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Star Trek The Next Generation: Face of the Enemy

Deanna Troi wakes up as a Romulan and not just any Romulan but a member of the dreaded Tal Shiar.

This episode was enjoyable in that it was Troi centric but other than that it was not one of my favourites. The dissidents on Romulus have been an important allegory for the fight against fascism but I am rarely a fan of the idea that the ends justify the means. It was never clear why Troi was chosen to impersonate Major Rakal. It is difficult to justify kidnapping her, surgically altering her and putting her in a life threatening situation. I imagine that it would take years of training to actually impersonate a Romulan secret service operative and she was expected to do it while disoriented and unprepared with no knowledge of why. It was lazy writing to come up with such an ill-conceived plan, not to mention that there was no explanation for why Troi could speak fluent Romulan all of a sudden.

I did enjoy the character development for Troi. She is often portrayed as the sweet, soft counselor but this episode provided a chance for us to meet the kick-ass Troi. It didn't take her long to move from unsure and deferential to taking charge and giving us a pretty good imitation of a ruthless, haughty member of the Romulan version of the Secret Police. As an empath she would be good at using fear against people. So while I enjoyed her turn as an evil Major it was a bit frightening.

I also liked Commander Toreth. She could have easily been a dissident. She was not a fan of the Tal Shiar since they had taken her father. She didn't agree with their tactics or really even their existence but she also feared them. She was even upset about the death of the 18 people on the freighter. N'Vek who is portrayed as a hero was much more ruthless. Her discussions with Troi also indicated friction between the military and the Tal Shiar. I wonder if that would be helpful to the dissidents.

I'm not sure what the function of Ensign Deseve was in the episode. Of course, he was a messenger and his repudiation of his defection was a critique of those who profess an absolute morality which often walks hand in hand with fascism, but his character seemed vague and incidental.

Bits and Pieces

Romulan ships do not have computer controlled lights but can blast a star ship out of the sky?

The Tal Shiar are vicious and wear very red lipstick.

I've never been a fan of the Romulan uniforms. They look really uncomfortable and you shouldn't keep your disruptor in a basket.


Toreth: “People blame the military for the wars we have to fight but I think it is your kind, Major, that will be the death of us all.”


  1. Definitely one of the better episodes.

    Btw, Carolyn Seymour appeared in two other Next Gen episodes, and two episodes of Voyager.

  2. I enjoyed this episode, although I too found it hard to swallow the notion that Troi could pass herself off as a Romulan successfully. They could have said that Troi studied Romulan language at Starfleet academy and at one time trained to be part of the diplomatic corps or something. I do think being an Empath would be a huge asset in this kind of operation, but you'd still need a ton of prep work.

    But once I got over that hurdle, I enjoyed Marina Sirtis' performance here. After watching this episode and Power Play, I'm beginning to think she was miscast and would have been better playing a tough, ruthless character. And I always like episodes where members of the adversarial races are shown as individuals with shades of grey.

  3. Friction between the military and secret police is a classic situation that we see in history over and over, and it's done well here. I do agree that the situation for getting Troi into the Tal Shiar like that was ill-conceived, and that brought this one down a bit for me, but the situation was otherwise very interesting, and I have to agree that an empath would be extremely effective at this kind of role. They'd be downright terrifying really.


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