120 – Cost of Living

Grade: C-

Cost Of Living (1992) on IMDb


Captain Picard destroys an asteroid that is threatening a planet, but a metal-eating parasite invades the ship. Counselor Troi advises Worf and Alexander to have a contract between them, and Troi’s mother comes aboard the Enterprise, announcing her decision to marry a man she’s never met.


This lighthearted piece of fluff starts off in a hurry. Worf begins by saying “forward tubes armed and ready”, and Captain Picard follows with simply, “fire!” Since we have no idea why they’re firing, or who the target could be, it almost seems like we’re cutting into the middle of the show, or maybe somehow this is a recap of what happened last week. But it’s a very fast opening and one that will certainly get your attention when you watch it. It’s not as quick-starting as Cause and Effect, but it’s close.

On the other hand, it’s very strange that we have no idea whose planet was being threatened by the asteroid, and there is never acknowledgement or gratitude from the aliens who may live there. I guess it wasn’t important to the storyline. The only important thing out of this opening is making sure we saw the weird parasite things invade the ship. I’m disappointed that they wasted such a strong opening with such a mediocre episode.

The rest is pretty forgettable. As a general rule, the episodes with Mrs. Troi are among the most mediocre of the series, and this one is definitely not an exception. Mrs. Troi is definitely the recurring guest that I like the least. In this episode, she manages to become involved in Worf’s disagreements with his son Alexander, and in the process, undermine all of Counselor Troi’s work with them. She also manages to completely aggravate the man she’s supposed to marry. But it doesn’t stop there. The more time that Alexander spends with Mrs. Troi, the more annoyed we get also. It seems this episode is not Mrs. Troi’s best day, and yet she gets a great deal of screen time in this episode.

Besides Mrs. Troi, I was also very annoyed with one scene in particular. I don’t know why all these writers keep making Counselor Troi seem worthless. When Worf and Alexander are arguing in front of her, she says, “I’m sensing a lot of hostility here,” Duh. You think so? What was your first clue? Was it the yelling or the accusations? It’s very disappointing that the writers on this series think the only way to show us her empathic abilities is to make her verbalize what we’re seeing. It undermines her character and it’s totally unnecessary.

In terms of characterization, it’s a bit weird that Picard is the one who comes up with the scientific solution to destroying the asteroid. If Data had offered this solution, it wouldn’t have been an insult to Picard’s authority, but having Picard come up with this idea makes it seem like Data is not as intelligent as we thought before.

Other than that, the rest of the episode is just bad. It might have been interesting for an 8 year old, but as an adult, the storyline is just boring. There are some silly moments here and there, but it’s not an episode I want to see again.

Of Note

I think I heard Data say that the core of the asteroid is composed of nitrium and chrondide, and that this would make it impervious to photon torpedoes. I hope the Federation’s enemies don’t find this out and then start making all their ships out of this same material. It could be a bad deal.