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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S1 E8 "The Battle"

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Picard confronting the ghosts of his past.

Original air date: November 16, 1987

A Ferengi captain returns the abandoned USS Stargazer to its former captain, Jean-Luc Picard. Picard, who experiences severe headaches and begins to relive the "Battle of Maxia" in which he lost the ship. Guest-stars Frank Corsentino as DaiMon Bok.

This episode contains the following tropes:

  • Anti-Mutiny: Riker tries to convince Bok's first officer, Kazago, to do this in order to stop Bok. Eventually, Kazago decides to arrest Bok for conducting an unprofitable venture.
  • Berserk Button: Data unwittingly hits Bok's during their first meeting, when he lets slip that the Stargazer crew didn't even know that the ship they destroyed belonged to the Ferengi. Bok, who has been steeling up to carry out his revenge plot for almost a decade, is naturally incensed that the Federation seems to think so little of the incident that he's seeking revenge for.
  • Blue-and-Orange Morality: Attempted with the Ferengi; Bok is condemned by his first officer for his revenge plot, not because he tried to kill Picard but because he was acting out of personal and emotional motives for his actions rather than being driven by profit motive.
  • But for Me, It Was Tuesday: When the Ferengi refer to Picard's involvement in the Battle of Maxia, Picard has no idea what they're talking about. The incident is actually quite notable in Picard's career: he was involved in a space battle in which he used a maneuver that was later named after him, and he ultimately had to abandon his ship with all its crew. Not exactly something you forget about. But Picard doesn't connect that incident near Maxia to the unfamiliar name "Battle of Maxia" apparently because he wasn't aware that the enemy ship was Ferengi.
  • Captain's Log: They recover the log from the Stargazer, which seems to indicate Picard fired on the Ferengi without provocation. Of course, more analysis reveals the entries have been tampered with.
  • Captain Obvious: Lampshaded by Picard, though Crusher gets a good rejoinder.
    Picard: Why do doctors always say the obvious as though it were a revelation?
    Crusher: Why do captains always act like they're immortal?
  • Commonality Connection: Riker speaks to Kazago as one First Officer to another.
  • Deliberate Values Dissonance: The Ferengi call their captain's charity "ugly" and are, once again, turned on by the perversity of clothed females.
  • Do a Barrel Roll: The Picard Maneuver, which involved exploiting that the Ferengi ship at the Battle of Maxia only had lightspeed sensors. The Stargazer used Faster-Than-Light Travel to overtake its own afterimage, meaning that to the Ferengi it seemed as though there were two Stargazers. The Ferengi fired at the afterimage rather than the real ship, giving Picard time to destroy them. It could have worked against the Enterprise, forcing them to kill Picard or die themselves, if Data hadn't come up with a counter on the spot.
  • Doppelgänger Spin: A scifi variation of the trope, thanks to how Warp technology works the "Picard Maneuver" can create an afterimage as the spacecraft in question warps ahead of its previous position allowing the light from its last position to reach the target just as the ship settles into its new position and the light from that new position reaches it too. for the target, it suddenly seems like they're dealing with two or more ships instead of one.
  • Early-Installment Weirdness:
    • The Enterprise's Tractor Beam is coming out of the torpedo tube?
    • Another example is how Troi is able to sense things from the Ferengi, even though "The Last Outpost" stated that Ferengi are immune to Betazoid telepathic/empathic abilities. Troi would continue to be depicted as being able to read Ferengi minds up until "Menage a Troi", when someone finally remembered that this wasn't supposed to be possible.
    • Jack Crusher was serving aboard the Stargazer when he died (prior to the Maxia incident) but neither Beverly nor Wesley show any reaction to the ship. Jack's death under Picard's command was established in the pilot but Picard's command of the Stargazer was invented for this episode, and the two wouldn't be connected until later.
    • When Kazago ends his communications with Riker, his image fades to black rather than cutting out.
    • Dr Crusher calls Riker "Number One". Future episodes would imply this name was solely used by Picard for Riker.
    • This was the second attempt at trying to make the Ferengi out to be a credible threat to the Enterprise rather than the joke villains they'd come to be known as, and ultimately the last one.
  • Easy Communication: Defeating the Picard Maneuver relies on split-second timing, since as soon as the Stargazer drops out of warp, Picard intends to fire all his weapons at the Enterprise, meaning Data's plan to tractor the Stargazer relies on identifying its position in space as soon as possible. The easiest way to do this would be to have the computer lock the tractor beam as soon as it senses the spatial distortion of the Stargazer appearing in its new position. However, the Stargazer is shown to warp to its new location, the computer locates it, then Riker gives the order to tractor it, and then the crewman finally executes the order and captures the ship. Yet the Enterprise still manages to go through this chain of events, apparently faster than the speed of light, before the Stargazer can annihilate them.
  • Everyone Has Standards: For all their flaws, even the Ferengi have outlawed the thought-makers. The Ferengi also prohibit acting out of revenge or petty self-interest, especially when there is no profit to be had from it.
  • Foreshadowing:
    • One of the Ferengi offers to purchase Data. While this was meant as comedy, it does imply Data's status as property of Starfleet, which does not get resolved until "The Measure of a Man".
    • While relaying the events of the "Battle of Maxia" to his crew command, Picard suddenly calls for Vigo, the Stargazer weapons officer, to identify the attacking enemy, confusing everyone. This is the first clue that the Ferengi's device is causing Picard's memories to blur with reality.
  • Headache of Doom: Picard suffers chronic headaches that eventually turn out to be caused by a Ferengi mind control device being used on him.
  • It's Personal: DaiMon Bok's motivation for revenge is that Picard killed his son. This is considered highly unprofessional by the Ferengi, who believe tangible profit is the only worthwhile motive, and leads to Kazago relieving Bok of command.
  • Layman's Terms: When Data begins to explain how a checksum works to demonstrate how Picard's "confession" log was faked, Riker tells him, "I don't need a computer science lesson" to make him get to the point.
  • Loophole Abuse: How Kazago removes Bok from command. While his official reason is that Bok had no intention of making a profit from the mission, that fact had been obvious from the minute that Bok handed over the Stargazer for free, meaning that Kazago could have removed him much sooner if he was really that bothered by not making any profit. With that in mind, he may have relieved Bok due to genuine moral outrage over his attempt at murder. Or maybe he thought that there was an underlying plan for profit that his captain chose to not reveal at that time, and when he discovered that there really wasn't, he decided enough was enough.
  • Major Injury Underreaction: Picard keeps trying to brush off his sudden head pain as a mild headache. While in our time this wouldn't seem so unusual, Dr. Crusher notes that by this century headaches are extraordinarily rare (to the point she doesn't even have a lot of experience in treating them) and so it's actually a sign that something is seriously wrong with the Captain.
  • Mind Rape: Bok gives Picard back the repaired Stargazer (Picard's first command) and then uses his Mind Rape device to force Picard to relive his victory over a Ferengi ship, causing him to use a risky but nearly unstoppable battle strategy.
  • Not Himself: Picard under the effects of DaiMon Bok's machine becomes more irritable, then he suffers hallucinations and flashbacks... THEN starts acting extremely nice and "all better"... which means the mind control kicked in.
  • Off-the-Shelf FX: A minor example: parts of the Stargazer studio model were taken from a VF-1 Valkyrie model kit. This was referenced with one version of the model in Picard's office being labelled USS Valkyrie rather than Stargazer.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: An obvious sign that Bok has ulterior motives comes when he gives away the Stargazer completely free of charge, something a Ferengi would ordinarily never do, and his subordinates do notice this.
  • Pyrrhic Victory: Picard destroyed the attacking ship, but the damage to the Stargazer was so severe that he was forced to order it abandoned.
  • Reasonable Authority Figure: Kazago plays with this. At first, he's a snarky Jerkass toward Riker, but when presented with irrefutable proof of Bok's plan, he quickly removes the DaiMon from command.
  • Revenge Myopia: DaiMon Bok is incensed by Picard killing his son, but Picard did it entirely out of defense.
  • We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Dr. Crusher is surprised when Picard mentions he has a headache, since they're extremely rare, though not rare enough that neither knows what they are or that they're not serious. She also mentions the common cold as a thing of the past.