Star Trek: The Next Generation: Allegiance   Rewatch 
November 16, 2020 9:06 AM - Season 3, Episode 18 - Subscribe

Captain Picard and three other people are abducted and imprisoned by an unknown force and replaced by duplicates.

You know Memory Alpha likes to keep you well informed as to the nature of our missions.

Story and production
  • This episode, along with "The Offspring", was written in part to balance the series' budget after "Yesterday's Enterprise". Michael Piller commented, "I'm a great fan of intimate shows, and it was a simple show from a production point of view, because you needed only one set." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 194)
  • Piller saw this episode as a chance to flesh out Picard's character. "We wanted to come up with some real fun for both Patrick the actor and Jean-Luc the character, so we came up with this idea. It might have been two ideas put into one. One was Picard gets stuck in a no-exit situation, and a false Picard takes his place on the Enterprise. I loved the stuff on the Enterprise, wonderful character stuff and Patrick was wonderful. I thought it was a good, solid show and immediately following that was "Captain's Holiday", which, again, was borne out of the fact that we wanted to give the captain some characterization." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 194)
  • The song that the fake Picard sings in Ten Forward with the crew is called "Heart of Oak".
  • Captain Picard's quarters are seen to be on Deck 9, Room 3601.
  • This episode features one of only two occasions in the whole series that Picard (real or otherwise) drops into the weekly poker game, the other being in the final scene of "All Good Things...".
  • This episode marks the second appearance of a Bolian after Captain Rixx in TNG: "Conspiracy", though technically Mitena Haro was actually a fake Bolian.
  • Esoqq's outfit was modified and later became Morn's costume on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
  • Captain Picard makes a reference to Enterprise's visit to Mintaka III in TNG: "Who Watches The Watchers" as something unlikely that a first year cadet would know about.
  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series.
"My given name is Esoqq. It means 'fighter.'"
"I'll bet half the names in the Chalnoth language mean 'fighter.'"
"Mizarians! Your names all mean 'surrender'!"

- Esoqq and Kova Tholl

Poster's Log:

Esoqq's makeup is one of one of the most rubber-mask looking appliances in the series.

Today I learned that Captain Rixx was a Bolian. I'd never before made the connection to the other known Bolians because of his unique skin color.

Parts of this episode brought to mind House of Stairs, a dystopian YA novel I read in the mid-70s.

I don't really like Riker and Crusher's twinkling in the last couple of minutes of the episode as they enjoy Picard's discomfort about the tiny hints they've dropped about what happened while he was gone. It feels really disrespectful and gloating.
posted by hanov3r (19 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
I like this one for basically the reason (that I just learned from MA) that they wrote it: Picard characterization. It's a neat double-sided approach: here's Picard solving a dilemma, and here's all this other stuff that Picard would never do!

In fact, a thought I just had for the first time: does the Picard characterization here make this one a must-watch TNG?

Esoqq's makeup is one of one of the most rubber-mask looking appliances in the series.

Totally, and yet, I like Esoqq as a character more each time I see this one. Credit the actor managing to act through all that, I suppose.

I don't really like Riker and Crusher's twinkling in the last couple of minutes of the episode as they enjoy Picard's discomfort about the tiny hints they've dropped about what happened while he was gone. It feels really disrespectful and gloating.

And also just…strange. Sometimes I wonder if there's a minimum quota per season of "whimsy endings" they felt like they had to hit. A much stronger and genuinely funnier way to cap off this one would've been for the last line of dialogue to be "Now get off my ship!" Cut to some smug looks between Picard and Riker, pull down the front of the uni, and fly off into the credits.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:31 AM on November 16, 2020

This one has a lot of good elements to it. One thing I always like is the confrontation on the bridge when fake Picard orders the ship in and Riker calls him out. The lighthouse effect of the pulsar's light sweeping across the bridge really adds to the drama of that scene. The dinner scene with Crusher is interesting too. I wonder if there was some meta commentary there on lost opportunities for the two characters by having Picard shut the door in Beverly's face.

I agree though about the end. The part were Beverly sits down and Picard greets her and she answers, "Captain," in a certain tone. Real Picard has no idea what has gone on. What's the point of Bev being this way?

A good thing Guinan had the day off in Ten Forward. I bet she would have "sensed" it wasn't right, just like "Yesterday's Enterprise."
posted by Fukiyama at 9:50 AM on November 16, 2020

does the Picard characterization here make this one a must-watch TNG

I kind of think it does. In fact, I think there's several this season that's must-watch for that exact reason:

Who Watches the Watchers
Yesterday's Enterprise (yeah, I do think that's an important part of the Picard arc)
Allegiance (You are here)
Captain's Holiday
Ménage À Troi
Best of Both Worlds (Part 1)

I like Esoqq as a character more each time I see this one

Absolutely. I really want to learn more about Chalnoth society, which isn't a place I get to with many other one-episode species.
posted by hanov3r at 10:23 AM on November 16, 2020

This was a first-watch episode for me, and I'm pretty sure that I've never even heard of this one before. It's got some interesting features and points raised:

- Other TNG episodes have been described as TOS-type episodes, often because they either took the plots from old eps or were actually sequels of sorts to them (i.e. "The Naked Now"). I think that this one could have been done as a TOS episode, in part because the special effects were relatively modest and the alien cell pretty plain, but also because, as MA points out, aliens kidnapping and experimenting on members of the crew is also a recurrent theme in TOS. This ep also reminds me of "Turnabout Intruder", the last TOS ep, in which Janice Lester swaps bodies with Kirk and assumes the captaincy of the Enterprise. (I like this ep better than that one, in part because that ep took a valid criticism of the show--that they only ever showed men being captains of starships (which got retconned away in later shows)--and put it in the mouth of a character who was willing to steal someone else's body, and have people executed for "treason" in order to keep their secret.)

- Last ep, we talked about serialization and continuity across episodes; one thing that bugged me a little about this is that this isn't the first time that a lifeform has taken the place of Picard and given questionable orders--"Lonely Among Us"--and yet no one brings up that incident explicitly. I mean, I get that Picard was checked out thoroughly by both Troi and Dr. Crusher (I'm deliberately avoiding the obvious joke in the case of the latter), but I would think that some protocols for "captain's acting not like himself again" might be in place by now.

- Then there's the matter of the "abducting aliens", whose species doesn't get a name, and whose members are all identical and apparently all in telepathic communion with each other, all the time; they're oddly fully-organic-Borg-like in that respect. (Maybe they don't have a name for themselves, because why would they?) They aren't the first aliens whose physiology gave them an intrinsically different type of sentience than humans and most humanoid aliens--the Bynars are one example in-series, just off the top of my head--but they've got that lack of understanding or really caring about human/human-adjacent needs and concerns that's more common to non-humanoid and energy beings. If Trek, and even TNG in particular, sometimes seems surprisingly non-progressive in various ways for a generally progressive franchise (particularly regarding race, gender, and sexual preference), it could be ahead of its time in some respects in what's now known as neurodiversity, suggesting that there could be different ways of being sentient; too bad that that often came in the form of aliens who harmed, or could potentially harm, our characters. Anyway, it's interesting to speculate as to how the "Sharers" (to give the abducting aliens a less aggro name) would process this new info. The concept reminds me a bit of the psychic people in "Amok Time" writer Theodore Sturgeon's More Than Human, who form a gestalt consciousness. (It also makes me wonder why Betazoids don't seem to have that sort of mentality or society. Although I've wondered if they have nude weddings because they've already seen things in each others' minds that makes physical modesty superfluous.)

- The bits at the end seemed a bit off to me too; they remind me a bit of the TOS thing where the epilogue would often involve the rest of the bridge crew teasing Spock about not being human. Also, WRT the Chalnoth, Esoqq made me think of what you might get if you described a Klingon to a small child who had never seen nor heard of them before, then a few days later asked the child to describe them back to you.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:25 AM on November 16, 2020

Cards from the episode in the Star Trek CCG:
Premiere('94): Chalnoth; Telepathic Alien Kidnappers; Study Lonka Pulsar. Lonka Pulsar is a key mission for Romulan Space decks, especially once Dr. Telek R'Mor is in the mix. TAK is a strong interference card, so strong in fact....

Alternate Universe('95): Intruder Force Field got a silver bullet counter in the very next set.

Q Continuum('96): Kova Tholl. I always forget this card exists, it's very edge-casey.

Starter Deck II('98): Study Pulsar. Just an easy starter mission.
posted by StarkRoads at 11:50 AM on November 16, 2020

The "Five Characters in Search of An Exit" (Twilight Zone S3) sort of amused me when I watched this the first time, as well as "The Empath" elements (and of course, "The Cage"), like they threw some stuff at the wall and then balled it all up together, but I really didn't mind. Any time Jean-Luc gets stuff to do I'm fairly happy.

With the exception of the impostor here: my embarrassment squick is dialled up to 11 on the horrifying dinner scene and I had to literally run out of the room every time I've tried to watch this. The hideous ultra-deep-V casual clothes make me cry--put all that skin away, JL! I adore Patrick Stewart and he's crazy hot to me, but the Smooth Moves stuff in this and in "Captain's Holiday" just put me into a weeping, curled ball of second-hand humiliation. And that ending is the coup de grace; man, fuck that whole "say no more, say no more, wink wink, nudge nudge" stuff.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:48 PM on November 16, 2020

The hideous ultra-deep-V casual clothes make me cry

Is this the first ep with the open robe/hairy chest vibe?
posted by hanov3r at 1:07 PM on November 16, 2020

Yeah, kitten, the dinner scene is meant to be cringey and, on rewatch, it works in that regard—it might even be more cringey with retroactive knowledge of where their relationship actually ends up going.

I would be remiss, too, if I didn't mention that Stewart has the acting chops to be stone cold when the role calls for it, as in that scene (and in his unforgettable role of Sejanus in I, Claudius), so that's part of why it's so painfully effective.

I'll defend "Captain's Holiday" inasmuch as Real-Picard's moves are much much less gruesome than Sharer-Picard's. (more like OVER-Sharer) The costumes, OTOH, are indefensible.

Is this the first ep with the open robe/hairy chest vibe?

For Picard, possibly. Riker wore one in the just-as-cringey Planet of the Ladies Being in Charge episode whose title I do not care enough to try to recollect.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 1:23 PM on November 16, 2020 [4 favorites]

I enjoyed this episode (aside from the weirdness of the closing bit that has already been pointed out). I mean, I don't think it holds up to much serious scrutiny -- the kidnapping aliens are intelligent/telepathic enough to play a convincing human-Picard, but also clueless enough not to realize their experimentation is unjust/harmful until the tables are turned? -- but it's a fine Patrick Stewart showcase.

And I love Stewart's deep vee shirt style. Bring on the Captain's Holiday bootie shorts!
posted by oh yeah! at 1:39 PM on November 16, 2020 [3 favorites]

I did like Crusher's exaggerated/ built-up boat neck sweater in contrast to Picard's lounge wear.
posted by porpoise at 2:10 PM on November 16, 2020

I don't know, is it that they don't know that it's unjust/harmful, or that they don't care? The nature of their experiment assumes that knowledge, on both ends, they just want more data. They also do not apologize or in anyway indicate that they see the error of their ways, they simply are pathetic for a few seconds and then listen to a short Picard speech and zip away. I think the main difference here is that a subject caught on to the test, and then had the power to imprison them, that's the new part to them.

Crusher's stuff at the end is a little weird, but the thing that bumped me more was Picard's seeming glee at capturing and holding the two aliens at the end, as well as the line:
In any event, we now know of your race and we know how to imprison you. Bear that in mind.
The delivery nails it home, and it doesn't feel very Picard or StarFleet-like. This is technically a first contact situation, the mission of the ship, and all they seem interested in doing is angry moralizing, however correct they may be. After all, in a few seasons a different alien species with incredible tech is going to take over Barclay, then the Enterprise through him, put the entire crew through what they think might be a life or death situation such that they decide to straight up murder Barclay, and when they find out it was just a new species of alien with an unusual manner of finding new things to study, they spend two weeks having a grand ol time getting to know them. I'm not saying it should all be hugs and flowers, but that situation was more fraught than this one ever was, especially for Picard. Even Worf sorta looks a little uncomfortable (though that's probably more him finding them pitiful, it's still a weird look they cut to). It makes sense in the context of the episode, it just struck me as strange this time around.
posted by neonrev at 4:42 PM on November 16, 2020

Not having seen the other episode you refer to, neonrev, and just going on your description of it, it doesn't sound like quite the same situation; in this one, not only is Picard (and the others) held against his will, but the crew is forced to choose between mutiny and taking the ship to certain destruction. It's no small wonder that they're angry--mutiny is taken pretty seriously by Starfleet, as well it should be, given that capital ships are generally equipped with enough firepower to eradicate all life on a planet's surface. Maybe, in theory, they're supposed to address situations like that with more equanimity, but that's edging on a Roddenberryesque "humans are basically perfect by the 24th century" thing, and I'm happy that they're moving away from that.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:18 PM on November 16, 2020

I don’t know, seems like a mistake to just let them off with lecture. They didn’t just abduct Picard, Esoqq, and Tholl, but seemed intent on killing everyone on the Enterprise. You might want to like, ask them some questions before sending them home, maybe have a look at their gear? But that’s just me.

I was going to say something about how people cheered when faux-Picard bought them a round even though drinks are presumably free in Ten Forward what with how they’re always bragging about not exchanging money for things but then I remembered awkward work outings with the boss and how one might fake enthusiasm for employment reasons and it’s kind of of a piece with faux-Picard’s creepiness with Dr Crusher.
posted by rodlymight at 9:02 PM on November 16, 2020 [1 favorite]

I had to look it up myself, it's The Nth Degree from season 4, and rereading the synopsis, I still think it's pretty analogous. Barclay gets inhabited by an alien probe, at first the crew thinks it's just him becoming smarter/more confident, he gradually grows more and more overbearing, strange and powerful, culminating in him tying his own brain into the ships computer, taking complete control of the ship, and deciding to try out new navigation techniques that the crew thinks might destroy them, so they decide to sever the connection/kill Barclay to save themselves. This fails, as Worf is not allowed to succeed at shooting anything, but it turns out to have been an alien species that brings ships to them to study, instead of going out to find them.
In both cases the entire ship and crew are held against their will, put in a situation they think will destroy the ship, and decide to act against another member of the crew to stop it. In both cases it turns out that the crew member acting strangely was being controlled by an alien to further that alien's goals, and that the ship was not actually harmed. In one case, they swiftly boot the aliens off, after imprisoning them in a forcefield they really ought to use more often when the bridge is boarded, in the other case, they sigh in relief when they find out it's only a nigh omnipotent alien that brought them there and make friends.
I guess related, I don't think there was ever any real danger to anyone in this episode, I think the aliens are telling the truth, no harm was done, they just want to see reactions. Who knows how the end-game would work out, but every action ReplicaPicard takes is setting up a situation in which a mutiny would be forced, that was the goal, not destroying the ship, which presumably would also destroy the alien? Hard to say. This doesn't make it any less messed up and wrong, but I also don't think killing was part of the alien's plan.

It's a lot of words for a minor issue with the ep, and it's kinda clearly just a rushed ending, writing and production-wise, but it occured to me so there we are. It's a weirdly quick resolution that doesn't solve anything at all.

The drinks thing is multilayered weird to me, both because yeah, it's all free, but then the song Picard sings is also weirdly old-school British Naval Tradition, so my mind then went to 'extra ration of grog for these men!' and maybe they are cheering because they are allowed to get extra drunk, but then no, it's synthohol, they can't get drunk anyway, so yeah, maybe work outing weirdness would be most accurate.
posted by neonrev at 6:02 AM on November 17, 2020

I had to actually start this one on CBS because I couldn't for the life of me remember what this episode was. It's not a bad episode, just not rememberable for me.

The Next Conversation
posted by kathrynm at 6:27 AM on November 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

RePlicard, surely
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:47 AM on November 17, 2020 [2 favorites]

I've started listening to the Treks and the City podcast too -- the first few episodes were not great, but I'm up to episode 15 (for S1's 11001001) and it's growing on me. The hosts started as TNG-only Trek fans, and were a bit trollish in their anti-TOS bent as they were assuming it was dude-bro-SF or something, which I found irritating as it ignored the contributions of the women in the show and the women fans of the time, but I think once they started watching TOS for their Patreon they dialed that schtick back a bit. The episodes run pretty long 1 & 1/2 to 2 hours, as they go off on a lot of tangents about non-Trek stuff (feminist slice of life type stuff), and the guests vary greatly on their levels of Trek-knowledge (some are fans, some never watched the show besides the episode they watched for the podcast or didn't even watch that one). I suppose I should skip ahead to listen to the current episode thread's podcast episode and catch up on the older ones in my spare time, but I do like following the natural evolution of a podcast's style.
posted by oh yeah! at 8:40 AM on November 17, 2020

rememberable... I used to speak English.


I have a number of Trek podcast, most of which I haven't started so I can't vouch for them. They're descriptions looked good.

Earl Gray: A Star Trek TNG Podcast
First Contact: The Next Generation Introcast
Rachel Watches Star Trek (very good... starts with TOS then the movies, currently up to TNG S1:E24)
Trek Geeks
Trek TV
Strange New Worlds: A Science and Star Trek Podcast
posted by kathrynm at 11:01 AM on November 17, 2020 [1 favorite]

In both this episode and Lonely Among Us I feel like the real Picard would react very differently to a mutiny. Picard trusts Riker, he trusts his crew - I want to believe that if Riker, Crusher, Worf were all in agreement; You're not acting like yourself, you need to chill and let Riker take command for a while; that in that situation the real Picard would listen, and take a step back.

At the very least, he wouldn't respond to the situation by threatening Riker's career, as fake!Picard does here.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 10:45 PM on October 4, 2021

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