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Sub Rosa (episode)

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"Sub Rosa"
TNG, Episode 7x14
Production number: 40277-266
First aired: 31 January 1994
165th of 176 produced in TNG
165th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
305th of 728 released in all
Ronin
Teleplay By
Brannon Braga

Story By
Jeri Taylor (Based on material by Jeanna F. Gallo)

Directed By
Jonathan Frakes
Unknown (2370)
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Beverly Crusher attends her grandmother's funeral, but a mysterious entity that inhabited her grandmother is now focusing on her.

Summary

Teaser

Doctor Beverly Crusher reads a eulogy before her late grandmother's coffin on Caldos II, with Counselor Deanna Troi and Captain Jean-Luc Picard at her side, describing her grandmother, Felisa Howard, as a healer, and one who offers more than just a healthy body; she will miss her advice, healing, and most of all, her inspiration. Governor Maturin reads a modified version of the Anglican burial service as her coffin slowly descends beneath the ground. As the colonists circle the grave and the gravediggers begin to bury her, a camellia is thrown to the coffin. Crusher looks over and sees a mysterious man walking with the other colonists who stops and gives her one glance.

Act One

Troi compliments Crusher on the eulogy, and the doctor asks about the mysterious man she saw throw the camellia on the coffin, describing him as mid 30s with longish hair. Troi says she didn't see anyone that fits her description. Crusher notes that the camellia was her favorite flower, to which Troi responds by wondering whether he might be a friend or patient, but then Crusher mentions that he gave her a remarkable look. Realizing the need to get her grandmother's affairs in order, she heads to her house and Troi comes along with her.

Maturin asks Picard how long he plans on staying, to which the captain replies it would only be a few hours, and inquires why. Maturin explains to Picard that Caldos II was one of the first terraforming projects in the Federation, and the weather control infusion systems are a century old and he wouldn't mind having a starship engineer take a look at them, perhaps upgrade them, in exchange for a tour of the colony and some home-cooked meals. Since the USS Enterprise isn't due to Starbase 621 until the next morning, Picard graciously accepts the governor's offer. The tour is an intriguing offer to Picard as he remarks the colony impressive accomplishment, and describes the setting as being on Earth's Scottish Highlands. The governor says that's exactly what the colonists wanted. Every cornerstone was brought from cities in Scotland like Edinburgh, Glasgow, and Aberdeen. The founders had no intention of imitating Scotland, they wanted to recreate it. When asked what brought the governor to the colony, Maturin replies the culture and the heritage of the Scottish people. He visited Scotland's Glamis Castle when he was a boy and felt he was home when he gazed over the highlands.

At Crusher's grandmother's house, Troi glances at a picture of her and her grandmother and remarks how incredible Felicia's green eyes were. It was a Howard tradition where every woman in her family had green eyes, except her mother and herself, explains Crusher. She can remember her mother well, but remembers Nana more than her mother, who raised her after her mother died. Troi pictures the candle and says how beautiful it is. The candle is a family heirloom and has been in the Howard clan for generations and supposed to symbolize the enduring Howard spirit. Troi decides to return to the Enterprise and allow Crusher to have some time alone, which she appreciates. Wrapping herself in a blanket and reading her grandmother's journal, she goes upstairs.

Another man enters her house unannounced and blows out the candle. The sound of his breath causes Crusher to race down and demands he leaves the house. The man identifies himself to her as Ned Quint, Felicia's caregiver. This surprises the doctor as her grandmother made no mention about Quint, but he replies that there's a lot of things she never talked about and demands she gives up the heirloom. When asked why, he replies the candle has been a curse to her family for generations. Dismissing his claims as rubbish, Crusher forcefully asks Quint to leave. Before leaving, Quint warns her that he will not be responsible for what happens as long as she continues to be stubborn, just as all the other Howard women were.

Back on the Enterprise, Lieutenant Commander Data performs basic maintenance on the colony's primary systems. Maturin asks about the seismic stabilizers due to the fact they've been having tremors for the past couple of months. He then humors the android by saying how it's like to enjoy afternoon tea while the Earth is shaking. The governor is alerted by Geordi La Forge about a power fluctuation in one of the weather control substations that controls atmospheric humidity, the first problem noted with the systems in over twenty years. Data checks the weather patterns and discovers the formation of a storm system in the northern coastal area, which, according to Maturin, normally doesn't happen in the summer and now threatens the next day's caber toss.

Picard and Crusher discuss the entries in her grandmother's journal and was surprised to learn she had a younger lover, even though none of her grandmother's letters had mentioned him. The man is identified as 34-year-old Ronin, whom Felisa met shortly after Crusher's great-grandmother passed away; Ronin seems to match the description of the man who threw the camellia onto the grave. Picard explains to Crusher they'll be staying for a while longer, which gives her an opportunity to straighten out her grandmother's affairs. As she enters her quarters, Picard wonders why a man like Ronin would be dating Crusher's grandmother at his current age.

The heirloom begins to flicker in Crusher's quarters as she is sleeping soundly. The covers over her begin to slide away, as well as her nightgown begins to slide away exposing her shoulder, and Crusher reacts as if someone was kissing her on the neck. An eerie voice calls her name, causing her to rise from her bed in fear.

Act Two

Discussing the events the night before with Troi, Crusher explains to her she did not dream, but felt a presence with her. The experience she felt, especially when she was called out by her name, felt like she knew the person, or vice versa; it also was the most physical dream she ever had, as he knew how she likes to be touched. The sensations were real, and extremely arousing, which caused Troi to be envious of her. Crusher admitted she fell asleep after reading an erotic chapter in her grandmother's journal, going as far as detailing her experience with Ronin. She becomes curious if she would have another dream tonight, prompting Troi to suggest that she reads two chapters.

Back on the colony, and out of uniform, Crusher enters the cemetery with flowers for her grandmother's grave. She sees Quint putting the final touches of the grave and Quint suggests that he should leave so she can spend time alone. Crusher apologizes that they didn't start off well, and understands how much he meant to her grandmother. Quint admits that she would not find another like Felisa, and says that she has Felisia's fire. She offers Quint an olive branch and welcomes him to stay at the house to take care of it when she's away, but Quint swore he would never enter that house again, and advices her to do the same. He explains the house is haunted, and warns her not to light the candle or she'll bring out the ghost. "He's out now", he says, angry about being driven out. Quint blames the ghost on causing the storm that is about to occur. Crusher dismisses Quint's warning and explains the Enterprise is repairing one of the weather control substations that is malfunctioning. Quint asks her "Who do you think is causing the malfunction?" and warns her again not to light the candle or go into the house, or he'll be burying another Howard in the cemetery. As he turns to leave, the storm intensifies as thunder and green lightning begin to crackle. Crusher turns around and sees Felisa's grave covered in flowers. The storm continues to intensify as Crusher retreats to her residence.

Lieutenant Worf detects large pockets of atmospheric turbulence and regions of electrical activity. Picard orders this on the main viewer, and sees in Commander Riker's own words "one hell of a thunderstorm" that is growing in intensity. Data explains to the captain that what began as a power fluctuation has now spread throughout the control grid and has caused an unusual concentration of cumulonimbus activity around the colony. La Forge recommends they set up a power transfer between the Enterprise and the weather control substations to give them enough power to stabilize the storm.

Camellias

A gift from Ronin

Crusher returns to the house soaked, and is surprised to find the foyer of the house full of flowers.


Act Three

The door slams shut behind her as the fear level in Crusher rises. Asking if it was Quint in the house or someone else, she calls out for that person, and no one replies. Walking around the house, she calls out that she knows someone is in the house and suggests the person comes out. The mirror begins to tap against the wall, which she picks up and checks behind it to find nothing out of the ordinary.
Ronin's reflection

Ronin's reflection through the mirror

As she places it back, she finds a man in the reflection beside her, which frightens her, causing her to drop the mirror. She turns around and finds no one there, and warns whoever is in the house to show himself or she will contact the Enterprise and will have ten security guards down to the house in thirty seconds. The man calls her name and says he has come back for her and says that he was with her last night. Crusher dismisses it as a dream and reaches for her combadge to call the Enterprise. Suddenly she becomes dizzy and pain-stricken, leading her to drop her combadge to the floor. The mysterious visitor proclaims his love to her, just as he loved Felisa before. Crusher puts the pieces together and identifies the visitor as Ronin, who identifies himself as a spirit who lived in Glasgow in 1647. There he found a home with Jessel Howard, describing her as a pretty lass with red hair, and eyes like diamonds. She stayed with her daughter after Jessel died, and her daughter after her, and down on down the family clan through generations.

Wracked in fear and terror, she wanted to know how he came to Caldos, two hundred light years away from Earth. Ronin tells her when her family moved into the galaxy, he moved with them. Crusher doesn't believe him, but Ronin says he believes the Howard women are the most beautiful he has ever known. Crusher then feels a strange sensation as Ronin says they are becoming one. Something she doesn't understand, but nevertheless, wants him to stop.

Troi stops by Crusher's quarters on the Enterprise to see if she was going to mok'bara class tonight, but she plans to skip it, due to exhaustion. Troi is curious and asks if she had another dream, but the doctor says no, and everything is alright. Troi gets suspicious and asks if she was seeing someone, a suspicion proved correct when Beverly tries to dismiss it. Crusher simply says she met someone, but Troi's telepathic abilities says otherwise. Crusher admits defeat and reveals that she saw Ronin, her grandmother's lover. This man she says is unlike any man she met before, and is so passionate about her. It's a strange relationship says Troi, but nonetheless is very happy for her. Despite this, Troi offers her some advice: Ronin and Crusher both suffered a tremendous loss, and that shared tragedies can often create the illusion of closeness, and romance. Crusher appreciates her advice but dismisses it, simply saying she's interested, but not in love; with Ronin.

Data on foggy Enterprise-D bridge

A dense fog rolls into the bridge

In the turbolift, Maturin explains to Picard that he moved to the colony because it was a recreation of Scotland, but admits it's getting a little too real, and sneezes. When they step foot on the bridge, the deck is flooded with a dense fog. The cause is a malfunction in the ship's environmental controls, which is traced to the power transfer, which is creating a feedback from one of the weather control sub stations. Data is unable to terminate the connection as a feedback loop is preventing it from being shut off. He would have to go to the sub station itself and correct it from there. Picard agrees and decides to get his jacket in the meantime.

La Forge and Data determine that the weather control grid is experiencing a power failure. A problem that is impossible according to La Forge, but is interrupted by Ned Quint who is dismantling the primary power conduit. Data asks him to stop, but Quint will not. Data forces him to get up, but Ned warns both Starfleet officers to keep away from him and warns them the ghost is trying to kill them all. A shock of energy strikes Quint from the conduit sending him tumbling down near the feet of Data and La Forge. They both rush to check on him, and Data checks his pulse. He reads nothing, and grimly tells La Forge "He's dead..."

Act Four

La Forge summarizes that he was trying to shut down the entire weather control system, and a plasma discharge from the primary plasma conduit is what killed Quint. Maturin knew him and doesn't believe he would do something like this. Because of the tampering, another day would have to be added to the repairs, and Data lets the governor know the weather patterns will continue.

Crusher finds something and brings it to the attention of Data. It was not a plasma discharge that killed him, but an anomalous energy residual, which Data links to the malfunctions to the sub stations, and suggests they scan the colony for those same readings. Crusher asks Maturin to take Ned's body back to the ship for further tests, which he accepts; but she won't run the tests herself, quoting other matters she needs to attend to.

Back at the house, Crusher again makes contact with Ronin. He knows about Quint's death but tells her there is something more important they have to talk about. And so he appears in the flesh, claiming he can not stay in corporeal form for long and that he needs Crusher's help - he wants her to light the candle. Ronin confirms that he lives in the candle, that he weakens if he is away from it for too long. That is why the women in Crusher's family have kept it lit. The candle is on the ship, so as Crusher returns to get it, Ronin follows her, traveling along the power transfer beam in his natural form.

In her quarters back on the Enterprise, Crusher lights the candle, and Ronin appears again. He promises her they will be together as one, as it has been for the Howard women before her. He then transforms into his anaphasic state and merges with Crusher.

A distraught Picard walks in to the transporter room, where Crusher is getting ready to transport to the surface. He is holding a PADD displaying Crusher's resignation from Starfleet and demands an explanation. Crusher, who is all too anxious to get out of there, states that her intentions are to stay at the colony to be a healer and thus upholding the family tradition. As she has resigned from Starfleet, Picard is forced to let her go.

Act Five

Picard and Troi discuss what has happened in his ready room. She tells him that the attraction between Crusher and Ronin is intense and intimate, and that the counselor warned her that the relationship was very sudden but that Crusher did not want to discuss it. Yet Troi sensed there was something Crusher was not telling her. Picard characterizes this decision as sudden and ill-considered, and that it is not at all like Crusher to behave like this. Data comes in and informs the captain that he and La Forge have detected an energy residual that matches the anaphasic signature found on Quint's body. It is coming from the cemetery. Picard orders Data to go there and find the source. As Data and La Forge scan the cemetery, they discover that the energy readings are concentrated at Felisa Howard's burial site.

At the Howard house, Ronin tells Crusher that they will be completely merged soon and will become one. There is a knocking on the door; when Crusher does not react, Picard opens it by himself. He startles her, apologizes and say he would like to meet Ronin. Crusher tells him Ronin is not there. He asks her if she has changed the color of her eyes. He tells her that he preferred the color they used to be. Crusher becomes agitated and makes it clear to him that she is not going to change her mind, and asks Picard to leave. He says that he won't as he understands that something is wrong. He points out the fact that no-one but Crusher has even seen Ronin, so Ronin reveals himself to Picard, by coming down the stairs. Picard starts questioning him, asking where he is from and how long he has been on Caldos II. Ronin avoids the questions and tells Picard all that matters is that he and Crusher will be together for the rest of their lives. Data and La Forge hail Picard over the combadge and tell him of their findings at the cemetery. They request permission to exhume the body, but Ronin protests and urges Picard not to desecrate Felisa's grave. Picard orders Data to ask the governor's permission to exhume the body. Ronin threatens to go to the governor himself. Picard challenges him to do it, believing that the governor won't know who Ronin is and will have the same questions for him as Picard has. Picard continues to ask Ronin questions he can not answer until he turns in to his natural form and attacks Picard who is struck unconscious. Crusher takes out her medkit and starts to treat the captain. Ronin urges her to stop the exhumation, but she fears Picard will die if she leaves him. Ronin leaves for the cemetery and as Picard comes to he urges Crusher to go after him.

At the cemetery, La Forge and Data have the Enterprise transport the coffin out of the grave, where they lift off the lid and scan Felisa Howard's peaceful body. Data determines that there is anaphasic energy in her body and that it has extended to the cellular level. La Forge is surprised at this as Felisa was nowhere the weather station and in fact died of natural causes. All of a sudden, the dead woman sits up in her coffin, her eyes glowing green. She strikes Data and La Forge to the ground in the same manner as Ronin attacked Picard, green bolts shooting through their bodies. As her friends fall to the ground, Crusher screams "no!" across the cemetery. Ronin, in her grandmother's body, asks her to trust him. Crusher, holding the candle in her hand, scream at him to leave her grandmother's body. And so he does, materializing again as the young man who has followed the Howard women through generations. He asks for her forgiveness, as he was only trying to make sure they could be together. But she can see through his game now, realizing that she has been infused with the same energy that killed Quint. Now she understands what he is, not a ghost but an anaphasic lifeform that's been using her grandmother as a host in order to maintain molecular cohesion. She's scanned the candle and it turned out to be plasma based, used only as a receptacle in order to merge with Crusher, her grandmother, and those who came before them. Ronin defends himself, claiming he loved his hosts and that they loved him. He asks her to give him the candle and as she refuses, La Forge is treated to another energy charge. Ronin threatens to kill him if she doesn't comply. Reluctantly, Crusher sets the candle down on the ground between them. Quickly, she grabs La Forge's phaser and shoots the candle, destroying it, and then hails Riker and tells him to close off all the plasma conduits at the weather control stations. With no where left for him to go, Ronin says he has one last place: her. Ignoring her demands to keep away, Crusher fires at him, which weakens him. As Ronin throws himself at her in one final attempt to take her as his host, Crusher fires the phaser at him and the anaphasic lifeform is vaporized. Overwhelmed with grief over the fact she "killed" her lover, she drops the phaser and falls to her knees, crying.

Back on the Enterprise, Data and La Forge have recovered from their ordeal. Doctor Crusher is talking to Troi about the events of the last few days. Now she understands that Ronin had somehow found one of her ancestors, a woman who had a biochemistry that made her compatible as a host. Although relieved that she escaped the "family tradition", a part of her is sad. As she re-read the entries from her grandmother's diary, she realized that whatever else Ronin had done, he made Felisa very happy.

Memorable quotes

"When I was a boy, my family visited Glamis Castle in Scotland. As I looked out across the highlands, I felt as if I had come home."

- Governor Maturin


"It's a family heirloom. It's been in the Howard clan for generations. It's supposed to symbolise the enduring Howard spirit. Wherever they may go, the shining light to guide them through their fortune. Nana always kept it lit. I remember sitting here listening to ghost stories with only the candle burning."

- Beverly Crusher, about the candle


"Howard women... always the same stubborn fools."

- Ned Quint, to Beverly Crusher, Felisa Howard's granddaughter


"That candle has brought nothing but misery and bad luck to your grandmother."

- Ned Quint about the family candle


"That's verra kind of you, lass, but I'll ne'er set foot in that house again. And I recommend that you dinna, either."

- Quint denying Dr. Crusher's offer of staying at her house


"Think what you want. See what you want. Just do as I say. Dinna light that candle or dinna go to that hoose, or before you know it, they'll be burying another Howard in this cemetery."

- Quint, warning Dr. Crusher about the ghost

Background Information

Story and script

  • "Sub Rosa" originated from a pitch from freelance writer Jeanna F. Gallo. Jeri Taylor recalled, "The original spec script was that there have been aliens throughout history on Earth who had possessed people and they were responsible for much of what we called supernatural paranormal events. That writer had the idea of the Scottish kind of origins of Beverly. Rick and Michael were very distrustful of this story. They considered it a romance novel in space and felt the possibility for embarrassment was monumental, but I just knew it would work. It's a different kind of story for Star Trek to tell. It is a romance but we do have women in our audience and women do traditionally respond to romantic stories." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Taylor denied that the story was inspired by Anne Rice's The Witching Hour. She explained, "One of Brannon and my favorite movies is The Innocents, which comes from Henry James' Turn of the Screw. We saw this episode as a homage, and we packed in every sort of Gothic ghost story trick that one could imagine." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion; Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Consequently, the caretaker Ned Quint and Jessel Howard were a homage by Brannon Braga to valet Peter Quint and the governess Miss Jessel in The Innocents. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • Literally translated from Japanese, rōnin means "drifting person". Generally, however, it is used to refer to a Samurai warrior who lacked a master. Braga made up the name before learning the meaning in Japanese. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • Felisa was named for Braga's own grandmother, who had died shortly before this episode was written. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • The episode alludes to the preservation of religious traditions in a secularized form. At Howard's burial service, the mourners can clearly be heard uttering "Amen" and blessing themselves, but in reciting lines from the traditional Anglican burial service, Governor Maturin replaces "sure and certain hope of the Resurrection unto eternal life" with "sure and certain hope that her memory will be kept alive within us all."
  • The episode had the working title "Passions". [1]
  • The final version of the title is Latin for "under the rose," an expression meaning "secretly," as roses were displayed at Roman gatherings as a signal that what was said there was to be kept confidential. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)

Production

McFly

The tombstone of Caldos colony resident McFly

Continuity

Reception

  • The production staff noted that fan response to the episode was split along gender lines, with men hating "Sub Rosa" and women loving it. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Braga noted the show was not popular among who he dubbed "hard-core fans". "I've come to notice that whenever you infuse a show with sexual themes, some of these fans seem to short-circuit. I mean, the weather array malfunction causing thunderstorms – it was fun!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • René Echevarria recalled, "I can still reduce Brannon to shudders when I go into his office and say, 'I can travel on the power transfer beam'. But the cast loved it. Every woman on the lot who read it was coming up to Brannon and patting him. Ultimately I think it was worth doing because it was campy fun and the production values were wonderful. The sets look great and everybody threw themselves into it. Gates did a wonderful job. It just got bigger and broader and to the point of grandmother leaping out of the grave. Just having Beverly basically writhing around having an orgasm at 6 o'clock on family TV was great. For that alone it was worth doing. We got away with murder." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Naren Shankar was one of the story's early opponents. "It's a Gothic ghost story. Either you buy it or you don't buy it at all, and I was sort of in the latter category." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Ronald D. Moore stated, "I kinda liked it. I thought it was good to try a different genre on TNG and mix things up a little. It's not a perfect show by any means, but I'm glad we did it." (AOL chat, 1997)
  • Gates McFadden was praised for her performance in what she called the highlight of her season. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
    • Taylor remarked, "The lovemaking without a partner – this is not easy stuff to do and she committed herself to it completely." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
    • Braga commented, "It was the best performance I've ever seen. I just thought she did a wonderful job. Picard catches Beverly masturbating for crying out loud! What a tough role to play. When I was writing the words, 'She writhes around in the bed having invisible sex,' I just thought, 'Oh man, we're asking for trouble. Are they gonna be able to pull this off?' Thanks to [director] Jonathan Frakes and Gates, it was not hokey. It was very good. Look, I scripted the first orgasm in "The Game". This was mild by comparison. Sure it was racy. Even Rick Berman had said, 'I can't believe we're doing this.' I think they trimmed quite a bit out of the writhing sequences." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
    • Frakes opined, "I drew a good straw because it wasn't a Star Trek. It was more like Tales from the Crypt. Gates and I have worked well together and she was never better than in 'Sub Rosa' and never looked more beautiful. She looked like a movie star." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • At an Austin, Texas convention in 2012, Gates McFadden stated she wasn't very fond of this episode. "I was basically in love with a lamp! This woman is a doctor and falls in love with a lamp! How the hell does that work?" [2]

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

And

Co-star

Uncredited co-stars

Stunt double

Stand-ins

References

47; 1647; 2201; 2242; Aberdeen; anaphasic energy; anaphasic lifeform; aqueduct; biochemistry; caber toss; Caldos II; Caldos colony; camellia; candle; Celsius; cemetery; coffin; Crusher, Jack; cumulonimbus; Earth; Edinburgh; energy matrix; Federation; fog; funeral; ghost; Glasgow; Glamis Castle; governor; granddaughter; grandmother; grave; gravestone; groundskeeper; Howard, Isabel; Howard, Jessel; Howard family candle; McFly; McManus; mirror; mok'bara; painting; plasma conduit; power transfer beam; Scots; Scotland; Scottish Highlands; seismic stabilizer; Selar; September; Starbase 621; terraforming; thunderstorm; Vader; weather control system


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Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 7
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