Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Battle"

**1/2

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.

Previous episode: Justice
Next episode: Hide and Q

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9 comments on this review

Corey - Fri, Apr 20, 2012 - 3:51pm (USA Central)
Starfleet's procedures are looking really suspect. What kind of military abandons their warships, including their armaments (torpedoes), and doesn't scuttle the ship? What if an enemy found it? Or heaven forbid, the ship was found by an early warp civilization?

Now I know it's said that Starfleet isn't military (and I'll grant you it's not a good one), but what organization in the Federation would be tasked with re-taking a Federation world that was invaded -- this is a very military task? Starfleet.

Basically, if they were leaving in a hurry it should have been scuttled, and if there was time enable a beacon so it can be found and recovered later -- you would think this would be desirable, as some of the crew's personal effects were on board.

I liked the episode, though. The crew looked a bit incompetent though - either with their jobs or their acting.
Rikko - Sun, Jun 17, 2012 - 1:36am (USA Central)
I like this episode (and I think the rating it's spot-on) if only because there's a lot of Patrick Stewart, and the revenge story was kind of complex compared to all the other 8 episodes before it.

Although, the acting was generally lame, even Stewart as Picard was overacting a bit. And, of course, the Ferengi still suck as a new species.

But the worse is that Wesley saved the day. It is beyond me how a child could be smarter than apparently trained and way older adults. It definitely breaks the logjam =/
NCC-1701-Z - Mon, Jul 23, 2012 - 2:48pm (USA Central)
Ok - the episode was kinda predictable. And it was pretty annoying to see Wesley Save The Day. Couldn't they have let Geordi do it? And the way Riker beat the Picard Maneuver was kinda confusing and muddled - I couldn't quite follow it.

That said, this is the first TNG ep I can actually recommend. After the travesty that was "Justice", this restored my faith in TNG. The plot itself was pretty well executed and had a certain amount of intrigue to it. As Jammer said, the psychological component of the episode is the most fascinating part. The action sequence at the end was well done, and the music during the same sequence was passable. Nowhere near the Sol Kaplan level, but passable. The final message/line "In revenge there is no profit" was pretty well realized too. Patrick Stewart put in some good acting in this ep. The cast as a whole just seemed more energized as well. (I still don't like the bridge set though - looks too much like a living room for my tastes. If they just straightened up the chairs of the conn and helm positions it would make a big difference.)

3 stars, solid.
Van_Patten - Tue, Sep 11, 2012 - 2:41pm (USA Central)
For me only the second (maybe excluding the pilot) episode that I would unambiguously argue is watchable. Whilst the costumes for the Ferengi still look absurd, the acting is far superior to their appearance in 'Outpost' - Frank Corsentino is rather hammy but his obvious insincerity and 'fake smiles' strike the right note making him more two dimensional than some villains on the show.

The main issue I have is, as Jammer says, this is another example of 'Wesley -Boy wonder' solving a puzzle which trained officers should easily be able to spot days before he does. Also, how the devil did a hitherto only glimpsed and presumed hostile race get access to a Decommissioned Starship, and also acquire the means to make it functional again? It's easy to slag off Wil Wheaton but to my knowledge he didn't write the script and he's badly served here. The rest of the cast come off looking like dullards.

However, the pacing is much better in this than most previous season 1 outings.. I liked the further exploration of the relationship between Crusher and Picard, and Frakes gives a better performance than in most previous shows -.All in all, despite it's obvious flaws, I'd agree with the rating - 2.5 stars from me, the equal 'best' rating thus far for the season.
xaaos - Mon, Oct 29, 2012 - 4:10am (USA Central)
Doctor Crusher's acting is so flat and wooden, I guess that explains her "son's" acting aswell. And I just couldn't stand Wes'geek smile when he came up with the solution.

Other than that, a nice episode, the best so far in 1st season. Graphics are awful (check how unrealistic looks when the Stargazer is loose and speeds up) but nvm... it was still 1987 (Aliens and Terminator had been already produced ofc, but I guess their budgets were bigger than a TNG single episode).
JarfMobile - Wed, Nov 14, 2012 - 11:14pm (USA Central)
Like you all, I found it annoying that Wesley had to play any role in this episode, but the worst part of "The Battle," in my opinion, is that throughout the episode, there lacks any reason why the Ferengi vessel should still be in close proximity to the Enterprise. I guess I'll go ahead and buy the premise of their original meeting,an unknown mission of diplomacy, but once it is revealed that Daimon Bok simply wants to give a gift (and a suspicious one at that) to the Federation, wouldn't everyone logically just go home? And, wouldn't suspicions abound on the Enterprise about Bok's motive? Wouldn't Data go through all of the Enterprise's files and use his super-computer mind to figure out possible scenarios for sabotage? Instead, for the entire episode, the two ships remains uncomfortably locked in cruise control next to each other, thus allowing Bok to carry out his diabolical plan with the mind control device. I don't know, I just kept asking myself, Why haven't they parted ways yet?
Malcolm - Wed, Jun 12, 2013 - 1:31pm (USA Central)
I always find the littlest thing to nitpick when going back and watching the old episodes. This time its Troi claiming to sense great deception from Daimon Bok after it was already established that she can't read a Ferengi mind. Overall though probably the best episode so far from Season One.
SkepticalMI - Wed, Aug 21, 2013 - 5:42pm (USA Central)
This does appear to be the first real complete episode of TNG. It's a bit slow moving, but there aren't any critical flaws like all the previous episodes.

One nitpick/annoyance I did have was with Dr. Crusher. While her acting was a bit wooden, I didn't mind that she had plenty of scenes; it made sense in the context of the episode. And I can pretend that her over-formality she displayed to Picard in the first season could be just uncomfortableness about her situation serving under not only a friend but someone who reminds her of her dead husband.

But what annoyed me was that she didn't say a thing about the Stargazer. Good TV shows can create a believable world where all the characters act like they would in the real world. Yet here was a ship that had a significant impact in her life (and Wesley's, but his presence in the episode was limited), the ship her husband served on and died while serving on. And that merits no interest to her at all? Not even a comment? Not even a sideways glance?

I did like the Ferengi first officer. At least it was nice to see a bit of different characterization from aliens instead of them all acting the same.
Liam - Tue, Sep 9, 2014 - 3:43pm (USA Central)
Not bad episode for early TNG and it gives some essential background for Picard. However I too felt that McFadden's acting was flat here, when it needed to be much stronger and really explore her relationship with Picard. And of course there's Wesley Sue the boy wonder swooping in to save the day once again (eyes rolling). How many times do we have to endure that?

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