The Rewatch 127: The Ensigns of Command.

Series: Star Trek:TNG
Episode: 3.02 The Ensigns of Command (10-2-1989)
Rating:  5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/0/21.5

Notable Guest Stars:

Mark L. Taylor – Haritath He recently was on How I Met Your Mother as Vince Levin.
Eileen Seeley –
Ard’rian McKenzie. According to IMDB Seely hasn’t had a credited role since 2000 so I’m not sure what she is up to at the moment. She seemed to be a guest star on many tv series.
Richard Allen –
Kentor He has had various guest roles on big TV series, but he also had a reoccurring role on a Jumanji TV series. Which I hadn’t known existed till today and now I must watch. Thanks, Mr. Allen.
Grainger Hines –
Gosheven*. Hines has been on many shows I’ve seen in the past, but like Allen has brought me to a show I never existed…a tv series based on the 1950s film Seven Brides for Seven Brothers. I loved that movie growing up (ignoring the sexism and questionable consent of the brides) but I’m not entirely sure how one could turn it into a tv series. Add that to the list.

Review:

We get introduced to another species in this episode, The Sheliak. The Sheliak are a race we haven’t come across in 111 years. (Which makes it Discovery’s era.  Wonder if they will do anything with that).  According to the treaty they made way back when, certain planets fall under their domain.  While moving to colonize a world they find a group of humans living on such a planet.

So they call up Enterprise, the closest federation ship to remove the humans on the planet.  The problem is there is too many people to transfer as quickly as they want.  So Data is sent down to investigate and prepare the colonists for evacuation, while Picard and Deanna try to neogicate with the Sheliak to lengthen the time they can have to evacuate.

Someone on IMDB pointed out how weird it was that there appeared to be no one on the Enterprise to deal with legalities like this.  Picard uses Deanna as his counsel.  Logically this is probably because it costs more to have a minor character show up, but the commenter has a point.  Why doesn’t the ship have a JAG compliment?  Surely there are still legal documents to deal with.  Treaties, first contacts, Wills, etc. 

On the other hand, it does give Deanna more to do then being the sound of alarm.  I’m assuming that she is the ships First Contact expert.  Her combined duties might explain why she’s basically part of Picard’s closest circle (the other being Beverly and Will).

This episode in general is more about Data learning about human behavior.  He has to convince the colonists that they need to leave the planet.  His rational arguments are unsuccessful.  Ard’rian tries to help him, and he tries various methods of persuasion.

This episode is a continuing support for my headcanons about Data and emotions.  He shows surprise and insecurity at times during the course of this episode.  Not strongly, but there is a hint of those emotions there.  He also has trouble understanding the behaviors of others, which is played to humorous effect at his obliviousness to Ard’rian’s more romantic feelings towards him (which Gosheven does notice).  Granted, the more obvious storylines in that regard were cut out of the episode, so it’s a bit more subtle.

Over all this is an interesting episode, particularly with the ideas of intersteller diplomacy, and non-humanoid lifeforms.  Which we rarely see.  Most species – even those developed from other species like fish, amphibians and insects, have a humanoid shape. 

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Melinda M. Snodgrass
  • Directed by Cliff Bole
  • The shuttle was named after Ellison Onizuka, an astronaut who died onboard the Challenger in 1986
  • *Grainger Hines played the role of Gosheven, but the credit was recalled, and his lines redubbed.  Which is why the words don’t always seem to match his mouth movements. There seems to be multiple theories as to why this happened.  The ‘official’ reason is that he disliked his performance and asked to be uncredited.

Pros:

  • Showing the crew off duty
  • Data character building
  • introduction of new species

Cons:

  • For a community that had little concern for history when they started they know a lot of their history.
  • Why is there no legal council on board Enterprise?  Even if Deanna is the first contact expert, surely she’d have a team to help her.
  • I don’t recall ever hearing about the Sheliak again in the franchise. I could be wrong.

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