Jammer's Review

Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Ensign Ro"

***

Air date: 10/7/1991
Teleplay by Michael Piller
Story by Rick Berman & Michael Piller
Directed by Les Landau

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

When Rick Berman takes a story credit in the TNG era, you might assume something major is afoot (see the forthcoming "Unification"). And yet "Ensign Ro" wasn't originally conceived as the backstory it ultimately would provide for Deep Space Nine. A cornerstone of DS9's development would ultimately grow from the pieces put in place in this episode — and the new series would be in full-scale production less than a year later — but there apparently was no master plan at the time "Ensign Ro" was written.

A terrorist attack on a Federation colony is said to have been committed by a group of Bajorans (frequently and inconsistently referred to as "Bajora" in this episode). Admiral Kennelly (Cliff Potts) orders Picard to track down the perpetrators amid a politically sensitive situation, and forces Picard to take with him as a special adviser the confrontational Ensign Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes in a memorably abrasive and yet still sympathetic performance), released from prison specifically to help Picard navigate these tricky waters. (She was sent to prison after being court-martialed for disobeying orders that resulted in the deaths of several fellow Starfleet officers.)

Aboard the Enterprise, Ro has a rare electrifying presence. Most of the crew wants nothing to do with her based on her tarnished reputation alone, and Ro projects the very public position of wanting nothing to do with any of them. She's blunt and tells it like it is. TNG is famous for its general lack of interpersonal conflict — a rule that "Ensign Ro" is willing to suspend. Watching this, you can see the dramatic benefits of conflict (and why the no-conflict rule would be dropped for DS9).

One person who sees through Ro's leave-me-alone persona is the seen-it-all Guinan, who opts for a kill-her-with-kindness approach, and ultimately declares Ro her friend. This will ultimately be Ro's salvation, as being friends with Guinan means Picard will be more apt to listen to you, which proves important when it's revealed that Ro has a very unique problem: She was put on this assignment to deliver the Bajoran terrorists to the Cardassians on behalf of Admiral Kennelly and is caught as a pawn in the middle of a web of political intrigue.

The plot execution is nothing to write home about. The Enterprise tracks down the Bajoran cell leader and it turns out he didn't attack the Federation colony at all; the Cardassians attacked the colony and framed the Bajorans in the hopes of provoking the Federation to do their dirty work in finding the Bajorans for them. Kennelly is the patsy who buys into the plot and conspires with the Cardassians to deliver the Bajorans. These plot details play out with fairly low wattage (in stark contrast to the energy that Ro herself brings to the Enterprise).

Of more value is the character of Ro herself, who ultimately joins the Enterprise crew and promises to be an interesting addition. And it's always nice to add a little more complexity in near orbit of the paradise that is the Federation. The creation of the Bajorans as galactic ethnic nomads that have been destroyed and scattered as the result of a brutal Cardassian occupation — well, I wonder what might come of that?

Previous episode: Darmok
Next episode: Silicon Avatar

Season Index

51 comments on this review

Nick Poliskey - Fri, Apr 8, 2011 - 1:19pm (USA Central)
I am going to be the one person who comes out and admits this episode sucks. I hate this episode. The story is more boring than ethics, the acting is terrible, you knew the second she walked on the ship the script was eventually going to redeem her. I found this mindless chest-bumping of the highest degree.

I will freely admit I cannot stand Michele Forbes. Add to that the role of Laren, who although everyone seems to think having a baddass chick is cool, we have one now on everything, and we did way back in 1991 also. The problem I have with these terminator type chicks is that they are so unrealistic. I have never met a female human who in any way acted like this outside of maury povich. Maybe Doctor Crusher doesn't do it for feminists, but the vast majority of women I know do act like that.

Anyways, enough comlaining. I will finish with some food for thought. Everytime I read about this episode, everyone loves the new "conflict" this character brings, and how it is a "breath of fresh air for the paradise that is the federation", but the other thing I know about this period of star trek is that this is when the episode rating start dropping a little bit. I won't say that Laren caused the decline of Star Trek, but maybe Roddenberry knew something we didn't?
grumpy_otter - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 4:46am (USA Central)
Sorry Nick, I have to join the camp of those who love this episode--and probably partly because I love Michelle Forbes. I loved her as Charles Emerson Winchester's daughter and I love her as Ensign Ro. The later episodes that include her are some of the best of TNG.

But that's just my opinion--you are certainly welcome to yours. I can totally see how if you didn't like Ro, all her storylines would be tedious.

What I REALLY love about this episode is how Ro makes Beverly look like such an idiot. I hated that they brought Gates McFadden's simpering idiocy back after getting rid of the practical and abrasive Pulaski. Any episode that focuses on Dr. Beverly is some of the worst of TNG.

Rachael - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 12:06pm (USA Central)
I find it interesting that so many fans reserve such invective for the female characters they dislike, far over and above whatever unkind words they have about male characters they dislike. I liked both Ro and Dr. Crusher as characters, but even if I didn't, really? Yes, Crusher can be poorly written, but there is not a single character on TNG that was not poorly written at least some of the time, due to the inconsistencies of the myriad screenwriters and the - lets face it - poor quality of the first couple of seasons.

I also think the fact that Nick doesn't know any "human females" who have an attitude says far more about his interactions with "human females" than it does about "human females" themselves.
Nick Poliskey - Sat, Apr 9, 2011 - 1:04pm (USA Central)
I am not exactly a muslim fanatical cave-man who think women belong to me and if they don't cook well enough I can stone them, I am in some sense arguing the opposite, I am saying Ro Laren is a stereotype. But unlike most stereotypes, there is not much truth behind it.

And like I said, find me someone who doesn't like this dumb character, I can't. I am in a small minority here.

I also don't think not choosing to be around "women with attitude" makes me a caveman as your implying, I prefer women who are caring, maternal, thoughtful, and don't want to phaser every Cardassian that walks by. I actually find Kira quite enjoyable, and I think part of it is the recognizance that all though she has been throguh tough spots, she is still a women. I don't like the Laren characters because they are essentially male Zorro characters who happen to played be females. Maybe that does make me sexist, whatever that is how I feel.
karatasiospa - Sun, Apr 10, 2011 - 6:02am (USA Central)
Not all muslims are fanatics and certainly they are not cavemen Shame to anyone who says such things. And for the record i'mnot a muslim but i know some.
grumpy_otter - Fri, Apr 15, 2011 - 6:12pm (USA Central)
karatasiospa--"muslim fanatical cave-man" = Osama bin Laden. He is a Muslim (or says he is, rather), is a fanatic (I think we'd all agree), and lives in a cave (according to reports). Nick's hyperbole was not disparaging of Muslims, or normal fanatics (like of sports), or cave-men. Rather, it was meant to point out that Nick is not a nutjob who requires women in his presence to wear burqas and speak only when spoken to.

Pardon me, Nick, if what I said is not what you meant.
karatasiospa - Mon, Apr 18, 2011 - 5:15am (USA Central)
Perhaps but by the way it was phrased it seemed that he was referring to all muslims. And do i need to remind you that there are also many christian fanatics who want women in a subortinate position? it's not only a problem of muslims so why don't use tne same expression with "christian" in place of "muslim"?
Weiss - Wed, Apr 20, 2011 - 12:50pm (USA Central)
pardon, cave man i, view not standable, show women about alien, human not
Nick Poliskey - Wed, Apr 20, 2011 - 1:26pm (USA Central)
Actually, I was making fun of Cavemen!!! Of course cave men were not stupid enough to be a christian or a muslim.

And to clarify, Kara, I was not condemning all muslims, however, Grumpy, while not all muslims are terrorists, I will freely admit that if I had a choice of 2 planes, and one had only muslims and jews, and the other had only christians and jews. I am going with the jesus drinkers all the way!!!
Eric Dugdale - Fri, Apr 22, 2011 - 1:43pm (USA Central)
In principle, I like strong female characters in shows, because in our male-normative society, we kind of need that.

However, strong female characters who are depicted as being special/different *because* they are strong, have the opposite effect. The message delivered by such characters is basically "I am strong/bold/badass/whatever; I am also a woman. This is relevant because women are generally not strong/bold/badass/whatever." I don't think that that message is one that should be delivered to an audience.
Lenore - Sat, Apr 23, 2011 - 4:21pm (USA Central)
"terminator type chicks is that they are so unrealistic"

So you're saying Ro Laren is a badass, "Terminator-type chick"?! Based on what? Getting snippy about her name? Sitting nursing a drink alone? Sitting in her quarters thinking? Being on the verge of tears as she describes seeing her father tortured to death? Considering that her character is a deeply screwed-up refugee from an enslaved society, who has spent a long time in prison because she messed up and people died as a result, what exactly is so unrealistic about her?

Seriously, man...I have no idea what you're basing that comment on at all.
Nathaniel - Mon, Apr 25, 2011 - 2:55pm (USA Central)
The fact that she is abrasive and a loner. This guy has only met women who are sweet and adore people, so obviously this means no woman can be like Ro Laren. Its PC police run amok people! Run for your lives!

Bonus terror points for this scary non-woman maintaining her abrasiveness towards her male human superiors.
Jammer - Mon, Apr 25, 2011 - 3:36pm (USA Central)
All of this debate over the "badass chick" seems to miss the point, and assume that Ro couldn't or wouldn't have been just as interesting as a man. Sure, I like an interesting badass chick as much as anyone, but it's not even the "badass chick" that is the point here. It's the fact that Ro comes in as a force of nature and gets in everyone's face, which is unusual for TNG.

But there is not one thing in the way the character is written that is gender specific, so therefore saying the character is somehow bad just BECAUSE she's a woman and thus a cliche strikes me as silly. What's wrong with a badass chick who gets in people's faces? Unless you have something against a badass chick from the get-go?
Nick Poliskey - Mon, Apr 25, 2011 - 3:46pm (USA Central)
No, I don't like the "badd-ass chick" character. I also don't like Wizards and evil scientists. There are just some stock characters I have never enjoyed. I do not like Ro Laren. I am not a sexist, I just don't like her, nor the actress that portrays her.

And to Lenore's point, whether or not she did "bad-ass" things, she absolutely was "meant" to portray that kick-ass chick stereotype, and we know that because Berman and Co. have said this, repeatedly, in multiple interviews, then and now. Worf was also supposed to be "kick-ass Klingon", yet in 90% of episodes he is getting beaten up by alien of the week, or changing alexanders diapers. But we all still remember him as "kick-ass Klingon"!!!!
Elliott - Fri, May 13, 2011 - 6:17pm (USA Central)
I agree this "badass-chick" thing needs to be set aside. Who cares what gender she is? It's hardly the point here. Ro's gender will only matter when she's getting laid by Riker and playing surrogate daughter to that Maquis Bajoran.

"Watching this, you can see the dramatic benefits of conflict (and why the no-conflict rule would be dropped for DS9)."

Um, no. Conflict is great if there's a believable reason for it. The senior staff appear lobotomised in this episode just so they don't get along with Ro. Starfleet officers value loyalty to PRINCIPLES not THE UNIFORM. Of course they can't approve of Ro's past, but it's totally against Federation values for them to ostracise her the way they do. It gives Guinan a chance to show they really should have given her Troi's job, sure, but the whole enterprise seems really phoned in.

Interesting to see that the seeds of self-righteous annoyance which would ultimately characterise Bajor and Kira especially are clearly present here.

2.5 stars maybe? I dunno.
laurelgirl - Sat, May 28, 2011 - 9:51pm (USA Central)
Nick wrote: "The problem I have with these terminator type chicks is that they are so unrealistic. I have never met a female human who in any way acted like this outside of maury povich."

Perhaps the fact that Ro isn't human is what makes her character believable. Not every race encountered in Star Trek has to act exactly like 21st Century humans.

And I couldn't agree more about the refreshing addition of conflict. The reason I always liked DS9 so much more than TNG was the three dimensional characters on DS9 as compared to the all-too-often 2 dimensional cardboard cutout characters on TNG.

Nick thinks 'badass chicks' are not believable because he doesn't see them in real life. Well, I don't believe the crew of the Enterprise never have interpersonal conflict being trapped on a starship together 24/7.

I do agree that Michelle Forbes is not my favorite. So glad she passed on DS9 and allowed Nana Visitor to breathe life into Kira. What a gift.
laurelgirl - Sun, Jun 5, 2011 - 3:54pm (USA Central)
The reason I always liked TNG so much more than DS9 was the three dimensional characters on TNG as compared to the all-too-often 2 dimensional cardboard cutout characters on DS9.


Paul - Sun, Jun 12, 2011 - 10:48am (USA Central)
@laurelgirl

Did we watch the same show? :)

Whatever your opinion of DS9 may be, I find it very hard to see its characters as 2-D. That's just strange.
laurelgirl - Wed, Jun 29, 2011 - 12:31pm (USA Central)
@paul

It's no more strange than seeing TNG's characters as 2-D
Paul - Fri, Jul 1, 2011 - 4:09am (USA Central)
And where did I say that TNG characters are 2D?

Everyone is entitled to his or her opinion, of course; it was just odd for me to see that someone would think of Niners as cardboard cutouts. You can hate them, be annoyed at the acting etc, but 2D? Kira, Odo, O'Brien, Bashir? Not to mention the largest supporting cast Trek has ever seen. In my opinion, if there's one thing DS9 stands supreme in Trek pantheon, it's the cast&characters.
Paul (another one) - Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - 7:46am (USA Central)
"You can hate them, be annoyed at the acting etc, but 2D?"

Err, Paul, you are basically involving yourself in someone else's spat here. Laurelgirl has just taken offence at someone else describing the Star Trek TNG characters as 2-d, and has copied their sentence switching the words "DS9" and "TNG"

She doesn't REALLY think that DS9 has 2-d characters. She's just reacting as if personally offended to someone who could dare say that TNG's characters are "all-too-often" 2-d.
Nick P. - Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - 10:40am (USA Central)
I don't know, I think you could make a strong argument that TNG has deeper characters. Just because someone wasn't an abused prisoner earlier in their life or had a borg ship kill their wife doesn't make them less deep or less of a character. I have never been abused, raped, maimed, tortured, or anything, and I consider myself a deep person.

I think the DS9 cast was farily 2D, Sisko was fairly cardboard cutout, Kira, Odo, Quark, all of them except Bashir, O'brien, and some supporting cast were fairly cardboard.

To back up Laurelgirls point, I think Picard had more depth, complexity, and interest as a character by himself, that probably trumps DS9's entire cast. Not to mention Worf, Data, Guinan. Just because the show wasn't as serialized doesn't mean the characters are less 3-d. I am one of the few that think serialization aside, TNG was a far better and deeper show.
Elliott - Wed, Jul 27, 2011 - 11:24am (USA Central)
@Nick P.

You're absolutely right. Serialisation is fine, but it doesn't automatically deepen a character or better a TV show. It is perhaps a means to an end, but DS9's supporters seem to think because the plots become so complex from the layers of serialised recurrences, the characters and mythos can somehow be saturated with meaning from that complexity. It is simply a charade. DS9's characters were for the most part predictable and 2D--what throws a cloak over that fact is that their 2-dimensionality does not make them necessarily GOOD people all the time, which is somehow shocking for a Trek cast; but that shock value wares itself thin very quickly.
Matt - Wed, Sep 21, 2011 - 11:34am (USA Central)
@Paul(another one)
She doesn't REALLY think that DS9 has 2-d characters. She's just reacting as if personally offended to someone who could dare say that TNG's characters are "all-too-often" 2-d.

This is just like DS9 fans who go apeshit if you dare point out any flaws about their show. They basically say, "The other Treks suck in comparison, but don't you dare say anything's wrong with DS9, or we'll get The Sisko on your ass!"
Which is one problem with the show: the fact that, over the seasons, it took pains to make Sisko (the show's main character) a freaking god. This silly mentality led to an unsatisfying end for the character (which apologists excuse by saying people should read the subsequent books). This(coincidentally) was also a big problem for the Star Wars prequels, in that George said that Darth Vader was basically Jesus. That did even more damage to Star Wars than Jar Jar, IMO.
Captain Tripps - Sat, Oct 1, 2011 - 10:35am (USA Central)
When did Sisko become a God, exactly? He was manipulated all his life (and even before his life) by a bunch of time spanning aliens, one would expect a God to have more self determination that hat.

I don't see DS9 fans going apeshit, I see TNG fans being overly defensive. I also notice than DS9 comes up and dominates the topics here, which just smacks of insecurity.

For the record, having known various young women in the military, Ensign Ro's character is wholly believable. Some do it just to fit in, or give off that tough persona (which is not that different from what some men do) so they don't get messed with, others, that's just their personality and why they're in the armed forces to begin with. I imagine you'd see something similar among female cops.
Captain Tripps - Sat, Oct 1, 2011 - 10:40am (USA Central)
Also, the guy playing the admiral was horrible. He was all over the map during the initial conversation with Picard, I couldn't decide if he was sinister, earnest, threatening jolly, arrogant...and not because he was such a good actor and showed great range. He just seemed like he had no idea what his motivation in the scene was supposed to be and played it all over the map, from sentence to sentence. Kind of like the smirk on his face at the end when the plot is revealed.
Tony - Sun, Oct 9, 2011 - 9:40pm (USA Central)
"When did Sisko become a God, exactly?"

Oh, let's see, how about when he disappears into obilivion & returns in some bullshit spiritual form to tell his pregnant wife that he'll be back maybe tomorrow, maybe yesterday, maybe in two weeks, or some such bullshit like that, while she just has to raise their child by herself & (doubtlessly) tell that kid that Daddy just disappeared one day & who knows when he'll be back.

If any of the other series had done this, people like you would be saying how much it lacked creativity, but, if DS9 pulls shit like this, then the show must have its reasons.
Jay - Sat, Oct 15, 2011 - 11:18pm (USA Central)
@ Tripps

Trek admirals have always been just terrible. It took until Ross to get one that seemed worthy of the job.
Latex Zebra - Tue, Jan 17, 2012 - 6:25am (USA Central)
Whilst waiting (and waiting) for new reviews I'm going back to the old ones.
Haven't seen this one for years.
Does it explain how a girl/lady from an occupied planet was able to escape and sign up for Starfleet and move up the ranks?

How long before DS9 did the Cardasians leave Bajor?

Keiren - Thu, Apr 26, 2012 - 4:33am (USA Central)
How in the world is TNG 3D? :O
Kranix - Fri, May 11, 2012 - 8:54am (USA Central)
How in the world is DS9 3D? :O
Sintek - Sat, Sep 22, 2012 - 1:11pm (USA Central)
How is it 3D? I think it goes by demographics:

TNG - middle school graduates.
DS9 - college graduates.
VOY - clown school graduates.
ENT - repeatedly dropped on head as a child.
Nick P. - Sat, Sep 22, 2012 - 5:51pm (USA Central)
Sintek, that was awesome!
Patrick - Sat, Sep 22, 2012 - 9:06pm (USA Central)
My views of the Star Trek spin-off series:

TNG-The parent that busted their hump to give sustenance and impart knowledge to its offspring. He's become a respected, legendary figure in his community.

DS9-The kid who worked hard in school, *but* looks down his nose at the parent that paid for his schooling. However, he ultimately never gets out of his parent's shadow.

VOY and ENT-the two kids who screwed around and didn't amount to anything.
Arachnea - Wed, Oct 24, 2012 - 1:42pm (USA Central)
I don't think that Mr. Roddenberry would be very pleased to see ST fans at war ;).

In the 80's, there was a war between Star Wars and Star Trek Fans. Of course, it made no sense at all, because they are so different in concept (and target)... but People like to bicker, do they not ?

Now, we get fans who feel the need to undermine, belittle other Treks series to claim their preferred one is the best.

Couldn't we agree that there is something good to take - and bad to accept - in each and everyone of them for different reasons ? There are 2d and 3d characters in each. Some have emphazised the plots, some the morality, some the continuity and/or the characterization.

That was my post for peace :-D
Elliott - Wed, Oct 24, 2012 - 7:31pm (USA Central)
@Arachnea :

I appreciate the sentiment and wish it could be so, but unfortunately, one of the series chose to demonstrate open hostility and/or mockery of its predecessors. With that kind of animosity built in to the very dialogue, in-fighting is inevitable and will always continue, at least with respect to that series. THat show primarily succeeded in areas where Star Trek has never striven to, and frequently failed where Star Trek offered its unique take on fiction. One of the shows failed in just about every imaginable way. One of the series failed at what the first I mentioned succeeded, namely in the un-Star-Trek arena.

So, it comes down to a question of principles. Is Star Trek's identity of greater concern than what was at the time clinching the trend of current television? Is making entertaining TV more important than enlightening TV? I offer no concrete answers, but I believe it is the difference in opinion regarding these sorts of questions which lead to the disparity between Trek fans you see here.
Arachnea - Thu, Oct 25, 2012 - 4:43am (USA Central)
@Elliott:

I totally see your point and I have no problem with a good post with argumentation, something constructive. Actually, I very much like to read other opinions and I have my owns, although I don't post a lot because of my bad english.
But in this particular thread, there are posts that got me angry because they don't give any argument, just low bickering.

I appreciate your answer and I also regret that we don't have any new complex show to watch. Perhaps, in time, we'll get quality again.
alan - Thu, Nov 1, 2012 - 6:09am (USA Central)
Sintek:
"How is it 3D? I think it goes by demographics:

TNG - middle school graduates.
DS9 - college graduates.
VOY - clown school graduates.
ENT - repeatedly dropped on head as a child. "

Oh, is that why TNG (like TOS) has 2 Hugo Awards to its name while the little piggy that was DS9 has no such roast beef to speak of? (And don't give me that 'awards mean nothing' crap when you know that you'd be citing it yourself if it was working more in your favor)
Josh - Sat, Nov 24, 2012 - 11:57pm (USA Central)
Okay, this TNG-DS9 bickering is pointless, and even if the latter was "subversive", this whole nonsense about the TNG/Trek "myth" that exists as an immutable doctrine for proper Star Trek is utterly tiresome. And, yes, conflict is the essence of drama; Roddenberry's directive that there should be no conflict among the TNG cast was just yet another poor story choice from the man who wrote "The Omega Glory" and whose influence on TNG was at its peak in its earliest, worst seasons.

TNG ended before I was 12, but I grew up with it in repeats nonetheless and it was an important part of my childhood. There are only a few episodes that I would avoid entirely, and for the most part I can still watch most of them over and over. I don't know that any of the TNG characters are "less complex" than DS9, though I'd be hard pressed to call Geordi, Crusher, or Riker anything but bland.

"I don't know, I think you could make a strong argument that TNG has deeper characters. Just because someone wasn't an abused prisoner earlier in their life or had a borg ship kill their wife doesn't make them less deep or less of a character. I have never been abused, raped, maimed, tortured, or anything, and I consider myself a deep person."

I don't think TNG had deeper characters by any stretch. Patrick Stewart was probably the finest actor to appear on any Trek show, and his performances are what gave his character such depth rather than the writing per se. Traumatic backstories are standard TV tropes - on TNG that meant the death of Jack Crusher, Riker's abandonment by his father, Tasha's escape from her anarchic planet, Worf's adoption by human parents, the death of Troi's father. What gave the DS9 characters "depth" was not their backstories but the writing which allowed them to form more believable relationships based sometimes on conflict but also understanding. O'Brien and Worf were both great characters before coming to DS9; the show just took them ever farther.

On TNG, the main cast all seemed to become friends as a matter of course - yet, other than Picard in the first season, no one ever found Wesley as annoying as the audience did or took Troi to task for her blubbery psychobabble (except Q). On DS9, the relationship between Jadzia and Sisko is awkward at first. O'Brien hated Bashir until later in the 2nd season. Odo was aloof. It's not that TNG never allowed for longitudinal character arcs - it did - but it could have and probably should have been much much more. Arguably that was simply because it was a product of its time.

(And I cannot imagine how anyone could call Guinan a "three-dimensional character. I like her, but she was an enigmatic cypher who got some good dialogue now and then, and that was about it.)

Anyway, regarding the Hugos, "The Inner Light" won against such triumphs of storytelling as Aladdin, Alien 3, Batman Returns, and Bram Stoker's Dracula, while "All Good Things" beat out acclaimed films like Interview with the Vampire, The Mask, Stargate, and Star Trek: Generations. Impressive competition, those...

In contrast, "The Visitor" lost to Babylon 5's "The Coming of Shadows". On the subject of "The Visitor" - one of the finest episodes of DS9 along with "Duet", "Far Beyond the Stars", "Rocks and Shoals", and "In the Pale Moonlight" - it is surely one of the best examples of pure storytelling in all of Trek. I suppose it doesn't apply to the Star Trek "myth" that much, but then neither does "The inner Light". Comparing the two, in the latter Picard experiences the family life he never had in an affecting yet purely wistful and nostalgic flight of memory. In "The Visitor", Jake spends his life searching for his father and eventually abandons everything - up to his own life - to get him back. As ever, tragedy has the greater resonance, not unlike the end of a Wagner opera.
Sisko - Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - 7:28am (USA Central)
"Alien 3," "Batman Returns" & "Bram Stoker's Dracula" are hardly triumphs of storytelling
Jake - Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - 7:29am (USA Central)
"What gave the DS9 characters "depth" was not their backstories but the writing which allowed them to form more believable relationships based sometimes on conflict but also understanding."

I'd say TNG did this, too.
Patrick - Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - 10:15am (USA Central)
Ripping on TNG's popularity due to no competition is sort of like saying Lewis and Clark's achievements wouldn't be noteworthy or relevant in our time of the interstate.

The show earned its accolades, its ratings and its place in television history. Deal with it.
Josh - Mon, Dec 17, 2012 - 7:44pm (USA Central)
@Sisko: You really thought I was being serious? Yeesh.

@Jake: TNG did, but not as consistently across the cast. Riker, Geordi, Crusher, and Troi pretty much lacked any kind of narrative arcs, even if they individually had some good stories. I suppose with TNG I wish there'd been more "Lower Decks" and fewer "Sub Rosa". But they still did a better job than Voyager...

Anyway, I don't want to come across as "anti-TNG" or something because it's really not true. I'm actually pretty stoked that it's now been added to (Canadian) Netflix...
charlie - Mon, Jan 7, 2013 - 5:42am (USA Central)
"Ripping on TNG's popularity due to no competition is sort of like saying Lewis and Clark's achievements wouldn't be noteworthy or relevant in our time of the interstate.

The show earned its accolades, its ratings and its place in television history. Deal with it."

I couldn't have said that better myself, Patrick!
Patrick - Fri, Jul 5, 2013 - 3:20am (USA Central)
TNG had deeper characters than DS9. They merely were less Soap Operatic.

Unless someone wants to argue that Days of Our Lives has the deepest characters of all time. Because, ya know, conflict, and consequences...and melodrama. Darkness! It all equals DEPTH. I swear...

There's a reason that TNG is still regularly syndicated on cable, and DS9 is nowhere to be found (except now on Netflix).
Jay - Fri, Sep 6, 2013 - 9:01pm (USA Central)
The bit about Bajorans going along with others getting their names backwards seems rather confusing...whole families share the mistaken "first" name.

Also, it seems as if Data was giving his emotion chip another whirl in this episode...he seemed downright annoyed when he tossed his phaser on the ground when the Bajora captured him.
Jack - Mon, Oct 28, 2013 - 11:21am (USA Central)
@ Jay

Well, the stranger thing about that cave scene is that, while Troi can apparent sense emotions through starship viewscreens, she couldn't sense that Picard's team had been captured a few meters away.
Niall - Sat, Dec 7, 2013 - 6:32pm (USA Central)
While I don't agree with Nick on the DS9 characters (which were superb), I'm gonna back him up on the Ro issue from a feminist perspective. When a bunch of male writers try and spice up a show that's low on conflict by adding a two-dimensional "ANGRY WOMAN", it's insulting and outright anti-feminist. The difference between Kira and Ro couldn't be clearer; Kira experienced trauma but is not defined by it - she's a three-dimensional character, emotionally available, and interacts with others normally and without hangups. As critic Abigail Nussbaum writes, "What I like best about Kira's strength is that it doesn't undermine her femininity or her ability to relate to others. [...] Kira is damaged, but that damage doesn't render her incapable of functioning normally, nor is it used as a justification or apology for her toughness, though both originate in the same circumstances. Neither is Kira's rage--her default reaction when she's frustrated or confronted with injustice--treated as an illness or a symptom of dysfunction. [...] All of which is to say that I like Kira because she's an adult. It's all too often the case that female characters--even the strong, kickass ones--are portrayed as girlish or immature. Kira is a grown up--in her professional conduct, in her personal relationships, in her moral behavior." By contrast, Ro as written and performed in this episode is immature, childish, petulant, completely defined by her past, and far too clear an example of male writers thinking "let's add a bitch". Thankfully, she develops more over the course of the episode - the turning point being her second discussion with Guinan and her confessional scene in Picard's ready room - but all of her scenes up to this point are far too pantomime and one-note, with Forbes playing Ro as cartoonishly hostile without reason to all around her. Add to that the poor writing, which breaks the "show, don't tell" rule: in the first half of the episode, we mostly experience Ro's abrasiveness through other characters telling us about it. Witness Riker, Worf and Geordi - a bunch of male characters - all venting off about how Ro shouldn't be on the ship or wearing the uniform. Not only does it beggar belief that one ensign would be so notorious beyond her own ship, it also seems out of character, particularly in Geordi's case. It's characters transparently acting as narrators for the audience's benefit by repeatedly telling us "Ro is bad" instead of showing us evidence.

Aside from that, pretty good episode.
Patrick D - Sun, Dec 8, 2013 - 12:26am (USA Central)
@Niall,

Ro Laren had been in prison for years before she was assigned to the Enterprise D. It's wholly realistic for her to have a chip on her shoulder. Her character was in part for not being a model officer that led to the deaths of crew members. In fact the evolution of her character in this single episode is bloody brilliant from beginning to end. Even the part with Geordi expressing his misgivings towards her was a subtle jumping off point for Guinan to be worked into the narrative--since she was the one Geordi was expressing his misgivings to.

And I refer you to DS9's pilot episode, "Emissary" with Kira behaving like an "ANGRY WOMAN" on steroids chewing out everyone around her and shouting every other line. Thankfully, they made her more three dimensional as the series progressed.
Chris - Wed, Dec 25, 2013 - 1:28pm (USA Central)
If Picard's 5th grade reader mentioned that Bajorans were philosopher and etc. before humans were standing erect, you'd think the reader might have mentioned the inverted name custom.
Pollyanna - Fri, Mar 7, 2014 - 6:09pm (USA Central)
Reading this comment stream reminds me all over again why I am unable to be a "fan." I loved TOS as a kid, enjoyed TNG as a 20 something, and watched all of the series on DVD in my fifties. Great actors cause better characters to be written. Sir Patrick is a great actor, so are the actors who played Odo, Guinan, Data, and the doctor on VOY. I think Scott Bakula is a fabulous actor and his leadership brought cohesiveness to a difficult series that suffered from the 9/11 attacks. Most of the actors were good, competant professionals who did their best with schedule, writing, and craziness of serial tv.

I liked this episode and liked the character of Ensign Ro because the story lines are relevant in our world. One thing that ENT did better than any of the other shows was to show women as fully functional officers. They were fit and they knew how to fight. It is what makes the show seem so disconnected at times because you have these realistic characters and then you introduce the whole rubbing gel in the decon chamber scenes. And if one wants to look for people disobeying orders, most ST characters do that.

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