Fri
Jan 13 2012 2:05pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Allegiance”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: “Allegiance”

“Allegiance”
Written by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 3, Episode 18
Production episode 40273-166
Original air date: March 26, 1990
Stardate: 43714.1

Captain’s Log: Picard is relaxing in his quarters following the Enterprise curing a Phyrox plague on Cor Caroli V when he is transported away, placed in an enclosed space with two other people: a Bolian Starfleet cadet and a Mizarian. Cadet Haro has been there three days, Tholl, the Mizarian, for twelve. There are four beds, so another may arrive soon.

They have not seen their captors, and been fed barely edible food. Picard attempts to communicate with their abductors to no avail, nor can he figure out why the three of them in particular were taken. The Mizarians have been conquered six times in the past three centuries, but Tholl is a simple public servant with no enemies, and Haro is a cadet.

Back on the Enterprise, Picard has been replaced with a duplicate. He orders the Enterprise to investigate a pulsar, ignoring their rendezvous with the Hood and refusing to allow anyone to communicate off-ship. Fake Picard tells Riker privately that he will need to keep things from Riker for a bit.

Fake Picard later interrupts the poker game, guilting La Forge into leaving to improve engine efficiency, and asking Troi how far the crew’s trust goes. He goes for a physical earlier than scheduled, which surprises and confuses Crusher — though not nearly as surprising as Fake Picard’s asking her to dinner in his quarters.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: “Allegiance”

At the prison, the fourth abductee arrives: a Chalnoth named Esoqq, an anarchist warrior whom Picard barely manages to talk down. He can’t eat the food, which gives them a ticking clock to get out. Unfortunately, their attempt to gimmick the door — against Tholl’s advice, as he says he tried it before and got hurt by an energy beam — results in a nasty energy beam that hurts them badly.

On the Enterprise, Fake Picard and Crusher have a very frank conversation over dinner about their relationship, and even dance before Fake Picard abruptly ends the evening. The next day, he goes to Ten-Forward, “buys” ales for the entire crew and leads them in song, singing “Heart of Oak.” This prompts the senior staff to meet, worried about how Picard is acting.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: “Allegiance”

In the prison, Tholl comes under suspicion by Esoqq, since they only have his word that he tried the door. Maybe they’re being spied upon from within. They all accuse each other — the Mizarians always collaborate with potential enemies, Picard is barking orders and going on fool’s errands, Esoqq is the only one who is armed, and so on — but Picard convinces them that they have to work together or they’ll never get out. Haro pleads Picard’s case by mentioning how he helped the primitive people on Mintaka III; Picard prompts her by also mentioning Cor Caroli V, and she finishes the thought by describing the Phyrox plague.

Their second attempt to open the door succeeds, but only to a point: there’s a solid wall behind the door, putting them back to square one. Picard at that point says he’s tired of playing. It isn’t a prison, he opines, it’s a lab experiment. They’re given problems to solve, reversals, quarrels. And each of them responds differently to authority: Picard, trained to command; Esoqq, the anarchist; Tholl, the collaborator; and Haro, the cadet, deferring to authority.

But Haro, Picard says, is their captor. A first-year cadet was unlikely to know about Mintaka, and since the Phyrox plague was classified, there’s no way she could possibly know about that. “Haro” admits that Picard is right, and she transforms into three identical aliens, who explain that they have no concept of authority, which is why they’re studying it. Now that the prisoners are aware of the experiment, the results will be tainted, so they are all returned to their homes.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: “Allegiance”

Fake Picard moves the Enterprise dangerously close to the pulsar — so much so that Riker must disobey him and commit mutiny or risk endangering the crew. But then the alien brings Picard back. As the aliens explain themselves, Picard gives Riker a look; he silently signals Data and Worf to set up a containment force field that traps the aliens.

The aliens completely wig out when confined. Picard eventually frees them, pointing out that they know about them now, and how to imprison them. They bugger off, and Riker takes great pleasure in informing Picard that his doppelgänger sang....

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: “Allegiance”

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Apparently, the alien fake versions of people are so convincing that Troi can’t sense any difference. Whether or not it’s an accomplishment by the aliens or a defiency on Troi’s part is left as an exercise for the viewer.

The Boy!?: When Riker mutinies against Fake Picard, everyone goes along with it without hesitation — except Wes, who looks nauseated.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: “Allegiance”

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Fake Picard completely hits all over Crusher — sadly for her, she isn’t on the bridge when the deception is revealed, so when she sees Picard, she thinks he’s still the one who wants to dance with her....

I Believe I Said That: “My given name is Esoqq. It means ’fighter’.”

“I’ll bet that half the names in the Chalnoth language mean ’fighter’.”

“Mizarians. Your names all mean ’surrender’.”

Esoqq and Tholl making fun of each other.

Welcome Aboard: Joycelyn O’Brien, Stephen Markle, and Reiner Schöne play off each other and Sir Patrick Stewart quite well as, respectively, Haro, Tholl, and Esoqq. Markle and Schöne are particularly effective as the testy coward and the bombastic anarchist. Jerry and Jeff Rector are deliberately bland as the alien observers.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: “Allegiance”

Trivial Matters: Picard and Haro make reference to the events of “Who Watches the Watchers?” a previous Manning/Beimler script.

Picard has met the Chalnoth before, while captaining the Stargazer. That meeting was chronicled in the 59th issue of DC’s TNG comic by Michael Jan Friedman and Deryl Skelton.

Heart of Oak” is an 18th-century sea shanty that apparently remained popular into the 24th century, since not only did Picard sing it, but it looked like La Forge and, amusingly, Worf both knew the words, as did the rest of Ten-Forward.

Make it So: “I find it hard to believe you’re that good a singer.” This is half an excellent episode, and it’s the half that takes place in a locked room. The experiment that Picard, Esoqq, and Tholl are trapped in by the aliens posing as Haro is a fascinating construct, in a nicely designed set (points to production designer Richard James for the set and ever-excellent director Winrich Kolbe for shooting in it so well), and the whole thing plays out very nicely. The actors in particular sell it spectacularly.

Sadly, the same can’t be said for the flat, lifeless sequences on the Enterprise. It’s cute to have Picard act out of character, and it’s certainly more fun than it was in, say, “The Naked Now,” but it’s still tiresome and stupid and doesn’t really go anywhere unexpected. You know what every step is going to be, from the trust to the confusion to the concern to the mutiny, all at exactly the stage you expect. Blah.

 

Warp factor rating: 5


Keith R.A. DeCandido writes books. In 2012, he’ll write more books. If you go to his web site, you can order his books. Isn’t technology awesome?

22 comments
Rootboy
1. Rootboy
This feels like a TOS or Season 1 episode that somehow got made during season 3.
Rootboy
2. IvoryTower
Whether or not it’s an accomplishment by the aliens or a defiency on Troi’s part is left as an exercise for the viewer.

I believe you mean "deficiency". I did have to double check just in case, if it makes you feel better.
Michael Burstein
3. mabfan
This was an OK episode, but not one I'd particularly spend my time watching again.

Well, except for Picard singing. Singing is cool. :-)

-- Michael A. Burstein
Rootboy
4. Christopher L. Bennett
I wasn't crazy about this one. The purpose and rationale behind the aliens' test was vague, the goals of the fake Picard even more so. And the whole "aliens putting the crew through a test" formula was already played out by this point.

Also, it's weird in retrospect to see a Bolian with hair. Maybe the idea at the time was that only the males were bald, but we saw other female Bolians later on and the only other one with hair was a background extra in "Menage a Troi."
Rootboy
5. strongdreams
The 4 person locked room drama was very well done, even if the "aliens test the humans" trope had already been used a half dozen times in TOS and TNG. The shipboard scenes were cringe-inducing.
Rootboy
6. Mike S.
This is not a great episode (certianly nothing like the previous 3), but for me, it's worth a watch, just to see the (faux) Picard lead the crew in a drinking song. I loved that part, and you can tell Stewart's having fun there.

In the end, though, too many unanswered questions hold this episode back, specifically in the pulsar. Would the aliens have killed the Enterprise crew for the sake of their experiments? I say yes, but that should have been explained, IMO.
Margot Virzana
7. LuvURphleb
Why do only see the enterprise crew this well in other episodes? With just one look picard conveys to his bridge crew that he wants to imprison the aliens.
Yes i usually skip the faux picard scenes and they are "cringe inducing."
Rootboy
8. Pendard
This isn't the best episode, but when I think about it the parts I remember fondly are the ones that happen on the ship. All of the charm of this episode was in watching Patrick Stewart act out of character, and the crew respond to it.

I have no particular fondness for the rest of the episode. The "rat maze" plot seems like something they would have done on Voyager.
Rootboy
9. Idran
@8: They did do it on Voyager, actually. Well, sort of. There was the episode with those out-of-phase alien scientists that were experimenting on the crew.
Rootboy
10. Philippa Chapman
Come cheer up, my lads! 'tis to glory we steer,
To add something more to this wonderful year;
To honour we call you, not press you like slaves,
For who are so free as the sons of the waves?

Chorus Heart of oak are our ships, heart of oak are our men; We always are ready, steady, boys, steady! We'll fight and we'll conquer again and again.

We ne'er see our foes but we wish them to stay,
They never see us but they wish us away;
If they run, why we follow, and run them ashore,
For if they won't fight us, we cannot do more.
Chorus

They swear they'll invade us, these terrible foes, They frighten our women, our children, and beaus; But should their flat bottoms in darkness get o'er, Still Britons they'll find to receive them on shore.

Chorus

We'll still make them fear, and we'll still make them flee, And drub 'em on shore, as we've drubb'd 'em at sea; Then cheer up, my lads! with one heart let us sing: Our soldiers, our sailors, our statesmen and Queen.

Chorus

[b]
Rootboy
11. John R. Ellis
The ending to this was truly stupid. Oh, I'm so sure that confining the aliens for 2-3 minutes will mean they realize their experiments are wrong and they'll never, ever kidnap and torture subjects ever again!

Feh.
Chris Lough
12. TorChris
@10. Oh, Philippa. The Tor.com office is going to regret you posting those lyrics where I can easily sing them. Right about... now.
Rootboy
13. DLFerguson
See, I'm the exact opposite, Keith. I find the scenes in the locked room boring and uninteresting and the scenes on The Enterprise with the faux Picard to be the most fun and enjoyable.
Rootboy
14. Sihaya
Total agreement with DLFerguson: The only thing I liked about the "superior" alien specis testing all the plebians was that the aliens got their comeuppance. Unlike John Ellis, I didn't think that the aliens were meant to get the point of the turnabout. We were just meant to enjoy the irony when they freaked out in confinement. The "We have no concept of authority" statement never made any sense to me, either. I get the idea that they have no concept of the emotional response to authority, but I doubt that the organization of their tests was so very decentralized. There's a central, organizing factor coordinating Picard's kidnap and replacement with the conducting of the test, the gathering of results, etc. If they don't wish to call it an authority, fine, but that's the function it serves. They're not drones, and they clearly don't behave as drones. They have a sense of self, and they clearly know that they need to have control of their live, sentient experimental subjects. They are happily asserting authority even as they claim it's anathema to them. Bluh.

I enjoyed the crew vignettes on this go round, for the most part. No one action by FakePicard was really an "Ah ha!" clue that the guy wasn't on the up-and-up. We all know he's got a complex thing for Dr. Crusher. We all remember when he was the abrasive sort of guy who might interrupt the poker game in order to put an officer through his paces. It all has to add up to a pattern of boundary testing. And the crew has to get together to compare notes in order to realize it. While the real Picard was confined by a puzzle box prison, the Fake Picard, without realizing it, was confined more effectively by Picard's personality and social role.
Andrew Barton
15. MadLogician
It's odd for Picard to sing 'Heart of Oak'. The 'wonderful year' was 1759, and what made it wonderful was a series of British victories against the French.

Maybe this is another of the clues to his being fake.
Jenny Thrash
16. Sihaya
MadLogician, I don't know. Picard is not simply French, he is a Picard, and Picardy us a bit complex.
Joseph Newton
17. crzydroid
One thing I found odd was that Crusher says to (fake) Picard, "I thought you didn't dance." Yet in Insurrection, she says, "The captain used to cut quite a rug." Oops.
Joseph Newton
18. crzydroid
One thing I found odd was that Crusher says to (fake) Picard, "I thought you didn't dance." Yet in Insurrection, she says, "The captain used to cut quite a rug." Oops.

--Oh, the double post phenomenon.
Rootboy
19. Electone
Fake Picard walking into Ten Forward and waving to everyone, singing with the crew and the reactions from his officers is one of the funniest moments in TNG.
Rootboy
20. JohnC
I deeply dug the cheesy porn-jazz music Picard used to set the mood with Crusher in his crib.
Rootboy
21. Jenny87
OMG, the episode with the hairy, toothy, snarly guy and the dude in the bonnet snarking at each other! I absolutely loved it >:D

Also, I was totally expecting Wes to comment on the whole faux-Picard hitting on his mum thing. Maybe he did know about it and was nauseous because an alien was trying to get in his mother's pants. :P
(Disclaimer: This is a joke!)
Rootboy
22. therealarod
How can anyone not enjoy the 5 minute scene between Faux-Picard and Beverly? Lots of romantic tension and then the kiss! Come on!!!

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