Plot Synopsis: When a group of Ferengi present Captain Picard with the derelict remains of his old starship, he begins to lose himself in the past.
Plot A and B Analysis: Oh man, those frickin’ Ferengi. So, the teaser starts off innocuously enough, Picard has a headache and a Ferengi ship wants to meet with him for unknown reasons; if only we didn’t think the Ferengi were silly morons already. Plot A has to do with the Ferengi captain’s nefarious plans for Picard, there is no plot B for this episode. After the commercial break, instead of something interesting happening we have to listen to the medical history of the headache. Wes comes in wearing his new season one quasi-uniform and let’s us know he’s smarter than everyone on the Enterprise, and Picard is about to dress him down when he gets another headache. This is to occur repeatedly throughout the episode and is a good way of summing up the following 40 minutes as well. The Ferengi are obviously up to something and seem to telegraph their intentions at every step. They present Picard with his old ship the Stargazer; any reasonably intelligent audience would know this is probably a trap but that doesn’t stop the writers pounding it into us again and again. Our captain has more headaches and starts to vividly remember his past on board his old ship, and wow, those silver spheres probably have something to do with it. Anyway the plot rambles on for a bit and finally resolves itself, to our relief.
Favorite Scenes: Picard explaining his eponymous maneuver and the first scenes on board the Stargazer work, mostly due to Patrick’s acting, somehow turning mediocre scenes into something special. The scene where Bok reveals why he has done all of the things he has at the end of the episode works as well, causing the audience to have some level of sympathy for him.
Use of Cast/Characters: This is a Picard-centered episode so he gets the most time and development, revealing some of his history and showing he was a brilliant tactician. This is one of those episodes that really made people hate Wesley. First he comes to the bridge and starts ordering senior officers around, later he happens to ‘glance’ at brain scans and notices something that none of the trained doctors, engineers or the android noticed? Then he almost snarkily says “you’re welcome, ladies,” and as a final middle finger to everyone over the age of 18 says “Adults!” I feel almost as bad for Gates McFadden and Marina Sirtis though, because Dr. Crusher and Deanna Troi just come across as idiots. They can’t figure anything out, don’t have good lines, and as soon as Wes tells them something they come running onto the bridge like two panicked errand girls, it’s ridiculous. Riker has some good character development I guess, he is in command and doesn’t strike you as arrogant for once. Geordi does actually serve a purpose toward the end of the episode, so that’s something. Data does get some time, but it’s really nothing memorable. Worf and Tasha are barely in this episode.
Blu Ray Version: It looks good! Among various fixes, here’s one: the tractor beam coming from the Enterprise, trapping the Stargazer originally came from the torpedo bay. This was corrected to come from the tractor beam emitter, where it should have.
Nitpicks: Uh, can Deana just decide to cut off transmission when her captain is in the middle of talks with a generally hostile species? And while we’re at it, what’s the idea with transporting the hostile Ferengi directly onto the bridge, the nerve center of the entire ship? Those tiny little wussbag flashlights they have when first beaming over to the Stargazer are pretty pathetic… they gave off so little light that even in low ambient light they were almost useless. It bugged me when Dr. Crusher called Riker Number One. Only the captain gets to call him number one, baby! I also found it odd that the Ferengi first officer is not willing to take any steps against his own captain, but three minutes later when nothing has happened yet he tells us he’s confined him? This conversation should have been moved to after the Enterprise/Stargazer confrontation resolved itself, IMO.
Overall Impression: Ugh. So far the pattern is to follow-up any kind of decent episode with a bad one, and The Battle certainly follows suit. The script is just not good, we know exactly what’s going on before the episode is half-over, and the Ferengi (and some of the cast) are given terrible lines throughout the episode. This is the first character-centered episode of the series, and it’s not a good one. The plot of this episode bounces back and forth between Picard having headaches, the Ferengi rubbing their hands together with evil glee and Wesley coming across as a smart-ass. If it weren’t for Patrick’s acting and one scene with Bok there wouldn’t be anything salvageable from this episode. I rate this episode 1 out of 5 stars.
Behind the Scenes/Trivia: This is the 8th episode aired, but the 9th one made. To the relief of many, this is the last time you’ll have to see the furry uniforms the Ferengi have been wearing, as well as the metallic headgear. This is the first episode that we see Picard’s quarters. During the 35th minute you can again see those black cards on the back of the bridge–crap, they’re there in half the episodes! The bridge of the Stargazer is actually the redressed battle bridge from the pilot episode. From now on whenever you see the little model of a starship in Captain Picard’s ready room, remember it’s the Stargazer from this episode. For those interested in what Picard’s final log entries on board the Stargazer say, here is the text:
“USS Stargazer on routine survey mission into the Maxia Zeta star system. Initial scans indicate twelve planets, none habitable. The third and fourth are in Maxia Zeta’s habitable zone, and may therefore be candidates for terraforming. Our science teams are preparing for a full survey and sensor scan.”
“We have found an unidentified spacecraft near one of the moons of Maxia Zeta IV. Indications are that the craft may have been launched from that moon although our scans have indicated no launch complex or other support facility. We are attempting to hail the craft but as yet, there have been no replies.”
“We are under attack by an unidentified starcraft. Repeated attempts to warn it off have failed. I fear that we have no choice but to defend ourselves.”
“Proceeding at warp 3.4. Chief engineer reports nominal completion of maintenance on #2 impulse reactor a full day ahead of schedule. I have therefore ordered a full power test to the entire system in hopes of recertifying the reactor before next week. It will be good to have impulse back to full capacity. We are forced to abandon our starship. May she find her way without us.”
Missable/Unmissable? Definitely missable, unless you want some more background on Picard there’s very little in this episode of value. It’s just not an enjoyable watch. The next episode, however, is a legitimately good episode! Finally!