The third season will jerk the viewers around quite a bit, and this is a sampling of what is to come -- all within the same episode.
It's hard to condemn this as a bad episode because there are some very good aspects. The premise is quite imaginative and not that far removed from our Paris Hilton real world. The spoiled brat is a timeless concept, as is the royal wedding for political reasons. The sci-fi touch of love potion tears makes a potentially useful twist. And the presence of dilithium-hungry Klingons (and the first appearance of their ship) keeps us firmly rooted in the Trek world we've come to know.
But things begin to go wrong pretty quickly. Nuyen takes her character over the top a little too quickly. In some ways she's just following misguided over-written script indications, but in other ways she lets herself become too much a caricature than is useful. At the other end of the scale, our green ambassador is decidedly under-written, and we barely notice when he disappears from the episode about halfway through.
That halfway point is really the source of all the trouble. This episode is really made up of two separate episodes in search of unity -- which they never find. As soon as her tears come out, the Dohlman as a spoiled brat utterly and inexplicably disappears. She becomes a weak, submissive kitten just when we expect her to use her new-found control over Kirk to her own advantage.
She never gets a chance because the script abandons its initial premise at that point and veers off toward the Klingon story. Integrating the two halves seems entirely possible (the Dohlman's guard, after all, is an established Klingon agent). Perhaps the Dohlman's real mission could have been to deliver her planet filled with precious crystals to the Klingons who would simultaneously conquer the rival planet. In such a scenario, her early exaggerated demeanor was just part of the plot, and she turns out to be subtle and sly underneath. There are lots of possible ways this story could have been integrated and more imaginative, and they simply never happen.
Likewise, Kirk's struggle upon realizing he has been trapped by the tears (a fabulous device, by the way) is downplayed in the extreme. It's bold to integrate this woman permanently into Kirk's backstory, but nothing in this episode helps us understand the depths of his conflict, or the coping mechanism he employs. It is merely stated at the conclusion by another character. This is just plain lazy.
Nuyen does manage to look fabulous in all of the amazing costumes she's given to wear. And the sabatoge of the Enterprise is inventive and plausible enough. But the whole here is less than the sum of its parts. A memorable idea is wasted. This is one of several episodes in the third season where a look at the first draft script could be very enlightening.
Knowing what we know about the shake-up which took place while this episode was in pre-production, it's entirely possible that Lucas was handed the project as a consolation for losing the producer title, and his full efforts were not employed (he was also simultaneously in pre-production for a much better episode, "The Enterprise Incident"). It's equally possible that a better script was tinkered with by the new creative force (Freiberger) until it was a shadow of its original self. Hard to know which, but there's no denying that this episode represents mostly wasted potential.
Rating: Middle Lower (5)
Fair enough, but Nuyen's performance especially in the second half, and the costumes are spectacular. These alone make the episode way better IMHO than you imply
Posted July 9, 2011 2:24 PM by Philip Day