Star Trek: The Next Generation: The Enemy   Rewatch 
October 9, 2020 5:40 AM - Season 3, Episode 7 - Subscribe

Romulan mischief in the Neutral Zone strands an injured Geordi on a stormy world with a stormier fellow castaway.

*I* will be your Memory Alpha:

• In early drafts of the script, Troi was also trapped on Galorndon Core. Marina Sirtis saw this an example of her character remaining underutilized and underdeveloped. She recalled, "In the original draft which I happened to read which we're not allowed to see so we don't make conversations like this, it was Troi and Geordi stranded on the planet and because Geordi was blinded by the electromagnetics preventing his visor from working when we came across the Romulan it was actually Troi who incapacitated him. I felt very excited about this. I finally got to do something interesting and different and, of course, when the final script came not only was I not on the planet, but I had one line at the end of the show – and that was actually cut. That's the kind of thing that happens and I wish it wouldn't."

• The plot point of Worf letting Patahk die by refusing blood met great resistance among some of the writing staff and Michael Dorn when it was suggested by Michael Piller. Dorn commented, "I called the producers and said I didn't agree. I thought [giving blood] was the honorable thing to do. I thought people would look at [Worf] as a murderer. The producers felt that Worf was getting to be too human…just a guy with a big head. When the opportunity came for them to show that Worf was not human, that he is not bound by the same morals as we are, they felt it was a wonderful opportunity." In hindsight, Dorn saw the wisdom of the decision, remarking how it revealed the different sides of Worf. Piller noted, "Rick Berman knew instantly it was the right thing to do. Once he was behind me, it was a race to the finish line. And it was absolutely the right thing to do. You knew the audience was waiting for Worf to come around, because they always do that in television. But the character wouldn't do that and I think we made a really good decision. At first though, it was quite a shock and a controversial decision. But you end up talking about survival and survival among enemies. I think it was just a natural character development."

• This episode marks the first of four appearances of Romulan Commander Tomalak. Andreas Katsulas (Tomalak) is best known for his role on another popular science fiction television series, that of Ambassador G'Kar on Babylon 5.

• Ironically, Steve Rankin, whose character Patahk preferred to die rather than accept a transfusion from a Klingon, would himself play a Klingon, the mercenary Yeto in the DS9 episode "Invasive Procedures". He would also play a Cardassian officer in DS9: "Emissary" and Colonel Green in ENT: "Demons".

• For the first time since the first season, Beverly Crusher is seen wearing her hair long; she is seen with short hair again in the next episode.

• Even though Brannon Braga had tried to watch early Star Trek: The Next Generation but had been disappointed by the show, this episode hooked him into the Star Trek universe. Recalling his reaction when he viewed the installment, Braga related, "I'm like, 'This is good stuff!' This was not like the Next Gen I first watched."

"How did this happen?"
"I was born that way."
"And your parents let you live?"
"What kind of question is that? Of course they let me live!"
"No wonder your race is weak. You waste time and resources on defective children."
- Bochra and La Forge, discussing the latter's blindness

"I would rather die… than pollute my body with Klingon filth…!"
- Patahk refusing Worf's blood meant to save his life

Poster's Log:
Two Geordi episodes in a row! Likely the only time that happens for Geordi.*

Anyway, it's fun and exciting, with some big moments—Geordi's planetary survival skills are impressive, and Tomalak is always great. We get one of the rare trustworthy glimpses into Romulan culture. And good on them for starting to make Worf truly complex.

It is hurt a bit by the Defiant Ones / Enemy Mine plot being just slightly tired IMO, and by the overacting on the part of the Romulan that Geordi got paired with. Weirdly, it's not one I have found particularly memorable; like, if you'd asked me which one was the first Tomalak episode, I would've guessed wrong.

I suspect that the name "Galorndon Core" was devised because it would sound good when spoken by Patrick Stewart.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
* = When I shared this prediction with Mrs. Cheeses (whom, I should mention, has seen nearly every TNG and most more than once), we decided that the two main-cast characters who got shafted the most for headliner episodes were probably Geordi and Dr. Crusher, the latter to Mrs. Cheeses' surprise; here is the ensuing exchange:
MRS: Dr. Crusher? Really?
ME: She has like three or four "Dr. Crusher episodes," tops!
MRS: Yeah, I guess they really did ignore her character a lot of the time.
ME: Like, I mean…name a personality trait of Dr. Crusher.
MRS: …
ME: I'll wait.
MRS: …Oh my god.
Eventually we landed on "determined" and "humorless when it comes to her own professionalism." At least Crusher gets a really good episode next season.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil (17 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Wait a minute! Patahk was the name of the Romulan? I always thought it was Klingon profanity. Ah, I see Memory Alpha says that "petaQ" is the Klingon profanity. I wonder if the Romulans knew about this. It would explain their centuries-long bad mood.
posted by Servo5678 at 6:00 AM on October 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

"In the original draft which I happened to read which we're not allowed to see so we don't make conversations like this..."

That is such a sharp (and biting) observation that I had to pull it out.

Ah, I see Memory Alpha says that "petaQ" is the Klingon profanity. I wonder if the Romulans knew about this.

At least one does, which we'll see in a few episodes. (I think that this has already been observed, but the overall quality of episodes this season is so good.)

Speaking of which, I thought that this was a top-flight episode. Yeah, the plot is a bit shop-worn (here's Wikipedia's list of remakes, tributes, and parodies of The Defiant Ones), but it's tailored to fit its dramatis personae well. I was amused at La Forge's initial solution to trying to climb out of the hole; La Forge literally forges the metal spikes. I also didn't mind the, ah, intensity of the actor who played Bochra, as it helped give the impression that you don't know how much neurological damage he's already suffered and that he might just flip out at any moment. (I also thought that "I will be your eyes" was this big cliche, but TVTropes doesn't have a listing for it, and when I googled the phrase, the closest match I got was... an Anne Murray song? Well, OK then.)

And I loved Worf's B-plot. (Although it seems odd to refer to it as such, since the whole thing with Patahk weaves into the overall plot very well; speaking of which, Andreas Katsulas does a great job with Tomalak, making him one of the rarest of Trek aliens--an amiable Romulan--and I wonder if he was intended to be more of a recurring antagonist, on the order of a Gul Dukat, than he ended up being.) One of the signs of a good character is that the writers will give them bits that aren't going to make them very sympathetic, because they're pretty confident that that's what the character would do; the character's integrity is more important than min-maxing their popularity. I identify with Worf, a lot, and I would have wanted him to eventually come around to making the donation, as Dorn did, but also like Dorn, I think that Piller made the right choice. (I do think that having Patahk make a point of refusing the donation from Worf has the effect of letting him off the hook, which is a bit of a cheat, but that makes sense for that character to decide as such, and also makes Patakh distinct from Bochra, who makes his own, different decision.) We'll see similar decisions from Martok in DS9, with regards to how he treats Kor and also a certain scene in the last episode.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:32 AM on October 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

Cards of the episode from the Star Trek CCG:
Premiere('94): Bochra; Pi; Covert Rescue.
Rules of Acquisition('99): Patahk.
Second Edition('02):Tomalak, Beguiling Adversary; Derenas.
Necessary Evil('04): Bochra, Loyal Centurion; At An Impasse; Deep Hatred.
Strange New Worlds('05): Charged-Particle Precipitation; Brinkmanship.

Pi was a weak, but fast ship, popular to throw in with a Scout Encounter. Covert Rescue provides a Romulan player with a mission solvable with their best attribute, and appropriately Tomalak provided the related skills. Cards like Derenas, At an Impasse, and Brinkmanship exemplify the 2E approach to making more flavorful affiliations to play, providing a Romulan player with bonuses for hanging out in the Neutral Zone and offering mechanisms to 'interfere' with the opponent.

Oh, yeah, this episode is also clearly the image source for Tomalak of Borg.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:36 AM on October 9, 2020 [3 favorites]

In Worf's defense:

In the teaser, Worf finds the unconscious Romulan on Galorndon Core. The Romulan's first act on regaining consciousness is to grab Worf by the throat and try to kill him. Nobody else sees this, and – as far as we know – he tells no one.

Later, in sick bay, after Worf has refused to donate ribosomes to the Romulan, Crusher calls him again to see the Romulan one more time before he dies. But she leaves the room, and Worf is the only person present when this Romulan says

ROMULAN: Come close to me, Klingon. Let me die with my hands at your throat.
WORF: There is a substance within my cells which you need to survive.
ROMULAN: Then you've come to hear me beg for my life?
ROMULAN: I would rather die than pollute my body with Klingon filth!

Arguably, Worf had very good reasons for not helping the Romulan, including a specific rejection from the Romulan himself, but nobody else witnesses them. That doesn't make them less valid.
posted by zadcat at 10:55 AM on October 9, 2020 [2 favorites]

On the other hand, in the teaser, when the Romulan tries to strangle Worf, Worf simply knocks him out hard against the cliff face.

Later in sick bay:

CRUSHER: I can bring him around for a few minutes. But there is one serious complication. His brainwaves indicate early neural-pathway degeneration.
RIKER: Head injury?
CRUSHER: There's no obvious cranial trauma. I'm guessing his exposure to the magnetic fields on the surface was slowly breaking down his synaptic connections.

So Worf never fesses up to clocking the guy out cold either. I'm pretty sure if a Klingon knocks you out like that, there would be signs of cranial trauma.
posted by zadcat at 11:50 AM on October 9, 2020 [4 favorites]

Andreas Katsulas also played Drennik in Enterprise.
posted by juiceCake at 10:17 PM on October 9, 2020

I found it gross that Picard would lecture Worf on civility toward his oppressors, and that he would force lifesaving care on a patient who explicitly denied consent.
posted by EarBucket at 9:22 AM on October 10, 2020 [3 favorites]

“Communicators are dysfunctional” is really weird phrasing, Worf.
posted by hanov3r at 10:19 AM on October 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

Riker is so over the top Ragey McRagersons when they can't get Geordi back in the transporter, yelling at O'Brien and glaring at Picard. Like, dude, take a chill pill, I'm sure they have them in the future, Roddenberry's weirdnesses aside.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 7:33 PM on October 10, 2020 [1 favorite]

That's a Riker thing, starting pretty much this season. He's cool except when his people are apparently messing up or otherwise clueless; command style or neurosis, you decide. I don't know exactly how often he says "What the hell is going on?!" with that angry dad tone and Cap'n McAllister half-squint, but it becomes enough of a catchphrase that they referenced it in Riker's sole Voyager appearance.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 5:55 AM on October 11, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh, that's hilarious, Cheeses. I had no idea it was A Thing. It's one of many aspects I guess I forgot over time, though one of my favorite lines from the series is Q telling him he wasn't as stolid before the beard (eeee! coming up soonish!). Also had no idea he was in Voyager, I'll have to check that out.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 1:17 PM on October 11, 2020

Like, I mean…name a personality trait of Dr. Crusher.

Well, DS9 aside, Trek has a remarkable ability to present characters who are just kind of sketched-in but also somehow charismatic. (I exempt DS9 because that show was character-focused in ways none of the other shows were.) Like, what are Sulu or Uhura's defining traits? What's are Geordi's defining traits, other than good at his job, nerdy, and awkward with women? These characters all became fan faves despite the fact that we know very little about their lives.

I think Crusher is actually more defined than a lot of them. She has an artistic side and she's perhaps a bit pretentious. She pronounces croissants qua-sonts and she's the one who's always rounding everybody up to act in plays in stuff. She's also a dancer. Like, you get the feeling this is a lady who went to some performing arts school along with Starfleet Academy. She's smart, determined and tough, bordering on self-righteous at times, but when she's upset she can lose her cool and even get kind of whiny. She's prim and proper, but also horny and maybe kind of kinky. (She shags a Scottish space ghost and Will Riker when he has a worm in his belly.) Despite her overall seriousness she can sometimes be a bit of a gossip with the other ladies in the crew. She's sometimes overly-protective of her son, despite the weirdness about her shipping out for a season and leaving the teenage Wesley alone aboard the Enterprise. And of all the Trek doctors aside from the EMH, I think I'd trust Bev the most with my life. She gets shit done.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:46 PM on October 11, 2020 [5 favorites]

She pronounces croissants qua-sonts

That's how it's pronounced. Perhaps Star Trek has moved beyond Americans refusing to pronounce things correctly, which is a lot more pretentious. See Favre.
posted by juiceCake at 2:16 PM on October 12, 2020 [3 favorites]

This was an American TV show airing in the 20th century, and in that context qua-sont was about as natural as a character referring to France as Fronce. It was something a TV character would only do if they were actually from France or if they were trying to sound fancy. Blair Warner would call them qua-sonts and Jo would make fun of her for it.
posted by Ursula Hitler at 3:42 PM on October 12, 2020 [2 favorites]

Strange that I remember so little of what is a pretty good episode.

Much more needs to be said about how Beverly pronounces the word croissant, but we're still years away.

Really makes me feel sad for Sirtis, to imagine seeing the script that has a juicy role for you that ends up getting cut.
posted by skewed at 7:43 PM on October 15, 2020

This was an American TV show airing in the 20th century, and in that context qua-sont was about as natural as a character referring to France as Fronce. It was something a TV character would only do if they were actually from France or if they were trying to sound fancy. Blair Warner would call them qua-sonts and Jo would make fun of her for it.

I understand that but the context does not, and should not change the pronunciation of the word. I like Trek when it doesn't pander ignorance and bullshit (which sadly it doesn't avoid). Always proud of Trek for using the Metric system.
posted by juiceCake at 1:01 PM on November 13, 2020

I thought the discussion of Patahk's neurological problems was meant to put Worf back on the moral hook. Patahk is so far gone that he isn't competent to refuse care, and to the extent that Worf is "respecting" his wishes, he's engaging in willful self-deception.
posted by Mr. Excellent at 2:05 PM on August 13, 2021

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