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The Vengeance Factor (episode)

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(written from a Production point of view)
"The Vengeance Factor"
TNG, Episode 3x09
Production number: 40273-157
First aired: 20 November 1989
56th of 176 produced in TNG
56th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
163rd of 728 released in all
Marouk
Written By
Sam Rolfe

Directed By
Timothy Bond
43421.9 (2366)
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The Enterprise tries to negotiate an end to raids launched by a group called the "Gatherers," but a murder threatens to prevent peace.

Summary

Teaser

Riker, Crusher, Worf, and Data beam into an unknown, very torn-apart place. After lifting a few pieces of debris, Worf observes that the reactor belonging to whomever was stationed here is missing. Crusher sees blood on a metal fragment, and notes it is not Human blood, and will have to do more tests on it when they get back to the USS Enterprise-D. Crusher detects life signs behind a door, and Data demonstrates his superior strength and pries the door open when Worf could not. Behind it, two scientists lie, stunned and unmoving...

Act One

Crusher remarks that the scientists were hit with several phaser stuns each, and it will take them some time to recover. Crusher shows Picard the results of her scan of the blood, that it is unique to one humanoid species: the Acamarians. That would suggest Gatherers, those nomadic marauders belonging to that species and who raid similar outposts to the one the scientists belonged. Picard, realizing that the Gatherers have not gone as far as this outpost before, orders Wesley on the bridge to set a course for the Acamar system.

"Captain's Log, Stardate 43421.9. In an effort to put an end to the Gatherer raids, we have come to the Acamar system to enlist the aid of Marouk, the Sovereign of Acamar III."

Marouk, a middle-aged woman in yellow, sits in the conference lounge as Picard briefs her on the raids. Marouk says that they've only managed to capture a handful of them, but with Starfleet's help, they could find many more. Picard, ever the diplomat, does not want to hunt them down but try to reconcile the orthodox Acamarians with the Gatherers; Marouk does not think it possible, and claims the Gatherers are animals and parasites, preying on all manner of civilization to live. A century ago, before the Gatherers left, the Acamarians were violent, inciting wars over the slightest injury. When they did split, the greater part of the race became peaceful, and the Gatherers, so Marouk thinks, remained in their savage, warlike ways. Picard insists that they find a way to reconcile the two halves of the species, as the problem affects them all. Marouk looks as if she may finally agree.

Marouk, looking over the bridge, announces she is ready to leave as soon as two more of her servants are brought up; Riker sees to it. Marouk says there is a Gatherer colony in the Hromi Cluster; Picard orders a course set.

In her quarters, Marouk watches the stars as the Enterprise goes into warp, and offers compliments on the ship. Marouk turns to her young servant/chef Yuta and orders a light meal in twenty minutes; Yuta, a beautiful blonde girl, asks Riker where the kitchen is, but Riker explains about the replicators and orders a glass of water for the Sovereign. Yuta insists on tasting it, as it is also part of her duties to be sure that Marouk is not poisoned. Yuta says that although Marouk will be glad to try many Federation foods, there are a few Acamarian dishes that likely aren't programmed; Riker will arrange to have them put in. Yuta mentions one of her dishes, parthas, a green vegetable with fleshy roots, and Riker says he looks forward to tasting it, then excuses himself.

On arriving to Gamma Hromi II, an away team consisting of Riker, Worf, Data, and La Forge beams down to try to find some Gatherers to communicate with. The team finds several things that the Gatherers stole, including a cheap metal alloy, noranium, and a reactor that probably came from that outpost seen in the prologue. The Gatherers aren't very particular about things they steal, apparently. Just then, the Gatherers attack.

Act Two

While taking cover from their outmoded phasers' fire, Riker asks Data about the vaporizing temperature of noranium, and they use that information to set their phasers and fire on the noranium piles, creating a smokescreen, and fake beaming up to the Enterprise. The Gatherers climb down to where the team was, and suddenly Worf grabs their leader from behind, growling, "Your ambushes might be more successful if you bathed more often!"

Next, Picard, Marouk, and the others from the Acamarian delegation are down on the planet. The male Acamarian servant offers a drink to Brull, the leader, who offers it to Temarek, his second, to taste. He hesitates, so Brull grabs him, bends him over and pours it down his throat. Brull and the others, including Temarek, laugh at their own bravado, but Marouk turns away distastefully, barking, "You people haven't changed in a hundred years!" Brull replies, "You should know; you were there!" Picard again brings peace, and discusses calmly the benefits of their reunification. Brull looks about to agree to negotiate, but sends everyone else except Picard and Marouk away, so he would not look weak in front of his campmates.

While everyone else is just looking around, Yuta approaches an old Gatherer named Volnoth and questions him about belonging to the clan Lornak. Volnoth says he is of that clan and asks why she wants to know. Yuta asks if she looks familiar to him... he says yes, but it is impossible, it was fifty years ago. Yuta reveals her clan affiliation: Tralesta. She brushes Volnoth lightly on the face, and his eyes go wide, and he appears to have a heart attack, convulsing... just before he dies, Yuta says, "I am the last of my line, but my clan will outlive yours!"

Act Three

The focus returns to Brull and Marouk. Brull seems willing to talk, but is unsure. He decides that Chorgan, the leader of the Gatherers, would be a better judge. He allots twenty days to allow for the decision, but Marouk insists on making the offer to Chorgan, face to face. Picard offers Brull any number of Gatherers he wishes to take as guards, but he intends to go alone. He appoints a secondary Gatherer, Mallon, to be leader for ten days, when one of the Gatherers shouts and draws attention to something.

Picard, Marouk, Yuta, and the Gatherers find Volnoth dead. The Gatherer who discovered Volnoth's body immediately lays claim to his possessions, to which Marouk remarks that the Gatherers have no respect for the dead. Brull replies snidely that there should be no respect for a corpse. Crusher beams down and examines the body. She concludes that Volnoth died of cardiac arrest, but can find no cause for the sudden onset.

The Enterprise warps away from Gamma Hromi II. Brull comes aboard the bridge, where Picard informs him to tell Wesley Crusher the coordinates of Chorgan's ship. Brull scoffs at the idea of a child on the bridge, to which Picard glares at Brull. He sets in the coordinates of 3-4-3 mark 7-2, all the while joking at the "child helmsman". Wesley notes that this path will take them through an asteroid belt, and he proposes an alternate route. Brull, uncaring, agrees to the path.

In Ten Forward, Marouk and Picard talk about Acamarian history, including the blood wars between various clans on her home planet in the past century. When one clan did wrong to another, they sought vengeance, retribution for the actions. Picard briefly compares this to Earth's past, when Commander Riker and Counselor Troi enter. Yuta excuses herself, at which time Brull enters Ten Forward.

Brull immediately goes over to the bartender area and grabs a drink out of a patron's hand, drinks a small amount down, and finds Wesley sitting in a remote corner near a window. He puts down the drink and approaches Wesley in a very casual manner, taking his PADD and asking what it contains. Wesley replies that it is his math homework. Brull can tell that Wesley does not like him. Wesley retorts that his dislike stems from Brull's being a thief. Brull shouts back, saying that the Gatherers steal to survive. Wesley then poses the question as to why he is now willing to reason with the Acamarians after a century, to which Brull replies that it would be the best for his children.

Nearby, Yuta brings the parthas over to Riker and Troi. The two remark that it is a delicious dish, and Troi excuses herself, leaving Yuta and Riker in a conversation. Yuta explains how all her life, she was a servant to the Sovereign. Her life revolved around that. She also quips that, while Riker may make a good commander, he would be a poor Sovereign, because Riker does not believe in the system of servitude; he treats Yuta like an equal. Riker asks her why she is a slave to the Sovereign. Yuta replies that she is not a slave, that she can leave her at any time. However, she says that she cannot ever have freedom. Riker notes that Yuta speaks rather cryptically, to which Yuta responds that she's always been a poor conversationalist. Marouk calls Yuta back. As she returns, Dr. Crusher contacts Riker, informing him of a surprising discovery.

In sickbay, Crusher reveals to Riker that Volnoth was killed by a microvirus. The interesting part was that the microvirus was specifically designed for a certain strain of DNA in Acamarians, approximately one in a million. Riker notes that this is unnatural, which leads Crusher to presume that Volnoth was murdered.

Act Four

Riker lies back in his quarters, when Data contacts him and informs him that Acamar III has agreed to transfer its medical database to the Enterprise. The door chimes, and Yuta enters. Her time of servitude for the evening was over, and Marouk had suggested that she spend time with Riker. Riker quips about how obvious his affection for her was. She kisses him immediately, and then pulls back for a bit. However, Riker feels that Yuta is acting subserviently, which he feels is wrong. He wants Yuta to be his equal, not his slave. She, however, does not understand freedom and its emotions, let alone equality. She remarks that it has been a long time since she had been free. Riker tries to pull her into his embrace when the ship engages red alert and the ship rocks from weapons fire. Riker excuses himself and heads to the bridge while Yuta's face switches to a somber look.

Aboard the bridge, Brull informs Picard that Chorgan's ship is firing upon them. Worf tries to hail the ship, but gets no response. The ship rocks again from another round of fire. Picard tries to send a threat by hail, but is yet again cut off by the weapons fire. Picard figures that since Chorgan won't listen, they'll have to get his attention. The Enterprise charges phasers and takes out Chorgan's forward shields. Chorgan sends a hail to the vessel, and immediately assumes that Brull is a turncoat, having betrayed the Gatherers. Brull tries to reassure him, telling him that Sovereign Marouk is on board and wishes to talk. Chorgan refuses, and cuts off the transmission. Picard calls off red alert and prepares to transport over to Chorgan's ship with himself, Brull, Marouk, and Yuta. Riker feels unsafe about letting the captain go alone, but Picard tells Riker that he needs to act as an arbitrator.

On Chorgan's vessel, Marouk, Brull, Picard, and Chorgan exchange curt greetings. Marouk gets right down to business, but Chorgan is unimpressed. He tells Picard that he could take him prisoner, but would rather not. He resumes listening to Marouk, who proposes that every Gatherer receive amnesty. Chorgan scoffs, calling this an attempt at re-enslaving the Gatherers. Marouk replies that before, she would have considered that, but Picard had convinced her to seek a diplomatic solution. Marouk offers Chorgan some Acamarian brandy, to which Chorgan merely refuses, still insisting that the Acamarians are enslavers. Marouk returns to explaining her offer: the Acamarians have allotted land for use on Acamar III. Chorgan laughs heartily, stands up, and beckons her to his men, asking if they look like farmers. Marouk tells them that they'll be free on this land. Chorgan replies that he wants autonomy for the Gatherers, and that he wanted their rights spelled out right before him.

Meanwhile, on the bridge of the Enterprise, Data is only able to find a birth record for Volnoth. While Riker and Data mull over the lack of information present, Dr. Crusher comes to the bridge with a startling fact: 53 years ago, someone died of the same microvirus. The man's name was Penthor-Mul, a Gatherer of the Lornak clan who raided an Acamarian outpost, but was captured and died before his trial. Data immediately makes the connection: Volnoth was also of the Lornak clan. Riker realizes that this microvirus is indeed targeted against Lornack clan members, and wants to find anyone who might have a premise against the Lornaks. They note that the microvirus is easily transmitted, and so long as the carrier does not match the DNA signature, they are fine. Data locates a record of a Tralesta massacre eighty years ago, when the Lornaks were believed to have annihilated the Tralestas from existence. Data cannot find any information on the Tralesta clan, but locates an image of Penthor-Mul before his execution. Data points out a half-obscured face behind him. Riker orders the computer to restore the face. The face belongs to Yuta. Crusher, Data, and Riker are in disbelief: Yuta had not aged in 53 years.

Act Five

Back on the Gatherer ship, Marouk is indignant about Chorgan's demand for three seats on the Ruling Council, saying that no clan ever has had that many seats. Marouk accuses Chorgan of being greedy, only wanting. Chorgan retorts that Marouk is trying to limit the abilities and rights of the Gatherers. Picard intervenes, stating that if the situation was the exact opposite, you would want equal representation. Marouk apologizes and calms herself down. Picard calls a brief recess, and Marouk calls Yuta to pour the brandy for everyone. Yuta pours the brandy for Picard first, then Marouk.

As she heads over to Chorgan, Riker beams into the conference room. He fires on a Gatherer, knocking him down. Chorgan snarls, claiming that the Federation had laid a trap. Riker, however, orders Yuta to move away from Chorgan. Yuta acts innocent, but Riker accuses her of being with Penthor-Mul over 50 years ago. Chorgan wants to know how Riker knows of Penthor-Mul, but Riker tells him to hold still as his life is in extreme danger. Yuta, at the verge of tears, demands justice for the Tralestan massacre. She was one of the five survivors of the assault, but she died and was reborn, with altered cell structure and slower aging to complete her vendetta against Chorgan, the last Lornak. Marouk realizes that Yuta used her to find the last of the Lornaks for her. Riker tries to talk Yuta out of doing this: the clan wars are over, there is nothing to feud for any more. She looks guilt-ridden and teary, but lurches towards Chorgan. Riker fires his phaser, knocking the brandy out of Yuta's hand and forcing her to recoil. She approaches again, but Riker fires again, this time on a stronger setting. She is clutching her wound, watching in agony as she would fail in her vengeance for her clan. Riker sets his phaser to the maximum setting and pleads with her by saying: "Yuta, don't do this." . Yuta makes one last thrust forward at Chorgan, leaving Riker no choice but to vaporize her. Chorgan gets up, and tells Riker he is indebted to him.

Back in Ten Forward, Riker is at the bar. Picard enters, and takes a PADD from a crewman before approaching Riker. He informs him that their orders from Starfleet have changed. The rendezvous with the Goddard is postponed. Instead, they are to proceed to Starbase 343 to pick up medical supplies for the Alpha Leonis system. Picard reasons that this out-of-the-way mission is not crew-intensive, and tells Riker that some of the crew should take shore leave at the starbase. Riker merely replies that he'll tell the crewmen. Picard leaves Riker at the bar. Riker is obviously looking on with regret at what he had to do, but accepts it.

The Enterprise heads to Starbase 343.

Log entries

Memorable Quotes

"Captain, I am detecting life readings from the planet surface, as well as several small areas of thermal radiation and carbon dioxide emissions, indicative of combustion."
"Campfires, Data."
"Is that not what I said?"

- Data and Wesley Crusher


"Yuta, you're an excellent chef but you speak in riddles."

- Riker


"You don't like me, do you?"
"I didn't say that!"
"No problem! I have many friends who don't like me!"

- Brull and Wesley Crusher


"You're scowling, Doctor."
"I'm thinking."

- William T. Riker and Beverly Crusher


"Your ambushes would be more successful if you bathed more often!"

- Worf to Brull and the Gatherers

Background information

Production

  • Early titles for this episode included "The Human Factor," "The Vengeance," and "The Weapon." [1]
  • Director Timothy Bond recalled, "It was fun to do. The dialogue was of little consequence, and I think some of it was even cut. There's a tendency in television to say, 'I'm opening the door now.' Well just open the door. It's not a radio show. So we were able to make that quite visual and the art department came up with this bizarre painted backdrop. They lit it with green light and there was smoke. That show also featured the best set I've ever had. We only had it up for two days and it was such a shame to tear it down." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Bond explained why Picard seemingly has no reaction to Riker killing Yuta. "Regarding Picard, I'm afraid there is a reason for his lack of reaction: opticals. He couldn't move for that one period where she gets vaporized. In retrospect, maybe it was kind of a mistake of mine. I just had this idea that it would be really neat that when she's vaporized, Picard was there, in the shot. That meant putting several layers of elements into the shot and in order for it to work properly, Picard had to stay still. Not a good reason. When I saw it, I actually regretted the decision, but by then the ship had sailed. Believe me, Patrick noticed too. He even asked, 'I'm just supposed to sit here and do nothing?' The other problem is what could he do? We knew Riker had to kill the girl and we didn't want to get Picard shot by the phaser. In retrospect, what I should have done is what you usually do – don't have him in the shot. If he's not, then the audience doesn't think, 'Why doesn't Picard react?' We had a lot of rationales at the time, but we were wrong. Overall, though, I'm real proud of the episode." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Marouk uniquely uses the definitive article when she says "but with the Starfleet's help"
  • This was the last episode that aired in the 1980s.

Sets and props

Federation science outpost, The Vengeance Factor

Federation science outpost

Reception

Video and DVD releases

Links and references

Starring

Also starring

Guest stars

Co-stars

Uncredited co-stars

Stand-ins

References

2186; 2266; 2286; 2313; 2348; Acamar; Acamar III; Acamarians; Acamarian brandy; Acamarian Federal Security; Acamarian outpost; Acamarian planetary database; Acamarian Ruling Council; Alpha Leonis system; arterial occlusion; Artonian laser; asteroid belt; autonomic nervous system; campfire; carbon dioxide; clan; class M planet; Euclidean geometry; Federation; food taster; fusion reactor; Gamma Hromi II; Gatherer; Goddard, USS; heart attack; homework; Hromi Cluster; image processor; interpolated lepton scan; kill setting; lepton; Lornak; Lornak City; Mallon; math; medical tricorder; metrization theorem; microvirus; noranium alloy; Parthas; Parthas a la Yuta; Penthor-Mul; photograph; Regalian phaser rifle; Riemannian tensor field; Starbase 343; thermal radiation; Tonkian homing beacon; Tralesta; Tralesta Massacre


Previous episode:
"The Price"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3
Next episode:
"The Defector"

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