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Lwaxana Troi visits the Enterprise, but she's preoccupied by a dark secret she has carried for years.



"Captain's log, Stardate 47254.1. A delegation of the Cairn have just come on board. This telepathic species has no concept of spoken language and is being instructed in its use by… an old friend."

Lwaxana Troi returns to the USS Enterprise-D, this time as the teacher of an alien race learning to speak, the Cairn. Their native form of communication is solely telepathy, but they want to learn spoken language in order to interact with other races and eventually to join with the United Federation of Planets. Lwaxana comes aboard with Maques and his daughter Hedril. Hedril is a young child and is Lwaxana's star pupil.

The crew begins to notice that Lwaxana doesn't seem to be her normal flamboyant self. She's quiet and almost reserved, even her clothing seems subdued compared to usual. She perks up when talking to Worf and Commander Riker, explaining the telepaths can't read their minds, only other telepaths'. Deanna then walks in, and she quickly has her meet Maques and leaves with Hedril. After introductions, he says Lwaxana told him Deanna needs a husband, and he, coincidentally, needs a wife.

Act One[]

Lwaxana finds Deanna walking down a corridor the next day and pushes to know what she thought of Maques. Of course, Deanna doesn't appreciate that her mother put her an uncomfortable position yet again, and, in an awkward encounter with another officer in the turbolift, tells her to stop. Then, Lwaxana is visibly hurt, but brushes it off as part of her work with the Cairn. However, she then worries aloud about losing Deanna, which worries her, but she has her appointments, so she goes. There, in her office, she finds Maques. He apologizes for his forwardness the previous day, but also relates that he senses some dark part of Lwaxana that she is keeping hidden. Troi asks Maques if he has asked her about it, but he tells her that Lwaxana told him it is private, the Cairn not understanding the concept of privacy. Relieved, Deanna says this is normal for them.

Deanna talks about how strange her mother has been with Riker at the bar in Ten Forward. Suddenly, Lwaxana enters and has a very emotional outburst toward him, yelling at him to leave her daughter alone and that with him out of the way, Deanna would have been married by now. Troi attempts to figure out what's going on, and has her mother examined in sickbay. Dr. Crusher determines that the chemical psilosynine, used in telepathy, is sapped – Lwaxana must refrain from using her telepathy and must rest until it can regenerate. Lwaxana is embarrassed by her outburst and asks Troi to pass on her apologies to Riker.

Deanna volunteers to help Maques and Hedril, but it is clear that Lwaxana is better suited to the task. Deanna suggests using verbal communication, so the Cairn can have more experience using words. Lwaxana still uses her telepathy occasionally, and, after she sees Hedril trip and fall into a pond in the ship's arboretum, falls into a coma.

Act Two[]

Dr. Crusher cannot figure out what is causing the coma, as the telepathy-chemical depletion would not cause it. Neural activity has completely shut down, except for the paracortex in which activity is much larger than normal. Since she had just communicated with Maques before the coma, they go to talk to him. There, he tries to explain, but he doesn't have the words. He decides to use telepathy, and Deanna is bombarded with images. She needs to go sort it out.

In Crusher's office, she explains that what she thought Maques was describing as private thoughts was really something in her metaconscious mind. It's possible she underwent some kind of trauma that it couldn't handle and has developed long-term effects from it. Crusher wants to wait for the subneural scans to be analyzed before continuing and suggests they come back in the morning when the results come in. Deanna requests to stay in sickbay and try to communicate with her mother telepathically. Crusher grants her request.

In the meantime, Troi tries to communicate with Lwaxana during the night. She hears her call out to help her, but cannot say more. Deciding to sleep in sickbay on a biobed, she notices Maques come in, and is staring at Lwaxana.

Act Three[]

In the observation lounge, Picard asks Maques what he was doing. He is again unable to explain verbally, so Deanna has him tell her telepathically. He was accessing images from Lwaxana to try to understand what happened, but he doesn't recognize the objects or the people in the images. He believes her psyche is collapsing, forcing her to retreat into her metaconscious. Crusher suggests that, if they try to access those images, they could at least understand whether she experienced a trauma. Maques believes he can serve as a bridge to help Deanna access the images in her mother's mind. Despite the unknown risk, Deanna wants to try, and Picard approves.

With Dr. Crusher monitoring Deanna's condition closely and Maques prepared to break the link if anything happens, Deanna enters her mother's thoughts, with Maques cautioning her that part of Lwaxana is afraid and to expect resistance to her presence. She has to fight Lwaxana's desire and defenses to keep her secret. Deanna encounters several obstacles, including having an illusory Captain Picard order her to leave, a wolf chasing her through a corridor and another delay tactic in the form of her own deceased father. He begs her to stay with and talk with him, but she must continue her investigation. Reluctantly and with tears in her eyes, she leaves him. Finally, in the corridor, she sees Maques' young daughter, Hedril, but as a Betazoid. She wonders what she is doing in her mother's mind when suddenly Lwaxana appears and screams at her to leave. Troi awakens in sickbay, frightened and unable to understand what she had just experienced.

Act Four[]

Deanna Troi speaks with Hedril

"Do you have any idea why Hedril would make my mother sad?"

In a meeting in the observation lounge, Maques brings Hedril in so Troi can talk with her. Hedril does not know what she would represent but presumes that it is somehow her fault that Lwaxana is sick, because she knows that for some reason, she makes Lwaxana sad. After the two Cairn leave, Crusher states she believes that Maques is right and that Lwaxana's current condition most likely had been precipitated by a traumatic event. Data believes they may be looking at this too literally. He speculates, given his recent experience with dream-like imagery, the different people inside Lwaxana's mind may represent different aspects of her. Deanna agrees, surmising that Hedril may represent a fragile part of her mother's psyche.

Troi has Mr. Homn on Betazed transmit a copy of Lwaxana's personal journals to find clues as to what the traumatic event was that she experienced. In Troi's quarters, she also goes through the personal belongings Lwaxana brought from home, including a photo of Ian in uniform, and a lock of what appears to be Deanna's own hair kept inside a locket. Picard and Troi look through the journals on Troi's desktop monitor from the beginning and find a seven-year gap of no entries at all. It starts about a year after her parents were married and ends a few months after Deanna's birth. Troi finds this odd, since Lwaxana keeps such diligent entries in her journals. Looking closer, Picard realizes that there were in fact entries made, but they had been deleted by Lwaxana herself shortly before they resumed again.

Act Five[]

Going back inside her mother's mind to get answers to these new questions, she finds Betazoid Hedril kneeling down beside the wolf in the corridors of the Enterprise; she tells Hedril to be careful, but the girl doesn't recognize the name. The wolf and the girl briskly walk off down the hall and turn a corner, at which Troi finds that it ends into open space, and she steps out to drop into it. Troi finds her mother in a recreation of the arboretum doubling as Lake El'nar on Betazed. Lwaxana tearfully tries to get Deanna to leave her mind. She tries as much as she can to not disclose the painful secret she has kept for so long. She finally relents and shows Deanna that the Trois had a daughter before Deanna: Kestra, represented by Betazoid Hedril. Lwaxana gets partially caught up in the memory, moving from narrator to participant. One tragic day during a family picnic at Lake El'nar, Kestra wanted to go play by the water. Her parents told her to stay with them as they were going to eat soon and could go with her after, but while they became distracted with the teething Deanna, the family dog got away from Kestra and she went after him. She ended up in the lake and drowned. The Trois, and Lwaxana particularly, were devastated by the loss.

Troi is stunned to learn that she had a sister, her mother's "precious one." She realizes this was the genesis of her mother's term "little one" for her: she was the little one of the two sisters. Lwaxana (who had looked away for only a few seconds to tend to Deanna) blamed herself for all these years. Deanna acknowleges that Lwaxana may feel responsible for Kestra's death, but it was a terrible accident: she has to forgive herself and let go of her guilty feelings. From what Deanna saw, Kestra was sweet and happy, and must have brought great joy to their parents' lives: Lwaxana recalls that she woke every morning with a smile. Isn't it better to remember her that way and celebrate her life, Deanna asks, rather than mourn it? Deanna emotionally adds that she'd like to get to know the sweet girl who was the sister she never knew. After some convincing by Deanna, who vouches her support, Lwaxana summons her memory of Kestra to tell her how she feels and a true version of Kestra appears. Kestra and Lwaxana share a tearful goodbye and Lwaxana awakens from her coma, holding hands with Deanna.

Later on, mother and daughter look at an image of Ian holding Deanna and with Kestra at his side on a PADD. It is from a picture that Homn had saved in case one day Lwaxana wanted to remember her. Lwaxana can recall the day she took the photograph and wishes the girls had gotten to grow up together. Deanna asks to know all about her, and they have a heartfelt talk about Kestra.

Memorable quotes[]

"I don't know what they'd have done without me. First, I had to learn how they communicate – it was an absolutely exhausting process–"
"I'm sure it was."
"Quite different from Betazed telepathy. We transmit words, but the Cairn… it's… er… images… er… floods of them, all at the same time – it's overwhelming!"
"I can imagine."
"Actually, it's a very efficient way of communication. If two Cairn were having this conversation, it would have been over minutes ago!"
"Of course, they realize that they'll want to communicate verbally if they join the Federation. Oh! do me a favor! Introduce yourself to one of them. Engage them in conversation – they need the practice."
"I'd be happy to!"

- Lwaxana Troi and Jean-Luc Picard

"Now, I am warning you, stay away from my daughter!"
"You're coming with me."

- Lwaxana Troi, to Riker while Troi takes her away

"Aren't you going to mingle, Mr. Woof?"
"I do not care for telepaths. They make me… uneasy."
"Don't worry. The Cairn couldn't read your thoughts even if they wanted to. Your brain isn't sophisticated enough."
(Riker smiles)
"Neither is yours, dear. They can only communicate with other telepaths."

- Lwaxana Troi and Worf

"Every morning, she woke up with… with a smile."
"Isn't it better to remember her like that? I just found out I had a sister I never knew."

- Lwaxana Troi and Deanna Troi, discussing Kestra

"I have to go now."
"I know. I know."

- Kestra Troi to her mother Lwaxana, in her mind

"I wish you could have known her, Deanna. I wish you two could have grown up together."
"Tell me about her. I want to know everything."

- Lwaxana Troi and Deanna Troi, talking about Kestra (last lines)

Background information[]

Kirsten Dunst in costume

Kirsten Dunst with Simon

Byram and Majel, Dark Page

Amick Byram and Majel Barrett-Roddenberry

Production history[]

Story and script[]

  • Jeri Taylor recalled, "There was a great reluctance to do this episode and "Phantasms" back-to-back, but it was one of those predicaments where we didn't have anything else ready to go. "Dark Page" had been around a long, long time and it had undergone many permutations. Hilary Bader had pitched this story and it just never seemed to work. It started as a Dr. Crusher story and went through every possible combination of people on the Enterprise. It wasn't until we hit upon Troi and Mrs. Troi that it really seemed to work, and then it was a long time before we could figure out what the secret was that is hurting Mrs. Troi." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • According to the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion? ed., p. ?, variations of the theme of a telepathic rescue considered included: Doctor Crusher and another female doctor, a La Forge story, Crusher and Troi, and Lwaxana rescuing Deanna.
  • René Echevarria, who gave an uncredited polish to the episode's script, noted the difficulty in finding a dark enough secret that after seven years wouldn't portray Lwaxana too unsympathetically. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion? ed., p. ?)
  • Echevarria regretted having been forced to tone down Maques' comical attempts at language. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion? ed., p. ?)
  • Lake El'nar was named after a friend of writer Hilary J. Bader. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion? ed., p. ?)


  • Split-screen shots against a blue screen were used to allow characters to interact with the wolf, which although trained was still dangerous. Peter Lauritson commented, "Nobody wanted to be there with the wolf except Dan Curry." Kirsten Dunst petted a stand rather than the wolf, with the animal matted in later. The wolf's growl was achieved by giving it a lick of a meaty bone and then filming its reaction when a trainer moved as if to take it. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion? ed., p. ?)
  • Marina Sirtis performed her own stunt when apparently jumping into space: she leapt off a blue-screened platform onto air mattresses. This was then matted in with the star field and corridor walls. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion? ed., p. ?)


  • Although Deanna says that Homn saved the picture of Kestra, Xelo was most likely Lwaxana's attendant at the time of Kestra's death. ("Haven") Homn was Xelo's replacement, and Xelo apparently passed the picture on to Homn.
  • This episode is one of a few in which the Enterprise bridge is not seen, along with "Family" and "Liaisons".
  • Data makes reference to his dreaming program, which had just received heavy focus in the previous episode, "Phantasms".
  • This episode is referenced in DS9: "The Muse". There, Lwaxana gives Kestra's death as one of the reasons she is unwilling to give up her unborn son according to Tavnian law.
  • Deanna went on to name her own daughter, Kestra Troi-Riker, after her late sister.
  • Tragically, Deanna would also lose her own natural firstborn, Thaddeus Troi-Riker, to mendaxic neurosclerosis. She had also suffered a similar loss of Ian Troi in 2365 when he had to prematurely end his Human existence.

Cast and characters[]



  • The back story on Ian and Lwaxana Troi revealed in this episode was further expanded upon as a subplot in the novel The Art of the Impossible.

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]


Uncredited co-stars[]



2328; 2329; 2336; 2340; 2343; 2365; arboretum/arbor; Betazed; Betazed government; Betazoid; blossom; Cairn; counselor's office; diligence; dog; "Down in the Valley"; dream; dream analysis; Earth; Federation; Federation Council; Folnar jewel plant; Folnar III; Galaxy class decks; gemstone; heaven; Homn; hue; Human; Klingon; Lake El'nar; Maques' wife; medical emergency; metaconscious; Milton, John; Mister Woof; painting; Papa; paracortex; poetry; privacy; psilosynine; pupil; resin; rose; sub-neural scan; spoken language; teething ring; telepathic lobe; telepathic species; telepathy; Ten Forward; tree; toy; VISOR; verbal communication; vocal enhancer; wedding; widower

Okudagram references[]

Starship mission status: Ajax, USS; Alderaan; Alpha Laputa IV; Ambassador-class; Apollo-class; Aries, USS; Beta Cygni system; Bradbury, USS; Bradbury-class; Charleston, USS; Constellation-class; Excelsior-class; Fearless, USS; Goddard, USS; Hood, USS; Korolev-class; Merced-class; Merrimac, USS; Monitor, USS; Nebula-class; New Orleans-class; pulsar; Renaissance-class; Repulse, USS; Romulan Neutral Zone; sector; Sector 21396; Sector 21538; Sector 22358; Sector 22846; Sector 22853; Sector 23079; Starbase 134; Starbase 434; Thomas Paine, USS; Trieste, USS; Victory, USS; Vulcan Science Academy; warp drive; Zhukov, USS

Spacecraft Systems Status: Bussard collector; captain's yacht; class M; gross vehicle mass; impulse engine; main shuttlebay Mars; navigational deflector; observation lounge; phaser bank; service docking port; shuttlebay 2; shuttlebay 3; torpedo launcher; umbilical connect port; Utopia Planitia; warp nacelle

Lwaxana Troi's journal: Belman; Dominic, Primus; Grax, Reittan; Grax's girlfriend; Janaran Sanctuary; Lake Cataria; Lilith; uttaberry; uttaberry pie; Xelo

External links[]

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