Captain’s Blog: 100819.3
Star Trek: The Next Generation - 109: The Battle
While in tense negotiations with the Ferengi, the Enterprise encounters Captain Picard’s previous starship, the USS Stargazer, which was lost during a battle with an unknown vessel. As more details are discovered, Picard (Patrick Stewart) begins experiencing hallucinations which put his current command at risk.
By the Numbers
Stardate: 41723.9 (This one is wildly out of sequence with surrounding episodes)
Premiere Date: Nov. 14, 1987
New named crew: Vigo, weapons officer of the USS Stargazer (not seen)
Character deaths: Most likely Vigo
New Picard details: SO many! He was previously captain of the USS Stargazer. This vessel was lost in a battle in the Beta Maxia star system with an unknown vessel that, we discover, was a Ferengi marauder. During this battle he created a military tactic that has since been dubbed “The Picard Maneuver” where he uses a burst of warp speed to appear in two places at once and surprise his opponent and trick them into firing on the wrong one.
This was such a good episode then AND now because we start to really get a sense of who Picard really is. Not only is an intelligent, diplomatic captain, but he is a brilliant tactician as well! Also, with such a rough introduction of the Ferengi a few episodes prior, this is a nice recovery for the species.
This is a good moment to reveal something about myself…I have always (since “Star Trek: The Next Generation” debuted) fallen asleep listening to the audio of these episodes. Back then, I would use my father’s media system to record the audio from the video taped episodes. Two episodes would fit on one 90-minute cassette tape. I would also create artwork for the cases. And then redo the artwork. And then redo it again.
Because cassette tapes took up a TON of space, I “limited’ myself to a handful of episodes per season. To that end, I had to be choosy. “The Battle” would ALWAYS make the cut because other than the pilot, it is the next quintessential Picard establishing episode. He’s a decorated Starfleet captain who has lost a ship, some of his crew (including the father of Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton), though they don’t delve into that here so it can be inferred that he died another time.)
For the record. I absolutely still listen to “Star Trek” at bedtime. Just ask my boyfriend.
Still such a great episode! Patrick Stewart is brilliant as he struggles with the weight of the loss of his former ship. Along the way, Data (Brent Spiner) discovers a recording in Picard’s own voice which suggests he attacked an unarmed vessel without provocation. The recording is a fabrication, of course, planted by the Ferengi to discredit Picard. Today we’d call that a deepfake. But until Data and company can clearly prove that, Picard is riddled with the guilt that he may have committed this heinous act. Especially since he’s experiencing some external mental abuse, the depths of the scenes with Picard is just stunning.
You can tell from the trailers for the upcoming “Star Trek: Picard” that this moral compass he has always maintained or wrestled with will be at the heart of his exploration.
There are some great moments for other folks. Wesley once again uncovers some information that saves the day, this time in the form of the brain waves. “Adults,” Wesley says, once he convinces Dr. Crusher (Gates McFadden) and Troi (Marina Sirtis) of his findings.
This is definitely a highlight of an otherwise inconsistent first season, worth watching if someone wants to “fast track” TNG to get ready for next January.
Rating (Ensign to Captain)
Captain (4 pips)
Commander (3 pips)
Lt. Commander (2.5 pips)
Lieutenant (2 pips)
Lieutenant, junior grade (1.5 pips)
Ensign (1 pip)
Kazaga: What is it’s price, we should wish to purchase it?
Picard: He’s not for sale…Commander Data is…is…
Riker: Is second hand merchandise and you wouldn’t want him.
Data: Second hand, sir? Oh. Of course! A human joke.
DaiMon Bok: It is a gift from us with which we honor the hero of Maxia!
Wesley: You’re welcome, ladies. Adults. (implied harrumph)
Picard: Hello, old friend. (When boarding the Stargazer)
Picard: Like going back to the house you grew up in, but no oner’s home except phantoms of the past.
DaiMon Bok: You murdered my only son!
Odds and Ends
Below is a video of the “other” Picard Maneuver. Over the seven years of the series, especially after the season three uniform change to a two piece uniform, Captain Jean-Luc Picard can be seen pulling down the top shirt of the outfit in what has been lovingly nicknamed “The Picard Maneuver” after his battle tactic noted above.