The Ensigns of Command


The Ensigns of Command

Tau Cygna V has got it all: a thriving community, strong leadership and plenty of water. The only problem is the Sheliak Corporate who are coming to wipe them out like vermin. Can Data alone convince the colonists to get out of the line of fire? Find out when we put “The Ensigns of Command” in the Mission Log.

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  1. deaddropsd says:

    this was a fun episode and of course I think most of us wanted to see the Sheliak again!! Bummer and another missed opportunity. Their legal speak and attention to detail was such a unique trait

  2. nathankc says:

    So glad to get confirmation that Gosheven was dubbed. Have always noticed something was goofy with that performance. Morals, messages, and meanings of this episode: no matter how bad the performance, dubbing the entire thing with somebody else will be worse

  3. Troy Brooks says:

    I liked all the stuff with Data in this episode, I was bored with the stuff on the Enterprise. I would have been happier if we would have seen more of what I liked and less of what bored me.
    Seriously, the idea that people can’t be convinced through logic only worked great and I wanted to see more of that.

  4. Rebecca says:

    I have a love-hate relationship with the discussion between Troi and Picard. I love it, yet it also reminds me how momentarily infuriated I get when everyone in the Trekverse, even species with which we have yet to have first contact, speaks English. It feels a little like by having this conversation, Star Trek is covering it’s hind side about that flaw, but it is still horrendously inconsistent with everything we know about how humans communicate with other life in Star Trek. Like “Wow! What an interesting concept; will we ever see that struggle again?” I am aware that it would be impossible to have the show without everyone speaking English, but I can still be annoyed. Great episode, fellas!

    • deaddropsd says:

      I think the explanation per many novels is the subdermal Universal translator chip planted in many many many people

      • Rebecca says:

        Interesting insight. I’ve never read any of the novels so cannot comment fully. Without more context, this seems lazy/convenient/creepy. And how would it apply to those who have not had First Contact with the Federation?

        • deaddropsd says:

          It is a necessary evil/cop out/plot device. It would be too hard to go through language break thru sequence every episode they meet a new race. In novels Terran English is referred to as standard I believe. Those First Contact situations would have to muddle through it just like we do, but again it’s a necessary premise.

        • Morgan Smith says:

          You might check out the DS9 episode

          “Sanctuary” (s2e10), there is a minor thread at the beginning where the Skrreeas come through the wormhole, but the Universal Translator can’t figure out their language until they have spoken a lot of it. Also, they cover it in “Little Green Men” (DS9 s4e08) where the Ferengi have to reset their internal translators to communicate with Earthlings. Also, Enterprise has some first season episodes where Hoshi develops an early universal translator protocol.

          But overall, unless your goal is to write a hard science fiction story dealing with communication/miscommunications, i think it is largely a waste of time to go to more than a basic effort to cover “translation”. You could rarely meet new civilizations and have an immediate adventure with them – you would either have to wait a few weeks/months till a language expert translated their whole culture’s language and programmed the computer to understand it, or you would only be able to deal with races that have long been known to the Federation.

  5. Bruce Aguilar says:

    Did I miss something or was it never explained how the colonists overcame the intense radiation on the planet? They make such a big deal about it at the beginning that not getting an explanation how it was overcome seems like a dangling thread.

    In the plus column, the scene with Troi and Picard is one of my all-time favorite TNG moments.

  6. Cygnus-X1 says:

    With respect to Ken’s problem of plot holes—why didn’t Data just bring an iPad and show Goshoven the nature of the Sheliak threat—my impression throughout this episode is that Data is struggling with learning the art of persuasion, as he is doing it for the first time. Being a logical, but inexperienced diplomat, Data attempts different forms of persuasion before finally hitting upon the one that works.

    Being that Goshoven is so unreasonable and stubborn that he is not persuaded by Data’s vocally-delivered information, Data might think that a visual representation would not necessarily be any more effective at persuading Goshoven, as the stubborn leader might conclude that the visual representation is a hoax or a fake, or that he and his people are more determined and resilient than previous opponents of the Sheliak. For example, consider the present-day resistance to climate-change data and attempts to persuade people with photographs of climate-change in action—they simply call it a hoax. No matter what evidence one might produce, there are still many people who will simply refuse to believe that climate change is a serious threat until they physically experience the consequences of it.

    And, btw, who’s to say that there even exists an actual video recording of the Sheliak—an infamously private and reclusive species—doing battle with anybody? Why would there be such a recording in the possession of Star Fleet? And again, if Goshoven won’t listen to reason, why would he be persuaded by a video?

    So, Data struggles through various strategies of persuasion until eventually arriving at the one that works—forcing Goshoven to physically experience first-hand how weak and ill-equipped he truly is against the superior technology he will soon be up against.

    This episode is about a logically-minded person (Data) learning how to deal with, communicate with and persuade common people, and it develops this meaningful theme in a very entertaining and enjoyable way. The Sheliak are a great antagonist, especially when juxtaposed vis-a-vis Data as one of the story’s protagonists. Both the Sheliak and Data are logical to a fault, but Data is able to transcend the limitations of his logical-mindedness while the Sheliak are not. As John mentioned, Picard’s polite revenge moment against the Sheliak is wonderful. I remember laughing heartily at that scene when I first saw this episode back in the 1990s, and watching it still makes me chuckle.

    I sometimes take issue with plot holes in stories, particularly when the plot holes do not earn their keep by facilitating something rich and meaningful. But, when the plot holes are easy enough to rationalize, and they are in service of a good story, I don’t get hung up on them.

  7. Cygnus-X1 says:

    Another thing worth mentioning is that the Sheliak “Corporate” is an amusing tongue-in-cheek jab at soulless corporate (or governmental) culture that places bureaucratic process over people. The Sheliak repeatedly “hanging-up” on Picard, and their generally dismissive tone and attitude toward Picard—“Intelligent converse is impossible. You do not discuss; you jibber.”—are also meant to impart comedic value while developing the “logic” trope that is juxtaposed against both Data’s

    logic and Goshoven’s unreasonableness in aid of the story’s overarching theme.

    What John discussed about “first follower” theory I also found interesting and thought-provoking. There’s so much to appreciate in this episode, as it delivers a reasonably well-developed thought-provoking, meaningful theme in a very entertaining fashion. Whether one finds it entertaining is obviously up to personal taste, but in comparison with other Trek episodes and with TV & movies in general, this episode certainly offers up a fair amount of intelligent substance for us to consider, and it does so in a fairly cohesive, well developed and well organized manner. Minor plot holes can be found, but they are by no means deal-breakers here.

  8. KatieN says:

    I think there is also something interesting about how it took a dramatic show of force to prevent violence. The moral thing in this situation was a very old-world method of posturing. I’m not sure I feel about that.

    It was almost a tragic realist concession on the part of Star Trek. Words don’t always win the day when we have a galaxy filled with weapons. We can orate and vote and cling to our civilized methods of problem-solving but at the end of the day, they’re all intangibles in the cold reality of a gun to your head.