I was going to say, there's nothing worse than heavy-handed moralizing, but that's not true. There are plenty of things worse. Paper cuts. Tax bills. Dying alone and unloved. Lwaxana Troi.
I have a lot of positive memories of TNG, but even when I was a kid, even when my critical faculties were in their nascent stage and I thought movie novelizations were better than movies because they lasted longer--even then, I didn't much care for Lwaxana Troi. She was always in those boring "character-driven" story-lines, and she was loud and pushy and she hit on Captain Picard a lot, which was really gross. As an adult, I can say that my opinion on character-driven stories has changed significantly, and that loud isn't the problem it once was. But Lwaxana is just as one note as ever, the kind of shrill unfunny that tries to assault the audience into acceptance, and yes, hitting on Picard, still gross.
I didn't realize "Haven" was the first Lwaxana episode, and I'm going to blame all of you, even if you have mentioned it in the comments, because you clearly didn't prepare me. I have a habit of yelling at the screen when I'm annoyed or overly frustrated, and I yelled so much watching this you could imagine it was one of those television dramas from Fahrenheit 451, the kind where you send in for a script so you could play along at home. When I was a kid, I imagined every time I didn't like something I was watching, that was my fault, that I was missing out or having an overly emotional reaction to something other people could enjoy more fully. I'm still not entirely sure this isn't true. Maybe there are people who though this episode was entirely hilarious. Me? I've had more entertaining (and shorter) dental appointments.
Did you know Deanna has a mother? And she's fucking insane. The Enterprise is orbiting the planet of Haven, a planet which gives the episode its title but which we'll never actually see at surface level. While everyone else on the ship prepares for some R & R, Deanna is waiting to greet guests in the Transporter Room. There's Mom, and that's bad enough, but possibly worse is Deanna's potential husband, a man she's never met but who she's betrothed to via an arrangement that is never satisfactorily explained. I think we're supposed to assume it's a typical arranged marriage, but what does either side stand to gain? Wyatt, Deanna's temporary love interest to be, is a human, not a Betazoid, and since he's already a doctor I don't imagine his family is looking for some kind of social upgrade. Lwaxana clearly despises Wyatt's parents, and they her. Were names drawn out of a hat?
Like so much bad writing, too much is assumed, and it's only going to get worse. We get comic relief with Lwaxana's arrogance, comic relief with her meddling with Picard, and some tepid attempts at romantic intrigue between Riker and Deanna. Oh, and there's Wyatt's mild disappointment in Deanna because she doesn't look like the dream woman he's been obsessing over since he was a child. All of this should be dramatic but it isn't. The Riker/Deanna/Wyatt triangle is one conversation and a few pointed looks, and it doesn't even resolve properly because Wyatt leaves before there's any actual conflict.
Issues with Lwaxana aside, the script here is also so, so weak. While everybody's all a'flutter about the upcoming nuptials, a Tarellian ship appears and starts towards Haven. The Tarellians were thought to be extinct, wiped out by their own biological weapons, and this new ship isn't making contact with Haven or anyone, which makes the leader of Haven a little nervous. During the exposition dump, aka meeting of the main crew, we learn the Tarellians are a none-too-subtle criticism of modern war-mongering, but since the survivors we meet are peaceful and personality free, this revelation is as of little consequence as anything else.
Gah, let's get through this. Wyatt's dream girl is a Tarellian named Ariana, and the Tarellians, all eight of them, are actually at Haven to meet Wyatt. Why? How was this contact made? Why is the Tarellian ship full of sketches of Wyatt at various stages of development? No freakin' clue. The closest thing we get to an explanation is Lwaxana telling Wyatt that space and thought are one. Which, apart from being a sort of call back to Wesley's INCREDIBLY DANGEROUS COMMENT in "Where No One Has Gone Before," is meaningless. You might as well just come out and say, "Just because," or "A wizard did it," or Wyatt beams aboard the Tarellian ship, forever separating himself from all he knows and loves, and maybe there's a prophecy or something, I don't know. It's creepy, but no one seems to realize it's creepy.
Look, I'm sure Majel Barrett was a lovely human being, and her Nurse Chapel wasn't so bad. Hell, maybe Lwaxana calms down in later seasons. But here, in this episode, she is agonizing, and the fact that the episode which surrounds her is full of lazy shoulder shrugs and half-finished ideas. If I'd been watching this when it first aired, if "Naked Now" hadn't been enough to turn me away, this might've done it. The silver box that delivers messages was cool, and I laughed at Data's fascination with sniping during the dinner scene, but aside from that, I kind of wanted to die.