Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Battle” (part 2 of 4)
After the break, Picard explains in his log that the Ferengi have beamed back and invited the Enterprise to make its possession of the Stargazer “official”, whatever that means. Picard, for his part, is back in sickbay, with both Dr. Crusher and Troi this time, as they further discuss Picard’s mysterious headaches. Troi describes what she felt, and even describes the sensation at one point as “mechanical”, yet none of them can draw the obvious conclusion that some external influence is very likely at work here.
Picard now says he’s being hit with thoughts dating back to the Battle of Maxia (and even though it’s not his name for it, Picard never suggests a better one). He begins describing his memories in fair detail, such as how his ship was on fire. He then says with some concern that he smells smoke, before realizing that it was just a memory. Despite this, Dr. Crusher okays Picard to head out and brief the staff, though she does tag along.
Cut to the meeting room, where Picard is now recounting the incident in even greater detail, including how they were ambushed and were one hit away from being destroyed. Then, abruptly, he starts talking as if he’s in the middle of the incident, directing questions to one his Stargazer officers. Troi manages to bring him back to the present, and he all but laughs it off with a “hey, I’m getting quite caught up in this”, whereupon they all decide to pretend that insanity never happened.
Picard continues, describing the tactic he improvised on the spot, which involved a short burst of high warp speed to create the illusion of the ship being in two places at once, then wrecking the enemy ship as it went after the echo. Data reveals that this tactic is now taught at Starfleet as “The Picard Maneuver”.
Modestly dismissing his feat as “what any good helmsman would have done”, Picard concludes his tale by revealing that the Stargazer was severely damaged in the attack and had to be abandoned, and the crew spent weeks in shuttlecrafts before finally being rescued. And I should add that Jonathan Frakes does a particularly good job of getting across a sense of admiration for the captain over this tale—almost too good, really.
But you can see why this incident would be so unmemorable to the captain. Nearly getting blasted to bits, abandoning ship, adrift in space for weeks, and ultimately immortalized in the textbooks for a feat of heroism would almost totally pass from anyone’s memory after nine years. After all, by the time this recap is published, it will have been roughly nine years since 9/11, and for the people who were there… you know, I don’t think I need to finish that thought. You get the point.
Picard now says he very much wishes to visit his old ship. Once again, giving no thought to context, the officers see no problem with this, just as long as they can give the ship a onceover safety check, and Dr. Crusher can perform another set of useless tests on Picard.
One onceover and one set of useless tests later, Picard (with Dr. Crusher in tow) beams aboard the Stargazer, where he reacquaints himself with his old bridge. After assuring Dr. Crusher that he feels fine, he wanders off alone to visit his old quarters. Yeah, this won’t end badly.
Cut to Picard in the aforementioned old quarters, rifling through some of his old stuff. Then he opens up a trunk and something rather large and round glows red, giving him Excedrin headaches number 2378 through 2394 all at once.
A quick cut over to the Ferengi ship shows Bok caressing another ball that looks just like the one in Picard’s trunk. Bok says out loud, “Try this, hero of Maxia,” and twists the ball (ooh, I hate when that happens!), which causes Picard to writhe in pain. He then writhes in such a way as to bump the lid on the trunk closed, just as Dr. Crusher shows up. She quickly declares that it’s time to beam back, and also decides to beam all of Picard’s stuff over to the Enterprise as well. Oops.
Enterprise bridge. Riker says the magic words to Kazago, the Ferengi first officer, that makes the transfer of possession of the Stargazer official. But Riker also makes sure to needle the Ferengi first officer about the clearly lopsided deal they’re getting, to which Kazago responds with another hilarious face.
After they close the channel, Picard appears on the bridge. He’s pretty blatantly in no condition to be commanding, a conclusion he soon draws himself, so he quickly leaves to go lie down. Riker looks to Troi for a clue, but as usual, she’s clueless.
Picard retreats to his quarters, and we can actually hear buzzing from the Red Glowy Ball of Migraine as he lies down. And again, we hear more sound clips from the Battle of Maxia running through his head.
And we’re not quite halfway through the episode, with no sign of any sort of B plot this week. But since we’re starting to run short on A plot, it’s time to introduce a time-wasting plot twist, in the form of a log entry Data finds from the Stargazer. It consists of a confession, in Picard’s voice, to an entirely different series of events at Maxia, with the Stargazer being the one that attacked unprovoked, and its abandonment being caused by an accidental fire that started in Engineering.
But apart from the dramatic reaction shot that leads us into commercial, nobody on the Enterprise ever appears to seriously believe that the logs could be anything other than a forgery. But for some reason, they’re duty-bound to report this to Starfleet. Which eats up plenty of screen time as they agonize over the implications this could have for Picard’s career, and so on and so on.
It also gives Picard time to complain ever increasingly about his headaches, which Riker seems to think are completely understandable, in spite of what Dr. Crusher has been saying all episode about such things being practically unheard of in their time.
Riker decides to take out his frustrations on his new favorite verbal punching bag, so he goes somewhere private and opens a secure channel to the Ferengi ship and requests to speak with Kazago. Kazago, by coincidence, is just now up to speed on Picard’s supposed “confession”, which helps shorten the conversation and allows Riker to get to the point.
Kazago: As you humans say, I’m all ears.
Bah dum bum ching! But actually, from what we’ll learn later in this franchise about Ferengi ears, that phrase would seem to have other connotations to it.
Riker’s question is simple and obvious: if Bok knew about the log entries all along, why this big production number of presenting the peace offering of the Stargazer? But Kazago responds with a non sequitur about Riker accusing him of a crime, and abruptly ends the conversation.
Back in Picard’s quarters, Picard is still going over the logs when Dr. Crusher comes in and chides him for not resting. Picard takes it further than that, and says he feels like he’s dying. Between this and the accusations against him, and the authority she has over him as she asserted earlier in this very episode, a confinement to sickbay for the captain would seem not merely justifiable, but dare I say, obvious. But of course, if she did that, they wouldn’t be able to set up the ending we get. Instead, Crusher tries to reapply the pain “cloak” again, but this time it doesn’t work.
Quick cut to Bok, still fondling his ball and laughing. …What? I’m just describing the scene here.