The Women of TNG part 4: Lwaxana Troi by Gail Gerard
In the final article in my series on the ladies of TNG, I’ve chosen to write about one of the characters I most enjoyed watching whenever she was on screen. I’m of course talking about (everybody say it with me)the daughter of the Fifth House, heir to the Holy Rings of Betazed, holder of the sacred chalice of Rixx, Lwaxana Troi.
Lwaxana Troi was played by Gene Roddenberry’s wife, Majel Barrett-Roddenberry, who had the singular distinction of appearing in every Star Trek series that appeared on television with the exception of “Enterprise”. As Nurse Christine Chapel in the original series, she didn’t get much screen time and her character was somewhat of a submissive, “yes doctor, no doctor, whatever you say, doctor” kind of gal. But it was when she appeared as Lwaxana Troi that we got to see just how well she could handle a very complex and interesting character and how it was more than apparent that she wasn’t JUST given the role because she happened to be married to The Great Bird of the Galaxy.
According to Memory Alpha, Lwaxana was born on Betazed to parents who were conservative traditionalists who rarely spoke, preferring to use their telepathic powers to communicate instead. Lwaxana’s father, in fact, held the belief that speaking aloud was for offlanders and people who just didn’t know any better. I get the feeling from reading her profile on Memory Alpha that Lwaxana was the kind who just didn’t rock the boat and didn’t really come into her own, letting her exuberant and often eccentric personality shine through until after the death of her Terran husband, Andrew. Originally, I believe, she came up with her outrageously flirtatious antics to mask the deep grief she felt over first losing her oldest daughter Kestra (who drowned as a young child, “Dark Page” and then her husband Ian. Her somewhat rambunctious attitude towards life tended to be an embarrassment to her daughter Deanna who was naturally more conservative and reserved.
Throughout her time in “TNG” Lwaxana Troi showed many sides of herself. Most of the time, we saw the outrageously wild side of her, the side that didn’t care what anybody thought (especially Deanna) and was just obnoxious enough without going too far with it. The side of her that made her Picard’s bete noir, forcing him to flee to his quarters, Ten Forward or anywhere she wasn’t the minute she stepped off the transporter pad. But there was also the more sensitive, tender side that she usually reserved for her daughter Deanna; the side that cared that Deanna was still unmarried. I think if Lwaxana had had her way, Deanna would’ve been married to Riker and that would’ve been that. Because she herself lost a husband so early in her adulthood, I think that marriage meant a lot to her.
One of my favorite examples of this is the episode “Cost of Living” in which she befriends young Alexander Rozhenko while aboard the Enterprise in preparation for her upcoming marriage to a diplomat she’s never even met except through subspace communication (which I imagine would be the 23rd century equivalent of online dating). She’s obviously a little hesitant about it, especially after meeting him for the first time and seeing what a stick in the mud he seems to be. Campio is obsessed with protocol and refuses to deviate from it in the slightest, even bringing a specialist in protocol aboard with him. When Lwaxana realizes that she can’t change herself that much, even though she’s afraid of getting old with nobody to take care of her, she realizes that she shouldn’t’ t have to change herself to suit his wants and needs.
However, when the need arises, Lwaxana can indeed put aside her own personal wants and needs to be there for somebody else. My favorite example of this is the episode “Half A Life” in which she falls in love with a scientist name Timicin who unfortunately (due to his cultural background) must commit suicide shortly after they meet. Lwaxana loves him enough to try and convince him to claim sanctuary aboard the Enterprise, to abandon what he’d always grown up with to stay with her. But in the end, Timicin realizes that he can’t, that he has to do what his culture dictates is right and proper for the end of a person’s life and Lwaxana realizes that he must go along with it. To make it easier for him though, and to satisfy her own need for closure, she accompanies him back home for a “Resolution” party shortly before his death.
Behind every good woman stands a good man, which in Lwaxana’s case is her ever silent valet, Mr. Homn. Mr. Homn was not just a valet but also Lwaxana’s conscience in some cases. When she destroyed several years’ worth of journal entries related to her daughter Kestra (“Dark page”), he saved a file containing photographs of the girl in case she should want them later. For all his appearances on screen alongside Lwaxana, we know very little about Homn, not even his species. It has been speculated that he is in fact a Hupyrian, a race prized throughout the galaxy as fabulous servants.
I think that Lwaxana Troi was one of the most interesting characters to appear on TNG every now and again simply because she was such a loud, boisterous kind of person. You didn’t see a lot of that kind of personality aboard the Enterprise-D. While the crew wasn’t all stuck up and staid, they were definitely a little on the boring side sometimes and Lwaxana helped to liven things up with her over the top personality.