(written from a Production point of view)
The Enterprise takes on Ensign Ro Laren to help track down Bajoran terrorists who attacked a Federation colony.
It is a typical day as Mot trims Captain Picard's hair while dispensing advice on strategy with the Romulans. The conversation is interrupted by a call from Commander Riker, who reports that the Enterprise has just received a distress call from a colony on Solarion IV. As Picard leaves, Mot observes how close Solarion is to the Cardassian border and points out that he told them not to colonize it. When Picard arrives on the bridge, there is an audio-only communication from a Bajoran man claiming responsibility for destroying the colony and threatening more violence if their homeland is still kept from them.
- "Captain's log, stardate 45076.3. We have arrived at Lya Station Alpha with survivors from Solarion IV. Admiral Kennelly has rendezvoused to discuss the Bajoran terrorist's attack."
Picard is holding a private meeting in the observation lounge with Admiral Kennelly, who is ill with a Cardassian virus. Picard replicates him ginger tea with honey, his Aunt Adele's cure for the common cold. They move on to discussing the Bajoran terrorism issue. It seems the Cardassian Empire annexed Bajor forty years ago and the Bajoran people were subsequently driven from their own land. While the Cardassians have had problems with terrorism ever since the annexation, this is the first time the Bajorans have attacked the Federation. Kennelly wants Picard to stop Orta, the Bajoran terrorist leader, at all costs. While the two discuss the issue, Riker learns that Ensign Ro Laren is waiting to beam aboard the Enterprise. The ensign has come at Kennelly's request, for he thinks she will be useful on the mission even though she was imprisoned previously. Picard recognizes the name and protests due to an incident on Garon II while she was on the USS Wellington, but the admiral is insistent she is right for the job. Picard tells Riker to proceed.
When Ro Laren arrives aboard the Enterprise, it is revealed that Bajoran surnames come first, and thus Ro Laren is Ensign Ro. There is visible anger on the part of Riker, as he tells her to respect uniform code. She takes off her earring.
Riker expresses his concerns with Picard in his ready room. He says many officers won't want to serve with her. Picard assures him it will be temporary. Ro enters with a casual disregard for respect and procedure. Riker is insulted by Ro's disregard for what he considers the honor of being stationed on the Enterprise; in her words, it is "better than prison".
- "Captain's log, supplemental. We are approaching the Valo system on the outskirts of Cardassian territory, where many Bajorans have resettled."
At a staff meeting, Picard and the crew discuss how to get in contact with the Bajoran people. Data suggests that a man known as Jas Holza might be the best choice, and that he may be found on Valo III. Dr. Crusher is familiar with the man, as she met him at a medical symposium and adds that he is quite charming, as well as a good dancer. However, Ro points out that Jas holds no real sway over the Bajoran people. She does, however, know a man named Keeve Falor who lives on Valo II. They decide to go there instead.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. I read about the achievements of the ancient Bajoran civilization in my fifth grade reader. They were architects and artists, builders and philosophers when Humans were not yet standing erect. Now I see how history has rewarded them."
On the surface of Valo II, Picard meets with Keeve, who does not condone the terrorist attack against the Federation. However, at the same time he refuses to help Picard or the Federation, as he feels betrayed by the way they sat idly by while Bajor and its people were ravaged by the Cardassians. Picard determines to help the people of the planet using the Enterprise's replicators to produce blankets for every man, woman and child in the settlement, which makes Keeve much more cooperative. Ro tells Picard she ran away because she could not live as the Bajorans do and would not be lost nor defeated.
- "Captain's log, stardate 45077.8. Keeve Falor has kept his promise and directed us toward the third moon of Valo I, where we will meet tomorrow with the terrorist leader Orta."
Ro sits alone in Ten Forward, sipping her beverage and turning people away when they offer to sit with her. As Geordi La Forge sits at the bar nearby and expresses his displeasure at Ro's presence to Guinan, she decides to get to know Ro. During their conversation, it is revealed that Ro was court martialed because she disobeyed a direct order, resulting in the death of eight fellow officers. Guinan persists despite Ro's efforts to push her away, intent on making a new friend.
In her quarters, Ro receives a transmission from Kennelly and tells him that all is going according to plan. When it comes time to beam to the surface, Picard finds Ro is gone and the terrorists never showed up at the designated meeting location. He beams down anyway with an away team, where they find themselves surrounded by armed Bajorans.
Orta emerges with Ro to face the Enterprise crew, his face mutilated and vocal cords cut by the Cardassians. He tells them that the Bajorans did not attack Solarion IV and lets them go.
Back on the Enterprise's bridge, Ro discusses the issue of who attacked Solarion IV with the other officers until Picard asks her into his ready room. There he angrily says she is not to beam down without authorization and confines her to her quarters.
That night, Guinan visits Ro to talk about what has happened. She observes that Ro seems to trust no one, least of all herself. After a brief conversation, Guinan recalls a time in her life when she got herself into a bad situation and that she would probably still be there if she had not put her trust in one man.
Despite Ro being confined to her quarters, Guinan takes her to Picard's ready room, telling the captain that she considers Ro a friend, convincing him to hear her out. Guinan leaves the two of them to talk, Ro reveals a secret about her purpose aboard the Enterprise. As she reveals, Admiral Kennelly wanted her to make a secret deal with Orta, in direct violation of the Prime Directive: so long as Orta stopped attacking the Federation, Kennelly would supply him and his fellows with weapons and ships. However, when she learned Orta was not responsible, she never made the offer (something Picard notes almost certainly saved her from another court martial) and did not know what to do next. Ro shares a story about how her father was tortured to death in front of her at the hands of the Cardassians, explaining that she felt ashamed to be Bajoran. She and Picard decide to find a way for Orta to help them expose the ones who really attacked the Federation colony.
- "Captain's log, supplemental. I have become convinced that we are somehow involved in a conspiracy. I'm hopeful the purpose behind it will be revealed in the next few hours."
As the Enterprise prepares to escort a Bajoran transport with Orta and his compatriots aboard, they find the ship can only travel at half impulse and match speeds accordingly. Picard tells Data to monitor the Cardassian border, and as they travel, two top of the line Galor-class Cardassian warships seem to take up a parallel course. Upon reaching the point along their path closest to the Cardassian border (they are in neutral, unclaimed space at this point), the warships cross the border and move to intercept the transport. When the Cardassians order Picard to let them destroy the transport, Picard contacts Kennelly, who first appears to leave the decision on how to act in Picard's hands, but when Picard decides not to withdraw, states that the Enterprise should retreat in the interest of protecting the peace treaty with the Cardassians. Picard argues with Kennelly that the Cardassians may be using Starfleet to flush out the Bajorans, but Kennelly isn't interested and gives him a direct order to withdraw. Apparently forced into a corner, Picard has the Enterprise leave the transport unprotected and it is promptly destroyed by Gul Dolak's warship. However, when Kennelly hails the Enterprise seconds later, it is revealed – in a conversation Picard makes a point of having on the bridge rather than in the privacy of his ready room – that no one was aboard the transport.
It turns out that, just as Picard suspected, the Cardassians were the ones who attacked the colony in an attempt to bring the Federation onto their side. They were hoping to find someone – like Kennelly – who was gullible enough to do so. Kennelly, Picard tells Ro, will likely be called to a hearing and will probably be court martialed.
Back on the surface of Valo II, Picard sees in Ro some of the qualities shared by the finest Starfleet officers he has ever known. While she has not yet become one of those officers, he believes she can be in time. He asks her to stay, and at this point it is clear that the two of them have taken a liking to one another. The one provision is that, despite Starfleet uniform code, she must be allowed to wear her Bajoran earring. Picard smiles and agrees, beaming them back on board the Enterprise.
"I understand you've been discussing alternative adversarial engagement strategy with Mr. Mot."
"It'd be more accurate to say he was discussing them with me… He's the best barber in Starfleet – what can you do?"
- - Picard and Riker
"This is the Bajora. We claim responsibility for the destruction of the Federation colony on Solarion IV. As long as we are without our homeland, no one will be safe in this sector."
- - Unknown voice on speaker
"There are other Bajorans in Starfleet. Assign one of them!"
- - Picard, upon being told that Ensign Ro will be serving on the Enterprise
"It was not necessary to abduct us."
"I am sorry, but after speaking with Ro Laren, I decided that it was."
- - Picard and Orta
"Yes, Ensign Laren, please sit down."
"Ensign Ro, sir."
"I beg your pardon?"
"The Bajoran custom has the family name first, the individual name second – I am properly addressed as Ensign Ro."
"I'm sorry, I didn't know…"
"No, there's no reason you should. It's an old custom – most Bajora today accept the distortion of their names in order to assimilate… I do not."
- - Picard and Ro, meeting for the first time
"They're lost, defeated. I will never be."
- - Ro Laren observing with Picard the Bajorans on Valo II
"You are innocent bystanders, and I cannot condone violence against those who are not our enemies."
"Then I don't understand why you're unwilling to help us."
"Because… you're innocent bystanders. You were innocent bystanders for decades as the Cardassians took our homes. As they violated and tortured our people in the most hideous ways imaginable. As we were forced to flee."
"We were saddened by those events, but they occurred within the borders of the Cardassian Empire."
"And the Federation is pledged not to interfere with the internal affairs of others. How convenient that must be for you. To turn a deaf ear to those who suffer behind a line on a map."
- - Keeve and Picard
"Mind if we join you?"
- - Deanna Troi, asking Ro Laren if she and Beverly Crusher can sit with her in Ten Forward
"Am I disturbing you?"
"Good. You look like someone who wants to be disturbed."
- - Guinan and Ro
"And so now, you're sitting in crowded rooms just staring at your drink. I think you enjoy it."
"I enjoy it?"
"Well, you're working so hard at torturing yourself. I can only think that you enjoy it."
- - Guinan and Ro
"You're not like any bartender I've met before."
"And you're not like any Starfleet officer I've met before. And that sounds like the beginning of a very interesting friendship."
"I'm not interested in making friends."
"Too late. You just did."
- - Ro and Guinan
"All is not what it seems to be, Captain. Perhaps someone is using you to get to me. Perhaps you are a victim of this deception as well; I do not know."
"Your mission was to seek out the Bajoran terrorists who destroyed the Federation settlement on Solarion IV."
"As I have informed Ro Laren, it was not the Bajora."
- - Orta and Picard
"Subspace signal, coming in from Starfleet, sir – Admiral Kennelly."
"It is on a secure channel, sir… in your ready room?"
"No, here… on screen."
- - Data and Picard, after letting the Bajoran ship be destroyed
"The Cardassians have destroyed the Bajoran ship, Admiral."
"All hands lost?"
"No, sir – no one was on board."
- - Picard and Kennelly, revealing that the Cardassians – and the admiral – had been fooled
"What're you talking about?!"
"The ship was controlled from the ground…"
"This was your idea, Picard?"
"Actually, no… it was Ensign Ro's idea, but I fully endorsed it – I suspected something like this might occur."
- - Kennelly and Picard
"Do you know how many people they killed on Solarion IV?!"
"The Bajorans did not attack Solarion IV!"
"Who told you that? Orta?"
"And you believed him?!"
"Admiral, Orta's ships are old and obsolete. They don't even have warp capabilities – they couldn't have reached another star system, let alone attacked one."
"Then who's responsible?!"
"I suggest you ask your friend, the Cardassian liaison, Admiral – the only explanation I can think of is that the Cardassians staged it."
"The Cardassians?! Why?"
"Perhaps they were hoping to find someone in Starfleet – like you, Admiral – naive enough to solve their Bajoran problem for them."
- - Picard and Kennelly, as the truth comes out
- Final draft script: 18 July 1991 
- Filmed: 29 July 1991 – 6 August 1991
- Insert scene filmed: 16 September 1991
- Premiere airdate: 7 October 1991
- First UK airdate: 4 January 1995
Story and script
- This episode features the first appearance of the Bajorans, who went on to be a focal point of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. In the original story script, it was the Romulans who were occupying Bajor, but Rick Berman felt the Romulans had been seen too much and, remembering "The Wounded", had the story changed to include the Cardassians. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 4) Even though this episode proved an inspiration on the creation of the DS9 TV series, it was written at a time before that series was envisioned. (Star Trek: Deep Space Nine - The Official Poster Magazine, issue 0)
- Berman emphasized the Bajorans were not modeled on any one real-life group. "The Kurds, the Palestinians, the Jews in the 1940s, the boat people from Haiti – unfortunately, the homeless and terrorism are problems [in every age]." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- "Ensign Ro" was filmed between Monday 29 July 1991 and Tuesday 6 August 1991 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. On Monday 5 August 1991, the production moved outside for a location shooting at Bronson Canyon near the area where the previous episode, "Darmok", was filmed. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- An insert scene of a monitor in Picard's ready room was filmed on Monday 16 September 1991, during the production of "Unification II".
- On Friday 2 August 1991, Paramount Stage 8 and 9 were visited by the Executives of Paramount Pictures. The call sheet featured a note that the two sets must be clean and lighted.
- Birds & Animals Unlimited worked again on The Next Generation following the fourth season episode "In Theory". For this episode, two animal handlers and twelve Guinea fowls were on set.
- On Tuesday 6 August 1991, the publicity photos of the main cast and guest actress Whoopi Goldberg for the fifth season were shot at the main bridge and Paramount Stage 8.
Cast and characters
- It is also the first appearance of the new recurring character of Ro Laren. The producers hoped to add another character who could create some conflict, and preferably a woman. Berman explained, "The other characters in the cast are relatively homogeneous; some might even say bland. So we wanted a character with the strength and dignity of a Starfleet officer but with a troubled past, an edge." (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Michelle Forbes was offered the part of Ro Laren because the producers were impressed by her performance as Dara in "Half a Life". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- This episode features the first appearance of Mot, the Bolian barber. He next appeared in "Schisms".
- Commander Riker orders Ro to comply with Starfleet uniform regulations when she beams aboard the Enterprise-D by making her remove her traditional Bajoran earring. This seems like a strange request as Worf is allowed to wear his Klingon baldric and Deanna Troi is allowed to not wear a standard uniform at all. However, given Riker's clear misgivings in regards to Ensign Ro serving on the Enterprise and his statement that "I intend to demand the highest level of performance from her", it would seem that adherence to the Starfleet uniform code is somewhat at the discretion of one's commanding officer and Riker simply chose to give her no leeway in the matter. Nevertheless, enforcement of the uniform regulation is paralleled in the Voyager episode "Learning Curve", when Tuvok orders Gerron to remove his earring.
- Ensign Ro demonstrates the versatility of the Starfleet uniform and its fabric by taking off her Standard duty uniform Type B, which visibly has no opening or zippers at the front, to comfort the young girl. When around the girl the jacket is opened at the front. The ranking pips can be seen on the right collar before and after Ensign Ro removes the jacket. In the same move, Ensign Ro also manages to transfer her combadge from the jacket to the undershirt.
- Ro wears her earring on the opposite ear from the Bajorans seen later on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
- The name "Bajora" – apparently used here to indicate both the race and their terrorist group – is not heard after this episode in TNG, DS9, or VOY, but it is visible on a computer readout in "Conundrum". Later episodes of DS9 established named terrorist groups on Bajor, including the Kohn-Ma and the Circle. The name "Bajora" is used inconsistently even within this episode, even by the same character within a single scene (apparently as alternate takes were edited together). In the penultimate scene, Picard's pronunciation sounds more like "Bajaran" than "Bajoran".
- Kennelly states here that the Occupation of Bajor (which, like many other things, had not been well developed at this point) has lasted forty years. Later references conflict with one another and Kennelly's claim, but the generally accepted canonical figure is fifty years. See the Inconsistencies section of the Occupation page for more information.
- The appearance of the Bajorans in this episode is slightly different; over each eye, there is a subtle ridge. These were dropped later and Ro Laren no longer has them in her final appearance in TNG: "Preemptive Strike".
- Stock footage of Starbase 74 from "11001001" was re-used in this episode to represent Lya Station Alpha where the Enterprise meets Kennelly and picks up Ensign Ro. The footage is a modified version of spacedock shots from Star Trek III: The Search for Spock.
- During the explanation of the Bajoran naming convention (that the family name goes first while the given name is second), Ro mentions that many Bajorans accept their names being distorted in order to assimilate better. However, despite this claim, all further Bajorans seen in the franchise (with the exception of Tal Celes) would go by the naming order that is established in this episode. Ro seemed to be speaking specifically of Bajorans who had taken asylum in the Federation. It is likely that when they returned to their homeworld, such Bajorans re-assimilated into their culture.
- There is a costume continuity error in this episode, as when Deanna Troi is part of the away team on the planet she is wearing her dark maroon jumpsuit, however when the away team return to the ship and are re-entering the bridge immediately afterwards, Troi is wearing her grey uniform with the purple neckline. It seems unlikely that she would have stopped by her quarters to change on the way to the bridge, and still managed to enter at the same time as everyone else.
- This marks the second and final appearance of the Cardassian type-C uniforms first seen in "The Wounded".
- Michael Piller felt that the introduction of Ro was a success. "It's one of the season's greatest accomplishments. Not just by Rick and I, but by the acting of Michelle, who is just a wonderful performer. You don't just throw in new people because this audience is really particular about who they're going to make part of the family, but I've heard almost no resistance to Ensign Ro." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Piller credits this success as due to the use of Guinan. "I think Guinan embraces Ro in a very personal way. She basically took Ro by the hand and said she deserves your attention and deserves to be embraced by you. When she took Ro to Picard for that very reason, in essence, she was doing that to our audience. It was not a very easy show to write; it was not until we found that relationship between Ro and Guinan that I was personally satisfied that we really had done something magnificent." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- A mission report for this episode, by John Sayers, was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine issue 18, p. 17–20.
Video and DVD releases
- Original UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 52, September 1992
- UK re-release (three-episode tapes, Paramount Home Entertainment): Volume 5.1, 24 June 2002
- As part of the TNG Season 5 DVD collection
- Guinan tells Ro that "a very long time ago, I got into some serious trouble too, and I mean serious, and I'd probably still be there, if I hadn't trusted one man." The Star Trek: Stargazer novel Oblivion shows the backstory for the friendship of Picard and Guinan, including how Picard helped save Guinan. However, Guinan may have been referring to the events of "Time's Arrow, Part II".
- The story behind the actions that led to Ro's demotion are featured in the DC Comics TNG Special 2 story "The Choice".
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lt. Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren
- Scott Marlowe as Keeve Falor
- Frank Collison as Dolak
- Jeffrey Hayenga as Orta
- Harley Venton as Collins
- Ken Thorley as Mot
- Cliff Potts as Admiral Kennelly
Special guest star
- K.C. Amos as operations division officer
- Rachen Assapiomonwait as Nelson
- Thomas J. Booth as civilian
- Boyen as Bajoran
- Byron as Vulcan patron
- Cameron as Kellogg
- Clark as Bajoran freedom fighter
- Cook as Bajoran
- John Copage as science division officer
- Denise Deuschle as science division officer
- Inez Edwards as sciences officer
- Factor as Bajoran
- Falerne as Bajoran
- E. Falerne as Bajoran
- Garverick as Bajoran
- Michele Gerren as science division officer
- Gonzalez as Bajoran
- Hall as Bajoran
- Hawthorne as science division officer
- Houy as Bajoran
- Hwang as operations division officer
- Joly as Bajoran
- Kinsel as Bajoran
- Landi as Bajoran freedom fighter
- Debbie Marsh as civilian
- McGhee as Bajoran
- Melton as Bajoran girl
- Menning as Bajoran
- Jay Montalvo as operations division officer
- Pentarow as Bajoran freedom fighter
- Polito as Bajoran freedom fighter
- Keith Rayve as command division ensign
- Reynolds as Bajoran girl
- Denise Lynne Roberts as Patti
- Rose as Bajoran
- Santo as Bajoran freedom fighter
- Silver as Bajoran
- Simen as Bajoran girl
- Leatrim Stang as Bajoran
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division ensign
- Talbot as Ten Forward waitress
- Matt Tufo as barber
- Uchizono as civilian
- Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
- Vassili as Bajoran boy
- Anne Woodberry as Bajoran
- Michael Zurich as Bajoran freedom fighter
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Candace Crump – stand-in for Whoopi Goldberg
- Franky – stand-in for Ken Thorley
- Krista – stand-in for Michelle Forbes
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Tim McCormack – stand-in for Brent Spiner, Cliff Potts, Harley Venton, and Frank Collison
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden and Michelle Forbes
- Renna – stand-in for Michelle Forbes
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes, Scott Marlowe, and Jeffrey Hayenga
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
- Guy Vardaman – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- James Washington – stand-in for Michael Dorn
Aunt Adele; annexation; Antares-class (Bajoran carrier); Bajor; Bajorans; barbershop; bearing; bluff; Cardassians; Cardassian Empire; Cardassian Militia 41; Celsius; class M; common cold; dance; dancer; Dolak's warship; Dolak's sister ship; family name; Federation; fifth grade; Galor-class; Garon II; generation; ginger tea; homeland; honey; Jaros II; Jas Holza; liaison officer; Lya Station Alpha; Lya Station Alpha planet; Misummer Night's Dream, A; Milky Way Galaxy; molecular displacement trace; Occupation of Bajor; parallel course; pariah; reader; red alert; refugee; Ro Gale; Ro Gale's torturer; Romulans; Sector 21305; sideburns; soirée; Solarion IV; Solarion IV colony; Solarion system; southern continent of Valo II; splinter group; Starfleet uniform code; sugar candy; symposium; tricorder; Valo I; Valo II; Valo III; Valo system; vocal cords; week; Wellington, USS; Wellington away team; yellow alert
- "Ensign Ro" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Ensign Ro" at Wikipedia
- "Ensign Ro" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Ensign Ro" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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