Mark Watches ‘The Next Generation’- S06E03 – Man of the People

In the third episode of the sixth season of The Next Generation, WHAT THE HELL. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Trigger Warning: For discussion of misogyny, consent, sexual consent, body horror.

Jesus christ, this episode is horrifying, both deliberately so and because of the terribly unfortunate implications of the writing. I’m supposed to be disturbed, obviously, but I’m left feeling uncomfortable because of who this story was given to. This is not the first time that Deanna Troi has been the focus of a story dealing with romance and attraction. Granted, “Man of the People” goes in a very different direction than I expected because it’s really not about romance at ALL.

This is about one man’s insistence that a single person is lesser than the whole. I think that Alkar just might be one of the most despicable characters this show has ever given us, so I want to focus on him at the start of this. He arrives on the Enterprise under the auspices of his work as a diplomat, and it’s easy to see why no one would even suspect him of being a monster. Like everyone else, I also fell for the misdirect, believing that Maylor was his mother. It made sense, right? And while her own behavior seemed agitated and strange, I figured that this was just what his mother was like. She was invasive and rude, and I believed it. I had no reason to really question it, you know?

And that’s most likely how Alkar operated. He hid his victims in plain sight and relied on people’s misconceptions of mental illness in order to do so. So when Maylor passed, I thought it was suspicious, but more because of how Maylor had acted, not her “son.” Let’s just acknowledge upfront, then, that Alkar is a creep of the highest order, given that he fools people into fulfilling that fake funeral ceremony. Why? So that he can become a… fuck, I don’t even know what to call him. He’s like a vampire? Except instead of sucking blood or energy out of people, he gives them ALL OF HIS NEGATIVE EMOTIONS. The man justifies this because the work he’s doing is so important and necessary as a diplomat. While that might be true, how can the cost be worth it when it involves treating people as “receptacles”? THOSE ARE HIS OWN WORDS! It’s not like this is a metaphor for what he does. HE LITERALLY CALLS DEANNA TROI A RECEPTACLE. A  r e c e p t a c l e. Like a refuse bin, like a spitoon, like a goddamn dumpster for him to throw away his emotional garbage.

I’m so glad he’s dead. I don’t think I’ve ever been happier to see an antagonist on this show die.

So let’s talk about Deanna Troi. Mirina Sirtis is a goddamn incredible actress, and even though I have a couple of major issues with the writing for “Man of the People,” she does stunning work with a deeply uncomfortable portrayal of Troi. I wonder if the emotions she expressed here were just exaggerated versions of her own, or if Alkar merely passed his along. The script wasn’t that clear on it, but I thought hard on it specifically because of that therapy session. It’s one of the most heart-wrenching things to watch because it felt so quintessentially unlike Deanna. She’s always the first to offer empathy and sympathy, and here, she not only dismisses the person she’s counseling, she blames her for someone else’s flaws AND threatens to transfer her off the Enterprise.

But her erratic behavior is not limited to just rudeness. Before she literally lashes out at Riker (THAT SCENE FUCKED ME UP), she is shown to have changed by being… overtly sexual. Which makes me feel all kinds of weird things, first of all, because I don’t like the quiet assertion that a sexually forward woman is someone to be looked at negatively. However, even if we disagree on this point, I think we can all agree that this show and all shows ever made on this fair Earth need to STOP MAKING CHARACTERS HAVE SEX WHEN THEY ARE IN EMOTIONALLY OR MENTALLY COMPROMISED STATES. WHAT THE FUCK, ARE YOU TELLING ME THAT DEANNA JUST COMPLETELY FORGOT THAT SHE HAD SEX WITH THAT ENSIGN? If she was under assault by all of Alkar’s pent-up emotions and “dark thoughts,” then it’s impossible for her to have consented to sex with that young man.

And, in another shocker, it’s completely unaddressed within the script. OF COURSE IT’S NOT. Ugh, I really think this episode could have been a vicious thriller if I wasn’t so distracted by this trope being used again. Stop doing it, writers! It’s universally terrible!

The video for “Man of the People” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

– I will be at Borderlands Books, Book Riot Live, and Windycon this fall! Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be Kings, season 1 of Sense8, season 1 of Agent Carter, seasons 1 & 2 of The 100, Death Note, and Neon Genesis Evangelion. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
- Mark Does Stuff is on Facebook! I’ve got a community page up that I’m running. Guaranteed shenanigans!

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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