A rare lackluster Picard episode, "The Perfect Mate" features a nice performance from Famke Janssen as the titular character, but not much else. It's a budget saving bottle episode that lacks the vitality to give it much excitement, mostly going through the motions until the inevitable conclusion. (Nonetheless, Star Trek producers liked Janssen so much, they wanted her for the part of Dax for Deep Space Nine. While she declined, her makeup as the metamorph was used nonetheless for the actress who accepted, Terry Farrell.) This is one of those "could be worse, could be better" filler episodes.
As a woman, I was intrigued by the subject of this episode: the valuation and role of women. Kamala, a woman who has no identity of her own, no center of self, if you will, is given to a man as a highly prized peace offering. She is Woman objectified – a woman who is given to a man, just as one would purchase, give or trade chattel. She is Woman without identity – a woman who is raised to suppress her own identity and self so that she may later conform to a man’s identity. She is Woman as sex object – physically gorgeous, seductive and highly bed-able. Ultimately, she is Woman sacrificed – a woman who foregoes her own self-determined future and happiness so that a male-dominated world may continue.
What I find odd is that Star Trek would present such a woman as “the perfect mate.” (I assume the writers were being facetious.) This woman is not her own person, and is not in any way her mate’s equal. She is merely an extension of his ego and identity. When a child is born, he initially views everyone else around him as extensions of himself... in relation TO himself. Mom is not a woman, a wife, a worker, or a unique person with her own wants and dreams; she is only a mother, the child's mother. Dad is not a man, a husband, or a person with his own needs and desires; he is only a father, the child's father. At some point, the child realizes that he is not the center of the universe. He realizes that everyone, including Mom and Dad, has a unique center of self, and that these other centers of self do not revolve around him. If, indeed, Kamala is the perfect mate, what does that make the men who fall under her spell? children who have yet to realize, respect and appreciate the identities of others? of women?
This episode was a real surprise. It starts out unassumingly, and on first viewing I assumed it was going to be another one of those 2nd/3rd tier fillers that populate much of the 5th season.
About halfway through, I realized that assessment was completely off, and in fact one of three great Picard episodes placed late in the 5th season. (The others are "I, Borg" and "The Inner Light".)
There's an offhand comment made by Worf early in the episode - "The Captain dines alone" - that subtly sets the tone for the rest of the episode. We know that Picard, the lone wolf, nevertheless craves companionship - and despite his better instincts and most valiant efforts he caves here. The ending is the ultimate irony, because Picard's perfect mate is the one who can put duty before her love for him. Kamala out-Picards Picard.
This episode is apparently not well-regarded by fans, which is a shame. Yes, it's a bottle show, and there isn't much excitement. But in terms of emotional depth, it's up near the top. Highly recommended.
In this incredibly well-written, emotional episode, the Enterprise has been chosen to host a peace treaty between two races at war with each other. Part of the peace offering is a beautiful woman named Kamala, an empathic metamorph whose existence is based solely on pleasing men. After being released from stasis early thanks to a mischievous Ferengi, Kamala roams the ship, attracted to every man she meets. She seems to have no identity of her own, but as her relationship with Picard grows we begin to realize along with her that she IS her own person to an extent. She has just never been allowed to be. Still, it's not a very great extent. What seems like genuine love and admiration for Picard may just be her natural metamorph ways. We never know for sure. In the tragic ending, Kamala reveals that she has "bonded" with Picard. She was scheduled to be released from her state of stasis in time to bond with the ambassador to whom she has been promised, but because of her early release she has bonded early. Now she is doomed to be everything she took from Picard... Strong-willed, adventurous, and Shakespeare-loving. Appallingly, she must still spend the rest of her life with a man she can never love, all for the sake of peace between two peoples. Her inheritance of Picard's priorities is what makes her willing to sacrifice what she truly wants for the greater good, however one must assume that if she has become just like Picard, she can't possibly be happy as a prisoner. The fact that she is still an empath and will still be able to please her mate is of little comfort to the viewer, nor to Picard.
The interaction between Picard and the Metamorph is intriguing the entire episode. He finds her irresistible but is able to hold off his emotions in favor of the mission. She, however, finds this incredibly attractive and ends up bonding to him.
We get some very good acting from both Picard and the guest star, but I just couldn't get wrapped up in the plot. It all dealt with the issue of arranged marriage and how it's antiquated in an advanced society. I just really couldn't feel sorry for the Metamorph. Even though it was her biological imperative to bond to someone like Picard, she really sets herself up for disappointment since the mission of peace must go on. Does she have no self control at all? They kept emphasizing how she was essentially going through puberty and her body was out of control, but that felt too much like a "Deus Ex" to make me care. All in all, a sad ending, but certainly avoidable if the metamorph had exercised any level of restraint or responsibility. Maybe I was missing something here.
A good episode filled with emotional drama where the plot revolves around arranged marriage and forbidden personal relationships.
As you can expect the pace is fairly slow, but labours only at certain moments. The main plot work well, with Famke demonstrating her wiliness and attracting the males on board. The Ferengi work well as the catalyst in upping the stakes at two key moments of the episode.
Dialogue is low-brow, but works well to drive the plot forwards. Locations/setting is limited to the Enterprise which doesnt do much to help determine the two warring alien spieces, yet does a good job of keeping the two main characters in uncomfortable proximity.
Highlights of the episode is purely the relationship developing between the meta-morph and Picard.
The ending is fairly benign, but if you enjoy an emotional journey of human understanding in a SF environment then you will enjoy this much more than me.
Peace between the Krios and Valt Minor Systems may be resolved on the “Enterprise”. The Kriosian Ambassador Briam arrives aboard the “Enterprise” with a gift for the Valtese leader. The gift is being stored in a cargo bay.
Peace between the Krios and Valt Minor Systems may be resolved on the “Enterprise”. The Kriosian Ambassador Briam arrives aboard the “Enterprise” with a gift for the Valtese leader. The gift is being stored in a cargo bay. A Ferengi crew of two is beamed aboard the “Enterprise”. It seems as if their shuttlecraft is inoperative. Ferengi doing what they do best disturb the precious cargo. Now the truth is known the cargo is in fact a woman named Kamala who is bred to give her man a good time. It seems like the Ferengi are interested does it?
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