The Rewatch 177: Ensign Ro

Series: Star Trek: TNG
Episode: 5.3 Ensign Ro (10/7/1991)
Rating: 5/5
Redshirt Status: 0/0/34

Notable Guest Stars:
Michelle Forbes (Ensign Ro Laren) – This is Forbes second appearance on TNG.  She originally appeared last season as the daughter of Timicin, but now has arrived at the character that will be her reoccuring character. 

Scott Marlowe (Keeve Falor) – Marlowe is a classic actor whose credits start in the 1950s.  He has appeared in many cult favorites, like Bonanza and Gunsmoke, as well as Daytime Soaps like Days of Our Lives.

Frank Collison (Dolak)-  The Cardassian Commander might be more familiarly seen in Doctor Quinn, Medicine Woman as Horace Bing.  I actually had to figure out where he was in the episode because the makeup did a pretty good job.

Cliff Potts (Admiral Kennelly)- Potts may be found outside Star Trek in the films Silent Running and Little Women, so you can tell he’s not afraid to switch genres around a bit.

Jefferey Hayenga (Orta)- It was hard to find information on this actor, but he did appear in one of my least favorite movies, Prince of Pennsylvania.  If you ever want to see a great cast appear in a horrible film, watch that movie.  It also has Keanu Reeves and Fred Ward.  He will appear on StarTrek again both as Orta (DS9) and Dr.Yuris (ENT)

Review:

This episode is important for the overall franchise because it sets up quite a bit of information that its built upon for the next two series.  This episode introduces the Bajoran people, a humanoid species that live on Bajor(a)* which is occupied by the Cardassians.  The Federation is found in a tight spot because the Bajorans have begun to rebel and the humanitarian slights (if humanitarian is a word that I can use for alien species) problems become more apparent.  The Federation wants to help, but it just signed a treaty.

So why is the rebellion of the Bajorians important? Up to a point, Star Trek has this ultimate utopia.  Humanity is always seeking to be better and has already moved forward on so much. Starting in this episode and going forward, the show starts exhibiting that the Federation is not as perfect as one would hope.  There have been moments in the past seasons of course, but this starts showing significant issues in the realm of galactic politics.

The Federation was at war with Cardassia.  The war has ended, and they have a treaty in place.  However, as time will show, the treaty does not exactly land in the favor of the Federation and its ideals.  Bajor has been taken over by the Cardassians for decades, and now the freedom fighters are being noticed by The Federation.  They are hand tied due to the treaty.

DS9 takes place onboard a star base once owned by Cardassia and left behind when eventually the Bajorians succeed in winning their planet back. So much of Bajoran culture and history is weaved through the series, and this episode is the start.  Voyager is also started with a freedom group fighting on the behalf of Federation citizens being terrorized by the Cardassians along the border and the weird boundaries made by the treaty.

So, if you think about it, this episode lays the groundwork for both of those series, which at this time were not even in the pre-production stage.

On a smaller scale, this episode means a lot for TNG as well.  Ro Laren is a new character, and she comes in with a bang.  Riker, whose usually casual in his style of management is pretty strict with her.  We know she has had a bad past and is partially responsible for people losing their lives.  They are vague in the episode, but apparently the comics go more into detail if you want to know. 

I find it hard to believe that the Federation doesn’t allow for religious regalia.  Worf is allowed to wear his warrior sash, Deanna is allowed to use a non-standard uniform, yet it is Ro’s Bajoran earpiece that seems to need to be removed. It is shown as a form of rebellion at first, but you can tell after watching this that these earpieces are very important in Bajoran culture.  However, in a later Voyager episode Tuvok as well requires a new cadet to remove his Bajoran earpiece.  It just seems at odds with the more accepting Federation.

Another aspect of this episode is important and that is the growth in understanding of the situation by Picard.  He starts off much like Riker in being very critical and non-accepting of Ro onboard the enterprise.  With the insight of Guinan and Ro finally revealing what truly is going on behind the scenes, Picard starts to figure out some of the places on the chess board.

So I would consider this a “Must watch” both for story, for acting and for the critical importance this has to the franchise as a whole.

Interesting Notes:

  • Written by Michael Piller and Rick Berman
  • Directed by Les Landau
  • First appearance of the Bajorans
  • The Bajorans were not based on any historical group, but the writers took the idea of transient people forced out by a invading force as inspiration.
  • Ro Laren was supposed to be a reoccuring character to add some diversity and strife to the main cast.
  • Mot, the barber, will appear again.
  • Memory Alpha claims that Guinan was possibly referring the the events of “Time’s Arrow” which is a future episode, or to the events of one of the attached novels.  I’m not sure which is preferred.  I considered the events of ST: Generations but that film had Guinan rescued by Kirk, Harrimen and the crew of the Enterprise-B.
  • *This is the only episode where the planet and sometimes the people are referred to as Bajora/The Bajora.  Afterwards it is always Bajor/Bajorian.

Pros

  • Introduction of the Bajoran people in a very unfront manner.  This isn’t a pleasant meeting.  This is showing them as being forced to be tranisent, or to give up their heritage, which might bring memories of our past.
  • I’m glad that the Admiral just proved to be a dumbass and not a villain.
  • Michelle Forbes does an excellent job with Ro Laren.

Cons:

  • The fact that Ro Laren had to move her Bajoran earpiece to be part of the Starfleet Dresscode adherence is hard to figure out due to the fact that Deanna Troi never had to wear a uniform (which lets face it, its because Marina Sirtis is pretty and they wanted to show that off) and Worf gets to wear his Klingon sash. Is this because she is of a lower rank? Or perhaps Riker being more particular with her due to her reputation coming onboard.
  • It seems a little weird that they call it Bajora in this episode but for the rest of time its Bajor. Why the change?  Or was it just forgetfulness.
  •  

Screencap via CygnusX1.net

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s