Star Trek: The Next Generation “Sub Rosa” (part 4 of 4)
In the Captain’s Ready Room, Picard and Troi try to make some sense out of Crusher’s actions. Picard wonders if “this Ronin could be exerting some sort of influence over her?” It’s called the influence of giving her multiple orgasms. Try it sometime, Jean-Luc. Troi thinks this is possible, but also says it could be that Beverly really believes she’s in love. They both agree that it’s a rash decision, but Beverly has every right to make it.
Data enters to announce he and his lover Geordi have detected the same “anaphasic signature” that killed Willie and caused the storms, and it’s “coming from the cemetery!” Picard has him head down there and “pinpoint the source”. Hell, I can pinpoint the source from here. It’s Nana’s grave. After Data leaves, Picard says, “I would like to meet with this… Ronin,” practically spitting out the guy’s name.
Geordi and Data show up at the cemetery. Of course, it’s night, and all of this is played like a really bad take-off on Dark Shadows. Sure enough, the energy is coming from Felisa Howard’s grave.
Meanwhile, Crusher’s at the cottage in a silk robe, passing her hand over the candle. Ronin appears and kisses her hands. She says, “I can’t imagine what life was like before I met you!” Well, I remember it being a lot less boring. Ronin promises “it will only get better!”
Sure enough, he turns into green vapor again and enters… Er… I mean, he goes inside… Er… Well, you know what I mean. “Ohhhh, Ronin,” Crusher moans. “I had no idea I could feel this way!” Me neither. I had no idea a Trek episode could make me this uncomfortable.
Ronin’s disembodied voice whispers, “We’re nearly merged now! As two candles join to form a single light, so we will flourish as one!” Uh, Ronin? The guys who wrote that Hallmark card called. They’d like their crappy poetry back now.
There’s a knock at the door, but Crusher’s too wrapped up in… well, whatever you would call this to notice. So Picard barges in, only to discover Crusher all sexed up, sitting alone in a chair and writhing in ecstasy. And, darn it, wouldn’t you know it, I’ve already used up all my masturbation euphemisms in my “And the Children Shall Lead” recap.
Picard calls out to her, and she immediately jumps up and covers herself with her robe. Oblivious Picard says he wants to meet Ronin. Crusher says he’s not here, and Picard says he can wait around to meet the “remarkable” man (no seriously, writers, thesauruses are cheap) who’s “swept away not just one, but two of the Howard women!” Crusher walks over with the candle and tells him, “Jealousy doesn’t suit you, Jean-Luc.” Oh, yeah. You just rub that candle all up in his face, baby.
Picard notices Beverly’s eyes are now a different color. Yes, from other episodes we know that in the 24th Century, you can surgically change your eyes from blue to green, but no one ever says it here.
Picard says he preferred her eyes the way they were before. “I preferred you the way you were before, Beverly!” Crusher angrily declares “this is the way I am now”, it’s her life, it’s now or never, she ain’t gonna live forever, etc. “I’ve made my decision!” What’s yours?
She yells at him to leave her alone and tries to push him away. Picard now realizes that something ain’t right. He points out that no one else has seen Ronin besides her. At this, Ronin shows himself to Picard, dressed in an ensemble from the Lestat leisure wear line of clothing. Picard tries to make small talk with him, but Ronin simply says that he and Beverly will always be together, together in electric dreams.
Data’s voice is heard over Picard’s communicator. He tells the captain that the “source of the energy residual” is Nana’s coffin. LaForge asks for permission to exhume the body, but Ronin is vehemently opposed. Picard uses the Spock Reverse Psychology Angle and asks Ronin what he’s afraid of.
Having shut Ronin up, Picard tells Data to get the Governor’s permission to exhume. Ronin threatens to go to the Governor himself, but Picard double-dares him to. He’s sure the Governor has never heard of Ronin, and he starts demanding to know where Ronin came from and how he got to Caldos and what he does for a living. “What’s your position?” Picard shouts. “Who are your neighbors?”
In response, Ronin turns back into green vapor. Picard tries to grab Crusher and lead her out, when suddenly he’s hit with green electrical beams and falls to the ground. However, since he’s not an expendable character like Willie, he doesn’t instantly die. Crusher grabs a medkit, but Ronin’s voice shouts that they have to stop the others from exhuming Nana’s body.
He re-materializes and tries to pull her away, but Beverly says she can’t let Picard die. So Ronin decides to go take care of things himself. Crusher gets a big Acting Moment (as well as a Jean-Luc and Beverly Unrequited Love Moment) as she’s all wracked with worry over Picard. She shoots him with a hypospray and he’s suddenly alright. In his Raspy Almost-Dead Voice, he tells her to go after Ronin. Beverly grabs the candle [?] and heads out.
Down at Nana’s grave, Geordi contacts the Enterprise to say that they’re ready. A transporter beam energizes and Nana’s coffin materializes on top of her grave. It’s Insta-Exhume! They remove the lid, and there’s Nana, looking way too smiley and happy for someone who’s been dead a couple of days. Damn, Ronin must have been one great lay.
Data finds the “anaphasic energy” is in Nana’s body, and it goes down to the cellular level. As they scan her body, Nana’s eyes suddenly spring open and they’re glowing bright green. And here we see that Nana is being played by Ellen Albertini Dow, the rapping granny from The Wedding Singer! Hey, you gotta give Ellen major props for lying in that closed coffin, especially at her age.
Nana sits up and touches both men. Now, I may not live in the Star Trek universe, but you better believe that if a corpse suddenly shot up like that and touched me, all you’d see is my afterimage and a Matrix-like trail behind me as I got the hell out of there. Certainly, I wouldn’t have the vaguely bored expressions you see on both Data and Geordi’s faces here.
Regardless, Nana turns the two guys into a green laser light show and they fall to the ground. Crusher appears screaming, “NOOOOO!” Nana turns and says to “have trust in me”, but Crusher knows it’s not really Nana talking. “Leave her alone!” Green special effects spray out of Nana and she falls back into the coffin. Ronin appears about ten feet away and yells, “Beverly!!” Dude, she’s ten feet away, you don’t have to shout. Oh, and by the way? Nice “reanimating your dead Nana” ploy. That’s a surefire way to a woman’s heart.
Ronin says he had to do it because people were trying to keep them apart. Beverly suddenly realizes she’s been infused with the same anaphasic energy that killed Willie. Ronin cries that he was only defending himself when he killed Willie. “Oh, my love,” Ronin says, “I would never harm you! I am here to protect you!”
Crusher calls this a lie. “There’s no such thing as a ghost!” Instead, he’s an “anaphasic life-form”. Since anaphasic energy is “extremely unstable”, it needs an “organic host in order to maintain molecular cohesion!”
By the way, according to my dictionary, “anaphasic” means “relating to the stage of mitosis and meiosis in which the chromosomes move toward the poles of the spindle”. I’m no biologist, but that would seem to indicate to me that all life-forms are “anaphasic”. But since lots of science-y sounding words have been misappropriated into Treknobabble (don’t get me started on the misuse of “deuterium”), it’s really no big deal.
Beverly says she scanned the candle (when?) and found it to be “plasma-based”, meaning he was using it as a “receptacle for yourself” (eww) in order to merge with her. “You have been using me, Nana, my entire family, for centuries!” Ronin screams, “And I loved all of them! And they loved me!” This is all highly dramatic, that’s for sure. He demands the candle, shooting electrical bolts through Geordi again and threatening to kill him.
Crusher sets the candle down, but before Ronin can do anything, she grabs Geordi’s phaser and destroys the tchotchke. Horrified, Ronin falls to his knees. Crusher contacts the Enterprise and has Riker “close all the plasma conduits” in the weather control system. She points the phaser at Ronin and chuckles [?]. “You’ve nowhere left to go!”
He says he could become a part of her again, but she phasers him. “Beverly,” he says, taking a running leap at her. “I love you!” I guess those three words will only get you so far, because she shoots him again and he turns into green mist. She drops the phaser and falls to her knees sobbing.
Back on the ship, the Captain’s Log informs us that Data and Geordi have completely recovered and are now vacationing together in Amsterdam, but Crusher’s recovery will be “more of a personal nature.”
In Ten Forward, Crusher is explaining to Troi that Ronin found one of her ancestors had a “biochemistry that was compatible with his energy matrix.” Hmm. I’ll have to use that as a pickup line one of these days. Hey, baby, I’ve determined your biochemistry is compatible with my energy matrix. Wanna fuck?
Anyway, Ronin must have seduced Crusher’s ancestor just as he seduced Crusher. She says, “I was about to be initiated into a very unusual relationship! You might call it a family tradition!” In fact, that’s what they’ve been calling it for the whole damn episode.
However, she’s “a little sad”. Is it because she’ll never meet another man who enjoys foreplay? No, it’s just that, after reading Nana’s journals, she realized that Ronin “made her very happy”. Wow, I’ll bet. Troi just stares at her, tight-lipped. Cut to the outside of the ship, and that’s the end of the episode.
Now, as I mentioned before, a lot of this story seems to be, as one fan put it, “a blatant rip-off of Anne Rice’s The Witching Hour, with the notable exception that the book was good.” Here are a few of the similarities between the episode and the novel that I was able to glean after just a wee bit o’ Google-ing. In both “Sub Rosa” and Rice’s novel:
- The main character is a doctor,
- Said main character is the latest in a long line of female healers,
- Flowers figure heavily in both plots,
- The ghost originates from Scotland,
- The ghost is passed from mother to daughter down through the generations,
- The ghost uses his sexual powers to achieve his aims,
- The ghost wants to take on a human form more than anything,
- And finally, a family heirloom provides the system that helps the ghost survive (in the book, it’s a necklace).
Me, I’m no lawyer, but I think it’s fair to say that Anne Rice probably deserved to be credited on this episode. And, as it turns out, she may have been.
Buried deep in the closing credits of this episode, just above “Filmed with PANAVISION Lenses and Cameras”, there’s a credit reading “Based Upon Material By Jeanna F. Gallo”, and according to many viewers, this credit didn’t appear in the original airing.
The producers later claimed this episode was similar to a spec script submitted by Jeanna F. Gallo. However, the mysterious Ms. Gallo has no other credits to her name besides this episode, and, really, if Gallo actually exists and she really did write the spec script, why would they bury her credit in the technical acknowledgements where (they hoped) nobody would see it?
Obviously, “Jeanna F. Gallo” is a pseudonym for Anne Rice, used to allow Rice to receive the royalties entitled to her while still remaining anonymous. This means “Sub Rosa” sucked so bad, not even Rice wanted to take credit for coming up with the original idea.