"'A matter of internal security.' The age-old cry of the oppressor."The Enterprise and crew are visiting Angosia, a candidate planet for entry into The Federation. While there, the Angosian authorities request some assistance. A prisoner has escaped transport to a prison on the moon of Lunar V, and they need the Enterprises help in apprehending him.After a quick bit of searching, the Enterprise locates his escaped shuttle. But the prisoner loses them by ducking behind an asteroid, the drive section of his ship being the only part emerging from behind it. Detecting wreckage on the asteroid, and no life signs in the drive section, the Enterprise assumes he has perished. Until they emerge from the asteroid's shadow, and find the supposedly empty drive section has disappeared. The prisoner has given them the slip.But no for long. Riker concludes that the prisoner is using the planets magnetic poles to evade the ships sensors. And upon moving to the pole, they find the drive section. Which proceeds on a collision course with them. Quickly raising the shields, the drive section bounces off them. But that's just a diversion. He has used the ramming as a distraction to launch a one man escape pod. He doesn't get far, as Picard has O'Brien beam him on-board the ship.Riker and Worf head for the transporter room to meet the escaped convict. And he's not happy. Or easy to take down. He whoops the two guards, shakes off several phaser blasts, and manages to injure O'Brien in the process. Riker and Worf manage to subdue him, but there is a mystery: Even aboard the ship, he is emitting no life signs on the sensors.The mysterious prisoner is identified as Roga Danar. Troi goes to the holding cells to meet him, and notices for such a violent man, he exhibits very little feelings of rage or anger. She asks if he and his fellow prisoners are mistreated or abused on Lunar V. But it's just the opposite. Their every need is catered to. Which raises the question of why he wanted to escape.With a little research into the Angosian files, the Enterprise finds something odd. Roga has no criminal record whatsoever. Contacting Angosia, they confirm the report. Turns out Roga(And his fellow prisoners) were normal citizens, who enlisted in the military. He was turned into a Super Soldier, having his psychological and biochemical makeup altered to turn him into the perfect warrior.Problem is, he can't turn it off. His enhanced skills kick in whenever he's in danger. Which makes him a danger to those around him. Angosia arranges for him to be transported back to Lunar V, and tells the Enterprise to keep their noses out of the secretive abuses Roga says he has suffered.As he is transported, Roga does the impossible. He breaks out of the transport beam. The resulting explosion disables the holding cell, and the nearby crew, enabling Roga to make his escape. And since the sensors can't detect him, he's that much harder to track down.After kicking ass through the halls of the ship, he slips into a Jeffrie's tube, and arrives in the cargo bay. He beams aboard the Angosian transport vessel. Before the Enterprise can do anything, a surprise in one of the tubes makes itself know. A phaser. Set on overload, which explodes and disables the Enterprises sensors. With them out of the way, Roga steers the transport vessel to Lunar V, leading an attack to release his fellow soldiers.Leading an attack on the Angosian government, Picard, Troi, Data, and Worf beam down to the planet. He and his crew have no fight with Picard. Their fight is with the Government, who turned them into killers, and locked them away when they became too dangerous.The Angosians, in a rather stunning example of hypocrisy, beg the Enterprise to help them. Picard refuses and simply notes that he has seen enough for his report that will obviously tell the Federation of the flagrant and systematic sentient rights violation he has discovered with the applying planet. The soldiers only instinct is to survive. And the government is the reason for that. Picard backs away, assuring them Roga and his men aren't programmed to kill people who don't resist them. Picard tells the Angosians they have a decision to make about how they treat these veterans. Danar is just happy to finally be acknowledged.With that, the Enterprise leaves Angosia. Picard opining that if the Angosian government survives the night, they may reapply for Federation membership some day.
— Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Tropes featured in this episode:
- Anti-Villain: Danar. He is what his people made him to be.
- Battle of Wits: Danar and Data fight it out this way. Danar is impressed with Data for figuring out his plan.
- Blessed with Suck: One of Roga Danar's enhancements is an improved memory. He can remember everything in perfect detail. This includes the faces of the people he killed in the war. All eighty-four of them.
- Call Back: Riker figures out that Danar is hiding his ship over Angosia's magnetic pole; back in "Peak Performance," it was mentioned in Riker's file that he had once performed the same trick.
- Combat Pragmatist: Roga Danar again. During his fight with Worf, he realizes the Klingon is too tough to go down like ordinary humans, so he knocks down some nearby metal blocks onto Worf's head, knocking him out.
- Damn You, Muscle Memory: The key problem the vets have. They can't turn their Super Soldier instincts off. They could easily kill someone by mistake if their survival instinct is triggered.
- Early Installment Weirdness: The Jeffries tube in this episode is a corridor, instead of the cramped crawlways of future Trek stories.
- Empty Elevator: Save for an overloading phaser that Danar left.
- Fast-Roping: One of Danar's men does this during the climax.
- Freudian Excuse: Danar pokes fun at Troy, coming up with different reasons for why he turned out so violent.
- Gone Horribly Right: The Super Soldier conditioning wound up working too well, leading to their creations becoming uncontrollable.
- Hoist by His Own Petard: The Angosian leadership learns to its horror that when they refused to cooperate with Captain Picard when he inquired about the matter of their super soldiers because it was a matter of internal security, they gave the disgusted Starfleet captain the perfect excuse to abandon them when the powerful rebels were about to overwhelm the government.
- In addition, the fact that the super soldiers have turned on their creators.
- Holding Your Shoulder Means Injury: O'Brien, after being shot in the shoulder.
- Ironic Echo: When Picard complains about how Danar and his comrades are treated, Nayrok tells him that it's an internal matter and none of Starfleet's business. During the climax, when Nayrok is pissed at Picard for leaving the government at the mercy of the soldiers, Picard reminds him that it's an internal matter and none of Starfleet's business.
- New Powers as the Plot Demands: Danar's ability to tank the Transporter Beam comes out of nowhere.
- No Sell: Phaser fire has no effect on Danar.
- Not So Different: Data mentions that he and Danar have much in common because both of them have been programmed.
- Proud Scholar Race Guy: The Angosians, which is why they turned Danar and others like him into super soldiers.
- Ramming Always Works: An odd variation. Danar starts what Geordi calls "a suicide run" against the Enterprise, which doesn't come close to damaging her thanks to her Deflector Shields—and then it turns out that it was just a distraction while Danar jumps into an Escape Pod.
- Recycled In Space / Whole Plot Reference: This episode is basically First Blood, the first Rambo film, in space.
- Screw This, I'm Outta Here!: When Roga and his fellows capture the leaders who have been insisting that Picard has no right to interfere in their internal affairs, he takes the opprotunity to throw their words back in their faces and then leaves them to their uncertain fate.
- Super Soldier: What Roga and his fellow citizens were turned into. Thoroughly Deconstructed, as this leaves them unable to function in normal society and leads to them becoming outcasts who are only useful in war.
- The Worf Effect: Worf vs. Super Soldier Roga Danar. The first time it's averted somewhat, as Worf is able to pin Danar down with Riker's help after Danar had already fought a half dozen guys and been shot with a phaser a couple of times. The second time it's Played Straight; when it's just Worf and Danar he takes Worf out and beams away, though he did have to use heavy containers to do so; in hand-to-hand combat, Worf took his blows easily enough, and was able to dish them out equally until said usage.
- Worthy Opponent: How Worf views Danar: "You are cunning. You must have Klingon blood."
- Danar also seems to view the Enterprise crew as this.
- Xanatos Speed Chess: Danar vs the Enterprise crew twice. Our heroes get him the first time, but the second time he escapes.