Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Man of the People"

2 stars

Air date: 10/5/1992
Written by Frank Abatemarco
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise provides transport for Ambassador Alkar (Chip Lucia), who is on a mission to broker the peace between two warring factions on a distant (or nearby, I guess, if you are traveling on the Enterprise) world. He travels with an elderly woman that he claims is his mother; when Troi meets them in the transporter room, the mother immediately sees Troi as some kind of threat and warns her to stay away from Alkar. Soon after, the mother dies of unknown causes. Alkar asks Troi to perform a sacred ceremony with him, after which Troi starts behaving rather ... bizarrely.

"Man of the People" is a hodgepodge stew of tired Trek cliches, perhaps the most tired one being the perfunctory iteration on the "two warring factions to which the Enterprise is bringing an ambassador." These two cultures, never seen on screen, are completely arbitrary placeholders, giving us no plot to invest in.

The other cliche is the reliable "crew member behaves strangely because of unknown alien influence"; in this case Troi slowly begins to lose her mind and turn into some sort of oversexed crazy person. There is, to the episode's credit, a priceless scene where Riker shows up to Troi's quarters, sees what she is wearing, and starts smiling ... and then just as quickly stops smiling once he sees the random crewman in her bed. The scene at least knows that it's funny — as does the scene where Troi "counsels" a crewwoman and tells her, basically, to stop complaining about trivial crap or transfer off the ship.

The bizarre behavior is about the only real fun to be had here. Much of the rest is a slog and a bore, especially once Troi begins aging rapidly and the crew must then race against the clock to figure out what Alkar has done to her, and why, before she dies. Turns out Alkar is using Troi (as he used the woman before her, who was not his mother) as a "receptacle" to telepathically shunt off all the negative emotions that he experiences during his oh-so-taxing political negotiations. This is a pretty lame plot explanation, if you ask me. It's made no better by the fact that Alkar attempts to justify it with an ends-versus-means speech that's a completely obvious straw-man argument. (And when Picard immediately rejects said straw man, Worf then has his phaser conveniently pickpocketed.)

I also tire of countdown clocks (especially of the Sickbay Suspense™ variety) that are so difficult to buy into. The clever solution to the problem is to kill (yes, kill) Deanna long enough that Alkar will be forced to "release" his hold over her. She can then be revived, but only within 30 minutes. Inevitably, we have dialog informing us there's (gasp) only 1 minute and 45 seconds left to revive Deanna! Couldn't the Enterprise simply have warped really far away to break the connection? I guess Alkar can maintain this telepathic connection over light-years of space. Of course, once the telepathic connection is broken, Troi automatically de-ages and is perfectly fine. I should keep that in mind the next time I decide to drink a bottle of bourbon every night for the next 20 years. As long as I stop at year 21, I'll be fine!

Previous episode: Realm of Fear
Next episode: Relics

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63 comments on this review

Ian Whitcombe
Sun, May 27, 2012, 3:26pm (UTC -5)
The scene in the transporter room with Picard getting stabbed has to be one of the most unintentionally hilarious scenes ever done in TNG-era Trek.
Latex Zebra
Mon, May 28, 2012, 10:10am (UTC -5)
This is not a great episode. I couldn't remember what it was by name and only your review has reminded me.
I found Troi episodes more annoying than Wesley.
Sun, Jun 3, 2012, 12:09pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, it's a Star Trek staple that the medical officer makes some arbitrary estiamte of how much time something will be, and then suddenly that random spur-of-the-moment estimate becomes to-the-second accurate to accomodate said countdown...
Mon, Jun 4, 2012, 2:32pm (UTC -5)
Once again, I rather like this because I like Deanna. Even thought I hate that possessor guy--how dull! He's no Devinoni Ral, that's for sure!

But I disagree, Jammer, that Deanna turns "into some sort of oversexed crazy person." She turns into her MOTHER. And this is why I like this one--we get to see Deanna if she were a bit more loose (until she gets old--yeah I agree there).

And her clothes are smokin'!
Dan L
Tue, Jun 5, 2012, 1:00am (UTC -5)

This episode provides several moments of unintentional hilarity. The opening scene, with the old woman screaming at Troi.

Ambassador Alkar stating, matter-of-factly, that "most of my receptacles last longer than this...."

Picard's response, with proper English accent: "rrrrrrrrrrrreceptacles!"

And then the talk Picard has with the Ambassador about how the Ambassador's desire to clear his head of negative thoughts does not justify "brrrrrrrrrrutalizing her [Troi]." (The whole notion that a mediator can only be effective without having to deal with all those messy background emotions is patent nonsense, if you think about it - which is more than the writers did). The notion that the Federation would grant the Ambassador immunity from prosecution even if he killed someone is likewise idiotic.

And then Dr. Crusher stating something to the effect of "We haven't got long... He may find another receptacle" (what are the odds she would use the Ambassador's ludicrous description of the people he used to "flood with psychic waste" (another hilarious line).

And then the Ambassador gets his traveling companion to undergo the "receptacle" ceremony with him in such a hurried manner that if she had half a brain she'd realize the guy was a lunatic.....

Unfortunately, the moments of hilarity (even the intentional one with Ensign Janeway) do not make up for the fact that this episode is essentially on auto-pilot, with no sense of urgency, poor line readings and complete illogic (how can a mediator empathize with either side if he refuses to invoke any feelings from which to draw upon?)
Ian Whitcombe
Sun, Jun 10, 2012, 10:51pm (UTC -5)
I think Tim Lynch put it well in his review: *everyone* in this episode seemed they were under alien influence!
Thu, Jun 14, 2012, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
This episode was awful, of showcases something important about TOS, TNG and Voyager that ENT and DS9 missed out on--namely that the nature of the characters makes even terrible episodes enjoyable to watch. I crack up every time I see Riker's face when he notices the yellow-shirt in Troi's room. It's not because the script is good, it's not really because the acting is great (though it is), it's because of who Riker (and Frakes) is and the self-parody that comes with it. It's the same sense one gets out of episodes like "Captain's Holiday" or movies VII and IX--they aren't good, but it's such a joy to see Picard (Stewart) annoyed, sitting in a speedo, or Data and Worf singing "A British Tar"--it's nerdy, 4th-wall breaking fun! I can say the same for TOS episodes like "The Way to Eden" or VOY episodes like "Body and Soul" or "Tsunkatsi." I cannot make the same indulgence for episodes like "Dramatis Personæ," "Take Me Out to the Holosuite" or "Bound."

Beyond that, this episode is emblematic of the kind of crap TNG would mostly put out from here until "All Good Things..."
Tue, Jun 19, 2012, 7:22am (UTC -5)
"This episode was awful, of showcases something important about TOS, TNG and Voyager that ENT and DS9 missed out on--namely that the nature of the characters makes even terrible episodes enjoyable to watch."

I have to disagree with your opinion where it concerns DS9. I think DS9's character work is unparalleled in Trek. It had an enormous, not to mention great, cast of supporting characters -- even bad episodes were elevated because of it.
Fri, Jun 29, 2012, 6:27pm (UTC -5)
@Paul :

I agree: DS9's large supporting cast was great (for the most part). It's the main cast I take issue with--save Odo and occasionally Quark, anything resembling affection for those people is nothing but artifice.
Mon, Jul 2, 2012, 12:13pm (UTC -5)

Nothing but artifice? You don't like the characters, so anyone who does like them are pretending or lying?

Same to you, pal.
Thu, Jul 19, 2012, 1:27pm (UTC -5)
As a kid I loved this episode because it was completely campy and schlocky. Haven't seen it since.
Tue, Aug 21, 2012, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
This episode, which I've watched tonight, was much better than I recall. It's far from a TNG classic, but I think worth more than two stars, and oddly, I enjoyed it more than the highly rated 'Darmok', from earlier in the season.

There are unintentionally funny bits in the episode - the rather hokey and unusable martial arts
- Picard somehow being pushed over and nearly injured by the 'old' Deanna
- the fact that Picard doesn't really know what is going on with Deanna until much later in the story

But it is still good. Riker's face at seeing the dress, and then the crewman, is priceless.

Deanna's blue dress? She looked amazing.

So I rate it higher than two stars. I think Deanna has only one truly stand out episode - when she is made to look like one of the Tal Shiar..otherwise she is rather one dimensional. But I still think she is great.
Fri, Feb 15, 2013, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
Just saw this again and noticed something else idiotic about it. Why did Riker have to lsoe 50 IQ points for this one?

If he wasn't suspicious that something was wrong with Deanna when he caught her with the youngster, he certainly would have marched her straight to sick bay after he found her in 10 Forward behaving like a crazy woman.

Instead he seems to think Deanna (who he has known intimately for YEARS) is having a momentary lapse into inappropriate hotness.

I don't think I'd give this even 2 stars.
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 10:21am (UTC -5)
I think the Deanna in her first "transformed" scenes (the crew review with Riker and counselling the ensign) and in the bar would make a good mirror universe Deanna, something which I believe TNG never explored. Using her empathic abilities to humiliate or manipulate others, sensual, etc.
Fri, Jul 26, 2013, 5:37pm (UTC -5)
Yeah, this guy certainly had a lot of bad thoughts for someone who was supposed to have jettisoned his bad thoughts.
William B
Fri, Aug 16, 2013, 11:47am (UTC -5)
So: an update of "The Picture of Dorian Gray," except where the picture is another person. Why not. The title, "Man of the People," identifies this as a political story, and the subtext to the episode is about political leaders and celebrities, primarily men, who have a public image to maintain, and do so by using up and spitting out people in their domestic life, taking out on them whatever anxieties and neuroses they cannot display to the public. That's not a bad concept for an episode or allegory. Alkar's speech to Picard, admittedly on autopilot, does actually have some resonance: how much bad behaviour are we prepared to permit in our leaders and icons in their personal lives, when they accomplish so much in their public lives? Especially if somehow it turns out that their ability to be exactly who they needed to be publicly was *because* of the way they used and discarded people privately?

The episode's failure is that it doesn't push this far enough: we don't get any real sense of why Alkar is as essential as he is to these peace talks, or why his "negative emotions" are so overwhelming to him personally that he can't negotiate without them. It would be possible for the episode to go there: "Sarek" even covers some of the same ground, where Picard essentially consents to take on the role Troi does here, though for whatever reason Picard didn't go around sleeping with goldshirts and scratching Riker's face, as much fun as that might have been. The focus is on how much Troi suffers, which is the correct focus, if we could take any of her suffering seriously. The plot is hokey and half-hearted. My favourite moment of unintentional (?) hilarity that no one mentioned: when Troi, white-haired, runs screaming after Alkar when he leaves his quarters, and a redshirt just walks by without stopping or even seeming to register that anything weird is happening. Just another day on the Enterprise!

But yes, there are some priceless scenes. Troi dragging the goldshirt into her quarters, and his stuttering "yes ma'am" as he leaves the room, with the vague implication that evil!Troi used her rank to control him, as well as Riker's awesome, what-the-hell-okay-awkward reaction. And I love the scene of Troi letting loose on that ensign. Even these moments are ludicrous, but, well, what can you do? 2 stars is still extremely generous for these pleasures; the episode is probably closer to 1.
Mon, Feb 3, 2014, 1:55am (UTC -5)
What? And not one mention of the TOS ep this is taken from? Great idea for TOS but Troi makes the whole ep collapse.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 12:31pm (UTC -5)
One of the few I guess who actually liked this episode. It's a great metaphor for how people feed on others psychologically.

Braga wanted to emphasis Troi going evil more, but that would have missed the point and deviated the focus away the receptacle analogy.
Sat, Mar 29, 2014, 12:42pm (UTC -5)
I would like to point out that Troi's transformation is accurate physical/emotional portrayal of one besieged by a physical vampire. I hope no one ever encounters one...they take a huge toll. I didn't care for the episode because it reminded me of old injuries.
Mon, May 5, 2014, 5:06pm (UTC -5)
So why did most of the negative emotions manifest themselves into sexual behavior? troi was a little impatient, snippy, but what was really overpowering was the sexual aggression. Like the writers were saying that agressive sexual behavior in a female must be a psychological problem.
Picard from USS Phoenix
Wed, May 14, 2014, 7:58am (UTC -5)
And once again, I have to respectfully disagree with Jammer - it was a good episode. A little bit silly at parts, but overall it provides, an interesting moral dilemma: it discusses utilitarianism, in a new, interesting light - I don't recall if "Star Trek" ever did that before, it was always pro-utilitarian, not against, like it is here. And it's definitely the most interesting thing about this episode.

"It's made no better by the fact that Alkar attempts to justify it with an ends-versus-means speech that's a completely obvious straw-man argument."

How is this a straw-man? Quite the contrary, it's logical consequence of Spock's utilitarianism - remember, this whole: "needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few or the one?". By Spock's standards Alkar is right! Hell, I don't know if he is not right?! Philosophers discussed this problem for centuries - whole kantian vs. utilitarian ethics - so this is not trivial episode at all...
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Picard of Phoenix, TNG (rightly) never stood for that particular strand of "utilitarianism", and in fact directly opposed it. I have no love for Roddenberry's utopia, but even I would admit that his vision at least doesn't directly support dictatorial powers (even if it is the inevitable end of such utopias). TNG always held the classical liberal view of unalienable human rights as seen in episodes such as Hunted or Masterpiece Society. In fact, in my comment on the latter episode I specifically contrasted Spock's axiom between an individual choice and a tyrannical oppression; the latter of which you seem to support here. But the clearest rejection of such an idea is in the Borg: the ideal centrally organized utilitarian utopia. And joining it is considered, in universe, as a fate worse than death. So no, Trek doesn't stand for the abilities of elites to persecute minorities for the supposed good of the whole.

To put it simply, if you really aren't sure if it is "right" for the elite to torture and kill innocent bystanders for the supposed good of the whole, well, you ought to start thinking very thoroughly about your moral philosophy.

In any case, I didn't consider the real world ramifications of the episode that WilliamB pointed out. But even if that was their intention, the episode still fails. The sci-fi analogy is just too far out there to work. I mean, regardless of if you are ok with, say, Clinton's or JFK's womanizing ways, at least they didn't use their psychic powers to torture women before killing them off (ok fine, the other Kennedy did kill a woman and get away with it, but that's a horrific outlier to most of politics, and even then that was manslaughter and not murder). We can all see that there's a slight difference there.

So was the intent to show the "slippery slope" version of this? Maybe. The problem is, going to the "logical" extreme in such a case will often get you accused of being anvilicious and distorting the true debate. For example, if the women in question chose to make themselves used by Alkar, then that would at least be closer to the real world situations. Instead, Alkar tricks them into it. And, of course, there's no recovery, no next chapter in the sci-fi story; these women are killed by Alkar. So the premise in the story is far enough removed from the real world implications that even someone who is sympathetic to such arguments would roll their eyes at it.

So was it just to "raise questions"? Well, if so, they did a sloppy job of it. Picard from Phoenix aside, it doesn't look like anyone took Alkar's side here. And it's pretty freakin hard to. So basically, you're debating something that is already universally agreed on. And when you do something like that, you essentially insult the viewer's intelligence. And if you end up trying to be "fair", you had better do a darn good job of showing subtlety on the other side, or you can end up looking like an apologist for evil.

So what was the point? Alkar's actions were so clearly wrong that we simultaneously can't side with him but also are so far out there that we can't analogize him to someone like Clinton or JFK. Trust me, I have no love for either of those two, and even I don't see it as a fair comparison.

So the episode fails as a modern allegory. And it fails on its own merits. We saw Troi fall in love with an immoral empath before in The Price. We saw a visiting empath violate Troi last season in Violations. And we saw a crew member rapidly age in Unnatural Selection. This isn't just cliches, it's cliches within the same show!

And the stupidity just keeps coming:

- Just how did Alkar control these women? We know that they still have free will; the first lady kept shouting out stuff that embarrassed Alkar, and Troi was still performing her duties (sorta). So why did none of them ever speak up? Why didn't the first one ever say that she wasn't his mother? How did Troi not realize that aging 20 years in a day is probably a slightly important medical issue?

- Meanwhile, Troi, the person who's sole purpose on the ship is to tell Picard that others are hiding something, apparently couldn't figure out that Alkar was hiding something.

- We also have to love Worf's compassion and Starfleet training. When Alkar starts to magically age, why didn't he call to sickbay? Just because Alkar's the bad guy doesn't mean you just sit there and watch while he goes all Walter Donovan on us.

- And of course, when Alkar dies, Troi magically de-ages. At least use the magical de-aging transporter trick; it's the slightly less ridiculous of the two options!

- I was kinda hoping that the episode would at least provide a nice bit of continuity by implying that Troi's behavior was due to her system becoming middle aged and thus having her sex drive overload (as described in Manhunt). But she also was exhibiting the same behavior as the first woman, so that probably wasn't the intent. Sigh...

- It's probably just me, but when evil Troi was counseling Janeway, was I the only one that thought it was good advice? I mean, the snarky "you annoy me too" line aside, telling a professionally trained officer assigned to a plum position that she should be able to suck it up and deal with a mildly annoying supervisor isn't an evil thing to do. I'm thinking when they were handing out spines in the Janeway clan, Kathryn stole this poor ensign's share.

But at least the episode wasn't a total loss. After 5 seasons of looking ridiculous in that catsuit, Marina Sirtis finally got some real sex appeal with that blue dress!
William B
Mon, Jul 21, 2014, 3:01pm (UTC -5)
@SkepticalMI, first of all, I forget if I've mentioned how much I enjoy reading your comments.

Second, in case it's not clear, of course I am against powerful people hurting others in their personal lives in order to maintain their public image. The episode comes down very firmly against Alkar -- the merit in the story, had it genuinely chosen to go the route I suggested (rather than halfheartedly gesture at it) would not be in showing why it's okay for leaders to treat people terribly in private life, but to shine on a light on the temptation to do so. Picard rightly should rise above it, not just because it's Troi who's being used up but because he's a good man.

Actually one detail that I think the episode gets right is that Alkar's "mother" seems initially to be a madwoman. Alkar gets to appear as a charming, put-together man, who is burdened with a connection to a crazy person who drags him down. This maps very well onto the way it very often happens that when a respected public figure is revealed to have hurt and abused another person in their private life, the victim of that abuse is immediately smeared by large groups of people to preserve their image of the public figure as sympathetic. Because Alkar gets to "take out" his "negative emotions" on another person, he gets to seem the calm and collected one in public which makes it very easy for him to hide his guilt and responsibility. I think the episode could have done well with this element -- for example, show people from the whatever planet Alkar's helping with their war thing and how great the temptation is for them to place all the blame for any apparent dysfunction between Alkar and his companions on the companions and ignore or disbelieve any evidence that Alkar is even doing anything to them. Could be interesting. As is, obviously, the episode is a mess, terrible, and coasts on one or two half-formed interesting ideas and a lot of Marina Sirtis walking around without many clothes on.
Tue, Jul 22, 2014, 5:25pm (UTC -5)
I think you have mentioned your appreciation before, and the feeling is mutual. For the record, I did not intend to imply that you agreed with Alkar in any way. I simply meant that if their intention was to make this a social commentary episode, they did a poor job of it (which you seem to agree with too).

I'm thinking that if they did want to go with this angle, of using this episode as a springboard to discuss whether or not it was ok for a politician to have moral failings if their cause is just, then changes would need to be made. For starters, I'm guessing that someone else (perhaps from the same species) would need to make the argument that Alkar was justified in doing this, rather than Alkar himself. That would fit with how politicians act; they try to avoid the subject entirely and if forced to discuss the matter, usually offer a hollow apology and say they are working on improving themselves (while the "machine" politicians work in the background to set the proper narrative). When Picard talks to Alkar and he defends himself, there's simply no denying that he looks like a common criminal offering lame justifications for his crimes.

Not that this one change would make it a good episode...
Wed, Sep 24, 2014, 3:13am (UTC -5)
Just the "cat that got the milk" look on Riker's face when he walked in to Troi's room when she was wearing that dress, followed by the sudden change when he saw the other crewman was payoff enough for me for this episode!

Frakes' finest moment without a doubt.
Wed, Sep 24, 2014, 4:57pm (UTC -5)
The thing I love about this episode is that it is the only time Troi gives some decent counselling advice.
Fri, Dec 5, 2014, 7:13pm (UTC -5)
This episode was painful, but not stab-oneself-in-the-eyes painful. Not that I'll ever watch it again.

So why did dude's negative behavior result in sexual deviance? Watching Deanna be a whore wasn't enjoyable, and it only makes sense if Alkar is a total perv who wants to mess around with everything he sees. She doesn't appear to feel wrath or revenge, and only the "counseling" session demonstrates any emotion other than desire.

While most of you seem amused by crack-Deanna, that was the part of the episode that was the biggest problem (though it was pretty funny how much like her mother she was). The only way the "greater good" aspect of this episode could work would be to actually focus on it, as well as the conflict between the aliens. Shrinking Deanna's role in the episode would have provided it the ability to actually do more in that direction. And it wouldn't have been so stupid.

Then again, Jammer was definitely right about the tired tropes, so who knows if that would have actually fixed the problem?
Sun, Jan 11, 2015, 2:57am (UTC -5)
To those wondering about why Deanna began behaving inappropriately sexual - I assume Alkar transfers his deep-seated negative feelings, namely narcissism, lack of self-worth (ironic that those two can coexist, eh?), and restlessness. These feelings swell up in Deanna.

She feels worthless, so she acts out (clearly seen by clawing Riker) to be told she's bad. She acts in ways that will perpetuate her own self-image, which has become incredibly negative. She is also utterly dissatisfied to the point of never feeling peace, so she can't help but fill her time with distraction - sex becomes the best choice, because it distracts her from her restlessness and allows her to exert power over another and fulfill some kind of narcissistic tendency.

There's me playing therapist. It's definitely interesting analyzing why her behavior manifests that way.
Sun, Mar 1, 2015, 5:54am (UTC -5)
Which episode was this again? Ah, the one with Troi's cleavage!
Wed, May 6, 2015, 1:05pm (UTC -5)
I wanted to like this episode because I always liked the Dorian Gray story, which this draws upon. Except I didn't get what Alkar's negativity was all about. I can imagine an ambassador feeling frustrated and perhaps angry at times with one side or another's stubbornness. But the feelings he projects first on Melkor and then Troi are mostly about sexual jealousy. His speech about sacrificing a few lives to save many was laughable, as well. He is simply a negotiator, and not the only one or best possible one. He even describes his "technique," which is simply to let each side talk until they are too exhausted to protest his own peace proposals. That's rather lame diplomacy.

I did not find that the "possessed" Troi reminded me of her mother at all. Her mother doesn't display any huge amounts of jealousy. Nor does her mother go in for one-night-stands from what we've seen. Instead, she seems to be inclined to want to marry the instant she feels any attraction. None of this answers why Alkar's suppressed negative emotions all come out as sexual anyway.

I did like a few things in this otherwise mediocre episode. Worf teaching a Tai Chi class, for example. I also got a laugh from Troi's attempts to "counsel" the ensign. Not once did we hear the ensign say that she complains to her superior officer, so for Troi to guess that's the reason he is annoyed with the ensign was actually funny. I get that she was already under Alkar's negative influence, of course.

I have to agree that the new dresses looked good on Troi, as others have pointed out. I also found that the aging effect where she looked middle-aged actually made her more attractive than usual.
Paul C
Mon, Jun 22, 2015, 1:32pm (UTC -5)
Horrendous episode.

Plus Geordi's rank is wrong. Buttons are inverted.
Fri, Jul 17, 2015, 9:27am (UTC -5)
As I'm watching the blu ray episodes, sometimes I remind myself that STNG was episodic television that made about 25 episodes a year, so they can't all be winners.
As for this one the premise and execution are pretty well done. I also think Deanna looks quite sexy in her middle aged look.
It is interesting to contrast the mature Marina Sirtis in the commentary with the age made up Troi.
2 stars is about right, though my wife, who likes woman's revenge shows probably liked it more than I did.
Another thing worth mentioning, when I saw this "back in the day" I thought the ambassador's aging was the fact that he was very old and he had used "receptacles" to stay young. In rewatching I think it was used to illustrate the deluge of negative emotions for which he no longer had tolerence.
Tue, Aug 18, 2015, 1:54am (UTC -5)
The name Alkar is close enough to Alucard (which is Dracula spelled backwards). That was a nice touch from the writers.

I will say though, the idea of "life force vampires" was done recently with "Time's Arrow". This episode is just a change of setting and occupation of the vampire.

1.25 stars. It is prevented from a worse rating due to silver fox Troi. She can use her fangs on me anytime she wants!
Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:02am (UTC -5)
Wow, this episode was something of a minor miracle. It's horrible, make no mistake, but still rather remarkable. They took a main cast character, put her into mortal jeopardy and yet still managed to get me more concerned over the fate of Alkar's next victim, Liva, than I was over Troi's. That either takes a lot of skill applied in exactly the wrong direction or it's a damning indictment of this episode. Pick your poison.

You know, I actually don't have anything against the character of Troi. She is, ultimately, a useless character; but, I don't think she's a bad character. So, I actually find it rather odd that so, so many Troi-centric episodes end up being so bad. When the best you can say about the character is "hey it's kind of funny because she's doing some crazy shit in this episode," that's not exactly a ringing endorsement, is it? And when I can legitimately say that I care more about a character who doesn't even appear until half-way through the episode and even then doesn't play a major role until the final act than I do about Troi, what else can I say about how woefully mis-utilized Troi is as a character?

Then there's the other problems. 1.) All of this could have been avoided if Starfleet Command (or was it the Federation Council, that's kind of unclear) had just kept their noses out of other people's business. When Alkar first asked to be put on another transport ship, they should have done so. There was no reason for the Enterprise, of all ships, to get involved. But, instead we get a smug-ass admiral pontificating about the issue and are expected to simply agree with him because.... reasons. 2.) So, Alkar just up and admits to his nefarious designs rather easily, doesn't he? Are we honestly supposed to believe that he is so egotistical that he thinks that Picard - or, well, ANYBODY - is going to agree with his "the ends justify the means" bullshit? Apparently we are because when confronted by Picard with the most flimsy of evidence, Alkar just up and confesses whole hog. WTF?! 3.) "You cannot explain away a wantonly immoral act because you think it is connected to some higher purpose." You know given some of the Prime Directive shit they've pulled - and will pull in later episodes - that really rings hollow coming from Picard's lips. I mean, I agree whole-hearted with the statement. But, damn, Picard thought death was preferable to violating the Prime Directive in "The Masterpiece Society"! 4.) The scenes with the young ensigns (the one who Troi beds and Ensign Janeway, 'no relation'). Sorry, Jammer (again, to each their own) but I didn't find those scenes amusing at all. Good grief, talk about objectification with the male ensign. The story literally treats him as nothing but a piece of meat. We don't even get a name for him (first or last). He isn't even referred to by rank - we only know he's an ensign because he wears ensign's pips. And the scene with Janeway.... Well, I suppose it works to show that Troi is turning unreasonable, but Janeway seems to have legitimate concerns. They might be small concerns but that doesn't make them petty.

Seriously, the only good thing I can even think of in "Man of the People" is the fact that I did, in fact, care about the Liva character. But even that plays a huge role in the hugest problem of the episode. This one was bad.

Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:37am (UTC -5)
" 1.) All of this could have been avoided if Starfleet Command (or was it the Federation Council, that's kind of unclear) had just kept their noses out of other people's business. When Alkar first asked to be put on another transport ship, they should have done so. There was no reason for the Enterprise, of all ships, to get involved. But, instead we get a smug-ass admiral pontificating about the issue and are expected to simply agree with him because.... reasons."

I'm confused here. The Dorian IS a Federation ship and Alkar requested a second Federation transport. So the Federation DEFINITELY is not sticking it's nose in anybody's business, they are already involved. Heavily.

I'd assume (although I grant, this is an assumption) that Starfleet is responsible for the safety of Federation transports. If the Admiral feels that putting Alkar on another transport will paint a bullseye on it, that's his call to make IMHO.

" 3.) "You cannot explain away a wantonly immoral act because you think it is connected to some higher purpose." You know given some of the Prime Directive shit they've pulled - and will pull in later episodes - that really rings hollow coming from Picard's lips. I mean, I agree whole-hearted with the statement. But, damn, Picard thought death was preferable to violating the Prime Directive in "The Masterpiece Society"!"

I think comparing non interference to murder is grossly overstating your case. That said, I really did not care for this episode either.
Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 11:48am (UTC -5)
I will pay it one compliment though. I thought Frakes did a top notch job, especially in the sickbay scene.
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 12:02pm (UTC -5)
I guess a better episode to have pointed to would be "Homeward," where they all stand around and watch an entire civilization be destroyed without lifting a finger to help, all in the name of a "higher purpose" - the Prime Directive.
Diamond Dave
Fri, Oct 2, 2015, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
Second in a row to have a feel of a first series episode. We have the meaningless peace negotiations, the character acting out of character... you get the point.

There's a couple of nice scenes - Troi's destruction of Ensign Janeway, and Riker and Troi in the bedroom (the delivery of the "what the hell" line is something of a minor classic) - but overall this is a shocker. Dull, unengaging, and with a tension free ending. 1.5 stars.
Thu, Mar 17, 2016, 3:07pm (UTC -5)
Let's start with the first thing. Mental Rape. This trope has been used in an episode before, in fact, the exact WORDS I said were also Riker's dialogue. Who did it happen to? If you guessed Deanna, you win a prize! She is the most motherly, sweet, and understand of our characters, but she's also the most vulnerable. I wanted to see more out of Troi, and this took me farther away from that wish.
Thu, May 5, 2016, 12:35am (UTC -5)
"The needs of the many outweigh the needs of the few...or the one."

Unless it's Troi?
Clearly, Picard did not share the beliefs of his predecessors.
Sun, May 8, 2016, 5:00am (UTC -5)

That's pretty well established in season 1's Justice:

PICARD: How do I explain my refusing to obey their laws down there. Not permitting the Crusher boy to be executed. And by so doing do I endanger this vessel and more than a thousand other lives?
DATA: Would you choose one life over one thousand, sir?
PICARD: I refuse to let arithmetic decide questions like that.

Also this isn't a question of Troi sacrificing herself for peace. Alkar is literally taking the lives of numerous non-consenting "individuals" to aid his endeavors. If Picard allowed that continue, how many death sentences would he be effectively handing out to inevitable future victims?
Fri, Aug 26, 2016, 9:39am (UTC -5)
This episode was one of the worst of the entire series. Boring, stupid story, (why did dumping negative emotions produce sex craze?), main evil character like a boring used car salesman, people from the planet of no interest, zero interesting scientific technology. But add to that the very creepy sex assault by Troi of the young handsome ensign she picks up in the elevator after a really ugly stare at him: "I know where to find you if I need you again" as he leaves her quarters in a hurry. Attacking Riker with those deep scratches on the neck, and even the abuse of power over the poor lady ensign trying to get help with work issues. There was nothing about the Troi depicted here that was even close to Luaxana's character, which is funny and charming, even if overly sexually aggressive. Zero stars for this episode.
Fri, Aug 26, 2016, 9:43am (UTC -5)
And also, the final resolution, killing Troi and reviving her at the last possible moment to have her magically restored to youth was just a really dumb idea with special effects at the level of Classic Trek 40 years ago.
Janiel Miller
Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 11:57am (UTC -5)
I'm not a Star Trek expert by any means--though I've always loved watching it--and this is the first time I've ever commented on a Jammer board, or any Trek board. But I just want to stick up for Marina Sirtis. I have to say l am sorry for her. I read somewhere that Troi's character was originally to be some funky four-breasted hermaphrodite, or something (which idea was thankfully talked down. Good grief.) But it seems that once they humanized her, her purpose was still to be little more than on-board cleavage--so why write anything real for her? Much like what they did with T'Pol and Seven of Nine. The difference being that at least Seven as a Borg ex-pat was a cool enough concept to engender a lot of creative writing possibilities, so she had some good episodes. Poor Troi spent three and a half seasons being nothing more than a pretty potted palm on the Bridge. And when they seem to have realized that she needed to have an actual personality with actual depth they hadn't invested enough int the character to know how to accomplish that. So we got a sudden introduction to Troi's chocolate obsession, in season 4 I think it was. And finally the occasional glimpse into her doing her actual job. It felt like a slight attempt to focus on Marina's strengths as an actress instead of trying to shoe-horn her into whatever plot point they needed her to fill, which often included emotional scenes that were not her forte.

Sirtis was great in the latter part of the series at the counseling scenes, showing warmth and humor, and being a calm presence. The writers and directors should have let Sirtis play to her strengths, and given her character more depth in those areas. It would also have been nice, since she was a bridge officer and there for many of the Meet-the-Alien-of-the-Week moments, to have had her trained in strategy. An empathic strategist might have actually been useful the the captain, and would have provided the character with a brain (*gasp*) that the writers could have written toward.

There were several hilarious moments in this episode for me, but I tend to like the things about Sirtis that I mentioned above, so I didn't mind watching her. Also enjoyed Riker, and the Janeway scene.

I don't want to say I have love/hate relationship with all of the Star Trek shows, because it's more of a love/beat-my-head-against-a-wall relationship owing to so much cognitive dissonance in the writing of characters and cultures, as well as so many lost opportunities. But Trek knew how to cast (with some exceptions) actors who got into my heart and who I wanted to watch each week, no matter how absurd the situations and dialogue those actors were saddled with. And the whole concept was frankly cool, and nicely realized for television at the time. So huzzah for Star Trek, goofy writing, grating acting, and wrong-headedness aside. Hope we always have a bit of the Trek universe to watch!
Janiel Miller
Wed, Mar 15, 2017, 12:07pm (UTC -5)
Also, I want to add that these days one of my favorite things to do is to watch the extras and background personnel. Bwaaaahahahahaha! They never react to anything, and when they do it's often hilariously maladroit. It's as if they are in a completely different show, bless their uniformed hearts. Like a ship full of Data's, but with their personality chips removed.

I also love to watch the actors flopping around in completely different directions and frequencies whenever the Enterprise is rattled by some external force. Picard is always nearly falling out of his chair, while Geordi stands at a console in the background swaying gently. Dude would be scrambling for footing or eating the deck if the ship were shuddering the way Patrick Stewart's body indicates. Heh!
Andy in VA
Sun, Mar 19, 2017, 11:15am (UTC -5)
Awful, awful, awful episode for at least this reason: why is it that up to this point in the series, the only episodes that focus on Deanna Troi automatically make her a victim of somebody else's machinations? To wit:

* Haven -- Troi's arranged marriage to a man who is in love with another woman;
* The Child -- Her body is used to produce an alien life form;
* The Price -- She's taken advantage of by ace negotiator/trouble-shooter Devinoni Ral (sound familiar);
* The Survivors -- Kevin Uxbridge messes with her mind to hide who he is;
* The Loss -- two-dimensional spacebeings jam her empathic/telepathic powers;
* Violations -- one of yet another delegation hitching a ride on the Enterprise is uses his telepathic powers to screw with her and puts her in a coma; and here
* Man of the People -- she's an evil negotiator's "receptacle."

So basically, up to this point in Season 6, anytime the plot focuses on her (leaving her mother out of this for the moment, that's a whole other kettle of fish), she's portrayed as a victim, a liability or something of both. Awful character development for somebody already condemned to wear those silly cat suits instead of a standard issue uniform.

First glimmer of hope came in realm of fear where Lt. Commander Troi behaves like somebody with authority and relieves Lt. Barclay of duty. Second came in Chain of Command where she was ordered to wear a proper uniform (finally!) and then Face of the Enemy, where she gets to play offense, not defense.

Of course, it wouldn't last forever. Her sendoff, along with the rest of the TNG crew, once again had her as a telepathic sexual assault victim, this time that of Shinzon's viceroy in ST:Nemesis.

Given that Deanna Troi escaped the bizarre, multi-breasted sex/fertility goddess role Gene Roddenberry had orginally envisoned for her, one wonders why she was relentlessly deployed as the damsel in distress. For so philosophically forward looking a series, this seems to have been a real and consistent blindspot for its creators.
Janiel Miller
Thu, Mar 23, 2017, 11:58am (UTC -5)
@Andy in VA - Yes! Spot on. And don't forget the undercurrent of non-stop victimization by Will Riker, in the form of "Oh, well, Imzadi will always be there for me when I get tired of sleeping around, but she'd better not get serious with anyone! " Geeze Loueeeeze. The writing for Deanna Troi drove me nuts.

What I think happened is the writers never thought beyond Sirtis' Wonder Bra and her empathic abilities. She had no other traits beyond those, so when they wrote for her it seemed all they could think of were tropes centered on her beauty and her empathy. And even then, they only used her empathic abilities when it was a convenient plot device. If they needed her to not notice someone "hiding something" or being nervous or dishonest, she either wasn't physically present, or simply didn't say anything -- like in "Starship MIne," where she floats around the reception not noticing any strange emotions in the men who would take them hostage.

Siritis was great in "Face of the Enemy," and had other little shining moments that proved she could have been an actual addition to the crew and plot lines if more thought and effort had been put into writing and directing her. They knew how to write powerful women. They did it all the time. Maybe they wanted some contrast between her and the other strong women on the ship (Guinan, and Crusher--who only marginally succeeded at portraying strength and intelligence), but didn't have any idea how to do it. Or maybe she just got hired for her wonderbra.
Fri, Mar 24, 2017, 12:44pm (UTC -5)
I just realized Troi becoming "oversexed" actually makes sense given her rapid aging and Betazoid women's hyped up sex drive when they reach middle age. I loved how all her outfits looked like something her mother would wear. Not saying this was a great episode, I'm pretty sick of Troi getting mind raped, but it did have a few amusing moments.

I always got the impression background characters were trying really hard to ignore their superiors' embarrassing/inappropriate antics out of respect or fear, rather than being truly unreactive.
Wed, Jul 19, 2017, 12:50am (UTC -5)
3 stars. I found it quite entertaining

I thought it was an interesting episode that had a good mystery and seeing the impact on Troi both physically and mentally had me involved in the proceedings

Highlight: mean Troi slaying ensign janeway in her therapy session

Dr crusher was great in ep whether when determined to find out what happened to Allar's"mother" or how she reacted to Picard after Troi stabbed him. I was also glad to see the transporter officer get involved and try to subdue Troi rather than standing there doing nothing

Dr crusher's plan to let Troi die then revive her in order to sever her link to Alkar was intriguing and the final stretch managed to generate some suspense and excitement as Alkar turned to his next victim, time was running out for Troi to be successfully revived and then Alkar receiving his just desserts.
Nathan Beast
Fri, Jul 21, 2017, 2:40pm (UTC -5)
Did noone else find Ryker's reaction to Troi clawing him hilarious?? He looked like he was about to cry, ran away, and didn't see Crusher to treat his wounds until the next day! That scene had me doubled over in laughter. 😂
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 2:58pm (UTC -5)
My favorite scene was Troi telling Ensign Janeway to shape or ship out, no psychobabble! If only that carried over for the rest of the series.
Derek D
Fri, Jan 12, 2018, 2:38pm (UTC -5)
I agree wholeheartedly with Jammer's original review, but for the same reasons would only give this 1 1/2 stars
Fri, May 18, 2018, 2:52am (UTC -5)
Using Netflix to review the good episodes I first skipped this. Jammer's opinion about what is good is quite reliable. Sometimes though he takes things to serious.

I deiced to re watch it and gives it a 4 star among the 2 stars rates. Although much is ridiculous it is enjoyable.

There is a nice part of sexism in it. On one side you should not perhaps just estimate the sexual appearance of female characters. I do support and argue for a more equal way of living. On the other side, yes we are humans and I am a man. Troi's appearance and dressing was interesting and enjoyable. Marina Sirtis got the task to play this role and I think she did it well.

The countdown scenes are really tiresome.
Cody B
Wed, May 30, 2018, 1:37am (UTC -5)
Not the greatest episode but I can appreciate Troi finally getting an interesting look and different personality. It’s probably the writers fault but I find Troi just boring in most episodes. She’s just......there. Same schtick. Same accent. Same clothes. A lot of people seem to like her for eye candy but that’s just because there is no one better looking most episodes. Look at the episode that Ashley Judd was in and tell me if you thought of Troi one single time. I might be the only person who prefers Wesley over Troi. Idk I just think the character had more to offer. He was more present, more angles. Again I’m sure a lot of it had to do with the writers.
Tue, Aug 14, 2018, 6:17pm (UTC -5)
This one's just bad enough to fall into my stupid category which is worse than my mediocre category -- feels like something from the 1st 2 seasons of TNG than something from the 6th. All the cliches are at play -- 2 nameless warring factions that nobody gives a shit about, alien possession, a megalomaniac, arbitrary medical drama. All to tell a weak story and have Sirtis get to act differently (as in "Power Play").

I think it's clear that Sirtis can play different types of roles, albeit not super-well -- her councillor schtick isn't a great one. She's not an actress I particularly enjoy watching and I didn't get a kick of her excessive flirting with Riker and her having a fling with the young man. But these are all the negative emotions and behaviors of Alkar, including the tough talk in the counselling session (which was my favorite of Troi's new behaviors). But why does she age so quickly? Is that making a statement about what negative emotions do to a person??

So Alkar feels he has the right to do this to young women to save lives in the conflict. Picard reads him the riot act but Alkar doesn't accept it. The ending with reviving Troi and transferring ceremony not completing was a mess -- who knows what should happen when. It's all arbitrary. Although it was curious that Alkar dies when he takes on all the negative emotions. So Picard's words fall on deaf ears or maybe it's just retribution for Alkar.

Wonder if this episode's ending with Troi and Riker in each other arms is to signal a start to intensifying their personal relationship.

1 star for "Man of the People" -- not even good enough to get to 1.5 stars for me (like a 3/10). Felt like it was thrown together in a hurry (let's combine as many Trek cliches as we can) with a very simple plot and an arbitrary conclusion. Gave Sirtis a chance to chew some scenery -- she didn't do too badly, just that I don't think it's interesting or even fun.
Dark Kirk
Tue, Sep 4, 2018, 11:42pm (UTC -5)
This episode felt more like Star Trek: TNG meets Friday the 13th: The Series. The evil-doer victimizes others with a curse and rationalizes it. Then the curse rebounds on the evil-doer with full fury.
Wed, Oct 17, 2018, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
Very poor showing from Worf in this episode. Security Chief of the Federation Flagship gets disarmed by a couple of fat security guards. Even though according to the episode, the city they are in is a neutral place, this is still a volatile planet and because of Worf's total cluelessness, his Captain is put in danger. Very bad writing and once again, Worf is written as a total failure at a job that he should be the best in Starfleet, at. Can't beat out an ill terrorist in an impromptu phaser quick draw in "The High Ground". Gets fooled by a diversionary tactic in The Best of Both Worlds, part 1, by the Borg and Captain Picard is captured. Even though "Rascals" came after this episode, Worf can't hit the broad side of a barn against a Ferengi and gets shot. Stupid plot contrivances....
Sun, Nov 25, 2018, 4:16am (UTC -5)
I've never liked these episodes where someone starts rapidly aging, and they made so many of them. The way their hair changes particularly annoys me. Hair is dead, it can't magically change colors, length and styles. The way Troi's hair went from being completely white, long and straggly to instantly being black and curly again is just ludicrous and would be intellectually insulting even in a children's program. Is this the best the writers could do? As someone said upthread they could have at least had them use the transporter to de-age her like they did with Pulaski. Annoying DNA magic aside I thought the rest of the episode was, well I was going to say decent but on second thought it really wasn't. This was just a bad episode all around and besides that it has been done already, numerous times.
Jer Jer
Fri, Dec 7, 2018, 8:07am (UTC -5)
Utterly boring drivel. Such a stupid episode, I fell asleep in the middle of it--yes, I actually managed to get halfway at least.
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
The episode doesn't work as Science Fiction because it draws heavily from Oscar Wilde's original.
So there is a wholly Hammer Horror story denoument that is too supernatural for this genre.
I bet Marina Sirtis loved camping it up and the guy playing ambassador baddie must have enjoyed the rapid ageing and death scene at the end.

Utter campy crap-but I am hoping that was the intention.

As for politically savvy drama-hmm sorry-don't buy it.
Sat, Apr 27, 2019, 1:34am (UTC -5)
DS9 Worf wouldn't have let that happen.
Sun, Apr 28, 2019, 5:20pm (UTC -5)

I agree there really isn't anything redeeming about this episode and Troi's de-aging is redonkulous and unsolved by technobabble imho.
Warp Capable
Fri, Sep 13, 2019, 5:44pm (UTC -5)
Like everyone else, I never thought much of this episode.

But on reflection, there are people in my life who I have used as "receptacles". Which is to say, I would rant about my frustrations and anxieties to them, and they'd listen, supporting me, but I never let go of anything. I'd be back the next day, next week, next month, ranting again, about the same things, over and over again.

Eventually, one of my friends cut me off. They didn't want to hear it anymore. I was hurt. But I've since realized that my attitude was part of the problem. It's different for everyone, but in my case, I didn't just need someone to rant to sometimes, I needed to make some changes in my life that I'd been resisting for too long.

Looking back at the episode, Alkar here may be in a similar situation. If his negative emotions are so strong that they do, well, *that*, to Troi, he needs to figure out where that's coming from, rather than forever dumping it on others.

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