Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Enemy [3.7]

Geordi is trapped on an inhospitable planet with only a suspicious and wounded Romulan for assistance.  Meanwhile, Worf refuses to undergo a medical procedure which would safe the life of another Romulan, because of his bitterness regarding the death of his family.  Picard struggles to rescue Geordi while also attempting to prevent the Romulan incursion into Federation space from leading into war.  In the end, he is able to do so, and Geordi and his Romulan colleague come to a mutual respect.

Written by David Kemper and Michael Piller. Directed by David Carson.

Previous Episode: Booby TrapNext Episode: The Price

This is a great episode.  It’s the second one in a row to feature Geordi in a starring role, but is miles ahead of its predecessor.  (Frankly, any episode that doesn’t include the phrase “romance on the holodeck” is already starting off ahead of the game).  There are three interrelated plots that are skillfully woven together, and of course all flow from the same dramatic incident:  the discovery of a crashed Romulan ship on “our” side of the Neutral Zone.  Interestingly, we never actually find out what the Romulans were doing there, but it doesn’t really matter–we know that these guys are up to no good.

The Enemy is far and away the best Romulan story that Next Generation has had so far.  Of course, a lot of that is because of the excellent writing and directing.  But a big part of it is thanks to Andreas Katsulas as Commander Tomalok.  Often some of the most tedious performances in this series are the “faces on the screens”.  Just go watch The Neutral Zone for an example of this.  It’s not that all these guys are bad actors – I think it’s just hard to bring the drama to life when all you’ve got is one camera angle and probably no actors to work with.  But Katsulas gives Tomalok a lot of life, and makes you want to see that guy again.  He does show up, but I don’t really remember much about his other appearances.  So we’ll see.

LeVar Burton does a standout job in this story in his scenes with the Romulan Centurion.  The story plays on the characters strengths – a smart, resourceful, professional who has bionic vision, but who is basically an ordinary guy.  He doesn’t posture or grandstand, and he doesn’t want to die for stupid reasons.  His conversation with Bochra about whether this is a moment that is worth dying for is excellent.

Patrick Stewart also brings the goods, as usual, in his verbal confrontation with the Romulan vessel.  There is real strength in his “big speech” where he talks about who will be the first to extend trust.  It’s all the more powerful because he delivers it not to a face on the screen, but to a shot of a voiceless ship.  As a Shakespearean actor, Stewart knows how to deliver a monologue.  I suppose the writer’s realized this and intentionally took advantage of this whenever they could, and we’re all happier for it.

But of course the thing that we all remember from this episode is Worf, and his refusal to “let go” of the pain of his family’s death at the hands of the Romulans.  His refusal to give in to any persuasion save a direct order to donate from his own body to help save this man’s life is one of the single most defining moments of his character, ever.  It shows us that the show is not going to just turn him into a guy who is a Klingon on the outside but is really just like everyone else inside.  It’s an interesting thing that you could do, largely because the series already had a “Data” who was striving to be human.  In that way, Data represents the classic Star Trek dilemma.  Worf, on the other hand, is not striving to be human.  His story, when it’s at its best, is about trying to remain a Klingon in the midst of Starfleet and the Federation.  It’s a similar sort of role that Quark played later in Deep Space Nine.

So, excellent work all around, including Michael Dorn in a powerful supporting part.  It’s easily the best episode of the season so far (and by extension, one of the very best of the series up to this point).

Guest Cast
• John Snyder (Centurion Bochra) will reappear as a different character in a later episode, The Masterpiece Society.

• Andreas Katsulas makes his debut here as Commander Tomalok, a character who will reappear three more times.  He is famous as G’Kar in Babylon 5.  He also played the one-armed man in The Fugitive movie from 1993.

• Steve Rankin (Patahk) made appearances in all of the later Star Trek series, including as Colonel Green in Enterprise.  He also had small parts of two of my favorite moviesApollo 13 and LA Confidential.

Setting Up the Future
As already noted, there is no explanation for the what the Romulans are doing there.  But their sneaky shenanigans will continue to play a role in many episodes to come.

• Man, that’s a great opening scene.  Of course, the inclement weather and the planet set are not completely believable, but they come very close.

• Wesley comes up with a pretty good idea (the neutrino probe, or whatever), but it feels in context, and not like a “Wesley saves the ship” moment.

• It’s a bit surprising that Geordi doesn’t disarm the aggressive Romulan after he’s hit by the rocks.

• Hmm, Romulans apparently murder their young if they’re born handicapped.  Sick.  But something that does take place amongst some real life humans as well.

• So many good confrontation scenes with Romulans.  Why can’t they be this good all the time?

• Picard’s caution about allowing war to be provoked is well played.  I like his line about history remembering Galorndon Core “along with Pearl Harbor and Station Salem One as the stage for a bloody preamble to war.”  I looked it up online and apparently Station Salem One was never mentioned again.

• I like Geordi’s line to the Romulan, “I never lie when I’ve got sand in my shoe, Commodore.”

• Geordi going blind is a great way to raise the stakes.

• Always nice to see that Worf-Riker friendship at play.

Dialogue High Point
In response to his human friends telling him that it may not be the time or place for his feelings of pain and bitterness about the Romulans, Worf replies

If you had seen them kill your parents, than you’d understand…it is always time for those feelings.

Powerful stuff which really captures the character.

Previous Episode: Booby TrapNext Episode: The Price

4 thoughts on “Star Trek: The Next Generation – The Enemy [3.7]

  1. It’s definitely an awesome episode. Wesley being the one to come up with the way to save Geordi was a little annoying, but even worse was Geordi immediately realizing it was Wesley’s idea. A ship full of fully trained and capable officers, and of course it’s the teenage wunderkind who solves the problem, and of course Geordi knows that none of the other people on the ship would be smart enough to come up with the sort of thing the teenage wunderkind could. Bah.

    Other than that, it’s a great episode.

  2. Hmm, good point about Geordi’s recognition of Wesley’s contribution. Although, from what we’ve actually seen on the show, there don’t seem to be that many other particularly intelligent officers around (just see Booby Trap, for instance), so assuming it’s Wesley is at least consistent.

  3. Eh, the Whiz Kid always prevails sometimes. In some ways I see Geordi to Wesley as I do Spock to Chekov. But you’re right to say this is one of the greatest defining moments of Worf’s character. I actually read (in the unauthorized complete trek voyages) that the original script had Worf giving the Romulan blood and the Romulan surviving, but the writers realized that, despite good guys always coming around in TV, Worf would never actually do that. They made the right choice.

    A great episode, but there is one GAPING plot hole. There were Vulcans serving onboard the Enterprise. That Romulan must have had some pretty messed up blood if none of their transfusions would work, given the common origin of the two species.

  4. I’d call it more a massive contrivance than a plot hole, but yeah, I know what you mean. They say it’s not a blood transfusion precisely, but a donation of ribosomes, or something. So something in the blood, rather than the blood itself. But either way, it’s convenient dramatically that of all the crew, Worf and only Worf is the one who can help.

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