Star Trek: The Next Generation “Sub Rosa” (part 2 of 4)
Cut to Picard and Crusher strolling through the corridors of the ship. Crusher reveals all the private, way-too-intimate stuff she’s learned from reading Nana’s diaries. “You know she had a lover? Do you believe that? Nana was a hundred years old!”
“Mmmm,” Picard says, his interest a little too piqued. “It would seem that the Howard women have exceptionally vigorous libidos!” You wish, Jean-Luc.
Crusher lets it drop that Nana’s lover was in his thirties. All together now: Ewwww! Crusher says the guy’s name is “Ronin”, which makes no sense, since it’s a Japanese word for a rogue samurai. Regardless, Ronin is 34 years old, and he and Nana met immediately after Crusher’s great-grandmother died (hint-hint). Crusher thinks Ronin must be the Mysterious Stranger™ who dropped the camellia onto Nana’s grave. She’s mystified, however, because Nana never mentioned him.
Picard says they’ll be on Caldos for a few days. “This will be a good opportunity for you to get your grandmother’s affairs in order!” Buh-dum-bum! Actually, it’s not even played like a pun, which somehow makes it dumber. Crusher heads into her quarters, and outside, an obviously terrified Picard goes, “Thirties!” Hey, I’m right there with you, Captain.
Cut to Crusher in bed, still avidly reading the Chronicles of Nana. She falls asleep and—dunh dunh dunh!—the candle somehow lights itself. I would just like to remind you all that Groundskeeper Willie will NAWT be responsible for what happens next.
Sure enough, a special effects wire pulls the sheet off Crusher. Another wire then peels down her pink jammies, exposing one shoulder. A ghostly voice says, “Beverly…” and she immediately starts awake, sitting straight up with a gasp. She rubs her hands all over herself, obviously recovering from a case of the heebie-jeebies. And yes, that is the medical term.
The next day, Troi and Crusher sit together in the Ten Forward Lounge. Crusher is gleefully recounting a dream to Troi. She was alone in bed, but felt a “presence” and “a pair of hands” that were “moving across my skin”. She sensuously strokes her own knee as she describes it.
Troi enthusiastically says, “Like a caress?” Boy, nights on the Enterprise must get lonely. Crusher also describes the man’s voice whispering her name. “It was as if I knew him, or more like… he knew me!”
Crusher then veers into the “too much information” aspects of the dream, or the “that’s between you and your ship’s counselor” aspects. “He knew exactly how I liked to be touched!” she says. Comically, Troi’s eyes grow wide. Crusher confesses, “It was the most physical dream I’ve ever had! The sensations were very real! And extremely arousing!” While both of these women, clearly, are hot Space-MILFs, this is about the most squirm-inducing conversation I’ve heard since they both compared notes about their perky boobs in Insurrection.
“Frankly,” Troi cries, “I’m envious!” I guess Riker wasn’t too hot in the sack, was he? “Imzadi”, my ass. Crusher says she may have had the dream because she fell asleep during “a particularly erotic chapter in my grandmother’s journal! She wrote very detailed descriptions of her experiences with Ronin!” All together again: Ewwwww! Grandma porn!
Troi, like the rest of us, obviously doesn’t want to hear any more of this, so she decides it’s time to go over some “personnel reports”. Oddly, she then picks up a ballpoint pen [?]. But I’m sure that’s a high-tech, astrometric, isolinear, phase-shifting ballpoint pen.
Unfortunately, Crusher doesn’t know when to quit. She remarks that the guy in her dream had a ring on his finger as he touched her neck. Touching her own neck now, she says, “I wonder if I’ll have another dream tonight!”
Troi cheekily says, “I’d read two chapters!” And I’d like two helpings of haggis! Sick. Really sick. I mean, just think about getting off on imagining your hundred year old grandmother having sex. In my world, that’s what’s called Anti-Viagra.
Anyway, back on the planet, Mood-Setting Fog has settled in around the cemetery. Crusher enters, now wearing the Harlequin Heroine Cloak of Forlorn Lust. She comes upon Groundskeeper Willie whirling his dervish as he tends to Nana’s grave. Crusher apologizes for yelling at him, and now that she’s read Nana’s journals, she realizes how much he meant to her.
Willie accepts the apology. “Ye haff yur grandmother’s fire, that’s fur sure!” She invites him to stay at the cottage after she’s gone. “I need someone to take care of the place.” While Nana is away. Because Nana is not dead the way you know it. She is with us always. Not dead the way you know it. She is with us always.
Willie irritably says he’ll “ne’er set foot in tha’ hawse agin, an’ ah rrrrecommend tha’ yew dunna either!” He finally reveals that the house is haunted, and Crusher just smiles in disbelief. “You believe what ya want, lass,” Willie says. “Jus’ doona light that cahndle!”
He says a ghost lives in the candle, and if she lights the candle she’ll bring it. Willie says the ghost’s angry, which is why he’s causing the storms. Crusher, struggling to stifle a patronizing laugh, points out that the weather control system is malfunctioning. Willie doesn’t miss a beat, however. “Who dew ya think is causin’ the malfunction?” Well, I guess he’s got a reasonable explanation for everything, then.
He warns her one last time. “Doo nawt light tha’ cahndle, and doo not go to that hoose!” Otherwise, he promises, “they’ll be buryin’ another Howard in this cemetery!” Okay, so I guess this is meant to be a scary prospect, but really, Nana was 100 years old when she died. Maybe it’s just me, but the idea of being buried when I’m 100 is just not all that terrifying.
Anyway, Willie storms off, and green flashes of lightning cause Crusher to pull the Cloak of Ominous Foreboding tighter. She turns and is startled to see Nana’s grave has now sprouted an entire garden of camellias.
Back on the Enterprise, Worf gets one of his three lines of dialogue for the whole episode when he tells Picard there’s a huge thunderstorm over the colony. He punches it up on the viewscreen, revealing what’s practically a giant green hurricane sitting over the planet. Picard calls down to Engineering to make sure Geordi’s not at the controls drunk again. The Captain asks what’s going on, since the malfunction they detected earlier was “not severe”.
Data reports back that now that he thinks about it, a hemisphere-spanning thunderstorm actually might be severe. Geordi, who in the seventh season was constantly at Data’s side (which was something of a vaguely unhealthy relationship, if you ask me), suggests setting up a “power transfer” between the Enterprise and the weather control stations on the planet. Picard says, “Make it so!” And it was so.
Meanwhile, Beverly hurries into Casa de Nana, using the Cloak of Impending Terror to shelter herself from the torrential downpour. She turns on a light and gasps. Suddenly, the entire house is covered in camellias.
The door slams shut behind her, and the camera turns all hand-held and shaky to suggest approaching spookiness. Beverly calls out, asking who’s in the house. A mirror bumps back and forth against a wall. Ooh, creepy! She takes it off the wall and examines it, and as soon as she puts it back on the wall, she sees a guy in the reflection. Okay, who didn’t see that coming?
She drops the mirror and spins around, but sees no one. She threatens to get security teams down from the Enterprise, when suddenly, a ghostly voice whispers to her. “Beverly. Beverly, I’ve come back for you!” The voice says he was the same man who came to her last night while she was sleeping.
Beverly reaches for her com badge, when suddenly she’s overcome with a case of bad acting. The Cloak Of No Doesn’t Always Mean No flies off, and Crusher throws her head back and sighs. “Now do you remember me?” Mr. Unseen asks. “Yes!” Beverly breathlessly cries. Yes! I’d know that pretentious line delivery anywhere! “What’s… what’s happening to me?”
“I love you, Beverly,” the voice says, “Just as I loved Felisa before you!” And I was hoping to score with a grandmother and granddaughter! It’s always been a fantasy of mine! Beverly suddenly realizes he’s Ronin, just as she’s overcome yet again. But this time she lets out a happy “oh!” and gets a big smile on her face. She then runs around the house and flings herself against support beams, demanding to know what he is.
“I am a spirit,” Ronin whispers. He explains he was born in Glasgow in 1647, and soon found a home with “Jessel Howard. She was a pretty lass with a mane of red hair, and eyes like diamonds!” And she could dance a jig and boil ham like nobody’s business!
As Beverly writhes against a banister, Ronin explains how he stayed with Jessel’s daughter, and then her daughter’s daughter. And so on, and so on… Beverly wants to know how he came to this planet. “When your family moved out into the galaxy,” he explains, “I moved with them!”
Ronin calls the Howard women “the most beautiful women I have ever known!” Since this is a truly painful scene, it’s as good a time as any to pause and point out that there’s something really screwy going on with the lineage here.
Ronin talks about the “Howard women”, but if “Felisa Howard” was Beverly’s grandmother and Beverly’s maiden name is “Howard”, then only one of two possibilities is true. Either A) Nana kept her maiden name of Howard after she got married, and gave the last name Howard to her children, or B) Nana was only a “Howard woman” by marriage, in which case the entire premise of this episode goes flying out the window. Or the airlock. Your choice.
Even if you assume Nana was a “Howard woman” by blood, then there’s only two ways that Beverly could have gotten the maiden name of Howard. Either A) Nana had a son that married Beverly’s mother, giving Beverly the Howard name by birth (but this, unfortunately, would mean Beverly’s mother was only a “Howard woman” by marriage, too), or B) Nana had a daughter who became Beverly’s mother. This would mean Beverly’s mom not only kept her maiden name of Howard, but also gave it to her daughter as well. This doesn’t seem very likely, especially considering how traditionally Scots (i.e., Presbyterian) this episode has made the whole Howard clan out to be. Regardless, none of this is ever explained, and it only ends up being the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the all-around sloppiness on display here.
Oh well. Back to the episode. Beverly doesn’t want to believe Ronin is a spirit that’s haunted her family down through the ages, but she’s currently being overcome by Ghostly Orgazmo-Power. Ronin announces they are “becoming one. We’re going to be together!”
Cut to the “power transfer” happening between the Enterprise and the planet, which basically involves the ship shooting a laser beam into the storm. Meanwhile, Troi pays Dr. Crusher a visit in her quarters. Here, Troi is dressed in her martial arts outfit. For reasons unknown, in the later seasons of TNG, everyone was constantly practicing martial arts. I never quite understood where that came from, but I always found it to be about as unforced as Riker’s trumpet playing.
Anyway, Karate Troi with the Kung-Fu Grip asks Crusher if she’s coming to practice. Crusher, holding a camellia against her chest, says she’s exhausted. Kung-Fu Troi asks a little too gleefully if she had another dream. Crusher plays coy, but her contentment instantly tips Troi off that she just got some. Hey, Deanna? You didn’t even need to be half-Betazed to figure that one out.
Troi accuses her of “seeing someone”, but Crusher replies, “I’m not seeing anybody!” Get it? Get it? Actually, I think in my quest to find any sort of entertainment in this episode, I’m giving the script much more credit than it deserves.
Crusher admits she met somebody, and Troi can sense her “romantic feelings”. Crusher finally admits it’s Ronin. Troi gasps, “Your grandmother’s lover?” And here I really had to hand it to Will Ferrell and Rachel Dratch for that “lover” sketch they used to do on SNL, because it expertly sums up the ooginess I feel upon hearing someone use that word.
Crusher says she’s never met anyone so “passionate”, and now she knows why Nana fell in love with him. Yes. And I’m sure his being seventy years younger had nothing to do with it. On an unrelated note, I also think that Michael Douglas and Catherine Zeta-Jones are very much in love.
Troi feels slightly icky at hearing about this, but says she’s happy for Beverly. She warns, however, that because they both lost Nana, that “shared traumatic experience can create the illusion of closeness! And romance!” Crusher assures that her that she’s not in love, just “intrigued”, and she’s got it all under control.
In the turbolift, Picard is riding with Governor Pig Snout. The Governor says the re-creation of Scotland is “getting a little too realistic”, and right on cue, he sneezes. The two emerge onto the bridge and find it covered in fog [!]. Picard is none too amused to see his ship turned into the set of a Hall and Oates video. Riker says it “just sort of rolled in on us, sir!” and explains that it’s a malfunction caused by the power transfer.
Worf reports all sorts of other wacky things happening around the ship, none of which will ever become important, so Picard orders the power transfer beam shut off.
Data says he can’t do it because of a gremlin in the system (or, more aptly, a ghost in the machine), so he’ll have to head down to the planet’s weather control station to shut it off. As he heads out, Picard quips that he’s going to get his jacket. I hope it’s the leather one with all the spikes and rhinestone studs. He looks just like Rob Halford when he wears it.