Star Trek: The Next Generation

“The Battle”

2.5 stars.

Air date: 11/16/1987
Teleplay by Herbert Wright
Story by Larry Forrester
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review Text

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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51 comments on this post

    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.

    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 =/

    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.

    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.

    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).

    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?

    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.

    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.

    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?

    I definitely appreciate this episode on the "origin-story" level of things concerning future ST (canon and non-canon) but I also find the revenge angle obtuse and underwhelming. Otherwise, it's one of the better episodes of the season and shows a lot of promise of what's to come.

    As for wonderboy Wesley coming in to save the day...I really wouldn't mind it so much if it was written a little less obvious (and if it didn't happen every other ep of the 1st season). Or maybe if the crew accepted him as little more than a nuisance every time he flaps a little jaw. Hell even his own mother seemed annoyed with his existence in this particular episode. Seeing as they're the ones that practically gave him a field commission to be an Ensign, you would think they would at least entertain his ideas once in a while. On the other hand, it would also help if he wasn't so seemingly naive. I do really want to elbow-punch him in the eye-socket sometimes...but the writers didn't help much either.

    Pretty decent episode overall, though, with just enough here to recommend. I would call this an episode that is good enough if you try to take from it what you can, if that makes sense. The only major downfall is the revenge element which weighs everything down with it's own contrivance. Otherwise, it's good backstory with passable filler.

    2.5 stars.

    A good effort, and I did enjoy the episode, but yet another example of why the old TOS writers needed to get swept out, which is what happened and led to much more relevant storytelling in Season 2 and beyond.

    With the Ferengi dialed down a bit from their last appearance, this actually makes for a reasonably effective slow-burner of an episode. Some welcome back-story for Picard.

    The main problem with the plot device is that we see early on the who of the plot, and the why is fairly easy to figure out from that point forward. The only tension is then how the protagonists will figure it out - and while I don't have a problem per se with it being Wesley to do so (let's face it, someone was going to have a revelation of some kind so it might as well be him), the smirking delivery of "adults!" really doesn't endear me to the character.

    "As you humans say, I'm all ears" did raise a smile though. 2 stars.

    The technology level of Star Trek amazes me. I didn't think much of it when I was watching this episode at age seven, but since then I've gotten into a lot of "hard" sci fi.

    To think, what advantage FTL sensors would give a ship versus a less advanced opponent! FTL sensors combined with FTL movement would be a near unbeatable combination.

    The Federation of Star Trek reminds me more of Babylon 5's Vorlons than Babylon 5's humans.

    I remember watching this with my friends when it came out. We were all excited to see the new alien race. We'd heard somewhere the Ferengi were to take over from the Klingons as the federations new menacing adversarial race. There'd been that ominous line from Picard in the first episode when Zorn threatens the station might ally with the Ferengi: "Fine, let's hope they find you as tasty as they did their past associates." Ohhhhhh, we didn't know what that meant, but the Ferengi sounded evil and dangerous.

    So we were all worked up. And then we saw them. As my friend put it, "Mutant hobbit accountants from outer-space." Oh well. By the end of the season, it was established that the Romulans would take over from the Klingons as the new as the federation's new menacing adversarial race.

    Whoops, I'm sorry, I posted that to the wrong thread. Would it be possible to delete it?

    Going through Season 1 this month for the first time in a long time.

    The amount of plot holes that I notice now are incredible.

    Honestly, I question how TNG survived it's first season.

    Thankfully they made it to Season 3 when it finally got on it's own feet.

    I just saw this episode. Knowing the Star Trek universe after this, the episode holds up pretty well.

    Didn't care for this episode. Too many things require too much of a stretch of the imagination. The biggest one is this - if Bok's son was responsible for his own fate by firing on the Stargazer first, then why would Bok be so enraged at Picard for firing back? The motive is lacking. Secondly, how on earth did the Ferengi just happen to stumble across the ship? Starfleet would have gone back to the site to retrieve the vessel, surely, at least so that it wouldn't fall into enemy hands. And even assuming the Ferengi did capture it, why wait 9 years for this showdown with Picard?? And why wasn't the chest that Picard brought aboard Enterprise checked out by security? I guess nobody ever heard of the Trojan horse before. The whole thing was just too contrived.

    1.5 out of 4 from me.

    @David - I'm convinced S1 got graded on a curve called "lack of expectations"


    I admit I too thought about your first point about Bok's son for a while too the first time I saw this. But we need to remember that different societies can put different "spins" on the same event. Remember in "The Defector" when a Federation officer (Picard) brought up the massacre of the Norkan outposts, then the Romulan (Admiral Jarok) quickly corrected that the Romulans simply referred to them as the "Norkan Campaigns"? As with the Romulans, I could see the Ferengi having a very different take than Picard with his battle.

    As for the Stargazer, well these are Ferengi, right? It was probably sitting in mothballs at some shipyard and the Ferengi were able to bribe/threaten/handsomely pay the quartermaster to let them have it. And maybe it took them nine years to find it.

    You're right about the "Trojan Horse" though. That's some idiot plotting, if there ever was any. I haven't seen this one recently, but I'm guessing Picard also ignored a warning from Worf about it. I guess we're supposed to accept that the Federation is so complacent in its peace in the 24th century that it ignores obvious security risks.

    @Chrome - On your last point, while the Federation itself is peaceful, it deals with violent races and risky situations regularly. I don't believe that they would ignore such a big security risk.


    Starfleet definitely shouldn't, especially since the Ferengi are supposed to be big adversaries at this point in the series. What makes it worse is that Worf actually brought the stupid chest aboard, so he had a chance to check it. Even if Worf's scans were negative, you'd think he might pick up on some sort of causal relationship between the chest and Picard's headaches.

    It's just goofy, I give it some slack because it's Season 1 and we're used to much better things from this franchise in the following years.

    The headache thing really bugged the heck out of me. In the 24th century they've uncovered the root cause of all pain and have the medical tech to eliminate it? Okay, I'll buy that. But to the point where Crusher is shocked that Picard even would *have* a headache? To the point where she'd act like a headache was some obscure medical condition from the past? How does that even work? Assuming these are basically still human beings (I note that genetic tampering was outlawed) how can you pre-emptively stop all people from having headaches before they even start? Do people not bang their heads anymore? If someone slips and falls and bonks their head on a bulkhead, is Crusher standing there instantly to wave her little medical wand over his head such that it's impossible for him to experience any headache? What utter silliness.

    And then a few scenes later Picard mentions his headaches to Riker et al. and they just react normally the way you'd expect anyone to react. What, so Riker knows what a headache is? Well which is it? Do people in the 24th century still experience headaches or don't they? AAGH!

    As for the rest, it's just a meandering half-baked story. I found the whole forged Captain's log especially pointless. Did Bok not think they were going to figure it out? Especially since PICARD WAS NOT THE SOLE SURVIVOR OF THE STARGAZER! Did it not occur to someone to call up one of the *hundreds* of survivors apart from Picard, including the bridge crew, to ask *them* what happened? Why would this not be the very first thing they think to look into? Why is there this phony tension over whether or not they're going to be able to prove PIcard's innocence?

    This story was much more palatable than most of its predecessors.
    The high points, I think, were:
    1. A new Federation Ship : the pretty stylish Constellation Class Stargazer.
    2. A bad guy with a believable motivation: Bok attracts sympathy for the loss of his son.
    3. Therefore the Ferengi come across much better than they did in The Last Outpost.
    4. Picard exhibits some human vulnerabilities.

    1. I still have an issue with Riker's bluster.
    2. Not buying into that medical elimination of headaches.
    3. The ending was too easy: no real tension as within a few seconds Picard blasts the sphere-it was a waste.

    2.5 stars. Somewhere around that range

    There's some interesting stuff like with the Stargazer and Bok's plan but then there are stretches where things stall I.e. The false log investigation or Picard hallucinating in his quarters. I did enjoy the First Officer camaraderie between Riker and the Ferengi

    I agree with the general consensus here.

    When I was first watching this back in the '80s -- and now rewatching from the start -- one thing I really liked about this episodes: no very powerful, vague life-form aliens. I think they are fine in small doses (this is sci-fi), but Season 1 start was heavy with them:

    Farpoint: Q and the jellyfish creatures

    Last Outpost: The Tkon portal

    Where No Man Has Gone: Wesley's boyfriend, The Travelah

    Lonely Among Us: Energy cloud being

    Justice: Edo Overload that's there and not there

    And then Naked Now and Code of Honor were just TOS throwbacks.

    This was the truly the first episode that gave us something of a somewhat equal adversaries in corporeal form plot. It's the first one to give us a little of the lay of the land about the Federation and the Alpha Quadrant.

    Back in the '80s, I was really beginning to despair that all Next Gen was going to be was an endless series of encounters with energy beings and things not there, etc. And for the foundation/base of the series, I like it when our guys in spaceships meet up with other guys in spaceships or their planets.

    This episode had plenty of plot holes and weaknesses already discussed (including the ridiculousness of the Ferengi as Klingon replacements and the crew's very slow catch-on to what was going on), but it was to me the very first Next Gen episode that laid the foundation for how the series would usually work.

    A very basic slowly evolving plot in a borderline boring episode. Stewart was good in this one -- maybe his best performance to date in Season 1. Better episode for the Ferengi than "The Last Outpost" -- at least the Ferengi here appear to be devious villains and not purely caricatures. But ultimately it comes down to phasering the sphere and the mind control is gone -- hardly brilliant or compelling stuff.

    What I don't get is how Bok was manipulating Picard -- he had headaches before the encounter so it wasn't an issue of just being controlled when in close proximity to the sphere. Something's missing here.

    Once the Ferengi give the Enterprise the Stargazer, why did the Enterprise tolerate them continuing to hang around as it towed the old ship?

    And boy genius Wesley Crusher came to the rescue again on a couple of occasions -- just not good writing in the grand scheme of things when he makes the rest of the crew look like dolts.

    Barely 2 stars for "The Battle" -- not a lot of redeeming qualities here other than Stewart's performance and his old ship. Plenty of fumbling around by the Enterprise crew to figure out what the Ferengi are up to and Crusher dealing with Picard's headaches -- fairly typical weak TNG S1 stuff here.

    This was a pretty good episode. Well trained or not - any one can on occasion be so focussed on something that other things are overlooked. Wesley isn't that young and from what I understand happens to be smarter than average and observant. It may happen too often in tng in general but on a stand alone basis Wesley's noticing things missed by others doesn't seem wrong to me. Trained adult doesn't equal infallible, nor does child equal always dumber than any given adult. Okay enough preaching for today. :-)

    Once again Picard's weak mind is abducted. How did someone so easily assimilated become captain of Starfleet's flagship?

    Whilst age has turned TNG's previous 7 episodes into something pleasantly odd and quirky, "The Battle", which hopes to work as a simple revenge psycho-thriller, now seems the most dated and dull episode thus far, in comparison.

    Most of the episode watches as Picard writhes in pain, or as staff try to ascertain why Picard is writhing in pain. Because we know the cause of this pain - a cartoonish Ferengi villain who wants revenge and is using a silly "orb device" to "control Picard's mind" - all of this is dull. There's no tension, and the audience is always several steps ahead of the script.

    There are some attempts at depth, with the mind control device becoming a means of investigating what Picard would look like were he to wrestle with guilt (his destruction of a Ferengi vessel decades prior), but none of this is seriously handled; Picard's righteousness is never in question. Scenes in which Troi and Crusher attempt to solve his suffering, and scenes in which Ferengi huddle around glowing orbs, are similarly flat.

    Once cool were the episode's model of the USS Stargazer (Picard's first command), but the episode shoots its models unimaginatively throughout, mostly in profile. The episode's climactic "Picard manoever", in which a ship warps up to its target and unleashes a point-blank broadside, looks similarly silly. That it took hundreds of years for the Federation to invent this simple maneuver (and name it after Picard, its inventor) is unbelievable.

    The episode's best subplot involve's Riker's bonding with a Ferengi second in command. It climaxes with Riker using a goofy-looking "tractor beam maneuver" to "catch the warping Picard". Picard, meanwhile, is on the bridge of the Stargazer undergoing a meltdown whilst ghosts of shipmates past glow around him. None of this works. Throw in two scenes in which Wesley cements his status as an uber Mary Sue ("Adults are so stupid! And women especially!"), and "The Battle" is dragged down further.

    Previous episodes invented new weird tropes or stole them from past Trek, leading to a kind of Trekkian purity. You couldn't find flawed episode like them, outside of Trek. But "The Battle" mostly pulls its trope from other genres or bad TV. It's Trek doing something relatively conventional and botching it.

    Incidentally, the later episode, "Peak Performance", would rectify some of the flaws here. Where this episode looks at Picard's past, and hypothetical past guilts, that does the opposite, Riker guiltily looking at an unfulfilled future.

    This felt so much like TOS. I can`t wait for it to evolve. The ensemble is coming along. And Troi was useful.

    Because this episode came so early on, it wasn’t completely unfathomable to viewers when this episode first aired that perhaps Picard really did fire in a defenskess ship. We don’t know Captain very well at this point, and he’s pretty surly. I enjoyed that they’re able to lay those seeds of doubt in a way they couldn’t have later in the series when we trust Picard unquestioningly.

    The little technobabble about checksums was nice, at a time when computing science wasn’t the degree of choice of every other student.

    When Bok offers Picard the Stargazer, the Ferengi first officer comments “we are not selling it to HIM!”, but it was clearly meant to be “we are not SELLING it to him?”

    I notice these instances of actors putting the emphasis on the wrong word all the time and it’s a little pet peeve of mine because it shows that the writers and the directors aren’t understanding the script they’re acting out.

    The fact the Starfleet security crew allowed all those Stargazer belongings on board without any inspection, including a just slightly suspicious giant glowing sphere.... between that and Tasha not thoroughly researching the laws if the planet of the previous episode Justice... I think Yar was on track for a firing if she hadn’t been killed first.

    For all the little gripes though, solid episode that showcased Stewart’s acting and stands out as a more complex and mature script than what had come previously. Agreed with the 2.5 stars.

    I liked the better, less clownish characterization of the Ferenghi, particularly the "First Officer to First Officer" stuff. Those parts, with Riker and Kazago, are echoed in Wesley's "adults!" sigh. Underlings have to save the day in this one. The adults (the Captains) have abdicated.

    Bok is believable as a man crazed by the loss of his son. A parent expects the child to replace and outlive them and even outshine them. But Bok is bereft and lost in his bereavement.

    Lots of adult-child sort of stuff here, seems to be about the roles and the importance of those roles, as Riker outmaneuvers Picard, Kazago must take charge, and Wesley provides info on Picard's headaches that Mom couldn't see.

    There are contrivances and plotholes, but nothing too unusual for ST.

    Overall a nice, solid ep and the best so far.


    Good thoughts. I remember really disliking this one when I first saw it when I was a young child, but I appreciate it more now.

    There's a very..."elderly parent" tinge to the Picard material -- sickened, laid back with headaches, retreating into the past, taking repetitive actions which are no longer appropriate. Picard's loss of the Stargazer and Bok's loss of his son have hurt both of them -- but of course a ship is easier to get over than a son, which is why Bok needs a mind control headache sphere to push Picard to where he is (trapped at the moment of the Stargazer/Bok's son battle). I think Picard has guilt over the loss of the Stargazer and over the loss of the enemy ship, which makes me wonder if Bok is motivated partly by guilt, too, which he projects entirely onto Picard.

    The Picard maneuver relies on going to warp so that the time delay from light speed creates the appearance of two Stargazers. But one of them is no longer there -- it's from the past, just taking its time to catch up. You have to make sure you know which is really still there, and what is just a figment of the past catching up.

    @William B

    Yes, concur with all of this and especially love that last bit about the nature of the Picard maneuver. Hadn't given the maneuver a second thought, but it fits beautifully. The Old and the New, images from the past, the reality of the present, the need to live in the present to be effective.

    It's a nice little ep.


    I think I recall you making a similar observation in Buffy, about Willow and Tara stargazing and Willow mentioning that some of the stars have since died.

    I should add, this is also the first ep that suggests the possibility that a) the Ferengi are motivated by more than greed, and also b) "profit" (self-interest) is not entirely bad (Kazenga recognizing there's no profit in revenge), which are regular themes in the Quark eps.

    I don't care too much that this episode is at times painfully slow, or that it's irritating that the audience is always so far ahead of most of the characters. Even the complacent utopian babble about conquering the scourge of the headache doesn't faze me too much. This was the first episode of TNG I ever saw, on eitehr its first or second airing. I was at my cousins' house, and was about seven- or eight-years old. I already knew a little bit about TOS and had seen a few episodes, and was really confused about who the people were on this show, since nobody had deigned to tell me there was a new Star Trek series, but my cousin was already a fan. I thought Picard on teh Stargazer was the most haunting thing I'd ever seen up to that point. The visions clouding his mind and Riker yelling at him to "DESTROY THE SPHERE!" while the alarm yammers on in the background have been indellibly etched into my brain for all time. As such, i'll always have a real soft spot and fondness for this story.

    This episode continues the on-going Star Trek obsession with aping, in one way or another, the obsessive motif of Moby Dick. yes, it's TOS-like, but in a way a slightly sick love letter like The naked now could never hope to be. TOS and DS9 are still my favourite series to this day, but I have the strongest and most vivid memories of watching TnG as a kid.

    Wasn't it actually Data who saved the day in this one? I remember liking a scene where Data informs Riker that there is no known defense against the Picard Maneuver, and Riker basically tells him he had better come up with one in the next 30 seconds (and he does!).

    @SkepticalMI it's 6 1/3 years since your comment but your point about Dr. Crusher really bothered me too on my most recent viewing.

    I would have loved to hear Dr. Crusher mention Jack at least once, or have some emotional reaction to the Stargazer.

    Even Picard's reaction to a ship that he commanded for 20 years and spoke in "Relics" about being his first true love is overly subdued and lacking - but then, he did have a headache :D

    Also to @Jason R's point about the log not holding up for any length of time. That kind of bugged me on my most recent viewing, too. Why did Bok bother trying?

    Still, the eerie quality of Picard's flashbacks kinda work for me. It might have something to do with me first seeing this episode when I was about 6 or 7. It was very spooky and it stuck with me!

    “The Battle” is a flawed but enjoyable entry that gives further insight into Picard’s background as well as establishing his tactical prowess that, to this point, has mostly consisted of him surrendering. The Ferengi are better used here, with most of their more annoying hijinks kept to a minimum. However, the crew doesn’t come across too well. First, Crusher takes far too long to figure something is suspicious about Picard’s insistent headache, which inexplicably start before the Stargazer is even revealed. If the orb is what is causing his headaches, how does it do so long distance?

    The flashbacks to the Stargazer battle are both haunting and fun, however the pacing of the third act seems odd. If the point of all of this is for the Stargazer to destroy the Enterprise, why is no actual battle taking place with no exchange of weapons fire? Of course, it’s up to The Boy Wonder to outsmart his own crew and save the day, which makes them look even worse once again.

    “The Battle” is fun but it could have been so much more.


    The Picard Maneuver is one of the dumbest concepts Trek ever depicted.


    Because this would happen constantly. Dealing with situations like this would be one of the biggest challenges of faster than light travel.

    This was just for a few moments.

    Assume a ship flies toward you at faster than light speed for an hour, stops, then heads out in another direction. To you, the ship appears suddenly in front of you, then seems to leave in both of those directions! For that whole hour.

    The Battle

    TNG season 1 episode 9

    "Not resting, Captain?"

    "More like dying, Doctor.”

    - Beverly & Picard

    3 stars (out of 4)

    If “Where No One Has Gone Before” was the first truly Trek episode of The Next Generation, then “The Battle” is the first truly Picard episode of the series.

    In the thread for the last episode, “Justice”, @SkepticalMI had a very damning observation,

    "One thing I've noticed rewatching these early episodes is that Picard is a highly unlikable character. He's consistently angry, dismissive of his crew, and sounds like a grumpy old man half the time.”

    How true. TPTB obviously tried to make Picard into an anti-Kirk to set TNG apart from TOS. But that is an odd choice, given that TOS is the entire reason we even have a Trek franchise!

    Be that as it may, this is the episode where TPTB finally put all that aside, and let Picard become Picard. And the key to that transformation is Bones. Er, I mean Beverly :-)

    From the very first episode of Star Trek - The Cage - we had a Starfleet captain with a uniquely close relationship with his Doctor. When Pike and Dr. Boyce sit down for a drink, Pike finally reveals what is really in his heart,

    PIKE: What the devil are you putting in there, ice?

    BOYCE: Who wants a warm martini?

    PIKE: What makes you think I need one?

    BOYCE: Sometimes a man'll tell his bartender things he'll never tell his doctor. What's been on your mind, Chris?

    Kirk and Bones had a similarly close relationship in TOS. In many ways, if Spock was the brains of that show, then Bones was its heart. Even the Abrams-verse rebooted movies made it point to carry forward that Kirk-Bones relationship in my favorite scene from Beyond (2016),

    It is strange then that TNG decided to put significant distance between Picard and his doc, Beverly. The way they did it is interesting - Picard was in command when Beverly’s husband died, and Picard felt particularly guilty because he always had the hots for Beverly. In fact, there is an interesting scene in “Encounter at Farpoint,” where we learn that Picard had been avoiding Beverly because he thought she did not want to serve under him,

    PICARD: Now, your assignment here. I would consider and approve you a transfer for you.

    CRUSHER: Oh. You consider me unqualified?

    PICARD: Hardly. Your service record shows you're just the Chief Medical Officer I want.

    CRUSHER: Then you must object to me personally.

    PICARD: I'm trying to be considerate of your feelings, Doctor. For you to work with a commanding officer who would continually remind you of a terrible personal tragedy.

    CRUSHER: If I had had any objections to serving with you, I wouldn't have requested this assignment, Captain.

    PICARD: You requested this posting?

    CRUSHER: My feelings about my husband's death will have no effect on the way I serve you, this vessel, or this mission.

    PICARD: Then welcome aboard, Doctor.

    The tension between the two is only made worse by the “Naked Now” when Beverly literally throws herself at Picard when they are both under the influence. If that doesn’t make things awkward, I don’t know what will.

    But all of Picard’s pretenses at neutrality go out the window when the shit actually hits the fan in “Justice”. Because try as he will, Picard simply cannot let Beverly’s son die, even if it will cost him his command, and maybe risk a war with the God of the Edo. Real life has a tendency of clarifying things. In that vein, I enjoyed your story @DamnableReverend. Thanks for sharing.

    So it is nice to see that Picard and Beverly are finally a team here in “The Battle”.

    CRUSHER: Want to talk about it? I'm here.

    PICARD: The fight at Maxia. I destroyed an entire vessel. An entire crew.

    CRUSHER: Did you have a choice?

    PICARD: I don't know anymore. I just don't know.

    CRUSHER: Commander Riker's told me about the altered log, if that's what's troubling you.

    PICARD: The last three nights I've, I've heard these voices. I'm on the bridge of my old ship. There's fire all around me. The klaxons, smoke. And then I give the order. And now the Stargazer is really here! And that log. Am I going crazy? How do I know I was in my right mind at Maxia? How do I know I'm in my right mind now?

    The poor man is about to have a nervous breakdown. No wonder @Aaron, that Beverly doesn’t have the heart to bring up her husband. She must have thought there was a real risk it could break Picard. Instead she gives him a shot so he can get some sleep.

    We learn how much The Stargazer means to Picard. And the crew react so wonderfully to seeing something their captain actually cares about for a change. There is warmth in their relationship. I almost got out of my seat when Picard takes Riker’s hand - Riker’s hand! - and asks him to take care of the ship, while he rests, because of his headache.

    PICARD: Take over, Number One.

    RIKER: Aye, sir.

    Here is a man who has come so far in just 8 episodes!

    Plus points: the iconic Picard maneuver and Riker’s professional relationship with the Ferengi first officer, and I agree with @Markus - nice to see checksums mentioned, although, hilariously, Riker is not at all interested.

    RIKER: I don't want a computer science lesson!

    Mal said: "If “Where No One Has Gone Before” was the first truly Trek episode of The Next Generation, then “The Battle” is the first truly Picard episode of the series."

    Interesting point. I've never thought about it before but it took a while for Picard to become the character we know. Compare him to the other captains; by the time the pilot episodes were over we knew exactly who Kirk, Sisko, and Archer were.

    SkepticalMI said: "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."

    This is my view as well. I wish this had been our introduction to the Ferengi.

    I know I'm beating a dead horse here but Troi and Wesley should have been jettisoned ASAP. Troi is absolutely useless. Here's an example from this episode:

    PICARD: Very strange, Number One. Like going back to the house you grew up in, but no one's home, except the phantoms of the past.
    TROI: It has troubled you?
    PICARD: Not half as much as this damn headache. Take over, Number One.
    RIKER: Aye, sir.
    (Picard leaves)
    RIKER: What's wrong?
    TROI: I wish I could say.

    When you have an actor of the caliber of Patrick Stewart, you don't have to tell the audience that he's troubled because he is conveying through his acting. And then they double down on it when she can't give Riker any sort of answer! How many scenes are there on TNG where the writers go out of their way to remind you that Troi has these amazing abilities only to immediately say "oh, never mind she can't do anything remotely useful." And this goes on for seven seasons!

    One thing I've noticed is that there are a lot of Troi's and Wes' lines that could have worked just as good or better being given to another character. Here we have wunderkind Wes coming up with a solution to save the day and then Troi transmits this info to the captain. Geordie or Data could have handled this, and the actors who portray them would have undoubtedly delivered the lines better.

    Nitpicks aside, this is one of season one's best.

    Wesley's jumper - it's the one that looks like cotton sweatshirt, mainly blue/grey, with black collar and gorget, and then the three coloured stripes referring to Starfleet uniform colours - blue, red & gold......where does his destiny lie ? Unfortunately not in classic red shirt fate !

    What should have been a really good episode was hampered by some turgid slow scenes, and some truly banal dialogue:

    RIKER: What’s wrong?
    TROI: I wish I could say

    CRUSHER: Do you want to talk?
    PICARD nods
    CRUSHER: I’m here.

    The scenes between Picard and Crusher were so drawn -out and tedious I actually yawned. Whoever decided that Beverly Crusher was an interesting character? She adds little of any interest in either dialogue or action. I can hardly wait for Diana Muldaur’s sadly brief role as Dr Pulaski.

    The action involving the Stargazer was the best part. Except for the weird memories where Picard was mid-action on its bridge, fire all around, yet the crew calmly at their posts as if nothing was happening.

    In all I think this was wasted potential. The best bit for me was when the Ferengi said - in response to Picard’s request that he listen - “I’m all ears”. !! Loved it....

    2 stars - should have been more.

    I've been doing a series rewatch.

    Data actually mentions a checksum discrepancy in how he determined the log was forged. There's a joke that the worst science in Trek is Computer Science, and generally it's true.

    But this was entirely valid and it seems like they did a much better job in the first season with CS stuff. Riker even explicitly says he didn't want a CS lesson from Data. Later on, they would just make up CS like the rest of the technobabble.

    Other notes:

    * Another episode where Picard looks like a doddering old man. Quite like The Naked Now, where Riker has to save the day.

    This was obviously intentional. And actually, when this first ran, at first I didn't like Picard at all and thought Riker should take over. Partly because how he was initially characterized, but also, I was 17, so Picard looked about 90 to me.

    I'm quite glad they aborted that angle and made Picard central and effectively nudged Riker to the side.

    * The Tasha/Worf Security Team is astonishingly incompetent. I think we have to pin that on Tasha. Consider in "Justice" how she didn't bother to learn what punishments there were for crimes. And apparently she learned they had almost no police over cocktails with the natives... notice she's so amazed by this that she calls Riker over to hear about it.

    * Why was nobody suspicious of the gift of the Stargazer?

    Though, weaknesses aside, it's certainly one of the better first season episodes.

    And as clunky as first season episodes tend to be, I find most of them much more engaging than most season seven episodes.

    I'm not entirely convinced that Kazago's reason for arresting Bok was motivated by lack of profit; that explanation may have just been to save face.

    He knew for a while there would be no profit made since Bok made it clear he wasn't going to sell the Stargazer. If lack of monetary gain waa truly what concerned Kazago, he had numerous opportunities to arrest Bok on that basis before the final act.

    Could it be he did it because he was genuinely morally repulsed by the fact that his captain was about to committ murder?

    As hair-brained as this story is, a lot of the direction and tonal color are pretty unique in TNG's history. So even though once again we know exactly what's happening fairly early on and have to impatiently wait for everyone to clue in, at least we get to have Stewart mix up his acting a fair bit. It's a small bonus that we also get a portrayal of a Ferengi in Kazago who is able to speak intelligibly and sanely, something I think we won't see again until Quark. Mostly the episode seems like an elaborate bit of exposition regarding Picard's past, but unfortunately for all the storytelling we get about the events at Maxia we scarcely learn a single thing about Picard through it all and what kind of Captain he was at the time.

    I felt this was a weak episode.

    First, it feels like every other episode so far has involved Picard being mind-controlled. But this show depends so much on selling us the idea of Picard as this supremely dependable captain, which works so well later on thanks to Stewart’s wonderful portrayal of him. But at this stage he seems like a hopelessly manipulable stooge, and the crew are no better at dealing with it. Dr Crusher says she has the power to order the captain about on grounds of ill health but she doesn’t seem to, ever - at least not effectively.

    The plot is missing any real tension or mystery, as the villains go out of their way to seem as villainous as possible right from the start. If we were in any doubt, Troi tells us they’re villains. And if we were still in any doubt, we get to see them being villains. Wouldn’t it have been more interesting if this role had been played by someone who seemed friendly - perhaps another Starfleet captain, someone from Picard’s past who secretly bears a grudge against him for what happened a decade earlier?

    Plus some pretty serious plot holes:

    Given that he’s just been warned that the Ferengi captain is lying, why would Picard allow him and his crew to beam over *onto the bridge*?? One phaser shot to Worf and they’ve taken command of the Enterprise!

    The Ferengi captain’s plot is really amateurish. He hides the orb in Picard’s trunk and just trusts that Picard won’t notice it. And to be fair, neither Picard nor anyone else thinks to check any of this stuff before taking it into the Enterprise, despite the highly suspicious circumstances. How naive are these people?

    Once the orb is discovered, why don’t the Enterprise crew just turn it off? Or destroy it? Or put it on a shuttle and blast it into the nearest star? Or at the very least give us a technobabble explanation for why they can’t do any of these things?

    If the Picard manoeuvre is such a well established and famous tactic (even after only a decade), and if Data has therefore studied it, why has he (or anyone else) never thought to come up with a counter-measure to it before now? It would have been more plausible if Picard’s tactic hadn’t been generally known. Perhaps, when the incident was first brought up in the episode, Riker could have asked “How *did* you destroy the enemy ship even though yours was almost disabled?” and Picard could have explained it then.

    Given that the Picard manoeuvre involves flinging a ship over a very short distance at several times the speed of light, it’s hard to believe that the tactic to overcome it can involve someone effectively saying “Now!” to someone at the helm. Shouldn’t the timing be a little tighter than this?

    I did like the representation of Picard’s former crew mates in his hallucinations though. I thought that was rather well done.

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