In history there have always been conquerors and the conquered. There have always been oppressors and the oppressed. It is sad that a story like this is timeless and can be attributed to any era of history that we wish. We are facing this now in much of our planet and, unless we go visit these places ourselves, we will never see the truth of what is happening for ourselves. Everything is about perspective and, as Guinan says, Truth is in the Eye of the Beholder. In the episode that originally aired on October 7,1991 we see this and more. This is Ensign Ro.
Stardate 45076.3 Ensign Ro
Ensign Ro Laren has joined the crew to assist in new altercations between the Bajorans and the Cardassians. Unfortunately Ro Laren has a reputation that precedes her and Picard is not happy with the new assignment.
After a visit from Admiral Kennelly, Ro Laren is assigned to the Enterprise to assist in tracking down Bajoran Terrorists who have raided a Federation occupied outpost. It appears that the Cardassians have annexed the planet Bajor and the rebel group are (rightfully) not happy with the situation.
Ro takes them to meet Keeve Falor, who may know more about the attacks on the Federation outpost. Keeve comments that he recognises that the Federation is an innocent bystanders and apologies for the altercation. He explains that the Federation ignored the Bajoran people when the Cardassians subjugated their world. He is visually upset and does not seem to want to help. Picard orders Data and Worf to supply the settlement with blankets and supplies before they depart. Keeve thanks them and makes arrangements for Picard to meet with Orta, the leader of the Bajoran Terrorists.
Later Ro Laren meets up with Guinan on Ten-Forward. Guinan is interested in Ro as this new ensign is a known troublemaker. We learn that Ro was court-martialed due to disobeying a direct order. Soon Ro receives a message from Admiral Kennelly and she replies that Everything is going according to plan.
Picard and team prepare to meet with Orta only to find Ro has already beamed down. They proceed on the mission only to find themselves surrounded by armed Bajoran rebels. Ro and Orta greet them where Orta informs Picard that the rebels did not attack the Federation outpost. Picard is upset that Ro went on her own but she indicates she wanted to avoid bloodshed and, upon return to the ship, he confines her to her quarters for the remainder of the mission.
Guinan meets with Ensign Ro and suggests that Ro talk with Picard as Picard was a man who helped Guinan when everything seemed lost. Guinan takes her to Picard where she introduces Ro as ‘her friend’. This impresses Picard and he is willing to listen. Ro reveals that Admiral Kennelly set up a deal with Orta and the Federation. Kennelly was planning to supply the Bajorans with weapons and supplies to fight against the Cardassians. Picard is shocked to learn this turn of events and is quite upset at the situation. She explains that she witnessed her father be interrogated and tortured by the Cardassians when she was only seven years old. She has come to understand that she can not continue to run and wants to make a change. Picard understands and decides to see what happens if he is able to draw Orta out of hiding.
He reports his progress to Admiral Kennelly and informs the Admiral that they are escorting a ship with Orta on board. They begin to escort the Bajoran ship and soon monitor increased activity or Galor Class War ships in Cardassian space. Just as the Enterprise and the Bajoran vessel get near the border, they are intercepted by Cardassian Warships lead by Gul Dolak. Dolak informs Picard that they are helping an enemy of the Cardassian people and are expected to release the Bajoran ship to them. As expected, Admiral Kennelly contacts them soon after and orders Picard to sacrifice the Bajoran ship to the Cardassian. Picard complies and the Bajoran ship is destroyed by the Cardassians.
Kennely contacts Picard and asks if all of the Bajorans onboard were killed. Picard explains that the ship was empty and that Kennelly was wrong in siding with the Cardassians. Kennelly was fooled by the Cardassians who staged the attack on the Federation outpost in order to gain allies against the Bajoran ‘terrorists’.
Picard offers Ensign Ro a chance to continue her career with Starfleet. She reluctantly accepts under the condition she can wear her traditional Bajoran earring while in uniform.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a terrific entry into the Star Trek mythos. By bringing in the Bajorans and bringing back the Cardassians, the universe has officially gotten bigger and we have an opportunity for some wonderful storytelling to come. In many ways this episode is the launching ground for the series that began almost a year later, Deep Space Nine, and, with the introduction to the Bajorans, brings with it a vast cultural heritage that has yet to be fully explored.
I also love how the Cardassians are steadily becoming the villain that we will see in later episodes. They are a cunning and warlike race who are very good at ‘diplomacy’ when it suits them well. They fully take advantage of the fact that the Federation does not want a war and play that to its fullest. They attempt, and are nearly successful with, a ploy to make the Federation view a subjugated people as an enemy. The Cardassians know that they are in the wrong and want as many allies as they can get to legitimize themselves and their tyrannical rule. It is nice to encounter an enemy that is not entirely one-sided and, in time, seeing them become a fully developed people in the series.
The episode also shows us again, just how gullible and warlike much of the Federation Admiralty tend to be. Yet again an Admiral is ready to believe the worst possible outcome and is shown the error of his ways by Picard and crew. I’m forced to wonder if Starfleet isn’t the peaceful organization we are led to believe and that our perspective from the Enterprise is just a little bit rose-colored in that Picard and crew are doing their very best to live to a higher standard than the rest. Too many times have we encountered a rogue Captain or an over vigilant Admiral for me to think that Starfleet is the perfect peaceful organization.
On a more positive note, We get a chance to show some additional character development with Captain Picard in this one as well. Picard is put in a difficult position and, once he learns who Ro really is, he takes the opportunity to get to know this troublemaker. I really appreciate how he tries to see the best in everyone no matter how difficult they may be. Instead of a problem, he typically sees and opportunity to improve and that really makes him a fantastic Captain.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We meet Mr. Mot, the ship’s barber who is also the ‘best barber in Starfleet’.
Riker is a little bit of a dick to Ro when they first meet, demanding she remove her earring. Oddly others are allowed their cultural or religious accoutrements such as Worf’s sash and Even Scotty was allowed to wear a kilt.
This is the first time we get to meet the Bajoran people and they become a major part of the Star Trek universe as time passes, being the primary focus in the series Deep Space Nine.
I was always fond of the character Ro Laren and was surprised to learn that she was originally intended to continue on to Deep Space Nine but the actress, Michelle Forbes, turned down the role and we got another wonderful character in her place, Major Kira Nerys.
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Late To The Game 2/9/2020 (Originally published 8/24/2018)
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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