"Sub Rosa"

Season Seven, Episode 14
Written by Brannon Braga
Directed by Jonathan Frakes 
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Capt Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Cmdr 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:
Duncan Regehr as Ronin
Michael Keenan as Governor Maturin
Shay Duffin as Ned Quint
Ellen Albertini Dow as Felicis Howard

Beverly attends her grandmother Felicia's funeral on Caldos IV and later gets her affairs in order. She finds her grandmother's diaries which speak of a romance with a mysterious young man named Ronin. She also receives a visit from an irate friend of her grandmother's, Ned Quint, who demands that she get rid of a candle that he claims has brought her family bad luck for generations. She later meets the enigmatic Ronin and they promptly begin a passionate affair. Evidently Ronin is a ghost who claims to have haunted her family for over eight hundred years, loving each and every one of the Howard women. Enraptured by her ghostly lover, Beverly resigns from Starfleet at the drop of a hat, baffling her friends aboard the Enterprise.

Ned Quint, meanwhile, is killed by a "random" power surge when he tries to put a halt to Ronin's plot. The crew trace the same plasma energy to the grave of Beverly's grandmother as Picard visits Beverly to try and talk her out of leaving Starfleet. As Data and Geordi prepare to exhume Felicia's body, Ronin is enraged and tries to stop them, even going to the extremes of re-animating the corpse. Beverly is shocked to learn the truth about Ronin -- he is actually a vampiric being who has used her family to stay alive for centuries. She destroys the candle which links him to the Howard women, then destroys him as well.


In the Daily Mail's TV listings, the synopsis they gave this episode was: "the Enterprise meets a group of magicians". Clearly they hadn't bothered to properly watch the episode and, frankly, I don't blame them. Make no mistake, people -- Sub Rosa is absolutely, completely and irrevocably ATROCIOUS. I don't know what the writers were thinking when they came up with this utter drivel -- I can only assume they weren't thinking.

For a start, this episode does its damnedest to embarrass and alienate every Scottish viewer, much the same way Code of Honor insulted every African viewer and Up the Long Ladder every Irishman. The accents were atrociously bad and the performances downright embarrassing ("the hoose is haaaaaaaunted!! Dinna light that caaaaaaandle!"). At one point Picard says "I didn't know you were Scotch." Excuse me, but Scotch is a drink, not a nationality. Shame on Patrick Stewart for not pointing this out, he at least ought to have known better. Unfortunately, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

For whatever reason, Brannon Braga got it in his head to do a gothic ghost story, but this just doesn't gel at all -- bar some effective lighting and reasonable directing by Jonathan Frakes, this falls miserably flat on its face. I really feel sorry for Gates McFadden, a capable actress so often neglected by the writers. If this is their idea of developing her character it's probably just as well the character was largely ignored. How McFadden managed to take this drivel seriously is beyond me. Sadly her performance is little better than the material itself -- almost laughably over-the-top. Having her discuss her erotic dreams with Troi and writhing in orgasmic delight is simply cringe-worthy. What makes things even more laughable is that Ronin is none other than Shakaar (Duncan Reghr in a pre-DS9 role). The climax features painfully overwrought histrionics, more bad acting and is topped off with  gallons of technobabble. Alas, Sub Rosa marks only the start of the "weird" phase that marked TNG's final days (in weeks to come the ship will become a museum, the crew will de-evolve into insects, the Enterprise has a baby and Wesley Crusher becomes a higher life form). This is just the pits -- avoid at all costs.

Rating: 2

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