(written from a Production point of view)
Lwaxana Troi visits the Enterprise, but she's preoccupied by a dark secret she has carried for years.
Lwaxana Troi returns to the USS Enterprise, this time as the teacher of an alien race learning to speak, the Cairn. Their native form of communication is telepathy, but they want to learn spoken language in order to interact with other races and 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'. Then Deanna 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.
Lwaxana finds Deanna the next day, and pushes to know what she thought of Maques. Of course, Deanna doesn't appreciate it, 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 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 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.
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 long-term effects from it. Crusher wants to wait for the subneural scans to be analyzed before continuing.
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, she notices Maques come in, and is staring at Lwaxana.
In the observation lounge, Picard asks Maques what he's doing. He is again unable to explain verbally, so he tells Deanna telepathically. He was accessing images from Lwaxana to try to understand what happened, but he doesn't recognize the objects 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 act as a bridge to help Deanna access the images. 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. 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 with Betazoid eyes and Human ears. 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.
In a meeting in the observation lounge, Maques brings Hedril 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 Lwaxana's current condition most likely had been precipitated by a traumatic event. Data 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. Picard and Troi look through it and find that seven years of personal entries had been deleted for some reason. 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.
Going back inside her mother's mind to get answers to these new questions, 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 a Betazoid version of Hedril. One tragic day during a family outing 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, 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 a few seconds as the infant Deanna was crying) blamed herself. After confessing to Deanna, her daughter asks her to summon Kestra to say goodbye to her 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. Deanna and Lwaxana then have a heartfelt talk about Kestra.
"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."
- - 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)
- Script: 26 August 1993 
- Filmed: 27 August 1993 – 6 September 1993
- Premiere airdate: 1 November 1993
- First UK airdate: 21 February 1996
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, 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)
- Echevarria regretted having been forced to tone down Maques' comical attempts at language. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Lake El'nar was named after a friend of writer Hilary J. Bader. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- 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)
- 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)
- 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 loose her own natural firstborn, Thaddeus Troi-Riker, to mendaxic neurosclerosis, although she did go through the loss of Ian Troi in 2365 when he had to prematurely end his Human existence.
Cast and characters
- This episode features a very young Kirsten Dunst as Hedril.
- This is Lwaxana's last appearance in TNG. Her next appearance is in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Fascination".
- This is the first and only appearance of Ian Troi, whose name was previously established in "The Child".
- Mr. Homn was to appear in the episode, but Carel Struycken was unavailable. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) Consequently, this is the only TNG episode in which Lwaxana appears but Mr. Homn does not.
- Norman Large had previously played the Romulan proconsul Neral in "Unification I" and "Unification II", as well as Kobheerian captain Viterian in DS9: "Duet".
- This marks the final appearance of Deanna Troi and Lwaxana Troi together on-screen.
- Jeri Taylor remarked, "Ultimately, I think it worked really well and was an emotional episode. It provided a depth to Mrs. Troi's character that we had not seen before." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Naren Shankar commented, "I think Rene, who did the production re-write on the episode, did a magnificent job on the show. It's sort of like The Joy Luck Club. It was better than I expected. It was quite touching in many ways." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- 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
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 80, 23 May 1994
- As part of the TNG Season 7 DVD collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Majel Barrett as Lwaxana Troi
- Norman Large as Maques
- Kirsten Dunst as Hedril/Kestra Troi
- Amick Byram as Ian Andrew Troi
- David Keith Anderson as Armstrong
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Buck as wolf
- Carl David Burks as Russell
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- John Copage as science division officer
- Hal Donahue as command division lieutenant
- Gunnel Eriksson as science division officer
- Gina Gallante as science division ensign
- Fumiko Hamada as command division officer
- Kai as science division officer
- Deborah Landis as Cairn
- Rad Milo as operations division ensign
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- S. Reed as Burton
- Richard Sarstedt as command division ensign
- Simon as Troi's dog
- Teddy as wolf
- Candace Villwock as Deanna Troi (infant)
- Nicole Villwock as Deanna Troi (infant)
- Christina Wegler Miles as command division ensign
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Carl David Burks – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Michael Echols – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- June Jordan as stand-in for Kirsten Dunst
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes and Norman Large
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
arboretum/arbor; Betazed; Betazoid; blossom; Cairn; counselor's office; dog; "Down in the Valley"; dream; dream analysis; Earth; Federation; Federation Council; Folnar jewel plant; Folnar III; gemstone; heaven; Homn; Human; Klingon; Lake El'nar; medical emergency; metaconscious; Milton, John; Mister Woof; painting; Papa; paracortex; poetry; psilosynine; pupil; resin; rose; sub-neural scan; spoken language; teething ring; telepathic species; telepathy; Ten Forward; tree; toy; VISOR; verbal communication; vocal enhancer; wedding; widower
- "Dark Page" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Dark Page" at Wikipedia
- "Dark Page" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Dark Page" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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