Lwaxana Troi returns in a very different role as she faces love in loss in the episode that originally aired on May 6, 1991. This is Half A Life.
Stardate 44805.3 Half A Life
Lwaxana Troi falls in love with a diplomat who is returning home to commit suicide. Not accepting that his fate is a mandatory part of his society, she fights for his right to live despite any fallout that may occur.
Dr. Timicin arrives onboard the ship to discuss a way to work with Starfleet to find a way to reignite his planets dying sun. He is immediately greeted by Picard and Lwaxana Troi. Lwaxana immediately attaches herself to him, because of course she does, and becomes his unofficial escort through the ship. They seem to have chemistry but, even though he is widowed, he tries to distance himself when things get serious.
The Enterprise arrives at the star for Timicin’s test but unfortunately they fail at reigniting the test star. Despite his best efforts it seems that this means the end of the people of Kaelon II and Timicin is due to follow a tradition of ritual suicide so he will be unable to continue his experiment. You see, on Kaelon II it is customary for the citizens to commit suicide at the age of sixty. Despite his value to the planet, this custom overrides everything and he is returning to follow through with this.
Upon hearing this Lwaxana is devastated. She insists that Picard do something to stop this ‘barbaric thing’ but Picard informs her that he can not as he has no jurisdiction on Timicin’s planet. She is determined to beam down to protest the suicide but is prevented from interceding by Picard and his crew. Knowing that she can not stop his fate, she visits with Timicin to talk to him about this ritual. He explains that it is just the way of his world. She calls shenanigans and tells him it is a barbaric custom that prevents people from living their lives in full. She argues that Timicin is the best person to save his planet and by killing himself, he is dooming Kaelon II to a terrible fate. He refuses to concede despite his love for Lwaxana but begins to think about her words.
He returns to engineering where, working with Data and Geordi, he realizes that he can save his planet if only he had more time. He knows that he only has days left and this is not enough time to save his planet. He asks Picard for asylum which causes his government to begin preparation for retaliation against the Enterprise as they now see them as a threat to their people.
After discovering that his people refuse to accept his new information about their sun, Timicin realizes that remaining alive jeopardizes his people more than his death will. Soon his daughter arrives and Timicin realizes that he is not the one who can change his people’s ways and chooses to go through with the ritual despite his love for Lwaxana. In the end, Lwaxana chooses to join Timicin at his ceremony to be with him in his final hours.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
The message in the show is one about the value of life and how, no matter how old you are, you have the ability to contribute to society. This is also a play on the morality of forced retirement and, in some ways, Euthanasia. To believe that one no longer has a use in society due to your age or malady is a terrible fate, but imagine if it was expected of you to end your life even if you haven’t finished your purpose. This is the moral dilemma that Lwaxana and, ultimately Timicin, is faced with. Does one person or a society as a whole have the right to determine when an individual’s time and/or usefulness is up? And, if they do, how do they determine when that time is to be? Deep questions for sure.
This is probably Lwaxana Troi’s best episode in the series. It is absolutely heartbreaking in every way and for that it makes for a wonderfully dramatic story. Lwaxana faces the mortality of someone she could spend her life with and, in turn, her own mortality. Timicin is the person she has been searching for since the passing of her husband and for a society to so cruelly throw away his life, she is confounded and devastated. She loves this man so deeply that she is willing give up everything for him and ask him to give up everything for her and, when he can not, she stands by him even in his death. Of all the episodes she is in, this is the moment she becomes less a foil for Picard and more a character of her own.
Majel Barrett is a triumph in this episode and she really gets to show her acting chops. She and the late David Ogden Stiers have such a tremendous chemistry that you actually believe they care for one another. I had honestly forgotten just how good this episode was and was somewhat dreading yet another flippant and silly adventure with Lwaxana, how wrong I was.
It is rather ironic that as I write this review I learned that David Ogden Stiers passed away earlier this year. Stiers was a man who had a vast career in movies and television going back as far as 1971 where he did voice work for George Lucas’ student film THX-1138. Best known for his role in the M*A*S*H TV series as Maj. Charles Winchester, he lead a long and storied life. I will miss him greatly.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Keen eyed viewers will recognize Timicin’s daughter is played my Michelle Forbes who will later return as Ensign Ro Laren. You’ll just have to wait to find out who she is.
we never hear from the people of Kaelon II, I assume they managed to fix their sun.
Lwaxana once again refers to Mr. Worf as Mr. Woof….much to his dismay.
Of course this isn’t the last we see of Lwaxana Troi, daughter of the Fifth House of Betazed, the Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, and Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed.
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Late To The Game 1/18/2020 (Originally published 8/8/18)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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