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, the Enterprise receives a distress call from a Ferengi shuttle about to explode. The Enterprise arrives to their rescue and manages to beam aboard the two Ferengi before their shuttle explodes. While sneaking around the ship curiously, one of the Ferengi 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 and kicks a barrel into one of the suspension beams, making it overcompensate and slice open the cocoon. The cocoon slowly falls to the ground and melts before the eyes of Captain Picard, Ambassador Briam, Commander Riker and Worf, revealing a beautiful woman.
Her name is Kamala, and she is an empathic metamorph, a woman genetically-predisposed to suit the desires of any man she is with. She has the ability to sense what a potential mate wants, what he needs, what gives him the greatest pleasure and then to become that for him until she reaches the final stage of bonding, where 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 of Valt, 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.
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. This is due to her being in finiis'ral: the final stage of her sexual maturity, where her body produces an unusually high number 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.
Although she turns the heads of many men, including that of Riker, she herself develops a very particular interest in Picard. As Dr. Crusher informs the Captain that Kamala is being confined to her quarters like a prisoner, Picard pays her a visit. During that visit, he already is affected by the things she does with men and asks her to stop doing whatever she is doing. However, Kamala states that this was 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 assigns her Data as chaperon.
In the meanwhile, the Ferengi make their reasons for being on the Enterprise known; they want to buy Kamala from Briam. They offer up to 20,000 Ludugial gold coins. Briam is understandably offended, and 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.
The ambassador is in no shape to continue with the peace negotiations, 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. The more Picard surrounds himself with Kamala, the more he talks with her and the more he gets to know her, the more he sees 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. 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, but since she is unavailable, he doesn’t entertain that thought much further.
Shortly before her wedding ceremony, Kamala confesses to Picard that she will never truly love Alrik, for she has bonded with Picard. Who she is today, she will be forever. However, she will still be able 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. She only hopes Alrik likes Shakespeare.
The wedding is a simplistic, 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.
When Briam is recovered and preparing to leave the ship, he reveals to Picard why he was chosen to escort Kamala on this peace mission: as a very old man of over 200 years, the 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, who worked with her for days, side by side, could possibly resist her. Picard merely responds by wishing the ambassador a safe trip home. He is standing 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 to never open another man's gift."
- - Riker to Kamala
"Do you find me unattractive?"
"I find you unavailable."
- - Kamala and Picard
"Riker to bridge, if you need me I'll be on Holodeck 4."
- - Riker, after nearly falling for Kamala's charms.
"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."
- - Kamala and Picard
"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 explains that she will nevertheless do her duty.
"A penny for your thoughts."
"Do you have one?"
"I'm sure the replicator will have one on file."
- - Beverly Crusher and Picard
- Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) does not appear in this episode.
- Patrick Stewart and Famke Janssen would later work together again in the X-Men films, playing Professor Charles Xavier and Jean Grey, respectively. Famke's character, Kamala, even refers to herself as "a mutant. A biological curiosity."
- This episode has many similarities to the TOS episode "Elaan of Troyius".
- An alternate ending considered 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.
- Famke Janssen was supposed to play the science officer of Deep Space Nine, Jadzia Dax. When Janssen turned the role down, actress Terry Farrell took her place. When initial make-up tests with the original Trill make-up from "The Host" didn't look convincing, the make-up crew remembered Kamala's spots and decided to use them on the Trill as seen on Deep Space 9. Hence Kriosians' makeup very much resembles DS9 Trill makeup with the characteristic spots.
- Max Grodénchik later appeared on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as another Ferengi, apparently using similar prosthetic teeth with the prominently visible crooked tooth: the recurring character Rom, brother of Quark.
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 Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Doctor Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lieutenant 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
Last Air date
- Canada air date: 22 Feb 2010 on Space The Imaginasion Station (Ch 46 Alberta Canada)
- US air date: 25 Feb 2010 on the CW network (Ch 11 WPIX, NY)
2168; Aldorian ale; Ambassador; arboretum; archeology; arms merchant; arranged marriage; art; barbershop; breakfast; Chancellor; chaperon; com panel; craniosacral display; croissant; dolphin; Earl Grey tea; empath; empathic metamorph; Federation Constitution; Ferengi; Ferengi shuttle; Ferengi Trade Mission; Finiis'ral; Garuth; Harod IV; history; holograph; Jericho; Klingon; Krios; Krios 1; Krios Prime; Kriosian; Kriosian ship; Ludugial gold; logic; Paloris colony; penny; pheromone; piano; Prime Directive; prostitution; replicator; servant; sex; sexual allure; Shakespeare, William; Shakespeare's sonnets; slave trader; Starbase 117; stasis; Targhee moonbeast; Temple of Akadar; Torze-qua; tutor; Valt; Valt Minor; Valt system; Valtese; Valtese horn; Valtese ship; Ventanan; Ventanan thimble; Ventanan woven art; Vulcan
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