When Lwaxana Troi arrives on board the Enterprise to help the telepathic Cairn learn how to communicate through spoken language, something seems different about the usually fun-loving ambassador. Is it the stress of teaching the Cairn, or is there something darker lurking beneath the surface?
This is an odd episode. It suffers somewhat for being the second dream-sequence heavy episode in a row, albeit one that tries to tackle deeper and darker material than we saw in Phantasms. With a cynical eye, it’s easy to say that these sudden revelations of tragic personal backstory for the main characters are often the signs that a series has gone on too long, it does at least give Lwaxana something to do other than be the comic relief.
View from the other end of the sofa
My viewing companion wholeheartedly loved this episode (either that, or he’s very convincingly trolling me). Here are some quotes.
“It was great, it was beautiful and it was wasted on its audience.”
“The best episode we’ve had in years…pure Hitchcock.”
“I love Dada.”
The good and bad of the Troi revelations
- Finally we understand why Lwaxana is so overbearing towards Deanna, and perhaps why she calls her “Little One” – it’s because she already lost one child.
- Was there really no extended family member or close friend on Betazed who, when told it was a matter of life and death, could tell Deanna about Kestra?
- Is Lwaxana’s lust for life a reaction to the loss of her husband and daughter?
- Kestra’s “I have to go now” is painfully clichéd.
- In season one, Troi is surprised that Lwaxana’s valet is now Mr Homn rather than the previous incumbent, Mr Xelos. Here, Mr Homn has a photo of Kestra from 30 years ago. Was he a friend of the family before he ever came to work for them? If so, why did Deanna not seem to know him when he first visited the Enterprise?
- Crusher is worried that Lwaxana is overusing her telepathy whilst teaching the Cairn. Does this mean that Betazoids don’t communicate telepathically all that frequently? Or is it just that they have a healthier balance between telepathy and spoken communications? I guess we really need to know more about Betazoid customs, and also how their telepathic powers evolved.
Summary – Dark Page: Brilliant or banal? No consensus can be reached.