Star Trek: The Next Generation is just loaded with characters who make some mistakes here and there but are all still ultimately super moral people. Just a bunch of paragons of virtue on TNG.
Sure, sure. They're definitely having wild holodeck orgies all the time when the Real World: TNG Edition cameras aren't rolling, of that there can be little doubt, but everything is so consensual and on the up and up about everything on board the Enterprise D that it's almost sickening.
And then there's Lwaxana Troi, Daughter of the Fifth House, Holder of the Sacred Chalice of Rixx, Heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed. Oh. Boy. Deanna's mom. On a show full of perfect but very horny people, Lwaxana Troi is both the most flawed and the most horny in the galaxy (literally there is a whole episode dedicated to her sexual prowess.)
I love her. I didn't always, so if you are staring at your screen in repulsed disbelief, hang on, because this is list of Lwaxana's most quintessential moments might make you change your mind. For real.
Also: this is only best TNG Lwaxana moments, so don't @ me about Odo.
Lwaxana Troi's Worst Impressions
"Haven" is probably not on any kind of list of TNG episodes, unless someone has a list of episodes they hate the most. Actually, most people do have that list and it's largely populated by Lwaxana episodes. Be that as it may, this is our first impression of Lwaxana and, oh, what an impression she makes. Before Lwaxana even shows up officially she sends her daughter a wedding present (Deanna is getting arranged married, but never mind that) and the wedding present is a sentient chest with a man face announcing Lwaxana's arrival before barfing out jewels in celebration of the coming nuptials. Could her actual entrance top this delightfully unexpected body horror?
Yes. Yes, it can. And it is, undoubtedly, her first quintessential moment. I have no doubt Lwaxana Troi knows how a transporter works, yet she intentionally beams in backwards, demands her daughter be telepathy buddies with her, and then tricks Picard, you know, the captain of the ship, into lugging her supernaturally heavy luggage. Everything Lwaxana does from the moment she arrives is designed to make sure everyone knows she is in charge. Not Deanna, not Picard, not any gods that may lurk in the heavens: Lwaxana Troi is The Boss: like Bruce or Mona (we all know Mona was the boss).
There are other great moments from "Haven," not least of which includes Lwaxana talking about how Deanna's soon-to-be-father-in-law is hot for Lwaxana. And then Deanna knocks over the chime that rings every time Lwaxana takes a bite of dinner and Data is delighted. So am I. Lwaxana's disruptions are the best.
Note: Lwaxana pulls the heavy luggage move again, but on Riker, in "Manhunt" and it's great watching Riker struggle like a weak baby.
Lwaxana Troi's Shakespearean Inspiration
Here's a list of things I know everyone loves:
1. TNG era Ferengi
2. Riker/Troi romance subplots
3. Riker wearing a deep-v poet shirt tucked into his high-waisted parachute pants.
HAHAHA just kidding. That's the stuff of nightmares. And also, the fact that the episode corresponding with these horrors is called "Menage a Troi" is likewise worse than every "oh, no my teeth are falling out of my mouth" dream combined.
However, Lwaxana Troi is, as ever, the proverbial sunshine appearing on an otherwise cloudy day. She gets kidnapped (along with dummies Will and Deanna) by a Ferengi named DaiMon Tog. And the only reason Riker and Deanna get out of the situation is because Lwaxana agrees to be romantically entangled with Tog. But don't worry, because Lwaxana tricks Tog into hailing Picard and then tricks Picard into play-acting that he is in love with Lwaxana and will murder Tog if he doesn't give her up.
It's overwrought and hilarious. Lots of Shakespeare is involved. And, of course, it works. Once again, the day is saved thanks to Mrs. Troi, goddamned treasure to us all and, without her, Picard memes wouldn't as fun by half.
Lwaxana Troi's True Love
And this is where the jokes end for the most part. Sorry, folks. It turns out I really do love Lwaxana Troi after all. What is there to say about an episode that deals with accepting rituals we may not understand while also understanding that, eventually, we run out of days? "Half a Life" is one of the best Lwaxana episodes because she finally budges, but only on her own terms. She falls in love with this unlikely man: Dr. Timicin, a chubby scientist buried in his work. And he loves her back even though, as is his people's custom, he must end his own life at the age of 60, which he is about to turn.
There are a lot of great moments: Lwaxana finding out about the ritual, rebelling against it, temporarily convincing Timicin that his people need his mind in order to save themselves. They're all very powerful. But this is TNG and so we know where this story is headed. Or at least we think we do.
Lwaxana stories never quite result in perfect, happy endings. But the moment I came to really understand Lwaxana was when she, despite her feelings about Timicin's decision, accompanies him back to his home world so she can be by his side in his moment of dying. That moment on the holodeck is the one that gets me every time. I love how Lwaxana lives out loud, but it's this quiet moment where she truly gives herself over emotionally despite the heartache that I fell in love with her completely.
Most of the TNG cast run on logic and a certain cool detachment. Lwaxana grabs a hold of people and doesn't let go. Sometimes that's... trying. Other times, though, it is the proof that there has been no more emotionally giving character than Lwaxana Troi and no more emotionally giving performer from Star Trek than Majel Barrett Rodenberry.
Lwaxana Troi's Darkest Page
There is only one mother/daughter relationship throughout the entire canon of Star Trek, and it is Lwaxana and Deanna. Most people think of the ways Lwaxana badgers Deanna, expecting her to follow traditions, get married, eat less chocolate probably. But people usually forget how strong their bond really is. And the bond is never stronger than it is in "Dark Page" when, while helping a race of telepaths, Lwaxana suddenly retreats into her own mind, trapped in a coma. The only person with the chill mind powers and the truest bond that can help? Deanna.
And I will defend "Dark Page" forever because there aren't a lot of times Star Trek boldly tries to deal with a mother losing a child. And it's a pretty huge revelation that Lwaxana had another daughter before Deanna. Lwaxana loses a daughter. She loses a husband. And then she becomes sort of transient and finds that she's the only one who even knows this other young girl ever existed. No wonder she tried to bury it. No wonder she can't.
Kirsten Dunst had one of her earliest roles here doubling as both a young prodigy working with Lwaxana and also representing Lwaxana's lost daughter. And, y'all, Kirsten Dunst became a famous movie star for a reason: she's real good at acting.
But the best moment is the end when Lwaxana tells Deanna about Kestra, the sister she never thought she knew. It explains why Lwaxana calls Deanna "Little One" and it also deepens their bond because here is yet another part of their lives they can share together.
There really should be more mother/daughter relationships on Star Trek.
Lwaxana Troi's Holographic Mud
For a long time I considered "Cost of Living" to be one of the worst episodes of any Star Trek series ever. The funny thing about rewatching a show over and over again, though, is that you find good things about things you used to struggle with. Kind of like family.
And to be super personal for a moment, the reason I chose Lwaxana Troi as one of the characters I'd talk about during TNG's 30th Anniversary is because she has always reminds me of my grandmother, a flawed but incredible woman who we lost a few years ago. Lwaxana is brazen, impossible, and amazing. My grandmother was just the same. She named her car "Simone," she liked to stand on her head, she dated a guy once who, she confided in me, "smoked a lot of reefer."
Most of all, though, she was the one adult who stood by me when I was a depressed and emotionally dweeby kid. When I was too sad to eat, she'd whip something up that I would enjoy. We would ride bicycles in the park, she'd take me up to Bear Mountain, and when I was in too much of a funk to walk, she'd plop down next to me.
Lwaxana takes on that role with Worf's son, Alexander, in "Cost of Living." Alexander is not, uh... good at being a person. He doesn't get his Klingon dad, he can't be chill with the human kids, and so he mostly just mopes and shouts a lot. It's not very entertaining television, but I get him. I was the same way.
And there is this weirdly inappropriate moment where Lwaxana takes Alexander to the holodeck and plops him in a mud bath. It's really super weird. But while both Worf and Deanna are fretting over the influence Lwaxana is going to have on poor, fragile Alexander, it turns out she's the only one that actually makes him feel better.
Just like my grandmother. And that is why I love this pretty terrible episode: because it's yet another honest portrayal of a woman who can throw adulthood aside and help a kid work through some stuff. It may not make anyone else's best moments list, but watching Lwaxana help Alexander feels like I'm on a holodeck reliving my own past. It's like getting to see my grandmother again. And that makes it pretty great.
Thanks, Lwaxana. Love you, Grandma.
Computer: end program.