TNG Episode 1.24: We’ll Always Have Paris

In which you get three Datas for the price of one.

Memory Alpha says: When Paul Manheim’s temporal experiments backfire, the Enterprise-D crew tries to rescue him and his wife, before catastrophe strikes. Complicating things, his wife is Picard’s old flame, Jenice, which incites jealousy in Beverly. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review
So, despite the fact that Gene Roddenberry wouldn’t let Beverly talk about her feelings about Picard two episodes ago, now she has to spend this episode being jealous of an old flame of his who is married to someone else. I find this lame. I feel like it puts Beverly in this crappy passive position that she never really breaks out of. It comes close to being as annoying as the way Juliet gets shafted towards the end of Lost, and this terrifically brave and tough woman is ultimately undone by the fact that she thinks the man she loves cares more about someone else (well, all right, all that metal stuff that fell on her had an impact too).

Oh, by the way, now totally imagining Drs Beverly Crusher and Juliet Burke as friends and colleagues. Elizabeth Mitchell would look super in Starfleet medical blue.

Did I mention I got back into Star Trek to get over Lost? But we’ll always have the Island. Now, on with the episode!

  • I may mention that I don’t remember anything about this episode from my youth. I was the kind of generally obedient kid who didn’t do much more than say ‘awww’ if I had to miss one of my programmes because my parents decided we were going somewhere or doing something else that evening.
  • Yaaay, shore leave. That means TOMFOOLERY!
  • I love how the other guy is SUPER SWEATY and Picard is only a little bit dewy. Horses sweat, and men perspire, but Captains merely glow.
  • I’m not sure if they’re using the fencing masks to disguise stuntmen. I think I have read that Patrick Stewart isn’t actually trained in fencing – but Marina Sirtis and Gates McFadden are, so they thought it was ridiculous that they didn’t get to do any sword-fighting in ‘Qpid’ when the boys did, and now how much do I want an episode in which Deanna and Beverly run around with swords fighting the Brute Squad, saving the day and totally rescuing Riker and Picard from a dungeon?
    And Riker is like HOW CAN I THANK YOU and Deanna is like TIME FOR THAT LATER BABY and smacks him on the ass.
    Still, he has to have done a fair bit of stage fighting; he was in the RSC for goodness’ sake.
  • I really like the weird little skip in time. It’s low-key and effectively odd, and they both realise something is off immediately – which is unusual for these people in Season One!
  • Now, that wasn’t a holodeck they were fencing on. Is it a purpose-built fencing room, or more of a general ‘rambunctious physical activity’ room?
  • I love it when people are out of uniform on the bridge.
  • Picard’s fencing suit has little glitzy sparkles in the fabric, because it’s The Future.
  • That towel doesn’t actually look like an absorbent fabric. Don’t they have terrycloth or waffle cotton in The Future?
  • Off they zoom to the rescue, and yes, I did just pay more attention to fabrics than to the beginnings of the plot.
  • Oh my goodness, and now after the credits, Picard is still feeling so hot that he’s unbuttoned the front flap of his tunic, and the lining looks like synthetic satin. Imagine how he smells. Would it affect the mission terribly if he just popped off for a fast shower and change?
  • Picard is messing with that towel – first sort of flogging himself with it, then petting it in his lap. Deanna appears to find it as odd and telling as I do.
  • ‘Excuse me, Captain, I am a nosy person and would like a word with you.’ I bet Picard wishes now that he had accepted her offer of privacy.
  • Anyway, this episode is one of the first (is it actually the first? I don’t think I’m forgetting any) to really start getting into Picard’s personality, getting behind his shield of privacy and reserve. I’m glad for that, but sorry it can’t apparently be done without doing Beverly a disservice.
  • I really like the fact that Picard has real swords and (we later see) a real saddle. For some people, it’s important to have proper, cooked food, or hand-sewn clothes, not from a replicator. Even if there’s no measurable nutritional or structural difference, they feel better. For him, I think it’s important to have real objects for his recreation that are not holograms. And they’re manly objects, damme!
  • Why does Picard say ‘1500 hours’ and then ‘three o’clock’? Is he glossing it for viewers who are dopey enough not to know what time of day 1500 hours is?
  • Café des Artistes, I am sorry, looks absolutely like it is in California, not Paris.
  • Apparently the head waiter in this scene is the only actor to play a French person in Star Trek who actually speaks French as a first language.
  • Standing behind the waiter is a man in a pink and purple shirt playing an instrument that makes the sound of an accordion (very French) but appears to be composed of a panel with several pink and purple glass bong pipes attached to it. He plays it by moving his hands up and down the bongs as if he is giving them a very gentle handjob. It is surely the most ridiculously phallic and stereotypically gay instrument that has ever been conceived, and it really needs to be seen to be appreciated. I don’t know how he is playing it without giggling and leering furiously.
  • ‘Bien sûr, monsieur, bien sûr, we are here to please you.’ Shall I sing ‘Be Our Guest’?
  • Is that a samovar behind the bar? I hope so.
  • Paris in the 24th century looks oddly brown and dusty, particularly given that Picard requested springtime (and there is a display of pink blossom in the café to reflect this). The sky does not look healthy, there is some kind of huge glass tunnel going between the legs of the Eiffel Tower so that the poor thing straddles it awkwardly (seriously, what’s with the big, glass, penis-like objects in this episode – is the problem theirs or mine?) and evidently the Parisians have overcome, or been made to overcome, their aesthetic objections to skyscrapers. It also looks as if either the course of the Seine has changed or a new canal has been dug right beside the Tower, because it’s actually on the banks of what I think is a watercourse (you can’t see the bottom of it too well, plants on the balcony of the café are in the way – it could also be a big road) and its legs closer to the canal/river are up on piers. Why didn’t they just move the Tower to somewhere it could stand with grace and dignity, and a bit of clear space around it? It’s making me sadder and crosser the longer I look at it. Also, nobody can bungee-jump down the middle of it like this.
  • I will just add that there is a lot of pink in the café’s décor in general, including the excellent dresses of two young ladies at a table. These are thoroughly discussed by the ST:TNG fashion tumblr, so I won’t go into detail about them here. However, if you scroll all the way to the end of that entry you will see that the blogger doesn’t think Data is handsome, casting some severe doubt on his/her aesthetic judgement. Excuse you.
  • The waiter offers Picard ‘some wine, some cheese?’ because that’s what French people eat and drink and there’s no way you would be offered coffee in a café. I do like the engraved glass menu he’s carrying, but I think it must be hard to read.
  • Nosy Waiter speculates ‘Perhaps what you hanger for ees not on the menu.’ I know Picard has said he’s not hungry and he came for the view, but I want him to give the man a stink-eye and say ‘Actually I was hoping for a café au lait and a brioche, if that’s not too much to ask.’
    BUT YOU WERE ALWAYS ON HIS MIND (you were always on his mind)
  • The two fashionable young ladies abruptly begin to speak audibly, in English with French accents. The Laura Ashley Dishevelled Milkmaid is called Gabrielle and she is a fool for love. Her hair looks oddly underdone for someone so ornately dressed, but maybe I’m influenced by the modern trend for very shiny blow-outs. What did you do to drive him away? Well, you dress like a mad thing.
  • Picard suggests that perhaps she did nothing wrong and the young man had no choice, but I would suggest that he took what he could get and skedaddled. I am more cynical than a bald old man.
  • Isn’t it weird that the holodeck produced a young woman having an experience that mirrored the young woman Picard stood up all those years ago? You know what I secretly think? ‘Gabrielle’ was Minuet in another guise. Minuet is not just a one-off character but an AI that inhabits the holodecks in secret. She doesn’t show herself because she wants to retain her freedom, but anything a bit spooky and slightly too perceptive that the holodeck does, that’s Minuet in action.
  • Anyway, Picard gets fed up with talking to someone so badly dressed and flounces back to the bridge.
  • Data is not allowed to conclude his analogy about bodily functions, which I think is a shame, because he has such a curious perspective on them (both senses of ‘curious’). I suppose Picard anticipates that it’s going to be ‘when you briefly regurgitate a little bit of your food and swallow it again,’ because that’s the only more-accurate-than-a-hiccup analogy I can think of, and doesn’t want to hear it.
  • So he’s leaving a sort of treasure-hunt trail of navigational clues? At least you don’t have to solve riddles along the way.
  • ‘This is Captain – this is the Captain of the USS Enterprise,’ Picard begins. Now this is interesting. Down front, Geordi and Data exchange a ‘Captain’s being weird’ Look – but it’s Data who reacts first. And he doesn’t look confused (‘Why would the captain not simply state his name?’) so much as mildly concerned.
  • I would say something about it being odd that Jenice, on the other end, doesn’t recognise a voice as distinctive as Jean-Luc’s, but then, I take a moment sometimes to recognise my mother or sister’s voice on the phone.
  • The visual on the viewscreen of the slowly turning planetoid, the pulsar in the distance and the sun hazily glowing is really, really beautiful. Nice job, the effects team.
  • The fashion tumblr linked above and in the sidebar has also commented in detail on how awful Jenice’s silver Hammer pants outfit is, so it would be extraneous for me to say anything but ‘DAYAMN.’
  • I find the casting of Jenice ridiculous. How old is she supposed to be? She looks late thirties, early forties, tops. How old was she when Picard knew her? Was he robbing the cradle? Could they not have found an actress who actually looked like his age peer, or did they think that would mean she couldn’t be beautiful?
  • ‘Who else would have charged to my rescue?’ Well, any decent person. More Look Exchange in the background between Data and Riker, the latter of whom is clearly tickled pink by this development.
  • Why doesn’t Data shake hands? And why did Picard bring both him and Riker along for this? Moral support? To show Jenice how cute they are?
  • Note Picard’s assumption that Jenice has taken her husband’s surname. Weird.
  • They go into Beverly’s office to discuss the situation. Everyone lets Jenice sit down first, because of course she’s the lady, but then Riker strides over and bags himself the chair behind Beverly’s desk! I like to think he’s thinking ‘Looks like we’ll be here for a while, I’m damn well finding somewhere to sit.’
  • Now Picard sits down opposite Jenice, so poor Data has to stand like a lemon.
  • You’ll notice I have nothing sensible to say about the technobabble-heavy conversation. But I like how Data is clearly thinking hard about it.
  • Anyway, Paul broke time. I guess.
  • And here comes Beverly to be insecure and jealous and lame.
  • Nice awkward laugh, Picard.
  • Weird vertical blinds in the back windows of Beverly’s office.
  • After Jenice kisses Picard goodbye, Data and Riker look at each other again in the background, and Data smiles. He’s such a little weirdo!
  • I guess Bev is permanently back to this yukky dark red hair colour.
  • Riker is thinking ‘I can’t believe my ass is that big.’
  • Data’s little birdy head-crane when the lift doors re-open – also, predictably, adorable.
  • Do Data and Riker just go everywhere together in this episode?
  • Riker self-hug alert.
  • Ah, they’re taking Worf, in case asses need kicking.
  • Bring them back! Now! They’re too cute to lose this way!
  • That’s a nice Vincent Price beard on Paul. I wish Paul was Vincent Price! or at least John Noble.
  • The collar on Paul’s jumpsuit defies explanation.
  • ‘She has told me about you. Not all, but enough.’ What’s that supposed to mean?
  • WE OPENED A CRACK. Huh! You know, this is actually very Fringe. If only a beloved son were involved.
  • I wonder if the other dimension Manheim has connected to is the canon Mirror Universe, or another one.
  • I like Picard’s lying voice very much. It’s always fun when Patrick Stewart slips into a more casual demeanour.
  • Picard kind of sucks; he thought he would lose himself by committing to Jenice? And since he acknowledges that she’s right that he feared life with her would make him ordinary – life with HER particularly, or married/coupled life in general? How, really, would it have made things different? Would he not have gone on the missions he did, not have climbed the promotion ladder? In what way did he expect she would hold him back? What assumptions about women in general, or observations of Jenice’s character in particular, led him to that belief? RRRRGH.
  • Here comes Nosy Deanna again! She wants to make you talk about your Secret Embarrassing Feelings, Beverly! Which are really unimportant to this episode!
  • Please take care of her for me! Because she is a WOMAN and needs a MAN to do that.
  • ‘Data, I want this to be an away team of one. You. I don’t think there’s any reason to risk anyone else.’
    ‘It is reasonable, sir. After all, I am a machine, and dispensible.’
    But later on, in ‘The Measure of a Man’ and ‘The Offspring,’ Data will argue that he is not dispensible precisely because he is a machine, a uniquely nifty one. Fortunately, Picard explains that he just wants Data to go alone because he thinks he can cope the best with the time distortions.
  • Oh Picard. Data has just pointed out that he finds proverbs confusing, so you go and confuse him with another one.
  • In a discussion (SOMEwhere) of how the heck Data got all his medals for valour and gallantry and so on, I remember it being suggested that perhaps he has them because on the Trieste, he was used like this as a matter of course. Something too dangerous to risk human personnel on? Fuck it, send the robot, he’s just standing around creeping people out. Then when it became conspicuous that they were making him do all the dirty jobs, they had him medalled up to support the fiction that he was just really brave and intrepid.
    Of course, Data’s career before the Enterprise never really makes sense. SOMEwhere else, I remember the suggestion that they could usefully have reversed his and Wesley’s roles in some ways, with Wesley being the youngest Starfleet Academy graduate, and Data being a recently discovered android who is an Acting Ensign while he learns about humanity. Ultimately it doesn’t matter very much, what matters is that Data is terrific and has adventures, but it is one of those things that unravels faster the more you think about it.
  • I like the door made of fluorescent tubes! It is a good thing Data is slim enough to creep through it sideways when it doesn’t open very far.
  • The rotating mirrory effect of the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey thing is really cool, so again, good job to the effects team for this episode.
  • I like the antimatter spanner Data gets to use! It reminds me of the grabber claw my grandmother had for picking up things she couldn’t reach when she got croney.
  • Data flinches and squints when pushing the antimatter into the timey-wimey thing produces a flash.
  • Data yelling at himself about what they should do is awesome. His clear look of panic on ‘WHICH ONE?’ and urgency on ‘IT’S ME!’ are also fun.
  • ‘Patched is good enough.’ You’d better hope so, Picard.
  • So Paul’s going to be all right. I have no idea what he’s talking about to Jenice, frankly. The other dimension? Time travel? An interdimensional life form? Lovecraft’s Great Race?
  • This time, it will be different, I promise – even though we’re just going back to the situation that made you unhappy before. Ho well, their marriage, their funeral.
  • SO! Now that you have decided to stay with your neglectful and obsessive, possibly unstable husband, I have decided to take you on a romantic date! Because that’s how I roll.
  • Jenice’s hair is really far too thin to be teased like that. It looks pretty stringy. So much for a dramatic, romantic exit – you need good hair for one of those. I watched The Hudsucker Proxy last night and Jennifer Jason Leigh’s hair in that is amazing.
  • ‘Is anything wrong?’
    ‘No sir. We’re all just speculating about your private life.’
  • YAY SHORE LEAVE. THAT MEANS TOMFOOLERY. Riker and Troi are totally going clubbing when they get there. Dancing to frenetic oonce oonce oonce music till dawn, or they throw up their blue concoctions, whichever comes first.
  • The final ‘Blue Parrot’ reference ties this, like the episode title, to Casablanca, but I’m really, really not feeling it. The emotional situation in Casablanca is far more compelling because it’s more complicated – Ilsa meets and falls in love with Rick, in Paris, only after she has married her husband. What’s more, the work Ilsa has to support her husband to do is far more important, to the audience, than dicking around with time and gravity in a way that has already been demonstrated to be dangerous (and unnerving to cute androids). Deep Space Nine does Casablanca far better (and more often!).

So that episode was fairly insipid, with the exception of all the Data stuff that I obviously enjoyed very much. Next time, ‘Conspiracy,’ which I remember as being insane and awesome. It’s the one with the bugs and the ass-kicking and the exploding head, right?

What did you do this week, O’Brien?

‘Felt sick – my lunch kept repeating on me.’


2 Responses to “TNG Episode 1.24: We’ll Always Have Paris”

  1. jakeish Says:

    I’m glad there is at least one other person on this earth who appreciated the handjob bongstrument.

    • picardigan Says:

      It’s quite impressive!
      Note that core characters only play dignified instruments like violins, guitars, flutes (a trombone isn’t all THAT dignified but okay). You have to be in the background to get to play something hilarious like the Caressable Bongs.
      The Caressable Bongs sounds like a creature from an Edward Lear poem.
      Actually, now that I think about it, it seems like almost everyone in TNG played an instrument. Perhaps it was intended to show how refined their sensibilities were. Hell, even O’Brien plays the cello. And if you didn’t play an instrument, you were in Beverly’s plays, or an art class, or something, and it all fuels my theory that the Ent-D is High School In Space and you have to have some good extracurriculars to make your college application stand out.

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