Mon
Dec 12 2011 12:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “The Hunted”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch by Keith DeCandido: “The Hunted”“The Hunted”
Written by Robin Bernheim
Directed by Cliff Bole
Season 3, Episode 11
Production episode 40273-159
Original air date: January 8, 1990
Stardate: 43489.2

Captain’s Log: Picard and Riker are getting a tour of Angosia, a planet that is applying for Federation membership. Prime Minister Nayrok’s tour is interrupted by an alert that a prisoner has escaped from the Lunar V maximum-security prison. Nayrok asks Picard for help, and Riker orders Data to detain the vessel.

On the Enterprise, they find the ship orbiting an asteroid. When it comes around to the other side, it’s just the drive section with no life signs. So Wes takes the ship to the far side of the asteroid, and they find the debris of the rest of the ship. But when they come all the way around, the drive section’s gone. They’ve lost him.

Picard and Riker beam back. Nayrok provides a name: Roga Danar, and his criminal record is “too long to get into.” Riker figures out that he’s got the drive section hovering over the planet’s pole, using the magnetic interference to shield him from sensors. They lock a tractor beam on him, but then he rushes the Enterprise, forcing the shields up and the tractor beam off. He bounces off the shields, but Data anticipated that diversionary tactic, and picks up an escape pod in orbit of Angosia. They beam him on board, even though they still aren’t picking up any life signs from him.

Worf sends two security guards to the transporter, and O’Brien deactivates his weapon. Despite this, the two guards and O’Brien get their asses kicked, and Worf and Riker are barely able to finish the job of subduing him.

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

Nayrok recommends keeping him sedated. As he sleeps, he tosses and turns — his thoughts sufficiently turbulent to come to Troi’s empathic attention. She talks to him, and — despite his hostility — comes to know him. She also researches and discovers that he’s not a prisoner, he’s a soldier who served with distinction during the Tarsian War. After the war, he was placed on Lunar V. Nayrok allows as how Lunar V was a resettlement colony, but they had to add security due to malcontents like Danar. (And now we know why he wanted to keep Danar sedated and why he wouldn’t go into his criminal record…)

Crusher examines him and sees that his cells and brain chemistry have been altered, and Troi senses a duality in him — he’s typically Angosian in that he’s thoughtful and calm, and not at all violent. (Picard points out the fallacy of calling someone it took five people to subdue as not being violent.) He and other soldiers volunteered for duty and were physically and psychically altered to be the perfect soldier. But there was nowhere to put them in society when the war ended.

Data speaks to Danar, finding common ground in that they’ve both been programmed. But Data’s program can be changed, and he wonders why Danar’s can’t. Danar himself can’t answer that question.

Due as much to Data and Troi vouching for him, Picard feels the need to tell Danar himself that he has no choice but to return him to Lunar V. Danar appreciates that, and also feels the need to tell Picard that he will try to escape by any means necessary.

Sure enough, when they attempt to beam him to the Angosian police ship, he manages to break out of the transporter beam, something we’ve never seen before or since. It’s never made clear why the Enterprise doesn’t just beam Danar straight to Lunar V, but never mind. (Because then Danar wouldn’t have a ship to take to the planet. But I’m getting ahead of myself…)

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

Danar leads Worf on a merry chase through the ship, trashing engineering in the process. He dashes about through the Jefferies Tubes, nearly blows up a turbolift, and generally makes a nuisance of himself. Worf comes closest to nabbing him, and he is done in by a distraction caused by a phaser on overload that Danar left behind in a Jefferies Tube. Danar beams to the Angosian ship, and the Enterprise can’t track him because the Jefferies Tube explosion killed their sensors.

After freeing his fellow soldiers from Lunar V, they attack the capital. Nayrok asks for Picard’s help, since they’re not equipped to handle this sort of thing—“that’s what we created them for,” he says oh-so-compassionately.

Picard beams down, not with a security detail, but just Troi, Data, and Worf. Nayrok is a bit peeved, but Picard doesn’t feel that he should be fighting their wars for them. But when the soldiers arrive, Picard cautions everyone not to fire. The soldiers’ conditioning is such that they only respond to a threat. Danar shoots the wall behind Nayrok, but can’t shoot Nayrok himself. (Amusingly, the hole in the wall behind him disappears without a trace.)

Nayrok offers to negotiate if Danar and the others will go back to Lunar V, but Danar makes it clear that they would rather die than go back. Nayrok then desperately asks Picard to call his ship.

Picard does so: he asks for beam-out, leaving Nayrok and Danar to their confrontation.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Crusher lets loose with a stream of medical technobabble to explain Danar’s condition, of which I understood precisely none of it. I could barely make out the words.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi senses Danar’s distress and is his first advocate on the Enterprise, and the one who finds out the truth about him.

If I Only Had a Brain…: Data is Danar’s second advocate, and is the one who truly makes Danar realize that he has people who can help him on the Enterprise. He also does a good job of anticipating Danar’s strategy. He’s also wonderfully literal with Danar: “Am I disturbing you?” “Yes.” “Then I will leave.”

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

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf actually comes close to capturing Danar, and generally does as good a job as possible against him, seeing through his ruse in the cargo bay, and also stopping a phaser from blowing up a turbolift.

I Believe I Said That: “In your own words, this is not our affair. We cannot interfere in the natural course of your society’s development. And I’d say it’s going to develop significantly in the next few minutes.”

Picard hoisting Nayrok on his own petard.

Welcome Aboard: James Cromwell appears as Nayrok with an unfortunate attitude and an even more unfortunate moustache. It’s the first of many appearances on modern Trek by Cromwell, who will go on to play Jaglom Shrek in “Birthright,” Minister Hanok on Deep Space Nine’s “Starship Down,” and Zefram Cochrane in Star Trek: First Contact.

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

Jeff McCarthy, who plays Roga Danar, will also be back on Star Trek: Voyager, playing the never-named, ill-fated chief medical officer of Voyager.

Trivial Matters: Danar appears again during the Dominion War in the short story “Orphans” by R.S. Belcher in Strange New Worlds 9.

Danar’s attack on engineering, which happens off-screen, is dramatized in the Starfleet Corps of Engineers novella Many Splendors by your humble rewatcher.

This episode marks the first appearance of the fancier, remodeled brig, which is much nicer than the one in “Heart of Glory,” and which will be used moving forward. It’s also the first TNG appearance of a Jefferies Tube.

Make it So: “My battle is never over.” When this episode first aired, I referred to it as “Born on the 24th Century of July,” after Born on the Fourth of July, the biopic of Vietnam veteran Ron Kovic that had come out the year before. It’s the world’s most unsubtle Vietnam vet analogy, with veterans coming home and being ignored by the country they fought for.

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

Having said that, it’s filled with Star Trek’s trademark humanism, where the person who we think is a criminal and a murderer turns out to be a victim, and our heroes respond with compassion rather than judgment.

It’s also a fairly strong action episode, filled with tactics and fights and other fun stuff. Nothing life-changing, but a perfectly good, if sledgehammery, episode.

 

Warp factor rating: 6


Keith R.A. DeCandido can’t believe it’s December already. Seems like it was only July yesterday. Go to Keith’s web site at DeCandido.net. It’s awesome.

14 comments
Rootboy
1. Rootboy
I remember this one convincing me that O'Brien actually had to be the toughest guy on the ship (sorry Worf!). He's first in line to handle whatever alien violence comes out of the transporter.
Rootboy
2. Mike G.
This story really reminded me of the homecoming part of _Cobra_ by Timothy Zahn - so much so that I was surprised that Zahn didn't have a writing credit on it...

But then again, a quick check on Amazon says that _Cobra_ also came out in 1990 so I guess it's just a coincidence...
Rootboy
3. Mike G.
Whoops, I knew 1990 sounds pretty late. Cobra came out in 1985 according to Wikipedia.

That Amazon date must have been for a paperback reprint?
Rootboy
4. ChrisG
I always enjoy the consistent theme of Danar's tactics in this episode. It's one of the standout cases in the series where realistic, thoughtful problem solving (rather than technological, semi-magical solutions) are used in violent conflict in the series. Data and Worf's responses to those tactics are also refreshing, and mostly effective.

As to beaming him directly to Luna V, it would seem that they could have done that with virtually no change. When Danar beams off the enterprise, we could see him appearing at an unexpected location on Luna V (armory, security command center, etc.) and the mass escape would follow logically.

The unsubtle historical analogy is a shame here, and really is the major problem with the episode. Had the Angosians been less cold and selfish and had the dilemma posed by the conditioning been more genuinely challenging, the impact would have been stronger. Perhaps they could have tried to reverse it, only to lead to damage to the personality or capabilities of the subject. Perhaps there could have been stronger cultural reasons for the solution they came up with, even if we, the viewers, did not sympathize with them.
Rootboy
5. Cradok
Yup, one of those 'almost favourites' for me, simply because Roga Danar uses simple tactics and ploys - with the exception of breaking out of the transporter beam - and when he's defeated, it's by the crew's superior knowledge, experience and ability. I especially liked his trying Riker's favourite trick and that it's Riker who guesses what he's done.

It's also one of those 'Prime Directive' episodes where the interpretation of it doesn't make you hate Picard, Starfleet and everyone involved.
Rootboy
6. Brian Eberhardt
I loved this episode. I think the Star Trek Voyager's Chief Medical Officer (Jeff McCarthy) is given a name, at some point in Season 6 or 7.
Thank you for doing this. I enjoy reading it.
Rootboy
7. Christopher L. Bennett
Interesting the comparisons people are drawing. I've always felt this episode was a close parallel to First Blood. Rambo was also a man who'd been turned into the perfect killing machine and then rejected by the society that had created him, and ended up in conflict with the authorities that tried to contain him. (That is, before the sequels turned him into a cartoony wish-fulfillment character.)

Not only was this the debut of the Jefferies tube in the TNG era, but I'm pretty sure the spacious, cylindrical corridor they used to represent it was a redress of the maintenance-tunnel set from ST V (the place where Scotty ignominiously banged his head on a pipe). The more compact Jefferies tube sets they built later made more sense to me.
Justin Devlin
8. EnsignJayburd
@krad:
Crusher lets loose with a stream of medical technobabble to explain Danar’s condition, of which I understood precisely none of it. I could barely make out the words.
Ah, that just happens to be my favorite technobabble in the history of Star Trek!


She said:
They used a combination of cryptobiolin, triclenidil, macrospentol, and a few things I can't even recognize.
I'm impressed that she discovered the cryptobiolin. Plain old biolin is easy to detect, but cryptobiolin? Not so much...
Rootboy
9. Ashcom
The thing I find most interesting about this episode is that Troi has more chemistry in her one short scene with Roga Danar than she had in the entire episode with Devenoni Ral. Shows what a difference a good casting decision can make.
Rootboy
10. Etherbeard
"It’s never made clear why the Enterprise doesn’t just beam Danar straight to Lunar V, but never mind."

I didn't think they were actually ready for Danar on Lunar V yet, but Naylek wanted very much to get him off the Enterprise to keep Picard from asking anymore hard questions, so he sent the transport ship to hold Danar in the meantime.
Rootboy
11. JohnC
I thought the actor who played Danar was perfect in the role - great acting in this episode all around I think except for Cromwell's Naylek, who seems a bit overly wooden (generally, though, I think Cromwell has had one of the better careers of any film character actor over the last couple of decades). That said, although I realize the way things must be to further the plots and provide dramatic tension over the course of a long television series, this is yet another episode where a single being (or in other cases a small band of them) manages not only to infiltrate the Enterprise, but to assert control of it - and in this case it is while the entire braintrust of the Enterprise is aware of it and attempting to thwart him. Maybe this sort of plot contrivance wouldn't bother me if I was watching the series as it originally aired, one hour a week, but when you watch a couple of them a day as I have been doing recently, it becomes more apparent that these main characters are often woefully careless and even incompetent. The only one who never makes any mistakes (unless him making a mistake is the raison d'etre for the episode itself) is the smarmy ensign kid. Ah, well.... it's still great television.
Rootboy
12. KenN
A good episode to just watch and enjoy, but if I felt critical of it I would agree with JohnC that its a bit odd that the crew can't stop one dude. Enhanced or not, he's still just one guy. The part that really made me go "eh?" was that the world he came from I would assume is technologically behind the Federation because they requested help in just locating a ship in their own system. I could be wrong, but that's the impression I got. Anyway, I found it odd that this random guy knew how to manipulate a phaser to both explode and to make it interface with a transporter system and he knew just which junction to blow on the Enterprise to cripple sensors and such. Sure, he's trained military and all but I find it extremely difficult to believe he could just know that much about Federation tech with such a brief exposure.

Of course, I don't let nitpicks stop me from enjoying stuff just on face value :)
Rootboy
13. Tuomas_A
I thought the biggest flaw in this episode is one that's quite common in ST, and in sci-fi in general: that the inhabitants of a planet are treated as if they are all one people and one culture, and the discrepancies of scale that follow from this are ignored. In "The Hunted" we see that the ruling council of planet Angosia consists of maybe ten people (all male, btw), the leader dude says that all Angosians are dedicated to intellectual pursuits (who cleans their toilets and builds their roads then?), and when he speaks of referendums etc, the implication seems to be that everyone on the whole planet agreed that the enhanced soldiers should be sent to Lunar V. Even more ridiculous is the finale, where Danar and his ragtag bunch of soldiers are able to wage a successful war against a whole planet and conquer the capital in just a couple of hours. All of this would make much more sense if Angosia was merely one nation-state, but for some reason nation-states and different cultures don't exist on Star Trek planets, they always fall into the category that TVTropes.com calls the Planet of Hats. Except for Earth, of course, but Earth is always treated as Special.
Rootboy
14. Seth T.
Naw, my problem is as several people have pointed out: The plot need for the crew to be convincing simpletons for the episode and the ship's technology to be as non-redundant as possible. There's ONE place on the ship where all internal sensors are routed through? So all he has to do is plant a phaser on overload and no one can be tracked anywhere (though his lifesigns were established earlier to be masked anyway). So why does he have to overload internal sensors? He knocks out a guard and uses the guard's finger to have a forcefield dropped on one of the lower decks. The comm badge has to be activated using the person's fingerprint (presumably) but the computer doesn't use voice recognition? Even though Data imiated Picard's voice to gain control of the ship in "Brothers". Why not simply have Data use Picard's command code? We see this sort of thing time and time again in "Star Trek". Someone can cause meyhem long enough to do what the plot requires them to do, when someone on the bridge convivently notices what they're doing. Even then, in the case of Barbie of Borg, all she need do is enter a Borg code and take over the ship. It would be very difficult if there was a real-life "Enterprise" for someone to actually take it over. You gain access to a weapons locker? Lock out the phasers with a Starfleet access code. Start mayhem on deck four? Seal off decks two through six, flood deck four with knockout gas and beam them to the brig. Anyway enough of my ranting. Still a great episode.

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