The Drumhead

A Klingon spy on board the Enterprise has been passing secrets to the Romulans, and that invites a deep inquiry from Starfleet. But when Admiral Satie shows up, the specter of conspiracy threatens to make enemies out of everyone – including Picard himself! The Drumhead in this week’s Mission Log.

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  • JusenkyoGuide

    This has to be one of the best Picard speeches, even if he’s quoting another person in it.

    • Michael Poole

      I concur.

  • Critter615

    This may be a bit bold, but I feel as if some episodes of this podcast are not far off in methodology from what Satie does in her investigation.

    That’s not to say I think you guys are flinging unhinged conclusions all willy-nilly, and I certainly don’t want to demean the time and effort you put in each week. But the way I see it, some episodes of the show are pure weird fantasy, comedy, or just there to add a bit of interest to an existing crew member.

    Trying to divine a “message, moral, or meaning” from the main plot of any of those strikes me as similar to searching for evidence to fit an imagined narrative.

    Identity Crisis was a great example of this, in which I believe John compared the lizard-people-making virus to HIV, which was a hot topic of the time the episode aired. I actually found that one really interesting, but finding a similarly profound conclusion in other episodes of the kind would surely be a struggle.

    I love all you guys do and am an avid listener. I just thought this was relevant and would make for an interesting piece of critique and discussion.

    • Earl Green

      I understand the point that Critter’s trying to make here, but at the same time, once a communication is sent, a story told, or a picture painted, the artist is no longer in charge of how it’s interpreted. One of the reasons I keep coming back to this podcast is because they do find new things in each show. Sometimes it’s the same stuff I’ve sworn up and down that I found in them, sometimes it’s something completely new. Either way, it’s always interesting, and that’s why I keep coming back.

      In the essay anthology book “Boarding the Enterprise”* (co-curated by David Gerrold no less), Gerrold talks about how the final spinoff to date, Enterprise, ceased to be about issues and became a show that was simply about connecting the dots of Star Trek continuity. (I know that I myself started to feel that Trek ceased to be “about something” on a frequent basis during the Voyager years.) I’m really looking forward to what John and Ken make of the episodes that I *wasn’t* that fond of. I know they get a lot of feedback when episodes that people like or hate are coming up; I look forward most to the ones about which my feelings could be summed up as “meh”. Because they often find something that I missed completely.

      It’s not so much trying to bend existing stories to fit an imagined narrative as finding depths and interpretations that perhaps the original writers hadn’t even thought of. That’s almost the duty of anyone on the receiving end of any work of art, whether we’re talking a painting in a gallery or a teleplay.

      • Critter615

        > It’s not so much trying to bend existing stories to fit an imagined narrative as finding depths and interpretations that perhaps the original writers hadn’t even thought of.

        I like this point. A lot.

        I also think you get more out of the podcast than I do (which is great!), because I can’t stand to slog through retreads of the “meh” episodes.

        I also dislike discussing certain characters that I find boring (Barclay), and love the quirks of others so much that I don’t wish to “dissect” their personalities and motivations (Lwxana).

        I guess it all comes down to personal preference.

        Interesting notes about Enterprise and Voyager! I haven’t got to those yet.

        • Earl Green

          Let me say that the last thing I want to do is dissuade anyone from watching Voyager or Enterprise, it’s just that they seem to be less “about issues” than TNG, or certainly TOS or DS9. I’m reeeeeaaally looking forward to these guys tackling DS9, a meaty show which has the bizarre knack of being more relevant now than it was when it was made, but I’m also looking forward to them tackling Voyager and Enterprise, perhaps finding stuff that I missed.

          By the way, DS9 reveals some layers to Lwaxana that are pretty fascinating when one tries to reconcile them with TNG Lwaxana. Arguably Voyager does this with Barclay too. Stay tuned. 🙂

          • I also cannot wait till DS9! I think I plotted out an estimate a few months ago, but I am in for the long haul anyway. I thought DS9’s intro of Section 31 could explain away some TNG loose ends here and there like…”The Offspring” Admiral Halftel’s unusual jerkiness, “The Pegasus” cloaking debacle… I like the layers that get peeled away regarding Starfleet and UFP sensibilities.

          • Muthsarah

            Lwaxana’s redemption* begins with next week’s episode, actually. But, yes, DS9 takes it and runs even deeper.

            Barclay didn’t need the help. Two episode of TNG were all it took to create a fully-fleshed-out and enjoyable character. He’ll be back for two more TNG outings, but they’ll mostly be running in place.

            * – I always liked her, though.

    • I see what you are saying. I think I felt the same way regarding the HIV analogy. I also think “The Hunted” PTSD bend was right on, when back in 1990 I was thinking “eugenics” human engineering was the message…did somebody say Captain America?!?! hahaha,

    • Muthsarah

      Well, it’s their job to search for messages, morals, and meanings. And when you sometimes have to so examine tripe like Catspaw or The Naked Now, sometimes you do have to reach for a judgment.

    • Hi @disqus_8y0DN0V3mg:disqus – first off thank you so much for listening and, more importantly, for taking the time to share your thoughts with us.
      I think for us, the driving factor for Mission Log has always been to start with the idea that Star Trek is important. It may just be important as a piece of entertainment or modern mythology, but for years people have said that Star Trek had some impact on their lives. We came up with the idea of the podcast to try to figure out why, and the best way to do that would be to examine every single episode for morals/meaning/messages to see if, by the end, we could paint some larger picture about the overall comment Star Trek is making about humanity.
      Now, granted, not every single episode does this. There are some that are purely there for entertainment sake, to sort of “let the air out” and allow the characters to have a good time. There are more than a few where, by the end, we’ve said there really isn’t a message. Even then, there may be some element of that story that ties into the overall themes of Star Trek as a whole. (Since you mentioned “Identity Crisis,” I wanted to be very sure in my comments that I did not think the AIDS crisis was any part of the “moral” of the story, but merely that the language of the medical crisis reminded me heavily of that.)
      There are messages that are intentional and some that most certainly aren’t. We’re doing what we can to make some sense out of all of those and, as has always been our intention, making that process a dialogue with listeners.
      While there’s not always a heavy statement, Star Trek has been described over and over as “morality plays,” and that’s the premise where we take off.

    • Derek

      What unhinged conclusions did they jump to that weren’t clearly stated in dialogue in this episode? Picard talking about the Salem Witch Trials wasn’t just a cool visual, it mean something and was put into the show for a reason.

  • “Crewman First Class Simon Tarses” – Spencer Garrett

  • Gene Roddenberry and Jean Simmons RIP 2010

    • Mark Sabella

      Nice shot. Thx…

  • Kirk Douglas and Jean Simmons in Spartacus

    • Muthsarah

      Wasn’t he just the manliest man who ever manned?

      EDIT: ISN’T, I should say. He’s still alive, Bless his cleft.

    • Mark Sabella

      Thx again. She was stunning. (One great flick too!)

  • Troy Brooks

    Just to bring up an old topic. What happened to the rule that there wouldn’t be conflicts within the Federation?
    And with that in mind does anyone know what Gene Rodenberry’s reaction to this episode was?

    • Muthsarah

      This episode aired about six months before he died, and five months before “Silicon Avatar”, the last episode I read he actually saw. I don’t know how early he could have conceivably seen new episodes (how long was there between the final edit and airing, and was he still shown the shooting scripts?), but I know he HATED the resolution of that episode, which

      SPOILERS….for a 25-year-old episode

      involved an older woman, an accomplished scientist this time, losing her composure and killing a unique alien out of vengeance.

      So if I were to guess, based on that other episode, he’d probably have serious issues with an Admiral Satie-type existing, though I suspect he’d support the episode’s ultimate message.

  • nathankc

    For more info on / a terrific dramatization of Murrow / McCarthy – see the film “Good Night and Good Luck.”.

  • Wildride

    “On the Klingon homeworld, your name is no longer spoken. I mean, it didn’t exactly come up before, but I guess now they aren’t saying it purposefully. Pretty much same old, same old for you, I guess.”

    • lol- haha, good one… but I would think Worf might be a little “famous” being the only Klingon in Starfleet…ennnh, maybe not….I wonder when if/that/when finally changed….

  • I just saw “Trumbo” last week and it was very interesting. To see the government and McCarthy types chase down filmmakers for their feared political viewpoints. This episode was one I gave a VHS dub to my history professor back in 1991 along w “First Contact” to show him how relevant Star Trek can be in contemporary life. This style of storytelling…teaching us a lesson in a future setting, getting us to examine how we do things currently and maybe, just maybe getting us to change. Great science fiction imo. The limits of the 44 minute episode though…so glaringly obvious! Just a little more time for so many episodes. Coulda made such a difference. What a cop out for the explanation of the S1 finale “Conspiracy”. So sad they never followed up with those aliens. Geez, I thought it could been a great movie. Invasion of the Body Snatchers in Star Trek TNG!!

    • Earl Green

      I agree – the Conspiracy Bugs were built up as a returning menace, and then turned into the biggest dropped ball in all of TNG. Then again…how much of an invasion threat are they when you can spray Raid on ’em?

      • Muthsarah

        Is THAT was Admiral Satie was doing when she solved that crisis? Maybe the fumes went to her head.

  • “Crewman First Class”!!! finally an enlisted rank reference that is not Chief O’Brien..who freaking wears lieutenant pips!?!?!? what a wasted opportunity to achieve some realism and depth to the crew…also, for crying outloud, let’s get NAME TAGS in Starfleet people!!! There is no way people can know the names of others in a ship that size…ugh, just so bizarrely unrealistic

    • nathankc

      I think there have been instances where Riker comes across somebody and doesn’t quite know their name off the top of his head

      • not knowing a crewman’s name would be me..ALL DAY, EVERYDAY…geez, theres a thousand! and forget about Starbases!

    • Earl Green

      I can just see Riker now: “Remember when I ran that holodeck program about Captain Archer and his crew, and they all wore name tags that they had never worn before that episode? That was such a neat idea…naaaaaah, it’ll never catch on.”

    • Durakken

      Here’s a funny thought…
      Maybe they don’t need name tags because whatever the universal translater does it converts “Hey you!” and “That guy that did something dumb yesterday” into whatever the guys real name is considering it is able to translate both ways whether both parties have one or not…

  • Muthsarah

    Not beating the Official Mission Log Drum-of-Sexism here (as was pointed out, she’s but the latest in a long line of borderline psychopathic admirals), but I do think it’s unfortunate that TNG introduced a character like Admiral Satie, an older, accomplished, dignified, and highly-motivated woman in a position of great power (when such a character was still rare in Trek), and by the end turned her into a whining, whimpering little girl with a daddy-obsession. It’s the one part of an otherwise-excellent episode that always left a bad taste in my mouth, and kept me from ever considering it a favorite.

    Jean Simmons is very compelling in the role, but her character ends up feeling very silly. I almost would have preferred Satie be played by an actor who I didn’t associate with more class and restraint. She’s Estella from Lean’s Great Expectations, after all. She played domineering and bitchy back before you could even use that word.

    • TrixieB

      Agreed!! Makes me upset about what could have been.

    • Chris Trump

      I don’t think Star Trek was being sexist. I think Star Trek ALWAYS used stereotypical characters to remind us of ourselves. So the fact that you thought it was sexist just shows your own sensibility to sexism. That episode certainly didnt contribute to my personal overall perception of women.

  • Dave Steph Taylor

    Surprised you guys did not mention the major forth wall break committed by Patrick Stewart at 11:25

    • You know, that was an odd choice for the show. Maybe the direction was that Picard was supposed to simply look away, into the distance between Satie and Sabin, but it comes across as looking right into the eyes of the audience.

      • Dave Steph Taylor

        There are plenty of moments where characters are looking at the camera, but not the audience. This one was so obvious a nod to the audience.

    • Mark Sabella

      Totally missed that… I think I’d have to agree w/John’s assessment. Definitely didn’t feel like Bones saying that he “finally go the last word!” 🙂

  • Ken Goldman

    Does anyone have a link to the Edward R. Murrow quote that John read during this show? It seemed to be very meaningful for today, and I would like to be able to share it with others.

    • Here you go, Ken – from “See It Now” March 9, 1954:
      “We must not confuse dissent with disloyalty. We must remember always that accusation is not proof and that conviction depends upon evidence and due process of law. We will not walk in fear, one of another. We will not be driven by fear into an age of unreason, if we dig deep in our history and our doctrine, and remember that we are not descended from fearful men—not from men who feared to write, to speak, to associate and to defend causes that were, for the moment, unpopular.”

      • Ken Goldman

        Thanks John…as I said, above, it is amazing how timely those words are today…

      • Mark Sabella

        Thx John. I wanted to know the same thing. (And thank you Ken for asking!)
        The drumhead has been beating all along for anyone who is different – which is relative to the geography. Here, fear of Islam has overshadowed many of the “otherness” of smaller groups. The plus side: these smaller groups have been able to gain value and recognition of their concerns and have their voices heard…

  • Durakken

    The lessons that we keep learning from these events continue to repea, not in the “blacks” or “muslims” or “gays” as you guys mentioned. Those issues, where they are issues, are a different thing than what is happening in the show.

    Those that you’re naming are bigotries that are out there. Oh you’re an ‘x’ so I hate you or I’ll treat you differently. That’s not what the show is talking about nor what happened in various other events. What they’re talking about more so is letting lies and fears about possibly bad people or even non-existent people cloud our judgements and those lies about a mysterious non-evidenced conspiracy be used to make the judgements.

    The things that you should have listed are…

    Salem Witch Trials
    McCarthyism or the Red Scare
    The Satanic Panic

    There isn’t really a name for what’s going on, the closest overall name is “The Rise of the Regressives”, but it’s basically Social Justice Warriors/Feminists infiltrating everything and proclaiming everything is racist and everything is sexist. They go around claiming this, claiming victimhood, and have wrecked just about every community, organization, group, that they get into because “you’re a misogynist” and because you are, despite no evidence, and in fact evidence to the contrary, “You have to be removed, blocked, censured” but don’t worry, it’s all for the freedom and equality v.v

    Seriously, Looking at what most of these people propose and do they are the direct antithesis of what they say they stand for and what most people in the west recognize as the core values of western culture. And back when I more actively read what these people said it was shocking because it was things that you could just change the group to witches or communists and you’d have no clue it didn’t come from those periods. What’s sad is that a lot of it is coming from the news which is supposed to help keep this type of stuff in check by informing the public, instead they’ve taken to out right lying, fabricating a narative, and making people out to be villains who aren’t.

    So this has more relevance to today’s audience thant it did even when it was written and I whole heartedly agree it should be on every day and people should be force to watch it… but then I also think people should be forced to read all of Heinlein and “On Liberty” by John Stuart Mills, but the likelihood of that happening is very nearily nill…


    As far as everyone watching the “trial”. Why are you presuming people are only watching to see if someone gets their come-uppance? While senate is more important to the day to day running of a country trials are more of a straw that breaks the camel’s back thing where you get to see if the laws are going to be upheld or not and fairly or not. They’re more important at the event level of all that nonsense that senate has been deciding on how does it all play out. Afterall a rule that isn’t followed has no authority. So how a trial plays out and how people react to how it plays out is far more important in a number of ways and makes it important to watch…

    Also, how do you know that every moniter on all ships aren’t constantly broadcasting this stuff anyways and those potato pealers aren’t forced to watch it…

    Also Flagship captain being questioned like this would be big news… It’s interesting that with the Enterprise being the Flagship and a civilian vessel too he doesn’t have to deal with press ever…

    • Derek

      Jeri Taylor wrote this episode so the fact you think it is some MRA think peice is both funny and sad. http://thevalkyriedirective.tumblr.com/post/58505853484/crew-of-the-week-writer-and-executive-producer

      • Durakken

        I’m not talking about MRAs here. That you think so just shows what is wrong with this group of people and news outlets that push this narative.

        • Derek

          I’m glad you read the blog but missed my intent in posting it, that Jeri Taylor is a feminist.

          • Durakken

            No, I didn’t.
            Firstly, the word feminist isn’t used anywhere in that blog so i don’t know why you used it to make that comment.

            Secondly, You made the assumption that I was speaking about MRAs here. I’m not. MRAs as far as I have seen want actual equality and work towards that end which is why there isn’t and never will be a “can wome be MRAs” debate unlike there is in Feminism.

            Thirdly, The other reply that discusses the things said in the blog and this response point out that people who are part of bad/good things does not necessarily determine all their ideas. We compartmentalize and we generally don’t think about things we think are good and everyone else tells us they’re good. That’s why indoctrination and propaganda works. People with good intentions listen to people who they think have the same view they do and then they are slowly lied to, having false information told to them which generates thoughts, ideas, stances on things that are often times completely antithetical to the original desire of the person. As such, they say and do things that sound/look good that support their original intent, while in other areas say and do things that are distinctly harmful and goes against their thinking.

            In other words, Jeri Taylor is probably a fairly intelligent and good hearted person, (which results in this good episode with good messages) unfortunately brain washed into believing things that are bigoted by a group that is the very thing she warns against in this episode.

            Remember the Federation is all about equality and the Trial is all about routing out those who mean to do the federation harm…The Admiral “believes” in the self same things, at least on the surface, that everyone else does. The difference is that she really doesn’t believe those things due to some reasoning and is now acting to undermine the beliefs she claims to uphold.It’s all a good show, and believable, until you’re keen enough to see past the surface of what she is telling you this is about.

          • Derek

            I just wanted you to throw a hissy fit and argue against yourself.
            You argued that Jeri both is and is not a feminist (or isnt used in the blog yet you still got it). You argued MRAs are unrelated and insist upon defending them. And you complained about feminists calling people sexist, I never called you sexist yet you accused myself and Jeri Taylor of being sexist.
            Pretty funny if you think about it.

          • Durakken

            If that’s what you got out of that congratulations on being an example of a failure of your education system.

          • Derek

            No more frowny faces? Not going to call anyone else sexist? Just insults? I guess no more fun.

          • Durakken

            A statement of observation about your lack of ability to observe properly. If you take that as an insult that’s on you.

      • Durakken

        Btw… Read that blog….

        “The production staff noted that fan response to the episode was split along gender lines, with men hating it and women loving it.”

        I would like to know how anyone would know that. This is the late 80s, early 90s with most of their “audience” reaction numbers coming from a very small subset of the fans. This is projection at it’s best, which is displayed earlier in the piece as she recounts Producers saying that from the beginning, but if we went off anything that hollywood believes we’d have to believe that what people want is a dark and gritty superman which most fans hated… where as most fans loved The Adventures of Lois and Clark and the same is being said presently in the comics as well. The Gritty new-52 Superman that noone likes has been killed off and is being replaced by the Pre-52 Superman who is married and has a child… that I’ve not heard one bad thing said about and most love it… So yeah, that is just them being sexist against men and believing things that are just untrue about the demographic.

        ““One of the… dangers in choosing a woman with a show that has a high male demographic is that the men in the audience would not accept her as a commander…””

        Again, more sexism by this writer. I don’t know where she would ever get this notion when looking at the audience she is writing for. Whatever the shows actually showed, the feeling of fans, especially sci-fi fans has always been towards equality and that was that way long before Star Trek was ever a thing. Sci-fi has always readily shown women in places of authority and commanders and fans of the genre have never had a problem with it and in fact cheered it on by buying the books and such and this has been going on since before I was born which shows it’s not a scoial thing nor can I believe it is a “natural” thing as I never once thought “What Is a woman commanding this starship” with Voyager even with the fairly bad acting in the first episode of Voyager…

        If anything, that blog just supports what I’ve been saying all along, that Star Trek, for as much as it likes to talk a big game, has a lot of faults and hypocrisy in it and supports what I said in what you’re responding to… and if fitting with the line of what was said in the episode. It’s easy to spot bigotry when it’s the KKK, Nazis, etc, but when it comes from sources that you think are “oppressed” or “good” it’s a lot harder for you to spot, so when people that are clearly racist/sexist/whateverist do show up they appear to be fighting the good fight… You want to believe that they’re good even when they say utterly terrible things. That’s how these things work. When she says “Men wont accept a woman as commander” that’s her being sexist making a baseless accusation upon men, but you likely just see her as stating a fact that men are sexist. Funny how that works v.v

        Also, just because she is that way, doesn’t mean that she is wrong across the board. There are plenty times when people do and say horrible things while still promoting things that are mutually exclusive or would destroy the other. Humans compartmentalize things. If Atheist christians and Pagan Catholics can exist I’m pretty sure it’s less of a stretch to have someone who is sexist and part of a group that are acting as inquisitors who also write how terrible and bad such things are.

  • Scott Newland

    I had to wonder if the zipper loop on Satie’s red dress was consciously styled to look like a noose! It certainly seemed apt.

  • Treadwell

    I don’t agree that those in the gallery watching Tarses’ questioning are necessarily there to gawk. We have no idea what their motives are, good or bad. There might be a regulation requiring witnesses. They might be some equivalent of the “press” aboard ship. (Space bloggers?) They might be friends who came to support him. To quote Guy from Galaxy Quest, “you don’t know!” 😉

  • Pancho planet

    Is there a way to find out the dates of these podcasts? (Recording date)
    Any reason why that’s not documented?


    • Hi – are you looking for recording dates or release dates? Our recording dates, honestly, shift very frequently and may be anywhere from a couple of days ahead to a couple of weeks or more ahead. Episodes release every Thursday at midnight PST. If you are looking for the release dates (we leave it off of this site since we intend the show to be “evergreen”), you can find it at iTunes or by looking directly at our feed at http://missionlog.libsyn.com

      • Pancho planet

        I was wondering about the release dates because sometimes I get the feeling that the podcast seems dated because of references made to past events.
        But now I know I can find the dates at the http://missionlog.libsyn.com site.
        Thanks and keep up the good work.

        • Durakken

          If you’re talking about current event references sounding dated… I find that I hear about things about 3 to 7 days before the average person. People who are constantly busy I’d assume they’re a week to 2 weeks behind on most current events…

          If you’re talking about other references… That’s what happens when you get old ^.^ You reference things from your childhood which happened further and further in the past and have less time to make references to new stuff so less references to new stuff… Also people are now more on a year cycle than a week to week cycle so that contributes tooooo.

  • PureLimbic .

    I don’t see why Satie’s gender should make her ineligible for being a crazy zealot. Characters with no flaws male or female would be boring and unrealistic.

  • wchmara

    Surprised no one mentioned Jean Simmons’ role in another cult TV show; “Dark Shadows,” specifically NBC’s 1991 nighttime remake, where she played matriarch Elizabeth Collins Stoddard, a role originated by another well-established movie star, Joan Bennett.

  • Low Mileage Pit Woofie

    The human ability to collect seemingly separate, unrelated facts and form connections is a wonderful tool in the service of scientific exploration and the advancement of knowledge. But it can also fuel the ravings of conspiracy theorists, of people looking for a fight where there is none.

  • regeekery – JD

    John Champion made a Ferris Bueller’s Day Off reference. “Nine times. NINE TIMES.” God, I love this podcast.

  • Chris Trump

    I think Worf represents the general public or the media. “We have enemies, we need to destroy them!”