TNG Episode 1.9: The Battle

In which Wesley is unusually annoying.

Memory Alpha says: A gift to Captain Picard from a Ferengi military leader may have more sinister intentions.

My Review

This should be my last one before Christmas, because I actually have a life for the next few days – and it will also be the last one until after New Year, because guess who’s moving house on the 29th? Yes, I shall be a busy bunny indeed.

So in this episode we get some more repellent military Ferengi – I do want to continue with my assumption that Marauders are just the dregs of their society, sent out into space to stop them getting in everyone’s way – and the origin of the Picard Manoeuvre, the actual spaceship one rather then the one you do with your pullover. I have spelled it Manoeuvre because it’s far more French that way and I feel sure Jean-Luc would like that.

Allons-y!

I am using point form due to sloth.

  • That’s a pretty aquarium.
  • It’s very indicative of his character that Picard asks Beverly to come and check on him in his own room, not in sickbay where people might see that the Captain is mortal and feels off-colour sometimes. I like how he busies himself with his back to her, putting away books, while he describes his symptoms.
  • I know Beverly’s surprise over the headache is supposed to be one of those things indicating how far medicine has come, like McCoy’s horror at the old woman awaiting dialysis in STIV, but it just doesn’t make sense given that headaches so often result from being over-tired and anxious, and of course explorers in space will sometimes get over-tired and feel anxious. Doesn’t Geordi have headaches all the time because of his visor, anyway?
  • Clearly they still didn’t want to invest in a Ferengi bridge set, or it’s just Daimon SOP to position your webcam in front of a brightly lit white wall.
  • I’ve never understood why Marauders’ uniforms include so much fur. Is it supposed to look wealthy? It’s just kind of ratty, though. I do enjoy the idea of Marauders in mink, though.
  • So now you can get a psychic impression off a Ferengi, Deanna? Is Bok just special? Hey Deanna, can you read Bella Swan’s mind?
  • OPENING THEME OF GLORIOUS ADVENTURE – hey, I just noticed the kettle drums for the first time! Just before Brent Spiner’s name comes up. Nice.
  • FIRST APPEARANCE OF WESLEY’S RAINBOW SWEATER. I had forgotten how nipped in at the waist it is. Is he trying to show off his figure?
  • I love Data’s immediate nerdthusiasm for whatever Wesley’s been doing to the long range sensors and Picard’s little ‘Right now? Really?’ look that shuts him up.
  • Poor Picard with his achy head!
  • I like how Picard susses that Wesley came to the bridge instead of just calling his alert through because he wants to be around for the Ferengi beamover – and how sneaky little Wesley, since he’s here now, goes over and sits on his perch beside Deanna’s chair.
  • Is beaming guests into the bridge standard? Or even particularly safe? What’s to stop them immediately shooting at you, or just running over and bashing their grubby little hands all over Data or Geordi’s console?
  • I would have thought Data’s third in command, not second in command, but I’m going to let this go because Picard has a headache. It’s like that puzzle, you are in a race and you overtake the person in third place, what place are you in now? A lot of people will initially say second place. Though I’m sure Data doesn’t.
  • RIKER SMIRK.
  • Data makes absolutely weird faces at the Ferengi asking about buying him.
  • Of course, since this is pre-‘Measure of a Man,’ Picard is sort of at a loss to explain why Data is not for sale – he can’t just say ‘because he’s not property.’ I also enjoy Data’s slightly dismissive tone when he identifies Riker’s remark as ‘a human joke,’ implying that that’s about the level of wit he’d expect from Smirkypants – even if that does seem too sophisticated a response for Data.
  • ‘Hardly a mistake, sir.’ Somebody’s feeling sassy today. Are you going to go *cough*yankeetraders*cough* next?
  • How would Ferengi even get hold of an old Constellation-class ship? Do old vessels sometimes get sold off at auction, like when a police department gets new cars and sells one of the old ones to Elwood Blues? They claim it was a derelict, but it also sounds unlikely that the Feds would just lose track of an old starship. Don’t they use those for training exercises?
  • Why didn’t Bok brief his guys on his plan before beaming over? Their loud surprise at his decision to give Picard the Stargazer for free is totally blowing his cover. I know it’s there to raise the audience’s suspicions, but I’d like to have my suspicions raised with more subtlety.
  • Deanna’s lipgloss today is super pretty. Beverly’s hair is still looking pretty awful. I can’t remember whether it improves significantly before her Season 2 hiatus.
  • Picard is hallucinating smells. Isn’t that a classic sign of a stroke? But Beverly lets him get up!
  • Is that a pen Picard is playing with while he talks to his officers? I like that he’s doing something with his hands to compensate for his nerves. Picard fiddling with a pen makes far more sense than Data fiddling with a finger-trap, but it still seems like an archaic object for the context.
  • It is a pen! Why does he have a pen? Does he collect pens as well as paper books?

  • I like Picard’s modesty in saying his manoeuvre was ‘what any good helmsman would have done.’ Riker is sucking up to him SO HARD.
  • I really like the image of a ship’s crew ‘limping through space’ as a flotilla of shuttlecraft. The challenges of that would make a good story for at least an episode. You could have stuff like a shuttle’s engines failing and people having to go out in EVA suits to raft it together with another. Time wearing on and the fear building that they’d run out of power and supplies before anyone finds them. If this has been done in some episode that I’m not thinking of right now, I’ll shut up.
  • What’s up with the pink lighting on the Stargazer’s bridge? Why is Data walking around with his mouth open?
  • I am enjoying the pre-LCARS interface on the control panels, much closer to (perhaps the same as? I’m not checking right now) what was used in the later movies. I really, really appreciate the level of detail and continuity of style that Star Trek‘s visual designers usually provide.
  • What was that crap Picard dusted off a panel? Cremains?
  • Okay, the fact that Stargazer was abandoned makes the whole derelict thing more plausible, but I still don’t see why a recovery vessel wouldn’t have been sent to look around her last known position. A starship’s a pretty big investment of resources to just leave.
  • THERE’S SOMETHING EVIL IN YOUR SUITCASE JEAN-LUC.
  • Do the nacelles look unusually glowy to you today? They do to me.
  • More Riker smirking!
  • See, now Starfleet gives them a tug. (That’s what – no.)
  • What do you mean what’s wrong, Will? I think the line is supposed to mean that he’s asking Deanna, what’s really wrong, what can you tell me that Picard won’t or can’t, but he reads it like he’s just noticed Deanna looking worried and wants to know what’s bothering her, as if it isn’t obvious.
  • Ha ha when Patrick Stewart lies down his scalp goes wrinkly where it presses against the pillow. (I’m sorry, I’m so immature.)
  • Data. Dear. Why would you accept as ‘proof’ that this alternate account of the battle is logged in Picard’s ‘own voice,’ when you know you can do a perfect imitation of his voice? And when Wesley’s little voice machine reproduced it well enough to make plausible fake intercom announcements in ‘The Naked Now’? Obviously it could have been faked. Do you need your pipe to help you with this one?
  • You know how pointy sideburns were really ‘in’ in the 2260s, and apparently are equally popular in the 2370s? Is this because it’s a fashion that’s come around again, like the current trend for 60s-influenced silhouettes (or more accurately I suppose Mad Men-influenced silhouettes – and a very good thing from my point of view), or is it just a ‘Starfleet look’ that people are proud to wear, as part of their membership identity, in the same sort of way as a jarhead haircut for the Marines? Like, if a boy aspires to join Starfleet, he’ll trim his hair that way and be all chuffed if he gets mistaken for a cadet out of uniform? Aw, that’s a cute idea.
  • Well thank goodness Riker realises the voice must be faked. Data should have thought of it, though.
  • Eh, who wants to be friends with the Ferengi? Those guys are jerks.
  • Infamy, infamy, they’ve all got it in for me!
  • Har. Ear joke.
  • Patrick Stewart is very good at subtle and believable pain acting.
  • Being made to doubt your own memory is pretty shitty, but also really good territory for a psychological thriller. I think my favourite example is Perfect Blue.
  • I wonder if the actor playing Bok got bored with scene after scene of him fondling the red crystal ball thingy and gloating.
  • I really like how, in Picard’s nightmare, the Stargazer bridge stations are overlaid on his present-day room, and he’s solid but the crew around him are ghostly. This is a very effective scene visually.
  • Good, Data has found evidence of the forgery. I still feel that he should have suspected it himself.
  • Data: Statement of what he’s discovered.
    Riker: What does that mean?
    Data: Tries to explain the part that he thinks Riker is asking about.
    Riker: I DON’T WANT A COMPUTER SCIENCE LESSON DATA.
    Me: Buttchin. You work with Data all the time, why don’t you understand yet that you have to be very specific and unambiguous when asking questions? You would be terrible at making wishes, incidentally. A passive-aggressive literalist genie could make mincemeat of you.
  • Enter Wesley with a huge fuckin’ dump of exposition! He is such a smug little choad in this scene. And this is coming from someone who actually feels quite fond of Wesley a lot of the time.
  • I love how the Helm station on the Stargazer‘s bridge has HELM on it in big white letters. It’s very Batcave.
  • It’s just a shame that the way Bok has to be played, given the profiling of the Ferengi at this stage, deprives his grief for his son and his need for revenge of any gravity or dignity. His confrontation with Picard could mean so much more than it does. One reason I’m thinking this, obviously, is because I watched ‘Emissary’ recently and can’t help comparing this with the first tense meeting between Sisko and Picard.
  • I notice he never really explains where those red globey things come from. Who makes those? Where can you buy them? Ha, Geordi is fooling with the other one on the bridge.
  • I like how Riker has posed himself exactly between the two forward stations, bending forward with a hand on each chairback, because the big sweep of wood between the seating area and Tactical lines up and looks like he has wings!
  • When the Ferengi first officer gives an excuse for where his captain is, Data is giving him a complete and total stink-eye with one eyebrow up. Looking at Season One, you could get the strong impression Data has a real thing about the Ferengi.
  • Riker orders Data to devise a defence against the Picard Manoeuvre, ‘fast,’ and Data wiggles his eyes around to show he’s thinking really hard.
  • Yet the Ferengi first officer actually gets a moment of dignity in the way he speaks to RIker in their last communication.
  • Data comes up with a clever plan involving gas. Riker: I hope you’re right Data! Data (awesomely, half to himself): No question of it, sir.
  • ‘Look for a silver sphere,’ although the most striking thing about the device is its red glowing light. I bet Riker gives terrible directions.
  • Well, that was an okay episode. The fact that such a large part of the solution comes from Wesley, and that it’s so dashed off in a very short scene, while lots more time has been given to the figuring out of the faked voice log, is irritating. It seems like the wrong thing stumped them, or occupied their thoughts disproportionately. It would work okay if the idea was just ‘Wesley noticed someone nobody else did because he was over in a subplot looking at something nobody, including him, expected to be relevant to the main plot,’ but just two words in Wesley’s dialogue stand out as really awful: that he glanced at some highly complex readouts and made the necessary connections, and his smug little ‘Adults’ after the women leave. I’m sorry, Wesley, I have to ask you to take off the rainbow sweater. It has given you Hubris.

    The fact that *~psychic~* Deanna is so little help in detecting a device that affects people’s thoughts is also annoying. Sometimes I think I’d like it better if Deanna’s job title wasn’t Counselor at all, if her job was actually something like ‘Liaison Officer,’ which would go with the way that she often briefs Picard on the culture and practices of the aliens they’re meeting today. To make her seem that bit more intelligent, she should be written as working off reasoning and a thorough knowledge of human-and-otherwise nature, as much as psychic insights. (Deanna: He’s lying. Picard: Do you sense deception? Deanna: No, but he started blinking far more often when he got to the made-up part.) It does make sense to have a counsellor on a starship, but not much for this person to be a bridge officer. The counsellor should be based out of or adjacent to sickbay, and just brought in when a psychological insight is required. They don’t keep Beverly sitting around on the bridge in case somebody cuts their finger.

    Oh, and obviously Deanna should wear a proper blue uniform at all times so that she looks like a goddamn professional. She can still do goofy things with her hair if she wants.

    I wish you all a happy next-little-while, whether this is a festive season for you or not. Then in the new year, I’ll be back (sooner or later) with the next two DS9s, ‘Dax’ and ‘I Only Remember Julian’s Elvis Dance From This Episode.’

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    2 Responses to “TNG Episode 1.9: The Battle”

    1. Lori Says:

      >Happy new year, and good luck with the move – one of my least favorite things to do. You inspired me to start watching DS9 again. You've given me time to catch up. 🙂

    2. Picardigan Says:

      >Well, I've made the move, so thank goodness that's done. Now I just have to get my internet sorted out.


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