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Ensign Ro (episode)

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"Ensign Ro"
TNG, Episode 5x03
Production number: 40275-203
First aired: 7 October 1991
102nd of 176 produced in TNG
102nd of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
209th of 728 released in all
Guinan and Ro Laren (2368)
Teleplay By
Michael Piller

Story By
Rick Berman & Michael Piller

Directed By
Les Landau
45076.3 (2368)
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The Enterprise takes on Ensign Ro Laren to help track down Bajoran terrorists who attacked a Federation colony.

Summary

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 named Orta claiming responsibility for destroying the colony.

"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 with Admiral Kennelly discussing the 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 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.

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, in particular because she was involved in an incident aboard the USS Wellington, the nature of which is unclear. Additionally, 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 and adds that he is quite charming, but 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 by while Bajor was ravaged by the Cardassians. Picard determines to help the people of the planet using the replicators aboard the Enterprise, 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 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 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, with Ro among them. Orta emerges, 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 asks her to explain her actions. While her intentions appear to have been good – she hoped to avoid bloodshed by talking to Orta before the meeting – Picard 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 did not know whom to trust, and says she knew one man she could always trust.

Despite Ro being confined to her quarters, Guinan takes her to Picard's ready room. Guinan leaves the two of them to talk, and 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 did not know what to do. 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 fellows 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 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, under direct orders from Kennelly, allows Gul Dolak's starship to do so. 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 to their side. They were hoping to find someone – like Kennelly – who was gullible enough to do so. Kennelly, Picard tells Ro, will likely 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 is not yet 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.

Memorable Quotes

"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


"There are other Bajorans in Starfleet. Assign one of them!"

- Picard, upon being told that Ensign Ro will be serving on the Enterprise


"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


"I cannot condone violence against people who are not our enemy."
"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?"
"Yes."

- Deanna Troi, asking Ro Laren if she and Beverly Crusher can sit with her in Ten Forward


"Am I disturbing you?"
"Yes."
"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."

- 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."
"Deception?!"
"Your mission was to seek out the Bajoran terrorists who destroyed the Federation settlement on Solarion IV."
"Yes."
"As I have informed Ro Laren, it was not the Bajora."

- Orta and Picard


"Subspace signal, coming in from Starfleet, sir - Admiral Kennelly."
"On screen."
"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."
"Survivors?"
"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?"
"Yes."
"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

Background Information

Story and production

Michelle Forbes and Patrick Stewart

Forbes and Stewart filming on location

Landau directing Forbes

Les Landau giving advice to Michelle Forbes

Continuity

  • Commander Riker orders Ro to comply with Starfleet uniform regulations when she beams aboard the Enterprise 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. Nevertheless, enforcement of the uniform regulation is paralleled in the Voyager episode "Learning Curve", when Tuvok orders Gerron to remove his earring.
  • Ro wears her earring on the opposite ear from the Bajorans seen later on DS9.
  • 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).
  • 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 appearances.
  • 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.

Reception

  • 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 Vol. 18, pp. 17-20.

Video and DVD releases

Apocrypha

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".

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

And

Special guest star

Co-star

Uncredited co-stars

Stand-ins

References

Aunt Adele; Antares-class carrier; Bajorans; barbershop; bluff; Cardassians; Cardassian Empire; Cardassian Militia 41; class M; common cold; Federation; Galor-class; Garon II; ginger tea; Jaros II; Jas Holza; liaison officer; Lya Station Alpha; Lya Station Alpha planet; Occupation of Bajor; red alert; Ro Gale; Romulans; Sector 21305; Solarion system; Solarion IV; Starfleet uniform code; tricorder; Valo system; Valo I; Valo II; Valo III; vocal cords; Wellington, USS; yellow alert

External link


Previous episode:
"Darmok"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5
Next episode:
"Silicon Avatar"

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