Wednesday, August 02, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 140 (Face of the Enemy)

Romulan society is seen as being rigid.  They even have their own version of the Gestapo, the Tal Shiar.  The Tal Shiar is known for keeping Romulan citizens in line.  Imagine Councelor Troi’s horror at waking up on a Romulan warbird with a Romulan face one day.  Not only that, she’s been given the identity of a Tal Shiar officer.  The ship’s first officer, Subcommander N’vek, comes in and explains that she’s there to help him with transporting some cargo.  He’ll explain everything once Troi gives the ship’s commander a new heading.

Once she tells Commander Toreth where to go, N’vek shows Troi the cargo:  A Romulan government official and his two top aides.  She realizes that N’vek is part of Spock’s underground from the two-part Unification.  (Parts I and II)  You might be thinking that there’s an easier way to do this.

They managed to abduct Troi from a conference.  Wouldn’t it have been just as easy to drop off three Romulans, instead?  If they can get the dissidents to Federation space this way, it will open up a method for others to follow.  Troi is there in case anything goes sideways, which it does.  She is able to get the three dissidents to safety onboard the Enterprise and is, herself, beamed off at the last second.

There were a few things that bothered me (and still bother me) about this episode.  First, Spock sends a former Starfleet ensign to the Enterprise.  Since this ensign was a defector, himself, he’s immediately arrested.  Again, I’d think that there would be an easier way to get a message to Captain Picard.  My impression was that it was done for two reasons.  One was to show how serious the situation was.  If someone was willing to be arrested for defecting, his reasons must be pure.  The second was to have him serve to move the plot along.  He’s able to offer important information as necessary.  Any information on Romulan society the ship would have might be inaccurate.  Anything the ensign would have to offer would be more accurate.

Abducting Troi serves as a bit of a McGuffin, as well.  It probably would have made more sense to abduct a security officer.  You might think that a security officer might be more of a risk, as they would want to gather information.  However, they’re transporting dissidents.  Any additional information would be that much more useful.  Even if you argue that they needed an empath, there had to be other empathic individuals that were better suited.  The writers needed a member of the Enterprise bridge crew so that she‘ll be recognized if necessary.

Speaking of abducting her, how did Troi get onboard the Romulan ship?  I suppose it’s possible that N’vek beamed her directly to her quarters.  There is at least one other Romulan officer sympathetic to the cause.  I’m surprised that no one said anything about not seeing Troi board the ship.  I’m also not sure how Troi was supposed to get off the Romulan ship.  I don’t think it was mentioned.  Was she to go with the third-party ship transporting the dissidents?  Was she to go back to Romulan space and be transported back later?  I think it was one of those things not dealt with because it would have unnecessarily complicated the story.

All things considered, it’s a well-written episode. I can overlook a few concerns, as there probably are viable answers to them.  If N’vek was able to kidnap Troi, it’s plausible that he had a plan for getting her back.  Unfortunately, we never learn if other dissidents make their way to the Federation.  I don’t recall any other attempts being depicted on The Next Generation or Deep Space Nine.  (There was one other attempt, which occurred before this episode aired.)  Face of the Enemy ended up being an enjoyable episode.

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