(written from a Production point of view)
As alien dignitaries visit the ship, Picard's shuttle crashes on a desolate planet where he meets a woman who has been stranded there for seven years.
In his quarters, Worf is looking at himself in a mirror. He is in his Starfleet dress uniform trying to get his Klingon baldric placed just right when the door chime sounds off and he asks whoever is standing outside to enter. Commander Riker walks in, wearing his dress uniform as well and hurriedly telling Worf that a group of visiting dignitaries are due to come aboard at any minute. Riker says that if he did not know any better, he would say Worf is procrastinating. Worf states that Klingons do not procrastinate; this issue is merely a tactical delay. Riker straightens out his baldric and Worf mentions that he does not enjoy wearing dress uniforms, finding them to be too much like dresses. Riker finds Worf's comment to be an example of an "incredibly outmoded and sexist attitude," and that he is surprised by him. "Besides, you look good in a dress," Riker jokingly tells Worf, as they walk out of his quarters.
The crew of the USS Enterprise-D is welcoming aboard two Iyaaran ambassadors, Loquel and Byleth, who are visiting the ship as part of a cultural exchange that will also send Captain Jean-Luc Picard to their homeworld, Iyar. Before Picard departs, he assigns Counselor Deanna Troi to act as Loquel's liaison and asks Commander Riker to do the same for Byleth. However, Byleth immediately demands that Lieutenant Worf serve as his shipboard guide. Worf reluctantly accepts, and Picard wishes Riker luck with the ambassadors as he departs for Iyar with Voval, the Iyaaran shuttle pilot.
In Ten Forward, a reception with buffet is held. Loquel and Troi get along while she introduces him to desserts, while Byleth continues to be rude to Worf, and demands he bring him more food despite Doctor Crusher's explanation of the protocol. Worf continues to play along and goes to get him food, running into Data, who asks him how his diplomatic assignment is progressing. While angrily cutting into a roast, Worf tells him it is merely fine. Data responds that he has found in times of diplomatic tension that it is helpful to find elements of commonality. Worf explains that Ambassador Byleth is demanding, temperamental, and rude. Data notes that Worf shares all of those qualities in abundance and suggests that he focus on he and Byleth's similarities before giving him a pat on the back and leaving.
Soon afterward, aboard the Iyaaran shuttle, Picard finds Voval gruff and uncommunicative. Their awkward silence is disrupted by a sudden malfunction. Crashing on an unidentified class M planet, Voval receives a concussion. Picard is unhurt and decides to seek help outside the shuttle when he detects a structure and some energy readings outside. While Picard walks around the surface, he is struck by one of the planet's stormy electrical discharges and falls to the ground. As he lies unconscious, someone silently drags him away.
On the Enterprise, Troi and Worf continue to deal with their guests' quirks. Worf shows Byleth to engineering, and, in the middle of explanations, Byleth rudely asks Worf a question that only an engineer would be able to answer. He sees Geordi La Forge and asks if he is smarter than Worf, and then demands to see the Bussard collectors. Worf keeps his composure and leads him away. Meanwhile, Loquel has become fascinated by the existence of desserts, as his people only eat for sustenance. He is equally intrigued by children, as Iyaarans are born fully grown after emerging from a natal pod, particularly after seeing a young boy on the Enterprise named Eric. He and Troi partake in many desserts, much to Troi's eventual dismay.
Picard awakens in the small, dimly-lit cabin of a crashed Terellian cargo freighter. A device is attached to his waist area which he tries to remove but cannot, receiving a slight shock in the process and he finds it hurts to sit up. He is approached by a solemn, attractive Human woman who informs him that Voval did not survive the crash.
Picard learns that the woman's name is Anna and that she is the sole survivor of the freighter's crash that occurred seven years before. Anna tells Picard that he has three broken ribs, which the device is restraining. He sends her to retrieve the shuttlecraft's comm panel in order to send a distress signal.
Meanwhile, Worf is struggling to maintain his composure due to the abrasive, demanding personality of Byleth. Riker says Worf can't transfer responsibility to someone else. Loquel has been pleasant, but Troi admits he is testing her limits as well, as he is continually becoming obsessed with desserts. Riker decides that the tension might be eased by a "friendly" game of poker.
Finally Picard decides to get up and walk around. He is surprised to find the door locked from outside. Anna then returns with a non-functional panel, which she accidentally destroyed when removing it with a phaser. She seems distraught that she did that, and explains that she had to give up hope in order to not be crazy, but Picard insists they will be rescued.
Picard finds a power cell while Anna is out collecting food. She brings back coltayin roots she intends to cook, and again tells Picard to rest when she finds him up. He tells her he plans to use the remaining charge to power the shuttle's systems. She again tells him she loves him, but he frankly tells her this is only because she hasn't seen anyone in seven years. She is disappointed, but Picard encourages her that they will be rescued.
On the Enterprise, the poker game is anything but "friendly" when Worf realizes that Byleth is stealing his chips. Upon the accusation, Byleth verbally and physically provokes Worf, who eventually loses control and, despite Riker's demand to calm down, attacks his guest. But instead of getting angry, Byleth is pleased. He expresses admiration for Worf's display of anger and politely excuses himself to go and document the experience, leaving everyone confused (except Loquel, who is still gleefully enjoying his dessert and offering some to Troi).
Back on the planet, Picard removes the "medical device" and realizes that it was causing the pain; his ribs are not really broken. While begging for his love, Anna has actually been holding him captive. He angrily alerts Anna to his discovery, at which point she becomes distraught over failing to gain his affection. Picard is then shocked when Anna pins him down, forcibly kisses him, tells him she loves him, and demands that the Captain love her back. Picard frees himself from her advance and rejects her a final time, and Anna rushes out the door, breaking off her necklace and locking him inside the freighter. Picard finds a crowbar to try to force open the door when he hears someone on the other side, who turns out to be the very much alive Voval.
Voval explains that he only appeared to be dead because, when Iyaarans are injured, their metabolic rates slow down in order to promote healing. He and Picard set off in search of Anna, eventually separating. Picard finds Anna standing at the edge of a cliff, threatening to commit suicide if he does not tell her he loves her. When he notices that Anna is again wearing her necklace and that Voval has again disappeared, Picard senses that something strange is going on and tells Anna to go ahead and jump. Picard begins to note the many coincidences that have happened since the Iyaaran shuttle crashed on the planet, such as her wearing the necklace at that moment, Anna disappearing and Voval appearing right after her, and Voval's insistence that they find her before she jumps.
At that moment, Anna transforms into Voval, who explains that he is not really a pilot, but an Iyaaran ambassador. He tells Picard that the Iyaarans discovered the freighter years before, along with logs indicating how a Human woman was marooned on the planet, and seven years later fell in love with a man who had also crashed. Voval brought Picard to the same planet in order to study the emotion of love by reenacting the scenario with Picard as a subject. Similarly, Loquel and Byleth were sent to experience pleasure and antagonism, as described in the woman's logs, concepts unknown to the Iyaarans. Picard comments that Humans would not have taken such a direct approach in their research, and he informs the ambassador that he has technically committed a crime. Voval is confused at that, but Picard is more interested in escape than prosecution and, after Voval confirms his assumption that the shuttle is actually operational, they return to the Enterprise.
Upon their arrival, Byleth along with a sore Worf, recount to Riker their experience of eleven consecutive hours of Worf's antagonistic holodeck program, while Loquel offers Troi a sample of bio-enzymatic supplements that the Iyaarans eat for food, apologizing that it has less flavor than chocolate, but which Troi reassures him will come as a welcome relief after the constant barrage of desserts they have been eating over the past few days. Voval and Picard part on friendly terms with Picard acknowledging the desire to obtain knowledge, and commenting that it's refreshing to encounter a people who are prepared to take an experience to its furthest extreme. He and Voval then say their goodbyes.
"Besides, you look good in a dress."
- - Riker, on Worf's dislike for dress-like uniforms
- - Picard, to Riker after observing the Iyaaran ambassadors
"Klingons do not procrastinate."
- - Worf
"I want this one."
- - Ambassador Byleth, asking to be escorted by Worf
"Are you smarter than this one?"
- - Ambassador Byleth, to Geordi La Forge concerning Worf
"I am going to kill him with my bare hands! I will take him by the throat and rip out his esophagus!"
- - Worf, referring to Byleth
"He has an obsession with food, especially chocolate."
"Then you must be in heaven."
"To be honest, he's testing even my limits."
- - Troi and Riker, referring to Loquel
"You see? You see? They are insane!"
- - Worf, referring to the ambassadors
"You are an insulting, pompous fool! And if you were not an ambassador, I would disembowel you right here!"
- - Worf, to Byleth
"Very good. Thank you, Lieutenant Worf. I think I understand now. That was a very effective demonstration."
- - Byleth, after Worf attacks him
"Tell me about your love... or I'll jump!"
"Go ahead. Why don't you do it? It's a... long way down. Must be two hundred meters, you'd die instantly if that's what you want but I don't think that it really is."
- - Anna, threatening to jump to her death while Picard begins to put the pieces together
"Voval, what is going on?!"
- - Picard, when Anna transforms into Voval
"I have heard that in moments of diplomatic tension, it is often helpful to find elements of commonality."
"Ambassador Byleth is demanding, temperamental, and rude!"
"You share all of those qualities in abundance. Perhaps you should try to build on your similarities."
- - Data and Worf
- Final draft script: 6 July 1993 
- Premiere airdate: 27 September 1993
- First UK airdate: 17 January 1996
Story and script
- The working title of the episode was "The Journey". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion - A Series Guide and Script Library)
- The original story by Roger Eschbacher & Jaq Greenspon was a homage to Stephen King's novel Misery, in which a mentally disturbed fan holds a novelist captive. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 317) René Echevarria recalled, "It was actually pitched very slyly by the writers, who pitched it as a kind of a take on on Star Trek-obsessed fans and that's what made me smile and at least pass it on." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 290)
- Jeri Taylor was impressed by the pitch, believing it could be developed into a two person drama with Patrick Stewart similar to "Chain of Command, Part II". (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 290)
- The first draft script was prepared by writing interns Jeanne Carrigan Fauci & Lisa Rich. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 262))
- Brannon Braga was assigned to give an uncredited rewrite to the script, which he completed in eight days. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 262)) He remembered, "I was not a fan of this story. Lisa and Jeanne's first draft had some very nice things in it, but the relationship wasn't working between Picard and the woman. The woman was a Starfleet woman who was very together and they had a very normal relationship and really did kind of start to be interested in each other. When it turns out that she's actually an alien trying to figure out what love's all about, I had asked the question, 'Well, she did such a good job emulating the human female falling in love, why would they need to learn anything?' What I did was make it a darker story and made the relationship much more sinister and disturbing." Braga likened his version to the film Fatal Attraction. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 290)
- Fauci and Rich's first draft included a subplot where Deanna Troi earned the rank of Commander. Taylor noted that the two stories did not fit well together. "We felt that there needed to be something that was more organically linked to the Picard story, and that's when Brannon came up with having the other diplomats from the same race of people." The original subplot was later used in "Thine Own Self". (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 290; Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 262))
- In a cut scene, Byleth awoke Worf at 0500 for a tour of the arboretum. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 262)) This scene was included as a deleted scene in the Blu-ray release.
- Eric was named after a nephew of Brannon Braga. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 262))
- Chocolate-covered raisins were originally bought for Loquel's poker-game snack, but this was changed at the last minute when it was discovered that Paul Eiding was allergic to chocolate. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 262))
- Jeri Taylor enjoyed Brannon Braga's subplot on the Enterprise. "I thought he did an absolutely marvelous job of drawing some very droll, delightful characters who were experiencing our way of life for the first time."
- Braga was ambivalent about the instalment. He commented, "Was I happy with the script? Yeah. Was I happy with the episode? I don't know. I had a lot of fun writing it, and a lot of it was cut for time, mostly the more fun moments. Whether or not they actually ended up being funny is another story. It's a matter of opinion. At the end, I give Picard a speech about people who take things to extremes to experience them, and that's what these people do. I thought that was very interesting. In order to understand the culture, you must immerse yourself in that culture. It's still a little scattered, though. In the end, even though it seems redolent of Misery and Fatal Attraction, the Star Trek twist was, it wasn't at all." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 290)
- Director Cliff Bole was disappointed with the episode, citing the constant rewrites as the cause. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 262))
- This is the first episode in which Worf, Troi, and Beverly Crusher are seen in their dress uniforms.
- This is one of only three TNG episodes to not feature the Enterprise-D bridge, the others being "Family" and "Dark Page".
- This is one of only five TNG episodes that doesn't have a stardate although Picard does confirm it is seven years from the stardate Anna tells him that denotes the date of her crash. The others are "Symbiosis", "First Contact", "Tapestry", and "Sub Rosa".
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 77, 7 March 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
- David Keith Anderson as Armstrong
- Arratia as Alfonse Pacelli
- Lena Banks as operations division ensign
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Debbie David as Russell
- Cameron as Kellogg
- David Paul Christian as Ten Forward waiter
- Tracee Lee Cocco as Jae
- Elliot Durant III as operations division ensign
- Gunnel Eriksson as science division officer
- Linda Harcharic as command division ensign
- Kerry Hoyt as operations division ensign
- Gary Hunter as science division officer
- Lorine Mendell as Diana Giddings
- Keith Rayve as civilian
- S. Reed as Burton
- Talbot as Ten Forward waitress
- John Tampoya as operations division ensign
- Christina Wegler Miles as command division ensign
- Unknown performers as
- Chuck Borden as stunt double for Michael Harris
- Rusty McClennon as stunt double for Michael Dorn
- John Nowak as stunt double for Patrick Stewart
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Debbie David – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Michael Echols – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
2363; accusation; ambassador; Anna; Anna's lover; antimatter replenishment rate; antimatter storage facility; astrophysics lab; atmosphere; battle exercise; BCD; BCD-31775; Betazed; bio-enzymatic supplement; biological research; boiling; broth; buffet; Bussard collector; cell casing; cheating; class M; coltayin root; concussion; containment pod; corrosion; crime; crystal; dessert; diplomat; disembowel; dress; Earth; energy disruption field; energy relay; enzyme; esophagus; ETA; Federation; fracture; Galaxy class decks; head of security; holodeck; holographic projection device (aka Anna's necklace); Human intimacy; inertial damper; insanity; instrument array; itinerary; Iyar; Iyar sector; Iyaaran; Iyaaran shuttle; kiss; Klingon; Klingon Empire; knitting (medicine); Ktarian chocolate puff; liaison officer; life support; mass flow rate; metabolic rate; meter; microfusion flare; natal pod; necklace; obsession; operational center; papalla juice; peach cobbler; phaser; plasma storm; poker; post-cellular compounding; precipice; premier; procrastination; protein; protocol; reception; recreation; residential deck; restrictor device; restriction field; rib; sexist; small talk; Starfleet; stealing; stellar cartography; suicide; Tarvokian powder cake; Terellian; Terellian cargo freighter (aka Terellian freighter); Terellian freighter-crash planet; Terellian freighter-crash planet sun; Terellian freighter-crash planet system; Terellian spice; title; throat; transmitter module; tricorder; whipped cream
- 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
- "Liaisons" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Liaisons" at Wikipedia
- "Liaisons" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Liaisons" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
"Descent, Part II"
|Star Trek: The Next Generation