(written from a Production point of view)
When Riker's first commanding officer comes aboard to aid in the search for the vessel they served on, he is forced to rethink the actions he took at that time.
In the observation lounge aboard the USS Enterprise-D, a brightly-colored banner proclaims it to be "Captain Picard Day". Picard, somewhat unhappy with the idea, surveys the numerous entries made for the event by the crew's children with Deanna Troi, as Commander Riker looks on, amused. Riker playfully uses one of the dolls and imitates Picard's voice, much to the captain's annoyance. Fortunately for Picard, a priority one message from Vice admiral Blackwell is received, forcing him to excuse himself from the judging momentarily. After the admiral inquires as to the Enterprise's current status – conducting surveys of the Mekoria Quasar – she orders Picard to rendezvous with the USS Crazy Horse in sector 1607 and pick up an operative from Starfleet Intelligence. She tells Picard the operative will brief him on his orders when he arrives. She also adds that Picard is authorized to exceed warp speed limitations for the duration of the mission. She also inquires about "Captain Picard Day," which embarrasses Picard. Laughing nervously, he tells the admiral that he is a role model for the children aboard the Enterprise.
The operative turns out to be Erik Pressman, a former commanding officer of Riker's, and now a Rear admiral. Picard recalls that Pressman was the captain of the USS Pegasus, Riker's first assignment. Pressman states that the Pegasus is the reason for his arrival – at Riker's shocked visage, he reveals that the ship is still out there "…and the Romulans have found her."
Back in the observation lounge, Pressman briefs the Enterprise's senior staff on the Pegasus – a prototype vessel, the Pegasus was lost in the region twelve years earlier after what was reported to be a warp core breach. Riker, Pressman and seven others survived the ship's destruction. Although she was declared destroyed, three days earlier, an operative in Romulan High Command reported the discovery of debris from the Pegasus in the Devolin system, and a warbird is currently searching for the rest of the ship. Since the Pegasus was carrying experimental technologies, Starfleet cannot risk the ship falling into Romulan hands. The Enterprise must find the ship first and either salvage it, or destroy it. Picard orders a course laid in for the system.
Upon arriving in the system, the warbird Terix decloaks in front of the Enterprise. After a tense standoff with weapons armed, its captain, Sirol, hails the Enterprise and inquires as to the nature of their mission. When Picard returns the inquiry, Sirol answers that the warbird is investigating gaseous anomalies in the area – a mission Picard notes that they are also engaged in, and suggests that they pool their resources towards a common goal. After Sirol declines and the warbird moves off, Picard orders the search underway.
Later, in Ten Forward, Pressman and Riker share a drink – Pressman asking about Riker's beard – but conversation quickly turns to the Pegasus and the "experiment" she carries. Riker wonders whether they did the right thing, but Pressman notes that what they were doing was "for the good of the Federation" and that the others couldn't see that. Riker is shocked when Pressman reveals that if they succeed in recovering the Pegasus, he plans on restarting the experiment, with the support of many admirals within Starfleet, including Admiral Raner, head of Starfleet Security. Raner has issued orders that prohibit Riker from discussing the true nature of their mission with anyone, including Picard. Pressman notes that this time, there will be no one to stop them.
With the search continuing, Picard entertains Pressman in his quarters, where the two discuss Riker, and how Picard originally chose him to become first officer – based on the fact that Riker placed more importance on the safety of his ship and crew than on his own career or the chain of command by refusing to let Captain DeSoto beam down to Altair III. Pressman disagrees with Picard, believing that the chain of command is sacrosanct, although he apologizes for his outburst, stating that the mission is bringing up old ghosts. Picard then turns the conversation to those old ghosts, noting that the reports of the destruction of the Pegasus are oddly vague, and asks if Pressman could add any more to what he already knows. Pressman declines, but notes that Riker was crucial in their escape, because he was willing to trust his judgment without question.
At the same time, Riker himself comes into sickbay, having sustained a broken rib during bat'leth training with Worf. While Dr. Crusher works to repair the injury, Riker berates himself at having been so stupid, but is obviously distracted with something else. With the injury healed, Crusher said he will do better next time. Riker simply replies with "yeah… maybe…".
The search has entered grid 158 and, with the Romulans a good distance away, La Forge detects a subspace resonance signature coming from a nearby asteroid – gamma 601 – that could be from a Federation warp core. Riker orders the ship closer, as Picard and Pressman join them. Pressman recognizes some of the signature's variance patterns as being from the Pegasus. Sensors reveal that the signature is coming from within the asteroid itself – which contains deep chasms large enough for a starship to enter. Data speculates that the vessel could have been caught in the asteroid's gravitational field and pulled inside. However, before the crew can investigate further, the Terix is detected heading for them, and it would take more time than they have to locate the Pegasus. Riker immediately suggests that the asteroid be destroyed, taking the Pegasus with it, which Pressman objects to. Picard asks Data if saturating the asteroid with verterons would prevent the Romulans from detecting the Pegasus. The android replies that the strategy would work, but since verterons are artificial, that would reveal the deception to the Romulans. La Forge suggests blanketing the asteroid with ionizing radiation instead – since there are high levels already present in the system, it wouldn't look out of place. The Enterprise moves away, as the warbird swoops in.
The plan works, and the Romulans fail to detect the Pegasus, moving back onto their original search pattern. Picard requests that the search be continued, in order to further convince the Romulans that the asteroid is empty, before heading off-watch. Pressman then asks that Riker join him in the ready room, where he lays into the commander for suggesting that they destroy the Pegasus. When Riker hits back, Pressman remarks that he has changed, and that he likes that Riker now states his opinion and sticks by it – but hopes that he hasn't lost his sense of duty, and that Pressman can count on him again.
Riker brings an analysis of the scans on the Pegasus to Picard in his quarters. Once there, Picard questions him about a report from the Judge Advocate General concerning a mutiny that took place aboard the Pegasus prior to its apparent destruction – a report that Captain Picard obtained by as he puts it "calling in a lot of favors" from his own friends and contacts in Starfleet, as it had been classified. Picard is surprised that Riker never mentioned it, and presses him to reveal what happened. Riker recalls that during a test on the engines, an explosion in main engineering caused the first officer, chief engineer, and most of the bridge staff to mutiny against Pressman, believing that he was endangering the ship. Riker, "…seven months out of the Academy, [his] head still ringing with words like 'duty' and 'honor'", armed himself with a phaser and defended his captain. The nine survivors engaged in a running firefight to the escape pods, where they fled the ship. Despite this, Picard continues quoting from the report – the Judge Advocate believed that the survivors were covering up what really happened, and had advised further investigation, but that investigation never took place. It was classified and then quietly buried. Picard lays into his first officer for possibly conspiring to cover up the truth of what really happened on the Pegasus, and demands to know what is going on. After Riker reveals he has been ordered not to discuss anything further, Picard reluctantly drops it, but warns Riker that if Pressman puts the ship at risk, he will be forced to reevaluate Riker's position aboard the Enterprise-D.
Still seeking answers, Picard contacts Admiral Blackwell once again, to request a delay in the mission, which is denied. She is unwilling to provide any more details, and terminates the communication, telling Picard he had better carry out the mission. The Enterprise is now approaching the asteroid, and the Romulans are well beyond sensor range – allowing the starship to proceed undetected. Data has been monitoring the Pegasus' sensor readings, and concludes that the majority of the warp core is still intact. The problem is getting to the ship – transporting through the depths of solid rock involved would be unsafe, and a shuttlecraft would be susceptible to any fluctuations in magnetic, gravimetric or gravitational fields. Pressman thus concludes that the best way to proceed is to take the Enterprise in through one of the larger fissures. Picard strongly objects, but Pressman overrules him, ordering him to proceed. Picard asks Data to note his objection in the ship's log, and orders Ensign Gates to pilot the Enterprise into the fissure on maneuvering thrusters.
Deep within the asteroid, the Enterprise encounters shifts in the magnetic field, and Picard warns Pressman that if the fissure narrows any further, he will abort the mission, regardless of potential insubordination charges. However, a large resonance signature appears on sensors before that happens. An Oberth-class starship appears on the main viewer, partially embedded in a rock face: USS Pegasus. Pressman kills off the crew's speculation as to how it could have been enveloped as it has, and orders Riker to accompany him aboard, overriding Picard's request to beam a full away team aboard, citing the sensitive nature of the equipment aboard.
With life support restored in the Pegasus' engineering section, Pressman and Riker materialize aboard. While Riker wonders how many of the crew are buried within the rock face, Pressman is more interested in retrieving a cylindrical object connected to the main console. He is surprised at Riker's lack of enthusiasm over the recovery, and angered when Riker reveals that he cannot allow Pressman to start the experiments again, which was as wrong twelve years ago as it is today, and that, if he had the chance to redo the events that took place twelve years earlier, he would have been on the side of the mutineers. Pressman points out that if he sided with the mutineers, he would be among the dead in this area, but Riker shoots back saying they were brave enough to stop him from violating a treaty that the Federation signed in good faith, and that starting these experiments again would add to the death count already. As the two continue to argue, the Pegasus is rocked by a series of blasts, and Picard orders them to beam back, which they do – along with the object.
As they reach the bridge, they discover that their way out is cut off – the Romulans have sealed the entrance of the fissure with disruptor fire – the Enterprise is trapped in the chasm.
Sirol hails the Enterprise, remarking that the ship is in a rather precarious situation. When Picard challenges him about the destruction of the passage, Sirol is apologetic – their geological experiments on the surface may have caused it, but they were unaware of the Enterprise's presence within the asteroid. He has a suggestion to help the crew – he will transport them aboard the Terix and take them back to Romulus; from there, they will be returned to the Federation. Picard thanks him for the offer with some measure of sarcasm, and the communication is terminated. Worf suggests that the phasers could be used to cut through, but Data advises against it – further weapons fire could collapse the remainder of the unstable passage, destroying the Enterprise. Riker makes a suggestion – use the piece of equipment Pressman brought back from the Pegasus: a prototype for a Federation cloaking device – the entire reason for the mission. Pressman warns Riker that his career is now over with his admission. Picard is surprised, but now understands clearly – the Treaty of Algeron strictly prohibits the development of cloaking technology by the Federation, and Pressman's action are a violation of that agreement. Pressman attempts to relieve Picard of command, but the senior staff stand firm – Riker noting that, unlike last time, no one is willing to come to his defense. Picard asks how the cloak can be used to escape the asteroid – Riker explains that the device will phase – a ship equipped with it can pass through solid matter. Picard orders it to be adapted for use by the Enterprise.
- "Captain's Log, stardate 47457.1. We have been trapped inside the asteroid for over eight hours. Mr. Data and Cmdr. La Forge inform me that they are nearly ready to engage the cloak."
In engineering, Data and La Forge complete the final connections between the interphasic cloaking device and the Enterprise – La Forge notes that there is a danger of the entire plasma relay system blowing out if the intercooler levels are not closely monitored. Riker realizes that this could explain what the survivors saw happen to the Pegasus – the plasma relays blew out, and the resultant ignition of free plasma caused the explosion that Riker and the others saw. The ship drifted into the asteroid field still cloaked, the device finally failing while the ship was partially phased through solid rock. The device is brought online, and the Enterprise disappears as the cloak engages. Picard orders the ship out of the asteroid, and the device allows them to pass through the debris blocking their escape, and out into deep space. With the Enterprise safely clear, Picard orders the cloak disengaged, despite Pressman's desperate objection. The starship decloaks, directly in front of the Terix. Picard sends a message to the warbird, advising them that the Romulan government will be contacted shortly regarding the incident. He then orders, under his authority as captain of the Enterprise, that Pressman is to be placed under arrest and charged with violating the Treaty of Algeron. Riker points out that he will have to be placed under arrest as well, and Picard reluctantly agrees. Worf escorts Riker and the admiral off the bridge, Pressman noting angrily that he has a lot of friends at Starfleet Command – Picard quietly muses to himself that he will need them.
Clearing the Devolin system, Picard comes to Riker in the Enterprise brig. Dismissing Armstrong and disengaging the force field, he comes into the cell. He tells Riker that Admiral Shanthi has spoken to the captain to say that a full inquiry into the Pegasus incident will take place once the ship reaches Starbase 247, which would result in a court martial of Pressman and several others at Starfleet Intelligence; Picard tells Riker that he'll have some hard questions to answer, and may lose some of the respect he has earned since his days aboard the Pegasus. But, Picard notes, Riker stepped forward and did the right thing, even knowing the cost. As long as Riker can still do that, then he will still be able to wear his uniform, and Picard will continue to be proud to have him as his first officer. Together, the two officers walk out of the brig.
"I don't know, I think the resemblance is rather striking. Wouldn't you agree, Number One?"
"Isn't there something you have to do?"
"I'll be on the bridge!"
- - Riker, imitating in both sentences Picard's voice while playing with a Picard doll, and a rather annoyed Picard
- - Troi, admonishing him playfully to put the doll down (it appeared as if Will was taking it with him to the bridge).
"Captain Picard Day?"
"Oh uh…Yes it's a… it's it's for the children. I'm a… (nervous chuckle) I'm a role model."
"I'm sure you are. Starfleet out."
- - Admiral Blackwell and Picard, regarding the decorations behind the latter during communications
"Will, don't worry. It won't be like it was twelve years ago… and this time no one's going to stop us."
- - Pressman, to Riker
"Oh, you'll be interested to know that I've arranged for a Commander Riker day next month. I'm even considering making an entry myself."
- - Picard and Riker
"Will! I bet you never thought you'd see me again!"
"… it's good to see you, sir."
"Yeah, sure it is, you look like you're about to faint!"
- - Admiral Pressman and Riker
"He disobeyed a direct order and he risked a general court martial because he thought he was right. And when I read that, I knew that I had found my Number One."
- - Picard telling Pressman how he chose Riker as his first officer
"Will, don't worry about it. You made a mistake, no harm done. You'll do better next time."
- - Riker and Dr. Crusher talking at cross purposes
"Sir, may I suggest you take this up with Admiral Pr…"
"I'm taking this up with you, Will! The Judge Advocate thought that you were participating in a conspiracy to cover up the truth!"
- - Riker is confronted by Picard over what really happened on the Pegasus twelve years earlier
"Now that doesn't sound like the same man who grabbed a phaser and defended his captain twelve years ago."
"I've had twelve years to think about it. And if I had it to do over again, I would've grabbed the phaser and pointed it at you instead of them."
"So, on reflection, you'd rather be a traitor than a hero."
"I wasn't a hero, and neither were you! What you did was wrong, and I was wrong to support you, but I was too young and too stupid to realize it! You were the captain; I was the ensign. I was just following orders."
"And if you hadn't, you'd be dead right now along with all the rest of them! Dead because you listened to a bunch of mutinous cowards who were too blinded by fear to see what I was trying to do!"
"They were brave enough to risk their lives to stop you from violating a treaty the Federation signed in good faith!"
- - Admiral Pressman and Riker
"I made you mister and I can break you just as easily!"
- - Pressman, to Riker
"That's what it's about… a cloaking device. In the Treaty of Algeron, the Federation specifically agreed not to develop cloaking technology."
"And that treaty is the biggest mistake we ever made! Its kept us from exploiting a vital area of defense!"
"That treaty has kept us in peace for sixty years! And as a Starfleet officer, you're supposed to uphold it."
"Now that's enough! I'm taking command of this vessel! Mr. Worf, escort the captain to his quarters!"
(Worf folds his arms and neither moves nor speaks.)
"I don't think anyone's going to come to your defense this time."
- - Picard, Admiral Pressman, and Riker, after the truth of the mission is discovered
"I have a lot of friends at Starfleet Command, Captain!"
"You're going to need them."
- - Admiral Pressman, under arrest, and Picard
Background information Edit
Production history Edit
- First draft script: 7 October 1993 
- Final draft script: 18 October 1993 
- Premiere airdate: 10 January 1994
- First UK airdate: 27 March 1996
Story and script Edit
- This episode was inspired by the novel Raise the Titanic!. Writer Ronald D. Moore started with the premise of a mystery ship from the past which holds a secret within it. "It's a classic sort of tale and right from the get-go I thought maybe Riker could have been on that ship. What is he protecting?" (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Moore noted that this episode had similar themes of honor and duty to his own "The First Duty", in which Wesley Crusher didn't have the benefit of a good record to atone for his early-career mistake. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- This is the first Star Trek episode since "The Enterprise Incident" in which the Enterprise uses a cloaking device. The episode finally provides a canon explanation for why the Federation doesn't use these devices. Moore stated, "I thought, let's sew this up, not because it's the last season but because I'm sick of that question at the conventions!". He believed the treaty was the easiest explanation, and better than those offered in the past – that the cloaking device harmed Humans, that the device wouldn't work on Federation starships, or that "we don't sneak around". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion) The last explanation was in fact Gene Roddenberry's. He is quoted in the Star Trek Encyclopedia (2nd ed., p. 79) as having said "our people are scientists and explorers – they don't go sneaking around."
- For the lighthearted teaser, Moore initially settled on Data, Troi, and Riker rehearsing Pygmalion. However, Michael Piller was skeptical and the idea was soon dropped. Instead, Moore conceived of "Captain Picard Day" to make use of Jonathan Frakes' impersonation of Patrick Stewart. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- Noting that once again a high-ranking Starfleet officer goes rogue, Moore quipped, "I am proud to say that I've written another insane Admiral. They must put something in the water at Federation Headquarters." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Science adviser André Bormanis provided his first original "technobabble" to the series with the "duonetic field". The name was a homage to Daystrom's duotronics from "The Ultimate Computer". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- This episode is foreshadowed, albeit unintentionally, by the events of "The Next Phase" in which the Romulans are also developing a cloaking device which can phase through matter.
- In addition, La Forge himself recommended the Federation should develop an interphase device in the older episode (albeit as a joke directed at Ro Laren and never mentioning being able to cloak as well). La Forge's actor LeVar Burton ended up being the director of this episode.
- The events of the Star Trek: Enterprise series finale, "These Are the Voyages...", take place during this episode. In that episode, we find out that Riker ran a holodeck simulation of Enterprise NX-01's final voyage to help him decide whether or not to tell Captain Picard about the cloaking device.
- In the ending of Ronald D. Moore's first draft of teleplay, Riker was punished far more severely for his actions in the Pegasus affair, being sentenced to thirty days in the brig and being given a formal reprimand on his record that would end any realistic chance of him ever being promoted to captain, with only Riker's inexperience at the time of the incident saving him from being severely demoted and removed from the crew of the Enterprise. 
- Michael Mack becomes the first African-American actor to play a Romulan in this episode. Initially, however, Mack was made up with lightened skin. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- The production staff was so impressed with Terry O'Quinn's performance that Michael Piller considered using his character in an episode of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. This idea did not come into fruition. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
- Background actress Joyce Robinson as Ensign Gates gets to utter an uncredited reply to Picard in this episode. The line was written for Data, but Brent Spiner and the rest of the cast pointed out that the helm and not the ops officer should carry out the "course plotted" order. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- The entries for "Captain Picard Day" were sourced from two local elementary schools and the children of property master Alan Sims. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
- The producers originally had the Pegasus as a Cheyenne-class starship, but was changed to Oberth-class so a new model would not have to be constructed. In the scene in Pegasus main engineering, one of the displays still shows a four-nacelle configuration.
- This episode was scored by John Debney, well known at the time for also scoring numerous episodes (and the main theme) of seaQuest DSV. Debney had previously composed music for DS9: "The Nagus" and DS9: "Progress".
- When Admiral Pressman and Riker are being transported back from the USS Pegasus with the cloak device, the tricorder used by Pressman is left behind on top of the console where the equipment was installed.
- The dead crew of the USS Pegasus are wearing the newer loose uniform with shoulder pads, despite their lying there for 12 years, before the uniform change.
- When Pressman asks Riker how long he's had a beard, he says "about four years". It's actually been almost five and a half at this point, as he first wore the beard in The Child, at the start of season 2.
- A story in the Star Trek: New Frontier short story anthology No Limits features Mackenzie Calhoun, while working undercover for Starfleet Intelligence, sneaking aboard the Romulan ship that is transporting the cloaking device that the Pegasus was using back to Romulan space in order to destroy it.
Video and DVD releases Edit
- UK VHS release (two-episode tapes, CIC Video): Volume 81, 6 June 1994.
- As part of the UK VHS collection Star Trek: The Next Generation - 10th Anniversary Collector's Edition under the "Riker" section, 29 September 1997.
- As part of the TNG Season 7 DVD collection.
Links and references Edit
Also starring Edit
- 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
Guest star Edit
Special guest star Edit
Uncredited co-stars Edit
- David Keith Anderson as Armstrong
- Lena Banks as operations division ensign
- Shawn Belschner as Ten Forward waiter
- Michael Braveheart as Martinez
- John Copage as civilian
- Debra Dilley as civilian
- Keith Gearhart as operations division ensign
- Kerry Hoyt as civilian
- Gary Hunter as science division officer
- Kai as science division officer
- Rad Milo as operations division ensign
- Michael Moorehead as science division ensign
- S. Reed as Burton
- Joyce Robinson as Gates
- Rick Ryan as Fletcher
- Noriko Suzuki as operations division ensign
- Talbot as Ten Forward waitress
- Christina Wegler Miles as command division ensign
- Unknown performers as
- David Keith Anderson – stand-in for LeVar Burton
- Carl David Burks – 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
Altair III; asteroid alpha 331; asteroid beta 671; asteroid gamma 601; bat'leth; board of inquiry; Boylen; brig; busted; "Captain Picard Day"; Chief of Starfleet Intelligence (female Chief of Starfleet Intelligence); Chief of Starfleet Security; cloaking device; command structure; "Commander Riker Day"; court martial; Crazy Horse, USS; D'deridex-class; density; DeSoto, Robert; Devolin system; doll; drawings; escape pod; fainting; Farpoint Station; Federation; fleet admiral; Galaxy-class; gaseous anomaly; helmsman; Hood, USS; honorable mention; inertial damper; ionizing radiation; Judge Advocate General; Judge Advocate General's Report; letter of recommendation; magnetic field; metallurgy; meter; Mekoria Quasar; Menegay, Paul; Mintakan tapestry; mutineer; mutiny; number one; Pegasus, USS; Pegasus chief engineer; Pegasus first officer; phasing cloaking device; polarity; Pressman's cohorts; priority one message; quasar study; Raner; red alert; resonance signature; rib; role model; Romulan; Romulan High Command; Romulus; sashimi; Sector 1607; Shanthi; speed limit; Starbase 247; Starfleet; Starfleet Academy; Starfleet Intelligence; Starfleet Security; statistics; subspace channel; tachyon scan; terakine; Terix; Tomed Incident; traitor; Treaty of Algeron; verteron; warbird, Romulan; warp core breach; warbird, Romulan; warship, Romulan; width; yellow alert
- "The Pegasus" at Memory Beta, the wiki for licensed Star Trek works
- "The Pegasus" at Wikipedia
- "The Pegasus" at StarTrek.com, the official Star Trek website
- "The Pegasus" at MissionLogPodcast.com, a Roddenberry Star Trek podcast
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