Friday, March 24, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 86 (The Wounded)

I remember watching an episode of Star Trek (the original series) and thinking that Ferengi, Borg, Bajorans and other races from the spin-off series existed.  They just hadn’t been invented yet.  At some point, each race was created for whatever reason.  The Ferengi and Borg were to serve as enemies, for instance.  In The Wounded, we get to meet the Cardassians, who are not on friendly terms with the Federation.

There is a peace treaty, so it comes as a surprise when a Cardassian ship attacks the Enterprise.  Captain Picard is able to get the situation under control pretty quickly.  When pressed for an explanation, Gul Macet explains that a Starfleet ship attacked first.  (A gul is their equivalent of a captain.)  Picard asks for an hour to verify this with Starfleet.  Turns out it’s true.  Captain Maxwell, in command of the Phoenix, attacked a Cardassian base.  He’s not responding to anyone, so no one has any idea what happened.  Oh, and Picard is to preserve the peace…at all costs.

Macet and two of his aides come onboard the Enterprise to find Maxwell before any more harm is done.  Interestingly, Chief O’Brien served with Maxwell.  They responded to a Cardassian attack in which Maxwell lost his family.  The Enterprise finds Maxwell, but can’t get to him before he finds two more Cardassian ships.  Picard reluctantly agrees to give the Cardassians the prefix codes for the Phoenix, which would allow the Cardassians to lower the Phoenix’s shields.  This doesn’t help; the two Cardassian ships are destroyed, anyway.

Up to this point, Picard had been resisting.  He realizes now that he can’t drag his feet any more.  He increases speed to warp 9 to get to Maxwell as quickly as possible.  Picard and Maxwell talk.  Maxwell is under the impression that the Cardassians are rearming.  He throws out a few vague statements.  (“Lives were at stake.”  “We had to act now.”)  Picard bluntly informs Maxwell that Maxwell will return to the Phoenix and follow the Enterprise back to Starbase 211.  Maxwell agrees insomuch as he’ll bolt at the first sign of a Cardassian ship.

Sure enough, Maxwell finds one that’s using subspace shielding, which makes scanning impossible.  Maxwell insists that Picard beam over, which Picard refuses.  O’Brien is able to beam over during a fiftieth-of-a-second window that the Phoenix’s shields provide.  (Yes, 1/50 of a second.)  O’Brien convinces Maxwell that he’s not getting his way on this.  Maxwell hands his ship over to his first officer and spends the rest of the trip to the starbase confined to quarters.

I remember when this episode first aired.  The thing that stood out the most was the song, The Minstrel Boy.  I don’t know why, but it was one of those things that stuck with me.  I also remember thinking it was odd that we never got to see any of Maxwell’s crew.  When O’Brien beams over to the Phoenix, we go from O’Brien telling Picard that he can do it to O’Brien walking into Maxwell’s ready room.  I think the writers wanted to avoid the issue of the crew being complicit in his actions.

Maxwell was someone who lost his family.  It took a while for him to finally snap.  I’m sure other Starfleet officers present had similar issues.  O’Brien even snapped at the Cardassian aides during the episode.  The fact that Maxwell was in command of a starship made things more dangerous.  O’Brien was in pretty deep denial about his feelings.  After snapping at the aides, he goes to have dinner with his wife and says that he feels fine about the Cardassians.  The war’s over.

The ending also stuck with me.  Picard and Macet have a conversation in the observation lounge.  Macet asks Picard why he didn’t inspect the ship, to which Picard responds with the truth.  If Picard had gone over, both sides would be making preparations for war and that’s not what Picard was instructed to do.

I originally took the scene to mean that we’d never know, even though it’s likely that the Cardassians were up to something.   There was a scene with Glin Telle, one of Macet’s aides, getting caught looking at sensitive information.  Macet confined Telle to quarters, but I always took the scene as the outcome of plausible deniability.  Macet probably had his aides look at stuff every chance they got.  Telle just has the bad luck of getting caught, so Macet had to appear to reprimand him.  Likewise, Picard points out that Maxwell was a good man that happened to do something very wrong.  The fact that he was right about the Cardassians doesn’t excuse killing 700 people, but the Cardassian government has been caught.  Picard can’t do anything about it…at the moment, but the Cardassians are on notice.

IMDb page

No comments :