Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 11/16/1987
Teleplay by Herbert Wright
Story by Larry Forrester
Directed by Robert Bowman
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
The Ferengi return in an episode where they're much more tolerable than in their completely over-the-top, caricatured debut in "The Last Outpost." (Though I should add, "tolerable" is a far cry from "good.") Here, DaiMon Bok (Frank Corsentino) offers as a gift to Picard the USS Stargazer — his old ship from his previous command, abandoned and believed destroyed nine years earlier in a battle with an unknown vessel that attacked the Stargazer without provocation or identification.
"The Battle" is perfectly acceptable TNG fare but without being compelling. The episode is actually an elaborate revenge scenario where Bok is using the pretext of this well-intended gift as a way to torment Picard with a mind-control device hidden on the Stargazer. The device is programmed to make Picard vividly relive his memories of the battle with the unidentified vessel. (The unidentified vessel was actually of Ferengi origin, commanded by Bok's only son, hence the vengeance motive.)
The story of the Stargazer proves to be the most interesting aspect of the show, with a psychological component that's sometimes effective. There's a respectable symmetry to the idea of Picard being set up to relive this battle by attacking the Enterprise with the Stargazer, inevitably resulting in his own death at their hands.
Unfortunately, the plot is like a meditation on slow-study characters; Crusher can't explain Picard's headaches, and it takes too long for the crew to connect the dots between Picard's mental anguish and Bok's plan. The characters practically stumble over the silver, glowing mind-control sphere and yet don't find it. Ultimately, it takes Wesley, Boy Genius, to detect the signal and alert the adults to his discovery, which breaks the logjam.