knows full-well that she's causing disruptions but 1.) knows when to rein in her personality and 2.) only causes her problems for reasons I can agree with - namely, Worf and Troi needed to lighten the fuck up!

    I have to disagree with Jammer again about Lwaxana's plot undermining Worf's attempts at parenting and Troi's attempts at counseling. The writers don't undermine Worf and Troi through Lwaxana; they undermine Worf and Troi through Worf and Troi. What is Worf's parenting style as presented here? It's "shut up and obey me." UGH! You're not exactly making him look like a good parent who is only undermined by Lwaxana here, writers. And what is Troi's counseling advice? It's "draw up a contract up responsibilities and rewards." Again, UGH! If this is what her counseling usually consists of, it's no wonder she has such a bad reputation among fans. She seems to simply take Worf's side completely in this issue. Alexander (who I should say I don't find anywhere near as grating as apparently a lot of people do) has legitimate grievances against his father. Worf really needs to lighten up! Thank God Lwaxana came into the picture and introduced a little of that chaos into that relationship; because if it had continued the way it was going, I could see Alexander finally snapping and going on a murder spree through the ship.

    But what mostly works with Lwaxana this time around is that I find her not only non-annoying but also rather relatable. I'm nowhere near as old as Majel Barrett was when she appeared in "Cost of Living," but the whole concept of loneliness and the fear of dealing with it forever is something that really speaks to me. I've dealt with similar problems with loneliness for most of life. So, maybe the episode speaks to me on a somewhat different level/layer than others. The fact that she is dealing with all the things she's dealing with - the death of her husband, a daughter who doesn't really respect her (in most cases deservedly, granted, but still...) and lately the death of Timicin - make it conceivable, for me at least, that she would jump into a marriage with a man she's never even met and who doesn't really suit her. As an aside, I'm giving this episode a +1 bonus to my score for having Tony Jay play Lwaxana's husband to be. He's one of those rare actors who is so good that he elevates anything he is in. And his voice - God I LOVE that man's voice!

    And, I'll say it, there is some good humor here - Worf popping the bubble, Picard loving the idea of "giving away" Lwaxana and Lwaxana walking into her wedding bare ass naked just so she could spit in the groom and his lackey's faces. Though, I will say that it's kind of odd that the writers decided to have Alexander at the wedding to see Lwaxana in all her glory. The context of the scene, however, negates that, at least for me. And, another aside, not only is Lwaxana's personality different this time, but so is her appearance. Damn! Majel Barrett was pretty damn-good looking for a woman in her 60s!

    But, of course, there is the B-plot. I'll gladly agree with everyone here who is criticizing this element of the episode. Talk about completely unnecessary and non-dramatic. A lot of people (myself included) criticized the tech-heavy B-plot in "New Ground" and the ridiculous way in intersected with the A-plot in the end. Well, the use of the B-plot in "New Ground" is a work of genius compared to this one! The only time it even enters the A-plot is when Lwaxana happens to notice the holodeck malfunctioning. That's it! I'm not saying that A and B-plots always have to run together. One of my favorite episodes from DS9 has two plotlines that never connect with each other in any way, shape or form. The difference is that "Treachery, Faith and the Great River" had two plots that were both meaty, entertaining and ultimately had a lot to say. What can really be said about the B-plot here except... Complete! Waste! Of! Time!


    The mud bath scene is so creepered out. From fat hairy pervs to androgeneous nakedness, we are treated to future enlightenment here?

    The gratuitous nakedness ending the potential marriage was a waste of resources from beginning to end.

    For all the preachiness of Trek that we have to stomach, if this is how California ideals are supposed to usher in a new era of openness, well, no thanks. I hope Bonsall bleached his eyes and has been reimbursed for the needed counselling.

    Complete trash. -1 stars for making me abhor a potential future timeline.

    You can see the pitch now - "Lwaxana teaches Alexander something about life... and in return, learns a life lesson herself". And to be fair Lwaxana and Alexander do make a connection, and of course there's the one glorious scene as Lwaxana tells Alexander of her loneliness. But it's mostly just irritating.

    The B-story is clearly tacked on as the A-story cannot hold the weight of a full episode, and is merely OK. Beautiful FX shot though at the start. 2 stars.

    I like the Alexander character and the actor who plays him. Strikes me as a typical rebellious kid (still working through the loss of his mother) moving into adolescence with the Klingon overlay of strong emotion.

    Am I the only one who had an almost irresistible urge to sing "Do your ears hang low" when I saw Lxwanna's intended?

    Jammer, I have enjoyed your reviews for years, and tend to re-read them if I happen to watch the episode at issue. I have not commented before, but weirdly, I feel the need to for this one even though, I agree, it is not exactly TNG's shining moment.

    However, it does contain one of my favorite ever TNG lines/moments. Lwaxana is telling Deanna about her ill-thought-out plans to marry an internet date she has never met. Deanna is basically rolling her eyes. Then, Lwaxana mentions a wedding gown, and Deanna perks up and says, completely scandalized, "You're not going to be naked at your own wedding ??!!" Deanna's horror at that notion delights me, because it really embraces the world-building they've done to this point.

    I mean, one of the first things we learn about Betazoids is that their wedding ceremony requires everyone to be naked -- it's apparently a very central cultural tenet. And of course, as some of the comments here make clear, it's something so counter to our own culture that some people have difficulty accepting it even in the concept of a fantasy show about a made-up culture.

    As a continuation, I also kinda love the final scene, where Lwaxana cheerily appears at her wedding naked, as a true Betazoid bride, and Deanna looks pleased to bits. Notably, everyone else except the hapless groom and his henchman kind of rolls their eyes, like "Betazoids are so goofy."

    I agree, though, that the rest of the episode is feeble. But I'd give it an extra half-star just for Deanna's line.

    Maybe it's because I'm the parent of a small child and could relate to the Worf and Alexander dinner scene but (forgive me) I actually found myself liking this episode as it progressed. And that was after I'd told myself I never like Lwaxana Troi episodes and maybe I should just skip over Cost of Living in my retrospective.

    Pretty sure this is the second time she's won my grudging appreciation. Couldn't stand her through most of Half a Life either until suddenly I found myself agreeing. Damn. Damn. Damn.

    I didnt think this episode was unbearable. Not great, but not unbearable.

    There was really no need for the "space glitter destroying ths ship" subplot. It added nothing and the ship never felt in real danger.

    The crazy holodeck program Lwaxana and Alexander were using reminded me of something from Alice in Wonderland, so I could see why they'd like it.

    Their friendship was a little weird but necessary. Lwaxana is widowed and her daughter can't stand her, and Alexander went from having a doting, caring mother to watching her die in front of him and being sent to live with grandparents that were strangers but probably loving to being sent to live with a completely unaffectionate father. I can only guess how messed up this kid'll be, so seeing somebody treating him like a kid and giving him some affection is nice. It kind of highlights Troi's incompetence as a counselor (and Worf's bad parenting skills) that Mama Troi is doing a better job than they are.

    Lwaxana needing to settle for a subpar husband seems odd. Is her age really that much of a factor in her not finding a man? Picard looks and acts much older than her and he gets love interests. Betazoids arent a male-dominated species so they probably wouldn't be put off by her being the one on the prowl or her age (especially if their women get more sexually active at that age, you'd think they'd even be sought after in some circles). She's actually pretty hot for a woman that age. She's some sort of royalty and an ambassador. Surely someone would want her? I can only come to the conclusion that she's either horrible at searching or her personality puts them off. It's a tired joke and it makes me feel sorry for her, how long until they throw her a bone and hitch her up with somebody?

    The casual nudity did seem a bit odd, but it's Betazoid culture and it wasn't meant to be perverse but humorous. It's probably a puritanical thing that we're so afraid of nudity (that and popular entertainment has conditioned us to always associate it with sex). To us stripping down to nothing to sit in a pool of mud with someone we just met and a bunch of holo-strangers seems weird but in Japan sitting naked in a hot spring with your family and a bunch of strangers is the norm and siblings will bath together even into the teenaged years, so it's really all a matter of perspective.

    I forgot to mention- anyone else notice how excited Beverly got when Lwuxana showed up nude? She almost seemed to be ogling her.

    I hate every second of this episode. Simply one of the worst in Star Trek history, if not THE worst. Majel's scenery-chewing is even more rampant than usual, although in fairness no actor could have made the holodeck scene bearable.

    Positives of this Episode:
    Worf: You're just supposed to sit here?...

    Worf popping the bubble head

    The touching scene when Lwaxana speaks about aging and loneliness and compromising.

    Nothing else.

    Negative of this episode:
    Everything else.
    The holodeck scenes--insufferable and embarrassingly bad

    This one falls between Code of Honor and Shades of Gray--and yes, i'd sooner watch the latter than watch this one again

    I guess I'm the only one who likes, no, loves this episode. And that's fine, because judging by the comments here, you people take TNG way too seriously. I also loved The Perfect Mate and The Inner
    Light. And of course, The Best of Both Worlds. The worst episodes are the Picard private investigator holodeck episodes. . :D

    I have to agree with you Elle.

    This is one of those whimsical fluff episodes that makes TNG so charming. Sometimes, especially after serious episodes dealing with big morality issues or interstellar conflicts, its enjoyable to just to chill out and vicariously lounge around with the characters on the ship. I really can't stand shows that treat everything as if its set to a spinal tap 11 in seriousness--overtime it becomes a joyless and emotionally exhausting exercise. Episodes like this interspersed among the rest actually help TNG.

    2 stars.

    The nitrium parasite B-story? Total bullsh*t. Especially considering that the stuffed shirt minister and his stooge never mentioned the inconvenience of almost being suffocating once after the emergency was over.

    The rest? Not bad. Lwaxana was originally conceived as the "Auntie Mame" of the galaxy and they sure went for it here. Her relationship with Patrick...I mean Alexander, was actually kind of sweet. I mean poor little Alex is still damaged from the death of his mother and THEN having to live with a hyper-critical father who does nothing but holler at him. Let him have some fun with the flamboyant crazy lady.

    And there's Lwaxana, feeling her age (and why did they put her in that white wig, please tell me?) and left with an empty mansion and no one to take care of. I liked the partners in crime vibe they developed.

    And who was smoking what when they conceived of that colony of free-thinkers? "The higher, the fewer?" Someone was way high writing this, lol!

    @Elliott-I actually agree with Pviateur: the nudity was completely inappropriate

    The only good thing I take from this episode is that even before the internet came out, it shows the folly of online dating. Luxana and her beau were COMPLETELY incompatible!

    @Jay-the real reason why Worf is neck deep is because it was probably a lot cheaper than doing makeup for his Klingon bone structure on his chest (I assume Alexander doesn't have it because he is still a child)

    "The only good thing I take from this episode is that even before the internet came out, it shows the folly of online dating. Luxana and her beau were COMPLETELY incompatible!"

    Call me old fashioned, but I'm pretty sure the commentary is on the follow of arranged marriages not based on love. I mean, even in online dating, no one decides to marry eachother online before they actually meet. They, you know, go on dates.

    Yeah, I see no resemblance here to online dating. If anything it's a statement about the folly of marrying for money or status.

    @ Chrome & Peter:

    I guess we took different things from this show. I believe in marrying people who are fellow Christians only. This is one reason we do not date online. Also, compatibility is a complete factor-marrying for money or status is totally wrong as well, so I so agree with your point too

    @ Sean Hagins,

    "I believe in marrying people who are fellow Christians only. This is one reason we do not date online."

    You can speak for yourself, but not for others. I say this because I literally know Christians who do date online, and in fact married from meeting as a result of that. There are Christian dating sites, FYI, and although I wouldn't make the claim that this is *the* ideal way to meet people, it is a way. I suppose you don't live in a big city with many millions of people in it? I've spoken to Christians who do who say that it's essentially impossible to meet Christian singles in the daily course of their regular life, and that unless online dating produced some results they'd probably have to be resigned to being single for the rest of their lives.

    I'll grant it's not absolutely impossible that the writers were somehow thinking of online dating, but I doubt it. When assessing authorial intent the task is to use the text given and the tone to determine what the author was trying to get across. Sometimes we can even glean what they wanted to say and failed to say, but in the case of Cost of Living I think they achieved their purpose. The episode isn't about blind dating, it's about blind marriage, so shoehorning in online dating as a meta-narrative seems like a bad fit.

    @Sean & Peter

    Putting aside the subject matter of this episode for a moment, consider that this episode was written in 1992. The internet was barely a loose collection of newsgroups and online dating sites were non-existant. That said, I think it’s great this poor episode can be applied generally to the concept of rushing into marriage without really knowing someone (an idea as at least as old as Shakespeare).


    My apologies. Rereading this, I realise how confusing I sounded. I am a Jehovah's Witness. By "we", I meant Jehovah's Witnesses. I actually do not think the writers were thinking about online dating, but this also applies to "blind dates" which we (again, we as Jehovah's Witnesses) do not do. I think this is what the writers had in mind. But in this age of internet, online dating is common. We have a very good system of dating and courtship. Our very low divorce rate I think is a good indication of this. But I am not saying this to pat a human on the back. We use the bible's principals in how we date, court and behave as married couples. So, I should say our system of dating is scriptural, which makes it very good as we get God's view of how we behave

    @ Sean Hagins,

    "So, I should say our system of dating is scriptural, which makes it very good as we get God's view of how we behave"

    Out of curiosity, where in scripture does it specify how to date?


    Well, the age one is old enough to date is found at 1 Cor 7:36: " But if anyone thinks he is behaving improperly by remaining unmarried,* and if he is past the bloom of youth, then this is what should take place: Let him do what he wants; he does not sin. Let them marry" So, Dating is only for those old enough for marriage. Such ones are “past the bloom of youth,” or have passed the peak surge of sexual desire.

    1 Cor 7:39: "A wife is bound as long as her husband is alive. But if her husband should fall asleep in death, she is free to be married to whomever she wants, only in the Lord" So, we only marry fellow Witnesses. Jehovah’s Witnesses view this command as referring not merely to a person who respects our beliefs but to one who shares and practices those beliefs as a baptized Witness. (2 Corinthians 6:14) God has always directed his worshippers to marry only those of the same faith. (Genesis 24:3; Malachi 2:11) This command is also practical, as modern researchers have found.

    Many practices commonly associated with dating are actually serious sins. For example, the Bible commands us to avoid sexual immorality. This includes not only intercourse but also other unclean acts between unmarried people, such as fondling the genitals of another person or engaging in oral or anal sex. (1 Corinthians 6:9-11) Even premarital passion-arousing behavior that stops short of sexual immorality is “uncleanness” that displeases God. (Galatians 5:19-21) Immoral conversations consisting of “obscene talk” are also condemned in the Bible.—Colossians 3:8.

    The heart, or inner person, is treacherous. (Jeremiah 17:9) It can lead a person to do things that he knows are wrong. To prevent their hearts from misleading them, couples who are dating can avoid being alone in tempting situations. They may choose to take such reasonable precautions as staying in the company of a wholesome group or a suitable chaperone. (Proverbs 28:26) Single Christians who are looking for a marriage mate recognize the risks of online dating sites, especially the risk of developing a relationship with a person whom one knows very little about.—Psalm 26:4.

    I hope this clears things up, but please feel free to ask me any questions you wish

    I liked this episode. Luxwana Troi episodes get a lot of hate but imo only half of them deserve the hate and this isn’t one. Compare this episode to the upcoming imaginary friend episode that is rated a half star higher. Not sure how anyone could say they prefer the imaginary friend episode.

    -Episode starts
    Me: Oh god, an Alexander episode. How could this get any worse?
    "Counsellor Troi, your mother is on board."
    Me: Must... resist... urge... to... skip...

    In the episode Haven, it was established that many Betazoids have arranged marriages.

    Really stupid episode with just a couple of worthwhile moments. An episode is never going to be a winner with Lwaxana and Worf's son being the main characters -- maybe they should have thrown in a Ferengi too... Just a very poor idea for an episode -- largely intended as a comedy with some bullshit ship threat tossed in.

    It really makes no sense for Lwaxana, an older woman desperate for love, to pay any attention to Alexander. And the holodeck program was idiotic -- what is TNG thinking having Lwaxana corrupting Alexander with adult entertainment while sitting in a mudbath?? I simply can't buy into the bond between these 2.

    The 2 acceptable scenes were when we get an insight into Lwaxana being old, lonely -- this is well-acted by Majel Barrett. But why would she not confide this to Deanna? Is telling this to Alexander basically like getting it off her chest to somebody without anybody really knowing/understanding (since he's a kid)? Barrett is a good actress -- she was on TOS as well -- but the Lwaxana character is ridiculous and unfortunately, too shallow - a shame.

    As for Lwaxana's wedding -- so predictable that it would fall apart and that she'd show up naked. I will say the scene where her husband wants to negotiate and then Alexander/Worf/Deanna all get there was somewhat amusing. Everything is moving in a different direction, Lwaxana's trying to be polite, Worf (or "Woof" as Lwaxana would say) wants to get Alexander to eat, but the kid wants to do his annoying laughing our... a mildly entertaining scene of comedic chaos.

    As for the technobabble problem with the metal parasites -- your typical half-assed B-plot. TNG has way too many of these -- could have had more comedic effect if it actually interfered with the A-plot (other than Lwaxana having sausages in her tea and then drinking it).

    1 star for "Cost of Living" -- much of the episode's premise makes zero sense, the holodeck scenes with Lwaxana/Alexander were truly pitiful and the alien parasite threat to the ship did nothing for the episode as, predictably, Data solved the problem in the nick of time. One gripe I have is that at warp 9 it was going to take like 5 hours to get to the asteroid field but the ship could only get to like warp 6 -- but with some handwaving, it all worked out. Pretty much nearly the worst of TNG here.

    So, after reading several comments pertaining to Lwaxana being nude at the end in front of Alexander, I would imagine the reason it upset people isnt really the fact that "Lwaxana" is nude in view of, and winking at "Alexander", but that the actress "Majel Barrett" was nude in view of, and winking at "Brian Bonsall" the child actor.
    That is what I think the issue is.

    “I would imagine the reason it upset people isnt really the fact that "Lwaxana" is nude in view of, and winking at "Alexander", but that the actress "Majel Barrett" was nude in view of, and winking at "Brian Bonsall" the child actor.“

    Dude, come on, this is daytime television. She’s obviously wearing a strapless top in accordance with Screen Actors’ Guild rules.

    Even if she were nude, so what? Has any child anywhere in the history of the world suffered harm as a result of seeing a naked woman in a completely non-sexual context? I ask this question in all earnestness, because it seems to me that even in the pearl-clutching days of the 1980s, this can't have been that big a deal to anyone who has ... *lived*, you know, on the planet, with other humans.

    I concurr with the negative opinions of this episode.

    There was nothing original in this yawn fest with the exception of Majel Barrett's rather poignant confession of isolation.

    If there ever was a recreational planet as depicted on the holodeck I think I would give the coordinates to the Crystalline Entity.


    I like Alexander/Worf interactions. I don't mind Lwaxana. This one shows her still struggling with loneliness despite her outgoing and funloving personality and joie de vivre.

    The b plot metal eating aliens were meh.


    What the heck do you mean Laxwanna wouldn't have any interest in Alexander? She's like every aunt/grandmother I've ever met, of course she'd take interest in a child, she cares very much for her own, of course she'd care for Alexander.

    In fact, what is this hatred of Alexander? I thought his episodes were fine, not super fun, but decent, what's wrong with him? Hell, what's from with Laxwanna, she's fine, her episodes tend to be lackluster, but I think her character is strangely realistic, albeit eccentric. I have a grandmother who is EXACTLY like that, and sometimes just as eccentric, maybe that's why I like her so much.

    I personally loved Alexander's and Lawxanna's interactions, really heartwarming.

    I did genuinely enjoy this one, at least a little. The "free spirit" world to which Lwaxana takes Alexander does appeal to my inner kid.

    Weird marriage of A and B plots, though. I love how everyone's on the verge of dying aboard the ship and Lwaxana/Alexander/royal fiancé family get conveniently forgotten about until that's all cleaned up.

    Everything in me dictates that I should loathe this episode but I have to say the opposite is true.

    I couldn't help but she'd a year during Lwaxana Troi's monologue about age and compromise in matters of love. A, dare I say it, masterful performance. You can see her channeling her feelings of loss towards Gene Rodenberry.

    The episode is not without its faults for sure, but as far as managing to pull heartstrings this episode excels.

    I had never seen "Cost of Living" before today and I can kind of tell that in context of what people generally like about TNG, this episode could be considered below par.

    But... I think I enjoyed it? I don't know why? TNG has this thing that no other Star Trek series has: a touch of The Love Boat (a terrible, cheesy show from the early 80s) and it's on display here. I think it is kind of integral to the aesthetic of TNG and one of its unique features so I have learned to love it. Maybe the later Star Treks needed it? Stuff like Voyager, Enterprise and Discovery definitely seem to be missing something, maybe the cheese factor is it.

    I mean, you tune in for Picard vs the Borg at warp 9 and you get Laxwana Troi teaming up with Alexander Worf. And then they go to some weird 1960s commune. It's so kooky that I was kind of digging it. The silent head in a bubble, the two people arguing, the juggler who eats his balls ... it was nightmarish but perhaps in the 24th century that's the entertainment people need to keep sane. Who knows?

    Often the "monster of the week" is boring but even by TNG standards, the metal termites are so half-hearted I genuinely laughed when they first appeared in the corridor behind Picard and Riker to a sinister stab of music. Gasp! Some glitter! Kind of moving! It's a threat! We promise! It was a relief not to have to take it seriously for once. I felt liberated.

    I was also struck at how amazing Laxwana's costumes were in this ep (except the first wedding dress) but then reading afterwards was still surprised to see this episode, THIS episode, won two emmys, one for costumes. Technically it's one of the most critically successful episodes of all Star Trek of all time. OF ALL TIME.

    And come on, Troi in the mud bath with her gigantic wedding do? It's one of the great little character moments in her entire run. Yeah, Deanna knows how to party.

    Forget the mud bath, what the hell was that bit about Picard and Co staying on the bridge with no oxygen? "Oh hey Data, we might pass out but just... you know... keep going." It's like zero tension for something that's quite serious!

    i always think this is a 2.5 star episode because it actually has moments that make me genuinely chuckle. TNG does not have a lot of episodes that attempt this, which is kind of a shame now, I think.

    "You're not going to be naked at your own wedding??", and Worf obliterating the completely banal Wind Dancer, and Alexander stopping the bickering friends with "The higher... the fewer" (and Worf, too, at dinner), and Mr. Homn smirking a lot, and Picard and Troi's look when Lwaxana agrees with Campio that it would be "unpardonable" to abandon themselves to the moment, and Lwaxana telling Campio "perhaps you and the Jerko can come with us" to the holodeck.

    Even the laughing hour didn't bother me, because they used it for purpose in the big argument scene in Lwaxana's room, which is one of my favorite scenes.

    Campio: Counselor Troi, have you no influence? (he means on Lwaxana!)
    Troi: Ha!
    Alexander: Ha!

    And yes, Majel has a couple of nice scenes with Alexander, about loneliness, and apologizing for snapping at him in the holodeck, which is one of the few times I can recall TNG *EVER* showing an adult apologize to a child for bad behavior.

    EVER. In TNG.

    This isn't a 1-star episode. As a child, I remember that apology and being very impressed by it.

    From her first episode, people have been describing Lwaxana as "The Auntie mame of Star Trek." Here', she actually becomes Auntie Mame to Alexander.

    I didn't like this one. The various Klingon parenting stories irritate me, and combining one with a heavy dose of Lwaxana is guaranteed to grate on me. The awful holodeck scenes that seem to have been conjured up by a 14 year old girl were the rancid, toxic icing on an already inedible cake.

    Then again I did like the dancer chick with the body paint on.

    The subplot about the metal parasites doesn't kick in until the episode is half done, and it's not convincing enough by a long way to rescue it. How would space-travelling metal parasites possibly evolve, anyway? How do they propel themselves through space and onto passing starships?

    However - the gag with Lwaxana turning up naked for her wedding is quite amusing. So is the conflict scene with everyone arguing at once about Alexander's dinner.

    Deanna looks really nice with that hairdo in the mud bath.

    So: this episode is not without its compensations, but nothing to redeem it, for me.

    There is little redeemable in this episode. Usually an instant skip in any rewatch.

    I have skipped this episode so many times that I realized that it is the only episode I have never watched. This is definitely one of the weaker episodes, and recycles so many things like another Troi wedding, ship malfunctions, etc. However, Majel Barrett was sweet as a fun grandmother to Alexander and Brian Bonsall showed more aspects of Alexander than the few one-liners he typically gets. The ending was funny.

    So many people commenting here have lost the capacity to enjoy enjoyment as Lawaxana suggests. As an older man (66) I fully understand Lawaxana's lament about aging and loneliness and having to compromise to avoid being afraid. Excellent acting as I have ever seen. She is a beautiful character and this is a strong performance second only to Dark Page. Lighten up all you heartless critics, complaining instead of accepting. Tolerance is at the heart of Star Trek. There are many bad shows like Masterpiece of Crap Society which is joyless and dumb. But I appreciate the ending of Cost of living for it shows how Lawaxana came to terms with her true nature and refused to compromise, it is not an issue of nudity but of tradition. And Protocol Master Erkel's gasp of "This is Infamous" was great.

    I remember watching this as a kid when they were new. I taped them every week and obsessed over examining every preview. (I think I was 12 when this aired.)

    IMy opinion has remained consistent over the last 3 decades:

    It's a bad sitcom-y episode with implausible drama, lousy science and a pretty good Lwaxana performance.

    Cost of Living

    TNG season 5 episode 20

    "I'll bet you've never been to a colony of free spirits.”

    - Lwaxana

    1 1/2 stars (out of 4)

    It probably doesn’t come as much of a surprise that a man whose favorite drink is prune juice, is not exactly a fan of the Parallax Colony of Shiralea VI. The moral of this episode is that constipated and stuck up is no way to go through life. Sadly the execution is piss poor.

    There are a few great moments here and there, and as several people have already mentioned, Lwaxana’s conversation with Alexander on old folks remarrying after they’ve been widowed, is heartfelt and genuine,

    LWAXANA: People get married because they want to spend their lives with someone.

    ALEXANDER: Their whole life? They must have to like that person a lot.

    LWAXANA: Well, if you're young and lucky, it'll be someone you like a lot, yes. And if you're older -

    ALEXANDER: Are you very old?

    LWAXANA: I'm alone, Alexander. And when you do get older and can no longer pick and choose from whatever may come your way, then you do what we call compromise. It keeps you from being afraid.

    In “Half a Life,” we saw Lwaxana fall in love with a man very much like herself. A man of stature, and man deeply devoted to the traditions of his society. When those traditions said he had to kill himself because he was turning 60, Lwaxana went ballistic. But in the end, she agreed to an armistice, and even went with the man she loved to attend his Resolution.

    Naturally devastated by such heartbreak, Lwaxana turns once again to the traditions of her people. In this case, the matchmaker we first learned about in “Haven”

    Matchmaker, Matchmaker,
    Make me a match,
    Find me a find,
    catch me a catch

    Night after night in the dark I'm alone
    So find me match,
    Of my own.

    Matchmakers of course are widely used across the world for the old families of prestige. It hardly is surprising, then, that a woman like Lwaxana, with aristocratic bent would turn to it. When Deanna questions it, Lwaxana lets her have it,

    LWAXANA: My poor, plodding, little Deanna, with her questions, questions, questions. Wherever did you inherit such pedestrian genes?

    TROI: Mother, if you're happy, then I'm happy for you. I only asked who he is, and where you met him. Those are not unusual questions.

    LWAXANA: He's such a wonderful man, and he has such good breeding, I tell you, he's absolute perfection.

    TROI: Who is he?

    LWAXANA: He's Campio, Third Minister to the Conference Of Judges on the planet Kostolain. Royalty, my little one, naturally.

    Enter Alexander, who is still suffering the mediocre parenting provided by Worf.

    Lwaxana and Alexander strike up an instant connection.

    For anyone who has had that awesome aunt or been that awesome uncle, no doubt this is the most pleasurable part of the episode. I once knew an old man with lots of grandchildren who use to love to say that grandparents and grandchildren were such good friends because they share a common enemy ;)

    Lwaxana has been pestering Deanna to have kids for years, so if Deanna is the closest thing Alexander has to a mother right now, then gosh darn it, it is time for some spoiling from the closest thing this kid has to a grandmother on the ship :-) I am saddened to realize that some people on this comment-thread don’t seem to have any knowledge of what it is like to enjoy the doting love and attention of the elderly. To folks like "It really makes no sense” @Rahul, I can only say that spoiling a child is its own reward. Hopefully some day you’ll experience that.

    So Lwaxana takes the boy to the mud baths at Parallax Colony, and along the way, he gets to meet a few free spirits.

    All this talk about nudity strikes me as ridiculous. As @Outsider65 correctly points out, "in Japan sitting naked in a hot spring with your family and a bunch of strangers is the norm.” And I can’t believe I’m saying this, but I actually wonder where our resident German expert is when we need her?

    Do yourselves a favor, and go spend some time with free spirits. They are annoying, you’ll be glad to be rid of them, but you’ll learn a little bit about how there can be very different ways of being. 1991 was the year that Burning Man really made waves. This episode aired about 7 months later. I see what they were going for. They just didn’t do a very good job.

    @Mal spot on. I thought Lwaxana's chemistry with Alexander was the best part of this episode. The grandparent / grandchild relationship is perfectly captured in these scenes. And Deanna was such a prig in this episode.

    And jeez louise with Worf, Klingon up you dolt! Can I just say that I do not understand how Alexander is supposed to be this big burden on Worf and all this woe is me handwringing about how living together us going to be so "hard". He's not some newborn baby howling at 2:00 a.m. or a toddler wrecking the place. He looks about 8 years old which means he basically feeds and cares for himself most of the time. He goes to school during the day. It's a starship; a self contained highly supervised space where Worf can check in on him at a moment's notice without even leaving work. Yes it's dangerous if you get into a battle with a Borg cube or sucked into a time loop, but outside if that, from a childcare standpoint, how much more ideal can you get?

    @Jay - because all he had was face make-up. Anything lower than the neck would have been too complicated for a 5-second shot so they had him show only his head.

    I just want to agree with Mtmjr's 2017 comment that the best moment in the episode is when Deanna is SHOCKED that her mother isn't going to be naked at the wedding.

    Actually, I think it shows an interesting take on what it can mean to be a "free spirit." Lwaxana Troi has always been a staunch traditionalist. It's just that the tradition she holds dear is being a "free spirit."

    I think the adamance of her [interaction with]/[interference in the upbringing of] Alexander is very consistent with that perspective on her personality. She is fighting for the survival of the world she believes in. She has reached the time of her life when it is a fight for her own metaphorical survival beyond death. For all we know, it may be the only afterlife Betazoids believe in. If the traditional style of Betazoid life passes away, then her own physical passing is not just death. It is a kind of eternal damnation. To live on in Alexander could be her salvation.

    Sadly, DS9 will later show us an Alexander who seems determined to claim no lessons from her as he tries to live the life his father revered but did not really prepare him for.

    I like this episode a lot, but then again, I'm one of the, judging by the comments, maybe SEVEN people on Earth who love Lwaxana Troi. She is indeed something like a crazy aunt, and she reminds me a great deal of my mom's best friend, who calls herself my aunt and is indeed crazy, and I love her to death.

    Plus Majel is just great in the role, she's such a natural.

    Yes, the kid playing Alexander sucks. Yes, it's a little weird that Lwaxana brought the kid to a somewhat... inappropriate holodeck simulation. But I think her relationship with Alexander is really cute, and the advice she gives him is genuinely good.

    My only complaint is, in the final mud bath scene, I wish they'd cut to Worf and revealed that he was loving it, instead of complaining about "just sitting still." I could TOTALLY see Worf go for taking a mud bath: "Now THIS is relaxation befitting a Klingon!"

    I managed to get through this episode in 25 minutes by using the Netflix “skip button”. But those 25 minutes were simply an endurance test. I agree with Jammer - Lwaxana and Alexander are the two most annoying characters in TNG. And the holodeck ‘entertainment’? It wasn’t.

    BOred, bored, bored.

    0.5 stars.

    I really don't get all of the Alexander hate. The kid has had a tough life for such a young person. Of course he would have issues and isn't just a "brat" as some call him. His acting isn't great, but it isn't terrible either.

    Maybe it comes from what happens in DS9. I never made it that far into that series. Perhaps I'll try again with this website to help me along. There are some interesting incites and discussions that make this a great companion to watching Star Trek (I haven't tried it with the other shows/movies). Thanks Jammer and all!

    Regarding this episode, I found their relationship heartwarming and agree with the comments that she would be happy to dote on him. They needed each other and it was karma (or whatever) that they found each other. There are some lessons here about being true to yourself, yadda, yadda, yadda.

    All in all a so-so episode. I don't mind Alexander and kind of like Lwuxana. Many of the holodeck scenes and characters were cringeworthy which would bring the rating down for me. The B plot was only there to give the rest of the crew something to do.

    Everyone has their own tastes, but the majority of reviews aren't lacking in it.

    This episode exists for two reasons: (1) to make a show that appeals to young children (or people who think that childish fluff is entertaining) and (2) because of a commitment to Roddenberry to have Majel Barrett on the show once a season.

    I know very few people who think you should have a show that tries to elevate Trek and take on subjects like death, torture, rape, and so on and then make shows that are supposed to be for kids in the middle of it.

    DS9 did the best at keeping the theme and tone right, even when young people were involved. This is a colossal disaster.

    Just watched this again and I liked it as much as ever. I liked Lwaxana, I liked Alexander and I thought the story was lighthearted fun with a poignant touch. Even the metal parasites were ok - I presume they have some thematic relevance although I am not sure what it was.

    The naked wedding scene was splendid. I just don't understand how this gets 1 stars. No Alexander is not played by a great actor but the chemistry with Lwaxana was still really nice and with kids that age what more do you want?

    To Jammer the 1 star grinch I say the higher, the fewer.

    @ Jason R,

    "The naked wedding scene was splendid"

    A heartwarming quote that can stay with us to cheer us up on rainy days.

    PS I agree that this is a perfectly serviceable episode which I never skip. And I even think the free spirit colony says more in the Trek context than it appears at first glance.

    "and I couldn't help but wonder why Lwaxana seemed to think a striptease-like dancer qualified as appropriate "entertainment" for a child of Alexander's age."

    Some rl cultures think nothing of walking around completely "stripped" or doing the same in front of relatives and friends. In other cultures it's completely inappropriate. Whatever.

    The episode's description says "As the Enterprise crew prepared for an unexpected wedding, the ship begins experiencing strange breakdowns." It's the latter half that intrigued me.

    Instead, I'm 15 minutes in and no breakdowns yet. We do have the annoying Klingon kid, the Trois' asinine double act, and some preposterous fantasy world on the holodReck. Well, I declare: I have been misled most horribly.

    Something better break down on that mother (talking about the ship here!) in the next 60 seconds or I'm skipping this one entirely!!

    Question: If this episode was redone on Discovery, would they show the nudity, and if so, how much?

    I just came for the mud bath. In the comments and the episode. Both made me giggle. Lord knows we can all do with a giggle these days.

    I had the extreme displeasure of going to school with Brian Bonsall. He was even more annoying in real life than as Alexander. Thank god they recast him for DS9.

    I also knew the first kid who played Alexander (Jon Paul Steuer). Unlike Bonsall, he was a warm, friendly guy who unfortunately died young in 2018.

    A light hearted funny weird little episode. Still better than anything modern trek series throw in your face all SERIOUS.

    Annoying, creepy, and unwatchable. Even the crew is pissed off during this episode.

    Not entirely sure what this episode was meant to be about. Though the Mr. Woof part was funny.

    I would give an extra star however for the shot of Deanna Troi in the mud bath at the end.

    I think...the male 18-35 demographic, literal or in heart, don't like Lwaxana Troi.

    Majel Barrett plays the kind of woman some of us knew or even fell for, before we realized we could never keep up. The character is way more than her lines, and I've always admired how well Barrett knew the fun-loving, high-life entertainer.

    With Alexander we see a grandma with more energy than the kid -- Barrett holding and listening in Deanna's quarters is pure joy.

    The colony, too, is love-or-hate. It's so '70s sound-studio art theater, and misguided and naive as they were, those ideals had gentle sincerity. Maybe it's me, too, who loves to see what can be done with a low budget.

    The mail-order groom is icing on the cake. Why worry about it not working out when it wasn't going to work out anyway, darling?

    These zero and one star episodes are fun to doze off, wake up, doze off ( you get the picture) on lazy Sunday late afternoons when it's rainy outside and nothing much to do inside. You can actually make up your own stories based on where you wake up.

    The technobabble subplot was as boring and forgettable as such a subplot can be. Switching between it and the main story was like observing minor gradations in a bowl of pits for 45 minutes. Lwaxana (and Majel Barrett) gets a lovely moment where she talks about overcoming adversity in the face of loss, but otherwise the Alexander story is a waste. I’m not saying that telling a soap operatic tale about Worf’s parenting problems is “beneath” the show (although Gene Roddenberry didn’t even care for for family tension stories-he objected to “Family” because in his view families did not argue in the 24th century). Telling it in such an utterly banal fashion makes for an unappetizing hour. I felt like I *was* just supposed to sit there. This episode and the unfortunately named “New Ground,” also about Worf’s parenting problems, failed to engage. Stories focusing on a regular’s parent or child rarely worked on TNG (excep for a few in the run from Family to Future Imperfect-that was a string of family stories, and a couple of them hit the mark).

    I've decided to decide that this is a very good episode. It has all the qualities that used to be present is what we might call the grand tradition of the theatre, with larger than life characters, moral lessons eclipsed by the eccentricity of the characters uttering them, and a celebration of the later years in life. Some of the scenes remind me quite a lot of Noel Coward plays. Take this one:

    WORF: Mrs. Troi, it is Alexander's dinner hour.
    LWAXANA: How thoughtless of me. I guess we'll just have to have a little picnic before our mud bath.
    CAMPIO: We have business to deal with here. Leaving is simply not acceptable.
    LWAXANA: Oh, well can't we just pretend it's acceptable? We'll be back.
    CAMPIO: You are missing the point.
    WORF: Alexander, you will return to our quarters and have dinner.
    ALEXANDER: But we're going to go to the holodeck.
    TROI: Mother, you're undermining every effort we're trying to make here.
    LWAXANA: Don't be absurd. You poor dear, don't they ever let you change those colourless outfits?
    ERKO: It is essential that we begin a discussion of the wedding procedures now.
    LWAXANA: Oh, Minister, darling, perhaps you and the Jerko here can come with us.
    CAMPIO: Lwaxana, this exceeds all boundaries.
    LWAXANA: Oh. Well, half hour, then. No longer, I promise. Mister Homn, your duties.
    CAMPIO: Counsellor Troi, have you no influence?
    TROI: Ha!
    CAMPIO: Lwaxana, if you will remain, I may allow the boy to stay
    ERKO: Definitely not!
    WORF: Definitely not. My son is to return to quarters.

    Reading an exchange like this is quite a bit different from seeing it, because we already have a history of knowing what Lwaxana is like. But imagine for the moment we excise our memories of her hounding the crew in Manhunt, or having to perform excruciating scenes in Menage of Troi, and that we were being introduced to her in this episode. The text here does all the job of showing her qualities, rather than having to have her actually act in aggressive ways to catch our attention. Here she is actually the least aggressive one in the scene and yet she comes off as a dame of the stage, somehow knowing the secrets to life that normal people don't, which is that you have to be somewhat weird in order to avoid the pressure to conform to everyone's expectations, in order to enjoy your life without compromising what makes you different. Some of Noel Coward's leading characters are just like this, and we love them. And I also think this is Lwaxana's best episode, better even than Half a Life because even in that one she's portrayed as needy. Here she is a source of energy for others rather than a bull in a china shop.

    The scene I quoted above is top-notch writing in my opinion, good broad comedy. Not all of the episode is quite as solid as this, most notably the nitrium parasite subplot. I think I know what they were after with that: a creature is preying on a critical metal supporting the ship's most important systems. I suppose this is like what would happen if Lwaxana had put on that ghastly wedding dress and done what others expected: the structure of who she is would come undone and she would fall apart. Each concession would be one more critical systems failure, her unique parts being eaten away. The parasites needed to be back in their proper environment, and Lwaxana in hers. But despite this intended parallel this is still easily one of the weakest tech subplots in the series. For that reason this falls short of greatness, but still has enough vibrant scenes that I think of it very highly.

    I don't particularly care for this episode's portrayal of a 60 year old woman having a mud bad with a prepubescent boy as something innocent and harmless. It made me cringe.

    And if anyone suggests I'm overreacting, just imagine Chakotay or Harry Kim doing that with Naomi Wildman. Or Dr. Bashir with Molly O'Brien. Yeah, not so comfortable are you?

    Beard of Sisko...
    Just look at today's modern liberals. They're trying to make pedophilia a normal accepted practice in society.

    Jeffrey, look at these articles. The proof that Matt is onto something.

    Wait a minute?! It's always republicans who fight for the right to marry children.

    And this is not some 8chan/Twitter conspiracy theory without proof, this is republicans openly fighting for it.

    Back to Trek for a minute....

    I think the issue isn't that Bashir and Molly or Kim and Naomi would be icky because the genders are reversed, but that it'd be icky because culturally neither of them seem like the kind of people for whom social nudity is a thing.

    Whereas for Mrs. Troi it feels very much the opposite. IDIC and all, I'm going to say that if Neelix and Naomi were naked in a Talaxian hot springs program together my brain would just write it off as something closer to European sauna culture and ignore the potentially weird implications.

    "People have their double standards"

    No, people have different standards for different types of things eg: men versus women.

    That's pretty much the answer to every "wouldn't it be creepy if it was a male character instead of a female?" The same goes for the Riker "rape" in First Contact.

    If you find your assumption that men and women are identical in every way leads to thousands of weird "double standards" that you just can't comprehend, maybe it is your initial assumption that is faulty and not the rest of the world.


    "Surely [Troi] must see that the fundamental issue between Worf and Alexander is that they are not connecting and that the child needs some fun in his life in addition to rules and responsibilities."

    If only Seven of Nine had been there to announce, "Fun will now commence."

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