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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S3E24 "Ménage à Troi"

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Troi's mother, ladies and gentlemen
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Original air date: May 28, 1990

The Enterprise has arrived at Betazed for some trade negotiations and is hosting a formal reception in which they've reluctantly allowed the Ferengi to attend. In Ten-Forward, Lwaxana is once again badgering her daughter to find a man and give her grandkids. The Betazed grande dame attracts the attention of the Ferengi's representative, DaiMon Tog, who lusts after her as well as marvels at the business opportunities her telepathy would provide. She turns him down in disgust, but he's not one to be dissuaded.

The ship's next assignment is a routine examination of a star cluster, so Picard recommends that Riker sit it out and join Deanna on Betazed for shore leave. Lwaxana crashes their date to roll out a picnic for the couple and encourages their romance, but they're interrupted by Tog, who beams down with a bouquet of Ferengi flowers and a declaration of love. Lwaxana again rebuffs him, but this time Tog isn't taking no for an answer. He beams all four of them aboard his ship. It's a kidnapping!

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Aboard Tog's marauder, the three captives awaken in a cell. The DaiMon beams Lwaxana and Deanna out of their clothes and into the laboratory of Doctor Farek to study their telepathic abilities. The Betazoids wrap themselves in some spare cloth as they telepathically plan their next move. Lwaxana pretends to be attracted to Tog and entertains his romantic offers. Tog sends Deanna back to the cell with Riker to have some alone time with Lwaxana.

Meanwhile on the ship, Wesley is preparing to enter Starfleet Academy. He has already passed his written exam and is about to leave for his oral exam. The crew remind him that there's no guarantee that he'll be reassigned to the Enterprise after graduation, so he could be leaving them for good. Wesley has trepidations about leaving his family and friends, but Geordi and Data assure him that change and opportunities for new adventures are an exciting part of the human experience.

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Back with the Ferengi, Riker convinces his jailer to let him out of his cell to play a game of 3D chess. Riker knocks him out and tries to send a message to the Enterprise, but the console requires Tog's personal access code. Deanna telepathically asks Lwaxana to get it from him. Fondling his ears, Lwaxana proposes to a smitten Tog that she retrieve an aphrodisiac cocktail from the replicators, but she'll need his access code to program it. He's in the process of handing it over when Farek bursts in and stops him, accusing him of committing a serious security breach. He demands that Tog hand over Lwaxana for his potentially fatal mind probe experiments or be stripped of command. Tog reluctantly agrees.

On the Enterprise, the Betazoid ambassador finally manages to let them know that Lwaxana, Deanna and Troi have all vanished. The crew quickly deduce from the discarded bouquet at their picnic site that the Ferengi are responsible. Picard orders the ship to dedicate all its resources to listening for some trace of Tog's ship.

As Lwaxana is tortured by Farek's mind probe, Riker figures out a way to bypass Tog's security lockout by placing a crude message in the "static" of the ship's warp field. Aboard the Enterprise, Wesley puzzles at a mysterious sensors reading, but it's time for him to go. Just as he's about to beam away, he realizes that the warp field static is repeating the beat from the music that was playing during the recent Betazed reception. Wesley misses his window to leave as the Enterprise rushes to the rescue.

On the Ferengi ship, Riker grabs a phaser and forces Farek to take Lwaxana out of the mental probe before any permanent damage can be done, but Tog pops up behind him and disarms him. Luckily, the Enterprise arrives just then to demand the return of Tog's captives. Lwaxana convinces Tog to let Riker and Deanna go, while she will stay and accept Tog's proposal after all. Riker and Deanna beam safely aboard the Enterprise bridge.

When Picard demands the return of Lwaxana as well, Lwaxana curiously protests that she has no intention of leaving. Deanna tells Picard that Lwaxana wants Picard to win her back. The stodgy captain awkwardly professes his love for Lwaxana in an attempt to show Tog that he's adamant on her return. (Eventually he has to resort to quoting Shakespeare.) Lwaxana warns Picard not to kill Tog like he has all of her previous lovers; the Captain immediately switches to threats of physical violence, in the form of phasers and photon torpedoes. Tog, completely cowed, sends Lwaxana away without any further shenanigans. Lwaxana returns to the ship and immediately puts her hooks right back into Picard, who orders a return to Betazed as fast as the ship can possibly take them.

With the kidnapping resolved, Picard turns his attention to Wesley, who has missed the window for entrance into Starfleet due to his critical assistance during the crisis. Picard decides that it's unfair to keep Wesley as an "acting" ensign given his contributions to the ship. He gives the wunderkind a field promotion to full ensign. The newly minted Starfleet officer arrives on the bridge in a real uniform and charts a course for the ship's next adventure.


"Ménage à Troi" provides examples of:

  • Abduction Is Love: DaiMon Tog appears to believe this, as his response to being rejected by Lwaxana is to kidnap her, along with her daughter and Riker, convinced he can win her over once she's in his clutches. Unsurprisingly, he's wrong.
  • Abhorrent Admirer:
    • Once again, Lwaxana fawns over Picard, who can't wait to get away from her. He even gives up his captain's chair to escape her clutches!
    • Lwaxana gets a taste of her own medicine with Tog's advances.
  • Amazingly Embarrassing Parents: Not quite as much as her previous two appearances, but Lwaxana's attempts to push Riker and Troi back together are just painful to watch, and probably the reason why after this episode they don't seriously consider rekindling their relationship until Star Trek: Insurrection.
  • Bad "Bad Acting": Subverted. Picard woodenly stammers his way through "It's not over between us, Lwaxana. I must have you back." He then switches to Shakespeare, but with Accent On The Wrong Syllable. None of it is any good. (All of it is hilarious.)
  • Blackmail: In order to force Tog to let him experiment on Lwaxana, Farek threatens to report the fact that he almost gave her his access code, which would cost him his command if the Ferengi authorities found out.
  • Crazy Jealous Guy: Lwaxana's plan to escape Tog consists of prompting Picard to act insanely jealous by saying things like, "You simply must stop killing all my lovers." To his credit, Picard takes the ball and runs with it.
  • Description Cut: Picard figures that Deanna enjoys spending time with her mother at the reception. Cut to Deanna barely tolerating her mother's presence.
  • Epunymous Title: "Ménage à Troi," a play on "menage a trois," French for "group of three," a fancy term for a threesome.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Tog skirts this. While he's clearly horrified at the notion of Lwaxana being harmed by Farek's experiments, he apparently considers hanging onto his command to be more important than saving her life.
  • Fantastic Arousal: After Lwaxana starts stroking Tog's ears, he reveals that Ferengi's ears are an erogenous zone, and she's engaging in some serious foreplay.
  • Funny Background Event: While Picard is unloading the Ham and Cheese with his Shakespearean Sonnets, witness Riker, Deanna and Worf's reactions behind him. (Jonathan Frakes even breaks character to look off-stage at one point while cracking up laughing.)
  • G-Rated Sex: Lwaxana is mortified to be presented with a bed where she and Tog will spend some alone time. It's implied that he might try to rape her, but when we cut back, they're both fully clothed and he's simply resting his head on her lap as she caresses his ears, which is practically a sex act to the Ferengi.
  • The Guards Must Be Crazy: When Riker offers to finish their chess game if he'll let him out of his cell, the Ferengi jailer accuses him of using it as an obvious ploy to escape, but Riker convinces him that he would have no place to go even if he did try to escape.
  • Harmless Villain: Compared to most other TNG-era Ferengi, Tog isn't really that much of a villain, just an obsessive stalker. The same can not be said, however, for Farek.
  • I Need to Go Iron My Dog: When attempting to dodge Lwaxana at a reception, the best excuse Picard can come up with is needing to show off a new turbolift door mechanism.
  • Interspecies Romance: A one-sided affair. Tog, a Ferengi, is smitten with the Betazoid Lwaxana, who looks human.
  • Large Ham: Picard has to turn into this in-universe, in order to persuade Tog to hand Lwaxana back over.
  • The Nudifier: Most transporters in the Trek universe can remove arbitrary items during transit, but only the Ferengi are tactless enough to use it to remove a woman's clothes.
  • Only Sane Man: Farek may be a Jerkass, but he's the only one on the Krayton who isn't the dumbest guard in the entire Ferengi Alliance, or thinking with his other head.
  • Retcon: While Troi had been shown to be able to read Ferengi minds in previous episodes, this episode establishes that Ferengis are immune to Betazoid telepathy, which would be treated as standard in all future episodes of both this series and Deep Space Nine.
  • Shameful Strip: Troi and Lwaxana have their clothes taken away, because the Ferengi are an extreme patriarchy where women can't even wear clothes. Of course, given Betazoids' relaxed ideas about nudity, they're portrayed as more insulted/annoyed by this than humiliated or afraid.
  • Shout-Out to Shakespeare: To convince Tog that he's a jealous lover who's willing to kill both the Ferengi and Lwaxana if he can't get her back, Picard hammily quotes from bits and pieces of no fewer than four Shakespeare sonnets, along with Othello and also a bit of Tennyson ("Tis better to have loved and lost, than never to have loved at all").
  • Signature Item Clue: The bouquet of flowers from Ferengi space Tog brought to Betazed is later found by Enterprise security, giving them a good idea who's responsible.
  • Stalker with a Crush: Tog is this to Lwaxana.
  • Status Quo Is God: Played with. While Wesley ends up failing to get to Starfleet Academy yet again, there is a slight change in the status quo, as he goes from being an acting ensign to a full ensign, and gets a real uniform.
  • Too Dumb to Live: Tog is bad enough, with the way that Lwaxana nearly got his access code out of him, but the Ferengi who Riker tricks into letting him out of the brig really takes the cake. Tog also doesn't help his cause by needlessly abducting Riker and Troi, two serving Starfleet officers, though given Lwaxana's status as an important Federation ambassador, the end outcome would probably have been the same.
  • Try to Fit THAT on a Business Card!: Once again, Lwaxana declares herself "daughter of the Fifth House, holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx." Deanna points out that the Sacred Chalice of Rixx is an old clay pot with mold growing inside of it.

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