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:
- An Aesop:Picard: Let the dead rest, and the past remain the past.
- 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.
- 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: The Ferengi are portraying the Battle of Maxia as being a quite notable event in their recent history, while Captain Picard hasn't thought about the incident for years. (Only the Picard Maneuver itself seems to be relatively well known within Starfleet.) It doesn't help that the Federation doesn't use that name for it, causing initial confusion. It turns out the Ferengi only know it because their captain's son died there.
- 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.
- Cool Maneuver: The Picard Maneuver, which involved exploiting that the Ferengi ship at the Battle of Maxia only had lightspeed sensors. The Stargazer jumped forward at warp speed, overtaking its own light, 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.
- Doctor 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.
- 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 other episodes would (including an earlier one) state that Ferengi are immune to Betazoid telepathic/empathic abilities.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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".
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- Space Friction: Both averted, in that Picard points out that they can turn off the tractor beam because the Stargazer will still carry along on momentum, and played straight, in that Riker is surprised by this.
- Justified: Even if the Stargazer will continue to parallel the course of the Enterprise, if the ship has to change course, the Stargazer won't follow. It's generally not a good idea to leave to a heavy, unmanned starship floating free, even if won't slow down, and that's what Riker was concerned about.
- We Will Have Perfect Health in the Future: Dr. Crusher is surprised when Picard mentions he has a headache, since they're extremely rare. Of course, as Trek commentator SF Debris points out, this contradicts itself because headaches are apparently rare enough that Crusher is taken aback by its mention, but also common enough that Picard can identify it and know that it's not serious.