The Enterprise is shocked when the Ferengi Daimon Bok, returns a long missing Federation vessel, the Stargazer, which Picard had commanded up until a critical battle forced him to abandon it. Bok is in reality looking for revenge for the death of his son, who was killed in that battle, and uses forbidden technology to affect Picard’s mind, making him believe he is back on the Stargazer in that final battle. Riker and the rest of the crew uncover this plot and are able to help the delusional Picard see the truth.
Teleplay by Herbert Wright. Story by Larry Forrester. Directed by Rob Bowman.
Comments: Okay, The Battle is a pretty mediocre episode of Next Generation, sort of average for the first season. The Ferengi make their first return appearance, and we get some information on Picard’s backstory, but the story itself is pretty lacking. The opening act is all right, with the mystery of what the Ferengi are doing, the return of the Stargazer, and the revelation of Picard’s backstory. But as the plot goes on to Picard’s delusions about being on the Stargazer again, with its strange half-hearted attempts to create hallucinations, it all gets a bit tiresome.
Again, Picard acts strangely and the crew are sort of helpless to do anything about it. It’s not as bad as the previous time, Lonely Among Us (two episodes ago), where it got very blatant, but it’s unfortunate timing to have this happen again so quickly, and to have the crew once again fail to stop delusional Picard from doing something crazy.
Daimon Bok is a pretty underwritten foe for the story. After the Stargazer is returned, he spends most of the story sitting around his machine chuckling to himself, like a mad scientist in a laboratory. I don’t know if Daimon Bok was being set up as a potential return adversary or not – for some reason, Patrick Stewart was apparently really into him coming back – but the character really fails to grab my attention in any way that makes me want to see him again.
The climax of this story is especially unengaging. Riker and the crew manage to talk Picard down from his hallucination and convince him to shoot the ball that is sitting in a chair next to him, and the episode’s baddie gets taken down by his underlings off screen.
This is the second episode, I think, where Wesley basically saves the day and comes across smarter and more sensible than everyone else. First, he boosts the long range sensors, apparently in his spare time, discovering the presence of the Stargazer in the first place. Secondly, he is the one who notices that the Ferengi ship is eminating mysterious scans, which alerts everyone else to the danger.
Sadly, Troi is made to sound a bit like a ninny, struggling to repeat Wesley’s information, and sounding like she doesn’t understand it. It’s also the first time I’ve noticed truth of the oft-commented complaint that Troi was made to wear outfits that were increasingly “plungy” and sensualized.
This episode introduces the “Picard maneuver” – actually, I’m not sure if it ever mentioned again or not. But it’s described as indefensible, and Riker and the rest of the crew are quite concerned by their inability to do anything about it if Picard were to employ it. Ever since this episode came out, my brother has brought up the obvious question – if this maneuver has no defense, than why don’t they employ it all the time?
Anticipating the Future:
Daimon Bok returned in the last season of the series, although played by a different actor.
• Frank Corsentino, who plays Daimon Bok here (but not when the character returns much later), also plays Ferengi Daimon Tog several years later in Menage a Troi. He also appears in the Voyager episode Inside Man.
• Turns out that by Next Generation‘s era, headaches and the common cold are rare. I think that the common cold was still an issue during the original series.
• It’s nice, but I guess not surprising, that nobody really believes that the faked log entries.
• Dr. Crusher calls Riker “Number One” – I’m not sure if I’ve heard that before
• This is the first episode of the series that doesn’t end with Picard ordering the ship off in the direction of their next mission.
Dialogue High Point
Dr. Crusher gets the most memorable line in a pretty unmemorable episode
Why do Captains always act like they’re immortal?