Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Perfect Mate"

3 stars

Air date: 4/27/1992
Teleplay by Gary Perconte and Michael Piller
Story by Rene Echevarria and Gary Perconte
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise provides transport for the ambassador (Tim O'Connor) of a world that's attempting to negotiate with a neighboring system the end of their long-standing conflict by way of special negotiations and reconciliation ceremonies. The ambassador has brought aboard mysterious cargo that will be used in these negotiations. It turns out the cargo is actually an empathic metamorph — an exotic woman named Kamala (Famke Janssen) who has the unique ability to sense what a mate wants and be exactly what he wants her to be.

Her entire life has been in preparation for an arranged marriage; she is to be a gift in these negotiations (though the episode is very clear that she does this of her own free will and is not a slave). Kamala was supposed to spend the trip in stasis, but the meddling of some mischievous Ferengi releases her prematurely, leaving her with several days to spend aboard the Enterprise, where she attracts a great deal of attention.

First, let's get this out of the way: The Ferengi (including one played by Max Grodenchik, the future Rom) are an egregiously dumb piece of business here. They provide their typically annoying and contrived role. Why are they so easily able to access the cargo bay, which is supposed to be under lock and key because of the special cargo? Simply because the plot requires it, just like it requires the Ferengi later to bumble their way into accidentally knocking down the ambassador and putting him in a coma, requiring Picard to step in and carry out the negotiations.

But forget about the Ferengi. "The Perfect Mate" is really a story about Picard, and the relationship that he has — or, more to the point, doesn't have — with Kamala in the course of the days leading up to the arranged marriage. Kamala's diverse education has prepared her for all possibilities, and her empathic nature allows her to adapt to almost any situation. What's interesting here is not just that Picard finds that Kamala may actually be exactly the kind of woman he needs, but that Picard may be exactly what Kamala needs in return. The fact that Kamala will miss out on a much richer, fuller life aboard the Enterprise, instead being a diplomat's trophy wife, is not lost on her.

What we have here are two people trapped between their duty to the greater good and the possibility of a meaningful relationship. And what most struck me about this episode was the unspoken but clearly conveyed message that a man like Picard is essentially destined to a life of solitude because his responsibilities as a starship captain do not allow him to make a relationship a priority. Here's a man who's the paragon of integrity, sometimes at the expense of his own personal happiness. That all sounds like a cliche, but in its quietly effective and unassuming way, this is a character study examining that sacrifice.

Previous episode: Cost of Living
Next episode: Imaginary Friend

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110 comments on this review

Wed, May 11, 2011, 7:14am (UTC -5)
This episode is also good for presenting the funniest line of TNG:

"I'll be in Holodeck Four."
Wed, May 11, 2011, 8:20pm (UTC -5)
This is a wonderfully tragic episode, mostly because of the ending. They really are perfect for each other, in a way no two people could ever be, but they still must separate "for the greater good".
Wed, May 11, 2011, 11:52pm (UTC -5)
There is but one reason to watch this episode a second time.

And it aint the Ferengi.

Seriously, this is a 2 star show. Maybe 2 and a half.
Thu, May 12, 2011, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
I would only give this episode 2 or at most 2.5 stars myself. I thought it was boring. The first half of the episode centers on the Ferengi which was terrible then halfway through the show shifts gears to a "love" story which I found pretty boring. TNG could do an effective romance of the week--"The Host", "Lessons" for instance but I though this one dragged.

One thing I didn't like about it was the casting of a young hottie for Picard's love interest. Why are tv shows always casting young women for older actors?

It just felt off to me. In a year they would wisely cast an age appropriate actress in "Lessons" with Neela Darren.
Fri, May 13, 2011, 3:01am (UTC -5)
This was an interesting "Age of Innocence"-esque episode.

Lots of interesting subtext:

-I think this was Famke Janssen's debut and then eight years later her and Patrick Stewart team up again for the X-Men films.

-Love the hilarious holodeck line, which was the one time it was pretty explicitly stated that the holodecks were used for sex, but that Riker uses it for that purpose was an interesting quirk.

-Geordi's throwaway line later references the dolphins that the TNG Manual said were onboard.
Fri, May 13, 2011, 8:10pm (UTC -5)
Minor disagreement : I think the social-commentary aspect with Kamala held that indoctrination into a "free-willed" duty is a form of oppression and even slavery. This idea would later carry into and be developed between Janeway and Seven of Nine (make whatever lesbian joke you want). The tragedy as I see it is magnified by the fact that while Picard's sacrifice has a point, Kamala's is ultimately an empty one as the episode seems to indicate the Ambassador wouldn't really care if Kamala were his trophy or not, but goes along for the ride for the sake of the negotiations.
Fri, Jul 22, 2011, 2:49am (UTC -5)
You smacktards who found this episode boring have absolutely no concept of character development, character study, or nuance in acting. Just because shit isn't blowing up doesn't mean the episode isn't interesting. Advice: Pick up a book and read....and spend less time in dark closets talking to coat hangers.
Fri, Aug 19, 2011, 10:30am (UTC -5)
I agree with the star rating for this episode and the general commentary, but I do disagree that it was made explicit that Kamala did what she did out of her own free will. The breakfast conversation between Picard and Crusher early in the episode makes clear that Beverly is appalled by the way Kamala is being treated, and her umbrage is what prompts Picard to look into it rather than just washing his hands of the fact that the Enterprise has become a de facto human trafficking vessel. (His apologia for arranged marriages in Earth history is pretty squicky, here, too). The episode regains its moral compass as Picard realizes that what Kamala is and is being forced (whether by gun or by overwhelming social pressure is rather beside the point when it comes to servitude this thorough), but I don't think it does anyone any good to pretend that Kamala and Picard are equals who have chosen of their own free will to deny themselves happiness for the "greater good," unless a woman subsuming her identity in order to become the embodiment of a man's desire is actually seen by the male writers and fans of TNG as "the greater good."
Mon, Aug 22, 2011, 1:56pm (UTC -5)
What I want to know is where are the rest of the negotiating teams representing both parties? You'd think with something of this importance, more than single ambassadors would be sent so that an outsider like Picard wouldn't have to be relied upon to fill in for one of them.
Mon, Aug 29, 2011, 5:57am (UTC -5)
The Ferengi issues are easy to overlook in an otherwise excellent episode. I believe its best quality is that it leaves a lot to the imagination in that the viewers are asking themselves many questions about love and life throughout the hour. Great acting. Thoroughly enjoyable.
Fri, Sep 9, 2011, 6:19am (UTC -5)
@Rachael I think Jammer's point is that once Picard confronts her about it, it seems clear she is doing it out of her own free will, not because any character (i.e. ambassador) is putting any pressure on her.

This episode reminds me of the reasons I don't buy The Game. Picard is able to resist a woman that no other man on the ship can resist; but not a video game? (it was unclear to me whether the whole crew is smitten because she is their perfect woman, or if she actually has some magical/chemical/whatever force that actually has a controlling influence, but either way, Picard resists it).

I like this one a lot more as an adult than I did as a child; likely because the concepts of loved-and-lost, and the great subtle performances did not register with me at that age.
Sun, Oct 23, 2011, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
I almost disagree with Jammer's star rating here - the refreshingly interesting dialogue and tense plotting of this episode make it deserve four stars. But, unfortunately, the Ferengi bring it down a whole star.

There was really no purpose for them. There was no reason for Kamala to be in the cocoon - they could have made a mysterious request to have her transported to quarters from the beginning. Captain demands that the identity and purpose of all passengers be known to him, there's a conflict with the ambassador, who then informs the Captain who is coming aboard, and there you go.

The beginning actually made me angry - it was another episode where you really can tell the show was written by people who have never worked in positions of authority. You simply require that all cargo be disclosed and lock the doors they go into. No questions need to be asked. You're not being "mean" by doing so.

And the ambassador could have tripped in the holodeck or something.

But back to the substance of the episode. Yeah, great. We see Captain Picard in a situation that truly challenges him, and the tension, the resolution and subsequent tragedy of it packs a real emotional punch.

Also, this is perhaps the closest any tv episode has been to actually convincing me that two people fall in love in a 43 minute tv episode. Kudos.

I forgive them for not going into the ethics of the situation deeper than they could. I was hoping for the second conversation with Dr. Crusher to go a little deeper, but it was helpful in its way - perhaps giving a hint that relationships built on shared experience go deeper than ones based on telepathy.

An interesting way to go into the ethics would have been to do something I find they do not do enough in Star Trek: portray aliens has having different natures than "human" nature (I always cringe when Guinan advocates "human" nature - shouldn't it be "humanoid" or something like that?). Maybe it's not unethical, because she actually does fulfill her role by doing what she does in a way that humans can't entirely relate to. But then again, they can barely be bothered to make the aliens look different from humans, so I guess it goes the same way for the insides. They had to have her learn how to think differently. Which means her actions are culturally enforced and unethical. Which, granted, ends the episode on a relatively profound note, as this casts a small shadow on the practices of the federation. I don't think they made the wrong decision - it's just that the episode skillfully leads you to doubt it enough for there to be something at stake.

After writing all that, I almost want to give it 4 stars. Damnit, Ferengi!
Tue, Oct 25, 2011, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
She might've been young, but she had a great voice that made her seem older and wiser. Actually, the actress did well to change her voice based on who she was imprinting upon.
Wed, Nov 9, 2011, 8:02pm (UTC -5)
Does anyone else besides me think that Picard DIDN'T resist completely, that he in fact gave in at the end. The scene from "the night before" when he's in her quarters talking, the scene fades with him still there.

I think he stayed, they made love, and that's when she bonded. It actually seemed pretty clear to me that that's what happened, but no one else has mentioned it.

I think also that when the ambassador asked how the captain could resist, he was just dying to say "I DIDN'T!", but instead held it all in and just wished him on his way rather than address the question and have to lie.
Fri, Dec 30, 2011, 10:21am (UTC -5)
I've been doing a rewatch of TNG thanks to Netflix. Most of the episodes blend into each other, and the ones with Ferengi always go from amusing to annoying quickly.

This episode has many other flaws: the clumsy use of the Ferengi in moving the plot; the unsecured cargo bay, and (biggest of all for me) the fact that nobody thought to simply have a female chaperone for Kamala.

All that said, Famke Janssen was outstanding. Her performance hit exactly the right notes each time - from her open and confident demeanor on her emergence to her gregariousness in Ten Forward, she was utterly believable in what could have been a very hokey role. Stewart's Picard - as we all have come to expect - was just as effective in his task of showing the gradual erosion of his carefully constructed walls.

The sidebar discussion about free will was also compelling considering the relatively small amount of screen time devoted to it.

3 of 4 stars seems fair to me, on the strength of the two leads alone.

Thanks for this site!
Wed, Jan 25, 2012, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
I loved the ending where the ambassador asks Picard how he could resist her when they spent so much time together.

I totally expected him to say it was because he respected her or something, but he doesn't answer the question, so we're left to wonder.
Thu, Jun 7, 2012, 3:45pm (UTC -5)
Enjoyable, interesting episode, with much better acting than the normal love stories on TNG. Picard falling for a woman seemed far more convincing than 'Captain's Holiday' (I think it was called). Agree with a lot of the positive comments above, including the ambiguity of the ending. Holodeck 4, Worf all got a laugh out of me too.
John (the younger)
Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 10:42am (UTC -5)
Ah, the lonely man's wet dream.

Probably one of the best examinations of Picard in the whole series. Stewart is phenominal in this.

And I even laughed in a couple of places. Outrageous!
Mon, Jul 16, 2012, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Ben said, "Does anyone else besides me think that Picard DIDN'T resist completely, that he in fact gave in at the end. The scene from "the night before" when he's in her quarters talking, the scene fades with him still there.

I think he stayed, they made love, and that's when she bonded. It actually seemed pretty clear to me that that's what happened, but no one else has mentioned it."

Oh yeah, of course. But every time I watch it I decide something else. I keep waiting for Picard to give more away one way or the other--and he doesn't.

Today, I think it went as you describe.
Sun, Oct 28, 2012, 9:59pm (UTC -5)
@ grumpy_otter...

yeah the "I'll be in holodeck 4" line was funny, but I suspect on a ship of 1000 the holodecks are pretty much in use all the time and scheduled at least a bit in advance. Holodeck 4 was surely not just waiting empty in case Riker "needed it".
Cail Corishev
Wed, Dec 26, 2012, 11:26pm (UTC -5)
I had to stop watching this one after about 30 minutes because I was falling hopelessly in love with the woman. That face, that voice .... "becomes the perfect match for the man she's talking to" indeed. Yowza.
Fri, Jun 14, 2013, 6:42pm (UTC -5)
I don't know, for me this one's more like a TOS episode... beautiful woman, everyone (i.e. the male characters) falling all over her, a dubious and fumbled moral message.

Plus the supposedly profound bits with Picard I think were simply the metamorph finer-tuning herself to Picard's desires, not poignantly realising what she was missing, and then the Picard scenes were simply him being taken in (or resisting being taken in) by this, regardless of whether she was consciously being manipulative or not. But I don't think it was a great character study - not that I wish to fight with anyone who does.

Not wanting to offend... but does Jammer's high rating for this one have to do with the fact that the aliens of the week look like the DS9 Trills?
Sun, Jun 23, 2013, 11:03am (UTC -5)
This episodes runs on the same storyline (almost) to the ST-TOS episode Elaan of Troyius
Thu, Jul 25, 2013, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
I really liked this episode. I would have loved it but from the start the professional incompetence displayed was burning me up. The Enterprise is supposed to be the best of the best of a disciplined military force. So when an ambassador says he has delicate cargo in the cargo bay, some sort of security should have been in piace, both before and especially after you pick up two Ferengi. It's exactly as the Ferengi said, this was too easy. The whole misfortune can be blamed solely on Picard's uncharacteristic incompetence. Riker behaved more professionally here.
Still the ensuing shenanigans balanced things out to make the story enjoyable. The ten forward scene was played out perfectly, ending witha turned on Worf who couldn't help himself. 3 and a half stars.
William B
Mon, Jul 29, 2013, 2:55pm (UTC -5)
You know what, I assumed going into the episode that the Ferengi would prevent me from giving this a full 4, but I really don't think they do. Yes, they are annoying and silly, but they are also only on screen for brief bursts. Their plan to sell Kamala is only a more extreme version of what the Kriosians plan to do with her (i.e. to sell her for peace), and so their actions are thematically on point (and their hurting the Kriosian ambassador is appropriate, as a result). In general, their presence seems to me to be in the same vein as, say, the Porter's speech in Macbeth -- not even comic relief so much as tension relief, an opportunity to take the time to catch our bearings in what is ultimately a very tragic tale.

No one dies in this one, but it's still a brutal ending, especially if you believe, as I do and as some commenters above have suggested, that Picard stayed and slept with Kamala and that is what led to their bonding, which leads to Kamala's permanently being with a man she is not meant for. Unlike "The Masterpiece Society's" fairly forced tragic ending, the one here feels genuinely earned because each step (aside from the inciting scenes involving the Ferengi) feels natural and inevitable. Picard goes to Kamala because he is concerned that she is going to be married against her desires and he wants to save her from that fate; and in the process, he *creates* the scenario wherein she is bonded against her desires. Each scene plays delicately, as Picard tries to balance the demands of his conscience with his duty with his desires with *her* desires, and tries to figure out which of her desires are really just reflections of his. Kamala slowly works her way through his walls and in the process "discovers" herself, though the self she discovers is really one she creates, and one that dooms her to a life of duty. Their combined impulse to allow Kamala (and Picard) to have something for themselves outside of duty is what leads to their bonding, which is what leads to Kamala knowing Picard's sense of duty and being unable to defy it.

Stewart is amazing, of course, but Famke Janssen is extraordinary too. I read on Memory Alpha that she was the first choice to play Jadzia but had to drop out -- and it almost hurts to read that. Watching her in this episode, I feel like she could play the conflincting impulses from many previous hosts convincingly and effectively, or at the very least turn on a dime from one to another, in a way that Farrell never managed. Sigh.
Anthony Pirtle
Sat, Oct 19, 2013, 10:20pm (UTC -5)
I'd give this one and a half stars, purely for Janssen's and Stewart's performances. The plot is poorly written (especially the Ferengi bits) and morally objectionable, basically a fantasy for teenage males who aren't good at attracting women. That Kamala's been brainwashed since she was four years old to believe it's her job to get men off sounds like the opposite of free will to me.
Fri, Nov 1, 2013, 11:34am (UTC -5)
I have a completely different take on this episode than the rest of you. I think this episode is about being able to resist temptation. I also don't think that Kamala was ever anything more than what Picard wanted her to be. Picard wanted her to be a free, independent, intelligent woman. That's exactly how she was portraying herself to be toward Picard. Her ability is to sense what a man wants and be exactly that. I don't think she was ever who we saw, but merely a projection of Picard's ideal woman.
Mon, Jan 6, 2014, 5:46am (UTC -5)
This episode makes me proud to be a Star Trek fan and proud to be Dutch, since Famke Janssen is Dutch! What better way to start your career in the USA than to make your debut in Star Trek? To this day she has always been proud of the chance she has been given and to make way for her Goldeneye and X-men fame. And now she's a director as well!
Love her part as Kamala here. Who wouldn't fall for her? Picard not answering that final question says it all.
Sat, Jan 11, 2014, 6:56pm (UTC -5)
Three stars for *this*?

Lemme guess, you're all male.

Doesn't it sadden ANY single one of you that civilizations who develop the technology to travel the stars, still use women as pawns in war&peace? Annoying, outdated, sexist, stupid. Zero stars.
Sat, Jan 11, 2014, 7:10pm (UTC -5)
Thank you, @ Anthony Pirtle, you just restored my faith in Star Trek fans. Well said.
Mr. Wizard
Tue, Jan 21, 2014, 2:08am (UTC -5)
@Jammer: Your site is excellent. I've been reading your reviews as I watch through TNG for the first time as an adult and I really enjoy wrapping up each episode with a trip here to compare my experience and evaluation with yours.

@William B: Your comments are very insightful. Thank you for sharing your perspective. I find your interpretations and ratings to be spot on.

I agree with both of you about the Ferengi. When the cold open mentioned an alien race transporting valuable goods and suddenly a Ferengi vessel in distress appears, I was prepared for the worst. Luckily, this episode took a turn for the best and I really enjoyed the ride.

William mentions that Picard creates the situation that he fears: the one in which Kamala is bonded against her desire. Picard also creates the situation he desires: that Kamala makes a choice to become her own person. Throughout the episode Kamala acts as a mirror to whatever potential mate she shares a room with. In her final conversation with Picard, Kamala reveals that she has chosen to bond herself to Jean-Luc. In that moment Kamala stands in front of a full-length mirror and we see her reflection, not Picard's or anyone else's. In that moment Kamala has become her own person by making a choice for herself.

However, isn't this exactly the behavior that mirroring Picard would produce? Kamala's self-awareness, her personhood, is gained *because* she mirrors Picard. Before Picard arrived she didn't know she had a choice to act for herself and become her own person, she simply wantonly mirrored every man she came in contact with. Yet, wantonly mirroring Picard is what drove her to this realization.

When thinking of the causal sequence I picture the infinite regress of a hall of mirrors, which is a perfect metaphor for what Kamala becomes. She becomes herself because she chooses to bond with Picard because she emulates Picard who upholds freewill but who is bound to duty. In a way, Kamala's marriage to the Ambassador is a metaphor for Picard's love life. She is herself because of him and she is giving herself to duty and responsibility and he is acutely aware that his actions made her that way.

Kudos to Patrick Stewart during those last few scenes. The subtle emotions visible on his face were perfect to be ambiguous about what happened the previous night and whether he knows the extent of his influence upon Kamala's decisions, but suggest he is fully aware of what he has done.
Thu, Mar 13, 2014, 11:56pm (UTC -5)
Moonie... While the way this episode played out may not have been ideal, the way the "perfect mate" is ultimately being used as a bargaining chip isn't depicted positively.

What's "annoying, outdated, sexist, stupid" is the way that you accuse us of "all being men" as if male genitalia is just cause for anger. That outburst reads like a caricature of the irate, irrational misandrist. You do your own feminist ideology a disservice.
Sat, May 24, 2014, 10:54am (UTC -5)
As good as this episode is, it does suffer from one enormous plot hole - wouldn't the ambassador or Kamala have thought to mention the possibility of her bonding with someone that wasn't Alrik, given enough exposure? It's not like there aren't plenty of women on board the ship that could have kept her company instead, but we barely see any of them around her throughout the episode and no explanation for this is given.
Sat, May 24, 2014, 11:18am (UTC -5)
The answer to your first point is, there would be no story and the answer to your second is the homophobic producers who would not abide Kamala's pheromones effecting fluid sexuality in the female crew. That's of course until they realised over on DS9 and later ENT that fluid sexuality is fine so long as it's ratings-boosting sexy lesbians!!
Tue, Jul 1, 2014, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
A nice, quiet, subtle, thought provoking episode. I'm glad a couple people mentioned what I suspected after watching it: Kamala wasn't exactly becoming an independent during the course of the episode; she was still just performing her mimicry abilities. We saw how easily she adapted to different people in Ten-Forward, and we saw that Picard was doing everything he could to resist trying to influence her. So naturally, Kamala picked up on the fact that Picard was not being willing to fall for her unless she became independent.

Which leads to interesting free will vs biology arguments. Kamala was being "forced" to become independent, so was she really becoming independent at all? Or was she simply following her instinct and only "pretending" to be thinking for herself? Isn't her personality just an extension of what Picard wanted and not real? But in the end, does it actually matter? We want our kids to become independent and think for themselves, but it's still with our guidance. You can't make a child completely an independent person; they will always have some remnant of their upbringing as part of them.

So should Picard have felt guilty at all? He spent his time trying to be as dull as possible to keep from imprinting himself on her, and yet it happened anyway. He was all righteous about keeping her an independent person, and then he went and formed her in his image. Shouldn't he have realized that would happen? And shouldn't he have avoided her entirely? Isn't he just being hypocritical? Does he just feel loss at the end, or does he feel bad that his attempt to give her a life outside of imprinting was itself an imprinting?

The fact that these issues are shown rather than told is part of what makes this episode pretty good. And the fact that it's all told as a great character story between Picard and a guest character, with fantastic acting from both, also makes the episode pretty good. And the fact the Ferengi... well, I'm having too good a time being positive so I'll just ignore that part.

As for the "did they or didn't they" question, I am firmly in the didn't they camp. First of all, I hate the accidental/sympathetic adultery trope. There's nothing accidental about it; you know what you're doing. There's enough time between the first moment of passion and the final act that the knowledge of what you're doing will creep in. And if you don't want to do something, you won't. You'll stop it. Heck, even a horndog like Riker managed to break away even after getting an impassioned kiss. So no, I have no sympathy for the "I didn't mean it to happen" excuse.

Which is important, because the episode then eliminates this possibility. Kamala specifically mentioned that she learned the meaning of duty, and is willing to sacrifice her desires in order to do the right thing... and that she learned it from Picard. Given that, how could they possibly have had sex? She would have imprinted on Picard's desire to throw away duty in favor of personal desires!

Seems pretty cut and dry to me.

That said, it's not like they didn't share a personal connection. It's possible to share a deep emotional bond with someone without it being physical, and it's likely that that is what happened between them. Perhaps he did stay, at least most of the night, but did not retire to the bedroom. That's why he didn't answer the ambassador at the end. He resisted her physically, but not emotionally.

OK, one final thought directed at those complaining that this is some kind of sexist fantasy. Huh? First of all, they did mention that males could get this power too, but just didn't focus on them (since the plot didn't need them). More importantly, the plot had nothing to do with a adolescent male fantasy. And isn't that more important?

I mean, Star Trek is just some liberal adolescent fantasy. It's some magical land where all problems are solved and there's peace and harmony and no difficult problems and you get to do cool stuff like gallivanting around the galaxy on a magic starship. How is that not an adolescent fantasy? And yet, none of us care, because the stories themselves aren't. The adolescent fantasy is just a backdrop for an interesting tale and interesting stories. And that's the case here.
Fri, Aug 15, 2014, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
I just want to point out agreement with SkepticalMI above (and others). To me what makes this episode great is that the more you think about it, the more sad it seems. The woman becomes independent, yet duty-driven, only in the sense that Picard would want her to. In this way, everything about her is a deception of sorts, but I would never accuse her of lying. This is how her body and mind operate! It makes one wonder what the concept of free will would even mean to a creature like this.

I would probably make a similar statement (as others have) about her claim to have 'bonded' to Picard. As far as I can tell, there's no way to know whether she's correct (and if this 'bonding' idea is real in-universe at all), or if the claim is simply an automatic response to Picard's innermost wishes. The truly sad thing about it is, just as we don't really know, it would seem she doesn't really know either! A being like this could never have a meaningful notion of 'self'. I'm pretty sure that's the saddest thing that was ever sad.

It also means now I'm attached to her too. So her fictional power penetrates the 4th wall. This is clearly pure fact.
Thu, Aug 21, 2014, 6:51am (UTC -5)
Just a funny fact. Kamala means in Finnish: awful, atrocious, dreadful, fearful, gruesome... Which is quite the opposite of her role. As Etana some episodes ago means a snail. Co-incidence, or did the writers use a Finnish dictionary to pick alien names?
Thu, Apr 30, 2015, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
I find it hard to believe the Ferengi were ever conceived as replacements for the roles the Klingons and Romulans played in TOS. They are just too bumbling and stupid to be seen as threatening. It's as if the Three Stooges were cast as mob enforcers. They were also 100% unnecessary to this plot. Kamala could have simply been beamed onboard and explained her role. The episode loses a full star for the Ferengi farce.

I agree that Janssen's performance was great -- especially how she changed her voice and mannerisms in the scene with the "ebullient" miners. As others have pointed out, the role of free will in someone who has basically been raised from birth to fulfill a particular function, and on whom an entire planet pins their hopes for peace, is questionable. Especially given that her mate-to-be makes it a point to say that the trade agreements are a much bigger concern to him than the "gift," I was expecting Picard to offer Kamala an out. Even if he'd just said, "It won't be easy letting down your people, but peace can proceed without you having to make this sacrifice to duty. You do have options." Or something to that effect.

As pretty as Kamala appeared in this episode, I couldn't help thinking that "an empathic metamorph" would not make the ideal mate for a mature man with a strong sense of self. This reads more like a 13-year-old boy's fantasy of the ideal girlfriend. There exist women (and men, I suspect) who so want to be in a relationship that they will mold themselves in accordance to what they perceive as the other person's interests, hobbies, attitudes, etc. Ugh! What a turnoff. The dating advice "just be yourself" has merit. Ideally, you find someone who shares some things with you and differs in other things -- perhaps even challenges you in some respects. That's what really makes for attraction, in my opinion.
Sun, May 24, 2015, 2:16pm (UTC -5)
Of course they had sex. She explained the final step of the "finnis-ral" or whatever as bonding permanently. Whether it was because she saw him first when she emerged, or her words on her wedding day, combined with Picard's non answer of how he resisted (in order not to lie to the ambassador), it was clear they spent the night together. I think this is a beautifully tragic episode with remarkable acting by pretty much everybody, but Janssen is outstanding at conveying the reality of the being she is playing. And the Ferengi are the Ferengi - they are, as someone else mentioned, the perfect echo of the diplomatic drama playing out among the pricipals. Her dress is just amazing too - she plays the goddess with true conviction.
Wed, Jun 3, 2015, 2:07am (UTC -5)
I love the actress. She is graceful and plays this role as such. She was captivating I agree with Crusher that she was conditioned for the marriage. It seems odd that upon imprinting with Picard she still chooses to marry into slavery. He allows it regardless of the fact Picard fights for the "freedoms" of others in past episodes. The prime directive has always been a bit of a crutch for TNG. Convenient to the whim of the plot lines but easily set aside. The time period of the show are clearly still hovering in a past preception of a woman's place. Not to mention how everyone seems to "fall in love" in only a few days. This episodes at least a good job if creating believable reasons as to why Picard is drawn to her. Both actors have clear chemistry and that aspect of it is compelling.
Fri, Jun 12, 2015, 1:30am (UTC -5)
Fin67, I think the name Kamala is a nod to the courtesan of the same name in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha.
Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 3:30am (UTC -5)
Hm, another episode I'm torn on. There are things in "The Perfect Mate" I like and lot I don't like.

First, what I like - I like that they took the time to do some serious character work in this episode. The scene that really stands out for me is the one with Picard and Crusher where Picard lets his feelings for Kamala be known. It's a great piece of development for both characters as well as a great window into their relationship. The acting is also very good all around. There's some really great performances here, and not just from Patrick Stewart. Finally, there's some decent enough humor - the holodeck line and Data's antics when he plays chaperon to Kamala.

But there's the bad - obviously starting with the Ferengi. You know, this is their first true appearance in almost two seasons. They had cameos in "Future Imperfect" and "Unification, Part II," but this is really their first time in major roles since the dreadful "Ménage à Troi." And, of course, they're still their stupid, bumbling, caffeine-overdosed selves. And, of course, poor Max Grodénchik has to suffer through yet another stupid Ferengi role before getting to play Rom. Maybe they could have worked in this story if the writers had allowed them to have some dignity.

But the Ferengi aren't the biggest problem with "The Perfect Mate." The biggest problem is this - "the unspoken but clearly conveyed message that a man like Picard is essentially destined to a life of solitude because his responsibilities as a starship captain do not allow him to make a relationship a priority." I got to admit that I am so sick and tired of this kind of "message" in Star Trek. Leaving DS9 aside (which actually doesn't do this), every other series seems hellbent on saying that Starfleet officers simply cannot have committed long-term romantic relationships. What a crock of shit! You can have a life of duty and still have relationships. It just takes a writer with the ability and the willingness to write that relationship convincingly. But so many Trek writers seem perfectly content to simply write romance-of-the-week stories and not even attempt something more challenging - like a relationship spanning multiple episodes. The only non-DS9 examples I can think of are Paris and Torres on VOY and possibly O'Brien and Keiko on TNG (if you can count them as they're only recurring characters here). Does Kirk ever get a committed relationship? No. Do any of the TOS crew ever get one? No. Do any of the TNG crew get one? Well, Riker and Troi finally get married in "Nemesis." But does that really count? Do any other VOY characters get one? I suppose Neelix and Kes qualify, but the writers never really did anything with them. Do any of the ENT characters get one? There's the Trip/T'Pol relationship. But that was so fucked up that it's almost not worth mentioning.

And therein lies the greatest weakness with "The Perfect Mate." I'm expected to believe that Picard and Kamala have so thoroughly fallen in love with each other in just a few days that she's going to spend the rest of her life pining away for him? That might, might, work if we ever had another mention of her and how she affected Picard in a future episode. But, of course, we all know that by the time the next episode rolls around she'll be completely forgotten. Obviously the end of the episode is supposed to be gut-wrenching in that we're supposed to be crushed by the fact that Picard and Kamala didn't end up together. But, come on now, did anybody honestly expect they would? Maybe if they had actually had the ambition to make this a long-term (meaning multi-episode) relationship, then the tragic end of it would have felt tragic to me. As it sits, however, it leaves me feeling cold.

Ultimately, while superbly acted with a few other good bits thrown into the mix, "The Perfect Mate" is just another predictable romance-of-the-week. It could have been so much more

Fri, Aug 21, 2015, 10:28am (UTC -5)
@Luke - I really agree with you on this. And this is one reason that DS9 shines really, really high above the others. I feel like with Worf/Dax, Kira/Odo, Sisko/Kassidy and O'Brien/Keiko we really hit a point where the DS9 staff realized "romance of the weeks" don't work and shelved them for most characters.

The ones they did do on DS9 like "Second Sight", "Meridian" and "A Simple Investigation" mostly all sucked. Even if some people weren't huge fans of every single one of DS9's long term relationships, they all fared better than romance of the week episodes (IMHO).

I also really liked Paris&Torres and Seven&Doc/Janeway&Chakotay had some nice building (though that was a really hard FAIL at the end there guys!!!). Voyager wasn't nearly as bad as TNG with this.

I WILL say I'm glad you gave this a 6/10 because while it was still a "romance of the week" it was one of the best of those. The only one I think was better was DS9's "Rejoined". And maybe it was tied by Voyager's "Counterpoint". I think the big thing that "Rejoined" and "Counterpoint" did was give the characters back story together.

I think this might be the most effective episode where they met and romanced and parted in the span of an hour. So that's pretty impressive. But I still think a 6/7 out of 10 is fair.
Diamond Dave
Sun, Sep 27, 2015, 7:44am (UTC -5)
In some ways this is reminiscent of a TOS episode, and yet one that doesn't concentrate on the typical 'sexy alien' but drives a much more multi-layered and subtle characterisation. In the end it's difficult to conclude what we've actually seen, and that is, I think, the point. My take - that Kamala is 'programmed' to reflect what Picard desires and reflects that nobility and independence. It's less clear whether that reflects her actual will. That she imprints on Picard is a question of timing (there's a narrow window, as the episode makes clear), not choice. But Picard's surprise at that revelation suggests that nothing intimate took place.

On the downside we have the Ferengi as a crude and wholly unnecessary plot device that could easily have been dispensed with.

"I'll be on holodeck 4" indeed. 3 stars.
Tue, Dec 22, 2015, 9:36am (UTC -5)
This episode was just another chance to showcase hot women. Star Trek is so horribly sexist, bordering on misogynistic - all the time. It culminated in the fetish wear of seven of nine, but has been in place pretty much forever. The new series will suck too because I doubt this aspect (or the many other really dopey and often offensive things about ST) will change. There are endless examples, which I won't list, but having some super attractive woman born to be a slave and living as currency and a whole show about how all the men are stiff over her is just pathetic and no amount of "moral of the story" can undo the fact it is just another step in a long, long path of spitting on women that is Star Trek. Star Trek is poor science fiction, and that could be forgiven because people find it enjoyable and the soap opera of the characters keeps folks entertained. But it isn't brilliant commentary and the subtext is often pretty disgusting.
Tue, Dec 22, 2015, 2:00pm (UTC -5)

While I'm not going to deny this series doesn't have its sexist moments, it's also fairly progressive. Look at characters like Tasha, Crusher, and Guinen. They wear unisex clothing and admired for their leadership and guidance skills. And since you brought up Voyager, why not talk about Janeway? Instead of cherry-picking what is sexist and how bad everyone related to this franchise is for it, maybe you should try to promote what female characters you like.
Tue, Dec 22, 2015, 4:41pm (UTC -5)
I have to respectfully disagree Chrome. The sexist portrayal and treatment of women far outweighs anything positive in my opinion as the examples are too extreme and too common. To be fair, on the whole Dr. Crusher, and Dr Pulaski, probably fare the best as they are not often hyper sexualized, treated as chattle, etc. But Yar? First off, I would argue they created her character as they thought it would be sexy to have a woman in that role - and they were quick to sex her up. The second episode of the series in fact. They had her weeping like an hysterical woman in a crisis, had her in some sexy battle to be the property/wife of some primitive patriarchal culture in another episode. Guinan? Such a minor character and had Whoopie Goldberg not wanted so very much to be a part of the series that they created the role for her, I have no doubt the resident bar tender would have been a sexy young thing in a form fitting, low cut outfit. There are many examples, and we could debate forever, but I don't think a dash of occassional, incidental respect mitigates some of the truly awful stuff in this series. I wouldn't want my daughters watching it, as I'd have a lot of explaining to do. And it isn't just TNG.

And look at Counselor Troi! Or worse, her mother - an older woman portrayed as some irritating hag desperately pursuing men who are all horrified, yet Picard is so often coupled with much younger women. And why is she so despised? Even when she isn't behaving in her ridiculous, let's all laugh at the lonely older lady caricature, who isn't young and sexy enough to be taken seriously, and is in fact behaving professionally, she is still barely tolerated. For example, in Dark Page, the opening scene when she is discussing with Picard the challenges of creating a platform of communication with a new species so they can participate in the Federation, he's practically rolling his eyes in disgust. Had the same discussion, her exact explanations and words been from a man, or a woman deemed not the object of nothing but contempt (and the reasons for that are really offensive, in my opinion) he'd have been very interested, in that establishing relations with new races of beings is supposedly their mission... I think it is cherry picking to find examples that aren't offensive - though this is my opinion, and I know you will disagree, which is fair enough if you don't see it this way. I never expect greatness from this franchise and ultimately it is meant to entertain the largest number and is television, so least common denominator will prevail. But I wish it would stop being so backward and offensive so often.
Tue, Dec 22, 2015, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
Considering the men wear padding and ENT used to have the men bee half naked as much as the women you'll have to do better than Seven's catsuit for proof. TNG could be pretty sexist. TNG occasionally had issues not being TOS, but I'm not sure you could find good proof of the later series being sexist without cherry picking. Especially to the extent that you're sure the next one we'll be?
Tue, Dec 22, 2015, 9:25pm (UTC -5)
Find me an episode in any of the series in which the moral question is should women be enslaved prostitutes - and the premise is some super sexy woman who is designed by nature to please men. It is subjects like this that make the show so sexist. Or take the pathetic "Angel One" where they try to make a woman-run society. Having zero understanding of women (or men for that matter) in a truly prehistoric way of thinking they simply reverse roles and create a patriarchal society based on subjugation and domination, but the women are the men and the men are the women. They are SO backward they can't even conceive of other ways of men and women interacting. And the "alien" cultures are so frequently just male dominated, chest beating nonsense - the Klingons with Worf barking they like strong women, but in a poker match declares women are weak and need extra help, and they cannot hold the highest level of political roles... The Kazon (or whatever that crappy alien species was in Voyager) in which the men constantly declare how women have no voice... And there are others, but it takes to long to enumerate.

The only time women are treated as equals is when they are barred from participation in romance/sexuality for the most part. And yes, there may have been some instances of men in revealing costumes, but there are no characters created specifically to be sexualized, or men who throughout a series cannot wear the normal uniform. Why is Troi always in some form fitting low cut dress? Why the cat suits on seven or even on Kes till they decided she wasn't sexy enough? It isn't just the costumes though - that is just the icing on the cake... It is the themes of so many of the episodes, the portrayal of the characters, the dopey misogynistic alien cultures that so frequently present themselves.

Someone described ST as "progressive"... Not sure what that is supposed to mean. But do we REALLY need to examine whether or not male dominated cultures are good or bad, or whether women should be sex slave? Are we REALLY at the stage that we need morality tales to explore these kinds of issues, or science fiction to explore this caveman way of thinking? No... But the creators and writers can't see beyond that thinking. And science fiction can really be anything - it allows for a kind of exploration of ideas that other fiction doesn't. If I were a man, I would be even more disgusted, as I don't know men who think like this.

The tip of the iceberg is the disgusting costumes, and tripping over themselves to find excuses to put women in such costumes. I understand why people love ST... But I really can't understand loving it to the point that it's flaws can't be examined.. And I would argue sexism is a minor flaw... there is so much that is even worse. I think what annoys me the most is that ST poses, strives to be, social commentary, and thought leadership... And people take it that way. It isn't. People who care about it should hold it to that standard.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 7:33am (UTC -5)
Anna, I acknowledged some of TNG is problematic. I think it's a product of it's time (and at points an annoyingly retrograde product of it's time and a marriage of TOS). So I asked "I'm not sure you could find good proof of the later series being sexist without cherry picking".

Your response to me then started off with Angel One and a stupid comment Worf made during a poker match. Ok, so if you want to complain a little more about TNG fine. I write Angel One off in the vein of "half of season one is offensive" and Worf's comment was pretty horrifying by the point at which it was uttered. Especially for a Klingon who grew up with humans. Really Worf?

That said, your next comment is absurd. You are aware that characters can be racist/sexist without the EPISODE being racist/sexist, right? That's why "Far Beyond The Stars" is not racist just because it has racist characters. You can't POSSIBLY think that a show with a woman captain that encounters a race that LITERALLY looks like Neanderthals is sexist because the Neanderthals are sexist... right? You don't get much more heavy handed "sexism bad" than that. And Janeway doesn't even respect their stupid "culture" and let them deal with Chakotay like Picard might when dealing with a society that is ruled by women. Nope Janeway just doesn't have any of his stupid sexism and she is always painted as right. That's not sexist TV, those are sexist characters. Having a brilliant accomplished female scientist/captain go up against sexist neanderthals is the OPPOSITE of sexist TV.

"But do we REALLY need to examine whether or not male dominated cultures are good or bad"

No, but I'm not convinced that we're doing that. To take the Kazon for example... the Kazon aren't examining if male domination is good/bad, it's flat out saying it's bad. It's holding a mirror to our society. And frankly considering women in our society, even at the top, still deal with sexism it's not a bad idea to have the first woman captain deal with it either. It's relevant, albeit heavy handed in the case of them being LITERAL neanderthals.

"But I really can't understand loving it to the point that it's flaws can't be examined"

I'm happy to talk about it's flaws...

"It is the themes of so many of the episodes, the portrayal of the characters, the dopey misogynistic alien cultures that so frequently present themselves."

So pick something. Let's talk about a few episodes. Preferably DS9/VOY since I'm most familiar with those (I never watched all of ENT and already acknowledged that TNG, especially the early years has issues).

I will say though that things are a product of their time and it's easy for us to say something is sexist in 2015. In 1965 Gene Rodenberry aired a pilot with a woman first officer. I'm sure he's was sexist too, a product of his time, but let's just acknowledge that FIFTY years ago, when we had only 2 women in the senate and they were only the 9th and 10th women EVER to be senators that man thought that a woman would be the first officer on the flagship of the fleet. Just think about that for a second.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 7:38am (UTC -5)
Oh, and just to add to the Kazon thing... if we end up with a woman president next year she will undoubtedly have to negotiate with leaders of other countries that consider her beneath them because she is a woman. The Kazon sexism issue is actually a very relevant concept.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 9:54am (UTC -5)
Robert, you make some good points, and clearly care very much about these series. I don't think though we are going to agree. I hear what you are saying about it being a mirror of society. But I think therein lies a lot of my issues. It is science fiction, and the possibilities are limitless, limited by the imagination, and yet in the incomprehensibly vast galaxy so very, very many of the alien species have evolved such that women are abused, inferior, objectified. It's at best unimaginative, but it also says a lot about the fundamental view of the female gender. It feels like being pounded over the head with the notion, and is incredibly tiresome and so frequent.
If the galaxy were populated with seemingly endless alien species that despised and disparaged blacks, and coupled with that were characters and episodes that portrayed some ugly stereotypes, it wouldn't feel like a brilliant commentary - it would feel like the writers/creators have some serious issues. They have choices - and they so often choose to present women in this way. It's relentless. Coupled with characters who seem to exist to be the female sex element, the really offensive portrayal that often happens, the choice of subjects of various episodes, the relentless message doesn't feel forward thinking.

As for Voyager, you are right that they accomplished something with Janeway, and that aside from a few moments where they asserted her femininity (or whatever they were trying to do) with some questionable episodes, she was a strong figure. But that show lost any credibility with me with the introduction of Seven, her absurd corsetted catsuit and heels, and the incredible intense focus that was given to it. And not just with me. Kate Mulgrew: " Certainly, I could see with my own eyes that she was a va-va-va-voom and beautiful-beautiful bombshell of a girl. Sexuality was brought into Voyager, and that’s what I resented. I chose not to use sexuality. I thought that if Paramount and UPN and Rick (Berman) were being exceptionally prescient and brave, they would give a woman a shot at commanding without sex. “Can we do this without sex?” There are always other ways. So I resented that and I was hurt by the immediate, extraordinary attention given to this character."

As for TOS, I almost don't include it when I assess this, as it is so over the top but as you point out, it's ancient. We could debate forever. I respect that you don't see it my way, and I don't think I will convince you. As I said, what bothers me is that it presents as some kind of brilliant thought leadership, but I don't think it is. I think it is uncreative at best but the choices say more than that to me - and it is stuck in a thinking that is hard to stomach.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 10:59am (UTC -5)
I do agree that it says something that when DS9 wanted a ratings boost they went with a Klingon Warrior and VOY went with Jeri Ryan's breasts. The fact that many of the writers made her a multi-dimensional character who was amazingly acted doesn't change the behind the scenes ick factor.

But I actually find the fact that so many planets are sexist and those aliens are usually darker than me to be more racist than sexist I suppose.

You've been silent on DS9 and Kira is probably my favorite female TV character. I wonder what your thoughts on her are. I personally wish DS9 had more women, 2/8 is low... even TNG would have more if Crosby had stayed. And VOY had 3 as well. But on the whole I thought DS9 respected their women.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 6:13pm (UTC -5)
Robert, to be honest, I am not super familiar with DS9. I have watched most of the episodes, aside from those I just couldn't plow through - just to awful to watch all the way through. I know Kira was popular as a female character, but I think that speaks to how very much people wish, deep down, that women were not portrayed, on the whole, as they are in these series and thus they grasp at every possible counter example as antidote. If the gender were not portrayed as it is in general, ST would not need these desperate attempts at "tough" girls to try to counter it. And as such, I wasn't impressed with Kira. I found her character annoying - partly as I disliked the actress and thought she was a bit of a ham. But aside from that, her chasing powerful men gets disturbing, and again is a disturbing gender commentary. As I said before, sexism is just one of the failings of ST, in my opinion, and there are many... One is a race of victims - Bajorans, or whatever they were called... It is obvious, so very painfully, dully obvious, what the historical rehashing is here, but 1. I found it boring and terribly uncreative. 2. The victimhood was so emphasized so constantly with all that race that it is hard to see past it and view them as strong individuals. Personally, I don't think Kira is much to write home about, and certainly her existence, for what it is, doesn't go far to undo the sexist nastiness that rears it's head so often- if that's the best they've got, there is a long, long way to go.

Women are notable in their absence on DS9, as you remarked, except for a couple and of course some guest appearances that truly offend - see my other comment on Troi's mother - the lonely old man chaser who is scorned - not sexy/young enough to be anything but a despised joke since she's female - it's such an ugly caraciture. And oh dear, Vash... What is that about? I think we must assume that the massive attraction is based on her looks? Because it has to be the most uninteresting, undeveloped character - she isn't particularly smart, she's unethical, she isn't funny, or clever, or in any way special that I can see and has limited back story. But a woman doesn't need much on ST to be the object of all men's drooling - not once the writers have decided we are having another hot girl scenario. Both these women and the sexism that brought them into being were the focus of DS9 episodes... Again though, we could debate instances forever.

As you point out, the creators of these series tend to create what they feel are mirrors of human culture and society. I think the choices in that regard are often disturbing, and far more telling about the mindsets/viewpoints/bigotries and total lack of creativity of those creating this stuff than commentary on much of anything else. And, as I said, it is science fiction, and a huge galaxy - they could do anything...Yet look where their minds always are - look how they think. And this is the future too... And so much is just some rehash of human cultural cliches that they can't see beyond, can't think beyond. The choices involved are often offensive. But I am going to stop... this is a site for fans of these shows. And believe it or not, I suppose I have to grudgingly class myself as one - somewhat... Though one who is forever very, very disappointed.
Wed, Dec 23, 2015, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
Robert - one last comment... I know my opinions are strong, and as I said, I respect the fact that not everyone will agree or see what I see. My gripe is with the shows - not the fans of the shows - so hopefully no one is offended.
Tue, Jan 5, 2016, 6:46pm (UTC -5)
Enjoyed the episode and thought it had decent character development. It was interesting that at the beginning of the episode we learn that male metamorphs are common whilst female ones are extremely rare. I suspect the episode may have come across less as a male orientated thing if one of these common male metamorphs that would mold themselves to nearby women was featured in the episode (perhaps as part of the ambassadors team).

I do however think that unless they used the male metamorph moments to replace the ridiculous Ferengi scenes that it may have compromised the brilliant character development (if they had to cut the Picard scenes). A sad but enjoyable episode.
Sat, Jan 30, 2016, 2:20am (UTC -5)
side note....

Back when I wathed this during it's first run I couldn't get out of my head why they named this beautiful woman after a 1980's fat wrestler (Kamala was a quite famous, and horribly racist, character throughout the 1980's in various wrestling territories). At the time I figured the writers were wrestling fans.
david g
Tue, Feb 16, 2016, 6:48am (UTC -5)
A beautiful, subservient woman falls in love with a middle aged man.
erasmus palmer
Fri, Apr 8, 2016, 7:45am (UTC -5)
About the Ferengi getting into the cargo bay...

I'm not a regular so maybe this has been discussed elsewhere, but aren't you all fascinated that, in as recent a decade as the 90s, the makers of a popular TV science fiction can't conceive of a future where video surveillance is all pervasive?
Living as we do in the 21st century, don't we find it pretty much unbelievable that there's even so much as a square centimetre on board the Enterprise that isn't subject to video scrutiny?

I'm prepared to accept that in the goody-two-shoes world of Star Trek might be exempt from video surveillance, but cargo bays..? corridors...?
Tue, May 3, 2016, 8:51pm (UTC -5)
@erasmus palmer: I'm not justifying it, but it's been handwaved away in the past for a couple reasons, usually because of the ol' "in the 24th century we've erased all bad behavior" reasons and that the Enterprise crew generally seems to allow guests mostly free reign of the ship for some reason (Picard offered Kamala the same, though).

Of course it is silly that there were a) no locks on the doors on the ferengi doors, b) no guards posted, c) no computerized logs of people leaving their quarters, d) no alerts of the ferengi getting to the cargo bay, e) no crew saw them (or thought it of interest to report it), f) no logs of entry into the cargo bay (with sensitive diplomatic cargo in it, nonetheless - cargo that for some reason needed to be in a ridiculous contraption (why not have a box around it?). You'd think there'd be the equivalent of key fobs on a starship.
Tue, May 31, 2016, 3:45am (UTC -5)
First rule.: Any TNG episode with a Ferengi is going to be bad. That said, I still don't get the appeal of watching one of the most trite plots in TNG -- The Visiting Ambassador. Visiting ambassador comes aboard, shit better not happen or the blah, blah, blah is doomed. Shit happens. Picard steps in. War averted, treaty signed, whatever. bittersweet ending.

The classy whore made it only slightly better
Thu, Oct 6, 2016, 2:01am (UTC -5)
With a title like "The Perfect Mate", I was not optimistic. Reading the plot summary would not have helped: the premise is such a trope—the perfect robot girlfriend—and hearkens back to many bad TOS stories. So, really surprised when this turns out to be one of the great ones.

There is some sexism in choosing this trope to tell any story at all, but if you're going to do it, this is the right way to go about it. It's like The Dark Knight of robot girlfriend stories. :-) I'm not sure if I could say it deconstructs the premise, but at the very least it takes it seriously and closely examines it. We're left with so much to think about: Does Kamala have free will? Perhaps only after reflecting Picard? If so, has Picard unwittingly created that in her, sort of like Data created a sentient Moriarty? Is she better off with the "higher" sense of purpose that came from bonding, or is it pure tragedy? Is Picard's worldview really superior, or just more familiar? Did she choose this? Does she want it? "Did I request thee, Maker, from my clay to mould me man?" Pretty deep stuff for a fantasy about a perfect girlfriend.

Appreciate the great comments above, too. They've made me like the episode a bit more.
Mon, Oct 10, 2016, 11:36pm (UTC -5)
I'm surprised there's been no mention of the line, "I am for you..."

There had to be knowledge of the history of that line in universe. Was a double meaning intended?
Peter G.
Tue, Oct 11, 2016, 1:53am (UTC -5)
@Zero, are you referring to "That Which Survives?"
Wed, Oct 12, 2016, 1:06am (UTC -5)
@PeterG - I am! I don't see the connection but it is, to me, such a singular line that it always jumps out at me.
Peter G.
Wed, Oct 12, 2016, 8:08am (UTC -5)
@ Zero, the line is indeed singular. If the writers wrote it knowingly with "That Which Survives" in mind we can conclude that they did so from a sense of humor. In TOS that line referred to a woman designed for a specific man to end his life. It's not too hard to figure out what they meant by implying that an impending marriage would mean the same thing!
Fri, Oct 14, 2016, 12:22am (UTC -5)

I don't disagree with your analysis but I'd pull the sex of the character from it. One of the things I found most chilling about the empath situation was her total loss of self upon meeting her intended.

In this case, "I am for you" becomes a statement of absolute surrender and the death of her individuality. If not for coming out of stasis she would never have spent a moment identifying who she was.

Jammer says in his review that she is not a slave. I'm afraid I can't agree. She clearly shares that she has never, in her life, been alone. There has always been someone there to tell her what she was and what she would become.

In this exchange with you, what I have processed is that the women (a computer in TWS, I grant you) in both episodes have no real control over their actions. They've been programmed.
Sat, Nov 12, 2016, 3:12pm (UTC -5)
erasmus palmer: "Living as we do in the 21st century, don't we find it pretty much unbelievable that there's even so much as a square centimetre on board the Enterprise that isn't subject to video scrutiny?"

Stig: "Of course it is silly that there were a) no locks on the doors on the ferengi doors, b) no guards posted, c) no computerized logs of people leaving their quarters, d) no alerts of the ferengi getting to the cargo bay, e) no crew saw them (or thought it of interest to report it), f) no logs of entry into the cargo bay..."

But... the cargo bay *was* being monitored. There *was* an alert of the Ferengi entry, visible on Worf's security panel on the bridge. He knew at once who it was, called for a detail to meet him there.
Tue, Jan 31, 2017, 7:16pm (UTC -5)
Mixed feelings about this episode. As many have pointed out, it's impossible to know Kamala or what she wants. Even Kamala doesn't know what she wants; she only knows what the man she's with wants.

When I saw it the first time. I took her final imprinting on Picard as, in fact, a choice -which is how she explained it to him - but of course it was just as likely his desire rubbing off on her, his sense of duty rubbing off on her, or his man-parts rubbing her on their last night together. I mean, I guess I'm glad she ends up becoming permanently the brilliant and adventurous type Picard desired, but.... It's still problematic.

The throwaway line at the beginning, "Male metamorphs are relatively common" was hypocritical BS on the part of the show. It was clearly meant to take some of the venomous misogyny out of the premise, but only a moron would be fooled.

Producer: "Hey, I want an all-white cast for my show about lawyers ... Don't want any black or brown people or Jews, but I gotta cover my ass from accusations of racism."

Writer: "Easy! Let's just start off the pilot with one lawyer mentioning "Our black, extremely respected CEO is on a five year sabbatical in GHana visiting his grandma".... Then we get your all-white show and the NAACP can't do squat to us!"

Obviously, they could have had the same episode but given us one of those very common male metamorphs, being given as a gift to a female head of state. Could have had the same identity struggle, same discussion of ethics and free will, same thwarted love affair - except it would be between the enslaved male and that main female .Enterprise crew member. You know, that major female character who is independent and duty-bound and stoic and self-controlled and central to the series.

Hmmm, gosh, I just can't imagine why they didn't do it that way....
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 12:19am (UTC -5)
@ Tara,

Your feminist reading of this episode seems to miss the context of Kamala as she features in the story. You have zeroed in on the fact that a female slave is the centerpiece of the episode, but failed to note in what way the episode treats her.

We can begin with the title itself: The Perfect Mate. Should we infer from this that Star Trek is factually asserting that she is, indeed, the perfect mate? If so it would certainly seem sexist. However I don't think this assumption would be accurate.

Kamala is shown to be able to become whatever a man wants, and at the start of the episode this is made to sound like a splendid thing. Maybe just the sort of thing many men would ask for if they could have it. The fact that a little havoc on the ship ensues can be ascribed to no more than her early release, if one wanted to find excuses for it. But actually it's a taste of what's to come in the theme.

When she adopts Picard's traits we are again lulled into thinking this is a wonderful ability, since we respect Picard and surely would celebrate having a female around who is like him. In fact, since Picard leads a lonely private life we are probably even being led to hope he'll somehow end up with her (we know he won't, but the image of it happening is still there in the imagination). But the real meaning of the episode comes at the end, when the pig of a man who's to marry her shows the true face of what it means to want a malleable slave. I believe we are meant to reflect back to her adopting Picard's traits and to realize that even that was as gross as someone who'd want her to be servile and weak. Regardless of whether one wishes for her to be noble or slavish, either way she is being reduced to an object of desire. We should no more celebrate her being Picard's ideal mate than we should her being a sex slave. The ending almost seems to suggest that she's happy to have ended up at Picard's ideal woman, which would imply that she got lucky in some sense to have bonded to him, but even so her evaluation of that is conducted as his ideal mate! Of course she'd think that was a better way to be, since it embodied Picard's values by definition. We don't get to know what she would have wanted, because her wants never really came into the picture.

I don't know that this was intended specifically as such, but I would suggest that if anything this is strikingly a feminist episode. The ironic title seems to me to suggest that desiring another person to be exactly what we want objectifies them; that trying to match a human being up against a personal fantasy makes them into less than what they are. So rather than being all about how great it is to have a female slave, as you suggest, I believe the episode's conclusion is meant to show how horrible it is for someone like her to be used like that, even by someone like Picard.
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 5:33am (UTC -5)
Peter G,

I don't know. I hear what you're saying. And for the record I called the episode problematic, not flat-out disgusting like others. (For a typical early TNG female, see Minuet on 1100101. She says nothing but "Oh commander Riker! You live a fascinating life! Please tell me more!" And Riker and Pucard indeed talk about how wonderful she is and how easy it would be to fall in love with such a perfect mate!)

Here are the reasons we did not see a male metamorph being given to a female head of state:

1) the show wanted to present a sexy woman guest star to titillate the male TV audience

2) culturally it's considered normal for a woman to please/obey/be what her man wants. (Again see Minuet, or the various devoted wives of "Too Short a Season", "We'll Always Have Paris", Sarek's episode etc). The reverse in a man is considered weak, slavish, unmanly, hen-packed. A male guest changing to be the ideal mate of Troi or Crusher would have been sniggered at

3). Assuming heterosexuality, a male metamorph would have been given either Crusher or Troi. But those characters are written without the gravitas and stoicism Picard is awarded. They are also far less important characters than the male lead (Picard), the second lead (Data), the third lead (Piker). A show about their love affair with a male metamorph would have been lightweight fluff because their characters are written as lightweights.

So the sexism I see is more meta or out-of-universe. We have:

-- a guest role clearly meant to titillate the male audience
-- a plot that we're comfortable with because it's only a hair beyond What socially expected of women in relationships
-- in a TV show that has depicted many sex other female guests as sex toys, vapid women, and devoted wives circling their "great man" husbands.
-- a TV show in which the three most important, powerful and interesting roles are taken by men,
-- and in which the female characters are written to be dull, one-note, and therefore hard to build episodes around..

I didn't hate the episode. Actually I kinda liked it. I like the conversations between Picard and Kamala; I like that Crusher speaks up for her ethics; I like the fun scene in Ten Forward and I love Stewart's and Kamala's acting. I too am not completely immune to the charms of a beautiful metamorph! It's entertaining and a bit thought-provoking. But it is built on a scaffolding of past TNG in-universe sexism, inside a larger world of TV producers' and writers' sexism, inside a surrounding world of societal sexism that determines how women are often portrayed (objects to be gazed at or owned) and how they're generally expected to treat men (please him and change for him).

And all these onion-like layers are what created this plot.
Peter G.
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 8:27am (UTC -5)
Both your (1) and (2) imply a sexist *context*, and I think it's absolutely clear that the episode works within such a context, knowingly. It knows the audience likes attractive females and that there is a cultural stereotype of women being subservient to men. The episode delivers what people would like to see, and in spades. And that is the entire point: it shows that the audience's expectation is not so virtuous, and this becomes clear towards the end when we begin to realize that wanting such a character (or a mate) is problematic, as you put it. It allows the audience to feel it's getting what it wants, only to subtly turn that on its head when it becomes clear how awful it is that she is destined to be nothing more than a possession to some client. This puts the mirror up to the audience themselves, who are the clients behind TNG and to whom the producers cater to an extent.

Granted, I don't think "The Perfect Mate" hammers this point home bluntly, but I think the message is there, all the same. I certainly feel revulsion when I watch her new owner show up, and although it's true that this is partly due to how he's represented, at the same time it's quite notable that we are expected to feel badly for her in the end rather than drooling over her.
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 8:28am (UTC -5)
@Tara - But Minuet wasn't a woman. Minuet was basically 24th century pornography and Picard and Riker were treating IT as such. That conversation was basically amounting to... "With the internet and a free left hand, who needs a woman amirite??" Early TNG guest stars are problematic, but it's worth pointing out that Minuet is not a woman but a piece of tech designed to "stimulate" Riker.

FWIW I agree with your assessment that there aren't many (any) females in Trek that could have pulled this episode off the way Picard does. Neither Troi nor Crusher really could have, Kira is too fundamentally broken personally (though I love her) to have made that work, Jadzia could possibly have done it... as could Janeway (when written correctly). But that's probably it. Whereas there are probably 10 or so men that this episode could have been done for.

Also, to throw my 2 cents in... I think that she did make a choice. I think she spent years mostly alone and she knows what she's like when she's alone. I think she realizes she's going to have to eventually absorb part of SOMEBODY'S personality and I think she liked herself with Picard. I think maybe when she went back to her quarters each day she missed the piece of her that left with him.

It may still be not her ideal, but it doesn't sound like staying blank is possible. So Picard may have been the next best thing.
William B
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 10:13am (UTC -5)
My take:

I think that the TOS model was supposed to be that Trek is post-sexism, post-racial. Hence Lincoln's line to Uhura saying he should have realized that racism was so far in the past that he did not have to choose his words as carefully to avoid imagined offense. TNG, I think, is/was meant to be similar. However, the three white male adult actors are still the three top officers on the ship, with he twor playing human adult white men being the top officers. Crusher, Pulaski and Troi are highly-ranked women but outside the chain of command, with Troi's job only intermittently being taken seriously. Yar was probably the next in command after Data in season one, as a full lieutenant who was part of the chain of command, but the character was poorly executed (writing and acting) and then was...poorly executed (by Armus).

So TNG didn't quite present a post-racial, post-sexism TV show, but I think Starfleet itself, and Picard, is still meant to be beyond 1980s/90s sexism. For the most part I think Picard is. But I think Peter's read, which I agree with, indicts Picard to a degree -- for failing to fully recognize Kamala's plight until he is confronted, first by Crusher, then by a Kamala specifically imprinted to speak his language. And that implies the episode takes place in a sexist world, which Picard is ultimately not above. Now, I think the analogue to Kamala is mostly princesses or other royals who are meant to make peace between warring faction by marriage, and so whose "job" is to be beautiful. I think it is a reality of human history that this exploitative role was more often expected of women than men, and I think this episode comments on that. However, it is hard to see Picard coming under the criticism that he is part of the sexist institution, because we don't think of Picard that way and the show generally does not portray him that way. In that sense, this episode seems like a criticism of all of TNG for failing to note some of the show's biases...but it is subtle enough that this episode could rightly be criticized for still living within those boundaries. And the critique the ep puts forth, if Peter is correct (and I believe he is) is not something the show maintains.

So IMO Tara is absolutely right about the show in general, it is just a question of whether this episode suffers from the same faults of the show as a whole or whether it undermines them -- but maybe is insufficient on its own at underlining the limutations of the ostensibly utopian future.
William B
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 10:32am (UTC -5)
@Robert, I get what you mean about Minuet, but Riker and Picardy treat it/her as being very different from other holodeck characters, and in Future Imperfect we are told that Riker still has a strong emotional attachment to her years later. I don't think Minuet *was* intended as a sex toy on the authorial level, or rather she was meant to be person enough to floor Riker.
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 10:38am (UTC -5)
Why can't it be both? Why can't 24 century sex toys be so advance that we have emotional attachments to them?
William B
Wed, Feb 1, 2017, 10:46am (UTC -5)
Well, sort of. I think it says more about Riker's issues (commitment-phobia, dead mother) than it does about he world that Riker gets attached to Minuet so much. But I think Minuet is still "supposed to be" really special -- and thus Tara's point that she is depicted as a certain kind of woman's role in the show makes sense. Although, she was always meant to be a too-good-to-be-true fantasy; it maybe just sucks that this is what Riker's fantasy is. She is not wholly subservient; she is meant to have some spark and aggressiveness and challenge Riker a bit -- but, obviously, only enough to entice him and not enough to be independent enough to scare him. I think 11001001 is pulling some of the same trick as Peter suggests this episode is, but is less sophisticated about it -- though 11001001 also has more plot elements than this one, and Min is less central to that than Kamala is here.
Wed, Feb 8, 2017, 3:59pm (UTC -5)
It may be that the writers choose to write this around a female character so we can have a hot babe of the week. But in-universe, I always understood that her diplomatic value, and thus appearance on the Enterprise, was *because* of the rarity of female metamorphs.

I'm wary of the proposition that Kamala has no agency here. Within the terms of what she is and the situation she's put in, she has two significant choices: who she bonds to; and, whether she fulfills the diplomatic role, to the greater good, despite her personal preferences. I think she *makes* these choices. Why would we denigrate her by inferring that she's both incapable of choosing in full knowledge of the implications, and also dishonest about it?
Sat, Mar 18, 2017, 12:56am (UTC -5)
I have to agree with what other people have been saying, not a great episode, for several reasons.

First off-Picard's an idiot. He left the cargo bay unlocked and unguarded after the ambassador told him the cargo was essential and irreplaceable. They could have at least thrown a few guards in the corridor to make it look like he was semi-competent this episode. The ferengi just walks right in and helps himself! But even that wouldn't let him off the hook, as he still let a couple of ferengi go roaming around his ship unsupervised. Confine them to quarters or at least place a guard with them at all times, you know they can't be trusted! The ferengi weren't even necessary to the plot, and just served to make Picard look like a fool. (It was kind of funny seeing them trying to cozy up to people and imagining Geordi taking one snorkeling, though.)

Love stories between Picard and women who are young enough to be his daughter are, as always, completely unbelievable. Are viewers really supposed to believe there are really so many young women out there lusting over his gleaming noggin, or is the career of starship captain more lucrative or respected than is implied? In this case she'll go for anything male so it's excusable, but I'd really prefer to see him with a woman his own age and with similar interests, and then watch a natural thing happen between them instead of making poor Picard do the Kirk and uncharacteristically fall for any pretty thing that makes eyes at him. (Isn't that Riker's job?)

I'm not seeing what's so "deep" about this episode. She's being exactly what Picard wants her to be, as she told him she would do, and he starts to take it at face value and forget himself and what she is. She would have done the same with any other man, acting how he wanted her to. Maybe she truly is more attracted to Picard because he's an authority figure or because he respects her and doesn't just lust after her. How would we know? The whole time she's just telling him what he wants to hear, for all we know she really didn't care about what he thought. She was vulnerable because he wanted her to be, interested in him because he wanted her to be. Oh, he didn't want it consciously, but on a subconscious level he was reacting and she was responding by being exactly what he was into.

He did her a great disservice by bonding her to him, because it turned her into a woman who would be dissatisfied with her fate, a fate she previously told him she was fine with. As tragic as that is, in the end she's just a plot device to give us a little more on the captain. Depthen and torture the character a little by giving him a forbidden fruit that's just to his liking. She's just a one episode character we'll never see again, and we know it going in, so the focus is really on Picard and how he reacts to her, how he muddles through the moral dilemma he's given after Beverly tells him the girl may just be a slave. (Star Fleet hasn't had any trouble dealing with slavers in the past though, so I was a little surprised she brought it up.)

The episode isn't about love so much as how Picard reacts to it.
Sat, May 20, 2017, 3:06am (UTC -5)
I think this is an interesting episode because it's like the star trek version of in the mood for love. Which works so well for a character like Picard. I know some people have accused this episode of being misogynistic in its portrayal of a woman as an object with the sole purpose to please a man but I think that's just people getting a bit too SJW happy. The episode does in fact tackle that issue and explore it, basically using the 'she's an alien and aliens work differently from normal people" argument to justify the situation. Which is a fair way out I think, while still highlighting the human view of the situation as exploitative. But also it highlights the prime directive idea that you shouldn't judge and interfere with how others choose to live their lives. The sexual tension is very palpable and it is an interesting episode for seeing Picard put on the spot and his own repressed desires highlighted. If you look at it another way too you might also say that the metamorph was the one exploiting the men in this episode. I mean they were trying to do their jobs and she never spared an opportunity to try and seduce them so she could get her satisfaction. How many times did Picard have to ask her to stop her sexual advances for god's sake?
Daniel Blumentritt
Sat, Jun 10, 2017, 1:39am (UTC -5)
{ As pretty as Kamala appeared in this episode, I couldn't help thinking that "an empathic metamorph" would not make the ideal mate for a mature man with a strong sense of self. }

That's kind of the point.
Paul Carson
Wed, Aug 2, 2017, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
"Curious isn't exactly how I'd describe it."

Made me chuckle.

You never see Picard leave, and he doesn't answer the ambassador's question.

And Famke bonded with him.

Fun episode, Famke acts it well.
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 12:35pm (UTC -5)
I like to think that although Picard might be intrigued and tempted, he wouldn't have interest long term in a mate that was "designed" for him. It would be too inauthentic. Besides: what you think or feel you want isn't always what you actually want or need. There's something profoundly powerful about having conflicts and misunderstandings due to fundamental differences in interests and personalities, being able to explore those things, finding some sort of common ground or compromise, and always choosing to maintain a partnership. I feel like Picard would be more interested in someone who loved and respected him while having their own strong sense of self, their own standards and values and opinions, and vice versa.

A relationship with a metamorph would be like dating a character in the holodeck. Perhaps suitable for some, but not for the captain.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 1:23pm (UTC -5)
@ HNC,

Don't forget that the metamorph can completely read a person's desires, and that this isn't limited to their base or sensual desires. If Picard has a mix of things that may be either immediately attractive or that he would prefer in the long-term, it's a safe bet that Kamala would tune into that and make adjustments. I think it's fair to assume that she would be the *ideal* mate for any man, not just a phony surface version that wouldn't be that interesting long-term. The premise is simply that she is actually Picard's ideal mate, and that Picard gave that up. Think about that one for a minute, but the episode actually understates how crazy it would be to literally give up the woman of your dreams who wants you for the sake of a diplomatic mission. *That* is why Riker would rather serve under this man rather than have his own command.
William B
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 2:00pm (UTC -5)
In addition to what Peter said, the way in which Kamala operates seems partly to anticipate and disarm Picard's various objections. That's why, for example, she indicates that she likes the person that she's become as a result of Picard, and paints a picture of herself as lonely in her previous life and seems to go straight for the philosophical issue of whether her identity can be meaningful if it is constructed around Picard; she even anticipates and disarms Picard's *ethical* qualms about her by finding a way to make it Picard's ethical duty to keep her company in the interim. I think that the idea here is that the way in which Kamala adapts is "smarter" than the way in which Picard can respond, at least emotionally -- she seems to get to the point of being what he needs before he can even recognize it. Part of the episode's tragedy is that the kind of woman that Picard could love with all her heart is also a woman who would sacrifice herself for the greater good, as he would. It also suggests, maybe, why it's so difficult for Picard to have a relationship; this episode reminds us that Riker or Worf's needs are pretty straightforward, and that of course Data has no "romantic needs" in the traditional sense, but Picard's perfect mate needs to be "imperfect" for him in just the right way, and it's even possible that this perfection would not only be unattainable under normal circumstances, but would immediately lead to the relationship self-terminating. (Kamala's ultimate nobility is maybe a signal of why Picard/Vash could never have worked as anything more than a fling.)
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 2:12pm (UTC -5)
"Part of the episode's tragedy is that the kind of woman that Picard could love with all her heart is also a woman who would sacrifice herself for the greater good, as he would."

Great point. One way the ending could have been stronger would have been if, rather than submitting to her fate because Picard willed it, if Kamala herself had become Picard's ideal mate to the point where she, herself, developed the discipline to step away from him and do her duty. If there had been a scripted moment where her identity "took" (which we never see, we're only told it already happened) and at that moment she suddenly understood that she had to fight the desire just as Picard did, that would have been a truly awesome moment.
William B
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
Actually, that's how I do read the ending:

PICARD: You can't go through with the ceremony.
KAMALA: Would you ask me to stay and ask two armies to keep fighting? Having bonded with you, I've learned the meaning of duty. He'll never know. I'm still empathic. I will be able to please him. I only hope he likes Shakespeare.

Now, I think that Picard here is mostly being selfless -- his instinct is not, I think, to keep Kamala for himself, but a recognition that she will be unhappy in her new life and that she no longer wishes to go through with the ceremony. But now her sense of duty is activated.

In a larger sense, it's not only a tragedy because of what Picard lost, but because of what Kamala lost -- and how Picard has inadvertently been party to her fate. (Inadvertently because Picard never intended for her to be bonded to him, and, indeed, actively resisted it.)
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 2:52pm (UTC -5)
William, yes, but I specifically meant I would have liked to see the actually moment where her personality 'clicked' onscreen so we could see the sudden shift of her desire to be with Picard immediately change and have her realize that duty is first. It could have been timed maybe even at a moment of weakness for Picard, where her own strength, coming from him, could bolster his own resolve. The ending certainly indicated that the change had happened, but based on the plotting it really just coincided with when her intended husband showed up anyhow. The timing of it created an immediacy that trumped whatever desires they may have had; it sort of forced the issue, whereas I would have liked them to have resolved it on their own beforehand. The ending is sad and tragic, but it would have been made more poignant, I think, by a last minute role reversal with Kamala taking the reigns of putting the brakes on and giving Picard a moment to express just what she might mean to him.
William B
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 2:59pm (UTC -5)
Peter, oh, I see what you mean. That would have been interesting, and could have been very powerful. I like the way it played out, and the one thing I'm not sure about in your scenario is that I'm not sure if there would be such a "snapping" point where she goes from being sorta-adapted to Picard to being fully imprinted on him. Obviously we are told there *is* a difference, but I'd imagine that when she's temporarily imprinted on Picard, she would still have his sense of duty, and that the major change isn't so much that she's incorporated his values (which she had already done) as that it's permanent.
Peter G.
Mon, Aug 28, 2017, 3:14pm (UTC -5)
William, I see that objection. But the thing is that in theory her personality would only be like his while he was around, which was often but not all the time. So in his absence she'd presumably revert to wanting to have him around. I mean, if the episode went to the full extreme of what we're discussing I guess the moment she was ever first in his presence she could have just stopped asking to mate with him since she'd already have his values, but then there would be no show, right? So I think the difference here lies not so much in whether her personality is permanent, as the fact that she *knows* at first that it's temporary. When with him, even if her version of instincts would tell her that duty comes first, she's not just an automaton, and she would understand that these feelings would only last so long as he was around, so in a way she could indulge them without 'getting in trouble', sort of like playing out a fantasy. Knowing he was going to resist anyhow, she could pursue him without risking the mission, to sort of tease herself, almost, with having him be the one to push her away. But at such a time as she knew the personality was permanent she wouldn't be able to pretend anymore and would have to take on the responsibility that Picard himself takes upon himself as the guiding force of his life. It's one thing to have a sense of duty emanating from Picard that she feels; it's quite another to knowingly embrace that duty as her first calling, to decide to take it. Don't forget that she was meant to function on instinct in the first place; there was no need, really, for her to have to choose her destiny, it's sort of what she's designed for, if I can put it that way. When she was with Picard initially it was much the same; her instincts led her to be what he wanted. It would be different, though, for her to *override* her insticts and subsequently to *choose* duty as a principle unto itself. In other words, to reject her training and choose to accept her same mission for a totally new reason - Picard's reason. I guess I mean that it would be a chance to show her accepting her mission for the right reason for the first time, rather than just going along with what her genetics tell her to do.
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 1:36pm (UTC -5)
Basically just a ripoff of the TOS episode 'Elaan of Troiyus'. Surprised to see it still happening in Season 5.
Mads Leonard Holvik
Sun, Feb 11, 2018, 8:37am (UTC -5)
I liked this episode. And I liked the review. Picard's sense of duty reminds me of Horatio Hornblower. Hornblower marries a woman whom he does not love, and he does it because she loves him so dearly, and he remains true to her until she dies. These philosophical and ethical discussions is why I love Star Trek so much.
Wed, Feb 14, 2018, 4:59pm (UTC -5)
One word - DULL. This is the only Star Trek episode ever I fell asleep during while watching for the first time.
Mike Latoris
Sun, Feb 25, 2018, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
"Picard is able to resist a woman that no other man on the ship can resist; but not a video game? (it was unclear to me whether the whole crew is smitten because she is their perfect woman, or if she actually has some magical/chemical/whatever force that actually has a controlling influence, but either way, Picard resists it)."

No, he didn't. He obviously stayed in her quarters overnight when she asks him to, and when he's asked how he resisted her charms, he doesn't answer the question. Because he didn't.
Sean Hagins
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 5:25am (UTC -5)
I have to agree with Bill on this one. I hated this episode when it came out, and rewatching it now, my opinion hasn't changed.

Also, as I have said before in reviews on this website, my taste in girls is vastly different than most people here. I do not find Kamala attractive at all! I didn't in X-Men and I didn't here. But that truly is besides the point-I can't abide the plot here. It's just not enjoyable to me
Sean Hagins
Thu, Apr 12, 2018, 5:50am (UTC -5)
Another thing: Why did they not send Data to be the liason for Kamala, and LEAVE HER IN HER QUARTERS? That is something that I thought of at the very beginning. This entire situation is absurd! She should have been confined to quarters-it is obvious that she is a temptation to the men on the ship! It's honestly crazy how Picard doesn't see this
Tue, Jul 31, 2018, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
This one's a snooze-fest. We know Picard is uber-dedicated to his career but can have still feelings for all kinds of women (Vash for example) but ultimately it wouldn't work out. Certainly Kamala makes herself perfect for him, whereas the dude she's supposed to marry shows little interest in her -- trophy wife indeed. There really isn't much of a plot here other than a character examination of the loneliness of Picard -- simply not enough here for an entire episode. Another solid acting performance from Stewart -- a few good scenes with Crusher as well.

Give me "Elaan of Troyius" any day over this bore-fest. This one's slow pacing just dragged for me. I think it needed a B-plot.

And we get the stupid Ferengi again causing mayhem. So they cause the ambassador to fall through a glass table and he falls into a coma for several days? Perhaps because he's super-old. But we don't really need to see Ferengi stupidity -- thought that was something of Seasons 1 & 2... And how do they get to roam all over the ship and enter a supposedly locked cargo bay?

Not sure what stance this episode takes on slavery or arranged marriages. Sure, Picard lets Kamala run free (some humor with Data as chaperone) but she wants to fulfill her duties and then there is the PD to observe, so there should be no meddling.

1.5 stars for "The Perfect Mate" -- not much here other than giving Picard the ultimate temptation, which he knows he can't take. Some goofy scenes with the Ferengi, Kamala/Data and a stab at moralizing about a sentient being owned by others. I liked Picard's line "nothing lies beneath" when he was trying to be dull!
Sun, Sep 2, 2018, 3:32pm (UTC -5)
Just rewatched. I have the same conclusion that I had 25 years ago. Famke was the most gorgeous creature on earth.
Mon, Oct 8, 2018, 8:13pm (UTC -5)
One thing I found very interesting in this episode, although it was played for laughs, was Riker's overt racism against the Ferengi. When they were beamed aboard, he hadn't even met them yet and already, on the assignment of quarters, he says: "not too close to mine".

I think Riker has every right to distrust them considering he was leading the landing party of humanity's first "known" contact with the Ferengi, in the first season episode: The Last Outpost, and he saw how deceitful they were. He was also captured by them in season four's Ménage à Troi.

The reason I find all this interesting is because of a line in another first season episode from Riker. In Lonely Among Us, we hear the tail end of a conversation Picard and Riker were having about the Antican and the Selay peace delegates the Enterprise was ferrying to a peace conference. I may have the exact quotes off a bit, but basically what is said about their hostility to each other:

Riker: "I never understood that kind of hostility even when I studied earth history."

Picard: "...oh yes, well they feel such passionate hatred for one another on customs, god concepts, even strangely enough, economic systems."

I guess Riker learned fast from practical experience. One of the Selay even asked about how close their quarters would be to the Anticans, something echoed by Riker in The Perfect Mate as I have already referenced. Funnily enough as well with Picard mentioning "economic systems", I'm guessing Riker is not a fan of the Ferengi's capitalistic nature either.
Sat, Oct 13, 2018, 10:44pm (UTC -5)
What was up with the goofy groups of thugs in Ten Forward? All the sudden it looks like the Star Wars Cantina... I don't remember big groups of rowdy aliens hanging around before.
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 10:36am (UTC -5)
I hated this episode so much! It encapsulates everything that was wrong with the depiction of women in the first two series of Star Trek.
Sean Hagins
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 10:55am (UTC -5)

In what way? I'm not sure what you mean
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 4:04am (UTC -5)
@Sean Hagins

Anna back in 2015 outlined the often obnoxious depiction of women in Star Trek more coherently than I can, although I don't judge the various series quite as harshly as she does, and don't believe that any of the episodes was deliberately misogynist. Peter, also in 2015, points out that the character of Kamala '... reads more like a 13-year-old boy's fantasy of the ideal girlfriend', ie a hot organic fembot with no personal ambition other than to be what the man who owns her wants her to be. Famke Janssen does her best with the part (Kamala growling at Worf was very funny) but the writers' attempts to stave off accusations of sexism,
or of titillating their audience with a comely sex-slave are just laughable: 'We're not being sexist because in this society there are also male metamorphs but we're not going to depict them just .... cos. And she's not a slave because we say so, even though she has absolutely no other purpose in life than to be imprinted on a man chosen for her by other men.' As for the notion that the noblest and most self-sacrificing action this person can take to help her people is to spread her legs for the enemy .... don't make me puke. This episode could only have been redeemed for me if Kamala had come to the realisation that she was smarter, better educated and more accomplished than any of the males she had met and had formed a metamorph army to conquer both worlds.
Thu, Oct 18, 2018, 4:29am (UTC -5)
Polly -

Ambition is a negative trait, male or female. Perhaps it isn't seen that way in our neurotic modern age, but TNG is supposed to be an evolved culture and not one centered around materialism.
Wed, Nov 21, 2018, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
I do not agree with Jammer here.
I cannot believe that the writers have pulled out that worn out plot of incapacitated ambassador replaced by Picard in a rush again.
As for the core business of Picard falling in love, Kirk-like- with the babe of the week-just give me a break guys.
Ok-she is an empathic metamorph who imprints herself on her one true love-so far so Disney channel,causes random rowdy rough types in ten forward ( huh-how did they get on board?) to act like jerks and gets Riker's magic trouser snake going.

The allegedly tragic ending is clumsily telegraphed and mishandled.

I really do not care one jot about it.

One star for having Tim O'Connor in the show as a nod to fans of First Season Buck Rogers
Tue, Jan 15, 2019, 7:22pm (UTC -5)
Ever overhear a group of women yapping when they're lubed up with a few glasses of wine? They wrote the book on sexism.
Wed, Apr 24, 2019, 10:23am (UTC -5)
This episode starts off takes us down the slutty men trail....

Oh by the way Riker: pheromones aren't sensed by empaths. They aren't feelings or thoughts. Just ask the carpenter ants in your home...they are something picked up by your nose.

And there is Riker kissing the woman whose attraction to and "sexual bonding with " the other world's leader is key to a peace deal. Would that be considered risking interference in the development of two planets and millions of lives? I can't wait to see him fall on his sword and beg forgiveness of the captain for interfering in another world...what? not going to happen? Star Trek : Where no Double Standard has gone before...aaaand...gross.... Riker runs off to wank off in Holodeck 4.

And then we have Crusher appealing to the captain to investigate the circumstances. And Picard goes off to check in on the Insta-Mate. And he starts asking questions which could also be interfering couldn't they? They are fair as he wants to ensure that there isn't some breach of the Insta-Mate's fundamental rights. And Insta-Mate tries to sell herself as adventurous and independent to the captain...yes! very independent says the most dependent female in the sector. (the one who gets her life's pleasure from molding to another one's wishes and is uncomfortable discussing what happens if there isn't another one...the irony, the irony)

The scene in her cabin with the captain where the lights were dimmed and she was wearing that 1930s gown, made my wife wish they remade movies from the 30s and 40s but with serious plots and discussions, themes such as covered by Star Trek. The 30s glamour and the 2019's social development. Hmmm...

Look at the men turn and ogle and make comments when Insta-Mate walks into 10 Forward. That's rude behaviour, men, if you weren't sure. Data telling them specifically was hilarious. I think no one had ever told them before. A fellow man too! My wife fell over laughing at that scene.

My wife liked the Insta-Mate. She liked how she manipulated each man in turn and they had no idea. Purring at Worf had her rolling on the floor. Funny how the captain caught wind of it but Riker was taken hook, line, and sinker. At least Worf gave his head a shake. I'm glad Riker was booted from the rest of this episode. It worked best with nuance, not his strong suit.

Funny how the women on the crew aren't enlisted to keep Insta-Mate company or interact or as chaperones. Data was a good choice and made for some humour as chaperone, but it would have been more interesting and nuanced to see the other women get to know her and acknowledge parallels and tradeoffs in real life decisions. (Imagine Ro and Pulaski, even could dream)

Nog Interlude

The scene in Kamla's cabin with the captain was very interesting. she is trying to say she is attracted to him because he isn't other men, because he puts up a wall. Once again she is changing to be what Picard wants: a strong woman like Vash who likes a challenge and keeps trying . But the show introduces that idea that all of a sudden she is lonely and nervous about the next day. I don't buy it though. The scene was excellent due to Stewart's acting. As was the next scene with Crusher when Picard gives an honest and human account of his feelings for Kamala and the struggle to resist.

The episode would have been good if it could have focussed more on the solitariness of Picard's life. Kamala touched on it but it really wasn't central after that. And since the episode turned from a more general discussion of the rightness of Kamala's circumstances to The Picard Show once again, they should have gone all the way,

7/10 for an interesting sci fi idea that could have been good or great.
Wed, Apr 24, 2019, 10:29am (UTC -5)
sorry, Rom not Nog

It is interesting Jammer you point out that Kamala realizes what she loses out by having a life with the diplomat rather than a life with Picard. What about her own life? Why isn't that the third option? This episode was better as it started, exploring the rightness of Kamala`s situation. She gave the far greater sacrifice by giving up her whole life . Picard gives up the higher likelihood of a life partner. Nothing forbids him from having one, there is just less chance.

If they were going to make this about Picard`s solitariness, which would have been a good one, they should have modified it. As it was, I feel the episode was about Kamala`s sacrifice and Picard`s isolation and both became watered down.
Tue, May 28, 2019, 12:57am (UTC -5)

You'll probably never read this, but I think you're being too harsh.

Yes, this episode is a bit of the born sexy yesterday trope. In the context of a series that has already had problems with it's depiction of women, I can see why this would be another annoying offense.

However, judged on it's own, I think it's alright. There's nothing particularly sexist or juvenile about being attracted to a mate built solely to transform seemlessly into a fulfillment of your every desire. Rather, it takes a certain degree of humility and maturity to admit that in spite of our lofty pretenses, we would probably find such a mate ideal.

I know you think you want to be challenged, but you don't actually want this. You want a bit of pushback to keep things spicy, but overall you want someone on the same page as you. Your desires are not nearly as sophisticated as your internal narrative would have you believe. Much like Picard, the deception necessary to seduce you may require one additional step, but the game is still the same.

Here's the kicker though: there is no deception. The mate in this story is actually changing into the thing that you want. They are not pretending, they actually are that thing now. In that way it is an honest relationship. In fact, your tendency to automatically describe it perjoratively (slavery, fembot) is reflective of your inability to see past the limitations of your own cultural paradigms (this was Dr. Crusher's problem as well).

I think this episode presents a sufficiently interesting premise, explored well enough, as to forgive the obvious androcentrism this time around. It's a shame that the rest of the series was so problematic.

PS: The only things I didn't really like here were that: 1) There were no major interactions between female crewmembers and the mate 2) We really should have gotten to see a male transformer-mate too.
Tue, May 28, 2019, 11:02am (UTC -5)

Yes, I think what this episode has going for it over other types of male "wish fulfillment" stories is that it analyzes the material seriously. That is to say, this episode doesn't seem to be interested in titillating the audience as much as carefully examining what it means to be born for a specific purpose and the negative and positive connotations of that machination. The concept is similar to European and Asian monarchical systems, many of which remain to this day, where a person is raised and bred into a family and expected to be used for a specific public - and noble - purpose.

This is not to say that there isn't some ugly business to this episode. And, I think we see that depicted well in the Ferengi who act to strip away the "noble purpose" of the system and expose how, in terms of human rights, it's all sort of a VIP-as-commodity exchange akin to slavery.

It is notable that Kamala's story is intended to be tragic, yet she maintains a sort of stoic poise through the whole episode that is admirable. Likewise, Picard's story too is tragic as he falls for a woman he knows he can never be with. That the system makes the immediate individuals involved miserable on some level is an indictment the episode itself serves. Though, we are left with a few difficult questions; is the sacrifice of a few people's personal freedoms worth the exchange for peace to the whole society? Is such a society even worth preserving or is the sheer existence of the system proof that the society is already in trouble?

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