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The Battle

Review

Series : The Next Generation Rating : 2
Disc No : 1.2 Episode : 8
First Aired : 16 Nov 1987 Stardate : 41723.9
Director : Robert Bowman Year : 2364
Writers : Larry Forrester Season : 1
Guest Cast :
Doug Warhit as Kazago
Frank Corsentino as DaiMon Bok
Robert Towers as Rata
Moral :
Nostalgia : The past isn't what it used to be
YATI : Picard claims Data is the ship's second in Command in this episode. In fact, Riker is second in command - Data is third.
Great Moment : Gotta be the Stargazer - the first four nacelled ship we've ever seen on Trek.
Body Count : Zero
Factoid : The "Picard maneuver" tactic which features in this episode is also an informal nickname for the Captain's habit of tugging down on his top when he stands!
Quote : "Let the dead rest, and the past remain the past." - Picard to Riker.

"As you hew-mons say... I'm all ears." - Kazago to Riker.

Picard : "Bok. Where is Bok?"
Riker : "Removed from command, sir, and placed under guard for his act of personal vengeance. Seems there was no profit in it."
Picard : "In revenge, there never is."

Plotline

The Enterprise is at the Xendi Sabu system to meet with a Ferengi vessel. However, they have been waiting for three days and the Ferengi ship simply responds to all messages with "stand by Enterprise." Picard is complaining of fatigue and headaches, prompting Dr. Crusher to worry about his health.

The Ferengi finally contact the Starship, Their Captain, DaiMon Bok, comes to the ship to meet Picard. He announces that he has a surprise present for Picard - an approaching Federation Starship is the USS Stargazer, Picard's old ship which had been thought lost many years ago when an unknown vessel attacked. Picard invented the famed "Picard maneuver" on the spot in order to defeat the enemy, which Bok reveals was a Ferengi ship. Picard, still suffering from headaches, explains the event to his crew and sends an away team to the ship to investigate it. Geordi activates the ship's emergency power systems before Picard beams over for a look. In his old cabin he finds a glowing sphere - and collapses in agony from a new headache. Dr. Crusher brings Picard back to the Enterprise, having his belongings brought back later.

The Enterprise takes the Stargazer under tow, heading for a rendezvous with a Federation tug. As Picard sleeps Data shows Riker a personal log from the ship in which Picard admits attacking the alien vessel without orders or provocation. Picard denies this, but knows Starfleet will take a dim view of it when it is reported to them. As Picard returns to his quarters Riker contacts the Ferengi ship, talking to the First Officer about Bok's actions in giving away the Stargazer rather than selling it. As the sphere in his Stargazer luggage glows we see Bok on his ship, manipulating a similar sphere...

Data finds that the log is a forgery, much to the crew's relief. Down in sickbay Wesley tells his mother that he saw low intensity transmissions coming from the Ferengi ship that looked like brainwave patterns. She reports this to Riker, and he finds that Picard has beamed over to the Stargazer.

Under the influence of the device Picard is re-living the battle, focused on destroying the "enemy" ship - the Enterprise-D. Bok's son was in command of the Ferengi ship that Picard destroyed, and he intends to gain his revenge using the mind control device. As the Stargazer turns to attack the Enterprise using the Picard Maneuver, Riker hails the Ferengi First Officer again, showing him the device from the Captain's Quarters. It is a "thought maker", a forbidden piece of technology. He relieves Bok from his command for his unorthodox actions and bids Riker good luck in dealing with Picard.

has Data siezes the ship in a tractor beam, immobilising it as it tries to attack. Fighting the delusion, Picard destroys the mind control sphere.

Analysis

There's little that is outright wrong with this episode, but it all falls a little flat. Given the title I tuned in hoping for an actual battle - TOS suffered from poor FX but still managed to give us compelling battle scenes from time to time, I figured that with a few decades of technological advance under their belt the TNG folks would give us a compelling battle that also had nice eye candy. But in fact we don't get a battle at all, not as such anyway.

The Ferengi are back, of course. They're a lot better here than in "The Last Outpost" - Bok has a motivation beyond greed for his actions, whilst his first officer Kazago is willing to turn against his own DaiMon since his behaviour is not within Ferengi norms - in their original form Kazago would have asked for a bribe to betray his own boss, then refused to do it once he had the money! Whilst the Ferengi are much improved, they still just don't come across as at all threatening. As a result we never really get any sense of danger.

It's also a bit of a strain to accept the Picard maneuver. As described it can only possibly work if you don't have faster than light sensors - which whilst the Ferengi ship destroyed by Picard may or may not have, the Enterprise-D patently does. Even putting that aside, the whole point of the maneuver is that the target doesn't know which image to shoot at - but this is entirely negated if the target knows what you are going to do in advance! As a result, whilst I can buy that the maneuver did indeed help Picard to defeat the Ferengi there's simply no way it would be useful against the Enterprise - yet Data claims there is no known counter to it!

Additionally, I'd expect a Constellation class to be basically useless against a Galaxy class no matter what it did. Remember the ship is a much older model, much smaller too, whereas the Enterprise-D is (at the time) the most powerful vessel in the Federation. Why not just raise the shields and let the Stargazer blast away? Why not just warp away so fast that it couldn't follow?

With a non-threatening foe and an unbelievable threat, the episode just fails to impress.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 4,068 Last updated : 30 Jun 2014