Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, October 16, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Eleven "The Hunted"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Eleven "The Hunted"
Production Order: 11
Air Order: 11
Stardate: 43489.2
Original Air Date: January 8, 1990

Picard's Log 43489.2: "We're at Angosia III. These people want to join our space gang the Federation, so we're here to check them out. Nayrok is the Prime Minister here, and he's gonna show myself and Riker around the capital city."

Nayrok (who is the tallest man ever) is walking Picard and Riker through some sort of common area, tooting his own horn, as one does when petitioning to be jumped into a prestigious space gang. When Riker brings up some war they recently recovered from (the Tarsian war), Nayrok goes on about how his people prefer logic and settling things simply and without violence, and isn't it a shame that not everyone thinks like that?
Some dude interrupts them with important news for Nayrok, and they duck to the side to talk, giving us an extra good look at their clothes. This is one of those planets where Star Trek likes to clothe the citizens in "three-piece jumpsuits," coverall things that are tailored and made with suiting material so they look like they're wearing suits. They even have back pants pockets, and Nayrok is wearing wingtips.
I really have no idea what to make of these. They tend to be on important guys, like successful businessmen or diplomats, probably as a signal to the audience that here is a VIP, but it's funny how something quintessentially twentieth-century Terran ended up on aliens four centuries later.

Anyway, while Nayrok is chatting with the other Angosian, Picard tells Riker that he thinks these people will probably work well within the Federation. Riker replies back that Angosia is "a bit stuffy" for him, but he doesn't necessarily disagree with Picard.
Nayrok comes back and gives them quite a bit of information on this "private" matter: They have a penal colony on one of their moons, Lunar V, and one of the prisoners has escaped. Two guards are dead.
Riker asks if they're going to chase him down, and Nayrok sort of shrugs, replying that the tracking station has been sabotaged, is "in chaos," and that their civilian pilots are not trained to handle this kind of situation.
He's definitely leading them into offering help. His explanations have the same sort of tone that your least-reliable friend uses when contacting you out of the blue to tell you what kind of dire straits he's in, and how he has all these mounting bills, and he really just has no one else to talk to about this, and fifty bucks would really solve a lot of his problems...

Riker takes the bait. With Picard's permission, he calls Data. "Hey, do you have a stolen freighter on scanners from Lunar V?"
Worf nods.
"Armed and incredibly dangerous," relays Riker from Nayrok. "High-security facility escapee."
(The unreliable friend mentions that the fifty bucks you'll never see again is actually to pay off his dealer.)
We segue over to the bridge of the E, where Data is in charge, and he and Worf are leading the hunt. Worf reports that the stolen freighter has no warp, and their weapons are pretty much slingshots.

There's a cool shot here where we see the E from a distance while the freighter disappears behind an asteroid or something. Geordi reports that the freighter is picking up speed, probably because the convict on board realizes that he's been spotted.

They wait for the freighter to reappear on the other side, but just the drive section shows up. Worf scans it and says there are no life readings. Data has Wes steer the E around the back side of the asteroid to check it out.
"Wreckage on the asteroid's surface," announces Geordi. "No life signs."
As they move around the other side of the asteroid, Wes realizes that the drive section is now gone. Someone must be driving it.
Riker checks in.
"We lost him," says Data.
"Seriously?" asks Riker.

Dramatic music, even though this is not their problem! Opening credits break!

Back on the bridge, Data is explaining to Picard how the prisoner got away.
 "There were no life signs in the drive section. Dunno how he did that, but we don't have another explanation for it."
Nayrok calls to say they've figured out which prisoner he was - Roga Danar (Rohguh Daynar).
"His criminal record is too lengthy to get into -"

" - but he's super dangerous. Be careful."
Still not their problem, Nayrok, but okay.
He signs off, and the bridge crew discusses how the drive section has taken off completely, but there's no way it should be out of sensor range at this point, because the drive section has no warp capabilities.
"Cloak?" asks Picard.
Worf shakes his head. "The Angosians don't have cloaking tech."
"What if he's hiding in the magnetic pole?" suggests Riker.
Helllooo, callback!
Between Data, Wes and Geordi, they manage to not only find the drive section hiding out above the planet's northern pole, but tractor it in. But then dude turns on his engines and decides to play chicken, rushing at the E.
"The fuck?" asks Picard.
The drive section bounces off the E's shields and heads in a different direction.

While everyone is marveling at how clever this guy is, Data calls attention to the fact that he is no longer in the drive section... by pulling up viewscreen views showing a tiny escape pod.
"Oh, my fucking fuck," says Wes.
"Screw this," says Picard. He calls O'Brien. "Don't know why he has no life signs, but beam up anything from that pod that's big enough to be a humanoid adult."
Worf sends a contingent of security Golds to the transporter room while O'Brien calls back.
"Okay, I'm holding this guy in stasis until the Golds get here. He has a weapon that the transporter has rendered inoperable."
Wait, they can do that?
Riker and Worf head for the transporter room, and the security Golds feel pretty good about just letting O'Brien complete the transfer.
Dude materializes and looks around.

One of the Golds starts to say that Danar should just come quietly or whatever, but Danar tries to shoot them instead.
Oops, his gun isn't working. They attempt to stun him, but it just kind of bounces off.
No gun? No problem. Danar jumps the two Golds while O'Brien yells for more Golds over the comm. Then he jumps into the fray. Danar manages to take down O'Brien while the Golds tumble out into the corridor with Danar. O'Brien wakes up enough to try his phaser, but Danar has taken out one Gold, and now uses his phaser to stun O'Brien.
The lift opens, revealing Riker and Worf at one end of the corridor, and Danar wrestling with that second Gold at the other end. Danar shoots into the lift, but our boys duck. Then they come flying out and wrestle Danar to the ground.
"Set phasers to max stun, and let's get him into the brig!" Riker yells to Worf.
Just so that we know O'Brien is fine, he stumbles into the corridor and asks, "Commander?"

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard calls Nayrok to say that they finally caught him, and Nayrok tells them that it'll take a few hours to get the station back into order. They'll send a ship to come pick him up when they're ready, but in the meantime, the detention center psychologist recommends that they knock Danar's ass all the way out.
"We're good," says Picard.
"Don't say I didn't warn you," shrugs Nayrok.
Riker asks Data if he's figured out what's wrong with the sensors, and Data says they're actually fine.
"Dude has no life signs."
Riker makes a WTF face, and asks Majel who is in the detention cell.
"Nobody," replies Majel. "It's empty."
"Android?" suggests Picard.
"No, Majel can sense artificial life forms," answers Data.
Ooh, is Danar a g-g-g-ghoooost?
Naw, he can just fool the sensors or something.

 Danar is asleep in the brig, obviously having a shitty dream, because he's thrashing and yelling. Troi is walking through the corridor in a different part of the ship when she senses Danar's discomfort. She goes running into the brig to ask if he's okay.
He sits up and asks where he is, expecting her to say "a war ship." She explains that they were orbiting Angosia when he escaped from Lunar V, and that she's the ship's counselor.
"Too bad. I'd rather you were the jailer." He says this in an off-hand way, like she's easy to talk to, rather than she's hot or something. "I assume we're going back to Lunar V?"
"That terrifies you," she reads.
"Dude, I just killed two guys to get out of there. Just my crappy luck that you happened to be in orbit." He scoops water out of the brig basin. "I could kill you too, you know." It's a weird threat, not like he's going to do it, just that he could. Like "I can tie my shoelaces, you know."
"That's a terrifying thought, isn't it? Even to me." Still really offhand.
This was not what Troi was expecting. She asks if his jailers abuse him.
"Naw, they take good care of us. It's just that's a bit of a Hotel California thing: we can check anytime we like, but we can never leave." He washes his face, then sits on the bed. "So do you visit all the prisoners, or am I just a special case, like a cool bug who has landed on your microscope?"
"How come you're so angry towards me?" she asked.
"A girl with long, dark hair broke my heart once, and I turned to a life of crime." Then he laughs, because he's bullshitting her. "How about "my mother abandoned me as a little boy, and I never got the guidance I needed"?"
She's annoyed. "WTF, dude?"
"I'm playing games. Isn't that what all you mind-control types do?"
She's pissed. "I don't practice mind control. I came here because I sensed you were in pain."
"What do you sense now?"
"No more pain," she says quietly.

Troi goes to the ready room to see Picard about Danar.
"This dude is weird," she says. "Like, he feels like two guys in one. His crimes disturb him, and he doesn't have a violent personality. Seems off to me that he would be so violent."
"He took down five guys and destroyed the transporter room," Picard points out.
"I'm not saying let him roam the ship," she replies. "I'm saying there's something strange about this guy. I'm not getting a criminal vibe off of him."
"Not our problem. We're giving him back soon, and I'll be glad to see the last of him."
"Alrighty then," she says resignedly.

We follow her out of the ready room, where she goes up to Data at the science station and asks if they're linked up to the Angosian database. He replies they are, because they're gathering info about the Angosians for their Federation application.
"Cool, can I see Roga Danar's criminal record?"
Nothing comes up.
"But he's prison," she protests.
"Lunar V is a military prison," Data provides.
"He's a soldier? See why he was arrested."
"Looks like he did several successful campaigns in the Tarsian war, and was promoted a few times," says Data. "His record looks honorable."
Troi is confused. "Why the fuck is this guy in prison?"

Troi decides to go straight to the horse's mouth.
"You're a soldier," she says to Danar. "Why are you in prison? Do you do something you weren't supposed to do?"
"Nope," he answers. "I did everything I was asked to do. It was war. I did some terrible shit."
"It started with the war?"
"No, it started the day I joined up. Actually, it started the day I met my first trainer. He was also called counselor."

Dramatic music because counselors are apparently scary! Commercial break!

Troi calls everyone together in the Obs Lounge to give them some exposition. What she's learned is that Danar signed up for the military to fight for the Angosian way of life, against the Tarsians. Instead of just doing drill, the government psychologically manipulated their new recruits and altered their molecular structure to make them better, faster soldiers. They made them the perfect killing machines, but when they won the war and came home, they had trouble acclimatizing. They're perfectly lovely and non-violent when not threatened, but when they did feel threatened, their training would kick in, and bam! argument becomes murder.
Did they try to rehabilitate the soldiers?
Nope. They were just assigned to Lunar V.
"Well, fuck," says Picard.

Data goes to see Danar. Danar dismisses him at first, but then decides he'd rather have someone to talk to.
"Why are your eyes yellow?" Danar demands.
"I'm an android," says Data. "I think we have something in common. We've both been programmed."
"Not the same at all," contradicts Danar scornfully.
"Um, so I can be deprogrammed," says Data. "Is not a thing you can do? Can your doctors not fix this?"
"Doctors did this to me," Danar replies. "And I keep asking myself why they haven't fixed me if I can."

Picard calls Nayrok to confront him about his keeping soldiers locked away on the moon.
"Danar is full of shit. He's a criminal, don't believe him."
Picard decides to press the matter. "Did the soldiers on Lunar V choose to move there on their own?"
"The people voted for them to be relocated there," replies Nayrok, which is not a fucking answer. "Also, they love it there."

Picard is not buying it, probably because a ton of aliens over the years have fed him the same kinds of lines. "Yeah, a comfy prison is still a prison."
"We only had to add security because of people like Danar," Nayrok protests.
"Okay, whatever," Picard waves away. "Our doctors looked at him, and they think the process could be reversed. Have you tried?"
"We've looked at it," shrugs Nayrok. "But you're now treading very close to matters of internal security, so MYOB. Anyway, we're sending a ship to fetch Danar. Formal gratitude to the Federation on behalf of the Angosians and all that." And he promptly hangs up on Picard.
You want to get into the Federation, and the guy holding your application has just caught you doing something shady, so you sweep it under the rug and tell him it's none of his business? Smooth move, Ex-Lax.
Picard rolls his eyes and mutters that "matters of internal security" is "the age-old cry of the oppressor."

 Down in the brig, Danar asks Data if he was programmed for war. Data replies that he was not, but has been programmed for military tactics, which is how he was able to capture Danar. The Angosian is impressed.
Unfortunately, he spells out exactly what his "awesome" new abilities have gotten him: "My improved reflexes have allowed me to kill 84 times, and my improved memory lets me remember each of those 84 faces."
That's fucked up.
"Do you understand how that feels?"
"I am incapable of feelings."
"I envy you."
Troi comes in and introduces Picard.
"I have to turn you over to the Angosian authorities," Picard tells Danar. "I don't have a choice in the matter."
"They're right," shrugs Danar. "I'm dangerous and shouldn't be around other people."
Both Troi and Data flatly state that they don't find this to be the case.
"Look," says Picard, "I trust my officers' opinions. If there's a way I can fix this at all, I will."
"I appreciate you telling me that to my face," Danar replies. "In return, I'll warn you that I'm going to try to escape."
Worf calls to say the ship is here for Danar.
Picard says that's fine, and takes Data back to the bridge with him.
Danar calls out to Data to take care of himself, as he enjoyed their chat. Data nods and says he did as well.
Once they're gone, Troi offers Damar the hope that after Angosia has joined the Federation, maybe they can talk the Angosian government into letting the Federation doctors help them rehabilitate their soldiers.
"Doesn't matter," says Danar. "I won't be there. I'd rather die than return to the lunar colony."

The little transport ship arrives and they call Picard on the bridge. The security in place:
- They're going to be beaming Danar directly from one brig to the other;
- A full security detail will be placed in the Enterprise's brig;
- There will be a .1 second time difference between when they beam Danar out of the E's brig and into the transport ship's brig. Worf is pretty certain that Danar will not have enough time to try anything.
Worf goes down t the brig with Troi. Danar prepares to be beamed away, but at the last moment, he starts stretching his arms out, as though he's trapped in the transporter beam. Troi screams out that Danar will hurt or kill himself doing this, but Danar persists.
"I'm losing him!" yells O'Brien over the comm.
Danar gives one last push, there's an explosion, and Troi and Worf are thrown back across the room. When they get up, Danar is gone.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Up on the bridge, Picard and Riker are calling orders to deal with Danar's escape. Worf points out that a phaser is missing, and he and a contingent of security Golds take off. They set the ship on general quarters so Danar can't take a hostage, and set security containments on decks near the brig.

Danar strides through the corridors with purpose, and rounding a corner, is caught off guard by a security Gold, who does not see him. Instead, he ducks into a lift.
On the bridge, Data reports that a lift on deck 34 is being used.
"He took the bait," says Riker.
They have Data divert the lift to a destination near where Worf is currently. Worf is alerted, and he and another Gold get into position near the lift. But when the doors open, no Danar. Just a phaser on the floor.
Ah, the old "Phaser on Overload" trick.
Worf manages to turn the thing off before it explodes.
Danar, who never left deck 36, now comes up on the security Gold and knocks him out. Then he uses the Gold's hand to hit his comm badge and request that the forcefield be dropped, which makes me think that comm badges have some kind of fingerprint identification to operate, or else he doesn't want his fingerprints on the unconscious Gold (though it's possible he doesn't actually have any - leave it to the Angosians to get rid of ID like that as well).

He takes off down the corridor.
"He dropped the forcefield on 36," reports Data.
They decide that he's going to Engineering, and call Geordi to warn him, but...

Data says that Danar has a panel open and is trying to bypass security measures. He then begins  quietly rerouting Danar so that he doesn't know.
 But Danar is too quick, and manages to restore power to shuttle bay 2. Data does some dancing on the conn, and now shuttle bay 2 is inoperative again.
Danar leaves Engineering by Jeffries tubes, now holding two more phasers.

Worf and his Golds finally make it down to Engineering, where they help the engineering Golds up, and get more data from Data.
"We think he's going to shuttle bay 2, but we have a number of Golds already waiting for him," Worf tells Geordi.
Sassy Geordi Moment: "You want my advice? Double it!"

Danar puts another overloading phaser into a panel in a Jeffries' tube, then doubles back and opens another panel elsewhere.
"I think he's faking us out," Data tells Picard. "He knows we can't track him, but he's leaving a trail for us to follow. Misdirection was his thing before. Good chance he's doing it now. I don't think he's going to shuttle bay 2. Oh, hey. He's by the cargo bays."
"Cool," says Picard. "Lets empty those cargo bays of anyone else, and flood them with knock-out gas."
When he's pretty sure that Danar is asleep, he has Data clear the cargo bays, and sends Worf & Co in to get him.
Worf takes a look around. "I don't see him," he relays back to Picard. "But a pressure suit is missing. He might be trying to get into the shuttle bay from outside the ship. Or the torpedo tube. We can prep for either."
"Good job," says Picard.
The golds leave, and Danar sneaks out from between cargo containers, sans pressure suit.
Suddenly, Worf jumps out. "Freeze, motherfucker!"

Worf comms the bridge to say that he has Danar, but then that overloading phaser goes off in the Jeffries tube, knocking out power to a bunch of the ship. Danar jumps Worf in the dark. They struggle, knocking over many empty futuristic storage containers. Danar finally succeeds in trapping Worf under a thing that's painted styrofoam but which we're made to believe is super heavy. Danar grabs his phaser, hops on the cargo transporter pad, and transfers over to the prison ship that's been sent to pick him up.
"Surprise, assholes!"

Worf pushes that painted foam thing off of himself, then calls the bridge. "Danar escaped. He used a phaser to power the transporter in the cargo bay."
"Can we confirm that?" Picard asks Data.
"Hell no," replies the android. "Danar fucked up all the shit before he left. I got no sensors."

Dramatic music! Zoom in on Picard! Commercial break!

Riker's Log, supplemental: "Still trying to fix our shit. Danar still missing."

They get tactical up and working again, and get a call from Nayrok.
"So Danar just attacked Lunar V in the police shuttle. Some people are hurt, the prisoners are rioting, and bunch of them have escaped in the shuttle with Danar, and we're guessing they're heading for the capital city. Um, we're not prepared to handle this. That's what we made them for."
"Ha! Karma, you asshole! Deal with it!" says Picard.
Naw, that's what I want him to say. Instead, he says he'll send an away team.

Picard picks Data, Worf and Troi to go with him. Riker hops in the lift to see them off, and Picard checks with Troi and Data that Danar and his fellow soldiers are programmed to have a strong survival instinct, and that they won't kill unless they feel threatened. Troi and Data confirm. Riker holds Worf back when they go into the transporter room, and because he hasn't had time to bitch about the safety of the captain on an away mission, he tells Worf that he's holding the Klingon personally responsible for the captain.

The away team beams down while Nayrok is passing out weapons to his fellow suits.

"This is it?" asks Nayrok in a tone that says that he's a spoiled kid, counting his birthday presents.

"Yeah, we're not fighting your war for you, Nayrok."
This time, he actually said that.
Nayrok's bullshit here is great. Note his use of guilt to try to get Picard to do what he wants: "They have been seen moving towards the center of the city. People are scared. Don't you understand, Captain? They're dangerous."
Picard's response is even better: "You're dangerous. They are only victims. You made them what they are. You asked them to defend your way of life and then you discarded them."
Some other suit (Zayner) chimes in to say that the soldiers were not happy on the planet, and Troi snaps back that they were not happy there.
"No one liked the solution of resettling them, but it had to be done for the Greater Good," says Nayrok.
Fuck the Greater Good. Why the hell does evil always try to hide behind the phase "the Greater Good"?

Data, ever the dispassionate outsider, politely asks if the soldiers can be reprogrammed.
"We can remove the chemicals," says Nayrok, "but we're uncertain if we can reverse the psychological conditioning."
"Have you tried?" asks Data earnestly.
"We studied it thoroughly," Nayrok insists. "Like, before we did any of this."
OH, that makes it okay! They studied it thoroughly!
"Did you tell them that?" demands Worf.
Nayrok gives a non-answer: "We were helping them to survive the war. You understand? They needed those skills."
So.... no.
"Fuck off," replies Picard.
"It was the will of the the people!" interrupts Zayner.
"To allow them to suffer?!" demands Troi.
Cut a bitch, Troi!
Nayrok tries to explain how the Angosians exiled their own people, as though them thinking about it a lot made it okay.
"Besides," breaks in Zayner. "We may need them again."
Can somebody slap that asshole?
"Are you seriously that obtuse?" demands Picard.

Suddenly, they're surrounded by soldiers with weapons.
"Nobody move!" shouts Picard. "Don't shoot them, or they'll kill you!"
The suits all have the good grace to look abashed, and lower their weapons.
"No, shoot us!" yells Danar. "Do anything, but don't ignore us!"
Nobody moves, and Danar calls them cowards.
"You're programmed to survive," argues Nayrok. "You can survive on Lunar V."
"We don't want to survive, we want to live!"
Troi encourages Danar to tell Nayrok what they want. There's a pause, and then Danar says they want their lives back, and they want to come home.
Nayrok replies that he won't negotiate under threat, but if the soldiers will go back peacefully to Lunar V, he will consider their issues.
"Fuck you, no you won't," says Danar.
Which is true. Dude just wants to trap them on the moon again.
"Captain, call your ship," pleads Nayrok.
That least-reliable friend needs another fifty bucks.
"Okay." Picard taps his comm badge. "Enterprise, prepare to beam us up."

"Wait, what? No!"
"Prime Minister, you now get to make a choice about whether to try to banish your soldiers back in their prison or welcome them home. And you're right - this is a matter of internal security for you, and we don't get to comment or interfere. Actually, we're not allowed to get involved in the development of your culture, which I suspect will develop a lot in the next few minutes. Anyway, I have all the info I need to make a recommendation to the Federation about you. Bye."
Nayrok is stunned. Danar smiles at Troi before they beam away.

The away team returns to the bridge.
"Add a footnote to my recommendation," Picard tells Riker. "Say that the Fedration should offer them assistance in reprogramming their soldiers... if their government survives the night."
"What if they don't survive?"
"I think they'll choose to," smiles Picard.

I want to like this episode more than I do. Really and truly. I like that it comments on the plight of soldiers who have trouble readjusting to society, and what happens when said society casts them off instead of thanking them by helping them to readjust. War is a strange scene, with it's own rules and ways of doing things, and those things do not mesh well within a peaceful society, even if the actions taken are not inherently violent. (A story a reservist told me after returning from Afghanistan: "I drove tanks over there sometimes, and when I returned to the States, I had to remind myself not to run other cars off the road, like I would have done in the tank.") I also liked the off-handed, casual way that the Angosian Senate members dismissed the needs of the soldiers, and objectified them, "they're fine," "it was the will of the people," and "what if we need them again?" Very creepy. The best villains are the ones who live next door and who you might have previously categorized as "alright" before learning their views.
However, what really gets to me is the fact that Star Trek really likes to do episodes about small groups of insurgents versus society at large, and while those can be good episodes, they all tend to be so similar that they blend together in my mind. The next episode, for example, will also feature a small group of insurgents asking for independence from a larger society, and while it will deal with different themes, it is too similar in it's overarching theme to this one, and in my mind, I blend the two together, and forget which details belong to which episode. I really wish they had done this episode, then done a few different ones, then did number 12.

Fun Facts:

- This episode is an allegory of US veterans of the Vietnam War, and how they were treated when they returned home. Originally, the soldiers were supposed to storm the capital, and there was going to be a big shoot-out. But time and budget wouldn't allow for it. And there was some question as to how successful the ending would be if the soldiers came in and killed everyone.
- The weapon that Danar carries onto the Enterprise was broken during the struggle with the security Golds. The pieces are on display at the Seattle Science Fiction Hall of Fame and Museum.
- Members of the Angosian Senate wore turtlenecks from Star Trek II.

- This is the first TNG episode to feature Jeffries tubes. This is also the only episode to feature tubes large enough to walk upright in.

- This is the first time the redesigned brig is shown.
- First mention of emergency airlocks and torpedo control room.
- James Cromwell, who played Prime Minister Nayrok , will play characters on other episodes of TNG and DS9, but is best known for his portrayal of Zephram Cochran in First Contact and an episode of Enterprise.

- Jeff McCarthy, who played Roga Danar, will be seen again as the original CMO for Voyager.

- J. Michael Flynn, who played Zayner, will show up again in Enterprise.

Red deaths: 0
To date: 0
Gold deaths: 0
To date: 0
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 1
To date: 9
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 8
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 6
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 4
Sassy Guinan Monets: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 1
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 2
To date: 10
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 4
To date: 19
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 4
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 2
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 16
Tea, Earl Grey: 0
To date: 1

My little black cat is cozier than your little black cat

Monday, October 9, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Ten "The Defector"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Ten "The Defector"
Production Order: 10
Air Order: 10
Stardate: 43462.5
Original Air Date: January 1, 1990

We get an unusual opening this week: we don't know right at the first that it's the holodeck, but lo and behold: holodeck. Anyway, two dudes are talking around a campfire in iambic pentameter, and the show doesn't want you to know that one dude is Patrick Stewart, because they slathered him in make-up and stuff, but there's no disguising that voice, no matter which accent he uses.

Data comes in, disguised as Henry V, who is disguised as a commoner, and he delivers some lines in a cool-ass cloak. We then see Picard off to the side, in uniform, mouthing the words as Data says them. At one point he breaks in to tell Data that he's getting better at this, and Data is forced to freeze the program, because the other two guys come at the captain with weapons, because who is the dude in raspberry-colored jammies?
Data thanks Picard and lists off which performers he plans to study and imitate, and Picard says that while it's worthwhile to study Shakespeare to get the hang of the human condition, he should find his own style, rather than imitating others.

*raises hand* Hi, that's bullshit? Because not only is imitation the sincerest form of flattery, it's also the best way to learn a technique, thereby creating one's own sense of style? And it's been done that way successfully for thousands of years? Otherwise I would have bitched more vocally about being forced to paint a bunch of Cezanne still lifes? Have things really changed so much by the 24th century that we're ditching that notion, or is it just crappy advice from the All-Powerful Picard?
(Also, how did Data get that awful bowl cut? Does his hair grow? Who cut it like that? Was it Mott, the ship's barber? "Hello, Mott. Can you give me a terrible haircut for a thing I'm doing briefly on the holodeck?")

Riker calls Picard and interrupts all of these weird musings. Scans show some ship in the Neutral Zone.
"Be there in a sec," says Picard, and they walk into the corridor
Data reaches up, and thank fucking fuck, that crappy bowl haircut was a wig.
Like a furry showercap. I can't even imagine them handing this to Brent Spiner and saying, "We're gonna open in this."
Anyway, Data asks Picard what the point is of Henry going among his own people dressed as one of them, and Picard cites empathy as the main reason.
"Can I do a show for the crew?" Data asks out of nowhere.
"Ummm... maybe later."
Does Picard want to sit through 2+ hours of Data doing Shakespeare? No.

They hit the bridge, and Riker reports that the weird ship is actually a Romulan scout.
"The hell?" asks Picard. "What's it doing in the NZ?"
Worf formally requests to verbally bitch-slap the ship over subspace communication, but Picard wants to do it.
Unfortunately, he doesn't get to do it. The scout ship hails them.
"Hey! Federation ship! I need help! Also, asylum! Also, being pursued!"
And a big-ass Romulan decloaks behind it.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

"The fuck?" yells Picard. He has Worf open the channel to the warbird. "Hey! Romulans! Why the hell are you in the Neutral Zone, and hella close to our space?"
"Being ignored," reports Worf.
Instead, they call the scout back.
"Yes! Please help!" yells the Romulan in the scout. "My ship is not great and getting less so!"
The screen goes all staticky, and the warbird fires on the scout, disabling it.
Picard calls Geordi. "Can we put our shields around that scout?"
"Um, yeah?" replies Geordi. "But it's taking a huge risk, because they we won't have the juice to keep the Romulans at bay."
"Okay, do it," says Picard, and you know that was the right choice, because we're a third of the way into season three, and why would they have the Romulans blow up the ship mid-season?
The warbird comes nose to nose with the Enterprise, weapons all powered up, and Picard begins a blustery speech to them, but then they're like "Eh," and the warbird turns away and leaves before decloaking.

"...whut?" asks Riker.
"Search me," says Picard.
"They're going back to Romulan space," reports Worf, giving all of the important exposition, and none of the juicy reactions.
"Scout ship falling apart," announces Data.
Of course they beam him aboard. They were going to do that regardless of whether or not his ship was shot to hell. They're not going to save a dude, then wave good-bye to him as they goes their merry way through space.
But they also elect to tow his ship.

Riker and Worf go down to the transporter room. A wounded Romulan stumbles off the pad and tells them he has some fucking bonkers information.

Picard's Log 43462.5: "We picked up a hitchhiker who says he's a low-ranking logistics clerk, and that he's defecting, and he has info on a secret thing the Roms are doing."

At a senior officers meeting in the Obs Lounge, the Romulan (who says this shit is too important for him to have gone straight to sick bay to be treated) tells them what he knows. It seems that quite a few of the younger leaders are still pissed off about the treaty that was signed, establishing the Neutral Zone, and they want to take all of that space and then some. He mentions an "embarrassing defeat" at The Battle of Cheron, and some kind of base at Nelvana III.

Wondering where you've seen/heard of Nelvana? Here you go.

"We have sensors in that area," argues Riker. "Did they just fucking miss a whole base?"
"I guess so!" barks back the Romulan, whose name will be revealed as Sublieutenant Setal. "The whole thing goes online in two days, and the Romulan fleet will be within a stone's throw of 15 Federation sectors."
"The Federation won't put up with that shit," growls Worf.
"Yeah. Talking about war," says Setal sarcastically. "If you get rid of that base, there won't be any more threat."
Picard has had some interesting body language for this scene. He's in that end chair, but it's swiveled toward the window, so Setal is mostly getting his profile. He's listening, but not giving Setal his full attention.
Now he turns to the guy and says, "Okay, well, you're probably tired. I'll have Worf take you to sick bay, and we'll see about getting you some quarters in the meantime."
The Romulan is surprised. "Oh. Um, you want to ask me more questions later, right?"
Picard blinks. "Duh."

Setal and Worf leave.
Riker thinks Setal is lying, that the Federation would never allow the Roms to build anything in the Neutral Zone.
Data makes a good point: "Commander, that would not be an atypical Romulan ploy."
Apparently, the Romulans like to test the waters, let other people strike first.
Riker thinks that Setal is faking it, and that he's drawing them into the Neutral Zone to check on this supposed threat, so that the Romulans can then pop up and go "A-ha! You broke the treaty, so now we can blow you out of the sky!"
Data: "That would also not be an atypical Romulan ploy."
"Sneaky motherfuckers," mutters Picard.
"Eh, at least we can check out his ship," muses Geordi, right before the damn thing gets blown to hell.

"Lol, of course I set it to auto-destruct," laughs Setal when Riker confronts him. "Wouldn't you?"
Riker, standing in sick bay with Setal as Crusher fixes his face, is pissed as hell. "I thought you were defecting?"
Setal makes a good point: "Yeah, but I'm not a traitor. All you can see is the opportunity to exploit me."
Reminder from the show: the Federation is not as squeaky-clean as it likes to think it is. Sometimes they do shady shit for their own benefit.
"I came to you to prevent war," Setal points out, "and you guys just want to strip down my ship for secrets."
(Yeah, well, friendly reminder from Lady Archon that the Romulans would have done the same, Setal.)
Crusher barks at him to hold still while she knits his face back together again.
He remarks in return that it's awesome that she knows about Romulans.
"I gained some knowledge recently," she says, shooting some side-eye at Worf.

"Oh yeah, Galorndon Core," replies Setal.
Worf is suspicious, because how does this lowly clerk know about that?
"Common knowledge," says Setal shiftily.
Worf implies that Setal is a spy.
Setal replies by calling Worf a bunch of Klingon swears.
Sassy Riker tells Setal that only a Romulan veruul would use such phrases in public. Setal is amused.
Riker dismisses Worf, who is now pretty pissed off. Setal admits that he likes Worf, and understands what kind of guy Worf is. Unfortunately, he also thinks "the kind of guy that Worf is," is the kind of guy who will get everyone killed in this war.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker shows Setal to his room, perfunctorily introduces him to the food dispenser, then nopes out of there. Setal requests some cold water from the dispenser, and as we saw just last week, the dispenser is picky enough to ask for an actual temperature.
"12 onkians," he murmurs.
"Bitch, this is a Federation ship," says Majel. "We don't do onkians."
Sassy Guest Star Moment: "Any temperature at all on the cold side of whatever your system is."
Setal drinks his water and looks around his quarters which, as ever, is decorated in Twenty-First Century Mid-Range Hotel style.
Then he sits and takes an orange SweeTart out of his boot and stares at it while suspicious music plays.

Picard and Data check out the Nelvana system star charts at the science station on the bridge. Nothing is coming in as far as bases go.
"Hey, you got a decoded message from Starfleet," says Majel.
Picard goes to his ready room after finding out that there's a two-and-a-half hour delay between his ship and where the message was sent from.
When he opens it, we see that, once again they've changed the freaking admiral uniform. It's not my favorite.

Admiral Haden tells Picard that the Romulans asked for Setal back but that Starfleet told them to fuck off. No one is sure if Setal is lying or not, but they're kind of leaving it up to Picard to decide. Sounds like a cop-out, Starfleet, but okay. Anyway, they're sending the E to a part of the Neutral Zone border that's kind of close to Nelvana III so Picard can check it out.
Picard shuts off the communique and calls Worf to the ready room.

Later, Picard is at the science station again with Data, but this time they're joined by Crusher and Geordi. Geordi shows them, from some data they recorded, that the warbird had three opportunities to capture the scout ship and didn't.
"But they fired on it," Crusher points out.
"Sure," says Data. "but like us, they have the ability to regulate their weapons fire so as to disable instead of destroy."
"Do you think Setal's wounds were self-inflicted?" Picard asks Crusher.
"They were pretty bad..." she replies uncertainly.
"But, yes," Picard finishes.

I love shots like this. The uniforms look amazing together.

Picard's Log 43463.7: "Okay, so we're at the border near Nelvana III, and if Setal's info is correct, we only have 21 hours left until the base goes live."

Another communique comes in for Picard.
"Two more Federation ships are coming," says Haden, "but they won't get there in time. We also warned all of the outposts along the Neutral Zone border."
Data comes in, called by Picard.
"Set up a probe," says Picard. "I want Nelvana III hella scanned."
"Cool," says Data, and he turned to carry out Picard's orders.
"No, wait. I want your take on this. But more than anything, I want you to keep a record of what's going on, like a dispassionate view for posterity. Because what happens in the next 24 hours could lead to war." He pauses, and then asks the question that he should be asking Troi, which is weird: "How is the crew feeling?"
"Nervous," says Data, "but confident." Then: "Do you not see that?"
Picard in-joke: "Unlike Henry, it is not easy for me to disguise myself and walk among my troops."

Data leaves, and Picard quotes Henry V: "Now if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king who lead them to it."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker and Troi are interrogating Setal, and it is not going well. Troi accuses Setal of hiding something. Riker accuses him of being a spy.
"I told you everything I know!" yells Setal.
"Who is your CO?" demands Riker.
"Admiral Jarok."
"What's the size of the Romulan fleet?"
"Like I know anything like that!"
"I'm not playing this game with you," says Riker.
"This is dumb. I came looking for courage in a lair of cowards."

 Picard is on the bridge when Majel tells him that there's a priority message coming in from a Klingon vessel, and for some reason, he asks Worf to take the message on some other station on a lower deck. Then he asks Data to get the probe info from Nelvana III, and sync it up with Geordi's info. He wants to be able to send all of it to Starfleet.
Later, Data and Geordi are working down in Engineering, and they get into a discussion about facts versus gut feelings. Data thinks that Setal is not a defector. Geordi thinks they'll catch the Romulans in the act. They take a look at some info coming back from the probe, and find something suspicious.

In the ready room, Data explains to Picard that the probe is picking up low-level radio transmissions.
"Our scans are too far away to have picked them up," he says. "It took the probe being right there to find them."
"Are they Romulan?"
"Dunno. We couldn't decode them. Maybe."
"Did you see anything on the surface?"
"Nope," says Geordi. "I guess they could hide something there. Hard to tell. We'd have to go down to the surface to actually look."
"Well, crap," says Picard.
Dramatic music, but no commercial break.

Setal and Data are in Ten Forward, but not together. Setal is sitting near the window drinking synthehol, while Data stares at him.
"Dude, WTF?" demands Setal after a minute. "Never seen a Romulan before, right?"
"No, I totally have," Data replies. "I'm trying to figure out what my gut reaction is to you."
Setal smiles. "You're the android. I know a lot of Romulan cyberneticists who would love to get their hands on you."
Sassy Data Moment: "I do not find that concept particularly appealing."
They talk for a moment about how the stars in this sector are different from the ones on Romulus, and how Setal misses Romulan ale.
"We could make some in the replicators, but we don't have any of the original with which to gather the information," replies Data.
Bullshit. For being an illegal substance, the Federation is hydrated by Romulan ale.
Setal waxes nostalgic about his home planet, and Data asks if he's regretted what he's done.
"No, I needed to do it," says Setal. "But the price is pretty high. I can never go home."
Data does a kind thing here, using the holodeck.

Setal seems appreciative of the gesture, but tells Data to turn it off. When the grid reappears, he resolutely says that this is his future, and he asks Data to make an appointment for himself and Picard. He says to tell Picard that Admiral Jarok wants to talk.

Picard gets yet another communique from Haden.
"So we confirmed that he's Admiral Alidar Jarok. Tread carefully. He may be an unreliable narrator."
Picard has a security Gold bring in Setal/Jarok.
"Please have a seat," he tells the Romulan courteously.
"We don't have any more time!" says Jarok impatiently.
"Bitch, I said sit down!"
Jarok sits.
"Okay, look," begins Picard. "you come to me with a bunch of conjecture, and say that your people are going to possibly start a war with my people in less than two days. Now you tell me that you aren't even the dude you said you were in the first place. How the fuck am I supposed to know that you're telling me the truth?"
They get into it. Apparently, Jarok's military record is well-known, as he lead what the Federation calls the "Norkan massacres."
"What one group calls a butcher, another calls a hero," points out Jerok, an interesting call back to "The Battle."
"I have this huge problem," says Picard. "How much are you willing to help us? You say there's a base on this planet, but you won't give us more info. Are you going to help us keep your people from starting a war? Are you going to help us overpower them?"
Jarok sits for a moment. "I can't betray my people."
"Dude, you're already a traitor."
Jarok tells Picard that is doing this for his daughter, because he saw the Empire making all of the wrong decisions, and he wanted his daughter to have a better life. He tried to convince the higher-ups not to go through with this crap, but they just shunted him into running a do-nothing sector. By defecting, he is trying to make a change, but he's aware that his daughter will grow up being taught that he is a traitor.
"But she'll grow up," he finishes sadly.
"I'm not helping you unless you help me," says Picard firmly.

The senior officers are gathered in the Obs Lounge when Picard comes in.
"Jarok has given me everything," he announces. "The locations of the Romulan fleet, the specs of warbirds, things like that. But his field experience is worth more. We're gonna go to Nelvana III."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Data's Log 43465.2: "Heading into the NZ, totally breaking the Treaty of Algeron. Kind of working under the assumption that cloaked warbirds are nearby and watching us, so we'll probably run into them as we get closer to Nelvana III."

Well into the Neutral Zone, and no one has shown up.
"That makes me nervous," remarks Riker. "You'd think they would have come around by now."
"Reminds me of Custer," muses Picard.
"Yeah, thanks for that."

They reach Nelvana III, but find nothing. Data says he's picking up those faint radio transmissions, but can't locate the source. They call Jarok up to the bridge, and while they're waiting, Riker tries to come up with reasons why the planet could be just another rock in space.
"Did they leave after Jarok defected?"
"No evidence of them having been here and moved anything away," shoots down Data.
"Could it be cloaked?"
"Naw, that would give off distortions."
Jarok enters the bridge.
"There's nothing here," Picard tells Jarok.
"Not possible," protests Jarok. "I saw the communiques, the timetables, the plans and blueprints."
"Yeah," says Picard. "About that - didn't you say you were censured months ago? What if they've been feeding you disinformation this whole time? Could they have been testing your loyalty?"
"No!" says Jarok. "Not possible!"
"They let you escape," says Picard. "They fed you a bunch of lies, and let you come to us with them."
Jarok is staggered.

"Let's GTFO," says Riker quickly.
"Agreed," said Picard.
They turn the ship around and guess who decloaks in front of them? Two warbirds, who start firing. The shields are holding.
"I wanna see what'll happen," says Picard. "If they wanted to, they could have destroyed us."
The Romulans call. It's Mr Smiley himself, Commander Tomalak.

"Hello, Captain Picard! It looks like this time, I'm finding you in the Neutral Zone."
"Yeah, I'm here because I heard there was a base on Nelvana III, which I suspect you know," replies Picard. "And while we're talking about bullshit in space that doesn't exist, what about the subspace radio transmissions?"
"Oh, that's just our cloaked orbiting probe," says Tomalak carelessly. "We're checking out Nelvana III for archaeological purposes."
"Whatever," scoffs Picard. "Tell me what you plan to do next."
"Haul your ship back to Romulus, and display it's broken hull in the capitol as inspiration to others, so they'll praise the might of the Romulan Empire and cheer us on to war," he says cheerfully.
Jarok steps forward to address Tomalak. "So it's true, that you made up all that stuff and fed it to me as a loyalty test."
Tomalak admits nothing, but sighs in irritation. "Captain, I'll need you to give us back the traitor Jarok first. Then you'll surrender as a prisoner of war."
"Fuck off," replies Picard.


They exchange some barbs, and Tomalak suggests that Picard make this easy on everyone, and just surrender.
"Yeah, not doing that," says Picard.
Klingon cruisers decloak behind the Enterprise.
Fuck yeah, a coup!
"You won't survive our attacks," says a startled Tomalak, trying to save face.
Sassy Picard Moment: "Yeah, but you won't survive ours. Shall we die together?"

"Until next time, then," smiles Tomalak.
The warbirds turn and head back for their own space.
Picard gives the order to return to Federation space, then has Worf thank the Klingons.
Jarok stands and laments that he had abandoned his life and family for nothing.

Picard and Data are called to Jarok's quarters, and Crusher tells them and Riker that Jarok took some kind of poison, most likely that SweeTart he had in his boot. She apologizes, because there isn't an antidote to the poison he took, and Jarok is dead. Riker hands Picard a padd, saying that it's a letter that Jarok wrote for his wife and daughter.
"He must have known that there was no way we could deliver this," says Data.
"Yeah," says Picard quietly, "but maybe sometime in the future, if there are more courageous men like Jarok, we might be able to."
And the Enterprise quietly moves back to their own space.

Have you ever watched or read something that you thought was good, but still made you want to punch something? Yeah, that's this episode. This is the Star Trek equivalent of anything written by Orwell. It leaves me frustrated beyond belief, but I can't say that it wasn't good quality content.
So here's my problem: I can't stand when a character does something with the best of intentions, gives up everything, and it all falls apart. Jarok literally destroys his life in order to prevent a war from happening, but it was all for naught. What's more, his future was fucked either way. If he had not prevented war and it had happened, his daughter might have not had a future. If he had defected and prevented it effectively, he would be a man without a country, probably not welcome in Federation space, and definitely not in Romulan space. If he had defected and war was not prevented, he probably would have had the same outcome. But then his information was no good. He did not prevent anything, he only succeeded in telling the Federation that the Romulans might be planning something, then it turns out that they weren't planning anything solid, just heavily thinking about it. So he succeeded in telling the Federation that the Romulans are dicks... which they already knew. His actions were useless, and the Federation got dragged into this weird stand-off wherein they told a guy that he couldn't sit with them anymore. No wonder he killed himself. What choices were left to him?

This crap is infuriating. Mostly this episode reminds me of why I hate the Romulans. Typically, they're all talk and no action. People just talk about how terrible the Romulans are, but we never see any of these terrible things. Then the Romulans talk a big game, and... nothing happens. They just drop idle threats and walk away. Here, they did it to one of their own. They talked a big game, and when he went running to their enemies, they were all, "Nope, no base. Do you see a base? There was never a base here. Don't know what you're talking about. Oh, beeteedubs, you're a traitor now for running to the Federation." That's some straight-up fascist doublespeak bullshit.

And so... nothing happened. A dude wouldn't stop bugging them about not starting another war with their enemies, so to shut him up, they banished him to bureaucratic hell, fed him misinformation, banked on him going to the Federation, and then dragged two large groups into a possible skirmish. In the end, they spent months essentially leading a guy to suicide, all to what end? To send a message to their people that they too will be ruined if they speak up?
Fuck the Romulans and their stupid head games.

Fun Facts:

- Writer Ronald D Moore describes this episode as "the Cuban Missile Crisis in the Neutral Zone."
- In the original pitch, the two-hour delay would have come into further play, as the message not to cross into the Neutral Zone would have arrived after the showdown at Nelvana III.
- At one point in the rewriting process of the script, there was a love story between Crusher and Jarok. Thank freaking everything that was thrown out.
- The teaser originally started out with Data as Sherlock Holmes again, but they ran into legal problems, so Patrick Stewart suggested Henry V.

Brent Spiner, LeVar Burton, Jonathan Frakes, Patrick Stewart

- I was totally not joking about that Nelvana III thing. The Nelvana system was named after the little Canadian animation company, which has both created and distributed popular cartoons. (Not to be outdone, the Star Wars series Clone Wars had Anakin Skywalker travel to a planet Nelvaan.)
- The script called for three Romulan warbirds to decloak, but it was later changed to two, giving the Federation-Klingon fleet a bigger advantage.
- This is the second of four appearances of Tomalak.
- This is the first appearance of James Sloyan (Jarok). He will later appear as a Klingon in this series, and will play several more characters in Voyager and DS9.

- This marks the first of two appearances of Admiral Haden.

- The Henry V scene was an homage to the recently-released Henry V movie. Six Degrees of Star Trek: That film was directed by and starred Kenneth Branagh.Patrick Stewart appeared in Hamlet with Derek Jacobi, who appeared in Henry V. When Data lists his inspirations for Shakespeare studies, he cites Branagh.
- Ronald D Moore, who also wrote for Battlestar Galactica (2004), wrote a similar episode to this one for that show.
- Several locations within the Neutral Zone are named after production staff, most of them from the special effects crew.
- This is the first time we see a Romulan scout ship.
- Possible mistake: the Klingon cruisers appear to be the same size as the Enterprise. Cruisers are considerably smaller than Galaxy-class starships.

- This was the first episode of Star Trek to air in the 1990's.
- This is the third time they've changed the admiral's uniform.
- This is the first time that the TReaty of Algeron and the Battle of Cheron are mentioned.
- The Battle of Cheron was a defeat of the Romulan Star Empire against an alliance of humans, Vulcans, Andorians, and Tellarites. It was initially named after the planet in TOS' "Let That Be Your Last Battlefield," but star charts shown later indicated that it had taken place in the Cheron star system.

Red deaths: 0
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