Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Face of the Enemy"

***

Air date: 2/8/1993
Teleplay by Naren Shankar
Story by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Troi wakes up aboard a Romulan warbird, looks in the mirror, and sees that she's been surgically transformed into a Romulan. The ship's first officer, N'Vek (Scott MacDonald), tells her that she's been brought on board for a very important mission, and that she must immediately prepare to meet the ship's commander while posing as an operative of the Tal Shiar, the extremely feared Romulan intelligence agency. But no time for questions right now! The commander is waiting! Explain later!

To say Troi is thrust into a situation for which she's not prepared would be an understatement. She's able to survive her first encounter with Commander Toreth (Carolyn Seymour) by bluffing her way through the situation, but she's mostly saved by the fact that everyone so fears the Tal Shiar that she doesn't have to volunteer any explanations. Meanwhile, aboard the Enterprise, the crew takes into custody a former Starfleet officer, Stefan DeSeve (Barry Lynch), who defected to the Romulans many years ago and now has surrendered himself back to Starfleet (older and wiser, the story observantly suggests) but has a message from Ambassador Spock from the Romulan underground, imploring the Enterprise to make a rendezvous to intercept some crucial cargo.

Well, 2+2=4 (unless it's Orwell or "Chain of Command, Part II"), so these two threads must inevitably come together. The plot is a solid exercise of Romulan political intrigue, following up the events from "Unification," albeit without having anything in terms of meaningful or lasting significance. Troi has been brought aboard by N'Vek to ultimately help him smuggle some Romulan dissidents, who are in stasis in cargo containers aboard the warbird, to the Federation. The fact that Troi's an empath was apparently the selling point for why she would've been a candidate for this mission instead of someone more suited to espionage. (That, and we need a decent Troi episode now and then, and the Romulans tend to have a more female-centric authority base compared to most Trek alien societies.)

While "Face of the Enemy" is not exactly to Romulans as "Chain of Command" was to Cardassians, this story does offer an intriguing look into their power structure, and I especially liked the tension between Troi and Toreth, which stems from the fact that Toreth has no love for the Tal Shiar, which years ago hauled her father away in the middle of the night to be questioned, never to return. (The Tal Shiar is prone to police-state tactics, where proving guilt is less important than suspecting it.) The fencing between the two of them is interesting, and by being on the inside we can see the Romulans with a little more subtlety; note how Toreth lambastes the Tal Shiar's overly aggressive tactics, which creates messes, Toreth argues, that the military must then clean up.

The episode culminates with some tactical cat-and-mouse games between the cloaked warbird, the Enterprise, and undercover Troi, doing her best to help get the dissidents transported to the Enterprise. This is well done but not riveting. I should also point out that Marina Sirtis, game as she is here, is not all that convincing when she raises her voice in authority. But "Face of the Enemy" takes a good high-concept premise and milks it for what it's worth and then some.

(Also, yes, Romulan uniforms are still terrible, with a love for shoulder pads that can't be rivaled even by the 1980s, but hey.)

Previous episode: Aquiel
Next episode: Tapestry

◄ Season Index

44 comments on this review

Patrick
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 12:14am (UTC -5)
I love actress Carolyn Seymour. She's so deliciously sinister in so many of the roles she plays. She played a different Romulan commander in season 2's "Contagion". She was also wonderfully malevolent as the evil hologram/leaper, Zoe in the final season of Quantum Leap.
lvsxy808
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 2:22pm (UTC -5)
I think this is actually one of the best Romulan episodes the show ever managed - it made them feel like an actual culture rather than just green villains with pointy ears. I particularly like when Toreth said, "Contrary to propoganda, Starfleet is neither weak nor foolish." It's always nice to hear another empire's honest opinion of "us" as it helps round out the picture, and like Mark Lenard's Romulan Commander from TOS, it shows a certain grudging respect between warriors even on opposite sides.

It's also one of the strongest Troi vehicles. I like to think it was events like this and "Chain of Command" that pushed her further towards command responbilities as seen in season 7 after her horrendous showing in "Disaster."

And it was an even better show when it was remade as DS9's "Second Skin."
Jb
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 7:43pm (UTC -5)
I think this is one of the better Troi episodes and one of Sirtis' best performances. Carolyn Seymour was also splendid, as she always is.

I also liked Don Davis' score, which stood out more than most of the music around this time in TNG's production.
Jeff Bedard
Sat, Jun 23, 2012, 12:19pm (UTC -5)
I like this episode a lot. I've been a fan of the Romulans for quite a while now. On the whole Romulan episodes seem to be especially good. But while reading your review a question suddenly popped into my head that I had never considered before.

If Toreth's father was taken away by the Tal Shiar all those years ago, how is it that Toreth could succeed in the military, including being given command of her own ship. Part of me is thinking that any background check on her would show her father being taken away by the Tal Shiar and with that incident in her background she'd never be allowed to join the military much less rise to command level.

Merely a question though. I really like the episode.
Tim
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 3:16pm (UTC -5)
Really good - Good to see another side of Troi, did Enterprise not wonder where she was though..?
Brandon
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 4:58pm (UTC -5)
I thought Sirtis was terrific here. You could clearly see her channel her dislike for Toreth into her performance as an intimidating Tal Shiar operative.

The most delicious part of this was where she relieved Toreth of command, sat down in her chair, and added an insult to injury: "Now, watch and learn." Great way to use the Romulan arrogance against her.
Brandon
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 5:02pm (UTC -5)
(cont)

...especially where she lectures Toreth: "In order to defeat your enemy, you must first understand them", a hallmark of Romulan strategic thinking that Toreth would obviously know already and would therefore be insulted by Troi spelling it out for her. Great stuff.
Grumpy
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
"I think this is actually one of the best Romulan episodes the show ever managed..."

A lot of competition there, as Jeff Bedard alludes to. "Contagion," "The Enemy," "The Defector," and my personal favorite, "The Next Phase" (granted, they're little more than villains-of-the-week rather than a well-rounded culture).

"Contrary to propoganda, Starfleet is neither weak nor foolish."

That explains Star Trek 5! It was Romulan propaganda all along!
Patrick
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 7:05pm (UTC -5)
Episodes like "The Enemy"; this episode; and ESPECIALLY "The Defector" proved that TNG was the only Modern Trek show to explore the Romulans as a people like The Original Series did.

It's a shame that TNG's feature film swansong utilized them so poorly. I mean all that crap with Shinzon and the Remans still gives me a headache. And Andreas Katsulas was still alive in 2001/2002! He could have reprised his role as Tomalak and joined forces with Picard against Shinzon giving the final battle a hell of a lot more resonance. *sigh* It was not to be...
Elliott
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
@Brandon : I have to disagree with you about Troi's motivations. One of the best things about this episode is that Troi learns duplicity--she actually empathises with Toreth's position and seems to abhor the way the Tal Shiar behaves (which would be fitting, given her character, her job, and position in Starfleet) and behaved toward's Toreth's father. Survivalism kicks in, however, and she plays the part of the hated to win credibility.

I also disagree with Jammer that Sirtis fails in the rĂ´le--I found it refreshing that she carried such a complex series of motivations and subterfuges so well...it's shocking when one remembers her quasi-orgasmic whimpering "pain...pain!!!" in season 1.

I can only fault the episode for its lack of resolution with Troi's character. Yes, the actions of the episode influenced later (terrible) episodes with her learning to take command (and crash the ship), but TNG had demonstrated that a good director and actor can sell the emotional upheaval of an episode without redundant dialogue. BOBW part II is the crown jewel in TNG's run. I have similar feelings about shots in DS9's "Far Beyond the Stars" and VOY's "Year of Hell."

3.5* from me.
Nick P.
Fri, Jul 6, 2012, 11:01am (UTC -5)
@Jeff,

I believe the answer is that the tal' shiar is NOT the military. The episode makes it pretty clear that the military leadership oftentimes distrust the Tal' Shiar. Doesn't look like they can be blamed.

And not to be a turd, but I have to ask the question that must be asked even today. Why do we assume Toreths' father was innocent?
Jay
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 10:12am (UTC -5)
I agree about Carolyn Seymour playing villains well, but not only. She also played the virtuous and charming Mirasta Yale in First Contact, both roles so convinci8ngly.
T'Paul
Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 7:14am (UTC -5)
I think this episode is far closer to a four.

It is an extremely refreshing change for Troi, and I would say the story comes fairly close to riveting.

Yes, it's true that Troi is not totally convincing, but we can forgive that given her dubious acting past!

Plus the Romulan commander is fabulous and the Federation defector is not bad either.
Patrick
Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 10:47pm (UTC -5)
Does the Enterprise crew never realize that Troi is missing??? They never seem to acknowledge it or worry that their counselor has been kidnapped.

It would make sense if Picard were in on the plan, except HE ISN'T.
J
Wed, Jul 3, 2013, 1:21am (UTC -5)
@Patrick: Troi has been generally useless for a while. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't notice she was missing. Heck, I knew she was on that Romulan ship and I still didn't notice her missing from the Enterprise.
Reverend Spork
Thu, Aug 29, 2013, 10:42pm (UTC -5)
"Face of the enemy" proved that Troi as a character was badly misused for years, and that Sirtis can genuinely act. Rarely, if ever, was she given a better script to truly show off her acting chops. I wish this Troi had been around more often.
mephyve
Mon, Sep 2, 2013, 1:19pm (UTC -5)
I figure that since Troi was kidnapped at a conference she was probably on leave from the Enterprise.
Nice episode.
Jons
Tue, Jan 7, 2014, 2:11am (UTC -5)
I thought this episode was a solid four. I greatly enjoyed Sirtis' performance, who did a believable transition from "uh.. uh... OMGOMGOMG" to "I am in command of this ship now." It was progressive and well played.

Troi has annoyed me for a very long time, non in the least because I couldn't stand her clothes (I am not that kind of man). But there she finally became a real character and repaid the Enterprise in full for all the times they've bothered saving her life.
Smith
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
Very underrated episode and great perfomrance by Marina. Interesting note, writer Naren Shankar was not happy with how the romulan bridge was layed out. His script was more exotic alien bridge with the commander standing over everybody.
Dave in NC
Sun, May 11, 2014, 11:37am (UTC -5)
Finally, a real episode for Troi, and wouldn't you know it, she actually nails it. Great performaces all around (especially Carolyn Seymour as the captain).

Side note: wonderful background scoring in this episode, especially the music as the episode closes. Being a Season 5 episode, whoever the composer was probably got a talking to from the producers for "daring" to write something relevant to what was on the screen, but I for one appreciated the effort. It made what was happening onscreen SO much better.
SkepticalMI
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 8:42pm (UTC -5)
I do want to echo what everyone else said. This is an excellent performance by Sirtis, and is probably her best episode. It probably just goes to show how pointless the position of psychiatrist was on the show. They really couldn't show her doing her job much, and she wasn't too convincing as a serious advisor to Picard in delicate situations. Thus, she was relegated to telling everyone that the alien is hiding something, having cringe-worthy "love interest" episodes, and having her body taken over by noncorporeal aliens. So yeah, good to see her out of her element, but in a good plot for once. A far cry from season 1.

I think the dinner scene was my favorite, as it seemed to be the turning point in Troi's transformation to a treacherous Tal Shiar. Up to this point, she was clearly still acting very Starfleet-ish, being rather nice and accommodating and thus always ending up on the defensive. It was clear that Toreth didn't trust her at all, and it was clear that Troi would eventually be uncovered at the rate she was going. Yes, at that point Toreth just assumed she was a rookie intelligence officer who didn't know what she was doing, but things were going downhill fast. Troi wanted to hide in her room, but was forced to join the officer's mess. And then Toreth started to test her, and again Troi looked lost. But somewhere along the way, something clicked with her. She suddenly turned things around on Toreth. She started to be more confident, more condescending. She grew into the role that she needed to play. It was fun to watch.

If I have one quibble, it's the execution of the first officer. At that point, I imagine Toreth could have easily regained control and arrested N'Vek. I imagine that would be the Romulan thing to do (can't interrogate a dead person!). Toreth's action was more like what a Klingon would do. It's easily rectified; N'Vek could have pulled his weapon, and then his death would be justified. But it's a very minor point.

And I also want to echo what Patrick said a while back: this episode just highlights the failure of Nemesis. As I was rewatching this episode, it occurred to me that some sort of resolution to the Spock underground movement would have been a fitting end to the TNG movie era. TNG really did the Romulans best, and were chilling in the 3rd and 4th season. Afterwards they lost their luster a bit, but by calling back to Unification, this episode brought some nice continuity to the table. Suddenly we did have a couple new potential subplots to play with (that were much better than dealing with the daughter of an alternate universe Yar, and certainly better than a clone of Picard...). The tension between the military and the intelligence. A major senator defecting (only 3 years removed from a high level admiral defecting). And a new underground movement gaining steam. Yes, the connection is pretty tenuous, as the Senators in stasis was just a MacGuffin for the Troi plot, but it was nice to see anyway.

Nemesis even had a coup/peace initiative as part of its plot! While it was interesting to hear of the Remans, Shinzon was such a worthless character. Wouldn't it have been better to see some sort of resolution to this situation? It would be a nice swan song for TNG, much like Undiscovered Country was for TOS. It could have even had a Spock cameo if Nimoy was up for it. I don't know what the plot would have been, but it couldn't be any worse than what we got.
Elliott
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 8:53pm (UTC -5)
@SkepticalMI :

Oh it could have been worse: it could have been Star Trek (2009).
Josh
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 9:17pm (UTC -5)
That's a different kind of bad, and if we set the "Star Trek" label aside, it's an adequate and typically superficial J.J. Abrahms effort.

But Nemesis is just poorly executed, cheap-looking, and stupid. On the other hand, it's interesting to compare Tom Hardy as Shinzon to Tom Hardy as Bane.
Beth
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 4:10am (UTC -5)
I don't remember what handle I went by before, so it's just "Beth" from now on.

I just want to say that I would rate this as a a 4 star episode (as I exclaimed at the end of the episode, "What an episode!", and that doesn't happen much. Maybe it was just renewed delight at how well Sirtis played her parts, the acting and plot overall on everyone's part). I also agree with SkepticalMI's points about the episode, and about what "Nemesis" could have been. "Nemesis" really could have been the calibre of "The Undiscovered Country". It ended up being a hollow shocker with a hollow plot filled with hollow, pointless action sequences... and dune buggy rides. Ugh. No, it wasn't quite as a bad as some ST movie outings, but it was nonetheless a huge letdown.
Beth
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 4:16am (UTC -5)
Actually, a 3 out of 4 is the right rating. I keep mis-seeing your 4-star rating as a 5-star one, for whatever reason. :p
Del_Duio
Thu, Jan 22, 2015, 10:41am (UTC -5)
Weird, because when I saw TNG during its first-run I thought Dr. Crusher was a far superior character to Troi but upon rewatching the series again I don't know what I was thinking. Except for a few stinkers in the first couple seasons ("I SENSE PAIN!... GREAT.. PAIN!!!) Troi is a whole hell of a lot better than ol' Bev was.

This episode is a great example of that.
Sticky Steve
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 5:14pm (UTC -5)
I assume Troi speaks fluent Romulan. Or is she wearing the Romulan version of the universal translator? But even if she were wearing the UT, I suspect the Romulans would suspect she's not speaking Romulan and that the UT is speaking for her? I doubt it would take a lowly crewman who scrubs plasma conduits to notice this instantly, but I guess the bridge officers just have too much on their minds to notice. They are probably too preoccupied with trying how not to look stupid in their Romulan clothing.
Bad acting. Sirtis is a bad actress, acting Betazoid and Romulan equally badly. The Romulan makeup on this bad actress, as well as on Ms. Seymour was simply bad for camera. An episode made entirely irksome, and laborious to watch, by the bad acting, bad wardrobe, bad makeup, and bad sets.
This episode: all that I come away thinking after viewing it is, so does Troi speak fluent Romulan or not?
The producers made a huge improvement on the bad acting of W. Shatner by casting Sir Stewart, yet the rest of the TNG cast? Excepting Brent Spiner: bad actors (although Mr. Spiner is equally unwatchable in his atrocious acting of (yawn) Sherlock Holmes, I might add.)
This episode is a clear example of where the show, mostly the coddled cast, started coasting along until the end.
Stickysteve
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 5:16pm (UTC -5)
I assume Troi speaks fluent Romulan. Or is she wearing the Romulan version of the universal translator? But even if she were wearing the UT, I suspect the Romulans would suspect she's not speaking Romulan and that the UT is speaking for her? I doubt it would take a lowly crewman who scrubs plasma conduits to notice this instantly, but I guess the bridge officers just have too much on their minds to notice. They are probably too preoccupied with trying how not to look stupid in their Romulan clothing.
Bad acting. Sirtis is a bad actress, acting Betazoid and Romulan equally badly. The Romulan makeup on this bad actress, as well as on Ms. Seymour was simply bad for camera. An episode made entirely irksome, and laborious to watch, by the bad acting, bad wardrobe, bad makeup, and bad sets.
This episode: all that I come away thinking after viewing it is, so does Troi speak fluent Romulan or not?
The producers made a huge improvement on the bad acting of W. Shatner by casting Sir Stewart, yet the rest of the TNG cast? Excepting Brent Spiner: bad actors (although Mr. Spiner is equally unwatchable in his atrocious acting of (yawn) Sherlock Holmes, I might add.)
This episode is a clear example of where the show, mostly the coddled cast, started coasting along until the end.
The Dreamer
Mon, Mar 30, 2015, 8:26pm (UTC -5)
Agree on the language thing.

That is part of the suspension of disbelief that we have to accept for the sake of storytelling.

That and her black eyes
Pat
Mon, May 4, 2015, 7:35am (UTC -5)
While I agree with most of the review, I disagree with jammer that Sirtis' was lacking anything in this episode. It's common practice for people who know TNG well to rag on the counselor. And not without reason, as her character was poorly developed and rarely found her groove. In this case however, I think we need to give credit where credit is due. I thought Marina did a great job in this episode. She finally got the chance to be the center of a suspenseful story, and she played the part well.
Pat
Mon, May 4, 2015, 7:36am (UTC -5)
While I agree with most of the review, I disagree with jammer that Sirtis' was lacking anything in this episode. It's common practice for people who know TNG well to rag on the counselor. And not without reason, as her character was poorly developed and rarely found her groove. In this case however, I think we need to give credit where credit is due. I thought Marina did a great job in this episode. She finally got the chance to be the center of a suspenseful story, and she played the part well.
Peter
Wed, May 27, 2015, 1:14pm (UTC -5)
I admit that the language issue was a huge problem for me. Unless Troi speaks fluent, unaccented Romulan, it just would not have worked. As it is, it appeared the dissidents chose her for the sake of convenience. She was away from the Enterprise attending a psychiatry conference.

Once I got past the need for suspension of disbelief, I was impressed. Other than Stewart and (sometimes) Spiner, every actor on TNG gets trashed for their lack of skills. None more so than Sirtis. She actually handled this episode extremely well. Like anyone else thrown into that situation, she starts off shaky and then, realizing it's life or death, does a good job of acting the role of the imperious intelligence officer. I could hardly believe this was the same Troi of a season or two before. But that's not the first time an actor or actress gets much more skilled over the course of a series spanning several years. Acting is just another skill that improves with practice.

I found I really enjoyed the plot and the glimpse into Romulan society. No wonder they have high-level defections going on... It sounds like a real police state.
Del_Duio
Thu, May 28, 2015, 11:00am (UTC -5)
^^ I'd add Levar Burton to that list, too ^^

I think his portrayal of Geordi is always a highlight for any episode. Especially when Data's involved.
Troy
Tue, Jul 28, 2015, 10:29am (UTC -5)
I agree Troi speaking Romulan was an issue for me, sometimes you have to sigh and remember it is just a television show.
I did think it was very well done, and found it odd I had no rememberence of this episode (possibly one of the few I hadn't seen)
Dusty
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 6:31am (UTC -5)
Unbelievable episode. For 40 minutes, with a Romulan face, Deanna Troi is the most intriguing character on TNG. At first I wondered how she could possibly pull off the ruse without having exhaustive knowledge of Romulan language and culture. But it makes for such a great story that I could easily suspend disbelief.

For much of Marina Sirtis' Star Trek run, she seemed to have only a passing interest in the character she played. I can't blame her; better actresses would have struggled to inject depth into Troi's eye-candy wardrobe, gauzy shrink routine, and empathic abilities that wavered between formidable and useless (depending on their convenience to the plot). But in this episode, packed into a funny costume and layers of makeup, Sirtis came alive. A truly poor actress might have faltered worse than usual in that position. But much like Jennifer Lien in Voyager's "Warlord", she delivers.

And as Sirtis embraces her new role, so does the character of Troi embrace her disguise as Major Rakal. Driven by necessity and the hope of aiding the dissidents, Troi becomes utterly convincing as a Tal Shiar operative: cold, authoritarian, secretive, and deadly. For that brief moment when she loses patience with N'Vek and threatens to betray him to the captain (a remarkable Carolyn Seymour), she appears truly Romulan, and it's chilling. I was enthralled from start to finish.

Now to watch "The Face of the Enemy" again, and compare it with "Second Skin."
Robert
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 7:33am (UTC -5)
@Dusty - My 2 cents. Biased to DS9 as I am, Second Skin is the better overall episode I think, but I don't know that a comparison is warranted. Although it is a look inside an enemy's home and filled with intrigue (Romulan vs Cardassian) I think you hit it closer comparing it Warlord, because Nana is still just playing Kira in a mask, but even that's a bit off. I think what's truly impressive about THIS performance is that Sirtis is playing a different character WHILE playing Troi.

An actor acting like they are acting can often come off really odd, but I think she sells it just right. She never totally loses Troi, she adds just enough hesitation with her body language that you remember she's acting. But I was convinced it was Troi that was acting as a Romulan, not Sirtis acting as Troi as a Romulan. She really sells it.
Luke
Sun, Sep 20, 2015, 10:03am (UTC -5)
Add me to the list of people who think that Marina Sirtis really stepped up to the plate and delivered a grand-slam home run here. I couldn't say it any better than Dusty did - "For 40 minutes, with a Romulan face, Deanna Troi is the most intriguing character on TNG." Maybe that's because up until now, let's face it, Sirtis wasn't really given much to really sink her teeth into. But, given her painful-to-watch "Pain. Pain. Loneliness. Terrible loneliness. Despair." in "Encounter at Farpoint" or her laughably nonsensical "STOP THIS PETTY BICKERING, ALL OF YOU! ESPECIALLY YOU, MOTHER!!" in "Haven," I'm going to err on the side of caution and say she really grew into the role in the intervening six years.

"Face of the Enemy" isn't perfect, more on that in a minute, but there is so much good in here that I'm almost willing to forgive the problems. First, just bravo, BRAVO!, for them actually doing a gender-reverse situation without ending up being sexist about it. We have here a story with two women in the command positions with a male character in a clearly deferential role to both of them, and yet the episode never once, NOT ONCE!, draws attention to that fact. Usually when Trek tries to be all progressive about women in authority positions we have to endure the constant barrage of "SEE, THEY'RE WOMEN! SEE?! WE'RE NOT SEXISTS! SEE?!! THEY'RE WOMEN! WOMEN!! NOT SEXIST! SEE?!!! WOMEN!!", which just makes them look all the more sexist for compelling us to notice the characters' genders. That's one of the main criticisms I have about VOY (which, I should point out, I still think is a good show none-the-less). There we have a female captain and in order to not "be sexist" the writers constantly felt that she should be above criticism. Whereas on DS9, Sisko was just "the captain," not the "black captain." But Janeway was always, first and foremost, the "woman captain." SFDebris has made this argument countless times and I agree with him 100%. But here, in this episode, we have a female Romulan Commander who is allowed to be a fully formed, three dimensional character; it doesn't matter that she's a woman. We also have a another female character, Troi, who is also allowed to be a fully three dimensional character, subject to both audience sympathy and audience criticism. If only we could have more pieces of fiction like this, sci-fi and otherwise, (because Trek is far from alone in falling into the aforementioned barrages) it would probably go a long way to improving real-life gender relations. Seriously, I could kiss this episode's showrunners, this was so beautifully handled.

Second, there's the acting - which is just stellar all around. Not only does Sirtis deliver a wonderful performance (Again, add me the list of people disagreeing with Jammer - I even think she does a great job when she raises her voice in authority. Yes, it doesn't come off as very fluid or practiced, but that's the point, isn't it? Troi is completely unaccustomed to speaking from a position of authority so she wouldn't sound as practiced as, say, Picard or Riker would.) but so does virtually everyone else. Carolyn Seymour delivers her usual excellence as the multi-faceted Toreth. I would say she's one of TNG's most memorable and enjoyable one-off characters, right up there with Kivas Fajo from "The Most Toys." Though, to me, she'll always be Zoey from "Quantum Leap." :p But Scott MacDonald, N'Vek, and Barry Lynch, DeSeve, also offer up rather enjoyable outings.

Third - the world-building and politics. This is the first time we're introduced to the Tal Shiar, so there's your world-building right there. But it's also a example of getting to know an established alien race better, which is a form of world-building in its own right. Outside of pure world-building episodes - like "Journey to Babel," "Sins of the Father," "Homefront/Paradise Lost," "Scorpion" or most of ENT's fourth season - this is how I like my Trek! A little political intrigue mixed in with some cat-and-mouse games with a pinch of world-building thrown in = good stuff!

Fourth, we get a Human character, and a Starfleet officer to boot, who isn't exactly up to the perfection of the "Roddenberry utopia" and "evolved man." DeSeve, flat out defected to the enemy, a.k.a. committed treason! DS9 has often been described, and decried, for showing the darker side of humanity, even in the idealistic world of Trek. But, maybe, we're starting see some of those "cracks" in perfection here on TNG. And, I love it!

So, what are the problems. Well, they might be rather nitpicky, but they took me out of the story while I was watching it, so I think they're pretty significant.

-As much as I love the fact that Troi was given this opportunity to shine for once, I still have to ask - why the hell did the dissident movement choose her, of all people, for this job? The whole reason, stated directly by N'Vek, for using a Starfleet officer was that they might need to cross the Federation border if the plan went awry. That "back-up" plan absolutely depends upon said Starfleet officer having the access codes to the Federation-Romulan border sensor nets. Why would Troi have access to those codes?! I doubt even Picard would have access to that information, because why would he ever need it. But Troi is a Ship's Counselor for crying out loud! She's the last person who would ever be entrusted with those codes!

-Let me see if I have this straight - Toreth absolutely and positively does not want to cross into Federation space because it would, quite rightly, be considered an act of war and she doesn't want to go to war with the Federation because she's not a fool. Okay, so far so good. But she has no problem with openly destroying Starfleet's flagship?! Apparently for no reason besides shits and giggles?! Umm, what?!!

-LaForge's cameo appearance. Wow, I don't think I've ever seen a more textbook example of "well, we have to justify his paycheck somehow, don't we?" in my life. LOL! Why was he on hand to meet Troi in the Transporter Room? The only reason was so they could get some work out of Levar Burton. That could have literally been anybody. It would have made just as much sense to have O'Brien meet her, even though at this point he's on Deep Space Nine.

So, "Face of the Enemy" isn't the best Romulan-based episode of TNG, but it's hands-down the best Troi-centric one!

8/10
Diamond Dave
Mon, Oct 5, 2015, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
By far the best Troi vehicle so far. Although we need to suspend belief just a little bit that she could successfully blend in with no cover whatsoever - the fear of the Tal Shiar just about covers it - watching her step up into the role, taking on not just Toreth but then N'Vek as well, is a revelation. A sterling performance and a job well done.

This also successfully expands on Unification and gives a fuller sense of the Romulans as a race - showing the tensions between the Tal Shiar and the military, and the cracks that allow the dissident movement to emerge. The nuances that emerge add richness to the Romulans.

A tension filled, multi layered episode. 3.5 stars.
V_Is_For_Voyager
Wed, Dec 2, 2015, 7:39pm (UTC -5)
I'd just like to point out that this was the only episode of Star Trek to be scored by Don Davis, who is the composer of the excellent music to "The Matrix."
Conor
Fri, Dec 4, 2015, 6:10pm (UTC -5)
If there was one thing TNG got right it was the Romulans. And this is one of the very best Romulan episodes. I love the way it's set almost entirely on board a Romulan Warbird. And the portrayal of our pointy-eared foes was spot on. Excellent.
RandomThoughts
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 3:02pm (UTC -5)
I always like watching this episode. Even though the ending just sort of works itself out a little blandly, overall it was very enjoyable.

Now for my silly comments. :)

I believel this episode showed how they must have MiracleGrow for hair. If I'm not mistaken (and I might be), Worf's hair is suddenly down his back for the first time. And Troi's hair was probably cut when they gave her the Romulan makeover, but when she is in sickbay at the end, she has her full head of hair again. It must have been regrown.

So I figure, if Captain Picard really wanted a full head of hair, he could have it any time he wanted. In 5 minutes, he'd be heading to the barber for a trim. :D

Regards... RT
redshirt28
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 3:30am (UTC -5)
. A lot of people have made comments about marina sirtis acting abilities. First run in the 90s I would agree with it all. Lately I have changed that thought. She has always acted the script she was given, and it wasnt much what she got. This episode shows it.
Also the one where she, obrien, and data take over the ship....
Pretty damn convincing to me. This one as well, she was troi acting as someone else. An actress playing 2 parts at the same time.
I always liked how embarressed she was by her mother. And how she tried to grow as a commander. She always showed her vulnerability yet trod on. Something no one here has ever said she acts with her eyes. No other actor on trek has done this as well as her. And give her the credit that between her costumes and hairdos she was given no justice by the producers.

Just something to think about....
Rob
Mon, Aug 22, 2016, 1:11pm (UTC -5)
I have to go against the grain and disagree that Marina Sirtis did a good job.

She's a terrible actress IMO. Just because she was given a main role to play in this episode and something outside of the role her character usually plays, doesn't mean she did it any justice.

Carolyn Seymour wiped the floor with her. The contract between both of their acting abilities was cringe worthy. I kept thinking to myself, how can Marina be the regular cast member and Seymour be a guest actor?

Deanna Troi is one of my least favourite characters in TNG and so far, Season 6 has been dreadful. I'm watching the first season of DS9 alongside Season 6 TNG and it feels like they've kept all of their 'good' writing and ideas for DS9 and just totally abandoned TNG.

After having really enjoyed Season 5 (which IMO is the best TNG series, I don't get the huge appeal Season 3 holds), this season has been a huge disappointment.
Lmo
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 9:48am (UTC -5)
I agree with Rob, above. Although I wonder if Marina Sirtis' acting seemed so bad because of the script. She did not utter one sentence for the entire episode that wasn't in a raised or obnoxious tone of voice. (Except the very last lines back aboard the Enterprise.)

The plot was not interesting, the guy who played the defector who returned looked and sounded like a beached manitee.

Carolyn Seymour saved the episode.

Submit a comment





Notify me about new comments on this page
Hide my e-mail on my post

◄ Season Index

▲Top of Page | Menu | Copyright © 1994-2016 Jamahl Epsicokhan. All rights reserved. Unauthorized duplication or distribution of any content is prohibited. This site is an independent publication and is not affiliated with or authorized by any entity or company referenced herein. See site policies.