The Price (ST:TNG Rewatch Season Three, Episode 7) Master Negotiator Beguiles Troi

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

As the Enterprise hosts negotiations for access to a wormhole shortcut to the Gamma Quadrant, Troi becomes intimately involved with one of the delegates.

A budget-friendly “bottle” episode that doesn’t feel cramped. We get to see Deanna’s routine, as she spends time decompressing in her quarters, working in her office, and socializing during a workout with Beverly. Meanwhile, Picard challenges Riker to level up his diplomat game.

Unmanned probes can’t get into arguments with pissy Ferengi flunkies, so the Enterprise sends Data and LaForge through the wormhole (for the plot, baby). The Ferengi are as annoying as ever, but they’re well suited to this story. While the wormhole visuals are wimpy compared to the effects they used a few years later for Deep Space 9, at the time they were impressive, and there’s a nice audio shout-out to the wormhole scene from Star Trek: The Motion Picture.

The briefing room scenes feature enough rival factions to provide for a few plot twists and establish the skill of Ral, the negotiator who takes an interest in Troi. Through dialogue we’re told the attraction is mutual, but camera angles that linger on Troi’s conflicted facial expressions make their PG-rated intimate scenes uncomfortable to watch.

This is not a great episode, but it uses the characters well, neatly converging the character-based drama with the Space Thing storyline when Troi makes a climactic Sherlock Holmes-esque deduction based on feelings she does not sense.