Overall Rating: 1.0
A noxious combination of ridiculous straw-man debating tactics, unrealistic portrayals of the pros and cons of capitalism and one of the single worst romantic interludes ever written for TV ANYWHERE...make this one stand out as bash-worthy.
The folks at Wikipedia.org have actually done a pretty good job summarizing this episode here.
I will save my snarkiest of comments for the lowlights section below and reserve fewer words for this summary of my thoughts. If the future of romantic love is in this episode...I'm joining the seminary. Because if love is supposed to turn me into a subservient, thoughtless, usable commodity and I'm supposed to be excited about this...I want no part of it. Let's see...Troi meets a man who thinks it's OK to start pawing at her on their very first encounter (because he sensed her interest in him...but even if you can tell that someone is interested in you, that is NOT an all access pass to their sex organs!), sleeps with him within ten minutes of the start of their first date, learns that he's an empath who claims that he's learned to "use it" as she does...and actually keeps this secret from her superior officers who are hosting a critical conference in the hopes of acquiring access to a stable wormhole. Hey Troi...what did you think he meant by "use it" (re: empathic powers)? He's a negotiator!! What would he use his funky mind mojo for if NOT to get an edge in trade talks?!
Then she is completely shocked to find out that, yep, he used his funky mind mojo to gain an edge. Her brilliant deductive reasoning somehow missed this possibility! Naturally, she's deeply offended that anyone would try to...um...enrich the people for whom he works who've tasked him with the goal of...um...enriching them. To her...defending her ship by keeping her empathic secret is fine, but working to better the lives of everyone you work for financially by keeping the same secret is EEEEEEEVIL. Ral does point this out, but his defense is a straw man because the writer thinks capitalism is evil. What's worse, he actually insults her by pointing out that he used the same advantage to trick her into bed! Oh and he then works out a little theater to win the bid for the useless lemon wormhole and claims that Troi's efforts to out him as a dirty capitalist empathic pig have enlightened him...he doesn't like what he sees. I don't like it either, Ral...but not because you try to gain advantage in negotiations. I don't like it because you're a lousy excuse for a fair and balanced portrayal of capitalism and because you're a chauvinist pig just like your creators.
Whoever wrote this dialogue shouldn't quit their day job. Their comedy is dreadful, their romance is far...far worse. And they obviously spent too much time in drum circles themselves to know how to write believable capitalists...actually...scratch those last two words and the sentence at "write" and it's just as accurate.
Kevin Peter Hall (Ral) is just ludicrous...I think there were kids in my high school drama troupe who could out-act this rank amateur. The regulars do their best with the meager script, but there's just no saving it from the deep layers of cheese...it even comes out in their performances.
My comments below say it all. This episode makes me wish I'd never discovered Star Trek. I need to go watch some DS9 and regain my love of the franchise.
I just have to actually go all out on this one and include some of the most nauseating quotes to help you appreciate just why I hated this episode even more than I hated The Outrageous Okona, The Naked Now or even Justice (!).
TROI: I'd like a real hot fudge sundae.
COMPUTER: Define real in this context.
TROI: Real...not one of your perfectly synthesized, ingeniously enhanced imitations. I would like real chocolate ice cream, real whipped cream...
COMPUTER: This food dispenser is programmed to provide food of adequate nutritional value. Your request does not meet those specifications. Please indicate whether you would like to override this program. (read: quit being a cranky pig...LOL)
TROI: Listen...(interrupted by the comm.)
PICARD: Counselor Troi, please report to ten forward (for no real reason)...we're having an impromptu reception for the delegates to this trade conference and would like your company.
TROI: Captain, (I can't be bothered to do my job...such as it is) I'm not really dressed for a formal occasion.
PICARD: Oh, just throw on any old thing and drop by. We're about to get our first look at the wormhole.
TROI: (sighs heavily...in a bad mood for no apparent reason) Of course. God forbid I should miss my first look at the wormhole. (now I'm trying very hard to figure out why Troi is needed at a trade conference over a scientific find...coming up empty...)
GOS: I'm Daimon Gos and these are my associates. We'll need some chairs. (random obsession commences...apparently because the writer thought it would be funny?)
PICARD: Daimon, I'm Captain Jean-Luc Picard. I'll be hosting these negotiations.
GOS: Good, then you can find us some chairs.
GOS: Fine...then have your Klingon servant get us some chairs.
WORF: I am in charge of security.
GOS: Then who gets the chairs? (really? really???)
RAL: Should I have called for an appointment?
TROI: (smiles ridiculously) No...I was just (having a random wet dream about you for some weird reason) looking over some personnel files.
RAL: What a shame. I thought you might be thinking of me. (I'm a Betazoid and thought you were hot so I sensed your emotions and assumed you were lusting after me...yeah...I'm creepy like that)
TROI: I thought you'd be deep in negotiations by now.
RAL: In recess. I never play the opening rounds anyway. Inconsequential. Besides, there are much more important things to negotiate on this ship.
TROI: Such as?
RAL: Like dinner tonight? (aaaaaand it begins...uuuuuugh)
TROI: What about your traveling companion?
RAL: My traveling companion is...traveling. I sent her home (I can f*** her any time...you, I can only nail if there's no arm candy around to throw you off).
RAL: You know why. (said while practically winking at her...seriously...this has to be seen to be believed)
TROI: Weren't you two getting along?
RAL: Don't do that.
TROI: What? (yes...what indeed...don't make pleasant normal conversation rather than waxing your d*** instantly?)
RAL: Don't do...Counselor Troi. (cause y'know...I'm intimate with you already even though we don't know each other at all)
TROI: Was I?
RAL: Yes you were. (walks behind her and gets within a few inches of her body from head to waist) When you leave this office...who are you? (she doesn't answer) Oooohhh...so that's how it goes. You never do. (he starts stroking her shoulders and hair, eventually reaching her cheeks and neck...this is truly...TRULY creepy) You never do...leave this office.
RAL: Ssssshhhhhh...you never leave. (she breaks off his freakin' stalker/pervert routine finally but incredibly does not break his arm in three places and ram the misshapen remains of his hand down his throat) Dinner at eight? (she says nothing, so naturally, he assumes victory...seriously...WTF?!?!?!?!)
RIKER: I think this Devinonni is the biggest threat.
MENDOZA: An accurate assessment, Commander. How did you determine that. (well given that in this HEATED bidding war between all of three people: the Federation, the Ferengi...and the Crysalians (repped by Devin)...and the previous comments about the Ferengi not having the resources to make a strong bid...I'm gonna say he figured it out because he plays Poker...oh no wait a second...)
RIKER: He was the most comfortable one in the room.
MENDOZA: You must play Poker (ah damnit...they really went there...)
RIKER: Poker...what is that, some sort of game? (again...really?? That was a joke to you people??)
*note...I won't quote the Ferengi idiocy...but...why would a really obvious green blob of fluid on his hand go unnoticed by Mendoza?*
RAL: (sees Troi in her nicest dress) Much better.
TROI: Thank you. Come in for a drink?
RAL: (enters...sees her room) Ah...Federation decor.
TROI: Not your style?
RAL: Well...conformity is not my style. (*headdesk* this guy is worse than the worst college know-it-all drum-circle hippie...I feel some barf rising...)
TROI: What would you like (meaning to drink - Ral kisses her without any warning)
RAL: I'd even like another. (where the hell did this clown get his romance lessons...bar napkins and the neighborhood pimp?? She turns away, understandably freaked) Ah...there she is again...Counselor Troi. (if you don't immediately do me, you must be a stuck-up repressed ice queen)
TROI: I'm not! (anything but a freakin' skank!) Computer, Champaign.
RAL: For two. Am I moving too fast for you (you frosty wench!)?
TROI: No...I'm moving too fast for me (then stop! please quit demeaning your own gender!!)
RAL: I like that better. (*sigh*)
TROI: I haven't been able to stop thinking about you all day.
RAL: You must have had a very nice day (yeah...I'm all that and a bag of chips, home slice).
TROI: Anticipation is fun. (so is meaningless sex with guys I just met!!!! - they kiss passionately...for...some reason) We'll be late for dinner.
RAL: Very late (GIGGITY!!)
TROI: Devinonni Ral...who are you?
RAL: Well what do your Betazoid senses tell you about me?
TROI: Not much. My human physical response must be blocking them out.
TROI: It never happened to me before.
RAL: I rather like that I'm more difficult to read than your other men (quote an assumption...well...not really...she did sleep with YOU at the drop of a friggin' hat).
TROI: There are no others. Currently. (a fleet of men I banged for shits and giggles ending yesterday, but not today)
RAL: Who counsels the counselor?
TROI: Oh no...I want to know about you.
RAL: I'm what you see right now...just me...wanting to run away with you. (I've officially lost my will to live...)
TROI: When I first saw you, I felt as though I'd been waiting for you my entire life. I'm trying to figure out how or why that's possible.
RAL: Does it really matter? (incredibly...Troi shakes her head...I think at this point, I'd rather watch "Two Girls, One Cup")
RAL: I tucked my heart away. I didn't need it...I didn't want it. At the negotiating table...it can be fatal to have a heart. (who WROTE this drek???) But I never realized how much I needed mine...until I looked at you. (so...much...cheese...arteries clogging...having...chest pains...)
TROI: Sorry! (gets into position for some pornographic stretching...I can just see a million geeky Trekkies whacking it to this scene...it pains me...)
CRUSHER: You're unusually limber today.
TROI: I'll say...Devinonni Ral. It's ridiculous...and wonderful! I feel...completely out of control. My emotions are everywhere...terrified, giddy, happy...it's completely unreasonable (yes...yes it is)
CRUSHER: (wait for this one...) Who needs reason when your toes curl up? (Yep...a modern enlightened woman of the perfect tomorrow thinks sex is something you do DIVORCED from your BRAIN!! *sobbing in corner*)
TROI: I'm afraid I'm going to lose myself. I can't get enough of him. Is it really possible to fall in love in a day?
CRUSHER: I did.
TROI: It was like this for you and Jack?
CRUSHER: No! (this was during my sorority days...he was a total drunken loser!) It was another fellow. We fell in love in a day...it lasted a week. But what a week! (*please...kill me...*) Then I met Jack. Took me months to figure it out with him.
TROI: Well then maybe I should slow down...catch my breath...not let this thing get out of control. (oh thank God...maybe they're about to start using their brains...please please please...)
TROI & CRUSHER: Nah. (F***!)
*interlude with Ral conducting a bit of insider trading...the kind of thing that we Capitalists have outlawed for a reason..*
TROI: Why haven't you told anyone that you're an empath?
RAL: Because I find it makes people uncomfortable.
TROI: I think you don't tell them so that you can gain an advantage.
RAL: Well I gained an advantage when I used it with you. You didn't seem to mind it then. (That's right...this guy has such incredible bravado and disrespect for Troi that he actually TELLS her he played her like a freakin' FIDDLE to get her into bed...we've jsut gone from "to cheesy for words" to "downright unbearably insulting")
RAL: The point of negotiating is to take advantage. (FAIL Trek writers...negotiation amongst MOST business dealings is about creating win-win situations...one side has something the other needs and they work out a market deal for an equitable exchange) I don't know what they other side is offering...they don't know what I'm offering...(except all the offers are made publicly at this hearing...everyone knows what everyone is offering, you douchebag)...so we dance around each other until someone comes out on top (like I did with you last night, babe...awww, yeah!)
I could go on...but I think you get the point...there's another priceless scene at the end where Ral claims that Troi's punishing him by revealing his deception has changed him...made him realize he needs her to be his conscience and she thankfully sees through this story...but the worst is thankfully over.