Star Trek: The Next Generation (1992): S05E20 – Cost of Living


Introduction

“Cost of Living” is the 120th episode of the American science fiction television show Star Trek: The Next Generation. The 20th episode of the fifth season.

Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, as undetectable parasites devour the ship, Lwaxana Troi takes Worf’s son Alexander under her wing encouraging him to adopt her carefree ways en route to meeting a man she has blindly agreed to marry.

This episode features the recurring characters of Worf’s son Alexander and Lwaxana Troi.

Outline

Lwaxana Troi arrives on the Enterprise, announcing that she will be holding her wedding there with a man that shares many interests with her, as judged by a computerised matchmaking system. Captain Jean-Luc Picard, initially wary of Lwaxana’s plans, is relieved that all she wants from him is to give her away as the bride. Privately, Counsellor Deanna Troi talks to Lwaxana about the marriage, and is surprised and disappointed that she will not follow the Betazoid custom of being a naked bride at the wedding. Lwaxana informs her that such customs offend the groom and his people. Deanna criticises her for abandoning her own custom given the rank that she holds.

Meanwhile, Lt. Worf is having difficulties in getting his son Alexander to complete his obligations such as homework and chores. Deanna offers the idea of creating a contract that would allow Alexander to have time to play after completing his tasks. While this initially seems to be acceptable to Alexander, Lwaxana arrives and downplays the idea. Lwaxana makes friends with Alexander, taking him to a holodeck simulation of the Parallax colony despite Worf’s orders. Lwaxana encourages Alexander to be a free spirit, but Deanna believes that Lwaxana’s message is confusing Alexander.

Eventually, Campio, Lwaxana’s husband-to-be, arrives at the Enterprise, and Lwaxana finds that he is not as perfect a fit for her as the computer match suggested, being more strict and demanding then she was lead to believe. She evades Campio by taking Alexander to the holodeck. There, Alexander reiterates some of the advice she had previously given him. Taking it to heart, Lwaxana arrives at the wedding naked as per Betazoid custom, and Campio, offended, leaves her at the altar. While later relaxing with Deanna, Alexander, and Worf, Lwaxana admits she made a mistake with Campio and thanks Alexander for helping her out.

During these events, the Enterprise becomes infected with an undetectable parasite that feeds off nitrium, a component used in most of the starship’s materials. Though initial system failures are attributed to normal wear, they become concerned when warp and life support systems begin to fail. The crew is able to identify the parasite, and as life systems fail and cause the crew to pass out due to lack of air, Lt. Commander Data navigates the starship to a nearby asteroid field rich in nitrium and coerces the parasite to move there. Ship systems are quickly restored to normal before the wedding.

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Production & Filming Details

  • Director(s): Winrich Kolbe.
  • Writer(s): Peter Allan Fields.
  • Release Date: 20 April 1992.
  • Running Time: 45 minutes.
  • Country: US.
  • Language: English.

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