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Picard, Worf, and Dr. Crusher are reassigned from the Enterprise to a secret mission. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is under the command of Captain Edward Jellico, who immediately starts making changes, much to the dismay of the crew.



The USS Enterprise-D and an Excelsior-class ship run side by side at impulse speed.

"Captain's log, Stardate 46357.4. We have rendezvoused with the starship Cairo near the Cardassian border for an urgent meeting with Vice Admiral Nechayev."

Nechayev beams aboard the Enterprise and unceremoniously greets Captain Picard. In her no-nonsense fashion, she dismisses Commander Riker and informs Picard in his ready room that she has no time for pleasantries and is here to relieve him of command of the Enterprise.

Act One[]

Nechayev meets with Commander Riker, Lieutenant Commander Data, and Counselor Troi in the observation lounge and briefs them that the Cardassians have mobilized three divisions of ground troops (having withdrawn the bulk of their forces from the Bajoran sector) and that their subspace transmissions have increased by 50%. The admiral hopes that the Cardassians are not willing to risk an incursion and possibly war over one system. When Riker asks about Picard, Necheyev tells him that he is to be replaced by Captain Edward Jellico, who is the commanding officer of the USS Cairo. Necheyev also says that their chief medical officer, Dr. Crusher and security chief, Lieutenant Worf, are also being reassigned to a mission. The change of command will occur at 1300 hours.

Since Jellico was instrumental in negotiating the original peace treaty with the Cardassians, Nechayev feels he is uniquely qualified to negotiate with them again. Once Data and Troi leave the observation lounge, Riker reminds the admiral that Jellico can negotiate with the Cardassians without taking command of the Enterprise. Nechayev tells Riker that she wants someone on the bridge who has significant experience with the Cardassians, and tells him that with all due respect, that's not him.

Picard, Worf, and Crusher are training for their secret mission in the holodeck. They are running a program in a series of dark caves including exercises such as escaping Cardassians, setting mobile shield emitters, and other surprises they might run into on the mission. They take turns and try to best each other's times.

Riker jellico

Riker and Jellico in the transporter room

Riker meets Captain Jellico in the transporter room. Riker is immediately overwhelmed by his new commanding officer. Admiring the beauty and prestige of the Galaxy-class starship, Jellico surmises that must be why Riker has never accepted his own command. During the short walk to the turbolift, Jellico lists a series of orders including changing the duty shift rotation from three watches to four by 1400 hours and meeting with the department heads at 1500 hours. They arrive at the turbolift, and Jellico asks Riker whether he prefers "Will" or "William." Riker indicates the former, and Jellico asks where his quarters are. Before Riker can finish his reply, Jellico states the deck number for that room. He departs in the turbolift, leaving Riker befuddled.

Command transfer

Picard relinquishes command to Jellico

A ceremony for the Change of Command of the Enterprise is held in Ten Forward. The two captains are in full dress uniforms while the rest of the crew are in standard uniforms (except Troi, who wears her grey unitard). Captain Picard reads the transfer orders from Admiral Nechayev and instructs the computer to transfer all command codes to Captain Jellico. The Enterprise is now Jellico's.

Riker meets up with Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, and the engineer asks Riker how long he thinks this change of command is going to last. Riker tells him that they usually do not perform this ceremony if it is just going to be a temporary assignment. Meanwhile, Troi spots the exhausted Dr. Crusher sitting in a corner and goes over to sit with her. Troi asks her if she is sore. Crusher tells her that sore does not even begin to describe it. They exchange glances, and the doctor says that she wishes she could talk about the mission but cannot.

Picard and Jellico discuss very specific issues on the ship's systems. Jellico says that he can handle anything that comes his way. They then discuss the specifics of Picard's mission in a somewhat coded fashion. Picard reveals that he wishes he had more current information than the two-year old intelligence reports. Jellico offers to send a Class-5 probe later, and Picard happily accepts.

Edward Jellico asks William Riker about delta shift

"He was your first officer for five years?"

Jellico calls for Riker and passes the order to launch the probe during delta shift. Riker informs his new commanding officer that the new crew rotation is not yet ready and that the department heads believe it will put too much pressure and cause significant problems for their personnel. Jellico orders the new duty roster to be ready immediately and be fully manned when they reach their destination. Jellico then dismisses his first officer. Riker leaves, and Jellico makes his dissatisfaction with Riker clear to Picard, who defends his former first officer. Jellico tells Picard that he is sure it will work out.

Act Two[]

Jellico records a log entry:

"Captain's log, Stardate 46358.2. The Enterprise is on course for a rendezvous with the Cardassian ship Reklar. Fortunately, I still have time to prepare the ship and crew for the task ahead."

Some time later on the bridge, Jellico, Riker, Data, and Garvey stand over the tactical station. Jellico orders several modifications to the terminal and then proceeds to order changes to Science I and II, making them Damage Control and Weapons Status. He then orders one battle drill for each of the four shifts. He wants Riker to "get it done" by seeing to it personally. Before leaving on the turbolift with Data, he tells Riker he wants "that fish" out of the ready room.

In engineering, Jellico tells La Forge to overhaul the warp coils, as he finds their performance unsatisfactory. The chief engineer insists that the coil's performance is well within specifications, but Jellico is not interested in specs and wants their efficiency improved by at least 15%. La Forge tells the captain that what he is asking will take more than the two days that Jellico is giving him. Data, apparently the only crew member with whom Jellico is impressed, calculates that the required actions are possible in the time requested. La Forge agrees but only if the entire engineering staff works around the clock for those two days. Jellico responds with his signature line, "Get it done."


Jellico redecorates

Meanwhile, Jellico is redecorating his ready room, sans fish. Troi enters, and Jellico shows her a drawing from his son of what he believes to be an elephant. Troi tries to explain the feelings of the crew to him. While recognizing that he and the crew are still getting used to each other, it is clear that Jellico does not feel there is any time for a period of adjustment. He orders Troi to do what she can to have the crew accept the situation. She turns to leave, and Jellico informs her that he likes "a certain formality on the bridge" and would prefer that she wears a standard uniform while on duty.

La Forge visits Riker in a corridor and complains. La Forge wants to know how he is expected to get his work done with such a heavy load and with one-third of his staff being reassigned to security. Riker makes it clear to La Forge that Jellico will not listen to him or any of the other department heads. La Forge suggests he try to get Captain Picard, who has not left for his mission yet, to help in persuading Jellico to ease up on the crew a little. Riker heeds the engineer's advice and leaves to visit Picard.

Picard practically stumbles into his quarters, exhausted from the training. He admits to Riker that he has not been this tired since he was training for the Academy Marathon. Riker does not want to bother him and leaves without asking his favor.

Picard meets with Captain Jellico in the ready room, and they discuss the mission briefly. Riker calls and informs Jellico that the shuttle is ready for launch. Jellico asks whether he launched the probe as requested. Riker tells him that he has but that he did not know he was supposed to inform his captain about the launch.

After the channel closes, Jellico again expresses his disappointment with Riker to Picard and that he sees why Riker is still only a first officer. Picard reminds the other captain that Riker has been decorated by Starfleet Command on five occasions and been offered command more than once. Picard adds that Jellico will find him to be a very capable officer if given the chance. Jellico tells Picard that negotiations with Gul Lemec will not go too smoothly and that neither side will give up anything very easily, and chances are Picard may not come back from his secret mission into Cardassian territory, so he wants the ship ready for action and he does not have time for Will Riker or anyone else be given a chance. He apologizes to Picard for being blunt, but states that the Enterprise is his now.

Act Three[]

Once the members of the commando mission leave the Enterprise on the shuttlecraft Feynman, Picard informs his team of their mission: a secret investigation of the Cardassian planet Celtris III in search of a research facility for metagenic weapons. Starfleet Intelligence believes that the Cardassians are developing a new delivery system that would protect them from accidental exposure to the toxin by using a subspace carrier wave. For the past few weeks, theta-band subspace emissions have been detected coming from Celtris III and those emissions may indicate that a metagenic delivery system in operation. As Picard studied theta-band carrier waves while on the Stargazer, he was chosen for the mission due to his familiarity with the methods used for generating them. Worf is there for muscle, and Crusher is there to locate and destroy any bio-toxins they may find.

Solok, 2369

DaiMon Solok on Torman V

In order to secure safe passage into Cardassian territory, they travel to the planet Torman V to enlist the help of DaiMon Solok. They meet Solok at a bar and Picard makes the proposal to him, but Solok is worried because Celtris III is in Cardassian territory, and he then accuses the three of being Federation spies. Crusher then begins to charm Solok and even uses oo-mox to convince him to provide passage discreetly.

"First officer's log, supplemental. We have rendezvoused with the Cardassian ship Reklar to begin diplomatic talks designed to ease tensions along the border."

Riker tells Captain Jellico that Lemec, commander of the Reklar, was beamed aboard and was escorted to the observation lounge. Jellico then announces that he will be waiting in his ready room, confusing both Riker and Troi.

Picard on Celtris III

Crusher looks down a very steep cliff on Celtris III

Troi, now wearing a standard uniform, enters the ready room and asks Jellico if there has been a miscommunication. He reveals that this is one of his negotiating tactics. Jellico compares Cardassians to timber wolves in that they're predators who possess an instinctive need to establish a dominant position in social situations. He is making Lemec wait in order to gain the dominant position. After the counselor reminds him that sometimes a wolf ends up dead in the fight for dominance, Jellico tells her that the trick is to be the wolf that is left standing in the end.

After arriving on Celtris III, Picard reminds Crusher to set her tricorder in order to keep a precise map of their route, as it will be very easy to get lost in the caves. She then starts picking up subspace signals, but cannot get a lock on them. By compressing the detection bandwidth, Picard determines that the source of the signal is five hundred meters east and seven hundred meters below their current location. Lynars, which are Celtran bats, fly by them, and Worf pretends not to be afraid of them.

The team comes to a precipice and needs to descend the rock face to the floor, which is over five hundred meters below. As they prepare their fusing pitons for the long rappel down with rope, Worf asks Crusher if she is afraid of heights, and she sarcastically says that she is not. The three of them begin rappelling down the cavern.

Act Four[]


The Cardassian Galor-class warship Reklar

Jellico has been keeping Lemec waiting for over an hour. Also, the fact that he brings Riker and Troi with him to the negotiating table infuriates the Cardassian. Jellico tells him that if he cannot negotiate anything other than minutiae, then maybe he is not serious about these talks. Jellico then storms out of the room and onto the bridge.


Jellico discusses tactics

Riker and Troi follow him, and he almost gleefully shares his plan of attack. Jellico tells Riker and Troi to let Lemec stew for a few minutes and then to tell him that Jellico is a loose cannon, but he has agreed to meet again. They are to explain to Lemec that he needs to be more reasonable since Jellico is such an unreasonable man and that he can include no more than two aides. After Jellico walks away, Riker notes that the captain is very sure of himself. Troi reveals that he is in fact not.

On Celtris III, the team has finished rappelling, and they are only three hundred meters away from the installation. Picard leads the way, scanning with his tricorder. They encounter a lava tube that runs for seventy-five meters behind a wall. Worf notes that a phaser set to Level 16 should suffice. He then blasts a hole in the wall to reveal the tube.

Jellico and Lemec

Lemec introduces his aides

Meanwhile in the Enterprise observation lounge, Lemec introduces Captain Jellico to his aides, Glinns Corak and Tajor. Jellico, along with Riker and Troi, sit at the other end of the table and Jellico accuses the Cardassians of massing troops in staging areas, assembling strike forces, and pulling ships off their normal patrols. Lemec insists they are merely routine training operations. Jellico proposes sending a few starships into the sector for their own training operations. Lemec is more concerned about the Federation's refusal to vacate systems that are "clearly Cardassian."

Jellico is very agitated because he believes the Cardassians are seeking to get those worlds at the bargaining table that they could not take by force. Troi calms Jellico, and Riker states to Lemec that under the terms of the treaty, those worlds are still under negotiation. Lemec reveals that they have reports that a small Federation task force has infiltrated Cardassian territory. He says that this action will likely fail, and if it were to succeed, there would be serious repercussions from the Cardassians. Before they recess, Lemec asks Jellico where Picard is and does so in a way that implies that he already knows. Jellico tells him that Picard has been reassigned. Lemec sinisterly tells Jellico that he hopes Picard's new assignment is not too dangerous and adds that it would be a shame if something happened to such a noted officer.

Picard, Crusher and Worf on Celtris III

Picard, Crusher, and Worf break into the lab on Celtris III

On Celtris III, the team crawls through the lava tube with Crusher bringing up the rear. The two men get out safely, but the doctor is covered by rubble during a cave-in. Worf immediately leaps back into the tube and uncovers Crusher. Shaken but unhurt, they move on. They find a maintenance hatch with three proximity sensors around it. Worf sets up sensor echoes so that they can make it through without being detected. The hatch is magnetically sealed, but Worf is able to bypass it.

They go through the hatch to find a room with only a single device, which has been emitting the theta-band waves. There is no lab. It has been a trap all along.

Act Five[]

Cardassians suddenly attack Picard and the others. The Federation team responds with phaser fire and hand-to-hand combat. Worf blocks the closing hatch so that Crusher can escape, but Picard is still fighting off Cardassians. Worf is shot, and he falls outside the room while the hatch closes. Picard is captured by four Cardassians and reluctantly drops his weapon. Crusher and Worf realize that they cannot help the captain, and they quickly make their escape. Worf hesitates to leave Picard behind but is ordered by Crusher, his superior officer, to leave immediately.


Gul Madred on Celtris III

Back on the Enterprise, Riker notifies Jellico that there are a lot of coded messages coming from Celtris III. Also, there had been theta-band emissions until just a few minutes ago. Jellico orders Riker to get Admiral Nechayev on a priority two channel. He tells her the mission was apparently successful since the theta-band emissions have stopped. She asks Jellico if there has been any word from "our friends," but there has not been.

In a stark, imposing room, an unknown Cardassian, who is later revealed as Gul Madred, tells Picard that he is the most interesting challenge to walk through his door in years. He cites Picard's name, Starfleet serial number, parents' names, and place of birth. Then he states that he knows of Picard's extensive experience with theta-band subspace carrier waves while captain of the Stargazer. He reveals that this information was used to lure Picard. Picard asks why he was chosen. Madred responds by telling Picard that he is not allowed to ask questions. Only Madred will ask them, and if he is not satisfied with the captain's responses, then Picard will die.


Memorable quotes[]

"May I present Captain Jean-Luc Picard."
"Admiral, welcome on board."
"Thank you. That'll be all, Commander."
"Can I get you some coffee, tea"
"Thank you, no, Captain. I'm afraid there's no time for the usual pleasantries. I'm here to relieve you of command of the Enterprise."

- Riker introduces Picard to Nechayev, who then promptly strips him of his captaincy of the Enterprise

"I wonder how permanent this is gonna be."
"I don't know. They don't usually go through the ceremony if it's just a temporary assignment."

- La Forge and Riker, after Jellico becomes captain of the Enterprise-D

"He was your first officer for five years…"
"One of the finest officers that I have ever served with."
"Of course he is, Jean-Luc. I'm sure it'll all work out…"

- Jellico, displaying his doubts about Riker to Picard

"Oh… and get that fish out of the ready room."

- Jellico

"By the way, I prefer a certain… formality on the bridge. I'd appreciate it if you wore a standard uniform when you're on duty."

- Jellico, to Troi

"Get it done."

- Jellico

"I want this ship ready for action, and I don't have time to give Will Riker or anyone else a chance. And forgive me for being blunt, but the Enterprise is mine now."

- Jellico

"Well, I'll say this for him – he's sure of himself."
"No, he's not."

- Riker and Troi, after Jellico storms out of a meeting with Gul Lemec

"Gul Lemec has arrived. He's waiting for you in the observation lounge."
"Very good. I'll be in my ready room."

- Riker and Jellico

"It's a trap!"

- Picard

"In this room you do not ask questions. I ask them, you answer. If I am not satisfied with your answers, you will die."

- Gul Madred

Background information[]

Production history[]

Story and production[]

Westmore does McFadden makeup

Michael Westmore applies McFadden's injury makeup

  • The episode was originally intended to be a single episode, with Picard rescued at the end of the hour. Michael Piller suggested to split the story into two parts primarily for financial rather than dramatic reasons. Jeri Taylor recalled, "We were in budget trouble and Michael said, 'You know, I think what we could do is make this a two-parter. Have Picard captured and then make it an episode about his relationship with his torturer that takes place in one room. It's a fascinating two-person play and we'll get another episode out of it that way and we'll save a lot of money that will bring us even with the budget.'" (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 266)
  • Rick Berman pointed out, "I think that money and creativity have never really gone hand in hand when it comes to Star Trek. Episodes like "The Measure Of A Man" was one of our cheapest episodes and one of our best, but an episode like "Yesterday's Enterprise" was quite expensive and it was wonderful. 'Chain Of Command' was a very inexpensive episode and one of the greats." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 267)
  • The producers attempted to establish Jellico as more of a "by-the-book" captain than Picard by means of various subtle details. His entry onto the bridge is announced ("Captain on the bridge!"); he himself announces Picard's return at the end of the next episode. He also insists upon crewmembers appearing in full standard uniform when on duty, and has Data wear a command division red uniform when promoting him temporarily to first officer in Part II. His catchphrase "Get it done" when issuing orders was intended to be a counterpart to Picard's somewhat friendlier "Make it so." He also was a family man; after ordering Livingston's tank removed from the ready room, he puts up pictures drawn by his son. The writers wished to stress that Jellico wasn't at all ineffective as a captain despite his run-ins with Riker, his approach was just more direct than Picard's. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 228)
  • DaiMon Solok was originally intended to be Quark in a crossover with Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. The decision to show DS9's pilot "Emissary" in January 1993 meant that this was changed, as people would be unaware who Quark actually was. The scene in the bar with Solok was filmed on DS9's Replimat set, although filmed at tight angles to hide this fact. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., pp. 228-229)
  • Rene Echevarria elaborated on the planned TNG/DS9 crossover thusly: " We were going to go to DS9 and that's how we were going to get to the planet in the show. The Enterprise was going to come to DS9 and get a ship. The scene with the Ferengi was written for Quark and I don't think Ron [Moore] changed a word except the guy's name. We were going to borrow one of their runabouts which Jellico was going to ask for, but it just didn't work out. Rick [Berman] wanted to wait a little longer before doing a crossover. Actually, it was less expensive, because if you go to Deep Space 9 you have to use at least one of their regulars". (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 267)
McFadden during Chain of Command

McFadden between takes

  • According to Ronny Cox, the removal of Livingston from the ready room had a larger motive. Patrick Stewart hated Livingston's presence in the ready room, and constantly petitioned the producers to remove the fish. Stewart felt that it was inappropriate to have a captive animal in a series that valued the dignity of different species. Cox stated that the producers' decision to temporarily remove the fish was thus a "sort of bone they threw to Patrick". [2]
  • Troi began wearing a standard Starfleet uniform in this episode when ordered to do so by Jellico; she had not done so since "Encounter at Farpoint" with the exception of the fantasy universe portrayed in "Future Imperfect". This was a costume experiment that Ronald D. Moore had wanted to try and Marina Sirtis was eager to oblige. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 228) Ronny Cox noted, "I think there were a lot of things that [Jellico] did that were really important for that show. Having Troi put on a damn uniform? Give me a break! This is an officer on a ship and she's running around with her boobs hanging out?" [3] Troi continued to appear in uniform while on duty for nearly all of the rest of the series.
  • Solok was originally named "Selok", but it was realized that the name had already been used in "Data's Day". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 229)
  • In 2012, Michael Dorn related a story about the production of this episode to the cast of The Next Generation at the Calgary Expo. During shooting while he, Patrick Stewart and Gates McFadden were working in the tunnels of the set for Celtris III at Paramount Stage 16, Dorn and Stewart started laughing uncontrollably. There were many stray cats roaming around Paramount Pictures and as the set was covered with sand, they frequently used it for cat litter. Dorn asked Stewart what he was laughing about and he said, "I don't know how I got here. I was at a seminar at Santa Barbara, the next thing I know, I'm crawling around in cat shit!" [4]
  • A conversation between La Forge and Jellico, cut from the final episode, revealed that Jellico had attended Starfleet Academy together with Captain Zimbata, La Forge's former CO on the USS Victory. Jellico remembered that they had played rugby together and that he had been even worse than Zimbata. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, 2nd ed., p. 228)



  • Entertainment Weekly ranked this episode (combined with Part II) #10 on their list of "The Top 10 Episodes" to celebrate the 20th anniversary of Star Trek: The Next Generation. [5]

Video and DVD releases[]

Links and references[]


Also starring[]

Guest stars[]



Uncredited co-stars[]

Stunt doubles[]



2357; 2364; 2367; accusation; Annotated Shakespeare, The; armistice; astrophysics lab; authorization code; background radiation; Bajoran sector; bat; battle drill; bear; bridge supportive stations; Cairo, USS; captain's ready room; Cardassian; Cardassian space; Cardassian Union; carrier wave; Celtris III; Change of Command; Class 5 probe; Class of '57; crew evaluation' day; delta shift; department; department head; division; DNA; drawing; duty roster; duty watch; elephant; engineering department; Excelsior-class; exobiology; Federation; Federation-Cardassian Armistice of 2367; Federation-Cardassian border; Federation space; Ferengi; Feynman; France; fusing piton; Galaxy-class; Galaxy class decks; Galor-class; gamma shift; geological research; glinn; granite; gul; Jellico's son; La Barre; lava tube; Livingston; "loose cannon"; lynars; main deflector pathway; McDowell; metagenic weapon; meter; Midsummer Night's Dream, A; Mintakan tapestry; month; oo-mox; Picard, Maurice; Picard, Yvette; radio silence; readiness report; Reklar; Rockwell X-30; Romulans; Sector 864; serial number; social gathering; Solok's cargo ship; space; Stargazer, USS; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet Academy marathon; Starfleet Command; Starfleet dress uniform; Starfleet Intelligence; sunflower; theta-band; timber wolf; Torman V; tricorder; turbolift; Type 7 shuttlecraft; unnamed Cardassian cruisers; unnamed sector; vice admiral; voice authorization; warp coil; watch rotation

Library computer references[]

Starship mission status: Ajax, USS; Alderaan; Alpha Laputa IV; Ambassador-class; Apollo-class; Aries, USS; Berlin, USS; Beta Cygni system; Bradbury, USS; Bradbury-class; Charleston, USS; Constellation-class; Excelsior-class; Fearless, USS; Goddard, USS; Hood, USS; Korolev-class; Merced-class; Merrimac, USS; Monitor, USS; Nebula-class; New Orleans-class; pulsar; Renaissance-class; Repulse, USS; Romulan Neutral Zone; sector; Sector 21396; Sector 21538; Sector 22358; Sector 22846; Sector 22853; Sector 23079; Starbase 134; Starbase 434; Thomas Paine, USS; Trieste, USS; Victory, USS; Vulcan Science Academy; warp drive; Zhukov, USS

Unused production references[]

rugby; Zimbata

External links[]

Previous episode:
"The Quality of Life"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6
Next episode:
"Chain Of Command, Part II"