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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old August 15 2014, 07:44 AM   #1
LMFAOschwarz
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"We'll Always Have Vanity"

A couple of days ago, I watched We'll Always Have Paris for the first time in many years. One thing that never really caught my attention until now was the conversation between Picard and his former flame, that Manheim woman (I've forgotten her first name).

Picard stood her up twenty-two years prior, apparently to pursue his life in the stars. She had surmised that he felt that life with her would have made him "ordinary"'. Acknowledging this, Picard laughed and said "Am I that transparent?" She replies "Only to me.".

I think it would have come across better if Picard had said "Was I that transparent?". His use of 'am' kind of implies that he still sees himself that way. Reflecting back on his younger days, and implying that he hasn't changed his view seems to imply a shallowness to his character, whereas we can probably all look back twenty-two years and think "Boy, was I stupid back then.".

What's even worse is that she seems/seemed to have no problem with this. Now, I have no idea what is in the minds of other people of course, but this little peek into their private conversation seems to reveal them to be pretty vacuous people. I realize that pursuing a command career implies a degree of ego and confidence and all that, it's not something suited to the shy, reserved or self-depricating type of person. However, none of our other Captains seem to possess this particular quality.

And later, he says to her husband, "You underestimate her. I know, because I once did." Underestimated what, exactly? That she's willing to be just as shallow as him, and they would have been great together?

My point is, there seems to be no reflection of the 'foolish choices of youth' presented here. I get the implication that both he and her haven't changed one iota.

Am I reading too much into this?
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Old August 15 2014, 08:31 AM   #2
Melakon
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

Yeah, I think you are, considering you can't even remember the name Jenice.

I love the episode, especially for Ron Jones' score and many of the time slipping scenes (not so much the 3 Datas though). And Manheim himself has an interesting line, "I'm having difficulty holding the moment," as he struggles to keep himself in the present.

Jenice seems to have an inner strength of determination that Picard recognizes, she deeply loves Paul and is devoted to him, yet Manheim doesn't seem to realize this. I think that's what Picard is meaning when he tells Paul he underestimates her. Picard recognizes she would have been devoted to him as well, if he hadn't walked away from her.

But I think there's a big problem with the script. The scenes seem to want us to think Picard and Jenice are still in love with each other, and the title suggests the episode was to be reminiscent of Bogart and Bergman in Casablanca, where Rick wants desperately to rekindle his relationship with Ilsa, but knows she must stay with her husband because he's the one who really needs her love, devotion, and strength.

The Picard-Jenice scenes suggest they still have feelings for each other, but the writers err by trying to make us think Picard would even consider an affair with a married woman. I've read some critiques complaining Stewart and Phillips have no chemistry. I think it's more an example of the actors trying to convey that both know they can never have what they once had again.

Favorite timeslip is the turbolift scene. "It's happening again." The camera even shifts time frames during these scenes as we start with one moment of the characters, and shift to an earlier or later moment during the same scenes.
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Old August 15 2014, 08:32 AM   #3
Maxwell Everett
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

All I know is that this episode had a very troubled production. The script was written in five days apparently, the "final draft" is fairly bizzare and significantly different than the aired episode (Picard actually beds Mrs. Manheim!). It had to be hastily rewritten with just a week to spare before filming began. Most of the structure is intact, but the tone and the dialogue is very different.

Then the Writer's Guild strike of 1988 happened, which shut down production, and the writers were out on the picket line. VFX Supervisor Rob Legato had to shoot the entire climactic ending with Data in Manheim's lab without a finished script (the episode's director had never worked with effects before). It's actually amazing the episode came out as well as it did. If you read that script you can probably get a better idea of what the writers had in mind for the Picard/Jenice romance.
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Old August 15 2014, 08:46 AM   #4
LMFAOschwarz
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

Melakon wrote: View Post
Yeah, I think you are, considering you can't even remember the name Jenice.
What do you expect, Melakon? You're the one who forced me to watch it!

Points well taken, though. The soundtrack was indeed effective, as noted by you. And the time-slips were well-done (only topped by that Enterprise episode, in which even the viewer got dragged into the effect!).

I didn't get those 'lack of chemistry' criticisms, either. Even were they accurate, they weren't a couple anyway, so what would it matter? That sounded to me like someone looking for something to criticize.

This episode also features what I call technobabble at its best: it furthered the story, and didn't drown the viewer in utter nonsense. Just science-ey enough to give the viewer a framework of the situation.

I immediately did recall upon viewing, however, that the cafe musician reminded me of Mark Lenard.
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Old August 15 2014, 12:05 PM   #5
2takesfrakes
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

LMFAOschwarz wrote: View Post
I think it would have come across better if Picard had said "Was I that transparent?". His use of 'am' kind of implies that he still sees himself that way. Reflecting back on his younger days, and implying that he hasn't changed his view seems to imply a shallowness to his character, whereas we can probably all look back twenty-two years and think "Boy, was I stupid back then.". What's even worse is that she seems/seemed to have no problem with this.
There's a very interesting parallel here, between the Manheim Experiment itself and the Old Flame story between Jenice Manheim and Picard. And I think the "Am I that transparent" is meant to - mostly - imply further that the past seems like current events where she is concerned. Yes, they've both changed, over the years, but it's more of a layering than a metamorphosis effect. Each layer is discreet, able to be deeply buried ... or called to the surface. Around eachother, Jenice and Jean-Luc really are who they were, 20 years ago. So when Picard says, "Am I that transparent," it's an indulgence, really, in allowing himself to feel that young, again, around her and to believe that he still is. The fact that she's been taking care of herself and is so well-preserved does much to fuel these dreams.

Meanwhile, her husband has put the reality of their marriage on indefinite hold, whilst he chases dreams of his own. In a way, he took her for granted, but not in a cold, callous way. Being an obvious dreamer, he was able to put a spin on it, mainly revolving around the apparent importance of it, where he could believe his wife understood and encouraged it. And between Jenice's devotion and their isolation, she was stuck in limbo until Picard could come and rescue her from it. And in so doing, they could both put the past away and reclaim the present. Data, being the impartial machine is neutral to all of these emotional concerns, of course, and is there to restore the Reality of Perception, for all of them. Manheim's husband realises what he almost lost and decides to finally share his dreams with his wife, instead of just pursuing them. It's a really interesting episode in how it sets up and delivers its message.
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Old August 15 2014, 12:18 PM   #6
The Old Mixer
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

LMFAOschwarz wrote: View Post
his former flame, that Manheim woman (I've forgotten her first name)
Michelle Phillips.



Seriously, I always got the impression that both were being very mature about the situation, having grown up and moved on in their respective lives...but that did take some potential bite out of the episode. It was hard to invest in their situation if they themselves didn't care about it that much.
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Old August 17 2014, 04:49 AM   #7
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

Melakon wrote: View Post
Favorite timeslip is the turbolift scene. "It's happening again". The camera even shifts time frames during these scenes as we start with one moment of the characters, and shift to an earlier or later moment during the same scenes.
I love that scene too. I love how we follow these guys down the corridor and into their turbolift discussion, but when the 'second set' of characters appears in the corridor, the camera changes focus to them instead, and when the turbolift doors shut out the other guys that we've just spent the entire first part of the scene following, they don't even exist anymore. It's really, really creepy feeling and I love that.
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Old August 17 2014, 04:56 AM   #8
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

Lance wrote: View Post
Melakon wrote: View Post
Favorite timeslip is the turbolift scene. "It's happening again". The camera even shifts time frames during these scenes as we start with one moment of the characters, and shift to an earlier or later moment during the same scenes.
I love that scene too. I love how we follow these guys down the corridor and into their turbolift discussion, but when the 'second set' of characters appears in the corridor, the camera changes focus to them instead, and when the turbolift doors shut out the other guys that we've just spent the entire first part of the scene following, they don't even exist anymore. It's really, really creepy feeling and I love that.
I also rather liked the way Data peeked into the turbolift at the end of that scene. It's one of those rare moments of Next Generation having a light humorous touch.
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Old August 17 2014, 05:25 AM   #9
Makarov
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

I very much enjoy this episode, but I do think that Brent Spiner broke character for a moment during the scene with a lot of Data's. Is it just me or did he seemed to be displaying some emotion there.
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Old August 17 2014, 05:36 AM   #10
Melakon
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

"Me! It's me!"
So much for the contractions rule. The mattes look really bad in the scene, too much effects going on.
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Old August 17 2014, 07:00 AM   #11
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

Maxwell Everett wrote: View Post
the "final draft" is fairly bizzare and significantly different than the aired episode
After receiving Doctor Manheim's distress message, Riker has a (probably) unintentionally funny line. Riker: "Isn't Manheim the one who was thrown out of the Institute for unauthorized experiments?

"The Institute for Unauthorized Experiments."

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Old August 20 2014, 07:07 PM   #12
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

T'Girl wrote: View Post

"The Institute for Unauthorized Experiments."



Headquarters located in Freedonia.
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Old August 21 2014, 05:27 AM   #13
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Re: "We'll Always Have Vanity"

This is one of my favorite TNG episodes. The romance angle was ho-hum, but I loved the sci-fi aspect of the episode.

The whole episode was full of great Data moments.
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