Cost of Living (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 5, Episode 20) Alexander’s Jolly Holodeck Holiday with Lwaxana

Rewatching ST:TNG

Who’d love to see another whacky Lwaxana episode? Who can’t get enough of little Alexander? Who wants a Space Thing subplot that has absolutely nothing to do with the main plot?

Because a cigar-chomping producer demanded an action sequence in the teaser, there’s tense music, a kinetic camera, and a photon torpedo kaboom in the first 10 seconds… and that’s about all the action for this episode..

The main plot involves Lwaxana’s intention to marry a stranger, and her encouragement of Alexander’s rebellious side. 

In full quirky governess mode, she takes him on a trippy holodeck visit to a colony of Pippin and Seussical rejects, where he learns a nonsense catchphrase. Because he is a child in a TV show, he will of course deploy the catchphrase to defend his right to laugh at dinner, and he will learn the “be yourself” lesson so well that he ends up teaching it to his teacher.

After we learn that something has started turning components of the ship into marmalade, wE see more systems turning to orange ooze, life support failures, a countdown to an immanent warp core breach, and everybody but Data losing consciousness. Yet there’s no serious attempt to acknowledge how these ship-threatening disasters affected the stuffy groom and his fussier wedding planner.

I only vaguely remember this episode the first airing about 30 years ago, but on my rewatch I caught myself smiling happily during the big reveal at the wedding ceremony; and even though I remembered the Worf sight gag in the denouement and knew it was coming, I still laughed.

Majel Barrett does a remarkable job with weak material. In a scene where she tries on her wedding dress and talks to the silent Mr. Homm, we see how much effort she’s putting into her forced cheerfulness. Knowing that her husband Gene Roddenberry (creator of Star Trek) had just died a few months before, I was touched by her words to Alexander about growing older and being lonely.