Star Trek: The Next Generation

“The Defector”

4 stars.

Air date: 1/1/1990
Written by Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Robert Scheerer

Review Text

A Romulan scout ship, under attack from a pursuing Romulan Warbird, comes charging across the Neutral Zone. Its sole occupant, Setal (James Sloyan), desperately requests asylum, which the Enterprise grants. Setal claims that a secret Romulan base along the Neutral Zone is the site of a massive Romulan fleet poised for an invasion.

Ron Moore's second TNG script is a marked improvement over his first. "Defector" documents — with high stakes and no shortage of fascinating twists and turns — a consistently interesting battle of wits between the Romulans and Federation. In its third season, TNG has turned the Romulan Empire into a worthy nemesis that is as sneaky and cunning as it is aggressive and threatening.

The central question of this story is whether Setal is actually telling the truth, or if he is a Romulan spy trying to lure the Enterprise with false intelligence into illegally entering the Neutral Zone and starting a war. Setal is perfectly played by James Sloyan, who conveys the urgent sincerity of a man trying to prevent a war while at the same time playing a man who is still every bit Romulan at heart, from his love for his homeland to his hatred of the Klingons (he curses Worf in an early scene) to his acerbic, superior attitude. He's here because he wants to stop what he believes is a misguided offensive that will destroy his homeland, not because he wants to betray it. The plot thickens when Setal is revealed to actually be Admiral Jarok, a high-ranking official responsible for infamous attacks on the Federation.

Picard's dilemma is that he has no evidence of a Romulan invasion plot other than Jarok's word. Indeed, evidence suggests that the Romulans' pursuit of Jarok might have been staged entirely for the Enterprise's benefit. In a startlingly terrific scene, Picard pointedly gives Jarok a wake-up call, telling him that he's already a traitor to his people, no matter how much he may think he's trying to be a patriot, and that he should follow through on his intentions and give the Enterprise the information they need to investigate the allegation properly.

It all leads to a dangerous venture into the Neutral Zone, which leads to another interesting showdown with Tomalak. The Romulans' willingness to use Jarok as a patsy in this plan is diabolically devious — one might say cruel — and makes Jarok the tragic figure in a heartless chess game. Just when the Enterprise looks outmatched and outgunned, Picard has one last trick up his sleeve. The writers had cleverly sneaked in the crucial clue (about the cloaked Klingon escorts) just under the radar. This chess game ends in a stalemate that keeps war at bay.

Previous episode: The Vengeance Factor
Next episode: The Hunted

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Comment Section

94 comments on this post

    One of my favourite elements of TNG was the tension between the Federation and the Romulans. It was played so remarkably well in the third season, with "The Enemy" and particularly "The Defector" ending with fantastic stand-offs. The politics and brinkmanship are so compelling. And Worf allowing the injured Romulan to die was powerful stuff - perhaps one of the first signs of the "shades of grey" that would become such a fundamental element of Deep Space Nine.

    The opening to this episode always gives me tingles. It truly portrays the tension of interstellar relations well.

    This was the episode that started it all...

    When I was a kid my dad watched the original Star Trek series and of course I watched it with him. When TNG came out I refused to watch it. The thought of some old bald guy being the captain of the Enterprise didn't jive with me- I refused to accept it. Then one day it happened... I watched THIS episode: The Defector.

    Hook, line, and sinker!! From here on out I was a happy Star Trek: TNG fan boy!!! After this episode I found it hard to believe that anyone else in the world could be a better captain than Picard!!!! Long live the Star Trek universe!!

    An outstanding episode and a great twist in the end.

    Tomalak's re-appearance was quite welcome and enjoyable. What a sneaky, evil captain. When the tides were against him, he politely withdrew. Maybe Picard and his Klingons allies should have instead vaporised them. I know that this would cause war, but hell, it would be a great fun watching Tomalak getting ass kicked at last. xD

    As Jammer pointed out, “The Defector” is a huge improvement on Ron Moore’s first script in “The Bonding”; both are clear demonstrations of Moore’s interests and running themes throughout TNG, DS9 and BSG (well, maybe in Roswell and Carnivale too, but I haven’t seen those). The episode takes the brinksmanship from “The Enemy” and turns it up a notch by opening with the suggestion from “Seval” that the Romulans are planning to start a war. The episode also connects forward; the set-up of Jarok posing as a lowly desk clerk carrying information so as to hide that he is a high-commanding officer, thought of by the Federation as a butcher and by the Romulans as a hero but who is perhaps neither, is inverted in DS9’s “Duet,” where the lowly desk clerk poses as a high-commanding officer.

    One of the themes running through this episode is a question that always fascinates me: how do you make decisions based on incomplete information? As Geordi said, you never have the complete picture, and you can fill that in with pure deduction or with “instinct,” which at best is a form of logic only perceived on the subconscious level and at worst is a reliance on arbitrary feelings and prejudices rather than the truth. Related to this is the recognition throughout that knowledge is power, from the knowledge gained by disassembling starships (which both our crew and Tomalak are interested in doing) to knowledge of a person’s background. Jarok destroys his ship and refuses to give military information because that would shift too much power to the Federation (hiding the truth because it could help the Federation); he hides his background and identity because he believes it would prejudice the crew to disbelieve him (hiding the truth because this truth could reasonably lead to the crew coming to false conclusions). And indeed, this is a great episode for form mirroring content: the whole episode is structured as a mystery, in which disparate elements which push and pull in different directions (“Seval” is clearly lying about something and his pursuit by the Romulan warbird seems staged, but he also seems sincere) and which finally come together in the suggestion that Tomalak, representing the Romulans, masterminded the whole thing. Of course, there is still more that Tomalak doesn’t know, and Picard’s masterminding the Klingons’ arrival on scene works brilliantly. The sharp, twisty plotting is not merely a fun device (and it is fun), but supports the theme and helps us recognize the difficulties that come in attempting to make quadrant-shaking decisions when only part of the picture can be seen.

    At the episode’s end, the Tomalak makes the choice to avoid a battle which is essentially Mutually Assured Destruction. (“You will not survive our assault.” “You will not survive ours.”) Tomalak leaves and lets the Enterprise and her Klingon escorts zip away. The open question is whether every step of the Romulan plan was to test Jarok’s loyalty, or whether it was only in the final stages. Certainly, the Romulans want conquest, but are only the aggressors in extreme sneak attacks done in secret (like the Tal Shiar assault on the Dominion in DS9). Are they eager for war, or do they desire peace as much as the Federation does, but with an eye to prevent continued Federation and Klingon expansion and to subvert those powers if they can and an unwillingness to brook any disloyalty to the High Command? My suspicion is that it’s the latter, with the Picard-Tomalak-Klingons sequence a microcosm of the political situation in the quadrant which will always end in stalemate. The Romulans continue to be interesting, proud but intelligent, desiring expansion but not at all costs. Which, of course, is who Jarok is, and it’s part of the episode’s strengths that Jarok is at once clearly a Romulan who believes in Romulan values, not particularly repentant for the “campaigns” he had been involved in nor especially proud of them, and a man whose belief in the value of peace (and the possibility of his children growing up in a quadrant without war—“They will grow up thinking their father is a traitor…but they will grow up”) to leave everything behind. Picard’s words from Henry V when he confronts Tomalak at the end—“If the cause be just…”—are part of what help alleviate the tragedy of Jarok’s end: he kills himself out of shame, but his defection or death are not meaningless insofar as his giving up his homeworld was for a genuinely meaningful cause.

    I feel like dancing on the 3.5-4 star line for the episode. Jarok himself is a great character; the use of Henry V to help frame the episode works well. The interaction between Jarok and the whole crew is excellent—the best scene is the scene with Picard in his ready room but the interrogation with Riker and Troi, and the Ten-Forward and holodeck scenes with Data are highlights. Generally the whole cast is used well to show a spectrum of responses to Jarok, all of which hint at a part but not the whole of what motivates this complex character. Picard’s asking Data to chronicle these last days in the event a war should happen ties into the main themes—history should have as much information as is possible, from as objective source as possible—but I do feel like this thread was a little underdeveloped. But this is a minor criticism. The only thing that makes me hesitate to give it four stars is not any significant flaw within the episode but the desire to save four stars for episodes that are near the best of the season (if not the series)—and season three is so good that I am not quite sure if this episode should properly make the cut. Ultimately, I’m going to give it the benefit of the doubt and agree with Jammer’s four star rating.

    Another fine review, though I don't think four stars is generous for "The Defector" at all. The only real unfortunate part of the episode was Jarok's death. I would have loved to see James Sloyan take on a recurring character - he always makes such an impression. It's true that Dr Mora appeared twice on DS9 (it feels like more), but his later appearance on Voyager in "Jetrel" felt like something of a retread.

    Typical American bullcrap at the end though. The future will be so nice if we can just find enough people willing to betray their homeworlds.
    Babylon 5 has a much better grasp on what the humanity will look like and do 4 centuries from now.

    Great episode! Really loved how conflicted Jarok was when he found out his actions were ultimately for nothing. A tragic and untimely death perhaps, but ends with plenty of hope for the future. Istok, I think you missed the point of the episode. They are not looking for people to betray their homeworlds. Rather they want people to come to a mutual understanding of one another, and to pursue peace, as opposed to war, for the sake of universal prosperity.

    Yep, 4 stars from me. Romulan unforms look very impractical. Can't imagine wanting to fight hand to hand wearing those shoulder pads.
    The only other annoyance is Tomalok's willinness to plunge them back into war. This was an excercise to expose a traitor, not go to war.
    If the Klingons hadn't been there it was either surrender Enterprise or this is war.
    All over a traitor?

    I love the ending. Picard is stuck in a classic dilemma. Are the Romulans building a base or not? Should he investigate or not? If he picks right (they're not building a base and he doesn't investigate, or they are building and he does go), then nothing bad happens. If they're building a base and he stays put, a preemptive strike could cripple the Federation. But if they're not and he violates the Neutral Zone, then he could lose his ship and possibly start a war. This negative outcome is slightly more desirable then the crippling pre-emptive strike, so he goes. But not before turning the tables. Rather than just reacting to the situation the Romulans providing, he puts together a little initiative of his own. And so, in one of the most memorable scenes in TNG, the Klingon ships decloak, wiping the smugness off of Tomalak's face and saving the Enterprise. War averted, the Enterprise returns home safe and sound. Hurray!

    While we're all supposed to cheer for Picard's brilliance and Tomalak's "curses, foiled again!" moment (especially so soon after The Enemy), it occurs to me that the Romulans still didn't exactly lose in that confrontation. Now, I know the writers didn't think about this aspect and didn't plan ahead, but it makes TNG sound better if they did so I'm going with it. Here goes:

    Bringing the Klingons along wasn't just about saving Picard's bacon, it was a political show of force. By coming along, the Klingons subtly announced their intentions in the renewed Federation/Romulan face off: that they would be an enthusiastic ally of the Federation. The Klingon/Fed alliance was a mere 20 years old, and what with the Romulans focusing elsewhere for so long they weren't sure how strong that alliance was. Indeed, even the Federation and Klingons didn't know. After all, the Federation just fought a war with the Cardassians, and presumably the Klingons stayed out of that one. So was it an actual mutual defense pact, a la France and Britain in WWI? Or just a mutual friendly status pact, a la US and France/Britain at the start of the war (a war not joined by the US until much later)? Regardless of the legal status of the treaty, the reality may be much different.

    By making a stand with the Enterprise, the Klingons made their attention known. They would stand with the Federation, and would declare war on the Romulans if they attacked the Federation. This is very, very valuable information to the Romulans, as it refocuses their entire political efforts. William B noted that the theme of knowledge is power is played throughout this episode; here is one more little piece of it. Even though Picard needed to play that trump card, the Romulans gained in power by observing that trump card and gaining the knowledge of what it meant. In fact, what was the next major storyline with the Romulans?

    Trying to break up the Federation/Klingon alliance by instituting a Klingon civil war. Perhaps the events of The Mind's Eye and Redemption were due to Picard's decision. Heck, perhaps Romulans sniffing around their old allies in the Klingon empire is what caused Duras's father's involvement in the Khitomer massacre to be known, hence Worf's discommendation and K'eyhlar's death were also due to Picard's request. Yes, I know this wasn't planned and I'm making the whole thing up. But it kinda puts an interesting spin on things, doesn't it?

    In any case, either this or Reunion is my single favorite 1-hour Star Trek episode. It means I can't really review it much, because I was too busy enjoying myself reqatching it rather than analyzing it. But wow, do I love the tension throughout the episode, the back and forth and uncertainty in Jarok's position, and the character of Jarok himself. And, of course, the entire face off with Tomalak.

    It's not too often that we get such a sheer sense of bravado from Picard. But it's so prevalent, so powerful in that seen. "If the cause is just and honorable, they are prepared to give their lives. Are you prepared to die today, Tomalak?" I still get a smile on my face when Picard smiles and says that. Seeing Picard smile and show off his brinksmanship is just as much of a payoff for me as the Klingon ships decloaking. In the Enemy, Picard's bravado is directed towards making a stand for peace, opening himself up to being destroyed for a mission of mercy. Here, it's towards war; he calmly threatens mutually assured destruction on his enemy, and only then offers to stand down if the Romulans give in. Whatever the preconceptions of Picard being a wuss and surrender-happy, it's episodes like this that show he can still stand up and fight when need be.

    4 stars. Easily.

    Skeptical, I love your analysis of Klingon-Federation alliance and how Picard's moves may have helped instigate further Romulan plotting. As you yourself say, that probably wasn't the intention of the Powers That Be, but that doesn't diminish the neatness and logic of your proposed geopolitical game of chess.

    Great work.

    Great episode!

    With this one S3 already had 3 very good episodes up to this point, including "Booby Trap" and "The enemy".

    Personally, I'd say this bunch of good stories saved TNG for me, because coming from two terrible seasons I was almost giving up hope. S3 started to live up to expectations, and as the season developed even further, I realized this was just the beginning.

    On the episode itself, I thought at first they made a plot mistake when Picard wanted to talk to Worf and that was never mentioned again...until the final moments. Awesome comeback. TNG's writing is getting real sharp at last!

    This is one of my Top 10 of Star Trek, top 5 3 of TNG.

    The pacing, plot, and characters were awesome. The debate of knowledge, deception, and strategic moves makes this seem almost realistic.


    FYI: Skeptical, I agree with your analysis, I think Ron Moore probably planned this out in terms of longer term stories. He is famed for his heavy social-political storytelling in DS9 and BSG.

    Genuinely awesome. This got my DS9 senses tingling.

    What if his vessel had exploded while the away team they were planning had been aboard?

    I never get tired of watching this episode. The fact that I am tied between this and "Best of Both Worlds" for the title of my favorite TNG episode of all time probably says it all about my feelings for this installment. I also detect traces of DS9 and BSG in here, too...

    The soundtrack was integral to this episode. I love how the Klingon music from STTMP played faintly just before Picard told Worf to signal the Klingons - cues you in before it actually happens.

    And Tomalak's face when he realized he just got owned? Priceless. (Followed by his "well played, sir" face before he closed the comm.) Too bad we never saw him again after this except as a holographic projection. I would have loved to see him in ST Nemesis, maybe as the captain of one of those Romulan ships instead of a brand new character.

    Good decision to lead off the ep with a scene from Shakespeare's Henry V - another hint of things to come. Bravo.

    I could watch Data and Picard act out Shakespeare all day...

    We do see Tomalak briefly in the finale. Are there really no other appearances by him after this?

    I don't think this one is 4stars for me. I have a minor personal complaint that prevents a highest rating - I've never liked it when stories put the viewer/reader/whatever in the position of one of the protagonists, but then withhold the protagonist's plan for the sake of a surprise later. It would have been tough to make this story work well otherwise, but it still bothers me.

    See, the episode pretty clearly shows events unfolding from Picard's perspective. As others have noted, the (well-built) tension is derived from our lack of knowledge, dramatically presented as Picard's lack of knowledge. It makes Picard's decision to 'go for it' exciting, because we understand the risks inherent with incomplete knowledge just as Picard does. Except that when the Klingon reveal is made, we realize that no, we didn't actually understand the risks (or lack thereof). This, to me, gives the built-up tension a slightly fake quality, and it disconnects me from the main characters.

    Despite that rant, the episode is still great in a lot of respects. Mid to low 3.5 stars.

    @parachutingpigeon: Not in canon, but there is a short story in the TNG anthology "The Sky's the Limit" that shows Picard on Romulus after the Romulans join the Dominion War, delivering the letter to Jarok's widow and daughter. I'm not going to spoil the ending of that one, except to say that it ties in nicely with DS9's Romulan stories.

    They say it's a lot easier to talk about something you don't like as opposed to something you like. "The Defector" proves that point for me. For the longest time, this has been my hands-down favorite episode of TNG. Excellent tension/drama, two wonderful guest stars, the brilliant use of Shakespeare, the intrigue/brinksmanship and the wonderful play-off with the Klingon ships all make this episode one of the best in the whole franchise.

    The only minor problem I can find in it is the rather irrational willingness of the Enterprise crew to understand why Jarok crossed the lines. They constantly want more and more information from him in order to gain an advantage and then act surprised and confused when he refuses. Guys, he didn't come over to help you win a war. He came over to prevent a war and maintain the balance of power.

    And, I just want to say that SkepticalMI's theory about the Romulan reaction to the Klingon ships is fantastic!


    I love this episode too, but it's not perfect.

    The biggest flaw from a plot standpoint is that Troi is so underused. She participates in Jarok's interrogation and senses that he is hiding something, but she should have been able to tell that what he had already revealed was true. Of course, that would have made the rest of the episode impossible. But a few lines explaining that she couldn't read Romulans that well, or that he had been trained to close his mind to telepaths, would have been enough to get around this.

    Excellent episode. We finally have a story where the stakes mean something, and by layering the tension we build to a conclusion that's every bit as satisfying as the rest of the episode demands.

    We are kept twisting as to the veracity of Setal/Jarok's claims, and due to some excellent guest acting we can identify with the titular defector when he's revealed to simply have been a pawn in a larger game. For someone to have given up everything for an honourable cause, only to have even that snatched away, leads to the inevitable, and affecting, conclusion.

    With some memorable Shakespearean allegory thrown in, this is a worthy 3.5 stars.

    Nic, I'm with you: when the story hinges on trusting someone, it should be Troi front and center in the episode. Instead, she only gets like one line. That says a lot, unfortunately, about how they value her character. (I don't think it's impossible to write stories about possible liars with Troi heavily involved -- there are limits to what she can do. But she should have a lot to say, even on a deeper thematic level, about trust.)

    Two other minor things that bug me:
    - If ever there's a time to separate the saucer section and leave behind hundreds of unnecessary passengers, it's when you enter the Neutral Zone.
    - The dialogue should at least acknowledge that the Romulans have violated the Neutral Zone too, right? It is presented as if the Enterprise going into the Neutral Zone is as serious a violation as the Romulans' encroachment on *Federation Space* in "The Enemy".

    It's a shame that in later episodes Tomalak has to be supplanted by Sela. Apart from the fact that Sela is shown to be an incompetent twit through her endless blundering, Denise Crosby is such a vastly inferior actor to Andreas Katsulas. Tomalak made such a delicious recurring villain. Shame this was his last real appearance.

    I never quite understood the following Tomalak seems to have among some Trek fans. I mean, he's the guy we saw a handful of times growling an smirking over the screen. Nothing remotely memorable about him as far as I'm concerned.

    I think Tomalak's actor plays a good Cold War villain, to say the least. His more memorable episode is "The Enemy". Though it was nice to have him back in "All Good Things..."

    I can't think of a more memorable Romulan, to be honest. I suppose Nero from the Abrams' Trek movie, but that's more likely because the movie is newer, not because Nero was a stellar Romulan.

    @Chrome, Jason R: I loved Tomalak as well and was very disappointed that this was his last true appearance. For the role he was given, he played it very well. Katsulas did play the Vissian Captain on the ENT episode "Cogenitor" though. Sadly, he passed away in 2006.

    It would have been nice to have him or Sela in Star Trek Nemesis in place of the one-off Romulan Commander Donatra.

    I suppose that's just it, Chrome: since Tomalak is pretty much the only recurring Romulan, he became the "cool" Romulan. But is he? I mean really, what do we know about the guy? What makes him tick? What does he stand for? What defines his character? What do you imagine he does when he's not on screen? I speak only for myself, but I'm clueless on all these questions. That, in my opinion, is not an interesting character. Sloyan's Romulan from this very episode left a much, much bigger impression on me than Katsulas ever did over however many episodes he appeared in.

    @Paul M.

    Romulans are all about intrigue. They engineer these crazy plans in order to test their enemies while gleefully watching them struggle. That's what Tomalak does, and he does it well in my opinion. I suppose they could've fleshed him out better, but TNG isn't really a war show, and Tomalak was unfortunately supplanted by Sela before he got more development as Jason R. pointed out.

    Just checked IMDB. Katsulas appeared as Tomalak in 4 episodes only. One of those -- Future Imperfect -- was a simulation, and the other was at the very end of the show in All Good Things. That leaves us with a total of TWO appearances in Season 3, in both of those for a couple of minutes.

    Come on, let's not make some kind of cool Romulan archetype out of this guy.

    @Paul M.

    I'd argue that the showrunners themselves made Tomalak the archetype. Need a simulated Romulan threat? Here's Tomalak. Need a generic Romulan threat to raise the stakes in Q's puzzle? Here's Tomalak.

    The Romulan you liked played by Sloyan, was already dead in this episode. So, were stuck with Tomalak or Sela for Romulan antagonists. I still think Tomalak is the better of the two.

    That's a terribly low bar to set: Sela or Tomalak. There was nothing stopping writers and producers from coming up with a truly compelling recurring Romulan character, much as they managed to give Klingons some recognizable faces with distinct backstories and character: Duras and his sisters, Gowron, K'Mpec. The problem with TNG-era Romulans was that they were always too sketchy for their own good. They were sneaky, they liked to plot and scheme, and they were an obstinate adversary to deal with, but they were never given the kind of consideration and exploration Trek gave Klingons and especially Cardassians.

    That this episode is so beloved speaks not only to the strength of the script and cast, but also to the potential of Romulans as an interesting multifaceted species. Alas, it was not to be.

    I wonder if some part of love (or appreciation if love is too strong a word) some fans bestow upon Tomalak is due to Katsulas's memorable role as G'Kar on Babylon 5. Now *that* was a fantastic character and a fascinating race.

    Not every villain needs to be "compelling". The Borg aren't compelling. They're destructive and single-minded. That's part of their charm. In fact, many on this board criticize Voyager for trying to make Borg less than the badass villains they were in earlier shows. Adding nuance can backfire.

    I think that's what you're trying to do with Tomalak. That's not his role in this series. He's a card-carrying villain, and at that job, he excels.

    That's because that look didn't suit the Borg. Seska was a card carrying bad guy and she was compelling.

    I dont get your point, Chrome.

    Borg *are* compelling. They were meant to be a hive-mind implacable faceless swarm that comes at you and eats you alive (sort of), no buts, no ifs. They were scary precisely because they couldn't be reasoned with and because they had no discernible motive except assimilation.

    Romulans aren't -- or shouldn't be -- faceless mooks. They are a traditional adversary to our protagonists, much like Klingons, Cardassians, or any number of other "typical" humanoid races. They have a clear agenda that they follow. A representative of such an adversary should have a compelling character and interesting motivation. Again, look at Duras, Gowron, Dukat, Chang, Khan, or any number of other arguably successful Trek villains. They, like all good antagonists, need to have either a personal motivation for doing what they do or otherwise they should at least be compelling "plot-movers" with memorable character traits, even if superficial (I'm reminded of Senator Vreenak from In the Pale Moonlight - now that's a character who left an impression). Tomalak by comparison is simply a random characterless Romulan who might as well have been different character every episode he appeared in; it would have made zero difference.

    Eh, we've strayed too far from this episode and seem we're talking about completely different things now. I accept that you don't like the character, and perhaps you can accept that others like him for the reasons you don't.

    Okay, then tell me: what specifically do you like about Tomalak? What, in your opinion, elevates him from a random side character to an interesting character? What is so appealing about him that leads you, as you said, to love him?

    I neither love nor hate Tomalak, but I fall closer to the side of enjoying him.

    For what it's worth I think it is a combination of good performances and decent writing, although we didn't see much of him.

    I felt he was appropriately menacing enough to be a worthy adversary of Jean Luc Picard. To be honest, the only one other than Tomalak that EVER really feels like they could actually match wits with Picard is Q. Granted we don't know much about Tomalak, but maybe that helps... maybe the mystery is what makes him feel like a match.

    Even Madred, who probably comes the closest, really had all the advantages and even then only BARELY managed to get to Picard. The Duras Sisters weren't. Soran wasn't. Even the Borg Queen really didn't seem impressive next to Picard to me. Sela sure as heck wasn't.

    You just really get the sense that Tomalak is the Romulan Picard and that if they ever really went head to head it'd be a thing to watch. I'm sorry it never happened. At least that's how I felt about him.

    Some actors can make a character compelling with very little lines to work with. He just imbues Tomalak with an air that says he's Picard's equal.

    Katsulas doesn't have Stewart's gloriously bald and shiny head. He can never be Picard's equal. NEVAH!

    "I never quite understood the following Tomalak seems to have among some Trek fans. I mean, he's the guy we saw a handful of times growling an smirking over the screen. Nothing remotely memorable about him as far as I'm concerned."

    I understand your puzzlement. To be fair, I think you're right that Katsulas never really had an opportunity to do much with the character except smirk on a viewscreen, so I can't honestly say he was really a great recurring villain.

    Let me amend my previous statement to say that he *could have been* such a delicious recurring villain had the writers continued to develop him instead of switching mid stream for Sela, who was DOA due to Crosby's inept performance and the ham-fisted writing behind her (Unification being Exhibit A).

    As any Babylon 5 fan will tell you, Katsulas as G'Kar was simply one of the most memorable and enjoyable performances in all of scifi. Katsulas could have turned Tomalak into a character equal to a Gul Dukat had they given him the chance and attempted to develop him.

    The opening with Data's performance of Shakespeare.. only to be revisited in Picard's showdown with Tomalak, where Picard, with a smirk, quotes Henry V, "If the cause is just and honorable, [my crew is] prepared to give their lives." This was lost on me as a child. This episode could've just as well been called "King's Company."

    Stunning episode all around. Powerful, small performances especially by Troi and Data. That shot of Troi trying to figure out if the defector is telling the truth or not. Data being asked to record this moment for history. Just incredible!

    A good episode. Entertaining and unpredictable. I liked it. It was nice to see both Picard and the defector out maneuvered. Goes to show you that you don't need hitting over the head with moralizing, special effects, or technobabble if the story is up to scratch.

    Like most people posting on here, this is also a favourite episode of mine. I only wish we could have seen that scout ship again, or comparable smaller-size Romulan ships. I assume that the ship would have blown up sooner if the Enterprise attempted to get a transporter lock on the vessel.

    Tomalak is used well here as the almost moustache-twirling villain. I think characterisation was still evolving in the third season so I give them a pass.

    Although never mentioned explicitly, I assume Troi has trouble reading Romulans because of their Vulcan amcestry.

    When I got a video streaming service I started re-watching TNG. Aside from a select few episodes, I started re-watching at the beginning of season 3. Frankly, at the end of season 2 I was afraid the series would be cancelled and it's potential remain unfulfilled, but then season 3 happened. Unlike a lot of people, I didn't need to be convinced Patrick Stewart would be a great captain. I'd seen him before in a couple of different roles and I knew he'd be perfect...a more mature captain in a more complex Alpha Quadrant.
    This episode was one of my favorites of the season primarily because of Picard's tough wake-up call to Jarok and the de-cloaking Kingon ships showing Picard could be mature but still forceful enough to deal with devious and hostile aliens.

    For me, "The Defector" is a good but not great TNG episode, meriting 3 out of 4 stars. One thing that works for me is how the defecting Romulan comes across as consistently sincere, noble, and goodhearted even as the plot heaps many reasonable doubts upon the reliability of his account. That worked against my expectations and made the twist ending work much better. And the episode is smart enough to ask (and answer) many of the basic questions we have while watching it. Anytime the Trek screenwriters are smart enough to do this, I sit up and take notice.

    The big problem, however, is the pacing: There are long middle stretches of this episode where the Romulan is just hanging out on the Enterprise without any forward progress in the plot; a thick cloud of dead air hangs over endless scenes of dialogue involving either him or the crew speculating about him which really go nowhere. For me, it tastes like the soup is being watered down here to stretch it: If this guy defected with the intention of preventing an *imminent* invasion, why play coy for so long about the details? Wouldn't he have thought through what he was going to do or say after defecting? The scene where Picard pressures him to pony up comes too late in the episode to get me excited.

    In my mind, this story also represents a major weakness of the Political Intrigue Episode (TM) that will resurface in TNG (especially in two-parters like Redemption and Unification) and later become common on DS9: It's fairly boring. While watching this episode with me, a friend who had never seen TNG fell asleep right before the climax and began snoring loudly. And can you blame him? This kind of Star Trek story, which can only work as political allegory if viewers supply their own real-world analogues, boils down to made-up people talking about made-up political conflicts in a made-up futuristic universe. (I've seen the same thing happen with Star Trek VI, which puts many non-Trekkers to sleep during the ice planet scenes because they simply *do not care* about make-believe Sci-Fi politics.)

    This raises a question in my mind: Is this kind of story interesting to anyone other than diehard Trek fans? Unlike some of the better DS9 efforts, there's really no compelling character development B-story here, as the holodeck opening is just boilerplate Data stuff and the Romulan commits suicide before his character can really grow. For my money, this Political Intrigue Episode (TM) formula doesn't work nearly as well on TNG (where it often comes across as invariably bland and melodramatic) as Ronald Moore later managed on DS9.

    Agree with Luke's comment about it being easier to talk at length about an episode you don't like. Although if I find myself at a loss for words when I eventually review something like DS9's 'The Visitor' I'll know for sure.

    I can't quite join the 'best TNG' or 'Top 10 Trek' episodes bandwagon. The real stand-out episodes of any season, for me at least, usually have some very personal, character-driven stories or drama, which nonetheless qualify as SF. This steers close with Jarok, but doesn't quite possess whatever enables that emotional charge. For me at least.

    Ironically the problem could probably have been solved if we were able to develop more empathy for Jarok early on, and the obvious way to enable this would be for us to knowm from the outset, that he is on the level. Unfortunately this would completely disarm the main device of the plot. Anyway as a well-plotted and tense thriller this is close to the top of its class.

    A really good episode overall with an ending that pays off after considerable buildup of intrigue. Obviously plenty of similarities with "The Enemy" - which I believe is a slightly superior episode.

    I agree with "Trek fan" who brings up the pacing problem with "The Defector" - I thought it was quite slow for over 1/2 hour. It really wasn't super-compelling and while the mystery is unfolding, Jarok is just doing random things on the Enterprise. We do get to see how other crew members interact with him but why doesn't Picard deal with him initially and get him to cough up the fake info?

    I do enjoy Tomalak's character and the ending stand-off is great just as it was in "The Enemy". Nice to throw in some Shakespeare - and the tie in with how the episode starts with Data learning to act - is logical.

    Jarok is a tragic figure - makes me think of DS9's "Duet". HIs suicide gives the episode more weight and leaves the viewer wondering if his daughter ever gets his message.

    As for the Romulans, they are building up as being worthy and interesting adversaries. Definitely Tomalak is starting to become an enemy we can identify with - though from reading some of the comments, it doesn't seem like we see him anymore going further - which is a shame. But this episode does set up for more good stuff in future episodes with the Romulans.

    Jarok's tale and his being forthcoming/not is an intriguing one but I'm not ready to count "The Defector" as one of TNG's top 10 episodes. I'd rate it a strong 3 stars out of 4.

    What stood out for me in this episode wasn't just that it was a great story; it was that the dialogue was razor-sharp. (Amongst countless others, I loved Picard's line, "Yes, yes, peace in our galaxy," an allusion to Chamberlain's 'peace in our time.')

    5 stars?

    No way-this was another real yawn fest with excessive pompous drivel spouted by Picard ( 'You are a traitor,Suh!'), Riker barely able to keep his finger off the phaser button (I'd prefer to fight my way through'-says the guy who 2 seasons ago was scoffing at those primitives who actually fought each other) and the ace-in-the -hole Klingons we could not even bother naming:
    'Mr Worf-please extend my thanks to 'the Klingons'.

    Andreas Katsulas-same comments as before-best as G'Kar.

    2.5 stars


    Jammer didn't give this one five stars, he gave it six stars. :-)

    4 stars excellent

    Crafting a story like this takes a lot of thought and you can see it throughout

    It was a brilliant decision to not make it a full on Romulan ruse nor full on legitimate either. By having Jarok believe he was acting on actual intelligence but having the Romulans making it a ruse was very inventive. I also liked the way episode played the early investigation and actions of Jarok as being interpreted in both ways while at the same time being consistent--ie him destroyed his ship so Federation couldn't study it feeding into his characterization as a patriot

    Reminded me of the short story "a man without a country". Jarok's realization that he can never go home got me thinking of being in his shoes--the idea of never ever being able to set foot on your country or planet ever again. That would be a hard thing to come to terms with and made me realize what Jarok had sacrificed. I also enjoyed seeing Romulus' alien vista in the holodeck--our first glimpse at this world

    Lots of suspense as to what was really going(the pill in his boot, was it a ruse etc )on and culminated in the meant the enterprise entered the Neutral Zone and on edge of my seat waiting to see what they would actually find at Nelvana

    Liked how things set up earlier in episode as throwaway lines had more significance and played into ultimate revelation of final act of ot all being a test of Jarok's loyalty as well as a means to draw the Federation into the Neutral Zone making them look to be the aggressors

    The holodeck play was slightly pretentious but relatively brief

    Liked how ep brought some reflecting on human condition via the Data/Geordi engineering scene discussing intuition and gut instincts we human rely on in evaluating things

    The final scene's message was the right way to end the show on and was very thoughtful

    "The holodeck play was slightly pretentious but relatively brief"

    Just re-watching the series after many years and realised one of the holodeck shakespearean characters was Patrick Stewart in a dual role!

    My favorite thing about 'The Defector' is the performance of James Sloyan as Admiral Jarok (AKA Dr. Mora and Jetrel), a prolific actor whose versatility continues to impress. Although I recognized his features immediately from 'Murder, She Wrote' and other programs, I never doubted that he was a Romulan in personal torment - compounded by the skilfully executed plot twist that he betrayed his people for nothing. The Romulans are one of my favorite alien races on TNG, and I wish a little more attention had been given to the whole Tal Shiar/resistance angle. (A program with more continuity like DS9 could have worked wonders with it.) Data and Picard's scenes were also exceptional. A most enjoyable way to spend an hour if, like me, you enjoy political drama and intrigue just as much as sci-fi action and adventure. The episode's only flaw is that it drags a bit in the middle. I'd give it three and a half.

    Data: 'we know little to nothing about Romulus'

    *** 10 seconds later ***

    Holodeck has perfect rendering of Romulus

    Tomalauk: "I'll give you 30 seconds to surrender-"
    Picard: "I don't even need one!"

    Fucking badass, this whole episode was GREAT!

    I've seen or heard a lot of comments about people who refused to accept Patrick Stewart when he came on board as the captain of the Enterprise. I, however, had seen him in several roles and knew his versatility and his always engaging ability to deliver a speech, be it to Q, or a sincere but used Romulan general. I knew, that as people saw this accomplished actor play the part, they'd come on board, as it were. :) Great episode. Ron Moore hits it out of the ballpark and superb acting seals it.

    It's interesting despite watching this episode many times before, I never noticed that the plot for the episodes outcome is essentially revealed in the first 10 minutes of the episode with Riker saying "I think he's a plant to draw us into the Neutral Zone. Then we'll look like the aggressors." Also that's probably one of the few times Riker has actually been right about a situation.

    TNG's spaceship battles are typically very stilted and rigid, but "The Defector" opens with a surprisingly kinetic and stylish FX sequence; a Romulan scoutship zipping toward camera as a Warbird nips and chases hot on its heels. It's such a great little sequence. How much cooler would TNG be if all its space sequences were this dynamic.

    JoeyLock said: "I never noticed that the plot for the episodes outcome is essentially revealed in the first 10 minutes"

    This is something I noticed upon my rewatch as well. The episode never expects you to trust the defector. Instead it trades in a weird, very original type of tension: the question isn't if we are being deceived, but how exactly we are being deceived.

    The plot involving the surprise, too-good-to-be-true defector (are they for real, a rogue, or just a spy?) is an old one. This is a very good specimen of it... but I'm sure it's not the first, nor was it the last. I'm drawing a blank on fictional examples, but I just saw a summary about the strange kinda-sorta-defection of Rudolf Hess and I wondered if that was the original inspiration, or if it's even older than that.

    I really enjoyed this episode. Tomalak, is a great adversary because he is ruthless and very intelligent. I loved his last encounter with Picard.

    Picard: Do you expect us to surrender?
    Tomalak: No, I expect that you won't.

    The ultimate one upmanship, would had been an episode where Picard bested Tomalak, and when asked to surrender, he would say it's not our way, as he activates his self destruct.

    Picard 2, Tomalak 0.

    This is one episode that I never caught much in repeats, and I didn't remember just how good it is. Just an excellent show. Season 3 certainly has gravitas.

    Tomalak is the Uncle Arthur of Star Trek. Uncle Arthur was only on a handful of "Bewitched" episodes, but he made such an impact that fans think he had many more appearances than he did.

    Same for Tomalak. I certainly would have guessed more than four episodes.

    Watching this again in 2018 and this one has aged really well.

    What suprised me the most though was my Reaction to Worfs recommendation
    to force the ship to withdraw.

    It's totally in Character for him but somehow i found it hillarious
    how everyone else was trying to find out what was it about
    that little scout ship in the neutral zone, but not our Klingon.

    "Let's tell them to go away!" No matter who they are or what they want.
    We are fine at the moment, why bother with anything!


    I always imagined that there were several more Klingon ships still cloaked and waiting to be revealed.

    That would have been the wisest thing for Picard to do. There would be no reason to reveal his entire hand, only to decloak enough ships to dissuade Tomalak. If it didn't work, then decloak three more ships and so on.

    Since they can't detect the cloaked ships, Tomalak has no idea how many could be out there, which makes his dialogue at the end rather foolish. Although he concedes, he does so arrogantly as if he still has the upper hand, but he simply doesn't want to risk it.

    In reality, he has no idea how many ships Picard brought. For all he knows, there could be an entire fleet out there.

    This is one of my favorite episodes of TNG, however, I'm always bothered by how apparently naive Jarok was for supposedly being an Admiral no less.
    What did he expect the Federation to do?
    Run head-long into a war with the Romulan Empire, based solely on Jarok's word?
    Would the Romulans have done that?
    He's also apparently annoyed at the fact that they wanted to examine his ship.
    Wouldn't he have ordered the same thing in Picard's shoes? Or would he would have told his engineers that Federation technology was none of their business.

    Then finally he's shocked to learn that the Romulans resorted to less than honorable means to achieve their goal in exposing him.

    I think that blow to his head did more damage than Dr. Crusher realized.

    re: "I never noticed that the plot for the episodes outcome is essentially revealed in the first 10 minutes of the episode with Riker saying 'I think he's a plant to draw us into the Neutral Zone. Then we'll look like the aggressors.' "

    I don't quite think that's accurate. The fakery was primarily to test Jarok's loyalty. The "drawing the Enterprise in" bit was a secondary effect. Although given the Romulans, it could have been a backup plan they had in mind all along. But even if Jarok is a plant, the key is that he himself didn't know he was a plant. What's that saying about how the best kind of secret agent is the one who doesn't even know that he is a secret agent?

    @MMM the sleeper agent is even more explicitly played in BSG with Boomer, and BSG was Ron Moore's baby.


    Until the final scene I was thinking this was good but not great. But I think the Shakepeare framing, the scenes with the two senior Romulan officers and Picard and Data`s ongoing discoveries made this one shine a little more.

    I don't look at the Romulans as evil. The Klingons were yesterday`s enemies and look where we are now. I enjoy seeing the Romulans come up against the Federation. The Romulans are more clever and seem stronger. They are smart, they make things go.

    Very well done.

    Really kept me interested. Tons of good suspense.

    Great performances, good writing, the final confrontation was absolutely brilliant.

    The very end was the only slight disappointment I experienced. The suicide made sense and I expected it, it was the unabashed characterization of the General, by Picard, as a brave hero, that didn't quite sit right with me. I mean, he was, and he wasn't, a hero. I didn't feel like Picard knew enough about him for such a declaration.

    The episode hit heavily on loyalties and connections and responsibilities, and on things being hidden, i.e., not what they seemed to be. The Shakespeare fit right in, giving us a direct clue that the Romulan was a "king" in disguise.


    I think it made sense for Picard to try and make the best of a bad situation. Indeed, he didn’t even go as far as calling admiral Jarok a hero, he just praised him for his courage. I think this episode is trying to set up the Romulan dissident movement which comes up in later seasons. So, certainly to extent, we can say that Jarok’s actions inspired other Romulans to stand up against the hyper-militarization of their people. To put it in real world terms, it would be similar to a Russian general standing up against Putin trying trying to reinstate Soviet policies. Even if said general wasn’t exactly a hero, we could applaud the spirit of what he is trying to do.

    What an episode! There's layers of intrigue here, and so many well-prepared (present but subtle) twists that bring one surprise after another.

    Lurking on the edges of Star Trek fan discussion in the middle of my first viewing means I know a good few of the "classics" I have to look forward to. This one slipped under my radar, and caught me off guard -- in all the very best ways. I'd love to be able to watch this one for the first time all over again, because that was one hell of an experience.

    Clever one. I like this one a lot. The only criticism that this one provokes really is a very general one - the Enterprise is sometimes claimed to be a science and exploration vessel, but there's an armed conflict with some interstellar foe or other every other episode. I think I'd prefer Federation starships to be represented as military vessels. No kids on board. The writers mostly use them in that sense anyway.

    I wonder what GR’s reasoning for having kids on Enterprise was in the first place. Was it some sort of hippy ideal that Roddenberry held that by the 24th century humans would have evolved beyond violence to the point that even a military-use vessel would be safe for children? Or perhaps he was just interested in getting a younger demographic interested in Star Trek?

    It was the hippy ideal.

    This is also why the Enterprise-D could do a saucer-seperation: You could get the civilians to safety in the saucer while the stardrive section enters the thick of the action.

    Unfortunately TPTB quickly found out that (a) they can't afford showing a saucer-seperation in every second episode and (b) it was too cumbersome to work as compelling TV on a regular basis.

    So the whole thing was mostly dropped after the first few episodes, even though the children and families remained. Hence the crazy situation we've ended up with, where a starship that goes into battle every Tuesday is doing it with hundreds of civilians onboard.

    Funny enough the very next episode Picard prepares for a saucer separation! They don't execute it but interesting that they do mention it.

    I really enjoyed this episode. What a tension on what to do by the crew. What great actors on the Romulan side. And sorry, but Tomalak was an amazing Romulan. Sure we only saw him a little but, but Katulas' performance made him larger than life. Would have been great if they could have brought him back in a bigger role.

    I thought Season 1 was okay, and Season 2 was good, but Season 3 really blew it out of the water.

    Sorry I think it was actually two episodes later (The High Ground) that it gets mentioned.

    What I don’t like about this episode is that it’s hypocritical, a traitor is a good guy if he betrays his people to the Federation but if it had been a Starfleet Admiral betraying the Federation to Romulus he’s be a bad guy — this rest on a false assumption of an objective moral dichotomy, that one empire is good and another empire is bad, but that is false! The Feds and the Romulans are both expansionist, aggressive powers — if anything the Federation is worse, in all of Star Trek we see one people that are under the Romulans, the Remans; the Federation has annexed and absorbed thousands of worlds, but their mode of conquest is more insidious as they don’t just land on a planet as occupiers, instead they engage in a long term strategy of cultural imperialism and brainwashing to subvert and damage a target culture in such a way that they become convinced of the goodness of being subjugated, the Bajorans and the Ferengi in DS9 are good examples of this.

    @P. Fenech
    That reminds me of the famous "It's insidious" speech gave by Quark to Garak in DS9 4x01 The Way of the Warrior.

    Also this speech by Eddington to Captain Sisko (DS9: "For the Cause")

    "I know you. I was like you once, but then I opened my eyes. Open your eyes, captain. Why is the Federation so obsessed with the Maquis? We've never harmed you. And yet we're constantly arrested and charged with terrorism. Starships chase us through the Badlands and our supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because we've left the Federation, and that's the one thing you can't accept. Nobody leaves paradise. Everyone should want to be in the Federation. Hell, you even want the Cardassians to join. You're only sending them replicators because one day they can take their 'rightful place' on the Federation Council. You know, in some ways, you're even worse than the Borg. At least they tell you about their plans for assimilation. You're more insidious. You assimilate people and they don't even know it."

    Makes me wonder how future civilizations will evolve, conquering doesn't have to be done through open warfare. Which cultures will thrive and which will be condemned to obscurity? What will become of our nations, religions, and languages in 1000's of years time?

    @P. Fenech
    Conquer or perish, that's the way of the world, of nature, of everything.
    Coexistence is a myth, one must always give way or force others to give way. Look at history, biology, evolution, and so on.
    Anything else is naiveté. The way the Federation goes about it beats most alternatives.

    Love me some Romulan episodes. I'm not sure if it is the race in general or the casting or both but I feel like we consistently get some of the best performances from actors playing Romulan roles.

    I liked everything about this episode except for the suicide. What a wasted opportunity to revisit this character at some point in the future. It would have felt gratifying if he had played some part in normalizing relations and was able to meet his daughter again - and imagine what possible scenes we could have gotten subsequent to that meeting where she reviles him for a traitor.

    My qualms with this episode are minor:

    1 - Troi, again, is a character who is an ace in the hole when the plot requires it but useless otherwise. We've seen her, over and over again, sense people's true feelings. She could sense the Ferengi captain in The Price was faking it but she can't figure out if this Romulan defector is on the level so we just get some ambiguous crap from her.

    Honestly, the betazoid race is such a freaking nitemare in terms of consistent writing because if they remember to use her so many plots get ruined. I get that's why the find dumb reasons to keep her from being useful in episodes where she would render the entire plot pointless but this just truly highlights what a joke it is to have that race playing a recurring role in the first place.

    2 - There's no way they'd just let a Romulan defector go pal around in the bar. It makes no sense - he'd be under guard until he could be remanded to someone at Starfleet HQ. To just allow him to wander around the ship blows my mind.

    Troi is half human. She is an empath, not a full-on mind reader like her mother.

    Yes, the writers were somewhat inconsistent with her abilities, but the notion of Troi being unable to get a clear read sometimes is plausible.

    This is a great episode, but I'm not at all keen on the either the characterization or performance of Setal.

    I don't believe there's the slightest chance the crew would believe this guy for a moment.

    And Setal's twatty self important is just unpleasant to watch.

    However, the script does mostly acknowledge and even emphasize that.

    I think his performance enhanced his credibility - not just to the viewer but to the crew in show, too. It was a tense situation and he was also making a huge personal sacrifice in order to prevent war. Even if it worked and he prevented war, he must have realised he would probably never see his friends or family again. That would make anyone a bit on edge.

    Jarok/Setal wasn't meant to be the Romulan version of Gandhi: he was a military hero (important as well as self-important!) who clearly believed in his empire and himself - but thought a war would be horrific. He was more of a von Stauffenberg type, trying to prevent his own side edging towards disaster.

    Love this episode! There’s a wonderful James Bond overlap towards the end:

    PICARD: Really, Tomalak - do you expect me to accede to those conditions?
    TOMALAK (in a sinister way): No, Captain Picard, I expect you to…
    GOLDFINGER: No, Mr Bond, I expect you to DIE!

    What more can I say? I’ve seen the episode at least three times and it’s so well made that I still get taken in by all the twists and turns.

    4 stars for sure.

    This may be the only Star Trek episode which ended with a lump in my throat. Truly magnificent.

    A citizen of a sworn enemy of the Federation boards the Enterprise and says he wants to defect. No one believes him, and they are all suspicious of him and what his agenda might be. After the situation is resolved, not to the defector's advantage, he kills himself by eating an orange Necco wafer. Wouldn’t it have been a good idea to have searched him when he came aboard?

    This whole plan worked out disastrously for the Romulans, really. They lost a top Admiral and military hero and countless military secrets were betrayed to the Federation. All because they wanted to see how one of their top brass would react in a theoretical scenario. Even if Tomalak had managed to destroy the Enterprise and take it to the Romulan capital it's difficult to see how it would have been worth it. I'd love to see the desk officer who came up with this whole wheeze explain himself afterwards.

    The episode is fantastic; truly a four-starrer. I genuinely cannot fault it in any way, and the good Lord knows I would if I could.

    My question though is, if the Roms and Klings have cloaking tech, why on earth (heh!) didn't the Federation develop its own by this juncture?!? I guess it would make many things too easy but still...

    My list of 4-star episodes:

    The Doomsday Machine
    The Trouble with Tribbles
    The Wrath of Khan
    The Best of Both Worlds (both parts)
    Chain of Command (part 2 for sure; I’ll rewatch and report back on part 1)

    I suspect I will find some DS9 4-star episodes. Probably the early one with the station set to self destruct.

    4 stars, for me, means I can watch it again and again. Rewatching never spoils the ending.

    I have only seen The Defector in first run and yesterday. There was a lot to like. All the Henry V. The sly references to Patrick Stewart being disguised as a holodeck characte in a scene with a disguised king. Insight into the Romulan mindset. The surprise that would not have been a surprise if I had been paying attention.

    But it didn’t grip me on rewatching. Not sure why. Maybe just because I knew the ending. Maybe I wasn’t in the right mood. I enjoyed it fine.


    By jove, that was a rip-roaring episode! There were more twists and turns than one of those curly straws. Ah, I remember those as a young lad, trips to Brighton Beach and fish and chips on the sand. Not lying there on the sand, you see, that wouldn't be very nice. No one wants to eat a sandy chip, what!

    This episode was so pitch perfect. I forgot to breathe properly due to the tension.
    Great acting by James Sloyan as Jetol/Jarok. Loved the scene with him and Data in 10forward, and the interrogation scene.
    So satisfying when the Klingon ships appear at the end. Also explained that weird cut when Picard calls Worf to the ready-room, and we never see why, that had nagged me.
    When the scoutship exploded I yelled out and jumped in my chair, for some reason it completely shocked me.

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