Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Hunted"

2.5 stars

Air date: 1/8/1990
Written by Robin Bernheim
Directed by Cliff Bole

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Angosians, applying for Federation membership, invite the Enterprise crew to their world. The visit is cut short, however, when a dangerous prisoner escapes a high-security prison and attempts to flee the planet. After much effort (the prisoner is innovative and unyielding) the Enterprise stops the man, named Danar (Jeff McCarthy), and holds him in the brig. Danar says the Angosian government engineered him (and all the prisoners) to be perfect soldiers. With wartime over, they were all deemed dangerous and cast into these prisons to safeguard the rest of the population.

"The Hunted" has philosophical intentions. It asks questions like: Is it wrong to engineer people to be perfect killing machines to fight your wars, while hiding key facts from them? Is it wrong for the government to wash its hands of them after they are no longer needed to fight? Is imprisonment still imprisonment even if the facilities are comfortable? These are not particularly challenging questions, I'll grant. That's the problem; "The Hunted" is a little obvious.

The rest of the time, there's routine action on a TNG budget. Danar runs around the Enterprise causing hand phasers to overload and eluding Worf's security teams. Maybe Danar's really smart and strong, or maybe Worf's security teams are less than competent. You decide. I also did not understand how Danar escaped a transporter beam by causing an explosion from within it (without killing himself).

The episode ends with the typical TNG moralizing, where Picard gives a long-winded speech that is reasonable, yes, but talks down to the Angosians and, thus, us. The head of the government is played by James Cromwell as a bureaucrat who wants to close his eyes and pretend an obvious problem does not exist rather than trying to deal with it. There's a certain satisfaction in watching Picard wash his hands of a situation where the genie has been uncorked and now the Angosians must deal with the consequences. Frankly, they had it coming. But when you're reduced to laughing at a society for their wrongheaded mistakes, the story has become too simplistic.

Previous episode: The Defector
Next episode: The High Ground

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92 comments on this post

Thu, Sep 15, 2011, 11:44am (UTC -5)
RE: "The Hunted" -- "Is it wrong to engineer people to be perfect killing machines to fight your wars, while hiding key facts from them? Is it wrong for the government to wash its hands of them after they are no longer needed to fight? Is imprisonment still imprisonment even if the facilities are comfortable?"

Wrong. These are not the questions the episode asks, they are the veneer which is apparently all you were able to glean. The real questions translate as follows :

Is the creation of a solider who is good at his job a sabotage of his identity? Where do soldiers fit in to society once the fighting stops and they've been traumatised beyond reproach? How exactly can a man be imprisoned? In jail, in a comfortable cell, in his own mind?

"What he didn't realise was that he would have to give up that way of life. For ever."--Troi

These are lingering, relevant and difficult questions. The episode is a thoughtful and mostly subtle exploration of those ideas. The ending is a little pat, I'll grant, bringing down the overall quality of the episode. The action scenes are necessary, though the execution is frequently laughable (not for the pyrotechnics, but for the stunting). It deserves at least 3 stars. I would probably say 3.5 on the low side.
Fri, Apr 5, 2013, 5:04pm (UTC -5)
The Angosians are introduced, in the person of the prime minister, as pompous, arrogant, and smug. Picard immediately comments, "They'll make a fine addition to the Federation." Unintentional humor or wry self-criticism?

Also, the teaser of this episode is one of the few times I ever recall Data commanding the Enterprise.
William B
Tue, May 21, 2013, 10:49am (UTC -5)
I have little to say about this one. As Elliott points out, the themes of this episode are very important. The bioengineering is mostly there as metaphor; for the real world equivalent of "creating a perfect soldier," think not genetic engineering but the training as represented in (e.g.) Full Metal Jacket, where in order to become perfect killing machines people are stripped of their individual identities and "reprogrammed" through intensive training. The split personality within Danar also hits many of the points associated with soldiers suffering from PTSD after the war is over (or even milder forms thereof), of one part of them never really leaving the battlefield while they try and try to reclaim their identity otherwise; and Danar's scenes with Troi do help get across his conflicts, and his absolute recognition that he can kill any moment and has killed. The government's disinterest in making any real effort to help "deprogram" or reverse the bioengineering of their soldiers is also believable and on point, since while soldiers are publicly honoured upon their return the medical and psychological damages wrought by the war are no longer so important once the soldiers' use to society as a whole has ended.

I do think that the Angosian prime minister (James Cromwell!) and the society he represents are not given enough depth. It certainly is plausible that the bioengineered soldiers would have trouble adapting and that there would be large outbreaks of violence upon their return; but we don't get a real sense of scale of how bad this was that the Angosians went to the idea of resettling the ENTIRE soldier force away from society. This works best as an allegory if we consider this to be representative of soldiers on Earth being socially ostracized and feeling no longer at home, but this social ostracization is often unconscious or contributed by both sides, and one doesn't have to kill to get out of it. The allegory is certainly more effective than something like "Symbiosis," but I think that while there is an attempt to portray both why Danar is dangerous and why he needs sympathy and understanding, there is very little effort to present the prime minster as anything but smug, condescending, and cowardly. This probably is done so that the pat ending can feel less unearned than if he was actually portrayed sympathetically (the way, for example, the police chief in the following episode, "The High Ground," is, despite a somewhat similar function in the episode), in which Picard leaves him and his to be held at phaserpoint by prisoners who *did* use the Enterprise to get back to the planet.

I think all in all 2.5 stars sounds right.
Tue, Jul 9, 2013, 11:06am (UTC -5)
I found some of Danar's actions unbelievable. Namely, he showed a very in depth understanding of Galaxy Class starship systems - was he trained as a soldier or as an engineer? And if as an engineer, why aren't there a lot of Angosian starships flying around?

I can believe he is resourceful, but not Omni-scient!

I agree with the others that a very shallow picture was painted of the Government side, which weakens the episode - 2.5 out of 4 stars sounds about right to me as well.
Wed, Oct 9, 2013, 4:53am (UTC -5)
I thought this was one of the best and most meaningful episodes so far. And a character I could really care about.

Having just watched "The Defector" before, that now makes two fantastic episodes in a row!
Tue, Jan 7, 2014, 6:54pm (UTC -5)
There were quite a few comments about this episode as allegorical, but referring to both the morality of training soldiers as well as the the treatment of veterans (particularly in terms of PTSD). The latter seems obvious to me, but I don't really see the former. While the show must dutifully explain what happened to Danar, Picard et al never really pass judgement on the war or the use of supersoldiers, except in regards to whether the government knew the programming was irreversible and/or if this information was given to volunteers. It was the forced resettlement that caused all the problems.

Overall, I thought this was a pretty good episode. Like many TNG episodes, it's preachy, but such preachiness didn't overwhelm the episode itself for two main reasons:

1) It was still an engaging episode regardless of the morality. Outside of the main plot, the episode has the "cat and mouse" sections, which can be assessed independently of Danar's condition and the Enterprise's reaction to it. Personally, I found both of them (the initial attempt to find Danar and bring him to the ship, and the second attempt to capture him after the transporter accident) pretty enjoyable. It also seemed fairly realistic, in that it didn't make the Enterprise crew too dumb. Both Data and Worf (independently, no less) outsmarted him on one occasion each, and at least the bridge crew was acknowledging that certain aspects may be a ruse. Yes, the transporter exploding came out of nowhere and was a pretty blatant contrivance. And looking back at it, it is rather improbable that Danar could gain enough engineering information to not only effortlessly move through the ship, but also know exactly what systems are where and how to jury-rig a phaser into a battery. The point was to keep us guessing with all the misdirection, and I think it worked.

(Besides, maybe Picard suscribes to the Kirk school of thought that, when you have a genetically advanced supervillain on board your ship, it is only polite to give him all the technical manuals on your ship to help him take it over...).

2) The episode at least tried to give the stuffy politicians a 3D profile and not just make them mustache twirling villains for Picard to pontificate against. Unfortunately, they only partly succeeded in that respect. The Pompous Prime Minister did not exactly hide what they did and was pretty open about it when questioned, which suggests he believes in his solution. He also made it clear that they did try to integrate the soldiers into society, but that it was too dangerous for everyone else. He mentioned that the Lunar colony was initially just a resettlement and not meant to be a prison, and that they tried to make the life of the veterans as comfortable and pleasant as possible. In other words, this isn't just a straw-man situation, but one that you can buy as a realistic "least bad" option for this society. They also mention that many of the veterans don't actually mind the situation much, and that it's only a few that cause trouble. Again, at least the episode pays lip service to this being a complicated issue.

Unfortunately, it does seem to be only lip service at times. My biggest problem was the line about how the PM knew they could reverse some of the effects, but didn't bother to do it. Not only does this make you look like a mustache twirler, but if you have super-powered prisoners who hate your guts and you know how to remove said super powers, wouldn't you at least do that? And the callous line that they may have to "use" the veterans again someday also rang hollow. Because of that, the protestations that the government tried and failed to come up with a way to undo the damage comes off as about as convincing as the government guy saying "we have top men working on it" in Raiders of the Lost Ark.

In any case, the ending is a nice scene, and is rather gutsy of Picard. For starters, he knew Danar was a peaceful man when not overpowered by his programming, but what of the other 20 prisoners? How did he know that none of them wanted to kill? I'm going to assume that's a plot oversight. But the ending, where Picard leaves a powder keg of a situation with the simple statement that they need to solve their problems, works. It's a gutsy call, and seemingly morally unjustified for the humanist Picard. But in the grand scheme of things, the government needed to solve this problem, and couldn't just let it go away. Picard defused the powder keg as much as possible by keeping the government from resorting to violence, and truthfully at that point there was no rational way to apprehend all the prisoners without a lot of bloodshed. It was simply acknowledging reality. And since the government had finally acknowledged the severity of the problem, it was about the only time that it could actually be solved. In fact, in the end, Picard (despite his preaching) didn't even condemn the government. He offered them the Federation's assistance in deprogramming the vets and also mentioned that their application to membership in the Federation was still on the table despite this issue (albeit apparantly delayed). All told, a reasonably diplomatic solution. And a rather engaging one too.
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 9:54pm (UTC -5)
I thought it was pretty mediocre. Close to Jammer rating, if not lower.

I didn't like all those chase scenes around the Enterprise. The soldier guy felt a bit overpowered, yeah, he's a supersoldier but all of a sudden he knows his way around a huge complex ship from another society.

Also, it was a bit preachy and that left me a bad aftertaste because it reminds me of Season 1 (silly, I know). But, a good episode should have a more natural way to prove its "message" than relying on The Captain (tm) scolding a bunch of planet leaders at the end of the episode. (I think it was just one guy, if I recall correctly)

The premise wasn't bad, but maybe they'd have needed to expand the concept in a couple more episodes or something. Reading Memory-Alpha, it seems their original intention was to end it with a big battle of the soldiers vs the Government.

Now, that'd have been different.
Patrick D
Thu, Jan 30, 2014, 10:01pm (UTC -5)
This ep has the best episode trailer:

"Heee's a man MADE killerrr, risking death for freedom."

"Next time on Staaaaaaaaaar Trek: thenextgeneration…"

Ernie Anderson R.I.P.
Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 12:57pm (UTC -5)
Since I have friends and family who suffered from being "programmed" to kill in various wars, I found this episode very moving. The idea that killing others has no impact on those who kill is pervasive in our culture. I think that Worf's security force was too easily over powered but other than that the episode highlights the disposable status that many cultures assign to soldiers...especially when they are honored so deeply in death but treated so poorly when wounded.
Tue, Apr 8, 2014, 6:29pm (UTC -5)
I agree with Jammer,it was just absurd that a person who has begun to dematerialize can still control his body and break out of it, and even more ansurd that he'd survive. As presetned her, he breaks out of the beam, and after the explosion they all just assume he survived...though nobody saw him leave the "explosion"?
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 4:38pm (UTC -5)
Decent episode. But have you noticed the sheer frequency of criminals in Trek that aren't to blame for their own actions?
Wed, Apr 16, 2014, 4:44pm (UTC -5)
Also some of the lefty writing is annoying as usual.

"You are a non-violent man, yet you committed acts of excessive violence"

Sun, Jun 15, 2014, 7:46pm (UTC -5)
This ep felt like a TOS episode ported straight into the TNG world. I kind of liked it but it got too pretentiously preachy near the end for my taste. Still loved the fight scene in the transporter room - yet another element of this ep that felt like it was pulled from TOS. (Plot hole: Miles called for extra security and only Riker and Worf bothered to show up? Seriously? At least they *called* for extra security.)

@Jack: "it was just absurd that a person who has begun to dematerialize can still control his body and break out of it, and even more absurd that he'd survive" - Well, given that in Wrath of Khan the characters are depicted finishing a conversation while re-materializing on the pad, I suppose it is possible in the Trek world at this point. But I agree, this does count as a plot hole.

3 stars.
Sun, Jun 15, 2014, 11:16pm (UTC -5)
NCC-1701-Z: " a TOS episode ported straight into the TNG world."

If doesn't exist already, you just invented an inevitable subgenre of fanvids: TNG stories remade in TOS drag (or, perhaps less inevitably, the reverse).
Mon, Aug 18, 2014, 12:45pm (UTC -5)
I noticed one nice little bit of business in this--when Worf and Riker were coming out of the lift to assist O'Brien, and Danar shot at them, Worf immediately put his body in front of Riker to protect him. That was cool.

This also reminded me a bit of "Up the Long Ladder," another problematically stunted society that needed an infusion of healthy peasant blood. The returning soldiers are likely to shake things up a bit!
Wed, Jan 14, 2015, 9:27am (UTC -5)
A thought which came to me while watching this episode, but which affects the series as a whole:

Why is there no form of data protection and the right to privacy in the Federation's enlightened future?

I can understand the reasoning behind the fact that senior officers can track the location of crew members on the ship, even when they're off duty. But they also do this with non-Starfleet passengers aboard the ship. Also, the Enterprise crew regularly scans others ships, starbases, buildings and whole planets to track the location of certain individuals without their consents. As seen on "Suddenly Human" and many other episodes, the Federation holds central records with personal data of all its billions of citizens, which can be accessed with ease by Starfleet officers without any security clearance. In "The Vengeance Factor", Crusher and Data can read the pedigree and medical history of the whole Acamarian population going back several decades.

As if that wasn't bad enough, in "The Hunted", the Enterprise even checks on the military personnel records of the Angosians - who aren't even UFP members yet.

Seems like you have to sacrifice a whole lot of civil rights in order to gain Federation membership. If I were a regular citizen in that scenario, I'd probably vote against my planet joining the UFP - if I had the right to vote, that is, since from what we have seen of many member worlds, a democratic government does not seem to be a membership requirement.
Sat, Feb 14, 2015, 9:47am (UTC -5)
I loved the way Picard handled the situation in the end. Great Ending.
Sun, Apr 19, 2015, 9:47am (UTC -5)
It's Zephram Cochraine!!!
Sun, May 31, 2015, 8:48am (UTC -5)
Meh. A passable episode. The action scenes were enjoyable enough for what they were. However, that is, sadly, about all that this episode has going for it.

I really could have done without the smug moralizing. Yes, we get it, it's wrong to make people killing machines and then toss them away. Yes, we get it, a prison is a prison, even if it's comfortable. You don't have to beat us over the head with the message. It's so loudly proclaimed in places that Picard literally says "the age-old cry of oppressor." Gee, why don't you just tell me what to think there writers?

I also really didn't care for the ending. The Angosians and Danar's men are in a stand-off, one which Danar's group will EASILY win, and Picard's reaction is to just wash his hands and piss off? Given that this episode makes it clear that washing your hands of unpleasant things is wrong, I find that a little odd. But I guess it's better to let "negotiations" go on under threat of violence as long as it doesn't effect you, am I right? And let's be clear, this isn't a negotiation. The only way this stand-off will end without bloodshed is a complete capitulation by the Angosian government to all of Danar's demands. And the Enterprise crew just laughs it off and warps off to a new adventure.

Geez, couldn't we have just be given more action scenes?

Diamond Dave
Fri, Sep 4, 2015, 1:33pm (UTC -5)
One of those episodes that has pretensions of philosophical examination but mostly just ends up an action fest. The coverage of the moral obligation of society to re-integrate those it trains to kill in its name is all well and good - but heavy handed and with little real insight. The conclusion - in which Picard leaves the Angorian government to face the prospect of a military coup led by psychologically damaged ringleaders - is an exercise in some fairly morally dubious hand washing.

On the other hand the 2nd act is mostly a fairly involving chase sequence as Danar repeatedly outwits his pursuers in clever ways. With some honest to goodness old fashioned TOS-style fist-fighting too, which we can never get enough of. 2.5 stars.
Thu, Jun 2, 2016, 9:55am (UTC -5)
Not my favorite of TNG episodes, but it does have some interesting "cat and mouse" type action in the beginning. And for what it's worth, this is probably a precursor to DS9's "The Abandoned" with an interesting Jem'Hadar vibe to it.
The Man
Mon, Jun 20, 2016, 6:59pm (UTC -5)
"Wrong. These are not the questions the episode asks, they are the veneer which is apparently all you were able to glean. The real questions translate as follows :"

Actually you're wrong and it's disturbing that you "gleaned" that from the episode. The rest of your translation isn't worth reading.
Wed, Jul 13, 2016, 11:55am (UTC -5)
I like this episode. I would give it three stars. Certainly not a great ep but not a bad one either.

It does seem odd to me that the Federation wouldn't know about a prospective applicant's penal system. I imagine the amount of advisors and analysts would be rather extensive. Also, I know that they are dealing with the highest levels of government, but the scope of the planet's government seems rather small.

I enjoyed the chase through the ship and thought Troi was well used. The ending was great considering the simplistic treatment of the issues at hand.
Fri, Nov 18, 2016, 10:03pm (UTC -5)
Most have been said by others.

-it is unlikely that a soldier is also an engineer, let alone an engineer that can grab tech thats over a century ahead of anything he must have ever seen.

-I let the transporter slip, perhaps he did had some transport inhibitor tech, not unheared off, but setting an explosion off WHILE BEING BEAMED, should not be possible.

-enterprise security team is very uncapable in this one, to uncapable.

-it took WAY to long before somebody thought about gassing, I was thinking it the whole time (pull back crew to only the most essential parts of the ships, and vacumise the rest.

But I have a few comments myself too :

-ok so he can "mask" his electric signal, why not scan for the molecules that make up his body? Surely the antrosians have some molecule in their body humans do not, but even if they have not, by process of elimination (any location where no crew is) you could detect him.

-If they have applied for federation membership, they must have been contacted after their first warpflight, and presumingly have had at least halve a decade of post-warp development. It is extremely unlikely during that period this "army reserve" would not have been noticed before.

-picard is hypocryte here, what did WE do with OUR augments in roughly the same period in our develpment? After some proved violent, we stranded some on a VERY HARSH planet, without any supplies or looking after, and destroyed all the embrio's of them we had in store withou blinking.
Seems like the atrosians solved things a lot nicer than we did with out augments.

So on continuety this story does no score well at all.
And because of the many plotholes, the story is not that strong either, it has to many to allow for suspestion of believe.
the scify in this story hold on, but only because there is little to go with.

It's not bad, but i't's not good either, just about as enjoyable as spending the same hour watching this playing patiance.

For these reasons I think you are to generous, I give this only 1.5 stars.
Walter E. Gough
Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 9:29pm (UTC -5)
Meh too.

Interesting concept, but somehow this episode is less than the sum of its parts.

Daynar's ultimate escape from the ship seems to take forever and somehow, on a starship with more than 1,000 people, there's just Worf and two security men available to hunt this guy? How is that possible?

Also, at the risk of being rude, at what point does somebody just hit Daynar with a phaser set to heavy stunn or simply kill him?

Overall, the episode seems needlessly drawn out for its preordained conclusion.
Tue, Jun 13, 2017, 4:19pm (UTC -5)
Yes, "The Hunted" gets preachy as do most Trek episodes when trying to focus on a societal issue. The issue of reintegrating war veterans is a difficult one. It doesn't matter that in this case they are engineered to be super-soldiers. Danar's situation is a worthy one for Trek to focus on but this episode doesn't do it all that well.

The Prime Minister comes across as the uncaring politician, trying to sweep an issue under the rug - interesting that the actor who plays him would play Zefram Cochrane in First Contact - immediately noticed how tall he is (clearly taller than Riker).

As others have noted, the fight/chase/action scenes do remind one of TOS episodes - but they dragged on for too long. Also somewhat surprising is how capable Danar is on the Enterprise - like he knows it as if he were a senior crew member. The ability to break through while being transported and cause an explosion - that part seems a bit of a stretch to me.

Picard's handling of the standoff in the end was well done - gives it back to the "bad guy" PM for an earlier exchange.

I'd also rate this episode 2.5 stars - attempts to focus on an important issue in our society in a Trek way - comes across as heavy-handed to emphasize the wrongs against the prisoners as well as how they've been transformed.
Roger W Norris
Thu, Jul 6, 2017, 12:59pm (UTC -5)
If I was Worf, I'd suggest Danar defect to the Klingon Empire! He looks like a better soldier than them, and certainly smarter. He could teach them a lot. Or maybe he could get a job as an instructor at the Klingon Military Academy. Klingons are too willing to throw themselves into battle without a detailed plan. Danar plans. I'm just glad they're both on our side!
Thu, Sep 7, 2017, 3:11pm (UTC -5)
What do we do with our soldiers when the war is over?
I guess that varies a bit .
As the theme for an episode of Star Trek this begins with good enough intentions but the TNG formula gets in the way.
Picard is at maximum arrogant pomposity at the silly denoument when the space heroes essentially leave the two sides to make peace or kill each other.
Thanks for your application for membership-we'll get back to you in about a thousand years-great.

agree Jammer's rating.
Derek D
Wed, Nov 29, 2017, 5:58pm (UTC -5)
3/3.5 stars
Ari Paul
Fri, Feb 2, 2018, 8:17pm (UTC -5)
What makes this episode so great (or, bearable, if you don't like the episode) is the actor who plays Roga Danar, Jeff McCarthy. He's just fantastic! Star Trek has always been blessed to have great guest stars, and he's one of the best.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Wed, Apr 18, 2018, 6:34pm (UTC -5)
The actor playing Roga Danar had a good screen presence. There was a certain sexuality about him even though there was nothing sexual about the role or story at all.
Sat, May 5, 2018, 6:42am (UTC -5)
To me one, of the better episodes. Because to its morality. Danar is very moral and he has all right to reclaim his life. It very much shows the double standards that we humans often have. Furthermore , the prime minister referred to a referendum held where the people had made this decision. In a direct democracy the people have the right to decide , that does not mean that they have right.

Well acted and every charter manage to get the 'essential good' out of there own character. Troi got an indication out of her feelings and then collected data. Data saw a contradiction and followed it up. Picard listened and showed understanding but his hands was tied. Until the last moment when very much showed that discussions have consequences, and not always thous the you wish. Our own weapon can turn against you , and if you ask someone not to mix in he might not do. You can not have the cake and eat it.

A strong 3.
Thu, Jun 14, 2018, 10:49am (UTC -5)
You have an enhanced super soldier, why is your strongest member sitting at a keyboard? Data should have been going after Danar with Worf.
Prince of Space
Sat, Jul 14, 2018, 2:40am (UTC -5)
So many of these comments are hilarious. People all excited to point out an inconsistency or a bad plot-point.

Woo hoo! You did it! haha

I mean, don’t get me wrong... I can be as anal-retentive OCD as the best of you. I guess I just know when it’s worth it to be. ;-)

An enjoyable episode. Interesting, some action, some thought-provoking elements. Certainly far better than watching paint....... er, most of your all’s comments dry. haha
Sun, Aug 26, 2018, 5:38pm (UTC -5)
Sat, Dec 8, 2018, 6:46am (UTC -5)
3 stars. Held my attention

Interesting story with aliens being considered for federation membership, interesting character of the week and some exciting unpredictable action with his various escape manuevers.

Picard also handled the situation well by sticking to the alien government and beaming away
Thu, Dec 27, 2018, 2:03pm (UTC -5)
Prince of Space
Sat, Jul 14, 2018, 2:40am (UTC -6)
"So many of these comments are hilarious. People all excited to point out an inconsistency or a bad plot-point.

Woo hoo! You did it! haha

I mean, don’t get me wrong... I can be as anal-retentive OCD as the best of you. I guess I just know when it’s worth it to be. ;-)"

Hmm. Things like Danar breaking out of the confinement beam of a transporter without his molecules being scattered everywhere are enough to detract from my enjoyment of the episode, and the enjoyment of many others, because they *don't make sense.* And by that, I mean that they aren't even internally consistent within the fictional world. They're not even justified by a throwaway explanation here. If it's not a requirement that the things you are watching make sense and are consistent with each other from episode to episode, why is science fiction your genre of choice?
George Monet
Thu, Feb 7, 2019, 8:50pm (UTC -5)
This episode was ruined by bad writing. Every other second something impossibly stupid was always happening which caused the story to collapse. The writer was constantly ignoring that the Federation had technology which worked certain ways and could do certain things. The writer ignored that the Danar didn't. A person can't have no life signs because a person is still made up of organs and fluid transport systems, atoms, heat, gases, etc. A ship with no warp drive and rudimentary propulsion, with no cloak, no deflectors, barely above where we are in 2019, cannot elude the Enterprise, cannot evade the tractor beam, cannot do anything.

I hate when the writers refuse to acknowledge that there is technology and they have to write based around that technology. Every time the writers do something like conjuring up a lightning storm to render the Enterprise's sensors unusable causes me to facepalm. Everytime someone dies from a gun shot or a knife in Star Trek or a virus I face palm. Too many of the writers for TNG are simply either unwilling or unable to accept the level of technology in TNG and write a consistent story.
Sat, Mar 23, 2019, 10:23am (UTC -5)

I wanted to give this more than a 7. 7/10 is my own score for "glad I saw it but wouldn't include it on a list of episodes to keep a copy of".

Although it didn't add anything to my Trek universe, I found it a good space adventure and enjoyable. It moved well along and I liked both Data and Troi's interactions with the superhuman soldier.
Joe Menta
Sat, Aug 10, 2019, 7:42am (UTC -5)
I wish there was more explanation on how a man can escape from a transporter beam!
Mon, Oct 7, 2019, 8:19pm (UTC -5)
Eh. Can definitely take or leave this one.

I think a five year old can figure out the moral of the story - no subtly at all. Also, pretty dull. There's action, but the action is repetitive and uninteresting.

Not a favorite. Passable.
Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 1:47pm (UTC -5)
I'm pretty positive towards this one, on the whole. I found the first "chasing Danar" sequence (in space, with Data able to predict his actions to a degree) more compelling than the second (on the Enterprise, where the bridge's shortsightedness caused a good few "yelling at the screen" moments -- c'mon, guys, did you really think a normal amount of that anaesthesia was going to knock out a supersoldier?) Ultimately, though, I found both sequences pretty compelling to watch.

As for the actual plot of it that those set pieces slotted into: yeah, as soon as the escaped prisoner was mentioned, it was pretty obvious he was gonna have some dirt on our latest Federation hopefuls. I wasn't expecting the exact nature of it, but I appreciate it: the veteran allegory is clear, of a government using their citizens and then discarding them. Naturally, we're all on Danar's side as soon as we hear the tragic backstory. I almost expected the Enterprise to put up only a half-hearted resistance -- *intentionally*, that is, though they basically did so anyway. Seeing him battle his way through the Enterprise is not so much a black-and-white conflict as it is a grey-and-white one, with Danar opposing our usual heroes but being worthy of his escape anyway. It's decidedly black-and-white once they storm the government, though, and I agree with Jammer's review here: satisfying, but simplistic.

Ten out of ten to Danar on creative phaser usage, though.
James G
Wed, Dec 4, 2019, 12:43pm (UTC -5)
Not a big fan of this one. The plot takes a few liberties. How did Danar come to have such expert knowledge of Starfleet technology, even knowing how to power a transporter with a phaser? The hide & seek part of the story is overlong. The whole thing is reminiscent of '60s sci-fi, with stunt doubles engaging in punch-ups (Mission Impossible, Land of the Giants, and (yes) Star Trek).

Danar is just a bit too unconvincingly invincible. He leaves trails of unconscious security personnel in his wake, like an alien Jack Bauer. Despite this he looks more like a geography teacher, though he acts well.

Still - not bad. I was entertained but it's not a classic.
Sat, Feb 22, 2020, 4:37am (UTC -5)
In rewatching this episode I couldn't help but notice O'Brien was shot in the shoulder after he got transported aboard. At least it wasn't his bad one.
Thu, Jul 2, 2020, 9:05pm (UTC -5)
I remember liking this one this when I first saw it years ago. Danar could do anything and was simply Mr. Perfect mercenary.

This time around I saw nothing but set-ups to amplify the hero's abilities, or the appearance thereof.
Prime example:

Worf stands there in the cargo bay for 85 seconds respecting Danar as a fellow warrior when he could easily have phasered the man to melted marshmellow and clearly should have just to end the viewer's misery.

The net result was a rather tedious episode which offered little to the viewer other than super hero machismo pyrorechnics. That kind of thing was all the rage in 1989. The age of Arnold Schwarzenegger looked pretty awesome but sadly few of us can survive a stubbed toe or a hagnail.
Wed, Feb 24, 2021, 7:51pm (UTC -5)
I know that Danar's ability to sneak around the Enterprise and hack into systems just advances the plot, but is the security on the ship really that bad?

I can't even log into my work email without a password, but the Enterprise controls can be accessed by anyone who walks up to them. The sensors can't find Danar 100 feet away, but it can detect life on a planet in orbit 200k feet above it. Plus, haven't they ever heard of security cameras?
Sat, Mar 13, 2021, 5:08pm (UTC -5)
A super soldier who is both a genius and a master of combat. Crazy that Star Trek has never, ever, ever had a character like that!

This is as good a Bev heavy episode as I can recall. It raised a bunch of geniunely interesting conversation points that could only have been had in the late 80s/early 90s before 9/11 made everyone lose their goddamn minds and would have gotten you canceled by people who complain about cancel culture.

Did Bev have Stockholm Syndrome or did her kidnapper change her mind? Her back and forth with Picard after he's kidnapped where he tries to chalk up her willingness to view her captors as something other than mindless bloodthirsty terrorists was fantastic and the more of the type of disagreements between recurring cast we needed. It was a Pulaski moment but from the Bevster.

A top episode for me at least in terms of what it tried to discuss and I like that it ends on something of a bummer note with no end to the violence in sight.

Bonus calling out the Federation for it's bullshit - a diplomatic mission where they only provide aid to one side of a conflict is perfectly fine if you don't go around pretending you are majestically above the fray.
Sat, Mar 13, 2021, 5:11pm (UTC -5)
Poop - I forgot which episode I was writing about when I came back to it.

I liked this episode plenty especially the boss-mode Picard pulling out after realizing as long as Danar's crew wasn't attacked their 'programming' (hokey concept but I'll allow it) wouldn't let them kill the dementia guy from Six Feet Under and his ilk.

Fun Data development with him being the one to land on Danar's attempts at subterfuge.
Frake's Nightmare
Sat, May 15, 2021, 3:08pm (UTC -5)
'That'll do Pigard. That'll do.'
Tue, Jun 22, 2021, 9:27pm (UTC -5)
Some commenters were saying that Picard heartlessly left the Angosians in a standoff that they couldn’t possibly win, and that there would be bloodshed if they didn’t just surrender fully. But that isn’t true. Remember that the soldiers were programmed to only use violence in self-defense - Picard stayed peaceful, and they were rendered impotent.

I like to imagine the standoff stretching long into the night, with Danar and the Angosian Prime Minister staring uneasily at each other with their people behind them.

Danar: Are you going to free us from the colony and let us come home?

Prime Minister: We can’t, you’re dangerous. Are you going to kill us all?

Danar: We can’t, you aren’t threatening us.

*uneasy staring contest continues*

Danar: So…um…Monopoly?

Prime Minister: *tersely* I’ll get the board.
Fri, Jul 9, 2021, 9:12pm (UTC -5)
I just couldn't, this episode for me was the worst, I live in a country without stupid wars so the concept of veterans for me is stupid and I don't care, I totally support the government decision against this killing and violent machines, what Picard did at the end gave me a bad taste . 0/4 stars it was a waste of my time.
Sat, Jul 10, 2021, 10:13am (UTC -5)

Just to make sure I am understanding you correctly:

When you watch this episode, you think the "killing and violent machines," that is, the former soldiers, are owed nothing by the government that TURNED THEM INTO those killing and violent machines?
Ben D.
Sat, Jul 10, 2021, 9:51pm (UTC -5)
@ Trish

Exactly right.
Ben D.
Mon, Jul 12, 2021, 10:51pm (UTC -5)
This is, for once, a well-executed action-oriented episode of Trek that kept me engaged -- I wouldn't agree with Jammer that it was a "routine" action episode. Most of TNG's attempts to do action were godawful. No this one.

Honestly, I couldn't help but enjoy watching Danar out-smart Data and out-muscle Worf (after being given the ultimate compliment -- "you must have Klingon blood"). I also liked that in a sort of in-joke, the Enterprise's security staff was proven to be as inept as I always felt they looked.

I knew where the episode was headed but didn't mind the ride. The writers did a better than usual job of misdirection (like Danar himself). It's true that a society advanced enough to program people to be able to render themselves invisible and weaponize a transporter beam should probably be more advanced in other areas. But suspension of disbelief is easier when the entertainment is good.

The acting by Jeff McCarthy was very credible, and he did a very good job of depicting a conflicted and troubled, yet dangerous former soldier.

It seems that no one has noted that the episode is thematically reliant on the Bourne series (there was a TV movie in 1988 based on the books). A pre-programmed warrior with heightened sensory/physical capabilities who is at the mercy of this programming and reflexes. Perhaps with a bit of Robocop mixed in.

I'd give it a solid 3 stars, let's say 3.25. Would be higher without Picard's and Troi's lecturing, but what can you do.
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 2:25am (UTC -5)
“There was a referendum…”
“It was the will of the people…”

With the Brexit tragedy still fresh in my mind, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that point.

However, the episode itself was a mix of the great and the routine. The latter involved the chase scenes around the Enterprise with Worf and a strangely inadequate security team (considering what had gone before) charging around the ship, with Data monitoring from the Bridge. Those scenes were a yawn-fest frankly.

But the first half of the episode was superb, especially the scenes involving Troi and Deinar (great use of Troi at last - she really shines in this), and between Data and Deinar. The dawning realisation of what had been done to Deinar, and the deep ethical questions that raised, were not only good sci-fi, but asked questions relevant to our own culture: how far should the ‘military mind’ go? what care should be given to retired soldiers? I’m not sure why Jammer thought these to be ‘obvious’ questions.

The ending was also good - Picard leading an away team who knew that passive resistance was the only effective answer to the soldiers’ programming. And leaving the two Angosian sides to resolve their differences without knowing how it would end.

The episode raises the usual problem of ‘alien humans’: the Angosians are a centuries-old society, therefore they cannot be settlers from Earth… yet they are fully human without even the pretence of an alien prosthetic. Really? We are supposed to believe in an exact parallel evolution? This is a problem I have whenever Trek trots out human beings that are ‘alien’ societies. However, it’s a general complaint that I have, not confined just to this episode.

I’d have been tempted to give 2.5 stars but the scenes where Deinar is in the holding cell are so good, I’ll bump it up to 3 stars.
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 4:22pm (UTC -5)
“ With the Brexit tragedy still fresh in my mind, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry at that point.”

Democracy sure is a bitch when people actually have the audacity to disagree with you. Isn’t it?
Sun, Aug 1, 2021, 5:07am (UTC -5)

What nationality are you? What country do you live in?
Sun, Aug 1, 2021, 11:21am (UTC -5)
I fail to see how that matters.
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 1:50am (UTC -5)

If you wish to talk about Brexit (I don’t, particularly) then - oh, it matters.
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 8:26am (UTC -5)
What country do you live in?
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 12:40pm (UTC -5)

England. So Brexit is relevant to me, and affects me.
Mon, Aug 2, 2021, 7:14pm (UTC -5)
So unless something directly affects me personally, I can't talk about it?
Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 2:40am (UTC -5)
Hey Luke how about giving an answer to move things along!
Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 9:41am (UTC -5)
@Luke asked, "So unless something directly affects me personally, I can't talk about it?"

Yes @Luke, those are the rules.

Everything has to be about your "journey" and your "lived experience." Kindly comply with @Boomings requirements, or you will not be permitted to opine on these matters any further.

Thank you for sharing your "truth",
Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 2:48pm (UTC -5)
All right. Here's my answer....

Where I live is irrelevant. It doesn't matter what nationality I am. Because as a rational, intelligent, adult Human Being I'm capable of discussing (and having opinions on) Brexit even if I don't live in the UK.

And Tidd apparently agrees with me. Because Tidd, just hours before telling me that I have to live in the UK to discuss Brexit, opined in the TNG: "The High Ground" comments about Israeli/Palestinian politics (by responding to a more than seven-year-old comment about it) even though Tidd does not live there.

So, I'll go back to my original thought.... "Democracy sure is a bitch when people actually have the audacity to disagree with you. Isn’t it?" How about we discuss that instead of moving the goalposts to discuss our nationalities?
Top Hat
Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 3:04pm (UTC -5)
This is obviously in bad faith. Todd’s mistake was not simply ignoring a belligerent twerp who reports his belligerent bad faith nonsense like he’s proud of it.
Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 3:24pm (UTC -5)
"And Tidd apparently agrees with me. Because Tidd, just hours before telling me that I have to live in the UK to discuss Brexit,opined in the TNG: "The High Ground" comments about Israeli/Palestinian politics (by responding to a more than seven-year-old comment about it) even though Tidd does not live there."

Is that the written equivalent of a jedi mind trick?! A mental finger trap?! She agrees and she doesn't agree??!

She never said that you cannot discuss it, she only said that it can be important where you live. Yeah this must be in bad faith.
Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 3:35pm (UTC -5)
Luke: “ I fail to see how that matters.”

Tidd: “ If you wish to talk about Brexit (I don’t, particularly) then - oh, it matters.”

If that isn’t “you can’t talk about it unless you live here and are affected by it”, then I must have missed something.
Tue, Aug 3, 2021, 4:12pm (UTC -5)
I don't think you missed something, it's more like added something. She only said "it matters"
Wed, Aug 4, 2021, 7:49am (UTC -5)

"So unless something directly affects me personally, I can't talk about it?"

I never said that. But what I do say is this - if you're going to talk about something, then at least show some evidence that you know something about it. To trot out trite soundbites about 'democracy' says to me that what you mainly know about Brexit is the referendum result alone and perhaps little or nothing about the facts (context and history) that underlie it. Do feel free to prove me wrong.
Jason R.
Wed, Aug 4, 2021, 8:03am (UTC -5)
"I never said that. But what I do say is this - if you're going to talk about something, then at least show some evidence that you know something about it. To trot out trite soundbites about 'democracy' says to me that what you mainly know about Brexit is the referendum result alone and perhaps little or nothing about the facts (context and history) that underlie it. Do feel free to prove me wrong."

You called it a "tragedy".

He called it "democracy".

Neither of you elaborated substantively.

Why would his post be held to a higher standard of knowledge and evidence than yours?
Wed, Aug 4, 2021, 7:15pm (UTC -5)
Yeah. If you're going to claim that seeing alien supersoldiers in a fictional far future locked up once they've outlived their usefulness supports your views on Brexit, then the burden of proof probably shouldn't lie with those of us who raise our eyebrows quizzically.
Sat, Aug 7, 2021, 5:19pm (UTC -5)
@Jason R

I raised the subject of Brexit simply because in this episode there were the twin bits of dialogue "There was a referendum" and "The will of the people", which to any Brit will have immediate connotations and echoes of what happened in 2016.

I will give two very simplistic bits of context, though the whole issue is FAR more complex, and historically goes back at least 50 years.

1. The only people who actually asked for the 2016 referendum were the likes of Nigel Farage and the UKIP party (who took enough votes from the Tories in 2010 to force a Coalition government, though UKIP didn't actually win any seats).

2. The referendum (as legislated in the 2015 Referendum Act) was 'advisory only' and not legally binding. If that was not so, there would have had to be a supermajority, which you Americans know all about, particularly with respect to the Senatorial filibuster rule.

But as I say, the issue is even more complex. To talk about 'democracy' without actually knowing the context, is meaningless.
Peter G.
Sat, Aug 7, 2021, 5:49pm (UTC -5)
@ Tidd,

I'm sure those details are of course important, but at the end of the day the vote was just that - a vote, rather than dictatorial fiat. A lot of the talk I heard after the vote was in the direction of Brexit was about all the idiots who were fooled, and stuff like that. Whether or not that was true, the fact remains (as Luke bluntly put it) is that Democracy comes with the caveat that the people can choose stupid things with their power. This is not a bug but a feature of democracy, like it or not. What Luke may have also been hinting at is that we're entering an age when there is much less consideration of free speech and disagreement as virtues compared to, say, 30 years ago. I think it's more likely, under these conditions, for a vote that goes the 'wrong way' to be seen as not only "I guess the other side won" but as "those bad people disrupting our country's governance.". The built-in conceit I see more of all the time is that the other side of the debate is not only honestly in disagreement, but that they're inherently reprehensible for disagreeing. I don't live in the UK so I can't say whether that's a common view over there, but I certainly see plenty that mindset in North America now.
Jason R.
Sat, Aug 7, 2021, 6:55pm (UTC -5)
@Tidd I merely pointed out the irony of you criticizing someone for describing a complex situation in simplistic terms ("democracy!") after doing the exact same thing yourself ("tragedy!").
Sun, Aug 8, 2021, 2:45am (UTC -5)
Tidd only said that she sees brexit as a tragedy. Luke then implied that she somehow showed an antidemocratic impulse, which she didn't. So it is questionable who is really for free speech in that discussion. Are people not allowed to see the outcome of the referendum as a tragedy?

The Brexit referendum, which was actually the second Brexit referendum, really showed the problems of direct democracy. Condensing a very complex issue into a yes or no question while letting the emotions run wild. It is no coincidence that the country who has the most direct democracy in Europe, Switzerland, only gave women the right to vote in 1971. In the first referendum on women suffrage in 1959 a two thirds majority voted no and the arguments for not giving women the right to vote are a pretty wild read.
Another great example would be the Mytilenean Debate (Thucydides), in which the Athenian assembly decided on one day to destroy the city of Mytilene, murder all men and sell women and children into slavery. The next day they had another debate about it in which they reversed the decision. Problem was that they had already sent a trireme with the order to raze Mytilene. So they sent another trireme whose crew was promised a huge reward. Luckily, the second ship arrived just a little while after the first and the commander of the Athenian forces had only just started to prepare the massacre.

Point being. Direct democracy sure has it's downsides and the Brexit vote certainly highlighted many of these.
Sun, Aug 8, 2021, 10:14am (UTC -5)

Thanks for that insightful comment. You mentioned Switzerland : it's salutary that Swiss referendums are declared invalid and must be re-enacted, if it's shown that either side lied or deceived during the referendum campaign. Boris Johnson's assertion about a mythical £350m-a-week payment to the EU being destined for the NHS instead, would have made the referendum result invalid in Switzerland.

@Peter G

What you say is undoubtedly true, but the vote was advisory only so need not have been enacted. And it ignores the constitutional change which under normal circumstances requires a supermajority for change.
Sun, Aug 8, 2021, 12:17pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G. said, "we're entering an age when there is much less consideration of free speech and disagreement as virtues compared to, say, 30 years ago. I think it's more likely, under these conditions, for a vote that goes the 'wrong way' to be seen as not only "I guess the other side won" but as "those bad people disrupting our country's governance.". The built-in conceit I see more of all the time is that the other side of the debate is not only honestly in disagreement, but that they're inherently reprehensible for disagreeing."

I hate to break it to you, but elites have hated democracy since before The People voted Socrates off the island.

This isn't new. It's ancient. And evergreen.

As Eddington might say,

Why is the EU so obsessed with the Brits? They never harmed you. And yet they're constantly harangued and charged with populism. Reporters chase them through the Midlands, and their supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because they've left the EU, and that's the one thing you can't accept. Nobody leaves Paradise, everyone should want to be in the EU!
Sun, Aug 8, 2021, 12:26pm (UTC -5)
That is interesting. Even though proving that one side lied would certainly be a judicial nightmare, probably leading to an even more dire political situation.
Mon, Aug 9, 2021, 4:10pm (UTC -5)

"Why is the EU so obsessed with the Brits? They never harmed you. And yet they're constantly harangued and charged with populism. Reporters chase them through the Midlands, and their supporters are harassed and ridiculed. Why? Because they've left the EU, and that's the one thing you can't accept. Nobody leaves Paradise, everyone should want to be in the EU!"

Where does this come from? It has absolutely no basis in reality.
Mon, Aug 9, 2021, 6:01pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.
>What Luke may have also been hinting at is that we're entering an age when there is much less consideration of free speech and disagreement as virtues compared to, say, 30 years ago.

I've mentioned this before but I think it's worth repeating. - Look at the post by Chris Lang dated Sunday, February 28, 1999 "how can the Internet exist without free speech?", it's amazing how much things have changed in such a short time.


That Eddington speech parody was great.
Tue, Aug 10, 2021, 3:12am (UTC -5)
"That Eddington speech parody was great."
That people perceive this as parody really says it all because I don't think it was meant as one.
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 8:28am (UTC -5)
As usual, another snob who says the referendum wasn't legally binding - or that people were too stupid to know what they were voting for. The truth is people arguing against the referendum, or making these claims, are bigots.
Fri, Aug 20, 2021, 8:30am (UTC -5)
btw Tidd - I live in England and myself and many others vote for Brexit. We knew why. We wanted it. We won. You lost. Boo hoo.
Fri, Jan 14, 2022, 4:22am (UTC -5)
@dlpb - well said :) I can't believe these tedious Guardian-reading types are still banging on about their loss, years later. They're like lost Japanese soldiers who still don't know the war is over.

Talking of soldiers (smooth!) - this ep. had promise, but once again it's hampered by crummy writing and implausible plot twists. How exactly does a soldier from a civilisation that's not even part of the Federation know the Enterprise like the back of his hand ? And more importantly, how does a futuristic spaceship not have a single security camera on board ? Maybe Picard could ask Wesley to invent one.
Balok Face
Sun, Mar 13, 2022, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
I'm guessing he could have muscled his way out of a force-field, but did they even try to block off the hallways? Maybe they should use a checklist .
Tue, Aug 9, 2022, 10:57am (UTC -5)
Had not seen this episode until recently. I think Jammer's review is basically fair. The guest actors were excellent tho.
Tue, Apr 18, 2023, 12:26am (UTC -5)
Definitely a very TOS style romp.

Curiously, the planet's issue with these veterans should be pretty easy to solve. The veterans only respond to threats. Give them all a "don't f with me badge".

On a different world, these might be called "medals".
SpaceTime Hole
Sun, May 21, 2023, 12:23am (UTC -5)
I love it when Picard gives entire societies a good telling-off! Much better than fisticuffs or firefight.
Projekt Kobra
Thu, Jun 15, 2023, 2:57pm (UTC -5)
I’m glad I’m not the only one who thought they missed something after Deinar like...blew up...then he somehow escaped the brig, AND “got” a phaser, all of which the crew knew but we don’t see happening.

@Silly, re: “medals”....Well played, sir!
Neo the Beagle
Sun, Jul 30, 2023, 9:04pm (UTC -5)
Hey Jammer! Can you use your powers to please delete posts not relevant to the episode in question? I'm all for free speech and healthy debate, but these comments about Brexit need to use another forum.
Makes me barking mad when others stray from the subject. Perhaps you can hound them back to reality
Sat, Sep 23, 2023, 1:28am (UTC -5)
I enjoy this episode but the premise is very flawed. The Androsion leader goes out of his way to make his planet seem noble and worthy enough to join the Federation... and then immediately he drops his dirty laundry into Picards hand by showing that he has no control over his own mutated cybernetic prisoner population.

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