I finally went through and watched all 7 seasons of TNG. There were a few stinkers in an otherwise great tv series, and after pondering the themes, general acting, and plot scenarios, I've deduced that the overall worst episode was "The Perfect Mate." It's from the 5th season. It was written by Rene Echevarria and Michael Piller and I would ask them wtf they were thinking.
"The Perfect Mate" was a dreadful episode, not because of any mystery, suspense, or violence, but because it seemed like it could have been written by a teenage girl with a penchant for romance novels.
An ambassador arrives on board the Enterprise with valuable cargo. That cargo, after it is brought out of stasis prematurely by a couple of sneaky Ferengis who tricked their way onto the ship, tells the Captain that she is the gift for the Chancellor of a planet involved in peace negotiations with the ambassador's planet.
The woman will psychologically bond with her intended mate. Trouble is, she attempts to seduce every man she comes in contact with, which is why she was supposed to be kept in stasis until the wedding ceremony. The ambassador tells her to stay in her quarters and not to mingle. Good advice...but...
Dr. Crusher isn't too crazy about the idea as a woman being a gift for some man, which to her, makes the Enterprise like a transport for slave trading. Picard agrees and decides to talk to the woman, named Kamala, that she should be a free agent and be allowed to leave her quarters---but with a chaperon. Picard enlists Data for that task, who is immune to her charms.
And now the plot complication; the ambassador has a run-in with the Ferengi who are trying to bribe him into a purchase of the metamorph, AKA gift for the chancellor. The ambassador attempts to leave with the threat of telling the captain about their bribe. He is pulled back and is accidentally knocked unconscious, rendering him unable to perform the duties of the reconciliation ceremony.
Now, the captain must take his place and gain help from the metamorph who, surprise surprise, bonds with him instead.
The episode ends with the captain giving away the bride and seeing the ambassador, recovered from his injuries, off the ship.
Why I hated it.
The metamorph tells the captain that she will stay put in her quarters until she's given to her master, but only if he visits her. Picard wants to know why she wants him to visit. She tells him she doesn't want to make love to him. Oh, please.
She goes on to impress him with her brilliance about ancient artifacts. He wants to know how, a woman bred to be some man's gift, she knows so much. She walks by him provocatively and tells him she never knows when the subjects will come up (that's not all that will come up).
She goes on to quote Shakespeare and mention landscapes from his village in France, using her telepathic abilities to entice him all the while telling him that she can only sense men of "deep passion and great conviction, so controlled, so disciplined" and she's "curious to know what lies beneath."
Part of this nauseating dialogue is to tell the audience how wonderful Captain Picard is?
When he tries to shrug her off, he assures her he's a very dull man. He asks her why she's doing this, she says it's because some part of him wants her to.
Now, it's up to Picard to get the help of the metamorph for the ceremony. He delights in discussing the particulars with her. She pleads with him to say nice things to her.
If this episode were any more sappy, it would be a tree in Vermont.
Why does the federation deal with civilizations that use it's female population as gifts for men of other factions or worlds to uphold peace? Haven't they done away with this archaic swapping of girls as gifts in the 24th century? Yet, Picard goes through with the "giving away the bride."
As he tells an outraged Beverly Crusher, justifying his going along with it, that arranged marriages have been a part of many cultural traditions, including our own. Beverly is correct when she refers to the chaperone ambassador as a "slave trader."
Shame on Picard for justifying it instead of refusing to go along with it simply because it's wrong!
Later, before the wedding ceremony, Picard (almost jokingly) faults Beverly for suggesting to him not to keep Kamala confined to quarters.
Most of the time, the series explored human rights issues indicative to our times---exploitation, handicaps, ageism, prejudice, addiction, war profiteering, immigration, diplomacy, sexual orientation, personal responsibility, environmental responsibility, and superstition vs. rationality.
This episode went back in time. I think the producers of the show could have taken, and should have taken, the high road here. Rather than going along with a people's archaic form of diplomacy, they should have pushed the boundaries of the prime directive to include a provision that disallows cooperation in acts of arranged marriages and the exploitation of citizens for the purposes of being used as commerce or "gifts."