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Star Trek: Asterisk "The Defector"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E10
Air Date: January 1, 1990
Written by: Ronald D. Moore
Directed by: Robert Scheerer

Premise
Picard considers taking the word of a Romulan. Which is always a good idea.

Review
It starts with Data in a play. He's playing the part of Henry V in the Bard's tale of the same name on the holodeck while Picard watches. Data gives a great performance and Picard praises him before the holodeck character based on his likeness kills him. Data freezes the program and then is given the opportunity to ask why a king would want to mingle with the commoners instead of lead. Picard explains that taking the temperature of morale is part of the job. Riker then interrupts them to say that some Romulans are on their way through the Neutral Zone. So screw Shakespeare.

When the Romulan scout ship comes through, they find a Warbird is chasing it. Then the pilot of the scout ship hails them and says he has information vital to the Federation's survival. So, naturally, they beam the defector aboard immediately and the Warbird quickly flies away, which isn't suspicious at all. So while the Romulan gets his burns treated, Picard holds a meeting with the senior officers to decide whether trusting him is a good idea. The Romulan, who claimed to be a low ranking officer, said the Romulans have set up a base in the Neutral Zone. There are two ways this could be a trap. Either he's lying and this is a ploy to lure them into the Neutral Zone and start a war, or he's not lying and the base, while not itself very threatening, is still a ploy to lure them into the Neutral Zone and start a war.
Does this look like the face of a liar?
(Yes. The answer is yes.)
Picard points out that at least he left behind his scout ship so they can get a good look at Romulan technology. And then the scout ship explodes. Riker visits the Romulan in sick bay gives him what for, but the Romulan says he set the self destruct on the ship because he's not a traitor. Which is odd, since he's defected... But he says he wants to save the galaxy from an interstellar war, not give Romulus up to the Federation. So the Romulan goes to his quarters and orders a glass of water while the crew reviews the Romulan chase and discovers that the Warbird purposely slowed so they didn't catch the scout ship, so his wounds may have been self inflicted. They vigorously interrogate the Romulan, but he refuses to give any information besides the fact that there's a base where there shouldn't be one.

Data tries to be a good guy and shows the Romulan some Romulan scenery in the holodeck, but it just makes him sad that he can never go back home. With this in mind, he decides to drop the act and reveal that he's actually not a low-ranking official at all. He is Admiral Jerok, and he wants to talk to Picard. It's confirmed that he is the Admiral Jerok who is responsible for the massacre at the Norkan outposts. Jerok says after what he calls the "Norkan Campaigns," he pleaded with the Empire that another war would destroy them. So he discovered the plans for a base and defected.
What could possibly go wrong?
So, with this in mind, the Enterprise prepares to check out the base in the Neutral Zone. And when they arrive... there's absolutely nothing. Picard calls Jerok to the bridge and Jerok is legitimately confused. There was supposed to be a base there, but all they could find is some survey satellites. And just like that, the Romulans arrive. They demand that Jerok is turned over to them as a prisoner of war. And that's when Jerok realizes that it was all a ruse. They made it look like they were building a base as a test of his loyalty. And he failed. He failed hard.

On top of that, they used him to start a war with the Federation. And they might have succeeded with two Warbirds against the Enterprise. But it just so happens that the Enterprise prepared for this eventuality. And Picard signals to Worf. And three Klingon Birds of Prey decloak on either side of the Enterprise. It is now four against two, and the Romulans decide to give up and run away.
Those my boys.
Well, Jerok has been completely humiliated and, on top of that, he will never be able to go back to Romulus again. So when the crew finds him, he has killed himself. Beside him, they find a letter to his family and Data says that surely he understands they'll never be able to deliver it. But Picard says that Jerok was dreaming of a day when, one day, they will. After all, if they made peace with Klingons, they can totally make peace with Romulans. Right?

Overall Thoughts
Never underestimate the awesomeness of a Romulan episode. The intricacy of Romulan plans unfolds almost like a Sherlock Holmes story. The story of Jerok is, indeed, a sad one, but it gives hope for a future that will... never really quite come, will it?