Troi’s mother visits the Enterprise-D with a delegation of nonverbal telepaths. She’s focused and professional, but we see her stumble dizzily. (In TV-land this is as bad as coughing.)
One of the aliens is a widower (with a daughter played by a pre-“Interview with the Vampire” Kirsten Dunst).
On my rewatch I was impressed at how stealthily the script slips in an important plot point about Lwaxana, I suppose because at this point we’re watching to see how Troi handles the awkward flirting from the nice guy barely verbal alien telepath single dad, who tells Troi that when he links telepathically with her mother, there is a “dark” part she blocks from him, but Troi teaches him the concept “privacy” and says it’s normal.
When Troi confides in Riker that she’s worried, her mother promptly storms in with a verbal tirade (“If it weren’t for you she’d be married by now.”)
Crusher prescribes a break from telepathy, but later in the arboretum, Lwaxana telepathically projects definitions of concepts Maques can’t absorb verbally. After a minor distraction (a soggy child), Lwaxana collapses, for no apparent reason. Crusher can find no reason why she won’t revive, but notes the telepathic part of her brain is very active.
Despite several cues carefully engineered to make us suspect Maques, it turns out that the nice-guy telepathic widower single dad had sensed a hidden trauma in her mind, but hadn’t been able to put it into words.
With the help of Maques acting as a telepathic bridge, Troi explores her mother’s mind (which fortunately for the budget looks very much like the inside of the Enterprise-D).
A touching scene features Troi encountering an image of her father, but Troi realizes he is one of many distractions her mother has created to resist her daughter’s help.
When Picard helps Troi go through her mother’s personal logs looking for clues, he notices that Mrs. Troi deleted about seven years worth of her journals, from shortly after she was married to shortly after Deanna’s birth.
Once again exploring her mother’s mind, Troi manages to get Lwaxana to relive a painful personal experience. After the climax, the final scene shows the two of them with a new reason to bond.
Like many Trek fans, I have mixed feelings about the Lwaxana episodes, but the script did a good job with the misdirection and the clues. The big revelation provides an explanation for the “Little One” nickname Mrs. Troy has for her daughter, and a “fade to commercial break” image of Troi and her mother holding hands in neighboring sickbay beds is very touching.