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Edited Length: 44:58
U.S. Airdate: December 27, 1992
Nielsen Rating/Rank: [12.1/1]
Ronny Cox: [Captain Edward Jellico]
Natalija Nogulich: [Vice Admiral Elena Nechayev]
John Durbin: [Gul Lemec]
Lou Wagner: [DaiMon Solok]
David Warner: "Gul Madred"
Co-Producer: Ronald D. Moore
Line Producer: Merri D. Howard
Producer: Peter Lauritson
Supervising Producer: David Livingston
Supervising Producer: Frank Abatemarco
Co-Executive Producer: Jeri Taylor
Executive Producer: Michael Piller
Teleplay by: Ronald D. Moore
Story by: Frank Abatemarco
Directed by: Robert Scheerer
Executive Producer: Rick Berman
Co-Producer: Wendy Neuss
Story Editor: Brannon Braga
Story Editor: René Echevarria
Majel Barrett: Computer Voice
Currently, this feature is disabled... Sorry.
The Enterprise rendezvouses with the U.S.S. Cairo near the Cardassian border, but Picard quickly finds that his meeting with Vice Admiral Nechayev is going to be short and blunt. "I'm here to relieve you of command of the Enterprise," she says...
Some time later, Nechayev briefs the senior officers, minus Picard, Dr. Crusher, and Worf. She tells them of Cardassian ship movements near their side of the border, and of Federation suspicions that the Cardassians are planning an "incursion" to seize some disputed systems in Federation territory. In order to stave off this possible act of war, the Enterprise is being sent to conduct open talks with the Cardassians in the area, thus both appearing peaceful and having the flagship on the border in the event of hostilities. However, to Riker's surprise, Nechayev hands over command of the Enterprise to Capt. Edward Jellico, who negotiated the original armistice with the Cardassians two years ago. When asked about Picard and the others, Nechayev says only that they are "on assignment."
Picard, meanwhile, is training in caverns with Worf and Beverly, apparently in preparation for some sort of quick commando operation. Although they are having their difficulties, Picard assures them that where they're really going will be far worse - but refuses to elaborate.
Jellico arrives on board the Enterprise and quickly takes charge, demanding several changes in the day-to-day routine to start things off. At the official change of command a short time later, he and Picard talk while others speculate on how permanent the assignment is. Jellico volunteers to launch a probe that will obtain more detailed information on "the installation", and quickly arranges matters. However, in the process he becomes disenchanted with Riker, who has not yet implemented some of the changes he ordered initially. Picard volunteers that Riker is a fine officer, which Jellico grants. "Of course he is, Jean-Luc. I'm sure it'll all work out."
Hours after this, the transition to Jellico's command is proving very rocky. Jellico is ordering major changes in everything on very short notice: science stations are being devoted to damage and weapons, battle drills are frequent, Engineering needs a complete overhaul, "...and get that fish out of the ready room." When Troi attempts to talk to Jellico about the crew needing time to get used to his style, he claims he can't afford that time, and asks her to "deal with the morale situation. [...] By the way...I prefer a certain formality on the bridge. I'd appreciate it if you wore a standard uniform while on duty."
Geordi gripes to Riker about the working conditions (not only does he have huge amounts of work ordered, but a third of the department has now been transferred to security), and urges Riker to speak to Picard about it. Riker tries, but when he finds Picard in his quarters, Picard is utterly exhausted from his training. Riker quietly leaves.
As the Enterprise reaches the border, Picard and Jellico meet for one last time. Although Picard is under strict orders to maintain radio silence until things are completed, Jellico assures him that the Enterprise will monitor his channel just in case. After a quick communication with Riker, Jellico again disparages Riker's attitude, and Picard quickly leaps to his defense, asking Jellico to give him a chance. Jellico listens, but says that realistically, a war is imminent, and that he doesn't have time "to give Will Riker or anyone else...a chance. And forgive me for being blunt, but the Enterprise is mine now." Jellico stands. "Well...here's hoping you beat the odds. Good hunting."
The shuttle carrying Picard, Beverly and Worf leaves the Enterprise, and Picard now briefs the two. According to the intelligence reports, the Cardassians are working on a "metagenic" weapon. This is, roughly speaking, the biological equivalent of a neutron bomb: it destroys all life in a given ecosphere, then dissipates harmlessly, leaving the planet ripe for occupation by the attacking species. The weapon is extremely dangerous, but rumor has it that the Cardassians are working on a way of shipping the virus while dormant and then activating it via a subspace signal, thus keeping themselves well out of harm's way. Picard, thanks to tests he conducted while commanding the Stargazer, is a leading expert on theta-band subspace waves, the expected type; thus the choice of him for this mission. He refers to Worf's presence as obvious, and notes that Beverly's job is to locate and destroy any biotoxins they may find. Their job as a whole is to infiltrate a Cardassian installation on Celtris Three (site of a great many theta-band emissions of late), determine if there is a metagenic production facility there, and if so destroy it. The three head for a Ferengi and, through Bev's seductive manner with him, manage to convince him to transport them to Celtris.
Quite some time later, they are exploring the caverns on Celtris Three, which bear a striking resemblance to their training ground. The theta- band signals they pick up begin to guide them, and they head off after a chance encounter with a Celtrisian bat. ("You're not afraid of bats, are you, Worf?" "Of course not.")
Meanwhile, the Enterprise rendezvouses with the Cardassian ship Reklar and its commander, Gul Lemec. Jellico attempts to take a dominant position from the start, waiting in his ready room for an hour before meeting with a rather impatient Gul Lemec.
Back in the caverns, Picard and the others happen upon a sheer granite cliff, which is the only way down to the installation. ("You're not afraid of heights, are you, doctor?" "Of course not.") They begin rappelling down.
Back on the Enterprise, Jellico meets with Lemec, bringing Riker and Troi in with him. When Lemec complains about both the delay and the others' presence, however, Jellico responds harshly, accusing Lemec of quibbling over minor points. "I can see you're not serious about these talks. If the Cardassian Union truly wishes to discuss peace, they can send someone who can negotiate in a civilized manner!" snarls Jellico, who then walks out. A perplexed Riker and Troi follow him out; Jellico then orders that in a few minutes, they should go back in and say that they've convinced him to meet with Lemec once more, but that Lemec must be more reasonable because Jellico is so unreasonable. He suggests that they allow (grudgingly) two of Lemec's aides to join them, and then adjourns to his ready room. "I'll say this for him; he's sure of himself," volunteers Riker. "No. He's not."
Picard and the team reach the bottom of the cliff and move on, now having to crawl through a very narrow lava tube for a few tens of meters.
The negotiations begin anew, beginning much more congenially this time. Lemec dismisses the Cardassian "provocation" as paranoia, saying that they are merely conducting training exercises. Lemec then brings up the disputed worlds, and draws an angry response from Jellico, saying that "you abdicated the right to those worlds when you signed the armistice!" As Troi calms Jellico down, Lemec insists that the Cardassians are preparing to defend themselves if necessary, but nothing more.
"The Federation will not start a war," Riker points out. Lemec accepts that this is Riker's belief, but then talks of rumors of a small Federation assault team being sent to a Cardassian world. "Of course, I don't believe it. Such an attempt would almost certainly fail. And even if it succeeded, it would trigger a very serious response on our part." Jellico feigns ignorance, and accepts Lemec's call for a recess. Almost as an afterthought, Lemec asks, "Where is Captain Picard?" "Reassigned." "Well, I hope his new assignment is not too dangerous. It would be a shame if something were to happen to such a...such a noted officer." "Yes. It would."
The team, meanwhile, is nearing the end of the crawlway. A freak rockslide nearly causes Bev serious injury, but Worf manages to save her in time. All are feeling a bit shaken, but continue on. They arrive at an entrance to the facility, with proximity sensors nearby. Worf deactivates those sensors, then breaks through the magnetic seals on the door. They burst in ready for anything, and are surprised to find...nothing.
"It's a trap. Come on!" Picard and the others turn to exit, but now Cardassian guards spring from virtually every shadow, attempting to prevent their escape. Worf and Beverly manage to get away, but Picard is forced to remain behind long enough that the door closes before he can escape. (Worf attempts to keep the door open, but is wounded and must withdraw.) As Beverly and Worf flee, Picard drops his weapon and surrenders.
Riker informs Jellico of a number of coded messages coming from Celtris Three, noting also that the theta-band emissions coming from that planet have recently ceased. Jellico passes that news back to Nechayev, saying that one way or another, the mission is finished. "Have you heard from our friends?" Nechayev asks. "No." "Let me know if you do. I would very much like to see them again." "So would I, Admiral."
Finally, Picard is led in to his inquisitor, Gul Madred. "A challenge," he muses, dismissing the guard. "You should prove an interesting challenge - possibly the most interesting to come through that door in many years."
"What do you want?"
"Why, you, of course." Madred begins to circle Picard like a hawk. "Picard. Jean-Luc. Serial number SP, dash, 937, dash, 215. Son of Maurice and Yvette Picard. Born in Navarre, France. Formerly captain of the Stargazer, where you conducted extensive studies on theta-band carrier waves."
Picard stares at Madred in astonishment.
"Don't look so surprised. How could we have designed a lure for the captain of the Federation flagship unless we knew something about his background?"
"So you concocted an elaborate ruse to bring me here. Why?"
Madred, now ceasing his movements, fixes his gaze directly on Picard. "In this room, you do not ask the questions. I ask them; you answer. If I am not satisfied with your answers, you will die."
TO BE CONTINUED...
Technical design, graphic design, interactive features, HTML & CGI programming by Andrew Tong. || All materials Copyright © 1987-1995 by their respective authors. || Document created: January 28, 1995 || Last Modified: July 12, 1999