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



"Captain's log, Stardate 43714.1. We have finally succeeded in eradicating the Phyrox plague on Cor Caroli V and will soon be preparing to leave orbit and proceed to our next mission. A rendezvous with the USS Hood to assist their terraforming efforts on Browder IV."
Picard alien scan 2366

Picard is scanned by a mysterious probe

Captain Picard is sitting in a comfortable chair and reading in his quarters. He falls asleep when he is scanned by a mysterious probe and transported away to an unknown room where he cannot communicate with the USS Enterprise-D. On the bridge, an unknown energy source is detected by Data in the captain's quarters. The captain doesn't answer when paged, so a security team led by Lieutenant Worf immediately heads to investigate.

Picard finds himself in a black holding cell with lights and with two others: an unconscious female Bolian Starfleet cadet, and a Mizarian, both on bunks. Picard taps his combadge to contact the Enterprise, but receives no response.

Outside Picard's quarters, Worf attempts to open the door, when "the captain" stands there, holding a book and glass, and calmly asks Worf if something is the matter.

Act One[]

Alien food 2366

"It's edible, but I wouldn't call it food."

In the holding cell, Picard checks the Bolian for life, causing her to awaken with a start. Picard calms her down and introduces himself; the Bolian says she has studied his missions at Starfleet Academy then introduces herself as Mitena Haro, a first-year Academy cadet. The Mizarian then asks Picard if he can explain what is happening, but Picard tells him he cannot. The Mizarian introduces himself as Kova Tholl of Mizar II. Picard says he has been brought to wherever they are all against his will; Haro then claims to have fainted while studying three days before and later found herself in the cell. Tholl says he has been there for at least twelve days, having suddenly lost consciousness while meditating privately. Picard asks him what he knows of their captors and Tholl says they haven't shown themselves so he cannot tell Picard anything. Picard looks round, noting that the presence of four bunks could imply that another captive may soon be joining them. He sees a dispenser in the center of the cell, which produces a red disk of solid material. Tholl claims it is edible but doesn’t think it would qualify as food. Picard samples some before moving over to a small panel next to the door, but Tholl advises him not to touch it. Picard asks him why and Tholl responds that if it is the door lock the combination is too complex to hit at random. He says he tried once and was punished by being struck by an energy beam which caused severe pain. Because of this, he states he will not go near the door again.

The "captain" running the Enterprise is a replacement of some type, but still seems to have all of the memories and experiences of Picard. He orders the crew to stop their course to their rendezvous with the Hood, and instead head towards the well-studied pulsar in the Lonka Cluster. When Wesley Crusher says that at warp 7, they can make the trip in 34 minutes, the fake Picard orders him to instead travel at warp 2, which will take 31 hours. When Commander Riker attempts to communicate with the Hood and inform them of their delay, the fake Picard orders no further communications without his prior approval. The crew does not understand but follows orders. The fake Picard asks to have a word alone with Riker in the captain's ready room. He tells Riker he will be keeping him in the dark and that in the next few days, he may not be as communicative as he usually is. Riker assures him that he and the crew can handle it.

Esoqq charges

Esoqq charges at Kova Tholl

Meanwhile, in the holding cell, Picard taps repeatedly on the keypad next to the door. Tholl asks what he is doing; Picard explains that he is attempting to show the abductors that the cell's occupants are intelligent. This confuses Tholl who believes the abductors know this from hearing the abductees talking. Picard tells him they may not realize the abductees are using language to communicate. Haro clarifies that Picard is conveying that the abductees understand mathematics by tapping the first six prime numbers; Tholl know this but doesn't understand the reason. Picard says they must communicate with their abductors and find out what they want. Tholl believes in peaceful non-resistance; his homeworld has been conquered six times in the last 300 years.

A moment later, a Chalnoth named Esoqq materializes and, startled at his abduction, jumps to his feet and draws a large knife. Picard raises his hands to calm him and assure Esoqq that they all mean him no harm, but he doesn't stand down.

Act Two[]

Esoqq close-up

Esoqq calms down

After explaining to Esoqq they are prisoners like him, and that their captors will not show themselves, the captain is able to calm him down by saying that he has visited Esoqq's homeworld Chalna twelve years ago when he commanded the USS Stargazer.

Replica Picard attends senior staff poker game

"Forgive this intrusion. I was, um… just passing by."
"You are always welcome, Captain."

Back on the ship, the fake Picard stops in at the poker game in Data's quarters and asks La Forge to increase the efficiency of the warp drive from 93% to 95%. He emphasizes that this doesn't need to be done right away, but La Forge, who has had a luckless night at the table, decides it'd be a better use of his time, and leaves. Despite the fact that Captain Picard has never stopped in for a poker game before, when Counselor Troi invites the fake Picard to join them, he decides to watch the others play, yet declines to actually take part. He asks to speak with Troi and when outside in the corridor he asks if the crew is suspicious of their sudden change of heading. She reminds him that such changes are not unusual, and that she will tell him if they become distrustful. The conversation strikes Troi as rather odd, and just a bit suspicious in and of itself.

Picard talks to troi 2366

"They trust you, sir."

After belittling Mizarians and their culture, Esoqq finds that he is disgusted by, and incapable of eating the edible tablet that is the only nourishment provided. He is already quick to violence, but he says that he can go only three to four days without food, but no more. He then eyes Tholl, hungrily.

Later, the fake Picard gets a physical examination in sickbay and appears to be in perfect health. Dr. Crusher does not understand why Picard would request or volunteer for a physical; not only was not due for a checkup for a month, normally he hates undergoing physicals, and wonders if he has any personal medical concerns. The fake Picard then invites Crusher to dinner in his quarters and she seems surprised about this unexpected gesture, which he chooses to regard as her acceptance.

Alien pain beam, 2366

Picard, Esoqq, and Haro are punished by a painful green ray

In the holding cell, after some discussion, the prisoners decide to try to open the door and escape, notwithstanding the risks, and Tholl's opposition. Esoqq smashes a panel. Haro then works on the circuits to try to rig the door open. The door opens a crack, closes again and then Picard, Esoqq, and Haro are punished by a painful green ray. Tholl ruefully tells Picard that he tried to warn them, earning a scornful stare from the captain.

Act Three[]

Beverly and the Picard impostor

Crusher having a dance with the Picard doppelgänger

On the Enterprise, Crusher is having dinner with the fake Picard. After a toast, she tells the fake Picard that she knows that something is on his mind, and he says he wants a more intimate relationship. They talk about their duty and how both their jobs require professional distance. When he asks if it would be simpler if he were not her commanding officer, she reminds the fake Picard that it's more complicated than that. He then asks her to dance. Surprised, Crusher exclaims she thought that Picard didn't dance; he responds, only on special occasions. He then kisses her, and Crusher gets the feeling that something is odd, and asks if she is being played. The fake Picard asks if she regrets what just happened, but then calls it a night and shows her the door.

At this point, in the holding cell, the four captives begin to accuse each other. Esoqq accuses Tholl of being the enemy because he refused to help and seemed to sit there observing them, claiming he was peaceful. The remainder of the attack is directed toward Picard because he was ordering them all around all the time. Haro vouches for him by citing some of the deeds Picard has participated in, including putting his life on the line for the primitive culture on Mintaka III. She also notes his assistance to the Wogneer creatures in the Ordek Nebula and helping eradicate the Cor Caroli V plague. After clearing up some the conflicts in the holding cell, they all decide that it would be better to work together than to bicker about whose fault it was.

"First officer's log, supplemental. Although we're still 18 hours from the Lonka pulsar, the captain has ordered us to slow to one=half impulse. He has offered no explanation."
Round of ale 2366

"In fact… ales for everyone!"

Troi and Riker are sitting and having a drink at a table in Ten Forward while talking about the unusual actions of the captain. The fake Picard walks into Ten Forward and greets and congratulates La Forge for increasing the efficiency of the ship's warp drive even beyond his request, to 96%. After ordering an ale for himself, and his officers, and then everyone else in the bar, he toasts the "finest crew in Starfleet", before leading them all in a sing-along. La Forge expresses suspicion about Picard's unusual behavior. Riker says this isn't the Jean-Luc Picard he knows.

Act Four[]

The senior staff all meet together in Riker's quarters to discuss their captain's odd behavior. Though they have considerable evidence for suspicion and concern, there is not yet cause for mutiny. "The next move is his", states Riker as the meeting is adjourned.

Senior staff mutiny 2366

The senior staff gather

The Enterprise finally arrives at the Lonka pulsar. The fake Picard then orders to move the ship dangerously close to it, such that their shields will only last 18 minutes before the entire crew would be lethally irradiated. Riker asks to speak in private with the fake Picard, and once in the ready room, complains about these orders, the endangerment of the ship, and the lack of mission or cause behind them, and that without an explanation, he would be forced to usurp command. The fake Picard counters that he is under no obligation to explain himself, and questions if Riker believes he'd be able to convince a board of inquiry. He then suggests that Riker should get a physical examination as he has been under a lot of stress, or else the fake Picard will relieve Riker of duty. With no actual proof that Picard's judgement is compromised, Riker is forced to withdraw his objections, for now.

USS Enterprise-D at Lonka pulsar

The Enterprise arrives at the Lonka pulsar

In the holding cell, all of the prisoners cooperate in disabling the green ray and opening the access door, only to find a wall behind the door that they managed to open.

On the Enterprise, the fake Picard orders to move even closer to the pulsar, which would almost certainly destroy the ship and kill the entire crew. Riker countermands the fake Picard's orders, who commands Worf to remove Riker from the bridge, but Worf disregards the order.

Act Five[]

Riker takes control of the ship and orders Wesley to immediately move the Enterprise away from the pulsar.

By now, the prisoners are depressed and confused. Picard, having long grown suspicious of Haro, announces to everyone that this entire scenario is an elaborate experiment to see how everyone reacts to authority; Tholl, the collaborator, follows whoever has the most power at any given moment out of self-preservation; Esoqq, the anarchist, rejects authority; Haro, the Starfleet cadet, sworn to follow any superior officer's orders; and Picard, a Starfleet captain, trained to command. He notes that there were tasks designed to require them to work together to complete, and that Esoqq was unable to eat the food, to make him a threat.

Picard then reveals that Haro is not who she appears to be; she had earlier mentioned Picard's mission to Mintaka III, which was unlikely for a first-year cadet to know about, and so Picard tested her; the Cor Caroli V plague, which Starfleet has classified as secret and would not be known of by any real Starfleet cadet. Upon Picard's declaration that he will no longer cooperate, Haro admits that Picard is correct, and then morphs into a trio of aliens, who explain to Picard that they were studying the concept of leadership, which their own culture lacks, so they "borrowed" Picard, Tholl and Esoqq and replaced them with replicas. However, Picard's knowledge of the experiment will taint the results, so they decide to return the captives to their places of origin.

Picard is transported to his ship and the fake Picard is revealed as an alien observer who had been testing if the crew would follow Picard's orders, even to their deaths.

Picard and aliens in forcefield 2366

The aliens trapped in a force field

Picard expresses his moral outrage at him and his crew, not to mention Esoqq and Tholl, being kidnapped, deceived, and subjected to the aliens' experimentation without consent; the aliens are unruffled, finding Picard's outrage to itself be an interesting subject for future study, since they are likewise unfamiliar with the concept. But Picard gives his crew subtle signals to let them know that he wants the aliens to be trapped in a force field. Once trapped, they become afraid and panicked, protesting this treatment since they did not harm Picard or the others in any way. Picard tells them that imprisonment is harm in itself, and that they should rethink the morality of their experiments. He also warns them that the Federation now is not only aware of their existence, but also now has the ability to trap them. Picard then sets them free and orders them to leave his ship. They transport away.

Picard asks the crew how they knew it was a replica, and Riker jokingly retorts that he didn't know that Picard could sing that well. Dr. Crusher enters the bridge, sits next to Picard, and glances at him in an oddly flirtatious manner, making Picard confused as they return to their normal course.

Log entries[]

Memorable quotes[]

"It's edible, but I wouldn't call it food."

- Kova Tholl

"My given name is Esoqq. It means 'fighter.'"
"I'll bet half the names in Chalnoth language mean fighter."
"Mizarians, your names all mean surrender!"

- Esoqq and Kova Tholl

"What is this?"
"The only food?!"
"It would seem so."

(Esoqq nibbles food)


- Esoqq and Jean-Luc Picard

"You're destroying yourself and anyone who is foolish enough to listen to you!"
"You've shown none of the concern that Captain Picard would for the safety of his ship, the welfare of his crew."

- Fake Picard and Riker

"I found it unlikely that a first-year cadet would know of the Enterprise's visit to Mintaka III, so I tested you. Starfleet has classified the Cor Caroli V plague as secret. No cadet would have knowledge of that incident."
"So you may as well drop this pretense. I'm not playing any further. I'm quitting this game. As far as I am concerned, this experiment is over!"
"You are correct, Captain Picard."

- Picard and "Cadet Haro"

"The next beams might be lethal!"
"Not to you. You moved FAR from the door!"

- Kova Tholl and Esoqq

"In any event, we now know of your race, and we know how to imprison you. Bear that in mind. Now, get off my ship!"

- Picard, to the aliens who kidnapped him

"Then my doppelganger caused no serious damage. The replica was convincing?"
"Very convincing, but not perfect."
"Not perfect in what way?"
"Well sir, I find it hard to believe that you're that good a singer."
"Singer? I look forward to reading your report, Commander. At least I think I do."

- Picard and Riker

Background information[]

Production history[]

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".



  • Ronald D. Moore commented, "Picard does some things that had only been in the real Picard's mind. Watching him sing in Ten Forward gave everyone a kick. And the scene with Beverly in his cabin was kind of fun. I like the fact we've taken him apart more and really are seeing what makes this guy tick." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 194)
  • This was Winrich Kolbe's favorite episode out of the ones he directed. "I like it because we did something stylistically interesting in the lit room where the four people were incarcerated. It was Patrick's show and I always know when it's going to be Patrick's show it's going to be a good one because he's so damn good in everything that he does… I liked the look of it and what Marvin Rush was able to do, and Richard James the set designer. What you have to consider in directing any kind of entertainment concept is time and money. We were so far behind after the first two days that basically the whole hierarchy of Paramount was camping out on my set. Then we went into the new set, the octagonal chamber and suddenly we were taking off. We came in under budget and under time. It was a set that was terrific to shoot in and I could put the camera anywhere I wanted to." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 194)
  • Kolbe also remarked, "I like "Allegiance" because I liked working with Patrick Stewart. He's a very subtle actor. I remember talking to Patrick the first time he started playing the clone. I said, 'I think I need more from you.' He thought about it and then gave me more. As we rehearsed the scene, we looked at each other and knew he was giving me too much. So, we just pulled it back. Patrick is like Itzhak Perlman with a Stradivarius. You have to compare the Stradivarius to the Joe Schmuck violin. To the untrained eye, they're no different. But they are different, very different. Patrick played the good guy and the bad guy so close at times, but it was different and it was right." (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 21, p. 31)
  • A mission report for this episode by Robert Greenberger was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 13, pp. 54-57.


  • This episode was nominated for an Emmy Award for Outstanding Achievement in Makeup for a Series.

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]

Uncredited co-stars[]



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Deleted references[]

Pozaron; regent

External links[]

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