110 "The Battle"

(airdate: November 16, 1987)

Story: Larry Forrester      Teleplay: Herbert J. Wright
Director: Rob Bowman

DaiMon Bok: Frank Corsentino

Kazago: Doug Warhit

Rata: Robert Towers

Stardate: 41723.9

Captain's Log: The Enterprise has rendezvoused with a Ferengi vessel seeking a meeting. The vessel's DaiMon, Bok, wishes to present Picard with a gift: his old ship the Stargazer, lost nine years ago when an unidentifed vessel fired on it. The Stargazer responded, destroying the vessel, but the crew was forced to abandon ship. It turns out the unidentified ship was a Ferengi vessel captained by Bok's son; consequently, Bok has sought revenge by bringing back the Stargazer and using a device to force Picard to relive the final moments of that battle - causing increasingly severe headaches for Picard as a side-effect. Picard takes command of the Stargazer, reliving the battle in his mind, but Riker is able to get through to him and have him destroy the device that's implanting thoughts and bring him back to his senses - while Bok is relieved of command by his first officer for engaging in an unprofitable venture.

Whoops!: How is it that Picard doesn't recognize the name "Maxia" when Bok first uses it, given that that was where he was forced to abandon the Stargazer nine years ago? Did losing his ship really make so little an impact on him? And did they really have to abandon ship, given that here it seems to be more or less fine? Data notes that while there's a lot of internal fire damage, none of the main systems were crippled, which makes it sound like maybe they didn't actually need to abandon the Stargazer after all. It doesn't make Picard look that great, to be honest. [Maybe Bok fixed things up.] And why was the Stargazer still around in the first place? Wouldn't Picard have given an order for the ship to self-destruct, to avoid its falling into hands such as those of DaiMon Bok's? [Maybe the self-destruct system was damaged.]
     How can there be no known defense against the Picard Maneuver? The episode makes it sound like the maneuver is based on the fact that there are temporarily two images of the ship - confusing for sure if you're not expecting it, but if you are then it should be a matter of knowing to fire on the one that just appeared. This doesn't seem like an insurmountable strategy. [That said, Data seems to also suggest the issue is that you don't know where the ship will end up, leaving you vulnerable to its attack; perhaps this is actually an issue related to the sensors being unable to keep up?]
     More an oddity than an actual problem, but Crusher calls Riker "Number One" here, something that one would have thought was Picard's personal nickname for Riker.

Classic Lines: Picard: "Why do doctors always say the obvious as though it's a revelation?" Crusher: "Why do captains always act like they're immortal?"

Cringe Lines: Wesley being insufferable, after Troi and Crusher leave: "You're welcome, ladies." (to himself) "Adults."
     "As you humans say, I'm all ears."

Library Computer: The U.S.S. Stargazer is a Constellation-class vessel, registry number NCC-2893. Like the similar model version that's been showing up periodically in Picard's ready room [though not actually in this episode, where it's been replaced with a silver Constitution-class refit model], it consists of a larger saucer and four engines: two arranged above the saucer in the back, and two below the saucer in the back. The saucer itself also seems fairly thick, with what appear to shuttlebays arranged along the edges. There are some sort of sensor pods on the underside of the ship, and it appears to be nearly the same length as the Enterprise-D. The bridge of the Stargazer is very similar to that of a Constitution-class refit bridge, with a single command chair, combined helm/navigator consoles, and similar displays shown around the bridge. The major difference is that every station is labelled in large white lettering (e.g., "Helm" or "Tactical").
     Nine years ago, on stardate 40217.3, Picard was in command of the Stargazer, which was travelling through the Maxia Zeta on a routine survey mission at warp 2 when it was suddenly attacked without provocation at point-blank range by a then-unidentified vessel (much later declared to be Ferengi) which launched from one of the moons of Maxia Zeta IV (possibly from inside a crater). The first shot damaged the Stargazer's shields and the second shot induced significant damage. Out of desperation, Picard ordered the Stargazer into high warp for a moment, dropping out of warp right off the enemy's bow and making the Stargazer appear for a moment to be in two places at once - a strategy subsequently known as the Picard Maneuver. The enemy ship fired at the wrong image and the Stargazer destroyed its attacker. However, the ship was seemingly too damaged to survive and the crew was forced to abandon ship, travelling in shuttlecraft for weeks before they were picked up. In the meantime the Stargazer, damaged but not destroyed, drifted through space, eventually ending up on the edge of the Xendi Sabu system, where a Ferengi named DaiMon Bok found it.
     DaiMon Bok was a Ferengi captain whose son was in command of the ship that the Stargazer destroyed at the "Battle of Maxia"; it was Bok's son's first voyage as DaiMon. Bok was consumed with thoughts of revenge against Picard, even overriding his desire for profit, and thus constructed an elaborate plot against Picard. He spent his entire savings on two forbidden devices known as "thought makers". These were silver spheres with a glowing red-orange top half and sliding controls around the midsection, full of incredibly complex miniature circuitry, which could induce thoughts into another's mind via low-intensity transmissions of intermittent pulse - although it caused headaches of varying severity in its victim as it did so. Bok found the Stargazer derelict but still functional and offered it as a gift to Picard. This, combined with the thought makers, was designed to force Picard to relive the Battle of Maxia and ultimately reenact it, with the Enterprise in place of the attacking Ferengi ship. However, Riker was able to convince Picard to destroy the sphere before Bok's plan could be completed, while Bok himself was relieved of command by his first officer, Kazago, for engaging in his unprofitable revenge scheme.
     Bok also had a secondary plan of falsifying Picard's log aboard the Stargazer to make it seem as if Picard had fired first on a peaceful Ferengi vessel; however, Data was able to prove this log was forged by comparing it to Picard's personal log and noting checksum discrepancies (based on each entry's time code) in the forged log.
     At the time of the Battle of Maxia, Picard was the captain of the Stargazer, while someone named Vigo was his weapons officer. His hallucinations include a white woman with somewhat short, fair hair, dressed in sciences blue, seated at the helm, with a white male with short dark hair, dressed in operations yellow, seated at navigation. We also see a tall white male with dark hair, dressed in command red, standing on the right side of the bridge. (Picard seems to ask him for a weapons report, so this may be Vigo.) They're all wearing the same style uniform as the current Enterprise crew is wearing [as opposed to, say, maroon movie-era uniforms].
     Picard's quarters aboard the Enterprise are reasonably spacious. His personal possessions include a fish tank with various tropical fish, a number of real books, some artwork of a space station above a planet with three moons, and a sextant. His bed is located in a small antechamber off the main room.
     La Forge read about the Stargazer when he was at the Academy, though he never thought he'd be aboard her.
     Wesley is dressed in an unflattering grey tunic with stripes of red, yellow, and blue across the upper chest, with a darker grey fabric above these stripes. The blue and red stripes briefly change position at the left shoulder, with the blue stripe going over the red stripe, forming a point up, and then passing back under the red stripe, which has formed a point down before passing over the blue stripe. [It's never really stated, but given that the colors match the uniform colors, this may be intended to be a provisional ensign's uniform. That said, if that's the case it's a little odd how the collar is a turtleneck instead of the standard Starfleet uniform collar, or that Wesley isn't wearing a communicator with it.] He's trying to boost the long range sensors (with some success), and it seems he's good at pattern recognition, given he can identify the pattern he's been seeing in Engineering as the same one in Picard's brain scan. [Wes's starting to shift more fully toward "boy genius" mode here.] He doesn't know much about brain scans themselves though.
     Proper procedure when discovering an incoming starship from Engineering is to signal the bridge of this information, rather than personally travelling to the bridge to deliver the news.
     Picard notes that, when Data discovers the falsfied log from the Stargazer, it's Riker's duty to inform Starfleet of this, even though none of them believe that the log is real.
     Headaches on their own are considered to be a thing of the past, from before humanity had charted the brain and come to understand the nature of pain, and thus, a headache with an unidentifiable cause is a matter of concern. In addition, humanity no longer suffers from the common cold. [This cure has apparently only come about in the last century, based on comments in the Original Series (such as in "The Lights of Zetar", where Scotty remarks that McCoy wouldn't be able to cure a cold).]
     Dr. Crusher has two small rectangular devices that she places on Picard's forehead. [It's not clear if these are monitoring devices or aids to help reduce Picard's headache.]
     Officially, there's no defense against the Picard Maneuver, although Data is able to devise one by using the sensors to find a sudden compression of trace gases in order to determine where the attacking ship will arrive at.
     The Enterprise is powerful enough to seize a Constellation-class starship with its tractor beam while that vessel is in motion and thus limit its field of fire.
     Starfleet Academy includes a lecture regarding the conservation of tractor beam power, which points out that you can release an unpowered ship that you've been towing and let its inertia continue to carry it forward.
     The Maxia Zeta system is a star system, located at coordinates 16453/452.45, consisting of twelve planets, none of which are habitable. However, Maxia Zeta III and IV are both in the habitable zone; consequently they're both candidates for terraforming.
     There is a Xendi Sabu system. The part we see includes some blue and purple nebula gases. Presumably Xendi Starbase 9 is in the general area.
     The Ferengi here have typical-colored fingernails [instead of the pale blue ones seen in "The Last Outpost"]. Their transporter beam looks like a swirl of energy from head to toe, rather than the Federation-style sparkle and fade (though there's some sparkling in the Ferengi beam as well). It's a Ferengi crime to own a thought maker.

Final Analysis: "Like going back to the house you grew up in, but no one's home, except the phantoms of the past." The Stargazer stuff is entertaining, and there's nothing too embarrassing about the Ferengi this time around. Plus it's good to get some development of Picard's character and backstory, and we like how they tie everything together rather than having a completely separate B-plot. An enjoyable episode, accomplishing what it sets out to do with a minimum of fuss.

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