Welcome back to Star Trek: The Next Generation. I am doing an episode-by-episode watch, recap, and reaction and blogging about it here. There will be no spoilers for the series beyond the current episode. You can find my prior recaps HERE.
For those of you that don’t want to read the long recap, I provide a quick episode summary here at the top. You can also just scroll down to the “REACTION” heading below.
THE QUICK AND CLEAN SUMMARY:
A Ferengi ship hails the Enterprise for a meeting and an offer of friendship. At the meeting, the Ferengi captain, DaiMon Bok, gives Captain Picard his former federation starship, the Stargazer, which was was found abandoned by the Ferengi. Picard and his then-crew on the Stargazer fled from it after it was heavily damaged during the Battle of Maxia.
Unfortunately, the gift of the ship was a clever ploy by the Ferengi Captain Bok to get near Picard with a mind-control device. The Ferengi Bok wants revenge on Picard for the aforementioned Battle of Maxia. Bok’s son was the other ship’s captain and he died in the battle. Using the mind control device, Bok is able to lure Picard onto the Stargazer, alone. From there, Bok persuades Picard to attack the Enterprise. The plan is thwarted by the crew of the Enterprise who manage to help Picard escape the grip of the mind-control device at the last moment.
THE EXTRA DUSTY RECAP AND REACTION:
Captain’s Log: Stardate 42723.9
The Enterprise has been sent to rendezvous with a Ferengi vessel which has requested a meeting. Picard tells us that after arriving, the Ferengi have been telling them to “please standby” for three days.
Dr. Crusher enters Picard’s quarters. He asks her to sit down. He tells her that he has been feeling odd lately and has symptoms of fatigue and a headache. She tells Picard that she does not often encounter headaches. While she scans his head, he tells her that he is concerned the Ferengi have baited them into a trap. Dr. Crusher then tells him she sees nothing wrong with him but that she would like to run additional scans in sick bay. As she orders him to go, Riker sends a message to Picard through his comm device and tells him that the Ferengi are now ready to talk.
Picard tells her that duty calls and he goes to the bridge. The Ferengi commander, DaiMon Bok comes on screen. Bok tells Picard that he knows of him by reputation and he further states that he has asked Picard to meet with him to discuss a mutual problem. He asks to discuss the problem face-to-face. Troi tells Picard that she senses considerable deception from him so Picard offers to host their meeting.
Worf: I can’t believe they’re coming here.
Picard: They did agree a bit easily, didn’t they? In one hour, we shall know why.
In the time before the Ferengi arrive, Picard goes to the sick bay and is scanned by Dr. Crusher. She gives Picard something for the pain but is unable to determine the cause of his headache. She insists on further exams but allows that they can wait until after the Ferengi matter is settled.
On the bridge, Wesley is in an Ensign’s apparel and warns the bridge that they will soon be getting an intruder alert message. He says that in an effort to boost the Enterprise’s censor output, he discovered a constellation class star ship was approaching under impulse power. A moment later, La Forge picks up that reading from on the bridge, too. He tells Picard that it is sending no call letters. Picard begins a reply about the correct procedure when he stops in some degree of visible pain. Riker asks him what is wrong and Picard replies that he has a mild headache. He then tells Wesley that the correct procedure is to signal the bridge with his findings, immediately, rather than waiting to bring them personally. Troi looks at Picard with some concern.
Worf states that they are receiving no signal at all from the approaching star ship. Picard confers with his crew about having the Ferengi on board as the other ship approaches and all decide that it is wiser to have the Ferengi on board. They beam DaiMon Bok and two other Ferengi directly onto the bridge. Bok’s first officer is named Kazago and his Second is named Rata. Picard introduces them to Riker, Data, and Troi.
The Ferengi comment on the fact that humans use clothed females aboard their vessels. The Ferengi also state that they have heard about the android and ask how much Data would cost for purchase. Picard tells the Ferengi that Data is not for sale.
Picard: Commander Data is, um, is um…
RIker: Is second-hand merchandise and you wouldn’t want him.
Yar announces that the star ship continues to approach and Bok tells Picard not to worry about it, as it is under their control. Picard is surprised that they might have a Federation starship. They tell Picard that it is a gift, to Picard personally, who they name as the hero of the Battle of Maxia. Picard has no recollection of this battle. Data tells Picard that the Ferengi may be referring to an event nine years earlier in which Picard’s vessel destroyed an unidentified starship. The Ferengi board the bridge state that the ship Picard destroyed was Ferengi.
Data states that the Ferengi ship attacked and that Picard was left with no choice. The Ferengi again state that such mistakes happen in space. As Data begins to explain that the event was hardly a mistake, Yar cuts in to say that the vessel is only 1,000 kilometers away and asks if Picard would like to view it on screen.
The Ferengi tell Picard that no one is on board. Picard suddenly shudders and seems to be in pain. This time Troi states that she felt it, too, and that the pain seems to be related to an event from Picard’s past. Riker calls to sick bay but Picard waves him off and asks the Ferengi what all of this is about. The Ferengi tell Picard to look at the ship closely and Picard asks Geordi to magnify on screen.
Picard is astonished to see that the ship is the Stargazer, his old ship, and the Ferengi tell him that the ship was adrift in space when they found it. Bok offers – to the astonishment of the two Ferengi under his command – to simply give the ship to Picard as an act of friendship.
Troi accompanies Picard back to sick bay after the Ferengi return to their vessel. Picard tells Dr. Crusher that the pain he felt this time hit much harder than before. Troi confirms that she felt something, too. Picard asks Troi if she is certain that she did not feel his thought rather than an outside though. He tells both women that at that moment he was remembering his time as commander of the Stargazer. As he is talking, he suddenly asks the two of them if they smell smoke. Dr. Crusher assures him that nothing is burning.
P: Aah. That was just part of my memory.
T: Memory or nightmare?
Picard tells her that the feeling was strong whatever it was. Riker enters the sick bay and tells Picard that the staff is waiting if Dr. Crusher approves. She approves on the condition that she attend with Picard.
In the staff meeting with his bridge officers, Picard recounts the events of the Battle of Maxia. Abruptly he asks Vigo if he can identify the vessel, and Troi breaks in asking him who Vigo is. Picard answers that he is his weapons officer on the Stargazer. Picard does not seem to be aware that he was talking to someone from the past as though he is present in the room. Picard catches himself and states that he is getting really caught up in this story. He goes back to the story of The Battle of Maxia, more lucidly, and describes how he outmaneuvered the enemy vessel.
Data: You performed what Starfleet textbooks now refer to as the Picard Maneuver.
[The Stargazer, which was damaged, suddenly accelerated into high warp directly towards the Ferengi ship. By doing so the Stargazer appeared to ship’s sensors, for an instant, to be in two places at once. When data from the newly-moved ship reached the Ferengi ship’s sensors, data from its previous position was still arriving, so the Ferengi effectively “saw” two Stargazers in different locations.]
Picard describes the maneuver as a save-our-skins maneuver. They abandoned the badly damaged Stargazer and traveled via shuttle craft for weeks until they were picked up. Picard states that he has not thought about this event in many years.
Data informs Picard that the Ferengi are standing by and waiting for them to take possession of the Stargazer. Picard states that he would like to look at the ship but Riker insists that his people will have to inspect the ship first. Dr. Crusher also insists that she be allowed to look at him again first, too.
Yar, Worf, LaForge, and Data inspect the ship. Geordi is stunned that the emergency power still works. Yar informs the Enterprise that the ship is all clear. Dr. Crusher and Picard then beam aboard.
Picard: Hello old friend.
Data then informs Picard that he has found Picard’s final entry from aboard the ship. Picard listens and seems pleased. He tells Yar to run a structural analysis of the ship and tells Data to download all files from the ship onto the Enterprise. He leaves to go see his old cabin.
Alone in the old cabin, Picard hears a sudden beeping sound and convulses in pain. We see Bok aboard the Ferengi vessel operating the controls of something that appears to be affecting Picard.
Bok: Try this, hero of Maxia.
Bok touches something and Picard suddenly lurches onto his feet. He then collapses again. Dr. Crusher finds him getting up from the floor. She tells him that she is worried and insists that he return to the Enterprise. When Picard asks about his things, she says that she will see they are sent to his Enterprise quarters.
On the bridge, Riker informs the Ferengi that they have taken possession of the Stargazer. Kazago seems unhappy that they did not make a profit from the ship. After their conversation closes, Picard enters the bridge. He does not appear to be in good shape as he exists the turbolift onto the bridge with a hand to balance himself on the wall. He sits on the Captain’s chair and leans back against it as if exhausted.
Riker asks him how it was visiting the ship and Picard replies that it was strange. He compares it to visiting a home you grew up in, except that nobody other than phantoms from the past are in the home. Troi seems troubled and Picard tells her he still has a headache. Picard tells Riker to take over. After he is gone, Riker asks her what is wrong and she states that she wishes she could say.
Picard lies down on the bed in his quarters. We hear a beeping sound coming from the belongings in his room that were formerly aboard the Stargazer. As he lies there, we hear what sounds like Picard’s memories of the Battle of Maxia.
Data approaches Riker about what he has learned from the files downloaded from the Stargazer. He tells Riker that the files, logged in the Captain’s own voice, indicate that the unknown vessel approached under a flag of truce and that the fire aboard the Stargazer was from an accident in Engineering. Riker does not believe what he is hearing.
Riker plays the audio confession of Picard’s mistake to Picard himself. Picard states that it is his own voice but he does not remember saying it. Riker states that he does not believe Picard said this and that he has Data working to determine how the Ferengi mimicked his voice. Picard points out that Riker is duty-bound to make a report to Starfleet. Riker replies that it will take a day for the message to reach Starfleet and another for a reply message to return. Picard expresses a hope that they have an answer to give by that time because he would hate to have to prepare a formal defense. Riker does not believe that Picard might lose his command by Picard states that he could because this incident would be viewed as deeply embarrassing to Starfleet in the context of friendship overtures from the Ferengi.
Riker has a secure call with Ferengi First Officer Kazago. Kazago is aware of Picard’s log entry but he does not appear to betray any knowledge that the entry was falsified. Riker asks why Bok gave them the ship at no costa nd Kazago angrily ends their call.
Dr. Crusher visits Picard. She points out that he is not resting and he states that he feels more like he is dying. Dr. Crusher tells him she does not know what is wrong with him. Aboard the Ferengi vessel, we see Bok operating some instrument which appears to be accelerating Picard’s pain. Dr. Crusher gives Picard something which seems to help a little.
She suggests that his pain is related to emotions tied to the Stargazer and he reminds her that his headaches began before he knew about the Stargazer. He talks to her, though, and seems woebegone about the fact that he destroyed a vessel and an entire crew in that battle. He tells her that for the last three nights, he has heard voices from that battle while he was trying to sleep. Dr. Crusher knows about the falsified log and Picard asks her if he is going crazy.
Picard: How do I know I was in my right mind at Maxia. How do I know I am in my right mind now?
Dr. Crusher puts something in his arm and tells him that this will allow him to sleep. She then walks him to his bed and he lies down, in full uniform, and she tucks him in. She puts something that looks like a brain monitor on his head after he falls asleep.
We see Picard sleeping and we hear voices from his past. The Ferengi aboard his vessel continues to operate something which seems to be affecting Picard personally. We then hear the Ferengi tell Picard that he will injure himself as he once injured him.
We see Picard aboard the Stargazer interacting with phantoms as the ship burns. The nightmare scene ends with Picard giving the order to fire.
Later, Data, Geordi, and Riker are discussing the falsified Captain’s Log. Data has concluded that he can show the Stargazer log is a fake. Picard, smiling and cheerful, enters the room and asks for word on the logs. Data and Geordi tell Picard that whoever tampered with his logs was clever but a bit clumsy. Dr. Crusher enters and is surprised to see Picard and she seems even more surprised to see him in good spirits. She wants to show the Captain’s brain scans to the bridge officers. However, Picard dismisses everyone but Riker – including Dr. Crusher. She leaves under protest. Alone now with Riker, Picard orders Riker to release the Stargazer from the tractor beam and to allow the Enterprise’s inertia to carry the ship along with it instead. Riker seems confused but he agrees to comply.
Troi and Dr. Crusher discuss the Captain’s brain scans. They are confused. Troi states that she feels as though she is picking up on two sets of the Captain’s brain waves. Just then, Wesley enters and says that he noticed, while studying the censor sensitivity, a low frequency emission on the ship which matches a similar low frequency emission he noticed coming from the Ferengi vessel. Wesley does not know what the transmission is and states that engineering has nothing like it on record. Troi wants to take this news to the Captain and Dr. Crusher states that since the Captain may be effected they need to first find Riker.
Alone in his mom’s office, after they leave:
Wesley: You’re welcome, ladies.
Dr. Crusher finds Riker and the bridge. She and Troi tell him that something on the Ferengi vessel is effecting the Captain’s thought patterns. Riker speaks aloud for the ship’s computer to give him a location on Captain Picard and it tells Riker that Picard is in Transporter Room 3. As Riker tries to prevent the Captain from leaving, he finds he is too late. The Captain is no longer aboard the Enterprise.
Picard beams onto the Stargazer. As he sits down in the Captain’s Chair, Bok surprises him. “Welcome back, Captain.” Bok informs the Stargazer shields to go up. When Picard asks what he is doing, Bok states that he is collecting on an old debt. He then reveals the device has has been using throughout the episode to hurt Picard and he uses it to… hurt Picard. The Captain is on the floor in pain moments later.
Riker hails the Stargazer and Yar tells him that shields are up so there is no way to beam aboard. Geordi informs Riker that he is reading a low energy pulse from inside the Stargazer. Data says that he has a fix on the pulse and that it is originating from inside Picard’s quarters. Riker sends Worf to check the belongings that Picard brought aboard the Enterprise from the Stargazer.
On the Stargazer, Bok tells Picard that his son was commander of the Ferengi vessel that he destroyed nine years earlier. Bok is now getting his revenge. He leaves Picard alone on the ship and beams away.
Riker tries to hail the Stargazer and gets no reply. Picard’s vessel is moving away under its own power. Riker learns that the Stargazer still has some armed torpedoes and that its systems are mostly functional. Geordi is studying the device that the Ferengi sent aboard the Enterprise with Picard’s things. He thinks it may be an amplifier of some kind.
Riker hails the Ferengi vessel and asks Kazago what the device is and the Ferengi describes it as a thought-maker. Riker asks him what is going on and Kazago is hesitant to betray his commander. With the transmission open with Kazago, the Enterprise receives another transmission from Picard. He seems to be reliving the Battle of Maxim and warns the ship that the Stargazer is prepared to defend itself.
The communication with Picard closes.
Aboard the bridge, Troi feels fury coming from the Stargazer. Riker asks Data what the defense against the Picard Maneauver is. Data tells him that there is no defense. Riker commands him to devise one. Kazago sends a message to Riker that htey do not wish to become involved in what is a Federation matter. Kazago informs Riker that he has confined Bok and taken control of the Ferengi vessel. He wishes Riker good luck.
Data tells Riker that he has devised a possible defense. He explains how they can track the particular gases in the part of deep space, in which they fly, and then use the superior strength of the Enterprise to seize the Stargazer with a tractor beam and prevent it from firing.
The move works initially and the Stargazer is grabbed by a tractor beam. Riker is able to hail the Stargazer. Picard does not know who he is, however, Riker is able to convince him to destroy the Ferengi device on his ship with his phaser. Picard – with alarms ringing loudly all around – slowly approaches the Ferengi device and fires on it. The explosion knocks Picard to the ground.
Riker hails the captain several times before Picard finally answers. Riker fills him in about Bok losing his command for engaging in a mission that contained no profit.
Riker: It seems there was no profit in it.
Picard: In revenge there never is.
Picard asks Riker to beam him home.
The best episode of Season 1 so far! I mean, the bar to this point has been low, but nevertheless… progress.
This episode improved the initial portrait of the Ferengi that we were sketched in “The Last Outpost.” A lot of the ridiculous quirks we were given then still remain (astonishment at women that both work and… wear clothing.) In this episode, unlike our previous meeting, they come across as a people capable of developing high civilization. When we met them before, they seemed at times to only barely be above lower primates in disposition. They even hopped around like angry little monkeys at one point. Bok gave us a very human(ish) villain with a deep desire to avenge a dead son. Kazago gave us a somewhat noble character that was willing to do the right thing for an adversary that he might hope someday becomes an ally. The heart of this story was actually character driven and… pretty good.
This episode – though the best of the show to date – was not perfect by any stretch. The Ferengi mind-control device kind of just looked like a plastic ball with an orange light inside. It was always a bit jarring to see it on-screen as something “high tech.”
The Crusher Family:
- Wesley was great in this episode. He got a fly new Starfleet Ensign’s uniform (just kidding, it’s hilariously ugly.) His on-screen time was very limited. We continue to see that he’s a genius but he did not dominate the plot for once. His sarcastic “you’re welcome, ladies” line was his best moment on this show so far. [The bar was so, so low.] They all would have died but-for Wesley.
- Dr. Beverly Crusher… I continue to wonder how she got this job. The captain of the Enterprise – the most important person on the entire ship – begins having painful headaches. He even experiences the inability to distinguish between present time and nine years from the past. She just… lets him live with it to see if he shakes it off. She’s the only person on the ship with the authority to take what is happening to him seriously, keep him under close watch, etc., and she just does not do it. Dr. Crusher’s son – not his alleged doctor mom – is actually the one that diagnoses Picard’s ailment. They’d all be dead but for Wesley.
Not confining the Captain to quarters or sick bay, as he loses his wits, is just inexcusable. At some point, HR has to sit down with Beverly Crusher, right? This is probably the third termination-worthy offense committed by her in eight episodes.
Picard… you know, I remember him as this terrific captain but once again he required saving from his bridge officers. Am I remembering him wrong? Does his accent completely paper over a relatively so-so actual job performance? I do not really hold him entirely accountable for his actions in this episode (though he should have been more suspicious of the gift.) He was believably and cleverly targeted. But how many near death experiences can we expect from the Captain? He is starting to come across to me as a bit of a damsel in distress.
Foregoing paragraph notwithstanding, it was cool to get some more of Picard’s background. I like knowing that my Captain has an entire Maneuver named after him. They teach it at Starfleet and everything. I wonder though, given what we’ve seen from Picard on this show, if that whole thing was not completely dumb luck.
Am I supposed to believe that Yar and Worf failed to see the giant orb device in the Captain’s stuff from the Stargazer? “Uh, there was one really heavy suitcase that we apparently didn’t even open before bringing it into the quarters of our ship’s captain.” These are supposed to be the best of the best from the Federation? Really?
You know what? Yar probably needs to be sitting down with Federation HR, too. She has failed at her job at least as often as Dr. Crusher.
Critiques aside, this is a good episode. It’s probably the first episode of Season 1 that I might recommend to someone else as something they should watch. Let’s hope it continues going forward.