TNG: S2E10: “The Dauphin”

In which Wes falls in love, bears are people too, and the numbers in this episode suck. 

I don’t know whether it’s relaxing or ominous when the episode doesn’t start off with any music. Feels like either a white noise generator or a horror movie. Anyway, the Enterprise has entered orbit of a planet and LaForge is taking the opportunity to do some maintenance on the deuterium control conduits. If I knew more about nuclear physics, this would either be a place I could deduce things about the power source of the Enterprise or facepalm because the writers were just stringing words together. The inhabitants of Daled IV apparently sent their future leader to this barely-inhabitable miasmic rock. Anya is the escort of the young, titular dauphin Salia. It is worth noting that she asked what species the Enterprise was comprised of. One would suspect that they could have asked that while setting this whole thing up, unless asking a question like that would raise inconvenient questions like ‘why do you want to know that?’

Makin' eyes at Wes. This can't possibly go badly.

Makin’ eyes at Wes. This can’t possibly go badly.

Salia is an outgoing and energetic young woman who is at least mildly informed about shipboard operations, but is not permitted by her keeper to go on a tour of the ship. She does run into Wes while he’s off getting some headlight fluid or a left-handed lug nut for Geordi, though. And she loves his superconducting magnet. He is instantly in love.

Apparently, Selia is the child of two different sides of a civil war, raised in isolation for sixteen years so that she can be neutral as the future leader of the planet. But Worf hates the governess Anya and Troi thinks they’re neither who nor what they say they are. I now have serious concerns about the mission-assigning vetting process. Picard checks in on Selia, who’s about to ask after Wes before Anya lurks like Hamlet’s Father off to the side.

Also, in case you forgot, this episode is from 1989.

Also, in case you forgot, this episode is from 1989.

Apparently Daled IV is a tidally locked planet, and the Daysiders and the Nightsiders have vast cultural differences that make it very difficult for them to have peace. Selia is expressing concerns about her leadership capabilities to the supportive young woman that she didn’t beam over with. She’s getting decent advice from this mystery person who we have no idea who she is with the slashed knit jumper. The young woman then turns into an ewok with a glandular problem, so it seems pretty clear that they’re a race of shapeshifters.

Wes is smitten and dropping his calibration laser, to the point where he almost accidentally d ropped the warp core containment or something, and continuing to make the Enterprise late for Daled IV. Geordi takes Wes off maintenance until he gets his glands sorted out, so he wanders around the ship asking for dating advice. The first person he goes to is Worf. I will not, at this point, take a screenshot of Worf imitating the Klingon female mating roar, because I’ll be seeing it enough in my nightmares. This, by the way, is happening on the bridge, and is another one of those excellent ‘Worf-is-amusingly-blunt.’ Data offers the advice that Wes’ parts probably fit Selia’s parts even if they may not be able to produce viable offspring. Shortly afterwards, Picard invites Selia on a tour, but her teddy-bear-monster-thing turns into Anya and tells her she can’t go.

Wes is now going to Riker, who frankly should have been his first stop. Riker steps over a chair and starts seducing Guinan as an object lesson and at least three of the lines in the script that powers this site are from this scene.

Are you back yet?

While Anya is breathing down Geordi’s neck about getting the deuterium thingy fixed, Wes goes to Selia’s quarters to ‘teach her how to use the replicator.’ Actually, interesting point – the computer is primarily a voice-interface every time we see the replicator used for that purpose, so there’s a pretty interesting UI problem to solve here: How do guests access a menu that could be hundreds of thousands of items long? Those familiar with Federation technology and equipment, of course, will have no trouble selecting cuisine, and we can at least presume that the computer will tell you it doesn’t know how to make the thing you ordered in that eventuality, but suppose you have no idea what your options are?

I suspect that tag clouds are our friends here. Attribute categorization should make it easy to get a range of options, supposing you can name enough attributes to narrow down the list to a dozen or so choices. The problem is getting that many. If I say I want something sweet, how is the computer supposed to give me a list of options in human-scale time when the range of options include at least two different planets worth of chocolate mousse recipies?

Anyway, after she gets a taste of aged cocao-bean mousse, Wesley takes her to the holodeck to show her some alien planetscapes on which to bone, and we see more of Anya being incredibly protective of her charge, including demanding Pulaski kill someone in sick bay because he’s suffering a contagous disease, and then turning into the ewok-monster again only this time eight feet tall. She may have other powers as well, but Pulaski tentatively pegs her as a species known to be able to change its molecular structure. The question, as always, is ‘how much.’ I mean, everything is made of molecules. Could she become a phaser full of electrochemically stored energy? A bomb?

Planetset on Poundtownius VII-B

Planetset on Poundtownius VII-B

And of course what’s going to happen when she goes back to the quarters as Picard orders only to find Selia gone? They’ll be cleaning bits of Wesley out of the carpet for days. At least he will have died  a man. Also, useful numbers. Apparently, ‘we’ (by which I mean some reference class that Wesley feels himself a part of) have charted 19% of the galaxy. That may be Humans, Starfleet, the Federation, or known Alpha Quadrant species. He’s being fairly smooth, up to and including changing the view to a tiny asteroid in the middle of a spacescape to get her to shuffle a little closer to him. Paid a little more attention to Riker than we thought, you dog you. Of course, then he’s got to go and remind her that she can’t actually go to all these places with him because she’s got to go be the ruler of a tidally locked hellhole.

And then Mom-friend-bear discovers that Selia is gone and Wesleyu is going to get thrown through a transparent aluminum window, either by Anya or by Worf for making Anya yell at him and offering Selia asylum. At least Picard doesn’t seem interested in chewing him out beyond what’s necessary to make sure he doesn’t get killed in the corridors.

Picard orders that the ship get to Daled ‘as quickly as possible,’ and Riker interprets that as Warp 8.8 with an arrival time of 3 hours. Why not make it an even nine?  They just took the ship through some maintenance. There are a couple of reasons – wear and tear seeming the most likely.

Daled IV has the same miasmic atmosphere as the other planet, which at least explains why Selia was being fostered there. Of course, it also tells us that Anya the ‘allasomorph’ is not so much an anomaly as she is a member of Selia’s own species, since the planet is so inimical to human life. She comes to visit Wesley playing solo battleship, so that she can put her face on his face. Then Anya bursts in as horrifying steroids-ewok, and Selia, in a move that will surprise nobody who is paying attention, Selia faces her down as a slightly smaller and tawnier steroids-ewok.

Finally, a communication comes in from the planet, from what Data calls a ‘terawatt source,’ which Riker than says is more power than their entire ship can generate. That is interesting, because it puts an upper bound on the weapons strength of the Enterprise, as well as how much energy is actually required for their methods of folding space-time and matter/energy conversion. It’s also extremely worrying that the Enterprise communications can’t cut through the atmosphere but they’re fine beaming someone down to the provided coordinates. I am in fact struggling so hard to rationalize this that I may have just popped a blood vessel in my eye.

"Okay, lady. Let's do this."

“Okay, lady. Let’s do this.”

Anyweay, now that they’re at the planet, Anya’s job is to step aside and let Selia rule as she has prepared to do, and gives her the nice pep-talk and will beam off to the third moon where she came from. Maybe she’ll turn into the bear-monster and have one last tumble with Worf.

Selia goes to Wes to have a parting chat, and he says that yes it matters what she looks like and can she even love him. I mean, sure she kinda lied to you, and sure you’re an adolescent with hurt feelings, but… okay, yeah, that’s a pretty good excuse, especially since he brought her some chocolate mousse right before she left. She transforms back into her natural form, which is a creature of cohesive light, and then they beam that down somehow and now Wes is sad and goes to the place where he can find the best counseling on the ship – Ten-Forward when Guinan is on shift. Suck it, Troi.

 

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