Half a Life (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 4, Episode 22) Lwaxana Meets Cogsworth

Rewatching ST:TNG

The teaser sets up another comic episode with Lwaxana Troi, and the first few acts deliver accordingly.

This time, Lwaxana (Majel Barett) sets her sights on Doctor Timicin (David Ogden Stiers), a reserved scientist focused on saving his world’s dying star.

This episode has many long scenes of Space Science, some of which exist simply to be interrupted by Lwaxana’s antics, but one is an overlong bridge scene where Picard gives orders and the other characters look intensely at computer monitors. Such gripping dialogue!

Laforge: One-ninety. And now two hundred million.
Timicin: It’s happening.
Laforge: Two-oh-seven and rising.

When the Space Science goes wrong, we see Lwaxana try to cheer Timicin by flirting with him. Her motives are not completely altruistic, but she shows surprising tact and sincerity.

The plot pivots from comedy to drama when Lwaxana learns that Timicin’s civlization practices a ritual suicide at age 60. To Timicin, the “resolution” is a beautiful ceremony that will in a few days bring meaning to his life. Lwaxana’s pushiness takes on a new meaning, motivated by her newfound personal concern for Timicin and her frustration with the Federation’s noninterference policy.

This episode uses the Space Thing of the Week as an integrated part of the plot, and wisely keeps the focus on the characters. I felt invested in the philosophical debate between the two guest stars, and empathized with Picard’s role as a neutral observer. A scene where Lwaxana breaks down in the transporter room is very well done.

Michelle Forbes makes a brief but memorable appearance as Timicin’s adult daughter. (The actress will return soon as Ro Laren.)