Those darned Cardassians are at it again and the Enterprise has to walk a fine line between following orders and being conscientious beings.
I am often surprised by the relevance of STTNG episodes when reviewing them years after they first aired. Terrorism continues to be an issue for our world because some people continue to be oppressed with no other hope for change than violence. This episode examined many issues. How does a brutal and cruel empire crush a civilized and talented one? Why do we sit by and allow it to happen? How do we deal with allies that we know to be brutal? There were no answers but I think that the important thing was to ask the questions.
We also get to meet Ensign Ro and the Bajorans. She is Starfleet at heart even if she refuses to follow orders. She was courtmartialed for exactly this because it resulted in the deaths of eight of her crew members. You get the impression it wasn't actually her fault but she took the punishment because of her guilt. True or not, this makes her a pariah on the Enterprise to all but Guinan (although to be fair, Crusher and Troi did try). It also made her a target for Admiral Kennelly who draws her into a plot to bring the Federation into the war between the Cardassians and the Bajoran terrorists. However, it is her refusal to follow orders which saves the day and allows Picard to prove that it was the Cardassians who attacked the Federation settlement.
I enjoyed the tension between following the rules and doing what you know/feel is right. I have often wondered why such an advanced civilization as the Federation would still be following military structures on a starship exploring space. I get that we are actually viewing the show now and that is familiar to the audience but I kind of hope that in a thousand years or more that we figure out how to work on more of a consensus model or something better we haven't even thought of yet. Following orders is such a problematic thing when it comes to issues of justice, peace and fairness. And I also hope that we would evolve to the point where we would not let entire worlds be tortured and displaced. To have a civilization of artists, philosophers, builders and architects be ground into the dust is a tragedy that we continue to view today but I hope we won't still be watching in the future.
On a personal level, Guinan the wise takes to Ro when everyone else, including Ro, thinks she should be shunned. This also speaks to our tendency to ostracize and other those we do not understand. Because Guinan took the time to connect with Ro, tragedy was averted.
Bits and Pieces
Mr. Mot the barber feels it is his right and duty to question and critique the actions of the captain and the Federation. It was nice to see some non-military personnel. There must be many on the ship. I wonder if they all have their own opinions about Starfleet.
The common (and Cardassian) cold has still not been cured except by Aunt Adele with ginger tea and honey.
What is it with the Admirals in Starfleet? They all seem a bit potty.
Riker: “He’s the best barber in Starfleet. What can you do?”
Crusher: “I found him to be a very concerned leader and a good spokesman for his people and a terrific dancer.”
Picard: “I read about the achievement of the ancient Bajoran Civilization in my fifth grade reader. They were architects and artists, builders and philosophers when humans were not yet standing erect. Now I see how history has rewarded them.”
Ro: “I think you are a small man who feels a rush of power in his belly and enjoys it far too much, Keeve. Stop talking and listen.” (I am going to use this some day).
Guinan: “You look like someone who wants to be disturbed.”
It is nice to have a feisty female ensign back on the ship and to have her save the day. Four out of Five orders not followed.