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Recap: Star Trek The Next Generation S 6 E 10 Chain Of Command
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode: Season 6, Episode 10
Title: Chain of Command
Previous: The Quality of Life
Next: Ship in a Bottle
Recapper: Premonition45

The Enterprise is rendezvousing with an Excelsior class starship, as Picard meets Admiral Alyssa Nechayev. Nechayev gets straight to the point: she's relieving Picard of command aboard the Enterprise. Later, she speaks to Riker, Data and Troi, and briefs them that the Cardassians have mobilized three divisions of ground troops (having withdrawn the bulk of their forces from the Bajoran sector) and that their subspace transmissions have increased by 50%.

The admiral hopes that the Cardassians are not willing to risk an incursion and possibly war over one system. When Riker asks about Picard, Necheyev tells him that he is to be replaced by Captain Edward Jellico, commanding officer of the USS Cairo. Also that their chief medical officer, Dr. Crusher and Security chief, Lt. Worf are also being reassigned to a mission. The change of command will occur at 1300 hours.

Since Jellico was instrumental in negotiating the original peace treaty with the Cardassians, Nechayev feels he is uniquely qualified to negotiate with them again. Once Data and Troi leave the observation lounge, Riker reminds the admiral that Jellico can negotiate with the Cardassians without taking command of the Enterprise. She tells Riker that his lack of knowledge about Cardassians and minimal combat experience with them do not qualify him to take command on this mission.

Picard, Worf, and Dr. Crusher are training for their secret mission in the holodeck. They are running a program in a series of dark caves including exercises such as escaping Cardassians, setting mobile shield emitters, and other surprises they might run into on the mission. They take turns and try to best each other's times.

Riker finally meets Captain Jellico in the transporter room. Admiring the beauty and prestige of the Galaxy-class starship, Jellico surmises that must be why Riker has never accepted his own command. During the short walk to the turbolift, Jellico lists a series of orders including changing the duty shift rotation from three watches to four by 1400 hours and meeting with the department heads at 1500 hours.

A ceremony for Change of Command is held in Ten Forward. The two captains are in full dress uniforms while the rest of the crew are in standard uniforms (except Troi, who wears her grey unitard). Captain Picard reads the transfer orders from Admiral Nechayev and instructs the computer to transfer all command codes to Captain Jellico. The Enterprise is now Jellico's.

Later, Riker meets up with Lieutenant Commander Geordi La Forge, and the engineer asks Riker how long he thinks this is going to last. Riker tells him that they usually do not perform this ceremony if it is just going to be a temporary assignment.

Picard and Jellico discuss very specific issues on the ship's systems. Jellico says that he can handle anything that comes his way. They then discuss the specifics of Picard's mission in a somewhat coded fashion. Picard reveals that he wishes he had more current information than the two-year old intelligence reports. Jellico offers to send a Class-5 probe later, and Picard happily accepts.

Jellico calls for Riker and passes the order to launch the probe during delta shift. Riker informs his new commanding officer that the new crew rotation is not yet ready and that the department heads believe it will put too much pressure on their personnel. Jellico orders the new duty roster to be ready immediately and dismisses his first officer. Riker leaves, and Jellico makes his dissatisfaction with Riker clear to Picard, who defends his former first officer.

Later, Jellico has redecorated the ready room. He's removed Picard's fish and put his son's drawings on the walls. Troi tries to explain the feelings of the crew to him. While recognizing that he and the crew are still getting used to each other, it is clear that Jellico does not feel there is any time for a period of adjustment. He orders Troi to do what she can to have the crew accept the situation. She turns to leave, and Jellico informs her that he likes "a certain formality on the bridge" and would prefer that she wears a standard uniform while on duty.

Picard meets with Captain Jellico in the ready room, and they discuss the mission briefly. Riker calls and informs Jellico that the shuttle is ready for launch. Jellico asks whether he launched the probe as requested. Riker tells him that he has but that he did not know he was supposed to inform his captain about the launch.

After the channel closes, Jellico again expresses his disappointment with Riker to Picard and that he sees why Riker is still only a first officer. Picard reminds the other captain that Riker has been offered command several times and that he will find him a very capable officer if given the chance. Jellico tells Picard that he does not have time to do that for Will Riker or anyone else. Jellico reminds Picard that he is in command of the Enterprise and that he does not expect Picard to come back from his secret mission into Cardassian territory. He also knows that negotiations with Gul Lemec will not go too smoothly and that neither side will give up anything very easily. He states the Enterprise is his.

Once the members of the commando mission leave the Enterprise on the shuttlecraft Feynman, Picard informs his team of their mission: a secret investigation of the Cardassian planet Celtris III in search of a research facility for metagenic weapons. Picard studied theta-band carrier waves while on the Stargazer. Worf is there for muscle. Crusher is there to locate and destroy any bio-toxins they may find. In order to secure safe passage into Cardassian territory, they enlist the help of the Ferengi DaiMon Solok on the planet Torman V. Picard makes the proposal to him. Solok is worried because Celtris III is in Cardassian territory, and he then accuses the three of being Federation spies. Crusher then begins to charm Solok and even uses oo-mox to convince him to provide passage discreetly.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise is rendezvousing with the Cardassian cruiser Reklar. Riker tells Captain Jellico that Lemec, commander of the Reklar, was beamed aboard and was escorted to the observation lounge. Jellico then announces that he will be waiting in his ready room. Troi, now wearing a standard uniform, enters the ready room and asks Jellico if there has been a miscommunication. He reveals that this is one of his negotiating tactics. Jellico compares Cardassians to timber wolves in that they possess an instinctive need to establish a dominant position in social situations. He is making Lemec wait in order to gain the dominant position. After the counselor reminds him that sometimes a wolf ends up dead in the fight for dominance, Jellico tells her that the trick is to be the wolf that is standing in the end.

After arriving on Celtris III, Picard reminds Crusher to set her tricorder in order to keep a precise map of their route. She then starts picking up subspace signals, but cannot get a lock on them. By compressing the detection bandwidth, Picard determines that the source of the signal is five hundred meters east and seven hundred meters below their current location. Lynars, which are Celtran bats, fly by them, and Worf pretends not to be afraid of them.

The team comes to a precipice and needs to descend the rock face to the floor, which is over five hundred meters below. As they prepare their equipment, Worf asks Crusher if she is afraid of heights, and she sarcastically says that she is not. The three of them begin rappelling down the cavern.

Jellico has been keeping Lemec waiting for over an hour. Also, the fact that he brings Riker and Troi with him to the negotiating table infuriates the Cardassian. Jellico tells him that if he cannot negotiate anything other than minutiae, then maybe he is not serious about these talks. Jellico then storms out of the room and onto the bridge.

Riker and Troi follow him, and he almost gleefully shares his plan of attack. Jellico tells Riker and Troi to let Lemec stew for a few minutes and then to tell him that Jellico is a loose cannon, but he has agreed to meet again. They are to explain to Lemec that he needs to be more reasonable since Jellico is such an unreasonable man and that he can include no more than two aides.

On Celtris III, the team has finished rappelling, and they are only three hundred meters away from the installation. Picard leads the way, scanning with his tricorder. They encounter a lava tube that runs for seventy-five meters behind a wall. Worf notes that a phaser set to level 16 should suffice. He then blasts a hole in the wall to reveal the tube.

Meanwhile in the Enterprise observation lounge, Lemec introduces Captain Jellico to Glinns Corak and Tajor. Jellico sits at the other end of the table and accuses the Cardassians of massing troops in staging areas, assembling strike forces, and pulling ships off their normal patrols. Lemec insists they are merely routine training operations. Jellico proposes sending a few starships into the sector for their own training operations. Lemec is more concerned about the Federation's refusal to vacate systems that are "clearly Cardassian."

Jellico is very agitated because he believes the Cardassians are seeking to get those worlds at the bargaining table that they could not take by force. Troi calms Jellico, and Riker states to Lemec that under the terms of the treaty those worlds are still under negotiation. Lemec reveals that they have reports that a small Federation task force has infiltrated Cardassian territory. He says that this action will likely fail, and if it were to succeed, there would be serious repercussions. Before they recess, Lemec asks Jellico where Picard is and does so in a way that implies that he already knows. Jellico tells him that Picard has been reassigned.

On Celtris III, the team crawls through the lava tube with Crusher bringing up the rear. The two men get out safely, but the doctor is covered by a cave-in. Worf immediately leaps back into the tube and uncovers Crusher. Shaken but unhurt, they move on. They find a maintenance hatch with three proximity sensors around it. Worf sets up sensor echoes so that they can make it through without being detected. The hatch is magnetically sealed, but Worf is able to bypass it.

They go through the hatch to find a room with only a single device, which has been emitting the theta-band waves. There is no lab. It has been a trap all along. Cardassians suddenly attack Picard and the others. The Federation team responds with phaser fire and hand-to-hand combat. Worf blocks the closing hatch so that the others can escape, but Picard is still fighting. Worf is shot, and he falls outside the room while the hatch closes. Picard is captured by four Cardassians and reluctantly drops his weapon. Crusher and Worf realize that they cannot help the captain, and they quickly make their escape.

Back on the Enterprise, Riker notifies Jellico that there are a lot of coded messages from Celtris III. Also, there had been theta-band emissions until a few minutes ago. Jellico orders Riker to get Admiral Nechayev on a priority 2 channel. He tells her the mission was apparently successful since the theta-band emissions have stopped. She asks Jellico if there has been any word from "our friends," but there has not been.

In a stark, imposing room, an unknown Cardassian, who is later revealed as Gul Madred, tells Picard that he is the most interesting challenge to walk through his door in years. He cites Picard's name, serial number, parents' names, and place of birth. Then he states that he knows of Picard's extensive experience with theta-band carrier waves while captain of the Stargazer. He reveals that this information was used to lure Picard. Picard asks why he was chosen. Madred responds by telling Picard that he is not allowed to ask questions. Madred will ask them, and if he is not satisfied with the captain's responses, then Picard will die.

End of Part I

Part II:

Jean-Luc Picard is drugged and questioned by Gul Madred. He sits in the middle of a dark room answering in a monotone. Picard reveals details about his mission and the personnel involved. Madred then asks his prisoner about the defense plans for Minos Korva. Picard truthfully states that he has no knowledge of such plans.

Back on the Enterprise, Jellico, Riker, Troi, Gul Lemec, and his aides are in the observation lounge. Despite Jellico's assurances to the contrary, Lemec divulges that he knows that Captain Jean-Luc Picard, Lieutenant Worf, and Dr. Crusher have gone into Cardassian territory and killed fifty-five men, women, and children. When asked for proof, Lemec reveals they have Picard held prisoner. The Cardassians exit, leaving the officers stunned.

Jellico then reveals the mission plans to his first officer and counselor and reveals that the USS Enterprise-D is supposed to rendezvous with the away team in eight hours. Since the negotiations have taken longer than expected, he will send Riker in a shuttlecraft.

In the interrogation chamber, Madred unshackles Picard. They briefly discuss the ruins of the First Hebitian civilization of Cardassia Prime. The ancient tombs contained artifacts made of a rare, breathtaking stone called jevonite, but were plundered by impoverished Cardassians. When Picard requests to be returned to his ship, Madred informs him that he is considered to be a criminal because he was captured attempting to invade a secret Cardassian facility. Madred offers Picard the chance to make his trial and eventual punishment civilized, provided he agrees to divulge information about the Federation's defense plans for Minos Korva. Picard reiterates that he has no knowledge of any such defense plans. Madred rejects Picard's denials, informing him that he was lured into a trap, precisely because the Cardassians believe that, as captain of the Enterprise, he would have full knowledge of the Federation's defense plans.

Madred's guards promptly enter and drag a struggling Picard to the center of the room. His captor warns him, "Wasted energy, captain. You might come to wish you hadn't expended it in such a futile effort." Picard protests that torture is forbidden under the terms of the Seldonis IV Convention, governing the treatment of prisoners of war. His pleas are ignored, however, as Madred uses a PADD to lower a steel suspension rack from the ceiling above him. Before continuing, Madred asks Picard, "Do you have any physical ailments I should know about?" He then approaches the captain with a knife which he says is made of jevonite. As he uses the knife to cut Picard's jumpsuit, Madred tells him he will no longer have the privilege of rank or individuality. From now on, Picard will be referred to only as "Human." The guards pull Picard's clothes down to his ankles and restrain his wrists in manacles which connect to the steel rack above. The captain is left naked and suspended, by his wrists, above the floor.

Dr. Crusher and Worf are picked up by the Enterprise, In sickbay, the away team is treated for minor injuries. Jellico orders Riker to analyze the team's tricorder readings, but the first officer wants to begin planning a rescue mission for Picard. Captain Jellico believes such an attempt would be foolhardy.

With four lights shining behind him, Gul Madred begins questioning Picard again, and informs him that while he was drugged, a small device was implanted in his chest. Madred demonstrates the device, causing Picard to fall to his knees in pain on even the lowest setting. He asks Picard how many lights there are behind him, wanting him to respond with "five." He says there are four and receives another painful shock.

Gul Lemec shows Jellico, Riker, and Troi a PADD showing Captain Picard's original, more civilized interrogation. Jellico denies Picard was acting under his orders, and Lemec suggests they will execute him. Riker reminds the Gul about the Seldonis IV Convention. This, however, would be almost like a declaration of war. Lemec alternately offers to release Picard in exchange for a Federation withdrawal from the sector. Jellico agrees to discuss the proposal with Admiral Alynna Nechayev. After Lemec and his aides leave, Jellico says that he's going to recommend against agreeing to Lemec's proposal, essentially abandoning Picard. Riker becomes upset at this, demanding that Jellico acknowledge that the mission was under Federation orders, thus Picard would be protected under the Seldonis IV Convention. Jellico sharply rebukes him stating it would show weakness on the Federation's part. Riker sharply objects to the captain's plan stating that one of the roles of a first officer is to point out mistakes by his or her commanding officer. Jellico will not have any of it and relieves Riker of duty, with an added threat of confinement to quarters.

With Commander Riker's position open, Captain Jellico temporarily promotes Lieutenant Commander Data to the position of first officer. Data (wearing a command red duty uniform), Jellico, and Lieutenant Commander La Forge try to determine why the Cardassians would want to capture Picard. They decide that the Cardassians may have been interested in the defense plans for Minos Korva, knowing that the Enterprise would be assigned as command ship for the sector. Jellico orders La Forge to conduct a discreet scan of Lemec's ship to determine where they may have been recently.

Meanwhile on Celtris III, Gul Madred is speaking with his daughter about whether Humans have parents. Picard is sitting in a spotlight in a red robe-like gown. Picard tries to get under Madred's skin by questioning his motives for bringing his daughter to such an installation, let alone allow her to see her father interrogating a prisoner. They banter back and forth about military power and its role in their civilizations. Madred tells his prisoner that because of the Cardassian military, his daughter will never go hungry. Picard turns this on him by saying, "Her belly may be full, but her spirit will be empty."

Madred continues with his questioning about the lights. Picard replies, "What lights?" This infuriates Madred; he shocks Picard for his obstinacy.

Gul Madred awakens Captain Picard from his dream of his family in France. Madred compliments Picard on his strong will and informs him that he is free to go. Picard stands slowly and heads toward the door. Madred claims he will just have to get the information from Dr. Crusher. Unaware that Dr. Crusher is not also a prisoner, Picard chooses to remain as a prisoner to spare Dr. Crusher, as among other reasons she would have no knowledge of any operations.

La Forge discovers that Lemec's ship has some minor hull degradation along their warp nacelles, which indicates recent exposure to a molecular dispersion field, most likely from traveling through the Mc Allister C-5 Nebula. Guessing that the rest of the Cardassian fleet is hiding in the nebula, Jellico begins an operation to mine it using a shuttlecraft.

Some time later, Madred and Picard share a small meal of taspar eggs. Picard is disgusted at first, but since he is virtually starving, chooses to eat it to survive. The captor tells his prisoner the story of his childhood on the streets. He was beaten and his arm was broken at the age of six for a pair of taspar eggs. Picard uses this to his advantage by thinking of Madred as that child who couldn't protect himself. Madred, angry, asks Picard by name about the plans for Minos Korva. Picard points this out and adds, "There are four lights." Madred shocks Picard, and repeats "There are five lights. How many do you see now?" and shocks Picard again. Picard jerks with the shock and starts shaking, but points at Madred and says "You are six years old, weak and helpless. You cannot hurt me." Picard is crying, but he begins singing in French again. Madred shocks him one more time, and the prisoner collapses in agony.

While the shuttle is being prepared, Captain Jellico discusses the mission with Lt. Cmdr. La Forge. La Forge claims that he could complete the mission successfully, but that the best person for the job is Commander Riker, which does not sit well with Jellico. Jellico talks to Riker about his piloting skills, and that every shuttle pilot on the ship labels Riker as the best. Jellico and Riker drop their ranks and exchange their dislikes for one another, expressing their disapproval for each other's roles. Jellico will not order Riker to pilot the shuttle, to which Riker smugly replies "Then ask," after which the captain does and Riker accepts. Jellico begins to leave in a hurry, and Riker adds "You're welcome," which leaves a disgusted look on Jellico's face.

Navigating through the nebula is a daunting task, with one near collision. When La Forge asks if he wants to know how close they came to disaster, Riker simply replies with "No," and continues the flight. After Riker and La Forge lay the mines, Captain Jellico initiates red alert and begins negotiations with Gul Lemec. The furious Lemec demands that the Enterprise withdraw, but Jellico interjects saying that he has mined his ships, his finger is on the button, and Lemec is in a very bad position. Lemec believes Jellico is bluffing, but the captain orders Worf to show Lemec that he is not by detonating a smaller mine. The room Lemec is in shakes as if it had been hit with a low-yield phaser discharge.

Jellico reveals to Lemec that there's a much larger one sitting on his hull that will destroy his ship. Jellico tells Lemec that the Cardassian fleet may leave the nebula one by one only if they eject their primary phaser coils – thereby leaving them at the mercy of the Federation for the return trip home. Lemec objects, but agrees before Jellico orders Worf to detonate the bigger mine. Jellico then gives the Cardassians a final demand... the immediate return of "a Starfleet officer, Jean Luc Picard."

Meanwhile, on Celtris III, Picard awakens and tries to smash the control device used in his torture. Madred chides him rather gently for this, citing that he has many more. Madred then wrongfully informs his prisoner that the Cardassians have invaded Minos Korva and the Enterprise is burning in space. Gul Madred reminds Picard that the Federation will not look for him since the word will be that he died with his crew on the Enterprise. Madred offers Picard the opportunity to live a life of comfort and scholarly reflection, but at a price. All he has to do is admit that he sees five lights. Before Picard can answer, Lemec enters and complains that Picard should have been ready to transfer already. A ship is ready to take him back to the Enterprise. Lemec says, "Captain Picard. if you'll go with the guards, they'll take care of you." Before he leaves, Picard says defiantly, there are four lights.

Back on-board the Enterprise, Jellico transfers the command codes back to Captain Picard without the ceremony from the previous command transfer. With a quick glance at Troi's standard uniform, Picard retires to his ready room and the counselor follows. Inside, Picard tells her of the choice he faced. Although there he didn't tell Madred there were five lights, he was willing to and would have told Madred anything to make the pain stop... and the worst part is that, right at the end, Picard admits that he actually saw five lights.

Tropes featured in "Chain of Command":

  • Alien Lunch: Invoked by Gul Madred. He serves Picard raw Taspar eggs as an attempt at degrading him. Although clearly disgusted, Picard, starving after days of torture, eats them.
  • All There in the Manual: Madred's name is never spoken onscreen. It's only shown in the credits.
  • Bad Boss: Jellico is clearly meant to be this, and ultimately varies between this with a bit of Jerk Ass, and just a grumpy and tough, yet rational and confident leader. On the one hand, he's simply giving order that are Captain's prerogative, he's trying to get the ship ready for potential combat and doesn't have time to make things easy and comfortable, and has the right to expect more formal military discipline than the crew wants to display. On the other hand, he also is egotistical, easily irritated, micromanages his subordinates, and doesn't listen to advice or alternate opinions.
  • Break the Badass: Ultimately what Madred was trying to do with Picard.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: Gul Madred allows his young daughter to visit him while he's torturing Picard, because it's just his job.
  • Catch Phrase: Jellico says "Get it done." after giving orders.
  • Cold-Blooded Torture
  • Custom Uniform of Sexy: Defied. Jellico asks Troi to wear a standard uniform, which she does for the first time since "Encounter at Farpoint".
  • Da Chief: Jellico.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Gul Madred grew up on the streets, once badly beaten up when he found some aforementioned Taspar eggs. Picard, however, calls him out on it because of how he became a torture technician.
  • Designated Villain: Jellico has quite a few fans who see him as one, while thinking Riker comes off as a whiny child. In particular, his making Troi wear a uniform (which she continued to do for the rest of the series) is seen as a point in his favor.
  • Double Speak: Admiral Nechayev, the Obstructive Bureaucrat, when she’s briefing Data, Riker and Troi.
    Riker: Are the Cardassians ready for a war?
    Nechayev: I didn't say war, Commander, I said incursion
  • Faux Affably Evil: Madred. He tries to present himself to Picard as a noble man forced to perform an ugly duty, but Picard realizes too well that Madred enjoys making others suffer in his position.
  • Insane Admiral: This is the first appearance of Admiral Nechayev, a character with multiple appearances in TNG and DS9. Each appearance results in increasing strained relations between the Federation and Cardassians. Already she decides to remove Picard and set him into a secret mission based on two year-old intelligence data, resulting in a enemy planned trap, while claiming that Riker was not qualified for negotiations due to his lack of experience in combat and Cardassians. This is despite, (1) Riker offered command three times, (2) episodes in which Riker dealt with the Cardassians, and (3) that minor incident in which Riker saved the Federation from a Borg invasion.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Jellico.
  • Punctuated! For! Emphasis!: "THERE! ARE! FOUR! LIGHTS!"
  • Recycled IN SPACE!: The Picard torture subplot is 1984 IN SPACE!
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Riker and Jellico give one to each other.
    Jellico: Let's drop the ranks for a moment. I don't like you. I think you're insubordinate, arrogant, willful, and I don't think you're a particularly good First Officer.
    Riker: Well, now that the ranks are dropped, Captain, I don't like you, either. You are arrogant and closed-minded. You need to control everything and everyone. You don't provide an atmosphere of trust, and you don't inspire these people to go out of their way for you. You've got everyone wound up so tight, there's no joy in anything. I don't think you're a particularly good Captain.
  • Shameful Strip: Madred does this to Picard to further denigrate him.
  • Shown Their Work: With the exception of the pain-inducing implant, all the torture practices Madred uses on Picard are taken directly from Amnesty International archives. Patrick Stewart, who is a strong supporter of Amnesty International, was pleased by this, as he studied psychological profiles for torture victims.
  • Sudden School Uniform: Jellico comes down hard on a number of the Enterprise crew, but one of the most immediately visible is his insistence that Deanna wear her duty uniform from now on, after six seasons of her alternating between different types of casual outfit.
  • Torture Technician: Gul Madred.
  • 2 + Torture = 5: "How many lights do you see?"
  • Tyrant Takes the Helm: How the main crew, particularly Riker, sees Jellico.
  • Villainous Breakdown: When Picard refuses to answer how many lights he sees, Madred physically strikes Picard and addressed him as such after previously declaring he'd only be referred to as "Human".
  • What Could Have Been: This episode was supposed to air after Star Trek: Deep Space Nine's premiere, as a way to generate interest in the show. This is especially apparent in the scene on Torman V, where they talk to DaiMon Solok. Originally, they were supposed to speak to Quark on Deep Space Nine. They even used that show's replimat set.
  • Why Did It Have to Be Snakes?: Apparently, Worf hates bats.

Star Trek The Next Generation S 6 E 9 The Quality Of LifeRecap/Star Trek: The Next GenerationStar Trek The Next Generation S 6 E 11 Ship In A Bottle

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