Star Trek: The Next Generation “The Battle” (part 3 of 4)

Back to Picard and Crusher. Crusher pulls something out of her case that seems to give the captain some relief. She’s hung up on the idea that Picard’s headache must be some kind of “emotional pressure connected with the Stargazer”, but Picard quickly shoots that idea down, noting that the headaches started well before the Stargazer showed up. But he still allows that she might be “partly right”. Actually, no, captain, you just proved her completely wrong. Really, I should be cutting Picard slack here for reasons that will be clear at the end, but Dr. Crusher has far fewer excuses.

“Want to talk about it?” she offers. No, Ms. McFadden, you’re not Troi. I know that’s the role you originally tried out for, but Martina Sirtis won it, and you’re the ship’s doctor, so please act like it.

Sorry. Now this episode is starting to screw with my head.

At any rate, this gives Picard a chance to chew up both some scenery and some screen time expressing doubts he’s starting to have about what happened at Maxia, and whether or not he’s going crazy. To which Dr. Crusher responds by… silently giving him another injection. No, really. This one is a sedative, but not a particularly strong one, as he’s able to go lie down without assistance.

Star Trek: The Next Generation "The Battle" (part 3 of 4)

She then leaves him to rest, alone and unobserved. Because that’s exactly what you do when someone’s acting increasingly irrational, and wondering aloud about their own sanity. Sure enough, as Picard tries to rest, the sounds from nine years ago come back to torment him some more. I think I may need an aspirin now.

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Bok fingers his ball some more and cackles, while Picard relives the Battle of Maxia with ghostly hallucinations of his former crew.

Star Trek: The Next Generation "The Battle" (part 3 of 4)

Meanwhile, Data reports, using way too many words (as is his wont in the first season), that he’s proven the confession log to be a fake. So that unceremoniously ends that plot thread.

But then, just at that moment, in walks Picard, alert and smiling. He receives the good news that his name has been cleared. Next, Dr. Crusher enters, uncharacteristically addressing Riker as “Number One”. She’s about to show him more brain scans that will reveal nothing, when she notices to her shock that Picard is up and about. Gee, maybe you should’ve given him something stronger then, Doc.

Picard responds to this by ordering everyone save Riker out of the room. It’s at this point that Dr. Crusher really, really ought to be using that trump card of being able to give orders to the captain, but that would ruin the setup for the big finish, so all she does is meekly say she’s leaving “under protest” instead.

Alone with Riker, Picard orders him to release the Stargazer from the tractor beam. Picard justifies this by saying the beam is superfluous due to the Stargazer’s own inertia, and even gets sarcastic with Riker on the point. Again, this is something that’s necessary to set up the ending, but I almost don’t know where to begin with the problems here.

For starters, why is the Enterprise bothering to tow the Stargazer around at impulse speed in the first place, when another ship, specialized for the job, is arriving in another day or so? But given that they’re doing so, does it seem likely that Starfleet regulations would answer the question of “should the tractor beam stay on or be turned off?” with “whatever the captain feels like doing”?

Finally, given how vital this turns out to be to his master plan, isn’t it fortunate for Bok that his efforts to frame Picard with a forged confession, not to mention the very erratic behavior he’s caused Picard to exhibit, haven’t resulted in Picard being at least temporarily stripped of power, leaving him unable to issue such an order?

Back in sickbay, Dr. Crusher is sure that Picard is suffering some kind of “thought process disorder”, though she still can’t figure out just what’s causing it. Gee, too bad there isn’t any sort of preventative action she could be taking right now to potentially protect the captain from himself. Oh, right.

She discusses all this with Troi, and it’s clearly a battle down to the wire as to who’s going to be the most useless person in this episode.

Enter Wesley, and good news everyone—he’s found a clue! Long story short, in his role as The Only One Allowed To Figure Out These Things, Wesley has cracked the case and determined that the Ferengi are transmitting something that’s messing with Picard’s head.

Troi immediately suggests they check on the captain, but Dr. Crusher overrules her, saying they need to go to Riker, since Picard may be compromised. Umm… isn’t that all the more reason to be checking up on the captain, Doc? Or, you know, there are two of you here (three if you count Wesley), not to mention your entire medical staff. Surely someone could be spared to just keep an eye on the captain and make sure he doesn’t do anything stupid? No?

Forget the aspirin, I need a drink.

Troi and Crusher hurry out, leaving Wesley to passive-aggressively say, “You’re welcome, ladies,” and then with disgust, “Adults…” Dude, one of those “ladies” is your mom, even if she is being an idiot. This was the thing about Wesley early on: He was always right, but you so wished he wasn’t. He’s like Gregory House, only without the humanizing character flaws.

Dr. Crusher and Troi go to the bridge and report to Riker, who is, for no good reason, being a hard-ass and suspicious of this new evidence, even before he learns it comes from Wesley. Nevertheless, he decides to have the computer locate Picard, and finds that he’s in one of the transporter rooms. Riker hesitates, and by the time he blurts out the order to shut down the transporters, the computer helpfully updates them with the information that the captain is no longer in the transporter room. D’oh!

Cut to the Stargazer. Picard beams aboard, and with a blank stare on his face, he goes to the captain’s chair. He’s startled to alertness by the sound of Bok greeting him, while cuddling his ball. Bok raises the Stargazer’s shields, on the off chance that it might occur to Riker to try to beam Picard back. Bok then taunts Picard about “collecting on an old debt”, and gives his ball a gentle squeeze, as Picard collapses to the floor.

Star Trek: The Next Generation "The Battle" (part 3 of 4)

On the Enterprise bridge, Riker is practically screaming for someone to establish contact with the Stargazer. Then Yar reports in about the ship’s shields going up, too late to beam anyone in or out of there. No doubt it was times like this that Yar was thinking of when she recorded her farewells, including her message to Riker saying, “you’re the best”.

Meanwhile, LaForge and Data team up and detect the big ball that got beamed up to Picard’s quarters. Worf is sent to retrieve it, as the rest of them watch the Stargazer power up.

Kevin Podsiadlik

I've been a writer on the web for just about as long as there's been a web, writing mostly about pro wrestling in the 1990's and lately branching out into whatever catches my fancy. Sometimes (as a product of the golden age of the video arcade) I go by my initials, "KJP".

Multi-Part Article: Star Trek: The Next Generation "The Battle"

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