Episode: Season 4, Episode 21
Title: The Drumhead
Next: Half A Life
Tropes featured in "The Drumhead" include:
- Amoral Attorney: Sabin, although even he thinks that Satie's rant at the end is going too far.
- Ascended Extra: Due to his extreme Woobie-ness, Simon Tarses has a surprisingly large fanbase. He's a recurring character throughout several Expanded Universe novels, and despite a few setbacks brought about by the events of this episode, his career has survived more-or-less intact.
- Berserk Button: Satie's interrogation of Picard is basically the two of them trying to push each other's Berserk Buttons. Picard does not rise to the bait; Satie does.Satie: Tell me, Captain, have you completely recovered from your experience with the Borg?
- Sabin hits Worf's button by bringing up his father and his (false) collaboration with the Romulans. Picard has to stop Worf from doing something unpleasant.
- Bottle Episode
- Break Them by Talking: Picard delivers one of his famous speeches near the end of the hearing, leading to Satie's Villainous Breakdown as she spits back a flurry of invectives, surrendering any credibility.Picard: You know, there are some words I've known since I was a schoolboy: "With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured...the first thought forbidden...the first freedom denied—chains us all irrevocably." Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie, as wisdom... and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged.
- Bribe Backfire: Not a monetary bribe, but J'Dan offers to have some powerful friends help restore Worf's honor in exchange for Worf's help escaping the Enterprise. Worf responds with an Offhand Backhand.
- Call Back: "The Drumhead" references events which occurred in other episodes as far back as the first season. Mostly likely a relic from the original concept as a Clip Show.
- Daddy's Girl: Norah Satie loved her father a great deal. Which goes a long way toward explaining her tirade when Picard quotes him back to her.
- Dastardly Whiplash: Picard mentions to Worf how villains of this sort are easier to spot than the Bitch in Sheep's Clothing, thus providing this episode's Aesop.
- Directed by Cast Member: By Jonathan Frakes. Which explains Riker's absence from much of the episode.
- Don't Answer That: When Sabin demands that Tarses admit that his paternal grandfather was a Romulan, rather than a Vulan, Riker tells him not to answer.
- Everyone Has Standards: When the head of Starfleet Security, the guy whose job it is to be paranoid, thinks you're going too far...
- Fantastic Racism: Anti-Romulan sentiment plays a significant role in this episode. Satie's suspicions about Tarses are based solely on his ancestry, not his personal feelings or political leanings. Ironically, she proves that he was right to fear discrimination based solely on being one-quarter Romulan.
- Freudian Excuse: Worf seems to have this going on. The disgrace of his family due to the accusations of his father collaborating with the Romulans drives him to prove his loyalty and hatred of the Romulans even more, falling under Satie's influence very easily. It's when Genestra brings his family history up against him that he finally realizes he's on the wrong side.
- Hilariously Abusive Childhood: To hear Satie tell it, she and her brothers had a mild version of this: their father would force them to debate current political issues at the dinner table, even timing them and declaring a winner at the end.
- Hypocrite: Satie accuses Picard of being this, when he refuses to accept Tarses's guilt based on "nothing but Betazoid intuition." Satie promptly points out how much he often relies on Troi's intuition in similar situations...and to Picard's credit he concedes the point, and says he's going to reconsider that going forward.
- Insane Admiral: Satie turns out to be this. Fortunately, Henry isn't.
- Iron Lady: Norah Satie is poised, dignified, and unwavering in her convictions, up until her Villainous Breakdown.
- Kangaroo Court: Satie turns the hearings into this until Henry shuts her down.
- Knight Templar / Well-Intentioned Extremist: Admiral Satie. She genuinely loves the Federation and has devoted her life to its service. Unfortunately she lets paranoia and a desire for the spotlight get the better of her.
- Living Lie Detector: Sabin Genestra is used as this. Interestingly, his abilities seem, if anything, even more limited than Troi's in that this is all he is. Other Betazoids, such as Lwaxana Troi and Tam Elbrun, have been shown to be capable of pulling a lot more information out of people's minds without any invasive probing.
- On the other hand, he does manage to pull out the bit of information that Tarses's grandfather was Romulan instead of Vulcan. In the same situation, Troi wouldn't be able to get more than "he's hiding something".
- Lying to the Perp: Sabin pulls this on Tarses, claiming that the warp core accident was caused by chemicals that Tarses had access to (even though it was an accident). Tarses refuses to cop to anything.
- My God, What Have I Done?: Worf's reaction at the end.Worf: I believed her. I helped her. I did not see what she truly was.
- Red Herring: The warp core explosion. Turns out there is such a thing as coincidence.
- Shutting Up Now: Satie, realizing that she's ruined herself with her Villainous Breakdown: "I have nothing more to say."
- Stock Legal Phrases: Tarses invokes "The Seventh Guarantee" of the Federation Constitution, which appears to be the Federation equivalent of the Fifth Amendment to the Constitution of the United States: protection from self-incrimination.
- There Are No Coincidences: Subverted. The Klingon spy had nothing to do with the core explosion, which really was an accident. Satie, however, seems to believe in this trope.
- Uneven Hybrid: Simon Tarses claims to be one-quarter Vulcan, although he is actually one-quarter Romulan. This is more politically than biologically significant, since Vulcans and Romulans are technically the same species. Tarses himself appears to be human except for slightly-pointed ears.
- Values Resonance: Stylistically, this episode evokes the McCarthy hearings of the 1950's, but really the themes of paranoia versus freedom, and fearmongers who take advantage of political tension to gain power, is applicable to any situation where there is suspicion and the threat of war, all the way up to the War On Terror.
- Villainous Breakdown: Satie has an epic one at the end of Picard's hearing.
- The Voiceless: Henry doesn't speak a word on screen, but his face and actions say everything.
- What Could Have Been: "The Drumhead" was originally envisioned as a budget-saving Clip Show, but the writers rebelled against it. Instead they created one TNG's most compelling episodes...and still brought it in under budget.
- What Happened to the Mouse?: The fate of J'Dan's "mules" is never revealed, or for that matter if they were willing accomplices or just unsuspecting victims. Although, considering it's Romulan intelligence doing the abductions, maybe we're better off not knowing.
- The Woobie: Simon Tarses. Young, eager, Adorkable pointy-eared crewman, career in shambles due to one simple mistake and one person's paranoia...yeah, he's a Woobie.