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Man of the People (episode)

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"Man of the People"
TNG, Episode 6x03
Production number: 40276-229
First aired: 5 October 1992
128th of 176 produced in TNG
128th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
236th of 728 released in all
Deanna Troi rapidly aged
Written By
Frank Abatemarco

Directed By
Winrich Kolbe
46071.6 (2369)
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As an ambassador mediates peace talks to end a fierce civil war, Deanna Troi begins to act erratically after spending some time with him.

Summary

Teaser

"Captain's log, stardate 46071.6. We have been called to the aid of a transport ship which has been attacked near Rekag-Seronia. Hostilities between the two factions on that planet have intensified recently, threatening an important Federation shipping route."

As the USS Enterprise-D approaches the transport ship, two Rekag battle cruisers turn tail, unwilling to face the superior firepower of the Enterprise. The captain of the Dorian contacts the Enterprise with relief, explaining that he is carrying a mediator to Seronia. He asks Picard's permission to transfer him and his companion to the Enterprise.

In the transporter room, Counselor Deanna Troi meets Ambassador Ves Alkar and an elderly woman, Sev Maylor, his mother. The old woman immediately reacts to Troi with hostility and jealousy, accusing her of being attracted to Alkar. He explains that she hasn't been feeling well and asks that she be taken to their quarters.

Act One

In the captain's ready room, Alkar is discussing the situation with Picard and Admiral Simons over a subspace link. Alkar is worried that his arrival at Seronia aboard the Enterprise would cause bad feelings, and asks to be transferred to an unarmed Federation transport instead. Picard is concerned that this would invite another attack, and the admiral agrees with Picard, turning down Alkar's request, noting that safety is an issue.

Next morning, Alkar joins Troi at Worf's mok'bara exercise class. Troi chats pleasantly with him after the class. Alkar explains that Lumerians like him are only empathic with other members of their species, so he cannot tell what Troi is feeling. Troi says that she is curious about him, and explains that the calmness, serenity, and tranquility she is reading from him seems to embody the qualities he hopes to draw out from others in negotiations. Alkar explains how useful it could be to have an insight into other's feelings, and invites Troi to come with him to Seronia, to which she gladly agrees.

Back at his quarters, they have another disturbing encounter with Alkar's mother – she is annoyed that he is late, and asks Troi if she has mated with Alkar yet. Alkar guides the woman back into his room, and Troi leaves, looking concerned.

She is still thinking about the woman later, when Riker visits her quarters to discuss the staff evaluation reports. She talks it over with Riker, explaining that she sensed evil and malevolent feelings from the old woman. Riker puts her mind at rest, suggesting that this might just be due to old age and senility. They are interrupted by a message from Lieutenant Worf – there is an emergency in Alkar's quarters. Dr. Crusher administers 40cc's of inaprovaline, but the old lady dies anyway. Alkar is upset, and when Troi offers to help, he asks her to help him to perform a funeral rite for his mother.

The meditation involves two crystal encrusted rocks which Alkar keeps in a special box in his room. After reciting ritual words, Alkar taps on Troi's rock with his. A blue glow is transferred from Alkar's rock to Troi's, and she looks shocked as this happens. Alkar smiles and says "Thank you."

Act Two

In her quarters, Troi appears to be uncomfortable in her clothes, shifting them about as if she were too hot. She asks the computer to run through her appointments for the morning, then gets annoyed and tells it to cancel them.

Dr. Crusher has been unable to determine the cause of death of the old woman, but Alkar has refused permission for her to perform an autopsy. Crusher asks Picard to speak to him, but he decides that since her death poses no threat to the ship, the customs of Alkar's people must be respected.

Troi has changed her clothes, and is running through Worf's calming exercises, but then she begins touching herself in a sensual manner, and goes to Alkar's quarters. There, she attempts to seduce him, but he refuses her, saying that their relationship can't be like that. She storms out angrily. In the turbolift, an attractive young man enters. Troi looks at him suggestively.

Later, Riker calls on Troi in her quarters. She is wearing a sexy evening gown, and as Riker comes in the young man from the turbolift jumps to attention nervously as he sees Riker. He leaves, and Troi asks Riker if he's bothered by the young man's presence. Troi keeps insisting that Riker must be upset, while Riker tries to concentrate on the evaluation reports. Realizing that she's not in the mood to work, Riker leaves, concerned at Troi's unusual behavior.

Act Three

"Captain's log, stardate 46073.6. We have arrived without incident at Rekag-Seronia where two members of Ambassador Alkar's delegation have been waiting. They have joined us to report on the situation in the capital city."

There have been several violent incidents, despite the fact that a ceasefire had been negotiated. Now, neither side is willing even to sit down with the other unless it's on neutral territory. Picard suggests a meeting at the city of Darthen, which has been neutral throughout the conflict, and contains both Rekag and Seronian people in its population. Alkar accepts this suggestion and asks to set up such a meeting.

Counselor Troi is at work. A female crew member is having problems with her superior being overcritical. Rather than being sympathetic, Troi takes the lieutenant's side and tells her client that she's being pathetic and if she doesn't shape up she should consider leaving the Enterprise altogether for an easier assignment. She is taken aback by this and leaves, looking upset, while Troi appears to be unaware of the effect her outburst has had.

Dr. Crusher enlists Geordi La Forge's help to look up Sev Maylor's biofilter record from the transporter, since she cannot do an autopsy. Crusher is surprised to find that the comparison between this and her medical readings shows massive physiological deterioration of Maylor's body in just the three days since she transported aboard.

In Ten Forward, Riker comes to tell Alkar that the warring sides have agreed to a meeting. Deanna Troi shows up in a very sexy dress, before confronting Alkar's female aide in a jealous fashion, similar to the way Maylor had attacked her earlier. Riker steps in to smooth over the situation by pretending Troi is needed elsewhere and escorting her out of Ten Forward. He takes her back to her quarters, but when he too refuses her attempts at seduction, he gets four deep scratches across the back of his neck with Troi's nails for his trouble. Shocked and horrified, Riker leaves.

Act Four

Troi stands in the darkness in her quarters. Alkar comes to talk with her, explaining that he cannot take her to the surface any longer. When Troi turns, her appearance has altered – she now looks noticeably middle-aged. Troi is jealous and emotional about the fact that Alkar is going to the surface without her now. As he leaves, she is literally screaming up the corridor after him.

While the doctor is fixing up the scratches on his neck, Riker is expressing his concerns about Troi's wild behavior. Crusher asks the computer to locate Troi and takes Riker with her to see Troi immediately, but Troi is at the transporter room where Picard is taking leave of the ambassador. Once again, she begs to be allowed to go with him. She now looks much older than the last time we saw her, and has a knife. She wrestles with the captain, stabbing him during the scuffle; until the transporter operator drags her off him. At this point, Crusher and Riker rush in, with some security guards, and Troi is taken to sickbay.

Nurse Ogawa notices that Troi is showing elevated neurotransmitter levels similar to those seen in Maylor's body. Now that there appears to be a threat to the Enterprise crew, Crusher requests Picard's permission to perform an autopsy. Picard attempts to contact Alkar on the planet, but he is unavailable, so Picard grants Crusher permission to proceed.

"Medical log, stardate 46075.1. I have performed an autopsy on Alkar's mother, but instead of answering our questions the results have created an even deeper mystery."

Crusher is confused to find that, despite Maylor's appearance of great age, the organs in her body were those of a 30-year-old. Also, a DNA comparison between Maylor and Alkar shows that they were not, in fact, related. Crusher reports these strange findings to Picard saying that she needs answers from Alkar urgently if she is to save Troi's life.

Picard beams down to the surface with Lieutenant Worf. Alkar readily admits that the lady he was with was not his mother, but when Picard further notes that she was not 93 either, Alkar accuses him of performing an autopsy against his wishes. Picard says he had good reason, and presses Alkar for answers to help Troi's condition. Alkar's aide interrupts them to explain that the talks are at crisis point. Alkar seems unconcerned, and explains to Picard that now, the point at which expectations are lowest, is the point at which his influence can do the most good.

Alkar explains the situation to Picard, saying that he found a way to channel his darker thoughts into others, leaving him better able to perform mediations. He explains that Maylor, his current receptacle, had died earlier than he expected, leaving him in a predicament that Counselor Troi could solve for him by taking her place. However, as a non-Lumerian, Troi's aging process was faster than he expected. Alkar attempts to justify his use of other people in this way by talking of how many lives he saves by being a good negotiator, but Picard is disgusted with his attitude, calling him a coward for exploiting the innocent because he is unwilling to face his own unpleasant emotions. He is determined to hold Alkar accountable for his actions.

Alkar explains that he has no intention of releasing Troi, now or ever, and gets his security guards to disarm Worf, forcing Picard and Worf to beam back aboard the Enterprise while he returns to the negotiations.

Act Five

Picard asks Worf to work with La Forge on breaking through their shields to beam Alkar back to the Enterprise and goes to see Dr. Crusher and Troi in sickbay.

Crusher suggests a way to reduce and reverse the stress on Troi's system, but it will only work if the link to Alkar is broken. When Picard explains Alkar's intention to use Troi as his receptacle until she dies, Crusher realizes the best way to make Alkar sever the link is to convince him that she really is dead. Crusher explains to a shocked Riker that she will be able to revive Troi as long as her body is dead for no longer than 30 minutes. Picard is also worried about the safety of Alkar's next likely victim, Liva, his female aide.

Back on the surface, the peace negotiations have been successfully concluded. Alkar suddenly stumbles, feeling a moment of weakness. Picard communicates, telling Alkar that Troi is dying and he must transport to the Enterprise, whether he wants to or not. La Forge has managed to breach the Seronian's security force fields. Alkar grudgingly agrees.

Alkar and Liva enter sickbay to hear Crusher pronouncing Troi dead. Alkar sends Liva to his quarters while attempting to justify his actions to the Enterprise crew, saying that Troi's death served a purpose in bringing peace to Rekag-Seronia. Picard promises that Alkar will answer for what he did, but Alkar reminds the capatin that the Federation Council has granted safe passage, and expects him to honour it.

After he leaves, Picard asks the transporter room to be ready to beam Alkar's aide out of his quarters at his signal. Worf is to be stationed outside his quarters to prevent Alkar getting close to her again.

In his quarters, Alkar seems nervous. He is telling Liva how much Troi helped him, and how affected he has been by her loss. Then he asks Liva to share the funeral meditation with him.

In sickbay, Crusher is preparing her attempt to revive Troi. She gets Troi's heart beating again, and begins the treatment to neutralize the excess neurotransmitters. Troi's eyes flutter open just as Alkar is completing the ceremony – he clutches his head in pain and collapses on the floor. As Liva starts to bend over him, he clutches desperately at her. She breaks away, and Picard beams her out as Alkar – who is noticeably aging now – lurches after her. Alkar opens his door to find Worf blocking his way. Finally, he collapses on the floor and dies.

In sickbay, Troi looks young again, and is relieved to see Riker standing over her, grasping her hand.

Later, Riker explains to Troi that Alkar was at a susceptible point in his ceremony, so that rather than just sever the link, Troi's revival at that point caused all the negative energy to flow back from Troi into Alkar, causing his death. Liva has not been affected by him.

Troi thanks Riker for looking after her, and they share a friendly kiss. Riker says he will always look after her – even when she is old and grey.

Memorable Quotes

"Captain, I get no payment. I have no power base, no agenda. I'm willing to risk my life simply to help others."
"Do you think that makes you appear courageous? Because you're mistaken! You're a coward, Alkar. You exploit the innocent because you're unwilling to shoulder the burdens of... unpleasant emotions. Well, this time you will be held accountable."

- Ves Alkar and Picard


"Don't pursue him! I'll stop you!"

- Sev Maylor

Background Information

Story and script

  • "Relics" was initially intended to be filmed in this episode slot, but was pushed back due to the schedule of guest star James Doohan. Consequently, this episode was written in a rush. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 217)
  • The premise for the episode is based upon The Picture of Dorian Gray by Oscar Wilde. Both Dorian Gray and Ves Alkar maintain a youthful appearance by having something else (in Gray's case, a portrait of himself) bear the burden of their transgressions. The transport at the beginning of the show is named Dorian in reference to the novel. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 257-258)
  • Due to the time crunch, the writing staff 'gangbanged' the script, with each writing an act and Frank Abatemarco tying the acts together. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 258)
  • It was up to science advisor Naren Shankar to suggest how Troi could be freed from the telepathic link. He recalled, "It was a difficult script and there are things in this that changed a number of times. My original idea was that this psychic link had set up some kind of conduit between the two of them, and my idea was to have them do something that wasn't mental, but something that was physical like his basically charging her up. If this was a one-way pathway from this guy to Troi, the idea would be to put so much energy into Troi that she could force it backwards in the direction of the power transfer and overwhelm the guy and get rid of all that energy in her body." According to Shankar, the idea of killing Troi was suggested by Ronald D. Moore and Brannon Braga. He called it "a nice touch". (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 258)

Production

  • Of her performance in this episode, Marina Sirtis recalled, "I played it like these were underlying parts of Troi that she controlled or managed to suppress. And just looking in the mirror was all I needed to change. When I look in the mirror and see Troi, it's a very soft and gentle look. In the scene in Ten Forward where my hair was up, I saw Anne Bancroft in the mirror. I saw Mrs. Robinson and that's what I played. Basically, a lot of the performance is governed by the way that one looks. Some actors say they put the shoes for the characters on first and figure out the walk. I look in the mirror and play whatever I see in the mirror – especially when it's a make-up thing like in 'Man of the People,' where the old person was a witch and that's who was in the mirror, so I played a witch." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 258)
  • This is one of the few episodes where the vertical blinds in Doctor Crusher's office in sickbay are opened and a corridor can be seen behind the window. In "Encounter at Farpoint", a starfield can be seen out the window.
  • This was the first Trek episode to have Jonathan West as director of photography, after Marvin V. Rush moved over to Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Unlike the change to Rush from Edward R. Brown in Season 3 though, this did not result in a large change to the show's visual style, with only a few subtle differences being introduced by West.
  • Among the items from this episode which were sold off on the It's A Wrap! sale and auction on eBay, was the evening dress of Marina Sirtis. [1]
  • This is the first episode to feature the newly sounded red alert lights, which is longer between each time it sounds.
  • First UK airdate: 26 July 1995

Reception

  • Many members of the production staff felt that this episode suffered from the rushed script. Jeri Taylor commented, "[Frank Abatemarco] was a seasoned veteran, but it wasn't a fair introduction for him. It remained for his later work for everybody to realize that perhaps this wasn't for him." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 217) In contrast, René Echevarria maintained, "It was a surprisingly good draft considering five different people wrote it. Some shows always do that." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 258)
  • Brannon Braga had more fundamental problems with the show. He commented, "I would have done it differently. I would have made it darker and much more a story about Troi's dark descent from the psychological point of view. A scene we all wanted to see was Troi giving therapy to a young ensign – but make it twice as long and twice as dark as the one that was filmed, and make it much more of a Hannibal Lecter thing. This was a case where Frank Abatemarco saw a different show. He was focusing in on the show as a Prime Directive issue and looking at the character of the guy who was using Troi as a receptacle. To me, that was the utterly incorrect instinct. After six years, who cares about Prime Directive issues? It's a Star Trek cliché. It should have been all about Troi and he would have been the catalyst in two brief scenes. The first three acts were still fun. It was enjoyable to see Troi acting strange and dressing in skimpy outfits. There was some argument in the structuring sessions. Ultimately, Frank was the writer and he was given the opportunity to do it the way he wanted to do it, and it suffered because he was new to the show." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 258)
  • Director Winrich Kolbe remarked, "I am very happy with it. There are obviously some problems with the script, but what intrigues me is that I took a script that had problems and came out with a damn good show. Marina was really terrific. She knew it was her show and was prepared for it. I think the only thing that I occasionally did was push her a little bit harder to be a vamp." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 258)
  • Indeed, Michael Piller and Ron Moore, among others, credited Sirtis' "sexy but scary" performance for lifting the episode. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 217)

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt doubles

Stand-ins

References

2276; 2349; autopsy; biofilter; blood pressure; cc; ceasefire; cerebral cortex; cordrazine; cortical stimulator; counselor's office; crew evaluation report; Darthen; DNA; Dorian; dylamadon; emotion; empathy; Federation; Federation Council; flagship; Fratis, Jeffrey; funeral meditation; ice cream sundae; immune system; imzadi; inaprovaline; Lumerian; Lumerian homeworld; mediator; melorazine; molecular biology; mok'bara; neural energy; neurotransmitter; painting; Pinder; receptacle; red alert; Rekags; Rekag battle cruiser; Rekag-Seronia; Rekag shuttle; senility; security field; sensor pallet; Seronians; Seronian fighter craft; Starfleet Academy; stasis field; subspace emitter; transport ship; tricorder; turbolift


Previous episode:
"Realm of Fear"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6
Next episode:
"Relics"

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