Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, November 12, 2018

ST:TNG Season Four, Episode Thirteen "Devil's Due"

ST:TNG Season Four, Episode Thirteen "Devil's Due"
Production Order: 13
Air Order: 13
Stardate: 44474.5
Original Air Date: February 4, 1991

Data is on the holodeck in full Ebenezer Scrooge costume, arguing with a Jacob Marley ghost. After a moment, the audience realizes that Data is playing the character while Picard sits nearby, reading the play from an old-school hardcover book. Data cowers in front of the Marley ghost, and Picard freezes the program to praise Data for how far he's come in his acting skills.
"Eh, they're okay," says Data. "But I'm really not playing up the fear the way the play says I should."
"You've never known fear," shrugs Picard. "You can watch others and emulate them."
"No, I'm studying method acting," Data replies. "I'm supposed to draw on my own fear."
They leave the holodeck.
"Method acting is pretty old-school," says Picard.
They walk down the corridor.
"Yeah, I'm using it backward," Data explains. "People use the method to draw on their own emotions to help them act those emotions out. I'm acting the emotions out to see if I can form my own emotions."

Riker pages Picard to the bridge, and Picard says something nice to Data about finding his humanity before they part ways.
On the bridge, Riker tells Picard that they're getting an SOS from the planet Ventax II. The viewscreen is showing a live feed that's so staticky that I want to put tin foil on the Enterprise's sensor array. Worf tells Picard that it's all on the other end.

Onscreen is Dr Howard Clark, a Federation anthropologist who is running a science team on the surface of the planet. "Little help here?" he asks. "The people on this planet are rioting, convinced they're going to die tomorrow. We need to get the hell out of Dodge."
Then the transmission cuts out.

Zoom-in on worried Picard! Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Picard's Log 44474.5: "Going to Ventax II to pick up the scientists and find out what's going on there."

They pick up another transmission from Clark, who is begging to be removed with his team. There's an explosion off-screen, and some screaming, and Clark reports that the mob outside has broken into the station.
Picard calls to the transporter room to beam out the team, but the chief replies back that he can only get a lock on Clark.
"Just him then," says Picard. He sends Worf to the transporter room to bring Clark to the ready room, and asks Riker to figure out WTF is going on down on Ventax II.

Livingston sighting:

In the ready room, Clark lays out the exposition: the Ventaxians used to be super-technological, but a thousand years earlier, they switched over to agrarian, ditching the tech and getting back to the land. Clark was interested in the switch, so he started doing anthropological studies on them. (Interesting side note: the Ventaxians are aware of the science station, and the fact that they were studied, unlike the Mintakans. Presumably, they let him study them.) First contact was made by the Klingons 70 years earlier, and since then, technology has been offered to the Ventaxians, but they were not interested.
"They were happy tending crops and living simply," says Clark. "They have no social problems. Things are pretty awesome for them. But a few years ago, their leader - Acost Jared - starting getting super paranoid about someone from the distant past, Ardra. "She's coming back, we have to leave" -that kind of thing. For lack of a better description, she's the devil. They think they sold their souls to the devil."

Riker calls Picard over his comm badge. "Hey, so the science team is being held hostage on the surface, and the Ventaxian leader - a dude named Acost Jared - is calling."
Clark and Picard rush back onto the bridge.
"Jared," pleads Clark. "WTH? We're friends!"
"I know," says Jared. "It's pretty fucked up. And I hate violence. But the people are freaked out about Ardra returning, and I no longer have control of the situation. The prophesies are coming true."
Picard looks at Clark, who shrugs. "Supposedly, earthquakes will occur. And there have been some little ones, but... way small. Insignificant."
"Sightings, too!" insists Jared. "She has been reappearing, like the ancient texts say she would."
"Can we help?" asks Picard.
"No," says Jared. "The group that has the scientists know that your weapons are not as powerful as Ardra. BUT, you guys are innocent in all of this, and you shouldn't have to suffer for our sins, so I'll see if I can get your people released."
"Cool," says Picard. "We can help you with this Ardra if need be."
They sign off.

The senior officers meet in the Obs Lounge with Clark to talk about how this is all going down.
"This is a pretty crap situation," says Troi. "It's spiraling out of control, and there may be suicides soon. These people are losing their shit."
Picard asks Data for the low-down on the Ventaxians.
"They made a deal with this woman: 1000 years of peace and prosperity, but when she came to collect, she'd enslave the population. It's actually considered bad luck to say her name."
That's a pretty shitty deal. Like, deals with the devil generally are, but usually the person making the deal also has to pay the piper. In this case, 50 generations were able to cash in on that peace and prosperity thing, because Generation 51 was going to pick up the tab. That's garbage. Imagine being Generation 51 and having everyone before you go, "hey, thanks for taking on the yoke of oppression for us. Good luck with that enslavement thing." Sounds like Jared accepts his fate, but still thinks it's crap.
"There are ancient scrolls that talk about her," shrugs Clark. "Sometimes scholars read them, but there hasn't been a lot of interest outside of academia, until recently."
Of course not. Generations 1-50 didn't give a shit.
"I think I'll go down planet-side and meet with Jared," says Picard.
Worf doing his job: "That's a bad idea. You could be taken hostage, too." He sounds annoyed, like Picard is deliberately walking into danger, and he'll have to save the captain. Revising his resume again.
But nope, no revising tonight: "I want you and Data and Troi to go with me," says Picard. "O'Brien can keep a lock on our communicators."
Worf nods, but it's clear this is not his favorite plan. It's interesting that a guy who comes from a people who are very... Leeroy Jenkins, is in a position where he advises others to be conservative, risk-wise.

The away team beams down into some fancy little chamber where Acost Jared is huddling with some other Ventaxians.
"OH!" says Jared. "You shouldn't have come! It's dangerous to be here now."
"If you're talking about the earthquakes, we scanned the planet, and they're pretty harmless. They won't bring you danger," says Data.
"No, it's not that," says Jared. "Ardra is coming!"
"That's stupid," frowns Picard. "Help me find our people."
There's an earthquake, and Jared looks panicked.
"She's here, she's here."
There's a flash of light, and a new person appears. Whoever scored this episode used evil-sounding unharmonic music to herald her arrival. Yaaasss.
"Wazzzup, Ventax," says Ardra.
High-fives to the costume department!

Ardra has chutzpah. She smoothly admonishes Jared for not keeping up his end of the bargain, then tells him he won't be punished, so he thanks her.
"And don't be bowing and scraping," she says, walking around the room. "It's boring. If I want you on your knees, I'll tell you."
Daaammmnnn, girl.

She stops in front of Picard. "Much better. Keep up the good work."
Ardra gives Jared a scroll and tells him she wants him to prepare for her a census of the population "with emphasis on productivity and economic forecasts."
"Who TF are you?" demands Picard.
The conversation between Ardra and Picard is mostly Picard being pissed off and frustrated that she won't give him a straight answer, and Ardra serving up a bunch of innuendo:
"My, you are forceful, aren't you? Good. I like my men to be forceful... at least at the start." And "That's all right. I like a challenge."
"Are you claiming to be the mythical figure Ardra?" Data asks her.
She says that she has several names, and lists off a few, and which group of people that identity belongs to.
"I'm also known to the Klingons as Fek'lhr," she purrs at Worf.
"Bitch, you are not Fek'lhr," scowls Worf.
"I am, though."
There's a flash of light, and this thing appears:

If she's not Fek'lhr, then she's a really talented cosplayer.
"I'm the guardian of dishonored Klingons," the thing growls.
Worf is taken aback. Recall that he's walking around with a bullshit discommendation. He and Fek'lhr would be roommates if Worf died today.
There's another flash of light, and Ardra reappears.
"You really don't believe me?" she simpers at Picard.
"I wanna see the contract," he states.
They go down to a dusty, cobwebby library (are there spiders on this planet?) and Jared shows Picard to the contract.
"It's a pretty standard contract with a really long term," sighs Ardra. "Lots of words that means I gave them 1000 years of paradise in return for enslavement."
"Can Data look at this contract?" Picard asks Jared.
"Um, it's not really up to me anymore," mumbles the leader. He looks to Ardra.
Jared, grow a backbone.
Picard looks to Ardra as well, and she teases him by saying he finds her intriguing.
"I'm just here to get the hostages freed," he corrects.
"WTH hostages are you talking about?" Ardra demands.
"Uh, the people panicked at the thought of your arrival, and they took several Federation scientists hostage," stutters Jared.
"That's such bullshit," says Ardra. "Free them, now."

Picard calls Clark to tell him to expect the hostages, then asks the transporter room for a beam-out for himself, Worf, and Troi. He insists that he isn't going to walk away from Ventax II and leave Ardra in charge. Data will stay behind to look at the contract.

Another senior meeting in the Obs Lounge with Clark.
They debate over whether or not Ardra might be Q.
"Feels like she's a flim-flam artist," says Picard. "The devil doesn't ask for economic forecasts, and neither do the Q."
"She has powers," argues Worf.
"Meh, we can do a lot of that same shit with transporters," shrugs Picard.
"She's hella focused," put in Troi. "I couldn't really see deception in her, or how she was doing it."
"Like a magician," adds Crusher.
Geordi is assigned to go back to the science station with Clark, to find out how the earthquakes are done, and Picard assigns the others to find the source of Ardra's power in this system.
They all put their hands in and yell "Enterprise!" before dispersing.

They exit to the bridge, and guess who's in the Big Chair?
Nope, not Wes.

"Bitch, leave my bridge, or I'll remove you by force."
"Ooh, yes please! Force!"
Geez, we've spent like five minutes with this woman, and we've already compiled a list of her kinks.
Picard directs Worf to take her down, and she sends a flash of light at his chest, knocking him backward several steps. Crusher rushes forward to scan him for injuries.
"Aww, I was hoping you would try it yourself," she tells Picard.
"Transporter room, please beam the intruder the fuck off of the bridge," Picard calls.

Ardra dematerializes, but when Picard asks the ensign at the conn to raise the shields, the chair spins, and it's Ardra in an Ops uniform.
"We're not impressed by your magic tricks," says Riker, who only has like, two lines in this episode.
Data enters the bridge, and Ardra gleefully refers to him as "my pale friend" again.
"So I looked over the contract, and it's pretty water-tight," says Data. "One thousand years of peace for personal servitude to Ardra."
"You're so fabulous and speedy," gushes Ardra. "You cannot be human."
"No, I'm an android," confirms Data.
"Yay!" she practically kiddy-claps. "I get an android, too?"
"How the fuck do you mean?" demands Riker.
"When the contract came due, I was entitled to everything on the planet, in the air, and in orbit. So I get the Enterprise, too!"
Everyone looks at Data. "Yeah, she could interpret the contract like that," he confirms.
She laughs and vanishes, leaving behind one very baffled-looking Ops ensign in his chair.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Gonna research this chick to find out what her deal is."

Picard is rabbit-holing on the little desktop computer in the ready room when Data comes in. Picard tells him that he has been researching the con game, and damn that sounds interesting.
I could totally waste an afternoon reading shit on con artists. Also, marathon documentaries on con artists.
"Do you think Ardra is a con artist?" asks Data.
"Yes, I do!" says Picard. His body language says that he has some exciting gossip to share with Data. "I'm gonna reveal her to the Ventaxians. I don't know how Ardra came into this, but she's part of their theology now, and we have to shake that tree until some shit falls out. I want you to look at the contract and all of Ventaxian law precedent for the last thousand years. Find a frickin' loophole."

Picard is asleep in his quarters. He's fallen asleep with a book open on his chest, and... his head in a planter?

Anyway, a breeze blows through his quarters, and you know that's bad news bears. He wakes up to a blue light flash, and guess who again?

God, that's awful. Reminds me of -

Picard tries to page the bridge. Nada.
Ardra laughs, saying that she planned for privacy here. He stomps out of bed and attempts to leave his quarters, but the door won't open.
"I know you're attracted to me," she purrs.
No, honey. That's you projecting.
"I'm not attracted to you in any way," he corrects. "You're gross and obvious."
"Oh, I can change it up," she replies.
Yay, another Sylvia.

"I can be your perfect chaste woman, and succumb to your charms."
Picard just stares at her.
"Or maybe a more professional woman, someone who's always around, but inaccessible."
Ardra disappears, but then -

She's pissed when he tells her to fuck off, and she drops him, jammies and all, in the science station down on the planet.

Geordi, who is working with Clark, contacts Worf for Picard.
"Hey, could you beam Picard up from the surface?"
"Directly to my quarters?" requests an exasperated Picard.
"Um, what?" asks Worf.
"Ardra did a thing," grouches Picard.
Worf attempts to have Picard beamed up, but reports problems with the transporter due to "interference."
"Ugh," says Picard. "Just have Data come get me in a fucking shuttle. And have him bring a uniform!"

Data and Picard are heading back in the shuttle, and Picard tells Data that Geordi and Clark haven't found anything, and neither have Riker and Worf. He's crabby as hell because some creep woke him up when she broke into his quarters to force herself on him. Things are not going well in Picardtown.
"Found a loophole," announces Data. "There was this case where a Klingon craftsman got into it with a Ventaxian homeowner, and they agreed to arbitration, rather than going to court. Only case with an alien claimant."
"Good. Let's nail her to the wall."
The shuttle calls the E to prepare for docking. Then the freaking ship disappears.
"Oh, fuck me," sighs Picard.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Downstairs, Picard is working with Clark, La Forge and Data to figure out where the E went. Hails are going unanswered. La Forge and Clark have found traces of Z-particles when the ship disappeared, but they can't find evidence of the E being anywhere within a light-year of the planet.
Ardra shows up and boasts about how she used her fancy powers to take the ship.
"I want arbitration," Picard tells her.
"For what? I came to collect on a contract, and I am."
"I think you're a fraud, and I intend to prove it."
She's amused. "Okay, but if I win, what do I get? I don't have any reason to go along with this farce."
Picard thinks, then offers to show her a priceless archaeological find. She appears to consider, then tells him she isn't interested, and wants to choose her own prize.
"I want you," she smiles. "By all rights, your body is already mine. But I want more. I want your heart, your mind, your soul and I want you to give them to me without resistance, of your own free will."
Wow, going full Jareth the Goblin King, are we?
Honey, rapey does not look good on you. Back off.
"I agree to your terms," growls Picard.
"Oh, Picard. I will enjoy you morning, noon and night."
Gurl, STAHP. Gross.

Picard reminds her that they need to choose an arbitrator, and she selects Data.
"Um, dude is a member of my crew."
"My crew," she corrects. "And as an android, he is incapable of deceit or bias. He'll be a great arbitrator."
Data asks to speak to Picard alone, and when they are out of earshot, Data reminds Picard that Ardra is right.
"That's fine," says Picard.
"But I might not find in your favor," Data protests.
"You're pretty much the only person on this planet that she can't intimidate," Picard points out. "I'll take it."

We go straight to the arbitration.
Jared is sitting in some kind of hot seat, giving exposition on his culture's history.
"So, a thousand years ago, we were a mess," he says. "There was overcrowding and warring among the city-states, and the pollution was awful. Water and air were garbage. There was a constant threat of starvation and illness."
"What happened?" asks Ardra.
"You came along."
Picard calls for an objection. "There's no evidence she was here a thousand years ago."
Sassy Guest Star Moment: "I suppose you want a thousand-year-old witness?"
Sassy Picard Moment: "That would be great, thanks."
She asks Jared how the contract says she'll be identified, and he responds that the date, the earthquakes, and the sightings would all identify her.
"I fulfilled all of those requirements," Ardra tells Data.
Data overrules Picard's objection.
"So I came along, and what happened then?" she asks Jared.
"We made a bargain: 1000 years of prosperity, and then you come to collect at the end of it."
"Why would you make a bargain like that?"
"We had nothing to lose," says Jared nervously. "Things sucked."
Ardra rests her case, and Picard gets up and appeals to Data: Ardra has not proven that she did anything to improve the lives of the Ventaxians, so Data should invalidate the contract.
"Nope," says Data. "You haven't proven your case, Picard. Keep going."

Mmm, a rainbow of jewel-toned clothing. Yum.

Ardra stands up. "Can I question opposing counsel?"
"That's weird," says Data. "But I can't think of a reason to deny it, so go ahead."
"Cool. I won't be too hard on you, Picard. You know how much I like you."
"Come on," Picard objects.
"Seriously," Data tells her. "Quit telling opposing counsel that you have the hots for him."
"You don't believe in my powers?" Ardra asks Picard.
"How about now?"
The room shakes with an earthquake.
"Hey. Knock it off," says Data.
She makes Picard vanish.
"Hey, I said stop," Data tells her.
Picard reappears in the chair, and she appears as the devil.
"What about now?" the devil demands.

Data bangs his gavel. "I told you to fucking knock it off. Do I need to find you in contempt of court?"
The devil figure vanishes, to be replaced by Ardra. "Do you know how I accomplish these things, Picard?"
"No," scowls Picard.
Ardra chuckles and sits back down.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

At the science station, La Forge has picked up on coordinates for the E. It's in orbit over the Western pole of the planet. Clark plugs them into the scanners, but doesn't find anything.
"I'm not buying that "magic" crap," says La Forge. "We're gonna find that frickin' ship."

Back in the courtroom, Picard asks Jared to describe exactly what happened after the bargain with Ardra had been struck.
"Did she snap her fingers and make you guys kiss and make up?"
"No." Jared casts a nervous glance at Ardra. "We created a committee to draw up a constitution, which the people ratified."
"Oh, so Ardra advised the council?"
"She gathered up the weapons and destroyed them?"
"No, the leaders did that, then signed a treaty of nonaggression."
"Okay. Let's talk about environmental stuff. Did Ardra fix the pollution?"
"Um, no. We switched from industrial base to agrarian, because it was more ecologically sound."
"Did Ardra clean up the water and air?" asks Picard.
"No, the leaders passed laws and things."
Sassy Picard Moment: "Did Ardra not even pick up one piece of trash? She didn't do anything! You guys did it all yourselves!"
Ardra objects, saying Picard is drawing conclusions.

Picard rests his case, and Ardra is given time for rebuttal.
She approaches Jared. "Do you have any doubt that I intervened on behalf of your people?"
Jared is uncomfortable. Picard just made some hella good points, but he might be taking to the devil here, so best not to take chances.
"Are you satisfied with the life I gave you guys?"
"Yes, Ardra." Jared bows his head.
Ardra turns to Data. "Everyone agrees that I fulfilled the terms of the contract."
"Do you have more evidence before I make my ruling?" Data asks Picard.
La Forge comes into the room unexpectedly. Picard requests a one-hour recess, which Data grants.
They all go their separate ways, and Geordi pulls Picard aside.
"We found her ship in orbit. She has a Romulan cloaking device."
"STFU. Really?" asks Picard.
"Yeah. And the E is right where it always was. She just tossed her cloak over it like a freaking invisibility blanket. She set up a dampening field over it to cut off communications. And we already made contact with both ships."
"You're the fucking best, Geordi. I have a plan, but we have less than an hour to set it up."

Reconvening, Picard asks Jared if he can trust his senses.
"For the most part," says Jared.
"Okay, what if I told you that Ardra has no actual powers, and that I can steal what she does call powers?"
Jared gives Picard a wry smile. "Yeaaah, you're not Ardra."
"Let's start with this," says Picard.
A huge earthquake starts. Everyone is surprised, including Ardra.
"This is annoying," Data says after a moment. "Stop the earthquake, please."
"Okay," says Picard. "Or maybe Ardra wants to do it?"
Ardra pauses. "Um, I like the earthquakes."
Picard shuts them off. "How about this trick?" He makes Ardra disappear. "Come back, Ardra!" he calls. "No?"
He makes her reappear. "One more?"
This time, he disappears and Fek'lhr returns.
"It's pretty shitty for you to be wandering around the galaxy, pretending to be Fek'lhr," he growls at Ardra.

"Okay, this is amusing, but getting tedious," Data announces. "Shut it down, please."
Picard reappears. "Thanks for humoring me. I can do these things because we took control of this woman's ship, which has been in orbit around Ventax II. My crew has been helping me do these tricks, just like her crew was helping her. Riker has been listening through my communicator. The different tricks are controlled by eye movement."
He starts to walk around the courtroom. "Ardra said she was known by many names, and that's true. Her crew admitted that she has 23 aliases in this sector alone."
Ardra starts to blow up. "WTF?! You talked to my crew?"
"Yeah, she's been pulling cons all over the place," continues Picard. "And the mythology of Ardra probably looked pretty awesome to her, so she studied it, reappeared at the right time, with the right prophesies, and convinced you all to just surrender."
Jared is suddenly seeing Ardra in a new light.

Ardra gets up. "So hey, I should get going. I'm not really interested in Ventax II anymore. So I'm gonna invalidate the contract and be on my way."
She starts for the exit, but Jared was quicker and called for some security. She's met by a couple of uniformed dudes.

"The contract is dissolved," announces Data.
Jared approaches Picard. He tries to give Picard credit for saving the Ventaxians, but Picard reminds him that the Ventaxians saved themselves a long time ago.
Data walks up to them and congratulates Picard on his win.
"You would have had a lot more fun if you'd lost," laughs Ardra.
Girl, take your human trafficking elsewhere.
She's escorted away by the uniformed guys.
Picard rolls his eyes and he and Data walk away.

Man, I love this episode. It's light and comedic, and follows the heaviness of last week's episode nicely. Also, the idea of a female con artist always entertains me. In a world where a lot of the interesting parts are given to men, a woman who has shady morals is a nice change of pace. (Yeah, okay: I like comedic con artists. Doc Terminus is easily my favorite character in Pete's Dragon. Sue me.)

Strange to see (and I'm not sure how well this episode or idea aged) is the trope of Ardra being creepily attracted to Picard. The idea of a female being the aggressor, or obsessively pursuing a male, or threatening violence (sexual or otherwise) is still sort of thought of as being funny. A year or two ago and it still would have been funny. But with all that has happened, gender-swap stories don't work quite as well. Rapey female is not funny, just as female-on-male violence is not funny. People like to pretend it is, but males who have been harassed by females will tell you it's not. Ardra is both amusing and creepy, much like TOS' Harry Mudd.

- Fun Facts:

- An early draft of this story was written for TOS, which makes sense, given Gene Rod's obsession with the crew of the Enterprise meeting God. The censors were not okay with this idea, but told him that meeting the devil was okay. This idea was taken advantage of by TAS, who produced the acid-trip-inducing The Magicks of Megas-Tu. Gene Rod's dream partially came true when William Shatner wrote the script for Star Trek: The Final Frontier (A Complete Piece of Garbage). When this episode was not used for TOS, it was co-opted for the aborted series Star Trek: Phase II. Following the cancellation of that series, this episode and "The Child" (also a Phase II script) were both considered for TNG. "The Child" was rewritten and used as the premier for season two, and Devil's Due was set aside to be reworked and used during the writer's strike. It was determined that TNG characters could not just be slotted into the original story, so the script where Kirk confronts the devil character with the help of the computer judge, was reworked with Picard and Data.

- Marta Dubois, who played Ardra, had read for several parts in TNG episodes, but never seemed quite right for any of them. However, they loved her for Ardra and wanted to start filming with her right away.
- The character of the devil was originally a male named Komether.
- Picard uses the phrase "Fek'lhr of Klingon," as Qo'noS has not been set as the name of the Klingon homeworld. Qo'noS won't be used officially until the sixth Star Trek film, but it would be a while before Qo'noS will be used universally.
- This was the highest-rated TNG episode since Encounter at Farpoint.
- This episode was nominated for an Emmy for Outstanding Costume Design in a Series.
- At the beginning of the episode, Data plays Ebenezer Scrooge while Picard watches. In 1999, Patrick Stewart will play the part of Ebenezer Scrooge in a remake.
- Jonathan Frakes remarked about this episode, "It's ironic that it was an old Star Trek story, because it's really a Kirk story. It was so 60's."
- The part of Fek'lhr was played by Tom Magee.

- The part of the Terran devil was played by Thad Lamey.

- The lines at the beginning of the episode in which the ghost of Jacob Marley asks Scrooge if he believes his senses are mirrored at the end of the episode, when Picard asks Jared if he believes his senses.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 0
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 0
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 0
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 11,000
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
To date: 1
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 6
Sassy Picard Moments: 2
To date: 7
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 1
To date: 3
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 3
To date: 18
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 2
To date: 13
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 0
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 0
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 16
Tea, Earl Grey: 3
To date: 5

Princess Ginger

Wednesday, October 31, 2018

ST:TNG Season Four, Episode Twelve "The Wounded"

ST:TNG Season Four, Episode Twelve "The Wounded"
Production Order: 12
Air Order: 12
Stardate: 44429.6
Original Air Date: January 28, 1991

I don't know why this didn't post on Monday. Oh, well. Happy Wednesday, I guess?

Picard's Log 44429.6: "Doing a mapping thing near Cardassian space, but it's all good, because we signed a peace treaty with them like a year ago."

Picard tells Worf to be on the lookout for a Cardassian patrol ship, which will probably call them to see what they're up to. Riker remarks that the Cardassians are still "skittish" about their borders, even after the treaty. Instead of pointing out that they were at war for a long time and that it takes time to establish trust with a former enemy, Picard tells them a story of Younger, Dumber Picard.
"I was gonna go talk to them per Starfleet's orders, and dropped my shields as a sign of goodwill, but they took out a bunch of my weapons right away. I turned and took off."

"Cardassians have no honor," declares Worf. "I don't trust them."
Troi reminds him that they're all friends now, and they need to establish trust.

Okay agreed, but you gotta start somewhere. Sometimes leaps of faith are required, otherwise you go in circles.
Picard and Riker are amused at this argument.

We switch over to the quarters of the O'Briens, where the Chief and Keiko are eating breakfast.
Can I just say how awesome it is that they didn't just marry off O'Brien and forget he existed in the first place? "Data's Day" fully established the fact that they intended to make Miles a full character in this show and it's fabulous.
There's a little tiny C-plot happening here where Miles and Keiko have grown up eating very different traditional foods, and now that they're sharing meals together on the regular, the discrepancy is obvious. Keiko has been introducing Miles to Japanese foods, and he diplomatically calls it "wonderful, but..."
"I'd like to share some foods with you from my childhood," he suggests.
Of course the foods he names are heavier Irish fare. He reminisces about his mother cooking, and Keiko is surprised.
"She cooked? She touched real meat? Really?"
"Yeah, she didn't believe in the replicator. Thought real food was more nutritious. I have to use the replicator, though. I'll make you something special for dinner tonight."
She agrees, but looks wary.

There's some sexual innuendo, and suddenly the ship rocks and there's sounds of weapons fire.
"The hell?" asks Miles.
"Red alert," calls Majel.

We switch to the bridge. Picard is cool as a cucumber and Worf reports in damage done by the weapon before the shields went up. Looks like a repeat of the story of Lil' Picard. The Cardassian ship is not answering hails.
"Fire back, but only hit their shields and engines," says Picard. It's clear he isn't interested in taking the little patrol ship down, just trying to get them to sit the hell down and talk.
It works. Worf fires phasers and does a bit of damage to their shields.
And suddenly, the patrol ship is willing to talk.

"I'm Gul Macet of the Trager. And I fired on you because we're at war."
"Um, no? We have a treaty."
"Did. But two days ago a Federation ship fired on an unarmed Cardassian science station and blew it all to kingdom come. So, we're at war again."
Picard pauses. This is pretty shitty news. "Okay, look: I'm gonna check on this claim, talk to my bosses, and get back to you in an hour." Macet seems unwilling. "Or, I could blow you to kingdom come. You know that's what's gonna happen if your little patrol ship keeps firing on us. You're outgunned."
Macet concedes.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Ugh, I forgot early Cardassians wore those stupid helmets.

In the ready room, Picard calls an admiral and gets the bad news: yep, a Federation ship - the Phoenix - destroyed a Cardassian science station two days ago. (And we're just now hearing about it?) The Phoenix is captained a guy named Ben Maxwell.
Picard is confused. "That guy is one of Starfleet's most decorated captains."
"Yeah, and you're the nearest ship, so go into Cardassian space and check it out. The Cardassians have agreed to give you safe passage, but you gotta take Macet and some of his guys as a show of good faith. Here's the thing: we don't have the resources to go do a sustained conflict again, so you have to protect the peace at all costs, okay?"
Picard agrees and hangs up, but that "at all costs" thing is worrying. It means some shit will go down, and it'll probably end in this Sophie's Choice moment for Picard. Ugh.

Picard goes to the bridge to break the news to Riker, Data, Troi and Worf.
"So we're gonna have three Cardassians on board - Macet and two underlings. We're gonna look for the Phoenix together and share info and stuff. They're guests."
"I don't want to give them free roam," says Worf. "I want to post security Golds in the more sensitive areas of the ship."
Okay, that's reasonable. Picard balks, thinking that the Cardassians might take exception to that, but Riker agrees - the Cardassians don't need to go everywhere.
"Okay," says Picard. "but tell your people that the Cardassians are guests." He turns to Troi. "Watch our people. Some of them might be nervous with these guests on board."
He asks Data if anyone on the E served with Ben Maxwell.
"Yeah," says Data. "Chief O'Brien."

Macet and the two aides are met by Riker and Troi in the transporter room. Macet introduces his guys as Glinn Daro and Glinn Telle. (Glinn being a title like Gul.) Everybody does their nods and Riker introduces O'Brien to them, who is running the transporter. Nods all around again, and Troi studies O'Brien. They head out, and Troi glances at O'Brien again.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard, Riker and La Forge meet with Macet and the two glinns in the Obs Lounge. Geordi says they can scan about one sector a day in their search, but they haven't found the Phoenix yet.
"You have no idea if the ship is even here," says Macet icily.
Riker returns his frosty tone. "No, sir. We have no idea where the ship might be, but we thought checking its last know location might be a good place to start."
"Yeah, how do I know you're looking all that hard for your own ship?"
Picard is tired of this, and gives Macet a stiff smile. "I know you're worried, but we're sharing this info with you as we get it. You're not being left out of any meetings or anything. And in order to help us figure out what's going on, I've asked in Chief O'Brien, who served with Captain Maxwell on the ship Rutledge."
The camera pans out, and we see that O'Brien is sitting further down the table.

Picard adds some exposition: "So, I understand that Maxwell's whole family was killed in a raid on Setlik III?"
"Yeah, the Cardassians did a sneak attack on the outpost and killed 100 civilians," O'Brien confirms.
"Oh, so he's after revenge?" asks Macet.
O'Brien is rankled. "Hell no! Maxwell wouldn't do that!"
Picard puts a stop to the argument before it begins. "Dude, we're just doing facts right now, no guessing."
Worf interrupts over the comm system. "Found the Phoenix."
They all head for the bridge. The two glinns and O'Brien aren't needed there, so they share a lift to other decks.
Daro decides to break the ice by complimenting Picard.
O'Brien agrees stiffly.
Daro tries again: "Hey, our transporters are pretty old-school. Could you tell me about yours?"
Dude is making the effort to be friendly. Good for him.
"I need to ask Commander La Forge if that's okay first."
"No problem," says Daro. "In the meantime, we're going to Ten Forward. Wanna come with us?"
O'Brien is pissed. "If my commanding officers tell me to tell you about transporter tech and Captain Maxwell, I will. But who I spend my free time with, that's my business."
Wow. Rude.
The lift opens, and O'Brien gets out. The glinns exchange a look like, Well, crap.

On the bridge, the E crew tells Picard and Macet where they found the Phoenix.
"Let's go to that spot and have a chat with Maxwell," says Picard.
"Hey," says Macet. "We're still a ways away. What say you give us some info on how to find the official position, then some of my guys can go in and keep him there?"
"Not gonna happen," smiles Picard. "Maxwell took out an unarmed science station, and if we send in more Cardassians to detain him, we'll have another conflict on our hands. We'll go in ourselves, thanks. Pretty sure you'd want the same if the position was reversed."
Yeah, Macet doesn't seem to agree.

It's dinnertime in the O'Brien quarters, and Miles is serving a potato casserole. Keiko looks uncertain, but open to trying it out. Miles is singing a song, and she asks about it.
"It's an old song called "The Minstrel Boy" that we used to sing on the Rutledge." He sings it for her, and song about a minstrel boy going to war. "Captain Maxwell liked that song, and I guess thinking about him lately has brought it back to memory." He pauses. "You know, when I was in that meeting earlier I could tell some people still don't like the Cardassians."
You mean like you, Minstrel Boy?
"Eh, that's to be expected," says Keiko fairly. "War lasted a long time. You don't just end a war and become instant buddies."
"I think people should be able to give that hatred up," he says.
And I'm over here like

"Didn't you fight the Cardassians?" she asks.
"A few little skirmishes under Maxwell," he admits. "But I feel fine about it."
And she smiles at him in a way that says, "You're so full of shit, honey."

On the bridge, Picard and Macet are checking out where the Phoenix is. The chart shows the Phoenix, but just numbers for another ship. And unfortunately, the Phoenix is chasing it.
"Looks like a Cardassian supply ship," says Data.
"How do you know that?" demands Macet.
"We... just know," says Picard evasively.
"You know how to read our transponder codes," Macet accuses.

Which must suck, because that's what he asked Picard for earlier.
"Worf, page the Phoenix and tell them to stand down. Make it really serious, so they know we're not fucking around." Picard turns to the now-suspicious Macet, because this transponder thing makes him look bad. "We'll get them. And you'll be here to also see that we are not fucking around."
Macet asks Data to show him where there are other ships in the area, then points out one of them. "That's a warship. If you give me the transponder codes for the Phoenix, the warship can detain the Phoenix sooner than we can. Or, you know... you can stand there while the supply ship becomes a smear in space."
Picard asks Worf if the Phoenix has responded, and when Worf replies that it has not, Picard chews his tongue, then tells Worf to give the transponder codes of the Phoenix to the warship.
"The warship will be able to take their shields down," argues Worf. "They will become the space smear."
At all costs.
"Just do it," Picard tells Worf.
Worf looks so pleased. He's probably updating his resume when he gets off duty.

Dramatic music! Very serious shot of Picard! Commercial break!

Picard asks Data to put up the weapons ranges of both the warship and the Phoenix, which are about equal. When they overlap, the warship opens fire and the Phoenix takes damage. The Phoenix powers up weapons, and... makes the warship a space smear.
"Whoa, shit," says Macet.
"Whoa, shit," says Picard. "What kinds of weapons does the supply ship have?"
"Like, Swiss Army knives."
Data says "The Phoenix is firing on the -"
Space smear.

Macet quietly tells Picard that the combined casualties just now were about 650 Cardassians.
"How long until we get there?" Picard asks Data.
"Seventeen hours," says Data.
"Hurry the fuck up," Picard tells the navigator, who bumps it up to warp nine.
Macet stalks from the bridge.

Picard goes to the transporter room to talk to O'Brien about Maxwell. When questioned about losing his family, O'Brien says Maxwell seemed to take it okay, probably broken up about it in private, but never missing duty because of it, and always seeming to have a joke or a smile for everyone.
"I don't think he'd take vengeance on anyone," says the chief emphatically. "He'd have his reasons for doing something. You should be investigating the Cardassians, not Maxwell."
"He just killed 600-plus Cardassians," Picard relays.
O'Brien is taken aback, but doubles down on the idea that Maxwell always has a good reason for doing things the way he does them.
"Thing is," says O'Brien, "you should watch the Cardassians. They're sneaky as shit."
Oh, Miles. You don't sound racist at all. Especially when you use phrases like "that Cardassian" and "those people."
"You don't like Cardassians?" asks Picard.
"I like them okay."
"I think," says Picard thoughtfully, "that when you live with anger long enough, you get comfortable with it, and eventually you forget what it's like to not feel that way."
Is he talking about O'Brien or Maxwell?

O'Brien is sitting at the bar in Ten Forward when Daro sits a few seats away and orders kanar, a Cardassian alcohol. Miles asks if he can join Daro and in response, Daro asks if he wants another ale.
In light of the fact that everything in Ten Forward is free, "buying" someone a drink doesn't really have the same weight when you're simply requesting another one from the bartender for them, but whatever. Miles offered an olive branch, and Daro will take that shit.
Miles remarks that he could never acquire a taste for kanar, and Daro admits that it "takes some getting used to." Lol, like ale?
I like Daro. He seems like a good guy, looking to bury some hatchets and move forward with the complicated humans of the Federation. He wants to be tech-nerd buddies with O'Brien.
"Soooo... sorry I was an ass in the turbolift," says Miles.
"This has been pretty hard on all of us. I'll be happier when I can be back on my own ship," admits Daro.
Miles says that he hadn't thought of it like that. He takes a sip of his drink and dives in. "Maxwell and I were on Setlik III the morning after the attack. There was pretty much no one left alive."
Daro offers the other half of the story: "It was a shitty mistake. We were told the outpost was a launching spot for a huge attack against us."

Miles goes on like he didn't hear Daro: "There were only a few people left alive on the far side of the outpost, and I was sent out there with others to back them up. I was with a group of women and children, and the Cardassians were advancing, killing people in the streets. Two soldiers came in. I stunned one and struggled with the other. A woman threw me a phaser and I fired on the soldier. It was set at maximum, and he disintegrated in front of me. I had never killed anything, not even a mosquito." He stands up. "It's not you I hate, Cardassian. I hate what I became because of you."
He stalks out of Ten Forward while Daro watches, a bit sadly.

Worf hauls Glinn Telle onto the bridge and announces that he found Telle dicking around on a computer terminal, accessing their weapons info.
"No way!" yells Telle. "I was only checking out their interface because it's better than ours! I didn't know what was in those files!"
Macet is seething. Even if Telle is being honest, he's made them look bad in front of their hosts.
"You're an idiot, and you had no business going near their computers. You're confined to quarters for the rest of this journey."
Picard requests that Worf escort Telle back to his quarters, and Worf does so gladly. No love lost there. They were yelling at each other, calling one another "Klingon" and "Cardassian."

Macet asks to speak to Picard alone in the ready room, and they do so.
"I'm sorry. Telle will be properly punished when we get back."
"Do what you think is necessary," shrugs Picard. "I think of the issue as being closed."
"That's pretty generous. I'd be more pissed off if I were in your place."
"People worked hard to bring us peace," says Picard. "I don't want to screw up their hard work."
Macet smiles. "I don't either. There are people who want war and need it, but I'm not one of them. I don't think you are, either. Let's make sure the peace continues with us."
Data pages Picard to say that they've found the Phoenix, and they'll be there in twenty minutes.

Dramatic music, even though this doesn't seem to be a terribly dramatic moment! Commercial break!

Picard's Log 44431.7: "Got a hold of Maxwell. He's going to come onboard."

Maxwell beams over. He's warm and friendly with Riker and compliments him on his work with the Borg, then notices O'Brien. They're old buddies and excited to see one another, and Maxwell compliments O'Brien to Riker as well. So far, this guy is lovely.
Riker tells Maxwell that they'll go see Picard and Maxwell turns a bit grave.
"Yeah, we have some things to talk about."
But he winks at O'Brien on his way out.

Riker takes Maxwell to the ready room, and then is dismissed. The captains shake hands and Maxwell breaks the ice by saying that Picard probably thinks he's crazy.
"I was so glad when I found out Starfleet sent you, because you know what's it's really like out here."
Picard is not getting pulled into a buddy-buddy situation with a dude who just sent 650 Cardassians to meet their maker. "I don't know what would possess you to do such a thing."
Maxwell leans forward like he's gonna tell Picard a good story. "Yeah, well get this: the Cardassians are arming for another go. The science station? Not for science. It was a military supply depot."
"How do you know?"
"What contacts? Where is your proof? Did you document anything?"
"I just know, okay? I know them. A science station doesn't make any sense for that location. But a military transport depot does. It's within spitting distance of three Federation sectors."
"Why the hell didn't you report this to Starfleet?"
"You know that system. I'd report it, and officials would sit on their hands for six months, discussing if it was true or not. Nothing would happen."
Dammit, this is still a thing in the 24th century? Get your shit together, Terrans.

"Why did you do it? Who did you think this would benefit? You killed almost 700 people."
Maxwell seems to decide that he and Picard are no longer buddies, and he says, "Seems musty in here, like a bureaucrat's office."
Dude, your tinfoil hat is showing.
"The peace treaty was a stall tactic, meant to give them time to regroup," says Maxwell.
"You used to have all of these principles, and you've abandoned them."
"Not true!" insists Maxwell.
"I think you killed those people because of what happened to your family," suggests Picard.
"You're very foolish. When the Federation finds out what the Cardassians are up to, I'll be vindicated, and you'll be seen as a fool. What are you going to do about what the Cardassians are doing?"
"It does't matter," says Picard.
"Why the hell not?"
"Come with me," says Maxwell. "We'll board a supply ship, and you'll see -"
"Not doing that," says Picard. "You're gonna go back to your ship, and then we will go back to Federation space together. Those are Starfleet's orders. I'm being nice and allowing you to retain command of your ship for this voyage. Otherwise, I'm gonna toss your ass in the brig. Got it?"
Maxwell, sensing that the game is over, quietly says "yes, Captain."
He is escorted back to the transporter room by Worf, and Picard stubbornly turns his back on Maxwell to stare out the window.

The E is escorting the Phoenix back to the nearest starbase, and they're a little over three hours away from the border when Data reports that the Phoenix is changing course.
"The hell?" asks Macet.
"The hell?" asks Picard. "Worf, hail the Phoenix and ask Maxwell what the hell!"
"Yeah, he's not picking up," reports Worf.
"He's going to warp nine," says Data. "And he's heading for a Cardassian ship. At our current speed, we won't catch up to him before he reaches that other ship."
Picard orders the conn to jump to war nine as well, and he asks Macet what that other ship might be.
"Probably supply," says Macet.
Because the Cardassians only have warships or supply ships.
Riker reveals that Maxwell said O'Brien was his tactical officer on the Rutledge, and Picard has O'Brien paged to the bridge.

When O'Brien arrives on the bridge, they've rolled up on the Cardassian ship and the Phoenix. The Phoenix's weapons are not powered up.
"What about the Cardassian ship?" asks Picard.
"Dunno," says Data. "We don't have the ability to access that. But it does have a pretty big subspace field around it."
Picard and Riker exchange a glance.
Picard goes to O'Brien. "Maxwell is putting me in the shitty position of maybe having to fire on him. Can you help me here?"
"Maxwell calling," announces Worf.
Maxwell comes onscreen. "Picard, board the ship. You'll see that I'm telling you the truth."
"Are you shitting me right now?" demands Picard. "Nobody is boarding any Cardassian ships. Get your ass back over here. You're going in the brig."
"Board the ship or I'll blow it up," warns Maxwell.

He shuts off the viewscreen, puts up his shields, and powers up his weapons.
"If Maxwell feels like his back is against the wall, he'll strike," puts in O'Brien. "Let me beam over and talk to him."
"He won't lower his shields for that," says Riker.
"Nah, but I know those transporters and shields," says O'Brien. "There's like, a fiftieth of a second where I can beam over in the shield cycle. No biggie."
He's talking about it like it's a hallway he can stroll down, instead of being like trying to squeeze around two side-by-side grocery carts at the store aisle.

Maxwell is in his ready room, staring out the window at the E, when the door chimes. He yells "not now!" but O'Brien strolls in anyway. Maxwell dives for a phaser and holds it on O'Brien.
"O'Brien, WTF?"
"Thought we might be able to talk our way out of this, sir," says O'Brien calmly.
"Great. Talk to Picard instead. Get him to board that ship."
"He won't do it," says O'Brien.
Man, imagine being this dude. Yesterday he just wanted to stop eating Japanese food for every meal. Today he's stuck mediating between his two favorite captains, and knowing where each draws their lines in the sand, and that neither will relent to the other. If he's really, really lucky, tomorrow he can complain about plankton loaf again.

"What's happening to this war?" asks Maxwell, stressed.
"There isn't one," O'Brien replies.
"Yes, there is!" Maxwell insists. "The Cardassians love war! They gotta have it!"
O'Brien snorts derisively. "Everybody thinks that about their enemies. They probably think the same thing about us."
"But we're not like them!" insists Maxwell. "We don't do sneak attacks or butcher innocents!"
Ohhh, honey. Yes, you do. For all the talk of peaceful exploration, you know some part of the Federation probably engages in shady shit. They just don't tell you about it. Also, you just blew away like 700 people. You don't have a leg to stand on here.
He's kind of torn up about his kids, even though he doesn't say it outright. Instead, he and O'Brien reminisce about a crew member that died on Setlik III during their mission.
"What was the song he used to sing?" asks Maxwell.
O'Brien starts singing The Minstrel Boy and Maxwell joins in. But O'Brien sings the last line by himself as Maxwell stares off into the distance, framed by quiet red alert lighting.

There's a pause, and Maxwell accepts his fate, as hard as it is to swallow. "I'm not going to win this one, am I, Chief?"
"No, sir."

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Maxwell turned his ship over to his first officer and has been confined to quarters over here. Taking the Phoenix to the starbase."

In the Obs Lounge, O'Brien is debriefed by Picard and Macet. We don't really see any of it, and O'Brien gets up to leave.
"I just wanna say, that Maxwell was an awesome person to serve under, and while I know he's wrong now, I'm still proud to have served with him."
Picard nods and thanks O'Brien for doing a good job. O'Brien leaves.

"Wow, that dude is loyal," remarks Macet.
"Maxwell earned the loyalty that his crew gave him," corrects Picard. "And he was twice honored in war with the Federation's highest award. If he can't find a place for himself in peaceful times, we can pity him, but we won't dismiss him."
Ah, shades of "The Hunted."
"It's nice that you like Maxwell," says Macet, "But I'm really okay with him being locked up."
Macet turns to leave.
"Oh hey, Macet."
The Cardassian turns back.
"Maxwell was right," says Picard. "That's a dumb place for a science station, but a great place for a transport depot. And your "supply ships" all have high-energy fields that scramble signal readers."
Macet splutters. "Well then, why didn't you board that ship and see for yourself?"
"I was told to keep the peace at all costs. And if I had checked that ship, the peace would have been gone, and we would not be having this cozy chat now." Macet starts to give some weak-kneed response, but Picard interrupts again. "Go back and tell your fucking superiors that we'll be watching you."
And then he swivels his chair around like a badass. Because fuck the Cardassians.

really like this episode. It's not just because I like the Cardassians as a villain, and not just because I like Miles and Keiko. It's those things and more. It's the fleshing out of O'Brien as a character, seeing him in his downtime with his new wife, and how he interacts with her and Maxwell and some tertiary characters that he doesn't like.
But mostly it's the writing. Picard is being nice to the Cardassians because of a treaty, but they drop the bombshell on him that a rogue Starfleet captain is hunting Cardassian ships and destroying them without a known cause. Picard is embarrassed to find this to be true. Cardassians are invited to come on board while he tracks down the Phoenix and confronts Maxwell. The Cardassians attempt to be friendly. It's awkward on both sides. Miles seems to hover back and forth on his opinions of the Cardassians, being rude, then apologizing, and finally admitting his problem with them. In the end, Maxwell is caught, tries to explain his conspiracy theory and is ultimately brought in to face charges of blowing up a bunch of Cardassian ships. There's an amazing, quiet, powerful moment where O'Brien and Maxwell reminisce about earlier times, and Maxwell accepts his fate: he will not be believed or vindicated here. Before the Cardassians beam back over to their ship, Picard confronts the captain and tells him that Maxwell was most likely right, but Picard has opted instead to not call them out publicly. He will keep the peace, and Maxwell will most likely be punished, but the odds are good that Picard will tell the upper echelons of Starfleet what the Cardassians are doing.
No one is black or white here, simply gradations of grey. Daro is looking for common ground with the humans he will be spending time with. Telle seemed sincere in his protests that he was only interested in looking at the computer interface. Miles shifted back and forth with his opinions. Maxwell was all over the place. And the show seems to like to walk the line concerning how squeaky clean the Federation is. "We're the good guys but... you know... nobody's that good."

That grey area leads us straight back to O'Brien. Here we have a character who, until last week, had been another Nurse Chapel: one line or so, maybe on a weekly basis, but no more. Last week he got married. This week he leads a full life with a new wife, an interesting backstory, and a new revelation that he's racist. But he claims he isn't. But then he'll be racist again. And then we learn why. Does the fact that he has a reason for being racist excuse the fact that he is? Not even a little bit. But it does flesh things out. hate does not exist in a vacuum. Nobody wakes up one morning and thinks, "Huh. I really hate (specific group of people)." There's a reason why people hate other people, and then extend that hate out to others of the same group. Even in cases where someone can't pinpoint the moment because they were simply raised that way, the reason behind it is that they were taught that hate. It's never just a cut and dry "because." In O'Brien's case, he claims that he has no problems with the idea of the Cardassians, and attempts to convince his wife, his boss, and a Cardassian at the Ten Forward bar of this, but then also admits to some PTSD concerning an event that happened to involve the Cardassians. "I hate what I became because of you." That's a bit more complicated. He both does and does not blame the Cardassians or the war.
Maxwell is similar. He claims that the deaths of his family at the hands of the Cardassians was not the basis for anything he is doing now, but he still makes some racist remarks. He doesn't trust them. And horribly, his instincts were right rather than being way off base. Does this mean he'll be celebrated when he returns to Earth? Nope. Starfleet and the Federation are not like that. There is no "glorious honor of the Federation." If you break the rules, you face the consequences, regardless of the outcome. Might your sentence be lightened? Sure, but you're not getting away scot-free. The crew of the original Enterprise stole a Klingon ship, and even though they saved Earth, Kirk still got his slap on the wrist. A demotion was technically what he wanted, so it's not like he learned any kind of lesson ("don't steal Klingon ships"). So Maxwell, if not given jail time for killing a bunch of Cardassians, will at least lose his commission.
It begs the question: what will happen now?
Will Maxwell's crew back him up in stating that they also believed that the Cardassians were gearing up for more conflict? Will Picard? Will this lessen whatever punishment they throw at him? And what will happen to the information? Will it be covered up, tossed in some dusty filing cabinet in San Francisco? Will it be given to some kind of secret Federation investigation team?
The writing of this episode had parallels to other work that I liked. The question of how Maxwell's case might be handled reminded me of The One With The Whales, where Kirk receives his lighter-than-light consequence; and Picard talking to Macet about people who struggle to find a place in society in peaceful times reminded me of the TNG episode "The Hunted." Nicely done but a bit more subtle was the fact that Picard ended both of his conversations with Maxwell and Macet by firmly turning his back on them to stare out of the window.

A thing I wished had been different:
When the admiral tells Picard that he must protect the peace at all costs, he mentions that "the Federation cannot afford another sustained conflict." In truth, I assumed that because he did not mention it by name, he was talking about the war with the Cardassians, since it had ended only a year earlier. What he was actually talking about however, was the conflict with the Borg at Wolf 359. Admiral Haden was guilting Picard into keeping the peace by laying it on and reminding Picard that his being kidnapped by the Borg had cost them quite a bit. Truthfully? I wish they had mentioned Wolf 359 by name. In this way, Picard's choices might have felt more loaded than just cautious. It added a layer of tension to the episode after I read that, and I was sorry that the writers had not been more clear about what Haden was referring to in the first place.

Raised more questions than answered:
- If O'Brien stunned one Cardassian, then why did that woman hand him a phaser that was fully dialed to Disintegrate? Didn't he already have a phaser in his hand that he had used to stun the other Cardassian?
- Miles and Keiko are presented as very different cultures (and truth be told, kind of stereotypical ones). In the 24th century, we have put aside our differences and formed a planet-wide government. My question is, have those different cultures been preserved through stubbornness, or have they become blended? Surely, Miles and Keiko being specific archetypes for their ethnicities means that there are still very separate cultural identities on Earth in the 24th century. South Park imagined a "melting pot" scenario where people from the future are all beige and speak a blended language. Yet, in Star Trek's vision of the future, cultures seem to be preserved in a kind of "differences are beautiful" manner. I'm not complaining - just seems like there would be more bleed-over.

- Fun Facts:

- This episode is similar to TOS' "The Doomsday Machine" in that it features two captains losing their shit and needing to be talked down from hunting their "white whale."
- "The Minstrel Boy" was written for the 1798 rebellion of United Irishmen. It will come up again in one of O'Brien's final moments on DS9.
- In the final, unedited scene where Picard confronts Macet, he says "We know. We'll be watching. And we'll be ready." The aired version stops after "watching."
- First appearance of the Cardassians.
- First appearance of kanar.
- Third appearance of Marc Alaimo, who plays Macet.
- Michael Westmore based the look of the Cardassians on an abstract painting he had seen of a woman with a spoon shape on her forehead.
- We'll never see those weird helmets or Macet's style of facial hair again. Fortunately.
- Other than season 2, this is the only time that Gates McFadden did not appear in an episode.
-  Actor Marco Rodriguez (Telle) looked oddly familiar. Turns out we've seen him before:

He plays the drone disguised as Captain Paul Rice, a friend of Riker, in "The Arsenal of Freedom." (You remember that shit, right? "What's the name of your ship, Riker?" "The Lollipop. It's a good ship.")

Red deaths: 0
To date: 0
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 0
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 0
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
To date: 11,000
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
To date: 1
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 6
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 5
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 15
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
To date: 11
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 0
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 0
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 15
Tea, Earl Grey: 0
To date: 2

Bratty is cozier than you