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Film / Star Trek: Insurrection

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Actually NOT a movie about the Enterprise fighting a giant ghost face in space.note 

Picard: Ru'afo, we're getting too old for this.
Ru'afo: After today, that won't be a problem... for either of us.

The One With… the facelift aliens and the Space Amish.

Star Trek: Insurrection is the ninth movie in the Star Trek film series, released in 1998.

Joining forces with some unsavory Rubber Forehead...and face... Aliens offering their friendship, The Federation decides that the Prime Directive is suddenly optional so that they can relocate the new-agey Space Amish inhabitants of a paradise planet. After all, Utopia Justifies the Means, right? The Enterprise crew uncovers the plot and rebels against Starfleet (hence the title) to save the day.

Of all four TNG films this is generally considered to be the one that most closely matches its parent series in style and tone, for better or for worse. It has often been described as a "two-parter episode made for the big screen". Longtime TNG showrunner Michael Piller, who never wrote for the big screen before (or again), received sole credit for the film's screenplay.

The movie was released on December 11, 1998 and was preceded by First Contact (1996) and followed by Star Trek: Nemesis in 2002.

Tropes seen in Insurrection include:

    open/close all folders 
    Tropes A-M 
  • Activation Sequence: The Son'a collector's activation process involves deploying large, sail-like structures then firing a probe into the Baku planet's rings to begin drawing in the metaphasic radiation there. We see it three times, first as a simulation Ru'afo is running, second as another simulation to trick Ru'afo into thinking it's been activated, and finally during the climax as Ru'afo and Picard battle inside the thing as it's deploying.
  • Almost Out of Oxygen: Invoked by Riker when he has the Enterprise disable life support on the Son'a flagship. The crew surrenders once they realize they'll all suffocate in five minutes.
  • Armor-Piercing Question: When Dougherty dismisses Picard's objection to relocating the Ba'ku.
    Dougherty: Jean-Luc, we're only moving six-hundred people.
    Picard: How many people does it take, Admiral, before it becomes wrong, hmm? A thousand? Fifty-thousand? A million? How many people does it take, Admiral?
  • Attack Drone: The Son'a send small flying robots to hunt down the fleeing Ba'ku, and shoot them with transporter tags so they can be beamed away.
  • Attack Hello: Discussed when Enterprise is hailed by two pursuing Son'a battlecruisers. Riker tries to bluff by responding that their tranceiver's offline, preventing them from receiving incoming hails — and the Son'a respond to that by firing a photon torpedo.
  • Badass Boast: "We're through running from these bastards."
  • Beauty Equals Goodness: Thanks to centuries of living with eternal youth, the Ba'ku look like catalog models.
  • Big Bad Duumvirate: Between Ru'afo and Starfleet Admiral Matthew Doughherty.
    • Then Dougherty turns out to have standards, so Ru'afo kills him and becomes sole Big Bad.
  • Big "NO!": Ru'afo has four different ones, one so bad it causes his skin to burst!
  • Black-and-White Morality: Geordi uses this idea to describe the thought processes going through Data's head after having his memory engrams damaged by a phaser blast.
  • Blatant Lies: Picard's awkward reassurance to Worf that his gorch (Klingon acne) is 'hardly noticeable'. Even better, Worf knows Picard's lying through his teeth and is too miserable to protest.
  • Blown Across the Room: When Geordi and Riker thwart the Son'a's subspace isolytic weapon by ejecting and detonating the Enterprise's warp core, when the resulting shockwave hits the ship, it sends multiple crewmembers flying from Explosive Instrumentation, both in main engineering and on the bridge.
  • Bookends: A Meta one for Michael Piller. He got his start with Star Trek a decade earlier as the Next Generation showrunner for Season Three. So, it's fitting that his Trek swansong is one more outing with the TNG characters in their third film.
  • Briar Patching: The Enterprise is being pursued by Son'a ships who have no qualms about using forbidden weapons, so Riker takes a huge risk that pays off. He sucks up some of the Made of Explodium gas that makes up the Briar Patch and shoots it back out between them and the Son'a, basically daring them to come through. They try and lose their ships as a result.
    Riker: What's inside that nebula cluster?
    Perim: Cometary debris, pockets of unstable metreon gas. We don't want to go in there, sir.
    Riker: Yes, we do. I'll take it from here, Ensign. (sits down at the helm) It's time to use the Briar Patch the way Br'er Rabbit did.
  • Broken Aesop:
    • The whole film's message is about the evils of relocation, which nobody denies has had horrible effects in Real Life, but in this movie it will save far more lives than it ruins (assuming the people allied with the enemies of the Federation can really be trusted), and the aliens being relocated aren't native to the planet they're being forced off (though they do have a stronger claim to the planet than the Federation do). In addition, unlike some unfortunate Real Life examples, the goal was not to force them into cramped undesirable land that they would struggle to survive on simply to take their land, they would have been moved to a comfortable world that suited their needs as well as possible. The entire plan comes across far less like Native American relocation camps of the past and more like a case of eminent domain for the good of the greater society. (The broken-ness of the aesop partly depends, of course, on how trustworthy the Son'a actually are, and whether they really plan to share the secrets of metaphasic radiation with the Federation, or just steal it for themselves to outlive their Ba'ku relatives, who will now wither and die without it.)
    • The back-to-nature, rural simplicity message, with the Ba'ku portrayed as living in an idyllic and peaceful society, is also utterly shredded by two completely independent sets of facts. First, the only reason they're not bedeviled by disease, disabilities and injuries from farming accidents lies in their planet's apparently unique magical radiation, while everywhere else in the Federation injuries and disabilities such as Geordi's blindness or Picard's heart injury have to be managed with the technology we are supposed to believe they are right to shun. Second, the day is ultimately saved through the use of transporters, starships, phasers and holodecks. Meaning that ultimately the Ba'ku settled down in a place where they could get by without technology... and ended up at the mercy of anyone with a holodeck who happened to bump into them. Return to nature, folks, and when the aliens come you'd better hope they're friendly, because otherwise you're going to be shaken down so hard your teeth will fall out!
  • Call-Back:
    • Geordi is shown piloting the Enterprise at different points in the film. This seems strange since he's the chief engineer, but Geordi was the helmsman of the Enterprise during TNG's first season before getting promoted to chief engineer in its second season.
    • This movie marks the first time since TNG's first season that Riker is clean-shaven.
    • After being told of Data's malfunctioning, Captain Picard asks Geordi if the cause was his emotion chip. Geordi responds that Data didn't take it with him.
    • Before he left, Data was going to perform in the Enterprise-E's production of H.M.S. Pinafore. In the TNG episode "Disaster", Geordi was asked to perform in the Enterprise-D's production by Dr. Crusher and declined.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Everything about Ru'afo screams "evil asshole".
  • Character Shilling: The movie has the crew go on and on about how perfect and wonderful the Ba'ku and their society are, right down to the movie's tagline being "The battle for paradise has begun."
  • Chekhov's Gun: The holo-ship that Picard and Data expose in the first half of the movie comes back during the climax when Picard uses it to grab Ru'afo and his mooks.
  • Chekhov's Lecture: While researching the Son'a, Riker mentions that they've developed illegal subspace weapons. During the battle later on, he observes firsthand exactly why such weapons are banned.
  • Continuity Overlap: The film was released during Season 7 of Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Season 5 of Star Trek: Voyager. Only the former is acknowledged through nods to Worf's relocation to DS9, the then-ongoing Dominion War, and Doughterty wearing the new post-First Contact Starfleet Admiral's Uniform (which had debuted on DS9 the previous year).
  • Contrived Coincidence: Worf just-so-conveniently happens to be away from DS9 installing a defense perimeter on the Manzar colony, allowing him to drop by the Enterprise as it heads into the Briar Patch.
    • The Son'a shot Data in just the right spot to damage his memory circuits and put him into an ultra-morality mode with all of his tactical and strategic subroutines fully functional.
  • Cool, but Inefficient: Worf's Giant Purple Space Bazooka equals about the power of one modern hand grenade. Bear in mind that hand phasers have been seen to be capable of taking the sides off cliffs and is compact enough to attach to a belt and you start to see the problem here.
  • Cool Chair: Ru'afo doesn't just have a command chair, he has a small couch that looks like it was made for a sultan.
  • Cool Starship: The Son'a starships, especially the Battlecruiser and Command Ship, are quite unique and impressively designed.
  • Court-martialed: Discussed between Picard and Dougherty after Picard is captured and held on Ru'afo's ship.
    Dougherty: Order them to surrender, and I promise you won't be court-martialed.
    Picard: If a court-martial is the only way to let the people of the Federation know what is happening here, I welcome it.
    Ru'afo: (enters the holding area) The Enterprise has destroyed one of my ships! The other is on fire, requesting assistance.
    Picard: The Enterprise would only fire to defend itself. Ru'afo must have ordered the attack. I can't believe he would have given that order without your consent, Admiral. I wonder which of us will be facing that court-martial.
  • Critical Hesitation Blunder: When Picard and Ru'afo confront each other for the last time aboard the collector, while surrounded by flammable gas, Picard asks if Ru'afo's really willing to risk firing phasers there. When Ru'afo hesitates, Picard fires directly into the gas, knocking Ru'afo off.
  • Cutting the Knot: Rather than fight Data, Worf has LaForge rig a tricorder with one of his control circuits. So, when Worf finally gets aboard Data's shuttle, he simply hits a button and turns him off right there.
  • Damage Control: The Enterprise gets into another Standard Starship Scuffle. It's not really seen, but right before it starts, LaForge leaves the bridge for Engineering, knowing what he's going to be doing in short order.
    Geordi: Engineering to bridge! (spraying the area with what looks like a fire extinguisher) We're burning deuterium down here! We're gonna blow ourselves up! We won't need any help from the Son'a!
  • Deconstruction: Of The Federation itself.
    Dougherty: If people get hurt, all support we have in the Federation—
    Ru'afo: "Federation support". "Federation procedures". "Federation rules". Look in the mirror, Admiral. The Federation is old. In the past twenty-four months, they've been challenged by every major power in the quadrant - the Borg, the Cardassians, the Dominion. They all smell the scent of death on the Federation. That's why you've embraced our offer, because it will give your dear Federation new life. Well, how badly do you want it, Admiral? Because there are hard choices to be made now. If the Enterprise gets through with news about their brave captain's valiant struggle on behalf of the defenseless Ba'ku, your Federation politicians will waver. Your Federation opinion polls will open a public debate. Your Federation allies will want their say. Need I go on?
  • Disappeared Dad: Anij tells Gallatin his mother still speaks of him when trying to sway his convictions, and the pair later have a touching reunion. His father, however, doesn't appear and isn't mentioned.
  • Does This Remind You of Anything?: A native population is relocated so that their resources can be exploited. Hmm. This was actually the focus of a similar episode in The Next Generation, where Picard's stance on the situation was the exact opposite, although one can argue the strategic and scientific value of Ba'ku is a sufficient difference to change his mind. Specifically, the people were being relocated as part of the terms of a treaty that ended a long bloody war between two large space-faring civilizations. Failure to do so risked an end to the peace (there might be equal or even greater reason to move the Ba'ku, really). Said people were descendants of Native Americans who moved far from Earth in hopes of avoiding more of this nonsense. In Picard's best way, they eventually Take a Third Option and become Cardassian citizens. How that worked out for them is never explored, though the events from that episode were used to set up the Maquis storyline on DS9 (in which it's revealed human colonists were highly persecuted).
  • "Eureka!" Moment: Picard salsas happily in his quarters until he catches sight of himself in the mirror, sporting quite the youthful sheen. The very next shot is him standing at the Ba'ku's front door: "How old are you?"
  • End of an Era: A Meta one. While Michael Piller remained a creative consultant on Deep Space Nine and Voyager for the remainder of their runs, Insurrection remains Piller's final Trek script and swansong prior to his death in 2005.
  • Even Evil Has Standards:
    • Dougherty is fine with forcibly relocating the Ba'ku, but draws the line at genocide. So Ru'afo kills him.
    • Likewise, Gallatin wants revenge on the Ba'ku just as much as Ru'afo. He's more than happy to see them relocated to a world without the rejuvenating metaphasic radiation. But when Ru'afo abandons that intended revenge in favor of parricide, even Gallatin's unnerved. Luckily for everyone, Picard picks up on this.
  • Evil Cannot Comprehend Good: Averted. Ru'afo knows that if word of Picard's "valiant struggle" get out, then it won't matter how Dougherty spins things or explains the benefits of the project. Ru'afo knows full well that a majority of Federation citizens will immediately side with Picard, while Federation politicians will buckle in the face of both public opinion and scrutiny from allies.
  • Evil Overlooker: The Big Bad's head in the movie's official poster.
  • Explosive Overclocking: Cruising at full impulse power is normally a routine event for a Federation starship, but the effects of the Briar Patch can clearly mess that up.
    Riker: Full impulse!
    Geordi: Manifolds can't handle full impulse in the Patch, Commander.
    Riker: If we don't outrun [the Son'a], the manifolds will be the only thing left on the ship.
    Geordi: I'll be in Engineering. (leaves The Bridge)
    Riker: Red Alert! All hands, battle stations!
  • Failed a Spot Check: When he decides to go violate Dougherty's orders, Picard reroutes the Enterprise Transporter Grid to avoid detection whilst he raids the ship's armory. As Data lampshades, this was a wise move...except for one key mistake: The Transporter is rarely used after 0200 Hours. The Senior Officers (who correctly anticipated Picard would go rogue) were thus monitoring the situation and responded accordingly.
  • Fan Sequel: The sixty-episode series Hidden Frontier takes place almost entirely in the Briar Patch and explores it extensively beyond Ba'ku, with an (obviously recast) older Artum joining Starfleet after developing a case of wanderlust from meeting Data. Many jokes can be made about it being superior to the actual movie, the show's shoestring-budget being the punchline.
  • Fanservice:
    • Troi and Riker taking a bath together.
    • Anij wears either an extremely deep V-neck wraparound, a gown that looks suspiciously like lingerie, or a dress with an incredibly low-cut bodice. She also gets a brief Sexy Soaked Shirt moment.
    • Troi and Dr. Crusher talk about how much firmer their boobs are, using that exact word. The fans weren't exactly happy.
    • The Tarlac slave girls in their skintight rubber catsuits.
  • Fantastic Rank System: Ahdar Ru'afo and Subahdar Gallatin, possibly the respective equivalents to "captain" and "commander" or "lieutenant".note 
  • Fictional Geneva Conventions: A brief mention to the Second Khitomer Accord, which banned Subspace Weapons. For good reasons.
  • Foreshadowing: Well, hinting, really.
    • Picard's Machine Empathy; in the scene where it comes up, he mentions that it was much more acute when he was younger.
    • At one point Crusher notes that the Captain was quite a dancer, when he was younger.
    • Once we get to the Ba'ku planet, there's the rekindling of the Riker/Troi romance and Worf's Klingon zit.
    • The rescued Son'a from the Duck Blind mission decline medical examination by Dr. Crusher and her team. They're trying to prevent Starfleet from learning that the Son'a and the Ba'ku are the same race.
      • This receives some follow-up on the surface, when Crusher finally gets to use her tricorder on some Son'a that Worf took out with his bazooka.
      Crusher: Captain, take a look at this med scan. His DNA profile.
      Picard: (sees the readout) How can that be possible?
      Crusher: (re the Ba'ku) Maybe we should ask them.
    • After Data is recovered, Geordi appears uncomfortable and Picard asks if his implants are bothering him. Beverly later determines that Geordi's optic nerves have regenerated, due to the planet's radiation.
    • The crew's first scene is preparing a diplomatic ceremony for a species that recently developed warp technology. Beverly is surprised a lot of fuss so quickly, but Picard says the Federation needs all the allies and resources it can get after the Borg attack and while fighting the Dominion. This is actually Dougherty's motivation for working with the Son'a.
  • Fountain of Youth: Continued exposure to the radiation not only stops aging, but reverses it back to the subject's physical prime. This presumably takes quite a while, though.
  • Freudian Couch: Played with when Riker hops on it with his head in Troi's lap to flirt with her.
  • Government Conspiracy: The Duck Blind mission is actually cover to relocate the Ba'ku so their planet can be exploited for its resources.
  • Hand Wave:
    • How Worf's involvement in this film is explained compared to the previous one. He just so happens to be away from Deep Space 9 on matters involving the Manzar colony, but is interrupted before he can explain further. Later, Picard makes a formal request for Worf to join them on their mission rather than return to DS9, but what function Worf provides that any current crew member couldn't isn't really made clear.
    • Anij displays the ability to slow down time to a single moment, a power not seen or mentioned by any of the other Ba'ku and also not really making sense as an effect of the planet's radiation. When Picard asks how she can do it, she simply replies "No more questions."
  • He Knows Too Much: The Son'a shot Data when he stumbled upon the Holoship.
  • Heel–Face Turn:
    • Gallatin, once Ru'afo's machinations disgust him and he cannot continue with the plan.
    • Dougherty tries as well, but Ru'afo kills him.
  • Hidden Elf Village: The Ba'ku's planet.
  • Hollywood Drowning: When Picard throws Anij out of the cloaked ship to protect her from enemy fire. By the time the fight is over and he discovers her struggling in the water, she still manages to yell, "Help! I can't swim!" Then after the men go into the water to "save" her she swims straight to Picard and hops into his arms, so there may have been an ulterior motive at work here.
  • Hologram Projection Imperfection: The holoship isn't finished, so there are noticeable gaps in the simulation of the Ba'ku village when the crew discovers it. Later, Ru'afo's crew see the same glitches and figure out their ship's bridge is actually another holodeck program.
  • Human Alien: The Ba'ku, they look exactly like humans. This becomes Deconstructed when we meet the Son'a, who we assume to be a more exotic alien race because of their uniquely grotesque appearance. However, they're actually the same race as the Ba'ku, and their stretched-out skin is the result of years of unorthodox medical surgeries.
  • Hypocrite: The Ba'ku claim to reject technology, but still have an irrigation system, a stone dam, a smith, and don't protest in the slightest to Picard's crew using their advanced technology on their behalf. A simple throwaway line about not advancing beyond an agrarian society would help a lot to explain this.
  • "I Can't Look!" Gesture: During one of Ru'afo's flesh-stretching sessions, Admiral Dougherty keeps wincing and glancing aside during the procedure.
    • Foreshadowing: Dougherty gets firsthand experience with the machine - fatally.
  • "I Know You're in There Somewhere" Fight: Worf and Picard dogfighting Data in a shuttle while trying to reason with him. Picard uses a song from a play he was rehearsing note  to distract him long enough to latch onto his ship.
  • Immortality Field: The Ba'ku world, courtesy of some metaphasic radiation.
  • Immortality Immorality: The Son'a are so debilitated they may die before the magic radiation can make them immortal, so they want to destroy the planet so they can harvest and concentrate it.
  • Immortality Begins at Twenty: The magic radiation takes some time to have its full effect, allowing children to age to adulthood normally. It's also retroactively effective, as Sojef notes that he was physically far older prior to arriving on the planet.
    Picard: (to Artim) And I suppose you're 75.
    Artim: No, I'm 12.
    Tournel: The metaphasic radiation won't begin to affect him until he reaches maturity.
  • Improvised Weapon: Worf uses the stock of his phaser rifle like a baseball bat, to swat a Son'a transporter drone out of the air.
    Worf: Definitely feeling aggressive tendencies, sir!
  • Insignia Rip-Off Ritual: When Picard decides to stop the plot to relocate the Ba'ku, he goes to his quarters and silently removes his rank pips.
  • Invisibility Cloak: In the opening scene Data runs around cloaked while being chased by several cloaked away team members. Then later they find a cloaked holoship hidden in a lake.
  • Kick the Dog: After murdering Admiral Dougherty, Ru'afo orders the Starfleet prisoners moved to an area of his ship where he knows that the thermionic radiation will kill them.
  • Last-Second Word Swap: When Ru'afo warns Dougherty that the Enterprise could screw up the operation by telling the Federation Council what's really happening on Ba'ku.
    Ru'afo: My ships are capable of intercepting the Enterprise before it reaches the perimeter. I could send them to — (possibly about to say "destroy it") — to escort it back. But Commander Riker might not want to come.
    Dougherty: (fully aware of the implications) Send your ships.
  • Leaning on the Fourth Wall: Data's line about the senior staff's judgement possibly being impaired by the environment, which serves to tell the audience that everything the cast does from now on is the morally right thing to do.
  • Lighter and Softer: After all the seriousness of Star Trek: First Contact. Though some would argue that it's too light.
  • Loophole Abuse:
    • Because the Ba'ku are warp-capable and not native to their planet, Dougherty and his superiors decided the Prime Directive doesn't apply, giving them carte blanche to relocate them.
    • As per Starfleet's conditions for the alliance, the Sona' won't being harvesting the metaphasic radiation from the rings while the planet is still inhabited. Picard and his senior officers work to ensure the Ba'ku remain on the planet (and to also buy time for Riker to make it out of the Briar Patch and signal the Federation Council). It eventually gets subverted, though, after Ru'afo decides to just launch the procedure even while the bulk of the Ba'ku are still on world. Justified, given his temper, mental instability, and personal hatred of his own people.
  • Love Transcends Spacetime: Anij's ability to slow down time seems linked to how romantic it makes the moment.
  • The Magnificent Seven Samurai: Complete with "Seven to beam up." Hmm ...
  • Machine Empathy: Picard detects that the ship's torque sensors are slightly out of alignment just because "they don't sound right." This ties into the next film, which reveals that he was born with a rare genetic condition that gives him supersensitive hearing. Although treated in his youth to ensure that he doesn't suffer pain from the slightest of sounds, it's entirely possible that Picard would retain extremely acute hearing (by most human standards) into adulthood.
    Picard: When was the last time we aligned the torque sensors?
    Kell Perim: Two months ago, sir.
    Picard: They don't sound right.
    Geordi: (checks his console) The torque sensors are out of twelve microns. You could hear that?
    Picard: When I was an ensign, I could detect a three-micron misalignment.
  • Man on Fire: Some poor schmuck in Engineering during the battle. Fortunately, Geordi and his fire extinguisher save him from going the full Redshirt route.
  • Mass Teleportation: What was supposed to happen to the Ba'ku without their knowledge, until Picard exposes the holo-ship and squashes that idea. He later uses it against Ru'afo's crew.
  • The Men First: One of the traits that makes Dougherty more reasonable than the usual Insane Admiral.
    Ru'afo: Your self-restraint puzzles me, Admiral. You continue to deny yourself every benefit that this mission has to offer.
    Dougherty: I prefer to wait until we can share the benefits with all the people of the Federation.
  • Missing Mom: Artim lives with only his father Sojef. His mother is not mentioned or seen. The novelization says she died shortly after he was born.
  • Mundane Utility: It's implied that the Ba'ku have developed the ability to significantly slow the passage of time. Sure would have been useful to use that ability to avoid being tagged by the seeker drones, eh? Instead it's used for romantic moments and medical stasis.
    • Considering the available context of when they use this ability, it may require a degree of focus and concentration that they can't manage while under fire.
  • My God, What Have I Done?: Doughterty's reaction upon learning the truth about the Son'a and that his good intentions have made the Federation accessories to attempted parricide.

    Tropes N-Z 
  • The Needs of the Many: The last trope you'd expect to be subverted in Star Trek. Picard choosing to help 600 Ba'ku when the technology studying the planet would bring could save literally billions. Especially since this was taking place at around the same time as the Dominion War, easily the most brutal and destructive war in Federation history (at least the Borg only send one ship at a time), where such advanced medical technology would have been especially useful in the war that the Federation was losing at the time. Picard's position is strengthened by the fact that the planet can be used to help potentially billions in the long-term without having to render it uninhabitable and disrupt the Ba'ku, but Dougherty shoots down this idea because he's agreed to guarantee the survival of the Son'a first — who, ironically, are outnumbered by the Ba'ku, though Dougherty may not have known that.
  • Negative Space Wedgie: Son'a subspace weapons can create them, one of which nearly destroys the Enterprise.
    Geordi: Subspace weapons are unpredictable. That's why they were banned.
  • Nightmare Face: The Son'a with that face-stretcher device. Okay, maybe that's not being fair to them; how about Admiral Dougherty with that face-stretcher device.
  • Noodle Incident: Whatever Worf was doing on Manzar Colony that brought him back aboard the Enterprise.
  • No Tech but High Tech: As mentioned by Nostalgia Critic's review, the Ba'ku claim not to like using machines, despite having an irrigation line and clothes that wouldn't be possible to make without some sort of advanced manufacturing.
  • Nothing Is the Same Anymore: The first scene on the Enterprise has Picard preparing for a diplomatic ceremony, as well as sees Riker note the ship is needed to put out a Dominion brushfire.
    Picard: Can anyone remember when we used to be explorers?
  • Obstructive Bureaucrat: Dougherty does his best to stonewall the crew so they don't look too closely at what's going on. This being Picard he's dealing with, his orders fall on deaf ears.
  • Obviously Evil: The ugly Son'a are the bad guys.
  • Off Stage Villainy: The library scene really goes out of its way to make the Son'a unlikeable, with records of conquering and enslaving worlds, drug dealing, and possessing illegal weapons. It makes the Federation look really stupid to have ever turned to them. What's especially stupid is that the drug in question is Ketracel White, which is solely used to keep the Jem'Hadar stormtroopers in line, so Dougherty has brokered a deal with a power that is actively supplying the Federation's enemies (later confirmed on an episode of DS9) and intends to give them a technology that they could just turn around and hand to the Dominion. This is lampshaded when Troi is clearly flabbergasted by the Federation's involvement with them, but the Phlebotinum is starting to affect her and she's too busy flirting with Riker to take the thought any further. In the Deep Space Nine relaunch novel Section 31: Abyss, Commander Vaughn says that the entire operation was organized by Section 31, and when it went bad, Admiral Dougherty was made the fall guy.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX:
    • Riker's "manual steering column" is an off-the-shelf Gravis Blackhawk computer joystick.
    • The "alien knives" the Ba'ku can be seen using in some shots are Alaskan Uluit. They were fairly obscure at the time of release, but have since been widely marketed as pizza cutters. (Funnily enough, said knives were also referenced — by name — in the TOS EU novel Ice Trap.)
  • The Outside World: The Ba'ku live in a hazardous region of space called the Briar Patch on a planet with rings that grant them virtual immortality. Though they are warp-capable, they gave up technology to live a quiet life there. Some of their young people dreamed of returning to the stars, and at one point a few of them did to pursue a faster life their people had given up (albeit via violent revolution). They come back as the Son'a, intent on retaking the planet and using its unique properties to regain their lost youth and long life, either driving off or exterminating the Ba'ku in the process.
  • Paradise Planet: The Ba'ku world, to the point that even the tagline refers to it as such. Admittedly, the planet itself is very pretty, but the fact that the village is spotlessly clean despite the fact that the Ba'ku have abandoned technology pushes this into the realms of ridiculousness.
  • Parallel Conflict Sequence: Picard and his officers defend the Ba'ku on the planet while the Enterprise battles two Son'a warships.
  • Parental Substitute: Anij, the old maid and the community's matriarch.
    • There's no trace of Artim's mom and Anij seems relatively close to him.
    • When she recognized Gallatin as Gal'na, Anij says she helped his mother to bathe him when he was a child and she stills speaks of him. In the final scene, we see the reunion of the mother and the son, but there's no trace of the father.
  • Perfect Pacifist People: The Ba'ku, whose leader even says "The moment we pick up a weapon, we become one of them." Which is actually a nice bit of foreshadowing; the Son'a are just non-pacifist, non-luddite Ba'ku.
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Despite being the Enterprise's Chief Operations officer, Data doesn't do anything pertaining to Operations throughout the movie.
  • Planetville: The Ba'ku village, population 600, and the area within walking distance of it seemingly constitute the entire planet for the purposes of the story. No explanation is given for why the Son'a never simply established their own settlement elsewhere on the planet decades ago.
  • Plot Induced Stupidity: The mystery plot depends on the discovery of the Holoship in a nearby lake, even though they could have parked it in orbit without the Ba'ku or Data (plus whatever other Starfleet crew weren't in on it) ever discovering it.
  • Pop-Cultural Osmosis Failure:
    Picard: Mr. Worf, do you know Gilbert and Sullivan?
    Worf: No sir, I have not had a chance to meet all the new crew members since I have been back.
    Picard: (gives Worf a weird look) They're composers, Worf, from the 19th century.
  • The Power of Rock: Picard disabling Data by singing "A British Tar." Hey, it worked on Sideshow Bob.
  • Pre-Asskicking One-Liner: Data: "Saddle up. Lock and load."
  • Precision F-Strike: After detonating the warp core to neutralize the Son'a's sub-space weapon:
    Commander Riker: We're through running from these bastards!
  • Punctuation Shaker: Ba'ku, Son'a, Ru'afo ...
  • Renegade Splinter Faction: It turns out the Son'a are exiled Ba'ku renegades who tried to take over their society and return it to a space-faring state.
  • Ramming Always Works: Subverted. Riker sets a collision course for the Son'a ship, since he can't destroy it with the Ba'ku and Worf aboard. The crew panics when they think he'll really do it, with Worf helpfully reinforcing the idea. At the last second, the Enterprise slides under the Son'a ship and fires precision attacks at their engines and life support, forcing the crew to surrender peacefully.
  • Really 700 Years Old: The Ba'ku. Which they subvert with the kid ... who's twelve. The Ba'ku settle into age stasis sometime in their mid-20s. (It's left unexplained why Anij, among others, looks almost 40, but possibly because some Ba'ku came to the planet as adults who were already older and didn't de-age as far, and possibly to avoid the squick factor of Picard having a love interest 1/3 his age.)
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Picard gives one to Gallatin/Gal'na, prompting his Heel–Face Turn.
    Picard: It must have been strange for you when you were a hostage. Surrounded by all the friends and family you knew all those years ago. Each one looking exactly as they did then. Like ... looking through the eyes of childhood again. And here you are closing those eyes, trying not to see what bitterness has done to the Son'a. How it's turned Ru'afo into a madman. And you? It's turned you into a coward. A man who denies his own conscience. A coward without the moral courage to prevent an atrocity ... you offend me.
    Gallatin: Is this how a Federation officer pleads for his life?
    Picard: I'm not pleading for my life. I'm pleading for yours. You can still go home, Gal'na.
  • Red Skies Crossover: Ru'afo reminds Dougherty of the tough times the Federation has been through lately, what with the Borg, and Cardassians, and the Dominion. Believe it or not, this is one of the few mentions of the Dominion War outside of DS9, and the first reference included in the films. note 
  • Recycled Premise: The idea of Starfleet observing a civilization clandestinely using a "duck blind" was used in TNG's third season, but here the stakes are much more grave. The concept of relocating people for political reasons was also explored in the TNG episode "Journey's End".
  • Redemption Equals Death: When Admiral Dougherty (re)develops a sense of morality, Ru'afo promptly kills him.
  • Reed Richards Is Useless: The Ba'ku have discovered a planet with amazing healing/rejuvenating powers, which would surely help billions more, but keep it to themselves because ... they believe a life without technology is better?
  • Save the Villain: Uncharacteristically averted. Ru'afo is left to die on the collector as the Enterprise beams Picard to safety.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • The ringed Ba'ku world and the nebula surrounding it are just gorgeous.
    • The Ba'ku village and the surrounding area.
  • Sci-Fi Writers Have No Sense of Scale:
    • The Ba'ku have lived on their planet for hundreds of years, and yet only have a population of about 600 individuals. Barring an insane mortality rate or a massive lack of breeding (clearly not the case, given the children), their population ought to be in the tens of millions at the very least. Had the Ba'ku been given a realistic population size, many of the issues listed on the YMMV page could have been avoided or mitigated. Presumably the Immortal Procreation Clause is in effect, since this would quickly lead to other problems ...
    • Another issue is the Son'a having somehow developed technology on par with the Federation, despite having an even smaller population than the Ba'ku and their two slave races being obviously less advanced. This one can be handwaved as them using abandoned Ba'ku tech, but then why would the Ba'ku just leave that tech lying around, and how would they have ever expelled the Son'a if the Son'a stole it?
      • Could be explained with the theory that the Ba'ku initially kept the technology around as a reminder of what they had rejected, but then used some of it to drive the Son'a off with the rest and vowed to forsake what was left so that nobody would be tempted like that again.
    • Even with life support disabled, the Son'a ship would still have hours of breathable air, not just a few minutes. The ship would actively venting air with no way to seal the breaches for that timeframe to fit, which is impossible on a starship that clearly still has power.
    • The Son'a have the numbers to maintain a small interstellar empire and operate ships equivalent to Federation vessels with crews of several hundred. While the slave races obviously make up some of those numbers, they must have had enough to operate those ships to conquer them and garrisons to lock down entire planetary populations. Given the Bak'u remaining are only 600 strong (and many of those children), the original breakaway 'splinter' group would have to have represented the vast majority of the population. That would explain the small population on the planet, but it makes the Ba'ku successfully driving them into exile even more ridiculous.
  • Screams Like a Little Girl: Ru'afo, when he realizes that his ship is a holodeck program and that the Son'a collector is deactivated, has a Villainous Breakdown with a Big "NO!".
  • Screw the Rules, I'm Doing What's Right!: Picard decides to go against orders to stop the Federation from exploiting the Ba'ku. His senior officers join him — also disobeying an order from him not to — and this leads to an awesome line from Data.
    Data: I feel obliged to point out that the environmental anomalies may have stimulated certain rebellious tendencies related to youth which could affect everyone's judgment. Except mine, of course.
    Crusher: Okay, Data. What do you think we should do?
    Data: (Beat) Saddle up. (grabs a phaser rifle) Lock and load.
  • Screw This, I'm Outta Here: When Dougherty learns the truth about what the Son'a are doing to the Ba'ku, he tries to pull out of the mission. Ru'afo, however, won't let him.
    Dougherty: We're taking this ship out of here. This mission is over.
    Ru'afo: It is not over.
    Dougherty: It. Is. Over.
    (Ru'afo sucker-punches Dougherty)
  • See the Invisible: It starts when Data picks up high neutrino emissions from a lake near the village. After they drain some of the water from the lake, they can see a large hole in the water that can only be an invisible object — in this case, a cloaked ship.
  • Series Continuity Error:
    • Troi saying she's never kissed Riker while he had a beard. Number of times this happened in the series: fournote . You'd think at least Frakes (who was also directing, remember) or Sirtis would point this out. Of course, there's kissing and then there's kissing.
    • When Picard wonders why Data was acting out in the beginning, he asks Geordi if it's because of his emotion chip, but Geordi answers "He didn't take it with him." Except in Star Trek: Generations, it was said that the chip had been fused into his circuitry after overloading. And in Star Trek: First Contact, it's revealed that Data can turn it on and off at will anyway, so why would he bother removing it? Admittedly, First Contact demonstrated that his emotion chip could be used against him.
      • Don't forget that in-universe it's been 4 years since Generations. It's not unreasonable to assume Data and Geordi have made good use of that time and figured out how to safely extract it from his neural net (or at the least come up with a workaround).
  • Sickening "Crunch!": You can hear one of the crew storming the bridge having his arm get snapped by Worf.
  • The Simple Life is Simple: Or at least the Ba'ku would have you think so ...
  • Slouch of Villainy: Ru'afo actually has a small couch as his command chair to make this more comfortable.
  • Something Only They Would Say: A variation when the truth about the Ba'ku and the Son'a's shared heritage comes out. When Sojef angirly asks Ru'afo which of their exiled children he was, a sneering Ru'afo refuses to answer. However, Anij then correctly deduces Ru'afo is Ro'tin (based upon, as she puts it, something in the voice).
  • Space Amish: The Ba'ku. Complete with their own shunned, rumspringer descendants, the Son'a.
  • Space Elves: The Ba'ku.
  • Spanner in the Works: Upon being exiled by the Ba'ku elders, the Son'a always intended to return and exact vengeance upon them. Their long-term plan, however, didn't take into account the larger geo-politics of the Alpha and Beta Quadrants — or that the Briar Patch and its region of space might end being claimed by one of said great powers. This forces the Son'a to bargain with the Federation for access to their old stomping grounds, leveraging their methaphasic collector technology against the Federation's own inability to harvest the radiation (to say nothing of their Dominion War-era desperation).
    • The entire film and the exposure of The Conspiracy only happens because Data followed a group of Ba'ku children into the hills and came across the cloaked Holo-Ship. Even then, events could've played out any number of ways...if a Son'a grunt on guard duty hadn't shot at Data to try and silence him. This would-be kill shot instead accidentally activates Data's Ethical Subroutines as a memory fail-safe and kicks off the prologue.
      • Building on this is, the Enterprise only becomes involved because Dougherty requested Data's tech specs. He expected Geordi would transmit them and he and the Son'a could try and neutralize the android on their own. The Admiral didn't expect that Picard would instead creatively interpret his orders (to mediate the Goren System dispute) and "detour" to the Briar Patch to have their own crack at stopping Data.
      • Gallatin being part of the Son'a contingent of the Duck Blind mission also ends up ultimately derailing the conspiracy. Before the mission, Gallatin was just as dedicated to achiving the Son'a's longtime goals of revenge against their elders. But spending time among the Ba'ku — among the people he once knew, loved, and called friends — as a 'prisoner' leaves Gallatin feeling conflicted. This conflict slowly grows over the course of the film (and in direct contrast to Ru'afo slowly going more and more off the deep end). Picard, seeing the internal conflict after being capturde, successfully persuades Gallatin to switch sides.
  • Spotting the Thread: First, when Ru'afo triggers the metaphasic collector and the sensor readings are identical to his simulations, then his bridge crew realizes their consoles aren't working properly. And then he sees part of the wall has disappeared with a holodeck grid visible behind it.
  • Start X to Stop X: Picard must prevent a forced relocation by ... planning a forced relocation (that is, evacuating their village to make them harder for Dougherty and the Son'a to beam them off the planet). At least in his version, they get to walk back home.
  • Status Quo Is God: Nothing much really changes between the start of the movie and the end, other than Admiral Dougherty and Ru'afo getting killed. The Son'a still get name-dropped even later on in DS9, continuing to produce ketracel-white for the Dominion, so clearly at least some of them had a Redemption Rejection and refused to rejoin the Ba'ku. The only thing that has any real long-term consequences is Riker and Troi rekindling their relationship, and even then it's not until Star Trek: Nemesis that we get confirmation that they truly did begin their relationship anew, instead of just having a brief fling while under the influence of the metaphasic radiation.
  • Suicidal Pacifism: The Ba'ku refuse to so much as lift a phaser, claiming they'd lose their entire way of life if they defended it. It's left to the five-man Starfleet team to do the job.
  • Supernaturally Young Parent: The Son'a were the younger members of the Ba'ku when they left the planet, but having been away caused them to age faster. It turns out one of the Ba'ku is the mother of Gallatin.
  • Surrounded by Idiots: Ru'afo's reaction to Doughtery's proposal for stopping the Enterprise-E before it exits the Briar Patch and communicates with the Federation Council. Dougherty states that he'll simply order Riker — i.e. Picard's most loyal and trusted officer and one who's clearly sided with the Captain's insurrection — to just turn around. An incredulous Ru'afo points this out, then gives Gallatin a look that just screams 'Can you believe this Starfleet moron?!'.
  • Tears of Joy: Geordi watching the sunrise with his regenerated eyes.
  • Technophobia: The Ba'ku were once a warp-capable people, but after they settled in the Briar Patch, they gave up all their technology in favor of a simpler lifestyle of farming. Sojef in particular is rather antagonistic towards it, seemingly trying to shield his son from any contact with it.
  • Teleport Interdiction: Using both transport inhibitors and naturally-occurring minerals on the planet. The Son'a defeat the latter measure by shooting the Ba'ku with isolinear tags.
  • That Man Is Dead: When it's revealed that the Son'a were Ba'ku who were exiled.
    Sojef: Which one were you? Gal'na? Ro'tin?
    Ru'afo: Those names — those children are gone forever.
  • That's an Order!:
    • When Data goes bonkers, he ignores an order to stop.
      Lt. Curtis: Commander Data, stand down! That's an order! I repeat: stand down!
    • When Picard's preparing to disrupt the Federation/Son'a plot himself, his senior officers step in to assist. He tries to order them not to, but he's not in uniform.
      Riker: No uniform, no orders.
  • Time Stands Still: The Ba'ku have somehow learned to stop time, though it's inconsistently applied.
  • Unwitting Pawn: Dougherty and Starfleet don't realize they're being used as accessories to a blood feud between the Ba'ku and their prodigal offspring. When a horrified Dougherty learns the truth from Picard, he (futiely) tries to stop it.
  • Utopia Justifies the Means: Played with; while the Federation is willing to relocate the Ba'ku and render their planet uninhabitable in the name of bringing new medical technologies to the Federation, Picard's unspoken argument (made clearer via Word of God) is that the Ba'ku's society is already a utopia, and that the Federation's attempting to destroy it justifies his taking up arms against his own superiors.
  • Villainous Friendship: Ru'afo and Gallatin are lifelong friends. Gallatin is even the only one that Ru'afo is ever consistently pleasant to. Gallatin still betrays him and pulls a Heel–Face Turn when Ru'afo goes too far.
  • Villains Never Lie: The admiral sided with the Son'a because he felt that the medical benefits that could be gained from exploiting (and destroying) the Ba'ku homeworld could be used to save billions of lives in a war the Federation was losing with the Dominion. Even Jonathan Frakes, as director, and many other members of the cast agreed, though this information came from people who were allies of the Dominion.note  Though some critics argue that makes it feel like a ham-fisted attempt at making the Son'a unlikeable. It should also be noted that nobody questions the truth of this statement in-universe either.
  • Watching the Sunset: Inverted when Picard sees Geordi watching a sunrise with his newly-regenerated eyes.
    Geordi: You know I've never seen a least, not the way you see them.
  • Weaponized Exhaust: Riker comes up with the idea to have Enterprise collect some explosive metreon gas and release it in front of the Son'a battlecruisers. The lead cruiser fires a photon torpedo at the gas cloud, and the ensuing explosion destroys the attacking ship and cripples the other one.
  • Wham Line: "Didn't you know, Admiral? The Son'a and the Ba'ku are the same race."
  • Wham Shot: The cloaked holoship in the lake.
  • When I Was Your Age...: Picard telling LaForge that as a young man he could hear a three micron misalingment in a ship's torque sensors.
  • The Worf Effect: The Sovereign-class starship Enterprise-E, a Cool Starship that almost single-handedly returned the Borg's collective asses back to them in its first major battle in First Contact, is now somewhat outclassed by two Son'a vessels. Sure, it was flying through a nebula the Son'a ships were adapted to travel in, but even two-to-one the Enterprise could have put up a better fight than it did. By comparison, Ru'afo's (admittedly smaller) ship is disabled by two precision phaser strikes from Enterprise. The film does point out the Son'a are using weaponry that is normally banned via various treaties, and the novelization says Son'a technology is highly advanced but they lack the numbers to be a real menace.