Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, August 14, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Three "The Survivors"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Three "The Survivors"
Production Order: 3
Air Order: 3
Stardate: 43152.4
Original Air Date: October 9, 1989

Picard's Log 43152.4: "Gonna go check out a distress call from a planet in the Something-Something system. Maybe we'll see some survivors, maybe the hostiles will still be there and we'll have to beat some alien ass carefully diffuse the situation using talking and goodwill."

They put the shields up, just in case, and swing in to check it out.
"I'm not hearing any greeting from the colony," says Data.
"Yeah, there are 11,000 people in this colony, and I should be picking up on those people, but I'm not," adds Troi.
Picard decides to put the planet on viewscreen. The planet is pretty much a rock in space.

"No life-forms," announces Worf.
"Where are the people?" asks Dr Crusher.
"Maybe they escaped," says Troi hopefully.
Realistic Ryan the android points out that this planet didn't have any interstellar craft.
Wes says he thinks he found a standing structure, and when Worf takes a scan, he says there are two life-forms there, maybe human.

The planet has a soul patch.
"The hell?" asks Riker. "How did the whole planet get obliterated, except for some trees and grass?"
Crusher suggests that it's an illusion, but Data says it's most def there.
"Go downstairs and ring the bell," Picard tells Riker.

Dramatic music! Opening credits break!

Picard and Troi take the lift with Crusher down to the transporter room. Crusher remarks that being the only survivors of a nuclear holocaust means that these people can't be doing well, and they ask Troi for clues.
"I get a weird vibe from them," she shrugs. "That's kind of it. Sorry."
They reach the transporter room, and Crusher leaves with Riker, Worf, Geordi and Data.
(I get why Riker is going - he's leading the away team. Worf is going because some unknown enemy destroyed 10,998 people. And Crusher is the CMO. But... why take the chief engineer, and his buddy, the android?)
That's... an interesting house.

 And now, why Geordi is here...
"Geordi, look at the thing with your special eyes," directs Riker.
Geordi does, and shrugs. "It's a house."
"And this is just grass and trees," confirms Data. "No reason for this place to be spared."
Worf scans the house, and finds the two life-forms. Also, a phaser that doesn't work.
"Harmless," concludes Riker. "Let's knock on the door."
Too late, Geordi yells at Riker that there's something buried in the area where he's stepping, and Riker is hoisted into the air by his ankle. Lol, he stepped into a snare.

An old man appears. "Hey! Get off my lawn!"
He's got a phaser trained at them, but Worf has already reported that it doesn't work.
"Also, who the hell are you?"
Riker tells him who they are, and that they were getting a distress signal from the planet, and came to rescue survivors. This old dude is not keen on visitors.
But then his wife comes running out of the house, calling him Kevin, and scolding him for being rude. She says they were afraid that the whole Federation had been attacked, and they haven't seen any other colonists for days.
Geordi helps Riker down, and they all give the woman, named Rishon, a sad look.
She hadn't realized that she and Kevin were the only ones left.

Riker asks about the attackers. Kevin describes a huge ship, but says they had no idea who the attackers were, as they never saw their faces.
Rishon starts as Crusher scans then with a tricorder. Crusher apologizes, saying she's only doing a medical exam.
Consent, Crusher. OMG.
They give their names - Kevin and Rishon Uxbridge - and Data rattles off their backgrounds. they're botanists from Earth, and moved here five years earlier. They're both in their eighties, and Rishon composes music. When everyone looks askance at Data, he shrugs and says that he figured it would come in handy to memorize the colony's roster.
Yes, Data. Everyone does that.
Riker requests to go inside.
"Why?" asks Kevin suspiciously.
"Because you guys and this house were spared when everything and everyone else were wiped from the surface of the planet, and I want to know why," explains Riker.
"You think we were slated to survive?" demands Kevin. "Like, we betrayed the others?"
"No," says Riker. "But it is a mystery, and I'd like to get to the bottom of it."
They go inside.

Rishon offers to make tea, and then starts to tell Crusher how tea grows wild everywhere on his planet, but then she grows sad, because unless said tea grows on their soul patch of property, then it's totally gone now.
Worf Sassy Moment:
"Sir. May I say your attempt to hold the away team at bay with a nonfunctioning weapon was an act of unmitigated gall."
Kevin: (looking at the phaser) "Didn't fool you, huh?"
Worf: (smiling) "I admire gall."

Data checks out a tiny bell jar with some dancing figures inside. Rishon encourages him to pick it up, and explains that it's a music box, and has been in her family for generations. It plays a tiny, tinkly tune, and oddly, it also plays upstairs, where Troi is in her quarters. She is very confused as to why she suddenly hears music in her head.

Riker remarks to Crusher that the house is just a house, and Crusher says the Uxbridges are fine, if a little stressed, but that's kind of normal post-attack.
"Okay, so, time to leave," says Riker to the Uxbridges. "Do you need to pack?"
"We're not leaving!" protests Rishon. "This is our home!"
Maybe not the best choice, Rishon. What's with all of these episodes about people refusing to leave in the face of imminent danger?
Riker tries to convince them, to no avail. Finally, he takes off his comm badge and hands it to them, saying that the e is leaving, but they'll be in comm rage for a while, and to call in case anything happens, like their attackers returning, or them changing their minds.

Dramatic music for some reason! Commercial break!

Upstairs, the senior staff have gathered for a meeting in the Obs Lounge.
Troi is clearly still hearing that music, but it's distracting. She shifts in her chair and rubs at her temples. Sometimes the discussion in the meeting is turned down so we can hear the music play in the foreground. Riker watches her intently.
At one point, Picard asks Troi for her opinion on them, but she apologizes, saying she isn't getting much off them.
By the end of the meeting, they're decided that the Uxbridges probably weren't conspirators with whomever destroyed the colony, but that their continued living in that one square of land isn't sustainable. Especially because the water table is contaminated.
Just as the meeting is breaking up, Troi stands and announces that she isn't feeling well, and she'd like to go lay down in her quarters. Surprised, Picard grants it.

Later, Picard is making his way through the corridors when he's approached by Worf.
"I've checked, and there are no other ships in this system," says Worf confidently. "Whoever attacked the colony is gone."
"Sure about that?" asks Picard. "There was this one time where an admiral thought that some Andorians he was looking for had left an area, but it turns out the Andorians had taken their ship apart and just hidden the pieces."
"Yeah well, I'm more thorough than that," argues Worf. "I would wager my career that the ship is no longer here."
"Okay," replies an unmoved Picard.

Troi is in her quarters, and the music is still in her head. I have to admit, I'm getting tired of this music, and it isn't even playing in my head 24/7. She's starting to lose it.
Her door chimes ring, and she straightens up with a "don't appear crazy" look on her face, calling "Yes?"
Picard comes in. He is concerned that she isn't feeling well. She lies and says she's just tired, but he tells her in a friendly way that she's full of shit.
"Um, I'm hearing this music in my head?"
"Ah," he says. "Earworm. We've all been there."
"No, this is different," she says. "It started when the away team was on the surface and I was thinking of Rishon and Kevin, and this music just started playing. They're weird. I can't really wrap my mind around them."
Picard isn't sure what the cure for Annoying Psychic Music is, so he advises her to get some sleep, and to use sleep aids if necessary.
She agrees as a red alert goes off, and I can't help but wonder how irritating the combined sound of tinkly music box and red alert klaxon must be.

Picard goes to the bridge. A ship has come into view next to the planet.
"Whoa, it's huge," says Wes.
I'm going to fight the urge to reply "that's what she said" and instead point out that it looks to be about the same size as all of the ship models we've seen on this show. Riker can say that the scans show that it's five times the mass of the E, but we have to take his word for it.

Picard steps up to Worf. "Hey, didn't you say you'd wager your job on the ship being gone?"
"I, um... weeelllll," says Worf.
"It was hidden behind one of the planet's three moons," says Riker. "And it has enough weaponry to kill a planet."
Data hails them, and the ship gets the message, but ignores them.
Then it turns and fires on the E. The Enterprise rocks a little, but no damage is reported. The ship fires again. Same.
"Weeeak," says Picard. "Fire a warning shot with the phasers."
Worf does so, and it looks like he just has shitty aim, because the phaser goes right past the other ship. But then the thing turns tail and flies away.
"Bullshit," says Picard. "Follow that spaceship!"
They give chase. The other ship speeds up. The E matches. Then Wes is told to up the ante and overtake the other ship. The other ship now matches.
Geordi is called.
"We have a need for speed!" says Riker.
But then, as they chase the ship out of the system, Picard abruptly changes his mind.
"No. This is dumb. Let's go back."
"Ex-squeeze me?" asks Riker.
"We need to talk to the Uxbridges," answers Picard.
He turns on his heel and walks out.
The others are baffled.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard and Worf beam down to the surface, where Kevin and Rishon are playing in their garden.
"Hi, I'm Captain Picard. Worf and I have brought you a matter replicator, which you'll need if you're going to stay."
"We don't need that," Kevin starts to say, but Picard continues talking over him, extolling the virtues of the replicator.
"We do need that," Rishon tells her husband. "You're being a dick."
"They need to fuck off, and quit spying on us," says Kevin.
"We were about to have tea," Rishon tells Picard. "Would you like some?"
Picard agrees, because Rishon said the magic word.
They go up to the house.

Upstairs, Troi is full-on losing her mind. She cries and screams to a pair of blue-shirt assistants to make it stop. Crusher enters, and orders the assistants to move her to the bed, where she gives Troi something to help her relax. She mentions moving Troi to sick bay, but Troi refuses. Then she offers a sedative.
"I don't want to sleep, it will follow me!" Troi shrieks.
"I can induce a really deep sleep, block all your dreams," offers Crusher.
"It's not a dream, it's real!"

Rishon tells Picard and Worf their meet-cute. She was traveling with her parents on a ship, and he was some staring student in a rumpled suit and mismatched shoes who kept hanging around her. Two hours after they met, she asked him to marry her, and he accepted.
"I think he still regrets it," she quips.
Worf sips his tea, and makes a face.
"What do you think?" Rishon asks.
Typical Worf response, a deadpan, "Good tea. Nice house."

"How come you came here, at your age?" asks Picard.
"Rekindle our romance," answers Rishon. "And it worked."
"When are you leaving?" demands Kevin.
"Dunno," says Picard. "We chased a warship away from the planet a little while ago, but it may come back."
"I thought you said it left," an alarmed Rishon accuses Kevin.
"It spared us before, it'll do the same again," Kevin assures her.
"You sure of that?" asks Picard.
"No, but I don't like you upsetting my wife!" he barks back.
Picard asks for details of what happened, and Rishon describes the ground shaking and thunder.
"You're different," says Picard. "There was some reason why you were spared. Could be anything."
"We didn't fight," says Kevin. "That's how we were different. I refuse to kill anything. But the aliens wouldn't have known that."
He gets up and leaves the room.
"He hates violence," says Rishon.
"What about you?" asks Picard.
"I wanted to fight," she replies. "But I stayed with my husband." Then she adds. "I need to clean up now."
"Please come with us," says Picard.
"I can't leave Kevin," she says again.

Crusher tells an assistant that a sleeping Troi is behaving as though she can still hear the music, even though she shouldn't be able to. She toys with the idea of putting Troi in a coma to block all stimuli. Oops, red alert again.
The ship is back (shocker!).
On the bridge, Picard enters to hear Riker say, "The ship is back."
"I'm shocked," replies Picard.
This time, the ship fires a weapon that's much more powerful. Once, twice.
"Shields are down!" announces Worf.
"Hit it with a spread of everything," says Picard.
So Worf fires all weapons. Nothing happens. The weapons energy is absorbed by the other ship's shields.
They try a second barrage, but the other ship remains undamaged.
"Let's just go," sighs Picard.
That seems weird to me. This ship supposedly destroyed 11,000 Federation members, but Picard is opting to leave?
"What about Kevin and Rishon?" asks Riker.
"They should be fine," he answers.
Like, even if he has a hunch about something, that's still weird. Sure, the Uxbridges opted out of leaving, which puts them at the mercy of the ship, but it seems like Picard is gonna take some heat for not finding out who is piloting that ship, and why they would kill all those people.
"I don't think the Uxbridges are in danger," says Picard, as the other ship moves between the E and the planet.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Crusher and Picard are in Troi's quarters. Troi is out cold.
"I don't know what to do about this thing where she hears music," admits Crusher.
"Is it psychic?" he asks.
"Probably," she says. "But that's not my area of expertise."
"I bet it's Kevin and Rishon, blocking her from finding out what's going on," he guesses. He calls Riker. "Keep going in this direction for another hour, then take us back to the planet."
"Um, sorry?" asks Riker. "Our shields won't be up and running by then."
"Just do it," says Picard.
Man, all of this back and forth commuting cannot be good for their wear-and-tear. Also, they're traveling for an hour in the wrong direction, then going back again? What kind of time-table do they have for this mission? And aren't they communicating with Starfleet this whole time?
"So we gave up and left. Looks like maybe they're in cahoots with the ship, or something? I don't know. We're just leaving."
"Um, that's not a great plan, Enterprise."
"Oh, well."
"Fine. We'll get you another assignment."
*two hours later*
"Okay, we changed our minds. We're going back."

The officers' quarters on this ship are freakin' sweet.

We arrive back at the planet, and surprise, there's no warship.
"I think it's protecting the Uxbridges," says Picard. "It's not here because it thinks it ran us off. It responds to what they want, whether they know it or not. Anyway, I'm beaming down with Worf, and we'll find out if it's true or not when I beam back up."
"I'm baffled, sir," says Riker honestly.

They beam down. The Uxbridges are waltzing in their living room to the music box, and they seem surprised to see Picard and Worf.
"Yeah, that's what I thought," says Picard. "You didn't expect to ever see me again, because you thought you'd run us off."
"Fuck off," replies Kevin.
"Yeah, I'll leave the house, and I won't come back down here," says Picard. "But we're staying in orbit indefinitely."
"Why?" asks Rishon.
"Because the warship came back, and I think you're in danger. We'll stay in orbit as long as you guys are alive."
He and Worf turn and leave.

They beam back up, and return to the bridge.
Shortly afterward, Data and Worf report that the warship has returned, but the E doesn't have good shields or weapons yet.
"It's cool," says Picard.
The warship approaches, then moves into low orbit, and fires on the Uxbridge residence.
"Hmmm, saw that coming," remarks Picard.
Everyone on the bridge is astonished that he just let the warship kill two people without trying to stop it.
"Life-signs?" asks Picard.
Worf presses some buttons. "None."
"Uh-huh. Fire a torpedo at the ship." Picard replies.
Worf does so, and the ship blows up quickly and easily. No fancy energy-absorbing shields this time. No weapons fire back. The ship just explodes.
"Hey, Number One," says Picard casually. "Do we have any reason to stay here?"
"No," says Riker cautiously. "Uxbridges are dead, enemy ship was blown to bits."
"Cool. Take us into a higher orbit so we can chill there. But, you know, scan the surface sometimes."
"Um, for what?" asks Wes.
"Whatever pops up," shrugs Picard.
And he goes to the ready room.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker goes into the ready room.
"Okay: wtf, sir? We've been here three hours, staring at nothing."
Geez, three hours? Again, do these people have nothing but time?
"Yeah, I have a theory," says Picard. "It may not pan out, but I need to see first."
"What kind of theory?" asks Riker.
"I have a theory that something obliterated everyone on this planet, and only left one survivor, who has been screwing with us this whole time."

On the bridge, Worf complains to Geordi.
"Why are we still here?"
"Because the house just reappeared?" says Geordi, checking his screen. He pages Picard.
Picard and Riker re-enter.
"House just reappeared in front of us," says Geordi. "Grass, trees, the whole kit and kaboodle."
Picard asks for life-signs.
"Two," says a surprised Worf.
"Sweet. Beam 'em up to the bridge."
"They'll be pissed," says Data.
"Let 'em," says Picard.
They beam the pair to the bridge.
"The fuck?" demands Kevin. "Leave us alone!"
"No," says Picard. "You've been screwing with us since we got here, and your actions have caused psychic damage to one of my crew members because she would have figured out your secret."

"What do you think that Kevin has done?" demands Rishon.
"Your house was destroyed in the attack, Rishon. But Kevin has the ability to recreate things. Create, destroy, repeat, repeat," says Picard calmly.
She protests that Picard is upsetting sensitive Kevin, but her husband encourages her, sadly, to listen to Picard.
"Kevin wanted us away from the planet," says Picard, "because nothing about this situation added up, and he couldn't explain it. So he sent in this warship to get us out of the system. Then I went to your house again, and I actually told you the only reason why the E would leave orbit for good: your deaths. So Kevin made it a good one, having the warship show up to blow you away."
"I feel bad about your crew member," says Kevin. "I'll help her. But what will you do with me afterward?"
"Take you to a starbase and let them decide," says Picard. "You attacked my ship and my crew member, and may have killed 11,000 people."
"He wouldn't do that!" says Rishon. "My husband wouldn't kill anyone!"
"No," says Kevin wearily. "The attack on the planet was real. I didn't kill those people."
"Fill in the blanks, Kevin. Tell us about Rishon."
Kevin turns away, and Picard fills in the blanks with his guesses.
"You died defending the colony," Picard tells Rishon. "Kevin recreated the house, the property, the warship... and you."
Rishon disappears.
Creepily. Until only her eyes and some peachey smudges are left, then they disappear also.

"You're not human," says Picard.
Kevin looks at him scornfully, then disappears into this bluish light before going completely transparent.
"Turbolift!" shouts Geordi.
"Let him go," says Picard. "I want him to know that we won't hurt him."
"He's dangerous!" protests Worf.
"Naw, he could have killed us a thousand times over," reasons Picard. "Also, if he's the creature he claims to be, he'll help Troi first."

Crusher enters Troi's quarters to see Kevin standing over Troi.
"I fixed it so she won't hear the music anymore," he says. "She was starting to figure out who I was. I've lived as a human for over 50 years, and no one suspected, but her. I had to keep my secret."

Picard comes in. "The whole story now, Kevin."
So Kevin tells his story: he's a Douwd, an immortal being who can change shape and create illusions. Fifty years earlier, he was traveling as a human and fell in love with Rishon. He set aside his powers to be her husband, and they lived pretty much happily ever after. They came to this planet to retire (though you know that Rishon would have died first, as Kevin will not). The colony was attacked by a group of people known as the Husnock. Kevin attempted to fool the Husnock like he fooled the Enterprise, but it only made the Husnock angrier. Rishon ran to help the colonists fight, but she was killed with the others. Kevin, in his devastation, killed the Husnock.
"You tried to trick us because you felt guilty for not helping Rishon and the others?" asks Crusher.
"No, you don't understand the scope of what I did," sobs Kevin. "In my grief, I didn't just kill a few Husnock. I killed all of them. Everywhere. Fifty billion people. I wiped out the entire species. I had this nice way of life, I wouldn't kill a living thing, and then I committed genocide."
Picard stares at him. "Go back to the planet, Kevin," he says quietly. "Remake your house and your wife. We don't have a punishment to fit your crime."
Kevin briefly transfers back to the being of blue light before disappearing.

Picard's Log 43153.7: "We are departing the Rana system for Starbase 133. We leave behind a being of extraordinary power and conscience. I'm not certain if he should be praised or condemned only that he should be left alone."

Man, I don't know about this episode, you guys. Like, it's not terrible, but it is apparently forgettable. The other day I encountered an episode of Futurama that I'd never seen before, even though that's a show that I frequently have on in the background. I guess maybe I just kept missing it time and again? So when I sat down to do my preliminary watch of this episode, I absolutely couldn't recall any of it... until Ann Haney appeared on-screen, and I thought, "No, I have seen this." It's kind of sad when you completely forget an episode, especially considering that the odds are good that I've seen it a few times.
So what's good and bad about it?
Kevin's story is pretty solid, a guy who lives as a human for fifty years, and his human wife never finds out that he's immortal. That was interesting.
Troi's side-story about hearing music constantly (especially tinkly music box music) is horror-film-esque, and I wouldn't label it as good or bad so much as just... "there." It exists, and was a means to an end of Kevin getting Troi out of the way. Meh.
Bad: they tried to make the ending poignant or something. Kevin's story ends badly. His wife dies, and the colony is obliterated. But then he breaks whatever vow he made, and completely destroys an entire species, probably in the blink of an eye. Guy has power that should not be messed with. Granted, the Husnock sound like jerks, but how much of a reliable narrator is Kevin? Maybe the Husnock were not as awful as he makes them out to be. We have no idea. We also have no idea why they attacked the colony. Maybe they were being jerks. Maybe, like the Sheliak last week, they had a right to be there, and didn't bother going through proper channels. But like Lee Harvey Oswald, we won't get the answer from the horse's mouth.
Instead, Picard says "We have no punishment for your crime," and basically tells him to go back to his life. Strange that he would do that. Does what Kevin did not count as genocide? Because the Federation absolutely has a punishment for that. It was discussed in TOS' "Conscience of the King."
The Federation does not take kindly to mass murder, whether it was slow or happened in a instant. Did Picard walk away because he felt that Kevin's conscience would weigh him down plenty through the millennia, providing an adequate punishment? What's to stop him from losing his shit in the same way, and doing it again? Did Picard shy away from consequences here because Kevin has more power than anyone he's ever encountered? He didn't seem to fear retaliation, and I feel like Kevin probably would have accepted any punishment that Picard would have handed him.
Or maybe he's decided that the Federation should handle it instead. They're making for the nearest starbase, and you know that he's going to have to report the whole story to Starfleet. They'll know who Kevin is, and where to find him. maybe Picard thinks that Kevin, instead of staying on the planet, will take off and go someplace else before Starfleet returns. I really don't know. Picard seems to have made up his mind about hauling Kevin in for the slaughter of 11,000 colonists, but when it becomes 50 billion Husnock, a species that it sounds like he's never heard of before, he just kind of says, "I don't know what to do with that," and lets Kevin go. There's... a weird ambiguity there. Some ambiguities can be satisfying, but this one doesn't quite make it for me. I want to know how it played out, and that didn't happen.

Fun Facts:

- Actor Ann Haney (Rishon Uxbridge) has been in pretty much everything. We'll also see her again in an episode of DS9. She didn't start acting until she had hit her forties. When questioned as to the late start she quipped, "My husband died, my daughter went to college, the dog got fleas, and the maid quit, so I had to come to Hollywood."
- Actor John Anderson, who played Kevin Uxbridge, had lost his wife a few months before, so taking on this role was especially hard for him. In a strange coincidence, he once played a grieving widower obsessed with his wife's music box in an episode of "Little House on the Prairie."
- This is the first time we see Deana Troi's asymmetrical  turquoise dress with matching tights and heels. She'll sometimes still wear the rompers, though.
- The original title for this episode was "The Veiled Planet."
- The outdoor scenes were shot at a Malibu beach house in California.

Jonathan Frakes doing the snare stunt.
- The large round window in the Uxbridges' living room was a reuse of the window in Riva's home in "Loud As a Whisper."

- There's an interesting continuation here, concerning the aging of humans in the future. Both Anderson and Haney were hired to play characters that were supposedly twenty and thirty years older than themselves. When paired with the fact that Dr McCoy is presented as being 137 years old in the first episode of TNG, this suggests that humans have all gotten to the point where extreme old age is no longer considered quite so extreme.

Filming on location. The guy dressed like Riker is Dan Koko,
Frakes' stunt man.

- Riker refers to the Uxbridges' property as being "a few acres of grass," which is strange, because in Star Trek, they typically use the metric system (should have been hectares).

Red deaths: 0
To date: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
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: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 1
To date: 1
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 7
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
To date: 2
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 1
To date: 1
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 1
Picard Maneuvers: 3
To date: 8


Monday, August 7, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Two "The Ensigns of Command"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Two "The Ensigns of Command"
Production Order: 1
Air Order: 2
Stardate: 43133.3
Original Air Date: October 2, 1989

We start out this week in Ten Forward, following a Vulcan through the sliding doors. For some reason he's dressed in Shakespearean-type garb (which is never explained, but it's not important). He's got a string instrument, and sits down next to another crew member with a violin, and Chief O'Brien, who has a cello. Cool, a concert.

Data comes in, also with a violin. It's red, and I narrow my eyes, because what you been up to, Data?
He spots Picard and Crusher among the other audience members, and advises them to skip this concert and watch the second one, because another crew member will performing his violin part.
"According to the others, I lack... soul." He holds his fist to his chest when he says soul, and it's obvious that he's imitating whatever fuckstick told him that his performance lacked soul.

That's a pretty shitty thing to say to an android, if you ask me. Attaining "soul" in your work is hard enough when you're actually able, but for an automaton who must work twice as hard to achieve something that humans can just do, it's an almost insurmountable task. Telling a humanoid "your performance lacks soul" is a tough thing to do, but it's doable all the same. For Data, he could spend his entire life trying to get "soul" into his playing, and never get there.
Anyway, a pretty good convo follows, where Crusher tells Data that he shouldn't advise people that he will probably fail before an attempt.
"It's an especially crappy choice to make for a commander," adds Picard.
They talk about how the officers under a person could lose faith in that commander, and that commander could then lose faith in himself.
The gist: fake it til you make it.

Data sits down and the ensemble begins a piece by Mozart.
Two seconds in, and Riker calls Picard to the bridge. Picard and Crusher exchange glances, and Picard gets up to leave. Unfortunately, he opts to take the door on the other side of the concert, walking right past Data, who pauses in his playing to look disappointed, because wtf was that conversation about, if not having faith in one's abilities? And now, Picard is leaving because Data's playing lacked soul.

Picard goes to the bridge and Riker tells him that the Sheliak Corporation, who have not contacted them in 111 years, have sent them a message. They put the message onscreen, but it's just type, no visual, and includes contract quotes. Apparently, they have a treaty with the Sheliak that says that they get certain planets. They want to put a Sheliak settlement on a planet called Tau Cygna V in four days, but they found Federation people there. The Sheliak demand that the humans be removed in those four days.
Riker looks it up. Tau Cygna V is in the middle of a belt that's awash in hyperonic radiation.
"But... that's fatal to humans," says Picard.
"You think they're fucking with us?" asks Riker.
"Naw," replies Picard. "They haven't spoken to us in more than a hundred years, then they crank call us? Let's go check it out."
Picard Maneuver.
Make it so.

Dramatic music! Opening credits!

So they slide up on Tau Cygna V and Worf says there are indeed life-forms on the planet.
Ways the Ship is Disabled due to hyperonic radiation: no transporters, no phasers.
They talk about how no one should be there with all that radiation, but Crusher cites some doctor we've never heard of and never will again, and how that doctor's study with radiation shows that sometimes people can adapt to it. On the planet's surface: maybe regular people. Maybe Fallout monsters.

Then we get some exposition on the Sheliak. The planet totally belongs to them, and they have every right to boot Federation citizens off the surface.
Plus, they think humans are dog shit they scraped off their shoes, and they have no problem exterminating the whole lot of people who have currently settled their land.
"Okay," says Picard to Data. "You're not affected by this radiation. You take a shuttle and go down there."
"Cool," replies Data, and he leaves.
Picard Maneuver #2.
"What do you think Data will find?" Picard asks Riker.
"Like, one shuttlecraft, and maybe a dozen people?" guesses Riker.

On the surface, two dudes examine the outside of Data's shuttle.
"Whoa!" says one. "Looks like Federation markings!"
Data comes around the back of the shuttle with a tricorder, and the guys look surprised. Data glances behind him, then realizes that these guys' raised eyebrows are directed at him.
"Oh, hey. 'sup?"
"Are you human?" they ask.
"Naw, I'm an android with the Federation."
"Neat! Our great-grandparents were members of the Federation! You should see all the cool shit we've done here!"
"Okay: stop," says Data. "Who is we?"
"Oh!" One dude smiles. "We're the descendants of the survivors of the Artemis."

Upstairs, Riker has Googled the Artemis. It's a colony ship that launched almost a hundred years earlier that got "lost at sea." Searches turned up nothing.
"How come they got blown so far off course?" Picard asks Data.
"Dunno," says Data. "They can't tell me, because in the beginning, survival was more important that oral histories. They just know they ended up here, built some shit, and thrived."
"How many people are we talking?" asks Picard.
"15,000+," replies Data.
"Are you shitting me?" asks Riker. "Three days to evacuate 15,000 people with no transporters?"
"Prep them to evacuate," Picard tells Data before hanging up.
"How long to evacuate that many by shuttle?" he asks Worf.
Worf hits the calculator. "Like five weeks."
"Crap. I need to talk to the Sheliak," Picard tells him.
"Their homeworld is out in BFE," explains Worf. "It'll take me awhile to get them on the phone."

You guys! You guys!
Look at this bad-ass matte painting.

Those two dudes (Haritath and Kentor) take Data to their village to meet with Gosheven, the guy in charge. They practically skip into the square an announce, "Gosheven, we found an android!"
They sound like preschoolers who have found some bug and are showing it to a parent.
Gosheven looks up from what he is doing (fiddling with some hand-held thingy he's dipping into an aqueduct), and he replies, "So you did," in that tone that that same parent uses when trying to hide the fact that he doesn't give a flying fuck about some bug that his kid caught.
He turns to give them his full attention because hey, no one else has ever come to this planet before, and it might be worth checking out, right? While they're talking, he looks Data up and down like a john sizing up a sex worker, then picks up his arm and lets it fall. Data takes all of this in stride because he's gotten all this flak before, and he has more important shit to do than deal with some d-bag's robophobia.

"I'm Lt-Cmdr Data of the Enterprise," says Data. "I'm here to evacuate you."
Gosheven kind of laughs him off. "Why are we evacuating, now?"
"By treaty, this planet belongs to the Sheliak," Data explains. "Nobody realized that you guys were here, because you were supposed to go to Septimus Minor, but you went missing, and no one could find you. But the Sheliak own this planet, and they want to colonize, so you have to leave."
"And who the fuck are the Sheliak?"
"These non-humanoid people. They think humans are trash, and won't hesitate to kill you if they find you here, so we have to go."
Gosheven smiles. "Fuck off, android. We came here more than ninety years ago, and a third of the people died before we figured out how to adapt to the radiation. but then our grandparents settled here and brought water to the desert. So we're not leaving."
"You can't stay," argues Data. "The Sheliak -"
"Don't care," says Gosheven, going back to the aqueduct.

Data turns to leave and catches a heavy pipe that was thrown at him.
This girl comes up and apologizes, "but I had to test your reflexes."
Um, okay?
Also, for some reason, she's dressed like the Rocketeer.
She's got android fever, and fangirls over him, asking what kind of brain he has, and asking him personal questions like computing power and stuff.
Gosheven teases her and calls her Ardy. (Her name is actually Ard'rien MacKenzie, but I don't want to keep typing that out, so Ardy it is.) Turns out, she's into androids.
"I need to know more about your people," Data presses her. "Gosheven is a little bitch who doesn't want to talk to me like a grown-up."
"I can help," says Ardy.

Geordi and O'Brien have been paged to the Obs Lounge.
"Have a job for you guys," says Riker. "You're not allowed to tell us it's impossible."
"We need you to make the transporters work, even with the radiation," says Picard.
"That's totally imp -" starts Geordi, then: "Yeah, okay."
They leave.
"The Federation sent 372 legal experts to write the Sheliak Treaty," says Troi. "What do we have?"
Sassy Picard Moment: "Thee and me?"

Mildly worried music! Commercial break!

Worf keeps dialing the Sheliak, but no one is picking up the phone.
"Try again," says Picard, doing the Maneuver.
Finally, they get through.
The Sheliak director is... weird. They went for non-humanoid, but it's still sort of vaguely human-shaped. And it shifts. Like... it undulates.
"New number. Who dis?"
"Um, it's Captain Picard, from the Enterprise. You asked us to move the humans from Tau Cygna V-"
"Did you do it?"
"No, it's not that simple. We need a compromise."
"Fuck off. Also, don't call us again."
Picard starts winding up for one of his speeches, and the Sheliak just freaking hang up.
"Rude," says Picard.

Ardy takes Data back to her place. She has all these robot things around her house. None of them work, they just look like sculptures.
"What's Gosheven's deal?" he asks. "I say "you guys need to evacuate," and he tells me to get bent."
"I don't think he likes computers telling him what to do," she suggests. "I'm totally willing to go, but it's because you're an android."
That sounds weird, and fangirly, but Data puts two and two together. "You think my being an android makes me impartial, therefore my suggestion is a good one?"
"Pretty much."
Picard calls. "The Sheliak won't negotiate. We're getting transports from Starfleet, but you're definitely gonna need to get these people to evacuate."
"Gotcha," says Data.
They leave to go see Gosheven again.

We check in on Geordi and O'Brien. They beam a cylinder down, then beam it back up. It comes back melted, and apparently, the transporter pads are covered in the galaxy's best Teflon, because Geordi just picks it up and moves.
Riker comes in, asks what the hell that blob is, is told it's the 'first attempt' then says "keep trying" and leaves.
Wes is just randomly working in the background. He gets Nurse Chapel lines in this episode, and I guess they figured if they were gonna have him in this episode, they might as well use him.

So Gosheven has a thing for what I can only describe as water porn. It's a total crack ship. He runs his hands through it, and he'll keep talking about it like it's the best shit ever. His whole life revolves around the aqueduct, and you're about to get real tired of hearing about it.
The scene starts out with his hand in the water, and he tells Data about how water is blood, sweat and tears, because I guess his grandfather died in some landslide mapping out how the town should build the aqueducts. And he goes on and on about how they're tied to the land, blah, blah, blah.
And Data repeats: "You need to leave. The Sheliak will just straight-up kill you."
"Screw you," says Gosheven, and he walks away.
I'm assuming he's going to fuck a well, or something.
"You think all the settlers think like him?" Data asks Ardy.
"I hope not," she replies.

Brown chicken, brown cow

Riker goes into the ready room, where a pissed-off Picard is staring out the window.
"Starfleet apologizes a lot, but they can't get ships here for three weeks."
"Um, that's not soon enough," says Riker.
"The Sheliak will be here in two days."
"They probably already sent their own ship," muses Riker.
"We have to catch it, and talk them into giving us more time."

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker explains to Data that they're going to try to catch the Sheliak ship and talk to them, but Data really needs to get his act together and prep for evacuation.
"It's not going well," Data relays. "I talked to 56 villagers. Only 8 were willing to leave. A bunch want to fight the Sheliak, and for some reason, quite a few think Tau Cygna V is flat...?"
"Just do it," sighs Riker, signing off.
Ardy finds Data. "Lots of people are talking about the Sheliak now," she says excitedly. "Gosheven is going to have a town hall meeting to talk about it."
"I am struggling with this assignment," he admits. "People are really not listening to this very logical thing I am saying, and I think it's going to end badly. How can I convince them?"
"Maybe use reverse psychology?" she suggests.
"That's lying," he reasons. But then he thinks about the convo he had with Crusher and Picard, and a part where they talked about how too much honesty was not always the best choice. "I could try it," he says. "But I'm still concerned that it won't work and everyone will die needlessly."
And then, because it's not possible for a single girl to exist in a story without romance, she kisses him.

Same, Data. Same.

"Why the hell did you kiss me?" he asks, as startled as an android can be.
"It looked like you needed it," she smiles.
I roll my eyes. No, no. This girl doesn't love androids, she loves androids.

Data lists off the reasons why one person may kiss another.
"Were you trying to offer support?" he guesses.
"Sure," she replies.
No, dude. She wants your electric D.

Geordi, O'Brien and Wes are still plugging along, destroying cylinders.
Picard comes in. "How's it going?"
"About how you'd expect," says Geordi.
Sassy Picard Moment: "Splendid! Carry on!"
And he's out again.
"He wants the impossible," says Wes.
Sassy Geordi Moment: "That's the short definition of 'captain'."

Gosheven starts out the meeting by saying that lots of people are talking about Data and the Sheliak, and that he wants to "replace misinformation with facts."
Data wants to speak. Gosheven tells him to STFU. Haritath (remember him?) tells Gosheven that he wants to hear what Data has to say, and the others agree. Data gets tough and suggests that Gosheven's position is so weak, that he can't deal with a simple debate. Gosheven allows Data to speak.
Data goes with reverse psychology. "I told you guys to pack it up, or you were going to die at the hands of the Sheliak. Gosheven decided for you that you were going to stay and fight. And when you guys die, it'll be for hella noble reasons, for your land and your home. And your children will super understand why they had to die as well. People will remember their brave sacrifices."
The parents in the crowd look discomfited, and it appears to be kind of working, but then Ardy feels the need to toss her hat into the ring, and it all falls apart.
"But who will be left to remember them?" she calls dramatically.
Data, who has fallen into his "over-the-top actor" persona, replies in an equally-dramatic fashion: "You're right! There will be no one left to remember you or them!"
Gosheven slow-claps sarcastically. "Nice try." Then he addresses the crowd. "This android wants you to think that we'll lose. I think he's just a coward, and he doesn't know our fighting skills! Also, water porn, water porn, and talking about my grandfather again -"
"STFU about your grandfather!" interrupts Ardy. "We're gonna die!"
"NO, he just wants you to think that!" says Gosheven. "You guys elected me leader, and I say we stay and fight for our water porn and the memory of my grandfather."
And because all of these people love them some water porn, they start calling how they stand with him, and how they'll stay and fight, blah, blah.
"Guess you're gonna die, then," says Data sadly.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Leaving the meeting, Data and Ardy are approached by Haritath and Kentor. Haritath tells Data that Gosheven doesn't speak for all of them, and he's pretty sure he sides with Data. Kentor then adds that he's on the fence. Gosheven has worked well as a leader in the past, but Kentor wants more info. Haritath then says that there are a lot of people who want more info, but are afraid to speak up to Gosheven. Ardy offers her house as a meeting place.

Upstairs, Troi and Picard are talking about the possible talks with the Sheliak. For some reason, Troi knows way more about this subject than Picard did, much like she did in "The Big Goodbye" when she coached him on how to talk to the Jarada. In this way, I wonder if she's been given a slightly more extended version of Uhura's duties. (Though she was the communications officer and spoke quite a few languages, she never seemed to coach Kirk on that kind of thing. It makes me sad. That would have been right up her alley.)
Either way, Troi tells Picard that the treaty is 500,000 words long, and was made that way to accommodate the Sheliak, who think that Federation languages are nonsensical, and the goal was to eliminate any ambiguity. They speak a number of Federation languages, but no one in the Federation has been able to master theirs. Telepaths haven't worked here, either.
"Problem is," says Troi, "we don't really have anything in common."
The conversation that follows is really fascinating (to me, at least):
Troi: "Actually, the fact that any alien race communicates with another is quite remarkable."
*she picks up her drink*
Troi: "We are stranded on a planet. We have no language in common, but I want to teach you mine."
*holds up the drink*
Troi: "S'smarith. What did I just say?"
Picard: "Cup? Glass?"
Troi: "Are you sure? I may have meant liquid, clear, brown, hot. We conceptualize the universe in relatively the same way."
Picard: "Point taken."
Language is tricky. It gets trickier when you don't have words for things because those things do not exist in that other culture. (I've personally hit some roadblocks because the Spanish language has no counterpart for the words brownie, pretzel, or snack.) Picard now finds himself in the same boat, trying to talk to people who do not live in the same world he does.
But it's show time, because Riker is calling to say that they've come across the Sheliak ship.

They go out to the bridge and hail the ship.
Picard takes the PADD that Troi was using to access the treaty, and tells the Sheliak that he wants to do face-to-face negotiations.
"Bite me," replies the director.
"Naw, this treaty says I get to meet with you to discuss the situation."
The director pauses. "Okay," he finally agrees, cutting off the viewscreen.
Troi and Picard make for the transporter room.

A bunch of people meet at Ardy's.
Kentor asks Data some pointed questions about how much or little the Federation will be involved with them once they're relocated. Data tells hem that they get to decide. Kentor is on board.
"We need to convince more people," he adds. "Gosheven is powerful enough that the people will listen to him."
"But you have enough influence that people will listen to you, too," Ardy tells him.

I wonder if the costume director is trying to drop subtle hints here about Kentor's
possible leadership, by giving him a shirt that looks an awful lot like Kirk's wrap-
around blouse.

Kentor shakes his head. "More people follow Gosheven."
"Damn straight." Gosheven just walks into Ardy's house without asking. "Also, I thought we settled this."
No, dickwipe. You declared that everyone here would die for your water porn and your grandfather's grave, and some people agreed with you. Clearly, nothing is settled.
"We're just talking," declares Ardy.
"Yeah, well. You need to shut the fuck up."
And Gosheven pulls out this thing that I can only describe as that taser-pipe thing that the Frangelicos used to shock people with on TOS' "Return of the Archons." He shocks Data with it, and our protagonist drops to the floor.
"You killed him!" says an outraged Haritath.
"No, I shut off a machine," spits Gosheven. "Let's go, everybody."
He leaves, and they all file out behind him.

Picard and Troi beam over to the Sheliak ship.
"What do you want?" demands the director.
"More time," says Picard. "We'll get rid of the people, but we need more than two days to do it."
"You're in violation of the contract," says the director.
Picard rolls his eyes. "YES. I KNOW. I'm saying I can fix the problem, but it'll take three weeks to do it."
"I'll save you time," snarls the director. "We'll exterminate the infestation, and then you won't have to do anything."
Yes, he did say "infestation."
Picard is pissed. "Dude! They're not cockroaches -"
But the Sheliak beam them back to the Enterprise bridge before Picard can finish his sentence.
"Guess that's how you hang up in a face-to-face meeting," remarks Riker.

Ardy is scanning Data when he reboots, sitting upright. She thought he was damaged beyond repair, but he tells her that he has built-in diagnostic tools for that kind of thing.
She laments that Kentor had said he was with them, but then left with Gosheven.
"Maybe talk is the problem," he muses. "Humans respond better to actions. I need a phaser."
"What's that?"
"A kind of weapon. But it doesn't work here because of the radiation. I'll have to adjust it."
They go to the shuttle, where Data takes a phaser apart, then removes a piece of circuitry from his arm, and puts it in the weapon.
"Science-y jargon about how now the phaser will work."
"Random praise for innovation."
"Tell Gosheven that I'm going to the pumping station to fuck up all the shit," Data tells Ardy.
"But then he'll try to stop you," Ardy points out.
"I hope so," he replies.

Gosheven gets four guys with weapons to guard the pumping station, and a bunch of other people have gathered at the edge of the square.
Data shows up and appears to blow the guards away. but when he steps forward, he tells them that he only shot them on the stun setting. Then he dials the phaser up to kill, and shoots the pump. The electric reaction is seen moving along the pipes that go back to the mountain.

"Hear this," announces Data. "I'm one dude with one weapon. The Sheliak are hundreds of dudes with more weapons. And they don't even have to come down here. They could take you out while sitting in orbit. You'll die without ever seeing your killer's face."
"That's crap," says Kentor. "I'm not dying by being blasted from space. Let's get the hell out of Dodge and go someplace else."
Everybody slowly leaves with Kentor, presumably to pack up their shit and prepare to evacuate.
Gosheven is standing next to the now-busted pump. You'd think, based on how he liked to talk about water porn and his grandfather, that he'd be enraged. Instead, he's real sad.
"I was totally willing to fight and die for this land," he tells Data.
"You can replace things," says Data sagely, "but you can't replace people. Build another sweet aqueduct someplace else. Thrive in some land where people won't shoot you on sight."

Upstairs, the Sheliak ship has arrived, and they've moved the E in between the ship and the planet, blocking their entry or interference with the colonists. Picard has decided to go over the treaty with a fine-toothed comb. If the Sheliak can use it as a weapon, then so can he. Worf bitches about the tedious nature of the reading, but he doesn't HAVE to be here, doing this. He can just turn around and hang out at tactical.
A Sassy Troi Moment occurs then when she flicks side-eye at him.
"Ooh, stop scrolling," says Picard suddenly.
Troi stops the screen. "Okay, what?"
Worf is ordered to turn on the hailing frequencies.
Picard walks back down the ramp with a very slight, knowing smile on his face.
"Hey, director. How's it going? So, I want some third-party arbitration to get involved with our mutual problem."
The director thinks, like he's going to that section of the treaty to look it up. "...okay."
"Great! I pick the Grisellas. They're in the middle of a hibernation cycle right now, but they should be awake in like, six months, so they can hear both sides then."
Sass. All the sass. Sass on the background characters. Lol.

"So you can give me three weeks, or wait six months," says Picard genially.
"That's dumb," announces the director. "I've got a ship full of settlers, ready to go."
"Ooh, so you choose to break the treaty? Not how I'd have chosen to go, but whatevs."
"...wait!" yells the director. "I think we can totally -"
Picard has Worf hang up on them.
Riker laughs. "You enjoyed that."
"Damn right I did."
There's a beep.
"Sheliak are hailing us," says Worf.
Picard takes a stroll over to the dedication plaque on the wall and reads it to himself.
He runs his finger along the top to check for dust. Finally, he strolls back to the front and tells Worf to open the channel.
"You can have your three weeks," says the director sullenly.
"Cool, thanks," Picard replies.
The Sheliak ship turns and leaves.

Geordi enters the bridge.
"Okay," he tells Picard. "We can get the transporters to do the thing. It'll take 15 years, and 100 researchers -"
"It's cool," says Picard. "We don't need them to do the thing anymore, but thanks for trying."
"Sweet," says Geordi before exiting.

Data is in the shuttle, preparing to leave, when Ardy approaches him.
"Everybody is packing up. We'll be ready to go when the ship comes for us," she says. "You did a good job!"
"Thanks, but I couldn't have done it without your help!" he replies.
"Maybe you won't forget me, then?" she asks, fishing.
"Of course not," he says, matter-of-factly. "I'll remember every second of this mission in perpetuity."
"Right. Of course." She goes for broke. "Do you have feelings for me at all?"

"I don't have any feelings."
You can practically hear him doing the dog-head-tilt of confusion.
There's a pause, then he kisses her.
"Why'd you do that?" she asks.
"You appeared to need it," he replies.
"Oh. You saw I was sad, then selected an action that you thought would make me feel better?"
She laughs. "Rational to the last."
He gets in the shuttle and leaves.

Data visits the ready room, probably to debrief about the situation on Tau Cygna V. Picard is listening to music, and he tells Data that Crusher got a recording of his concert, the one he had to miss earlier.
"It's very nice," says Picard. "You play beautifully."
"I'm just a machine," says Data. "I'm imitating Jascha Heifitz and Trenka Bron-ken."
"Yeah, but those two musicians have really different styles," Picard answers. "You blended them successfully to make a new style. That's pretty creative."
"Huh. I guess I have been more creative of late," Data muses.
"I look forward to your next concert," smiles Picard.

One of the drawbacks of doing episodic reviews is that I end noticing things that I hadn't before. Picking through an episode over the course of ten to twelve hours means that I'll see patterns, notice callbacks, and sometimes change my mind about how I feel about the episode overall.
In this case, I still like this episode in general, but I've changed my mind about how I feel about Ardy's romantic feelings toward Data. I like Ardy. I like that we're shown a female who is into science, and is interested in robotics. I like that she helps Data convince the others that it's in their best interests to pack up and go. I like that she understands, at least on some level, that they're dealing with logic versus emotion, because understanding your opponent and where they're coming from is important. I do not like the fact that she instantly falls for Data. Was it not enough that she was simply a female character who helps Data for the good of her people? It feels like this romance was shoe-horned in, and if you remove that aspect, the plot moves along just fine without it. She's still the female who likes science and doesn't want to die at the hands of the Sheliak. The two kisses, and her admitting at the end that she has feelings for him, pushes her into the realm of Token Romance. She also acts a bit like an Indiana Jones heroine: smart. clever, feminine, but always returning to the refrain of "why don't you love me?"
The rest of this episode I like. They shot for the moon with a non-humanoid alien, and while it wasn't 100% believable, Brownie Points for trying. I like that Picard has troubles with linguistics, and that Troi knows a bit more on the subject and helps him out. Not sure why that was added to her resume, but it gives her credibility - she's not just the pretty girl in the romper who talks about feelings, she knows some shit that's helpful to the crew beyond her counseling services. I like that Data has to figure his way out of a situation that doesn't fit neatly into the logic box. I like that Picard was forced to also get creative when being over the head with a contract. All in all, a solid episode.

Fun Facts:

- Data mentions two violinists that he was imitating in his performance. Jascha Heifitz was considered one of the world's greatest violinists, and died just a few years before this episode was made. Trenka Bron-ken is fictional, and was made up by the writers, probably so they could claim that Data was imitating someone closer to his own time, as well as someone from several hundred years earlier. (It also makes it easier for them to claim that he combined two different musicians without having to seek out a second musician, and then have to actually figure out how to combine them. This way, they could make it like Heifitz, but slightly different, and claim the difference was the influence of Bron-ken.)
- Melinda Snodgrass wrote this episode, and did so with the idea that Data needed to be pushed out of his comfort zone. Actual freaking quote by her about this episode: "You have to learn how to wave your dick and hope your dick is bigger than the other guy's."
- The title of this episode comes from a poem by John Quincy Adams, "The Wants of Man." Here, "ensign" doesn't mean the Starfleet rank, but a flag or symbol.
- In an early script, Gosheven and Ard'rien were in a relationship.
- Also in that earlier script: the radiation did not have any affect on phasers. Data did not use his phaser at first because he disliked the idea of violence.
- $200,000 was cut from the budget for this episode at the last minute, meaning that some things needed to be cut to save money. Much of Data and Ardy's relationship hit the cutting room floor. (Quietly fist-bumps Budget.)
- The entourage of the Dalai Lama visited the set during the filming of this episode, and took pics with Brent Spiner. (The Dalai Lama himself could not fit the Visit into his schedule.)

- O'Brien doesn't actually have any dialogue in this episode, despite being in several scenes.
- Speaking of dialogue, all of Gosheven's lines were dubbed. Actor Grainger Hines plays Gosheven, but his lines are spoken by an unknown actor. Much like Gates McFadden's departure after season one, who you ask about it changes the reasons given. Hines claimed that he didn't like the way things turned out, and requested no credit, which is why no one is listed as having played Gosheven. If you ask the studio, Hines had the right look, but sounded like John Wayne, so they dubbed his lines. While they did a pretty good job with the dubbing, it still feels a bit off.
- The Sheliak ship is actually a modified version of the vessel "Merchantman" from "The Search for Spock."

The Sheliak ship

The Merchantman

- The shuttle used here is the Onizuka, named for astronaut Ellison Onizuka, who died aboard the Challenger shuttle.
- This is the first and only time that O'Brien will be seen playing the cello, but we'll get backstory on that later.
-In a gag reel, Brent Spiner quipped, "There is only one way to measure the body temperature of a Sheliak and, uh, I can't say it in mixed company."

Red deaths: 0
To date: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
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: 1
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Picard Moments: 3
To date: 3
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Troi Moments: 1
To date: 1
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 6
To date: 7
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
To date: 2
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: 1
Picard Maneuvers: 3
To date: 5

Harvey & Joker