Haven (TNG Rewatch, Season 1, Episode 10)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break.

This low-stakes, character-driven rom-com pulled off everything it set out to do — fill out the romantic backstory between Riker and Troi, showcase Patrick Stewart’s comic timing, and set up an apparently unrelated B plot as the surprise resolution to the A plot. In her first of many appearances as Troi’s mother, Majel Barrett Roddenberry not only delivers flamboyant and eccentric, she also surprised me by conveying depth. I found myself smiling at many scenes, and forgiving the awkward bits instead of cringing.

I liked Picard’s very natural inquiry whether Troi’s intended husband would join her on the Enterprise — it’s nice to imagine employers of the future will be so family-friendly. I also enjoyed watching Data and Yar as each, in their own way, finds something to enjoy about the escalating tension within the wedding party.

My complaints about this episode are pretty minor. I can forgive that security on the ship is just slack enough to permit assorted story developments (Yar beams aboard a completely unknown object so that a golden face can announce some exposition, and a civilian too easily overpowers a transporter operator), and I can forgive that Troi has to consult the writers before she can or can’t read another character’s specific thoughts in a given scene. But by ending a crisis briefing with a demand for answers, and then issuing an invitation to attend Troi’s wedding announcement party, Picard is not exactly helping his staff to prioritize.

Still, there’s plenty to like. On the nerdy side, a closeup shot of the Terellian vessel shows some nice details.  We see Riker relaxing in his quarters watching a hologram of attractive women playing harps — and he’s clearly annoyed when he’s called away. In Crusher’s lab we see another closeup on the flat plastic panels the crew has been using as tablets. (I have been watching for appearances of the iconic PADD tablets, and so far have only caught glimpses, as if the prop folks aren’t yet confident they have come up with anything worthy of a closeup.)

Seeing Picard try to show gentlemanly deference to Lwaxana was amusing, not only for its surface comedy, but also because it’s clear Picard is doing this out of respect for Troi and her culture’s traditions. The comedy with the (mostly) silent valet Mr. Homm is by the book, but it’s a good book.

Three scenes that worked particularly well for me all involved the guest star Wyatt, Deanna’s intended. A scene on the holodeck that begins as a emotionally charged “We’ll always have Paris” scene between Will and Deanna turns surprisingly sweet when Wyatt shows up and he and Deanna start warming up to each other. After we have just seen Mrs. Troi being pretty horrible at the party, it was a pleasant surprise to see her turn so believably wise and empathetic when Wyatt goes to her for advice. A third scene that worked was a long scene with no dialogue, just music, as Wyatt discovers he made the right choice.

I must have been home on break when this episode first aired, because I have a memory of my mother walking past the living room and glancing at the TV just in time to hear Lwaxana chirp, “How do you like the new hairstyle? Of course, it’s gong to look much better on me when I’m naked.” (Awkward!)