4/22/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Price"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E08
Air Date: November 3, 1989
Written by: Hannah Louise Shearer
Directed by: Robert Scheerer

Premise
A gifted negotiator brought in to bid for the rights to a stable wormhole ends up shagging Deanna Troi.

Review
So Troi has clearly had a rough day, but just when she thinks she's about to sit down and relax while reading a ton of her mother's email, she's called to 10-Forward to witness the Barzan Wormhole coming into view. The Enterprise was called to host an auction for the rights to control the wormhole owned by Bhavani of Barzan II. The bidders include Seth "Captain Mustache" Mendoza, negotiating on behalf of the Federation; Leyor for the Caldonians; and Devinoni Ral, a human representing the Chrysalians. Ral also happens to be a yuppie and Troi, as it turns out, is really into that.

Before negotiations can start, a Ferengi, DaiMon Goss, shows up and whips out his hefty sack (of gold) onto the table. And now that everyone's there, preliminary bidding can begin. Except Ral decides he doesn't wanna get involved with the preliminaries and instead goes to Troi's office to hit on her. He invites her to dinner at 8 and a shag at 9. Meanwhile, Data and Geordi decide it would be a good idea to actually do some research on this unstable wormhole to see if it's actually a good investment for the Federation. Not wanting to be left out, Arridor and Kol, DaiMon Goss's assistants, demand to go with. This, however, is after they come up with a devious plan to take out Captain Mustache.
The Black Spot
Captain Mustache stumbles into sickbay after shaking hands with the Ferengi and he's out of negotiations, so Riker valiantly takes his place while Arridor and Kol go off on their mission to test the wormhole. In the meantime, Ral and Troi have their shag and apparently Troi really enjoyed it because she raves about it to Beverly in a workout session the following day. She also finds out that Ral is one quarter Betazoid and has the same empathic powers that she does. He has been using them to his advantage the whole time. She's not really sure about the ethics of this, but he brings up the idea that she does the same time when the Enterprise encounters an enemy that she reads.

Meanwhile, Data, Geordi, Arridor and Kol fly into the wormhole in separate shuttles to check it out. When they get on the other side, they take some readings and Geordi discovers that the wormhole is becoming more unstable. The only problem is he's the only one who can see it because of his VISOR. Arridor and Kol don't believe him, so when Geordi pilots the shuttle back through the wormhole while it's invisible to them, they stay behind until it becomes visible again. The only problem is that when it does... it immediately shifts away.
"But I had a tooth sharpening appointment!"
Ral uses his powers to easily persuade Leyor to drop out of bidding. Then he goes on to try and knock Riker off. The problem there is that he attempts to use Troi as his leverage. Which is a bad idea. Because Riker is totally cool with her seeing other men. So (almost) all of Ral's cards are now on the table when they go to negotiate again. But this time, they're interrupted by Goss threatening to destroy the wormhole. He says that a source has told him that the Federation had already negotiated a deal and that the Ferengi offer was never taken seriously, so he's going to destroy the wormhole so no one can have it. Except Worf is easily able to take out his torpedos and Troi senses that he's totally lying for some reason.

During all this hullabaloo, Riker is called out of negotiation to deal with it and Ral is left alone with Bhavani to finish negotiating. Ral comes out and announces that they have made a deal, and tells Goss that if he'll stand down, he'll agree to give them free passage through the wormhole. So, yay! Everything is cool, right? Well, not exactly... Troi sees the arrangement as extremely unfair. She knows that Ral has used his empathic powers to win the negotiations. She confronts Ral and senses a lot of tension in him, but the tension wasn't from the Ferengi confrontation, it was from her confrontation. She then reveals that he is empathic and has used his powers to manipulate the talks in his favor.
This is the face of a man who has just lost his brick cell phone.
Besides all that, Data and Geordi come through the wormhole and announce that it's too unstable; that the Federation shouldn't bid on it because it's basically a lemon. And now Ral is stuck with this lemon. DaiMon Goss asks where his guys are and Geordi reveals that they've been left behind in the Delta Quadrant because of how stupid they are. Maybe if Goss heads out now, he can catch up to them in about 80 years. So, there's only one more thing left for Ral to do: go home and explain to his boss that he just bought a worthless wormhole. But before he does that, he stops by Troi's place one more time and attempts to convince her to run away with him. In what is probably the best decision she's ever made, she turns him down.

Overall Thoughts
There's a lot of moving parts to this episode, just like there is with the wormhole. It's intricate, and I like that. The only problem I have is that there is a lot more focus on the love story between Ral and Troi than there probably should have been. To me, the interesting part was the wormhole part. But, hey, to each their own right? Some people like yuppie love stories.