Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, October 23, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Twelve "The High Ground"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Twelve "The High Ground"
Production Order: 12
Air Order: 12
Stardate: 43510.7
Original Air Date: January 29, 1990

Picard's Log 43510.7: "We're at Rutia IV. They're not in the Federation, but we've traded with them for a long time. We're here bringing medical supplies after some violent protests. The Rutians are having problems with Ansata separatists, who want their independence on the Western continent. Either way, shore leave has been cut short, and away teams are beaming down armed."

Dr Crusher and Worf are having lunch at a little cafe in some kind of cultural center. (It looks like a shopping mall, so I have no idea.) Data approaches and says they need to leave for a meeting soon. Crusher calls for the waiter to get their check or something, and a bomb goes off nearby, filling the place with wounded people and smoke. Ever the medical professional, Crusher runs toward the wounded. Worf protests that it isn't safe, and they should beam up, but Crusher is stuck playing Prime Directive vs Hippocratic Oath again, and asks him to bring bandages and something with alcohol in it. She's forced to pull rank to get him to do it and begins treating wounded people.
A Rutian police officer also tries to get Crusher to leave the area, as does Data, but she politely tells them both to fuck off.

Worf brings the supplies she asked for while Data calls Picard to check in.
"We'll beam you up."
"Yeah, I recommended that, but... there are wounded here, and Dr Crusher..."
Picard sighs. "Oh, yay." He calls Crusher directly. "Hey, Doctor-"
"I already know what you're gonna say," she interrupts. "And you can fuck off, too."
"You're endangering the away team -"
"Nobody else has to stay. I'm busy. Bye."
Picard calls the transporter room to see if they have a lock on the away team, and the chief there confirms they do. Picard pauses and looks at Riker.
Sassy Riker Moment:

Picard calls Data back. "Just... hang out until the Rutian medics arrive, okay?"
Worf scans for other incendiary devices and says there are none. More cops show up and begin looking around.
Suddenly, a dude with a gun appears out of thin air behind Crusher. He grabs her. She starts to protest that she's a doctor, but in the next instant, they vanish.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Worf and Data are meeting with Picard and Riker in the Obs Lounge. Data explains that it wasn't a transporter, because those leave residual traces of ions, and there weren't any. They also can't track her because her comm badge is either not working, or she's being held someplace that's shielded.
"Pretty sure she was also the intended target," adds Worf.
"Why?" demands Riker. "They have no beef with us."
"They do now," responds Worf ominously.

Down in some cave, Crusher sits with her hands manacled. A guy comes in and offers her a plate of food. She says nothing. He basically engages in a monologue, asking her questions and getting no answers.
"What's your name?"
No answer.
"You're a doctor on a Federation starship. That must be cool."
A glare.
He eats a little off the plate, possibly to show her that it isn't poisoned. Finally, he gives up and tells her that if she needs something to ask for him. He's Kyril Finn. Then he leaves, taking the plate with him.

Picard and Troi give Wes the bad news in the ready room. Picard gives a bit of exposition: The Ansata want their freedom from the eastern continent. If taking a hostage means that the Rutian government will hear their concerns, then it means a win for them. Picard doesn't think they'll hurt Crusher for this reason.
Wes pops up off the couch. "I wanna join the away team."
"No, I need you here, Boy Wonder. We have to find a way to track these people. You're being assigned to work with Data and some others to figure that out."
Wes seems disappointed, but he agrees and leaves.
Troi tells Picard to be strong for Wes. He sighs and replies that strength does not always come out the better when up against terrorism.

Picard and Riker go down to the Rutian police station to talk with the police chief, Alexana Devos, about the situation. The headquarters looks like a freaking panic room, all dark and screen-filled, running surveillance. Picard and Riker ask how Crusher will be treated.
"Dunno," says Devos. "The Ansata don't typically take hostages. They're remorseless monsters, killing machines."
I guess it doesn't occur to her that she sounds like a monster, describing people that way?

Picard points out that they could have just shot Crusher, but didn't. She shrugs, and starts talking about the weird new way the Ansata transport themselves, appearing and disappearing seemingly at will, with no warning and no way to track them.
"Yeah, what's up with that?" asks Picard.
"Got me," Devos replies. "We took some of these devices off of some dead ones."
She passes over some disc-like thing, and Riker asks if they can take some back to the E to study.
"Totes. We can put your people in touch with the scientists who have been looking at them here as well." Then she gets that same tone of voice that Prime Minister Marouk got a few weeks ago. "You know, if we had some of your fancy-pants Federation weaponry..."
"Kindly fuck off," says Picard politely. "Anyway, I'm gonna leave Riker here to help you find Dr Crusher."
"If you want," she says carelessly. "I'm not super-optimistic. I know these people."
Picard and Riker share a look.

Finn returns to the little cave area where they're keeping Crusher and he offers her food again. She stares at him.
"What's the deal with not eating? Nobody is affected by that but you. I don't care if you don't eat." He pauses. "Okay, that's not true. I do care."
He unlocks her manacles, and she accepts the food. He asks her name, but she replies by asking why he brought her here.
"I need a doctor, a good one. You're the doctor of a Federation flagship, so I know you'll be good. You're gonna help us like you help them." His tone has gone from frank to angry.
"The fuck are you on about?" she demands.
"You helped them. You brought medical supplies."
"Dude, that was humanitarian aid. People were hurt!'
"Yeah, I hurt them!" He's pretty pissed now.
He snaps that she's done eating, and needs to get up. When she doesn't move, he grabs her by the arm and hauls her to her feet.
"I have a son," she says quietly.
A pause, then: "You'll see him again. I have no reason to kill you."

Dramatic music as he ensures that she'll live! Commercial break!

Finn takes Crusher to what's been set aside as an infirmary. It's clear that she's been looking at hurt people over the commercial break, probably somewhere else. She starts scanning these new people with the scanner she had on her when she was kidnapped, and she tells Finn that she needs more equipment from her ship, and he scoffs.
"They won't just send you equipment. You work for the other side."
"I told you, we aren't allied with them! We're just bringing supplies!"
"Fortunately," he replies, "I have what you need."
A little kid comes in carrying medical supply boxes.
"We delivered these to the dispensaries," she says, pissed off.
"Yep," he confirms. "So I heard."

Riker is in Devos' office looking at a ridiculously long list.
"These are all Ansata?" he asks.
"Naw, we think there are only like 200 people in the Ansata," she replies. "Those 5000 people are just known sympathizers. Some of them pass info or weapons or money, or go to pro-Ansata demonstrations."
Riker seems mildly disgusted. "How did this start?"
"We denied their independence 70 years ago," she says. "And they were probably pretty pissed about it then, but now it feels like just an excuse for violence."
"You really seem to hate them and their cause."
"I used to be moderate about it before I took this job," she admits. "But they've tried to kill me three times, and I've seen too much shit since. Just after I started, they blew up a shuttle bus, killing 60 kids. They said it was a mistake, that they meant to blow up a police transport. I then vowed to end terrorism in this city."

Crusher is caring for patients in the infirmary with her little kid assistant. She smiles and tells him that he's doing an awesome job, and that he could do this when he grows up.
"If you grow up," she adds bitterly.
Rude, Crusher. He's sitting right there.
She spies Finn and gets up to talk to him.
"So they're dying," she tells him. "Their DNA is warped, and the best I can do is make them comfortable. I can't fix it. If I could get at them in the earlier stages, then maybe I could do something."
Finn looks distressed. "The inverter we use to transport is doing it. The people who made them warned us that might happen. It uses dimensional shift and can't be detected by sensors. It's been awesome for our cause but... you know..."
"Dude, you can't use dimensional shift on humanoids!" She scans him. "You have it, too."
He voices a bitter truth: "Don't you know that a dead martyr is worth ten posturing leaders?"

Upstairs in Engineering, Wes is working with Data and Geordi to figure out how the Ansata are transporting themselves, and using some class lecture from last year, Wes comes up with the Elway Theorem, which is what the inverters are based on. Between the three of them, they decide that their hunch is correct, but that the method of transport is dangerous.
Picard comes to check on them, and they tell him their hypothesis.
"But it's a shit way to travel," points out Geordi. "Fucks up your innards."
"Sounds like they need a doctor," replies Picard.

Riker and Devos are back in that common area where the bomb went off before. People are being arrested and hauled off.
"This is a shitty life for both sides of this thing," remarks Riker.
"Used to be worse," says Devos. "Police chiefs would arrest people, who would then disappear. When I came onto the scene I put a stop to it."
"What happened to those previous police chiefs?"
They watch two boys being arrested. One is an older teen, but the younger kid is only about 10-12 years old.
"That kid is a threat?" asks Riker, incredulous.
"Maybe," shrugs Devos. "The person who blew up that bus full of kids was a teenager. In a world where children blow up children, everyone's a threat."

Crusher is in the infirmary with her kid assistant again, being watched by Finn. When she wanders over to him, she notices that he's drawing, and that he's actually pretty good at it. But instead of just complimenting him, she uses it to chide him.
"You should be drawing people, not killing them."
His answer has an irritated tone: "I can do both."
She gets angry that he seems so casual about killing, and he snaps back that he has never taken killing lightly. He tells her that she's an idealist, and she defends herself with what is not really a defense - by saying that she lives in an ideal culture, and where killing isn't necessary, which they've supposedly proven. She sounds super privileged, to be honest.
He fires back by talking about himself in the same vein as George Washington, and she yells that Washington was a general instead of a terrorist. He replies that the difference between "general" and "terrorist" is that one wins according to history while the other loses. Um, okay: no. You can lose and still be a general, just a general for the losing side. You can also win and still be a terrorist. The difference falls between soldiers killing soldiers (they signed up for duty and are armed with that in mind), and people killing civilians for political gain. So, I get where Finn is coming from, but he's confusing the terms being used.
However, when she gets on him for "immorality" he makes a good point:
"How much innocent blood has been spilled for the cause of freedom in the history of your Federation, Doctor? How many good and noble societies have bombed civilians in war, have wiped out whole cities?"
I mean, that doesn't excuse his actions, but she does have to admit that the lovely life she has today was built on those tougher times in the Federation. What's more, it still comes up from time to time.
The conversation ends with Finn telling her that he's not only willing to die for his freedom, but he's willing to kill for it, too.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker and Devos are back at the police station, and Devos is interrogating people under Riker's watchful eye. The waiter from the cafe comes in, and Devos starts angrily suggesting that the waiter might have placed the bomb himself. Riker gets annoyed and ends the questioning.
"Look," he tells the waiter. "I want you to go back to the Ansata and tell them that the Federation will negotiate for the release of Dr Crusher."
Devos is pissed. When the waiter leaves, she tells Riker that she should have the guy followed, but she'll try things his way.
"Is that what you want?" he demands. "To have that guy followed?"
"No! What I want is to go home to my own country and not spend my time interrogating people and worry about being murdered!"

Upstairs, Data gives Picard a run-down into how the inverters work. They then get into a discussion about terrorism. Data is once again used as that mirror of the human condition for a discussion about difficult topics.
"I'm having trouble with figuring out what the Ansata are doing," he admits. "A lot of their actions seem really unnecessary and kind of illogical."
"I think so too," Picard replies.
"The thing is," says Data, "I've been studying up on political movements and things of that nature, and it turns out that terrorism is actually pretty successful in making political changes." He then lists some examples, such as Mexico's rebellion from Spain, the "Irish Unification of 2024," and he Kenzie Rebellion.
"It can be successful in bringing about change," admits Picard, "But it shouldn't be."
"Sooo, is terrorism acceptable when all options for peaceful settlement have been closed?"
Picard sighs. "People have been asking that question for millennia. "

The waiter arrives at the infirmary to tell Finn that the police are arresting a bunch of people and interrogating them. Also, a Federation officer has asked to speak with Finn about negotiating for the release of Dr Crusher.
Finn stalks up to Crusher.
"Your shipmates are having all of Rutia arrested to get you back!"
Um, no.
"That sounds like BS," she replies.
"The waiter guy just told me they're working with the police! Anyway, I'm not letting you go. I need you here."
"To reverse the effects of the inverter? I can do that now - stop using it!"
Finn then reveals that he intends to blow up the Enterprise, because the crew is working with the Rutians.
"It's their own fault!" he declares. "They shouldn't have helped the Rutians!"
"Please," begs Crusher. "Don't do this!"
Finn then reveals that he once had a son, but the boy was 13 when he died in jail.

The Ansata start arriving on the ship, popping up, shooting people, then leaving. A dude appears in Engineering, on the catwalk at the top of the warp core, and another appears down at the bottom. The guy on the floor slaps a round flat thing with lights on the side of the warp core then they disappear. Geordi gets up off his hiding place on the floor and checks it out.
"Yo, got a live bomb on the warp core!" he comms to the bridge.
They try to beam it off the ship, but it's stuck hard, and the bomb is scrambling the sensors, so they can't get a lock. Geordi uses some kind of screwdriver-phaser thing to pry the bomb off, then slaps his own comm badge onto the bomb and yells at the transporter chief to lock onto the comm badge and beam that shit into space. It works, and the bomb explodes outside the ship.
Troi is relieved to hear Geordi call the bridge back to report that everything is fine, because she thought he was sacrificing himself.

But now Finn and some woman have transported directly onto the bridge. Finn starts shooting up the conn stations while the woman shoots Worf.
 Pissed, Picard punches out Finn and tackles him to the ground. They wrestle, and Troi calls security to the bridge. The woman wakes up and transports away. Finn hits his inverter, and both he and Picard disappear.

A manacled Picard is hauled to the sleeping-cave where Crusher was first being held. She was apparently summoned to help the wounded from the attack, because Crusher shows up in the sleeping cave.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

...while Finn wipes the blood from his mouth.

Back on the E bridge, Troi tells Riker and Devos about the damage: three dead, four wounded, but they aren't a giant charred mass in space, so that's good.
"The hell?" asks Riker. "I asked to talk."
"They're assholes," replies Devos.
Wes breaks in to say that when the Ansata use the inverters again, he should be able to tell where their power source is.

 The Ansata have left Picard and Crusher alone in the sleeping cave, so they're able to talk. Picard says that he saw Worf go down, and doesn't know whether or not he's okay, but he did see Wes take cover.
"Actually, he figured out this dimensional jump thing that the Ansata use. He's quite brilliant, and he'll make a great officer someday."
Okay, cool. Could you say that to his face sometimes? You know, instead of telling him to shut up?
They get into an argument about who is to blame for them being in this mess ("no, it's my fault") which quickly devolves into who is to blame for them being in this mess ("it's totally your fault!"). When he looks around, she informs him that there are no exits to the surface, so the only way in or out is via transporter or inverter.
"These people are crazy," says Picard flatly.
 "Crazy, or committed?" Hamlets Crusher. "I don't really know anymore."
"Dude, do not get Stockholm Syndrome," Picard warns.
"Yeah, I haven't," she argues. "But this guy Finn is not what you'd expect. He did these things for a reason. He needed medical supplies, and now his people are being arrested -"
"You're defending the guy who might have murdered your son, Beverly," says Picard forcefully.

Finn comes in. "I didn't. But it's nice to know your name finally. Anyway, we weren't able to blow up the ship, so we settled for kidnapping the captain."
He and Picard trade insults and argue for a bit, but his plan comes out eventually: he wants the Federation involved. After a while, they'll tire of being in the middle, and will force Rutia to make concessions to the Ansata just to get the hell away from the whole thing.
"Then I win." he finishes.
"I won't cooperate," says Picard.
"Yeah, you're already here," says Finn.

Later, Finn appears in the Enterprise corridor, catching Troi off-guard.
"I won't hurt you," he says. "And your people are safe, for now. We want the Federation to place embargoes on Rutia. Nothing in or out, got it? Then we'll talk about releasing your guys. I'm giving you twelve hours to decide."
The security Golds arrive behind Troi just as Finn disappears again.

On the bridge, Wes and Data have used Finn's transport to pinpoint his place of origin, and they show on the map where the cavern is located.
"No exits to the surface," says Data.
You think that they're going to remark about how they can only get in or out using transporters or inverters, but instead, Riker remarks that they probably use generated light in the caverns.
"If we knock it out you could use the confusion to grab your people," suggests Devos.
"I want to go," says Worf, citing that he owes the captain.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!

 Crusher and Finn get into an argument in the infirmary that basically amounts to Finn telling Crusher that he may have to kill PIcard, and Crusher asking "Why you gotta be like that?"
She starts to storm off, but then he calls her back and says he doesn't want her to fear him, even though he has to operate on a fear-based system to get what he wants. Then he hands her his sketchbook and walks away. Of course, it's all sketches of her.

Riker and Worf beam down with Devos and some cops. Worf and one officer knock out two Ansata. Together, the away team locates the generator.

Crusher goes to the sleeping cave, where a still-manacled Picard talks about escaping using an inverter.
"Have you gained Finn's confidence at all while you've been here?" he asks.
She shows him the sketchbook.
"Wow, okay. Yes," he replies. "We could use that to our advantage."
Dude, don't. That's fucking douchey. Also, it's a bit Kirk.
She sits down. "There are some things I want to tell you, in case we don't get out of this one."
Whoa. Back to the will-they-won't-they.
But then the power goes down.

The Ansata start running around, trying to locate back-up power and get everything running again. The cops swoop in and make arrests, and there's a brief fight between Worf, Riker, and some Ansata. Devos creeps through the tunnels and finds the sleeping cave. But she hides off to the side. Finn runs in and points a gun at Picard. Crusher tries to warn him. There's a pause, then Devos shoots Finn in the back.

He goes down, and Crusher examines him. He's dead, Jim.
"WTF?" demands Riker. "You didn't have to kill him!"
She says nothing for a moment, then says that taking him prisoner would have meant more violence as his people would have tried to free him. Making him a martyr might mean that the death count drops temporarily.
Picard calls out to Riker, and they all turn around. That kid who was assisting Crusher in the infirmary has a gun aimed at Devos.
Crusher steps forward. "No," she tells him. "No more killing."
After a moment, he puts down the gun and is arrested.

"Look how quickly another one appeared to take his place," Devos tells Riker.
"Yeah, but he could have killed you and didn't," Riker points out. "Maybe this is how it ends - with one kid putting his gun down."

The away team beams back up with Crusher and Picard. They all go back to the bridge, where Crusher hugs Wes and they exchange pleasantries.
"It's good to have you both back," says Wes.
Picard smiles. "Take us out of orbit."
Crusher hugs Wes again.
Sassy Picard Moment: "At your convenience."

And they warp away.

Let's be honest, this is not a fabulous episode. And frankly, I find so many ways that it's just like the last episode ("The Hunted") that I get elements of each mixed up in my head, and they blend together into one episode: we have the rogue male leader who connects with one of our medical females. He is fighting for his freedom and those of his people from the big government, who is not treating them fairly. Each seems to feel badly about killing others, but admits that it is part of their job. Neither the Enterprise nor the Federation is connected to these governments formally, but they are on friendly terms, so when the rogue leader comes in he accuses them of working together against him and his people. Things come to a violent head, and the Enterprise goes, "Sorry, PD and all of that, so we're leaving," and then the situation remains unresolved at the end, because it isn't any of the Enterprise's business how things turn out. And like I stated last week, had they made these and then put them in such an order as to have very different episodes in between the two, there might not be so much blending in my mind. Star Trek has a tendency to repeat itself, but then make the episodes just different enough so that you remember them as separate stories, but here it just blends together for me.
The biggest problem with this episode is that they elected to discuss terrorism, but said nothing about it. The closest they came was Picard admitting that humanoids still struggle with the concept even into the 24th century, but without anything from the episode to back it up, it just kind of falls flat. While it did make me think of current events (as most good ST episodes should), I didn't have those thoughts for the episode itself.
Basically, they set a box on a table and said, "This is about terrorism."
Audience: "What about it?"
Show: "I dunno. Sometimes, it just exists in places."
Audience: "..."

So what was in this episode?
We got another Prime Directive vs Hippocratic Oath story, which happens frequently enough in Star Trek that I wonder if it comes up in their medical journals, or classes at Starfleet Academy, or at medical conferences. I mean, you have to consider that they're going out into space and operating under a specific set of rules, which they will inevitably butt heads against, and in which they will almost always choose Oath over Directive. It's in their natures to help others, and the PD asks them to set aside that nature. I feel like we've seen a few times where they stated, "I can't, the Prime Directive prevents me from helping," but then they argue vociferously with captains, or they go around it, and basically do things that could get them drummed out of Starfleet, but everything works out for them in the end. I like concept overall, which makes for good inner conflict.
We also got another "getting to know the enemy"story, which is not quite like Stockholm Syndrome, as Picard suggested. Crusher was determined to remain neutral in the fight, and was willing to treat everyone on the street who was hurt, and although she was angry about her kidnapping, still willingly participated in treating the Ansata as well. (Breaking the PD again.) However, her opinion shifted ever-so-slightly after her arguments with Finn. And to be honest, I felt that Riker's position shifted slightly as well. He started neutral, but was clearly disgusted by Devos' way of handling things. He sympathized with her lack of safety, but was fully on the side of negotiation with the Ansata over rough interrogation. Was the "moral" here to understand the POV of the terrorist before branding him as such? I'm not really sure.
I was taken aback by Crusher's admission that she lives in an ideal society, where violence is not necessary, and I know she meant that as a defense, but all I heard was privilege, privilege, privilege. Regular violence does not exist in her world, and so she feels as though it is never necessary under any circumstances. She does not understand Finn because she has no need to do so. However, this is cut down by Data's talk with Picard on the bridge about how successful terrorism is in affecting political change. Even Picard struggles with this concept. Star Trek isn't saying that a person should go out an mow down civilians, but if a group of people is being perpetually shut down, eventually they may rise up against their oppressors.
We're left without an answer. Terrorism sometimes "just is."

Fun Facts:
- The producers made a request for more action-packed episodes and received this script as part f that request.
- The inverter came along as a request by Gene Rod for a piece of tech that could defeat the Enterprise.
- In the original story, Melinda Snodgrass wanted to do a parallel of the American Revolution, with Picard taking the place of British General Cornwallis, and the Romulans representing the French, and Picard realizes that he's an oppressor here. Instead, Snodgrass was directed to make the episode about the unrest in Northern Ireland, a change she was very unhappy with.
- Many other Star Trek writers were also unhappy with this episode, citing that it didn't really make any new comment on terrorism, that it didn't go anywhere. Just "Crusher gets kidnapped." Michael Piller said that the line that Riker gives about one more child putting down his gun was effective in this episode, but not as a larger comment overall.
- Writer Brannon Braga felt that the problem lay with the way the script for this episode was written, where someone said "let's do a show about terrorism," where generally they will start with a cool science concept first, then add in the story, characters, and moral later.
- This episode has never been shown on official Irish television. It was cut from the first-run shown in the UK, and didn't air on BBC until 2007. It has sometimes been seen on cable and satellite channels, and sometimes with the "Ireland Unification of 2024" omitted. It was also featured in a Belfast arts festival in 2007. But never on the official Irish television stations.

Behind the scenes with director Gabrielle Beaumont

Red deaths: 1
To date: 1
Gold deaths: 1
To date: 1
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 1
To date: 1
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: 9
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 3
Sassy Riker Moments: 1
To date: 9
Sassy Picard Moments: 1
To date: 7
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 Moment: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 1
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 10
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
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: 17
Tea, Earl Grey: 0
To date: 1
Dramatic zoom-in on Picard: 0
To date: 0

Ghost cat

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
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Blue deaths: 0
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Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
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Sassy Geordi moments: 1
To date: 9
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
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Sassy Worf Moment: 0
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Sassy Riker Moments: 0
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Sassy Picard Moments: 0
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Sassy NPC Moments: 0
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Sassy Data Moments: 0
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Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
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Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
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Sassy Troi Moments: 0
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Sassy Guinan Monets: 0
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Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
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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
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Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
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Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 16
Tea, Earl Grey: 0
To date: 1

My little black cat is cozier than your little black cat