Category Archives: Romulan


A big moment. Too bad it likely inspired “Flashback” on Voyager.

Part I: Starfleet learns Spock is chillin’ on Romulus, and no one knows why. Hoping for some answers, Picard visits Spock’s dad, Sarek (Mark Lenard) who’s dying and whom Picard mind-melded with a year earlier to help Sarek fulfill his last mission as an ambassador (in “Sarek”). Sarek points Picard in the direction of Pardek (Malachi Throne) a Romulan senator Spock has known for years, and Picard and Data, masquerading as Romulans, head to Romulus on a cloaked Klingon ship. Meanwhile, Riker leads an investigation about some parts of a stolen Vulcan ship or something. Shortly after arriving on Romulus, Picard and Data meet Spock — and Trekkers’ pants everywhere got a little tighter.

Part II: Spock tells Picard he is on Romulus to try to reunify the Vulcan and Romulan peoples, as they share common ancestry (see “Balance of Terror”). Picard is skeptical, but Pardek is apparently making some inroads for Spock with Neral (Norman Large) the new Romulan procounsel. We then learn that Neral is working with Sela (Denise Crosby, reprising her role from “Redemption”) on some sort of nefarious plan (thunderclap). Their idea is to send an alleged peace delegation to Vulcan that really is an invasion force. Picard, Data and Spock foil the plan and a warbird destroys three stolen Vulcan ships — one of which was the one Riker was trying to find — carrying the invasion force in front of the Enterprise. Despite the setback, Spock stays on Romulus to continue the reunification efforts — but not before mind-melding with Picard to share Picard’s connection with Sarek.

“That’s right, Captain Picard. I’m in this episode, too. I’m not sure why — but I am.”

Why it’s important

Interestingly, the effects of this episode don’t really show up again aside from one other episode (“Face of the Enemy”) until the rebooted “Star Trek” in 2009. Spock’s actions to bring peace to Romulus led to the planet’s destruction, which causes renegade Romulan Nero to alter history in that film. But you could argue that Spock’s actions here pretty much negate everything we saw on TOS, the movies, TNG, DS9 and Voyager (and this site). Only Enterprise and the two JJ movies would not be erased.

This episode is important as it (sort of) explains the Vulcan/Romulan backstory. Some of it really doesn’t make sense, as we’ll discuss. But some of it does — and we at least understand more of the differences between the two races. We also see more of the Federation-Klingon-Romulan triangle here. Interestingly, Spock references his role in the peace treaty with the Klingons — something that Trek viewers didn’t know about yet. These two episodes premiered in early November 1991, while “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” — which details the peace process — premiered in early December of that year. That didn’t tip things about the Federation being at peace with the Klingons — we’d known that since at least season one of TNG — but it was a small reveal about what the final TOS movie would cover.

Probably most importantly, though, is the fact that this episode is really the first big-time crossover between different Trek franchises — and it spurred many, many others.

Between fall 1987 and fall 1991, the only real crossover between TOS and TNG was DeForest Kelley’s appearance in “Encounter at Farpoint”. No other episode, or “Star Trek V: The Final Frontier”, which came out in 1989, was a crossover — and only a few episodes featured any connections between the two series, other than the basic premise that underlies Star Trek. Maybe, after “The Naked Now” was such a dud, the creators were gunshy?

But that all changed after this episode (and, to a point, in “Sarek”). Michael Dorn shows up in “Star Trek VI”, playing his grandfather (and Kirk and McCoy’s lawyer during their trial). The first episode of DS9, which aired about 14 months after “Unification”, involves a handoff from TNG, and the first episode of Voyager in early 1995 involved a handoff from DS9. DS9 had episodes about the mirror universe, first seen in “Mirror, Mirror” and even visited the original Enterprise in “Trials and Tribble-ations”. Voyager featured a flashback episode to the events of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country” and on and on.

In other words, this episode was most important as a creative launching point than within the Star Trek universe — which is amazing considering what it actually covered in the Star Trek universe.

“I’m on an urgent mission from the Federation. Where can we find a Romulan female to lick the paint off Commander Data’s ears?”

What doesn’t hold up

Part I is mostly fine. It’s hard to believe that if it’s so easy to get into Romulan space, that the Klingons wouldn’t just send a cloaked armada in and start destroying everything. There are later mentions of how groups of cloaked ships can be somewhat detectable — and how there are listening posts that might detect cloaked vessels or something — but I think the whole thing is just sloppy writing. And I’ll avoid the whole Universal Translator discussion.

Part II is really the problem.

The subplot with the Enterprise was honestly pointless. The business with Riker and Worf at the bar and dealing with the Zakdorn bureaucrat, etc., was needless filler. The Enterprise’s awareness of the stolen Vulcan ship really didn’t advance the story. But whatever — maybe they needed padding because Nimoy didn’t have time to be in more scenes.

The stuff on Romulus while more significant, was pretty implausible. Here’s a quick list of the problems:

1) Why did Picard and Data remove their Romulan disguises when they knew they’d likely return to the surface? Still looking like Romulans could have really been helpful.

2) How did Spock, after his first meeting with Neral, just walk out of the procounsel’s office without an escort? It seems like he’s just planning to stroll through the government offices — despite the fact that he’s on enemy soil! Spock wouldn’t have had ill intentions, but some out-of-the-loop guards have thought he might.

3) Why did Sela (in typical, bad-villain style) explain the entire plot to Picard, Data and Spock — and why didn’t she kill them (or incapacitate them) when Spock refused to cooperate? Why did Sela even leave an accessible computer in the procounsel’s office?

4) Why did the Romulans send the stolen Vulcan ships through the Neutral Zone at Warp 1? They might have made it to Vulcan in about five years at that speed — unless the Neutral Zone is really, really small, which would seem to defeat its purpose.

5) Why did the Romulans think that a few thousand Romulan troops would have conquered a planet with (presumably) billions of inhabitants? Couldn’t a ship in orbit have keyed in on all Romulan life signs and beamed them into holding cells?

6) Why did the Romulans steal the Vulcan ships at all? It’s not as if doing so disguised the fact that the ships were coming from Romulus. As far as I can tell, the Vulcan ships are part of the story just to give the Enterprise something to do while Picard and Data go to Romulus.

7) For a society as paranoid as the Romulans, how did Picard and Data avoid being scanned and detected while on the planet? And how did Spock walk around for weeks (maybe longer) without the normal Romulan forehead ridges? How did the Klingon ship use its transporters while cloaked when the Defiant (later, on DS9) never could?

Probably my biggest gripe, though, is the idea that Spock would have enough interest in and knowledge about unifying the Vulcans and Romulans considering that the Federation isn’t supposed to know much at all about the Romulans. How would he have the basic understanding to determine whether reunification was possible — or even worthwhile? Even if you throw out “The Neutral Zone” and all its talk about the Romulans being absent for decades — which the creators basically threw out after that episode — the idea that Spock could have much of a relationship with the Romulans (through Pardek) is laughable. We’re talking about an empire blocked for more than two centuries from the Federation by a large area of neutral space. And by all indications, the Romulans left Vulcan hundreds of years earlier. So, it’s unlikely that Spock would have records of anything to form the basis of reunification or a desire to reunify. Did he just figure it was a good idea? Doesn’t seem very logical.

Final thoughts

If it sounds like I’m being harsh about a couple episodes that are sort of cornerstones of TNG and some of Trek’s most celebrated moments, it’s because I think they’re so deeply flawed (especially part II) and, most importantly, that they didn’t need to be. A few lines of dialog about Spock’s thinking (which could have easily taken the place of the filler with the Enterprise’s investigation) and better writing regarding the Romulans’ plan (maybe Sela wouldn’t have known about the Klingon ship, and Picard, Data and Spock could have beamed there and tapped into the recorded Spock message?) and this episode would have been great BEYOND the nice crossover moments.

As it is, this episode only really gets by on those moments.

Coming later this week …

Those Swedish guys return.


“Before I restore your family honor, you must tell me why Klingon blood is no longer pink. And don’t tell me, ‘It is a long story.'”

Part I: The Enterprise heads to the Klingon homeworld so Picard can finish his duties as arbiter of succession (see “Reunion”). New Klingon leader Gowron (Robert O’Reilly) pops up and tells Picard he needs help to avert a civil war (actually a “KLINGON CIVIL WAR”, as Gowron says, somewhat annoyingly). Turns out the family of Duras — who had been in the running for the top spot before Worf killed him and went medieval on his ass — is staging some sort of a power play. Later, at Gowron’s induction, Duras’s sisters, Lursa (Barbara March) and B’Etor (Gwynyth Walsh) show up and bring with them Duras’s illegitimate son, Toral (JD Cullum), whom they say should rule the empire (females can’t serve on the council, apparently). Meanwhile, Worf convinces his brother Kurn (Tony Todd) to support Gowron in hopes that doing so will force Gowron to return their family honor (see “Sins of the Father”). Picard rules against the Duras claim and civil war erupts. The Federation can’t intervene in an internal matter, so Worf resigns from Starfleet to fight for Gowron — who overturns the decision that made Worf a pariah now that Kurn and his allies have joined his cause. Meanwhile, we learn that the Romulans — including a blond commander who looks a lot like the mom from “Pet Semetary”  — are helping the Duras.

Part II: With the war raging and Gowron losing, Picard gets Starfleet to approve his plan to determine whether the Romulans are helping the Duras family. He takes a small fleet to the Romulan border equipped with Geordi’s newest innovation that will determine if cloaked ships are in the area. That prompts Romulan Commander Sela (Denise Crosby) to appear. She demands Picard remove the blockade and tells him that she is Tasha Yar’s half-Romulan daughter, and that Tasha was on the Enterprise-C when it was captured 23 years earlier. Guinan (who has an inkling of what happened in “Yesterday’s Enterprise” because of her Guinan-ness) confirms the claim. Sela’s people find a way to disrupt Picard’s sensor net, but Data saves the day by finding another way to detect the Romulans, who turn back once they’re discovered. Without Romulan assistance, the Duras forces fall to Gowron, and Kurn rescues Worf (who had been captured). Lursa and B’Etor escape, but Gowron gives Worf the chance to kill Toral. He declines, and with the war over, resumes duty on the Enterprise.

“I am secretly looking forward to becoming a Bajoran security officer.”

Why it’s important

This two-parter, perhaps more than any other episode, cements the power triangle among the three Alpha Quadrant heavyweights. The Romulans want to undermine the Federation/Klingon alliance at nearly any cost. The introduction of Lursa and B’Etor is important, as well, as they show up in DS9 (“Past Prologue”) in TNG’s seventh season (“Bloodlines”) and, most importantly, in “Star Trek: Generations”. Toral shows up again, too, in DS9’s “The Sword of Kahless”.

Of course, the events here kept the Federation/Klingon alliance from crumbling, as the empire led by the Duras family likely would have allied itself differently. Gowron’s installation and victory is key, too — as is the establishment his strong relationship with Worf . This shows up again in later TNG with “Rightful Heir” and when Worf joins DS9 in “The Way of the Warrior” and Gowron asks for his assistance in the invasion of Cardassia. Not believing Gowron’s rationale — that the Cardassian government had been taken over by Changeling infiltrators — Worf refuses and again becomes a pariah.

And, the introduction of Sela brings back the events from “Yesterday’s Enterprise” but also sets up Sela’s involvement in the Romulan plot to invade Vulcan in the “Unification” two-parter.

Lastly, Picard’s efforts to assemble his small fleet sure seems to indicate, once again, that Starfleet has a relatively small number of vessels and that the Borg attack in “The Best of Both Worlds” really weakened the Federation’s defenses. Dialog with Picard, Riker, La Forge and Data seems to indicate that many ships didn’t have full crews and were still under construction. Keep in mind that these ships had to be relatively close to the Klingon Empire — and that the ships destroyed at Wolf 359 were pretty far away.

And, again, all that’s in keeping with what we see of Starfleet in TNG. But DS9’s later seasons would seem to indicate that 40 starships is a very, very small percentage of the Federation’s forces.

“Now that that K’Ehleyr hussy is out of the way …”

What doesn’t hold up

Part I mostly works, though it’s weird that Worf wears his Starfleet uniform while on leave and doing back-alley stuff with Kurn and Gowron. Isn’t that sort of representing the Federation in internal Klingon affairs? Oh, and since when can women not serve on the High Council? Gowron offered K’Ehleyr a spot there in “Reunion” and Azetbur serves as head of the council in “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”. Now, the second instance was produced AFTER this episode premiered, but still. Are we to believe that Klingons became less progressive after “Reunion”? Maybe it’s because all their blood turned red?

Part II is far more problematic. Picard’s blockade doesn’t make a ton of sense — as we’re talking about, you know, three-dimensional space. Couldn’t the cloaked Romulan ships just fly around the Starfleet vessels? I guess that doing so would have slowed them down …

Also, what’s the deal with Worf when he sees Sela on the viewscreen after he’s captured by Lursa and B’Etor? He hardly reacts — when his reaction should be like Picard’s from earlier in the episode (my guess is a scene where he learned of Sela was cut for time). Speaking of weird reactions, the whole business on the Sutherland — the ship Data commands in the blockade — was poorly done. Hobson (Timothy Carhart), Data’s first officer, is WAY too pig-headed in his distrust of Data. And the drama at the end where Data defies orders to test his theory — when he could have messaged Picard to stand by while he tested another approach — was dumb.

There’s also the matter of Romulan supplies being key to the Duras’s war efforts. What kind of supplies are we talking about? Weapons? Food? Dilithium? Pink blood? If Picard’s big idea is to use the blockade to demonstrate Romulan involvement, why didn’t he try to determine whether any recovered supplies could be traced to the Romulans? Surely, some ship wreckage could have been obtained or Data and Geordi could have done some technical magic to determine whether anything was of a Romulan origin (as they did with a detonator in “Reunion” and with phasers in “The Mind’s Eye”).

Honestly, the blockade/supply business is something that might make sense in a story about a 20th-century naval battle. But it’s almost preposterous in a universe where ships can travel in three dimensions and replicators and other technology are available. Unless the Romulans were providing fully functional ships or troops — which would have obviously been traced back to them — what supplies could they have provided that weren’t easily attainable?

Finally, it’s hard to believe that Worf could just resume duty with no questions asked. Picard likely could have stalled on filing the resignation paperwork. But what if the war had gone on longer than what seems like a few weeks? Given the dialog at the end of part one — in which Worf talks about how he has spent most of his life around humans — it would have been much more believable for Worf to stay with his people, especially given the high standing his family has in the years to come. He, Gowron and Kurn could have pretty much ruled the empire — but Worf goes back to being a lieutenant in Starfleet? Hmmm …

“Let’s negotiate, Picard. I like to ‘Seal-a deal.’ Get it?”

Final thoughts

Part II reminds me of the TV show “LOST” or the worst of the rebooted “Battlestar Galactica”. Glaring logical problems are necessary to prop up (somewhat) compelling drama and action. It’s a shame, because the Klingon intrigue was a major undercurrent of second-generation Trek, and a lot of it works, especially the back stories and the general look and feel.

That said, even part II has some cool moments, like the scene on Kurn’s ship to start the episode. The Klingon stuff in TNG is really the closest thing the series had to a mini arc (other than the Borg stuff and the regular Q episodes). TNG, of course, aired in an era when serialized dramas were much less common than they are today — or even when the other three second-generation series were being broadcast.

Coming later this week …

Here come the Bajora. I mean, the Bajorans …

“Sins of the Father”

“Are you the ‘Traitors of Kling’?”

Klingon Commander Kurn (Tony Todd) comes on board as first officer as part of an exchange program. Kurn bullies everyone but Worf — an affront to our favorite Klingon — and eventually reveals that he was testing his long-lost older brother. Turns out Kurn was on the Klingon homeworld when Worf was orphaned at the Khitomer outpost, but Kurn’s real identity is not publicly known. He tells Worf that the Klingon High Council is planning to blame their father, Mogh (who died at Khitomer) for conspiring with Romulans in the attack. Picard takes the Enterprise to the homeworld to let Worf challenge the ruling. Turns out Duras (Patrick Massett) the son of Worf’s father’s greatest enemy is leading the charge, the result of some new-found intelligence. The Enterprise investigates and determines that Duras’s father was actually to blame — and Mogh was blamed publicly to preserve the empire (Duras has a powerful family). When pressed with the evidence by Picard and Worf, Klingon leader K’mpec (Charles Cooper) won’t let the truth come out, for fear that it would cause civil war. Worf, in a selfless move, accepts discommendation, which makes it look like he accepts his father’s guilt. He’s allowed to live, but only as an outcast among his people.

“For a Klingon, you look a lot like old Jake Sisko …”

Why it’s important

Although “A Matter of Honor”, “Heart of Glory” and “The Emissary” showed us a lot of TNG-era Klingons, “Sins of the Father” is the first time we see the Klingon homeworld and how the empire is governed. It’s important from an atmospheric standpoint and a cultural one. The Klingons are ruled by a bunch of high-ranking warriors, who have no real problem doing dishonorable things, despite the pretense of honor. That’s something that comes back into play a lot over the next decade of Trek.

The attitude of some Klingons toward their Federation allies shows up here, too. Duras notes that the Starfleet officers wear a “child’s uniform” a description other Klingons make over the years. And, of course, the events revolving around Worf’s family continue to have ramifications throughout TNG and into DS9. It’s too long a list to get into here, but we’ll discuss in later reviews.

K’mpec and Duras — two guys who could really use a box of Tribbles.

What doesn’t hold up

Kurn’s pig-headedness with the Enterprise crew is a bit much. It’s used to advance the story, but it’s hard to figure why he acted that way — other than to fill the show’s first 10 minutes. By the third season of TNG, we already knew Klingons were different. That said, I did love the dinner scene and Kurn’s reaction to human food.

There’s also the issue of just how connected Worf is with the empire. At this point in TNG, he seems like an outsider, though one who knows a lot about Klingon culture and whose standing isn’t problematic. He doesn’t know, for instance, that his father is being accused of crimes that would dishonor his family until Kurn tells him. In fact, that’s one of the reasons the High Council chose to blame Mogh — because it wouldn’t really affect Worf.

But in later episodes, Worf is much more involved with his house, which apparently is one with great standing (and has noble bloodlines). We’ll discuss this further, as well — though the schism is most noticeable when Worf becomes a regular on DS9.

Lastly, the creators clearly hadn’t figured out what to call the Klingon homeworld. Picard actually tells Wesley to “set course for the first city of the Klingon Imperial Empire.” That might be the clunkiest line of dialog in all of TNG. I guess we should be glad they didn’t call the planet “Kling” (see “Heart of Glory”).

Final thoughts

This is a strong episode that really sets a lot in motion for the next 10 years. But there’s too much Klingon bellowing, especially in the show’s middle acts. Tony Todd is actually great as Kurn, though he’s better in later episodes. The first scene in the council chambers (listen to Michael Dorn say “faaaaaaatherrrr”) is a bit much.

Of course, this episode sets the course for Picard’s involvement in Klingon affairs, as we’ll discuss in later reviews.

Coming later this week …

Riker finally becomes a captain! It’s cause for celebra — oh, wait. Scratch that …

“Yesterday’s Enterprise”

War, what is it good for? Absolutely nothin’.

A ship emerges from a spacial rift, and everything changes. The Federation is at war with the Klingons, Tasha Yar is alive and back at tactical and Worf is the ship’s counselor (well, except not that last one). Turns out the ship that emerged is the Enterprise-C, the predecessor to Picard’s vessel, and its trip forward in time from the middle of a battle with the Romulans (in response to a distress call at a Klingon outpost more than 20 years earlier) changed history. Only Guinan, because of her Guinan-ness, knows something is up, so she tells Picard the Enterprise-C must return through the rift and face certain destruction to restore history and avert the war. The Federation is about to lose anyway (sad trombone), so Picard goes against the advice of his senior staff and convinces the Enterprise-C’s Captain Rachel Garrett (Tricia O’Neal) of Guinan’s thinking. After Garrett is killed in a minor skirmish with the Klingons, Yar (told by Guinan that she died a senseless death in the “right” history) transfers to the Enterprise-C. Then, Picard’s ship must cover the Enterprise-C from three Klingon vessels as it tries to go back through the rift. Just as the Enterprise-D appears to be lost, the Enterprise-C gets through and history is restored. Only Guinan has any knowledge of what’s happened, and Picard and Co., go back to business.

The Romulans apparently didn’t target the Enterprise-C’s engines …

Why it’s important

From the standpoint of what we do on this site, this episode, on its own, wouldn’t have made the tapestry. That’s not to say it’s not one of TNG’s best. But, like “The City on the Edge of Forever” from TOS or DS9’s “The Visitor”, the events here didn’t really happen. The time reset undid what we saw during the episode.

But … we learn later that sending Yar back with the Enterprise-C had huge effects in the Star Trek universe. Yar, captured by the Romulans with other Enterprise-C survivors, became the consort of a Romulan officer. That produced the child Sela (also played by Denise Crosby) who appears in the fourth and fifth seasons as a major Romulan player. She was part of the plot to brainwash Geordi and make him an unknowing assassin of a high-ranking Klingon (in “The Mind’s Eye”), she was instrumental in supporting one side in the upcoming Klingon civil war (in the “Redemption” two-parter) and she was part of the attempted Romulan conquest of Vulcan (in the “Unification” two-parter). In short, Sela kept herself busy.

This episode probably has some time paradoxes we could explore. But big picture, we try not to get too deep into the logic of time travel on this site. Trek’s remarkably inconsistent with cause-and-effect stuff and pretty much says (in DS9 and Voyager) that there is no logic to time travel. In other words, after years of dealing with time-travel writing constraints, the creators pretty much threw up their hands.

I eat pieces of shit like you for breakfast.

What doesn’t hold up

This episode, of course, hinges on Guinan’s ability to have a perception beyond linear time. This shows up in later episodes, but it’s a shame that Guinan’s back story was really never fleshed out. How do her people have this ability, or is she the only one who does? How is she so familiar with Q? Are her people more advanced than humans?

But, really, that’s a small gripe. Keeping Guinan mysterious wasn’t the worst choice the creators could have made.

There’s also the line from the Enterprise-C tactical officer Shooter McGavin — I mean, Richard Castillo (Christopher McDonald) that the Klingons and Federation were working on a peace treaty shortly before he left with the Enterprise-C. That’s part of the inconsistent storytelling regarding exactly when the two powers 1) stopped fighting and 2) became allies that we discussed in our review of “Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country”. In this episode and in much of TNG, it seems that the alliance is only about 20 years old — and “Star Trek VI” leaves the point unclear. But in DS9 and Voyager, the alliance is said to be about 80 years old, and that it was established immediately after “Star Trek VI”. That, of course, doesn’t jibe with Castillo’s comments — unless the two sides stopped being allies and became them again, or something.

This episode is another instance where it’s clear the Romulans’ decades-long absence as discussed in “The Neutral Zone” was just bunk. Granted, in the alternate timeline, Picard and Co., don’t know what happened to the Enterprise-C. But it’s made clear later — and by implication here — that the “correct” history knows the Romulans attacked and destroyed the Enterprise-C about 20 years before the Romulans showed up in the first season of TNG, which was purportedly several decades since last they were seen. In fact, it’s implied that the loss of the Enterprise-C in the battle with the Romulans was of major historical import, as the gesture resonated with the Klingons and the two parties became allies.

Most of the other complaints surround how the Enterprise-D still looks and feels relatively familiar, despite the fact that the Federation has been at war for 20 years. Much of the redress of the ship and the uniforms look great. But the large windows in the front of the ship (in Ten-Forward) and the fact that all the senior officers (sans Worf and Troi) are on the Enterprise-D is hard to swallow. But that’s just minor nitpicking. This episode is another example of third season TNG really hitting its stride.

Final thoughts

Some would say this is TNG’s finest showing. Personally, I prefer “The Best of Both Worlds” because of the dramatic payoff of seeing Picard assimilated by the Borg and Riker giving the “Mr. Worf … fire!” command. But “Yesterday’s Enterprise” is either second or third on my list of the best of TNG, right next to “The Inner Light”.

It’s a small thing, too, but the introduction of the Ambassador-class starship (of which, the Enterprise-C is one) was kinda cool. Up until this point, TNG had mostly reused ships from the Trek movies (with the exception of Constellation-class vessels in “The Battle” and “Peak Performance”) and those ships all had a boxier feel than the Galaxy-class Enterprise-D.

Coming next week …

Worf’s father conspired with the Romulans? Jigga-what?

“The Enemy”

“So, you haven’t watched ‘Roots’. How about ‘Reading Rainbow’?”

Geordi is left behind (but not Kirk Cameron-style) on a particularly nasty planet near the Neutral Zone after the Enterprise responds to a distress signal. Riker and Worf take a survivor from a crashed Romulan shuttle back to the ship while Geordi must try to find a way to escape and survive. He encounters another Romulan survivor (John Snyder) and must convince him to help in the escape attempt despite two centuries of hostilities and prejudices. Meanwhile, Crusher is unable to save the Romulan on the ship after Worf refuses a transfusion that might have saved him. Picard must then deal with a tense standoff with a Romulan warbird and its leader, Commander Tomalak (Andreas Katsulas) who crosses the Neutral Zone. At the last minute — and with the prospect of war hanging in the balance — Geordi is able to signal the Enterprise by modifying a probe sent to the planet by Wesley. With Geordi and the second Romulan saved, the standoff ends, with the warbird returning to its own territory.

“Klingon … can you take this candy wrapper off my face, please?”

Why it’s important

This is the first in a handful of episodes over the next few seasons in which the Romulans become recurring villains. In the second season, only “Contagion” features actual Romulans — after they returned with much sound and fury in “The Neutral Zone” —  and doesn’t set things in motion like this episode does. The idea that a standoff could be another Pearl Harbor — a comment Picard makes — is a major point surrounding the Federation/Romulan dealings over the next few seasons.

This episode is the first in TNG where that idea really hits home, which is why it made the tapestry. But “The Enemy” isn’t as good as other upcoming episodes featuring the same topic, notably, “The Defector”, an excellent episode later this season. Tomalak shows up again there and a couple other times, including TNG’s finale “All Good Things … “. Galorndon Core, the planet in this episode, is referenced a handful of times as well.

More of Worf’s back story and its effects show up here, too. We saw a glimpse of this in “Heart of Glory” and “The Neutral Zone”, but his refusal to give a transfusion to save the Romulan on the ship, the Romulan’s unwillingness to take the transfusion (he says he doesn’t want to pollute his body with “Klingon filth”) and efforts to convince Worf from Crusher, Riker and Picard provide a microcosm for the relationship between the three powers. In fact, the Romulan hatred of Klingons (as opposed to simple disdain) really shows up here for the first time.

Insert Harry Mudd joke here.

What doesn’t hold up

There are some logical issues. The big point of conflict is that the Enterprise can’t leave the planet to return the first Romulan survivor to the warbird without recovering Geordi. Why didn’t the Enterprise simply leave a (well-armed) shuttle in orbit to try to recover Geordi — or perhaps leave the saucer section? The Enterprise could have taken the survivor into the Neutral Zone and avoided the entire standoff.

Sure, there are some reasons why that could be problematic. Maybe leaving a shuttle or the saucer section undefended at the planet (where a cloaked ship might appear and open fire) wouldn’t be ideal. But the idea isn’t even suggested. And keep in mind that the Enterprise (until the end of the episode) doesn’t know there’s another Romulan survivor.

It’s also somewhat odd that the storms on the planet affect some electrical systems, but not others. Geordi’s VISOR, his tricorder, his phaser and the Romulan’s disruptor all seem to work OK. But early dialog indicates that the storms should cause more problems. Riker says Data would be seriously messed up by the storms.

Final thoughts

Something happens in this episode that really should have happened throughout the first two seasons. Wesley comes up with a good idea that ultimately saves the day — and it’s not annoying to watch! It’s further evidence that TNG really got its sea legs in the third season and that the biggest problem with Wesley early on was the execution. Having a boy-wonder type wasn’t inherently flawed.

This episode also allows LeVar Burton to shine away from his usual glut of technobabble. Geordi’s an interesting character in that he’s much more down-to-Earth (down-to-galaxy?) than the other characters on the show, with the possible exception of Crusher. That’s not to say this episode wouldn’t have worked with Picard or Riker stuck on the planet. But putting Geordi in the role was a good choice. His discussions with the Romulan on the planet work quite well.

Coming later this week …

TNG’s first what-if scenario and a true classic. Pass the TKLs …