To Boldly Recap: TNG 1×10 “The Battle”

Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the Unicorner. Her continuing mission to recap every episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation. To seek out new lulz and new insights. To boldly go where many have recapped before but nobody as cool as she.

The Rules, you know the drill:

  1. For every heartfelt and affecting moment in Data’s quest to be human, there’s way too many painfully awkward/unfunny ones.
  2. The competence of the Enterprise crew varies greatly depending on plot requirements.
  3. For a scifi show, some of this tech is dated as fuck.
  4. Wesley is the Gary-est Stu to ever Stu.
  5. Pop culture ended in 1987.
  6. Though TNG is a feminist show in many ways, it has some hella sexist moments.
  7. As progressive as Star Trek usually is, there’s some racist ass shit up in here.
  8. TNG writers should never, ever attempt humor. Ever.
  9. When it comes to distancing this utopian future from present day, holy overcompensation, Batman!
  10. Star Trek is kind of a mess when it comes to LGBT representation or lack thereof.
  11. Dramatic music always informs us when we’ve hit a Plot Point.
  12. This shit don’t make a damn lick of sense.
  13. Wesley Crusher sees all, knows all.
  14. Though most Trek tech is integrated into the world building, the series is not immune to unnecessary and seemingly extraneous technocrap because it’s THE FUTURE!
  15. Adherence to the Prime Directive comes and goes as plot convenience requires.
  16. Men ain’t shit even in outer space.

One more thing: if you’ve decided to watch TNG and follow along with my recaps, a) congrats on this excellent life decision b) beware potential spoilers, as I may occasionally comment on developments later in the series.

After listening to Jughead’s painful VOs on Riverdale the past several weeks, Picard’s captain’s log is a welcome change, let me tell you. The Enterprise has met up with a Ferengi vessel, but the latter’s been putting them off for 3 days. Meanwhile, Picard summons Dr. Crusher to his ready room because he’s been feeling fatigued and has a headache. So Picard feels like the average grad student. Dr. Crusher is surprised by his headache because she so rarely encounters them, as in the future people don’t get headaches anymore. #9 Though she senses nothing abnormal, she orders Picard to sickbay for more tests. He’s saved by the bell when Riker pages him with the news that the Ferengi have finally answered their messages.

Picard returns to the bridge where he hails the Ferengi vessel’s captain, DaiMon Bok. Picard’s like, so why did you ask us to meet you just to dick around for 3 days? Bok’s like, let’s meet in person on my ship to discuss it. Picard puts him on hold and consults Troi, who senses “considerable deception on Bok’s part.” Because it’s not like his ass isn’t being shady as fuck, but then, Ferengi tend to be shady as fuck in general, so I’ma give Troi a pass on this.

Is this not a face that inspires trust?

Riker suggests meeting Bok on the Enterprise instead. Picard gets back to Bok to set up the meeting, to which the latter readily agrees. Worf isn’t here for Bok’s shit and makes it known. Picard shares Worf’s misgivings, but goes forward with the meeting.

Cut to credits, and then it’s back to sickbay where Dr. Crusher is scanning Picard with a tricorder. Dr. Crusher ruminates on the old days when medicine wasn’t as advanced and people still suffered from ailments like the common cold. #9 But with all those advancements, she still can’t discern the cause of Picard’s headache. She zaps his head with a little lightbulb-looking device to relieve the pain and sends him on his way, but not without informing him he’ll need further exams later.

LAFORGE: “If I wasn’t already blind, Wesley’s shirts would do the job”

Wesley shows up on the bridge in yet another of his seemingly inexhaustible supply of ugly shirts, warning of an approaching vessel. Riker wants to know how the little shit knows this, and Wesley explains that he was dicking around in engineering and boosted the long-distance sensors. Data wants to see the receipts but a stern look from Picard shuts his positronic ass up. LaForge picks up the ship on the sensors (the non-long-distance ones, I guess) and confirms Wesley’s conclusions. Picard scolds Wesley for coming to the bridge in person rather than signaling them on the comms, but is interrupted when his headache briefly comes back. He seems distracted and out of it as the bridge crew determine if this new vessel is a threat (it isn’t) and prepare for the Ferengi meeting.

Bok and two of his officers beam over to the bridge. Introductions are made and the Ferengi perv on the Enterprise’s clothed females and try to purchase Data.

“Not until you learn some dental hygiene, bro.”

Bok tells Picard the unidentified vessel is under their control, and it’s a gift to Picard to honor “the hero of Maxia.” Picard can’t seem to recall this battle and calls upon Data to look it up on space wikipedia. Data informs everyone that the battle took place nine years ago in the Maxia Zeta star system. A then-unidentified vessel was attacked and destroyed by Picard’s ship. Bok indignantly informs Data that the unidentified vessel was Ferengi. Picard remembers the incident now, claiming the vessel refused to identify itself and attacked them first. Data has called up Picard’s report on the computer and corroborates this story. Bok lays the forgiveness act on thick, saying “mistakes happen.” The first of which being this script.

So the Ferengi took notice of Wesley’s shirt, too?

As the unidentified vessel approaches, Picard puts it on the main viewer. Bok offers to download the vessel’s log to the Enterprise for no price, which baffles his crewmen. Suddenly Picard is overcome with a headache, and Troi senses something powerful as well. Riker pages sickbay, but Picard insists he’s fine.

TROI: It felt as if… as if it were something from your past.

Rather than address this, though, Picard just insists he’s fine. As the unidentified vessel comes into view, Picard recognizes it as his old ship, the Stargazer. Bok claims the Stargazer was adrift in this star system, and Riker and Troi exchange a suspicious look.

RIKER: “Is the part when we all pretend to be dumbasses so this plot can churn along?”
TROI: “Indeed, I sense an idiot plot.”

Bok’s crewmen are still incredulous that Bok is offering the Stargazer to Picard for free, as an “act of friendship.” The fact that the Enterprise isn’t booking the fuck outta here as soon as they beam these guys back leaves me little choice but to call a #2.

The Ferengi beam back to their vessel, and our next scene finds Picard in sickbay again with Dr. Crusher and Troi. The latter describes to Dr. Crusher what she sensed on the bridge.

TROI: Like a thought, but rather mechanical in nature.

So one of Data’s thoughts?

Picard vividly recalls his experience at the helm of the Stargazer, so much so he asks Dr. Crusher and Troi if they smell smoke. The women exchange a concerned look before Dr. Crusher assures Picard that nothing is burning. Riker arrives, and they all head to the observation room to meet with the rest of the senior staff.

A more pressing question, however: why can’t the MUA find the right foundation shade for Marina?

At the meeting, Picard describes the Stargazer’s encounter with the Ferengi vessel in greater detail. To escape the Ferengi, he performed something now known as the Picard Maneuver. In the midst of his story, Picard briefly starts firing questions at someone named Vigo, as though all this were happening right now. The incident causes some concern but Picard shrugs it off, saying he was really getting into his story. Vigo, by the way, was his weapons officer on the Stargazer. So Picard describes the Picard Maneuver and Riker is all grinning and full of admiration. Perhaps this is why he’s sympathetic when Picard says he wants to beam on board the Stargazer. Now, I can excuse Picard being hasty because maybe he’s overcome with nostalgic feelings for his old ship, but given how shady the Ferengi were acting, you’d think at least one other person here would be all like, “Uhhhhh… so are we not gonna talk about this whole situation is basically like a big ole neon saying announcing, ‘It’s a trap!’ No? K, let’s get an away team ready.” #2

The away team beams on board the Stargazer to make sure it’s free of danger before Picard beams over. Considering how quickly an away team of 4 people accomplishes this, the Stargazer must be a really tiny ship. LaForge gets the ship’s power cells working and turns on the lights. Once he gets the all-clear, Picard beams over with Dr. Crusher. Data has located Picard’s log and reveals that the Stargazer crew were forced to abandon ship. Picard has Yar prepare the ship for towing while Data downloads everything in the Stargazer’s computers to the Enterprise.

Taking Pokémon Go to a whole new level.

Meanwhile, Picard goes through some stuff in his old cabin. A vaguely Pokéball-looking object in a trunk starts glowing, and Picard is overcome by his headache. We cut to the Ferengi ship, where Bok is messing with his own corresponding Pokeball. Clearly, something about the Pokeball is causing Picard’s headaches, and Bok can control it. Crusher finds Picard writhing around in pain and insists he return to the Enterprise. She promises she’ll have his belongings brought on board.

On the Enterprise bridge, Riker hails Kazago, Bok’s second-in-command, informing him they’ve got the Stargazer. Riker thinks it’s odd the Ferengi would make such a deal without profit to themselves, to which Kazago simply growls and ends the communication. Picard arrives on the bridge looking pretty rough, but nobody says anything about it. Data informs him of arrangements with Starfleet to send a tug to meet them and haul the Stargazer to a nearby starbase. Riker wants to know how Picard’s Stargazer visit went. While Picard tells him, Troi senses that the visit has troubled him. Picard leaves the bridge to Riker and heads out to get some rest.

Picard continues to do impressions of grad students, particularly when we didn’t do the reading until the day before the exam.

Picard returns to his quarters where we see the trunk from the Stargazer sitting on the floor. He falls asleep but ends up having a super-vivid dream about his experience on the Stargazer, complete with flashback voiceovers.

Meanwhile, Data meets with Riker in the captain’s ready room, where the former reveals that the recording on the Stargazer’s computer contains some alternative facts about the events of the battle. According to this log, it was the Stargazer who destroyed the Ferengi vessel without provocation, and that the Ferengi vessel had been under a flag of truce. The fire on the Stargazer was caused by an accident in engineering. Riker isn’t buying it and demands the receipts, to which Data replies that the log was recorded in Picard’s voice.

RIKER: “What I want to know is, where would they find a Ferengi with a deep voice and British accent?”

Riker plays the recording for Picard, who claims he never made that recording. Riker concurs and believes the Ferengi found a way to spoof Picard’s voice. He’s put Data up to figuring it out. Picard worries for the ramifications of his Starfleet career, particularly given the overtures of friendship the Ferengi were claiming to make. The headache is back, and Picard says he’s going to sickbay while Riker encourages him to get some rest.

In Picard’s ready room, Riker contacts Kazago over a secure channel. Riker asks if Kazago is up to speed on this new version of the battle of Maxia, to which the latter replies that he is. Riker knows something’s rotten in the state of Ferengi and wants Kazago to cough up an explanation. Kazago just gets offended and cuts off the communication.

DR. CRUSHER: “Let’s read you a bedtime story, just nothing about Ferengi.”

Crusher makes a house call to Picard’s quarters but still can’t figure out the cause of Picard’s headaches. She thinks it’s about the stress of the situation with the Stargazer, but Picard points out that the headaches started before then. He tells Crusher about his vivid dreams of the battle and worries about his mental health. Crusher administers a medication she says will help him sleep. She tucks him in and puts some kind of monitor on his head before leaving.

While Picard sleeps, we hear the sounds of the battle in his dream while Bok spins his Pokéball (the literal Pokéball, you fucks) to dial up Picard’s nightmare. Now we get a full-on flashback of the battle. There’s fire everywhere and Picard’s barking orders at his crew.

In the meantime, LaForge, Data, and Riker have gathered in Picard’s ready room where Data reveals that he found discrepancies between the two recordings. He starts to give a super detailed explanation before Riker tells him to can the computer science lesson and spit it out already #1. Data’s fairly certain one of the recordings is a forgery. LaForge assumes it’s the Stargazer recording, though Data never specifies. Picard walks in looking much more refreshed. The others start to fill him in when Crusher shows up to confer with Riker about Picard’s “brain-scan graph” and is surprised to see Picard there. He kicks everyone sans Riker out, which Crusher is none too pleased about. He orders Riker to release the tractor beam on the Stargazer as the ship’s inertia will pull her along behind the Enterprise. Riker is skeptical, but has no choice but to comply.

Crusher consults with Troi over her findings on Picard’s brain scan.

CRUSHER: Obviously, there’s some sort of thought-process disorder here. But I can’t find a physical reason for it.

It’s called an idiot plot, Doc.

Troi is equally stymied.

TROI: I keep sensing random thoughts, but two sets of them. As if they were his but intermixed with other thoughts which are also his.

Sounds like a typical recap post up in here, to be honest.

TROI: Great, another ‘Wesley Saves the Day’ plot. Just what this episode needed. No offense or anything.
DR. CRUSHER: None taken.

Wesley shows up saying he found out something important while messing with the sensors in engineering. Crusher and Troi are like, this better be good because grownups are talking here. Wesley says that the patterns in the brain scans (which Crusher had put up on a screen, so Wesley can see them) match patterns coming through “low-intensity transmissions” from the Ferengi ship. Troi asks what kind of transmissions, but nothing like them has ever appeared on record. Crusher wants to take these findings to Riker, as Picard’s not in his right mind at the moment. #13

Crusher and Troi head to the bridge where they inform Riker of Wesley’s findings. Riker asks for a location on Picard, and the computer answers that he’s in a transporter room. Riker tries to stop the transport but it’s too late—Picard’s beamed off the ship.

BOK: “Ha! Guess who owns this gym, bitches!”

Picard has beamed on board the Stargazer, to absolutely no one’s surprise, where he encounters Bok holding the Pokéball. Meanwhile on the Enterprise, Riker has the bridge while the dramatic music amps up. Picard is not answering hails and the Stargazer’s shields are up, so the Enterprise can’t beam anyone over. LaForge informs Riker that the “low-intensity beam of intermittent pulse” was coming from inside the house—I mean, the ship. Data pinpoints it to Picard’s quarters, and the crew put two and two together and conclude it must be something in the trunk of Picard’s belongings that they brought over from the Stargazer.

On the latter vessel, Bok does the thing where he explains his diabolical plan. Bok’s son was the DaiMon of the ship Picard destroyed, so now Bok’s getting his revenge. He acquired the two Pokéballs as part of that revenge. Now, he’s set up the Stargazer to listen to Picard’s orders and recreate the fateful battle of Maxia. Cackling maniacally, Bok beams off the ship.

Back on the Enterprise, LaForge is inspecting the other Pokéball, the one found in Picard’s trunk.

LAFORGE: Seems to be a network of miniature circuitry, sir, incredibly complex.

Man, they play some intense games of Pokémon Go out there in outer space.

CRUSHER: And if this can pick up or magnify thought-altering transmission…
TROI: It could have prepared him for whatever is happening now.

Riker hails the Ferengi vessel. Kazago answers, and Riker’s like, “Picard beamed over to the Stargazer and we know you bitches are up to something. You wanna tell me what this is?” He holds up the Pokéball.

Kazago seems genuinely shocked. He tells Riker it’s a “forbidden device… a thought maker.”

KAZAGO: If your captain is criminal enough to own one…

“I’m taking back our gym, asshole.”

Riker tells Kazago to cut the shit and tell him who’s controlling this shit. Kazago is hesitant to question his DaiMon, but before the convo can progress further, Yar receives a signal from the Stargazer. Picard, clearly reliving the battle of Maxia, confronts the Enterprise as though it’s the Ferengi vessel. The Enterprise crew quickly figures this out and try to mount a defense against the Picard Maneuver. During all this, Kazago hails the Enterprise again. He tells Riker that he would very much like to be excluded from this narrative and that Bok no longer commands the vessel, as Kazago has confined him for “engaging in this unprofitable adventure.”

Meanwhile, Data has figured out a possible means of getting around the Picard Maneuver. It involves some treknobabble I doubt you’re much interested in, but essentially, they’ve found a way to determine which vessel is the real Stargazer and will use the tractor beam to “limit [the Stargazer’s] field of fire.”

RIKER: I hope you’re right, Data.
DATA: No question of it, sir.

“It’s a good thing they upgraded the chairs in the Enterprise, because this one’s giving me some wicked hemorrhoids.”

The Enterprise crew enact the plan, and Riker hails Picard. He does the whole “talk the crazy person down from his crazy plan” thing. He tells Picard to look for the Pokéball and destroy it with his phaser. Picard seems to have a moment of clarity in which he recalls that Bok used the Pokéball, and does what Riker says. The force of the explosion sends him flying across the room in slo-mo, and when he comes to, seems back to his old self again. Riker tells Picard what’s up with Bok.

RIKER: It seems there was no profit in [Bok’s act of revenge.]
PICARD: In revenge there never is.

As it’s now pithy saying time, Picard says, “Let the dead rest, and the past remain the past.” Then he has Riker beam him the fuck on outta there. Triumphant music swells over a shot of the Enterprise flying off with the Stargazer in tow.

This episode is typical S1 TNG in the sense that you’re sitting here watching it and you’re like, “This isn’t bad, it’s entertaining and lol Ferengi” and then you write a long ass recap and are like, “Man, this episode was bad.” So it’s basically like a typical CW show with a slightly older cast and nobody getting a sticky maple (if you don’t know, don’t ask). But seeing as the next episode is a Q episode, I’ll be wanting the Ferengi back soon enough.


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