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Cost of Living (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"Cost of Living"
TNG, Episode 5x20
Production number: 40275-220
First aired: 20 April 1992
119th of 176 produced in TNG
119th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
227th of 728 released in all
Parallax colony mud bath
Written By
Peter Allan Fields

Directed By
Winrich Kolbe
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Lwaxana Troi is on board the Enterprise-D to hold her wedding ceremony, and she also takes an interest in Worf's son Alexander, encouraging him to adopt her carefree ways.

Summary

Wind dancer

The wind dancer sentry

The USS Enterprise-D destroys an asteroid in danger of colliding with Tessen III, near Starbase 117. Meanwhile, Worf brings his son Alexander before Counselor Deanna Troi to resolve discipline issues. Troi decides there is little respect in their relationship, so she recommends they draft a "contract" outlining each other's responsibilities and chores. This way, they could stand on equal footing and both have say in what needs to be done. Although Worf is hesitant to allow Alexander to have equal footing, he agrees to it.

Lwaxana Troi comes aboard to hold her wedding ceremony to a local nobleman named Campio on the Enterprise. Picard expresses to Riker his dissatisfaction with "that woman" using the Enterprise as her personal rec room, as a nitrium parasite begins to infest the ship.

Lwaxana hears of her daughter's plan for Worf and Alexander, and she notes that contracts are usually made between two parties who do not trust one another, and that it would not be equal in any case because Alexander would have no way of policing Worf's commitments. This logic compels Alexander to begin to spend more time with Lwaxana.

Lwaxana takes Alexander into the holodeck for entertainment, despite his prior obligations to his father and Deanna. She takes him on the Parallax colony program, a society of unusual, fun-loving souls, for a relaxing mud bath.

Deanna and Worf confront Lwaxana, demanding that she stop undermining their efforts to instill Alexander with responsibility. Campio proves himself to be an ill fit for Lwaxana, demanding that she resolve business before she goes to the holodeck for fun, and that she address him with respect and reverence. Campio's assistant, a man named Erko, is appalled by her behavior. Lwaxana, caught at the hub of three completely different conversations all taking place in the same room at the same time, flees with Alexander to the holodeck the moment everyone's backs are turned.

The parasite begins to infest the entire ship, eating systems away. La Forge, Data, and Picard devise a strategy to get rid of it - find an asteroid field rich in nitrium, and use the deflector dish to send a nitrium beam to lure the parasites to the field. Unfortunately, the parasite is eating away at the warp system, and the life support system begins to fail. It is now up to Data to fly the ship to the asteroid field, configure the deflector, and rid the ship of the problem.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 45733.6. Temporary repairs to the ship have been completed. Our attention now turns to matters of a more festive nature."

Lwaxana finally proceeds with the wedding. Campio, and especially Erko, are disturbed to find that as per the Betazoid custom she has arrived in the nude. She winks at Alexander, who remains respectful of her spirit. Erko covers Campio's eyes and they retreat. Lwaxana remains a bachelorette.

Finally, Lwaxana, Alexander, Troi, and an irate Worf share a mud bath together.

Memorable Quotes

"Deanna, I love you but you do make everything sound like an epitaph."

- Lwaxana


"What would you like your father to promise, Alexander?"
"No yelling."
"I DO N... I do not yell."
"Well, then you should have no trouble with that part."

- Troi, Alexander and Worf during a counseling session


"It may be hard to imagine right now but eventually most children come to appreciate their parents."
"Riker to Counselor Troi. Your mother has just come aboard."
"On the other hand..."

- Troi to Alexander on his problems with his father only to be told by Riker her mother has come aboard


"Uh, you see, we haven't exactly met yet, really."

- Lwaxana Troi on Campio, the man she plans to marry


"My dear, don't they ever let you change those colorless outfits?"

- Lwaxana to Deanna


"Of course he's unreasonable, he's a child!"

- Lwaxana Troi to Worf


"I'm supposed to do everything right all the time. I don't know how."
"To tell you the truth, little warrior, neither do I..."

- Alexander and Lwaxana


"You know, making little boys reasonable only gives them pimples."

- Lwaxana Troi


"Well who else are you gonna fight with if not your friends?"

- Lwaxana Troi


"I exposed you to all sorts of mixed messages when you were that age, and you still turned out deadly dull."

- Lwaxana Troi to Deanna


"And you are doing this to your own child, Mr. Woof?"
"It is Worf, Madam."

- Lwaxana and Worf


"Life's true gift is the capacity to enjoy enjoyment."

- Lwaxana Troi


"Nothing would please me more than to give away Mrs. Troi."

- Picard


"Wedding gown? You mean you won't be naked at your own wedding!?"

- Deanna Troi


"The higher, the fewer."

- Alexander


"You're just supposed to sit here?"

- Worf in the mud bath


"Every one of us has a thousand different kinds of...of little people inside of us. And some of them want to get out and be wild, and some want to be sad or happy or inventive or...or even just go dancing. That's why we all have so many different urges at different times. And all those different little people inside of us...we must never be afraid to take them with us, wherever we go."

- Lwaxana Troi


"I'm alone, Alex."

- Lwaxana, to Alexander


"Isn't it wonderful how things worked out, Alexander? I wanted to teach you how to grasp the joys of living. And then you turned around and... taught me to not let go of them. How very mutual."

- Lwaxana Troi

Background Information

Production

  • "Cost of Living" was filmed between Tuesday 4 February 1992 and Thursday 13 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. Second unit and inserts for this episode were filmed on Friday 14 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 8 and 16 and on Friday 6 March 1992 on Paramount Stage 9 and 16.
  • The production meeting for this episode took place on Friday 31 January 1992 at 2:00 p.m. ("The First Duty" call sheet)
  • Lwaxana's line of dialogue in which she tells Alexander, with noticeable sadness, that she is alone, likely had personal significance for Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who lost her husband, Gene Roddenberry, only four months earlier.
  • On Tuesday 4 February 1992, the Make-A-Wish Foundation kids Nichlas Frank and Michael Amidel visited the sets with their families. ("Cost of Living" call sheet)
  • On Monday 10 February 1992 the cast and crew had the "French Hours". On this day, catering for breakfast and lunch was provided by a catering service on Paramount Stage 10. ("Cost of Living" call sheet)
  • On Thursday 13 February 1992 Good Morning America was on set. They filmed a live feed between 4:00 and 6:00 a.m. and a wrap up between 6:00 and 8:00 a.m. All main cast members except Brent Spiner were picked up by a limo at home. Regular background talent Mark Lentry was also part of this airing, in full makeup as a Romulan. ("Cost of Living" call sheet)
  • First UK airdate: 3 May 1995
  • A scene that can be found in the script, but was apparently cut from the final episode, had Troi and Worf discussing their frustrations with parenting, from the perspectives of being a parent and being a child respectively. Troi remembers an event in which her mother embarrassed her on her sixth birthday party, and claims that she often feels like she is the parent and her mother the child. The conversation concludes with Troi saying it's been said that grandparents and grandchildren get along so well because they have a common enemy. This deleted scene appears in full on the TNG Season 5 Blu-ray set.

Sets and props

Continuity

Cast

Awards

  • This episode won two Emmy Awards. Only four other episodes of Trek have won this many. It won for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Costume Design for a Series (Robert Blackman) and Outstanding Individual Achievement in Makeup for a Series. It was also nominated for Outstanding Individual Achievement in Hairstyling for a Series.

Reception

  • A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, pp. 20-21.
  • Director Winrich Kolbe remembers, "That was fun. Majel was terrific. It's a fast-moving show, and it was slightly different because we had comedic elements in there. It gave us a different pace. These shows could be rather boring if they all go with the same direction, same philosophy, same sets, same actors. After a while, you just want to throw up your hands and say, 'Ok, guys, you know what to do.' You want to go to the director of photography and say, 'Just shoot the damn thing. You can reach me at my home number.' This type of episode is exciting to me. I suddenly had to direct comedy. The pace is different. It was a real challenge and I loved it. I had never met Majel before, and I understand she didn't know who the hell I was. When I came in with my German accent, she did a double take. We had a tremendous rapport and loved working together. I wouldn't mind doing another Majel show in the sixth season." (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, p. 32)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

Stand-ins & photo doubles

References

apple; Betazoid; Betazoid wedding; Bussard collector; chrondite; Conference of Judges; contract; deflector; exanogen gas barrier; garment reprocessor; Holy Rings of Betazed; holodeck; hydrogen; Jefferies tube; jestral tea; juggler; K'Ehleyr; Koropian princess; Kostolain; Kostolain starship; kumquat; mandarin orange; Moselina system; mud bath; mud pool; nitrium; nitrium parasite; Parallax colony; particle beam; Pelloris field; Petrokian sausage; photon torpedo; pimple; poet; Protocol Master; pumpkin; red alert; Sacred Chalice of Rixx; Shiralea VI; Ten Forward; Tessen III; tractor beam; turbolift


Previous episode:
"The First Duty"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5
Next episode:
"The Perfect Mate"

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