Episode

230

Face of the Enemy

What are those bumps on Counselor Troi’s forehead? Wait! That IS her forehead! She’s been kidnapped. And yet, she is in command of a Romulan ship because – as far as anyone knows – she is a Romulan! Meanwhile a wayward ensign returns to the Federation, having defected decades ago. Now he has a message from – hang onto your hats – Ambassador Spock! Intrigue abounds as we put Face of the Enemy in the Mission Log.

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Discussion

  • Pete2174

    Great episode about a great episode! So glad I discovered this podcast. Really look forward to it every week.

    Cheers guys & roll on Tapestry. A personal fave of mine!

  • CmdrR

    So, the Romulans get their security from the same rent-a-cop company as the Federation does. Troi is kidnapped from a conference (and therefore goes missing) — nothing. Troi is given surgery — nothing. Troi is embedded on a Romulan ship with no idea who she’s supposed to play — nothing. This is a fun episode that doesn’t let plausibility get in the way of a good story. Thanks!!

  • edharris1178

    This is one of my favorites of the season and the series. Good acting from Marina, nice thriller plot and an interesting character in the Romulan commander Troi has to deal with. Sort of reminds me of Diane Duane’s take on the Romulans. Very good stuff.

    • Dave Steph Taylor

      Agreed

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    A great episode, even if the pot has a lot of holes.

    I recall that Marina was original in line for the security chief position. This episode is a sampling of what that might have been

    • She sure was – switched with Denise Crosby who was up for the empath role.

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        I would love to see the alternative universe where this happened.

        • NOT ME!! LOL, Bizzaro World! I loved Troi in her counselor outfits…hahaha

          • Dave Taylor

            It would be strange for sure

    • They really should have said, “You bear an uncanny resemblance to the real Major Rakal and we will have need of your empathic abilities if we are to survive this!!”- done!!

  • Durakken

    This was a good ep and definitely works quite well with Troi, rather than what I see how it would play with Crusher. The issue that I see with that is that Crusher has very few episodes that are her focused. It’s weird because we view the main characters as Picard, Riker, and Crusher (maybe Data) to a large extent, but if you think about who has the episodes that revolve around them alone off the top of my head it’s Troi, Geordi, and Data. Riker, Crusher, and Worf have very few episodes. in the overall scheme of TNG.

  • Just wanted to take a moment in praise of one of my favorite actresses in nearly anything she shows up in, Carolyn Seymour. I’ll give her a pass on the whole Evil Leaper thing for her multiple Trek appearances, Babylon 5, recent Doctor Who audio plays, and that fact that in the 1970s, she was both smokin’ hot and butt-kickingly self-reliant in the first season of the BBC’s Survivors. And no matter how much Romulan forehead and shoulder pads they pile onto her, she’s still got that voice. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/20850fa6db92bd9982dc4e55e6f639f249763b81749af6400c2514fd43afe581.png

    • heyyyyy! that’s my job! lol- jk. Sometimes, I think, oh man! I forgot to post pics of guest stars to Mission Log! Like it is an online class of mine! I do tell people it’s great fun to post and discuss Trek w true fans! Hope all is well my VHS recording buddy!

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    One final thought after listening to the episode. Troi is a Starfleet Office. Sure her specialty is mental health, but she would have had to take the basic training and officer training that the rest of the officers take.

    Sure we don’t see her take on command/tactical roles as much as some of the other crew, it at least she would have had some training.

  • Canavan

    Nice podcast, guys. As for my reaction to this episode, I’m more in John’s camp — after what was surely the worst episode of Season 6 in “Aquiel”, viewers were treated to what turned out to be one of the season’s two best episodes. Yes, there are a few plot holes, but it wouldn’t be a Trek episode without at least a handful of those. And the Romulan uniforms *do* look a bit silly. (I’ve always wondered about those holsters — do the disruptors routinely fall out every time a Romulan leans forward for one reason or another?)

    I tend to like those Trek episodes where the story reveals or highlights some new or hitherto underemphasized aspect of a main character’s personality. Here, of course, we get to see Deanna Troi play the resourceful toughie as she butts heads with both Sub-Commander N’Vek and Commander Toreth. This isn’t totally novel, since we’ve already seen this aspect of Troi in at least one or two previous episodes, most notably in the Season 5 episode, “Disaster”, which forces her to assert her command status under pressure from both Ro and O’Brien. But Sirtis does such a good job in this sort of situation that it makes the viewer wish that there had been more episodes that focused on this aspect of her character.

    In addition to Sirtis’ performance, good acting jobs by all of the supporting cast (Scott McDonald as N’Vek, Carolyn Seymour as Toreth, and Barry Lynch as DeSeve). I particularly enjoyed Seymour’s scenes where she spars with Sirtis about the roles of the military and the Tal Shiar in Romulan society. I’m not completely sure, but “Face of the Enemy” may have marked the first mention of this intelligence agency. It’s a nice touch that adds a bit of complexity to our understanding of Romulan society, even if the concept is a bit derivative. (The writers were obviously thinking at least in part about U.S.S.R. political commissars when fleshing out ideas about the Tal Shiar.)

    John and Ken also discuss at length DeSeve’s conversation with Picard about the former’s growing disillusionment with Romulus as he aged. Ken seems skeptical about the generality of one growing less certain about things as we age. I dunno. That idea at least *feels* true to me on a personal level. Isn’t there a famous quote about knowing less as one grows older? But that may all be beside the point. I suspect in outlining DeSeve’s evolution, the storywriter was actually channeling something more specific, the experience of many U.S. leftists during the middle part of the 20th century — i.e., those who were inspired by the ideals of the Communist Party during the 20s and 30s, but who later in life fell away after becoming disillusioned by Stalinism.

    Anyway, great episode (kudos to Sirtis) and good podcast (as usual).

  • Canavan

    One other thing I was thinking about tangentially related to this episode. Back when STV was in development and it was publicly announced that the starship captain was going to be a woman, I remember thinking that the producers should be looking for an actor like Seymour (or, alternatively, like Trisha O’Neil, who did such a fine job playing the captain of the Enterprise C on “Yesterday’s Enterprise”). Instead we got stuck with hands-on-hips Janeway. (Apologies in advance to those who are fans of Kate Mulgrew.)

    • NOT me…I did not like Kate Mulgrew’s Janeway one bit. Darn, I wanted to, but just never got into her. Sadly, but honestly, the voice was a big deal to me. Very nasal. The name, incorporating feminine traits even into the last name? Seemed pushy. Finally, I just never felt a connection w her, her past etc….perhaps that will change w this run through in 2-3 years? hahaha who knows…?

      • Muthsarah

        I never felt a connection with Janeway either. Or with Archer. Or the new Kirk. I don’t blame any of the three actors, though. They’ve all been quite good in other roles. One thing ML has helped me to better appreciate about what distinguishes good Trek from bad is the difference between writing a story with a dramatic or moral purpose versus writing to an audience. If you’re just trying to fill time, you’re probably not going to create compelling drama OR compelling characters. Think of all those meaningless B plots. Whereas even writing a clumsy work that swings for the fences will produce something interesting to talk about.

  • Canavan

    If this rather longish post comes through twice, my apologies. I posted it earlier today (Friday) but looking now it appears to be missing in action.

    Nice podcast, guys. As for my reaction to this episode, I’m more in John’s camp — after what was surely the worst episode of Season 6 in “Aquiel”, viewers were treated to what turned out to be one of the season’s two best episodes. Yes, there are a few plot holes, but it wouldn’t be a Trek episode without at least a handful of those. And the Romulan uniforms *do* look a bit silly. (I’ve always wondered about those holsters — do the disruptors routinely fall out every time a Romulan leans forward for one reason or another?)

    I tend to like those Trek episodes where the story reveals or highlights some new or hitherto underemphasized aspect of a main character’s personality. Here, of course, we get to see Deanna Troi play the resourceful toughie as she butts heads with both Sub-Commander N’Vek and Commander Toreth. This isn’t totally novel, since we’ve already seen this aspect of Troi in at least one or two previous episodes, most notably in the Season 5 episode, “Disaster”, which forces her to assert her command status under pressure from both Ro and O’Brien. But Sirtis does such a good job in this sort of situation that it makes the viewer wish that there had been more episodes that focused on this aspect of her character.

    In addition to Sirtis’ performance, good acting jobs by all of the supporting cast (Scott McDonald as N’Vek, Carolyn Seymour as Toreth, and Barry Lynch as DeSeve). I particularly enjoyed Seymour’s scenes where she spars with Sirtis about the roles of the military and the Tal Shiar in Romulan society. I’m not completely sure, but “Face of the Enemy” may have marked the first mention of this intelligence agency. It’s a nice touch that adds a bit of complexity to our understanding of Romulan society, even if the concept is a bit derivative. (The writers were obviously thinking at least in part about U.S.S.R. political commissars when fleshing out ideas about the Tal Shiar.)

    John and Ken also discuss at length DeSeve’s conversation with Picard about the former’s growing disillusionment with Romulus as he aged. Ken seems skeptical about the generality of one growing less certain about things as we age. I dunno. That idea at least *feels* true to me on a personal level. Isn’t there a famous quote about knowing less as one grows older? But that may all be beside the point. I suspect in outlining DeSeve’s evolution, the storywriter was actually channeling something more specific, the experience of many U.S. leftists during the middle part of the 20th century — i.e., those who were inspired by the ideals of the Communist Party during the 20s and 30s, but who later in life fell away after becoming disillusioned by Stalinism.

    Anyway, great episode (kudos to Sirtis) and good podcast (as usual).

  • gizmochimp

    Sorry Ken, Klingon Pony Tail > Klingon Prince Valiant.

  • Angela

    I have no trouble understanding Riker and Worf’s resentment of Ensign Deseve. Star Fleet may do a lot of exploring but they are still a military organization. Presumably Ensign Deseve, Riker and Worf took a vow to maintain the Federation’s constitution or whatever. Deseve didn’t just defect he deserted AND he joined the Romulan military. He presumable left in a Star Fleet uniform and came back in a Romulan one.

    • Dave Taylor

      Totally. Why Picard is trusting so easily, I don’t know.

      In the famous words of the other Star Universe, “It’s a trap” kept coming to my mind.

    • I think no matter how far we advance there will always be some hostility toward those who are different or leave our camp…

  • This episode was great in concept. Really showed the Jason Bourne/Ludlum, Jack Ryan/Tom Clancy possibilities in the Trek universe. TOS touched on this w “Balance of Terror” and hmmmm the one where Kirk romances the Romulan commander to steal a cloaking device. Obviously, DS9 really hits this on the head. Boy, that Romulan bridge was terrible!! Also, I wish the perspective was 95% on the Romulan ship and the Enterprise interaction was only when Romulan Troi had to convince them to lower shields..would have been much more engaging imo. Again, DS9 really gets to deal w the Romulans in a much more appropriate way. They deserved waaayyyy better development and screen time in TNG…

    • Muthsarah

      It was Spock who was Mr. Sexypants in “The Enterprise Incident”. The guy only got to do that maybe three times.

  • Derwood

    Too bad Troi didn’t know “Viinerine” is Romulan for “Death-By-Triple-Chocolate-Lava-Sundae.”