(written from a Production point of view)
Troi is captured and forced to masquerade as a Romulan intelligence officer in a plot to aid the defection of several high-ranking Romulan officials.
Deanna Troi slowly awakens in a dark room, obviously feeling discomfort and asks for the computer to turn on the lights. The lights do not come on, so Troi gets up slowly and is shocked to discover when she activates the room's light above a mirror that she has been surgically altered to appear Romulan. She doesn't know why or even where she is.
A real Romulan, Sub-Commander N'Vek, suddenly enters, and immediately begins giving her instructions. He explains she is on the Imperial Romulan Warbird Khazara, but refuses to answer any more of her questions, insisting that there is no time for a full explanation. He instructs her that she must act as Major Rakal of the Tal Shiar, and she must tell the captain of this vessel, Commander Toreth, to alter course to the Kaleb sector. When Troi refuses to comply with his instructions and demands answers, he contends that her best chance of survival is for her to do what he says. Troi senses no deception from him through her empathic senses, so she decides to go along with his plan for now.
When Troi meets Toreth, Troi is at first demure, and fails to display the commanding assertiveness of a Tal Shiar agent. The commander soon begins to press Troi for answers, and begins to get angry. This forces Troi to also become forceful. When Toreth backs down, Troi realizes that maintaining her cover means also maintaining this harsh façade throughout the ordeal.
- "Captain's log, Stardate 46519.1. We have arrived at Research Station 75 to take on a rather unique passenger, one whose homecoming will undoubtedly be difficult."
Ensign DeSeve, a Human who had defected to the Romulan Empire, is beamed aboard the USS Enterprise-D. He is immediately placed under arrest by Commander Riker on behalf of Starfleet Command for treason and is confined to quarters. Riker demands he change out from his Romulan uniform and into civilian clothing. DeSeve insists on speaking to the captain almost immediately. Riker tells DeSeve that the captain is a busy man but promises he will tell him.
When Captain Jean-Luc Picard eventually sees him, DeSeve explains that Ambassador Spock is performing some "cowboy diplomacy," and that he wants Picard to rendezvous with a freighter in the Kaleb sector, and return its cargo to the Federation. After DeSeve explains his reasons for returning, Picard is willing to believe in his accuracy in delivering the message. He taps his combadge and orders Riker to set a course right away at warp factor eight.
Meanwhile, on the Romulan ship, N'Vek explains to Counselor Troi what is in the cargo containers: Vice-Proconsul M'ret, one of the highest-level officials in the Romulan government, and his two top aides. N'Vek explains that he is part of Spock's underground movement, and is attempting to create a way for many dissidents to escape. The plan is to have this warbird rendezvous with a Corvallen freighter, where she and they will be taken to Federation space. She is there, instead of another Romulan, because if something goes wrong, a Starfleet officer is their only guarantee of success.
In the meantime, Troi maintains her harsh Tal Shiar attitude. Over dinner, when Commander Toreth repeatedly attempts to flirt with notions of distaste and distrust of the intelligence service, she repeats her loyalty and service to the Romulan Empire, while critiquing the food, particularly the viinerine.
When they arrive at the freighter, Troi senses that its captain is lying when he says the cargo will be delivered. She quietly informs N'Vek of this fact, telling him the freighter captain has no intention of keeping his word. N'Vek simply destroys the ship without getting any orders. Toreth is furious, and demands an explanation. N'Vek explains that Major Rakal ordered him to open fire.
When pressed for an explanation, Troi does once again the only thing she can do: she threatens Toreth to justify her actions. She orders the commander to cloak and wait.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise arrives at the coordinates specified to find no ship, or any within three light years. Picard has DeSeve brought to his ready room by Worf and demands an explanation from the defector, who cannot provide one, but reiterates his certainty of the information. He also informs Picard that he was not actually given the information from Spock himself, but someone else who spoke in person with the ambassador. DeSeve tells Picard that he trusts the man who told him this and that he would not have lied. He does add, however, that the freighter is old, and its speed and range is limited to within fifteen light years of the Enterprise's current position.
Back on the Romulan ship, Troi engages in a heated argument with N'Vek. He justifies his actions by saying there was no alternative, and a lot of people have already died for this mission. He instructs her to head for the Federation outpost on Draken IV and use her Federation access codes to bypass the gravitic sensor nets. When she explains this to Toreth, the commander is quite skeptical, and believes it is tactically unsound. Troi does the only thing she can, and pulls rank once again. Her plan will be acted upon.
Troi decides to change the plan and have the ship hold position. Toreth ignores her, and slowly begins to maneuver out of the debris field to avoid detection. Troi allows this to happen.
The Enterprise, meanwhile, has been examining the debris. It is the remains of a freighter, one like they were supposed to meet. Lieutenant Commander Data's analysis concludes the freighter was destroyed by Romulan weapons within the last 4.3 hours. Picard believes from this sensor data that Romulans could still be in the area, so Riker initiates red alert and orders shields up at maximum strength.
On the Romulan vessel, Troi is talking strategy with N'Vek. She wants to know if there is a way to allow the Enterprise to track them. N'Vek says that if there were, he wouldn't do it, because he wants to get them to a Federation base. Using more than the forcefulness of the major, furious for what he did to her, she shouts that they will now follow her plans, or she will pull rank and get him ejected into space for being a traitor. He then suggests there is a way, and has the ship's engineer, a sympathizer to the cause, misalign one of the warbird's nullifier cores.
Sure enough, the Enterprise begins to pick up a moving magnetic distortion off their port side, which reappears and disappears. DeSeve believes that it could be a Romulan ship based on his understanding of their cloaking technology and their power source: an artificial quantum singularity. A system in less-than-perfect condition could produce detectable readings. Picard has the Enterprise head for the distortion.
Toreth notices their movements, and isn't sure of their intent. She then orders a course directly under their hull; if the Enterprise moves, then they have detected the warbird, and she will attack and destroy them.
The Enterprise detects the distortion moving towards them. Picard and DeSeve are baffled by this behavior, as Romulans only perform suicide attacks when the situation is desperate. With ninety seconds until impact, Picard concludes that they should move.
When Commander Toreth gives the order to drop cloak and fire, Troi countermands her, declaring that such an attack would be foolish. The commander stands up for her abilities, causing Troi to order her removal from the bridge. Troi explains to the otherwise loyal junior officers that their families, as well as they, will bear the punishment of refusing to follow her orders, and takes command. Toreth steps down, and N'Vek is the first to take the major's orders.
Troi suggests that they use discretion instead of a bold attack. She explains that she will offer a diplomatic solution, and destroy them after their shields are down.
When the ship de-cloaks, and Troi addresses Picard on the viewscreen, the bridge crew restrains their surprise. Once she explains the attack in basic terms, she then suggests that she be beamed over to the Enterprise to discuss the matter.
The Enterprise drops shields, and when N'Vek fires, he encodes a transporter beam inside the disruptor, and beams M'ret and his aides directly to the bridge. When the pilot reports that the Enterprise is undamaged, N'Vek claims that their disruptor has malfunctioned, but a suspicious Toreth investigates and discovers that the disruptor has, in fact, been deliberately sabotaged to conceal a transporter beam. The pilot tracks the beam to the cargo bay. Toreth declares that the major and N'Vek are both traitors. N'Vek points his weapon at her, but the loyal Romulan pilot vaporizes him. Toreth disarms Troi and demands to know what was in the cargo containers. When Troi refuses to answer, Toreth says they will eventually learn the truth and then execute her.
As the warbird prepares to go to warp, they drop shields and cloak the ship. Just in time, the Enterprise beams Troi aboard. Troi is welcomed back aboard by Geordi La Forge, who takes her to sickbay. The Enterprise quickly leaves the area at warp 9.
After Doctor Beverly Crusher undoes her cosmetic surgery, Picard informs Troi that M'ret is grateful for her efforts. Troi is glad to be back, but cites N'Vek as the true hero of the operation, who sacrificed himself to save her, as well as the Romulan defectors. Picard assures Troi that N'Vek's efforts and sacrifice will not be in vain.
"Listen to me carefully. You are no longer Deanna Troi. You are Major Rakal of the Tal Shiar – the Imperial intelligence."
- - N'Vek, explaining to Troi why she was surgically altered to appear Romulan
"Your only chance to get off this ship alive is to do as I say."
- - N'Vek, to Troi
"The man acted dishonorably. He is a traitor."
- - Worf, on DeSeve, Starfleet defector to the Romulans
- - Troi
"Your opinion of the Tal Shiar is quite clear, Commander."
"I hope so."
"We ensure the loyalty of the people. Do you believe the Empire would be better off without our protection?"
"Protection? From what? How is the Empire threatened by the words of an old man, a devoted citizen who was merely trying to speak his mind? How did the Tal Shiar protect the Empire by dragging him, my father, out of his home in the middle of the night?"
"Clearly, your father was a traitor."
"No. He was just an idealistic old man. I never saw him again."
"I don't need your devotion, Commander. Just your obedience."
"And that's all you have."
- - Troi and Toreth
"Contrary to the propaganda that your superiors would have us believe, Starfleet is neither weak nor foolish."
- - Toreth
"People blame the military for the wars that we are asked to fight, but I think it is your kind, Major, that will be the death of us all."
- - Toreth to Troi
"We're not playing it your way anymore, N'Vek! I have been kidnapped, surgically altered, put in danger! I've gone along with all your plans. Now you are going to listen to me! You find a way to let the Enterprise track us, or I will go to Toreth and tell her I've discovered you're a traitor! I'll have you ejected into space! Is that clear, Sub-Commander?!!"
- - Troi, to N'Vek
"Well, that about does it. How does it feel to have your own face back?"
"Just right. Thank you."
- - Crusher, after she restores Troi back to her original appearance
- Final draft script: 17 November 1992 
- Premiere airdate: 8 February 1993
- First UK airdate: 11 October 1995
Story and script
- Originally, Doctor Crusher was to be the crewmember kidnapped, but this was changed when the staff realized that Troi's empathic abilities would be more suitable for espionage. A similar The Hunt for Red October-style premise had been previously rejected before the staff convinced Rick Berman to give it a try. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 234))
- Robert Hewitt Wolfe had pitched an episode featuring Q in which Q sent Picard, Data and Troi onto a Romulan starship, where they would be seen as Romulans by the crew. The pitch was used as part of "Face of the Enemy". (Captains' Logs Supplemental - The Unauthorized Guide to the New Trek Voyages, p 45)
- Wolfe explained why the pitch was unsuccessful: "The reason it didn't go is the way I had them do it; there was no Romulan make-up involved, they weren't possessing their bodies. The visual gag was the same as Quantum Leap, where we would look at them and see them as themselves and maybe in a reverse shot we might see them as other people completely, but they didn't want to step on Quantum Leap's toes". (The Deep Space Log Book: A First Season Companion, p. 63)
- Naren Shankar recalled, "I wrote the first draft of the script in six days because we were really under a time crunch. I was assigned it as a free-lancer and halfway through I was brought on staff. The rewrite helped smooth out a lot of things and we had to change the ending a couple of times. The action in Act Five didn't work initially. It was harrowing but it came out well." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 270)
- The prize to be delivered to the Federation was initially a Romulan ship, but was soon changed to actual Romulans. Naren Shankar stated, "We were sitting around talking about this show and about who this important person would be that's defecting and Michael [Piller] got this look on his face and said, 'We probably can't do this, but what if the person is Spock? They're getting out and at the end they open it up and it's not Spock. The person we take out is defrosted and we ask him what happened to Spock and he says Spock didn't make it.' I look at Michael like he's crazy and he goes, 'Nah!'" (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 270)
- In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 234), Shankar added, "It was one of those craaaazy moments. You can't kill somebody like that offscreen!". Ultimately, however, Spock did die off-screen in the film Star Trek Beyond, due to Leonard Nimoy's real-life passing in 2015.
- Originally, Toreth was a male. Shankar remarked that he had written the dialogue while thinking of Sean Connery's character in The Hunt for Red October, and the dialogue remained unchanged when it was decided to use a female-female conflict. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 234)) He commented, "It was the ultimate gender-blind writing." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 270)
- Shankar named the Romulan intelligence service, the Tal Shiar, as a homage to the tal-shaya, a Vulcan martial arts technique from TOS: "Journey to Babel". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 234))
- This episode marked the debut of Worf's ponytail. He would retain this look for the rest of the series, throughout his tenure on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and all four Next Generation films. Hairstylist Joy Zapata and Michael Dorn had both lobbied for the change for some time. Zapata explained, "[Worf's hair] used to remind me of a Klingon that had gone to the beauty salon; it looked like Donna Reed!" (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., pp. 234-235))
- Set designer Richard James was responsible for creating the D'deridex-class interiors seen in this episode. He explained, "We played off of Romulans having a motif represented by certain colors. We do that for identification so that certainly the Romulans would not have everything that would look just like Earth society. For us to graphically sell the idea of it being Romulan, we need to do it well with the sets, make-up and costumes which are Romulan colors. It helps to reinforce the idea that this is Romulan territory and it was not that much of a challenge because we played off of what's been established for Romulan ships… We had rooms that we'd never been into before for the Romulans and we said what would the Romulan plates and silverware look like? You get into all of that – and even simple things like chairs, which you had to design. It's not as though you could go out to the rental store. All these factors come into play." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 270-271)
- Shankar, however, was not pleased with the result. "What we ended up with was Romulan Pizza Kitchen. If you read my first draft, I was very specific about what the Romulan bridge should look like. I thought we were going to build an entirely new set. And the bridge I described was in an elongated room much like the nose of the Romulan ship. I wanted it to look alien and have the Commander standing at a rail in the back of the room. She always stands, there's no seat for her and the room ends with her back at the wall so there's no one behind her. The idea is they're so suspicious that the commander would never let anybody behind her. The entire cabin is forward of the command position and there's just one pilot and stations around that. To me that would have been cooler." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 271)
Cast and characters
- At one point, Naren Shankar suggested casting Joanne Linville to reprise her role as the Romulan Commander from TOS: "The Enterprise Incident". However, Linville was not available. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 270)
- Carolyn Seymour had previously played another Romulan commander, Sub-Commander Taris in "Contagion". The staff decided not to reuse Taris because it was initially assumed that the character had been killed. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 234))
- Scott MacDonald makes his second Star Trek appearance in this episode.
- In this episode, it is revealed that Romulan cloaking devices, when operational, leave standard defensive shields off-line. Before, it was only known that a cloaked vessel could not fire its offensive weaponry. This would be an essential element to the Enterprise crew defeating Lursa and B'Etor in the Battle of Veridian III in Star Trek Generations.
- This is the first episode in which Romulan officers wear insignia on their uniform collars.
- Deanna Troi is the second Starfleet officer to be surgically altered to appear as a Romulan but the first to be altered by Romulans to appear as one of them. The first was James T. Kirk in TOS: "The Enterprise Incident". Jean-Luc Picard and Data in TNG: "Unification I" and TNG: "Unification II" also appeared to be Romulan, but they used prosthetics rather than surgery.
- When Ensign DeSeve beams on board, he tells Commander Riker he needs to speak to "Captain Picard" urgently. However, when Picard enters his quarters, he immediately addresses him as Commander.
- It is revealed in this episode that the Romulans use an artificial quantum singularity as a power source on their starships in the 24th century. This would explain why the warp core of the Romulan science ship featured in the episode "The Next Phase" imploded as opposed to exploded. This would also be a crucial plot point in "Timescape", later in the season.
- Until 2020, it remained the only episode/movie to deal explicitly with Spock's reunification movement, post-"Unification II", though it was alluded to in the 2009 Star Trek film; the ultimate outcome of the movement would be revealed in DIS: "Unification III".
- A similar premise to this one was later used in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Second Skin", where Kira Nerys is surprised to find she has been surgically altered to appear Cardassian.
- Michael Chabon named this episode as his favorite Deanna Troi episode. 
- Jeri Taylor commented, "I thought it was a great role for Marina. I thought it was well written for her. I loved Carolyn Seymour as the Romulan Commander, she was outstanding in it […] I enjoyed seeing those two powerful women get a chance to sort of rise to the occasion and take off on each other." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, pp. 270)
- Ronald D. Moore remarked, "'Face of the Enemy' is probably the best Romulan episode we ever did." (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 291)
Video and DVD releases
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 70, 6 September 1993
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition under the "Troi" section, 29 September 1997
- As part of the TNG Season 6 DVD collection
Links and references
- LeVar Burton as Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
- Michael Dorn as Lieutenant Worf
- Gates McFadden as Dr. Beverly Crusher
- Marina Sirtis as Counselor Deanna Troi
- Brent Spiner as Lt. Commander Data
- Scott MacDonald as N'Vek
- Carolyn Seymour as Toreth
- Barry Lynch as DeSeve
- Robertson Dean as Romulan pilot
- Dennis Cockrum as Corvallen freighter captain
- Pamela Winslow as McKnight
- Joe Bauman as Garvey
- Cameron as Kellogg
- Gina Gallante as science division ensign
- Kerry Hoyt as Romulan aide
- Gary Hunter as Romulan officer
- Arvo Katajisto as M'ret
- Debbie Marsh as command division officer
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- Sissy Sessions as operations division ensign
- John Tampoya as operations division ensign
- Guy Vardaman as Romulan centurion
- Harry Young as science division ensign
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Debbie David – stand-in for Brent Spiner
- Michael Echols – stand-in for Michael Dorn
- Nora Leonhardt – stand-in for Marina Sirtis
- Lorine Mendell – stand-in for Gates McFadden
- Richard Sarstedt – stand-in for Jonathan Frakes
- Dennis Tracy – stand-in for Patrick Stewart
2349; ability; act of war; aide; Antares-class; antiproton; artificial quantum singularity; As You Like It; bearing; Bokara VI; cargo; civilian clothing; cloaking device; container; collision; collision course; Corvallen; Corvallen freighter; course/heading; court martial; cowboy diplomacy; D'deridex-class; defector; disorientation; disruptor array; disruptor beam; disruptor pistol; disruptor power; dissident; dizziness; Draken IV; Draken system; Federation; Federation space; gravitic sensor net; homecoming; hour; hypospray; idealist; Imperial Senate; Imperial Romulan Warbird; Imperial War College; Kaleb sector; Khazara, IRW; Khazara's engineer; Klingon flagship; Klingon outpost; Konsab; lie; Military History; military officer; neuropsychology; nullifier core; number one; power; Rakal (alias); Rakal (Major); red alert; rescue operation; Research Station 75; Research Station 75 planet; Romulan; Romulan Intelligence Academy; Romulan Neutral Zone; Romulan planet; Romulan scout ship (DeSeve's scout ship); Romulan Star Empire; Romulan underground movement; Romulus; search operations; senior officer; Sotarek Citation; space; Spock; Spock's messenger; Starfleet; Starfleet Command; Starfleet Headquarters; stasis; suicide attack; surgically altered; sympathizer; tachyon detection grid; tachyon scan; Tal Shiar; Toreth's father; traitor; vice-proconsul; viinerine; warbird; wardroom
- "Face of the Enemy" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "Face of the Enemy" at Wikipedia
- "Face of the Enemy" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "Face of the Enemy" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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