Mon
Nov 28 2011 1:00pm
Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Enemy”

Hope you all had a happy Thanksgiving!

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Enemy”“The Enemy”
Written by David Kemper and Michael Piller
Directed by David Carson
Season 3, Episode 7
Production episode 40273-155
Original air date: November 6, 1989
Stardate: 43349.2

Captain’s Log: Riker, La Forge, and Worf beam down to Galorndon Core, a Federation planet, in response to an unidentified distress call. The planet has vicious magnetic storms that render tricorders useless past five meters and combadges dead. Riker places a beam-out marker — they’ll be beamed up in fourteen minutes, when the window in the storms will close.

They find wreckage from a Romulan ship — which shouldn’t be in Federation space — and La Forge determines that it was blown up after the crash. Worf finds a Romulan survivor, and La Forge finds a hole in the ground, through which he falls, thus keeping him from making it to the beam-out point on time. Reluctantly, Riker and Worf are transported back with the prisoner, leaving La Forge alone down there.

Crusher takes the Romulan to sickbay while Riker reports in. O’Brien can’t find La Forge in the interference, and Picard won’t let Riker beam back down until there’s another window in the storms.

The prisoner is in bad shape, and Crusher says that he needs an infusion of compatible ribosomes in order to survive — and also that he’s suffering synaptic damage that isn’t a result of his injury, and may have been due to exposure to the magnetic storms. Crusher is able to revive the prisoner for a few minutes, and he refuses to provide any information, save that he’s alone. Since that was the only intelligence he was willing to provide, Picard and Riker assume it to be a lie.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Enemy”

The plot further thickens when another communication comes in from the Romulan side of the Neutral Zone — it’s a Romulan ship, and its commander, Tomalak, is trying to contact the crashed ship and says they will be at Galorndon Core in six hours.

Picard contacts Tomalak and makes it clear that crossing the border isn’t acceptable — and that he has a prisoner. At no point does Picard commit to anything, and Tomalak says he’ll be at the Federation border in five hours and expects the Enterprise to rendezvous. He also assures Picard that the crashed ship was a one-person craft, and there are no other survivors.

Worf and Riker insist that there’s no reason to turn the prisoner over, but Picard insists they tread carefully, concerned that Galorndon Core may be remembered the same way as Pearl Harbor and Station Salem One as “the stage for a bloody preamble to war,” which is something a Frenchman from a United Earth would never under any circumstances say, since World War II had already been going on for quite some time when Pearl Harbor happened. Stupid Americentric writers.

Anyhow, Wes gets the bright idea of sending down a neutrino pulse in a probe. La Forge’s VISOR can see it and he can modify the pulse to show he’s found it and they can beam him up. However, when La Forge is on his way to modify it, he’s clubbed on the head by Centurion Bochra, the other survivor of the crash.

Bochra holds La Forge at gunpoint — even after La Forge saves Bochra from a rockslide — and the VISOR detects metabolic changes in both of them. Initially, Bochra is the good patriotic soldier, willing to die for his empire, but La Forge talks him into letting him go modify the beacon so they can be beamed up. Unfortunately, by the time he does, La Forge is now blind, as his nervous system has been sufficiently trashed by the electromagnetic storms that he can’t see out of the VISOR, which means they can’t find the beacon. Bochra, though, doesn’t give up, and convinces La Forge to hook the VISOR to the tricorder so they can find the beacon. With Bochra acting as his eyes, they do it and modify the beacon.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Enemy”

Back on the Enterprise, Crusher informs Worf that he is the only person on board whose ribosomes are compatible with those of the dying Romulan prisoner. But Worf — ever mindful of who was responsible for the death of his parents — refuses to be a donor. Crusher, Riker, and Picard all talk to him, but he is resolute. He even, at Crusher’s instigation, talks to the Romulan — who says in no uncertain terms that he’d rather die than pollute his body with Klingon filth.

The Romulan dies. Tomalak charges across the Neutral Zone, promising that his death will be the first of many. But then a window opens in the storms, and Data is able to detect two life forms. Picard contacts Tomalak with the news that they’ve found a second survivor from the one-person craft. Picard risks lowering the shields, exposing them to possible Romulan fire, to beam La Forge and Bochra up — at which point Tomalak backs down. Bochra (and presumably the other one’s body, though that’s not specified) is beamed back to the ship and Picard says the Enterprise will escort Tomalak back to the border, though nobody told the special effects crew, as the two ships go off in different directions at the end.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: For the first time since “Heart of Glory,” we get to see La Forge’s POV through the VISOR, first when he finds metal fragments (which he then melts and welds via phaser into a pick he can use to climb out of his hole), then again when he sees the neutrino pulse (which would easily be seen by the VISOR in the electromagnetic soup, and which incidentally is a way more accurate use of neutrinos than we got in “A Matter of Honor”), and a third time when he sees a polarity shift in the VISOR.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: “There’s great hostility behind his smile.” Which is pretty damned evident by Andreas Katsulas’s sneer...

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Enemy”

The Boy!?: When La Forge sees the neutrino pulse, he immediately guesses (correctly) that Wes came up with it. Apparently, on a ship full of a thousand people, at least a good percentage of whom are engineers, the 17-year-old kid is the only one who could possibly have come up with the notion, which is, frankly, ridiculous. Unless La Forge’s engineering staff is made up entirely of morons (which would explain why he worked alone save for a holographic Leah Brahms in “Booby Trap”...).

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: In a tremendously gutsy move — one that Michael Dorn himself initially objected to — Worf lets the Romulan die. Every convention of television dictates that he’ll have a change of heart by episode’s end, and he doesn’t. Worf isn’t human and shouldn’t stay true to human values. What’s especially impressive is the way Dorn plays it — when he talks to the Romulan, you think he might be wavering. But then the prisoner makes it clear he doesn’t want a Klingon to save him, which only strengthens Worf’s resolve — but he never shares the Romulan’s words with anyone, even though it would help his case. The most important part is his own deeply ingrained feelings on the subject. In Klingon society, vengeance is a right, after all. (We’ll come back to this again in “Reunion” in the fourth season.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Enemy”

Welcome Aboard: This is the first of four appearances by the late Andreas Katsulas as Tomalak, a role that might have become recurring, but for Katsulas becoming a star on Babylon 5 as G’Kar. While G’Kar was a great character, indeed one of the best characters in SF TV history, I do wonder what might have been done with Tomalak as a regular bad guy.

John Snyder is perfectly adequate as Bochra, who plays Sidney Poitier to La Forge’s Tony Curtis (or his Louis Gossett Jr. to La Forge’s Dennis Quaid, since Enemy Mine is a better comp than The Defiant Ones). His conversion from propaganda spewer to helpful person is a bit too quick, but that’s as much on the script as it is Snyder.

Steven Rankin also really sells the injured Romulan’s loathing for Klingons in only two scenes.

I Believe I Said That: “I never lie when I’ve got sand in my shoes.”

La Forge, making a point.

Trivial Matters: This is the first episode directed by Carson, who will go on to direct many episodes of both TNG and Deep Space Nine, as well as Star Trek: Generations.

The Romulans’ interest in Galorndon Core would be expanded upon in “Unification.”

Make it So: “Then he will die.” The fairly standard enemies-get-together storyline with La Forge and Bochra doesn’t really do a helluva lot. The world wasn’t really crying out for one La Forge-focused episode, much less two in a row.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Enemy”

It’s also the least of the three plots going on here by far. The interplay between Picard and Tomalak is as bog-standard as the one on the planet, but the difference there is, well, the difference between two mediocre actors (LeVar Burton and John Snyder) and two great ones (Sir Patrick Stewart and the late Andreas Katsulas). The interplay between the two ship captains is wonderfully snide and tense and very well played by the two actors, from Stewart’s intensity to Katsulas’s smarminess.

But what makes this episode stand out is Worf’s refusal to donate ribosomes to save the Romulan. One of the things that science fiction does best is use alien species as a contrast. What makes this plotline work is that any other character would be behaving reprehensibly — and you could argue that Worf is also, but by his own lights, he’s doing what he must do. That human values aren’t forced upon the plot makes the plot so much more compelling, and is a refreshing bit of unpredictability in a plot that is otherwise quite predictable.

 

Warp factor rating: 7


Keith R.A. DeCandido has written many books and comics and you can get autographed copies of several of his novels and comic books directly from him. Autographed copies of the print editions of his fantastical police procedurals SCPD: The Case of the Claw and Dragon Precinct (the latter a trade reissue of the 2004 novel) are also available for preorder. Find out more about Keith at his web site, which is a portal to (among many other things) his Facebook page, his Twitter feed, his blog, and his podcasts, Dead Kitchen Radio, The Chronic Rift, and the Parsec Award-winning HG World.

22 comments
Lsana
1. Lsana
I remember this episode, and I remember the point was the whole "mercy/vengeance" question (and I do give them credit for not going for the standard answer), but I was far more curious about the question of what the Romulans were doing there. They were illegally in Federation territory. They were clearly up to no good. I thought that Picard and crew were insufficiently interested in finding out what was going on with that. Is the question of what these guys were doing ever addressed.

And I agree that it is highly unlikely that a non-American would refer to Peal Harbor that way. In fact, I'm not even sure that an American would. "Sarajevo" would have been a much better example to put in there, but I suppose they assumed that the idiot audience wouldn't get it.
James Whitehead
2. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Have to agree with Lsana that refering to the beginning of WWI would've made more sense, especially coming from Picard. I'm figuring even that far in the future the French would remember that ruinous war.

I remember watching, and enjoying, this episode a lot when it came out. My friend, who watched it with me, liked Warf's decision because it was the opposite of what the Federation does. He loved Star Trek & the idea of the Federation but always felt that they were portrayed to be a little too perfect.

This was, in his opinion, a nice change up amongst all the fastballs. Also, it did fit in perfectly with Worf's character, particularly when the Romulan called Klingons 'filth.'

Kato
Lsana
3. dav
I forgot about Worf's refusal to help the injured Romulan. That is an interesting twist to a tired television formula. On the whole I never liked this episode. I like the idea of La Forge, and I think he makes a good secondary character, but I don't really like his featured episodes in general. Seems like it's been a while in this season without a Data episode. That must have sucked back then.
j p
4. sps49
Most matching trigger references (Marco Polo Bridge, USS Chesapeake and HMS Leopard) would go over too many viewer's heads. Pearl Harbor has name recognition, but I don't see any relevance to this episode.

And I see that Romulans are similar to Klingons* in that the entire race wears the same uniform and haircut. This would bother me almost as much as all of the Forehead Aliens.

And I still think the D'deridex uses a lot of structural material to enclose a very limited volume.

This episode is decent, though.

* And Ferengi, Cardassians, et cetera
Lsana
5. Mike S.
The scene between Worf and the Romulan was a great one. At that point, I remember thinking to myself, "You know what, he just might give the Romulan the transfusion, just to spite him." I could also see Worf then doing it on the grounds that the Romulan will not die in performance of his duty (whatever that was), at least in the here and now. That's something that had to be running through Worf's Klingon mind at the time. If the Romulan pleaded for his life, then I think it would have been more interesting to not have Worf give the transfusion. As it was, Worf basically grants the Romulan his dying wish, and I don't think Worf would do that if he was promised a million bars of gold-pressed latnium in return.

I know he said he would do it if Picard orderd him too. I guess I believe him in that regard. As it was shown on screen, that storyline was still good, though.

The Picard/Tomalak interaction works in much the same way that the Kirk/Khan interaction worked in the second movie. Since they only interact through subspace transmissions, and viewscreens, it becomes an intreging stratgy game of "who's going to do what next?"

The Geordi plot is the least interesting of the three, but it was not bad, IMO. Yes, we know how it will turn out for our engineer in the end, but the journey getting there was good enough to keep me interested. I also liked his ingenuity in getting out of that cave.

All in all, I liked this one a lot, probably even more so then our reviewer did. It doesn't make my Top 5, but it's somewhere in the next tier of stories after that (which run about 10-15 deep, just to give you an idea of where it ranks, IMO).
Cait Glasson
6. CaitieCat
My comment disappeared. :(

It was a good one, too. Sigh.
Lsana
7. Christopher L. Bennett
To Americans, WWII began at Pearl Harbor in 1941; to Europeans, it began in Poland in 1939; to the Chinese, it began when Japan invaded China in 1937. Or maybe when it invaded Manchuria 6 years earlier.

I've never quite seen Worf's "refusal" to help the Romulan the same way everyone else seems to. To me it looked as if Worf was willing to consider donating the ribosomes, that he was leaning toward doing it if the Romulan asked, but the Romulan refused to receive the treatment and so there was nothing Worf could do. I mean, if a patient of sound mind refuses treatment, you can't ethically force it on them, can you? The Romulan's declaration was essentially the equivalent of a Do Not Resuscitate order. If he refused treatment, then it doesn't matter whether Worf was willing to give it or not. So I think painting this subplot as being about Worf choosing Klingon values over Federation values doesn't really hold up to analysis. Sure, I know that was the intent, but I don't think it succeeded, because the way the scenario played out, the choice was not Worf's to make.

I agree that it's too bad we didn't see more of Tomalak. TNG-era Romulans generally bored me, since they didn't have much culture or identity beyond Designated Bad Guys, certainly not compared to their counterparts in tie-in literature (and gods, the hideous clothes and haircuts!). But Katsulas was always fun to watch and would've made a cool regular antagonist (certainly a better one than Sela).

I'm not a big fan of the episode overall, but I kind of liked the Geordi/Bochra parts of it. Enemies learning to trust and cooperate was a good Trek-values kind of story, and it was one of the few times that Piller-era TNG ever used the VISOR as a constructive tool rather than just a large piece of jewelry that occasionally got turned against Geordi by various bad guys.
Lsana
8. JoeNotCharles
Every Romulan *soldier* has the same uniform and haircut. This seems reasonable to me. If civilian Romulans all look exactly the same, too, that would start getting weird.
Lsana
9. leandar
And if I remember right, not having seen it for a while, "Unification" showed that very thing. Romulans do look alike, right down to their haircuts.
Lsana
10. JMH
I always took the "all alien cultures are cookie cutter" as a plot/symbolic manefestation of the human tendancy to not be good at making out details of unnative things. All cats/Asians/Romulans look the same.
Because the more familiar they are, the more differencation they're given. NG Klingeons are way more different, than OS Klingeons (not bringing up the forehead thing). DS9 Ferengui are far less replaceable than in NG.
Part of it, of course, is props/makeup restrictions. Notwithstanding.
It is a brain quirk that humanity will have to deal with if/when we meet alien species.
Jane Smyth
11. Kaboom
I remember reading an interview with Michael Dorn. He had mentionned that the author had written the ending of the episode open-ended and that he could chose whether Worf would give the ribosome transfusion or not.

On another note, I'm really curious how they would have accomplished this transfusion as ribosomes are organelles inside the cells...
Lsana
12. bryan rasmussen
"
which is something a Frenchman from a United Earth would never under any circumstances say, since World War II had already been going on for quite some time when Pearl Harbor happened. Stupid Americentric writers.
"

especially not a frenchman from a united earth far in the future who is a keen student of history, and who furthermore just wants to communicate with an American by using a simple analogy to illustrate his point... no really, was he going to explain it was sort of like Roland or what?
Lsana
13. Pendard
Having Worf refuse to help the Romulan it was an inspired decision. Judging from these comments, it's clearly what people remember from this episode. No wonder everybody wants to take credit for it! This moment, and the moment where Worf kills Duras in "Reunion," are some of the best Worf moments in the series. I think in later years (especially on DS9) Worf started to act a little too human. I enjoyed him more when he was an aggressive soldier who is chafing against Federation values.

If you ever want a totally different experience of Star Trek, keep your eyes on Michael Dorn in the background whenever there's a bridge scene going on. His Klingon reactions to everything that's going on are absolutely hilarious. Anytime Picard successfully talks his way out of a fight, you can count on Dorn to look disappointed and/or disgusted. His performance in the background, usually a bit out of focus, is reliably one of the things you miss on the first viewing that makes the second viewing so much better.
Lsana
14. Lsana
@11,

I think its pretty clear that the author of this episode didn't know any more about what "ribosomes" were than the author of the second Voyager episode knew what an "event horizon" was.

I was going to say something about that, but I figured "Star Trek writer tosses around scientific terms without knowing what they mean" is definetly a "dog bites man" type story.
Lsana
15. Idran
@12: No, but he wasn't supposed to say something that was just plain wrong either. Pearl Harbor didn't kick off anything but US involvement in WW2, even as an analogy it fails.
Lsana
16. CromulentCroc
@12: He probably thinks Riker is too thick to get his references :P
Lsana
17. MvComedy
One of the things I like about Worf is that, at least to an extent, his character arc over TNG and DS9 has him coming to terms with the fact that things are not always black and white when it comes to different cultures. I wouldn't say he ever embraces this concept completely, but the change over time is subtly evident. He starts out expressing total xenophobia for the Romulans in "The Neutral Zone". Then in this episode he is at least somewhat forced to evaluate his position, although he sticks firmly to his convictions until he waivers just slightly near the end, where he at least is willing to confront the possibility that someone does not deserve to die simply because they are Romulan. Even in Star Trek: Nemesis, during the shootout scene in the Ent-E corridor, Worf tells Riker that "the Romulans fought with honor". That was one of the few bright spots to the movie, IMO, and one that actually had some deeper meaning than it would first appear, because there was a time when Worf never would have considered it possible that a Romulan could do anything honorable.

I think that this change in Worf's personality with regard to other species is much more evident in his dealings with Jadzia and Ezri in DS9, but it started life in TNG episodes like this.
Chin Bawambi
18. bawambi
I always loved the Dorn looks of disgust especially before the Klingon civil war. A much better analogy than Pearl Harbor would be Fort Sumter - as clear a first shot definition of a war as I can think of. I liked some of the Geordi episodes but the part of this one that bothered me was the Romulan on the planet. His character was either poorly written or badly acted so it didn't work that much for me. 6 or 7 seems about right.
Justin Devlin
19. EnsignJayburd
@7 Christopher, I agree. Worf went down to sickbay weighing what his Captian had asked him to do and was ready to do it. But I also think that he went there knowing what the Romulan's reaction would be.

Yes, this gives him an "out" by taking the decision out of his hands, but I think it was well written and acted anyway. Worf's response to the Romulan when he said, "so you've come to watch me beg for my life," was simply, "no." I took his "no" to mean, the offer is there if you're willing to swallow your Romulan pride and accept it.
Lsana
20. JohnC
What is it with the Geordi character in the series? All the other main characters - even Data - evolve into fully-developed personalites, and we learn much about each of them and what makes them tick. Not so with Geordi. His motives are always transparent and his feelings are always one-dimensional. Having him clap the Romulan on the back after they are beamed to the bridge was a bit much. I imagine Worf watching that spectacle and resisting the urge to reach for his phaser and vaporize them both. And I also agree that with respect to Worf's reluctance to save the dying Romulan, I think it's a shame the writers gave him an out (although the Romulan's venomous exchange with Worf ending with the "Klingon filth" line was exhilarating to watch.) It would have been much more interesting if Worf stood by his principles with everyone including the dying Romulan urging him to relent. I think 7 is a bit high for my own tastes - maybe a strong 5.
Lsana
21. Luke Jackson
This episode gives me a strong "Enemy Mine" vibe.
Lsana
22. aloysius
Having just rewatched this, I think it's easy to forget something that happens in the teaser. Worf finds the Romulan first, seemingly passed out with green blood on his face from the crash. He shouts to Riker through the storm. The Romulan's eyes open and the first thing he does is lunge for Worf's throat. Worf shakes him off and knocks him out – all this happens before Riker appears. That's why it makes sense that Worf orders security to watch the Romulan in sickbay, and why it's odd that Beverley says there's no sign of a head injury. Really? A Klingon just knocked him out against a rock face.

Anyway, I think the Romulan's initial attack on Worf, unseen by anyone else, should also be weighed in pondering Worf's later response.

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