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Recap / Star Trek: The Next Generation S3E18 "Allegiance"

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"So, um...anybody know a good joke?"

Captain Picard and three other people are abducted and imprisoned by an unknown force and replaced by duplicates.

Tropes featured in "Allegiance":

  • Blood Knight: Esoqq of Chalna is even more savage than a Klingon. He kills whoever tries to oppose him and will happily eat other sentient beings when he is hungry. His entire race is this way.
  • Blue and Orange Morality: The reason everyone was abducted was because their captors are intensely curious about the concept of leadership and authority because they are all exactly alike and communicate telepathically, thus they had never encountered the idea of one being having authority over others before. But it's clear, when Picard gives them a taste of their own medicine, that he doesn't entirely buy their alleged Blue and Orange Morality, and maybe they're just jerks.
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  • Bluff the Impostor: Picard brings up the incident on Mintaka III from "Who Watches the Watchers", and when Haro responds he then mentions an outbreak of plague on Cor Caroli V that she expresses familiarity with. Later, he exposes "Haro" as an imposter because while it was possible (though unlikely) for her to be familiar with Mintaka III, the plague on Cor Caroli V was classified by Starfleet and no mere cadet would be aware of it.
  • Bottle Episode: Written, along with "The Offspring," to counteract the budget overruns incurred by "Yesterday's Enterprise." A largely character-driven episode carried by Patrick Stewart's acting as both the real and false Captains, and with only one new set (the very small and simple cell), the episode came in under budget and ahead of schedule.
  • Call-Back: Haro mentions the Enterprise's mission to Mintaka III.
    • Picard visited Esoqq's homeworld of Chalna when he commanded the USS Stargazer.
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  • Les Collaborateurs: Kova Thol is from a race of cowards who are happy to be slaves to whoever invade them in order to survive—his planet has been invaded and conquered six times. Likewise, Thol himself will switch allegiances at the drop of a hat to support whoever he thinks is in control of the situation.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Cadet Haro is the first female Bolian we see, the second appearance of a Bolian in general, and the only Bolian (male or female) in the franchise to be shown to have hair.
  • Everyone Has Standards: Esoqq is the most violent of the four captives, and is even willing to kill and eat the other captives if he begins to get hungry, but he is nonetheless perturbed that somebody would imprison a child like Cadet Haro.
  • Foreshadowing: The traitor has "two faces"—as a Bolian, "Cadet Haro" has an anatomical ridge dividing her face in half.
  • Get Out!: Picard tells the aliens that they now know of their race, and they know how to imprison them.
    Picard: Bear that in mind. Now get off my ship.
  • Hand Signals: Picard uses a subtle nod to start a chain of orders relayed solely by hand signal and eye contact to imprison the aliens.
  • Hive Mind: The alien captors operate like this, as every member of their race is a carbon copy sharing a constant telepathic exchange with the others. This is why the concept of leadership among other sentient races puzzles them.
  • I'm a Humanitarian: When Esoqq is revealed to be incapable of digesting the food units in the prison, he presents an acute threat when he threatens to eat the others (starting with Thol) if he begins to starve.
  • Moral Myopia: The aliens claim to have had no idea that what they were doing might have been wrong by the standards of other races, but they seem to understand the situation enough that it was more about not caring what anyone else thought, rather than honestly thinking it through and believing it to be OK.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Every time the captives make headway in their attempt to escape the cell, another obstacle is thrown right at them, sending them right back to square one. It's one of the things that helps Picard deduce that they are not simply prisoners, but test subjects in an experiment.
  • The Mutiny: The Enterprise crew relieve the fake Picard from his command when he gives them a senseless order to destroy the ship. The real Picard is returned to the bridge before any fallout from their actions can occur.
  • Out-of-Character Alert: While Picard's doppelgänger doesn't act quite right, the senior staff still goes along with it, figuring it must be some sort of secret mission or test. However, they realize something is very wrong when Picard comes down to Ten Forward, orders ales for everyone, and gives a toast and a song, something the normally very reserved Captain would never do. Other alerts include him attending the officers' poker game for the first time, taking his physical ahead of schedule, hitting on Crusher, and telling Troi to watch out for signs of distrust. He basically gets caught because he's too interested in fitting in.
  • Properly Paranoid: Thol suspects that one of them might be one of their abductors. He's right. Cadet Mitena Haro is one of the aliens in disguise.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: Esoqq's homeworld Chalna takes the Klingons' love of combat and strength Up to Eleven, though apparently not quite to the psychotic extent of the Jem'Hadar, the warrior slave race of the Dominion. His society is basically a lawless dog-eat-dog world where the strongest rule by killing all their enemies.
  • Psycho Party Member: Downplayed with Esoqq. He's a violent Blood Knight and presents an actual threat to the others when it becomes clear that he'll eventually resort to cannibalism to prevent starvation, but he can be reasoned with and contributes to their mutual escape.
  • Senseless Sacrifice: Discussed by Riker when he confronts the fake Picard over his order to move the ship closer and closer to a dangerous pulsar. The crew may be willing to put their lives on the line for their captain, but they won't do it for no apparent reason or purpose.
  • Screw You, Elves!: Picard is unaccepting of his abductors' apology, as he gives them a taste of their own medicine.
    Alien 1: We were merely curious. We meant no harm.
    Alien 2: We did not, after all, injure you in any way.
    Picard: Imprisonment is an injury, regardless of how it's justified. And now that you've had a taste of captivity, perhaps you'll reconsider the morality of inflicting it upon others. In any event, we now know of your race and we know how to imprison you. Bear that in mind. [beat] Now get off my ship.
  • The Social Darwinist: Deconstructed Trope with Esoqq's world, which seems to run entirely off this concept. The result of a society composed solely of warriors who constantly kill their weaker competitors is a violent anarchy. No one recognizes any sort of authority or group interest, with the only de facto rule being Might Makes Right.
  • Stock Footage: A brief reaction shot of Worf on the bridge seeing Picard's doppelgänger change into its true appearance is a stock shot taken from "The Survivors", as he is wearing the earlier version of the Starfleet uniform that debuted in "Evolution" and was seen in several early episodes of the third season.
  • Suicide Mission: The fake Picard tests the obedience of the Enterprise crew to its commander by ordering them to fly very near to a Pulsar star, which would destroy the ship. Subverted when the bridge crew mutinies because the captain refuses to tell them why the mission is so essential as to make their lives forfeit.
  • Unwitting Test Subject: The plot is driven by the characters' lack of knowledge of what the purpose of their imprisonment is, which turns out to be because they're part of an experiment.
  • We ARE Struggling Together: It is very apparent that without Picard, the other captives would have killed each other sooner or later, due to their extremely different attitudes and personalities.
  • You All Meet in a Cell: Four people are abducted and placed in a cell for unknown reasons by captors who don't reveal themselves, and must figure a way out.
  • You Were Trying Too Hard: The Picard doppelganger does everything he can to fit in and ingratiate himself with the crew. This makes the crew very uneasy, as the real Picard is rather detached and standoffish.


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