Ensign Ro

A Bajoran terrorist attack on a Federation colony has got everyone a little jumpy. Enter Ensign Ro Laren, Starfleet officer and Bajoran herself, who has been released from prison to help find the attackers. But what do the Cardassians have to do with all this? And why does Starfleet’s Admiral Kennelly seem to be keeping secrets? This week, Ensign Ro and “Ensign Ro” go into the Mission Log.

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  1. regeekery - JD says:

    Rewatched this episode for this podcast and surprise to me it’s way better than I remember. And older, wiser me is ready to give Ro Laren a second chance like Picard did and maybe I won’t hate her anymore.

    • Ed Lawrence says:

      When I first watched this episode years ago, I wasn’t a big fan of this episode or Ensign Ro. Re-watching it now, I like Ensign Ro’s character and how she develops in subsequent episodes.

  2. CmdrR says:

    This is such a meaty episode; lots of grey areas. The whole concept of the Prime Directive getting the crew into a mess seems inevitable… and great grist for the drama mill. You touched on the question of why there are turf wars at a time when peoples can go anywhere. Iain Banks had a great passage (sorry, I don’t remember which novel) about how races thought they’d go out an colonize planets and were surprised to find those planets already had cultures… and that everyone seemed to have had the same idea. Also — LUVS Michelle Forbes to pieces! (Still listening — any thoughts on the way she removes her outer tunic by finding the hidden seem? I think that’s the ONLY time we see a character work their uniform that way. Seems like something very handy for Riker.) Anyway — great ep!

  3. Ed Lawrence says:

    Re-watching this episode, I find it odd that Riker calls out Ro for her Bajoran earring due to it being against the Starfleet uniform dress code. If that is the case, then Word, Troi, and Dr. Crusher (I guess the cardigan could be standard issue) would be in violation. Also, on a cultural note, Worf’s sash is a part of his culture just like Ensign Ro’s earring, so this seems to be inconsistent. I get that they were attempting to show that she is a rebel and goes against regulations, but I felt they could have focusEd more on her actions other than that point.

  4. Robert Karma says:

    The Eaglemoss models are incredible! Just a note of warning… keep the boxes they came in for the day you have to move. Several of my models suffered damage when I regretfully had to pack them in different boxes for my recent relocation. Learn from my mistakes people! You guys nailed it as these ships are a lot of fun to use to reenact your favorite scenes from Star Trek.

  5. Low Mileage Pit Woofie says:

    Oh, this episode really edified for me the reasons I hate Riker: his superior judgemental attitude, especially when dealing with visitors to the ship. Worf can have his sash, Troi her bunny suit. But because he’s already passed judgement on Ro, he’s gonna demand “the highest level of performance from her”. And his sanctimonious outrage about her blase attitude to being onboard, when “there are officers who wait years to serve on this ship!”. Grow up and get the painstick out of your tukhus, Riker. You’re not so perfect. Some of us know what’s coming from your past.

    As to the Federation’s response to the Cardassian occupation by Bajor, I wouldn’t have said it was the Prime Directive, which usually applies to primitive societies unaware of other worlds, but more the Federation’s general non-interference policy with regards to the internal matters of other governments (such as the Klingon Civil War). It’s even possible that the Cardassians had invaded Bajor before the Federation was ever aware of either side. And there may be plenty of Class-M worlds out there, but we’ll always want to expand our own borders and claim the neighbouring territory.

    Troi was useless this episode, and I mean even by her standards. You guys were right, she should have sensed Ro’s guilt – she certainly should have acknowledged the horrible feelings Ro was engendering in her shipmates, and how it might affect the overall mission. But I guess it was only a 40-something minute episode.

    Having said that, however, I give them kudos for successfully introducing an entirely new race, with individual nuances like the names and the earrings and the backstory of their refugee status. And for successfully introducing a dynamic, realistic character like Ro, with her own tragic, defiant past and personality.

    • deaddropsd says:

      Yes, I think non interference for Prime Directive was tech, warp capability/awareness of other lifeforms based. I can see where not providing aid to the Bajorans on a routine basis would be a policy. Really, where would it end? The Cardassians would be upset w medical aid or foodstuffs as well as weaponry because it all helps the Bajorans resist. Also, what about when colony or Planet X asks for help? The Rutians from “The High Ground” or the Angosians from “The Hunted”? Just like our current issues w refugees, Syrian, Iraqi, Afghanistan, Libya…empathy has limits. Of course the US should not have destroyed the pot, (I was gonna say stir the pot) or rock the boat, but really we lit the boat on fire and blasted it and sunk it… because now we are dealing w the side effects. I recall in DS9 , Ben Sisko’s father was asking, “If the universe is as big as you say it is, why isn’t there enough room for peace..?” or something to that effect. Obviously, it’s resources and distance…but it was an interesting proposition. Ego=war imo too, at least a big factor….

    • deaddropsd says:

      Troi, yeah, w this in depth analysis of one of my favorite childhood shows…she was just eye candy…

  6. Wildride says:

    Sometimes the Enterprise crew just takes an instant dislike to people: Ensign Ro, Tam Elbrum and Reg Barclay, for examples.

    The way they addressed the Bajora as terrorists here, and going forward, is largely naive and although they call them terrorists, they are never really shown as attacking civilians. In High Ground, they were portraying terrorists much more accurately.

    Kennelly combined being too easily filled with being corrupt in that he’s so willing to do the wrong thing to achieve what he believes to be a good end. Even if the inciting incident wasn’t a false flag operation, he’s still doing an Oliver North to deal with the situation. And, basically, he’s still a party to the murder of the Bajora “terrorists” that is going to be carried out by the Cardassians. Even if you credit him with sincere motives, his actions are entirely sinister.

    I don’t think it’s until Insurrection before we see another Admiral quite this corrupt claiming to speak for Starfleet and the Federation.

    But Trek was very much quaint and misguided pretty much every time terrorism was brought up, especially as relates to the Bajorans.

  7. DesertDweller79 says:

    I think this whole idea of “Oh no, we’re getting away from Gene Roddenberry’s vision!” idea is a bit misleading. The TOS era didn’t have this whole idea of “no conflict among the crew” and “super competent” and “highest ideals!”. That is the era that Roddenberry was directly in control of. Kirk, Spock and McCoy argued about a lot of stuff. Kirk made some questionable decisions. There were tons of corrupt and ignorant admirals and commodores in that era. Thinking about the one in “A Taste of Armageddon”. We saw what happened in “A Private Little War”. Kirk and Spock were ordered to enter the Neutral Zone and steal tech from the Romulans in “The Enterprise Incident”. It was a Commodore who ordered the testing in “The Ultimate Computer”. And I’m not even mentioning the movies, here.

    In Season 1 of TNG, which Roddenberry was in control of, we got “Too Short a Season”, featuring an admiral of questionable morals. In S2, It was Starfleet Command who ordered Data be turned over to Cmdr Maddox to be disassembled.

    You guys covered all these episodes. I just feel there is a difference between what Gene apparently said he wanted, and what had been depicted on screen. And I don’t think he even said all this stuff back in the TOS era. This was only imposed on TNG. With TNG, it went a little bit far in nearly overcorrecting. A little kid isn’t supposed to feel grief when his mother dies?

    Part of what Star Trek will be exploring from this point on is that Federation officials, including Starfleet, tend to take everyone in good faith. They inherently trust that what other people are saying is the truth. This becomes a problem when they come into contact on a large scale with other organizations. The Romulans and Cardassians, in particular, are societies that often lie about what they are doing and why. What happens when a trusting organization comes into conflict with an organization which thrives on subterfuge?

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      Agreed. Gene had an ideal, but even he had to present imperfect folks in his perfect future.

      The passage of Gene from the helm is important to notice, but it is simply a change. Audiences, were evolving and the show probably needed to change.

  8. Durakken says:

    This is one of those cases where I’d argue it is shown how the prime directive as an absolute is wrong and that can be taken to the israel/palestinian thing. The reason it is “confusing” is because what was done was wrong in the first place and it should have been obvious that it was wrong. The Bajoran issue is something that the Federation did wrong and to most of us we’d immediately see that what the Cardassians did was wrong, but we allowed it and did nothing to help them apparently even though we know we fought a war with the Cardassians. If we just go back to the origins or even a point just a short while ago it’s not as confusing, but rather a simple choice of right and wrong. The Federation made the wrong choice at the beginning and when you do that there is always a cost to correct and the more wrong choices you make the bigger the cost. At this point, that is the same situation that Israel/Palestine as Bajor/Cardassia/Fed are in.

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      Totally. The prime Directive here is keeping those who could help from helping in a terrible situation

      • deaddropsd says:

        I disagree. We don’t know locations of planets etc..but if the Cardassian Confederacy had Bajor in their realm, I think we would have to be careful about intervening whenever a planet was getting beat up. Just would seem to be easy to get stuck in endless war….The Borg just beat up the UFP, so war over one planet w the Cardassians likely seemed like a losing proposition.

        • Dave Steph Taylor says:

          I do get that. We don’t need the Federation jumping into every conflict in the Galaxy.

  9. JusenkyoGuide says:

    I wonder how much of my new appreciation for this ep comes from knowledge of what is to come (DS9), of which this ep is the genesis for?

    I remember the first time I saw it, I liked Michelle Forbes and the character, but by and large, the rest was kinda there. After 7 years of DS9 and, like Captain Picard, coming to know the Bajorans later and…

  10. Dave Steph Taylor says:

    1- I feel that the Federation was using the Prime Directive to avoid the situation of the Bajoran’s. Ignore it and it will go away.

    2- The Admiral’s flu. Was there supposed to be something there that got cut.

    3- I totally get that the crew was very hesitant to accept Ro. By her actions, (which were not explained), fellow crew members were killed, she was court-martialed and sent to prison. I too would not be excited to be working with her.

    4- The switch in story telling around Gene’s passing is expected. Different folks at the helm are gonna go in different directions. I appreciate the changes.

    • Wildride says:

      2) No, there just wasn’t much to it. He had a cold. He caught it from a Cardassian while they were hatching this plot. It was a clue Picard used to help “prove” this collusion. Not sure it was needed as a plot element.

    • deaddropsd says:

      I have always thought that Roddenberry’s vision was commendable to have humans aspire for world, global peace. To make rampant disease, hunger, poverty and war minimized to such a level as to be abnormal on our planet. W good tech, leadership, birth control and restraint I think we can get there. I personally think the distances are so vast in space that we may never get to the point of meeting aliens as much as I want us to. I think organic life will just die in transit. if we do meet others, sadly I think we will fight, maybe not the first but I just think eventually we will find others to fight with….sad…

      • Dave Steph Taylor says:

        Oh ya, Roddenberry’s future vision is admirable for sure, I just think that the later versions of Trek is more realistic.

  11. Durakken says:

    Off topic to the episode generally, but on topic for Star Trek in general… Has anyone ever realized the whole “We don’t trade our tech” thing is a bit nonsense? Technology and our creative works are not owned by Earth or the Federation or any individual save for a small window of inventions. And a lot of this tech is off the shelf. You can argue starfleet vessels might have a principle of not giving/trading tech, but not everyone else in the federation nor in other civilizations which hold this principle. How could any civilization, even if it were against the law police this given how wide spread the uses of some of things must be or the situations that they must find themselves in.where trading would solve the problem.

    So it’s not the Civ’s property to begin with and even if it were it would be impossible to police so why does it keep popping up in sci-fi?

  12. Stephen says:

    Quite a few sneaky transmissions being sent out of the ship, without Picard’s knowledge in recent episodes. Ro being in contact with Admiral Kennelly in this episode and Satie being in contact with Admiral Henry in “The Drumhead”

  13. Richard David Turner says:

    For some reason, I immediately took a liking to the Ensign Ro Lauren character when this episode first aired. I think it was because she put up a front where she pretty much said whatever she needed to, without regards to others “feelings”, or tactfully.

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      She was relatable.

    • deaddropsd says:

      I think it was because the cast was sorely needing some variety and spice. I am bummed in being reminded of how under utilized Ro was. I recall when they explained her absence by saying she was at Starfleet tactical training..yawwwwn, poor follow through w a great character TNG. Lessons to be given by DS9.

  14. Justin SpraGoo says:

    Oh Snap: There are Barbers on the Enterprise?!

    …Ken and John should *totally* submit their résumé

    • Is that a lateral move from peeling potatoes though?

      • Justin SpraGoo says:

        No way–the uniforms are much cooler and you have better access to the officers!

    • deaddropsd says:

      the whole civilian thing on the ship just seems so far fetched…I know US Navy have a few who are usually retired Navy old timers who work in morale recreation capacity, organizing trips when in foreign countries, but I have not heard of many more than that….a barber? bartender, school teacher, botanist…
      introducing Ro, really highlighted the sad fact that the crew of the 1701-D was pretty boring. Lack of interpersonal conflict, careers not promoting anyone anywhere… big gaps that thankfully are corrected in DS9

  15. deaddropsd says:

    “Ensign Ro” Michelle Forbes

  16. Daniel R. Przybylski says:

    Modesto police hires first Sikh officer

    “I told him that that didn’t matter, that we would make accommodations for his religious beliefs and that, more importantly, we were looking for people with high character standards and he would be an addition to the Police Department as a segment of the community that is not represented in the Police Department.”



  17. deaddropsd says:

    When I first saw this I thought the Bajorans were Jewish people and the Cardassians were Nazi Germany….It really would have been nice to include more stories like this but w pleasant humanoid appearing bad guys and fearsome looking oppressed people.

  18. deaddropsd says:

    US Army officer Sikh, authorized wear of head garment/turban

    • Durakken says:

      Yeah… that’s actually against regulations, as is the facial hair so shouldn’t be allowed. The reason these things are being allowed is due to bigots trying not to be bigots by being bigots in treating people differently…

      • Daniel R. Przybylski says:

        Yeah… that’s not actually against regulations simply because the regulations have been changed, just like rules against women in combat, not discriminating based on sexual orientation, or not segregating based on race.
        Or hadn’t you noticed.

        • Durakken says:

          Religious symbols are against regulations if they stand out. Head wear in general is also against regs as they get in the way of wearing what you’re supposed to be wearing. Beards and mustaches are against regs because of cleanliness requirements.

          This isn’t discrimination against any orientation, sex, religion, whatever. These are things that against regulations for very specific, defines reasons that are being “authorized” in spite of them putting the soldier and their squad’s life in danger when they do that.

  19. nathankc says:

    Jumping the timeline a bit, but iirc, the next time we see Ro, all of the animosity from the crew towards her is gone and she has integrated fully into the senior staff. Lots of hand waving / forgetfulness there. Would have been more interesting to see that be a gradual process of her endearing herself to the crew as opposed to a Picard / Guinan imprimatur “all is well – nothing to see here…’ that causes everyone to forget how much they *literally* hated her

  20. John Anderton says:

    This is a good episode.

    I don’t think it is one of the few ‘great’ episodes. And it could be easily seem that way, because there are some wonderful themes, and a great, conflicted character in Ensign Ro.

    But the whole thing seems to telegraphed from the beginning, and the twist at the end only teaches us what we already know – that Admirals and Cardassians are scum.

    This is really a political thriller, without the thrills. It is almost all done in exposition. There is an interesting message: that if we befriend an enemy to secure our peace, then we can’t protect people that that enemy is endangering. But what is the solution to this quandary? There is none, so the episode blames it on a bad Admiral. Oh well.