Geordi is kidnapped by the Romulans and secretly brainwashed into assassinating a Klingon governor in order to break up their alliance with the Federation. The plot is nearly successful, but foiled by Data’s investigation into mysterious signals being sent by a Klingon traitor into Geordi’s Visor to effect control.
Teleplay by Rene Echeverria. Story by Ken Schafer and Rene Echeverria. Directed by David Livingstone .
The Romulan plot amps up! And it does so in a way that generates a lot of intrigue and tells a satisfying story. The Romulans overall have been better handled in Next Generation than I had remembered. Even though this isn’t the best Romulan episode, it is the one so far that makes them feel the most threatening. I suppose it’s because there is a “This time it’s personal” vibe to their machinations, as they not only go after the Federation, but they threaten one of our heroes, Geordi, so viciously, reducing him to such helplessness, pain and confusion before our eyes.
LeVar Burton does a good job as the story’s lead, and there is a fun irony in the fact that we get to watch Geordi try to figure out discrepancies that he himself is responsible for. I think it’s a good writing choice to not try to make the story into a “whodunnit?” followed by a “shocking twist” that the detective is the criminal. I recall such a plot being used in an episode of Voyager to lesser effect. Instead, this episode adopts a Manchurian Candidate vibe and builds tension via the parallel story streams of both the crimes and the investigation. The result is a tense and engaging plot.
Guest actor Lawrence Dobkin deserves a lot of the credit for the story. He does an a great job as Ambassador Kell, who is funny and likeable as an ally, and surprising and engaging as a villain. The revelation is very understated and effective, and the script does not spoil this truth too soon.
Of course, the other notable guest appearance here is the voice of Denise Crosby, who appears uncredited as the voice of the mysterious figure in the shadows. This is to set up this same figure a couple of episodes hence. I cottoned on to the fact that it was Crosby the first time I watched it, although of course I had no idea what she was doing there. I don’t know how effective the tease is – the shadowy character is not memorable at all, and would only stick in your mind if you realized that there was a connection with Tasha.
Lawrence Dobkin (Ambassador Kell), has had hundreds of credited rolls, going back at least to appearances on television in 1952. This includes playing the Narrator in nearly a hundred episodes of Naked City.
John Fleck plays Taibek. He is apparently one of only three actors to have appeared in all of the “modern” television versions of Star Trek, including in the recurring role of Silik in Enterprise. He was also a regular in Murder One.
Edward Wiley plays Governor Vagh. He also has a role in Deep Space Nine, and appears in the movies Highlander, Ragtime, and Chariots of Fire.
Shout Out to the Past:
There are several references to Worf’s discommendation, Duras, and Picard’s relationship with the Klingons.
The fourth officer that Geordi mentions had the capability of pulling off the deception was Costa, an engineer who appears uncredited in Hollow Pursuits.
At the start of the story, Geordi is heading toward Risa, the world that Picard visited in Captain’s Holiday.
There are brief references to the Ferengi, and, for the first time since they appeared, the Cardassians.
Setting Up the Future:
The whole plot with the Romulans and the Klingons will come to a head in a couple of episodes in the season finale, Redemption. This is also where the shadowy Romulan figure will step into the light.
• For the third episode in a row, a supporting character gets an opening “log entry”. This time, it’ Geordi.
• It’s quite shocking when the Romulan ship turns up. Why doesn’t the computer tell Geordi about this? You’d think it’d be a standing order for the computer to alert the crew when an enemy ship abruptly appears right in front of you.
• Kell gets a number of good lines in the early part of the story. Picard asks if the Klingons are willing to give certain colonies independence, to which he replies, “Perhaps. We’ll conquer them again later, if we wish.” Later, he says, “Your modesty is very human, Captain. I will excuse it.” And to Worf, “Motives? Who cares for motives? Humans perhaps. What matters is you acted that day as a true Klingon.”
• The torture of LaForge is pretty gruesome, even if it’s not gory at all.
• Data’s sorting out the Geordi’s joke is pretty amusing
• Picard mans up with some Klingon profanity when facing the Klingon Governor
• Mysterious and weird when Geordi sees O’Brien in Ten Forward the real time. I gather that was supposed to be an example of the baddies “testing” Geordi to make sure the programming was working?
• The crew isn’t as mobilized as I would have expected by the revelation that there is a spy on board the ship. They know this as soon as they realize there’s been tampering with the cargo bay transporter, and certainly they know it when they discover that the “E-band” signals are coming from inside the ship. But Picard is still a bit befuddled to discover that there’s been a Romulan accomplice around Geordi.
• Data gets some cool points as he orders Worf to take Geordi into custody while strutting down the hallway.
• Nice scene between Geordi and Troi at the end
Crazy Talk: Captain Riker (Huh?)
This episode would have worked with a “Captain Riker”, although we would have been denied Kell’s line about Picard’s humilty.
Dialogue High Point
My favorite dialog is the exchange with the Klingons at the end of the story, when all has been revealed, and Kell is under threat of being interrogated by the Klingons, and requests asylum aboard the Enterprise. Picard replies
I will certainly grant you asylum…when you have been absolved of this crime.