The Third Season continues with a bang. This time the Enterprise must deal with a major threat to a previously unknown colony and of course, things don’t work out like they should. More terrific story and more of what made this series a classic with The Ensigns of Command, originally airing on October 2,1989.
Stardate undetermined :The Ensigns of Command
The Enterprise is contacted by The Sheliak, a race that has remained silent for over a century, telling them to remove a human colony before the humans are removed forcibly. Data must now convince over 15,000 people to leave their homes before they are exterminated by the Sheliak.
The Enterprise arrives at Tau Cygna V only to find that their phasers and transporters are not functional due to the radiation in the area. Expecting a small settlement, Data takes a transporter discover a large fully built colony with a population that can not be evacuated before the Sheliak arrive to claim their planet.
Data informs Gosheven,the leader of the colony, that they must leave due to the arrival of the Sheliak and he refuse to evacuate. He sites that they have been there for multiple generations and feel that they own the planet, not the Sheliak.
Riker and Picard order Geordi and O’Brien to do the impossible and get the transporters to work. Meanwhile, Picard attempts to contact the Sheliak Corporate. They respond and are unwilling to cooperate. After Starfleet informs him that they will not get a ship there in time to evacuate the colony, Picard decides to intercept the Sheliak themselves, fully understanding that this may be seen as an act of war.
With help of a young woman named Ard’rian, Data tries to convince the population to leave with little effect. Gosheven calls a town meeting to inform the people of the situation. Although he insists that Data not speak to the crowd, the crowd allows Data his due. Data, under the instruction of Ard’rian, tells them all that they will die for the land and, as nothing will be left, they will be remembered ny no one. Gosheven calls his bluff and wants a fight, not accepting the threat that is at hand. Data’s speech gets a reaction from some of the towns people but all in all, they fall under Gosheven’s leadership and prepare for war.
Many of the Townspeople want to leave and are not happy with Gosheven’s decision. Gosheven retaliates by electrocuting Data and shutting him down in order to stop Data from ‘infecting’ his people against him. Ard’rian begins to work on him to get him into working order.
Data is soon repaired and decides that his words were not enough and that he must use force and action to handle the situation. He sends word with Ard’rian to tell Gosheven that Data plans to destroy the colony’s aqueduct.
Data, using a modified phaser, shust down the aqueduct with his phaser and shows Gosheven that he alone can do this damage but the Sheliak will destroy them from orbit. He recognizes the truth and they prepare for evacuation. Ard’rian says goodbye to Data and she is sad to learn that Data has no feelings so he can not reciprocate her love. He sees that she is sad and kisses her in response.
Picard prepares for his confrontation with the Cheliak colony ship and, citing terms in the treaty, he gets an opportunity to talk with the ship’s captain. The Cheliak captain dismisses Picard out of hand and he finds he is unable to negotiate. Soon however, after finding a part of the treaty he can use against the Cheliak, he finally convinces them to delay their colonization by three weeks.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Two for Two so far. This one has all the elements of a perfect Star Trek Episode, A Viable Threat, solid use of the Ensemble Cast, Strange New Worlds, New and interesting Alien races, Good storytelling and a clever solution to the problems at hand.
Everyone in the show are at the top of their game and really give us a great sense of how well the work together as a cast. They have developed a real kinship that can not be faked and it shows. I will say this again, with the return of Gate McFadden as Doctor Crusher, it is clear that this is the team needed for the series.
The story itself is very much a Data story with a touch of Picard for good measure. Data gets a chance to operate alone and, in doing so, finds that he may actually have more feeling than he once believed. This is evident in his interactions with Ard’rian and in his concert that opens the show. In the past two years, Data has certainly grown.
Picard gets his due in his negotiation strategy. This episode really highlights his determination and thoughrouness in his duties. The man will not take no for an answer and, just like James Kirk, he doesn’t seem to believe in a No-Win situation.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We get a chance to see Data play his violin again, possibly a throwback from his time as Sherlock Holmes.
Picard points out that, in playing his music, Data has learned to be creative. This is clearly a human trait.
We learn that not only is O’Brien a skilled transporter Chief but he plays a mean cello.
Data finds love again with Ard’rian McKenzie who has an interest in computers and finds him…attractive. Sadly, she will be one that gets away.
We never see the Sheliak again, perhaps they’ve gone back to not communicating for another century…
Sadly we never hear from Ard’rian again either.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: The Survivors
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Late To The Game 8/10/2019 (Originally published 4/23/2018)
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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