12/4/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "The Battle"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E09
Air Date: November 16, 1987
Written by: Herbert J. Wright and Larry Forrester
Directed by: Rob Bowman

Premise
A Ferengi tries to give Picard his old ship back at the price of his sanity.

Review
So DaiMon Bok calls Starfleet and requests to meet up with the Enterprise, but as soon as the Enterprise gets to the meeting place the Ferengi keep them waiting for three days before ever sending any message besides "please stand by". While the ship is waiting, Picard develops a headache and goes to see Crusher about it. Crusher doesn't find anything wrong with him, but does take advantage of the moment to remind him that medical science has charted the whole human brain and should be able to find if anything was wrong. She gives him a painkiller and sends him on his way when the Ferengi finally contact the Enterprise.

DaiMon Bok claims to know who Picard is, but he has Picard at a disadvantage. After introductions, Picard agrees to meet Bok on the Enterprise. Meanwhile a Constellation Class ship warps into the vicinity. Once Bok and a couple of his officers beam on board the bridge, Bok says the ship is under his control and reveals that Picard is the "Hero of Maxia". Picard remembers that the "Battle of Maxia" was an incident when he was in command of the USS Stargazer and an unknown ship attacked them, but he outwitted it with the Picard Maneuver. Turns out the ship was Ferengi. Turns out the ship that warped into the system is the Stargazer. Turns out the Stargazer is a gift to Picard. Free of charge.
Yes... Free... Because that's... the Ferengi way?
Well, Bok's officers don't like this "free" idea too much, but what can they do? He's in charge. The Ferengi go back to their ship and Picard takes the senior officers to the observation lounge for story time. He tells the story of the Battle of Maxia and how he was attacked while at warp 2, damaging his shields. In the middle of the story, he "talks" to one of his Stargazer officers, which surprises everyone, but he quickly recovers. The story continues that in order to win the battle, Picard invented the Picard Maneuver in which he kicked the engines into high warp making it look like the ship was in two places at once. The Ferengi shot at the wrong image and Picard was able to destroy them, but was forced to abandon ship.

After story time, a team goes over to the Stargazer to look it over and Picard joins them. After suffering more headaches, he decides to go to his old quarters aboard the Stargazer and take a rest. In his quarters there's a chest with a big red orb in it that's not menacing at all. While he sleeps, he dreams of the battle. Meanwhile, Data finds a log entry in the Stargazer's records that implicates Picard having attacked an innocent vessel unprovoked. He shows the record to Riker who shows it to Picard and Picard denies making the entry. But the headaches are worsening, so he doesn't really know anymore.
Practicing the facepalm. Not quite there yet.
Picard goes to rest again and this time, as Bok on his ship manipulates an orb like the one Picard has in his chest, Picard hallucinates the battle and relives it inside his quarters. Meanwhile, Wesley figures the whole thing out because he's a boy genius, and recognizes that Picard's brain scans look exactly like some odd waves coming from the Ferengi ship. Just after they discover that Bok may be controlling Picard, they discover that Picard has left the ship. He's went to the Stargazer and started her up. With the help of Bok, he is now reliving the battle and believes the Enterprise to be the the ill-fated Ferengi ship.

Riker hails the Stargazer and Picard answers, but requests the Enterprise's surrender. When Riker tries to get him to destroy the orb in the room, Picard activates the Picard Maneuver and we see the Stargazer appear in two places at once. Master Tactician Riker defends against the maneuver by holding the Stargazer in place with a tractor beam. Before Picard can fire weapons, Riker pushes for him to destroy the orb. Picard fights his headache and, slowly, painfully lifts his phaser to the orb and destroys it. And that puts an end to his hallucination.
Picard destroys the Easy Button, because nothing should be that easy.
When Picard is safely back on board the Enterprise, they hail the Ferengi and find that Bok is no longer in control of the vessel. The Ferengi Alliance has punished him for engaging in an unprofitable venture. His plan to enact revenge on Picard has utterly failed. And Picard orders the Enterprise away to let the dead rest in peace.

Overall Thoughts
This is a great episode for getting into the mind of Picard and understanding where he comes from and what kind of man he is. It's also good for the establishment of the Ferengi race and what they're all about. In fact, it's just a pretty great episode all around. The only place it falls short is when Wesley pops up out of nowhere, discovers and solves the problem before anyone else, and then fades back into the background. Wil Wheaton has gone on record saying that this is the episode where slight annoyance with Wesley turned into all-out burning hatred.