(written from a Production point of view)
Picard serves as host for a peace treaty between two warring planets, but he may be unable to resist the reconciliation "gift" – a beautiful empathic metamorph who is to be presented by one leader as the other's wife.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 45761.3. In an effort to bring an end to their centuries long war, Krios and Valt Minor have agreed to a ceremony of reconciliation to be held aboard the Enterprise at a point midway between their two systems."
The Enterprise is en route to mediate a peace treaty between the Valtese and the Kriosians. While welcoming Ambassador Briam aboard, the Enterprise receives a distress call from a Ferengi shuttle about to suffer a collapse of the containment field and explode. The Enterprise arrives to their rescue and manages to beam aboard the two Ferengi before their shuttle explodes. Worf escorts them to quarters. They seem thankful to be there, but when Worf leaves, they remark to themselves that it "was too easy."
Picard resumes talking with Briam, and takes him to the holodeck, where the Temple of Akadar has been programmed for the peace talks. He is impressed and optimistic. Briam needs to consult the history a bit more before continuing with Geordi La Forge for preparations. As they leave, one of the Ferengi, Par Lenor forcefully introduces himself to Briam attempting to gain exclusive trading rights, but Picard and La Forge eventually pull him away.
Meanwhile, sneaking around the ship curiously, the other Ferengi named Qol discovers a strange, glowing cocoon in one of the cargo bays. He attempts to scan it while standing on a few stacked barrels, but slips when Worf, who asks him what he's doing, and a security team enter. He kicks a barrel into one of the suspension beams, making it overcompensate and slice open the cocoon. As the captain, Briam, and Riker enter, the cocoon slowly falls to the ground and melts before their eyes, revealing a beautiful woman, while Worf pulls Qol away. She approaches Picard, and gives herself to him, thinking he is Alrik.
Her name is Kamala, and she is an empathic metamorph, a woman with the genetic aptitude to meet the desires of any man she is with. She has the ability to sense what a potential mate wants, what he needs, and what gives him the greatest pleasure and then to become that for him until she reaches the final stage of bonding, during which she must imprint upon herself the requirements of one man, to serve as his perfect partner in life. From birth she has been reared for this event and is thus being presented as a gift to Alrik, to seal the peace agreement between Krios and Valt Minor. By the symbolic act of wedding this perfect mate to the leader of Valt Minor – Chancellor Alrik – Ambassador Briam hopes to end the longstanding conflict that has been plaguing both their worlds for centuries.
Riker escorts Kamala to quarters. She warns him about her elevated pheromones. This is due to her being in finiis'ral, the final stage of her sexual maturing process, during which her body produces an unusually high amount of pheromones which are very provocative to members of the opposite sex. Because this is the final stage of her sexual maturation, she must also bond with whoever she wishes to be the most like for the rest of her life in a very short time. Nevertheless, due to her empathic nature and elevated hormone levels, Kamala cannot resist briefly responding to Riker's inner desires and even attempting to seduce him. Fortunately, Riker shows himself to be disciplined enough to resist her advances (insisting that he has a policy "not to open another man's gift"), though he is clearly severely tempted.
While they are having breakfast in his cabin, Dr. Crusher objects to the Enterprise crew essentially facilitating the "sale" of Kamala, a sentient being, into "a life of virtual prostitution." Picard rejoins that arranged marriage has been a diplomatic tool for centuries, including on Earth. Crusher does not relent, and Picard sarcastically suggests that they throw the Prime Directive to the winds, stop the marriage, and allow the two cultures' war to continue. But Crusher has the last word, informing him that Briam has confined Kamala to her quarters like a prisoner. Picard is taken aback, and disturbed, to hear this.
Picard pays her a visit. Although she turns the heads of many men, including that of Riker, she herself develops a very particular interest in Picard. During that visit, he already feels himself being affected by the things she does with men and asks her to stop doing whatever she is doing. However, Kamala states that this is her nature and that her wishes and her needs are fulfilled by what she gives to others. She tells Picard that he knows her better than he realizes, for she is independent, forceful, brilliant, and adventurous – exactly as he would have her be. A very uneasy Picard makes his way quickly out of her quarters and in an effort to protect both himself and Kamala from the effects that she has on men. He says he'll talk to Briam about her confinement.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 45766.1. We have reached the designated coordinates for the conference and await the arrival of Chancellor Alrik."
Picard tells Briam he won't let Kamala be confined, despite his warnings of trouble, the same as Kamala mentioned earlier. Picard is aware of this however, so he assigns Data as her chaperone. However, Kamala causes quite a stir around the ship, for wherever she goes she stirs feelings of affection, adoration, and even downright lust in the hearts of male crew members and visitors. When Kamala and Data arrive in Ten Forward sometime later, her effect is immediately apparent in the miners the Enterprise had picked up at Harod IV. Riker, who is having a drink with Worf, leaves to avoid what he knows is coming. Kamala and Data go up to the bar, at which point one of the miners begins harassing Kamala. Data tells the miner that his behavior is extremely rude, before the other miners begin bothering Kamala as well, though she takes it in stride and is comfortable with it. When Worf steps in, however, the miners stop. Data escorts Kamala out of the bar to take her to the ship's arboretum. Just before they leave, Kamala growls at Worf suggestively and Worf instinctively growls back, before composing himself.
In Picard's ready room sometime later, Picard is informed of the incident in Ten Forward. Picard tells Kamala that he has confidence in his crew members' self-control, but there are civilians aboard the Enterprise. Kamala then displays her knowledge on a variety of subjects, including Shakespeare's work and Picard's origins in France. Kamala tells Picard that some of her knowledge of Picard's origins came from help from Data. The more Picard surrounds himself with Kamala, the more he talks with her and the more he gets to know her, the more he feels himself drawn to her, while at the same time recognizing the impossibility of such a union. He even tries to convince Kamala that he is actually pretty dull, falling asleep with a book in his hand every night. However, Kamala does not give in, for she knows that some part of Picard wants her to continue pursuing him.
Meanwhile, the Ferengi Par Lenor and Qol make their reasons for being on the Enterprise known; they want to buy Kamala from Briam. They offer up to twenty thousand Ludugial gold coins. Briam is understandably offended, and, after thanking the Ferengi for sharing the information, promises to tell Picard, but the impulsive Ferengi attack Briam and he falls, striking his head on a glass table and falling into a coma.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. The Ferengi have been dispatched via shuttle to Starbase 117. What charges will be brought against them depends on whether or not Ambassador Briam recovers."
In sickbay sometime later, Crusher tells Picard and Kamala that if they're lucky, Briam should regain consciousness within a few days. Kamala, however, tells Picard that the peace negotiations can't wait that long because of her premature removal from stasis, so the responsibility falls with Picard who – while having diplomatic experience – is not quite familiar with all the ceremonial requirements of the treaty and requires the assistance of Kamala who knows about the rituals and ceremony of her people. After Kamala tells Picard about her childhood, she finds it rather ironic that on the eve of this ceremony, which she has spent her entire life preparing for, she should meet a man like him.
Finally, Chancellor Alrik arrives on the Enterprise and quickly establishes himself as not particularly interested in either Kamala or a mate, only in trade agreements. However, he is willing to accept Kamala as it furthers his aforementioned ambitions. Picard himself is apprehensive as to what Kamala will become when she is joined with Alrik.
Picard pays a visit to Kamala in her quarters. He informs her that chancellor Alrik is on board and that the next morning she will meet him at last. Kamala begs Picard to stay and talk to her as she loves the sound of his voice and she doesn't want to be alone. Kamala says she will turn out the lights and just listen to him. After some thought Picard gives in, on the condition that the lights stay on.
During morning tea, Picard confides in Crusher that he can't help thinking about her being with a man who cares more about trade agreements. He says Crusher was right about her.
Shortly before her wedding ceremony, Kamala confesses to Picard, who is now in his dress uniform, that she will never truly love Alrik, for she has bonded with Picard. Who she is today, she will be forever. However, her empathic abilities will allow her to please Alrik and continue the facade in order to keep the peace. After having bonded with Picard, she also has learned the meaning of duty. "I only hope he likes Shakespeare" she adds with a smile. Picard then escorts her to Alrik.
The wedding is a simple, yet elegant affair. Alrik meets Kamala in the holodeck reproduction of the Temple of Akadar, she repeats the ceremonial line which defines her existence, "I am for you, Alrik of Valt," and they kiss. If Alrik is moved by Kamala's beauty, he does not show it. Picard, standing nearby, appears distraught.
When Briam is recovered and preparing to leave the ship, he asks Picard's permission to ask a personal question. Briam knows full well why he was chosen to escort Kamala on this peace mission: as a very old man of over two hundred years, her pheromones don't affect him as much; however, he'd be lying if he said they didn't affect him at all. Briam is astonished that Picard worked with her for days, side by side, and cannot help but wonder how Picard could possibly resist her. Picard merely responds by wishing the ambassador a safe trip home. Picard stands in the transporter room long after the ambassador transports off, and the two ships depart, going their own, separate ways.
"Mr. Worf, assign the Ferengi to quarters. Not too close to mine."
- - Riker
"This has been very educational, but I make it a policy never to open another man's gift."
- - Riker, to Kamala
"I am for you, Alrik of Valt."
- - Kamala, mistaking Picard for the chancellor
"Riker to bridge, if you need me I'll be on Holodeck 4."
- - Riker, after nearly falling for Kamala's charms.
- - Kamala and Worf
"Kamala, you are one day away from an arranged mating. Why would you want me to visit you in your quarters?"
"I said a visit. I didn't ask you to make love to me."
- - Picard and Kamala
"Nothing, nothing lies beneath. I'm really quite dull. I fall asleep each night with an old book in my hands."
"When a metamorph finds you interesting, do not take it lightly."
"Oh, I'm not taking it lightly, I'm just trying… to be as dull as possible."
- - Picard and Kamala
"Even the walls of Jericho fell, captain."
- - Kamala to Picard, revealing that she has also learned some Terran Lore
"Do you find me unattractive?"
"I find you unavailable."
- - Kamala and Picard
"Now that I know that you are listening to my voice, I find that I can't think of anything to say."
- - Picard, to Kamala
"A starship captain must encounter all sorts of lifeforms. Am I one of the most unique you've ever met? Please say yes."
"What a nice thing to say."
- - Kamala and Picard
"Haven't I done my best to discourage this?"
"Maybe that's the perfect way to attract a metamorph."
- - Picard and Kamala
"… for your thoughts. Penny for your thoughts."
"Do you have one?"
"I'm sure the replicator will have one on file."
"Beverly, may I take off the uniform for a moment?"
- - Beverly Crusher and Picard
"Perhaps I just needed a shoulder."
"Well, it's there for you, Jean-Luc. It always has been."
- - Picard, after telling Crusher how distressed he is in giving away Kamala forever to Alrik
"I will never truly love him."
"You've not even met him."
"It no longer matters. I wish I could convey to you what it's like to be a metamorph; to feel the inner strength of someone; to realize that being with him is opening your mind and heart to endless new possibilities; to hear yourself say "I like myself when I'm with him"."
"For a metamorph, there's no greater pleasure, and no greater wish, than to bond with that kind of mate at the end of the finis'raal as I have bonded with you."
"Who I am today, I will be forever."
- - Kamala, to Picard
"Would you ask me to stay? And ask two armies to keep fighting? Having bonded with you, I've learned the meaning of duty. He'll never know. I'm still empathic, I will be able to please him.
"I only hope he likes Shakespeare!"
- - Kamala, explaining that she will nevertheless do her duty
"Ambassador, have a safe trip home."
- - Picard, when Briam expresses surprise that Picard could resist Kamala after working closely with her
- Third draft script: 24 January 1992
- Final draft script, and storyboards by Dan Curry: 10 February 1992 
- Production meeting: 11 February 1992 ("Cost of Living" call sheet)
- Filmed: 14 February 1992 – 25 February 1992
- Premiere airdate: 27 April 1992
- First UK airdate: 10 May 1995
Story and script
- Of the story, Michael Piller commented, "We have Beverly argue the point that Kamala's mission amounts to prostitution. And we have Picard taking the other tack: that whether or not we approve, we can't change or interfere with the way these people are. And if you accept Roddenberry's vision, which we are built on, you have to respect that." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 200)
- The script was revised by a number of writers. According to Piller, the central issue was that the relationship between Picard and Kamala wasn't working. He remembered, "In a long memo to René Echevarria, I said this show does not work if the audience, at least the men, do not fall in love with this woman too. She must be fully rounded, bright, engaging, with a great personality and the audience should say, 'I see the problem for Picard.' If there's no magnetic electricity between the two of them and it doesn't happen for me as a man watching her, then the audience will not accept for one second that Picard would even give her a second thought." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 245)
- "Gary Perconte" was a pseudonym for Piller's friend Reuben Leder, who disliked the rewrites to his draft script. This was the only time that a writer requested a pseudonym during Piller's time on The Next Generation. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 200)
- An alternate ending proposed by Piller during production showed Picard intervening during the ceremony to stop the wedding, only to reveal that his abrupt intervention was only in his imagination, as the ceremony continued. Although Patrick Stewart liked the idea, Piller was overruled by Rick Berman. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 256) This scene is included as an extra on the TNG Season 5 Blu-ray.
- Two additional endings were considered, but not filmed. One of these had Kamala interrupting the ceremony to decline both Alrik and Picard. Piller remembered, "She says through Picard's influence she's been enlightened and is going off in search of adventure, leaving both men standing there. I was overruled. I think that those who overruled me would say that her leaving was not justified by anything else in the script, but I would argue with that." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 245)
- Rick Berman recalled that there were a number of heated discussions about the choice of ending. "None of us will ever know which of the four would have been best." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 245)
- "The Perfect Mate" was filmed between Friday 14 February 1992 and Thursday 25 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16.
- On Monday 24 February 1992 the sets were visited by people from Premium Advanced Sales and on 25 February 1992 the cast and crew celebrated "Surfer Pants Day", where the wearer of the most unique pair of baggy surfer pants was awarded with a prize. ("The Perfect Mate" call sheet)
- The production meeting for this episode took place on Tuesday 11 February 1992 at 3:00 pm. ("Cost of Living" call sheet)
Sets, props, and costumes
- According to composer Jay Chattaway, the Kriosian musical instrument was represented by a Balinese Gamelan instrument. The producers brought in Balinese musicians to provide the piece of music heard in the episode. ("Memorable Missions Year Five – The Perfect Mate", TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
- Costume Designer Robert Blackman found creating the wedding gown particularly challenging, as in the script it was merely described as "the most incredible gown a woman has ever worn", giving no indication as to what it actually looked like. (; Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Continuing Mission, p. 163) Blackman was proud of his work on this episode, commenting, "I thought the clothes in 'The Perfect Mate' were interesting." (Star Trek Monthly issue 32, p. 77)
Cast and characters
- Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) does not appear in this episode.
- Patrick Stewart and Famke Janssen later worked together again in the X-Men films, playing Professor Charles Xavier and Jean Grey, respectively. Famke's character in this episode also introduces herself as an "empathic mutant", a description also shared by the character of Jean Grey from X-Men.
- Famke Janssen was offered the role of Jadzia Dax for Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. When Janssen turned the role down, actress Terry Farrell took her place. When initial tests with the original Trill make-up from "The Host" were unsatisfactory, the make-up crew remembered Kamala's spots and decided to use them on the Trill as seen on Deep Space 9. Hence the revised Trill makeup very much resembles that of the Kriosians with the characteristic spots. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion, p. 7)
- Max Grodénchik later appeared on Deep Space Nine as the recurring character Rom, another Ferengi, using similar prosthetic teeth with the prominently visible crooked tooth.
- Michael Snyder later appeared in TNG: "Rascals" as another Ferengi, Morta.
- The premise of this episode has resemblances to TOS: "Elaan of Troyius". In both episodes the Enterprise transports a female with unique properties (see Elasian tears) for an arranged marriage for diplomatic purposes, she becomes attached to the captain but eventually they part ways.
- Kamala's statement in the Ceremony of Reconciliation, "I am for you, Alrik of Valt" mirrors Losira's statement from TOS: "That Which Survives", though in the latter case, it was delivered prior to an attack, not marriage.
- Dolphins are revealed to be aboard the Enterprise. In "Yesterday's Enterprise", an alternate timeline version of the ship was said to have a Cetacean Ops facility.
- Director Cliff Bole commented, "[I]t showed that Picard has a flaw, you can cut into his character […] that means you can continue to make that character work. I think this is a real case for Picard, because normally he wouldn't have allowed himself to be so vulnerable." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 244)
- Rick Berman opined, "I'm very pleased with it. [Famke Janssen] is about as beautiful as any woman any of us have ever seen and she gave a delightful performance." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 2445)
- This episode is listed as #47 of io9's The Top 100 Star Trek Episodes Of All Time!
- A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 21, pp. 27-29.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 61, 15 March 1993
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 5.7, 2 December 2002
- As part of the TNG Season 5 DVD collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Famke Janssen as Kamala
- Tim O'Connor as Briam
- Max Grodénchik as Par Lenor
- Mickey Cottrell as Alrik
- Michael Snyder as Qol
- David Paul Needles as Miner #1
- Roger Rignack as Miner #2
- Charles Gunning as Miner #3
- April Grace as Transporter Officer
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
- K.C. Amos as operations division officer
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Joe Bauman as Garvey
- Steven Bosnyak as operations division ensign
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Cameron as Kellogg
- Denise Deuschle as science division officer
- Gunnel Eriksson as science division officer
- Melba Gonzalez as command officer
- Gregory as alien miner
- Grace Harrell as operations division officer
- Kai as science division officer
- Mark Lentry as science division lieutenant
- Lynch as alien miner
- Debbie Marsh as command division ensign
- Greg Poole as command division officer
- Jackson Sleet as alien miner
- John Tampoya as operations division ensign
- Théyard as science division officer
- Christina Wegler Miles as command division ensign
- Wilson as alien miner
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Cameron – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Keith Gearhart – stand-in for Roger Rignack
- John – stand-in for Michael Snyder
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Tim O'Connor and Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Famke Janssen and Gates McFadden
- Randy Pflug – stand-in for Charles Gunning
- Keith Rayve – stand-in for David Paul Needles
- Joyce Robinson – stand-in for April Grace
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Thor – stand-in for Max Grodénchik
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- James Washington – stand-in for Michael Dorn
2168; ability; Aldorian ale; ambassador; ancestry; arboretum; archaeology; arms merchant; arranged marriage; art; ballpark; barbershop; breakfast; Ceremony of Reconciliation; chancellor; chaperone; cocoon; companel; containment field; craniosacral display; croissant; day; dinner; dolphin; drawing; Earl Grey tea; emissary; empath; empathic metamorph; empire; expression; Federation; Federation Constitution; Ferengi; Ferengi shuttle; Ferengi Trade Mission; Ferengi tricorder; Finiis'ral; firstborn; garden; Garuth; generation; Harod IV; heart; history; holodeck; holograph; hour; ingot; "in the ballpark"; Kamala's companions; Kamala's mother; Klingon; Krios; Krios 1; Krios Prime; Kriosian; Kriosian musical instrument; Kriosian ship; Lapeongical period; Les Eyries; Ludugial gold; logic; long range transport; "make love"; mate; Milky Way Galaxy; miner; mutant; number one; orchestra; Paloris colony; Par Lenor's shuttle; penny; pheromone; piano; Picard, Yvette; political alliance; Prime Directive; prostitution; puberty; reactor core; recital; replicator; servant; sentient being;sex; sexual allure; sexual maturing process; Shakespeare, William; Shakespeare's sonnets; slave trader; Starbase 117; stasis; Targhee moonbeast; Temple of Akadar; torze-qua; Transporter Room 3; turbolift; tutor; Valt; Valt Minor; Valt system; Valtese; Valtese horn; Valtese ship; Ventanan archaeology; Ventanan thimble; Ventanan woven art; volume; Vulcan; walls of Jericho
- "The Perfect Mate" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Perfect Mate" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Perfect Mate" at Wikipedia
- "The Perfect Mate" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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