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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S2 E10 “The Dauphin”

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"Wow! This green-screen effect looks so realistic!"

Original air date: February 20, 1989

The Enterprise arrives at a hostile desert planet to pick up Salia, a sixteen-year-old girl who is destined to bring peace to Daled IV. As she's being led through the ship, she encounters Wesley, and the two fall in Love at First Sight. The rest of the crew encourage Wesley to pursue her, but Salia's overprotective governess Anya complicates the issue.

While Anya is away, Salia invites Wesley in her room, and the pair spend the day eating chocolate and touring the galaxy in the holodeck. Meanwhile, Anya alarms the crew with her all-consuming obsession with protecting Salia from any harm. She demands that Dr. Pulaski kill a patient to avoid the chance of him infecting Salia. When Pulaski refuses, Anya transforms into a monstrous shape and brawls with Worf before Picard arrives to deescalate the situation.

Salia experiences a crisis between her responsibility to save Daled IV from eternal war and her desire to live her own life. Wesley encourages her to pursue her own desires and remain on the ship with him. After sneaking away from Anya, she and Wesley share a kiss. However, Anya interrupts them and threatens Wesley in her monstrous shape. Salia transforms into a similar shape to protect Wesley, revealing that she is also a shapechanger. Picard orders that their passengers will spend the rest of the journey behind a forcefield to avoid any further incidents.

The ship arrives at Daled IV, and Salia goes to bid farewell to Wesley. He is upset by the revelation that she is a shapechanger, realizing that her beautiful form has been a lie to make the crew more comfortable. Salia insists that her love for Wesley is genuine, but he spurns her. As Salia makes her final preparations to depart, Anya and Worf exchange words of mutual respect as protectors who aren't so different. Just before Salia can leave, Wesley arrives to reconcile with her and stays to witness her true form: a being of pure light. Afterwards, Guinan helps a despondent Wesley sort through his feelings about the whole escapade.

Tropes specific to this episode include:

  • A Form You Are Comfortable With: "So you took this form for our benefit? That's why you wanted to know what species we are."
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Between Salia and Anya when the latter is in her mutant-Ewok form.
  • The Chains of Commanding: Salia feels like she's being strangled by these.
  • A Child Shall Lead Them: Salia is the equivalent of a 16-year-old girl who will soon take command of an entire planet.
  • Cultural Posturing: Anya constantly complains that the Enterprise is so primitive. Which is odd, since everything else about the situation makes it pretty obvious that her race is massively less advanced; the whole plot is about the Enterprise stepping in because they don't have any of their own ships that can ferry passengers from their colony in a reasonable time frame.
  • Distracted by the Sexy: After seeing Salia for the first time, Wesley spends the next few scenes in a daze and unable to focus on his work. Geordi gives him the rest of the day off so he can get to know her.
  • Energy Being: Anya and Salia's Shapeshifter Default Form is a vaguely humanoid silhouette of shifting white and purple light.
  • Gratuitous French: The title of the episode should actually be "The Dauphine", since "dauphin" is the masculine form of the word rather than the feminine. (The French dub is titled "La Dauphine" for exactly this reason.)
  • If You Won't, I Will: Anya orders Pulaski to kill a patient with the flu because he might pose a small chance of infecting Salia. When Pulaski (naturally) refuses, Anya says this just before shapeshifting into her mutant-Wookiee form.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Anya may seem overly protective of Salia, but she really cares for her.
  • Knight Templar Parent: Anya, although not Salia's real parent, looks after her like one. This includes trying to murder anything that could technically pose a threat to her or her mission, from a sick patient to a lovestruck teenage boy like Wesley.
  • Love Across Battlelines: Salia's parents were the leaders of the rival factions on her planet, which is why she is destined to be the one to unite them.
  • Mama Bear: Anya is very protective of Salia, and jumps to transforming into her mutant-Wookiee form whenever she thinks she might be in danger.
  • Matron Chaperone: Anya is Salia's chaperone, singlemindedly devoted to protecting Salia from anything (including romance) that could put her at risk, and in public Anya usually takes the form of a conservatively dressed older woman.
  • The Mind Is a Plaything of the Body: Salia assures Wesley that while she's in a human form, she experiences human emotions, including genuine attraction to him.
  • Oh, Crap!: Wesley when Anya shows up in his quarters in monster form. And again when Salia morphs.
  • Rebellious Princess: Salia has been raised from birth to be her world's leader, and has never been given any real choices in life; this isn't likely to change once she takes up her new position, as trying to serve as a uniting leader on a war-torn planet will almost certainly be a full-time job. For all this, though, she's still a teenage girl who gets her first taste of life outside her sheltered existence, which is so thrilling for her that she's sorely tempted to abandon her duties; falling in love with an outsider — Wesley — only makes this worse. Despite all this, she does ultimately decide that she has a responsibility to her people, and heads off to become Daled IV's leader.
  • The Reveal: Anya is a shapechanger! And so is Salia!
  • Second-Act Breakup: Wesley is repulsed by the late revelation that Salia is a shapechanger, believing that her whole identity thus far has been a lie. Salia insists that her feelings for Wesley are genuine and her current form is as real as any other. Wesley has changed his mind by the next scene.
  • Shapeshifter Showdown: Between Salia and Anya in Wesley's quarters.
  • Shapeshifting: Both Salia and Anya have this ability.
  • Shipper on Deck: Guinan supports Wesley's courtship of Salia.
  • Shout-Out: In the digitally remastered version of the episode, the one moon of Daled IV we see onscreen looks rather like the Death Star. (Or, more prosaically, Mimas.)
  • Tidally Locked Planet: Daled IV. One distinct culture developed on the day side and a different one on the night side. Their differences led to a world war that the Enterprise is trying to put an end to. As a daughter of parents from both sides, Salia is expected to bridge the gap.
  • Violently Protective Girlfriend: Salia briefly prepares to protect Wesley from Anya by transforming into another ferocious monster.
  • Was It All a Lie?: Wesley, at the end, believing that Salia has just been playing at being humanoid and made him a part of that game. She firmly insists that, no, none of it was— shapeshifter or no, she is still a young woman with the same emotions as a humanoid, and her feelings for him were genuine.
  • Worthy Opponent: Worf and Anya acknowledge each other as this at the end, in contrast to earlier where each insists that the other wouldn't be a match for them.