Sub Rosa

I had quite some good replies earlier today when I did a twitter watch of the Star Trek TNG episode ‘Masks’, and someone asked if I can watch ‘Sub Rosa’. Another episode from season 7 I remember rather well. The Enterprise visits planet Scotland and Crushes humps a ghost.

The Enterprise is visiting Planet Scotland, a colony where everybody is a 17th century Scottish stereotype, for the funeral of Dr Crusher’s grandmother. Troi looks even more bored than usual and Picard is hoping that nobody smelled the silent fart he just let out, I think.

So I grew up in Scotland. And, well, we never dress like this. We really don’t. But anyway, Crushes catches sight of a mysterious man at the funeral – we know that he’s mysterious only because the camera lingers on him.

Picard mentions that he genuinely feels like he’s in the Scottish Highlands to an alien with weird alien face makeup on his nose. Weird alien nose man tells Picard that stones for every building were brought from Glasgow and Edinburgh, which aren’t in the Highlands.

Bev and Troi visit Granny Crusher’s cottage and find an old candle. They discuss the ancient Scottish heritage of the Howard clan, and that the candle has been in the family for generations. Just so that we know there’s something weird about it.

A random stranger walks in and blows out the candle. He’s Mr Quint, and he’s here to tell us “Ye dinnae want ta keep tha’ candul! Tha’ candul is cersed! Cersed, I tell ye!” Yes, he actually says ‘ye’. She throws him out and he goes back to guest-starring in Monarch of the Glen.

We get a good look at Planet Scotland, which based by the land mass shown here is known for its dense arboreal forests? I guess Planet Scotland is significantly bigger than real Scotland, too.

Data and Geordi help the colony’s governer fix the planet’s ecosystem, which is causing unusual weather in Scotland’s southern desert regions. Because Scotland is known for its southern desert region, also known as England. Basically the Sahara down there, no intelligent life.

The governor of Planet Scotland, famed for its accuracy to real Scotland, has just said “IT’S THE MIDDLE OF SUMMER, WE DON’T HAVE ANY RAIN AT THIS TIME OF YEAR” and my sides are splitting! We have fucking floods in summer you daft twat!

Bev has been reading her granny’s diary and tells Picard that at 100 years old she had a lover. Picard’s face shows exactly how that makes him feel.

Beverley curls up in bed, reading her 100 year old granny’s sexcapades. What? That’s a perfectly normal thing that people do!

The candle flickers to life and Beverley’s bedsheets are pulled back by an unseen voice. A male voice calls her name, and she awakes. Mills & Boon proceed to sue Paramount for their writer’s blatant plagiarism.

Beverley immediately tells her sex dream to Troi, and tells her about her granny’s sex diary too. By this point everybody on the ship starts to avoid her.

After being banished from the ship for creeping everybody out, Bev goes to lay heather on her grandmother’s grave. She meets Quint and tries to make amends. He tells her “Dinnae light tha’ candul and dinnae go intae tha’ hoose, it’s haunted!”

A storm begins. Quint declares that it is the work of the ghost that haunts Beverley’s family, and tells her to “stay off the moors or the hound of the baskervilles will get you too”. She returns to granny’s cottage to find it filled with flowers, woooo spooky! Is this Star Trek?

Alone in the house, Beverley hears the ghost talking to her. He tells her in a sultry voice that he has loved countless women in her family down through the centuries. When they moved into space, he came with them, becoming the first ghost to travel into space. What.

In the previous scene Beverley was reeling from the ghost’s embracing touch. In the next, she’s swooning over him to Troi, telling her what a fantastic lover he is. There’s implications in this and none of them are good.

Meanwhile Data tried to figure out ‘jokes’ again and let off a fire extinguisher on the bridge. He then tells Picard that it’s the broken weather system on the colony. Picard believes him because earlier today his ship almost turned into a brick and now he’ll believe anything.

Worf tells us that the temperature in deck 13 has dropped below freezing, which is the most accurate thing to real-life Scotland that I’ve heard all episode.

Data and Geordi go down to the planet to see what’s fucking up the environmental controls and almost miss Quint pulling out wires all over the place. Easy to miss, I guess. He keeps pulling them out until something zaps him and he dies, and there was much rejoicing.

Both Data and Beverley seem convinced that Quint was killed by a ghost. I’m so glad that technology has advanced to this point by the 24th century. Well, guess we know who to call…

Beverley returns to her granny’s cottage and comes face to face with Heathcliff from Wuthering Heights. As a ghost, he explains that it’s hard for him to take ‘corporeal form’, which is definitely a phrase that a ghost would use.

Heathcliff explains that he needs Beverley to light the candle because that will give him his power. She goes to the ship to do that, and he appears beside her, telling her that they will become part of one another which just sounds like he’s planning to sew them together. Yeuch.

It’s like, I know that it can be hard to write good romantic dialogue, but this… isn’t it.

He literally tells Beverley that he will become one with her “just like I did with your grandmother and all of the Howard women before them”, and that’s the most un-sexy thing ever, and she’s literally just licking his fingers at this idea. Uhh. What. Please stop.

The ghost then turns into ghost mist and humps Beverley. But instead of this being totally creepy and gross, apparently it’s so good that the doctor decides to LEAVE STARFLEET FOREVER and go live in a cottage on a miserable planet without indoor plumbing. I don’t even.

Picard starts to get a bit suspicious about Beverley’s constant talk about her new lover, which is also her granny’s former lover. But never mind that because the Enterprise has found energy somewhere on the planet that matches that which killed Quint – in the graveyard!

I love this. The captain sends down Data and Geordi to find the source of the energy signature in the graveyard. Tweedle-dum and Tweedle-dee proceed to WANDER AROUND FOR ABOUT FIVE MINUTES before figuring out it’s probably coming from Granny’s grave. Well done, fellas.

Meanwhile the writers decide to torture the audience some more by giving us yet more ghost mist sex.

Picard walks in on Beverley mid-coitus with some green mist. From his expression, it’s not the first time. Please knock next time, Jean-Luc.

Picard gets a bit too hands-on with Beverley, telling her that something is very wrong here and that she’s not acting at all like herself. He also demands to speak to her lover, who nobody else has ever seen.

So to answer his questions, the ghost appears. He claims to be from Scotland, but his the facts (and his lack of even an attempt at a Scottish accent) don’t bear this out. But never mind that – Tweedle-Dum and Tweedle-Dee want to dig up Granny’s coffin! Oh boy…

The ghost reacts to this like any unhappy creature on Star Trek does – with lightning zaps. When Beverley refuses to leave the captain for dead and insists on treating his wounds, the ghost says that he will go and take care of the two graverobbers personally.

Data and Geordi dig up granny’s grave and pop open the lid. Granny proceeds to lightning zap them both. Yes, this happens.

Beverley runs into the graveyard and yells at the ghost to stop possessing her Granny’s corpse. Also, Granny doesn’t have a Scottish accent either, as if we even expected that by this point. Sigh.

Bev tells the ghost that he’s not actually a ghost after all, but some kind of alien (which makes… more sense) that has been using humans to merge with in order to take physical form somehow (which makes less sense) and stops him by shooting the candle (which makes no sense).

Beverley explains to Troi that centuries ago the ghost alien ‘somehow’ discovered that her ancestor had a bio-chemistry that was comparable with his energy matrix. Whatever that means. Which means that her entire family’s ancestors have been raped by ghosts. Buuut….

Beverley is okay with this! Because, no matter what the ghost alien might have done, he made her granny happy. By, y’know, all that emotional manipulation and textbook sexual abuse. So it’s a happy ending! *sighs*