Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Chain of Command, Part I"

3.5 stars

Air date: 12/14/1992
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Frank Abatemarco
Directed by Robert Scheerer

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Ever-terse, no-BS Admiral Nechayev (Natalija Nogulich) comes to the Enterprise and relieves Picard of command, putting him, Worf, and Crusher on an urgent mission of the utmost secrecy. Nechayev gives even-more-terse and even-less-BS Captain Edward Jellico (Ronny Cox) command of the Enterprise over Riker, on the basis that Jellico has long experience dealing with the Cardassians, who are figuring into a crisis that looks to be edging to the precipice of war. Jellico has his own ideas on how the Enterprise should be run, and wastes no time in seeing his changes implemented.

"Chain of Command, Part I" takes the TNG status quo and shakes it up in a way few TNG outings have attempted (among them "The Best of Both Worlds" and "Redemption," both of which also dealt with major military crises and personnel shifts). Jellico takes over and immediately has a laundry list of changes, like going from a three-shift duty rotation to four with less than a day's notice. Riker and Geordi are understandably frustrated, but Jellico will have none of it; he replaces the tenor and inclusiveness of Picard's "Make it so" with the rather simplistic and inflexible "Get it done." Jellico isn't incompetent or an idiot, which is a crucial point here (indeed, his battle-ready no-nonsense persona might be necessary if the Enterprise has to be on the front lines of a new war, and his "good cop, bad cop" maneuvers with the Cardassians offers a line into his thinking). But he's definitely not a people person, and he's especially skeptical of Riker as a first officer.

For me, the true fascination of this episode is just watching how Jellico operates and how the crew responds to it. After years of being accustomed to Picard's command style of consensus, Jellico represents a hostile takeover. My favorite scene might be the one where Troi tries to play psychologist and soft-pedal Jellico into taking a more morale-centric position with the crew. Jellico instead assigns her the job of taking charge of the "morale situation" herself, then deals the parting blow: "By the way, I prefer a certain formality on the bridge. I'd appreciate if you wore a standard uniform when on duty."

And I love how quickly Data becomes Jellico's go-to guy amid all this. Why? Because Data will give him, without hesitation or hedging, the facts of what is and is not possible, without pesky things like human fatigue and previously expected workday routines getting in the way.

Because the episode spans two parts, the story has the necessary room to breathe and explore the character dynamics before the meat of Picard's mission is unveiled. (I appreciated the scene where Riker considers taking his troubles with Jellico to Picard, but then decides against it when he sees how exhausted Picard is from the grueling training for the secret mission.) The mission involves Picard, Crusher, and Worf being sent to infiltrate what's believed to be a secret Cardassian facility manufacturing a terrible weapon of mass destruction. (A dialogue scene explains the stakes, and announces the Cardassians as major players in the Trek universe. On the other hand, I really could've done without the Ferengi middleman, who comes across as unfortunate — and implausible — padding.)

The would-be Cardassian WMD facility turns out to be a trap designed to lure Picard into capture, which is the subject of part two. But part one shows how energizing to the storytelling a command shakeup can be.

Previous episode: The Quality of Life
Next episode: Chain of Command, Part II

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111 comments on this post

Latex Zebra
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 2:43am (UTC -6)
Troi looks lovely in Uniform.

Yep, thats reads as pervy as it sounded in my head.
Josh G.
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 9:51am (UTC -6)
I've always found Jellico a refreshing change for the Enterprise, but the whining of Riker and (especially) Geordi about the changes always seemed unprofessional.
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 7:41pm (UTC -6)
I have to concur with Latex Zebra (and I'm too old to care if I sound "pervy"); the Starfleet uniform was the most flattering thing Troi wore in the show's seven seasons. Marina Sirtis had a somewhat boxy figure that the uniform camouflaged well, and, well, c'mon, if you're seeing a therapist, how seriously are you going to take her or anything she has to say if she's in a skintight bunny suit? This move was long overdue.
Trek Fan
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 1:01pm (UTC -6)
Agree with Latex Zebra and Aec. Definitely Captain Jellico's greatest contribution to the show.
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 7:40pm (UTC -6)
The fact that part II is such a masterpiece of television justifies part I, certainly, but it's no more than a 3 star affair on its own, I'm afraid. While, it's nice to have a change of pace, I agree, TNG's characters are renown for coping with the most strenuous and tedious of obstacles, I find it ridiculous that the crew would complain about things like shift rotation changes. There is the INSINUATION of a deeper and more interesting conflict between Jellico and the Enterprisers given his militaristic bent in command. The Enterprise is a ship of exploration and, under Picard, whatever the circumstances, this fact permeated the ranks and operations of the ship. It would seem to the audience that Nechayev's motivations for replacing him stem from the fact that she feels Starfleet needs its flagship in "war mode" to deal with the Cardassians--a change which all but rolls out the carpet for DS9. It seems like a cheat, then, to basically ignore this problem and then come to realise that her motivations are more about getting Picard (who is suddenly an expert in radiation or whatever) to do scooby-doo ops. I can almost, almost buy that they would need to send Picard on the mission and I suppose there's something to be said for saddling an ageing captain with the security officer whom he knows best, but Crusher...a special ops rolling around caves? Most ridiculous..until I saw her take on the Bond-bimbo rôle of cooing that Ferengi...laughable.

I was impressed with the tone and efficiency of the episode and agree with the change in Troi's uniform being for the best--why, oh why couldn't they have given us a reason, any reason for it's being removed from episode 2 until now?

2.5-3 stars from me.
Thu, Jun 28, 2012, 6:29am (UTC -6)
I'm with Josh--Jellico is an awesome captain. I always thought this episode showed how lax Picard was in requiring efficiency and how sloppy the crew had gotten.

And as much as I like Deanna, she should have been fired for revealing that Jellico wasn't really confident with the negotiations (though that's part II I think). So unprofessional to subvert a delicate situation by announcing your leader is nervous! Empath bitch!

And I'm with Elliott, too--Beverly on this mission is a stupid joke. There's no Tasha-like crew member who could go?
Nick M
Fri, Jul 6, 2012, 9:00am (UTC -6)
I am a huge Jellico fan from the moment I saw this episode. I also lost respect for Riker in this one. The writers made him a whiner (and the look on his face when he found out Jellico was going to be commander started the pity party) who was not pushing back because Jellico was wrong, but because Riker and the crew were not used to it.
I've been in the Army for 25 years, you know what happens when you get a new commander? You do it his way (unless it is unsafe or illegal, none of which Jellico was). But because you miss the old CO? No. Get your orders, salute and do your damn job.
I would serve with jellico any day.
Tom C
Tue, Jul 10, 2012, 11:09am (UTC -6)
In late July 1914, Admiral John Jellicoe was ordered by the British Admiralty to replace Admiral George Callaghan as commander of the Grand Fleet, several months ahead of schedule--and without informing Callaghan in advance. Jellicoe was expected to shake things up in the Grand Fleet in expectation of war, which came promptly.

Somebody at TNG seems to have taken a cue from naval history.
Sun, Sep 2, 2012, 9:39pm (UTC -6)
@Tom C The teleplay was written by Ronald D Moore, an avid naval historian. Unsurprising he named the character Jellicoe in light of the history of the Grand Fleet.
Fri, Feb 8, 2013, 6:27am (UTC -6)
So, no more cleavage by Ms. Troi? Pity...
Sun, Apr 14, 2013, 10:26am (UTC -6)
anyone who has been in the military has met a man like Jellico. I found it refreshing and surprising the TNG writers could create such an authentic character. No, he's not likeable but Jellico is necessary. What would be even better if he told Riker (referring to Wesley) "oh, by the way, the Enterprise isn't running an internship. I want that boy off the bridge".
William B
Sun, Apr 14, 2013, 10:54am (UTC -6)
@mike, well, Wesley is no longer on the ship at this time, and it'd be hard to keep him around for two extra years just for that line. :) I guess he does have the "...and get that fish out of my ready room!" line, which is the closest equivalent.
Sun, Jun 16, 2013, 3:12pm (UTC -6)
Interesting contrast Picard/Jellicoe and crew reactions. Also amusing to see Data as the parrot repeating Jellicoe's orders. Jellicoe is believable... if he'd stayed we'd have had a totally different TNG... perhaps he'd have made a good Captain Archer on ENT.

I thought it was good to have Troi finally in uniform, and as others have said, allowed her character to grow more.

Did think it was odd too that Bev was on the mission, but it gave the team a different dynamic.

Oops, forgot to add Nechayev to my list of favourite Star Trek villains, haha!
Wed, Jul 17, 2013, 9:32pm (UTC -6)
I love this comment board. I come here to read reviews and get a cool piece of historic trivia to boot. It's nice that there are a few places left where the comments are smart and the debates (when there are any) are civil. Regarding the episode, I tend to side more with Riker, but that's just me. You get more flies with honey - yada yada. I've just noticed in my own life that it's always more productive to praise what people do right than to criticize what they do wrong. Morale is very important.
Jason Luthor
Wed, Aug 28, 2013, 10:44pm (UTC -6)
Why's everyone talking about the Enterprise and the Federation like a military vessel and organization? That's not the primary duty of either the organization or the ship. They can serve military functions, but they're primarily exploratory, science and diplomacy oriented vessels.
William B
Fri, Aug 30, 2013, 1:15pm (UTC -6)
First of all, Jellico is one of the great TNG one-off characters (well, two-off, I guess, given that it's a two-parter), and he is written and played to perfection. And he is topped by Madred, though of course he dominates part 2 and not part 1. I love that Jellico's total disregard for difficulties his crew might have and his love of formality is complemented by a casual, offputting familiarity with the crew. I also love that despite his line to Troi about changing her uniform, he does seem to respect and trust her implicitly to get what he's doing with the Cardassians, and seems more amused than bothered by her arguing about his "negotiation" tactics. And yes, that he immediately latches onto Data is just perfect. (I like that although we don't actually get into Data's POV very much, Data keeps throwing looks at Riker and Geordi as if to say, "Should I not be being a good officer for Jellico? Does this make you uncomfortable? Well, gotta run, duty calls.")

His discussion with Troi about timberwolves represents not just his approach to Cardassians but his approach to the crew. That he requires formality from his officers but refers to them in familiar ways -- Data must say "captain on the bridge" but he uses first names for all officers -- is designed to establish dominance all the way through. And crucially, I think the reason that Riker and Geordi whine so much (and they do whine, more on that in a bit) is that they recognize that Jellico is doing a lot of what he's doing almost for the hell of it, in order to assert and maintain control over the crew. Why does Jellico think they need a four shift rotation? Because a) he's used to it, and b) he needs to make sure that the crew will do whatever he says at any time.

The question then is whether this is what's actually needed to deal with the Cardassians. The shift in tone really *does* set up Deep Space Nine's take on the franchise, and this is the most explicit that the TNG vs. DS9 ethos gets played out, in the conflict between Jellico and Riker, Jellico standing in for strict authoritarianism and militarism (in a somewhat DS9 vein) and Riker for individualism (in TNG vein). Troi points out the problem with Jellico's approach, and the tables turning on Jellico at the end of his negotiation with the Cardassians follows that up: Jellico's belligerence, founded on the assumption that the Cardassians cannot respond to anything else, effectively makes it impossible to switch tactics once the Federation incursion into Cardassian space has been revealed.

Unfortunately, as others have pointed out above (particularly Elliott and Nick M), the Riker/Jellico conflict, at least at this juncture, does not start out as a genuine ideological conflict but as Riker not being willing to follow orders that are difficult and, admittedly, pointless. That Jellico transfers a third of Geordi's staff to security, changes the various science stations to battle readiness/damage control ones, and is fine with shutting down exobiology, geology etc. really does go to the heart of the change in the Enterprise's primary mission from one of science and exploration, with military elements, to one of pure military; however, within the episode, these are more directly gestured at. And even there, part of the problem is that, if war is about to break out with the Cardassians, then probably the exobiology etc. stations should be taken offline. Part of the reason everyone is hit hard, though, is because it's uncertain how long Jellico will be aboard and what that will mean, and Jellico doesn't offer any assurances that should he stay in command of the Enterprise even after the Cardassian incident dissipates, that he will return the ship to its primary mission.

So yeah, the episode's main flaw is that the Riker side of the Riker/Jellico conflict is weak, at least in this part (I have higher hopes for part two). Still, it does fit with Riker's flaws that he leans toward insubordination when he has Strong Feelings about how something should be done. It's not so much that Riker (or Geordi) are lazy, as that Riker is headstrong and prefers an atmosphere in which all officers can contribute clearly and quickly; his command style, in "Peak Performance," "The Best of Both Worlds" etc. depends on his own lateral thinking and the same from his crew. And in that sense, Riker has a point about all this. Jellico, by moulding the entire crew into what he wants them to be even on issues that don't seem like they should matter (i.e. the shift rotation) reduces the ability of the crew to contribute their own talents, because they are wasting energy catching up to what Jellico has proposed.

The Picard mission is actually effectively written and directed, but it is ridiculous for Crusher to be on this mission, and ultimately pointless, too. That the whole thing was a lure for Picard specifically makes some of the silliness excusable, because even if it's difficult to buy that there is enough justification, at least everyone in universe buys that Picard should be on this mission, and so somehow it makes it easier to accept. Still, Crusher? The Enterprise loses its security chief? And all so that Picard can have companions on for the mission scenes, which are all just a setup to get to the episode's end.

Anyway, I think this is a very high 3; 3.5 is not at all unreasonable, and it was my first thought upon finishing the episode, but ultimately, yeah, I think that the Picard mission and Riker's side of the Jellico/Riker conflict should have been stronger.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013, 6:30am (UTC -6)
I don't usually comment on a part1 of 2, but if I am remembering correctly, I didn't like part 2 very much.
Anyway the best moment for me here was when Deanna came in trying to charm her way into another easy day at the office and Jellico bluntly tells her to quit whining and do her job, and by the way, change your clothes while your at it. This is a starship, not a brothel!
Good stuff indeed. That scene was worth 5 stars by itself.
Sat, Jan 4, 2014, 1:48am (UTC -6)
I knew I loved Jellico the instant I saw him. That man is all business, and he knows what the deal is. Man, I love that mess.
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 6:38pm (UTC -6)
Not a fan of this episode. It had an intriguing "what if" idea of how the crew would react to a different captain, but devolved into simplistic ankle biting and cheesy starfleet career politics. Some like this...I prefer the more "twilight zone" type episodes myself.

This type of story was the vanguard of the "character conflict" zealots who did not understood the purpose Gene's vision of humans progressing technologically AND socially. Just as it is fun to watch new technological ideas, it was great to see humans behave in new and more cooperative ways. Character conflict is so cliche in other science fiction series and the lack of it with the main characters (as Gene demanded) was big reason why TNG worked whereas so many other series failed.
Patrick D
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 9:20pm (UTC -6)

"This type of story was the vanguard of the "character conflict" zealots who did not understood the purpose Gene's vision of humans progressing technologically AND socially. Just as it is fun to watch new technological ideas, it was great to see humans behave in new and more cooperative ways. Character conflict is so cliche in other science fiction series and the lack of it with the main characters (as Gene demanded) was big reason why TNG worked whereas so many other series failed."

Preeeeecisely. What you're saying hits the nail so far on the head that it's cracked the fabric of reality and created a singularity. It will also fall on a lot of deaf ears.

Detractors of TNG, are often puzzled by it's continued popularity. "The characters are honorable and well balanced and they solve their problems with creativity and intelligence (and tachyons at times), who wants to see that? Why aren't they assholes and borderline (or full) sociopaths screwing each other over and stealing and killing at the drop of a hat? Why can't it be more like Babylon 5, NuBSG, Firefly, ect? What's the appeal?"

If they have to ask, they'll never understand...
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 11:13pm (UTC -6)
@Smith and Patrick D:

If Star Trek were about solving problems with technology, I would haven't watched it, even if it involved "creativity" and "intelligence" mediated through technobabble. It's still all just white noise, and there are few if any Trek episodes of any series that qualify as "hard" scifi. Anyway TNG had lots of characters that were less than honourable or well balanced, though these did often take the form of guest or recurring characters.

Conflict is the essence of storytelling, and the notion that Roddenberry's vision really entailed vanilla characters solving technical problems around the galaxy is ridiculous. Next we'll be hearing how un-Trek Wrath of Khan is for deigning to include an antagonist like Khan or the uneasy relationahip Kirk has with David Marcus.

I mean... come *on*.
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 11:59pm (UTC -6)
Where exactly did this "conflict is the essence of storytelling" trope arise? Is that Aristotle? Oh wait, no, the father of poetics actually said, "There are those seem unceasingly angry and look continuously for conflict. Walk away from these people; their battle is not with you but with themselves."
Paul M.
Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 5:32am (UTC -6)
@Elliott: "Where exactly did this "conflict is the essence of storytelling" trope arise? Is that Aristotle? Oh wait, no, the father of poetics actually said, "There are those seem unceasingly angry and look continuously for conflict. Walk away from these people; their battle is not with you but with themselves.""

You are again being too literal. For a differing view, look to Faulkner's quote about human heart in conflict with itself being the only thing worth writing about.

Drama and conflict is about exploring yourself, trying to find your place in the world, dealing with all the stuff life throws at you. It's not about getting into a brawl with a local drunk, you know.
Patrick D
Tue, Feb 18, 2014, 9:55am (UTC -6)
@Paul M.

"Drama and conflict is about exploring yourself, trying to find your place in the world, dealing with all the stuff life throws at you. It's not about getting into a brawl with a local drunk, you know."

Very true. I think the canard that TNG had no conflict has become a common slap against the show because the characters were not having love triangles (unless you count the tepid relationship with Troi and Worf), or beating each other up, screaming at each other or basically acting like the denizens of a monkey house. Next Gen's usual conflicts involved things like how can we save this person or person(s)? Is this action right or wrong? As many call it: boring stuff.
Fri, Feb 28, 2014, 12:18pm (UTC -6)
"Where exactly did this "conflict is the essence of storytelling" trope arise?"

Mostly Michael Piller (for TNG). Then he brainwashed Berman and the other producers that a soap opera bickering in space = great science fiction.

The choice between conflict and boredom is a false dichotomy. CONTRAST tells stories. Conflict is but a sub-component of contrast. To limit yourself to just conflict, it to severely limit the type of stories you can create.
Sun, Apr 13, 2014, 11:59pm (UTC -6)
Jellico to Troi: "I'd appreciate it if you wore standard uniform when you're on duty."

Me: "THANK YOU!!!! I've only been asking about that for the last five and a half seasons!"
Thu, Jun 26, 2014, 1:14pm (UTC -6)
This is good enough in terms of drama. I find that sending Picard, the captain of the flagship, of all people stretches credibility. Picard is bad ass, but he's also the captain of the Federation flagship, has access to tons of intelligence, and his loss would represent a huge loss to the Federation.

I can see sending Worf. And a couple of other smart red shirt lieutenants. Or even the Section 31 special forces. But Picard? Crusher?
Thu, Jul 24, 2014, 9:33pm (UTC -6)
Yes, one does wonder if this type of special ops mission would not be better suited to the likes of Section 31? Or the 24th century equivalent to Enterprise's MACOs. I always wondered about the plausibility of sending Worf, Crusher, and Picard on a dangerous grenade throwing mission behind enemy lines.
Sat, Aug 2, 2014, 8:19am (UTC -6)
Section 31 did not exist here, because the writers had not conjured them out of thin air. Also, Picard is an old man and never would have been sent on this mission for that reason alone, let alone being captain of the flagship.

On the whole, these 2 episodes are among the best of TNG and Jellico is a believable captain. Well played too.
Sat, Sep 6, 2014, 12:58pm (UTC -6)
I really like Jellico, I think he is one of Star Trek's best non-recuring Star Fleet characters. I like how is shown as an effective commander who is just very different from Picard. Riker and the rest of the crew are never really vindicated in the end for resisting him. It's a nice shake up of the status quo and some tired Star Trek tropes. The scenes on Celtris III are less effective though, mostly because they take place on the overused and fake looking cave set.
Wed, Sep 17, 2014, 12:32pm (UTC -6)
Jellico talks about liking a certain degree of formaility but I was quick to notice that in every single interaction with the crew, he always calls them by their first names. To me, this was very disrepectful and went a long way to increasing the crew's dislike of him.
But full credit to him for getting Troi back in standard uniform. Too bad they didn't follow suit with Seven in Voyager and put her in a standard science uniform.
Wed, Apr 15, 2015, 1:46am (UTC -6)
Something no one, including the episode itself, has mentioned is just how detrimental Jellico's domineering style of command really was.

This is not a 21st century military vessel; it is a 24th century military/science/diplomatic/passenger vessel. You cannot compare these people to modern day military; whereas in real life the military follows orders without question to murder innocents and commit crimes against humanity; it is the duty of Starfleet to only follow morally-correct orders. Just an example of the difference; back to my point.

Jellico is destroying any sense of trust, respect, and confidence the crew would have in him. Not necessarily by getting them to work hard but by arbitrarily changing things, disrespecting their former captain, and insisting on dominating everyone with his personality.

As someone so concerned with a possible military situation arising and being as efficient and ready as possible, Jellico seems to not realize that officers who lack respect and confidence are more prone to hesitate, make mistakes, and self-doubt. Situations which one certainly does not want during a battle.

All of these previous comments have said they like Jellico. I do too; just not on this show. DS9; perhaps. BSG; well he's basically a watered-down Adama. But TNG was never meant to be those kinds of shows; and as someone who appreciates and enjoys both styles that you really can keep a show "fluffy" like TNG and still be enjoyable; while having seperate BSG-type shows that are also enjoyable. The fictional universes' are not compatible; you shouldn't try to mix-and-match. Jellico needs to go.
Mon, May 25, 2015, 7:31pm (UTC -6)
I must admit to not liking Jellico (other than his take on Troi's uniform), but understanding his purpose. It's true that the Enterprise is a science/exploration vessel with its military component as a sideline. But, in circumstances of impending war, as in this episode, the normal mission parameters get flipped upside-down. In that sense, Jellico is the right man at the right time.

That said, I found Picard's special ops mission to be ridiculous. Surely Starfleet has, somewhere, some trained commandos who would undertake such a mission. That Picard is an expert on "theta waves" is besides the point. If knowing about those waves are that important, have him brief the commando team on the way over. And to include Dr. Crusher? I get why they want a combat medic, but then include a combat medic - not a ship's medical officer. Worf is the only of the three it made sense to send, quite frankly.

As others have pointed out, Starfleet also has too much at risk if Picard got captured or killed. And why did no one think beforehand that the whole thing might be a trap?
Rob S
Wed, Jun 10, 2015, 10:51pm (UTC -6)
As always there are 2 sides.
Jellicoe was blunt but efficient and very smart. He simply came on too strong at first for the Ent crew. Judging someone as a first officer after meeting him only 15 minutes ago is a little hasty.A crew will follow a new boss anywhere he goes; thats their job. But having only 24 hours to adjust to a new chief just isnt enough..
Jellicoe did a great job taking command..
but if he d stayed many of the crew would have left. I still love the scene when Riker finally tells him off!
Paul C
Wed, Jun 17, 2015, 9:03am (UTC -6)
Anyone notice that the Admirals comm badge is missing for the first 5 mins?
Mon, Jul 27, 2015, 3:30pm (UTC -6)
Jellico is so well done, and a great contrast to Picard. You're along as a member of the crew in despising him. He does the "new Sheriff in town" routine very nicely. In reality nothing he calls for is out of line and he's even has a soft side hanging up his kid's drawings.
The weak point in the episode is the absurdity of sending Picard on the commando mission with Crusher. I suspect Crusher would quit before she'd do this, and keep in mind when she was off the Enterprise in season 2 she was head of Star Fleet medical.
I always thought Riker was overrated, but while exaggerated his tangles with the new captain are a good indication of how relationships are interactions and Riker wasn't a good match for Jellico.
Troi's uniform: My wife and I had a debate: I had seen an interview with Sirtis (on Arsenio Hall) that she liked being the designated sex kitten as she had an akward adolescence. She had met her at a trek convention and Sirtis complained about the uniforms. So was this a way to get Troi into a uniform to please Sirtis? I'm not convinced she was being polite about it on the talk show. If you notice she is in uniform in many of the episodes following this one.
Mon, Sep 14, 2015, 8:29pm (UTC -6)
"Chain of Command, Part I" is one part almost sheer brilliance and one part ridiculousness with a scene of utter stupidity thrown in for.... flair (I guess?).

The story on the Enterprise is wonderful. Count me firmly in the pro-Jellico camp. Okay, yes, the man definitely has a huge stick up his ass, needs to loosen up and really needs to work on his people skills, but I honestly don't see how anything he does is out of line. He's got a rather thankless job - he has to take a vessel that is primarily geared toward exploration, research and diplomacy and get it ready to possibly be on the front-lines of a full-scale war within just a few days all while simultaneously conducting fragile negotiations with a staunch and determined enemy. The crew, simply put, needs to be whipped into shape and Jellico does just that. And in so doing he provides a wonderful contrast to Picard (with his more laid-back and easy-going manners).

The only part that doesn't work in the A-plot is the reaction to Jellico by most of the crew. Good grief, you would think that these people never served under any Captain besides Picard! He comes in and immediately makes some changes. Riker, right off the bat, acts like "Oh God, that's not how Picard does it; how dare he!?". LaForge practically turns into a petulant child when Jellico orders him to make sweeping Engineering changes. Troi even questions Jellico's negotiation tactics. I mean, yes, he's asking a lot of everyone, but he's not being unreasonable! You might be going into a hot war zone, for crying out loud! Jellico's catchphrase is absolutely on point - get it done! Just about the only one who acts like a professional is Data - which might explain why Jellico latches onto him so quickly and seamlessly. He doesn't whine, he doesn't complain, he just does his job and gets it done. All this petty bickering almost makes the crew look.... well, petty. It's a good thing Jellico is a such a wonderfully fleshed out character and that Ronny Cox delivers such a great performance to counter-balance this.

And (because it's almost required that any review of this episode mention it) it's about time that someone told Troi to stop wearing her damn pajamas to work and put on a real uniform. Look, I'm as shallow as the next guy and love looking at beautiful women - and their cleavage - in skin tight bunny suits, but from a character perspective, it's never made any sense to have Troi dress the way she does. Thank God for Jellico for this, if for no other reason! And, just to be shallow again, Marina Sirtis actually looks more attractive in a standard Starfleet uniform. 9/10 for this section.

Then there's the B-plot involving the secret mission to the Cardassian lab. I'm sorry, but am I honestly supposed to take any of this seriously? Why in God's holy name is the Captain the fleet's flagship sent on a mission like this?! Okay, when he was on the Stargazer he oversaw experiments relevant to this mission, but (as other commenters have already pointed out) that means he should brief the commandos, not lead them himself. And, why are Crusher and Worf assigned to the mission as well? Do they really need the Chief Medical Office of the flagship to determine if the WMDs are there and destroy them? I would assume that any Starfleet field medic could do that. This supposed commando unit has WAY to much rank to be believable. And as for Worf - he's obviously there to be the muscle. But, if that's the case, why wasn't Data sent instead. In terms of sheer brute strength, he's the hands-down choice (which even Worf himself has admitted in previous episodes). Now, of course, I get why they were chosen. It was all so that Picard could get captured and thereby sent up what happens in Part II. However, the set-up here in Part I just makes so little sense that it's almost laughable. However, there are some good character bits interspersed throughout it, so I'll be generous.... 6/10 for this section.

Which brings us to the utter stupidity - the scene with the Ferengi smuggler. I'll admit - I had completely forgotten about this little scene until I watched it again this time. I must have been repressing it. Did we honestly (honestly!) need a scene where Crusher (for lack of a better term) whores herself out in order to book passage on a Ferengi cargo ship?! Maybe it's my inner Crusher fanboy reacting here, but (WOW!) was that disgusting! I'm really going to have to work hard to re-repress that! And, that's a shame, because this might be the first time that a Ferengi character has been used completely effectively, a.k.a. he's not a completely useless buffoon which only showcases the writer's stupidity. Still, 0/10 for this scene.

So, averaging everything out (the good, the bad and the ugly), my final score for "Chain of Command, Part I" is....

Diamond Dave
Sat, Oct 3, 2015, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
Indeed this is a game of two halves.

From Necheyev relieving Picard of command in a 30-second 'boom' of an opener, the tensions on the Enterprise are a real change of pace. Jellico may or may not be an asshat, but it's clear he does have a valid motivation in turning a science vessel into a warship. That said, he's been made CO because of his negotiating experience with the Cardassians, so when Troi says he's not as confident as he appears that would appear to undermine his authority. The back and forth with Gul Lemec is also interesting, as the balance of power shifts between the two.

However, the revelation that Picard is on a blown mission also highlights the contrivance required to put him on the mission in the first place. The spec-ops plot really doesn't stand up to much scrutiny - we get a wildly unnecessary Ferengi interlude, and lot of running around caves, and a brief phaser shoot-out all to set up part 2. It's all a bit forgettable.

Overall, half an exceptional episode. "Get that fish out of my ready room" indeed. 3 stars.
Sat, Oct 10, 2015, 6:29am (UTC -6)
I really didn't rate this episode at all. First of all, you can't order Starfleet officers to do what they don't want to do with no limits, we've been through that with Data in The Measure of a Man. (They can resign at any time and that Data wasn't allowed to was supposed to be very shocking.) If Jellico had pushed too hard, and he very nearly did, he would have been in a big empty high-value target. The Enterprise is full of families for goodness's sake - even if some would have been okay with them messing around on the Cardassian border under Picard's command it doesn't mean they would have been okay with anyone telling them to.

Secondly, he was rubbish. So pathetic. Troi was right about him from the start, putting on a tough front but being weak inside. All it took was for that Cardassian to have one piece of info Jellico didn't expect him to have and that's it, he completely and visibly crumbled. As if it required knowing the whole mission to notice that this is normally Picard's ship anyway? As if that meant that obviously everyone including your own mother is a Cardassian spy and omg we've all failed aaaahhhh!!!? Of course, it WAS all a trap, but Jellico didn't know that, he didn't know that Cardassian knew it or even that he knew of the mission. All he did was note Picard's absence and Jellico was about to start crying and hand over the whole Federation. Even if Picard had been hit with horrible dread he still wouldn't have SHOWN it for crying out loud!

Picard is soft on the outside, true, but almost unbreakable inside. No-one can intimidate him. He would have been much better suited to the job but we were supposed to believe and a lot of the commenters here did believe that Jellico was not only not the worst choice possible but the best man for the job. Even super soft-seeming Troi could have done better because she's not an idiot. We've seen her in tough situations and at the poker table and she doesn't show her hand like that or back down easily.

I also don't agree with those who've said Data wasn't reacting the same way as the rest of the crew. He doesn't lie to people for no reason, that's all (and we saw only a few episodes ago that Geordi also would never exaggerate how long an engineering task takes, and he didn't here, either). He was practically rolling his eyes at Geordi as he followed Jellico out of engineering - as much as Data ever would, anyway. Data is also fully aware that he's the only one on board who doesn't need to sleep - Jellico apparently isn't.

But mainly I hate him for doing the Captain's Log. That belongs to Picard only!! Do it off screen but I don't want to hear it! You're not the captain!
Mon, Oct 12, 2015, 9:04pm (UTC -6)
Picard wouldn't go as far as mining anything. Jellico got results Picard never could have.
Tue, Oct 13, 2015, 6:08am (UTC -6)
@DLPB - Agreed. I kind of love this episode for that. Jelico probably would have failed in dozens of situations that Picard succeeded (Darmok and Watchers come to mind) but that's the beauty of using the right tool for the right job. Jelico stops the Cardassians, saves Picard and halts a war.

He's not the right man for the Ent D (IMHO), but he seems like he might have been the right man for this job. And while Riker may still not agree with all that he did, I wonder if he's a better captain now for having served with him.
Fri, Oct 30, 2015, 6:27am (UTC -6)
I found two interesting articles. This first is Ronny Cox discussing his role as Jellico:

(Whoops, forgot can't do links. It is at, titled "Ronny Cox looks back at 'Chain of Command'")

I loved reading this--he sounds like a great guy and it is nice to hear he enjoyed working on Star Trek. And he talks about the character ordering Troi to put on a uniform.

And then I found this article where Marina Sirtis talks about the costuming decisions:

(at and titled "7 Bizarre Facts about Deanna Troi's Cleavage")

I love how she points out that getting cleavage meant that Troi's smarts departed, and that she was thrilled to be back in uniform in the later seasons because then she got to actually use her head. As Sirtis puts it, "My cleavage had gone. My gray matter came flooding back."

So, yet ANOTHER reason to love Jellico. He gave Deanna back her brains.

@Ruth -- I just read your comment on Thine Own Self and loved it--especially the children's story bit. So it bums me out that you are just so completely wrong about Jellico. But hey, that's okay -- what I do like is that you actually make a good case for why you dislike him. You're still wrong, but you wrote it well. Smiley face.
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
This two-parter really makes me wish that TNG had embraced arc-based storytelling. In today's science-fiction series, Picard's torture and Jellico's command would span at least half a season (and they woudld have found a less-contrived way to get Picard in Gul Madred's clutches. Maybe ambush him while he's on vacation?)

It would have been fun, I think, to watch Jellico clash with Riker and the rest of the crew. Moreover, I think it would have been REALLY interesting to see if Data flourished or foundered as First Officer under the demanding Captain Jellico. Among other things, I wish TNG had featured more episodes where we could see Data commanding the Enterprise.
Sun, Mar 13, 2016, 12:11pm (UTC -6)
This episode gave me hope that maybe the Trek writers were finally seeing how ridiculous it was to be so obvious with the fanserivce by having one female crew member in a sexy cat suit instead of a uniform, but of course it didn't last. I mean, DS9 mostly avoided it, and I suppose technically Seven of Nine and T'Pol weren't members of Starfleet. I guess that's some amount of progress?
Fri, Mar 18, 2016, 7:43pm (UTC -6)

Yeah, I used to think of that as well.

Originally Tasha was supposed to be the "sexy" babe, but she left, and Troi was left to fill the void on TNG. So they left her in pajamas for years...

Now, I seldom comment on things that haven't happened yet in Trekdom, series-wise, but while Seven-of-Nine was nice to look at (Hey, I'm a guy), I was forced to ask myself often how a former Borg, who grew up that way, would think a set of high heels would be a good thing to wear at ANY time, especially on away missions. Now, the catsuit for Nine? Eh, maybe she thought it wasn't in her way, thought it fit well and didn't care what others thought on the ship. But the shoes should have been... sensible. While she might have had a tighter outfit to keep from snagging on things, the shoes probably would have been military issue or track shoes.

Just my old thoughts... RT
Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 10:58am (UTC -6)
It seems to me that the problem was not Jellico or Riker for that matter but Admiral Nechayev. From the moment she told Riker he would not be in command in Picard’s absence she took the wind out of his sails. And it immediately set up the conflict to follow.

Consider, Riker was captain of the ship in when he saved Earth from the Borg. He was captain again when he stopped a Romulan invasion force heading for Vulcan. So it is obvious he is a tactician and a competent commander. To not be offered the Enterprise when Picard is not there would be a slap in the face. That’s how I would feel. Especially since too he was offered 3 other commands, and now he can’t have this one! I’d be pissed off too. But to his credit he continued working under Jellico as best he could. Then I feel that Jellico thought that he had to make a statement and show everyone who’s boss so he comes up with a 4 shift rotation, (it could have been anything else though) that he knew could throw things off a bit, sort of like establishing dominance in a wolf pack. He wanted to show them he is the new alpha. I mean I don’t see 3 vs 4 shifts being a problem. Then Riker says Ok, I’ll do it. And he goes Picard-style, as he would be accustomed to doing for the last 6 years, and talks it over with the department heads. Who tell him it’s too hard to do so quickly. He plans to report this feedback to Jellico but never gets the chance. Jellico chews him out…no talking…get it done! Professional or not, at that stage of my career and coming this far I would have been looking for my own ship and leave Jellico with his “precious Pearl”.

It seems to me that there are 2 styles of command, in general anyway…you can manage or you can lead. The manager is concerned with schedules and programmes and stuff, whereas the leader is concerned with developing talent below him and bring out the best in others, mentoring. Both styles are important. I reckon Jellico was a manager and Picard, and therefore by extension Riker, were leaders. I think Jellico tried too hard in the wrong way. Yes he needed to make the ship battle ready etc but the crew is a veteran crew, they know how to fight, it can’t be too hard. Even though La Forge tells Riker, he doesn’t mind the changes as he understands them, he just needs time…which Jellico feels he doesn’t have.

I don’t mind Jellico and Cox’s performance is spot on. What I am saying is that he didn’t need to be so boorish, the crew would have responded as they are trained if he’d be a little nicer. I mean didn’t stop to give a speech at the handover ceremony. He might have said something like, “Thank you Captain Picard. You have a fine crew here. I know that a change of command can sometimes be unsettling but I also know that you are well trained professionals and we will adapt to this quickly. The next few days will be a transition as you get used to my command style. There are potential dangers along the border we might face soon and you may not get a chance to know me before we are into the thick of things. In the heat of the moment, orders don’t always make sense or cannot always be explained, but if you’ll respond to my orders as you would Captain Picard’s we’ll see ourselves through this bad weather.” That would not have cost him a minute’s time and the crew would probably have understood where he was coming from. However, I guess the writers felt the need to create a little conflict with the crew.

My major problem is that the writers felt the need to shake up things by scaring the fans with a Picard leaving the show and change commanders, then reset it like it never happened. Was it really necessary to relieve him of command? What would have made things even better was if they dealt with Picard’s torture in the subsequent episode…have him wake up in the middle of the night sweating on the floor or something. Even with the Borg, these important life changing moments seemed cured the next week. I know in the Trek universe several weeks may have passed but don’t let that happen, deal with the raw results of that kind of torture next week. And maybe later in the season too. And having said all of that, I love both episodes…Any way that’s my two cents.
Peter G.
Mon, Dec 5, 2016, 11:30am (UTC -6)
@ Stuart,

I think the takeaway from the two-parter is that real problem wasn't anyone in Starfleet, but rather was the Cardassians. Something needed to be done to deal with them, and Jellico was it. It just so happens that Riker was the #1 on the flagship, and that he was poorly matched to serve under Jellico, but Jellico was definitely the man for the job and definitely conducted his assignment correctly. That his style was needed in that scenario is perhaps unfortunate, but its necessity came from the manner of the Cardassians, not from Nechayev.

For what it's worth, Picard even said of Riker early in the series that he had an unusual service record and that he was not high up on most Captains' lists for first officer. Picard picking him was noteworthy, and it should be remembered that the Picard + Riker combo was something Picard knew would work, but which would probably not work with most other C/O's. Riker's decorations and then offers of starships resulted from his successes on the Enterprise, but him having his own command is different than him serving under some random Captain. Riker definitely *did not* acquit himself well under Jellico, and that was none of Jellico's fault.
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 10:46am (UTC -6)
I don't think Jellico did anything to help foster an environment where people could work with him. Riker even told him he had the people so wound up there was no joy in it. A CO has to be stern and command but he also has to create an environment where people can work together. It seems to me Jellico just came on and started barking orders and didn't even introduce himself to the crew at the change of command ceremony. When Troi comes to tell him you could be a little less Klingon about how you are doing things, he sends her packing without even giving her counsel any consideration. Again as a CO you need to listen to the professionals around you. Could Riker have tried harder, I doubt he would want to because of reasons I mentioned already, but perhaps.

Further, I didn't see that Jellico brought anything much to negotiating table other than making the Cardassians wait to throw them off balance. Riker comes away thinking, ahh at least he knows what he's doing with them, and Troi says no he doesn't. In fact, when the Cardassians asked Jellico where Picard was he was taken out of sorts as another poster mentioned. And that was when Riker took over the discussion in the conference room. Hope I haven't mixed that sequence up.:)

Riker has proved himself a sound tactician in many other situations before there is no reason to doubt his instincts here. I am sure he'd have dealt with the Cardassians as needed.

I admit some teams work better together, and mixing won't always produce the same good results. And Riker and Jellico definetly didn't get along here. I recall Picard picked Riker because he was adamant that his CO would not beam down into a crisis and Picard thought that was a good characteristic to have in an XO. Someone who would stand up to him.

And further to all of this, where did the Cairo go? If you have a crisis on your border don't you want more ships? If you want Jellico to head it up, leave the Cairo with the Enterprise under command of it's XO and Enterprise under command of it's XO and you could temporarily assign quarters to Jellico who could serve as the Flag rank, transfer his flag to the flagship and he can coordinate the small task force from there. The change of command was not required. How many times has Riker led the Enterprise into conflict without Picard...a few...

So maybe I'm wrong but Nechayev helped to create the situation but introducing "an unstable element to a critical situation".
Peter G.
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 11:12am (UTC -6)
@ Stuart,

"I don't think Jellico did anything to help foster an environment where people could work with him. Riker even told him he had the people so wound up there was no joy in it. A CO has to be stern and command but he also has to create an environment where people can work together."

This is certainly true if we were talking about working in an office, just as much as it would be untrue of a military unit. Starfleet *is* military, even if they're a different flavor of it in a utopian future. Some Starfleet officers are no doubt more militaristic, some more diplomatic, and others yet a bit informal. Jellico made his command style clear as day in the brilliant exchange when he asked Deanna to wear a standard uniform. She was sad about it, but in reality had no right to be seeing as the standard uniform is...well, standard. She was just used to a more lax bridge decorum, and the same goes for the rest of the crew, who seemed used to a more laissez-faire management. That's well and good, but rebelling when they don't get their cushy system anymore is really not professional. It's completely understandable, of course, since they had been working that way for years, but they were certainly not "right" that Jellico was out of line reorganizing the ship. The bottom line is they were holding out for Picard to come back and didn't want to switch away from his system, and that was as much as to say they didn't accept Jellico as Captain.

"Could Riker have tried harder, I doubt he would want to because of reasons I mentioned already, but perhaps."

This was the entire problem. Riker didn't want to try harder. From the beginning his attitude was "this isn't Picard, this sucks." He was actively resisting Jellico's command, and couldn't do his job properly as a result. It's the XO's job to implement the Captain's commands, and therefore the structure should have been Riker on Jellico's side, making sure the crew was able to function. It wasn't Jellico's job to make them feel good about it, it was Riker's, and he did exactly the opposite by making it clear (to Geordi, for instance) that he was opposed to Jellico's instructions. Riker quickly established an air of him being on the crew's side against Jellico, and for that he was rightly dismissed as he was totally out of line. Jellico didn't usurp the Enterprise, he was given it by Starfleet command, and if the crew had any respect for Starfleet they should have stowed their objections and completed their mission.

"Further, I didn't see that Jellico brought anything much to negotiating table other than making the Cardassians wait to throw them off balance. Riker comes away thinking, ahh at least he knows what he's doing with them, and Troi says no he doesn't."

That's not what they said, though. Riker said that Jellico was sure of himself, and Troi replied that he wasn't. That's not at all the same as saying he didn't know what he was doing, which in fact he did. The point is that Jellico couldn't be sure his tactics would work because they were a calculated gamble from start to finish. In terms of what he brought to the table, it was the understanding of Cardassian thinking, behaving with them in a way they would understand (recall the respect O'Brien accrued with the Cardassian scientist when he treated her aggressively), and chiefly the willingness to operate on a knife's edge and take dangerous chances. His decision to mine the Cardassian ships is something Picard would never have done, and we should bear in mind that this kind of inflammatory yet calculated tactic is also the only thing that saved Picard's life.
Tue, Dec 6, 2016, 2:57pm (UTC -6)
"So maybe I'm wrong but Nechayev helped to create the situation but introducing "an unstable element to a critical situation"."

I seem to recall Tim Lynch judging Part I a little more harshly than Jammer did, partly because of this issue - while the payoff was worth it, pulling Picard off the Enterprise and assigning him, Crusher, and Worf to this mission doesn't really make a whole lot of sense. Doesn't Starfleet have the equivalent of "special forces," and wouldn't there be someone among them who knows enough about metagenic weapons to handle the mission? Or if not, couldn't they be briefed on the issue sufficiently? I could buy the notion of Worf as one of Starfleet's most proficient practitioners of stealth and combat, but not so much Picard or Crusher.

As for the military culture issue, I could imagine that Starfleet's culture might be a little more lax and free-wheeling compared to that of present-day human militaries. I'm not saying that entirely excuses Riker's behavior, but maybe it doesn't cross the line of unprofessionalism the same way that it might in a contemporary setting. Also, while it may not have taken shape in the writers' heads at this point, his history with the Pegasus might have engendered a certain skepticism of the "pipe down and just follow my orders" command style.
Wed, Dec 7, 2016, 8:20am (UTC -6)
@Peter G.

Bottom line is I don't think Jellico was necessary to resolve the conflict. I think his attitude caused the internal conflict with the crew. You can be a CO and get people to follow your orders but you don't have to purposely conflict with them which is what I think he did. He did nothing to help the crew trust him, other than Starfleet saying he was now in charge.

Still a good episode though, but the practicality of it is not there, to me.
Tue, Dec 13, 2016, 6:06pm (UTC -6)
I agree, there really was no reason for Riker to NOT be acting captain.

But at the same time, I was never really in agreement with how butt-hurt the crew was with a new Captain who happens to like things at a faster pace. Jellico was a war officer, who knows how to prepare for battle and is not obsessed with the 'pleasantries' that go along with a peace-based mission.

The crew was taken off guard, because they were used to a more lackadaisical command style from Picard. Boo-hoo, Troi has to wear an official uniform instead of one that shows off her cleavage.

Of course, I actually have military experience, and know what it's like to have the commanding officer interchanged with another, which happens every two years, and with which there is no going back. You either deal with it, or you will have serious problems.

Of course, you'll get no argument from me that the entire episode was bogus. Picard went on a mission, with the support of the stupid bimbo female admiral Nechayev , in which he was sent with the full knowledge and planning of the Cardassian empire. I'm sure in a Federation of 20 billion humans and one can only guess how many alien races, there were probably at least a thousand others familiar with Theta waves who could have gone on the mission instead. Joke.

The episode's main premise seamed devoted to the drama aspect of having a new captain, not providing an actual legitimate reason for Picard to leave the Enterprise.

But who cares......I enjoyed watching Jellico say basically "Stop complaining, get it done" over and over again.
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 10:55am (UTC -6)
@Smith - Maybe Starfleet culture is a little more lax, and more tolerant of officers challenging the CO directly, than contemporary military culture? While Starfleet serves as the Federation's military, it also functions as a scientific and diplomatic arm to an extent that modern-day militaries probably don't for the most part, and I'm guessing that there's more freedom to challenge, for example, the lead scientist on an expedition than the CO of a military unit. So perhaps a sort of hybrid culture developed because of the multiple hats that Starfleet wears.
Peter G.
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 2:03pm (UTC -6)
@ FlyingSquirrel,

Everything we've seen from the Trek series suggests that the chain of command is strictly maintained. Heck, it's the name of the episode. There may be scientific missions for Starfleet ships, but they're still run by the space navy. The leeway, I think, in how commands are handled is in how the Captain decides to run the ship. Some Captains probably keep a tightly regimented structure, while others are probably more lax or open to discussion. The big thing in Earth's future is that individuals are more evolved than they are now, which is quite a bit different from wondering whether a chain of command is still maintained in the way we think of it. One can have a similar institution but run by more enlightened people, and suddenly its 'feel' would be much different from what we're used to today.
Wed, Dec 14, 2016, 2:18pm (UTC -6)
Great points, Flying Squirrel.

Honestly, I don't actually know what modality Starfleet is actually supposed to represent. At one point during DS9 "Homefront", we actually get the notion for the first time that the Federation/Starfleet are two different entities, one representing the government, and the other representing the actual space-bearing military structure.

So I really cannot argue with your idea of a hybrid culture, since we are never presented with a solid foundation of what Starfleet actually represents in its entirety.

Riker is used to having Picard's ear and talking candidly - Now suddenly he gets "I don't want to talk about it, get it done" - It's a drastic change, but these are supposedly battle-ready officers who should be ready to adapt to any command style.

I realize you have to have drama in any given episode, but in reality it just doesn't make since for the crew to show that much resistance to a new command style - and they aren't being told to work their ass off simply out of a difference of style, it is all in preparation for a potential battle, which I would think they would all be on board with.

There is purpose behind everything Jellico is requesting - it's NOT just him being an a-hole.
Thu, Dec 15, 2016, 3:54pm (UTC -6)
@Peter G. - Absolutely, the chain of command does clearly exist. I'm just saying that perhaps Starfleet has a looser standard than the modern-day military for what constitutes healthy skepticism and constructive disagreement as opposed to unprofessional behavior and insubordination. Maybe some captains still prefer to keep such "feedback" to a minimum, but we know that Picard doesn't mind it, and whatever happened in Riker's pre-Enterprise-D tour where he refused to allow his CO to go on an away mission, it evidently didn't result in him getting court-martialed or even quietly blacklisted. That said, IIRC, Riker did lose his temper in Part 2, I think with Troi present, which is probably crossing the line, though Jellico also dropped the "you're relieved of duty" hammer pretty quickly.

I'd be curious to know whether the writers had begun formulating the idea behind "The Pegasus," or whether they had these episodes in mind later on when developing "The Pegasus." It seems like Pressman was more of a Jellico than a Picard, and of course that ended in disaster. Jellico wasn't ordering the crew to do anything illegal, but Riker might be inherently skeptical of that kind of command style after his experience on the Pegasus under Pressman.

I do agree with Smith that Jellico wasn't just being a jerk. The one thing that seemed a little silly, and perhaps came off as self-aggrandizing, was the "captain on the bridge" business - it's not as if the Enterprise-D's bridge is especially large or dimly lit such that the crew wouldn't notice him entering.
Sat, Dec 17, 2016, 1:46pm (UTC -6)
Smith: "At one point during DS9 "Homefront", we actually get the notion for the first time that the Federation/Starfleet are two different entities, one representing the government, and the other representing the actual space-bearing military structure."

For the first time? Huh. I *always* understood it that way. All the way back to "Journey to Babel," in which the various Federation ambassadors clearly belong to a separate structure than Starfleet (though the latter provides transport for the former).
Mon, Jan 30, 2017, 1:47pm (UTC -6)
Peter says:

"That said, I found Picard's special ops mission to be ridiculous. Surely Starfleet has, somewhere, some trained commandos who would undertake such a mission. That Picard is an expert on "theta waves" is besides the point."

It is ridiculous. Not only is he old (no offense meant to Patrick Stewart), but the theta waves are just the (supposed) delivery system for the (alleged) actual weapon, so honestly, what was he there for? To reprogram the tricorder that one time? No one else could do that, it absolutely must be the most visible captain in Starfleet? At least the doctor's role could perhaps be vital, but look, let's be honest, with what they're going there to do, expertise in killing and blowing stuff up seems a lot more important.

That the Cardassians concocted this ruse expecting to capture Picard is the most ludicrous thing of all.
Mon, Feb 13, 2017, 12:48pm (UTC -6)
I always thought Ro should have been featured in this story. It would have been interesting to see her reaction to being under the command of a man who helped secure a peace treaty with a race she despises. I couldn't see her being Jellicos' number one fan so it would have been quite good to see her having Riker's back. She certainly would have been used to greater effect here than the material she got stuck with in 'Rascals'
Sat, Mar 25, 2017, 3:56pm (UTC -6)
Picard is so old, sending him on a black-ops mission seemed kind of odd, even of he was an expert in the technobabble of the week. His explanations to the others were so simple they could have easily trained someone more fit for the task to go. Having Crusher there was laughable, shouldn't they have brought an expert on bio-weapons instead, or at least a more action-oriented character? Worf I could understand, but a giant Klingon isn't exactly sneaky. (Fiction always likes to have the laughably unrealistic premise of 6'+ guys somehow fitting into and crawling through tiny spaces though.) This was just a setup to get Picard in a tormented position again, because Patrick Stewart is so good at being tortured. (Between this and BoBW how is Picard not mentally fractured beyond repair or at least severely PTSD?)

I loved Jellico telling Troi to put a real uniform on. Those onesies made her look UGLY, they cut into her in all the wrong places and made her figure look terrible, she looks like a real babe in normal clothes. Now maybe the character can finally get some respect.
Thu, Mar 30, 2017, 12:23pm (UTC -6)
This will be my third comment on this episode--I get mad at the crew every time I watch it!

When Jellico comes on board, he has clearly studied the Enterprise and her crew carefully--he knows everyone's names, service records, and his way around the ship. AND he is 100% confident that the Enterprise crew is amazing and capable and that all he has to do is give them one order and they get it done. I LOVE his attitude! He gives quick commands, sure in his certainty that this fabulous crew will succeed.

Instead, all he gets is whining and complaints. No wonder he gets more terse as the episode goes on.

Some above me have argued that changing to a 4-shift rotation was a pointless move meant to flex his command muscles, but perhaps not. I assume that a 3-shift rotation means each shift member has an 8-hour shift each day. A 4-shift rotation would mean a 6-hour shift for each. I think that makes perfect sense when going into a high-tension military situation. Each crew member would be more fresh for each shift. A conflict occurring in the 7th hour of an 8-hour shift might mean you have a team of tired people, not at their best.

So I think moving to (or trying to move to) a 4-shift rotation was a smart move. And Riker's response? "Uh, I was gonna talk to you, but it will be hard on us." I see Jellico's absolute disappointment at that moment when he realizes this crew he thought was top-notch isn't quite.

I'd make the same argument in regard to telling Deanna to deal with crew morale--he has absolute confidence in her ability to get this done. Her undercutting him by revealing his emotions was such a failure on her part. Of COURSE he's uncertain going into this situation--the fact that Riker thought he wasn't proved that he was presenting himself well. For her to undermine his command that was was completely unprofessional.

In my first teaching job, I assumed my students would do the work assigned them, and prepare for tests. It was a shock and a disappointment to learn that most don't. For example, I permitted my students to bring a one-page "cheat sheet" to their exams. They could write anything on it they wished to help them with the exams. I told them ahead of time that they needed to bring the study words from the course to use as the word bank for fill-in-the-blank questions. Fewer than 50 % of the students would actually bring cheat sheets to the exams. I felt like Jellico--I assumed that my students were top-notch and willing to work; over the years I had to adjust that perception. It was disappointing. So I know how he felt.

And I STILL am not sure if the writers of the show meant for the audience to be angry with the crew, or angry with Jellico. As the comments above attest, you could definitely make and argument either way.

I have a question for Smith or any other person with military experience--it is my understanding that second officers are almost NEVER promoted to command of the same vessel where they serve. It seems that once you have been a colleague of people who are about equal to your rank, it is extraordinarily difficult to move into a position of command above them. The camaraderie you formerly had with others must necessarily change once you are Captain, so that situation is usually avoided by transferring second officers to other vessels once they are promoted to Captain. Am I correct in this?
Thu, Apr 13, 2017, 2:47pm (UTC -6)
I would say that on an officer level, they are usually transferred sideways to another unit after a promotion, usually because they need to fill a spot open, not because they're afraid of running a unit that they used to be a part of.

On the enlisted side, you run into those problems all the time. You have corporals who become sergeants and are now in charge of people they used to go drink with on the weekends, which is a major problem, and why fraternization has become increasingly against the rules in the modern military.

I agree with your take on the episode - Basically Jellico had high hopes for his tour with the flagship, and you could see the huge disappointment when he realized that certain members of the crew were in fact fighting him as opposed to helping him achieve his battle-ready goals.
Rick Taylor
Sun, Apr 30, 2017, 12:19pm (UTC -6)
"And I STILL am not sure if the writers of the show meant for the audience to be angry with the crew, or angry with Jellico."

I think the writers were leaving it open, allowing the viewers to come to their own conclusions. If so, this board is evidence they did a great job.
Fri, May 12, 2017, 6:05am (UTC -6)

Thanks for the info! I can imagine, especially at the enlisted level, that it would be hard to command your drinking buddies. I would hope it would mostly turn out like when Wesley was put in charge of that science team--despite all his fears and uncertainty about how they'd react to him, when he made a decision they said "Yup." (The opposite of how the crew responded to Jellico!)


Do you think the writers intentionally meant us to take it that way? There are certain hints in the episode that make me think they wanted people to think Jellico was a blowhard. But, it's certainly open for discussion.

I wonder if they consulted with any experienced military personnel as they were crafting this episode?
Mon, May 22, 2017, 6:24pm (UTC -6)
What galls me about this episode is the marginalization of Commander Riker by the abrasive Admiral Nechayev, and the capable, yet arrogant Captain Jellico. These two officers very conveniently forgot the fact that as Captain of the Enterprise, William Riker with the help of his First Officer Commander Shelby defeated the Borg, and rescued Captain Picard (Who had been abducted by the Borg and turned into Locutus ). Also, thanks to Captain Riker, he saved the Earth and what was left of the Federation fleet after it lost 39 ships to the Borg. This is probably the reason Riker stayed aboard the Enterprise and reverted to Commander as he would have had to wait quite a while before a ship was available for him to command as Captain. Speculation on my part. Among the numerous individuals who owed their lives to Riker after the Borg were beaten were Nechayev and Jellico. Hell of a way to treat Riker after what he did! Temporary amnesia, perhaps? Consequently, Jellico's treatment of Riker was insulting, after Jellico privately told Picard after Number One left the ready room: Now I know why he's still a First Officer, or words to that effect. It would have been nice if Picard had reminded Jellico that Riker commanded the Enterprise during the fight against the Borg! The Borg were a lot more deadly and formidable than the Cardassians, and Riker would have been up to the job of dealing with them. I am an honorably discharged Army Veteran (Sergeant/E5), and encountered officers like the fictional Jellico in the service. Although I respected their professionalism and rank, I had no use for them otherwise. Naturally, I conducted myself as a good soldier should and kept my disdain for the "Jellico Officers" to myself, pardon the digression. I give Jellico credit for ordering Troi out of that ugly jumpsuit and into a proper uniform, otherwise I did not like the character. As I recall, after Jellico turned over command of the Enterprise back to Picard he said to the bridge crew that it was a pleasure to serve with them, and the personnel on the bridge just looked at him. Thanks for reading this. Feel free to disagree, but I stand by my words.
Peter G.
Mon, May 22, 2017, 8:55pm (UTC -6)
@ RMM,

Interesting take on Jellico. I think even those of us most supportive of Jellico in the episode have concluded that he was the ideal Captain for this particular crisis even though he wasn't the ideal Captain for the Enterprise in general. Certainly his manner would probably be unsuitable for many ships in peacetime. His methods were abrasive and militant, but perhaps as a result he was the only Captain around that really understood the Cardassians. We might even suggest that he was a little bit too much like them for comfort, even though his actions were ones they would understand. And like him or not, I don't think the stunt he pulled with the mines was ever something Picard would have done. Kirk, maybe, but not one of the more 'enlightened' officers.
Jason R.
Tue, May 23, 2017, 5:51am (UTC -6)
RMM I think it safe to say that Picard would never voluntarily remind anyone of the Borg incident.

But it is a little curious that Jellico never mentions it in passing, given that it's almost certainly a central item in Riker's CV.

Indeed, if I may speculate a little outside the four corners of the story, I think that Riker would have to be something of a celebrity in Starfleet due to his defeating the Borg. Knowing what I know about Jellico, his disdain for Riker could be driven by a degree of professional jealosy, which would be made worse by Riker's loose obeisance to Starfleet protocal and his personal charisma.

In other words, Jellico may perceive Riker as someone who feels above the chain of command (and the rules) who feels his special status gives him license to do his own thing.

As I said it is speculative but certainly plausible given what we know about Riker and Jellico.
Wed, May 24, 2017, 2:53pm (UTC -6)
A lot of good points brought up about the show.

I would venture to say there is little continuity in Star Trek in general - most shows reset during the next episode with previous events/circumstances rarely brought up later in the series. I've also always had the impression that these episodes were written and spit out quickly under tight time constraints, so that there simply wasn't much time to sit around and think about the past history of characters (and Star Trek history) and how that would play into the present situation.

And of course, the show's entertainment value always trumps logical script-writing as well as any kind of scientific accuracy. That's television.

I would have to disagree that Jellico had an initial 'disdain for Riker'. From the moment he beamed on board, he seemed genuinely excited to work with Riker and the entire crew. It wasn't until he found out that Riker had neglected to carry out a specific request that his entire demeanor changed.

The conflict really seemed to surround the idea that it was Jellico's job to come onboard and immediately start preparing the ship in every possible way for combat. Rather than having outright disdain for anyone, he expected to have every order/request carried out without question, and immediately labeled someone as hostile if they showed any resistance. This may have been a failing on his part, having worked with diffiulct crews in the past during temporary missions, and transposing that hostility onto Riker for simply wanting to discuss the situation with him.

More than anything, it seemed he was expecting that, of all the crews he'd worked with, the flagship would be the easiest, full of top-notch officers who are ready to go above and beyond. When this does not occur (at least not up to his standards), that's when his disappointment begins.

Additionally, the attitudes of the crew certainly got to him as well. For example, rather than complaining and being outraged by the workload, if Geordi had said "Yes sir, I'll get right on that and do the best I possibly can to finish it in time", Jellico probably wouldn't have even cared if the job took longer than scheduled, as long as he knew that the crew had a great attitude and wanted to work hard.

This was why he immediately took so well to Data, and had him follow his run around the ship. It wasn't in Data's nature to complain, and instead simply calculate things coldly (like how long a job takes) without emotion or personal grievances.
Wed, Aug 23, 2017, 6:35pm (UTC -6)
In my decades of (nonmilitary) experience, new higher-ups who come off as aggressively "top down" right out of the gate usually wind up revealing an underlying lack of confidence. Hence the following exchange is understandable:

RIKER: Well, I'll say this for him: He's sure of himself.
TROI: No, he's not.

Such an exchange between two close senior colleagues is no more unprofessional than Jellico badmouthing Riker to Picard so shortly after assuming command of the ship. If anything, Troi's comment at that particular moment speaks to the necessity for supporting Jellico's authority in a time of crisis (Sirtis said the line with alarm and concern, not bitchiness). Chances are, Jellico is well aware that the crew's respect for Riker has been earned again and again over the years. If he's overly focused on bringing "Number One" in line, now's not the time for Riker to get annoyed by it.

Both private exchanges are real character moments among many in the episode. Bravo to Ronald Moore and all the actors, especially Ronny Cox!
Sun, Oct 22, 2017, 6:29am (UTC -6)
As mentioned above somewhere:

Picard is steel inside and Jerico is not.
That is the reason of their different command styles.

I agree that Picard was not suitable for the Cardassian crisis.
Tue, Oct 24, 2017, 4:32pm (UTC -6)
Enthralling hour of TNG here -- getting close to the heights of BoBW in terms of weight, performances, and importance to the series overall. The Cardassians are not just another alien race -- here we see their treachery and it really gives Trek a new leg higher and a chance for some great guest performances.

Right off the bat the stakes are high with Picard being relieved of command in favor of Jellico due to his experience with the Cardassians. In a way I liked and didn't like the way this was done. It was very abrupt and keeping things this secretive from senior officers isn't usually warranted -- or at least it seems to cause more problems than bring benefits. But perhaps if the Federation believes it is practically at war, a different tack is justified -- we'll see.

So far nothing against Jellico but you just get the feeling he'll screw up somehow given how sure he is of himself and how much he pisses off the crew. Even Data has some facial expressions for Geordi when accompanying the new captain. Jellico's difference in style is a bit much given how much experience Riker/Geordi have (they're not just cadets or ensigns) -- Jellico doesn't want to hear any of it from them. But I liked how he put Troi in her place with the uniform comment!

Good negotiation scenes with Jellico and the Gul Lemec (sp?). The Gul was well acted -- he's a professional, clever -- certainly far more certain of himself deep down inside than Jellico is.

Thought the episode had a bit of filler in it with Picard & co. crawling through the Cardassian caves for a long time ultimately falling into a trap. No need for the Ferengi and for Crusher to play seductress. Ugh...

3.5 stars for "Chain of Command, Part I" -- definitely one of the more memorable and weighty TNG episodes. The ending with Picard's capture and Gul Madred informing him that non-cooperation results in death is a great send off for Part II. But also have to feel that the Federation has been played by the Cardassians and their actions from the Vice-Admiral down to Jellico are incorrect.
Liam Thibodaux
Wed, Nov 8, 2017, 2:55pm (UTC -6)
The scene with the Ferengi was cringey and eyeroll-worthy. I've never liked the trope that aliens with drastically different appearances would lust for human women. Ferengi lusting for humans isn't quite as absurd as the blob on the Orville lusting for humans, but it's still immensely absurd.
Anthony G.
Wed, Nov 15, 2017, 5:27pm (UTC -6)
Reply to Nick M from July 6, 2012.

First, thank you for your 25 years of service to this country. I agree with your post. I also lost a lot of respect for the Riker character in this episode. I loved and wished that Jellico could have been a Captain on a ST series. It could have been a great series and showed us a different leadership style.

I liked Picard but sometimes, watching TNG made me feel like I was watching the UN deliberating.
In the TOS, whenever Shatner, as Captain Kirk, led a landing party, there was a good chance that someone was getting punched in the face (or kissed if the opponent was a woman).
I watched these 2 episodes when they originally aired and I loved Jellico immediately. He was a refreshing change and for once, the bad guy was genuinely afraid of a ST Captain.
Derek D
Wed, Jan 24, 2018, 9:56pm (UTC -6)
High marks for this episode. I'd give it four stars except I agree with those of you above who are incredulous that they would send Picard or Crusher into this situation. 3 1/2 stars
Fri, Apr 6, 2018, 6:23pm (UTC -6)
A good 2-part episode for all the already mentioned reasons and with a few major and minor flaws as per usual for ST (and most series unfortunately).

It does sound odd that Cardassians could plan for a mission to require the sending of Picard: having such extensive knowledge of the federation to determine that
- Picard knows what they need
- Picard conveniently among all the people in Starfleet has a rare enough skill that makes this old man occupying an important position the best guy for the job (also considering capture or death is likely, and with Picard having a lot of highly confidential knowledge)
- a threat so terrible and known across species involves a field few people have any sufficient knowledge about
- that Starfleet would only send just enough people they could be overpowered easily

If I found about all this, I would want to investigate if any Starfleet Admiral had a helping hand in that plan...
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 3:31pm (UTC -6)
Commander Riker acted very unprofessionally in getting into a stand-up row with Captain Jellico. That set a bad example, and showed a lack of self-discipline, and a want of respect for the Captain. Objecting to an order that seems inhumane or imprudent or otherwise uncalled-for becomes wrong, once the Captain has made it clear that the objection has been dismissed and that his decision stands. What is the point of a chain of command, if the Captain’s final decision is, after all, not final ? Someone has to have the final word: a starship is not a democracy. If obedience to an order that is not illegitimate is made to depend on the approval of those commanded, obedience to authority is at an end; what is the point of joining Starfleet, if one’s obedience to orders is to be contingent on whether one agrees with them ? Riker goes a long way to trashing Captain Picard’s glowing testimonial to him, and that is very sad. (I suspect the inclusion of the testimonial was meant to show that Riker’s objections would be justified; if that is what the writers intended, they managed to undermine the point they were hoping to make.) Riker’s behaviour when the Captain visited his quarters seemed very off-hand; a Captain deserves respect because of his rank, whether one likes him or not. A First Officer should know that.

If Riker had simply been doing his duty of questioning questionable orders, he would not have been so emotionally involved in objecting as he did. The Captain acted properly in relieving him. And showed admirable self-restraint when Riker criticised him - and very unfair criticisms they were too. OTOH, the Captain and Geordi got on very well.

Captain Jellico clearly had the ability to shrug off losses of personnel without being emotionally crippled by them. That may seem callous of him, but I like it, a lot. I liked his direct, no-nonsense, no frills approach. It is a refreshing change from TNG’s reigning assumption that bad stuff can always be reversed. As some previous episodes in series 6 have shown, this is not always possible. Sometimes, bad or idiotic things with grievous results cannot be changed or put right. That kind of realism is welcome. We are a world away from an early episode like “Justice”, which had to betray its own logic to end as it did. (Maybe the Tar Baby Kills Tasha Yar episode was an attempt to retrieve the illogic of “Justice”.) Picard survived his ordeal - but only through credible means that did not pressing the Reset button or the use of other implausibilities.

The Captain’s decision is tough on Picard, but losses of personnel cannot be ruled out if Starfleet plays that kind of double game. The Federation should have delayed signing a peace treaty until it had established that the Cardassians were not up to something. The duplicity shown by the Federation is a spectacular own goal. OTOH, the Cardassians have no right to complain of Federation spying when their own behaviour includes using torture. If the Federation’s behaviour is a lot less whiter than white, that of the Cardassians is a very dingy grey.

Starfleet should not have sent Captain Picard to Centris III. Sending Data, an android incapable of succumbing to torture, would seem to be a better choice. Especially as his powers of assimilating and co-ordinating info far exceed that of a human or human-like being. Data withstood even assimilation by the Borg; it is scarcely credible that the perverted ingenuity of the Cardassians could have been more successful against him.
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 3:40pm (UTC -6)
Supplemental log: 4 stars out of 4. The choice of Picard for that mission rather than Data seems wrong, but not sufficient to cost the two-parter anything. Two-parters always seem to be strong episodes.
Peter G.
Tue, Jul 3, 2018, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
I had a thought just now about Riker's insubordination. I do believe he was out of line, however I think I'd failed to take something into account before when considering how he played his position. James04 brought it to my attention when mentioning Riker's "offhand" manner when Jellico came to his quarters, almost as if he wasn't paying due respect to a Captain.

The thing is, Riker should have been a Captain multiple times over. He saved the Federation single-handed and everyone knows it. The *only* reason he doesn't have the rank of Captain is that he knows he'd rather serve under Picard than command his own ship. But that doesn't mean he'd rather serve under just anyone. When back when he had the decision to make to accept one or more commands, if the Federation had told Riker that if he stayed as XO on the Enterprise it would be under Jellico I'm sure he'd have accepted his own command. So losing Picard here isn't just a father-issue thing. It's the fact that Riker by all accounts *basically is* a Captain except in name, and that's only because there's no realistic way he could have been promoted to Captain but remained on Picard's crew. Starfleet just doesn't work like that (or at least not anymore, since Kirk seemed to be surrounded by Captains by the time the films wrapped up).

So maybe Riker's behavior is a *little* more warranted than I had thought. After all, it's ridiculous to treat him as if he's a lowly whipping boy when he has all the accreditation, experience, and command understanding that a Captain has, and the skills to boot, as well as respect far and wide (even from the likes of Shelby). Treating him like just another XO to boss around is completely within Jellico's prerogative, except that Riker is uniquely exceptional. There isn't likely to be another Commander in Starfleet with his resume and accomplishments. Jellico may be right not to like him or want him as his XO. Frankly he shouldn't be anyone's XO, he should be a Captain, and it's silly (objectively speaking) that he isn't. So here we have a bit of a rock and a hard place, where a Commander who 'deserves' to be treated like a Captain is faced with a Captain who frankly doesn't give a damn and needs people who will obey orders swiftly and without objection. In a way RIker is right to demand the respect that he deserves, and to owe subservience as such only to Picard. On the other hand that's not how the chain of command works, and there's no room in the command structure for people to have 'unofficial rank'.

The more I think of it the more this feels like an ill-fated pairing rather than anyone being totally wrong. I still think Riker is more wrong, and overall find little to no fault in Jellico, but looking at the series as a whole it doesn't feel like Riker is so off-base as I had previously thought,
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 6:51am (UTC -6)
"Quickly, we need to assemble a crack infiltration team to penetrate an enemy installation behind their lines. Who have we got?"
"Beverley Crusher."

The silliness of sending in three of the most famous and recognised people across the Federation's 150 worlds, none of whom have any infiltration/sabotage skills or experience and at least two of whom are clearly pushing 50, can be excused by the fact that this episode leads into the outstanding Chain of Command pt 2.

They repeated the silliness in Enterprise's possibly most renowned episodes, where Tucker and T'Pol infiltrate a xenophobic organisation. "I know! Let's send a worldwide celebrity from Earth's fastest and most powerful starship, who just very publicly saved the Earth, the enemy will never recognise him." "Good idea, sir. And why don't we send a Vulcan too, her distinctive appearance and alien personality can be disguised with a nice hat."

I know I come across as anti-American sometimes. It's not true, my ex-girlfriend was from Georgia. But Jesus Christ, Hollywood writing is absolutely bottom of the barrel most of the time, it's just so dumb and audiences rarely seem to question it.

That's why episodes like Chain of Command pt2 are so essential. They literally redeem your national pride.
Dash Rendar
Fri, Oct 5, 2018, 6:23pm (UTC -6)
Loved this one!

There were a few odd bits. The idea that a 60 year old man, the local GP and, well, I'll give them Worf, but only just (I mean, he's hardly subtle) are suddenly the best crack special ops team that the federation can muster is unbelievable, but not unenjoyable. Perhaps there's more to it than meets the eye! I'll have to wait and see in part 2! What a cliff hanger! It's been years and I can't remember how this story goes, which is great!

Jellico was a refreshing addition. I did get the feeling that Cohaagen had trouble remembering some of his lines, but by the by, I thought he gave the crew the good shaking that they needed. Seems like they've all been sat in the comfy chair way too long.
I'm sad that Riker was portrayed as such a whiner. That's 2 episodes in a row that the writers have muddied his good name. Got it done, he should have.
Sat, Oct 13, 2018, 1:17am (UTC -6)
Hello Gentle Sentients!

@Peter G.

Well said. I believe you took many of the thoughts I'd had in the past and put them together in a more coherent line of thought than I might have been able to.

If I might add a bit, I'd thought at the time (and since then) that the situation on the Enterprise was unique. It was the Flagship after all. And Riker had been Captain for a while during the Borg incursion. In another timeline, perhaps Picard could have been made Fleet Captain, or Commodore, with Riker being Captain.

And given all the experience Riker has, that you mentioned, I think Jellico was short-sighted to just ignore what Riker said. He seemed to go into the situation with a chip on his shoulder regarding Riker, and I think that is what turned myself off to him. And Riker got his dander up when Jellico seemed to just ignore his input and his concerns. Heh, they were written to never, ever, get along, and that worked. :)

Regards... RT
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sun, Oct 21, 2018, 9:10pm (UTC -6)
Put me firmly in the anti-Jellico camp. I do think he's a great character, he's just a bad person. I'm totally with Riker in telling him off, he's little more than a posturing alpha dog. I never even realized until recently that his strict formality of command while also calling officers by their first name is yet another way to belittle them.

All this doesn't excuse Riker's behavior. Regarding the shift rotation, yes he should've just done it. Granted he wasn't given a direct order, Jellico just said "I'd like to change that to four starting tonight," and Riker was just about to explain the situation, but Jellico beat him to the punch and then went all "I'm the captain" on him. I don't see any real problem with changing the shift rotation from three to four, assuming they have the staff available to fill out the extra slot (maybe they don't?), but doing so in such a hurried manner is going to wipe out any benefits that come from having shorter shifts. After all, if it takes weeks for people to recover from the daylight saving time change, imagine what this would do. Jellico seems to be sabotaging his own goals just to leave his footprint on the ship. I also don't buy that the Enterprise needed a major shakeup. De-prioritizing scientific endeavors is one thing, but just because Jellico says things are too comfortable or "not good enough" that doesn't mean it's true. He may believe it's true, but it's just more of him being domineering.

I wonder how many of the pro-Jellico people who consider the crew to be whiny pedants have ever had a boss, teacher, or even CO like Jellico. He had so many opportunities to smooth over his orders and he didn't take a single one. "Then you'd better get to it, Geordi. Looks like you have some work to do," is such an overtly condescending statement that would push many people, myself included, to the point of "f--- you, I'm done, bye." A simple "I know this is difficult, but we have to work together and make do with what we can" is so much better, even if it is just lip service, than, "haha sucks to be you, get it done."

I'd like to steal a quote from Saito S at the Trek BBS that illustrates how Jellico is not being reasonable:

"Later, Geordi complains to Riker about what Jelico expects of him. Not only has he been told to realign the warp coils in two days (a previous scene established that this task alone was pushing the envelope of what was doable and would require the entire Engineering staff to work overtime), but ON TOP of that, he has to juggle all of his duty rosters due to the shift changes and 'completely reroute half the power systems on this ship'. And then, after being given a list of tasks that would push his department to its limits as it is with the time allotted and personnel available, he loses a third of his staff because Jelico has transferred them to security! LaForge specifically says he doesn't mind changes and doesn't mind hard work, but he isn't being given the time and personnel necessary to effect the changes or do the work. That attitude is entirely reasonable, and we can rely on Geordi's assessment of the situation regarding his department as being generally correct - after all, he's been established through 4+ years of TNG at this point to be an extremely competent chief engineer. Some - certainly not all, but some - of Jelico's demands were unreasonable, because some of them went beyond simply being hard or changing their routine, and were well into 'you're nearly asking the impossible here' territory. That's what LaForge is telling Riker, and that's what that scene is telling us. Jelico can hardly be held blameless for the troubles that went on during this episode. "

Again, if he really wants to be ready for battle, all of this needless change and antagonizing only serves to throw the crew off-balance. Are those engineers really going to be effective security officers? If they are, what's their purpose anyway? Are they expecting to be boarded? Even if Jellico was the nicest captain ever, all this would still lead to the crew not functioning at their best, putting the mission in jeopardy.
Wed, Apr 17, 2019, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
This is the completely disposable set up for Picard's interrogation by David Warner in Part 2-as I recall a pretty decent episode.
Picard,Crusher and Worf cut ridiculous figures as high tech ninjas cavorting around in caves and tunnels.
Ronny Cox ( can't quite seperate him from his character in Robocop) is fine as Jellico right up until he seems to lose it with the Cardassians ( for real or mind games) and I felt every sympathy with him having to deal with whiny Riker who should have been put on report for failing to carry out his rota shift change order.

None of this episode really matters though as previously noted.

Oh, and although Picard's interrogation in part 2 was good, in my view Babylon 5 did this much better when Sheridan was captured by President Clarke's forces ,tortured and quizzed in a B5 episode made a few years later.
Tue, Apr 30, 2019, 7:27pm (UTC -6)
That Captain Jellicoe, what a bitch.

-1 to the lazy writing and directing have the Chief Medical Officer pimp herself out to the Ferengi to get passage. So original!

Why were they talking so loudly in the caves? I actually thought Worf, Crusher and Picard made a nice team.

So far, okay. Its okay for a thriller. I did enjoy seeing the crew get shaken up a bit by the new bitch I mean captain. 8/10
Sun, Feb 2, 2020, 2:03pm (UTC -6)
It's readily apparent who the authoritarians are in this thread, and who are not. Jellico was an interesting character, and a terrible captain. The humans of the 24th century, and the crew of the Enterpise, which yes had only ever know Picard to command it because he got handed it from its commisioning, are not authoritarians, do not respond to authoritarians, and would never accede to authoritarians. His posturing, power-playing, illogical and irrational decisions and orders would have been rejected by every Vulcan under his command, let alone the rest of his crews. Aside from the absuridity of the whole ops mission plot, that a man like Jellico would rise to the rank of captain is the most unbelievable part of this episode.

The Federation would have never come into existence if captains like Jellico had been the norm, because they would have ended up at war with most of the races they encountered. Put him in the shoes of every other captain in those critical moments of the other shows, and all you can see is how he would have failed.
Top Hat
Thu, Feb 6, 2020, 10:31pm (UTC -6)
It's a minor detail but I like the bit with Jellico filling the ready room with his son's art. He's the anti-Picard in so many ways.
Picard Maneuver
Mon, Mar 30, 2020, 12:19am (UTC -6)
I know when I think "special ops" I think "mid-40s clinician who looks like a housewife" and "Shakespearean actor who has been 50 years old for decades". At least the Ferengi immediately figured out who they were. In real life it would be like sending someone like Colin Powell or Jim Mattis out undercover. Picard would probably be recognized by someone regardless of where he went. After a rough start, the Cardassians finally come into their own here.

Hard to believe it took five and a half seasons to finally get Troi into uniform, which she actually looks good in. It's not that I object to a custom outfit, but most of them were shit. In retrospect, they probably should have put her in the uniform the entire time but given her some sort of accessory, like Crusher's labcoat or Worf's baldric. But knowing the costume designers they would have given her something ridiculous like a feather boa or some functionless pouch that made her look pregnant.

Around 16 minutes, some of the fluorescent lights near the hallway ground flicker as Riker and LaForge walk. I guess shooting was too tight to replace them. Worf's proximity alarm buster thingie sounds like an email notification.
The Slash Between
Fri, May 29, 2020, 6:45pm (UTC -6)
It’s interesting all the defence of Jellico’s command style based on “that’s how it is in the military”.

That’s not a defence of his actions, just of the character’s existence.

From the moment he comes on-board, he spends exactly zero time building the relationships with the crew that would allow him to use them effectively. Those relationships don’t take much time, and the human element they provide makes a real difference when the SHTF. He’s a bad leader of people, and we should stop putting bad leaders in management positions.

He should have been behind a desk at Starfleet Tactical, drooling over the new issue of Phasers and Photons in between stacks of paperwork.
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 9:15pm (UTC -6)
Cudos to the casting department on this one. Ronny Cox is perfect as the posturing prig Jellico. Like a new CEO, Jellico captures the sanctimonious 'l'etat c'est moi ethos' to a T. His scenes with Riker, Troi and Picard were terrific, as he put each of them in their place. What a jerk.

Don't you just hate this guy? His only redeeming characteristic is his respect for his son's crayon-work.
In my view, his most egregious offense was to order the banishment of Picard's goldfish during the same interval that Riker was expected to reorganize the entire g___ d____ ship backwards and forwards. To quote/paraphrase John LeCarre, 'Any reasonable church would have burned that bastard long ago.'

The music was abysmal. Although I had fun finally identifying many of its strains as variations on the theme song from Sea Hunt. IMO opinion, this song was never a good tune, but it warmed the aged heart to discover that a melody written during Eisenhower's presidency could still do some good 30+ years later.

Can't agree with Jammer on this one. More filler than substance, I'm afraid. While watching the interminable cave sequence with its lava tube discussion and its styrofoam rocks falling on Dr Crusher, I half expected Picard to say something like "Please pick up the pace Beverly, if we gain those five precious seconds from before, I can be captured in the obvious 'baited gambit' before my Earl Grey tea time."

Yuck. No better than 5/9, mostly because Jellico was so deliciously despicable.
Tue, Sep 29, 2020, 6:47pm (UTC -6)
Captain Jellico really shines and shows how the lax, intergalactic pleasure cruise style of Picard is an embarrassment to the Federation. It's surreal that the flagship would be so unprepared.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Fri, Oct 2, 2020, 3:52pm (UTC -6)
"Captain Jellico really shines and shows how the lax, intergalactic pleasure cruise style of Picard is an embarrassment to the Federation. It's surreal that the flagship would be so unprepared."

How were they actually lax and unprepared? Jellico merely saying so doesn't make it true.
Hotel bastardos
Thu, Nov 12, 2020, 9:03am (UTC -6)
Wonder if Jellicoe will be finished with the kardashians and be back in time for cornflakes?
Fri, Dec 11, 2020, 4:04am (UTC -6)
Wow! So good. The only bad moment was the nonsense with the Ferengi (I agree that it’s unlikely a species that looks so different would find human women attractive, and even if that were not the case, this type of scene is just cheesy).

@Rahul: “The Gul was well acted”

Right? That guy was great. He reminded me of one of your better villains from a World War II or Cold War thriller.
SS Elim
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 12:34am (UTC -6)
During the first negotiation scene, I was dying when I realized that, on top of all the other bluster and gamesmanship, Jellico even steals the Gul's chair.
Sat, Dec 12, 2020, 8:39am (UTC -6)
Yeah, that was good. On reflection, it was a little weird that his character seemed different between the two scenes. He was much more suave and collected the second time. I guess he just needed time to gather his composure?

Something I forgot to ask in my earlier comment: why DID Troi wear that oddball outfit all that time until Captain Jellico told her to wear a proper uniform?
The River Temarc
Sat, Jan 16, 2021, 1:58am (UTC -6)
"Indeed, if I may speculate a little outside the four corners of the story, I think that Riker would have to be something of a celebrity in Starfleet due to his defeating the Borg. Knowing what I know about Jellico, his disdain for Riker could be driven by a degree of professional jealosy, which would be made worse by Riker's loose obeisance to Starfleet protocal and his personal charisma."

That's always been *exactly* my read, or at least half of it, on the Jellico-Riker relationship. (Remember how Captain Maxwell greeted Riker in season 4 -- "we all owe you for that one.")

But the other half? There's a further layer of complexity here: Jellico is an expert on the Cardassians. Riker isn't. Riker may well think he's entitled to succeed Picard based on his Borg mission, and perhaps based on his defeat of the Romulans in "Unification," but Romulan strategy isn't Cardassian strategy, and Romuland tactics aren't Cardassian tactics. Riker thinks his strengths are transferrable to any fill-in-the-blank adversary, and they're not.

So while Jellico is envious of Riker, the reciprocal point is also true.

I've often thought that the final episode of ENT should have taken place during "Chain of Command," rather than "The Pegasus," for precisely this reason. It would have given Riker the chance to consider that Jellico had domain expertise that he, Riker, lacks. Archer learned that the paternalistic Vulcans may have sometimes had a point and that T'Pol's counsel was wise, not patrionizing. This ultimately helped Riker to agree to pilot the shuttle laying the mines.
Matt B
Sat, Feb 20, 2021, 12:31pm (UTC -6)
Jellico is the character you love to hate. Ronny Cox is a great actor, and really plays Jellico well.

But I agree with the anti-Jellico contingent. He is not a good leader. Being strong doesn't mean demeaning your followers nor demanding unreasonable actions. Riker was correct in the way he behaved, and especially the words he had for Jellico at the end.

The real problem of leadership though is Admiral Nechayev. She unreasonably passed over Riker. I get it for the story reasons, but in universe it doesn't make sense. I would have much rather had Riker off on a separate mission instead of how they did this.
Wed, Oct 20, 2021, 1:02pm (UTC -6)
Some people state that Patrick Stewart is an "old man." He was what, 51 or 52 when this was filmed? Does that make him an old man?

I do agree that it's hard to be a commando at 52, but I don't agree it's "old."
Top Hat
Wed, Oct 20, 2021, 2:39pm (UTC -6)
Admittedly Picard is older than Stewart's chronological age (they pinned his birth year as 2305 in "Conundrum", meaning he was around 60 when TNG began) , but I agree with the point.
Wed, Oct 20, 2021, 4:14pm (UTC -6)
He certainly would look amazing for 60. He actually looks great for 52 (as confirmed by his physique in Part 2).
Thu, Oct 21, 2021, 3:37am (UTC -6)
I’ll save my full comments after I’ve rewatched Part 2. Just to say here that Picard, Worf, and Crusher are involved in a totally James Bond mission… but I just don’t see Picard as 007! The one weak point in this episode is that the Cardassians have set this up as a trap for Picard, but why is he - with no background in espionage - part of the team?

QUESTION: Is this the point to start alternating TNG with DS9? They overlapped here?
Peter G.
Thu, Oct 21, 2021, 8:23am (UTC -6)
@ Tidd,

"The one weak point in this episode is that the Cardassians have set this up as a trap for Picard, but why is he - with no background in espionage - part of the team?"

If you mean why is Picard doing a Mission Impossible routine, that's just a conceit of the show. If you're asking why the Cardassians would set a trap for him, that's answered in part 2.

"QUESTION: Is this the point to start alternating TNG with DS9? They overlapped here?"

DS9 aired after Chain of Command part 2. If you really want to be fanatical you can watch both shows by air date to get the experience viewers at the time had. And that includes watching reruns every few weeks! I won't say why, but I recommend you do watch some DS9 prior to finishing all of TNG first.
Mon, Dec 13, 2021, 11:32pm (UTC -6)
It's been a while since I went through these comments, and what a difference a couple of years makes. The last two or three years, there area lot more anti-Jellico comments; I especially like Eric's comment about knowing who the authoritarians are in here. For reasons that go back to the culture of the outside world, I find this interesting.

I'm sure that, for a lot of people, it's always been uncomfortable to show a futuristic society that values equality, and yet show it through the lens of an institution that operates with a command hierarchy. Maybe the consensus methods of Picard softened this to the point that you could imagine yourself doing a job there and not feel like you were part of a command hierarchy. And for what it's worth, I think the producers and director of this episode would agree with you, although maybe not writer Moore, as his well defined specialty is the duty and honor aspects of service and his other writing credits outside Star Trek back this up. In any case, by the time we get to "Pegasus" in season 7, the case against deference to command is much more clear in the corrupt Adm. Pressman.

But I like Jellico fine in this circumstance, and if that makes me an authoritarian, then I think that means that authoritarianism will always have its uses and will never die. Of course Starfleet would keep a bastard in its back pocket. Any institution with military responsibilities would.

I will say that the method used to get this two-parter to the endpoint are weak. If it were me, I would have had transferred over to command a small, non-Federation, runabout-style ship to insert a younger commando team led by Worf, then have that team get captured or killed and the ship captured as well, with Picard on it. He would be the real prize with any other survivors released, so part two could have continued from there almost untouched. Maybe they just didn't want to pay for the soundstage of another ship.
Fri, Dec 31, 2021, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
It is indeed funny that Deanna looks fantastic in a uniform.

I don't think it was ever explained in universe why Deanna was so casual. She's not in command, but that's not relevant.

Considering the jokes (including in universe) that the 1701-D looked like a luxury cruise ship, her bridge outfit may have been intended to help present a softer, less militaristic image for Starfleet, and she's always right there beside the Captain.

Jellico is an old school hard ass militant type, brought on for exactly that reason, and has no time for such silliness.
Mon, Jan 3, 2022, 10:24pm (UTC -6)
I could have really done without Nechayev and Jellico's strange private conversation where they talk about wanting to see their "friends" again. It seems to have been designed specifically to make it sound like they were up to something.

JELLICO: Those emissions you were so concerned about have just stopped. I'd say one way or another, our friends have finished their task.
NECHAYEV [on monitor]: Have you heard from our friends?
NECHAYEV [on monitor]: Let me know if you do. I'd very much like to see them again.
JELLICO: So would I, Admiral.

It was a red herring and just felt out of place in Trek.
Tue, Jan 4, 2022, 2:04am (UTC -6)
@Silly, Jellico and Nechayev were talking about Picard, Beverly and Worf. Those were the "friends".

As you recall, those three to were sent to look into the theta-band subspace emissions coming from Celtris Three. Jellico is just telling Nechayev that the theta-band subspace emissions have stopped (presumably because Picard and the team was successful).

The reference to "friends" is just to protect the identity of the three officers. After all, the mission was a breach of treaty, and with the Enterprise so close to the boarder, there was always a chance their conversation might be intercepted by the Cardassians.

Hope that clears things up!
Wed, Mar 9, 2022, 8:44pm (UTC -6)
Reading through all the comments, it seems to me that the consensus is that Troi should have always worn a uniform.

It occurred to me that, maybe she was permitted to wear ‘civilian’ clothing instead of a uniform, because of her job - wearing a uniform, with rank insignia, due to its formality, could be intimidating to patients, and raise avoidable barriers.

Anyone who has been in therapy knows, random things can change the interaction, and make it more difficult.
Top Hat
Thu, Mar 10, 2022, 7:27am (UTC -6)
I can certainly agree that it might make sense for Troi to have worn civilian garb while in counselling sessions (might -- most aboard ship seem to wear 95% of the time, on duty or not), but while sitting on the bridge?
Top Hat
Sun, May 8, 2022, 3:04pm (UTC -6)
A lot of the trouble in these episodes would've been avoided if both a new captain and x.o. (a trusted confederate of Jellico's) had assigned to the Enterprise, and Riker had been given a few week's vacation.
Mon, May 23, 2022, 2:30pm (UTC -6)

Loved this one from start to finish!

Well, okay, a bevy of rocks (boulders!) falling on la doctora and she comes out unscathed, as if it was but a bunch of marshmallows, was ridiculous, but I'm willing to overlook it in the greater scheme of things 👍
Mon, Sep 5, 2022, 9:32pm (UTC -6)

Part 1 is just a ***SPOILER ALERT*** device to get Stewart/Picard naked in a BDSM context.

That's why everything about it is so contrived. Picard is THE expert on a particular kind of radiation (rather than, say, a physicist) so he is sent on a commando mission with the ship's doctor. Meanwhile, his captain's chair is kept warm by a guy who somehow got promoted from boot camp drill sergeant to starship captain.

Okay, so Troi finally gets out of the bunny suit into something respectable. That's a plus.

Hmm. Maybe there's some law of Conservation of Gratuitous Bodily Exposure in the Trek universe. The only way to get Troi into a uniform was to get Picard naked.

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