"Man of the People"

Season Six, Episode 3
Written by Frank Abatemarco
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn as Lt Worf
Gates McFadden as Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr Data

Guest Cast:
Chip Lucia as Alkar
George D Wallace as Admiral Simons
Patti Yasutake as Nurse Ogawa
Susan French as Maylor
Lucy Boryer as Ensign Janeway
Rick Scarry as Jarth
Stephanie Erb as Liva
J.P. Hubbell as Ensign


The Enterprise ferries the Lumerian Ambassador, Vas Alkar to a crucial diplomatic mission on Rekag-Syronia. When his aged (and aggressive) mother dies, Alkar asks if Troi will join him in an ancient funeral meditation to honour the deceased. Troi agrees, but the meditation has a profound effect on her -- she becomes an aggressive, vindictive vamp who starts aging at a severely accelerated rate. Crusher discovers that Maylor wasn't Alkar's mother at all -- she was a young companion whom Alkar latched onto and used to offload his negative emotions, thus keeping him the perfect man for ambassadorial peace missions. Following Maylor's death, Troi is his new "receptacle" and Alkar isn't willing to release her. Crusher has to enduce death and revive her in order to severe the link and free Deanna. When Alkar attempts to link with another woman, the negative emotions surge back into him, immediately killing him.


Oh dear. What the hell was all THAT about? :-(

Extensive though they are, I can safely sum up Man of the People's problems with just one word: the plot. Such as it is. Not only is the premise exceptionally cliched but it's laced with a number of plot holes and questionable logic galore. I will say the episode does have some things going for it; for the most part Marina Sirtis is very entertaining -- her performance as enjoyable as it is over-the-top. And it's sure as hell less boring as Realm of Fear which ought to have carried the warning: "May cause extreme drowsiness. If affected do not operate heavy machinery". But compost could be considered more entertaining than Realm of Fear, so alas that's not saying  much.

But let's get back to Man of the People and this time I'm going to proceed to pull apart the frail, feeble little waif that is the plot. For a start, I'd like to know why Alkar needs to channel his negative emotions into someone else. I mean, crikey, how negative is this guy?! The explanation that "as an Ambassador I need to be free of all negative thought" just doesn't cut it. Our emotions are a part of us and whilst their a damned nuisance at times (!) we do have limited control over them. I simply don't see why it would be necessary for a negotiator to do this. 

And even if you can buy this, I don't quite understand the correlating effect this has on Troi. Sure, a barrage of negative emotions probably would make you aggressive, unpredictable and unstable. But why would it make you age prematurely (and particularly at such an accelerated rate)? Should I even touch upon the issue of sex?! The writers were evidently looking for a way to depict Troi's shocking descent over to the dark side, so what do they come up with? "I know, let's make her turn into a slut!" She seduces a young ensign, dallies in a bit of casual sex and when Riker finds out he's horrified (what a hypocrite, eh?). I mean, come on. What this episode does is basically equate sex as evil! Who wrote this, I wonder -- the chairman of the Catholic Church (please don't be offended Catholics - just a joke!)? I can do without it.

As I said above, the high point of the episode is Marina Sirtis's deliciously wicked performance. She carried a lousy script really rather well, and even lifted one or two rather horrible scenes. Witness the scene where Troi is standing doing her martial arts exercises in what looks like slow-motion. It was a nebulous scene in which nothing actually happened (and it took a long time in happening at that!) and one that could have ground the episode to a halt. But Sirtis carries it quite nicely and the eerie music helped as well, I guess. I actually thought she was gonna take off her top and...I'll shut up now. I was less happy with the bit where she screams after Alkar "TAKE ME WITH YOU!!" It was dreadfully OTT. Sirtis evidently doesn't do "shouting" very well, but most the rest of it was quite enjoyable.

Less impressive was the lacklustre Chip Lucia who was an utter bore as Alkar. It wasn't until quite well into the episode that we're supposed to learn that Alkar's a baddie (even though it was telegraphed about a mile in advance) so I respect that he had to keep it quite restrained, but...did he have to be so darned dull? It doesn't qualify as a bad performance but it's not exactly all that memorable.

Anyway, the episode limps to its uninspired, by-the-numbers conclusion with Deanna going from one extreme of bitchiness to the next. Some of it, I'll admit was quite fun. Her counselling session was a genuine hoot and Sirtis really was game. But the whole "sex kitten" fiasco is best left forgotten and so, perhaps, is Troi's transformation into what looks like Frankenstein's bride (with some laughably over-the-top costuming and hairstyline). The "stabbing" scene in the transporter room was hokey, poorly staged and featured an awful bit of directing by Winrich Kolbe. And Beverly's solution to break Alkar's link -- ie, by momentarily killing Deanna -- was a concept which didn't come off terribly well. Nor did the fact that Troi de-ages before our very eyes. And, pow, there we have another instantaneous "reset button" ending! This one, however, was a very near insult to the intelligence. The closing scene featured some very warm interplay between Sirtis and Jonathan Frakes but it was undercut by the fact that the scene was used to explain what had happened in the previous scene. It's never a good sign when you have to explain your climax in retrospect.

Some other notes:

Well, that's about it. Hallelulajah. Man of the People does have it's moments, just not nearly enough of them. The plot really is something of a mess, needing a lot more work. It's not the interminable bore that Realm of Fear was, but it's not exactly a Shakespearean masterpiece either. When all is said and done, I have to chalk this one up as another early season clunker.

Rating: 4

What did you think of this review? Why not share your thoughts by MAILING ME? All feedback is gratefully appreciated (and, yes, I can take criticism but keep it friendly, OK! :-))

Disclaimer For the record, I acknowledge that Paramount Pictures/Viacom owns all rights to "Star Trek" and this site is here not to infringe on this copyright, but to support and promote interest in the show/s. Yadda yadda yadda.
All reviews on this site are copyright and are not to be re-produced or re-used without prior consent of the author.

Back to TNG Index  /  Back to Home / DS9 Reviews / Voyager Reviews