December 08, 2013

Hube's Star Trek: TNG Episode of the Week

One of the more satisfying episodes of TNG is the third season's "The Defector." At the beginning of this installment, we see a Romulan warbird pursuing a Romulan scout ship. The warbird fires on the scout, crippling it and injuring its pilot, but the Enterprise (which was alerted to the incident and hence was nearby) quickly transports the pilot to sickbay and snags the scout with its tractor beam. The warbird, now in Federation space, backs off, cloaks itself, and retreats.

The pilot is tended to by Dr. Crusher, and is promptly interrogated by Commander Riker and Counselor Troi. He claims to be a logistics clerk who has stumbled upon a [Romulan] plot to drag their empire and the Federation into conflict. He states he has seen plans for a Romulan base on Nelvana III in the Neutral Zone, the supposed focal point for their thrust into Federation space. Needless to say, the Enterprise officers are skeptical. Almost matter of factly, and easily missed if one is not paying attention, is Picard asking Worf to come to his ready room.

Data awaits Jarok's opinion of his new microbrew, Android IPA.

After more questioning and continuing doubt (especially by Capt. Picard), not to mention feekinsg of homesickness spurred on by a visit to the holodeck, the "clerk" finally reveals himself to be one Admiral Jarok, which instantly gives his story a lot more credibility. Initially hesitant to reveal much, if anything, about Romulan secrets, a stern Picard informs Jarok that he has "already made his choice" -- that is, to defect -- and if he really wants to prevent a war between the two quadrant powers, he'd better inform the Enterprise crew of everything he knows.

Mr. Data, I'd like a buxom blonde human female, scantily clothed ...

As the Enterprise ventures into the Neutral Zone towards Nelvana III to check out ambiguous signals which may or may not be what Jarok has revealed, Capt. Picard remains unconvinced. Once it's confirmed there is no base, Picard orders the ship back to Federation space ASAP, but is suddenly confronted by two decloaking Romulan warbirds. Admiral Tomalak mockingly informs Picard that this time it is he who has ventured into the Neutral Zone (the last time the two confronted each was in the episode "The Enemy" where the Enterprise encountered Romulan shenanigans on a planet inside the Neutral Zone). He demands Picard surrender, which is refused. Tomalak pleads for Picard to consider his crew's lives, but again Picard refuses, saying "If the cause is just and honorable, his crew will follow him to their deaths." He then asks Tomalak if he "is prepared to die," to which Tomalak snorts that he expected more than idle threats. Picard then says, "Then you shall have it!" He motions to Worf, and then suddenly three Klingon Birds of Prey decloak around the Romulan vessels! Picard had clandestinely prepared for just this eventuality, natch!

Curses! You foiled me AGAIN, Picard!! Grrrr .....!!

Tomalak, totally busted, attempts a measure of saving face, exclaiming "You'll still not survive our assault!" To which Picard responds, "You'll not survive ours. Shall we die together?" Tomalak then nods to Picard and says "I look forward to our next encounter, Captain" and then he and his ships re-cloak and leave.

Despite the satisfying humiliation of Tomalak, Admiral Jarok is crushed. He's thrown his life away for nothing -- the entire thing was an elaborate ruse to ferret out [Romulan] traitors and get revenge on Picard and the Enterprise. The final scene shows Picard entering Jarok's quarters where he is tending to by Dr. Crusher. Jarok has committed suicide, but he left behind a letter with hopes that one day, if peace is established between the Federation and Romulans, his family will be able to read it.

Of course, this is impossible now, since the 2009 Star Trek reboot film establishes that Romulus is destroyed in Trek continuity proper. I wonder if a future film (or TV series) will return to the "main" Trek timeline.

Posted by Hube at December 8, 2013 09:23 AM | TrackBack

Comments  (We reserve the right to edit and/or delete any comments. If your comment is blocked or won't post, e-mail us and we'll post it for you.)

It is a pretty good episode. Apparently Ronald Moore (who wrote this episode) recycled this same plot in an episode of the remade Battlestar Galactica. I don't know what episode it was since I didn't like the new BSG, but I remember hearing there was one episode of it with a very similar plot and that it was also written by Moore.

Posted by: Carl at December 9, 2013 10:19 PM