The Dauphin (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 10)

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

A pretty 16yo destined to bring peace to a war-torn planet falls for Wesley, but 1) her governess disapproves and 2) well… Wesley. The puppy-love story is cringe-worthily wholesome (influenced by the long dark adorable shadow of “The Wonder Years”), but still enjoyable.

Memorable character moments include Riker demonstrating his smooth talk on Guinan, and Worf describing Klingon mating rituals: “Women roar. Then they… Hurl. Heavy. Objects. (Leering grin.) And claw at you.”

The impressive-for-its-time shape-shifting VFX and some good “first-date-on-the-holodeck” visuals remind us that this little teen rom-com is set in space, though various alien costumes struck me as cheesy.

Some of the better-written Trek episodes make the subplot the surprise resolution to the main plot, but the various plot threads in this script seem forced.

This week the writers decided that Troi’s empathic powers would be good for establishing a vague tension but otherwise useless.

The script spends time developing a subplot that involves LaForge taking the warp engines offline, because apparently that’s a good thing to do right after the ship has taken aboard an alien head-of-state of a civilization the Federation knows almost nothing about.

Wesley gets distracted while on an errand for LaForge, then apparently asks Data to stop by his quarters (“You wanted to see me?”) to pump him for details about “the girl,” sets off an alarm by using a ray-zappy tool on “the wrong setting,” and is otherwise completely useless. The depiction of his lovestruck behavior goes beyond “isn’t that cute, he’s distracted” to genuinely incompetent, disruptive actions, which should have led to consequences (but don’t).

The ready-to-kill-to-protect-my-charge governess Anya’s brief appearance in a sisterly form (played by Mädchen Amick) is left undeveloped, and the time spent developing the governess as a potential threat and then the additional time spent redeeming her character seems forced. Before the dauphin has actually been delivered to her destination, the script has the governess/bodyguard chatting casually with Worf about her retirement, which is out of character — her mission isn’t over yet.

An awkward good-bye between the grateful Salia and a bitter Wesley is well-done, but I didn’t care for the cutesy finale. (Off-camera, Wesley has an unexplained change of heart, and shows up prepared for a better good-bye.)