TNG: S2E19: “Manhunt”

In which Picard, Worf, and Riker are hunted for their precious sperm. Yes, you read that right.

"How come nobody ever sings about what a Frenchman keeps beneath his kilt?"

“How come nobody ever sings about what a Frenchman keeps beneath his kilt?”

Picard is in orbit around Antede III to bring some delegates somewhere, and he is also wearing a dress. The delegates are, in fact, being given the opportunity to join the Federation. They also have a bit of the Innsmouth look about them. Apparently the Antedians do not like spaceflight, and tend to put themselves in self-induced comas. They are apparently fairly handsome, by Klingon standards of beauty, which primes the stage for a brief morality hammer about judging fish-people based on the fact that they look like sardines. Just then, a small tranport approaches and Troi stands in sudden shock and horror. Apparently, Lwaxana has been given ambassadorial status at the upcoming delegation, and scolds Picard for his inappropriate and yet flattering thoughts about her. What was actually going through his head, or whether she’s just messing with him, is left as an exercise to the viewer.

Since the comatose Antedians are still in the transporter room, pending Pulaski’s habitation modifications, Lwaxana will see them when she beams aboard, but first she has a brief panic because she can’t find her legs. She beamed in kneeling down, apparently, and doesn’t fully trust transporters. This is interesting, because they’ve been in use by the Federation for at least 91 years at this point. Now, we don’t know how old Lwaxana is, nor how old she was when Betazed joined the Federation, nor even when that happened, but the fact that she’s terrified of the transporter to that degree points to her not having grown up around transporters, which in turn points to Betazed being a relatively recent partner to the Federation. Maybe within the last thirty or forty years, maximum.

It should be remembered on this occasion that Lwaxana seems fully cognizant of what she’s doing with regard to making Picard (and Riker) supremely uncomfortable. This includes speaking (and potentially lying about) Picard’s secret thoughts, complimenting his legs, and interchanging telepathy with verbalization when conversing with Deanna. We might expect Betazed culture to make allowances for this, but there’s definitely a primal delight that Lwaxana takes in all this. She also has something of a fetish for human men, it would seem. This is based not just on Deanna’s father and her current infatuation with Picard, but also on direct statements.

Lwaxana attempts to get Picard to assist her ambassadorial functioning.

Lwaxana attempts to get Picard to assist her ambassadorial functioning.

Lwaxana had invited Picard to a ‘traditional Betazed meal of greeting’ and he assumes that everyone else was invited as well. Tjhat nobody else seems to know anything about it is one of those little touches that makes Lwaxana less of an abassador and more of a Trickster archetype in myth and legend. Although I don’t recall Raven or Coyote ever playing footsie under the table. Although Loki did turn into a mare and give birth to a spider-horse at one point. In order to keep from being harvested, Picard invites Data down to thoroughly kill the mood. Sadly, Picard msleading Data this way has probably set him back months in his quest to compile an accurate database of humanoid nonverbal cues and their proper responses.

Deanna and Pulaski have a discussion about the idiosyncrasies of Betazed sexual maturity. Apparently at about the time when human women have menopause, Betazed women have something of the opposite. The two of them agree that the situation is hilarious beyond measure, but Deanna goes to rescue Picard anyway.

Hard to tell what that expression is on Riker, but although she has confronted beings of pure evil or dispassionate malice, even a trained counsellor is unprepared for the true horrors of the thought of her mother hunting her captain for sport.

Hard to tell what that expression is on Riker, but although she has confronted beings of pure evil or dispassionate malice, even a trained counselor is unprepared for the true horrors of the thought of her mother hunting her captain for sport.

The details of the Phase, as Betazoids call it, are that women quadruple their sex drive. Or more, as it turns out, a fact that Deanna did not actually fill Riker in on when they were dating, so as not to scare him off. Apparently, Lwaxana has decided to focus on the ‘only dignified option,’ which is to focus on one male who she will hunt, capture, and mount. Figuratively, as in a trophy head on the wall. Also literally, as in rutting like a nymphomanaiacal rabbit. Since Picard can’t actively refuse her without committing a diplomatic incident, he decides to retreat to the holodeck for the duration, and take refuge in his noir detective series.

Turns out the novel Picard entered isn’t relaxing enough for him, so he spits vague instructions at the computer, like “more ambiance, less substance” and thinks it’s going to give him what he wants. Probably we’re looking at user categorization again, because those are not really meaningful. The computer reconfigures the program and begins the plot of the novel again. Rather, he should say “a novel without introductory violence,” at which point the computer would have told him that the forumla of the novel doesn’t permit enough variation not to beat him up at some point during the story much earlier than it did. However, this also tells us that for at least some holo-novels, the computer is capable of procedurally generating them rather than selecting from prewritten novels.

With Picard out of the picture, Lwaxana focuses briefly on Wes, but she’s no cradle-robber, and then considers Worf briefly before confessing her human fetish. Next on her list is Geordi.

Picard, meanwhile, takes his secretary down to the holographic bar run by Rex, and Picard finds himself pulling a Data by explaining the far-reaching impact of World War 2 to holodeck characters living in the mid-thirties. Picard takes a drink and a smoke. One assumes that the drink is replicated synthehol (since he is technically on duty) and the cigarette is guaranteed to be even less genuine. Also, Picard is not used to the need to carry money. Now, at this point we’ve pretty well established that the Federation is likely post-scarcity, from Kirk’s statements to Gillian Taylor and the fantastic engineering feats the Federation accomplishes. It’s important to note that this line doesn’t mean money doesn’t exist, just that people don’t have to carry it around. It’s not super strong evidence either way.

"Eep!"

“Eep!”

With Picard unavailable, Lwaxana finally decides to grant Riker the gift of death by snoo-snoo. Whether this is a tactic or not, it’s definitely going to get Riker and Deanna to the point of being willing to betray Picard’s location. That whole situation is… byzantine. Borgia-tastic, even. Riker and Data go down tot he holodeck to try to pull Picard out of hiding, and they have the excuse that the fish people just woke up. Lwaxana tries to find him, and the computer (in her own voice) tells her that Riker is in the holodeck… where Picard also is, on “ship’s business.”

In addition to transporters, Lwaxana is apparently also unfamiliar with holodecks. Again, it seems to be a fairly recent technology. Her unfamiliarity works to Picard’s advantage when she starts to fall for the holographic bartender. To his credit, Picard tries to explain, but Lwaxana interrupts him.

It turns out that the delegates are assassins, which Lwaxana only bothers to mention as an afterthought because apparently it should have been self-evident. Too bad Deanna didn’t pick on the feelings of deceit. I suppose she was distracted by her mother being on the prowl. As Lwaxana beams out, she gives Picard a parting shot while she’s about five-sixth of the way through transport. It’s a minor detail, but one that’s going to become critically important in a future episode so I’m going to make note of it now. You can move during transport, and you’re sentient enough for Betazoid telepathy to function.

 

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