The perfect companion, love and loss. Picard gets his day in the sun in the episode that originally aired on April 27,1992. This is The Perfect Mate.
Stardate 45761.3 The Perfect Mate
Picard and crew have been asked to act as hosts for a peace treaty agreement between two warring planets. However, Picard falls in love with a metamorphic woman who is intended to be a gift in the peace treaty.
On their way to a peace negotiation, the Enterprise responds to a distress call from a Ferengi vessel. While Picard discusses the treaty with Ambassador Briam, the Ferengi’s attempt to steal a special gift that is located in the cargo bay. Picard responds with security and inadvertently bonds with Kamala who believe him to initially be Alrik. She identifies herself as Kamala, who is an empathetic metamorph, and has been betrothed since birth to Alrik in order to establish peace between the two people. Her species only has a female every seven generations and are quite rare. They bond permanently with a male and will become the perfect mate to the person she bonds with.
Riker escorts her to her quarters and, despite her forwardness, Riker resists the temptation and slinks off to the holodeck. The next morning Picard learns that Kamala has been ordered to remain in her quarters in order to avoid a distraction to the crew. Picard pays her a visit and soon he discovers that, although he has strong feelings against her enslavement, she derives pleasure from being part of someone’s life.
She begins to bond with Picard and soon it becomes apparent that he needs a person who is immune to her abilities to be her chaperone. He soon assigns Data to the duty and allows her to move about the ship in his company. After an encounter in Ten-Forward, Kamala acknowledges that she may want to avoid being free to tour the ship. She agrees to remain in her quarters as long as Picard agrees to visit her in her quarters, not for sex, but for company. She shows him that she can be his every desire and leaves him tempted to learn more.
The Ferengi attempt to bribe Ambassador Briam but in the process accidentally hurt him. They are removed but not Picard must handle the Peace treaty in Briam’s stead with Kamalas assistance. While they work together she realizes that, even though she has spent her life preparing for marriage with Alrik, she is finding herself falling for Picard as well. Alrik arrives and makes it clear that he is uninterested in the pomp and circumstance of the trade agreements. He also has no interest in Kamala as the trade agreement is what he is there for. This rankles Picard as he has found himself in love with this woman despite his promise to himself that he wouldn’t fall for her.
She reveals to Picard that she has fully bonded with Picard but, in the end he must let her go to allow the peace treaty to go forth. She is willing to go through with the marriage even though she is fully bonded with Picard as she learned a sense of duty from him that is very much a part of his life. If she refuses the wedding, peace will not occur and many more will die. It pains him to do so but he can not allow himself to fall for her and risk violating every principle he stands for. Ultimately Picard remains alone as she leaves with Alrik.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a memorable episode that really gives Picard a chance to shine. We have seen very little of Jean Luc Picard’s love life as he is the stoik Captain who never can allow himself attachments. When he finally finds someone who can be the very person he has been looking for the tragic twist is that he can not have her. In a very Shakespearean twist, his own sense of duty destroyed every bit of his chance for a happy life.
It seems that some of the last few episodes have had a theme of ‘Love’ between Riker in love with a person who can never love him back and now Picard with a true story of love and loss, the theme is clear. Love is an emotion that is very easy to connect to in fiction as each of us has felt in in some manner at some point in our lives. In this case it is a tragic romance that Picard will likely never be able to forget. To know that there is a perfect partner for you out in the universe and know that you willingly gave them up for the greater good can not be an easy thing to live with.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Kamala describes herself as a mutant which is ironic seeing that Famke Janssen (Kamala) and Patrick Stewart will be later both be mutants in the movie X-men.
If you look closely you will recognize one of the Ferengi as actor Max Grodenchik who would soon play Quark’s brother Rom on Star Trek Deep Space Nine.
Kamala has spots that become the basis for the Trill on Deep Space Nine and are reused on actress Terry Ferrall on that show as well.
Riker has a moment that you can almost be proud of when he resists Kamala’s charm. Could it be, after his experience in The Outcast, that our beloved Commander has grown? Only time will tell.
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Late To The Game 4/11/2020 (Originally published 10/5/2018)
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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