Sunday, February 5, 2012

The Price

*** (3 stars out of 5)

Not Vincent, Not Fisher, but Wormhole. For the right price, somebody gets the only known stable wormhole from Barzan II to the Gamma Quadrant. Well, don't all volunteer at once. It's a wormhole, people! A wormhole.

"God forbid I should miss my first look at the wormhole," Troi snarks.

Barzani Premier Bhavani must choose between the offers of friendly Mendosa from the Federation, towering scholarly Leyor of the Caldonians, and smarmy Devinoni Ral, representing the neutral Chrysalians.

And, barging in at the last minute, the Ferengi, bag of gold in hand. They were not invited.

"Fine, fine, just have your Klingon servant get us some chairs," groans DaiMon Goss.

Intrigue and back-stabbing ensues as a reminder that humans are above all that sort of thing in the twenty-fourth century.

Ral takes it upon himself to get Troi to "leave the office" and "let her hair down". Also, he gets her replicator tipsy for some 'Downtown Devinoni', as no one has ever called it.

Troi brags about her boudoir adventures to Beverly at their two-person aerobics class. As a reminder that humans are above all that sort of thing... never mind.

Goss' subordinate Dr. Arridor distills Goss's Ferengi blood into a fast-acting contact allergen to incapacitate Mendosa with a handshake. Riker must take Mendosa's place in the negotiations due to his skills in poker.

"Poker? Is that a game of some sort?" Riker ponders. Myself, I ponder how that even works. Not disparaging Riker, but nobody else is a trained diplomat? In a crew of a thousand? I guess it really is just science geeks, gearheads, or jarheads. Hope they never have to make first contact with anything on their ongoing new-life-seeking-out mission. (Really, Riker's fine, I'm just being a dork.)

In bed for a massage, (with Troi, not Riker) Ral reveals his secret: he's one-quarter Betazoid empath and uses it to manipulate people. Shocked! Shocked and appalled! Also, scarred. Scarred for life.

Data and Geordi look the gift wormhole in the mouth, since "Magic Door to ANYTHING" could include, well, Borgs. Not trusting the human's word, Arridor and Kol tag along.

Geordi and Data discover the wormhole is unstable at the other end. It strands the stubborn Ferengi in the Delta Quadrant. Refusing to listen to Geordi's warning to get gone, the speculators are lost 70,000 light-years from their mother ship. I hope they went tinkles before they left.

Ral turns an argument about his ethics with Troi around, asking whether her conscience is entirely clear for her empathic edge.

Ral also taunts Riker with the 'I've Got your Girl' Maneuver. Riker turns that around neatly: "She's just the woman to bring some meaning to your sorry existence, if you're smart enough to take it. I doubt you are."

Ral made a side deal with Goss. If Goss kicked up a fuss with some missiles and some brinksmanship, the Chrysalians would win the bid and cut the Ferengi in. Troi blabs this scheme to the Premier, resolving her ethics and effectively ending her tryst with Downtown Devinoni Ral.

He claims to have had a change of heart, but Troi's through playing the sucker for dark and handsome bad boys...!

"The Price" comes from the 2360's, or as it was later known: 'The Me Decade'. Ramping up greed and sex in one fell swoop, Ral seems like an oddly despicable, self-indulgent type for a human of the high-moral values, commodity-free, 'enrich yourself' world of 'Star Trek: The Next Generation', doesn't he? But, admit it, there's always gonna be a Harry Mudd.

Stable wormhole, huh? Lost in the Delta Quadrant, huh? I don't see 14 seasons worth of T.V. in THOSE premises.

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