(written from a Production point of view)
Picard serves as host for a peace treaty between two warring planets, but he may be unable to resist the reconciliation "gift" -- a beautiful empathic metamorph who is to be presented by one leader as the other's wife.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 45761.3. In an effort to bring an end to their centuries long war, Krios and Valt Minor have agreed to a ceremony of reconciliation to be held aboard the Enterprise at a point midway between their two systems."
The Enterprise is en route to mediate a peace treaty between the Valtese and the Kriosians. While welcoming Ambassador Briam aboard, the Enterprise receives a distress call from a Ferengi shuttle about to suffer a collapse of the containment field and explode. The Enterprise arrives to their rescue and manages to beam aboard the two Ferengi before their shuttle explodes. While sneaking around the ship curiously, one of the Ferengi named Qol discovers a strange, glowing cocoon in one of the cargo bays. He attempts to scan it while standing on a few stacked barrels, but slips and kicks a barrel into one of the suspension beams, making it overcompensate and slice open the cocoon. The cocoon slowly falls to the ground and melts before the eyes of Captain Picard, Ambassador Briam, Commander Riker and Worf, revealing a beautiful woman.
Her name is Kamala, and she is an empathic metamorph, a woman genetically predisposed to suit the desires of any man she is with. She has the ability to sense what a potential mate wants, what he needs, what gives him the greatest pleasure and then to become that for him until she reaches the final stage of bonding, where she must imprint upon herself the requirements of one man, to serve as his perfect partner in life. From birth she has been reared for this event and is thus being presented as a gift to Alrik of Valt, to seal the peace agreement between Krios and Valt Minor. By the symbolic act of wedding this perfect mate to the leader of Valt Minor – Chancellor Alrik – Ambassador Briam hopes to end the longstanding conflict that has been plaguing both their worlds for centuries.
However, Kamala causes quite a stir around the ship for wherever she goes she stirs feelings of affection, adoration, and even downright lust in the hearts of male crew members and visitors. This is due to her being in finiis'ral: the final stage of her sexual maturity, where her body produces an unusually high number of pheromones which are very provocative to members of the opposite sex. Because this is the final stage of her sexual maturation, she must also bond with whoever she wishes to be the most like for the rest of her life in a very short time.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 45766.1. We have reached the designated coordinates for the conference and await the arrival of Chancellor Alrik."
While they are having breakfast in his cabin, Dr. Crusher objects to the Enterprise crew essentially facilitating the "sale" of Kamala, a sentient being, into "a life of virtual prostitution." Picard rejoins that arranged marriage has been a diplomatic tool for centuries, including on Earth. Crusher does not relent, and Picard sarcastically suggests that they throw the Prime Directive to the winds, stop the marriage, and allow the two cultures' war to continue. But Crusher has the last word, informing him that "that slave trader"', Briam, has confined Kamala to her quarters like a prisoner. Picard is taken aback, and disturbed, to hear this.
Picard pays her a visit. Although she turns the heads of many men, including that of Riker, she herself develops a very particular interest in Picard. During that visit, he already feels himself being affected by the things she does with men and asks her to stop doing whatever she is doing. However, Kamala states that this is her nature and that her wishes and her needs are fulfilled by what she gives to others. She tells Picard that he knows her better than he realizes, for she is independent, forceful, brilliant and adventurous – exactly as he would have her be. A very uneasy Picard makes his way quickly out of her quarters and in an effort to protect both himself and Kamala from the effects that she has on men, he assigns her Data as chaperon.
When Kamala and Data arrive in Ten Forward sometime later, Riker, who is having a drink with Worf, leaves. Kamala and Data go up to the bar, at which point one of the miners the Enterprise had picked up at Harod IV begins harassing Kamala. Data tells the miner that his behavior is extremely rude. The other miners begin harassing Kamala, as well, and when Worf steps in, the miners stop. Data escorts Kamala out of the bar to take her to the ship's arboretum. Just before they leave, Kamala growls at Worf suggestively and Worf growls back.
In Picard's ready room sometime later, Picard is informed of the incident in Ten Forward. Picard tells Kamala that he has confidence in his crew members' self-control, but there are civilians aboard the Enterprise. Kamala then displays her knowledge on a variety of subjects, including Shakespeare's work and Picard's origins in France. Kamala tells Picard that some of her knowledge of Picard's origins came from help from Data. The more Picard surrounds himself with Kamala, the more he talks with her and the more he gets to know her, the more he feels himself drawn to her, while at the same time recognizing the impossibility of such a union. He even tries to convince Kamala that he is actually pretty dull, falling asleep with a book in his hand every night. However, Kamala does not give in, for she knows that some part of Picard wants her to continue pursuing him.
Meanwhile, the Ferengi Par Lenor and Qol make their reasons for being on the Enterprise known; they want to buy Kamala from Briam. They offer up to 20,000 Ludugial gold coins. Briam is understandably offended, and promises to tell Picard, but the impulsive Ferengi attack Briam and he falls, striking his head on a glass table and falling into a coma.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. The Ferengi have been dispatched via shuttle to Starbase 117. What charges will be brought against them depends on whether or not Ambassador Briam recovers."
In sickbay sometime later, Crusher tells Picard and Kamala that if they're lucky, Briam should regain consciousness within a few days. Kamala, however, tells Picard that the peace negotiations can't wait that long because of her premature removal from stasis, so the responsibility falls with Picard who – while having diplomatic experience – is not quite familiar with all the ceremonial requirements of the treaty and requires the assistance of Kamala who knows about the rituals and ceremony of her people. After Kamala tells Picard about her childhood, she finds it rather ironic that on the eve of this ceremony, which she has spent her entire life preparing for, she should meet a man like him.
Finally, Chancellor Alrik arrives on the Enterprise and quickly establishes himself as not particularly interested in either Kamala or a mate, only in trade agreements. However, he is willing to accept Kamala as it furthers his aforementioned ambitions. Picard himself is apprehensive as to what Kamala will become when she is joined with Alrik, but since she is unavailable, he doesn't entertain that thought much further. He confesses all of this to Dr. Crusher and thanks her for being a shoulder to cry on. However, the night before the ceremony, during a visit to Kamala's quarters, Picard's resistance fails.
Shortly before her wedding ceremony, Kamala confesses to Picard that she will never truly love Alrik, for she has bonded with Picard. Who she is today, she will be forever. However, her empathic abilities will allow her to please Alrik and continue the facade in order to keep the peace. After having bonded with Picard, she also has learned the meaning of duty. "I only hope he likes Shakespeare" she adds with a smile. Picard then escorts her to Alrik.
The wedding is a simplistic, yet elegant affair; Alrik meets Kamala in the holodeck reproduction of the Temple of Akadar, she repeats the ceremonial line which defines her existence, "I am for you, Alrik of Valt," and they kiss. If Alrik is moved by Kamala's beauty, he does not show it. Picard, standing nearby, appears distraught.
When Briam is recovered and preparing to leave the ship, he asks Picard's permission to ask a personal question. Briam knows full well why he was chosen to escort Kamala on this peace mission: as a very old man of over 200 years, her pheromones don't affect him as much; however, he'd be lying if he said they didn't affect him at all. Briam is astonished that Picard worked with her for days, side by side, and cannot help but wonder how Picard could possibly resist her. Picard merely responds by wishing the ambassador a safe trip home. The ambassador seems to realize what happened between Kamala and Picard, but he quickly understands Picard's sacrifice and leaves. Picard stands in the transporter room long after the ambassador transports off, and the two ships depart, going their own, separate ways.
"Mr. Worf, assign the Ferengi to quarters. Not too close to mine."
- - Riker
"This has been very educational, but I make it a policy never to open another man's gift."
- - Riker to Kamala
"I am for you, Alrik of Vault."
- - Kamala, mistaking Picard for the chancellor
"Riker to bridge, if you need me I'll be on Holodeck 4."
- - Riker, after nearly falling for Kamala's charms.
- - Kamala and Worf
"Kamala, you are one day away from an arranged mating. Why would you want me to visit you in your quarters?"
"I said a visit. I didn't ask you to make love to me."
- - Picard and Kamala
"Nothing, Nothing lies beneath. I'm really quite dull. I fall asleep each night with an old book in my hands."
"When a metamorph finds you interesting, do not take it lightly."
"Oh, I'm not taking it lightly, I'm just trying... to be as dull as possible."
- - Picard and Kamala
"Even the walls of Jericho fell, Captain."
- - Kamala to Picard, revealing that she has also learned some Terran Lore
"Do you find me unattractive?"
"I find you unavailable."
- - Kamala and Picard
"Now that I know that you are listening to my voice, I find that I can't think of anything to say."
- - Picard to Kamala
"A starship captain must encounter all sorts of lifeforms. Am I one of the most unique you've ever met? Please say yes."
"What a nice thing to say."
- - Kamala and Picard
"Haven't I done my best to discourage this?"
"Maybe that's the perfect way to attract a metamorph."
- - Picard and Kamala
"...for your thoughts. Penny for your thoughts."
"Do you have one?"
"I'm sure the replicator will have one on file."
"Beverly, may I take off the uniform for a moment?"
- - Beverly Crusher and Picard
Jean-Luc. It always has been."
- - Picard after telling Crusher how distressed he is in giving away Kamala forever to Alrik
"I will never truly love him."
"You've not even met him."
"It no longer matters. I wish I could convey to you what it's like to be a metamorph; to feel the inner strength of someone; to realize that being with him is opening your mind and heart to endless new possibilities; to hear yourself say "I like myself when I'm with him"."
"For a metamorph, there's no greater pleasure, and no greater wish, than to bond with that kind of mate at the end of the finis'raal as I have bonded with you."
"Who I am today, I will be forever."
- - Kamala to Picard
"Would you ask me to stay? And ask two armies to keep fighting? Having bonded with you, I've learned the meaning of duty. He'll never know. I'm still empathic, I will be able to please him.
I only hope he likes Shakespeare!"
- - Kamala explains that she will nevertheless do her duty
"Mr. Ambassador, have a safe trip home."
- - Picard when Briam expresses surprise that Picard could resist Kamala after working closely with her
Background information Edit
Story and production Edit
- "The Perfect Mate" was filmed between Friday 14 February 1992 and Thursday 25 February 1992 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16.
- An alternate ending proposed by Michael Piller during production showed Picard intervening during the ceremony to stop the wedding, only to reveal that his abrupt intervention was only in his imagination, as the ceremony continued. Although Patrick Stewart liked the idea, Piller was overruled by Rick Berman. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages) This scene is included as an extra on the TNG Season 5 Blu-ray.
- On Monday 24 February 1992 the sets were visited by people from Premium Advanced Sales and on 25 February 1992 the cast and crew celebrated "Surfer Pants Day", where the wearer of the most unique pair of baggy surfer pants was awarded with a prize. ("The Perfect Mate" call sheet)
- The production meeting for this episode took place on Tuesday 11 February 1992 at 3:00 p.m. ("Cost of Living" call sheet)
- First UK airdate: 10 May 1995
Sets and props Edit
- According to composer Jay Chattaway, the Kriosian musical instrument was represented by a Balinese Gamelan instrument. The producers brought in Balinese musicians to provide the piece of music heard in the episode. ("Memorable Missions Year Five - The Perfect Mate", TNG Season 5 DVD special feature)
- Marina Sirtis (Deanna Troi) does not appear in this episode.
- Patrick Stewart and Famke Janssen would later work together again in the X-Men films, playing Professor Charles Xavier and Jean Grey, respectively.
- Famke Janssen was supposed to play the science officer of Deep Space Nine, Jadzia Dax. When Janssen turned the role down, actress Terry Farrell took her place. When initial make-up tests with the original Trill make-up from "The Host" didn't look convincing, the make-up crew remembered Kamala's spots and decided to use them on the Trill as seen on Deep Space 9. Hence Kriosians' makeup very much resembles DS9 Trill makeup with the characteristic spots. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine Companion)
- Max Grodénchik later appeared on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine as the recurring character Rom, another Ferengi, apparently using similar prosthetic teeth with the prominently visible crooked tooth.
- Michael Snyder later appeared in TNG: "Rascals" as another Ferengi, Morta.
- The premise of this episode has resemblances to TOS: "Elaan of Troyius". In both episodes the Enterprise transports a female with unique properties (see: Elasian tears) for an arranged marriage for diplomatic purposes, she becomes attached to the Captain but eventually they part ways.
- Kamala's statement in the Ceremony of Reconciliation, "I am for you, Alrik of Valt" mirrors Losira's statement from TOS: "That Which Survives", though in the latter case, it was delivered prior to an attack, not marriage.
- A mission report for this episode by John Sayers was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 21, pp. 27-29.
- This episode is listed as #57 of io9's The Top 100 Star Trek Episodes Of All Time!
Video and DVD releases Edit
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 61, 15 March 1993.
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 5.7, 2 December 2002.
- As part of the TNG Season 5 DVD collection.
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
Guest stars Edit
- Famke Janssen as Kamala
- Tim O'Connor as Briam
- Max Grodénchik as Par Lenor
- Mickey Cottrell as Alrik
- Michael Snyder as Qol
- David Paul Needles as Miner #1
- Roger Rignack as Miner #2
- Charles Gunning as Miner #3
- April Grace as Transporter Officer
- Majel Barrett as Computer Voice
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- K.C. Amos as operations division officer
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Joe Bauman as Garvey
- Steven Bosnyak as operations division ensign
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- Cameron as Kellogg
- Denise Deuschle as science division officer
- Gunnel Eriksson as science division officer
- Gregory as alien miner
- Grace Harrell as operations division officer
- Kai as science division officer
- Mark Lentry as science division lieutenant
- Lynch as alien miner
- Debbie Marsh as command division ensign
- Greg Poole as command division officer
- Jackson Sleet as alien miner
- John Tampoya as operations division ensign
- Théyard as science division officer
- Christina Wegler Miles as command division ensign
- Wilson as alien miner
- Unknown performers as
Stunt doubles Edit
- David Keith Anderson - stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Cameron - stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Keith Gearhart - stand-in for Roger Rignack
- John - stand-in for Michael Snyder
- Tim McCormack - stand-in for Tim O'Connor and Brent Spiner
- Lorine Mendell - stand-in for Famke Janssen and Gates McFadden
- Randy Pflug - stand-in for Charles Gunning
- Keith Rayve - stand-in for David Paul Needles
- Joyce Robinson - stand-in for April Grace
- Richard Sarstedt - stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Thor - stand-in for Max Grodénchik
- Dennis Tracy - stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- James Washington - stand-in for Michael Dorn
2168; Aldorian ale; ambassador; arboretum; archeology; arms merchant; arranged marriage; art; barbershop; breakfast; Ceremony of Reconciliation; chancellor; chaperone; cocoon; companel; craniosacral display; croissant; dolphin; Earl Grey tea; empath; empathic metamorph; Federation; Federation Constitution; Ferengi; Ferengi shuttle; Ferengi Trade Mission; Finiis'ral; Garuth; Harod IV; history; holograph; Klingon; Krios; Krios 1; Krios Prime; Kriosian; Kriosian musical instrument; Kriosian ship; Lapeongical period; Les Eyries; Ludugial gold; logic; miner; Number one; Paloris colony; Par Lenor's shuttle; penny; pheromone; piano; Picard, Yvette; Prime Directive; prostitution; recital; replicator; servant; sex; sexual allure; Shakespeare, William; Shakespeare's sonnets; slave trader; Starbase 117; stasis; Targhee moonbeast; Temple of Akadar; torze-qua; turbolift; tutor; Valt; Valt Minor; Valt system; Valtese; Valtese horn; Valtese ship; Ventanan; Ventanan thimble; Ventanan woven art; Vulcan; walls of Jericho
- "The Perfect Mate" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Perfect Mate" at Wikipedia
- "The Perfect Mate" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
| Previous episode:|
"Cost of Living"
| Star Trek: The Next Generation|
| Next episode:|