TNG Episode 2.01: The Child

In which there are puppies.

Memory Alpha says: Counselor Troi is shocked to find out she is pregnant; Wesley Crusher is weighing his options for the future, with the help of the proprietor of the ship’s lounge, Ten Forward. (Season Premiere) (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)

My Review:
There’s a thread of feminist pop culture criticism that goes by the term Women In Refrigerators. It describes a phenomenon in which the creators of a text have apparently decided that the most interesting thing a particular woman character could possibly do is die. Her life and anything she might have done in it is secondary to what her death could motivate other characters (usually men) to do.

There’s also a phenomenon, and I don’t know if it’s got a name, maybe Buns In Ovens, where the creators of a text seem to think that the most interesting and important thing they could do with a woman character is make her a mother. Like, what else could be more meaningful to a woman, right? My God, this shit was all OVER Lost. But then, of course, once a woman is a mother, our culture says she and her life are worthy but boring and limited, except when she faces a crisis in which she must protect her child or children, or as material for domestic situation comedy. So you don’t want that stuff going on too long. And I blame this thread in our culture for absolutely weird crap like an episode in which Counsellor Troi is made pregnant by a mysterious force (so they don’t have to spend time establishing a relationship with a partner with whom she might decide to voluntarily have a child, and never mind that this is pretty rapey), has a super-accelerated pregnancy and birth, and the kid is gone by the end of the episode. God.

I wasn’t thrilled by Fauxlivia’s accelerated pregnancy in Fringe recently either, but I’ll give them a tentative pass on the basis that I think that story idea was generated when they thought they were facing cancellation at the end of this season, and also I hope being a granddaddy will melt Walternate’s frozen heart. God I love John Noble!

So anyway, what in the world made them think this was an awesome story to lead into the second season with? I guess at least a woman character is getting a major plotline, but it’s a fake, creepy plotline and it makes no difference to her life in the long run. Anyway, ‘The Rikers in Space‘ is canon to me, so we know Deanna doesn’t want to have kids, she wants a dog. ‘You and your freakin’ dog!’

I’m not quite sure whether they want Worf to be a character in the show or just to have a dog called Worf. I think Worf is one of the best names for a dog ever, because he could call himself. ‘What’s your name, buddy? What’s your name?’ Dog: WORF! WORF! (pants proudly, gets biscuit and ear-rub)

It needs to be a rottweiler, obviously.

Season two is a troubled season, in any case. Gates McFadden had fucked off because she was tired of playing such a limited character who didn’t get to do anything fun (and, I have heard, she was being harassed by someone Important at Paramount, in a sad echo of one of the causes of Grace Lee Whitney’s premature departure from TOS) so we get cranky, android-baiting Dr Pulaski, who seems designed to make you suspect that Dr McCoy figured out how Spock pulled that katra trick on him and stuck his into poor Katherine to get a new lease on life. The quality of the season was also affected by a writers’ strike, which is part of why the finale is a clip show.

But on the other hand it has some truly bitchin’ stuff in it like ‘Elementary, My Dear Data’ and ‘The Measure of a Man,’ and since I’ve already said I consider this A Show About Data, that’s good enough for me.

I should probably start watching ‘The Child’ at some stage this evening.

  • Hallo again, Enterprise! Ooh, you have a new shuttlebay shot. You look very fancy and consequential.
  • Hallo again, Data! I should try to imagine that I haven’t seen you all summer, shouldn’t I? I see, to my relief, that they’ve shaped your hair a bit at the back of your head. I hated your Season One near-mullet so much. I didn’t say anything because I didn’t want to hurt your feelings.
  • New uniform on Worf! Silver pageant sash! This one looks much chunkier and as if it’s intended to have some sort of armour function. I don’t think there is any in-character explanation for this. I will just presume that, in some Klingon way, he levelled up.
  • BEARD ON THE BRIDGE! THE BOY HAS BECOME A MAN! It is decorative, and nautical. I love Riker so much more with his beard. It really is the making of the character.
  • Wesley has a new outfit, too. Awwwww, goodbye rainbow sweater and yellow brick road. Note that he now has a commbadge like a big boy. I suppose he has to be a big boy now, living without his mum. How many different people do you think she asked to remind him to eat the occasional vegetable and go to bed at a sensible hour? Actually, depressingly, I think Wesley probably eats vegetables by choice and reminds other people when it’s a sensible hour to go to bed. ‘Gee, Data, I’d really like to stay up and fix the computer with you, but I gotta get my eight hours or I’ll never make that growth spurt!’
  • The other person who levelled up over the summer is Geordi, who, without explanation, is now chief of engineering, the job nobody wanted to keep last season.
  • Riker rikes into a chair to report the acquisition of Dr Pulaski. Picard is utterly focused on a toy model thingy that Geordi built.
  • Desktop hologram projector! Groovy!
  • ‘I have to go and replicate this five hundred and twelve times.’ THIS is why nobody wanted to keep that job.
  • Maaaan, we have to travel on impulse? All the other space-faring civilisations are gonna laugh at us.
  • I think I spoke too soon about Data’s hair, it’s still looking pretty mulletty in this shot.
  • So, like, Tinkerbell is flying around the Enterprise. It does look really pretty, and apparently sees through a fish-eye lens. I guess it’s just looking for a uterus. It checks out a sleepy dude with a magnificently woolly chest, but passes him over. Then, creepadelic, it slithers under the bedspread in what turns out to be Deanna’s room, and I presume, goes up her vagina. She stirs around in her sleep and I wince. Her bedspread looks like it’s made of black sequined voile. Deanna wakes up with a shock, and can you blame her?
  • OPENING THEME OF GLORIOUS ADVENTURE. Imagine how good it was to hear that again after a summer of deprivation.
  • UNCLASSIFIED PLASMA PLAGUE. Wait, plasma plague? Like the plasma in people’s blood?
  • Reason to like Kate Pulaski #1: Priority: FIND THE BAR.
  • Adorable: Wesley starts to exit the lift, then seeing Picard is getting into it, does a seamless U-turn and gets straight back in beside him.
  • Picard actually walks away from him and Wesley takes a step closer, while Picard frantically avoids eye contact. SOOOOO UNCOMFORTABLE IN THIS LIFT.
  • ‘Moving from one assignment to another is part of the life that you are choosing.’ Except that… we’re all going to stay together for like ten years or more, with the exception of Worf, and even he still gets dragged back for every movie, even though we all refuse to acknowledge that he got married (to an awesome woman) or was widowed (via supernatural murder) in case it confuses casual viewers.
  • Wesley’s looking really pretty this season. Grey becomes him.
  • Hallo Whoopi Goldberg And Her Hat.
  • Ten Forward is really dark.
  • ‘Sit down, Captain, you’d better listen to this.’ Except Deanna sits there silently. How did they come to be discussing D’s condition in Ten Forward?
  • In the conference room, poor Deanna goes and sits right down at the end of the table, away from everyone else. And Picard announces her pregnancy to everyone, while she sits there silently. Ugh! Wince!
  • To my amusement, after saying she’s pregnant, Picard then adds ‘She’s going to have a baby’ and Riker repeats ‘Baby?’ as if this is the only part of the statement he understands.
  • And now, of course, Riker gets hoity-toity and says ‘This is a surprise.’
  • Poor Deanna!
  • ‘I don’t mean to be indelicate, but who’s the father?’ Riker’s accusatory tone makes me want to yank his beard off.
  • Interestingly, when Deanna explains what happened to her, Worf looks towards her thoughtfully but Data keeps looking to Picard and Pulaski.
  • ‘Our purpose here is to decide what is to be done about it. Discussion.’ Discussion? Excuse me. Your purpose is not to decide anything about what happens to Deanna’s own body. You can discuss and if she asks you to, advise, but know your place, dude (not in a lady’s uterus).
  • If the baby only has Deanna’s ‘genetic patterns,’ how can it be male? Where did the Y chromosome for that come from?
  • Absolutely bizarre conversation:
    Worf: Captain, obviously the pregnancy must be terminated, for the safety of the ship and the crew.
    Riker: Worf, you can’t be sure the intent was belligerent.
    Worf: That is the safest assumption.
    Worf? Good for you for being okay with abortion, but how about for the safety of the pregnant woman? Who is an individual sitting at the same table as you and might have feelings about the whole situation? And who is the only person with the right to make a decision about whether to abort the pregnancy? The way they are talking around and about Deanna instead of to and with her is awful.
  • Oh, and I might mention that Deanna has new clothes too. She looks very nice in burgundy, but would look nicer still in a real grown-up’s uniform.
  • The whole scene of Deanna deciding to have the baby is weird. Is the demon rapey foetus exerting some kind of mind control over her, to ensure that it gets to be born? Does she decide to go ahead to spite all these idiot men not asking her for her opinion or wishes? Is it some godawful pro-lifey thing where THE HEARTBEAT MAKES HER REALISE IT’S A LIFE? Ugghhhhhh. (In case it’s not thoroughly clear by now, I am adamantly pro-choice. I’m also pro-comprehensive sex education, including realistic information about contraception, so hopefully fewer girls and women will end up in a spot where they have to make that particular choice.)
  • Plasma plague, plasma plague.
  • Poor preggo Deanna, it looks like she’s wearing her dressing gown and PJs on the bridge.
  • When she says that she feels better than fine, wonderful, her voice sounds so brittle I can’t believe her.
  • I like this guy’s moustache and his no-nonsense manner! Is his name Hester?
  • Data is being so solicitous holding Deanna’s hand in that delicate, gentlemanly way. Pulaski’s remark about ‘the cold hand of technology’ brings me back to something I tend to wonder – does Data have cold hands? The only time I can currently remember his external temperature being mentioned is in ‘Thine Own Self’ when the Barkonian quack who examines him says he has clammy skin, but since Data is not functioning normally at that time due to a whack on the head and some exposure to radioactivity, that may not be how he always feels. The number one grossest sensory detail, for me, about the Twilight books, is the constant mention of how Edward Cullen feels cold and hard like marble. How can anyone want to kiss that or be hugged by it? For the sake of anyone who might touch or be touched by Data, I hope he’s not Cullen-cold. Perhaps he can adjust his surface temperature – default to cool to conserve energy, but warm up for contact with others.
  • Data’s smile when Deanna agrees for him to stand in as father is only briefly seen but it is absurd. I have completely failed to get an adequate screencapture of it but I recommend you watch this episode purely to laugh at how happy and dorky he is.
  • Deanna appears to have changed to a pink/peach lipstick for childbirth. Don’t want to look like a painted harlot for baby, I guess.
  • Much as I love Data, if he were earnestly asking me questions while my cervix was dilating, I think I might pinch his nose.
  • Did Diana Muldaur just refuse to wear a tight stretchy onesie? She has a special uniform with a looser tunic top. More power to her, I say, those things are vile.
  • First instance of Worf having to look on uncomfortably during childbirth. If he ever remarries and has another kid, I can’t imagine he’ll be too keen to participate in that. ‘I have seen it. Twice. More than enough.’
  • In the close-up shot of Pulaski looking at Deanna’s business end, she suddenly has a lot more makeup on and is more softly lit.
  • Oh, and now Riker wanders in! Every bugger on the ship is standing around while poor Deanna has her legs up in stirrups and her distended vulva waving in the breeze!
  • And the demon child is born. Data makes very sweet awe faces. Pulaski wipes some quite realistic mucus off the baby’s face.
  • Worf looks disappointed that he doesn’t get to shoot the baby.
  • GO AWAY RIKER YOU ARE NOT INVITED. Data was invited; he was there to help. Worf and his two goons were ordered to be there by the captain. YOU ARE JUST HANGING AROUND LIKE A CREEP.
  • Aw, I like how a tear drips off the end of Marina Sirtis’ nose as she looks at the baby.
  • IT’S SO SWEET HOW PICARD IS ALL FIZZING TO KNOW THE BABY NEWS. Picard secretly loves babies. It’s just once they get big enough to move around on their own and talk that they start to creep him out.
  • Of course, the painless birth is part of the whole Jesus’n’Mary mythology. But at least God had the decency to send Gabriel to announce it.
  • ‘It is as if the incident never happened.’ Deanna’s reproductive tract comes with a reset button.
  • IT’S GROWN INTO A KINDERGARTENER ALREADY. I HATE THIS THING. CREEPY CREEPY IAN.
  • Deanna’s new hairstyle is a lot better than that strange I Dream of Jeannie bun she wore for most of season one.
  • Ah, the infamous ‘Datta’ conversation. You know, for all that people think Pulaski is a big bitch to Data, she isn’t actually that nasty here – there’s warmth in her face and voice, and she does acknowledge the possibility that Data has feelings. And she explains what she meant by ‘eager beaver’ to him patiently and clearly. People who will explain things to Data patiently and clearly always get at least one point from me. Even if, at the end of the conversation, she calls him ‘Datta – Data – whatever,’ she caught herself saying Datta, corrected it to Data, and the ‘whatever’ is said with a rueful smile to herself after he leaves the room. It could be a lot meaner than it is.
  • Now, of course, I want to pay close attention every time Pulaski uses the word data as opposed to the name Data to see if she habitually pronounces it datta.
  • Gloriously, the Roman alphabet letters in the playroom where Ian gets to pet puppies are in the TOS titles font.
  • The redhead in charge of the playroom is fine. Awesome hair, great skin, pretty eyes.
  • O’BRIEN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
  • SO HAPPY TO SEE O’BRIEN
  • and he’s working a transporter! LIKE A CHIEF.
  • Ian is playing with spoons. He is so weird.
  • PICARD HAS NEVER PLAYED WITH PUPPIES? TRAGEDY. THEY WOULD LICK HIS NOSE AND CHIN AND HE WOULD BE SO HAPPY.
  • Someone please draw Picard playing with puppies. Lots of little baby dogs. OH JE SUIS SI HEUREUX DE VOIR TOUS CES CHIOTS! JE VOUS AIME, MES CHIOTS!
  • Wesley stands around looking cold in Ten Forward. Guinan AND HER HAT come over for a chat.
  • I like how the (utterly insane) hats and head coverings they put on Whoopi Goldberg as Guinan hid her trademark dreadlocks and helped to submerge the actor in the part. She has a very interesting, sculptural kinda face and it’s highlighted by having no hair framing it.
  • HESTER IS ALARMED. Seriously, is his name Hester?
  • Wtf is plasma plague, anyway?
  • Guinan tells Wesley a direct lie in this scene – she did know Picard before she came on board the Enterprise, as we later see.
  • She gave him soufflé in that pink parfait dish? Wil Wheaton was actually quite sweet in this scene, if a bit mealy-mouthed.
  • OH ARE YOU GOING TO SEPARATE THE SAUCER?
  • Something is stimulating it.
  • I love the LED numbers on Hester’s hand-held whatsis.
  • Ah, they do have blinds for the skylight windows.
  • Creepy little Ian is the problem. Go away, creepy little Ian.
  • Yaaaaay, Ian’s dead! Stay dead, Ian. Star Trek has actually got me gloating over the death of a child, and the child of someone I like, to boot. That’s what a crappy idea Ian is. SORRY IAN. LAL’S WAY CUTER THAN YOU. MOLLY AND YOSHI KICK YOUR ASS.
  • Ian turns back into a Tinkerbell and Deanna holds him in her hands for a bit. Her nails are far more normal-looking this season – still well past her fingertips, but not great long claws.
  • The best way to learn was to dive up some unsuspecting lady’s vagina without her permission! YOU SUCK, IAN. TRY JUST TALKING TO PEOPLE, JEEZ.
  • O’BRIENNNNNN! He doesn’t seem to be talking this week, but it is always a pleasure to gaze upon his noble visage.
  • HESTER WEARS HIS PANTS TUCKED INTO HIS BOOTS. I think I like Hester!
  • Except, doesn’t it eventually turn out Wesley is kidding himself about belonging here? That he does it all because he wants Picard to be proud of him, and doesn’t really like Starfleet? Oh Wesley, you’re such a mess.
  • LET’S ALL TROLL WESLEY. But because we love him. RIKER WILL MAKE A MAN OUT OF HIM.
  • You’ll remember me going on and on about how recliney the forward console chairs are on the bridge, back in season one – now they have proper upright seats, if only to stop Data slouching so dreadfully.

Right! We’ve broken the seal. Next time, ‘Where Silence Has Lease,’ a mopey title if ever I heard one. I think it’s about a face in space. And I think we’re going to see O’Brien agaiiiiiin!

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17 Responses to “TNG Episode 2.01: The Child”

  1. jakeish Says:

    I definitely hated Pulaski when I first started this season but had warmed up to her a lot by the time it was over. I think it started in ‘Elementary, Dear Data,’ in which she’s pretty fun with Moriarty, and then her later interactions with Worf sealed the deal. I know a lot of people are just completely against her, but I wouldn’t have minded her sticking around, really. In fact, I would have liked it.
    I can never tell in that video if Marina Sirtis means Worf, and also their dog, or their dog, Worf. I have to assume it’s the former but it sounds more like the latter and I heard it that way first, and that’s way more hilarious, so it’s what I go with. Uncle Data is the only one who gets to stick around because everyone loves him best! AS THEY SHOULD.
    How does Data get energy? Is that ever mentioned? I guess in the future it makes sense for machines to be fully self-powered for eternity. SCIENCE
    Clearly I don’t have anything to say about this actual episode. Other than ‘cringe.’ I guess props for finding a kid who looks like a little boy Troi, and I empathize with Picard over thinking babies are tops but being around older children is awkward. Also Guinan and her hats are one of the things I remember most strongly from watching TNG as a little kid.
    If Wesley had actually been a well-written character rather than a terribly-written one, I could have potentially related to him on an uncomfortably personal level. But he wasn’t, and I don’t.

    • jakeish Says:

      Oh, MISSING LINE BREAKS. 😐

    • picardigan Says:

      I’m pretty fond of Beverly, but yeah, Pulaski would’ve been fine! Particularly if she were allowed to develop more of her own characteristics and not crib so heavily from Bones.

      Their dog Worf is definitely better. I’m basically imagining him as the Best Dog Ever, and if Deanna does cave and adopt a space kid like Will wants, the kid can ride on his back.

      Well, in that episode where Q turns human, Data mentions that sometimes he eats some gunge that keeps him operating well, but no, I don’t think they do ever address what his power source is. Maybe his legs are entirely full of D-cells.

  2. Tea Drinker Says:

    Ah yes, it’s one of the “let’s metaphorically rape Deanna episodes”. Oh, wait, it’s pretty literal rape in this one. Very squicky.

    • picardigan Says:

      Oh yeah, that’s right! Because the most interesting thing that could happen to a woman besides dying or becoming a mother is being raped!

  3. andygrrrl Says:

    Yeah, the only decent thing about this ep is Pulaski. I LOVE Pulaski, mainly because she is a cranky bitch reincarnation of McCoy.

    “the constant mention of how Edward Cullen feels cold and hard like marble. How can anyone want to kiss that or be hugged by it?”

    See, that’s why I can’t get into the “sexy vampire” thing. Imagine how clammy the sex would be!

    • picardigan Says:

      The only way I can handle it is by assuming that Spike and Angel are both somehow nice and warm. They are the only vampires I’d even hug, so the rest can be as clammy and nasty as they want.

  4. solo Says:

    Yoshi may kick ass, but his name is still Yoshi. Little green dinosaur thing or tubby Japanirish baby, YOU DECIDE.

    Yay, Pulaski :>

    As you can see, I would rather not discuss the actual episode. Bleh, rapey, weird, body-nonsense.

    • picardigan Says:

      A little green dinosaur thing and a tubby Japanirish baby are BOTH preferable to a creepy Tinkerbell rapist!

      And to think Odo told O’Brien he shouldn’t call his baby Sean because it’s Bajoran for ‘swamp.’

  5. innocentsmith Says:

    I had not seen the Rikers In Space video before, and it pretty much made my evening. Thanks for linking!

    I had a long digressive paragraph typed out here about possibly-clammy androids, Edward Cullen, Galatea, succubi and incubi, and the frequent deep weirdness of cultural sexual norms. And then I looked at it, thought “tl;dr, and also maybe TMI” and deleted it. (You’re welcome.)

    • picardigan Says:

      Well dang, now I just want to know what you were going to say about succubi and incubi. Because Ian is totally an incubus and I wish I’d thought of that while writing about the episode!

      haha Data has amber eyes like a Cullen too

      God I hate the Cullens; if you were immortal and looked like you were in your late teens, WHY would you keep retaking high school? YOU COULD GO TO UNIVERSITY AND HAVE A MUCH BETTER TIME.

      • jakeish Says:

        this has never been more relevant/this was never actually relevant until this moment

      • innocentsmith Says:

        Well dang, now I just want to know what you were going to say about succubi and incubi.

        Ah. Well, then: it was part of the freaky-ass witchhunter’s mythology that witches had sex with incubi and/or succubi, and traditionally they were thought to take the form of incredibly attractive human-shaped beings with icy cold, um, bits. (Not making this up – medieval people had impressively graphic imaginations.) Except that apparently this wasn’t as much of a turn off as you might think, so after a few centuries it was changed to succubi and incubi being really old and ugly.

        And eventually then vampires kind of came to fill the mythological space that succubi and incubi had, and at first they were old and ugly but got humanized and became sexy, if icy cold. No idea how or why this happened, but it’s interesting. And also rather entertaining to imagine a witchfinder ranting and frothing at the mouth about the cold, hard embrace of evil and all the village girls taking a moment to picture a demonic Edward Cullen.

        • picardigan Says:

          That’s fantastic! Thank you for sharing!
          Yes, I’ve read some of the accounts that suspected witches gave (admittedly under torture and heavy prompting which says more about their interrogators than it did about them) – it seems rimming Beelzebub was a big deal.

  6. danae Says:

    Loving this blog! I just decide to rewatch TNG again too and when I stumbled across this blog I laughed so hard I thought my eyeballs were going to pop out.

    I couldn’t agree more about how disturbing that scene in the conference room is with all the men sitting around discussing what decisions they will make regarding Deanna and her body. It reminds me of what’s going on with Doctor Who this season. I don’t know how much more I can’t take of the Doctor stalking Amy’s uterus each week. So anti-feminist. At least TNG had an (albeit weak) excuse – it was 1988.


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