Star Trek: The Next Generation


2 stars

Air date: 3/26/1990
Written by Richard Manning & Hans Beimler
Directed by Winrich Kolbe

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Picard is beamed off the ship by an unknown force and put in a holding cell with three other prisoners exhibiting widely varying personalities. Meanwhile, a perfect doppelganger of Picard is put aboard the Enterprise in his place and impersonates the captain. The false Picard alters the Enterprise's course and takes it on an extended detour away from its scheduled rendezvous. The real Picard attempts to maintain control of an uneasy room where the tension between the prisoners continues to escalate as they try, and fail, to find a way to escape.

"Allegiance" is about observing behavior, and to be sure, there's some interesting behavior to observe here, particularly involving the faux Picard. He goes about his role as captain, and everything is just slightly off, but faux-Picard's explanations and reassurances to the crew are so pleasantly convincing that it's not obvious to the crew for a long time that there's something truly wrong here. The oddest of the behavior involves Picard's dinner with Crusher in his quarters (and she's at a loss to explain what happens there), and especially when Picard buys a round of drinks for everyone in Ten-Forward. The most entertaining moments in the show are watching the crew's confused reactions to the faux-Picard's slowly (but surely) increasingly odd behavior.

Of considerably less interest are the scenes in the mysterious holding cell, which document too little progress and quickly grow repetitive. We've got an annoying bully monster-alien in the room who threatens everybody (Reiner Schone), an annoying pacifist alien who acts like a smug wimp (Stephen Markel), and a Bolian Starfleet cadet (Joycelyn O'Brien) who remains mostly neutral. Picard must maintain a balance and keep the peace in this room. The clue that leads him to his discovery of the truth is pretty lame.

The whole episode has a palpable what-the-hell-is-going-on-here vibe to it, but it's a very slow burn that takes a long time (too long) to reach its climax, which is less than satisfying. The problem with the episode is that the conclusion (which is actually the story's underlying premise) in retrospect cannot support what happens in the episode. If the aliens responsible are simply trying to study the concept of leadership, how can they be so good at faking competent leadership with their copy of Picard? In fact, how can they be so good at copying Picard at all? I don't buy it.

Previous episode: Sins of the Father
Next episode: Captain's Holiday

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58 comments on this post

Dave Nielsen
Mon, Aug 8, 2011, 11:39pm (UTC -6)
Well, I certainly had a different take on "Allegiance." I found the whole B Story of Faux Picard to be unnecessary and completely cheeseball, while the scenes with real Picard were very interesting and entertaining. I would have liked that to be the entire show, with the exception of the aliens revealing themselves and returning to the ship with Picard.
Sat, Dec 1, 2012, 4:31pm (UTC -6)
I found the scene with Picard singing in 10-FW very funny. And I think that was the very first time that Riker belayed one of his captain's orders!

A nice episode, I would give it 3 stars.
Sat, Feb 23, 2013, 9:25am (UTC -6)
Although this isn't itself a particularly memorable episode, I have to note the similarity to the Twilight Zone episode "Five Characters in Search of an Exit," which is largely summed up by its title. Four of the five characters are trapped in a featureless room, when a soldier arrives and attempts to get them to work together to escape.

That episode ends with a twist which is pretty weird even for the Twilight Zone (the five characters are actually dolls, and the featureless room is actually a bucket in which toys are being collected), but I have to wonder if the writers of this episode had seen that one and were, in some way, inspired by it.
William B
Thu, Jun 13, 2013, 7:11am (UTC -6)
I agree with fluffysheap that this episode is a lot like the TZ episode "Five Characters in Search of an Exit", though that itself is a riff on other works (e.g. Sartre's "No Exit," in which three people are locked in a room together for eternity in the afterlife).

Of the two plotlines, the Enterprise plot is a little more convincingly "about" the issues the aliens are ostensibly studying. The basic question of the episode becomes: how much strange behaviour does the false Picard have to exhibit before the crew mutiny? It's sort of a Milgrim experiment in which "Picard" makes increasingly bizarre commands, though it's only at the episode's very end that his actions become a threat to the crew. Meanwhile, "Picard's" strange behaviour in ingratiating himself with the crew seems to be about testing why the separation between captain and crew exists. Why can Picard and Crusher not date? "Picard" asks her explicitly if it's because he's her captain. Why does "Picard" not hang out in and sing songs in Ten-Forward? The last one is a bit iffy and a bit hard to parse -- I don't see what exactly "Picard" learned from the singalong, except perhaps how willing people were to start pretending they knew the lyrics to the song. Perhaps another element of it is just to test how much an authority figure can start acting like a completely different person before people start to question that authority figure's true identity or mental health. My favourite joke in this plotline is "Picard" ordering the ship to go to a not-particularly interesting pulsar at "Warp 2."

At any rate, while I agree with Jammer that it's not really convincing that the aliens can produce a near-identical Picard and not be able to understand the concept of authority without nearly destroying a whole ship, I find this storyline amusing enough to find it passably enjoyable, if not great, especially since the ending (Riker takes command when the ship is threatened) is not really in doubt.

The holding cell scenes don't really seem to be that on theme, actually -- testing "group dynamics" doesn't really seem to be the same as testing authority, though I suppose the way Picard manages to get the smug intellectual coward and the dumb violent thug to work together is a testament to his leadership and diplomatic skill, which are under test. Contra Jammer, I think Picard's figuring out who the ensign was worked fairly well, because it was a clue that was gettable by the audience -- i.e. the mission he refers to was the very same mission that was referenced in the Captain's Log at the episode's beginning. (Though I wish he had just said "they don't teach recent missions that just happened yesterday at the Academy, dummy," rather than saying that it was a SECRET MISSION -- since we didn't really know the latter and the former could have been guessed by us.) At any rate, the sequences go on too long and the group dynamics are not really probing or interesting enough to justify the time spent on them.

I was going to agree with the 2 star rating, but I feel like I might have almost talked myself up to 2.5 on this one. Still, ultimately ... while the episode has some interest, it doesn't hold together enough. 2 stars on the high end.
Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 2:07pm (UTC -6)
I don't agree with Jammer about his assessment on the cell scenes. I did find those interesting, and there was some conflict between the prisoners, which helped. Though surely with no bathroom available, things are going to get real messy! And that the food was poison for one prisoner I think is an interesting take.

While agree that a few scenes of the faux Picard were amusing, I had a problem with this part of the story. Namely, that this faux Picard was too perfect - like Jammer, I just don't buy it. The episode needed to sell me better how this faux Picard could be so perfect, and didn't. Especially how the faux Picard used the same word combinations that Picard did - they would have needed to study Picard for years, and that's just not practical with the Enterprise being mobile and changing positions all the time. Planet-side study would have made infinitely more sense.

Thus, I too give this episode 2 out of 4 stars possible like Jammer.
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 1:37pm (UTC -6)
Yeah, this episode was a misfire. But at least it was a fun misfire.
Sun, Feb 2, 2014, 4:10pm (UTC -6)
Awwww, I really liked this one. No, it's not some brilliant character piece or epic drama, but it was fun. And being fun is really all I can ask for. I think both plots were pretty well done and kept me engaged. One minor piece that I liked was that, on second viewing, it's pretty obvious that the fake Picard is running an experiment on loyalty and authority. He continuously asks the rest of the crew questions about his authority, in a fairly non-chalant way so that no one picks up on it. It backs up the plot even when we don't know what the plot is.

There's a few scenes I really like and think were really well directed and scripted. Picard and Crusher's date (appropriately awkward), Riker's discussion with the rest of the senior crew, and the actual mutiny. There was a particularly nice visual effect of having fake Picard standing in front of the viewscreen with the pulsar in the background. It made him look rather unnatural (which, of course, he was).

If I did have to quibble though:

- If the fake Picard really wanted to test the crew's loyalty, maybe he should have just parked at a safe distance at the pulsar and waited to see how long it would take before a mutiny started. It would have been a lot more interesting. Of course, then the show couldn's get wrapped up in 43 minutes. And I've designed a dumb experiment or two, so maybe these novices in authority just weren't smart enough.

- Yeah, the revelation about the cadet was a bit awkward. Clever, perhaps, but makes Picard look arrogant. "But this is the great Capt Picard. He did awesome things like X and Y." "Hey, you forgot the awesome thing Z I did!" Who talks like that?
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 8:32pm (UTC -6)
It's like TOS's original pilot "The Cage," and the movie "Cube," had a baby.
Thu, Mar 20, 2014, 3:51pm (UTC -6)
I completely forgot about the B-plot (Fake Picard on the ship) until it was brought up in the review and comments.

Isn't this the one with Picard saying "Here's to the finest crew in Starfleet!" and makes a toast for all of them? Somehow, I was convinced that was part of another episode. Because that scene was hilarious. The comic highlight of the episode, for sure.

(and it reminds me of the great "The Picard Song" that every Trek fan should check out, in youtube)

But what I did remember of the episode is rather boring, and I mean the whole real Picard bits. I don't know, it felt repetitive.

@ Nissa summed it up nicely: "Yeah, this episode was a misfire. But at least it was a fun misfire."
Wed, Apr 9, 2014, 11:08pm (UTC -6)
I liked this one. It's funny and engaging. I think they messed up on the reveal though. The aliens weren't very convincing and the explanation seems rather contrived.
Mon, Dec 1, 2014, 8:26am (UTC -6)
I agree with Tom that the episode was engaging -- until the ending failed miserably. Are we to believe the blue aliens had the technological ability to remove their subjects and replicate faux versions, yet were so naive that they could not understand how objectionable this was? Were they going to allow the ship to be destroyed, and to allow their subjects to kill eachother? Why did Picard let them go, instead of detaining them and bringing them to Starfleet for punishment?
Thu, Jan 1, 2015, 12:30am (UTC -6)
This theme was repeated years later in the Voyager episode 'Scientific Method.' I enjoyed this episode a bit more than that one, but the premise of an alien race that has developed scientifically but not morally remains thin--though not implausible.

Such a common perception of aliens is no coincidence. Maybe it comes from us, and our willingness to perform uncomfortable and sometimes deadly medical experiments on animals to learn about how said procedures will affect humans. The fictional aliens regard us the same way our scientists would the animal subjects: they're not as important as us, so we don't use the same moral guidelines with them as we would with each other. But I'm not an animal rights activist or anything; that's just the first comparison that popped into my head. And however you look at it, the ending is pretty weak.

I like both plots: the fake Picard and the real one in the cell with the strangers. I found Esoqq, the Chalnoth, especially entertaining; Reiner Schone did a great job through all that makeup. The situation on the Enterprise plays out realistically. The crew are suspicious when they should be suspicious, and rebel when they should rebel: when fake Picard's behavior goes from simply odd to inscrutable, putting the Enterprise and their lives in danger. I'd rate this half a star higher.
Sat, Jun 6, 2015, 12:07am (UTC -6)
"The premise of an alien race that has developed scientifically but not morally remains thin--though not implausible."

Technological/scientific progress doesn't equate with moral progress. Just because a group is very developed technically doesn't mean it has to be advanced in the realm of morality. The Conquistadors were much more scientifically advanced than the Aztecs and the Nazis were the most technologically proficient people of the time.

This episode is such a dud, especially coming after such a great run of episodes. Seriously, what was the point here? I'm not saying every episode has to have a grand message to it. I really like Season Seven's "Masks" and it has virtually no message to it at all. But this one, just falls so flat. Let's count the problems....

1.) The A-plot. The whole prison room storyline is just so boring and borderline nonsensical. It an attempt to understand the concept of leadership these aliens bring together three people with different responses to authority. The problem is that the writers seems to have completely misunderstood what these responses should be. Apparently, since Tholl is a pacifist, that means he's a complete pussy. That's a really nice message to send, especially for a show that fellates itself on being non-militaristic. Picard shows no real leadership here. Apparently, leadership means simply barking orders at people. And Esoqq is the worst offender. The writers seem to have confused anarchy and chaos. It's beaten into our heads that Esoqq is an anarchist and obeys no rules. No. Anarchy is the absence of 'rulers' not 'rules' (that extra 'r' in that word makes a world of difference). Esoqq is an agent of choas, not anarchy.

2.) The B-plot. The scenes with the fake Picard on the Enterprise are even more uninteresting. This crew sure seems ready to mutiny at the slightest provocation all of the sudden. Fake-Picard's first order of business is to order a course change and everyone on the bridge is immediately shifting their eyes and offering startled expressions. Fake-Picard starts singing in Ten-Forward and the entire senior crew assembles to discuss the possibility of mutiny. Damn, I'd love to see how these people would react if Picard ever had to go through with something like the Omega Directive. Their heads would probably collectively explode.

3.) Fake Picard. You know, it's not good when the the whole point you're trying to get across is that the normal Captain we all know and love is really just a stick-in-the-mud who never has any fun. Seriously, fake-Picard seems like a much more interesting and fun-loving guy that the real Picard. He drinks with his crew, visits the poker game, sings songs, isn't afraid to heavily flirt with beautiful women, etc. Meanwhile, our "hero" likes to bark orders at people and read alone until he falls asleep. You're not making Picard look good here, folks!

4.) Small things. A.) What the hell was up with the final scene between Crusher and Picard? She comes in and starts giving him romantic eyes and it unnerves him. Is this supposed to be funny? Does she think this is still the doppelganger or does she know this is the real Picard? What is she doing? Is she trying to flirt with him or is she just trying to fuck with him? B.) What happened to Tholl and Esoqq? Obviously they were probably returned to their planets, but a little follow-up would have been nice. But, Picard apparently thinks - "Ah, fuck them! I can't be bothered to check on those assholes. We've got a rendezvous to keep with the Hood."

TNG has offered much, much worse fare than this (seriously, MUCH worse fare). And sadly, that's the best praise I can give "Allegiance." And that's not really much praise at all.

King Elessar 8
Tue, Jun 23, 2015, 1:16am (UTC -6)
As far as this episode portraying Picard as a "stick in the mud who never has any fun" and likes to read alone until he falls asleep - well yeah. This is hardly the first time the show has made this point, see the very recent "Captain's Holiday" for an even more blatant example of this characterization of the good Captain. This also explains why the crew is so nonplussed by the Faux-Picard's behavior that they instantly start thinking about removing him; it's completely and totally out of character. It's ok - unsociable curmudgeon he may be, but we all love Picard anyway.
Diamond Dave
Sat, Sep 5, 2015, 10:48am (UTC -6)
Interestingly, this episode seems to form a divide between those who like the prison scenes and those who like the Enterprise scenes. Few seem to like both...

For me, it was the prison scenes that fell flat. Boring and repetitive, they mostly revolved around shouting the same recriminations that we'd had in the previous scene.

Whereas the scenes on the Enterprise were fun, putting a fresh spin on Picard and introducing a little life into the character. If the replication was perfect, is this the Picard that's being kept repressed under the requirement for command distance? It also allows us to have a little fun with Beverly, who gives her best come hither, and, unusually, gets something back... 2.5 stars.
Tue, Oct 13, 2015, 9:20pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was great fun and laughed a whole bunch, especially in the final scene with Picard fearing what his doppleganger had been up to. Both plots were pretty well done and I like the simplicity of the planet working together storyline. I like seeing Picard keeping the cool head. Everything on the Enterprise was gold.
Mon, Oct 19, 2015, 10:03am (UTC -6)
When this first aired, I believe I tried to figure it out along with them, which of course I couldn't do because we had no real information. And it just seemed that the basic premise went on for one act too long. I was looking at the clock thinking "There is NO WAY this is in two parts". So how would they end it?

Picard figured it out, took his ball and went home.

I think the faux Picard was so annoying for me because we already knew he was in the prison. Perhaps if they had shot the episode in Law and Order style: Half the episode with the ship (starting with an odd scan, and then Picard opening his door to say hello), and at the halfway point we get the mutiny. Then the next half of the episode is all with the group in the prison, bringing the two halves together at the end.

Anyway, not that anyone read my comments on the previous episode, but I'd mentioned I liked story arcs that went over multiple episodes, and that some of the stand-alone episodes seemed like they could have been done on nearly any teevee series, with nearly any actors. This is one of those episodes for me. Nothing really happened, it was never mentioned again and had no lasting impact in any way, shape or form. New aliens we never hear about again. Eh...

Fri, Nov 13, 2015, 3:21am (UTC -6)
Picard orders a round for everyone and they all react positively... on a ship that belongs to a society that doesn't use internal currency (and isn't stranded in the Delta Quadrant, and thus has no need to ration supplies). Hooray, another free drink that I may not even want?
Fri, Nov 4, 2016, 6:04pm (UTC -6)
I didn't like that the crew used the language of mutiny when back in season 1 ("Lonely Among Us") there was an established, orderly way of relieving the captain of command, controversial but hardly not permitted.
Walter E. Gough
Thu, Dec 15, 2016, 9:54pm (UTC -6)
A good idea gone awry. This episode held up until its authors needed to find a way out of their created conundrum.

First there was the Picard trivia trick to identify the fake hostage and then, once safely back on the Enterprise bridge, the FORCE FIELD to immobilze the bad guys while Picard delivered his sermon on involuntary confiment.

But... but... Since when is there a security force field on the bridge?

I can't recall ever having seen it before or since (though there was a security phaser mounted on the bridge in the TAS episode Beyond the Farthest Star).

So was this a single-episode plot contrivance, like the otherwise useless rods stuck in the engineering panel for beating up genetically engineered 20th century supermen in Space Seed?
Sun, Feb 12, 2017, 2:35pm (UTC -6)
Someone needs to tell me why one of the imprisoned aliens was wearing on his head a scale model of the Sidney Opera House.
Wed, Jun 28, 2017, 6:19am (UTC -6)
This episode is so bad that the German spoof-redub from the 1990s ("Sinnlos im Weltraum") could actually improve it (by making the characters in the prison even more ridiculously cliché, and the Picard Doppelganger even more outrageous). And I'm saying that as a TNG fan.

Picard in Ten Forward (loosely translated from German, singing): "We'll drink until we drop! We'll drink until we drop! C'mon people, everyone join in: We'll drink until we drop!!"
Someone comments on Picard: "What's happening? That's really weird..."
Riker (putting on a stupid face): "Yeah, I don't actually know the song, either!"
Fri, Jun 30, 2017, 8:09pm (UTC -6)
I actually liked it. It wasn't a very good episode though. It's very likely based on the Twilight Zone episode Five Characters in Search of an Exit... which IS a very good episode.
Fri, Jun 30, 2017, 8:19pm (UTC -6)
I also see someone above noted the same but added a huge spoiler (you fool), so don't scroll up. Watch the episode ;)
The Dreamer
Sun, Sep 3, 2017, 8:57pm (UTC -6)
Although not featured again, I liked the silent communication scene where Picard traps the aliens. It's good they have training like this.

It has always intrigued me that the crews did not have some method to determine when someone or someplace was not real, (but then there would be no story of course). The fabricated environments are always so real and the oddities are not apparent until some time has passed.

Examples include TNG:Ship in a bottle, Future Imperfect, and the DS9:The Search where crew members interacted sometimes for days with simulated comrades/family/enemies without any hint that they are not real. TNG; Remember Me is the exception since based on plot the Universe was at least a copy of a reality as opposed to a computer based simulation. Plausibility stretched in all these instances of course, but alas as I read in some posts am not as emotionally irritated by such things to make me like or dislike a particular episode(except for the most awful ones like Code of Honor and Threshold to name a few).

I tend to focus on what the story is trying to tell me and enjoy it on its own merit. This is why I find episodes that some don't like entertaining except for the most terrible ones.

Also unless they high tailed out of there, The fake Esok probably died violently once the reveal took place there.
Wed, Oct 25, 2017, 4:25pm (UTC -6)
As my dear old dad would have said ' What a lot of hokum'
It wasn't just the faux Picard who was a bit off if you ask me.
Mon, Nov 13, 2017, 9:41pm (UTC -6)
2 stars

The lab rats part of the story was pretty e retraining but the fake Picard plot onboard Enterprise was dreadfully dull
Derek D
Mon, Dec 4, 2017, 10:28pm (UTC -6)
I always liked this one. 3 stars
Thu, Feb 22, 2018, 6:08pm (UTC -6)
I think two minor adjustments would have made this episode great. Firstly, remove the info-dump at the end of the episode, in which the aliens explain their motives. Leave things ambiguous and mysterious instead.

Also, have the "prison" contain more elaborate social experiments. Picard acts as though the prison is a masterful psychological contraption, but its "dilemmas" are really very rudimentary.

Other than these two problems, I like this episode quite a bit. The creepiness of the fake Picard was brilliant; like a human probe slowly extracting information.
Fri, Apr 27, 2018, 2:12am (UTC -6)
Without overanalyzing this one I found it enjoyable.

Picard singing a drinking song in 10 forward had me cracking up.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Thu, May 3, 2018, 2:50pm (UTC -6)
We'd be wetting ourselves with delight if this were say the fifth episode of Season 1, but coming on the heels of so many intense, excellent episodes, it falls flat.

I agree with the poster above that something more dramatic in the little prison room would have livened things up a lot.

And is it just me or were parts of the aliens who captured Picard recycled for the next episode for the time traveling aliens on Risa?
John S
Tue, Jun 12, 2018, 1:44am (UTC -6)
I'm beginning to think it's just me. But I find cases of mistaken identity so uncomfortable to watch that I can't always make it through the episode.

Also the captain replaced by identical captain has already been done. I don't see any reason for this episode. 1 star.
Fri, Jun 15, 2018, 10:57am (UTC -6)
Bravo! Bravo!
The greatest Troi episode to date!
Oh beautiful Troi, how absolutely useless you are. What did the writers have against you? I must say that your ineptitude in this episode was remarkably portrayed.
You sure are pretty though
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 8:52am (UTC -6)
Struggle to find anything original here, only moderately interesting at times and often repetitive with a payoff that is hugely lame and leaves a lot of holes/WTFs. The whole idea of "more advanced" aliens observing/kidnapping other aliens (including humans) in different situations has been done before and with more purpose. This episode really adds nothing and is inconsequential.

Thought the scenes with the real Picard and the 2 other captives + the manipulative alien were OK at first as they tried to figure out what the hell was going on but after a while it just got repetitive. It was a somewhat interesting study of different approaches/attitudes but when the captive alien slips (quite badly and stupidly) it goes downhill from there. Of course this one was very easy for Picard to catch (unlike unraveling the mystery in "The Survivors").

The alien just gives up on the game, there's no threats etc. as these aliens seem to just purely be observers. So it's strictly an examination of behavior but it ends before things could get really interesting (like if it had been a few days and the monstrous alien wants to eat the annoying pacifist).

Better were the scenes on the Enterprise with Picard just a tad off -- so he tries testing Crusher with the intimate dinner, etc. Thought McFadden acted well here -- she's intrigued, interested, involved. But ultimately Picard ends the dinner abruptly. Not bad how Riker goes about with the restrained mutiny etc. But again, the aliens controling things aren't aggressive so it all turns out to be a pretty tame ending.

2 stars for "Allegiance" -- dragged on repetitively with some mildly interesting moments but the payoff sucked. So these aliens want to study leadership and authority by imprisoning other sentient beings? Shouldn't they be advanced enough to know this isn't right and will skew their experiments? I don't buy the whole premise. The episode never took off, the threats were never really serious enough and Picard gives a morality lesson to the abductors by putting them in a forcefield without verbal communication -- ho hum.
Prince of Space
Sat, Jul 21, 2018, 2:43am (UTC -6)
Hello way up there at the top, Dave Nielsen! Do not think that your comment on August 8, 2011 went unnoticed.

One of the things that cracks me up about Jammers’ comment sections is that eons ago, a person will comment... and then the next comment is like 2 years later and rarely even acknowledges the first one.

I just wanted you to know you’re not forgotten, sir, and to be quite frank... your comment was better than xaaos’. haha
Prince of Space
Sat, Jul 21, 2018, 3:05am (UTC -6)
Now now, RandomThoughts... don’t get all verklempt. I read your comments on the previous episode. I read ALL the comments except those of the 2 or 3 people that permeate Jammers’ site and leave comments 50x longer than the actual review.

Trust me, we ALL know of whom I refer to. haha... sad part is, they often have worthwhile viewpoints it’s just... just... OMG they bloviate soooo much! I think perhaps they just like to watch themselves type. ;-)

But my little perseveration (this is the kind of word the 2 or 3 like to use haha) aside, I think you should honestly scroll all the way up and hit “Like” on Dave Nielsen’s comment.

Hey, wait a sec!!! This isn’t Facebook!!!!!
Sat, Jul 28, 2018, 3:37pm (UTC -6)
What a bizarre ending with Beverly entering the bridge with absolutely NO knowledge of what just transpired, yet she acts as if she knows that the prior Picard was a hoax and that the real one is now present, even though she didn't witness any of the events that explained the meaning of the entire episode.

I actually enjoyed this episode, but I admit that Beverly's part at the end was a script error that doesn't make any sense.

Oh come now, Prince of Space. I would say they are 43.5632X the length of the episode, not 50X, but that's just me.
Sat, Oct 6, 2018, 2:03am (UTC -6)
2 stars

I was into the episode for the most part up until the lame reveal as to the aliens behind the abduction and the purpose of the experiment. That just soured the whole thing

I liked the characters featured in the experiment but the shipboard stuff was kinda dull
Tue, Oct 9, 2018, 5:37am (UTC -6)
A routine premise done really well, with suitable dramatic weight but also comic moments, the ending in particular has an enjoyable lightness of touch. I'd give it a high 3. If the same episode had been done in S1 it wouldn't have been accomplished nearly as well.
Thu, Mar 28, 2019, 2:13pm (UTC -6)
6/10 a filler episode

At first I thought this was a lowly filler episode but then I got into the mystery of it all: who is the real Picard. I thought it was the prisoner but then was a bit doubtful. But it came back to being a filler episode.

lost marks for Jean Luc's relaxation shirt (shades of that skimpy bathrobe). And yuck Beverly: its clear she was brought back as a romantic role opposite Jean Luc. They sacrificed and interesting Dr Pulaski for that shit.

They didn't explain why the fake captain was slightly different...I liked the singing though. Is that a real navy song? I only know "We joined the Navy to see the world, and what did we see? we saw the sea..."

Aside from the plot, Beverly says she likes their relationship the way it is and Jean Luc immediately puts on romantic music and asks her to dance. hmmm. It was a masterful portrayal of what manipulative behaviour looks like in the dating world: The manipulator ignores a person's stated wishes, coming on stronger and adding to the "wooing" and then kicking the second person out in the cold just like that. The second person then feels rejected and wants to know what they did wrong and want the manipulator back. Classic.
Tue, Oct 15, 2019, 11:18pm (UTC -6)
Watching and commenting

--Picard gets xeroxed. Yuh-oh.

--He's being kept in a box and fed cherry jello discs.

--Xerox-Picard acting just ever so slightly off, takes them off course.

--"STOP, we mean you no harm!!!" Some really, really hokey dialogue in the box.

--Xerox Picard asks Beverly to dinner. Intimate dinner. In his quarters. Low lighting. Sexy clothes. Sexy talk. Romantic music. The old "would you care to dance" maneuver . . . a kiss, followed by . . . showing Beverly the door. Beverly looks mystified. Don't try to figure out, Bev.

--Xerox-Picard seeming less and less like the original, as he sings in Ten Forward. Riker is suspicious.

--Lots of boring, badly written, predictable dialogue in the box.

--The part on The Enterprise is definitely more interesting, as we learn a bit about how the crew sees their Captain.

--The "we're in a lab, being studied," solution very hokey and reminiscent of an old Twilight Zone.

Prisons: Self made, other-made.

Allegiance? The captors say they're studying leadership - leaders and followers, how it all works. I suppose the ep is meant to study that too? What allegiance costs, and demands of, both leaders and followers, what its limits are, how priorities are established.

I wonder what they were studying by asking Beverly to dinner?

Some nice moments, but below average overall.
James G
Mon, Jan 13, 2020, 12:56pm (UTC -6)
I don't mind this one. An average episode, but it held my attention and entertained me decently. I thought the replica Picard element was quite interesting and well done.

Perhaps the aggressive alien with the huge knife and tusks was a less than subtle touch. Something a bit less obviously menacing could have been more sinister.

Where was the toilet, in the cell they were being kept in? As I recall at least one of the captives had been there for days!

I was amused that the replica Picard warned Riker that he was risking his career when the alternative appeared to be losing his life with the rest of the crew, to the pulsar. Interesting that the real Picard was prepared to mention a Starfleet secret to the impostor cadet. A very powerful technology that the captors have; they can assimilate an adversary's thoughts and knowledge in a moment.

Average - but OK.
Joe C
Tue, Feb 11, 2020, 3:07pm (UTC -6)
Despite not being a classic I’ve always had a soft spot for this episode. Whilst the overall result isn’t great, there are enough individual scenes I enjoy.
McCoy, Leonard McCoy
Sat, Mar 14, 2020, 11:06am (UTC -6)
I didn't think this episode was that bad. It was decent. The holding cell to me was interesting, albeit it did get stale after a while. It didn't take long for you to narrow it down to who was the responsible person in the room so the twist wasn't as good as it could have been. The only thing that puzzles me is the faux Picard. I didn't get his motivations for acting strange or the reason for why he even wanted to get close to that star. I mean if you're conducting a experiment and you don't know how long it's going to be, wouldn't you want to be off of peoples radar and try to act the way the real Picard would have acted? I guess the writers had to put some drama happening back at the ship cause to do a hour episode of the holding cell only would have been horrible. Still decent episode despite unanswered motivations and plot holes.
Hotel bastardos
Thu, Aug 6, 2020, 6:27am (UTC -6)
That mizarian sure was a capitulating motherfucker....
Thu, Mar 18, 2021, 5:30pm (UTC -6)
I've bitched a lot the past 2 weeks about episodes that Jammer, and others, liked so it feels weird to find myself thoroughly enjoying an episode that others didn't.

I had no major issues with this episode other than wishing that both storylines got more time. An episode entirely about how Picard had been replaced by an entity that was either testing or about to destroy the ship and crew would have been great because they could have built up the uncertainty among the crew. Maybe don't even let the audience know and let Riker be the one to drive the episode. I also wish we had gotten more time with the lab rat storyline to let things develop.

I'm not sure why they chose to blatantly tip their hand at which of the lab rats was the observer, though.

But other than that I really enjoyed it, but now I'm filled with dread at the next episode which I remember thinking felt like it belonged in the painful S1/S2 era.
Mon, Mar 29, 2021, 10:18am (UTC -6)
I thought the guest acting was very good, at least Picard's cell mates. The characters were also nicely done. Schone's Esoqq really felt like an alien here. Essoq and Tholl were quite well drawn and had some great dialogue.

ESOQQ: My given name is Esoqq. It means fighter.
THOLL: I'll bet half the names in the Chalnoth language mean fighter.
ESOQQ: Mizarians. Your names all mean surrender.

The concept was weak though. It would also have been nice had Riker and the others mention how similar Picard's situation was to that in Lonely Among Us.

It looks like there's an obvious editing decision where scenes in the cell were shown out of order. Picard notices the Bolian knows things she shouldn't, tests her, then seems to forget that for quite a long time.
Mon, Jun 28, 2021, 1:24am (UTC -6)
I’m going to be honest, I felt bad for the abductor aliens at the end of this episode. Picard (briefly) tortured them in retribution for their actions, though they made it clear that they were conducting sociological research and were genuinely unaware that their methods would be considered inappropriate. Philosophically, I also disagree with Picard’s assertion that imprisonment itself qualifies as an “injury”. An inconvenience, yes; a violation, perhaps. But an injury per se? I can’t get behind that.

My sympathy for the aliens was further bolstered, I think, by the fact that they immediately came clean and explained themselves as soon as Picard ruined the experiment by identifying their plant. They could have just dumped or even killed the prisoners at that point as useless lab rats, but instead took the time to engage and clarify that they were merely curious about something they didn’t understand.

Now, I’m not saying I approve of nor encourage their methods. I don’t even approve of using “lower” animals for scientific research. I just think some understanding was in order given that they seemed genuinely perplexed by Picard’s negative reaction - that is, again, they didn’t realize their actions would be upsetting. Picard could have said, “You have disrupted operations on my ship and aggrieved me personally. I have encountered many species, and I know of none who would not take offense to such treatment. Please reconsider your means of research. In fact, if you wanted knowledge, all you had to do was ask. Perhaps you would be interested in perusing our ship’s computer database on concepts of authority, while sharing information about your people with us?” Instead, he jumps straight to confrontation and bridge-burning with what seems to be a very unique new civilization. So much for the Enterprise’s “continuing mission”!

Picard’s behavior here wasn’t even consistent with his later handling of a similar situation in season 7’s “Liaisons”. In that one, an alien ambassador from a species who didn’t understand love amongst other emotional concepts actually stranded Picard on a barely-habitable planet with dangerous storm activity and pretended to be a lovestruck young woman. When Picard got the big reveal after all of that trouble, sure he was upset, but he remained reserved and diplomatic. He realized that the ambassador didn’t know how such methods would be received, and his reaction was basically, “Humans would have handled this differently,” and “Just so you know, where I’m from, what you’ve done would be considered a crime”. Only to then discover that the aliens didn’t understand the concept of “crime” either, prompting yet further patience from Picard.

It seems obvious, but you’ve got to be willing to extend a powerful heap of benefit of the doubt to aliens with fundamentally different practices. Generally Picard is pretty good about that, but not this time.
Sun, Aug 8, 2021, 10:30am (UTC -6)
A weirdly enjoyable 3-star episode !

I did like the false Picard being at first entirely believeable, then gradually less and less so the more his 'unrestrained inner Picard' took over. No-one was absolutely 100% sure that he was an imposter, indeed the consensus seemed to be that he'd 'lost his marbles' - and I'm glad Data remembered the original energy incursion, which led to a general feeling that that may have been the cause of the Captain's malaise.

3 gripes though, one hilarious:

- Picard singing 'Hearts of Oak' in 10-FWD - he's French! That song is a traditional English naval song and would probably have been sung against the French at the Battle of Trafalgar!!!

- Why the diversion to the pulsar? That was never explained I think. Perhaps without it, the meeting with The Hood would have been too problematic to the story..

- Also, why the Starfleet Academy Cadet being an alien in disguise? Surely she was not necessary : the kidnappers could just as easily have observed the other three remotely, and being fully telepathic would have known what they were thinking.

All in all, it was fun. Jean-Luc with Beverley, Worf refusing to obey orders, Wesley being tolerable, the scenes in the alien 'prison' - all very watchable.
Mon, Dec 6, 2021, 8:36pm (UTC -6)
I've always thought this episode was stupid.

- Cliched "Captain Impersonated By A Doppleganger" plot tha tTOS used many times ("What Are Little Girls Made Of?", "Turnabout Intruder," "The Enemy Within", just to name a few).

- Badly acted guest characters that do nothing for me and have a "World Of Hats" stink about each of them.

- Jerky, stop-start scenes of the DopplePicard trying to fuck shit up on the Enterprise. Why? What does his obvious pushing the envelope of the crew's trust gain for the Scientist RubberMask Aliens that abducted him? It's all just poorly-thought-out.

-A 'wink, wink' ending that's supposed to come off as funny but just seems to drop like a brick.

-A Kirk Summation in TNG... I really thought we were past this.

-A title that has nothing to do with the episode, betraying a lack of clarity on what (if any) thematic content was supposed to be there

-Shitty set design.

1 star.
Tue, Apr 19, 2022, 2:32pm (UTC -6)
I greatly enjoyed this episode; it's at least three stars for me.

The exception to said enjoyment were the five whole minutes of Picard-C.C. and ol' Bev's geriatric slobbering. The cringe dialog and the corny dance... - what is this, a B-side episode of Dynasty? Blake Carrington romancing some broad he picked up at the country club? Sheesh...

That mishegos didn't contribute to the story in any way; there are dozens of other subplots that could have been used to buttress the main arc.

"We've both had choices."
Cue the Possum: "There were voooohces / That told me raht from wroung / If I had listened / No, I wouldn't be here todaaaaaaaaaay / Living and dying / With the chohces I've made."

Excellent otherwise, even if Picard rumbling the "cadet" was all too convenient a get-out-of-jail-free card (no pun intended!).
Jason R.
Tue, Apr 26, 2022, 6:09pm (UTC -6)
When Picard does the cut throat sign to indicate to Worf to terminate the containment field around the aliens I think it would have been funny if Worf had somehow vaporized them. I mean maybe Picard really did want them dead? It would have been an honest mistake.
Thu, Jul 7, 2022, 5:03pm (UTC -6)
@Tidd: "Why the diversion to the pulsar? That was never explained I think."

I believe they were testing the crew to see just how far they would allow the fake captain to go before they rebelled against his authority.

@Jason R: When Picard does the cut throat sign to indicate to Worf to terminate the containment field around the aliens I think it would have been funny if Worf had somehow vaporized them.

I laughed so hard imagining that scene; Worf just draws his phaser and kills them. :D
Thu, Dec 8, 2022, 9:52pm (UTC -6)
The Alien of the week reveal was a laugh out loud moment, highlight of the episode.

To think the universe could be populated by tight spandex wearing tricksters with immense technology to purely see how command works because they don't have a command structure.

An odd one with some interesting scenes, and pretty good fun!
Mon, Jan 9, 2023, 9:14pm (UTC -6)
@Micheal - That's some serious ageism dude. One day sooner than you think you'll be in your 50s/60s and eating your words...
Projekt Kobra
Wed, Jun 28, 2023, 11:50pm (UTC -6)
I love how Picard was “photocopied” at the beginning of the episode.
Sun, Nov 5, 2023, 11:58am (UTC -6)
I have watched this loads of times over the years, and have never really thought deeply about it, but today it occurred to me that it was rather unfair of Riker to involve (acting ensign) Wesley in the mutiny.

He should've ordered Data to move the ship away, or taken over and done it himself.
Sat, Nov 11, 2023, 10:05am (UTC -6)

1.5 / 4

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