Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Face of the Enemy"

3 stars

Air date: 2/8/1993
Teleplay by Naren Shankar
Story by Rene Echevarria
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

Troi wakes up aboard a Romulan warbird, looks in the mirror, and sees that she's been surgically transformed into a Romulan. The ship's first officer, N'Vek (Scott MacDonald), tells her that she's been brought on board for a very important mission, and that she must immediately prepare to meet the ship's commander while posing as an operative of the Tal Shiar, the extremely feared Romulan intelligence agency. But no time for questions right now! The commander is waiting! Explain later!

To say Troi is thrust into a situation for which she's not prepared would be an understatement. She's able to survive her first encounter with Commander Toreth (Carolyn Seymour) by bluffing her way through the situation, but she's mostly saved by the fact that everyone so fears the Tal Shiar that she doesn't have to volunteer any explanations. Meanwhile, aboard the Enterprise, the crew takes into custody a former Starfleet officer, Stefan DeSeve (Barry Lynch), who defected to the Romulans many years ago and now has surrendered himself back to Starfleet (older and wiser, the story observantly suggests) but has a message from Ambassador Spock from the Romulan underground, imploring the Enterprise to make a rendezvous to intercept some crucial cargo.

Well, 2+2=4 (unless it's Orwell or "Chain of Command, Part II"), so these two threads must inevitably come together. The plot is a solid exercise of Romulan political intrigue, following up the events from "Unification," albeit without having anything in terms of meaningful or lasting significance. Troi has been brought aboard by N'Vek to ultimately help him smuggle some Romulan dissidents, who are in stasis in cargo containers aboard the warbird, to the Federation. The fact that Troi's an empath was apparently the selling point for why she would've been a candidate for this mission instead of someone more suited to espionage. (That, and we need a decent Troi episode now and then, and the Romulans tend to have a more female-centric authority base compared to most Trek alien societies.)

While "Face of the Enemy" is not exactly to Romulans as "Chain of Command" was to Cardassians, this story does offer an intriguing look into their power structure, and I especially liked the tension between Troi and Toreth, which stems from the fact that Toreth has no love for the Tal Shiar, which years ago hauled her father away in the middle of the night to be questioned, never to return. (The Tal Shiar is prone to police-state tactics, where proving guilt is less important than suspecting it.) The fencing between the two of them is interesting, and by being on the inside we can see the Romulans with a little more subtlety; note how Toreth lambastes the Tal Shiar's overly aggressive tactics, which creates messes, Toreth argues, that the military must then clean up.

The episode culminates with some tactical cat-and-mouse games between the cloaked warbird, the Enterprise, and undercover Troi, doing her best to help get the dissidents transported to the Enterprise. This is well done but not riveting. I should also point out that Marina Sirtis, game as she is here, is not all that convincing when she raises her voice in authority. But "Face of the Enemy" takes a good high-concept premise and milks it for what it's worth and then some.

(Also, yes, Romulan uniforms are still terrible, with a love for shoulder pads that can't be rivaled even by the 1980s, but hey.)

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95 comments on this post

Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 12:14am (UTC -6)
I love actress Carolyn Seymour. She's so deliciously sinister in so many of the roles she plays. She played a different Romulan commander in season 2's "Contagion". She was also wonderfully malevolent as the evil hologram/leaper, Zoe in the final season of Quantum Leap.
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 2:22pm (UTC -6)
I think this is actually one of the best Romulan episodes the show ever managed - it made them feel like an actual culture rather than just green villains with pointy ears. I particularly like when Toreth said, "Contrary to propoganda, Starfleet is neither weak nor foolish." It's always nice to hear another empire's honest opinion of "us" as it helps round out the picture, and like Mark Lenard's Romulan Commander from TOS, it shows a certain grudging respect between warriors even on opposite sides.

It's also one of the strongest Troi vehicles. I like to think it was events like this and "Chain of Command" that pushed her further towards command responbilities as seen in season 7 after her horrendous showing in "Disaster."

And it was an even better show when it was remade as DS9's "Second Skin."
Fri, Jun 22, 2012, 7:43pm (UTC -6)
I think this is one of the better Troi episodes and one of Sirtis' best performances. Carolyn Seymour was also splendid, as she always is.

I also liked Don Davis' score, which stood out more than most of the music around this time in TNG's production.
Jeff Bedard
Sat, Jun 23, 2012, 12:19pm (UTC -6)
I like this episode a lot. I've been a fan of the Romulans for quite a while now. On the whole Romulan episodes seem to be especially good. But while reading your review a question suddenly popped into my head that I had never considered before.

If Toreth's father was taken away by the Tal Shiar all those years ago, how is it that Toreth could succeed in the military, including being given command of her own ship. Part of me is thinking that any background check on her would show her father being taken away by the Tal Shiar and with that incident in her background she'd never be allowed to join the military much less rise to command level.

Merely a question though. I really like the episode.
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 3:16pm (UTC -6)
Really good - Good to see another side of Troi, did Enterprise not wonder where she was though..?
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 4:58pm (UTC -6)
I thought Sirtis was terrific here. You could clearly see her channel her dislike for Toreth into her performance as an intimidating Tal Shiar operative.

The most delicious part of this was where she relieved Toreth of command, sat down in her chair, and added an insult to injury: "Now, watch and learn." Great way to use the Romulan arrogance against her.
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 5:02pm (UTC -6)

...especially where she lectures Toreth: "In order to defeat your enemy, you must first understand them", a hallmark of Romulan strategic thinking that Toreth would obviously know already and would therefore be insulted by Troi spelling it out for her. Great stuff.
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 6:59pm (UTC -6)
"I think this is actually one of the best Romulan episodes the show ever managed..."

A lot of competition there, as Jeff Bedard alludes to. "Contagion," "The Enemy," "The Defector," and my personal favorite, "The Next Phase" (granted, they're little more than villains-of-the-week rather than a well-rounded culture).

"Contrary to propoganda, Starfleet is neither weak nor foolish."

That explains Star Trek 5! It was Romulan propaganda all along!
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 7:05pm (UTC -6)
Episodes like "The Enemy"; this episode; and ESPECIALLY "The Defector" proved that TNG was the only Modern Trek show to explore the Romulans as a people like The Original Series did.

It's a shame that TNG's feature film swansong utilized them so poorly. I mean all that crap with Shinzon and the Remans still gives me a headache. And Andreas Katsulas was still alive in 2001/2002! He could have reprised his role as Tomalak and joined forces with Picard against Shinzon giving the final battle a hell of a lot more resonance. *sigh* It was not to be...
Mon, Jun 25, 2012, 7:24pm (UTC -6)
@Brandon : I have to disagree with you about Troi's motivations. One of the best things about this episode is that Troi learns duplicity--she actually empathises with Toreth's position and seems to abhor the way the Tal Shiar behaves (which would be fitting, given her character, her job, and position in Starfleet) and behaved toward's Toreth's father. Survivalism kicks in, however, and she plays the part of the hated to win credibility.

I also disagree with Jammer that Sirtis fails in the rôle--I found it refreshing that she carried such a complex series of motivations and subterfuges so's shocking when one remembers her quasi-orgasmic whimpering "pain...pain!!!" in season 1.

I can only fault the episode for its lack of resolution with Troi's character. Yes, the actions of the episode influenced later (terrible) episodes with her learning to take command (and crash the ship), but TNG had demonstrated that a good director and actor can sell the emotional upheaval of an episode without redundant dialogue. BOBW part II is the crown jewel in TNG's run. I have similar feelings about shots in DS9's "Far Beyond the Stars" and VOY's "Year of Hell."

3.5* from me.
Nick P.
Fri, Jul 6, 2012, 11:01am (UTC -6)

I believe the answer is that the tal' shiar is NOT the military. The episode makes it pretty clear that the military leadership oftentimes distrust the Tal' Shiar. Doesn't look like they can be blamed.

And not to be a turd, but I have to ask the question that must be asked even today. Why do we assume Toreths' father was innocent?
Mon, Sep 17, 2012, 10:12am (UTC -6)
I agree about Carolyn Seymour playing villains well, but not only. She also played the virtuous and charming Mirasta Yale in First Contact, both roles so convinci8ngly.
Mon, Jun 17, 2013, 7:14am (UTC -6)
I think this episode is far closer to a four.

It is an extremely refreshing change for Troi, and I would say the story comes fairly close to riveting.

Yes, it's true that Troi is not totally convincing, but we can forgive that given her dubious acting past!

Plus the Romulan commander is fabulous and the Federation defector is not bad either.
Wed, Jun 26, 2013, 10:47pm (UTC -6)
Does the Enterprise crew never realize that Troi is missing??? They never seem to acknowledge it or worry that their counselor has been kidnapped.

It would make sense if Picard were in on the plan, except HE ISN'T.
Wed, Jul 3, 2013, 1:21am (UTC -6)
@Patrick: Troi has been generally useless for a while. I wouldn't be surprised if they didn't notice she was missing. Heck, I knew she was on that Romulan ship and I still didn't notice her missing from the Enterprise.
Reverend Spork
Thu, Aug 29, 2013, 10:42pm (UTC -6)
"Face of the enemy" proved that Troi as a character was badly misused for years, and that Sirtis can genuinely act. Rarely, if ever, was she given a better script to truly show off her acting chops. I wish this Troi had been around more often.
Mon, Sep 2, 2013, 1:19pm (UTC -6)
I figure that since Troi was kidnapped at a conference she was probably on leave from the Enterprise.
Nice episode.
Tue, Jan 7, 2014, 2:11am (UTC -6)
I thought this episode was a solid four. I greatly enjoyed Sirtis' performance, who did a believable transition from "uh.. uh... OMGOMGOMG" to "I am in command of this ship now." It was progressive and well played.

Troi has annoyed me for a very long time, non in the least because I couldn't stand her clothes (I am not that kind of man). But there she finally became a real character and repaid the Enterprise in full for all the times they've bothered saving her life.
Mon, Feb 17, 2014, 6:03pm (UTC -6)
Very underrated episode and great perfomrance by Marina. Interesting note, writer Naren Shankar was not happy with how the romulan bridge was layed out. His script was more exotic alien bridge with the commander standing over everybody.
Dave in NC
Sun, May 11, 2014, 11:37am (UTC -6)
Finally, a real episode for Troi, and wouldn't you know it, she actually nails it. Great performaces all around (especially Carolyn Seymour as the captain).

Side note: wonderful background scoring in this episode, especially the music as the episode closes. Being a Season 5 episode, whoever the composer was probably got a talking to from the producers for "daring" to write something relevant to what was on the screen, but I for one appreciated the effort. It made what was happening onscreen SO much better.
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 8:42pm (UTC -6)
I do want to echo what everyone else said. This is an excellent performance by Sirtis, and is probably her best episode. It probably just goes to show how pointless the position of psychiatrist was on the show. They really couldn't show her doing her job much, and she wasn't too convincing as a serious advisor to Picard in delicate situations. Thus, she was relegated to telling everyone that the alien is hiding something, having cringe-worthy "love interest" episodes, and having her body taken over by noncorporeal aliens. So yeah, good to see her out of her element, but in a good plot for once. A far cry from season 1.

I think the dinner scene was my favorite, as it seemed to be the turning point in Troi's transformation to a treacherous Tal Shiar. Up to this point, she was clearly still acting very Starfleet-ish, being rather nice and accommodating and thus always ending up on the defensive. It was clear that Toreth didn't trust her at all, and it was clear that Troi would eventually be uncovered at the rate she was going. Yes, at that point Toreth just assumed she was a rookie intelligence officer who didn't know what she was doing, but things were going downhill fast. Troi wanted to hide in her room, but was forced to join the officer's mess. And then Toreth started to test her, and again Troi looked lost. But somewhere along the way, something clicked with her. She suddenly turned things around on Toreth. She started to be more confident, more condescending. She grew into the role that she needed to play. It was fun to watch.

If I have one quibble, it's the execution of the first officer. At that point, I imagine Toreth could have easily regained control and arrested N'Vek. I imagine that would be the Romulan thing to do (can't interrogate a dead person!). Toreth's action was more like what a Klingon would do. It's easily rectified; N'Vek could have pulled his weapon, and then his death would be justified. But it's a very minor point.

And I also want to echo what Patrick said a while back: this episode just highlights the failure of Nemesis. As I was rewatching this episode, it occurred to me that some sort of resolution to the Spock underground movement would have been a fitting end to the TNG movie era. TNG really did the Romulans best, and were chilling in the 3rd and 4th season. Afterwards they lost their luster a bit, but by calling back to Unification, this episode brought some nice continuity to the table. Suddenly we did have a couple new potential subplots to play with (that were much better than dealing with the daughter of an alternate universe Yar, and certainly better than a clone of Picard...). The tension between the military and the intelligence. A major senator defecting (only 3 years removed from a high level admiral defecting). And a new underground movement gaining steam. Yes, the connection is pretty tenuous, as the Senators in stasis was just a MacGuffin for the Troi plot, but it was nice to see anyway.

Nemesis even had a coup/peace initiative as part of its plot! While it was interesting to hear of the Remans, Shinzon was such a worthless character. Wouldn't it have been better to see some sort of resolution to this situation? It would be a nice swan song for TNG, much like Undiscovered Country was for TOS. It could have even had a Spock cameo if Nimoy was up for it. I don't know what the plot would have been, but it couldn't be any worse than what we got.
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 8:53pm (UTC -6)
@SkepticalMI :

Oh it could have been worse: it could have been Star Trek (2009).
Wed, Aug 6, 2014, 9:17pm (UTC -6)
That's a different kind of bad, and if we set the "Star Trek" label aside, it's an adequate and typically superficial J.J. Abrahms effort.

But Nemesis is just poorly executed, cheap-looking, and stupid. On the other hand, it's interesting to compare Tom Hardy as Shinzon to Tom Hardy as Bane.
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 4:10am (UTC -6)
I don't remember what handle I went by before, so it's just "Beth" from now on.

I just want to say that I would rate this as a a 4 star episode (as I exclaimed at the end of the episode, "What an episode!", and that doesn't happen much. Maybe it was just renewed delight at how well Sirtis played her parts, the acting and plot overall on everyone's part). I also agree with SkepticalMI's points about the episode, and about what "Nemesis" could have been. "Nemesis" really could have been the calibre of "The Undiscovered Country". It ended up being a hollow shocker with a hollow plot filled with hollow, pointless action sequences... and dune buggy rides. Ugh. No, it wasn't quite as a bad as some ST movie outings, but it was nonetheless a huge letdown.
Mon, Nov 24, 2014, 4:16am (UTC -6)
Actually, a 3 out of 4 is the right rating. I keep mis-seeing your 4-star rating as a 5-star one, for whatever reason. :p
Thu, Jan 22, 2015, 10:41am (UTC -6)
Weird, because when I saw TNG during its first-run I thought Dr. Crusher was a far superior character to Troi but upon rewatching the series again I don't know what I was thinking. Except for a few stinkers in the first couple seasons ("I SENSE PAIN!... GREAT.. PAIN!!!) Troi is a whole hell of a lot better than ol' Bev was.

This episode is a great example of that.
Sticky Steve
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 5:14pm (UTC -6)
I assume Troi speaks fluent Romulan. Or is she wearing the Romulan version of the universal translator? But even if she were wearing the UT, I suspect the Romulans would suspect she's not speaking Romulan and that the UT is speaking for her? I doubt it would take a lowly crewman who scrubs plasma conduits to notice this instantly, but I guess the bridge officers just have too much on their minds to notice. They are probably too preoccupied with trying how not to look stupid in their Romulan clothing.
Bad acting. Sirtis is a bad actress, acting Betazoid and Romulan equally badly. The Romulan makeup on this bad actress, as well as on Ms. Seymour was simply bad for camera. An episode made entirely irksome, and laborious to watch, by the bad acting, bad wardrobe, bad makeup, and bad sets.
This episode: all that I come away thinking after viewing it is, so does Troi speak fluent Romulan or not?
The producers made a huge improvement on the bad acting of W. Shatner by casting Sir Stewart, yet the rest of the TNG cast? Excepting Brent Spiner: bad actors (although Mr. Spiner is equally unwatchable in his atrocious acting of (yawn) Sherlock Holmes, I might add.)
This episode is a clear example of where the show, mostly the coddled cast, started coasting along until the end.
Thu, Jan 29, 2015, 5:16pm (UTC -6)
I assume Troi speaks fluent Romulan. Or is she wearing the Romulan version of the universal translator? But even if she were wearing the UT, I suspect the Romulans would suspect she's not speaking Romulan and that the UT is speaking for her? I doubt it would take a lowly crewman who scrubs plasma conduits to notice this instantly, but I guess the bridge officers just have too much on their minds to notice. They are probably too preoccupied with trying how not to look stupid in their Romulan clothing.
Bad acting. Sirtis is a bad actress, acting Betazoid and Romulan equally badly. The Romulan makeup on this bad actress, as well as on Ms. Seymour was simply bad for camera. An episode made entirely irksome, and laborious to watch, by the bad acting, bad wardrobe, bad makeup, and bad sets.
This episode: all that I come away thinking after viewing it is, so does Troi speak fluent Romulan or not?
The producers made a huge improvement on the bad acting of W. Shatner by casting Sir Stewart, yet the rest of the TNG cast? Excepting Brent Spiner: bad actors (although Mr. Spiner is equally unwatchable in his atrocious acting of (yawn) Sherlock Holmes, I might add.)
This episode is a clear example of where the show, mostly the coddled cast, started coasting along until the end.
The Dreamer
Mon, Mar 30, 2015, 8:26pm (UTC -6)
Agree on the language thing.

That is part of the suspension of disbelief that we have to accept for the sake of storytelling.

That and her black eyes
Mon, May 4, 2015, 7:35am (UTC -6)
While I agree with most of the review, I disagree with jammer that Sirtis' was lacking anything in this episode. It's common practice for people who know TNG well to rag on the counselor. And not without reason, as her character was poorly developed and rarely found her groove. In this case however, I think we need to give credit where credit is due. I thought Marina did a great job in this episode. She finally got the chance to be the center of a suspenseful story, and she played the part well.
Mon, May 4, 2015, 7:36am (UTC -6)
While I agree with most of the review, I disagree with jammer that Sirtis' was lacking anything in this episode. It's common practice for people who know TNG well to rag on the counselor. And not without reason, as her character was poorly developed and rarely found her groove. In this case however, I think we need to give credit where credit is due. I thought Marina did a great job in this episode. She finally got the chance to be the center of a suspenseful story, and she played the part well.
Wed, May 27, 2015, 1:14pm (UTC -6)
I admit that the language issue was a huge problem for me. Unless Troi speaks fluent, unaccented Romulan, it just would not have worked. As it is, it appeared the dissidents chose her for the sake of convenience. She was away from the Enterprise attending a psychiatry conference.

Once I got past the need for suspension of disbelief, I was impressed. Other than Stewart and (sometimes) Spiner, every actor on TNG gets trashed for their lack of skills. None more so than Sirtis. She actually handled this episode extremely well. Like anyone else thrown into that situation, she starts off shaky and then, realizing it's life or death, does a good job of acting the role of the imperious intelligence officer. I could hardly believe this was the same Troi of a season or two before. But that's not the first time an actor or actress gets much more skilled over the course of a series spanning several years. Acting is just another skill that improves with practice.

I found I really enjoyed the plot and the glimpse into Romulan society. No wonder they have high-level defections going on... It sounds like a real police state.
Thu, May 28, 2015, 11:00am (UTC -6)
^^ I'd add Levar Burton to that list, too ^^

I think his portrayal of Geordi is always a highlight for any episode. Especially when Data's involved.
Tue, Jul 28, 2015, 10:29am (UTC -6)
I agree Troi speaking Romulan was an issue for me, sometimes you have to sigh and remember it is just a television show.
I did think it was very well done, and found it odd I had no rememberence of this episode (possibly one of the few I hadn't seen)
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 6:31am (UTC -6)
Unbelievable episode. For 40 minutes, with a Romulan face, Deanna Troi is the most intriguing character on TNG. At first I wondered how she could possibly pull off the ruse without having exhaustive knowledge of Romulan language and culture. But it makes for such a great story that I could easily suspend disbelief.

For much of Marina Sirtis' Star Trek run, she seemed to have only a passing interest in the character she played. I can't blame her; better actresses would have struggled to inject depth into Troi's eye-candy wardrobe, gauzy shrink routine, and empathic abilities that wavered between formidable and useless (depending on their convenience to the plot). But in this episode, packed into a funny costume and layers of makeup, Sirtis came alive. A truly poor actress might have faltered worse than usual in that position. But much like Jennifer Lien in Voyager's "Warlord", she delivers.

And as Sirtis embraces her new role, so does the character of Troi embrace her disguise as Major Rakal. Driven by necessity and the hope of aiding the dissidents, Troi becomes utterly convincing as a Tal Shiar operative: cold, authoritarian, secretive, and deadly. For that brief moment when she loses patience with N'Vek and threatens to betray him to the captain (a remarkable Carolyn Seymour), she appears truly Romulan, and it's chilling. I was enthralled from start to finish.

Now to watch "The Face of the Enemy" again, and compare it with "Second Skin."
Mon, Aug 24, 2015, 7:33am (UTC -6)
@Dusty - My 2 cents. Biased to DS9 as I am, Second Skin is the better overall episode I think, but I don't know that a comparison is warranted. Although it is a look inside an enemy's home and filled with intrigue (Romulan vs Cardassian) I think you hit it closer comparing it Warlord, because Nana is still just playing Kira in a mask, but even that's a bit off. I think what's truly impressive about THIS performance is that Sirtis is playing a different character WHILE playing Troi.

An actor acting like they are acting can often come off really odd, but I think she sells it just right. She never totally loses Troi, she adds just enough hesitation with her body language that you remember she's acting. But I was convinced it was Troi that was acting as a Romulan, not Sirtis acting as Troi as a Romulan. She really sells it.
Sun, Sep 20, 2015, 10:03am (UTC -6)
Add me to the list of people who think that Marina Sirtis really stepped up to the plate and delivered a grand-slam home run here. I couldn't say it any better than Dusty did - "For 40 minutes, with a Romulan face, Deanna Troi is the most intriguing character on TNG." Maybe that's because up until now, let's face it, Sirtis wasn't really given much to really sink her teeth into. But, given her painful-to-watch "Pain. Pain. Loneliness. Terrible loneliness. Despair." in "Encounter at Farpoint" or her laughably nonsensical "STOP THIS PETTY BICKERING, ALL OF YOU! ESPECIALLY YOU, MOTHER!!" in "Haven," I'm going to err on the side of caution and say she really grew into the role in the intervening six years.

"Face of the Enemy" isn't perfect, more on that in a minute, but there is so much good in here that I'm almost willing to forgive the problems. First, just bravo, BRAVO!, for them actually doing a gender-reverse situation without ending up being sexist about it. We have here a story with two women in the command positions with a male character in a clearly deferential role to both of them, and yet the episode never once, NOT ONCE!, draws attention to that fact. Usually when Trek tries to be all progressive about women in authority positions we have to endure the constant barrage of "SEE, THEY'RE WOMEN! SEE?! WE'RE NOT SEXISTS! SEE?!! THEY'RE WOMEN! WOMEN!! NOT SEXIST! SEE?!!! WOMEN!!", which just makes them look all the more sexist for compelling us to notice the characters' genders. That's one of the main criticisms I have about VOY (which, I should point out, I still think is a good show none-the-less). There we have a female captain and in order to not "be sexist" the writers constantly felt that she should be above criticism. Whereas on DS9, Sisko was just "the captain," not the "black captain." But Janeway was always, first and foremost, the "woman captain." SFDebris has made this argument countless times and I agree with him 100%. But here, in this episode, we have a female Romulan Commander who is allowed to be a fully formed, three dimensional character; it doesn't matter that she's a woman. We also have a another female character, Troi, who is also allowed to be a fully three dimensional character, subject to both audience sympathy and audience criticism. If only we could have more pieces of fiction like this, sci-fi and otherwise, (because Trek is far from alone in falling into the aforementioned barrages) it would probably go a long way to improving real-life gender relations. Seriously, I could kiss this episode's showrunners, this was so beautifully handled.

Second, there's the acting - which is just stellar all around. Not only does Sirtis deliver a wonderful performance (Again, add me the list of people disagreeing with Jammer - I even think she does a great job when she raises her voice in authority. Yes, it doesn't come off as very fluid or practiced, but that's the point, isn't it? Troi is completely unaccustomed to speaking from a position of authority so she wouldn't sound as practiced as, say, Picard or Riker would.) but so does virtually everyone else. Carolyn Seymour delivers her usual excellence as the multi-faceted Toreth. I would say she's one of TNG's most memorable and enjoyable one-off characters, right up there with Kivas Fajo from "The Most Toys." Though, to me, she'll always be Zoey from "Quantum Leap." :p But Scott MacDonald, N'Vek, and Barry Lynch, DeSeve, also offer up rather enjoyable outings.

Third - the world-building and politics. This is the first time we're introduced to the Tal Shiar, so there's your world-building right there. But it's also a example of getting to know an established alien race better, which is a form of world-building in its own right. Outside of pure world-building episodes - like "Journey to Babel," "Sins of the Father," "Homefront/Paradise Lost," "Scorpion" or most of ENT's fourth season - this is how I like my Trek! A little political intrigue mixed in with some cat-and-mouse games with a pinch of world-building thrown in = good stuff!

Fourth, we get a Human character, and a Starfleet officer to boot, who isn't exactly up to the perfection of the "Roddenberry utopia" and "evolved man." DeSeve, flat out defected to the enemy, a.k.a. committed treason! DS9 has often been described, and decried, for showing the darker side of humanity, even in the idealistic world of Trek. But, maybe, we're starting see some of those "cracks" in perfection here on TNG. And, I love it!

So, what are the problems. Well, they might be rather nitpicky, but they took me out of the story while I was watching it, so I think they're pretty significant.

-As much as I love the fact that Troi was given this opportunity to shine for once, I still have to ask - why the hell did the dissident movement choose her, of all people, for this job? The whole reason, stated directly by N'Vek, for using a Starfleet officer was that they might need to cross the Federation border if the plan went awry. That "back-up" plan absolutely depends upon said Starfleet officer having the access codes to the Federation-Romulan border sensor nets. Why would Troi have access to those codes?! I doubt even Picard would have access to that information, because why would he ever need it. But Troi is a Ship's Counselor for crying out loud! She's the last person who would ever be entrusted with those codes!

-Let me see if I have this straight - Toreth absolutely and positively does not want to cross into Federation space because it would, quite rightly, be considered an act of war and she doesn't want to go to war with the Federation because she's not a fool. Okay, so far so good. But she has no problem with openly destroying Starfleet's flagship?! Apparently for no reason besides shits and giggles?! Umm, what?!!

-LaForge's cameo appearance. Wow, I don't think I've ever seen a more textbook example of "well, we have to justify his paycheck somehow, don't we?" in my life. LOL! Why was he on hand to meet Troi in the Transporter Room? The only reason was so they could get some work out of Levar Burton. That could have literally been anybody. It would have made just as much sense to have O'Brien meet her, even though at this point he's on Deep Space Nine.

So, "Face of the Enemy" isn't the best Romulan-based episode of TNG, but it's hands-down the best Troi-centric one!

Diamond Dave
Mon, Oct 5, 2015, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
By far the best Troi vehicle so far. Although we need to suspend belief just a little bit that she could successfully blend in with no cover whatsoever - the fear of the Tal Shiar just about covers it - watching her step up into the role, taking on not just Toreth but then N'Vek as well, is a revelation. A sterling performance and a job well done.

This also successfully expands on Unification and gives a fuller sense of the Romulans as a race - showing the tensions between the Tal Shiar and the military, and the cracks that allow the dissident movement to emerge. The nuances that emerge add richness to the Romulans.

A tension filled, multi layered episode. 3.5 stars.
Wed, Dec 2, 2015, 7:39pm (UTC -6)
I'd just like to point out that this was the only episode of Star Trek to be scored by Don Davis, who is the composer of the excellent music to "The Matrix."
Fri, Dec 4, 2015, 6:10pm (UTC -6)
If there was one thing TNG got right it was the Romulans. And this is one of the very best Romulan episodes. I love the way it's set almost entirely on board a Romulan Warbird. And the portrayal of our pointy-eared foes was spot on. Excellent.
Wed, Feb 10, 2016, 3:02pm (UTC -6)
I always like watching this episode. Even though the ending just sort of works itself out a little blandly, overall it was very enjoyable.

Now for my silly comments. :)

I believel this episode showed how they must have MiracleGrow for hair. If I'm not mistaken (and I might be), Worf's hair is suddenly down his back for the first time. And Troi's hair was probably cut when they gave her the Romulan makeover, but when she is in sickbay at the end, she has her full head of hair again. It must have been regrown.

So I figure, if Captain Picard really wanted a full head of hair, he could have it any time he wanted. In 5 minutes, he'd be heading to the barber for a trim. :D

Regards... RT
Thu, Jul 21, 2016, 3:30am (UTC -6)
. A lot of people have made comments about marina sirtis acting abilities. First run in the 90s I would agree with it all. Lately I have changed that thought. She has always acted the script she was given, and it wasnt much what she got. This episode shows it.
Also the one where she, obrien, and data take over the ship....
Pretty damn convincing to me. This one as well, she was troi acting as someone else. An actress playing 2 parts at the same time.
I always liked how embarressed she was by her mother. And how she tried to grow as a commander. She always showed her vulnerability yet trod on. Something no one here has ever said she acts with her eyes. No other actor on trek has done this as well as her. And give her the credit that between her costumes and hairdos she was given no justice by the producers.

Just something to think about....
Mon, Aug 22, 2016, 1:11pm (UTC -6)
I have to go against the grain and disagree that Marina Sirtis did a good job.

She's a terrible actress IMO. Just because she was given a main role to play in this episode and something outside of the role her character usually plays, doesn't mean she did it any justice.

Carolyn Seymour wiped the floor with her. The contract between both of their acting abilities was cringe worthy. I kept thinking to myself, how can Marina be the regular cast member and Seymour be a guest actor?

Deanna Troi is one of my least favourite characters in TNG and so far, Season 6 has been dreadful. I'm watching the first season of DS9 alongside Season 6 TNG and it feels like they've kept all of their 'good' writing and ideas for DS9 and just totally abandoned TNG.

After having really enjoyed Season 5 (which IMO is the best TNG series, I don't get the huge appeal Season 3 holds), this season has been a huge disappointment.
Wed, Sep 21, 2016, 9:48am (UTC -6)
I agree with Rob, above. Although I wonder if Marina Sirtis' acting seemed so bad because of the script. She did not utter one sentence for the entire episode that wasn't in a raised or obnoxious tone of voice. (Except the very last lines back aboard the Enterprise.)

The plot was not interesting, the guy who played the defector who returned looked and sounded like a beached manitee.

Carolyn Seymour saved the episode.
Mon, Nov 14, 2016, 1:43am (UTC -6)
I enjoyed the hell out of this episode. Love the performance by Carolyn Seymour and even marina Sirtis. The writer's new how to effectively create tension. That almost submarine movie like scene at the end was television gold. My new drinking game is take a drink every time Tal Shiar is spoken.
Mon, Apr 10, 2017, 1:02am (UTC -6)
Sirtis was great as a Romulan. She really sold me as being strong and dangerous despite her statue and build. Didn't realize she could act so well, as soon as she went back to being "Troi" she immediately became dull and boring again and I realized how criminally underused this actress has been. Why did they ever cast her as counselor when she auditioned for chief of security? They could have merged the roles and had a Betazoid tactician and spared us the horrendous acting of that blonde chick from season 1 altogether. Seriously, the only good thing about that chick were all the robotsexual jokes we got to make about her.

I kind of enjoy watching Romulans interact, they're the only species on Trek that seems to have more female leaders than male and zero considerations of gender when it comes to rank. Betazoids are from what I remember a female-dominated society but in name only, we never actually see that being true, or rather we never see them interacting amongst themselves as a group to see if it's true. Troi's such a weak character you'd think she was raised Ferengi, seeing her step up as a Romulan and actually be a leader instead of acting all dull and passive felt like the character was finally, albeit briefly, embracing her heritage.
Sun, Jun 4, 2017, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
I don't get the love for this episode, to me it was too loudly and clearly trying to be The Hunt for Red October (which I didn't like much either). It felt too random that Troi would choose to trust a character and that that decision was the right one.
Wed, Aug 30, 2017, 7:56am (UTC -6)
I just can't take sirtis seriously anymore. I can't agree with those above who applaud her acting in this episode. She really only varies between playing a victim, and shouting at someone, with very little in between. Just comes across as whiny imo.
Thu, Oct 19, 2017, 10:55pm (UTC -6)
Marina Sirtis did a good job here, I was enthralled by the entire episode. It makes me wish that Troi had been cast as the head diplomat/negotiator of the show with a talent for espionage.

Instead we got a counsellor in a show where nothing ever had any lasting consequences.
Fri, Nov 3, 2017, 4:59pm (UTC -6)
Really bad episode. If the Romulan captain had even 2 IQ points to rub together she would have figured out Troi was a spy and vaporized her.
Liam Thibodaux
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 2:36am (UTC -6)
Never really understood the complaints about Sirtis. I always thought Frakes was the weakest actor in the show. Troi kind of sucked as a character, because she seemed more like a plot-device that worked as well or poorly as the script needed her to. Need an immediate insight in the villains motive for the plot to move forward? BOOM! Troi gives it. This week's plot is a mystery that would be destroyed by an effective empath? Troi's power doesn't work for some reason. Frankly I don't think Betazoids were a well-designed species. They're much too powerful except when they completely blow. The nature of her character meant there wasn't a whole lot Sirtis could do with her. But that's a writing problem, not an acting problem.
Liam Thibodaux
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 3:44am (UTC -6)
Why doesn't Picard order shields up as he's tracking what he suspects, correctly, to be a cloaked enemy ship? The whole scene seems to be contrived to create drama, but under the circumstances appears to be a major plot-hole.
Ari Paul
Tue, Apr 24, 2018, 2:13am (UTC -6)
Solid episode. The only little thing that bothered me was that the actor who played the defector had saggy man-boobs that showed through the sweater. man-boobs kinda bother me.

other than that, it was great!
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 7:35pm (UTC -6)
This one reminds me of "The Enterprise Incident" -- much weaker, although it's a decent episode with somewhat of a letdown, convenient ending -- it didn't really live up to the build-up and the questions one asks oneself as the episode wears on. Seymour as Toreth was terrific (but not as good as the female Romulan commander in the TOS episode). Getting some Romulan world-building was cool but I don't get how Troi comes up with the balls to challenge Toreth, to live up to the Tal Shiar reputation, take command of the Warbird etc. This is big-time out of character for Troi and was very odd, for me.

Some cat-and-mouse between starships is always fun although I'm somewhat surprised Toreth would want to attack Enterprise after it finds out it was being followed. Also surprised she didn't just phaser Troi after all the pissing matches these 2 had once Troi was found to be a traitor. Trek tries to portray the Romulans as scheming/clever, but they can come across as dumb/naive ("The Enterprise Incident" again comes to mind) or in this case so fearful of the Tal Shiar. At least Toreth gave some background as to why.

The defector the Enterprise took on seemed to be a complete idiot -- not sure why the Romulans wouldn't have killed him long before he got a chance to re-defect. He was a strike against this episode with his overweight/goofy appearance.

But it's good that this episode kept up the theme of Romulan dissidents after "Unification". Can see the similarities between Romulans and Cardassians in that they have this strong military control, some may be attracted to it for the order, while others want out (dissidents).

Not much made of Troi missing from the Enterprise or if Picard/Riker knew what happened to her -- obviously they recognize her when she speaks from the Warbird but how the whole thing was orchestrated is unclear to get the Romulan dissidents makes it really seem Picard/Riker were clueless.

I don't get why the freighter was destroyed -- perhaps the random element to show N'Vec's uncertainty about the situation and make things seem less under his control. Or maybe to spur Troi to be more assertive with him...

2.5 stars for "Face of the Enemy" -- definitely intriguing but somewhat lightweight. We get a Troi episode -- but again one like "Power Play" where she gets to act out of character, although I found it hard to rationalize here. Not totally sure what the bigger implications of the episode are -- successful defection of some high-ranking Romulans. Something to build on for a future episode perhaps.
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 9:23pm (UTC -6)

“I don't get how Troi comes up with the balls to challenge Toreth, to live up to the Tal Shiar reputation, take command of the Warbird etc. This is big-time out of character for Troi and was very odd, for me. “

She is a Lt. Commander, so it’s not a far stretch to say she has command duties where she orders people around like she did in “Disaster”. But I think the out-of-universe explanation is Sirtis didn’t really develop her role until the later seasons where she started acting competently instead of being just the show’s eye-candy. This episode gets a good amount of credit among Trek fans as being a “break-out” role for Sirtis so I think she deserves some credit for changing the character for the better.
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 9:53pm (UTC -6)

Have you seen "Disaster" recently? Troi was the epitome of uncertain person-in-charge there for the most part. She eventually developed a bit of steel but that's a far cry from her carrying on the Tal Shiar Major role the way she did here. She represented Tal Shiar like she had been serving with them for years, challenging Toreth etc.

It's good that some see this episode as a break-out role for her, which she needed. But it just came out of left field for me. Almost thought N'Vek had reprogrammed her in addition to the surgery.
Tue, Aug 28, 2018, 10:51pm (UTC -6)

Troi is basically put in situation where if she doesn’t act a certain way, she’ll be killed. Using that as motivator along with being a step ahead of everyone due to her *hidden* Betazoid senses makes her behavior here work.

And you dismiss her eventual steel in “Disaster” easily, but the show later establishes it as a turning point in her Starfleet career.
Sat, Sep 29, 2018, 10:50pm (UTC -6)
3 stars

It’s a fairly entertaining episode. Nothing groundbreaking or riveting though. Just an efficient little episode that holds attention for the hour and follows up on the Spock storyline.

TNG was better at the exploring sci fi and human tales aspect of Trek whereas DS9 was phenomenal at the political intrigue and war stuff. So after watching DS9 it’s hard to not feel this falls a little flat in comparison.

And this at moments felt mechanical. Things got some juice once the freighter was destroyed and the plan went off track. I also enjoyed Troi having a central role

Overall decent just not great
Thu, Nov 29, 2018, 10:47pm (UTC -6)
minor nitpick: Picard (or someone) should have realized that moving away from a slow near collision with an invisible ship gives away that you can see the invisible ship
Fri, Nov 30, 2018, 1:58pm (UTC -6)
I just couldn't get into this episode. The dialogue sequences between Troi and Toreth are perfunctory. Toreth hates the Tal Shiar we get it. We are told about the Tal Shiar but not shown anything. It would've been far more interesting of a story if we actually witnessed Deanna being taken prisoner on an away mission and having to escape. I also didn't think the DeSeve character added much to the episode. A traitor of the Federation that could've been an episode in and of itself with Troi having to find out his motivations and perhaps she becomes sympathetic to the dissident movement. I don't quite feel that dropping Deanna in disguise on a Romulan ship was the best way to go.
Cesar Gonzalez
Fri, Feb 22, 2019, 8:18am (UTC -6)
Wow, an actual good Troi episode that doesb't involve a man and her falling for him.

Nothing great, but definately not bad. A very good episode. Really liked the hoatility between both women.
Bobbington Mc Bob
Mon, Apr 8, 2019, 2:16pm (UTC -6)
Troi didn't end up impregnated or violated, held a position of authority, and had to be party to things that fundamentally challenged everything she stands for. A great outing for this character, who had been woefully underserved up to this point.

I also get a sneaking suspicion that Troi might have started to rather get used to being evil, if only for a second or two. It was quite the reversal, to hear a Romulan captain tearing Troi off a strip or two for her barbarism. Getting that uniform in Chain of Command seems to have done the trick!
Thu, May 2, 2019, 7:30pm (UTC -6)
Season 6 rolling along on a form of autopilot. This was a good drama and it was good to see Troi given a huge challenge. I am not sure I buy the final resolution and how she escaped. It would have been better if they beamed her over when her accomplice was killed. Also his solution to beam over the dissidents was a little unexpected. I liked the Romulan commander. I am a bit embarrassed I don't recall where I have seen her before...

8.5/10 for a good story.
Sat, May 18, 2019, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
I thought this was a pretty decent episode. Carolyn Seymour was great and the tension between the gestapo like Tal Shair and the regular military continues a tradition in televised Romulan society .
Wed, Mar 25, 2020, 4:44pm (UTC -6)
Really one of my favorite episodes, which is really something considering I'm not the biggest fan of Troi on TNG, but she kills it this episode.

My only criticism of this episode is one that I have of many other good TNG episodes, really abrupt anticlimactic endings that sort of end of a whimper.

I'd give it 4/4, but I think 3.5/4 is fine.. But it's a top 10 TNG episode for me.
Picard Maneuver
Sun, Apr 5, 2020, 2:20am (UTC -6)
I agree with the comment above mine. Many of TNG's scripts seem to be written as if it's unexpected that the episode is ending soon, like they got all the way to filming before they realized it and had to rewrite on the fly.

Regarding Sirtis, as much as I love the show, I've always had problems with the direction. Everybody was bad in Encounter At Farpoint and it's obvious that the actors were just given scripts with some vague notes. It's a little amusing that despite the progressive platitudes, this show was probably below average in giving its females something meaningful to do. This episode was a big exception with the tension between two women being the centerpiece. Even more surprising that Sirtis held her own against a much stronger actress.

I enjoyed Megalomaniacal Troi when she was chewing out the Romulan guy. She also looked good in the sweater thing that I guess was a medical gown or something when she was in sickbay at the end. They brought this woman on for sex appeal and it took them six seasons to figure out how to dress her.

It's a minor thing, but in this episode, Worf is ordered to bring the traitor guy to Picard's ready room, and Worf goes to manually fetch him. Why? Does Picard really expect him to do it himself? There is a moderately tense diplomatic thing going on and Worf leaves the bridge to valet. Can't he just hail someone else to bring the guy to the bridge? It's a tubby, meek, and seemingly broken middle age guy, what's he gonna do that requires a Klingon escort? Softly complain internally?

Hope the Romulan engineer was never found out for leaking the cloak. He's kind of fucked if he is.
Sun, May 17, 2020, 2:15am (UTC -6)
Your anti-Troi bias is showing. Not that it doesn’t have merit but this, I believe, is Marina Sirtis’ best TNG performance. Which isn’t really saying much, but hey. Good writing begets good acting. And she has been the victim of bad writing more times than I care to speculate. I’d give this one that extra half star.
Mon, Jun 1, 2020, 11:56pm (UTC -6)
Mom rewatch of 2020 goes great tonight. Mom is loving this one and always been a favourite of mine own as well. Besides the plot hole of no one noticing her being gone its a GREAT thriller episode. 7.5/10 junja sticks for me
Tue, Jun 2, 2020, 12:13am (UTC -6)
Is that really a plot hole, though?

Troi was attending a seminar and was kidnapped while returning to her guest quarters. Even if the people in charge of the seminar routinely checked on their guests (and why should they, really?), it would have been easy for the Romulans to fake a message from Troi saying that she doesn't feel well and she wants to rest in her quarters.

Anyway, I agree that it's a great thriller of an episode. Definitely one of the best in season 6.
Tue, Jun 2, 2020, 1:36am (UTC -6)
Plus, as we saw with Geordi, the Romulans are fairly decent at deploying dopplegangers to vacation spots and seminars while they kidnap Starfleet personnel.
Wed, Sep 2, 2020, 7:19pm (UTC -6)
Face of the Enemy was a reasonably strong episode in a very uneven season of episodes. Marina Sirtis, so often unfairly maligned because of the incompetence of the writers, rose to the occasion and captured the part of an involuntary conscript with aplomb.

Carolyn Seymour captured the arrogance of a Romulan commander with just the right level of irritating shrillness. I thought N'vek was memorable, as was the unnamed Romulan bridge officer who eventually shoots him.

It's interesting to me how an unnamed character can sometimes help to mark an episode in one's memory., even if his haircut and uniform are ridiculous. More generally, I think that good character actors are underrated heroes in a sense. They can help to make an episode more distinctive than it would otherwise be.

The Tal Shiar is clearly modelled after the WWII vintage German gestapo, with their trench coats, fedoras, sunglasses and superiority complexes always on hand to destabilize even the most disciplined Wehrmacht officer. Sirtis nails it. "Watch and learn".

If I had been on a Romulan ship in disguise, I would have kept my voice down in the cargo bay. Who could possibly think that place wasn't being monitored?

It's a hard episode to watch because of the paranoia of everyone on board the warbird.

I think that it rates a 6.5 out of 9.
James G
Sat, Oct 17, 2020, 4:34pm (UTC -6)
There's a lot to like about this one. It's very interesting to see the internal politics of the Romulans, and I found the revelation that they have a sort of Gestapo, feared throughout the military and civilian population alike, darkly, deliciously sinister.

I also liked that the Romulan captain is a bit more complicated and three-dimensional than your usual Romulan villain. I started to wonder whether she might defect after it transpired that her father had been killed as a traitor. The dynamic between Deanna and the captain reminds me, initially, of Ferraday and Jones in 'Ice Station Zebra' - it's Ferraday's ship, but Jones has effectively been put in charge due to the secrecy and criticality of the mission. But then of course it descends into outright hostility.

Speaking of traitors - DeSeve. Again, a moral ambiguity that I really liked. He's clearly betrayed the Federation even though he's trying to be useful, yet he's not really shown as a villain. It's good that we're introduced to the idea that someone might defect to the Romulans for moral reasons. A Federation traitor could easily have been painted with the villain brush, or the writers might not have wanted to entertain the idea of a Starfleet ensign committing treason in the first place. It's a detail that makes the TNG universe that bit more interesting and nuanced.

When Deanna is asked for the access codes for the Starfleet sensor nets I assumed that the whole thing was a setup to get them off her, a bit like Riker in 'Future Imperfect' (although that turns out to be something else entirely, of course).

The Romulan captain looked so familiar, but I couldn't work out where I'd seen her - so as soon as I'd finished watching I did a bit of judicious googling to find out. Not only was she Mirasta Yale from 'First Contact', but none other than the famous Carolyn Seymour! Carolyn played a character called Abby in a mid-'70s BBC show called 'Survivors' as well as a few other memorable parts 40-odd years ago. I never recognised her when I saw 'First Contact', perhaps partly because she affects an American accent in that one. In this one because she's supposed to be a bit evil, her usual English accent is encouraged. None taken.

I thought the conclusion was a bit easy and lame, quite honestly. And I don't think Marina Sirtis (or Deanna if you like) was a good choice for a badass Gestapo figure. Maybe Ro would have worked better. Or even O'Brien. But it's a very enjoyable episode.
Fri, Dec 25, 2020, 9:16pm (UTC -6)
Every time I see this episode, I wonder how the events of this episode could have failed to create a major interstellar incident bringing the Federation and the Romulan Empire to the brink (or beyond) of war. Reset Button, poof, no prob.

Regarding the ongoing argument about Marina Sirtis, I think it is unfortunately common for Trek fans to judge the skill of the performers based solely on what they see of them on Star Trek, as if that's any actor's only gig, and sometimes even as if the actor were in fact the character being played. (The logic goes, "If you play a character that's written as a source of warm fuzzy platitudes, then you must be a lightweight who can't think of anything more profound to say.")

I do not see how anyone who has seen Marina Sirtis's performance as the widow of an Iranian businessman in the "L.A. Woman" episode of The Closer could deny that Sirtis has a range at least a fair bit beyond, "Captain, he's hiding something."
Matt B
Sat, Feb 20, 2021, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
I agree with those that say Sirtis did a great job here. Inf fact Every time she has been given a decent script she has done well. The problem has always been that she has been given terrible scripts.

And I love Seymour here (and in other roles).
Sat, Apr 3, 2021, 8:43pm (UTC -6)
I love this episode. Marina is great in it, probably one of her best episodes. Carolyn Seymour is fabulous. About my only major critique is that, assuming Troi isn't a native Romulan Speaker (how could she be), then obviously she's using the universal Translator, which surely even though it seems to be "masked" to the viewer, would be at least even partially obvious to the Romulans. I guess this is a critique of all of Trek though something that you essentially have to set aside otherwise you simply couldn't watch just about any episode ane take it seriously!
Top Hat
Sun, Apr 4, 2021, 10:09am (UTC -6)
It's a fair criticism but maybe there's not one Romulan language but a welter of different ones, so the fact that she's speaking a different language through their version of the universal translator doesn't particularly stand out.
Sun, Apr 18, 2021, 7:18pm (UTC -6)
The story was interesting and seems to be fairly well written. The main problem I have with it is the fact that no explanation is given as to how Troi is able to pass as Romulan being that it’s unlikely that she can speak Romulan.

I guess that’s just the magic of interstellar life… You just automatically can speak any language in the universe, or everybody speaks English all over the solar system.
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 3:41am (UTC -6)
I agree, enjoyable episode and a good fight between Troi and Commander Toreth.

Two things strikes me as a problem for some of the comments here.

Troi speakein Romulan with the undetected universal translator. To me there is no tecnicla explanation only a story telling. Without her speking romulan this episode could not have been told this way. In Enterprise the problem around this tranlator was explored and intrestimng. Probably the writers realised that this was a new theme. I buy these illogical disturbances because of the story telling and just tries to ignor them.

How could it be that Commander Toreth could be so openly critical against Tal Shiar? Having lived and having had an intrest in Sovjet brings me slightly closer. In Sovjet Union ist was said that there where two places where you could stress a critical opinion without risking to much.

1.It was the clowns in the circus manege who could in a satirc way criticise the effect of the system. It was not allowed to criticise the System.

2. The big universities. Playing with diffrent thougt models was a necceity to develop.

Now, I asume that something was lart from the Stalin era where they lot a lost (they where executed) of competent persons who (perhaps) did not have the right beleif. Also in a dictatorship you need competent people. Commander Toreth could go further than many else becaus she was in fact good. Not every child was stopped bacause of their parents (missunfortune). Commander Toreth could very well had made carreer if she skillfully had found way to get around this theme. She challanged a Tal Shiar officer. In fact I was a little bit surpriesd because she was leaning wery much of the window. That impressed me. To me this proves that the writer really had been thinking over the Romulan Socity.

It was defeinetly not one of the best TNG episodes but one of the most intresting.
Jason R.
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 5:40am (UTC -6)
"Troi speakein Romulan with the undetected universal translator. To me there is no tecnicla explanation only a story telling. "

@Maq in a scifi novel Doomsday Book, about a historian who time travels to 14th century England, they use this chemical / organic universal translator that basically assists the user's own brain in decoding language - like an organic co-processor. So after a couple of days of interacting with the new language, the historian was able to speak and understand 14th century English (or whatever it was they were speaking).

This struck me as an elegant solution and far better than having some weird Alexa-like device simulcasting aliens as they talk out of a speaker in your combadge like I imagined Trek to be.

But that does raise a question: have they ever established how the universal translator works in Trek? I am scratching my head trying to remember if this was ever addressed. Not the translation but the human interface. Is there a scene in Little Green Men where this is addressed? Maybe the Trek version really is like Doomsday Book and my simulcast idea is just head canon? It would make way more sense....
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Fri, Apr 23, 2021, 12:28pm (UTC -6)
In Little Green Men Quark's, Rom's, and Nog's UT's were malfunctioning so they had to hit a reset button. Apparently the UT is implanted in the ear. In Voyager's episode The 37's one of the characters says "You are all speaking Japanese!" So in both cases it shows that the UT not only translates incoming speech, but outgoing speech as well. Like it sucks up your voice and rebroadcasts it out to the native language of whoever is listening. That's a far leap in and of itself, but it still doesn't address the issue of mouth movements. Anyone not speaking the same language should look to someone else like their dialogue was dubbed over. Maybe the UT has a little holo-projector that overlays the correct mouth movements onto the speaker. ;)

So yeah, at some point you just have to accept the conceit. A story like this just wouldn't work otherwise. It would preclude any inter-species infiltration, whether Humans posing as Romulans (Unification), Malcorians (First Contact), Vidiians (Voyager-Faces), Klingons (DS9-Apocalypse Rising), or Neelix posing as a Ferengi (False Profits), Kira being "transformed" into a Cardassian (Second Skin), etc.
Sat, Aug 28, 2021, 1:43am (UTC -6)
This was a great vehicle for Marina Sirtis, who finally got to stretch her legs a little. It's clear that Troi would naturally sympathize with the Commander of the Romulan vessel, but her role doesn't allow for that. Instead, she channels her anger at N'Vek, and at her situation, into a cold simmer she directs at Toreth. You get to see that anger boiling over when she smacks N'Vek down in private, threatening him to back him down and do things her way. Some of it is a performance on Troi's part, but it's clearly fueled by her outrage at being kidnapped, medically violated, and thrust into a dangerous situation to serve someone else's agenda.

The episode itself keeps the tension going, when not held up by the danger Troi is in, through the perceived mutual dislike between Commander Toleth and "Major Rakal". Half of this is an artifice, but Toleth doesn't know that. She, too, is angry, outraged by what happened to a father she has convinced herself was innocent.

Having said all that, the episode itself is more better-than-average than good. Thrusting Troi into the line fire didn't have to be quite so hasty to build suspense, and the resolution, improbably enough, is even more rushed. And a letdown, after all that tension. I mean, two women revving up for 40 minutes only to be let down in the climax is nothing new, but you hate to see it in TNG. Jokes aside, The script could have used a little tightening in the middle to make room for a more satisfying resolution.
Wed, Oct 27, 2021, 2:56am (UTC -6)
I think Jammer undersells this episode a bit. It’s easily the best Troi story out there, and I actually DO believe she is totally convincing when she raises her voice. And as an empath, she knows exactly when she needs to hide behind the Romulan fear of the Tal Shiar and how to achieve authority.

There is enough tension and subterfuge to keep the story bubbling along without ever getting boring or a drag, and the two main protagonists - Sirtis and Seymour - are brilliant here.

It’s not quite 4 stars, but not far off.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Oct 27, 2021, 9:51am (UTC -6)
@Tidd I guess the question is whether a "Good Troi Episode" (the former trope name for "A Day in the Limelight") automatically makes it a good Star Trek episode. SFDebris gave this a score of 7/10 which is similar to Jammer's 3/4 stars. That's still very good, and I agree it's a very good episode, but it's not quite up there with the likes of Tapestry, Sarek, Yesterday's Enterprise, or Darmok.
Thu, Oct 28, 2021, 2:05am (UTC -6)
@Jeffrey Jakucyk

I guess we’re only half a star different, which is no biggie!
Prince of Space
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
I did some research, and it turns out Toreth’s father refused to wear shoulder pads… so his arrest was legit.

Also… haha at the Universal Translator discussions above. I never even thought about that, and frankly I wish I still hadn’t. I’ve always found it (like many people) to be a bit silly… but if you’re actually trying to pretend to be another species, it would completely give you away. Oh well, this is why I can’t have nice things.

What was up with the dopey ending?! Troi thinks quick on her feet the entire time, but at the end just meekly gives up? BOO HISS!

Say the Federation has been tricked into thinking state secrets are being transferred via a spy but it’s really a computer virus. Or a delayed bio weapon. Anything, c’mon now Troi! haha
Evil Sponge
Wed, May 4, 2022, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
Good episode, but Marina Sirtis' performance is poor. I don't have a problem with the character of usage of Troi like some in these comments, but she doesn't quite get it right here. I felt like this episode was a missed opportunity to be a classic. Somewhere between the script, editing and performances, they didn't quite nail the kind of awkward, tense, edge-of-your-seat moments that would've made this a brilliant piece of TV. I'm imagining something like the start of Inglorious Basterds, with Troi narrowly avoiding discovery under increasingly difficult interrogation.
Wed, May 25, 2022, 11:13am (UTC -6)
This was an excellent, superb episode. I was riveted from start to finish! The plot twists and intrigue were all very engaging.

Troi losing her shit and getting all salty and bossy was a wonderful change in and of her character. I loves me a hot, sassy woman!!
Balok Face
Tue, Jun 21, 2022, 5:22pm (UTC -6)
Good thing Romulan walls have the best sound-proofing when Troi is yelling about the whole plan! Wish I had that in my studio.
Fri, Sep 9, 2022, 9:25pm (UTC -6)
They didn't miss Troi? "Hey where's the counselor?" My theory: she was off to the planet Lackotalent for acting lessons. Apparently her scholarship was for naught. Last seen w Martha Stewart naked baking.
But giving credit where do - Marina gave it her all. Can't ask for anything more in show biz.
Wed, Sep 14, 2022, 4:03pm (UTC -6)
@Ineedahobby: At the beginning of the episode she said that she was at the neuropyschology seminar on Bokara VI. They didn't miss her because she was not on board the Enterprise when she was abducted. The question is, didn't anyone miss her at the seminar after all that time and contact the Enterprise?

What is with the planet names in this show? Bokara VI? How many Bokara's are there and why do they all have the same name? It's like if we called our planet Earth III.

It really was a ridiculous plan, the whole thing hinged on kidnapping a Star Fleet officer and then having her go along with your plan at a moments notice without even telling her what was going on. The ending felt a bit rushed too, her last minute rescue just seemed too easy.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sun, Oct 23, 2022, 7:26pm (UTC -6)
Definitely enjoyed Don Davis' music in this one. It's a bit Ron Jones-ish, definitely more cinematic than usual. The post-Jones era (everything after The Drumhead in season 4) was generally little more than boring brass chords and a complete lack of tension or substance. A shame Davis never got to score any other episodes, but this is exactly the kind of great music the producers didn't want. Fuck you Rick Berman.
Peter G.
Sun, Oct 23, 2022, 7:45pm (UTC -6)
That escalated quickly.
Wed, May 31, 2023, 5:56pm (UTC -6)
Why didn't the internal sensors upon the Romulan ship detect that Troi wasn't Romulan? Federation ships can detect that there are x amount of human life signs aboard.
Sat, Sep 2, 2023, 9:51am (UTC -6)
Surprisingly good episode
Wed, Nov 15, 2023, 12:30am (UTC -6)
The magic of the universal translator continues to impress. Troi presumably can't speak Romulan, so presumably the universal translator was doing such a perfect job that she sounded like a native.

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