Episode

227

Chain of Command

Captain Picard is on a secret mission and command of the Enterprise is turned over to Captain Edward Jellico. The Enterprise crew finds Jellico’s abrasive style hard to handle. Still, he may be leading them into battle. Meanwhile, Picard is captured and tortured by Gul Madred, a Cardassian interrogator. The pain could stop at any time. All Picard has to do is give the wrong answer. How many messages are there? Find out when we put Chain of Command, Parts I and II, into the Mission Log.

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Discussion

  • Derwood

    “I’m sooo sorry about the impending war Captain Jellico, but changes in the duty roster have to be submitted two weeks in advance and approved by your supervisor before being routed to your manager so that Kathy can update and repost the schedule prior to the following Monday, and I think she may still be out with that Rigellian Fever and you DO NOT want that spreading through the department so I told her to just stay home and get better because all the work will still be here when she gets back. ALL THE WORK WILL STILL BE HERE WHEN SHE GETS BACK!”

    • Durakken

      Actually Riker is right in this, Jellico not only has no authority in this matter, but it’s also incredibly stupid for Jellico to want to do for a short term thing “to prepare for war” because changing duty shift like that will cause people to throw their clocks off which requires time to adjust to which causes crew to not be at their best during the transition. So yeah… no, Jellico should not be ordering such a thing.

      • I hate when new leadership always wants to “move the furniture” change stuff on arrival…ugh…common military headache. imo good leaders chill, wait, observe…get feedback, THEN change some things…gradually…oh well, he was meant to be a jerk…MISSION : ACCOMPLISHED!

        • Durakken

          I would not be surprised if there is a secret branch of every military filled with jerk off leadership that are sent to commands for a few days just to make those under the command relieved their commander isn’t that guy.

          • Spike1138

            Actually, that’s usually negated and rendered unnecessary by having a General Staff.

            The Central Command has a primary responsibility that begins and ends with issuing general orders and instructions to commanders in the field – they then hand off that responsibility to an auxiliary of staff officers of inferior rank below them, whose proper function and task is to follow up with their counterparts in the various field command centres and ensure that the Field Commands in one or various Theatres of Operation are actually DOING the things that they have been ordered to do.

            And if they’re NOT doing them, or haven’t acted upon the instructions from headquarters and set about the task of reporting their progress on a regular basis, according to protocol, to bash heads together, pull rank, threaten, cajole and generally and frighten people until they DO do them, correctly and in good time.

            It’s a documented historical fact that the field commanders in Hawaii in the run-up to Pearl Harbour didn’t do any of the things that Washington ordered them to do by way of maintaining proper vigilance, defence readiness and alert status, in stark contrast to, for instance, the field commanders in the Panama Canal Zone, who were abuzz with activity and sending back continuous reports of everything they were doing – had the Japanese not attacked the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbour, but instead the Panama Canal, with the aim of destroyed some of the locks, or blocking the canal completely with shipwrecks (which they quite easily and feasibly could have done with only slightly more effort and considerably more guile and ambition), it’s exceedingly likely that the attack would have either failed outright or been successfully repelled.

          • Spike1138

            In theory, any time that you see Worf wearing red, that’s what he was doing aboard the Enterprise, or later aboard DS9 – prior to Tasha’s death, when he took over her role as Tactical Officer and Head of Security, he was Operations Officer (which is presumably why he was given command of the saucer section in a tactical crisis fleeing from Q, once the command had been transferred to the Battle Bridge) – his talent and personal skillset is to intimidate and scare people into doing what they are ACTUALLY meant to be doing whilst on duty, in order to ensure that they all remain alive in a crunch situation.

            As a much later DS9 episode, Rules of Engagement, went on to show, Worf is actually in fact NOT the guy you want occupying the big command chair or making split-second tactical decisions, in anything resembling actual combat, since his instinct is to open fire and take offensive action, rather than to react defensively and with care, consideration and proper caution.

            And under any circumstance, ordering your helmsman to “Prepare for RAMMING SPEED!” is definitely NOT what, as Captain, you are SUPPOSED TO DO – you are SUPPOSED to issue the order “All Hands, ABANDON SHIP!”, ensure everyone leaves the bridge and makes their way to the escape pods, before finally doing so yourself – which is exactly what Sisko did, when he was meant to, and everyone lived as a result.

      • nathankc

        being captain doesn’t give him the authority?

        • Durakken

          Yes and no… and the very most technical level he might have some authority to do it, but its one of those things that even if the rank carries with it such authority the position does not and it is not something that you should do. It’s one of the things that will get a commanding officer a dress down for doing.

          The simplest explanation is that the chain of command goes both ways. Generally speaking, a rank should only be dealing with those above and below it.

          Also there are several positions that hold absolute command over a given domain so that each position can work optimally without worry of messing something up or not taking something important into account or not having to deal with things that might distract. This is why, for example, Admirals out rank Captains, but Captains are the authority on the ship over the Admiral.

          There are many reasons that this stuff isn’t approved of, but one of the stronger ones is that when you do it, if you have the authority, you are underminding the XO, doctor, etc’s authority and their confidence, because it shows a lack of trust at the very least, and you are showing that all an officer has to do is go around the lower rank when you disagree, which ultimately collapses the command structure.

      • Spike1138

        It’s Gene Hackman in Crimson Tide, ordering the missile drill during an onboard emergency crisis (a fire in the kitchens of the submarine’s galley), whilst the crew are still engaged in fire-suppression, containing the flames and evacuating and triaging the wounded, with such that the fire may flare up and begin raging out of control again, and with the consequence being that several crew members were critically wounded and at least one crewman dies of his injuries before he could be stabilised or properly treated – he used the opportunity of the outbreak of fire to paritally simulate more realistic combat war-fighting conditions and raise the pressure and intensity of the drill conditions, so that the crew would get experince and training in operating together and carrying out their properly assigned tasks at maximum efficiency under the least optimal conditions and cirucmstances.

        Which is what happens in a war.

        Switiching overnight from a 3-shift cycle to a 4-Shift cycle, making the unreasonable and ball-busting demand that it be done immediately forces everyone to up their game and abandon all their overconfident practiced complacencies, focus and genuinely THINK about what they are actually doing and how they are going to do it, which makes them better prepared and continually alert for when they have to respond to an emergency or unforseeable events.

        Whilst also giving them shorter shifts and allowing them more time off-duty – that’s what everyone always seems to overlook.

        Should hostilies break out, and the crew find themselves fighting a war (which was likely), they will all be serving in rotation for one of four 6hr shifts (in combat), instead of three 8hr shifts (under fire, possibly continuously).

        He’s there to be a D*CK to people – because that will keep them alive.

  • CmdrR

    Great podcast for an outstanding episode. David Warner is fantastic, as is Ronnie Cox (“And get that fish out of my ready room!”). I don’t want to get political, but I always wonder when I hear certain individuals calling for a return to torture whether they’ve a) read the studies that show it doesn’t work, and b) watched this ep. Meanwhile… I wouldn’t be doin’ my job as a kvetchy Trekkie if I didn’t complain about the dull period near the end of Part I. The monotonous music makes the running through the caves feel as though is goes on forever. It feels like this is where they stretched the material to cover two eps. Would also have liked a better visual on mining the Cardassians. Regardless, it’s an ep I watch every time it comes around.

  • Wildride

    “There are four, Lights.” – How to answer pop singer Lights when she asks a question whose answer is four.

  • Wildride

    Picard: “There are four lights!”
    Lemek: “What a perfectly fatuous thing to say.”

  • Wildride

    I think Deanna’s observation is spot on in that Jellico isn’t confident, which is why he micromanages and why he brooks no dissent. Picard is so much more confident because he can let others do their jobs, thus bringing out the best in them. Jellico is far more concerned with superficial indicators because he lacks the confidence to rely on others.

    But the crew, outside of emotionless Data, were far more boo boo faced about Riker being overlooked (“I just dealt with the Borg, I can handle a few Cardassians.”). Neither side was exactly extending the olive branch. But Riker, more than anyone, should have been going out of his way to smooth things over in the transition. That’s literally the kind of thing Picard hired him for in the first place. But, instead, he made things as hard as possible.

    They didn’t really give him the benefit of the doubt and he didn’t return the favor.

    Of course the big thing is that a) the trap set for Picard is preposterous and b) it’s the same thing he already fell for with the Romulans. Only this time he didn’t bring backup in the form of cloaked Klingons.

    “We have this magical technobabble device that only Picard can investigate — For some reason.”
    “Really?!? A Starfleet captain instead of, say, literally anyone else? Is Starfleet command trying to murder Picard, or are they just selectively stupid, again?”

    So, how is it they managed to know Picard so well that they could set a trap that only he would fall into, but strangely didn’t know that he wouldn’t have the specific information that they were looking for in the first place?!? Not mention that, even if they somehow lured him, that they’d actually capture him, thus making the trap worthwhile, instead of Worf sacrificing his life to ensure Picard escapes (as an example). Did Emperor Palpatine suggest this plan to them?

    When they get to the Data/Worf two parter later in the season, it might be wise to use this technique of telling the stories separately, as well. It’ll probably work even better then.

    • yeah, they sure like to risk unnecessarily their leadership !..all just to get the story going I guess, might’ve been more believable if Picard had intimate knowledge of the facility or the mad scientist running things…quite a few angles they could have used.

  • joelgeraci

    “…giving Picard a little Blunt Talk…”!?!

    Cute… Very, very, cute.

  • Roger Birks

    This may be the best two parter of the series. Its very close with TBOBW. For me Part II of this episode is stronger than TBOBW but Part I of that episode is stronger than this one. Both are probably tied as the best two parters of the series!

  • John Hart

    I love how Jellico ordered Deanna into a uniform. Here’s my questions: a) why did she stick to wearing the uniform after Picard returned, and b) if wearing a uniform or cosmic cheerleader outfits were a personal choice, why didn’t she choose to wear the uniform in the first place? If she’d been in uniform from Day 2 (since she wore one in the pilot) she might have been taken more seriously as a character.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      I like her in uniform better

    • besides the obvious “the guys fans want cleavage”, I think ostensibly it was to make patients/clients feel more open to chatting w Troi if she wasn’t all about rank. More approachable. Ultimately, as much as I loved looking at Marina Sirtis, the character was a bit of a dud, especially when Guinan shows up..but oh well…they psycho babble/analysis stuff got old fast, especially w her lack of aggressively reading minds/emotions to really give the advantage to Picard….oh well

    • John Anderton

      Sitris claimed they thought she was too heavy looking so they gave her another wardrobe. Perhaps the person making the decision was just jealous.

  • Wildride

    “There shall be four lights. When counting the lights, the number of the counting shall be four lights. Count not but to one light, nor stop counting lights at two. Count not to three lights, excepting that thou proceeds on to four lights. Five lights is right out.” – The Counting of the Lights

    Changing from three shifts a day to four is, to put it bluntly, a stupid idea and the department heads were right to all point that out. “Oh, we might be called upon to go into combat? Well we should certainly have a bunch of tired staff manning stations because we’ve disrupted their biorhythms. Genius idea, Jellico!”

    I mean, people complain about the switch to daylight savings time and back every year. And there’s a lot of research that it causes many accidents. Try that, but several orders of magnitude worse. Not only that, but where is this extra staff coming from, exactly?!? Does the Enterprise have one additional crew member for every three just hanging around doing nothing to fill out the numbers of unnecessary shifts?

    • Derwood

      How exactly does moving from an 8 hour shift to a 6 hour shift tire everybody out?

      • Wildride

        If you were previously on alpha shift, you’re on alpha shift every day. Now, with four shifts, you start on alpha shift, but you’re also on Delta shift. Tomorrow you’re on gamma shift, and then beta the next day. Because those extra people to crew the extra shift don’t exist, so you have to use those you already have. So you go from working 8 out of 24 hours to 6 out of 18, but now your internal clock is way off. They’d adjust eventually, but Jellico has just made the entire crew groggy just at exactly the worst time.

        • Derwood

          You can’t hear it but I’m playing the world’s tiniest tin whistle for you. If you’re not smart enough to go to bed early for your 6 hour workday the is nothing I can do. If you just can’t sleep I can give you a recipe for my great aunt’s hot toddy. If your still groggy, there is nothing I can do. Too bad they don’t have any kind of stimu-something-or-other in the future that can be administered easily… I guess they got rid of that technology because Bones kept running up and injecting people without telling them first. Yeah your point is completely moot.

          • Wildride

            Buy a brain.

          • Derwood

            make some attempt to use the one you have.

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    1- The worst undercover mission ever. 😉

    2- Love ❤ the Cardasians. The best bad guys.

    3- Usually love Picard, but he gets a bit too carried away in this one. His stage acting really shows through.

    4- The crew’s reactions to Captain Jellico were just lame. Chain of Command changes happen all the time. The boo ho reactions were just annoying from supposed professionals. That said, some of his changes were sudden, radical and very demanding. I get that from his perspective the ship might be going into war at any moment, but the guy has no tact. It does pay off though when Jellico has to ask Riker for help piloting the shuttle.

    • I remember in the 90s assuming the Bajorans were Jewish people and the Cardassians were Germans…then I “realized” the Bajorans were Palestinians and the Cardassians could be seen as Israelis which of course seemed very loaded. Obviously, they can be whoever at whenever…but definitely interesting to overlay contemporary countries on our Trek empires/powers….

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        Because it is unspecific it can apply to a lot of conflicts out there.

        • Definitely…sadly, I think about current wars etc and realize, mankind won’t likely/easily let go of many of these bad “habits” ugh….

  • Konservenknilch

    Amazing episode. But like “In the Pale Moonlight”, it won’t crack my top 5, not because they’re not brilliant, but I like the usual formula too much. As the saying goes, DS9 is the best ST series, but TNG is “mine”.

    Jellico is an interesting character. He comes across as a huge asshole. But if you think about it – he takes command of the Enterprise in a major crisis that might escalate to full-out war. There’s just to time to be best friends with the crew. Heck, Picard didn’nt do that in Farpoint either.

    Also, kudos for saying “Blunt Talk” twice in the podcast. Surely a coincidence, wink wink.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Ya I wonder if he was this way on his original ship or if this was just the way he was because of the pending crisis.

      • Spike1138

        Almost certainly, without a doubt.

        His relationship to/with his son (not to mention the child’s mother) tells you everything – he isn’t there.

        Jellicoe, you can be assured, has gone through his entire military career serving aboard Starships without carpets.

        Its so utterly ironic – Picard never wanted command of a ship carrying children and so many families and civilians aboard, hates it, and feels profoundly uncomfortable at the whole prospect of it, which he finds daunting and intimidating, and which takes him years to become comfortable with.

        Who knows what REALLY went on between him, Beverley and Jack Crusher years before, but even up as far as the first movie and beyond, Picard is DEEPLY averse and resistant to the whole notion of his own procreation and fatherhood, not so much because he fears long-term commitment or attachments in a frivilous Kirk-like manner but on a much deeper level, for some reason he just really DOESN’T WANT to be so completely responsible for someone who is completely dependant on him for their survival and physical and emotional well-being – he just can’t separate or disentangle that from the responsibilities of his command and his duty as an explorer, diplomat, pioneer and a Philosopher King, which is likewise the reason why he has so few romantic dalliances.

        Whereas Jellicoe doesn’t have any of that baggage – he’s a straight up-and-down military officer, who love his son (and his wife/girlfriend/husband/boyfriend, presumably), and never has to worry about them or their safety because they live far away on a moon or starbase somewhere far behind the lines where they will never be in harms way.

        Where Picard is neurotic, hesitant and conciliatory, Jellicoe is bold, decisive and confident.

        • Dave Steph Taylor

          Yes Jellico seems much more a military midseted commander.

          I know in the course of the show we are supposed to (and do) like Picard, but he can be too introspective at times.

  • Toriach

    This has long been one of my favorite episodes and the scene where Riker tells off Jellico one of my favorite scenes. However in keeping with the theme of my life lately I have realized some things that should have been obvious to me for years but weren’t.

    Before I get into my thoughts specific to the episodes under discussion I would like to offer a general thought regarding Deanna Troi’s empathy. I think a great many people expect far too much from it. Now to be sure there are plenty of episodes where at best they simply don’t have Troi appear at, and at worst she does appear but they seem to forget that she is an empath. But even so, I think people are expecting psi-empathy to be the same as telepathy only involving feelings. But honestly most sentient beings (okay I’ve only ever personally known Terrans, but I figure it’s probably true for the bumpy headed and pointy eared types too) are such a conflicting stew of emotions, and even when we think we aren’t feeling anything, we are still feeling something. So I figure a lot of the time unless an emotion is very strong and present, most of what Deanna gets is background noise. Plus I suspect that her speed at reading people is different with different people. Therefore, some she might get a read on right away and others might take longer. Plus Jellico strikes as in many ways even more closed off than Picard. Since he knew he was going to be assigned to Enterprise, he very well may have been preparing for ways to subtly shield himself making himself harder for Deanna to read.

    Now as to the episodes themselves. First of all Ken I have to strongly disagree with you about the exchange between Riker and Troi about Jellico’s seeming self assuredness being a throwaway. I would argue the opposite. I think it ties in directly to one of the big themes of the episode. A theme that I am surprised that none of us deep Trekkers seem to have picked up. It is amazingly simple yet very broadly applicable. It is the tension between appearance and reality. From the apparent metagenic weapon turning out to be a trap, to Madred going from a figure of fear, to one of pity for Picard with one anecdote. Jellico seeming absolutely rock solidly sure of himself but the reality being anything but fits right in with this theme. What I think is great is that they don’t belabor the point but rather cover it with one brief exchange and let the audience decide what they are going to do with the insight.

    Next we have what used to be my favorite GFY moment in all of Trek. While I do still love it, while I personally think that Jellico is an ass and deserving of what Riker says, I have also realized that based on Riker’s actions in a previous episode I kind of want to rub his nose in it and ask him how he liks it. I recently started a brief themed rewatch, doing all the Barclay episodes and I realized upon watching Hollow Pursuits how much like Jellico, Riker sounds when he is dressing Barclay down. Honestly he comes off as an arrogant ass, and it makes me a great deal less sympathetic towards both him and Geordi when they get treated to some of the same crap that they have dished out in the past.

    Some other thoughts, it is kind of a shame we never got to see Madred (and btw could that name be any more meta) again on DS9, it is also a shame that they didn’t find a way to reprise the information that gets shared about Cardassian history on that series. I think it might have helped to paint a more nuanced picture of the Cardassians instead of the almost one note villians that they tried to show them as at first. I know they were building towards something but still I think it would have made DS9 even more rich and complex if from the get-go they had tried to make the Cardassians more victims of their own past bad decisions than just another group of galactic empire builders ala the Romulans.

    Finally I honestly feel they squandered a huge opportunity by NOT setting the scene where Picard hires a ship on Terok Nor. While to be sure it wouldn’t have meant anything to the audience at the time, it doesn’t mean anything anyway. It’s just a random space station. However if they had used Quark then it would have been an awesome thrill for the viewers who made the leap to get to realize “Hey I’ve seen that guy before.”

  • gizmochimp

    OK, I had no intention of posting any comments until the computer’s closing remarks about there always being room for Jellico. A tip of the hat you, sirs.

  • Aaron

    At the risk of not only jumping the timeline but also if jumping universes, Ron Moore really carried the notion of commanders the crew didn’t like to the nth degree in the rebooted Battlestar Galactica. There, the job of the First Officer was to be the hard-ass so the captain could seem almost likeable.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      True, but the First officer there was also a drunk jerk.

    • I think in theory…commands like to have the CO as a bit distant, w XOs more on hands and “mean”, handling things to keep the CO focused on bigger issues. Also, when things get to a point that the CO must be involved, it “should” be a serious matter, i.d. oooooooh, “You’re in TROUBLE!!…..” imo, it should not be routine to interact w your CO….. of course those are just “theories”. I liked this episode because it seemed a bit more gritty, kinda like Tom Clancy/Robert Ludlum stuff and what DS9 would touch on more. The blood and guts reality that even in Star Trek times there will be atrocities….own it Star Trek fans…human/humanoid nature will always have the potential to go as dark as our medieval ancestors.

  • MT

    “The First Duty is to the Truth”

    Just because Deanna has the ability to sense emotions and possibly predict the reactions of others (in this case Jellico) does not mean she is excused from performing her role. Nor does it mean her “sensing ability” was a failure when her attempts to perform her job were met with Jellico-style dismissal. What kind of ship’s counselor would she be if she just said, “I already know this guy is going to summarily reject any of my suggestions, so screw it, why bother? Computer, double chocolate sundae, please.” It is her duty to truthfully advise the captain and she did so. Her approaches to Jellico were not the result of her betazoid senses going haywire, but were examples of her performing her duty. Throughout the series she has approached Picard to offer advice – with varying degrees of success. Just because her new boss is a jerk, doesn’t release her from her duty to him, the crew, and this mission. Even with the knowledge that she has a 99% chance of failing to reason with Jellico she still has to try, right? Just as Picard, Crusher, and Worf were assigned to a mission with dismal odds of success. The attempt was made. Just as Riker didn’t give up pushing back as part of his duty as First Officer when he felt the need to do so. Just as Beverly let Jellico know her thoughts about possible casualties. Deanna’s senses arent there to protect her from the blows of Jellico’s “management style.” She still has a duty.

  • MJHarkins

    What did you mean there are dolphins?

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Dolphin

      The dolphins aboard the Enterprise-D were originally to have been referenced in TNG: “Relics”. In the first draft script of that outing, Geordi La Forge remarked to Montgomery Scott, “Wait until you see the dolphins.” However, that statement, in the final draft of the script as well as the final edit of the installment, became, “Wait until you see the Holodeck.” [1]
      The Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual indicates that the dolphins were part of the ship’s complement, serving as navigational specialists. This would indicate that they are, in fact, a sentient species. They likely operated out of Cetacean Ops.

      • Dolphins?!?! whoa..never heard of that…dang, they coulda done a “Captain..! there be DOLPHINS here!!” line…hmmm I bet you guys mentioned that before…lol

    • nathankc

      A reference to ‘Cetacean Ops’ is heard on the Enterprise –

      http://memory-alpha.wikia.com/wiki/Cetacean_Ops

  • MJHarkins

    As for Diana thinking Jelico is unsure, I remember an episode where Picard is linked with Crusher and she sees where he is not always sure, and he explained that a captain needs to be decisive and swallow the doubt.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Ya, sometimes a leader has to plunge forward with confidence, unsure of the final result. My last boss was so wishy washy and refused to make important decisions. Talk about frustrating. She put off so many important decisions that ended up hurting us as a department.

      I think that what Troi is discussing goes deeper than just the occasional bold move forward though.

    • yup..sometimes you gotta fake it! Just to get by and move on to the next task…

  • MJHarkins

    It hit me double hard when Picard was singing, as my kids were just the age where we listened to Raffi sing that song every other day forever before and after that episode

  • Durakken

    Jellico would likely be kicked out of Starfleet, because he over steps his bounds, duty, and protocol.

    I know it sounds strange, but the running of the ship and crew assignment is not the Captain’s place. His job is in directing the ship, as in more or less the external relationship to the ship. Riker’s place in running the ship’s personel… and Data’s place is running the civilian stuff… So, for example, while the Captain can requisition a shuttle at any time it is Riker’s and Data who says which shuttle he takes.

    To me Jellico sounds like he is a newbie captain that can’t adjust from being the XO. And this being the case it makes him a terrible captain actually, because he’s focused on all the things he shouldn’t be and in doing so is breaking all sorts of protocol and such.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Ya, because no Captain in the history of Starfleet has ever overstepped their bounds 😉 Every captain in every show we have seen has overstepped their authority, some every week.

      You are correct, typically personal choices, shift schedules etc are the responsibilities of an Executive Officer.

      • Durakken

        Janeway certainly never does 😛

        • Dave Steph Taylor

          Her and Kirk

    • yeah, he was a micro manager for sure.

    • John Anderton

      Canavan had it right – it was contrived. Not all of it, but some of it, because they really didn’t know where to go with it after a great set up.

  • Canavan

    First of all, let me say — excellent podcast this week.

    I’ve always found this two-parter difficult to judge. It’s an episode with some truly great moments, but there are also aspects which I find intensely irritating.

    As others have already noted, Starfleet’s covert action seems like an incredibly contrived plot device. The notion that the powers that be are going to send a starship captain on what is implied to be a likely suicide mission is simply ludicrous (regardless of the script’s handwaving about Picard’s vast expertise with theta-band carrier waves). And sending someone like Crusher is even sillier.

    I liked Ronny Cox’s performance as Jellico and the idea of friction between a new commander and his crew is a potentially intriguing one. But in my opinion the script kinda fumbles this plot thread a bit. Amazingly, everyone involved ends up looking oddly unreasonable — crew members often come off as whiny and obstructionist, while Jellico (in spite of the fact that he’s ultimately a fairly competent guy) is often pointlessly confrontational and judgmental. And at the end of the day, the plot thread doesn’t really go anywhere interesting or conclusive: Jellico leaves the Enterprise and the status quo is restored; no opinions or viewpoints are altered as a result of the experience. The only good thing to come out Jellico’s command is that Troi is no longer wearing that abysmal outfit of hers.

    On the other hand, we have the scenes with David Warner (Gul Madred) and Patrick Stewart, which end up being some of the most memorable of the series. Madred’s backstory, while it doesn’t excuse his brutal actions, at least provides us with information about his underlying motivations and about why he is able to rationalize the dehumanization of perceived enemies of the state. It’s a relatively nuanced view of the Cardassians, who more often than not are portrayed as almost cartoonish villains. The final thing to say is that even after having viewed this episode a number of times, the final confrontation between Madred and Picard is still able to evoke some tension.

    On balance, thumbs up.

    • John Anderton

      Couldn’t agree more. Ken says that because Jellico had to ask Riker for help means something important, but I found Cox’s amazing and entertaining performance sort of go no where and have little point.

      Nor did I really see the value of torturing Picard. In 1984, Winston is caught in the entire social and political reality he finds himself in, thus saying ‘3 fingers’ is a statement about that. Here, Madred represents nothing and Picard really has no reason not to simply lie to him.

  • This episode really so timeless and ahead of it’s time regarding our “War on Terror”. Sometimes, I think about how the most ruthless vicious wars have been between people who look exactly alike. US white Americans vs white German Nazis, Iran vs Iraq, N/S Korea, Vietnam, US Civil War, India vs Pakistan etc…. just makes you realize/fear how far we have to go…..

  • Matt Bell

    I think the “he’s not sure of himself” quip is there to be combined with the scenes of Jelico’s pictures and him chit-chatting with LaForge – in essence to present him with a bit of humanity and vulnerability. It’s a shame we rarely see Jellico NOT racing around trying to prep the ship for impending conflict, for the little glimpses present a more nuanced person than a typical “badmiral”.

    And I’m sorry, but most of the Enterprise regulars come off looking unprofessional at various points in the story. There’s a war with the Cardassians to be averted, guys!!!!

  • Spike1138

    It’s Crimson Tide.

    Yes, Picard and Jellicoe (in their respective command styles) are both right – but they are also both dead wrong.

    And Jellicoe is the guy you want to have commanding The Flagship to prepare for a war, and in waging war (even a small one).

    Starfleet may not build warships, but The Federation fights wars, indeed *is* fighting wars at this very point in time, albeit very asymmetric ones, with enemies who are prepared to fire pre-emptively with any Federation vessel they deem to be making incursions into territory which they claim as sovereign, and not just with other Great Powers such as the Romulans or Klingons, or regional hegemonic powers such as the Cardassians.

    Later on, when the Dominion War starts, Sisko is already an experienced combat veteran, having served as the Tactical Officer on a ship in the last Xenkethi War. He’s been shot at, and not just by Borg.

    The Cardassian War has *just* ended, went on for many years along the Federation-Cardassian border, and it was VERY nasty – Jellicoe is a combat veteran of that war, probably (from the sounds of it) the most experienced flag officer of that conflict, since he has such a profound and nuanced insight into the inscrutible Cardassian mindset, both in combat and negotiation – and negotiating with Cardassian military is clearly no picnic.

    They would have little to no respect for Picard and his conciliatory approach to diplomacy – they would regard it as weakness and contemptible.

  • Spike1138

    This might just be the ideal juncture to discuss the validity of Picard’s affirmative lifestyle choice to NEVER become a father (if he can possibly help it) – even when he learns of the accidental death of his brother and nephew, the intensity of the burden of his newfound grief originates from his realisation that he now represents the last in the noble Picard Family line, which had previously always assumed, quite reasonably, would “go on” without him having to do anything or worry about settling down with someone and procreating to produce a male heir to the family name himself.

    I mean, I understand it and agree with his stance entirely, it’s an attitude of mind and approach to life I sympathise with, and indeed concur with myself – but it is certainly pathological.

    From a late 20th-early 21st Century perspective, it could (and is) certainly be classified as neurotic, and certainly there do appear to be good reasons and personal underpinnings to his whole Philosopher King / Warrior Monk scholastic bachelor thing – it isn’t *just* that he’s such an archaeology nerd, he bores most women to tears, and has no social life or opportunity to meet and mingle with eligible singletons amongst his peers – he doesn’t WANT to settle down and have a wife and a family.

    And Troi always seems to get that, and affirm the validity of his lifestyle choices in that direction, you get the sense that OTHER PEOPLE, Beverley and to a much lesser degree Riker as well, kind of disapprove of that attitude of his, and do in fact end up judging him for being like like that – certainly, when they actually meet and get introduced (not by him) to Varsh, they all act and behave VERY weird around her (and him) in a way that is pretty much not-okay, verging on disrespectful of his position and his personal life, and his privacy.

    The look of genuine horror and alarm on Picard’s face when he enters the bridge to discover his kind-of, sometime GF / Friend w.Benefits / Petty Criminal Foil sitting in his command chair, on HIS bridge of HIS ship was both palpable and genuinely painful to witness.

    And his solution to overcoming said discomfort is to send her away to the far side of the galaxy, entrusted to the care of his arch-nemesis, a man who barely knows and who he has actually met only on four previous occasions, prior to that one.

  • Spike1138

    Impending war with Cardassia? Again?

    And where exactly are Section 31 in all of this, I might ask..?

  • John Anderton

    PICARD: Torture has never been a reliable means of extracting
    information. It is ultimately self-defeating as a means of control. One wonders that it’s still practiced.
    Chain of Command, Part II (1992)

    ““The waterboarding technique was physically harmful, inducing
    convulsions and vomiting. Abu Zubaida, for example, became ‘completely unresponsive, with bubbles rising through his open, full mouth…. [He] remained unresponsive until medical intervention, when he regained consciousness and expelled ‘copious amounts of liquid,’”
    Reprinted from the WAPO article on the Senate Intelligence Committee Report (2014)