In the eighteenth episode of the seventh season of The Next Generation, OH MY GOD, THAT WAS ALASTAIR FROM SUPERNATURAL, WASN’T IT? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.
Trigger Warning: For discussion of suicide
I was ready to dislike this episode, y’all. I’ll be honest right upfront. That’s not because of bad writing or anything, but because of personal bias. I don’t do stories about suicide very well because I have a very traumatizing history with it. So, I was ready to shut off after the first ten minutes of this episode. I’m happy that “Eye of the Beholder” doesn’t feel exploitative and that it doesn’t demonize Kwan or Troi for what they go through. Is it the best story I’ve ever seen that covers the experience? No, not by a longshot, but it’s respectful. Kwan’s suicide, which opens “Eye of the Beholder,” is given full attention from the crew. Granted, there’s a lot of focus on the affect that the suicide has on other people, but there is an honest attempt by Deanna and the others to determine why he might have killed himself. In essence, Deanna was trying to find closure, something that his family friends would not have gotten otherwise. (How the hell are Deanna and Picard going to explain that one??? “We’re sorry, your son was killed by the psychic imprint of a murderer, terribly sorry, we can’t do anything because the killer has been dead for eight years.)
When the episode begins to get away from the immediacy of Kwan’s suicide, it made it easier for me to watch. The introduction of the empathic mystery helped because it gave me something else to focus on rather than the sadness of Kwan’s death. I found it fascinating that in investigating his suicide, the show then caused me to suspect everyone around him. Did Maddy have an ulterior motive? Did Nara secretly resent Kwan? Yet the first empathic flash that Deanna gets suggests a much more malicious phenomenon at work. And it grabbed me! I admit that. It’s entirely a subjective reason to be entertained, and I’m fine with that. My brain stopped thinking about suicide, and I could instead devote myself to figuring out this mystery.
The mystery itself is also one of the better puzzles we’ve gotten on the show, and let all my terrible guessing throughout “Eye of the Beholder” stand as evidence of that. The pieces seemed so disconnected, and then I was certain that I knew exactly what was going on, and I WAS WRONG RIGHT UP UNTIL THE END. But before I talk about that ending, I wanted to address the CLEAR best part of “Eye of the Beholder.” Amidst a murder mystery that’s eight years old, The Next Generation does something it’s never done: IT ACTUALLY CONTINUES A ROMANTIC RELATIONSHIP FROM A PREVIOUS EPISODE.
What have I done to deserve this??? WHO CARES, I ADORE EVERYTHING ABOUT THIS. I love that we get to see Worf awkwardly face the realities of physical affection. I love that he tries to flirt and he’s just uncomfortable and not subtle at all, and he still does it even though he knows he’s terrible at it because it just feels right. I love the way that Deanna seems reluctant when Worf first kisses her, and then we watch her epiphany. There’s that line she utters the next morning: “Why didn’t we do this before?” You can see that in the way she pulls Worf into her arms and the way she pulls him down for a kiss. I love that the character most closely identified by his toughness and aggressive nature is allowed to be tender and gentle on screen with someone who just works. I honestly never once considered this pairing, and I now can’t imagine a world without it. The chemistry between Worf and Deanna is so obvious to me!
Thankfully, even after Deanna is consumed by Pierce’s empathic hallucinations, the show DOESN’T SPLIT THEM UP! I was so ready for the writers to do what they did during “Attached” and THEY DIDN’T. Deanna doesn’t tell Worf that they can’t have a relationship while they still work together, and it’s obvious from the end of the episode that they both want to continue seeing one another? Is this real, y’all? Did I imagine this? THE SHEER POTENTIAL IS UNBELIEVABLE, and it wasn’t destroyed in the end.
Look, I wasn’t expecting that ending just because of this show’s history with romance and the main characters. Everything leading up to the conclusion gave me pause. I was certain that the reason she kept viewing Worf suspiciously is because the writers wanted to give her a reason to claim that her relationship with Worf was a bad idea. How could they possibly work together if they were always so distracted? Hell, I was even worried that the show was going in that super uncomfortable direction where the woman was suddenly too “emotional” to handle a romance at work. Part of the reason the resolution of Kwan’s death was so satisfying to me was because it meant that what Deanna experienced of the Worf/Maddy relationship WASN’T REAL. Meaning that Worf really did like her, and he did care about her, and EVERYTHING IS STILL FINE. How scary was Pierce, though? HE’S THE WORST. So that means everyone imagined Pierce? He died back on Utopia Planitia, right? That part didn’t make all that much sense to me, since only Kwan and Deanna were able to see Pierce, Marla, and the other man. How did everyone see Pierce?
Bah, who cares. WORF AND DEANNA FOREVER.
The video for “Eye of the Beholder” can be downloaded here for $0.99.
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