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 Text

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 cliché, but in its quietly effective and unassuming way, this is a character study examining that sacrifice.

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282 comments on this post

    This episode is also good for presenting the funniest line of TNG:

    "I'll be in Holodeck Four."

    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".

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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."

    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.

    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.

    @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.

    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!

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    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.

    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!

    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.

    @ 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".

    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.

    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?

    This episodes runs on the same storyline (almost) to the ST-TOS episode Elaan of Troyius

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Thank you, @ Anthony Pirtle, you just restored my faith in Star Trek fans. Well said.

    @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.

    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.

    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.

    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!!

    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.

    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.

    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?

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Fin67, I think the name Kamala is a nod to the courtesan of the same name in Hermann Hesse's Siddhartha.

    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


    @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.

    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.

    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.


    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.

    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.

    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?

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    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.

    A beautiful, subservient woman falls in love with a middle aged man.

    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...?

    @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.

    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

    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.

    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?

    @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.

    @ 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!


    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.

    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.

    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....

    @ 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.

    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.

    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.

    @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.

    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.

    @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.

    Why can't it be both? Why can't 24 century sex toys be so advance that we have emotional attachments to them?

    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.

    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?

    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.

    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?

    { 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.

    "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.

    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.

    @ 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.

    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.)

    "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.

    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.)

    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.

    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.

    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.

    Basically just a ripoff of the TOS episode 'Elaan of Troiyus'. Surprised to see it still happening in Season 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.

    One word - DULL. This is the only Star Trek episode ever I fell asleep during while watching for the first time.

    "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.

    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

    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

    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!

    Just rewatched. I have the same conclusion that I had 25 years ago. Famke was the most gorgeous creature on earth.

    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.

    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.

    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

    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.

    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.

    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

    Ever overhear a group of women yapping when they're lubed up with a few glasses of wine? They wrote the book on sexism.

    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.

    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.


    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.


    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?


    I've gotta disagree with your last paragraph.

    I can't take Picard's tragedy seriously. I think the show betrays its serious reflection on this alien custom by using it as another opportunity to build on the reputation of Picard as this "stoic, solitary, sea captain."

    The truth is, he put himself in this situation by brazenly ignoring every warning given to him and behaving like he knows better than everyone. It comes off as either incredibly stupid or some masochistic desire to put himself in a position of maximum emotional suffering in order to play out a savior fantasy.

    I can't take Kamala's romantic tragedy seriously, because it is unclear that it is really a tragedy. She will say *anything* to make you like her. There is no reason to believe anything she said to anyone throughout the episode, including the idea that she "permanently imprinted" with Picard. She's a stripper, and strippers spin stories.

    It also doesn't help that Patrick Stewart is bald and 25 years older than Famke Jansen. Kinda drives the point home in a very meta way.

    I really liked this episode, but I think the least interesting part is Picard's blue balls. At least Riker is a bit more good humored about it.


    Late reply! Been brooding on this episode for 3 months? :-) I see your point about Picard, but I’m not sure being solitary is really presented as a good thing for him in this show. By the time “All Good Things” and Generations come about, we see that Picard is in terrible pain from leading this type of life.

    “I can't take Kamala's romantic tragedy seriously, because it is unclear that it is really a tragedy. She will say *anything* to make you like her. There is no reason to believe anything she said to anyone throughout the episode, including the idea that she "permanently imprinted" with Picard. She's a stripper, and strippers spin stories.”

    We’re supposed to take Kamala’s statement that she’s imprinted at face value. I know this because she says she’s imprinted and *because she’s imprinted* she can’t stay with Picard despite his wishes. If she were trying to lure by lying to him like you claim, why would she deny him? That’s nonsensical.

    " She's a stripper, and strippers spin stories."
    You know who also spins stories for their personal benefit?!



    I agree that at other points in the series, Picard's solitude is presented differently, peaking (IMO) with the brilliant depiction in All Good Things. But that's not how it's presented in this episode. I think his comportment throughout this episode is presented as being venerable and his self-abnegation as honorable. In actuality it is indulgent, and his decision-making is pretty myopic.

    Remember Kamala's job is to be the perfect mate. This is different from actually mating. If she encounters a person for whom the perfect mate is the one he is denied, she will behave like that.

    For example, if I'm only interested in a woman that makes me wait 10 days to mate, Kamala *must* make me wait 10 days. Even if she knows her plane leaves in 5 days, she would sooner sacrifice mating, as long as she knows that what I truly prefer is pining after her eternally, than having her in less than 10 days. So she'll give me the tearful dramatic airport goodbye I crave, promising eternity. But that won't stop her from seducing some guy on the plane.

    She is not a complete person. She is a pathological liar who is only capable of telling you what you want to hear, a child trying to impress every adult, an automaton following an unyielding program. She only looks like a person.

    As humans, we find that concept so deeply repugnant that we don't want to see it for what it is. But the Kriosians understand, and therefore do not treat her like a person. Crusher and Picard, ultimately make the same mistake interpreting an alien situation through a purely human paradigm. This is small minded and self-centered. It's ethnocentrism (kinda). But Picard makes it worse by additionally playing out his romantic fantasies upon this alien landscape.

    Oh man, when you find out that there is an entire industry called advertisement that makes trillions by spinning stories for personal benefit it will blow your mind. And here is the kicker. They do it all while not undressing for assholes.
    Have a nice one, pal.


    You seem upset. I'm not sure why. Or even exactly the point you're trying to make. I can't tell if you're angry at me or strippers or everybody.

    Yes, when your livelihood is directly attached to creating a false narrative, you tend to do so more often and more fluently. This is precisely the point i was trying to make.

    I guess I could've said Kamala's an ad man, but considering the fairly obvious sexual/seductive angle, stripper seemed apt.

    In this day and age of growing madness I never get to being upset. I barely reach annoyed.
    I think that your comments are either misogynistic or ignorant.
    Now that I have severely insulted please you give me a minute to explain :)

    What is Kamala?
    She is a product (underline this word) of a society that turned her basically into a sophisticated sex slave. She was trained to be that slave her entire life and the few parts that aren't twisted want to escape by falling for Picard.
    So your stripper analogy is quite fitting but in a different way than you intended. Why do we have strippers? Let me rephrase that. Why do we almost exclusively have female strippers? Because men like to objectify women. (Let us ignore male objectification for this debate)
    Who is responsible for female strippers being what they are?
    You seem to think that strippers or Kamala are to blame for being objects (underline this word, too) of male affection while the episode pretty clearly conveys that it is society that made her a commodity (underline :) to be traded away.

    "Remember Kamala's job is to be the perfect mate."
    This is a sentence I find pretty troubling. In my opinion Kamala is the opposite of a perfect mate. She is only a perfect mate for a man who wants the most risk free relationsship ever. She is not the perfect mate, she is the perfect slave. If you want a willing slave as a mate then yes she is perfect.

    In my opinion you took exactly the wrong lesson from that episode (society turns women into objects for male affection= society shouldn't do that) because you don't blame society, you blame women and specifically Kamala.

    Did I misunderstand you?

    I think you are so eager to launch into a feminist/progressive rant that you're not actually paying attention to either the episode or what I'm saying.

    First, I never judged either strippers or Kamala. I like both of them. I don't see stripping as some sort of evil that needs to be blamed on anyone. It's a job and it pays pretty well. I am capable of describing what something is without the need to indict it.

    My comparison of Kamala to strippers is not that they are both bad. It's that they're both unreliable sources of information given the nature of the activity they're engaged in (creating fantasy). Kamala saying she imprinted on you is like a stripper telling you she loves you. Not evil, just impossible to believe without verification.

    Second, you are wrong regarding how Kamala became what she was. As explained in the episode, Kamala is not a product of some oppressive social engineering. Metamorphs are born this way genetically. They literally cannot do anything else but adapt to their mate's preferences. I was using the phrase 'job' metaphorically. It's not her job, it's literally what she is. You shouldn't waste your time trying to find a human analog as there is none.

    Third, calling Kamala a slave is fairly bigoted of you. You are forcing the paradigm of human sexism on an alien situation. By virtue of her very DNA Kamala is at her peak state of self-actualization when she is perfectly adapted to her mate's wishes. She isn't pretending to want to mold herself to her mate, this is sincerely what she wants and to deny her this is cruel.

    Finally, it's important to understand that once she imprints, she is permanently actually the thing she has adapted to. It isn't an act. If what you want is a woman who will challenge you, she will actually be that. If you want a submissive woman, she will actually be that.

    For humans, risk tolerance is admirable in the pursuit of long term romantic relationships because it plays a specific role: It is a proxy for honesty, since the only way you eliminate risk is if one person commits to forever subordinating their own desires to their partners'. With an empathic metaphorph, the relationship is already equal and honest since both sides are sincerely pursuing their peak happiness. In this context, pursuit of risk simply for the sake of risk is pointlessly reckless and destructive.

    To be clear, Kamala does receive training, but the training is to assist her in attaining what she already wants naturally (genetically): to imprint perfectly on a mate and thereby receive a personality. She explains, that in the absence of a mate, she is basically an empty shell. Thus her training is not a system of oppression, it is actually schooling for her benefit.

    The closest comparison we have on Earth, is a system in nature known as symbiosis. Symbiosis comes in 3 forms: Commensalism (1 organism benefits, 1 is unaffected), Parasitism (1 organism benefits, 1 organism is harmed), and Mutualism (both organisms benefit).

    For empathic metamorphs and their mates, the relationship will always be either Commesnalist or Mutualist, since the empaths will always benefit (they need the mates to achieve their final stage of development), but the mates may not necessarilyl get much benefit from the empaths (eg: the mate already has another lover and is fairly indifferent about the empath).

    @ Theo
    Thanks for a well argued answer.
    I haven't seen the episode in for ever and I'm visiting family in a very rural area. My days consist of meat eating and alcohol. I have lots of time on my hands.

    I think I understand your point about strippers better now. You mean when they work the create a fantasy not that people who strip are more prone to lying.

    If Kamala is actually part of species that only exists to satisfy the wishes of other... well I find this troubling but on another level.

    I rewatched it.
    So, it is all a little creepy and I guess I'm with Beverly on this.
    The whole idea from a writing standpoint is kind of creepy. They mention that most of the metamorphs are male which is very convenient because without that one sentence it would be very creepy, not just kind of creepy. I bunch of male writers creating a female character that only desires to fulfill the wishes of men without any consideration for her own feelings. She doesn't have independent desires.
    And not only that. She produces pheromones that make men want her.
    Any would want her.
    Sound s almost like some kinky nerd fantasy.

    Lets look at the information given. Kamala was taken from her mother at the age of four. This is already problematic. From that age she was trained to marry a man she never met before. She was never encouraged to think for herself. All the information we get about metamorphs and what they desire is given to us by unreliable people: the ambassador who obviously would sacrifice more than one life to preserve peace and Kamala who was told from early childhood that her only purpose is to be a peace offering, a gift. Without society telling her that she has to marry Alrik who would she have chosen? The first man she meets? Or does she have desires but was told that they didn't matter because all that mattered was that she brings peace by marrying Alrik.

    You see her like one would see a crazy person. In other words, you can never trust a crazy persons word because they are crazy even if they tell the truth.
    It doesn't matter what Kamala says because she is a metamorph. You say that we can never believe her. The problem of the episode and kind of a plothole is that they could have just sent Beverly in to ask her what she wants or just have a chat about what a metamorph is but that never happens.

    In the end we only know that Kamala was taken from her home as a small child and trained for every waking hour to be a gift by people who even decided who to live with Alrik until he dies. Beyond that we don't know anything.
    Maybe she has desires of her own, maybe not.


    We'll have to agree to disagree on that. If it's any consolation I've literally provided you with 6 equivalent analogies to choose from.

    If we're going to look at the meta-narrative here, rather than just called Kamala a sci-fi alien of the week, it's not really tenable to argue that her nature is the way it is because she's totally alien and that we shouldn't judge that. It's pretty clear that these kinds of episodes are written to portray some aspect of humanity using the sci-fi setting. In this case I think we should be obliged to conclude that Kamala is a portrayal of the patriarchal ideal of days yore of a woman being a thing to satisfy a man. The episode seems to explore what effect this has on *both parties* in that kind of sexist scenario. It's bad for her, since her 'real desires' become something so obscured that it's difficult to tell if she even has them; and it's bad for the men because they're constantly up against some weird reflection of their own desires that can shift depending on which man is doing the looking. It not only objectifies the woman, but in a strange way also trivializes the man's desire for love. If both parties are focused on the man's desires then that's not a love-situation, and is destructive for both parties. The men on the Enterprise end up going crazy when around her, and I don't think it's just because she's just so damn awesome. Rather, it's actually destabilizing and harmful when you are granted more ownership over someone else than you have any right to. So from this perspective I have to assess the scenario as being about the harms caused by a culture objectifying women. I tend to agree with others who have mentioned that it's 'convenient' that the writers neglected to include an example of a male metamorph.

    But actually let's discuss that for a moment. What if the mention of male metamorphs being very common shouldn't be thrown away just yet. Could it imply that in a culture of objectifying women the men will be prone to do anything it takes to get their prize, including changing their behavior to fit whatever will help them score points? Maybe I'm reading too much into this and presuming the sexist angle. But I wonder whether the fact that there are many more male metamorphs than female is supposed to be a balancing thing or not for the viewer.

    In the case of Kamala's interactions with Picard, it's true that we could view her statements to him with just as much suspicion as with her interactions with others; that she's just saying it to get to him. However in his case maybe we should be assuming that since he'd be averse to someone flattering him and lying (unlike Riker who probably enjoys a bit of coy games) that her statements would be coming from a place of integrity when with him. As I mentioned much earlier in the thread this would still make it objectification within a patriarchy, that she should adopt his values, even if they are good values. However maybe what the episode is trying to say here is that in a culture where women just adapt to be whatever men want, the way out of this is for some men to begin wanting them to be independent. The compliance of the women might still be influenced by their reliance and weighing what the men want, but on the other hand being molded into that particular image could well act as a 'last stop' of their objectification. It's kind of like if we were playing Simon Says and I gave the command "Simon Says to never obey what I say again". The game would then effectively end if they were following the rules, and maybe we're supposed to take Kamala locking into Picard-mode as being analogous to this: that once a woman adopts those particular values (dignity, integrity, duty) that the game of objectification would naturally come to an end and she would cease feeling the need to change for every man that comes along.

    Would this reading not make it a rather feminist episode?


    I agree with essentially everything in your previous post, down to the meat & alcohol diet lol.

    Despite the internal validity of the Kriosian social structure, it's definitely creepy fantasy fulfillment on the writer's part. Especially considering they: a) didn't balance it by having male metamorphs in the episode. b) didn't have Kamala interact with any females on board. c) portrayed Picard's comportment and decision making as honorable and the relationship as a legitimate tale of love & loss.

    Also, yes everything I said previously falls apart if the ambassador is lying. I didn't focus on that since it's fairly clear by the end of the episode that we're supposed to accept this premise as true. I think that distinguishes this episode from many others where the seeming moral quandary is resolved through the escape hatch that one side is lying about the true nature of the situation. But I think it's important you brought up the possibility.

    Peter's reference to the day's of yore is closer to the writers' intent here. Kamala's arranged marriage for peace is similar to Henry VIII of England offering his sister to Louis XII of France for a peace treaty. Henry's sister has no agency; she's simply carrying out the marriage because she must obey Henry VIII and - perhaps she knew that someday this would be her fate because it's part of being royal Countess. Kamala's tragic duty mirror's the Countess' in this scenario.

    The stripper analogy is clumsy because it suggests that Kamala is performing services for *her own gain* - that she's trained to handle many men and earn personal income from it. That's not at all what's happening in this episode.

    I'm not sure where the notion that Kamala is lying came from; it comes off as an inexplicably cynical head-canon for the episode. If Kamala's last conversation with Picard was a big fat lie it essentially guts the entire piece - we can't take any part of the climactic dialogue seriously.

    This a story by American writers from 1992 we're talking about. They understand that forced arranged marriage is *not a good thing*. As has been stated, it's more likely the writers wanted to show us that despite knowing that Kamala's role is an unjust one for her, there is dignity in self-sacrifice. Being forced to sacrifice is wrong; but choosing to sacrifice, as Kamala ultimately does, is something we can respect.

    @Peter G.

    1) "If we're going to look at the meta-narrative here..."

    The meta-narrative is actually a jumble of contradictory points with hints of commentary at many things (arranged marriage, cultural relativism vs imperialism, utilitarian morality vs virtue ethics, etc.) but no commitment to any specific position.

    The authors chose to reject telling a strongly allegorical tale in favor of turning it into a fun ride culminating ultimately in a very personal story of romance. In order to do this, themes are hinted at and then undermined elsewhere. Nothing so strong as a unifying message or coherent stance ever emerges.

    The idea that Kamala's freedom of expression is being suppressed is hinted at, then undermined by the fact that she is literally biologically incapable of having a personality of her own. The idea that Kamala is being imprisoned is suggested, then undermined by the genuine danger to herself that she is if not quarantined. The idea that Starfleet are actually the oppressors is suggested by Picard's admonishment of Dr. Crusher's cultural imperialist attitudes, but then undermined by the juxtaposition of Picard's endearing behavior to recipient Kriosian's boorish attitude. Even the idea that the existence of a female empathic metamorph is seriously dangerous to men is undermined by how indifferent her recipient Kriosian is to her. For some men she will be very valuable, for others she's just a toy.

    Kamala is indeed "the portrayal of the patriarchal ideal of days yore." But this is not unambiguously suggested as a bad thing in the episode. Consider that without Picard's interference, all parties would be happy. Kamala, the husband, and all the Kriosians. It is only Picard's insistence on doing things his way that causes anyone any misery (even that is ambiguous since it's unclear anyone besides Picard is suffering).

    So I don't think the story holds any real allegorical weight. Honestly, the second you establish as a true premise that your character is incontrovertibly genetically linked to their social standing, the social commentary ship has sailed.

    2) "Maybe we should be assuming that since [Picard would] be averse to someone flattering him and lying (unlike Riker who probably enjoys a bit of coy games) that her statements would be coming from a place of integrity when with him."

    But see, she and others already tried honesty and integrity with him. They told him she is an empty shell with no personality and it really turned him off. So she corrected.

    3) "In a culture where women just adapt to be whatever men want, the way out of this is for some men to begin wanting them to be independent. "

    This is a morally deranged message that I think even occasionally thick-headed Star Trek writers wouldn't be so reckless as to make. It might make sense on a totally alien planet, but the risk that any viewer draw any comparison to anything even remotely human is too great to ever write this kind of garbage.

    Persecution of any social class is not primarily a result of the victim not understanding their own humanity. Nor is the way out for the oppressor to teach the victim how to be free. This is some white man's burden shit that wouldn't even fly in the 80s.

    The suffrage movement, feminism, the civil rights movement and decolonization were not gifted by the oppressors to the oppressed. They were fought for by people who insisted on their humanity in spite of a staggering effort by the oppressor to tell them otherwise. They were assisted by a changing balance of power that weakened the oppressor. But one ingredient that wasn't there was the oppressor teaching the victim dignity. Even in a fictional context, this is too dangerous and offensive a suggestion to even hint at.


    " If Kamala's last conversation with Picard was a big fat lie it essentially guts the entire piece - we can't take any part of the climactic dialogue seriously. "

    That is *exactly* my point.

    Why does everything have to be an allegory? Why does everything have to be a moral story about the human condition? Why does everything have to be teaching us a lesson?

    So, so many of the worst Trek episodes were allegories or trying to give a moral message. I am absolutely, 100% with JRR Tolkein. Screw allegory. Just give me a good story. I have no proof that Gene Roddenberry or Michael Pillar or Rene Echevarria are smarter than me or more moral than me or in any other way have some sort of authority over me. The only thing I know is that they were far more talented in coming up with an interesting sci fi universe and producing interesting stories in that universe than I am. So that's what I want out of them. Just good stories. And that's what this one is. By coming up with a truly alien alien rather than someone with silly putty on their nose and one human trait exaggerated to the extreme, that's what they did. Trying to fit an allegorical message to it just screws it up. Which I think is what Theo is saying.

    It occurs to me that many of my favorite Trek episodes are the ones where the aliens really are different. Latent Image is my favorite Doctor episode because it is the one where he is most clearly an AI. I like the Worf stuff in Birthright better than most because it really stands up for the Klingon-ness of Klingons, even if it's different than Hollywood morality. Rocks and Shoals is so great because it shows what the Jem-Hadar are truly like, regardless of what Sisko wants them to be like. If any of these stories decided to be twisted in favor of a Sunday School lesson, they would be far worse for it.

    But I digress, back to the episode.

    Theo, do you think Kamala actually did lie to Picard at the end, and she is only claiming to have imprinted on him because that's what he really wants? I mean, I can see how that could be possible logically, but I don't see anything in the episode to hint at that as the conclusion. The whole reason she was in a cocoon was because she was so easily imprintable and thus had to be isolated. My impression was that the attempts to keep her away from all the men on the ship was as much for her sake as it was for the men. So if Picard did spend that much time with her, given everything we know about her genes it seems reasonable to conclude she did indeed imprint on him. And, given his strong sense of duty and self sacrifice, that she would imprint on that aspect of him and mirror that works as well.

    But here's something else to ponder. We are assuming that she imprints solely for mating purposes, that it is the only imprinting she can do. Certainly, that's all they talk about and all the show is about. And I suppose that makes sense for most men (and here is definitely a place where interactions with women would make sense). But Picard, based on his own morality, does not see her as a potential mate. Not only because his own sense of duty makes him realize such a pairing is impossible, but also because he is attracted to independent women with their own interests outside of him (Crusher, Vash, the judge in Measure of a Man...). So of course, the Kamala imprints on that and becomes independent, and one who cares about duty, etc...

    But there's a third point, as seen in his conversation with Crusher. Despite Picard's speech on respecting other cultures, he undoubtedly agrees with Crusher in many respects. He undoubtedly does add his human value system to it and sees it as unfair to Kamala, and thus sees any relationship with her as being taken advantage of her. He, undoubtedly, wishes that she had a better life, wishes that she could be her own person.

    Regardless of Picard's hormones at the time, I think his brain would still override them (even Riker's brain won out against his urges). I think, for most of the time with her, he is not seeing her as a potential mate at all. He is seeing, essentially, a child. Maybe she was imprinting on that? Maybe, rather than the typical sexual attraction, Picard was seeing her more as a daughter?

    It turns the ending, rather than a tragedy, into something a bit more heartwarming. If Picard was simply accidentally turning her into his perfect woman and then they had to leave, that would be sad. But what if, instead, he gave her the gift of independence, gave her the gift of a new rewired, better brain? What if he accidentally molded her into the perfect daughter rather than the perfect mate? One might think that it's still a tragedy that Kamala can't do whatever she wants or whatever, but who's to say that she doesn't still want to marry this dude? She's still a metamorph or whatever, she still is attuned to pleasing others. But she now has the gifts that Picard passed along to her with it.

    We are led to believe that this other guy is kinda scummy, and that imprinting on him would be a miserable experience for her (at least from our value set). Thus, we end up with the best of both worlds: Kamala still is able to perform her duties and peace between the two worlds is achieved, but she is also able to imprint on someone that is actually good for her, and thus will live a better life for it. It's not a smarmingly happy ending, but there is some good that came out of it.

    Of course, this all hinges on my theory that the imprinting could be in a non-sexual way, but even if it wasn't, it's still at worst bittersweet. Like I said, some exploration of that would have been nice. But as much as everyone brings up that they should have had male metamorphs in the show or whatever, well, there's only 43 minutes available. What would you cut?

    And as a final aside, Theo, I'm generally in agreement with you that Picard was probably too arrogant to assume he could spend all that time and not imprint on her. But did he have much of a choice? It's been years, but I was under the assumption that Kamala insisted on teaching him the role that Old Dude was supposed to have. He may have just been trying to make the best of a bad situation.

    So, while I prepare my liver and digestive system for the next round of even bigger festivities let me just say that I enjoy this little debate here quite a bit.

    As it is my job, let me give you a sociological perspective because that is really the only thing I can still add to this.

    Isn't it nice how a bunch of reasonable men (or did a woman slip in?) can so rationally debate the pros and cons of two patriachical societies exchanging a woman as a gift under the supervision of another man. :)

    Yeah, that is what really gives me an uneasy feeling. Let's really step out of the story and look at the whole process. It is a story written by men in a patriarchical society about two patriarchical societies that have no moral quandries to use woman as gifts. She then interacts with a wise older man who then teaches her about duty and self sacrifice which is the patriarchical cherry on top of the testosterone cake. Beverely is the only other woman in the episode and she makes it pretty clear what she thinks (strongly opposed) but that has no influence on the story. In other words women have no power and are forced into passive roles from beginning to end of the episode.

    The writers probably thought that they wrote a somewhat feminist story but fail.
    It reminds me of Code of honor. The writers of that episode probably thought that they constructed an episode that portrayed a proud African like people doing their thing but in reality they wrote a pretty racist story about how dark skinned people are different from "us".

    I want to recommend Lindsay Ellis vids where she uses all the major film theories to analyze the Micahel Bays Transformer Movies. She for example addresses the whole no allegories vs authorial intent debate. It is really insightful.

    ps: Maybe I will write a longer answer later on but I don't have time right now. ;)

    PPS: Sorry, reading my own post it is not a really deep sociological analysis based on theory. My bad but I'm on a vacation that slowly kills me. watch the Ellis vids :)

    @ Theo,

    (1) I don't agree that Kamala would have been perfectly happy if Picard hadn't interfered. She would have been perfectly *suited* to Aldrik, but his ideal mate may very well have been someone who would suffer while he was happy. Just because it's her nature to imprint on a guy doesn't mean any result at all will make her happy. It will fulfill her biological need to imprint, just like eating fulfills my biological need for food. But if the food I eat is poisonous I'm both following my nature and harming myself. As far as I can tell she was basically being forced to sacrifice herself. The only difference between what would have happened and what did happen is that imprinted with Picard's values she knowingly accepted the sacrifice and was happy to do her duty. That is worlds away from the other ending, where she follows her nature and is sacrificed without really understanding that being unhappy isn't 'good'.

    (2) I really don't recall anyone insisting she's just an empty shell. Are you sure that was actually said? I can barely even see how that's possible anyhow. What if she's in a room with just a computer - what, she becomes an iPhone?

    (3) "Persecution of any social class is not primarily a result of the victim not understanding their own humanity. Nor is the way out for the oppressor to teach the victim how to be free."

    Not what I said. I said that a step towards freedom/equality is the oppressor *wanting* the oppressed to be free. I didn't say that is literally the only way it can come about. Especially in systems where both the oppressors and oppressed would fight to maintain the system, as we see in certain societies right now, it takes *someone* in a position of power to say that it's not right for things to begin to change. But even this is more specific than what I intended. My main point was that in the case where you have a literal slave, they're not going to go free unless (a) they overpower you (usually they won't be able to) or else (b) if you want to free them. There is nothing dehumanizing about suggesting that slavers actually have to agree to free slaves for them to be freed. This can basically be classified under 'duh'. The point isn't that Kamala needs Picard to teach her what freedom is. I'm sure her education is fine. What she needs is for someone like him to *value* her freedom, so that she in turn can copy that value by wanting what he wants. Think about it in terms of someone you actually care for. If they'll tend to do what you ask of them, then consider that it may be a kindness to ask them to do something you feel is good for them. That's actually a good motivator sometimes!

    @ Skeptical,

    I don't disagree with some of your points, and I actually like the "child imprint" idea. I don't think this was intended, but it's a neat head-canon to go with for fun. That said, I don't really see your point about meta-narrative being superfluous. Sure, it's *secondary*, since nothing can replace great story writing. However plenty of stellar episodes like BOBW have oodles of meta-narrative and they work just fine, never bogging us down in metaphor. Having a multi-layered story only hampers the experience for us if the main plot is a thinly veiled morality piece strung over little content. And I agree that this is a very bad approach to fiction writing. But I think The Perfect Mate works fine as both a literal story as well as a meta-narrative about treating others as objects. I mean it's pretty plain, isn't it, that in this episode we at least briefly imagine how awesome it would be to have someone like that to ourselves; that is, before we realize how unfair it is to that person and in a way unfair to ourselves as well. If you view Kamala as nothing more than an alien alien that we can't relate to then I actually care much less about her. The fact is, I do care about her in the show and therefore I must conclude that this interpretation doesn't fit - at least not for me.


    At this point pretty much everybody has already accepted that the script is obviously an androcentric expression of creepy fantasy fulfillment by an an all male writing team. We all get it. We've kinda moved past that at this stage.

    We are discussing more nuanced things like the internal consistency of the story, the degree of allegory, and the certainty or ambiguity of the plot, etc.

    "Isn't it nice how a bunch of reasonable men (or did a woman slip in?) can so rationally debate the pros and cons of two patriachical societies exchanging a woman as a gift under the supervision of another man. :)"

    Literally no one is discussing this. There is a more nuanced conversation as to whether Kamala qualifies as a woman at all. As she is essentially a symbiotic organism that requires an external host to achieve full sentience. What are the preconditions to her happiness, etc.

    Lindsay Ellis is good, sometimes I feel she stops short of great. My favorite is her Guardians of the Galaxy series. I liked Anita Sarkeesian's old videos more and obviously Contrapoints is a boss (but these are general social & pop culture commentary moreso than film specifically).


    "Trying to fit an allegorical message to it just screws it up. Which I think is what Theo is saying."

    Basically yeah. But that doesn't mean I always hate allegory.

    "Do you think Kamala actually did lie to Picard at the end?"

    I think it's pretty obvious the writers meant for us to believe she genuinely imprinted. But I think if we follow the premises they established the truth is that it is impossible for us to know. As we would expect her to say exactly the same thing in exactly the same way whether she had imprinted or not.

    "I think, for most of the time with her, he is not seeing her as a potential mate at all. He is seeing, essentially, a child."

    This is a cool and unique idea, but I think everything about the way these scenes are acted and filmed clearly indicate a romantic if not outright sexual subtext. Obviously they're not mutually exclusive since in both real life and fiction there is often some paternal/maternal dimension to a May December relationship.

    "she still is attuned to pleasing others. But she now has the gifts that Picard passed along to her with it. "

    The problem is that before she was attuned to pleasing others, and derived pleasure from it. Now (if actually imprinted) she is attuned to pleasing others, but derives pleasure from actions diametrically opposed to this (free will, independence, adventurousness, etc.). Picard trapped her in precisely the paradox that her handler was trying to avoid.

    Whether an empath has a good or bad husband, she will be happy, as upon imprinting, her personality and preferences will align with his. The only real risk they face in their lives, is that they are imprinted on (a) and married to (b). This is why their courtship is so tightly managed. The rigidity of the system is designed perfectly to complement the rigidity of the empath's biology.

    The story tries make us feel this is better, because (a) is in the abstract a superior man to (b), but because the system is too rigid to accomodate a change up, introducing a wild card only causes pain. There is no point in giving someone a love of Shakespeare right before condemning them to a life with only Miley Cyrus albums on repeat.

    @Peter G.

    1) " Just because it's her nature to imprint on a guy doesn't mean any result at all will make her happy."

    Solid point. Both her behavior and things that she and her handler said, suggest that she does derive happiness from service. That to be the ideal mate, is not just an imperative, but also her desire (ie: what brings her happiness). I agree that it's reasonable to think there might be some upper limit to that. The there is some upper limit of direct harm that can't be displaced by the pleasure derived from fulfilling her mate's wishes.

    However, one thing that really helps is that in addition to deriving pleasure from service, her opinions and genuine preferences are altered to match her mate's. This helps push that upper limit even further up.

    As such, her unhappiness is probably not a realistic risk when the structure is aligned properly and she is married to the person she imprinted on.

    However, when the situation is misaligned and she is imprinted on (a) and married to (b), when her attitudes and preferences are directly opposed to the actions she is required to undertake daily, and when she knows hurting the person she imprinted on is inevitable due to the paradox she is trapped in, the robustness of her ability to absorb difficulty is greatly compromised and unhappiness is probably a more real risk.

    So beyond very fringe cases, it seems the only real risk for an empathic metamorph is imprinting on (a) and being married to (b). The rigid structure of Kriosian courtship system in instances where this is a threat, is designed to compliment the rigidity of the metamorph's biology.

    2) They didn't use the words empty shell, but she basically said she's incomplete, purposeless, etc. If she's in a room with a computer, she probably has no personality of her own (assuming she hasn't already imprinted). I tend to think they've basically set her up as a symbiotic organism that requires a host to graft a personality from.

    3) This whole section you wrote is an absolute mess.

    "in the case where you have a literal slave, they're not going to go free unless (a) they overpower you (usually they won't be able to) or else (b) if you want to free them"
    "... There is nothing dehumanizing about suggesting that slavers actually have to agree to free slaves for them to be freed ... it takes *someone* in a position of power to say that it's not right for things to begin to change."

    First no, this is definitely not true. You don't overpower them outright. You raise the cost of their continued persecution of you by resisting. This forces them to re-evaluate their strategy. Usually this is precipitated by some external destabilizing event that hinders their ability to absorb the cost of resistance.

    More often than not, "No" is not followed by "this is not right", it's followed by "this is not worth it any more... and it's probably not right." Even in instances of "this is not right" it's usually as a result of a shitload of subversive groundwork that has already been laid.

    They "want" you to be free in the same way I "want" to give a mugger my wallet. I'm responding to duress. This is where slave revolt, wars of independence, terrorism, boycotts, repeated legal challenges, writing and circulation of literature, public protests, theft, strikes, work slowdowns, underground railroads, etc. all come to play.

    Second, in all of these cases you're describing a simple power imbalance, between sides that are fundamentally equal beings. One side is not learning to be human from the other, they just have less guns.

    "What she needs is for someone like him to *value* her freedom, so that she in turn can copy that value by wanting what he wants."

    In this case there is no power imbalance, the sides themselves are actually unequal beings as one is a complete human and the other is not, but can be taught to be.

    **There is no paternalism in the human history of freedom movements. Whereas Kamala's path to freedom is entirely paternalist.**

    Even hinting at this analogy is a tone deaf, patronizing, regressive backslide into the ideologies that underpinned the most embarassing periods of human barbarism.

    "At this point pretty much everybody has already accepted that the script is obviously an androcentric expression of creepy fantasy fulfillment by an an all male writing team. ... . We are discussing more nuanced things like the internal consistency of the story, ... ."
    Time well spent. Have fun with your more nuanced debate about a creepy fantasy. :D


    I'm gonna wear a trench coat so it's extra creepy.


    Fair enough if the subtext of Picard and Kamala's time together was clearly sexual. Like I said, I'm going by memory here. Obviously her request that he stay the night can easily be seen that way, but I didn't remember the rest of it being obviously of one nature or another.

    But as for the notion that there is no way of knowing if Kamala lied? Let's look at it further. There appears to be two forms of her emotional morphing: a temporary, immediate morph like with the miners(?) and Riker, or the permanent imprinting that the story revolves around. So suppose she lies about being permanently imprinted on Picard in order to make herself look more appealing to him. Thus, that act of lying means that she is in the midst of her temporary imprint. (Admittedly, there could be more than just 2 forms, ie, a short term, mid term, and permanent imprint, but let's just keep things simple). So that means that she is picking up on Picard's desire to see her change in order to become someone he could be attracted to. Are we in agreement?

    But Picard's surface level, conscious desire is specifically that she NOT imprint on him, since his surface level desire is to fulfill his duty with minimal problems. So she must be picking up on his deeper, more subconscious desires. Again, seems reasonable.

    But let's put that to the test with Riker. IIRC, her imprint on him involved no personality, no intellectual or emotional attachment, just pure physical attraction by making out with him. That's less personality than even the show she put on for the catcalling miners. So does that mean that Riker's idea of the perfect mate is nothing more than a hot body that's ready to go? Yet, we already saw an artificial perfect mate for Riker: Minuet. She was hot, sure, but also sultry and seductive. And what did Riker do when he was alone with his perfect mate? Spend a lot of time, perhaps even hours, flirting with her. He didn't go straight to bed then. And we see multiple instances of Riker flirting throughout the show. It seems reasonable to assume he enjoys the chase as much as the prize, if you know what I mean. He wants to flirt with his mate and enjoy a little back and forth as well.

    But Kamala didn't pick up on that. Why not? Meanwhile, what was Riker's conscious state while being with her? Like Picard, he undoubtedly didn't see her as a potential suitable mate due to his duty. But unlike Picard, I could imagine that Riker, as a fan of the female form, did have idle thoughts about how hot she was and perhaps some curiosity about what she would be like in bed. Not a real fantasy, not dwelling on it, but still. And since it was just idle fantasy and not dwelling on it, it wasn't connected to any specific personality, just the physical curiosity. And so that's what she picked up and morphed into, a purely physical mate.

    In other words, her transient imprint picks up on his conscious desires, even if her permanent imprint would pick up on his subconscious desires. I suppose there's a certain amount of logic to it, that it would take time for her own subconscious or whatever to understand the subject's true desires and thus time for her own brain to be rewired. But either way, we seem to have evidence that the transient imprint acts on surface-level desires. And if so, her transient imprint would also act on Picard's conscious desires. But the "lie" would be for the benefit of Picard's subconscious desire. Ergo, it is not a lie at all, but a truth.

    Again, it's not an ironclad proof. Maybe there is a midterm imprint as well, or maybe my split between conscious, current desire and subconscious, true perfect mate isn't exactly how it works. But whatever, it's more evidence in its favor. I think the evidence is definitely weighted towards it being the truth.

    Whew, this is getting long... Anyway, next topic: on whether Kamala imprinting on Picard is a tragedy for her or not:

    Yes, there is a clear tragedy if someone is a perfect match for person A but must be with Person B, even if her Person A personality is a better ideal than a Person B personality. If she imprinted on a stuffed shirt like Picard and then married someone who loved adventure and excitement and wanted a partner to share those loves, that could be a tragedy. But that's not really what happened here. IIRC, it was pretty explicitly laid out that her husband-to-be didn't really care about obtaining her as a person or as a wife, but rather just saw this ceremony as a means to an end. She was nothing more than a tool for his political position and power.

    If that's the case, what would she be like if she imprinted on him? If he sees her as a mere tool, will that be how she sees herself? Will she just sit passively in a chair for the rest of her life waiting for the few moments when she will be useful either in the bedroom or in state functions? Is that even much of a life?

    But back to Picard. In a way, Picard and the king are similar: they both have some strong desire for independence and solitude. Presumably, for both of them, the idea of a perfect mate is someone who is not around them all the time. The difference, though, is that the king doesn't care about her one way or another outside of when she is pleasing him, while Picard presumably wants her to live a rich and fulfilling life when they are not together. So her new Picard-centric personality is one where she wants to fulfill her duties, wants to make her partner happy, but also is perfectly fine with her partner being alone for long periods of time and will happily find fulfillment by herself in those time periods. Her king-centric personality would have been wanting to fulfill her duties, wanting to make her partner happy, but would be a passive blob during the long periods of time when she is left by herself. Nothing of the Picard imprint would contradict what the king would want, and perhaps there's some tragedy that she would rather make Picard happy than the king, but at least the 80% of her life where she would be alone is much better for the Picard imprint.

    So I disagree with your analogy. Instead, she may not be able to, say, pursue being a Shakespearean actress, and she may be forced to go to Miley Cyrus concerts once a week, but she is now perfectly able to read and listen and watch Shakespeare in her downtime when she wouldn't have been able to before. Thus, introducing Shakespeare into her life is making it better, even if it isn't the perfect life. It's not that she imprinted on a good person like Picard that makes her life better, it's that she imprinted on a good person AND a loner.


    Peter and Booming, I'm not saying that there should never be any deeper meaning or anything, but that it is WAY too easy for that to distract from the story itself. Dune is the story of an extremely valuable commodity critical for transportation being found only in a desert region populated by individuals who have a suspiciously large number of Arabic words in their dialogue. It is sooo easy to say that this is an allegory, or that the message of the book is about Middle Eastern politics and oil and such. But it really isn't. There are so many other plot points and messages that have absolutely nothing to do with oil, and the main resolution of the "oil" conflict relies on a solution that is absolutely impossible in the real world. Frank Herbert may have taken inspiration from the real world here, but uses it only as a springboard to create a richer, better story. Same here. Even if the origin of the story was the fantasy of the perfect girlfriend, allowing the alien story to progress without worrying about the "messenging" of an imaginary perfect girlfriend wish fulfillment story.

    I mean, Booming, it seems pretty clear that you are looking at this from a feminist perspective. But why? Yes, guys can have fantasies of having a perfect girlfriend designed for their happiness. But do you really think that girls don't have fantasies of having a perfect boyfriend designed for their happiness? Seriously? So is it misogynistic for a man to have this fantasy, but perfectly natural for a woman to have the fantasy? If the roles were reversed, and this was a male metamorph, would we be complaining about the societal problems of expecting a man to change on a woman's whims?

    If both men AND women can have this fantasy, what is the point of looking at this from a feminist perspective just because this one happens to be from the male fantasy point of view? If it's a problematic viewpoint, shouldn't it be an equal opportunity problematic viewpoint? And even if you say that the male fantasy has a more prominent problematic history due to political marriages, well, why should I care that deeply about what a few nobles did hundreds of years ago? Shouldn't the female fantasy be more socially relevant in MODERN society given the general societal pressure of telling men that the women are ALWAYS right when it comes to relationship issues, and that a man who marries should get used to losing every argument?

    So in order to properly talk about this social concept, we need to bring in male metamorphs. We need to bring in the emotional impact this has on these metamorphs, even though as Theo pointed out they are aliens and human-centric emotional values are kinda dumb for them. We need to bring up what it means to be in a relationship and the values of independence vs submission and blah blah blah blah blah. And most importantly, we need to do ALL of this in ONLY 43 minutes while STILL fitting a good, engaging story in.

    Is that possible? I don't think so. Even if the time restriction is out, it's still nearly impossible to weave an engaging story in with trying to present a full, fair moral argument. 9 times out of 10, it comes off as terrible preaching. Since there is no dialogue with the viewer, there is no possibility of the writer changing his/her viewpoint. Thus, the dialogue/preaching is all one-sided. Which means that, in order to accept it, one must accept that the writer knows what he or she is talking about.

    And as I said previously, I simply do not accept Hollywood as my superior. Booming brought up Code of Honor. Yes, I can see that it was a jumbled, screwed up attempt to talk about racism. But you know what? Strip away ALL of the African subtext (or text, as the case may be) from the episode. And what do you have? A message about how we should bend over backwards to appease people who kidnap our family (and implied to rape them) when we invite them over as guests. What the bleeping bleep??? What kind of a message is that? Now yes, the writer did try to paper that over by saying these people had a critical vaccine or cure or whatever that was needed. In that case, the story COULD be how far would we go to humiliate ourselves or even support evil actions in the face of the "greater good", but based off the rest of the episode, the rest of Season 1, and Gene's philosophy in general, I reckon that the vaccine bit is just an attempt to hide the true message that I said earlier. A message that is very clearly morally repugnant to me. So again, why should I listen to them? One could argue that MAYBE I'm wrong, MAYBE they might have a point, but that would require extensive dialogue to convince me, not a pat 43 minute show where I have no input.

    So frankly, stop trying to teach me something and just entertain me instead. I have no problem with real world inspirations or examining real world truths, but I'd much, MUCH rather they be twisted to improve the quality of the story rather than the story be twisted to put more emphasis on the inspiration.

    And it doesn't help that the messages are all so simple. Peter, the "message" you provided, about the fantasy girlfriend and how it really isn't fair to either her or you to indulge in it, is certainly true. But do you really need this story to tell you that? I'm sure you knew that already, even if you don't think about it constantly. And yes, this is only 43 minutes long so you can't expect complex messages. But that just means the "message" can stay way in the background and tell a good story instead.


    Ok, so your first argument rests on too many assumptions to be very strong. Eg: that Minuet is in fact Riker's true ideal, that the strategy for seduction taken will be based solely on what the person's ideal is, and not other factors (time available for the game, person's current mood/objective, who's watching, etc.), that Kamala's escalation would proceed along a linear trajectory and not have twists and turns and ups and downs, and so on.

    Your ideal mate will behave very differently depending on whether you've come to a bar specifically to focus your attention on her for some time, or she is trying to hook your attention while briefly passing you in a hallway.

    But your second argument - damn! I'm trying to debunk it and I can't. I'm going to read this a few more times but I think you may have changed my mind on this. Which is pretty unexpected having felt the same way about the episode's ending for a long time. It makes me actually feel a little happier about Kamala's fate.

    Obviously, it was still a boneheaded move by Picard because this entire argument rests on the very unique and rare personality that Picard happens to be. It could have easily gone sideways.

    In either case man I really like the way you think and construct arguments. I'm gonna think about this for a bit.

    Note: don't take any of the prior as agreement with what you wrote to Boomer. We probably have different opinions here, but I didn't really read that section carefully.

    Before I write anything I want to mention that we are discussing topics of a pretty mediocre episode.

    I haven't studied film but of course writers uses cultural cues to create believable/ understandable worlds. In Nazi Germany they made lots of movies about Jews, often without the protagonists being called Jews. The social cues were clear. A lot of people already had prejudice towards Jews (sexually deviant, greedy). So allegories can be really important, especially if you have negative intent. Let's use something more current. Breaking Bad is a story about a white middle class self perceived loser who then shows the world and his wife that he is really a tough guy. He also kills evil Latinos every season. Apart from the last season where he kills Nazis. Phew without the Nazis at the end this could have looked a little racist.
    As always context is king (or queen).

    "I mean, Booming, it seems pretty clear that you are looking at this from a feminist perspective." No, not really. You are looking at it from a masculinist point of view which you perceive as normal.

    Again. It is a show written by men in patriarchical society about two patriarchical societies that exchange a woman as a gift and that gift is the "perfect mate" for men because she will always do what the man wants. This gifting is all made possible by another man who is the higest authority and the only female voice in the episode has absolutely no impact on the outcome whatsoever. Does the Federation have to help these people directly in their little pervy deal. Could they not just recommend a trustworthy shipping/taxi company?

    "If the roles were reversed, and this was a male metamorph, would we be complaining about the societal problems of expecting a man to change on a woman's whims?"
    If it was written by women in a matriarchical society about matriarchical societies exchanging men as gifts you can bet your ass I would object that as much as I object this but I guess we will have to wait until such a situation actually arises. How many female presidents did the USA have, how many Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, how many female supreme court justices (4 out of 114), how many CEOs of Dow Jones companies, how many women are in the fortune 500
    I get called feminist quite a bit these days for upholding ethical principles like sexual slavery=bad.

    "why should I care that deeply about what a few nobles did hundreds of years ago?" It wasn't a few nobles a few hundred years back. It was the scoietal norm for almost any women until a few decades ago, basically until the early 60s. Plus in many parts of the world it is still the norm, enforced by society.

    " given the general societal pressure of telling men that the women are ALWAYS right when it comes to relationship issues, and that a man who marries should get used to losing every argument?"
    I guess this is where this whole rant of yours comes from. Your perception of reality seems a little off. I guess it is understandable because of President Hillary Clinton. People had the choice between a racist, misogynistic buffon and her. Of course she won. Now with the next election coming around two women are leading the democratic field. Their names are Joe Biden and Bernie Sanders. Strange names for women, though. Oh and let's not forget that in quite a few states in the USA you are sent to prison now sometimes for life for having an abortion. And these laws were all written and then passed by all male legislatures. I could go on (read the part about positions of power in the paragraph before this one) but I think it is pretty obvious that society in the USA is not the matriarchy you perceive it to be. To give you a personal opinion of mine (not my opinion as a social scientist) I have quite a few friends with a good chunk being women. You know how many of them told me that they were raped? About half of them. Now guess how many went to the police? None. I'll leave it at that. A personal experience, sure but still.

    " Booming brought up Code of Honor."
    I mean Code of Honor is so racist. It even has the classic "Birth of a nation" trope of the black man craving white women. A thing that is very important for right wing narratives: The foreign man wants to steal OUR women.

    " A message that is very clearly morally repugnant to me" That is why this episodes fails so horribly because it isn't only terribly racist but it also makes quite a few people, you included, think: The Enterprise (so us) should just bomb the shit out of these savages. It is not only racist but for people like you it justifies imperialism (we enlightened people have the right to do what we want to these uncivilized primitives)

    "But do you really need this story to tell you that?"
    Ok, this was aimed at Peter but I want to end my little piece here with it.
    Yes, we do need stories to tell us right from wrong because Humans are not born with an ethical world view. I think that is one of the reasons we nerdistas still love Star Trek because it was one of the shows that was philosophical, that was analytical, that examined the role of society and culture and how the forces form, deform and sometimes destroy us. That we should always try to overcome our own prejudice. To try to be reasonable because to quote from a book (which was also pretty sexist) which I love nonetheless: "but the hearts of Men are easily corrupted" (women too, I guess)

    So if you are JUST looking for a good story then Star Trek maybe the wrong franchise for you because the allegory has front and center in most epsodes even if it fails sometimes or didn't age well.
    Maybe science fiction which is mostly about allegories is not the right genre for you.

    I feel the need to point out that English isn't my first language. Misunderstandings can happen.

    ""I mean, Booming, it seems pretty clear that you are looking at this from a feminist perspective." No, not really."

    Uh yeah you are buddy. Straight out of Women's Studies 101.

    @Jason R.

    "Uh yeah you are buddy. Straight out of Women's Studies 101. "
    I never was in such a course/seminar. Could point to specific points or arguments and also explain why you see them as feminist?
    Could you also explain why you felt the need to make that statement about me?

    "Could you also explain why you felt the need to make that statement about me?"

    Why? Is it offensive to you?

    @Jason R.
    "Why? Is it offensive to you? "
    No. Could you answer the questions, please.

    "No. Could you answer the questions, please"

    Okay. Well re: question 1 your assertions about us living in a "patriarchal society" etc... seemed pretty self-evidently feminist to me so it was curious to me that you were insistent that you weren't coming from a "feminist" perspective. And yeah I did take a women's studies course once upon a time. Not claiming to be an expert on the subject by the way. But yeah, if the word "patriarchy" appears multiple times in the same sentence, it's probably a feminist perspective dude.

    As to your second question, apart from the fact that my assertion was plainly true? I dunno - I got this my ideology isn't ideology but obvious truth vibe from your post. Like admitting that your perspective was "feminist" and not "self-evident truth" was a big deal for you. This was after you labelled another poster "masculanist" (whatever that means) - which I guess was your way of accusing the other guy of being ideological and not factual (like you).

    So what's your deal anyway? Is "feminist" a pejorative label in your milieu?

    @ Jason R.
    "Your assertions about us living in a "patriarchal society"etc... seemed pretty self-evidently feminist to me"
    Would you not say that a western societies in the 90s were overwhelmingly ruled by men? If you would answer yes then the word patriarchical society is fitting.
    To quote the Oxford dictionary:" A system of society or government in which men hold the power and women are largely excluded from it."

    The societies portrayed (the Kriosians and the other ones) have only male representatives and have no problem with using women as peace offerings. If women were equal in their societies and the female metamorph poses such a risk to men why not just send a female ambassador? The thought apparently never crossed their minds There is no indication that they are not patriarchical societies.

    So far I see no feminist perspective. I'm just using standard sociological terminology and stating the obvious.

    "As to your second question, apart from the fact that my assertion was plainly true? I dunno - I got this my ideology isn't ideology but obvious truth vibe from your post."
    Would you say that the USA were not a patriarchical society during the 90s? If so then I would love to see your prove for that.

    " This was after you labelled another poster "masculanist" (whatever that means)"
    You do have google, don't you? The word is masculinist.

    "And yeah I did take a women's studies course once upon a time"
    How did that come about? Didn't you once mention that you have no higher education?

    "So what's your deal anyway? Is "feminist" a pejorative label in your milieu?"
    No again. I find it more interesting why think that someone who mentions easily verifiable facts about male female relations is a feminist.

    You on the other hand seem determined to label me in a way that you think devalues my opinion?
    Let's make this easy.
    Do you agree with Skepticals statement:
    "given the general societal pressure of telling men that the women are ALWAYS right when it comes to relationship issues, and that a man who marries should get used to losing every argument?"

    "So far I see no feminist perspective. I'm just using standard sociological terminology and stating the obvious."

    Do you think modern sociology might be influenced by feminist ideology? As for what's "obvious" this is, by definition, an opinion not a fact. Which brings me to the next point.

    "Would you say that the USA were not a patriarchical society during the 90s? If so then I would love to see your prove for that."

    It is not for me to prove or disprove a claim you asserted. We seem to be having some confusion on opinion versus fact.

    That the majority of government officials in the 90s US were men is a factual statement. The claim that US society was "patriarchal" is an inference from fact, perhaps even a strong one, but is nevertheless an opinion and one that has been asserted most prominently by a certain ideological movement, namely feminism.

    "How did that come about? Didn't you once mention that you have no higher education?"

    I never commented on my own education either way in this thread.

    "Let's make this easy.
    Do you agree with Skepticals statement:
    "given the general societal pressure of telling men that the women are ALWAYS right when it comes to relationship issues, and that a man who marries should get used to losing every argument?"

    It's factual that this message has been promulgated from certain quarters in popular entertainment, advertising and some other corners of pop culture. It's literally a cliche for comedians to tell men in the audience that their wife is always right or some variation of that joke.

    Since I never made the assertion, I don't see why I have to defend it or refute it.

    I made precisely one claim: that you are obviously approaching this topic from a feminist perspective.

    So is feminism a dirty word in sociology circles? Why the hesitation to concede this small pittance?

    @ Jason R & Booming,

    Jason, I assume in this context the word "feminist" is being taken as a dig because of the "feminism 101" moniker.

    Booming, despite the fact that the use of "feminist" in regards to your comments may not have sounded like a compliment, I see no reason to deny it anyhow; your arguments are plainly of a strongly feminist perspective. I mean, that's ok, I presented a feminist argument regarding this episode too. But let's face it - I don't think it's even possible to use a term like "masculinist" without it being a feminist argument. I just want to say for my own part I think that's totally ok, and absolutely great to present feminist arguments regarding 90's tv and how those portrayals play now.

    As it happens, I'm doing a watch-through of Frasier now with my wife, and we're occasionally dumbstruck as the casual sexism that passed for 'comedy' in the early 90's. Like guys in an office slapping a lady's butt, which is supposed to be taken as "oh, that guy!" or the casual sexual harassment of people in the office constantly referencing her sex life in pejorative terms. So yeah, I'm down with re-evaluating 90's stuff from a modern perspective to see how it's aged.

    That being said, I think you need to try to balance that approach to analyzing material with not jumping to conclusions about other people being "part of the patriarchy" when they don't agree with you. You seem to have insinuated, for instance, that this episode is just a pervy ritual and that those of us who discuss it in any terms other than condemning it are just part of the problem. But the actual tenor of the conversation has been precisely about whether Kamala is presented as having agency, about whether the episode portrays all of this as being good or bad, and about whether Picard did right or wrongly by her. I think so far zero people have said how great it is that there's a perfect mate on the scene, and at any rate Skeptical and I have both agreed with each other that it's destructive for both sides to view women as objects. So this remark -

    "Have fun with your more nuanced debate about a creepy fantasy. :D"

    - seems out of place to me and not really on point, even though I get the idea that it was sort of snarky on purpose.

    @ Jason R.

    You know Jason I wrote a really long piece calmly explaining lots of things about your warped view of sociology and other things but then I remembered what a fellow soldier once said after falling down next to me after we finished a 20 km march with 40 kg of material and one last glorious stumbling/crawling/climbing and running through the obstacle course.

    What for?

    Enjoy the summer.

    @Peter G.

    "As it happens, I'm doing a watch-through of Frasier now with my wife, and we're occasionally dumbstruck as the casual sexism that passed for 'comedy' in the early 90's. Like guys in an office slapping a lady's butt, which is supposed to be taken as "oh, that guy!" or the casual sexual harassment of people in the office constantly referencing her sex life in pejorative terms. So yeah, I'm down with re-evaluating 90's stuff from a modern perspective to see how it's aged."

    Wait, people were slapping women on the butt without objection in Frasier? You know, Frasier often looks at things from Martin's time (the 1950s), but as far as I can remember it always couches those quirks from 1950s culture with a sense of "that's not how things work now, Dad". Moreover, Frasier is a show that presents strong successful women on a weekly basis. Lifetime (the women's network in the USA) aired the show regularly after its run in the 2000s and it was lauded by many women's groups for its positive portrayal of the working woman. So, I mean say what you will with 2019 values, but Frasier was way ahead of its time *in terms of feminism*.

    The rub in looking back at these old shows with a wagging finger is that you need to put the show into historical context (which I think is your larger point, Peter). TOS and TNG may have had their problems with gender, but remember that without them pioneering progressive ideas there would never be a Voyager with a female captain, let alone Discovery with a female lead. I hope you all can meter your discussions with a little perspective. I know Jammer does.

    @ Chrome,

    It's not that butt-slapping is portrayed as good. When Bulldog does that to someone (like Roz) the show intends you to chuckle and say "haha what a jerk" and find him lovable, which absolutely clashes with a modern view of such an action, which would be "he is a sex criminal and that is a fireable offence." Now because the show is so good he actually does come off as lovable, but my point is more that it's not in vogue nowadays to even try to pass an action like that as funny rather than as sexual assault. It's just a dated thing, because it's still clear that in context of the show we're meant to condemn the action itself. So I didn't mean to say the show is regressive in terms of women's roles. If anything Roz and Daphne are the only characters that have their heads screwed on, while the men are nuts. I just meant to say that some things that could be taken in stride in the 90's wouldn't pass muster now, and that observing such things is ok, so long as we don't start saying it's a "fact" that Frasier is a sexist show.

    @Peter G.

    That's a good point with Bulldog. The show itself largely diminished Dan Butler's role on the show after season 3 or so perhaps because such behavior elicited a negative response from some viewers. Though, the character's kind of interesting case, because he's almost pathologically bad at handling women and I wonder if Ross isn't reporting him to HR out of pity. Another layer to all this is that Dan Butler's a gay man, so his role as Bulldog is kind of like farce wrapped in another farce.

    Anyway, sorry to interrupt the discussion with the side-note. I'm just a big fan of Wings, Cheers, and Frasier. :-)

    "Jason, I assume in this context the word "feminist" is being taken as a dig because of the "feminism 101" moniker. "

    Yes, but not in the sense that "feminism" is some kind of pejorative.

    A man walks into a bar dressed in a priest's robe waving a three foot cross in my face and says "sir do you realize drunkenness is a sin against God?" And I politely reply "I disagree with your Christian perspective" and he in turn replies: "it's not a Christian perspective, it's God's truth."

    I just don't understand how a sociologist (literally a person who studies human society) feels it necessary to get so pedantic on such a small point. It's not like I called him a Marxist or something. Within his field, most people I'd wager would be insulted if you *didn't* acknowledge their perspective as feminist.

    "'Her', just for the record"

    I could have sworn it was a he from past discussions. Mea culpa.

    What you guys don't understand is that explaining very basic concepts to you isn't the least bit interesting for me. For example what feminist theory (not Feminism) means in sociology and why what I said about patriarchical societies has nothing to to with femnist theory or feminism.

    If an economist explains that the Athenian economy was dependent on slaves then that doesn't mean that he is for or against slavery. He is stating generally accepted fact.

    In sociology these days we mostly deal in statistics which means very complexe math and programming languages. This believe that feminists are important in sociology is just nonsense and to me it feels more and more like the bullshit climate scientists have to endure.

    "What you guys don't understand is that explaining very basic concepts to you isn't the least bit interesting for me. For example what feminist theory (not Feminism) means in sociology and why what I said about patriarchical societies has nothing to to with femnist theory or feminism."

    This debate was never about sociology nor were you ever called on to provide an expert opinion as a sociologist. You have lost sight of the main point which was that your critique of the episode, and the perspectives of others on this thread, was overtly feminist.

    That's it. Everything else you said is you bringing baggage into this that has nothing to do with it.


    I agree with basically everything you said in your last comment. Obviously the concept of patriarchy exists independently of feminist theory, and is commonly referenced in the social sciences. It's crazy that you even have to explain this.

    It's equally obvious that you can arrive at a number of conclusions that feminist theory shares without ever having analyzed the issue from a feminist perspective (eg: humanism, marxism, libertarianism, game theory, pareto optimization, etc.).

    In the same way a Christian can arrive at the same conclusion as a Buddhist without being accused of being a Buddhist. Or a geneticist and a paleontologist can arrive at the same conclusion without being accused of ascribing to one another's theoretical frameworks.

    Your analogy to the problems climate scientists deal with is particularly apt.

    @ Jason R.
    I know what your angle is. I know the Jordan Peterson talking points. Thats why you try to prove that a generally accepted sociological fact is actually some brainchild of feminism which would then gives you what you want: Calling scientific facts ideology.

    I'm not playing your little game anymore and I'm done with you.

    I read Peterson's book about a year ago out of curiosity but I have no deep familiarity with his views, let alone his "talking points" on this issue, whatever those are. I don't watch his videos.

    In any event I apologize for the tone of my posts. I don't think the narrow point I was making was wrong, but I was being passive aggressive about and deliberately confrontational.

    Have a pleasant summer.

    lol, Booming sniffed out that Jordan Peterson link fast.

    Jason, Jordan Peterson is a Koch funded, Big Oil, climate denying, Heritage, Cato shill, paid by some of the biggest conservative think tanks on the planet, who's rolled out by banksters to speak at the The Trilateral Commission, who, along with George Bush, is the face of PHP Agency, a multilevel marketing company denounced as a ponzi scheme, who platforms self-identified white nationalists, who defends chicks who promote the Great Replacement conspiracy, who promotes the "rapid onset gender dysphoria" conspiracy (an echo of the "they're not really gay, they're faking it!" hysteria that homosexuals once had to endure), who regularly outright lies about the scientific papers he cites, and who's book quotes papers by actual scientists who've had to denounce him for mis-using their data.

    The guy is all kinds of uber-conservative evil, but he does it in a sneaky, low-key way, so he's expert at convincing people that "the patriarchy is not a thing", "feminists are evil" and "sociologists like Booming" are OUT TA GETCHA WITH THEIR TWISTESD, SATANIC, TRADITION-KILLING POSTMODERNIST LINGO.

    @Jason R

    In fairness to you, @Booming has a fairly insufferable passive aggressive tendency to resort to academic snobbery, argument from authority and to be excessively dismissive. So, I think tonally speaking, you have nothing to apologize for. I mean it doesn't get much worse than engaging a conversation while constantly reminding everyone you don't have time for this & you're better than this.

    As stated before, I agree wholeheartedly with @Booming's explanation of sociological terminology, and the episode in question is so obviously blatantly sexist that it's unlikely even the writers would defend it today. I mean the episode is really almost its own caricature in that regard (@Anna laid it out briefly in 2015, but you could really write a whole essay on this).

    In spite of that, I don't think @Booming's actual episode analysis is particularly good and I think he's a bit quick on the white-knighting trigger to the detriment of that.

    I also don't think we should refrain from appreciating the episode or analyzing various aspects of the storytelling as we have been. Discriminatory art can still be good art and many adults learn to balance their progressive concerns with their aesthetic appreciation of a piece with problematic elements.


    Tell us how you really feel.

    Jordan Peterson is a tool who survives by exploiting that segment of society that has just enough smarts to recognize a street level hustle, but insufficient education and experience to distinguish between legitimate academia and pseudoscientific hucksterism (eg: Joe Rogan). He's also a remarkably bad writer.

    I do have to admit that he's very business savvy and has an excellent mind for marketing.

    Well, I have had these kind of debates where people watch a few videos or whatever and think that their view on sociology is relatively deep when it is actually just a twisted fantasy created by well poisoners like Jordan Peterson.
    It is spreading like a fever. There is no place on the internet where you are save from this notion that sociology has been taken over by feminists to create an "unnatural" society.

    It is kind of funny that we have this debate while discussing this episode because the men who push these ideas are in a way like Kamala. Capitalism and pop culture have created a problem. Wealth distribution is very unequal, which means that bigger and biger chunks of society are lower class or lower middle class. These people cannot find meaning in their wealth. Pop culture especially in the USA has created a culture in where you are only living a meaningful life if you are special (sport star, war hero) of course only a very small number can be special. Women have a different approach to this and I wont go into that. For men from the lower classes life basically doesn't make sense anymore. They do what they are told like Kamala (work and so on) but that doesn't fullfill them. They realize at some point that they just exist to exist.

    In come people like Jordan Peterson who first writes a pretty standard self help book and then starts to tell these men that there is a conspiracy out there, which is aimed at diminishing men and promoting the well being of other groups. That scientists aren't scientists but ideological warriors who promote a anti men world view. These men who feel disempowered while living a perceived meaningless life hear this and now feel a little special. They are now part of a group of people who knows a deeper truth and the self help stuff ist mostly about feeling in control (clean your room and so on). So people like Peterson have given these men two things that are very important for anybody: confidence and the feeling to be special. At that point these men are willing to do a lot for somebody who gives them that feeling. To quote President Trump:" I could shot somebody on fifth Aveneue and not lose any voters." He told it as a joke but I think it is true. He makes them feel important and valued.

    They are attacking scientists because we know the numbers, we know how it actually is which is often in conflict to what they want, plus we are not good at defending us against outside critique, especially when it is immediatly clear that the person talking has no understanding of sociology (insert scientific field here) whatsoever. During the first few debates you try to be reasonable, provide sources, explain what the scientific viewpoint is, pros and cons. You basically do what you would do when you talk to another scientist because that is what we normally do when we discuss these things but then you notice that the other person just flat out denies what you are saying and tries to push certain topics which at first just confuse you because they make no sense. Sooner or later you reach a point where you realize that this is not about reason but emotions. At that point it also becomes hurtful because these people basically tell you that what you do, what you have dedicated your life to is some devious conspiracy aimed at harming people and that is where the intellectual snobbery and the passive aggressiveness starts.

    @ Booming,

    I don't want to push this line of the argument any further, but just consider that not being a sociologist doesn't actually disqualify people to make commentary about human society. If it did - which you're making it sound like - then others could play the same game but with different specialties. Like, how about someone who's studied logic: "you have no business arguing points of logic with me, you don't even have a degree in logic!" or how about philosophy (so much broader): "don't presume to debate symbolic meaning with me when you don't know squat." We could play these games forever. And since we're talking about Jordan Peterson (though heaven knows why): "how ignorant to criticize a clinical psychologist when you haven't read the literature." Or the best maybe would be "how can you analyze fictional TV when you aren't even a qualified art critic or dramaturge?"

    But of course all of these lines are utterly ridiculous. Anyone is capable of speaking on matters that are common to our experience. We all live in societies, use our brains, and consume lots of media, so are qualified in our own ways to speak about these, although perhaps not as 'experts' per se. Shutting down good discussion from some kind of "you haven't done the math, begone" perspective doesn't particularly help anyone at best, and at worst actually shines a bad light on the discipline that's apparently trained people to discourse like this (in this case, sociology).

    I'd like to suggest we stick to the episode rather than to flash credentials around. The ideas we put forward will speak for themselves, and more often than not good discussions come from people of differing backgrounds without anyone having to prove they're an expert.

    @ Peter G.
    Ok. I just don't like be accused of pushing certain ideologies when I make a statement that no sociologist would question.

    "We all live in societies, use our brains, and consume lots of media, so are qualified in our own ways to speak about these, although perhaps not as 'experts' per se."

    We all have brains, use knives and know where organs are so should we go to a doctor and say:"You know I think you should make the cut here to get to the appendix."

    We can all read and we are all confronted with contracts and laws regularly so should you trust me giving you advice about the law more than a lawyer?

    In my work for example I have never used feminist theory. I normally use rational choice theory and capital theory. All of that stands on a foundation of very complex methodology.

    Most people seem to think that sociology is just talking about groups and stuff, so obviously anybody can do it.

    I know I know. I'm snobbish again.

    Booming to be clear I never said that sociology was feminism or based on feminism. I implied that most of the people in your field are feminists, and suggested that feminism must have influenced modern sociology (and if that isn't true then mea culpa) but that point was tangential and basically incidental to the main one, which is:

    1) Claiming "society" is patriarchal isn't just a fact like saying 93% of senators are Male or that there has never been a female president; it is certainly an opinion, based on a certain ideological perspective, namely a feminist one; and

    2) Yes when you talk about patriarchy in this context you are certainly engaging a feminist discourse.

    You are the one who conflated this meager narrow point into a claim that sociology is based on feminism. I never made that claim. Frankly, I didn't even realize your original comment was based on "sociology" - it just came across to me as an opinion.

    Anyway I have been less than innocent on this thread. But in all seriousness, why do you keep implying that people who disagree with you are uneducated or the "lower classes"?

    Do you know how condescending that is?

    Speaking of assumptions can we just clear up the pronoun thing? Are you a woman as Peter said and have we been using the wrong pronouns? I could have sworn you had said you were a gay man on another thread but can you just clear it up?

    I don’t mean to walk into a hornet’s nest here but:

    “"We all live in societies, use our brains, and consume lots of media, so are qualified in our own ways to speak about these, although perhaps not as 'experts' per se."

    We all have brains, use knives and know where organs are so should we go to a doctor and say:"You know I think you should make the cut here to get to the appendix."

    We can all read and we are all confronted with contracts and laws regularly so should you trust me giving you advice about the law more than a lawyer?”

    Mr/Ms Boooming, you’ve missed Peter G.’s point that you don’t need to be an expert to talk on certain subjects. No one is saying a sociologist like you isn’t most qualified to speak on sociological constructs from a professional POV, but that doesn’t mean a layman’s take on those same constructs is worthless. To use your examples, many layman can treat illnesses (that’s why WebMD exists) and interpret contracts on their own.

    We’re just discussing art here and whatever sociological points you are getting into are still only tangential to artistic critique.

    Sorry to walk into this hornets’ nest, but I feel like if someone doesn’t do it you’ll keep talking in circles.

    Booming, you have completely and totally misrepresented practically everything I said, made absurd and frankly vicious and mean-spirited assumptions about my beliefs (I'm suddenly an imperialist trying to bomb everyone else into submission? Where the bleep did that come from???), seem to believe that your view of the world is the only possible correct one, and have essentially proved my point far better than I could. But rather than get into some stupid tit-for-tat war, let me try again...

    Point #1: should we get life lessons from Star Trek? Well, let's assume that we should, that Star Trek writers are soooo much smarter than us and can impart great wisdom to us lowly, stupid peons. So let us learn from these great folks, starting from the beginning of TOS. Actually, let's skip ahead to near the end of Season 1 and start listing are important lessons:

    Errand of Mercy: Pacifism, even in the face of evil and oppression, is good!
    The Alrernative Factor: Don't make a Star Trek episode when you're on drugs...
    City on the Edge of Forever: Pacifism may sound good, but in the face of evil and oppression is bad!

    Um... what? So, if I'm getting life lessons from Star Trek, how am I supposed to know what is good and just when they are providing contradictory lessons literally TWO EPISODES APART! And that's not the only time either. Using the power of the Q to save people from disaster is bad in Hide and Q, but good in Deja Q. The Prime Directive is the upmost good (ie, prime), except all the times when it's not. Using technology from a sadist is bad in Nothing Human, but stealing Borg technology is A-OK in Dark Frontier. And, as the piece de resistance and breaking TOS' record for whiplash, our hero Sisko says that an organization in the Federation that does shady things to protect the Federation is totally 100% evil literally THE WEEK BEFORE he does a bunch of shady things to protect the Federation.

    If you're relying on Star Trek to find good life lessons, you're gonna have problems, because it's all over the place. There is no hope of having an actual cohesive moral code when you have dozens of writers wanting to tell dozens of stories.

    Ah, you say, but there's subtle differences. Pacifism was bad in COTEOF but good in EOM because the situations were different. Oh really? What is the nice dividing line between the two situations? What makes it ok in one situation and not the other? That's not to say that there CAN be subtle differences, that different situations can call on different actions, but is that what Star Trek taught? Is the difference clear and easily understandable based on these episodes alone? Of course not.

    Because, in both instances, the writers were trying to tell a story. And getting into all the details on a life lesson would turn it into a lecture instead.

    And this is even ignoring the fact that the TRUE message in EOM is completely effed up: pacifism is good, and if other don't agree you should use your own violence to impose it on them!

    But actually, that brings it to Point #2: people can take different messages from a story because, again, the story is prevalent and you can't just stand up there and lecture. So, what does that mean? If we SHOULD take messages from Star Trek, but people take DIFFERENT messages from the same episode, what then? Are they both right? Is one wrong?

    And if one is wrong, why? Why are they a miserable failure at interpreting a TV show while the other person is a super genius? Who is to say which one is right? If a story can be interpreted as an analogy for one situation, can it be interpreted as an analogy for a much different one? And again, who says one is right and the other is wrong?

    I suppose the author can say so. But if the author wasn't smart enough to realize how his or her moral message can be logically applied to unapproved wrongthink, why should we listen to the author?

    Since Booming appears to be a pretty clear liberal, let's do something crazy here. Measure of a Man is about the Civl Rights movement, right? Of course it is. Guinan's statement makes it pretty clear. And yet, and yet... The final judgement of the judge lady was, quite clearly, that she does not know if Data counts as a "person" and does not feel qualified to judge on that particular matter, but instead chooses to err on the side of caution and give Data the right to choose in this interest, given the particular downside of judging incorrectly. So if this is an analogy of the Civil Rights movement, is that the right message? "Who knows if them black folk are really human, but I suppose we ought to give them rights just in case" Is that the lesson we should learn, that there's a legitimate reason that we can't be sure people of a different color than us are really human?

    Of course not. The author clearly didn't intend that to be the case. But it made sense to make that ruling in our analogy to fit the story of Data. And yet, and yet... That judgement - when we aren't sure about personhood, we should err on the side of caution - DOES show up in a modern political debate. But it shows up in the Pro-Life movement, where all the good liberals who think Star Trek is on their said is 100% against. So of course, all the good liberals will shriek and holler and say that this is twisting the true intent of the episode and HOW DARE THEY! But why? Like I said, the analogy of the actual judgement fits the Pro-Life movement far better than the Civil Rights movement, even though I'm sure that wasn't the author's intention. But if we are to take moral lessons from Star Trek, we have to apply those lessons to areas outside the limited scope of the episode. So who's to say that this application is 100% false?

    I've said it before in a tongue-in-cheek manner, and I'll say it again in a tongue-in-cheek manner, just to prove that different interpretations are possible, but... Star Trek is actually a right-wing utopia fantasy, not a left-wing utopia fantasy. The utopia was created by an act of pure capitalism and due to a singular private citizen's will and drive rather than a government program, the military is highly respected and full of good people rather than uneducated morons who want to kill stuff, the prime directive is a way to stop moral liberal busybodies from imposing their nanny-state isms on other people and let them have their freedoms, and the single greatest threat to the galaxy is the clearly communist Borg. See, 100% right wing! Why should that not be the message we get out of it?

    But Booming thinks only Booming's interpretation is correct. That was my point with the alternate interpretation of this episode. Fact #1: Both men AND women can have unrealistic expectations that their partners should act and behave exactly like they want them to. Fact #2: for both men AND women, these unrealistic expectations can produce seriously unhealthy relationships. Does anyone actually disagree with either of those two facts (and, if so, perhaps you ought to look in the mirror to find the real sexist...)? So, given that, why can't the "moral message", if you want to find one in this episode, be applied to both men AND women? And yet, when I suggested that women could get a moral message out of this episode, Booming started ranting about presidential elections and a bunch of other crap. Why isn't this interpretation of the message a valid one? Apparently Booming thinks it's impossible, but I have no idea why.

    The reason these alternative messages exist, of course, is because the authors are trying to tell a story. In order to ensure no other possible message except the intended one gets through, the author would have to constantly push away from the actual plot and keep manipulating the story to make sure the one true message gets across. And when that happens, the story suffers. And that makes for bad fiction. We call it "Season 1 of TNG."

    But in any case, back to this idea that "only one true message" exists, as it segues nicely into Point #3: More often than not, the people who claim lessons can be learned from Star Trek aren't actually learning lessons themselves, but rather think that OTHER people should be learning the lessons that THEY want them to. Pretty convenient that the one true message of Perfect Mate is a Perfect Match for Booming's worldview, and that all other interpretations and all other worldviews are self evidently false, right?

    Here's a fun little game for everyone: go read the comments for The Drumhead. Look for all the comments that say something like "this is such an important episode, and is so relevant for today!" Got it? There's plenty of them. Now, notice that EVERY SINGLE ONE of them thinks its relevant because they believe that THEIR POLITICAL OPPONENTS are the ones that are crazy, conspiracy spouting unhinged maniacs like Satie while THEIR POLITICAL ALLIES are the calm, rational Picard. Every. Single. One. Even those on polar opposite sides of the political aisle.

    There may be a supposed message of the Drumhead, but the TRUE message that everyone looking for a message got out of it was "You are so much better than those stupid evil people you despise."

    Does anyone who wants messages in their fiction actually want to learn from those messages, or do they just want to use them to feel morally superior?

    I mean, I've been on this website for a LONG time, and have seen a TON of these dustups and stupid arguments appear. I guess the takeaway is that Star Trek fans have never learned the main message of Star Trek, that of tolerance and respect for other people. So if Star Trek fans who claim to care SOOO much about moral messages in shows can't even learn the most basic one, why should we have them at all?

    And, finally, we get to Point #4: there is a difference between thematic fiction and message fiction. By no means am I arguing for the Tom Paris route of just make a silly, zany show with twists and turns and no weight behind it. But themes don't need to be life lessons. Themes don't need to create us vs them attitudes. Themes are naturally interwoven into the story and arise naturally from the story rather than exist in a tug of war with the story. That's good fiction.

    Let's look at what could probably be considered a consensus pick for best Star Trek, namely Wrath of Khan. There are two very clear themes in the movie: Pride goeth before a fall, and getting old is a part of life. Are those "messages" we need to "learn"? We probably knew them already, and certainly didn't learn them from this moview. And it's not like the authors are constantly shouting them from the rooftops either. For one, the fact that there are two of them makes the movie more organic rather than feeling like a morality play. For two, they both come up in different ways. Obviously Khan's arrogance takes center stage, but we also have undercurrents with Kirk arrogantly ignoring Saavik's request to raise shields despite protocol and the Marcus' arrogance of not realizing or not caring that they were also developing a WMD. Kirk coming to accept life took several twists and turns, from the start complaining about his age and feeling useless, to the middle-end talking about Kirk refusing to face death but now being forced to, and of course the more subtle bit of Kirk reconnecting with his son as a reminder that growing old also means passing things down to the next generation and the joy of watching that generation grow.

    All of that is GOOD writing. All of that is THEMATIC writing. Much, much better than message writing.

    So to sum up:
    1) Star Trek's messaging is poor and all over the place anyway, so it's hardly a moral authority.
    2) People can interpret Star Trek episodes in different ways, so there's no moral authority.
    3) People inevitably interpret Star Trek to fit their preconceived worldview anyway, so that hardly counts as a moral authority.

    Ergo, when it comes to fiction, it's better to have good themes and a good story than to try to tell a message.

    Yanks, it makes me think the writers were more clever about writing this one than I first suspected.

    @Peter G.

    "Not being a sociologist doesn't actually disqualify people to make commentary.."

    @Booming didn't say that, he said that it makes it less likely that you are correct. Particularly as your analysis begins to shift from general episode commentary to thoroughly uninformed meta-analysis of technical terminology and contemporary research trends in an academic field you have no expertise in.

    There's a reason why Trent, myself, and (I'll bet) pretty much anyone with more than a passing familiarity with social sciences got a laugh out of how easily @Booming sniffed out Jordan Peterson's prejudicial influence on @Jason R.'s ostensibly autodidactic impressions of Sociology.


    "when it comes to fiction, it's better to have good themes and a good story than to try to tell a message."

    Seems like very presumptuous over-generalization and false dichotomy. I'll be sure to tell George Orwell & Nathaniel Hawthorne they're trash. Maybe Tom Clancy can tutor them.

    Nah, for real I can see how a good writer can do either or both well.

    "And yet, when I suggested that women could get a moral message out of this episode, Booming started ranting..."

    Perhaps because it's a bit perverse to suggest that women claw through 20 metric tonnes of sexist bullshit to find a single nugget of fortune cookie advice that I guess maybe applies to everyone kind of, if you jig it a little. Not saying it's not there, but I'm damn sure not telling my local rabbi he might get a moral message out of Mein Kampf. (and with that I announce the Christening of this thread with Godwin's Law. We made it people, cheers.)

    "Star trek's messaging is poor and all over the place"

    Definitely true. But @Booming's conclusions are not only based on the writer's intentional narrative and thematic decisions, but also the implications of fairly radical choices that they clearly did not even notice they made (or at least, failed to understand the importance of). In that sense we can glean a distinct sense of a patriarchal world view, even in the presence of some divergent thematic directions. (Although tbh, even the conscious thematic & narrative choices, while differentiated, certainly skew overall in a clearly androcentric direction).

    @Jason R.

    "I implied that most of the people in your field are feminists."

    Sounds like you're guessing. Dude most of the people in the developed world are feminists, so this is a good, if meaningless, guess.

    Since the conclusions @Boomer arrives at are not exclusive to feminist theory and have widespread interdisciplinary support, bringing it up just sounds like an attempt to apply a reductive and often purposely misconstrued label to a group of people in order to subtly suggest that their objectivity is compromised by the limitations of a narrow ideological framework. We can see what you're doing.

    You might as well sneer "most of you are *academics*." Technically it's not an insult, but clearly their is an implied appeal to the popular trope of a disaffected ivory tower intellectual masquerading his myopic prejudices as universal truths.

    "Claiming 'society' is patriarchal isn't just a fact like saying 93% of senators are male..."

    Nah, it's more like saying, "evolution is real" or "the measles vaccine is generally safe" or "Real Politik driven alliances in an increasingly multipolar world were a major factor in triggering World War I"

    One is an easily verifiable fact, and all the others are more complex theories that through mountains of inter-disciplinary work have overwhelming acceptance across virtually all related fields. The idea that the society that produced this episode ('92 USA) was patriarchal is so generally accepted across not just Sociology, but many other social sciences that questioning it at this point puts you in the same fringe company as climate skeptics and anti-vaxxers. Not saying you can't do it, but the burden of proof is fairly high.

    I guess as an alternative you can claim a shared consipiracy across the social sciences. I mean, social scientists have gotten it wrong before. It was not so long ago that ethnocentric and androcentric bias created anthropological, economic and sociological conclusions that reinforced white supremacy and patriarchy. Similarly, doctors once considered heroin and tobacco healthy.

    However, the difference here is that reform emerged from within the field, in the form of scholarly work and critiques that stood up to peer review, and were as intellectually unassailable as they were damning. Often this work was produced by representatives of marginalized and under-privileged groups in the face of immense opposition.

    This is a far cry from the current trend of self-interested heavily financed pundits and entertainers rousing large groups of uninformed people to rage against positions they don't understand and don't care to read about. There's a reason why conservative forces have chosen to wage this war on the battleground of popular entertainment and political strategy as opposed to scholarly work that seeks to produce knowledge. hint: It ain't because they don't have the money.


    "I know I know. I'm snobbish again."

    No way man. I appreciate how quickly you changed your tone and appreciate even more your taking the time to respond to me directly.

    I understand exactly what you're saying. I think you probably have a lot more experience being in this frustrating situation than I do as I am not in academia and am blue collar as fuck (for now).

    I agree that the increasing wealth gap has contributed to greater political polarization. Tbh, I'm pretty sure this whole regressive nativist uproar is just a clever redirection of the rage created by elites' capture of the surplus generated by globalization and their escape from the worst fallout of the financial crisis.

    Silly me, I thought globalization surpluses were supposed to be channeled into the welfare state in order to facilitate transitioning displaced workers into more productive industries. Ironic that they would be used to construct a white male identity politics wherein the disenfranchised would be taught to rage against the welfare state that never was. Well, I guess it's easier to just #LearnToCode your bigotry.

    That said, I think it's important not to catastrophize. Every few years another Jordan Peterson emerges, captures the public's interest and is shortly thereafter relegated to the wrong side of history, as the work of people like yourself moves society forward.

    Remember Herbert Spencer, or Jihad vs McWorld and the Clash of Civilizations.. or the Brontosaurus? Yeah me neither. Believe me, one day soon people will look back at the events of this decade sheepishly and you'll be able to put on your best Picard voice and say: "We've grown out of our infancy" (S1E25: The Neutral Zone).

    @Yanks & @Shannon

    I think it's more that a bunch of interesting people happened to hit the forum at the same time. That said, IMO it's a dope episode.

    "The idea that the society that produced this episode ('92 USA) was patriarchal is so generally accepted across not just Sociology, but many other social sciences that questioning it at this point puts you in the same fringe company as climate skeptics and anti-vaxxers. Not saying you can't do it, but the burden of proof is fairly high. "

    Those are scientific theories that are falsifiable. Pretty much all that needs to be said and the last substantive point of rebuttal I intend to make on this thread.

    "There's a reason why Trent, myself, and (I'll bet) pretty much anyone with more than a passing familiarity with social sciences got a laugh out of how easily @Booming sniffed out Jordan Peterson's prejudicial influence on @Jason R.'s ostensibly autodidactic impressions of Sociology. "

    I haven't been influenced by Peterson, to be perfectly honest with you, and might have made the same points years ago before the guy was even known outside of his faculty - but even if I was influenced by him, so what?

    Anyway I don't think this discussion is really reflecting well on any of its participants, myself included frankly.

    Getting sucked into these bitter ideoligical debates is something I need to avoid in the future. As Booming said, it's not worth it. So that really is my last word on the subject.

    I don't see any value for anyone in trying to answer a hateful diatribe. My last post was a request that we stop trying to flash credentials in attempts to shut down discussion, and that we not treat each other condescendingly. And this got pushback! That's really all I can say about that.

    @Peter G .

    Wow. You're super sensitive. I called you (and everyone else who's been contributing) an interesting person and established that I'm not an academic and am 'blue collar' That's credential flashing? I'm guessing you haven't experienced real 'hateful diatribe'.

    I mean, I was waay harder on @Booming and he took it remarkably gracefully.

    @Jason R.

    "These are scientific theories that are falsifiable."

    Everything is a scientific theory that is falsifiable. The difference between the theory that "93% of senators are male" and any of the other theories listed above, is that the observational evidence required to strengthen your confidence for the first theory, is much easier for you personally to collect given your limited resources.

    In either case, you will rely on scientific consensus at the end. Sure, most senators look biologically male, but if you really needed to be certain, you would want DNA tests and medical exams. You are not capable of collecting this information yourself, so you would probably end up relying on expert consensus to validate your theory.

    With social science theories, the data capture and analysis is even more difficult for you to collect personally. For that reason you should be even more suspicious of your personal judgement and double down on the scientific method.

    "I don't think this discussion is really reflecting well on any of its participants ... bitter ideological debates"

    Strongly disagree. I think everyone has acquitted themselves pretty well. I've taken shots at pretty much everyone on all sides and been generally impressed with everyone's ability to articulate their thoughts.

    I don't think anyone here has been inflexibly ideological and I would've never characterized the conversation as bitter. I actually thought it was kinda cool that we have a fan base that is so diverse in their opinions and can so seemlessly jump from topic to topic while talking about a simple tv show episode.

    Anyway, if it's your preference I'm always comfortable having the last word. That's just the kind of guy I am. [double finger snap, spin move, applies more hair gel]

    Theo said: "In either case, you will rely on scientific consensus at the end."

    The social sciences tend to expose forms of past and present exploitation which modern western conservatism deems natural, good or non-existent. Academia, and academic consensus, thus quickly becomes "the enemy".

    This leads to a weird kind of double-motion. The conservative is always ranting about "postmodernism" and "the evils of relativism" (which supposedly "destroys our traditions"), whilst simultaneously incessantly pointing out that the sciences are "just pushing subjective theories" because "everything is falsifiable" and "that's just like your opinion, man" because "I believe in different facts". Conservatism, then, as postmodernity writ large.

    Along with stuff like denying climate change (or racism, or class, or non binary genders etc), one of the most popular buzzwords to contest over the past few years (in the West; almost nobody cares about this stuff outside the US) has been "the patriarchy".

    So you get a lot of guys seeing "the patriarchy" as a "feminist conspiracy designed to attack men" (despite the term - or terms like "kyriarchy" - being used to also describe men being victims of other men), whilst also believing the "patriarchy is natural" and "beneficial to everyone" anyway, or "just a hierarchy of competence" or a "result of biology". So it simultaneously doesn't exist, and is good anyway, and a figment of "feminists' imagination".

    But the idea of a "patriarchy" spans different fields. Experts in language, literature, history, anthropology, religion, law etc have all detailed countless forms of covert/overt female oppression throughout history. But all of this is casually dismissed as a "feminism101" plot.

    I rewatched this episode today, to see what all the reignited fuss was about - I'd last seen it decade ago, and remember it being a clever, subversive piece of writing by Trek savior Michael Piller - and once again found it to be a genius piece of writing.

    What you have here is an alien who's literally a male fantasy object. She instantly becomes and does what men unconsciously and/or consciously desire, and her entire culture and upbringing gears her toward such subservience.

    This is not a "sexist episode", or a "juvenile fantasy", as others have labelled it above, but a critique of sexism, and how even women internalize their own oppression, integrating the attitudes, values, standards and the opinions of others into their own identity or sense of self. As Peter explains above, the episode's title is clearly ironic: what constitutes a perfect mate oft hinges on a denial of another's subjectivity.

    But Piller's script goes further, pushing the episode into far more interesting, and creepier, territory. The episode pretends to be about "Picard helping the metamorph", gallantly leading her into enlightenment. The episode pretends to be about a guy chivalrously attempting to save a slave and nobly teaching her to cast off her chains. The episode pretends to be about an alien who "gets smarter", "learns to value herself" and "nobly sacrifices herself for peace". But as the constant shots of the alien posed in a mirror emphasize, the metamorph's merely reflecting back to the watcher what the subject wishes to see.

    In Picard's case, he's suckered into a romance (and presumably sex) by an alien who echoes back to him a sexist fantasy which he smugly deems enlightened and compassionate. The more the metamorph drifts toward Picard's ideal - self-sacrificial, interested in archaeology, music, the greater good, existing to boost his enlightened self-image etc - the more he cares about her well-being. Her value, then, remains still bound up in the preferences and desires of men.

    Picard's realization at the end isn't that he failed to rescue the damsel, or that she'd finally become an "autonomous female character", or that she "tragically and nobly sacrifices herself". No, his realization is that he's little better than every sexist creep who'd been using the metamorph. "How did you resist her?" the ambassador asks, before leaving the ship. But Picard didn't, and that's what disturbs him. And it's a profoundly disturbing realization; the sexism of the "nice guy", the "white knight" etc.

    The episode has some flaws. The Ferengi - obviously inserted as a kind of reference to their sexist culture - are unnecessary, and the hangar bay scenes in which the metamorph is "birthed" from a cocoon, are silly. Better to have her simply arrive in the first act on the transporter pad. Some of the "sexy dialogue" is also silly in a soft-core porn/1940s femme fatale kind of way.

    But these are minor problems. The episode's premise is clever, its scenes with Crusher and Picard are great, the glimpses of the alien cultures are neat (Picard plays a giant alien xylophone), and the whole thing is creepy, ambiguous, and filled with behavior and dialogue operating on a level both Picard and the metamorph seem blind to.

    @Trent Re: Comments on social sciences

    "The social sciences tend to expose forms of past and present exploitation which modern western conservatism deems natural, good or non-existent."

    I'd be careful here, because it almost sounds like moral judgement, which for the most part is not a part of scientific research (pretty sure that's not what you intended). To be clear, exploitative relationships may be detailed, analyzed, etc. but social scientific work also frequently reframes historic events we've come to see as evil and exploitative, simply as amoral strategic responses to external factors.

    "The conservative is always ranting about..."

    Correction: POP-conservative/pundit. There has been plenty of legitimate work in social sciences that has supported and lined up with politically conservative viewpoints. My criticism was regarding the unscientific, biased and sensationalist nature of a host of media pundits, politicians and activists who have gained traction in attacking academia. Political leaning itself is not really the problem, as there is a long tradition of respected work from "conservative" schools of social science. I would welcome any legitimate work to debunk the notion of gender roles (for example), but that's not what we're getting.

    Finally regarding "patriarchy" it's also important to remember that this label doesn't carry any moral judgement one way or the other. It is just a useful way of describing the structure of power and decision making in any given society. There are certainly conditions under which patriarchy can be the more efficient option.

    @Trent RE: Episode

    "But as the constant shots of the alien posed in a mirror emphasize, the metamorph's merely reflecting back to the watcher what the subject wishes to see."

    This is a very cool observation that I missed.

    "The more the metamorph drifts toward Picard's ideal ... the more he cares about her well-being."

    I disagree here. He clearly cared deeply about her well-being before he even met her. His concern over her treatment is what set the entire plot into motion. I'm sure he probably liked her more later, but that's pretty standard.

    "This is not a "sexist episode", or a "juvenile fantasy", as others have labelled it above, but a critique of sexism,

    I understand how you came to this conclusion but I don't think the writers injected a sufficiently unambiguous repudiation of the tropes they apparently celebrate elsewhere to firmly establish this as a critique of sexism as opposed to an indulgence in it. I think it can really be seen both ways. I think the writers purposely left a lot of things ambiguous to both avoid taking any strong position, and to allow people to entertain themselves by projecting their own interpretations.

    """How did you resist her?" the ambassador asks, before leaving the ship. But Picard didn't, and that's what disturbs him."

    This is a good example of that intended ambiguity. They keep Picard silent so that you can fill in the blanks however you like.

    @Skeptical wrote a pretty brilliant hypotehtical interpretation that comes to precisely the opposite conclusion as you, suggesting that Picard may have actually 'saved' her to a degree (Wed, Aug 7, 2019). It's worth reading and I'm going to paste it below:

    "Yes, there is a clear tragedy if someone is a perfect match for person A but must be with Person B, even if her Person A personality is a better ideal than a Person B personality. If she imprinted on a stuffed shirt like Picard and then married someone who loved adventure and excitement and wanted a partner to share those loves, that could be a tragedy. But that's not really what happened here. IIRC, it was pretty explicitly laid out that her husband-to-be didn't really care about obtaining her as a person or as a wife, but rather just saw this ceremony as a means to an end. She was nothing more than a tool for his political position and power.

    If that's the case, what would she be like if she imprinted on him? If he sees her as a mere tool, will that be how she sees herself? Will she just sit passively in a chair for the rest of her life waiting for the few moments when she will be useful either in the bedroom or in state functions? Is that even much of a life?

    But back to Picard. In a way, Picard and the king are similar: they both have some strong desire for independence and solitude. Presumably, for both of them, the idea of a perfect mate is someone who is not around them all the time. The difference, though, is that the king doesn't care about her one way or another outside of when she is pleasing him, while Picard presumably wants her to live a rich and fulfilling life when they are not together. So her new Picard-centric personality is one where she wants to fulfill her duties, wants to make her partner happy, but also is perfectly fine with her partner being alone for long periods of time and will happily find fulfillment by herself in those time periods. Her king-centric personality would have been wanting to fulfill her duties, wanting to make her partner happy, but would be a passive blob during the long periods of time when she is left by herself. Nothing of the Picard imprint would contradict what the king would want, and perhaps there's some tragedy that she would rather make Picard happy than the king, but at least the 80% of her life where she would be alone is much better for the Picard imprint.

    So I disagree with your analogy. Instead, she may not be able to, say, pursue being a Shakespearean actress, and she may be forced to go to Miley Cyrus concerts once a week, but she is now perfectly able to read and listen and watch Shakespeare in her downtime when she wouldn't have been able to before. Thus, introducing Shakespeare into her life is making it better, even if it isn't the perfect life. It's not that she imprinted on a good person like Picard that makes her life better, it's that she imprinted on a good person AND a loner."

    @Trent, Theo (et al.)

    Interestingly my view of the episode aligns pretty strongly with Trent's -- and indeed I was going to post something similar but fuzzier, before I decided it'd been too long since I'd seen the episode, my view was too poorly-formed, I didn't want to stir things up again etc.

    What I'd add to what Trent says is that I think that the episode's use of the Ferengi is actually pretty clever. I think that the Ferengi are used as representatives of clownish sexism, oppression -- human trafficking, even! -- in order to make it easy to recognize Picard as being far above them, *initially*, only to loop back around into criticizing Picard at the end. The Ferengi's total objectification of Kamala raises the question of whether her own civilization, and then eventually Picard, actually treats her better. And I think the answer is that, in some respects, they don't. Something similar goes with the scenes of the catcalling blue collar types (a classist stereotype but from my observation not one with no basis in reality), and even Riker and Worf. The types that Kamala inhabits with the Ferengi (where she's just a golden egg), the miners, Riker, Worf etc. are all easier to spot as fantasy fulfillment figures than the type she inhabits with Picard, which is far more complex but (arguably) not any more "free." I might even add Beverly's take on Kamala to the list -- she views Kamala as a perfect victim, who has no agency at all and cannot possibly enjoy the life set out for her, which requires Beverly to gloss over the apparent alien biology of the situation, and also seems to not involve Beverly actually talking to her.

    I also think that the episode highlights a fracture in Picard's ethical framework. Picard both values commitment to duty, self-sacrifice and self-abnegation, the greater good, peace, AND to justice, individual rights, countering oppression, the importance of subjectively lived experience, etc. This is reasonable -- most of us probably value both. This is a situation in which the two conflict. Picard himself would, I have little doubt, lay down his life to end a horrific war (provided it was his place, and not a Prime Directive issue), and so he does actually walk the walk with the self-sacrifice thing, but he also is not being asked to enter into what is a sham, symbolic marriage for the rest of his life, to have to live a lie for decades until he dies. Perhaps as Skeptical indicates she will have lots of time to herself to explore other features of her life, but I don't know whether that will be the case. Anyway, I think the inability of Picard to resolve the contradictions of his value system ends up cornering Kamala into a, if not worst-case scenario, arguably a very tragic one. He (and who his image of the perfect mate/partner) ends up inadvertently requiring her that Kamala understand the value of the freedom she cannot attain and the sense of duty and self-sacrifice required to put aside what is best for her. Kamala's imprinting on him produces the effect that she understands on a deep level what she is giving up, because Picard could not truly bear *either* that she commit deep down to the role she has been set out nor to actual rebellion against her circumstances.

    Theo said: "He clearly cared deeply about her well-being before he even met her."

    Only after prompted by Crusher. Picard rationalizes her "slavery" - using old school cultural relativism, and hiding behind the Prime Directive - until Crusher pushes him to visit the metamorph's quarters.

    Theo wrote: "@Skeptical wrote a pretty brilliant hypotehtical interpretation that comes to precisely the opposite conclusion as you, suggesting that Picard may have actually 'saved' her to a degree"

    That's the common reading of the episode; the metamorph "tragically imprints on Picard" whilst "forced to dutifully marry the King". I would say whether this works out best for the metamorph or not, is beside the point.

    We're talking about an alien who meets Picard and is instantly ordering "Tea, Earl Grey" for him. She knows him inside out.

    What unfolds is then a kind of game of self-delusion. Picard convinces himself of his nobility ("Have I not done everything possible to discourage this?", "I don't want to use you as other men do") and convinces himself that there is no manipulation involved in their relationship. Her pheromones aren't affecting him, he believes, and his desires aren't affecting her. The sham culminates with a wedding on a holodeck, a place itself dependent upon shared delusions.

    The metamorph, meanwhile, is continually (and instantly!) mirroring back to Picard everything he wants. The MOMENT he sees her standing before a mirror in a wedding dress, she out of the blue says "I will never truly love him". She then flatters Picard's vanity: he, she reveals, "opens her mind and heart to endless new possibilities" and she "only likes herself when she is with him". She essentially paints Picard as a Kirk-figure: the one-of-a-kind spaceman who tames every alien gal he encounters!

    Of course Picard doesn't believe he's being duped. After all, she imprinted on him! And him alone! He's special! The chosen one!

    But imprinting is itself a kind of lie; like the giving of one's virginity, or finding a "true love" or "soul mate", she plays to his ego. Picard is suddenly the only one in the universe worthy to take her, the cause of her awakening, the special one who irrevocably changed her, brought her into womanhood and fullness. They may be forced apart, she says, but he will always be in her heart! This kind of romantic male fantasy is exactly what Picard wants. "For a metamorph," she then tells him, "there's no greater pleasure and no greater wish than to bond as I've bonded with you. Who I am today, I will be forever." And Picard laps the deception up.

    Ultimately, however you read the episode, it's a really ambiguous and deliciously open-ended little story. It's a shame the bad stuff in it is so corny, because its one of Trek's best "romance episodes" and a really cool piece of SF writing.

    The story would have been more interesting, had we seen a male metamorph being gifted to a female leader.

    Ah, but then we’d see a male in the submissive role, ever-conforming to the desires of different females. How unpleasant and disturbing for viewers!

    But for a show that prides itself on “examining humanity”, that would have been exactly the point.

    This episode suffered from the same sin seen in other “fake-provocative” Star Treks. When Riker falls for a genderless person, she’s clearly feminine and is played by a woman. In the two Trek episodes where Trills ignite a same-sex relationship, in both cases we see two young and attractive women dangled as lovers.

    I’ve seen enough Trek to recognize how it smugly claims to be bravely “examining humanity ” - while always playing it safe... and always pandering as hard as it can.

    The whole "I am for you" callback from TOS sets a nice sleazy tone for what is indeed a nice sleazy episode of TNG!
    Bad enough episode to watch alone, absolutely embarrassing to endure during the Great Mom Rewatch of 2020. Sad!

    On rewatch, this is a much, MUCH stronger episode than I remembered it to be. Riffing off some of the comments made here, I read the story as a scathing criticism of the "male gaze" and a deeply pessimistic take on how men can ultimately only process relationships as a satisfaction of their own ego.

    While it is true that what happened on the last night is left ambiguous, to me it is clear that the writers wanted to imply that Picard did sleep with her. Not that it is necessary to assume so to make this read of the episode: He convinces himself that the metamorph has truly become independent of thought thanks to him, and that therefore she would belong with him if it weren't for duty and obligation. Picard epitomizes the enlightened man, who does not succumb to the base instincts of less evolved males (and we see the contrast being drawn directly with the "lower class" men on Ten Forward) and can in theory establish a deeper connection with the woman, based on their mutual desires and intellectual interests.

    But the story shows us that it is all a lie: As many have pointed out here, the metamorph is designed to satisfy the desires of the partner and always tell tem what they want to hear, and in Picard's case this means stating how she has now outgrown what she was and has bonded with him forever, on a deeper level. The script has Picard (whom we could define for story purposes as "the best among men") falling for his own egotistical conceptions of relationships just like anyone less evolved would. It thus tells us that, ultimately, men are doomed to seek out egotistical validation from their partners, and whatever intellectual justifications are built on top of that are lies.

    Of course, the message need not be gendered, as it could in any number of ways. But the scenes with Crusher and Picard's initial justification of relationships being used as political contracts in many cultures leads me to believe that it was meant as an examination of the male psyche in particular. At any rate, a deeply thoughtful piece of writing hiding under the guise of a TOS-like episode. Kudos.

    This episode just confirms that Picard will never be the Captain that Kirk was. Kirk knew about Captains prerogative, and took advantage of every chance to get some action from the weeks guest star hotty. Most likely off screen too.

    On Picard's watch, all crew members are free to have relationships with the inhabitants of whatever ship or planet they interact with. Picard himself said all crew members are free to have relationships with whomever they want, but he blocks Framke when she wants to do the same thing. Picard had more than a stiff upper lip with this woman. Yeah she was promised to some old ambassador, but it wasn't his business to restrict her. I never saw him putting moral values on Okona, who, according to Worf, was reportedly seen in several crew women's quarters. He even C-Blocked Wesley when he tried to hook up with the Dauphin But Riker was allowed to put the moves on the trans woman/man.

    I can't enjoy an episode when the Captain is so hypocritical when it comes to short term relationships. They wasted the entire episode trying to keep this woman confined. More puzzling, is why they just didn't put her back in stasis or a medical induced coma if they didn't want her interacting with anyone?

    Watched this twice. First time felt interminable. Afterwards. I read many of the comments on this site and wondered if, given a second chance, the complexities admired by others, would appear to me.

    Frankly, I found the Famke eye candy to be annoying. Here's the reason why: Her looks are indeed beguiling but since the character was drawn as a being who is incomplete without another to supply a stimulus, nothing she said to Picard meant all that much. Kamala reminded me of the woman used by the Talosians to tempt Captain Pike in The Cage/The Menagerie. As a metamorph, Kamala was adept at reading minds and always said whatever the listener wanted to hear. But who cares?

    IMO, No one could enjoy the presence of such a creature for more than a few minutes, for the reason that authenticity was not part if its make-up. How would you ever know that you mattered to it at all. Beautiful but Bloodless.

    Clearly Picard did not sleep with Kamala because he realized this limitation. He reveals this to Beverly and touches, at the end of their scene together, her real (caring) human hand.

    High points: (1) Worf saying "The captain dines alone." And (2) Picard talking about his piano lesson.

    Low points: (1) the Ferengi climbing on top of unstable kegs to do 'lord knows what' to the big glowing cocoon, while Worf and 2 security folk do nothing to safeguard it, having provided no lock on the cargo hold to begin with....ughh. And (2) the group of disgusting prols in Ten Forward who fancied themselves a catch for Kamala. No comment....self evident.

    After a 2nd I gave it a 5 out of 9. Instead of a 3. It did have some redeeming moments...ones worth pondering from time to time.

    It had been a very long time since I'd seen this episode, and I had no idea that the metamorph was Famke Janssen. I must last have seen this one before I saw Goldeneye in 1996.

    Anyway - I didn't much like it. Even though Beverley is on hand to provide the case for the prosecution; even though it's made clear that Kamala is doing what she does willingly, I still find the notion of a woman's life dedicated to be a gift very troubling. And the scene in which she's presented in a veil at the end is stomatch-turning, as is Riker's "another man's gift" comment.

    Other problems: Picard is far more drawn to her than he should be, when she is really just an illusion. She's like the "pleasure GELF" from an episode of Red Dwarf, which come to think of it must have been made at roughly the same time. Everyone experiences her differently. She's a bit like a mirror.

    Furthermore, the fact that Picard bangs her (yes he does, it's obvious from his non-reply when asked how he could resist her) seems like an abuse of his rank, or his diplomatic status.

    Who are the thuggish aliens in 10 Forward? Are they supposed to be crew? Perhaps they're the Holodeck 4 cleaners, in there spending the bonus they got this week.

    The Ferengi, despite their reputation as troublemakers, are apparently given free reign to wander round the ship. Ridiculous.

    Not an episode I'll ever revisit.

    On a rewatch i just saw that the women had trill spots.

    And i am really dissapointed how they apparently just reused them to introduce a new race.

    Why anybody in there right mind would allow that whore Riker to escort a raw sex being to her pad is just wrong. And,yeah Picard banged her . He keeps own counsel....

    Lots of conversation!

    Maybe I’m a smacktard, but I don’t think this even merits 2 stars. It feels rather like a season 7 episode. I certainly found it dull.

    Except the Ferengi parts, which were perfunctory in the script and showed staggering incompetence by the crew, particularly Worf and Riker. I don’t see how this can so easily dismissed considering how much screen time they get.

    There are lengthy bits where Kamala is charming everybody. It’s kind of interesting in that it portrays something similar to the powers Ilia was supposed to have, but it drones on too long.

    Picard is way out of character. My first thought was his largely lackadaisical performance was to show Kamala’s powers. But he was like that before she was released, most notably when he blows off concerns of delays caused by the distress call.

    Worst of all, they all but dropped the more provocative plot: whether she’s a slave or not.

    To me, this seems like part failed Ferengi vehicle (they usually are) and mostly cheap bottle episode that pretty much everybody phoned in. Worf’s hair isn’t even done.

    The Perfect Mate

    TNG season 5 episode 21

    “I'm really quite dull.”

    - Picard

    3 1/2 stars (out of 4)

    There are so many iconic scenes in this episode it is almost a perfect 4 stars. After Famke Janssen kisses Riker, he makes a strategic retreat, letting the bridge know, "If you need me, I'll be in holodeck four.” When Worf breaks up a flock in ten-forward, Famke Janssen gives him a klingon growl that would make your toes curl. And when Famke Janssen decides to seduce Picard, she knows exactly what to ask,

    KAMALA: This ship's very important to you, isn't it?

    PICARD: Oh, yes. Oh, yes, it is.

    KAMALA: Are all captains' lives so solitary? Or just yours?

    PICARD: Don’t.

    KAMALA: What?

    PICARD: Don't do this, this, this you do with men.

    Because men are not so complicated that there aren’t are few tried and tested ways to win them over. Try their favorite drink,

    KAMALA: What are you all having, boys?

    MINER 2: Aldorian Ale's our drink.

    KAMALA: Then, it's mine too.

    Read their favorite books,

    KAMALA: One never knows when the conversation might turn to the dark woman of raven brows and mournful eyes in Shakespeare's sonnets.

    Take an interest in their hobbies,

    KAMALA: Have you seen the Ventanan woven art recovered from the fourth colony dig?

    Get them to talk about their mother,

    PICARD: I'm reminded of piano lessons when I was a child. Preparing for some dreaded recital.

    KAMALA: You still play?

    PICARD: No. I regret that I gave it up. It used to please my mother. But I didn't like performing in front of an audience.

    Not every technique works on every man. And of course the important thing is that it not seem like you are using a technique. And a big part of not letting on that you are using a technique, is to play coy,

    PICARD: Kamala, you are one day away from an arranged mating. Why would you want me to visit you in your quarters?

    KAMALA: I said a visit. I didn't ask you to make love to me.

    There are so many points where the episode could have stumbled. There could have been some bullshit B-story scifi jeopardy plot, the kind we’ve seen so often in season 5. Thankfully they don’t bother. There could have been some unnecessary mayhem, like a fight in ten-foward. Thankfully they don’t go there. They could have turned this into some sort of a social message episode (Beverly, "How can you simply deliver her like a courier into a life of virtual prostitution?”). They didn’t (Beverly, "I wish I knew how I could help.”). If there was a fault, it was in the Ferengi, not their stars. But all in all, they stuck with an examination of the core question in this episode: superhuman sexuality.

    This is not the first time an Enterprise has had to deal with ultra-sexiness.

    In “Space Seed,” Khan was irresistible. In "The Outrageous Okona,” Okana made his way into more than a few beds during his short stay on the Enterprise. But we haven’t seen women with that level of charisma. They closest we got was "Mudd's Women,” but that was induced, not innate.

    Famke Janssen is to sexiness what the Zakdorn are to strategy. The only way to deal with that, is Data :-) I’ve written before (see my comment on “The Offspring”) that Data is often a stand in for the autistic asexual man. Seldom is that more obvious than here,

    DATA: Your empathic powers do not perceive anything because as an android, I have no emotions.

    KAMALA: I can understand why Captain Picard chose you to be my chaperone.

    But why Picard didn’t give the job to Troi is not clear. She was probably too busy eating chocolate and brushing her hair (see my comments in “The Masterpiece Society”).

    There is one really fun line - fun, that is, because we know how Famke Janssen’s career will pan out,

    PICARD: A metamorph?

    KAMALA: A mutant. A biological curiosity, if you will.

    Professor X is clearly intrigued.

    But the core conflict is all in Picard’s heads. In a way, Picard makes exactly the same mistake here that Troi made back in “The Masterpiece Society”. There, Troi slept with the leader of a genetically enhanced colony which, you could say, really complicated the diplomatic situation. Exactly the kind of mistake Riker would never make,

    RIKER: Listen, this has been educational but I make it a policy never to open another man's gift.

    Here Picard, despite his best efforts, makes the mistake Troi did before,

    PICARD: Have I not done everything possible to discourage this?

    But Picard is famous deficient when it comes to women, as we learned in “In Theory,"

    DATA: Captain, I am seeking advice in how -

    PICARD: Yes, I've heard, Data, and I would be delighted to offer any advice I can on understanding women. When as I have some, I'll let you know.

    Famke Janssen, on the other hand, was schooled in all the important subjects,

    KAMALA: I had servants and tutors at my side constantly. You once asked me what I'm like when I'm alone. I've never been. There was always somebody there to educate me in literature, history, art, sex.

    Suffice it to say that our great captain is in the end only human. Famke Janssen bonds with him. Picard must to live with the knowledge that there really is a perfect woman for him, out there, somewhere. Married to another man.

    The story of course is as old as time. But it is told here in “The Perfect Mate" so much better than in TOS ("Elaan of Troyius”), or Andromeda ("The Honey Offering”). The closest we got was probably Babylon 5, and the compromise Delenn’s clan makes in allowing her to marry Captain Sheridan,

    "It was our tradition, long ago, when we still warred amongst ourselves after the war was over, each side would give one of its own to the other in marriage. The victorious side gave a female of its clan to the one that lost that suffered the most deaths, as a symbol of life and hope.”

    Famke Janssen plays a perfect symbol of life and hope.

    Everey man could fall in love with Famke in this role. Just looking on her in this episode would justifi it. Fantastic acting.

    But, if you take the time a take one step back se many other aspects. It rises a quistions for them who wnats them

    Many good sceenes. Beverlys reaction and Picards quite tame excuse at the firs breakfest sceen. Ten forward is very funny.

    There is also a lot of logical holes. Where was Troi? If this was so important why not involve the femal staff more? Some quite stupid ferengiinvolwment.

    But all of this is excused by the apperance of Famke.

    Why didn’t they just let her hang out with all the women on the ship? Why was an Android chaperone the solution? This is an exceptionally sexist episode not just because of the sex trafficking, but also because the episode quickly ignores the fact that there are 100s on women on the Enterprise, including trained security officers, who could have kept the metamorph company.

    Is it ever explicitly stated that she has no effect on women? It’s something the episode weirdly dances around.

    @Top Hat
    @Chief O'Brien

    For that matter, are there no firmly gay males on the Enterprise who could hang around her? Or do her pheromones transcend sexual orientation, so that only a machine is unaffected?

    I think an alternate story line starting from the same premise as this episode could have focused on her relationship with Data rather than Picard. With Data, she could have found out who she "really" was, because she would finally have no man there for her to draw her identity from. She might then have passed the time when she could bond with any man.

    What would she then have done? We cannot know, because the version of her we saw the episode land on was the one she became by bonding with Picard: A person in love with rationality and committed to duty. That person could not ask two planets to remain at war, when she could stop it by pretending to be bonded to the man she'd been "prepared" for.

    "For that matter, are there no firmly gay males on the Enterprise who could hang around her? Or do her pheromones transcend sexual orientation, so that only a machine is unaffected?"

    She'd just identify as a man and they'd be at his mercy anyway.

    Those calling for Kamala to discover whom she “really” is or taking moral umbrage at the nature of the arrangement featuring her are, in my view, demonstrating a staggering degree of ethical imperialism.

    Yes, in our modern Western society, we tend to view personal independence as a moral ideal (for a relative rarity in the fullness of human history). But I would argue that all morality - all, mind - is ultimately reducible to the suffering and well-being of conscious creatures. Moral systems that (for example) claim to more highly emphasize the acquisition of justice, or obedience to God/gods, or any other axiomatic principle ahead of this one are really just deluding themselves. When you probe deeply enough, you find that concern for maximizing conscious well-being and minimizing conscious suffering is always the man behind Oz’s curtain.

    So allow me to plug this into The Perfect Mate. Kamala makes it clear that what she’s doing isn’t a game, or a fantasy. She’s not ignoring her own interests and desires in order to please her partner - pleasing her partner IS her only interest and desire. To that end, she will become - not pretend to be - anything, because her truest fulfillment is found in being what a specific other person wants her to be. That is to say, as a conscious being capable of experiencing positive and negative conscious states, she genuinely maximizes her positive states and minimizes her negative ones when she feels that she has accomplished this singular goal.

    Is it cruel (wrong) to whip a masochist? Not if they really do enjoy it. Is it benevolent (right) to gift a Buddhist monk a fortune in money? Not if they are actually happier living an ascetic lifestyle. We can allow for people who “don’t know what they are missing”, of course, and unwittingly cling to a miserable life because it’s what they know, not realizing that they are suffering more than they would if they experienced reality in a different way. But this is a fraught and potentially arrogant case to make in any specific circumstance, running the risk of unjustifiably claiming a role of superiority over another person as you assume that you know them better than they do.

    When it comes to Kamala, it’s almost certainly doomed because we are given an alien creature who is genetically predisposed to reading her mate and fulfilling herself by fulfilling him. By her own admission, she is “incomplete” when alone. Keeping her away from what we might interpret as a one-sided romantic relationship is like keeping a fish away from water. You are just needlessly hurting a conscious being. It’s immoral.

    To do this because you, as a fundamentally different kind of animal, have unilaterally decreed that your way is the best way and that Kamala and the fish are both wrong for failing to thrive in exactly the same kind of environment as you do? That borders on morally deranged.


    Leaving aside a debate about utilitarianism, I think you are missing a detail from the episode:

    By the end of the episode Kamala IS planning to "pretend" to be what will please her mate, and the reason it will be a pretense is because she has only a narrow window of time in which she is affected by the desires of the men around her, the time period in which she was supposed to "bond" with one man for life. Because she was brought out of stasis prematurely, she did not have that critical bonding period with her husband-to-be, but with Picard. The person she becomes by being with him is who she will be forever. But she will be able to tell what her husband wants her to be, because she is telepathic. (She says both of those things explicitly.)

    It does not matter if you personally believe in a morality rooted in a sense of duty. Picard does, and that's why Kamala does, after imprinting on him. I'm sure it makes it easier that she has spent her life preparing to do her duty for her people, but earlier in the episode, she was just as willing to have a "good time" with a bunch of rowdy miners or to exchange snarls with a Klingon. The creature of duty who will read her husband's mind in order to act the way he wants her to is a creature not just of a lifetime of training, but a creature of that critical bonding period with a man of duty.


    You’re correct that the end of the episode changes the moral dynamic of the story. I was actually remarking upon the ethics of Kamala living her life as “intended”, if everything had gone according to plan. Opinions on her role are strong: Crusher says it’s slavery, Picard says it’s an arranged marriage, some people on this thread say it’s an unconscionable objectification of Kamala (and women generally, by extension). I say it doesn’t matter what you want to call it, so long as it’s what Kamala really, truly wants.

    The ending moves this episode from, in my opinion, a simple story of a woman choosing the life that will most fulfill and satisfy her, into the realm of being a tragedy. As you say, the question becomes a utilitarian one: Is it right to “sacrifice” Kamala and her happiness if it means stopping a war between two civilizations?

    Something I’m surprised not to have seen discussed in this thread is the issue of whether, at the end of the episode, Kamala could possibly have had a happy life no matter what happened. We know from the ambassador that her species can live for up to 200 years. Patrick Stewart was 52 when the episode was made; Famke Janssen was 28. Now, let’s just say Kamala had abandoned her duty and requested asylum aboard the Enterprise, and Picard had somehow allowed it so they could remain together. To be brutally frank, she’d have had…what? 50 more years out of him before he died of old age (assuming higher average life expectancy in the 24th century)? If she can only “imprint” herself with one mate for life, that leaves her with over a century to live unable to properly do the only thing that truly fulfills her, even if she remarries after Picard’s death.

    Maybe it’s just as well that she ends up with her arranged husband. At least she won’t be alone that way.


    Yes, I think it is intended as tragedy.

    While it offers the view some sense of a meaningful ending, it is by no means a happy ending. Yes, there will be peace instead of war, and that is what everyone involved was trying to achieve, but at great personal cost to Kamala and to Picard.

    There was no happy ending available for them, for to have a life together, they would each have had to repudiate the essence of who they were. Picard's "tragic flaw" (not necessarily a flaw in the moral sense, but in the literary sense of what makes a story a tragedy) is his sense of duty. Kamala's tragic flaw is the essence of her being, as Picard says, "this thing you do with men" (becoming what they want). In the end, they can neither of them deny what they are.

    There is dignity in accepting who you are, but sometimes there is tragedy, too. Real life is too often like that.

    "While it offers the view some sense of a meaningful ending, it is by no means a happy ending."

    I think one of the things this supposedly chauvinist piece touches on, which is not immediately obvious, is that it's challenging the idea of happiness as being the thing that gratifies you immediately. If an ending contains sadness and longing, does that mean it's not happy? I think The Perfect Mate positions duty and sacrifice as being contenders for "good feelings" as a proper definition of happiness.

    The themes of this episode mirror to an extent what was overtly and even gloriously shown in Kirk's marriage to his ship in TOS. The early Trek films make much of this, but then again so did The Naked Time. Kirk was necessarily going to be denied some of the things he may have longed for, because his union with his ship and his duty were his greatest happiness. This at times entailed suffering, sacrifice, even potentially being alone and on opposite sides of everyone else such as in This Side of Paradise. Here we see Picard in a similar situation, where sacrificing personal good feelings is in fact the greatest service toward his highest aim, and finally Kamala's as well. Her entire physical being was built to satisfy the needs of another, and so we might argue not that she's a slave, but rather that her highest value is service and sacrifice on a biological level. The only thing that changed when she imprinted on Picard is that her intellectual and psychological values came perfectly into alignment with her body's nature. She not only had to sacrifice for the good of others, but she believed in it and wanted to, and would continue to want to no matter who her husband was.

    Take a contrary situation for a moment. Let's say Kamala had gotten to her destination as planned, and had imprinted on jerko or whatever his name was. What if his 'ideal mate' was someone rebellious, exciting, and not caring about consequences? That might have made for a good time in the bedroom, let's say, but as this would have been her real personality from then on, perhaps she would have gone on to sabotage the treaty and her planet. What if his ideal mate (which surely is a subconscious desire, rather than a calculated schema) would have made for big trouble even in their own marriage? Maybe the guy had self-destructive fantasies and she would have helped him bring down his own reign. But with Picard's values imprinted, we can be sure that Kamala would always do her duty to protect these worlds and keep the peace.

    Sounds like a happy ending to me, no? A bittersweet one, to be sure. But I personally always thought it was uplifting that, no matter how crude Jerko is, Kamala will always have Shakespeare and her own inner peace (Picard's inner peace) to enjoy and take refuge in. It's almost like Picard really did go with her, to give her some sort of sanctuary from this beast. Sure, we can argue that she would have enjoyed the beast if she had imprinted on him, but as the viewer I think we find it almost impossible to accept that being made into a lousy person is 'good for her' even if it pleased her. So yeah, maybe that's putting our values onto her. But how can we help it?

    Does anyone else think that Geoege Lucas was watching some Ferengi episode on Star Trek one day, and thought to himself, "Fascinating creatures! That gives me an idea!" And then created Jar Jar Binks.

    Speaking of Star Wars, the emergence of Kamala from the melted cargo had some kinship to Han Solo in carbonite after Leia flipped the switch.

    Agree with the "other" Ben above (and others) that Picard succumbed that last night.


    "There is dignity in accepting who you are, but sometimes there is tragedy, too. Real life is too often like that."

    That is very beautiful.

    In Star Trek, the alien traditions are often traditions that are abhorrent to most living people here on Earth. It makes it so that the entire audience is on the same side. The true story happens underneath this. And this episode was no different. That a woman exists only to satisfy the needs of a man doesn't need much of an argument to demonstrate that this is unacceptable to both men and women. So that can't possibly be the allegory or story being told.

    I'm more interested in the blatant sexism against men in this episode. It starts off with Riker not only going to Holodeck 4, but announcing his intentions to the bridge. What's more, the fact that he feels the need to inform the Bridge implies he's still on duty and that this "need" is so strong that he must take a break from work. I mean... c'mon. Or maybe he's inviting other people from the bridge to join him (that's a joke).

    Then much of the show centers around this theme. I'm not saying men don't crave certain urges, but this episode went to great lengths to show only this. The bar scene. Worf growling. The Ferrengis wanting her.

    Kamala is an empty shell. And somehow, she's supposed to be desired by all men? Sure, she knows a lot of facts. But she has no personal ambitions other than being what her mate wants her to be. Some have argued for this being her ambition. Fine (not that I accept that). But Picard is human. He's supposed to be a symbol for a more sophisticated human being (also being from the future). Kamala then tries to find his interests. In the end, the episode says that Picard is interested in only one thing just like all the other men depicted in this episode.

    I think this episode was meant to be sexist against both men and women on purpose. It went to show the way each gender thinks the other is portrayed. The Perfect Mate wasn't Kamala. It was Picard (to Kamala). Or rather what we expect from a man... yet that was just as sexist as what was expected from Kamala. That Picard was able to get his satisfaction and then discard Kamala because for a man, all that "other stuff" that makes one human is unnecessary in a mate (according to what was depicted in the episode).

    In those days, and even more today, it was impossible to describe these things in the open. Mentioning sexism toward men is taboo even more today than it was in the 80s. The fact that this episode was produced at all is quite remarkable.

    Yeah, this episode wasn't good enough to justify the Ferengi and the slave lady. I saw a lot of mental gymnastics upthread, trying to somehow make her enslavement okay, but she was a slave. The idea she was doing it of her own free will, with no external pressure, is absolutely hilarious. There was not a single vagina within sniffing distance of this script, I guarantee you.

    "There was not a single vagina within sniffing distance of this script, I guarantee you."

    Good thing we have a certified vagina expert in the house.

    The gut punch of the episode was the moment Kamala kissed her new husband - as Picard looked on, rigid and repressed (as always) by his duty - but dying within.

    The pathos is undercut, however, by the ‘metamorph’ plotline. Kamala is - through no fault of her own - as artificial as a sex-robot. It’s a bit gruesome to fall in love with a creature that is programmed to be your fantasy woman and to please you in every way - knowing that she has no authentic self and no ability to reject you or deny you anything you want.

    I only skimmed the comments, so apologies if this point has already been made: The sexism of the episode isn’t in the alien society or on the Enterprise. It is in our own world - the world of TV viewers.

    To see it, just try imagining a gender-switched plot with a male metamorph raised to be the perfect mate of women, describing this as his duty and his calling. Imagine him being kept in stasis, then confined to his quarters, then conforming to Crusher’s desires, then being given as a gift to an unattractive female leader.

    The viewing audience - us - is very accustomed to females who please men, submit and conform to male desires. That is the way of the world and it is considered normal. But we react with disgust and animosity towards male subordination (see the virulent outrage created by “Angel One”). A better episode would have zeroed in on this double standard and made viewers face it in themselves and then ponder it: why *do* we easily accept slavish-sex-object females? and why do we find depictions of them them enjoyable, though we would never enjoy seeing males in that position (or being in that position ourselves)? And now that we recognize our mental double standard, what should we do about it?

    instead of calling attention to this though, the episode just panders to it and reinforced it. For the milliont time, viewers get to see a beautiful female who is a pawn/subordinate of men and caters to their desires. It’ doesn’t exactly challenge the viewer’s prejudices..

    "The viewing audience - us - is very accustomed to females who please men, submit and conform to male desires. That is the way of the world and it is considered normal. But we react with disgust and animosity towards male subordination (see the virulent outrage created by “Angel One”)."

    I just imagined it and really wasn't disgusted at all. I also wasn't outraged by Angel One - it was far too silly to elicit any strong emotion. Actually alot of dudes find submission sexy.

    Watching this one again reminded me of a few things.

    First of all, they claim that male metamorphs are relatively common, but that it's the female metamorph that is so incredibly rare. This means not that the episode is painting women as being a mere object of our desires; in fact if we take the premise seriously then on this world it's more the norm that the men will do anything the women want to conform to their needs, and it's a rarity for the reverse to be true (to this extent, anyhow). To be honest, if we're looking at contemporary (90's) society, this episode more or less maps onto reality in this sense, that women in the West mostly control sexual selection and that guys must 'win them', meaning, do whatever is required for the female to accept them. For it to be the reverse case - for a woman to have to change herself and jump through hoops to appeal to a man - is, I think, much more rare. I'm assuming an analogy between being a metamorph and having to bend oneself to appeal to someone else. If I'm right about the analogy, then rather than saying that women are subservient, on the contrary the episode is saying that women have won the sexual revolution, and that it's now super-rare for a woman to have to go through any kind of ordeal to win the attention of a men.

    Regarding the slavery angle and whether Kamala is being treated with respect, Beverly at breakfast certainly makes the case that this is slavery, and Picard is particularly irate at having to defend against this point. But why is he irate? And his irritated response continues when he tells the ambassador that Kamala is going to be let out to visit the crew. I think he may be irate because despite his intention to stay away from Kamala and not get involved in any interaction with her, Beverly is goading him on to go and save her from imprisonment, and by the time he goes to the ambassador he's being cornered into taking a macho "not on my ship" attitude. His overdone bluster about this shows that even though Kamala isn't present he's still having an interaction with her, impressing her with his boldness. And it's mostly against his will at that; he'd rather not be fighting for her. And when the ambassador says that she'll drive every man on the ship nuts, Picard mutters "not every man!" as if Data is going to somehow shield the ship from her effects. It almost seems like Picard knows exactly what's going to happen and is daring his own ship to take her on. But why? I think it's macho bravado. He's already not thinking clearly.

    The problem with this theory is that Kamala has to have driven him wild already from their first interaction, which is sort of implied but doesn't quite come off properly on-screen. And in fact overall I'm having a problem with Janssen's performance. Every scene features her looking cute and knowing she's looking cute, and speaking in this really flat tone that says little else than "I know you think I'm cute". Considering what her abilities are supposed to be, this is really monotoned on the seduction scale. And frankly all she ever seems to do is be trying to seduce every man she sees. Sure, I can understand if she can't turn off her metamorph power and her emapthy, but I don't see why that has to mean that she's also actively choosing to go forward with seductions, kissing Riker, going over to the miners, etc. She seems to sort of be a dunce. Or maybe this is just too much of a one-note performance. I actually found that to be the case in X-Men as well, that Janssen's scenes were all one-note and pretty boring.

    So I was definitely missing Janssen actually portraying someone who's personality changes depending on who she's with. She seemed pretty much the same in every scene regardless. You'd think that, being alone with Picard, her demeanor and attitude would immediately change, and moreover, into something more respectable, someone who could challenge Picard on a level he respects, rather than just animal attraction. I did not get that he left her quarters with something to prove to her about how tough he is, despite the fact that from then on this is how the episode has him act. So really the scenes that fail for me are the one's she's in. It would have been so much better if, instead of just smiling at everyone she sees, she actually changed into different people with different priorities. Her priorities in every scene, as it is, seem confined to making the men go crazy for her. At that point I'm inclined to agree with the ambassador that she should have been locked up in her quarters, if she's going to be irresponsible like this.

    @Peter G.

    It sounds to me as if you are making two points:

    1) It isn't sexist because in the episode and in real life it's actually males who usually have to mold themselves to females' desires, not vice versa, and Kamala is a counterexample.

    2) Kamala is behaving badly by throwing herself at men.

    What I would say to 1 is that while the writers TELL us that among Kamala's species, male metamorphs are common, they choose not to SHOW us any male metamorphs at all, only the "rare" female metamorph. In their writing, no matter what they say in one throwaway line of exposition, 100% of the metamorphs we meet are (is) female. The throwaway line about male metamorphs makes no difference at all to the story, and could easily have been left out. I suspect it was added fairly late in revisions when someone said, "Hey, does this script sound a little sexist?"

    I would also add that it's kind of a typical male perspective that "Men are the ones who have to do all the work to attract women. Women just get to stand there while we jump through hoops for them." I can assure you, the female perspective on this aspect of real life is very different. I think it's easy for each sex to assume that the other is not "jumping through hoops," and that what they see in the opposite sex is just the way they "naturally" are without any effort. No. That's not how it works. If it were true, the cosmetic industry would either have only men as its customers, or would grind to a halt. I think you have no idea how often women and girls are told to change everything they are if they want to attract a man. I'm willing to take it on faith that men and boys get such messages about attracting women. Can you take on faith, that we do, too, and that you are not all the work?

    Regarding 2, I think the whole POINT is that "Her priority is to make men go crazy for her." This is not her free choice, as if she were deciding to be promiscuous for her own purposes, or, as you put it "irresponsible." It is what being a metamorph at this particular stage of her development MEANS. She is in the brief period when her biology is hard-wired to motivate her to seek the man with whom she will then bond for life. After that bonding, there will be no more throwing herself at every man who comes along, but until then, she has a biological imperative to enter into such a bond. What Picard calls "This thing you do with men" includes not only her willingness to become whatever her instincts tell her each man wants, but also her all-consuming motivation to do so, during this brief period of her life.

    If she doesn't make use of that brief period to find a mate, then she will end up … Well, as she does end up: Bonded to a man who will not in fact be her mate, and living a lie with the man she marries.

    I wonder, would she have been so much worse off if she had bonded with one of the rowdy miners and spent the rest of her life with him, as the woman he wanted her to be? Would whatever man she bonded with have been the "perfect mate" for her, not just her the perfect mate for him?

    In a natural state, unmanipulated by political realities to serve a diplomatic purpose, I can see how metamorphism could lead to stable, happy families. The manipulation that she has been subject to from earliest childhood to make sure that she ends up in a marriage that serves her people's political purposes is perhaps not exactly "slavery," but it is not "freedom," either.

    @ Trish,

    Yeah, there's no escape from the fact that the show throws us a sexy lady as the centerpiece, so the exposition line doesn't impact us that much. I wasn't really talking about whether it's sexist per se, and more exploring whether they're trying to map the situation onto the real world at all.

    About women changing themselves vs men, I wasn't making the case that women don't have to do anything. Obviously the game is two-way. But the action of the game typically is the woman does certain preparatory procedures (which can include make-up, costume, etc) to put beauty on display, and then the males come to her. This is similar to (but inverted from) the peacock situation, since in the Western human culture it's the female that is adorned. Her preparation may involve a lot more work than males do, and may be stressful, etc, so I'm not trivializing things into 'the woman does nothing.' But if the woman does do these things typically she can be assured of some result; she won't have to go around asking men out just to get a date. A guy, by contrast (perhaps because of the social system) can sit around minding his own business, and will get nowhere. He will usually have to get out there and try to make something happen. Actually I'm not particular fond of this dichotomy, but in my experience this is the setup. It just is what it is. And more point, in any case, was that in the final analysis, the women select the men more than the men select the women. Sure, any given women might not be able to get a particular arbitrary man, but she will have options within bounds. A guy will have typically have zero options unless he creates those possibilities for himself, unless he is unusually attractive. I have seen the odd guy that women throw themselves at, but it's pretty rare. With women, not so rare. So functionally they gatekeep dating (this is not a complaint on my part, I think it is actually good).

    About point 2, I think you are speaking about Kamala like she's a biological sex machine rather than a sentient being who can choose to govern her choices (maybe not her desires). It's sort of analogous to arguing that a horny guy is only doing what his biology has programmed him to, so it's not his free choice whether to ask like a horny animal or not. But I think the Trek mentality is that we really are capable of being civilized no matter our base impulses; this topic was more prevalent in TOS then TNG, I think. So yes, Kamala has a tough job to be at the peak of her sexual maturity, and yes it's what she was born for, but if she is an intelligent adult she should also be capable of saying "You know what, my desires are really strong and it would be bad for me to act them out, I need to try to discipline myself." It's like, ok, maybe you have a need as strong as a powerful addiction. Well people IRL do face that problem, and steps are taken to deal with it if you're being responsible. But she seems really unconcerned with the effects of her actions, to the point where they are really quite wanton. From that standpoint I can't be sure whether to blame the script, the actress, or what. She just looks like she doesn't give a damn whether she starts a brawl or whatever. I mean, what, is she supposed to be a sociopath?

    And maybe your objection about what we're shown is in line with mine, because I don't really see any metamorphing going on in the episode. Every scene is just her coming on to the nearest guy in the same way. She doesn't strike me as changing for them, just using the same smile and pheromone routine to guy any guy to like her. Is that supposed to be respectable? It may be an issue with the show's directing in the end.

    My read is that, within the parameters of the episode, Kamala isn't even herself intrinsically interested in seeking out men to bond with, but doesn't have any inner self or motivations to begin with -- she has knowledge, maybe, but is emotionally a genuine blank slate. So when she throws herself at men, it's because that really *is* what those men, on some level, want. I don't think she can control it, or, rather, I think she has free will *once she becomes the person that she becomes, in reflection of the man she's around*, to act within those parameters. So that she turns into a kind of season 2 guest starring woman throwing herself sultrily at Riker is because that is, at the bottom, Riker's type. Riker has nobler aspirations and can turn her down, but those nobler aspirations are a few layers up from what he basically wants. (Not to get too Freudian, but Riker's losing his mother at a young age is maybe part of it. He really, *really* wants a woman in his life, but is also afraid of becoming attached to one.)

    I think in this sense, the Kamala that we see in the second half of the episode who can control herself is because moral fibre, independence and self-sacrifice is a non-negotiable part of what Picard wants in a mate. Even Vash is independent and hard-working, and follows a kind of code.

    As for whether this maps onto women in real life, I think it's a bit complicated. I think that part of what's being explored is the idea of people brought up to view desirability, and being partnered with someone, as being so intrinsically part of their identity that they can't turn it off, and indeed there is nothing there underneath. In real life, it's not "nothing" (and I'm not claiming that real life people can't be expected to control themselves), but within the parameters of the story, I think it is pretty absolute. To the extent that someone is to blame in the real life equivalent, much of the blame rests on the society, parental/guardian figures, and social groups who convince people that their sole worth lies in pleasing others.

    The episode tells us more about Picard than anything else, and I think it also is a signal to why Picard is perpetually alone. His nobility is so deeply part of his self-conception that his fantasy has to reject him. What's interesting, and has been observed by a few, is that this is still a kind of self-serving fantasy, that in fact only Picard is a remarkable enough man to want to be rejected. This has been kind of part of his thing since We'll Always Have Paris, and the Casablanca reference in that episode title gives a bit of a clue: the heroism is part of the package of his aloneness, the noble sacrifice of romance for the cause becomes part of what makes the romance(s) burn hot.

    It's also, perhaps, the way he copes with Beverly's slavery argument, which is that he can't really believe either that a person can genuinely be an empty shell (because it goes against his deeply held convictions in the essential dignity of sentient life) nor that a person can be sold against their will into slavery (for obvious reasons) nor that he should interfere (because this is a Prime Directive issue and there are many lives hanging in the balance), nor even that she actually *wants* to be matched with whoever her guy is (because that's on some level too easy and so is suspicious), and the resolution which seems most possible is that a brave, dignified individual can make a self-sacrificing choice for the greater good but hold onto a certain spark of freedom within her, while also requiring a sacrifice of Picard to partly assuage his guilt at being the bearer of Kamala into her fate. It is *a* resolution, and I think it's what makes the episode tick, because dramatically it sort of resolves the episode's underlying moral dilemma but it might, itself, be a trick to soothe Picard, and the Picards in the audience -- but it's a trick that we can maybe step outside and see.

    All IMHO of course, and it's been a while since I've seen the episode.

    If all that is true, William, then it ironically means that not only is Kamala an empty shell, but the role of Kamala as written into the episode is also an empty shell whose only purpose to exist is to show off Picard's attributes.

    But again I have to say that Kamala does seem able to think for herself even apart from morphing into people. Or rather, the actress portrays a common Kamala across various scenes which doesn't particularly seem to be a fantasy of anyone in particular. I dunno.

    @Peter, I think you are correct; the episode is in some ways using Kamala as an empty shell to tell a story about Picard. But it's also important that the story is about Picard reacts to an empty shell, and what he fills it in with.

    It is also worth noting that while of course lots of guys just get sexual/romantic attachment to her, Kamala is objectified all over the place by everyone in the story. The Ferengi (including proto-Rom I guess) are of course going to commodify her sexually, but mostly view her in terms of her value as an asset; the basic societal function of her is to be a peace wife. Even Beverly's description of her as a slave is really an incomplete application of her humanism (and feminism, though this is mostly on the meta level, since sexual equality is meant to be solidly established in universe) rather than an ability to engage with who Kamala is. (Though I think Beverly erring on the side of her personhood is more admirable than the Ferengi erring on the side of viewing her as a commodity.)

    You are not wrong that Janssen plays it with a certain common baseline. I was thinking about whether I was overstating the point (that's part of why I emphasized the "IMHO" on this particular post even though it's understood). It might be down to her limitations as a performer...though I'm not positive if that's what's going on.

    The episode is mostly about showing off Picard's attributes. I think that the subversive (feminist?) level to it is that it's subtly a self-critique of these types of saviour narratives; the surface level mostly emphasizing Picard's sacrifice gives way, when pulling back, to a larger narrative of whether Picard is more than superficially different than the Ferengi or the miners or the guy she's being married to, in terms of objectifying her. Picard's version of Kamala is the most complex one depicted in the episode (more complex than even Beverly's), but it's still about Picard's ideals. Kamala not really being a complete subject might, in this read, be more a criticism of the narrative itself than a statement about the interior lives of people in real life who might be in Kamala's position. But eventually we start to veer pretty far from anything we can say with certainty. I like Stewart's performance (and, honestly, Janssen's in her scenes with Stewart) and the dialogue enough to give this episode possibly more credit than it deserves, but I feel like there are hints here that it's operating on a few levels, even if it's hard to disentangle.

    @William B

    Your use of the word "disentangling" has helped me to articulate what I see this story to be about at the real-life level (because Trek is pretty much always trying to be about real life in some way):

    I think maybe this episode is not necessarily so much about gender roles as it is about the extent to which the person each of us becomes is determined by the company we keep. I see it more as posing a question than as settling on a single confident answer.

    In Kamala, we see an example of utter social determinism. Even though she seems to break "free" from the path that was determined practically from the time of her birth, in that she does not end up bonding with and molding her personality around the desires of her prearranged mate, this very breaking away is still just as determined by an outside force, her contact with Picard. In a sense, she, as Kamala, does not quite "exist." She simply "is," and her being is utterly determined by the existence of her bondmate. I think that is what @Peter G. is getting at about her being an "empty shell."

    Picard, on the other hand, exists to the nth degree. He is not merely the person his experiences and relationships have made him, but the person he has chosen to be, even in the face of all Kamala's charms and pheromones. He is tempted by her, but no matter what you think happened between them before morning, he does not yield to the ultimate temptation Kamala represents for him, the temptation to forsake all duty, his and hers alike.

    Was Kamala falling for temptation when she allowed herself to be with Picard enough to bond with him instead of with her husband? I'm not sure of that. I think it was the closest a metamorph could come to exercising something resembling free will. She chose Picard, and invited him to spend the night, emphasizing that she was not asking him to make love to her, but refraining from mentioning that if he stayed long enough, she would be bonding with him, a far more significant intimacy than a one-night stand. I think I see her as knowing full well that if she spent that night in his company, she would bond, and the door would be forever closed to bonding with her future husband. It was her choice, and after she made it, she expressed no regrets.

    She may have been an empty shell, but she chose what would fill her. She might in a sense be forever enslaved to the bond formed that night, but that slavery would be for her a sort of freedom, or at least the closest to freedom that it was ever in the cards for her to have.

    She had no realistic choice of living a life "disentangled" from everyone. The part of her nature she could not change was that she would be entangled with someone. What she could do, and did do, was disentangle herself from her society's determination of what specific entanglement would define her identity, and instead entangle herself with a companion of her own choosing.

    Is determinism still determinism when the individual herself determines who will determine who she is? That is the episode's question. We must each find our own answer.

    As I wrote this, I found myself for the first time connecting this episode with the TOS episode, Elaan of Troius. The two stories seem so different, yet they are at one level the same story: The alien woman seems blown from one passion to the next and carries in her body the power to enslave men to that passion, but in a Starfleet captain she finds a sense of duty, and he finds in his duty a superpower no other man has shown her, the strength to walk away from her. It is painful, and it is difficult, but in the end, his duty to his ship is the "antidote" to her biological charms, and she comes away better for having known a man such as him. Her people will never know how much they owe him.

    @ Trish,

    I actually thought of Elaan of Troius as well, for just the reasons you mentioned.

    The main reason I find William B's suggestion troubling - that Kamala cannot really be said to have wants *at all* - is that it eliminates her entirely from any conversation about whether she's being used or not. Of course she is, she literally cannot be anything but be used if that's her nature. I have to say in all my years of watching this ep, it never really occurred to me that she literally cannot have thoughts other than those generated by the nearest man's fantasy. If that were really true, it would be possibly the most alien being in all of Trek, so distant from our notion of free will and self-sovereignty that I do not even know if there are reasonable terms we could use to describe her participation in any scene at all. How can we tell that anything she says to Picard at any point is coming from her? Maybe it's all just a house of mirrors reflecting his own mind back to itself. What about when she's with Data? Well maybe she's close enough to some man somewhere to pick up something or other from him. I guess it could make for an interesting alien of the week, that it's incapable of having thoughts that are its own.

    But as William B and Trish both mention, I don't think the episode is at all about exploring what it would be like if an alien could literally only reflect someone else's personality. I don't even know whether your idea, Trish, that it's about the person we can become when with others, is really emphasized (although it is of course at least obliquely present). That idea that it's a Picard episode seems pretty evident from the story progression...but what's the actual story?

    If Kamala absolutely has no personal agency, then every moment Picard spends with her is just him fooling himself that he can have a real conversation. Nothing she says can be taken seriously as having a unique perspective. And likewise, it can't be a sexist piece, really, because we're dealing with a being so unlike us that there's no comparison. On the other hand, if she does have personal agency, and if indeed she does have thoughts of her own about Picard and about her life, then we have to completely reverse our assessment and look carefully at everything she says to inspect whether it's purely her own idea, or whether it's being tempered to please the man she's nearest.

    I will say one thing, though: the episode always played (to me) as one where she admired Picard, and drew from him the strength to *truly* go through with her mission of her own free will. Prior to bonding with him Beverly was probably right that she was saying what she was conditioned to say, but afterward, she knew exactly what it meant and she chose it. So we could perhaps say that bonding with Picard was a choice to be a person with free will of a particular sort, and that being like him was in her eyes the best version of herself she could be. I always come out of the episode with the idea that she did have some will of her own in this, that she knew she was different with different men, and that she actively preferred the person she was when with Picard. So in the end, her bonding with him isn't just the playing out of his personal fantasy of loss (although this is a neat idea, William), but is actually the best outcome for her since now she doesn't have to devolve into being a prostitute for her husband. That she leaves Picard is because he taught her duty (as Trish points out), so this leaves us with hints of Pygmalion, where he gave her the best he had, and in becoming his ideal she had a more important mission to complete than making house with him. She rose above the need to please a man, and instead took on the mission of saving two worlds. So the ending is bittersweet, rather than a lesson in mere loss due to Picard sowing his own doom. It's not really his doom, after all: he did save her. And that is, finally, his mission.

    I'm just spitballing here, but:

    While Kamala does have a "pre-episode" existence, it seems to be primarily education (which she references). She seems to be going through a sort of accelerated puberty, which is interrupted when the Ferengi get her out of her egg. The reason I mentioned the total blank slate thing is that I don't think Kamala should be judged for going after Riker or the miners or Worf, and nor do I think it is a writing mistake, or, at least, if it's a writing mistake, the mistake is a few steps earlier. I like Trish's idea that this is sort of more generally about social determinism, about the extent to which everyone bases aspects of their identity on fitting in with others.

    One of the reasons the episode is icky is that Kamala's rapid transformation from, essentially, a floating egg into a marriageable woman takes place over a few hours, which is kind of like adolescence, but also kind of like going from zero to 30 while being, in principle, sexually available. This is where the male fantasy accusations of the episode kind of land and make the story uncomfortable. But we can, perhaps, view it as being a metaphor for what it actually means to go through the stage of being basically *entirely new to sexuality*, of having a nominally adult body but no experience and raging hormones, and then developing into romantic maturity. The rapidity of the process is, again, icky if taken literally, but maybe if we view it as a little more like The Inner Light, or even The Child, where the accelerated process is sort of for narrative benefit, then it's not quite so bad; Kamala is a "blank slate" *romantically*, doesn't yet have a "type," and so on. And we can also generalize away from the particulars of romantic issues into life in general, where children are, to a degree, sheltered, and then become adolescents when they have a possibility of imprinting on different adults or peers, and then become an adult with a, relative to their childhood, more set, less neuroplastic, identity. Yes, of course, in real life most children have had time to form some kind of rudimentary romantic notions of what they might want, and so on, but maybe this is a way to bring together some of the ideas here.

    The problem with this read is that it erases what is particular to Kamala (or metamorphs in general). There is no big speech at the episode's end that in fact if you think about it, Kamala is everyone, or whatever. So this idea maybe can't have that much traction. I'm not sure. And the ickiness is, again, because I don't think we actually want the episode to be genuinely about a teenager running around imprinting on people by hitting on Riker; eps like Charlie X and True Q are able to show "teenager is attracted to one of the adults" without having the adults reciprocate the attraction. In fact the ickiness is maybe part of the point, and ties in with what Beverly is saying, but still. It might be that there are different stories being told her simultaneously, and the wires get a little crossed.

    I have thought about the comparison to Elaan of Troyius. I think what is interesting is that Kirk chooses the Enterprise over Elaan because, if we take the episode seriously, he is already basically "in love with his ship" already, so Elaan's magic tears (eesh) can be defeated. Whereas Picard -- well, he loves duty and nobility, and he does like his ship, but I do think that there is a sense in which what Picard has to choose over Kamala is much more abstract, and colder. Kirk's attachment to the Enterprise, and to his mission in general, is much more visceral; he really just loves being on that ship. Picard is a little more distant in his relationship to what he does, so that his having to give up Kamala is less triumphant.

    In any case, I think Peter is right that Kamala does seem to be drawn to Picard, and seems to genuinely *like herself as she is when she's with him*. The cynical read is that this is itself just part of the metamorph package, but I do like to think that there is something in the inherent nobility of Picard's values that is kind of self-evident, a kind of search for meaning which is more sustaining than happiness.

    RIKER (wiping lips): “I’ll be in Holodeck 4…”

    I’m rather glad we don’t get to see Riker’s masturbation program!

    PICARD: “I need to take off my uniform “
    BEVERLY: “Captain!”

    Benny Hill moments aside, this is a good, thoughtful episode. I didn’t mind the Ferengi absurdities - they always make me laugh - but the real point of the story is freedom of choice and action, and more importantly, the role of women in our culture, both issues being greatly linked here. Is Kamala truly free? She claims that she is, but she has been brought up to believe that her one role is to serve a man, albeit service in the cause of peace. It’s an “arranged marriage”, but as Picard says to Crusher early on, these have been a factor in our own culture for millennia. Beverly,of course, is more interested in individual freedom, and rightly so. It doesn’t help matters that Kamala is highly intelligent, perceptive, and accepting of her fate, as well as being very beautiful. Has she made a free choice or not? It’s a question we are left with, hanging in the air, unanswered.

    I think I saw this episode only once before? Even so, it’s everything Cost Of Living should have been but wasn’t. A strong 3 stars.

    TNG through Enterprise only made minor steps at evolving on gender and other diversity questions throughout their times.

    The only way I can get through this episode is seeing it as a not-so-veiled jab at men controlled by their sex drives, more than just Kamala. We get this thrown-off revelation that there are apparently males who have this "mutation" that presumably is great for women (of course not other men), imprinting and serving their mates. But you can't get away from the focus on a women whose "mutations" makes her identity entirely molded to men.

    So "Riker can't resist" makes her even more seductive and he somehow therefore can't stop himself from tonguing her. Okay. Kamala tells Picard the reason she's behaving as she is because it's how he wants her.

    Famke Janssen does a credible job when she's trying to keep Picard with her, but to see him even be unable to resist makes him look like such a weakling.

    Hard to watch.


    Yeah, there's something to be said for the level of wrong that not only trades in woman-doing-sexy-gets-punished, but also violates every man she robs of their choice to consent. Nobody escapes intact in this episode.

    Every once in awhile I find a review here I disagree with. I hate this episode, it's so mind numbingly boring and pointless. It's impossible to care what happens with these people and their weirdo alien sex mate nonsense. I've been watching alot of TNG for the 100th time, this time because it's leaving Netflix on April 1st. I tried 3 times to get thru this episode without losing interest and I finally just made myself watch it and its awful....even the one with Alexander and lwaxana in weirdo holodeck has angry worf come and punch that floating clown head.

    The premiss of this episode is interesting enough, especially being that it doesn't involve much, if any, SCI-fi, but the execution is often ponderous and plain boring.

    Two stars. The Ferengi actually elevate it to 2-1/2.

    P.S. Taking a cold shower is henceforth to be known as "going to holodeck four" 🤣🤣🤣🤣🤣

    Both my husband and I agreed this was a very inadequate depiction of Captain Picard falling in love. Vash and Daren (“Lessons”) were believable romantic interests for him. (Especially Daren.) Kamala was not in any way believable as a “perfect mate” for any thinking man, especially one of the sophistication and character of Picard.

    What it comes down to is that the definition of love - romantic, theological, or any other category, must be based on free will. Kamala’s very nature omits the possibility of free will for her, and also omits the possibility that her “mate” was responding from his own free will. I love a good romance story. This wasn’t even close to one.

    Lmo, isn't that the point here. The episode isn't a "good romance." That misses the point. A being that adapts herself to would-be suitors is unique. So, yes, even Picard is seduced. But consider what sort of woman she becomes to suit his fancy. She knows she's meant for another, yet she finds him so provocative that she decides to imprint on him. That seems like her choice. As is Picard’s for letting her go at the end. I'd say those are examples of free will.

    I sometimes find myself imagining a different scene for the ending, not the wedding ceremony, but a trade negotiation after it, in which her new husband is about to dismiss her, but she steps up and points out a clause that needs to be tweaked for his planet's advantage, and proposes the perfect trade to convince her own former world to accept it. He looks at her with new eyes, and new respect, perhaps even new love. She has "become" (or at least learned to pretend to have become) exactly what he wants, and needs.

    That would be even more poignant for Picard to witness.

    @ Trish,

    I like that idea, but it would seem to fall squarely in the "Picard was as taken in as everyone else" interpretation. Basically that everything she said to him was merely a manifestation of his own fantasy. Arguably that makes the episode more of an exploitation story where all people really want is someone else to be exactly that they want them to be. This is in contrast to what I think the writing is suggesting, which is that there is a 'real Kamala' behind all the metamorphic changes, and she can recognize that she's objectively better when she becomes Picard's ideal. It's sort of like saying she becomes *the* ideal since Picard is meant to essentially be the paragon of Federation values.

    Although the ending they chose risks playing as Picard fanfic, I do like the idea in principle that Kamala might be able to serve her new husband just as well self-sacrificially through a Picardian notion of service to peace, as through becoming a slave-type submissive woman for him. I think you idea could be reconciled with this one, though: what if Kamala did imprint on Picard, but we appear to see her 'change', and as you suggest there's a negotiation where she wins the day, playing the part of a hard negotiator rather than the intellectual and relaxed person she was with Picard. Just when her husband finally realizes he did get the woman of his dreams - just not the one he expected - Kamala winks at Picard to show that she's still linked to him. That way he could know that he really did help her, rather than just being another user duped by her abilities.

    On another point, it just occurred me that although we're meant to loath her new husband due to his disregard for her, it's actually quite astonishing that a man could come into contact with a mate built to be his greatest fantasy, and he's more preoccupied with work! This is no run of the mill bastard, he's really a unique specimen. I dunno if he's just so disciplined that he never puts pleasure before business, or if he's gay, or what, but it's quite striking that anyone could be so blase about such a gift. Maybe he's like a Socrates or something, who just rubs us the wrong way at first.

    @Peter G.

    Of course, his flippant "I care more about the trade agreement" attitude is before he has been in her presence, and in the presence of her pheromones and of her catering to his every want and need. Perhaps it is meant to be inevitable that he will, in his own way (whatever way that may be), bond with HER.

    I like the idea of the wink to Picard to let him know that she is only acting the part of the hard-nosed negotiator to please her husband, and that underneath that, she will forever be the intellectual and honorable woman she chose to be by bonding with Picard instead.

    Really, the one thing Picard and Alrik (and, because of her bond with Picard, Kamala) have in common is their devotion to their duty. Perhaps when the tragedy of the episode seems too heavy, we an imagine a future in which Alrik and Kamala really do turn out to be well-matched.

    "Perhaps it is meant to be inevitable that he will, in his own way (whatever way that may be), bond with HER."
    But do they bond with "her"? The men have a certain idea of what the perfect woman should be and she becomes that woman. To me it always seemed like the men only bonded with themselves. If you fall in love with a woman that knows how you want a woman to be and then becomes that, doesn't that mean that you fall in love with yourself?

    "But do they bond with "her"? The men have a certain idea of what the perfect woman should be and she becomes that woman. To me it always seemed like the men only bonded with themselves. If you fall in love with a woman that knows how you want a woman to be and then becomes that, doesn't that mean that you fall in love with yourself?"

    I realize this is a scifi scenario involving a so-called metamorph, but in practical terms, isn't this outcome indistinguishable from any well-matched romantic pairing based on mutual compatibility?

    I mean if a woman gets approached by a 6'2 nobel prize winning astrophysicist who moonlights as an underwear model and homeless shelter volunteer and feminist activist, and let's say this gentleman just so happens to be someone's idea of the perfect man, does she reject him because being with him would just be dating herself?

    Now on the other hand, if you're saying that such perfect compatibility is really not as fulfilling as you think, that we need someone with some rough edges to truly be happy, that's a different point, more of a "be careful what you wish for" scenario.

    But it seems to me that the premise is that the metamorph truly accords with what we really want and not just what we think we want. So are you really going to turn down the astrophysicist underwear model? Did I mention he loves walks on the beach and has is a trained Masseuse? :)

    "I realize this is a scifi scenario involving a so-called metamorph, but in practical terms, isn't this outcome indistinguishable from any well-matched romantic pairing based on mutual compatibility?"
    I would say yes. Famke is essentially a reflection. There is no pairing. She is nowhere in that relationship. Another point would be that people can never be perfectly matched, apart from purely theoretical scenarios. Finally, is the person people think would be perfect for them actually be perfect for them or are there always aspects which make a relationship happier that only develop because two independent minds interact?

    "a 6'2 nobel prize winning astrophysicist who moonlights as an underwear model and homeless shelter volunteer and feminist activist"
    Can we make him a doctor?? :)

    "Now on the other hand, if you're saying that such perfect compatibility is really not as fulfilling as you think, that we need someone with some rough edges to truly be happy, that's a different point, more of a "be careful what you wish for" scenario."
    As I wrote above I think the interplay in a relationship can lead to desires and needs that the people involved weren't even aware off. Does it need friction, rough edges, as you describe it... hmmm some probably but there are certainly couples who are just very harmonious.

    "Did I mention he loves walks on the beach and has is a trained Masseuse?"
    Kind of reminds me of this scene ;)

    "Can we make him a doctor?? :)"

    How about a proctologist? His dinner party anecdotes would be legendary.

    "How about a proctologist?"
    I want to think of myself as somebody who wouldn't reject a man just because he sticks his finger into butts all day long, luckily I never had to test that so far.


    Ah, but the fact that you said "luckily" reveals the hesitation at the depth of your being! ;)

    In seriousness, I think that something that is missing from your analysis above, something that is there in the episode, is that Kamala does not, according to her own description, become merely what a man WANTS. She becomes what he NEEDS, and that may well be something he does not consciously realize until she becomes it for him. This makes it less likely to be just a relationship with himself. We see her become very much like Picard, but that's because the Picard we see in this episode wants and needs a woman to be his equal, and not only his equal, but almost his twin or clone. Is that what everyone needs, deep down? I'm not sure. Some people, I think, need more of a mirror image than a carbon copy.

    Perhaps that is kind of what Vash is, not Picard's female clone, but his mirror image, every bit as strong and smart and independent as him, but with little sense of duty other than to herself, and that sense of duty is very passionate. There are definitely "rough edges" in that relationship. Is Vash what Picard needs? I don't know. I don't think Picard knows. I don't think all the different writers have the same answer to that question.

    This makes me think of the image of the mirror in this episode. The last time I watched "The Perfect Mate," I was especially struck by the camera work using the mirror in Kamala's quarters. I think most of the mirrors we see on the Enterprise are only waist up, over the hide-a-sink or the dresser, but Kamala's is full length. The first time we see her reflected in the mirror, her attention is wholly focused on Picard, the man in the room at the moment, the man who will ask her, "What about when you're alone?" She will answer him, "I've never been." But when we next see her in that mirror, in her wedding dress, she is alone, and she is looking at herself, at the woman she has chosen to become.

    The more I watch this episode, the more it gives me to think about.

    "Ah, but the fact that you said "luckily" reveals the hesitation at the depth of your being! ;)"
    Just the thought of meeting a great guy and then finding out that he is so fixated on the butt that it became a career choice... It's like the plot of a Seinfeld episode. Can you even imagine telling your friends...

    " according to her own description, become merely what a man WANTS. She becomes what he NEEDS"
    Oh ok, I had forgotten that. hmmm but is being a reflection of what a man needs so different from a reflection of what a man wants?

    "We see her become very much like Picard, but that's because the Picard we see in this episode wants and needs a woman to be his equal, and not only his equal, but almost his twin or clone."
    That is almost like a joke. The woman Picard really needs is himself. :)

    "Is that what everyone needs, deep down?"
    That really depends on your believe if people "need" a romantic relationship or what "need" even means. Doesn't what somebody needs depend on the circumstances? The Dalai Lama or the Pope seem to be fairly happy.

    " Is Vash what Picard needs? I don't know."
    I saw Vash as somebody Picard could have been. The rogue adventurer who lives by her own rules. I guess the question is, does Picard need anyone really or is he content being a bachelor?

    " "What about when you're alone?" She will answer him, "I've never been." But when we next see her in that mirror, in her wedding dress, she is alone, and she is looking at herself, at the woman she has chosen to become."
    Isn't it implied that she became Picard's "needs" or bonded with him? I don't know but the episode always gave me the uneasy feeling that her story would end like this movie.

    "The woman Picard really needs is himself." That makes me think of the scene in "The Undiscovered Country" in which Kirk kisses a "woman" who turns out to be a shapeshifter, and when she shifts into a copy of Kirk himself, McCoy quips something like, "You've been waiting to do that (kiss yourself) for years." I guess it's a Starfleet captain thing!

    "The Dalia Lama and the Pope seem to be fairly happy." As, indeed, am I, having lived a celibate life of ministry. To be celibate for the sake of something greater than oneself is not the same as being single; it is its own form of commitment. Thanks for acknowledging that this state of life does exist! I just find that it gets tedious and probably makes non-religious people think I'm a religious fanatic if I try to explain my state of life every time the subject of romance in general comes up. Just consider my "everyone" in the above context as shorthand for "everyone who does feel called to a life that entails a romantic relationship." It's an "everyone" that does not include myself, or a number of others.

    Is Picard "content being a bachelor?" Not so much a bachelor, I think, as married to his ship, almost as if he were also celibate for the sake of his vocation. Except he is not portrayed as a fully committed celibate. The writers repeatedly show him looking wistfully at a life that might have been, whether a full-blown fantasy of domestic life as in the Nexus or in the Inner Light, or a relationship with romantic overtones that never makes it all the way to a commitment, not only in this episode with Kamala but also with Vash, Lt.-Cmdr. Daren, or even Beverly. When he gets news of his nephew's death, he feels the pang of not having done his part to perpetuate his family line. If, heaven forbid, my own extended family somehow lost all of the generation younger than myself, honestly, I don't think I would feel even a twinge of guilt at not having reproduced. I have been what I was meant to be. Picard is usually content with the life he has had, but he has nagging doubts about whether he has really been all he was meant to be.

    "[S]he became Picard's needs …" Yes, but as discussed in some of the comments higher up, I see that as having been by her own choice, the closest that a metamorph could come to choosing who to be. She tells Picard that she likes the person she is when she is with him, something she doesn't say of the rowdy miners, of Worf, or of Riker. It is Picard, none of them, whom she asks to remain with her that critical last night before her wedding, saying she doesn't want to be alone. I think it's because if she had remained alone, she would have bonded the next day with her husband. She didn't want that. She wanted to be who she was with Picard. In choosing to spend those extra hours with him, she chose who she would be for the rest of her life.

    As a metamorph, she was born to be an empty shell that would fill herself with whatever some man wanted and needed. I think the implication is that that much is who she is at a biological level, and that it would have been her source of identity even if she had not gotten swept into interplanetary politics from earliest childhood. That much cannot be changed. But her early emergence from stasis gave her the opportunity that she might have had without all the politics, the opportunity to choose which man would fill her. It was as close as her biology allowed her to come to choosing who she herself would be.

    Does this situation apply only to members of a fictional species on a science fiction series? I'm becoming less sure every time I watch the episode. The bonds we ourselves make, romantic or not, with human beings, communities, causes, or ideals, are a big part of our own choice of who we will be for the rest of our lives. It behooves us all to choose carefully, as Kamala did.


    I forgot to tag you in my above comment, which is in response to your own reflections.

    I managed to get a typo into your quote about the Dalai Lama. I should have cut and pasted!

    @ Trish,

    Very interesting to hear about your vocational choice. Is it too forward in an open forum to ask what community/order/other locale has your service?

    Also I'm intrigued by your last post, as I think it accords with my vague sense that Kamala does have a choice and isn't merely a mindless chameleon tricking them into thinking she 'really means it' when talking only to them. That said, a truly changeable person who has no fixed personality or likes would make for an interesting sci-fi story; it's just not this one. Maybe I'll have to write it myself someday. But following on your point that Kamala made a considered choice and deliberately bonded to Picard even though she could have waited, this turns the episode's title on its head, as the titular Perfect Mate actually becomes Picard. He's so perfect he'll sacrifice his own perfect happiness (let's say) to foster peace between two warring planets. She bonds to him - or mates herself to his persona - as the way to maximize her quality of life and even her commitment to her role that she's been taught. What was previously a lesson would now be internalized. And following a comment of my own above, it may have also avoided some mishap when meeting her new husband: imagine for the moment if she had bonded with him instead, and as a result actually caused strife because his deepest needs may have been for someone who would lead him away from his duty and to matrimonial bliss. But as Picard-Kamala she could make sure to keep him on target.

    @Peter G.

    I am a member of the lay branch of the Order of Preachers, commonly called "Dominicans." Most Lay Dominicans are married, and most have secular jobs, but I have spent years of my life working in Catholic ministries that are open to the non-ordained, and have chosen to see that as my commitment. My last job in a parish ended back at the end of 2011, and I started my own business as an editor of spiritual books, but while the business was still in startup I was diagnosed with Hodgkins Lymphoma. Years of aggressive treatment got me into remission, but also left me with disabling levels of fatigue that keep me from getting in more than a few hours of work a week (in a good week). There are not many editing clients who are in a position to give me the time I would need to edit their manuscript, so I am trying to shift my business model to publishing resources for religious education. That way, I can set my own deadlines, and it still allows me to keep my toe in the ministry field.

    @ Trish,

    My godfather-in-law (if you'll accept the phrase) is a Dominican priest, so I'm somewhat familiar with the order. Very sorry to hear about the lymphoma, I hope you're able to continue feeling connected to your calling regardless. I have had setbacks lately in my ability to contribute much energy to the arts, although not as debilitating as I imagine you had to deal with. Maybe we can hope to look forward to a more productive 2023 :)

    Fingers crossed that the you get more energy and that your illness won't bother you anymore!

    "I guess it's a Starfleet captain thing!"
    What a disturbing thought... :D To Narcissism and beyond!

    "Thanks for acknowledging that this state of life does exist! I just find that it gets tedious and probably makes non-religious people think I'm a religious fanatic if I try to explain my state of life every time the subject of romance in general comes up."
    Well, do what makes you happy and what has the most positive effect on society. Estimates for asexuality go towards 1%. Society for a long time had a tendency to pathologize any behavior that was deemed not normal. Oh and I think there are good fanatics and bad fanatics, as there are good moderates and bad moderates. I do hope that you have love in your life, though.

    "Except he is not portrayed as a fully committed celibate."
    Is anybody really, you made your choice but it could have gone differently and I assume that there were points when you questioned your life choices and if they were they were the right ones but that doesn't mean that you or Picard would do it differently.

    " I don't think I would feel even a twinge of guilt at not having reproduced."
    Humanity has very small gene pool anyway, so very similar versions of your double helix are out there and we as a species are not close to extinction number wise. Don't worry. ;)

    "Yes, but as discussed in some of the comments higher up, I see that as having been by her own choice ... As a metamorph, she was born to be an empty shell that would fill herself with whatever some man wanted and needed"
    So either she is an empty shell, then she shouldn't have desires of her own and wanting to become like Picard certainly qualifies as a desire. It seems that she became FemPicard because that way she could fulfill here role better.

    In a general sense the whole story doesn't sit right with me. A bunch of guys write a story about a beautiful women who is an empty shell for men, almost like a willing slave. Her choosing to bond with Picard is portrayed as some form of liberation but in the end she just chooses which male personality forms her being. Her entire life to the very core of her being is controlled by men. If I had gone into psychology and a guy in therapy told me that he wrote a story like that, then that would go into my pad, underlined with exclamation marks. ;)

    "It behooves us all to choose carefully, as Kamala did."
    Let's hope that most people can choose from a far broader range of options, though.


    Just a point of clarification: Celibacy is not asexuality. That's a different thing.

    Has anyone mentioned that the Ferengi intentionally sabotage their own ship and blow it up in order to get on board the Enterprise and that their plan required them to very nearly die taking the chance that they would be rescued? Seems they were transported out at the very last second, that was a rather huge risk. How much does a Ferengi ship cost anyway, was this one woman really worth it? Their entire plan was stupid and the ship's security was once again incompetent. I feel like this would have been a better episode without the Ferengi, though that's a low bar since it was a pretty terrible episode in my opinion.

    Blessings to you Trish. Keep fighting the good fight. It's not about the amount of success. It's about the effort in the face of profound adversity that matters.

    I just can't get into this one. It has a very slow pace and the empath girl had the acting skills of a piece of cardboard.

    Ok Darmok. I wasn't giving a review for her entire career. This episode had potential but it came to a screeching crawl about halfway through.

    I guess her special powers worked on you too!


    It makes sense now. You're conditioned to hate people like Jordan Peterson because you've been brainwashed by the establishment of the modern left. Your lashing out in this thread says it all.

    Do you think it's okay that Canada has ordered him to a "re education camp" just because he doesn't kneel to authoritarian lunatics?

    I was born brainwashed and I don't hate Jordan Peterson. He either feels the hand of god on his shoulder or is a conman. He has made millions peddling fairly mundane self help books to insecure men.

    "Do you think it's okay that Canada has ordered him to a "re education camp" just because he doesn't kneel to authoritarian lunatics?"

    Canada? I guess you mean the College Of Psychologists Of Ontario. All we know is what Peterson said because the CPO can not comment on the matter because of section 36 of Ontario’s Regulated Health Professions Act, 1991. How convenient for Peterson.

    On a different matter
    Here is what chatgpt had to say about why Star Trek is popular:
    Star Trek is a popular science fiction media franchise that has inspired a devoted fan base over the years. There are a number of reasons why Star Trek has remained popular for so long.

    One reason is that the Star Trek universe offers a hopeful and optimistic vision of the future, in which humanity has overcome many of its present-day problems and is able to explore the universe in peace and cooperation with other intelligent life forms. This positive vision of the future has resonated with many people and has helped to make the franchise enduringly popular.

    Another reason for the popularity of Star Trek is the compelling and well-developed characters that have been featured in the series and movies. The characters are complex and multi-dimensional, and their relationships with one another are often a central focus of the stories.

    Finally, the high-quality writing, acting, and production values of the Star Trek franchise have also contributed to its popularity. The series and movies have consistently been praised for their attention to detail and their ability to tell engaging and thought-provoking stories.

    Jordan Peterson is one of those guys who bought into his own bullshit. A member of the species ‘olfactory auto-flatulent.’

    If he wants to do Jungian analysis on pop culture like Pinocchio, all power to him. The second he branches out into covid, trans rights, global warming, etc., he’s as out of his depth as an anglerfish on Everest.

    As far the Ontario Psychologist reeducation thing, I would need to learn more about it before offering an opinion. It should be noted, however, that being oppressed doesn’t mean you’re right about something.

    I was reading through this debate, and frankly, I find that it's the men who seem to be trivialized in this episode. I was joking about it with my husband earlier today.

    For instance, Alrik of Valt. I find it strange that Kamala is a gorgeous woman and he, not so much. I also find that because he's not so good looking, and makes the remark, "I'm sure she'll be satisfactory. Between you and me, Captain, I am far more interested in the trade agreements.", he's treated as rather scummy while Kamala is given a gold star for being self-sacrificing, yada, yada, yada.

    Kamala claims she is honored to be chosen as an emissary of peace for her people. Yet, what does she do? She completely disregards all that she has been trained for to "bond" herself to Picard. She claims that, even though she is bonded to Picard, she's still an empath and Alrik will never know.

    This seems a very arrogant statement to make. This seems to be a peace treaty of the highest pursuit, so the gift in all of this "bonding herself to another man" is wreckless behavior to say the least.

    What I find really distasteful about this episode is that Kamala presumes she can fool Alrik by simply twisting him around her little finger.

    But what if she cannot fool him? Does Alrik have an "opt out of treaty" clause because Kamala is not what is as described?

    @ Gorn with the wind

    You kow nothing about what's going on other than you hate Jordan Peterson. He can't have an opinion on serious issues like Covid, the tranny movement, and the global warming hoax. Your opinion comes across as nothing but a regurgitation of the same closed minded BS and phony virtue signaling I see being spewed everywhere by the usual suspects.

    @ Winnie...

    Solid take and a unique perspective. I can agree with a lot of what you said there.

    @ Booming

    I didn't say you were born brainwashed. I said you have been brainwashed by the modern left. Your previous post confirms that.

    @ Booming

    I didn't say you were born brainwashed. I said you have been brainwashed by the modern left. Your previous post confirms that. Your issue with men is correlated with a deep hatred of someone who is ostracized because he goes against mainstream groupthink.

    " I find that it's the men who seem to be trivialized in this episode."
    Men have all the power in this episode. She is treated like an object that is traded away. She is essentially a slave. I would not fault her for the one decision she makes independently.

    "But what if she cannot fool him? Does Alrik have an "opt out of treaty" clause because Kamala is not what is as described?"
    One would assume so. They would just get another gift-woman/mail order bride for Alrik to own, while Kamala would be ostracized.

    You sound pretty brainwashed, though. Always writing variations of the same sentences. Being obsessed with the evil machinations of people you have never met. Cheered on by an online community that believes the same tenets.

    "Your issue with men is correlated with a deep hatred of someone who is ostracized because he goes against mainstream groupthink."
    Ostracized? He has posted more than 40 times on twitter over the last 24h. He has 3.6m followers there. He has an internetshow, a youtube channel and is constantly interviewed by newspapers. He also rakes in millions every year with his books. If that is being ostracized, then sign me up.

    I guess the new definition of ostracism means: Making lots of money, having millions of loyal fans and voicing your opinion on numerous platforms to millions of people every day. In other words, the exact opposite of what being ostracized meant.

    In conclusion: You are following a leader whose opinions you have taken to heart. Who made you believe that he is ostracized when he is arguably the opposite of ostracized and you call anybody who doesn't believe him/you brainwashed.

    Here is what Chat GPT had to say:" It is worth noting that being ostracized and being criticized are not the same thing, and it is not accurate to say that someone has been ostracized simply because they have faced criticism or controversy." Good job Large Language Model.

    To highlight another aspect you may have missed. Kamala's situation is a commentary on women's rights. Kamala, being trained to just exist for the pleasure of her husband, being traded to obtain some kind of treaty is how our societies worked until quite recently. That was the role of women until at least 1900 in the Western Europe and the USA, arguably even longer in Central and Eastern Europe. It still is in some cultures to this very day. Effects of this still echo through our societies in numerous aspects.
    I also find it quite understandable that Alrik, the future owner/husband of Kamala, is not portrayed sympathetically. The point is that people who are ok with deals that include people as treaty sweeteners are not nice.


    Many years ago I made the first comment on this review and just tossed out a joke. Today I found this whole conversation and feel a kinship. And I have now rewritten this comment so many times I have no idea what I wanted to say, lol

    I'm an old woman and have been fighting the patriarchy for five decades and it's so tiresome that we still have to deal with the assertion that women are equal and sexism in the west has been abolished, sigh. Not to mention those who think Jordan Peterson has something valuable to add to the discourse. Double sigh. But there are also those men who actually seem capable of reflection and that's refreshing. Gives me hope.

    You mentioned that English is your second language and I find that hard to believe. You are quite eloquent and your comments all make sense! I learned things about sociology, too! If you ever want to indulge in meat and alcohol, just give a holler! That sounds delightful.

    Something that I don't think was mentioned throughout this entire comment thread--the way Picard describes Alrik when Kamala asks about him. He says, "First impressions? He's a thoughtful man, informed." And that's it. He doesn't say anything to suggest his misgivings about how Alrik is more interested in trade agreements, nor does he describe him physically.

    This got me thinking about the writers' intentions. If Alrik had been played by a Jason Momoa type, what might that have meant for the ending of the story? It's already bittersweet as Kamala heads off to her duty, away from her bonded mate, but what if her intended was like totally hot?

    I'm not sure if I have an answer -- I was just chuckling to myself thinking of the possibilities. And therein lies the brilliance of early Trek--30 years later it can still inspire various ponderings.

    @Booming again -- earlier you said,

    "But do they bond with "her"? The men have a certain idea of what the perfect woman should be and she becomes that woman."

    Another pondering--these men have a a conscious idea of what the perfect mate should be. Does Kamala fulfill THAT desire or is she so empathic that she can figure out what would ACTUALLY be their perfect mate and become THAT?

    I don't know--just fun to think about. I am reminded of Charlotte on Sex and the City--a good example of someone who had a preconceived ideal of what the perfect mate should be and it turned out that the actual perfect mate was someone quite different.


    That's a refreshing take on this episode and one that I had not thought about -- perhaps being bombarded with how society would always have us believe it is exclusively women who are exploited. But the ambassador's situation is tragic too in a sense. And one must consider how Kamala's behavior toward him changes as well given Picard's "influence".

    "What I find really distasteful about this episode is that Kamala presumes she can fool Alrik by simply twisting him around her little finger."

    Indeed, that is what it turns into after Picard's "influence".

    I've never thought this episode was anything more than middling, mediocre but I think there are more layers to it than meets the eye. It has certainly generated a ton of comments (though many tangential).

    “The second he branches out into covid, trans rights, global warming, etc., he’s as out of his depth as an anglerfish on Everest.”

    And I guess every participant in this forum being anonymous with an unknown, unverified background is also out of his/her depth when weighing in on covid, trans rights, global warming etc.

    As for Dr. Peterson, at least we know he’s highly educated with a Ph.D, very intelligent, courageous (taking on the woke mob) and knowledgeable. He’s a professional psychologist. If he wants to weigh in on the aforementioned issues, I’d pay more attention to what he says than some anonymous participant on an online Star Trek board, for example.

    “It should be noted, however, that being oppressed doesn’t mean you’re right about something.”

    An example of this would be these trans activists who would indoctrinate, sexualize, groom children under the banner of LTQBGA2+ (whatever the acronym is). These trans activists totally undermine the non-hetero movement and I've come across examples of gays who want nothing to do with it.

    “Kamala's situation is a commentary on women's rights”.

    You have every right to see the episode this way, and I’m certainly not saying that the women of earth were oppressed at one time or another. However, they’re not alone. The peoples of our planet have all been oppressed at one time or another.

    That said, I don’t agree that this is a commentary on women's rights. If it were, we’d have easily been given a two part episode, a portion of which focuses on, “that which makes the character of Kamala”.

    I think this episode is much simpler. It's about the mystery woman who manages to keep everyone around her “guessing”, and by the end of the episode, she still maintains that allure. It makes me wonder just how much honesty we are getting from Kamala. As a woman of mystery, she would take the arrogant position of trivializing the men around her because she sees herself as superior.

    For instance, and I will pose this question to everyone:

    What is your opinion of Kamala and her strange greeting to Picard, “I am for you, Alrik of Valt”?

    Kamala admits right off that Picard did not look like Alrik’s holograph. She apologizes, makes a remark about sensing Picard’s “authority”, and then explains she assumed he was Chancellor Alrik. Really? This was because Picard exhibits authority?

    Granted, Kamala has never seen Alrik, but come on. She’s seen his holograph, which I am assuming would be in color and more detailed than any picture. How then does this woman, who’s destiny is to marry the man, confuse Picard for Alrik?

    In my opinion, she doesn’t. By the way, somewhere in this debate, I saw a comparison of Kamala’s remark to Losira’s in “That Which Survives”. That was a great catch.

    There were several excellent questions asking why Kamala wasn’t paired up with a woman, nor were any women ever shown to be in her presence. Conveniently I think. Would a woman have viewed her differently? Maybe. We’ll never know.

    Thanks, Matt and thanks, Rahul. This, by the way, is an excellent discussion. Really thought provoking.

    “Kamala's situation is a commentary on women's rights”.

    You have every right to see the episode this way, and I’m certainly not saying that the women of earth were "not" oppressed at one time or another. However, they’re not alone. The peoples of our planet have all been oppressed at one time or another.

    I read my post several times and it still didn't quite come out the way I wanted. This is what it was supposed to say. I apologize for that oversight.


    I fully agree with you that this episode is not a commentary on women's rights. And as you say, if it were, we'd need a 2nd part.

    A general point is that we should be aware that there are certain people who always seem to be looking for racism, sexism, what ever other ism in anything they come across. It's just tiresome.

    There are a few things going on in this episode including Picard's loneliness as a captain etc. and there is more to Kamala than just being an object. You noted a very telling part in the episode about how Kamala could possibly mistake Picard for the ambassador. It says something...

    @ Winnie,

    "You have every right to see the episode this way, and I’m certainly not saying that the women of earth were "not" oppressed at one time or another. However, they’re not alone. The peoples of our planet have all been oppressed at one time or another.

    I read my post several times and it still didn't quite come out the way I wanted. This is what it was supposed to say. I apologize for that oversight."

    I'll try to offer some help to your position, particularly since it's one that hasn't been aired out in the thread so far. The idea sounds to me like Kamala's ability may be seen by some as oppression against her because, from a man's POV, she is an object to become whatever you want; but this perspective can be reversed, and from Kamala's POV she can essentially get any man wrapped around her finger at any moment by taking on characteristics he can't resist. She may not precisely 'choose' these, since they are based on the man's own personality, but she can presumably still exercise free will and decide whether or not to act on her impulses, or whether or not to even go into Ten-Forward. That she chooses to do so may imply that she *wants* to have people chasing after her, practically unable to control themselves. She seems to find Picard an attractive figure precisely because he fights these impulses in himself, and she seems to therefore try harder to win him. Did she really have to do that? She herself, using her Picardian-mimicked traits, could have declared that both of them needed to exercise full control in order to complete her mission. Why didn't she? It seems that she had conflicting priorities, one of which appeared to be to get men going crazy for her.

    Therefore the power dynamic becomes much more muddied when you observe the two-way relationship between desire and the desired. And I think this confusion comes in part from errors people make in their understanding of vertical hierarchies. For instance it appears to be common knowledge in the West that in an aristocracy, for example, whoever is higher up in the chain is "in charge" and has "the power", and those below them would be merely subject to their whims. However that is not an accurate portrayal of the power dynamic: the realities would be much more complex, where those above in fact have material obligations based on the needs of those below, and cannot in fact dictate how to perform their roles in any old way but much comply with the realities involved. Some corrupt nobles no doubt shirked their responsibilities, for which there may have been differing types of consequences, but it would simply not be correct to suppose that they could do 'anything they wanted'. Even a King is strictly limited in the available options given the real circumstances. In our analysis of sexual power dynamics, the 'aggressor' male role can be observed to be men 'going after' Kamala, which makes them look in charge, except that's only a superficial view. She can say no; she can dictate what they must do to win her favor; she can change her behavior to tempt one and then another of the men; she can choose whom she wishes (apparently); and she can just walk away. She being the physically passive one does not imply being in the weaker position. This is true in more realms than just the sexual, as similar patterns can be seen in politics, economics, and so forth.


    For anyone familiar with the book (or the new film), Frank Herbert's Dune deals quite a bit with the concept of two-way power dynamics, and the sequel does so perhaps to a greater extent. At first glance most people, for example, take it for granted that Paul has taken charge of the Fremen, using them for his purpose of restoring his Great House and finally taking the throne. They become his servants, his warriors, and do anything he says. And yet there is every reason to believe it's not he who is using them, but they who are using him, requiring him to constantly fit the role of their messiah, preventing him from deviating from the path they already wanted to take (jihad), and essentially putting him in the position of having to be who they need him to be, or else disappearing entirely. If he had tried to lead them but in a way they didn't respect, he would have been removed immediately. So who was in charge, really? Dune and its sequel make many attempts to illustrate that Paul essentially feels trapped in this role, in the future it leads to, and in having to do the things like killing that are required to see it through. He chooses to proceed with it, which is really the only choice he made that was his own. The rest was following a path. Is it much different for politicians who want to rise to the top in our time?

    So with this episode, we must also ask who is really in charge, who dictates most of the nuances of how things transpire, and ultimately who could make or break the mission at any time. It seems that this is Kamala.

    Just for the record, I'm not setting out to make this point because I personally want to persuade everyone that this is a female-empowerment story (or perhaps a female power-trip story), but rather I thought it would be maybe helpful to try to bolster Winnie's position.

    Thank you for your kind words. :)
    Rewriting posts a million times is also something I do. Hopefully some find them informative or at least interesting.

    Yeah, the guys and why they follow people like Peterson would need 500 pages to even scratch the surface.

    "This got me thinking about the writers' intentions. If Alrik had been played by a Jason Momoa type, what might that have meant for the ending of the story?"
    Ok, let's fanfic a little. If he was a total dreamboat. Good looking, charming, thoughtful and a part time doctor who does lots of volunteer work with really sick kids. He would even mention that he was against receiving Kamala as a gift but tradition forced it on him. That would give the whole situation a more layered bittersweet notion.
    If he was just really hot... hmmm I guess it comes down to if Kamala's bonding also includes her sexual needs.

    " Does Kamala fulfill THAT desire or is she so empathic that she can figure out what would ACTUALLY be their perfect mate and become THAT?"
    What is the perfect mate really??! The episode states that Kamala was groomed since she was 4, so I guess her people had very detailed information on Alrik... yikes...

    Of course all reads are valid. The episode is certainly about the relationship between Picard and Kamala and both her struggles to maintain their respective roles.

    "You have every right to see the episode this way, and I’m certainly not saying that the women of earth were oppressed at one time or another. However, they’re not alone. The peoples of our planet have all been oppressed at one time or another. "
    Yes, but there is a difference between a man being poor and free or having at least the option to become free and women being essentially property either of the Father, oldest male relative or the husband. That was true for 98% of Human civilization. With vestiges being in place until fairly recently. The last head and master law in the US was abolished in 1981. It gave the husband unilateral control of all property. It wasn't until 1984 that Mississippi ratified the 19th amendment, giving women the right to vote.

    But let's look at the actual episode.
    Kamala says that she is a gift directly after we met her. Riker then chimes in with "You mean, you are using this ship to transport a sentient being as property?" Later after Kamala and Riker kiss and he takes a few steps back, he says:" I make it a policy to never open another men's gift." Directly afterwards Dr. Crusher calls the whole thing "prostitution" and the ambassador "a slave trader". I agree.

    "What is your opinion of Kamala and her strange greeting to Picard, “I am for you, Alrik of Valt”?"
    I think that is a plot hole. She would obviously know the man she was groomed to marry from a very young age inside and out but without this misunderstanding there would be no story.

    Later on she reflects on who she is and the only answer she has is "I am for you, Alrik of Valt." Because of her grooming she can only think of one purpose in life. Afterwards she says:"In a day I will bond with a man I have never met and I will turn myself into the woman he wants me to be for the rest of my life." In a later conversation Picard says to Kamala:"I do not want to use you like other men do."
    Before the end there is a second conversation between Picard and Crusher in which he says:" You are right about several things, Beverly. Her entire existence has been orchestrated for this moment."

    So in conclusion. Kamala was groomed since she was a little child to be the perfect mate for a man she never met. She has no personal agency, her wishes do not matter. She only exists to serve a certain man. She was brought in a container and at first stored away in the cargo bay. At numerous points she is called an object, including by herself.
    Only because a slave is happy that doesn't means that slavery is ok and she is a slave.

    So yeah I would say that you are right in that this is about the relationship between her and Picard but it also makes a statement about gender relations. According to Memory Alpha they had several endings planned and Piller was quite unhappy with it.

    "An example of this would be these trans activists who would indoctrinate, sexualize, groom children under the banner of LTQBGA2+ (whatever the acronym is)."
    We get it Rahul, you hate them and think they are dangerous for kids. You have said it a million times now. As have many before you. I'm looking forward to your next moral panic.

    "In a later conversation Picard says to Kamala: "I do not want to use you like other men do."

    Even Picard trivializes other men, don't you think?

    Could you explain in what way Picard trivializes men?

    My interpretation of that sentence would be that Kamala's culture is male dominated as is the culture of Alrik. The episode seems to indicate that in several ways. All positions of power are held by men (Chancellor, ambassador, the two rulers of the empire). The ambassador mentions that they used him because he is old and wouldn't be influenced by Kamala. I guess that means there are no female ambassadors. Kamala is also under the control of the ambassador.

    A society that finds it acceptable to groom a woman from infancy to become part of a peace offering to another society which finds it acceptable to receive a woman as a gift is another indication.

    So in that context of a male dominated society Kamala was always used by men to serve the needs of men and that is how I understand Picard's comment. He wants her to be herself, not some reflection of male desire or a tool to achieve a certain political outcome.

    One could also mention that Riker, philanderer in chief, is also appalled by how Kamala is treated, as is Picard. In other words, Picard only means the men of those two societies. Not all men.

    I do not share Peter's argument that Kamala is in power. If a woman owns a male slave who she desires then that doesn't mean that the slave is in power. Especially if that male slave was trained from a young age to become female wishfulfilment and sees that as his only reason to exist.

    I also disagree with his portrayal of aristocratic or monarchic societies. First he ignores the fact that for most of Human existence Monarchies were slave societies in which the slaves had no rights. Even in later feudal societies the local local lord had no obligation towards the people he ruled over, he had an obligation towards the next level in the feudal hierarchy and the king to maintain his fief so that it could provide food, taxes or soldiers. Most peasants lived in abject poverty, often bordering on starvation. Only because the ruler or lord couldn't do all he wanted in all instances doesn't mean that one can turn the existing hierarchy on its head. There is a reason why peasant or slave rebellions were so common and at the same time rarely successful.

    I don't take Picard's statement to be about Kamala's culture. It's obvious from the story that Picard knows little of her culture. I could see the statement if Kamala admitted as much, but what little she reveals doesn't indicate anyone used her at all.

    Picard makes the statement as though every man who comes across Kamala's path is going to have his way with her. That lumps all men into one category and Picard in another. Picard is setting himself apart from them by stating he doesn't want to use her.

    What Picard doesn't know (and probably won't know) is that one man, by way of his actions, fought off the urge to use her.

    Aside from that, these are supposed to be women who are desired as mates, not concubines. That tells me these women are wives, not concubines.

    "What is your opinion of Kamala and her strange greeting to Picard, “I am for you, Alrik of Valt”?"

    I think that is a plot hole. She would obviously know the man she was groomed to marry from a very young age inside and out but without this misunderstanding there would be no story.

    The statement isn't even correct at that place for another reason. According to the wedding ritual, Kamala is supposed to make that statement when she marries Alrik.

    I don't believe it to be a plothole. Briam immediately corrects her, but Kamala's intent is clear. She wants Picard. What better way to smooth it over with a nonsense statement about holographs, aplogize, then compliment him by comparing him to Alrik because she could "sense" his authority.

    There was no excitement in this episode, they could have had the crew fighting over the woman like with the Orion slave girls in that episode of Enterprise (ENT 4x17).

    Over all score: 2/10

    PS: I wonder who will get the 100k post. I've had a look and it says "Total Found: 99,988", but the latest post is so it must not include deleted comments or something. That's a hell of a lot of spam. I'm wondering how many comments I've ever read here.

    "My interpretation of that sentence would be that Kamala's culture is male dominated as is the culture of Alrik."

    I will remind you that there are male metamorphs who we're told are actually common in this society. Yes it's a bullshit throwaway plot point with no on screen evidence whatsoever but hey this was the early 90s so they threw you your bone. Grrrrl power baby.

    Are the male metamorphs also tall super models named after Hindu gods?? :)

    One of the metamorphs could be named
    Vishvakarman after the Hindu divine craftsman...not sure whether he was super tall though. I tend to think not as tall as Kamala.

    Vishvakarman would make a decent ST story. He is practically enslaved by Indra to build an ever-expanding palace
    - according to the Brahmavaivarta Purana.

    Btw: I really smiled at the Chatgpt reference a while back. That was a good one.

    "Btw: I really smiled at the Chatgpt reference a while back. That was a good one."
    The first 30min with it I spent trying to trick it into giving wrong answers, with quite a bit of success. For example, Frodo was never taken to Barad Dur by Orcs. :D


    If you corner it, it says "Sorry, I am only a computer program." Sauron would never have let Frodo get away with that. : )

    A good reminder that proof is in the pudding, as this episode looks like a soft-story companion to Cost of Living -- and has a far more interesting premise -- but came up short for me. Like, drought days of Voyager short.

    I'm surprised Cliff Bole had directed this one. Blocking in some scenes, especially the emergence scene, was community-play level. The model-actress was pretty but never appealing, unconvincing in her different manifestations, and the ethical debate got tedious fast.

    I found the scenes between Picard and Kamala really endearing. However, you can see how her nature also makes her vulnerable. Despite her vast knowledge and empathic powers, she is also kind of innocent and naive. And Picard does all he can not to take advantage of her. I've always loved how chivalry is alive and well in Picard.

    Riker going to holodeck four was hilarious and actually says way more about his lack of self-control than anything else. He is basically the opposite of Picard. Is Riker a sex addict? I mean, having to go do that while on duty is pretty bad.

    One thing I greatly disliked about this episode was how the issue of slavery and prostitution were raised, yet the counter-point of "But she was raised for this from birth!" was so easily accepted. So what if female empaths are rare births? You're still holding her captive and using her, even if you put her in a royal palace. A palace can still be a prison. You stole her from her birth parents at age four and prepared her to be dowry. They kind of gloss over this a bit with the Prime Directive and cross-cultural explanations, implying that "it's just their culture and arranged marriages are common," and what looks like prostitution/slavery to us is actually something rare and precious in their society. And maybe that's true, but in the Federation it's wrong, so why is the Enterprise abetting this situation?

    Picard and Riker's protest on the basis of Federation principles is dismissed a bit too easily. Even later when Picard learns more intimate details about how Kamala has been used her whole life, it is never publicly contested again because two warring worlds are more important than disavowing slavery.

    When the Ferengi strolled right into the cargo bay, I was shocked given the previous dialogue when the ambassador stressed how important it was to keep the cargo secure, with Picard agreeing. What happened? Not one security officer? And the ambassador being injured by the Ferengi? It was all too conveniently and the Ferengi's existence was otherwise meaningless.

    What I enjoyed most about this episode was observing Picard's interactions with Kamala. The rest was a bit cringe or hard to believe.

    A lot of intelligent dialogue. Let me just ask one question - did they or didn’t they????

    I need to know.


    "the one time it was pretty explicitly stated that the holodecks were used for sex"

    The worst job on the Enterprise has to be that of the guy who has to mop up all of the holodecks at the end of the day.

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