|Posted on June 27, 2012 at 7:20 AM|
For the most part, I like Majel Barrett as an actress. Her Nurse Christine Chapel in the original Trek was a comfortable presence in the show, though she did show starry-eyed affection for the impossible-to-reach Mr. Spock. Her offering him plomeek soup in “Amok Time” demonstrates her compassion. Eventually Majel married Gene Roddenberry, and in every movie he made apart from Trek, she was there. You can frequently hear her voice in the computer, especially on The Next Generation and most incarnations after it.
So it was a huge disappointment to me the first time I saw her play Lwaxana Troi, Deanna’s oversexed mother. Lwaxana is overbearing, controlling, and full of herself. She never cares how other people feel, but runs over them to get what she wants. Surely if she can read minds, she can see what a pest she is. With her tall and usually silent butler Homn, she shows up in a handful of episodes to harass Captain Picard about his alleged naughty thoughts about her.
I say “alleged” because it’s clear Picard’s skin crawls when she comes aboard. The first episode to feature her is “Haven,” which opens with a ridiculous scene that looks like it was borrowed from Lost in Space, or a cheesy episode of Doctor Who. A silver box beams aboard bearing a face carving, but this carving speaks to herald Lwaxana’s arrival.
I recall a scene toward the end of Doctor Who’s “The Five Doctors,” in which the greedy time-lord president craved immortality by putting on Rassalon’s ring. Since Rassalon was the father of all time lords, and of Gallifrey society as a whole, the president wanted all of his power. Instead, his face wound up joining three others along the base of Rassalon’s sepulcher—presumably other greedy men with the same dream.
The frame of “Haven” is passable, about Lwaxana trying to force Deanna to marry a Betazoid man named Wyatt Miller—a man Deanna doesn’t know, much less love. Wyatt has been having dreams about a totally different woman; he’s even drawn pictures of her. It’s rather sweet when he finally meets the literal girl of his dreams and decides to marry her instead. Especially since she turns out to be one of a remnant aboard a Tarellian plague ship.
At the same time, however, the show introduces some odd and annoying customs, not unlike Mrs. Troi’s manipulative ways. When Wyatt’s mother prefers to have a traditional Earth wedding, Lwaxana insults them with their “backward” notions, insisting that the joining be 100% Betazed. Since the best Earth weddings have God behind the union, it’s Lwaxana’s ideas that are backward.
During the reception supper, Homn rings a small gong every few seconds, which very quickly gets annoying while people are trying to converse. “Must he do that?” complains Mrs. Miller.
“As you well know,” says Lwaxana with her usual superior air, “it is the Betazed way of giving thanks for the food we eat.” And just whom are they thanking? What deity would be pleased with an annoying tintinulation all during a meal? Nobody says.
Lwaxana has a live pet vine on her arm, which she passes to Mrs. Miller, just to watch her scream. Yeah, real considerate lady, that one. I wonder if the gong was another way to annoy people.
Then there’s the “ancient” ceremony itself which Lwaxana describes as “widely regarded as the most beautiful ceremony in the universe. After the young couple have removed their clothing …”
Tasha Yar incredulously cries, “The bride and groom go naked?”
“All guests must go unclothed. It honors the act of love being celebrated.”
Excuse me? What does full skin exposure have to do with love? Real love comes from the inside out, regardless of bodies. From here on, much of the dialogue centers this crazy custom which no self-respecting culture would ever endorse, not even the most backward third-world countries.
It’s abundantly clear Mrs. Troi has not a clue what true love is. As Apostle Paul says to the Corinthians, “If I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal” (1 Corinthians 13:1). Though Lwaxana speaks in high terms of love and commitment, her skewed ideas are jaded by her cattiness, which incessantly denies love.
A little later, Paul also says, “Even in the case of lifeless things that make sounds, such as the flute or harp, how will anyone know what tune is being played unless there is a distinction in the notes?” (1 Corinthians 14:7). In context, he’s comparing with jabbering anything that comes to mind, and calling it “speaking in tongues.” He had also said, “Anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God” (verse 2a).
In the same way, as self-proclaimed royalty herself, Lwaxana jabbers anything that come to mind, often some insult or childish jab at somebody. If she utters nothing that makes sense, how can people take her seriously? Seems to me Deanna is far more mature.
Though we don’t see the nude ceremony here (thankfully), in “Cost of Living” four seasons later, Lwaxana herself marries an older gentleman, apparently nude, though only half of her bare waist and her shoulders are seen. It’s all played up in comedic fashion—but it is, in fact, immature and totally disrespectful.
Along the same lines, it appears to be a running joke that Lwaxana playfully accuses Picard of thinking of her in a sexual manner. Even if it were true, it’s immature and petulant to embarrass a captain this way—just as it was immature and petulant for Lwaxana to harass Wyatt’s mother over the most trivial matters.
These days they call such women “cougars,” older women too oversexed to think rationally, like wild animals. Oh, excuse me … I didn’t mean to insult the animals! These cougars are always on the prowl, always looking for the next young man to use, abuse, wad up, and throw away. They are often portrayed in a positive light, but Proverbs 7 is an entirely different matter. Its advice can be interpreted for cougars as well as out-and-out prostitutes.
“She is loud and defiant, her feet never stay at home; now in the street, now in the squares, at every corner she lurks” (verses 11-12). “With persuasive words she led [the young man] astray; she seduced him with her smooth talk. All at once he followed her like an ox going to the slaughter, like a deer stepping into a noose till an arrow pierces his liver, like a bird darting into a snare, little knowing it will cost him his life” (verses 21-23).
“A continual dripping on a very rainy day and a contentious woman are alike; whoever restrains her restrains the wind, and grasps oil with his right hand” (Proverbs 27:15-16 NKJV). Just as listening to constant rain can be dismal and annoying, so can Lwaxana. Trying to restrain her is a hopeless exercise, for no matter how much she’s scolded or despised, she continues to be loud and defiant, full of herself and not afraid to show it.
If Elaan of Troyius, and Tyree’s wife Nona, can be compared to Jezebel, how much more can Lwaxana Troi! She could be the baddest bad girl in all of Trek—though I can’t say this for certain, because I haven’t seen all of Trek. Just the first two series, and bits and pieces of the others.
Such a one-dimensional character is out of place among the usually thoughtful plots we see in the rest of the series. She is a villain in her own right. Though she supposedly reads minds, it appears she reads only weak points to attack—vindictively! Since Deanna is far more mature and level-headed than her mother, all this makes her look like a better character. The relationship should be the other way around, if not equal.
To Philippi, Paul writes: “I plead with Euodia and I plead with Syntyche to agree with each other in the Lord” (Philippians 4:2). Apparently these women were a lot like Mrs. Troi and Mrs. Miller sniping at each other. If they are to project love, the combatants must stop bickering and love each other, in spite of their differences.
But grownup children like Lwaxana Troi just don’t get it.
JUNE THEME: “PURSUIT”
JUNE THEME: “PURSUIT”
June 27: Joseph Lalonde at Joseph Lalonde
June 28: Israel Ikhinmwin at Israel Ikhinmwin’s Blog
June 29: Jack Brown at Random Thoughts
June 30: Suzette Emilia at Beautiful You
JULY THEME: “CELEBRATE”
July 1: Steve Olar at Snickerdoodles
July 3: Chris Henderson at The Write Chris