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Rating: **** 1/2
Edited Length: 44:59
U.S. Airdate: February 21, 1993
Nielsen Rating/Rank: [13.1/3]
Scott MacDonald: [N'Vek]
Carolyn Seymour: [Commander Toreth]
Barry Lynch: [DeSeve]
Robertson Dean: [Pilot]
Dennis Cockrum: [Alien Captain]
Pamela Winslow: [Ensign McKnight]
Co-Producer: Ronald D. Moore
Line Producer: Merri D. Howard
Producer: Peter Lauritson
Supervising Producer: David Livingston
Co-Executive Producer: Jeri Taylor
Executive Producer: Michael Piller
Teleplay By: Naren Shankar
Story By: René Echevarria
Directed By: Gabrielle Beaumont
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.
Inside a Romulan Warbird, a groggy officer awakes, asks fruitlessly for the computer to turn on the lights, and finally stumbles over to the dresser to turn on a light herself. There, this "officer" is not what she appears - she is, in fact, Deanna Troi altered to look like a Romulan!
The second-in-command of the ship, Sub- Commander N'Vek, arrives and quickly explains to her the facts she needs to know after her abduction and alteration. Troi is now Major Rakal of the "Tal Shiar", the Romulan intelligence section, and as such need answer to no one. N'Vek tells her quite earnestly that her help is needed, and that her only chance of survival is to follow his advice. Troi acquiesces for the moment, and is taken to meet Commander Toreth.
Toreth holds a clear contempt for the Tal Shiar in general, and for Troi in particular. She takes great pleasure in attempting to put Troi ill-at- ease, demanding to know where Troi's guards are and the nature of the mission the ship is on. This rattles Troi early on, but she quickly settles into play-acting her role to the best of her ability, and threatens Toreth with Tal Shiar retribution well enough that Toreth decides, for the moment, to follow orders and head to the Kaleb sector after taking on some secret cargo.
Meanwhile, in Federation space, the Enterprise takes on board one Ensign DeSeve, a defector to Romulus who after twenty years is returning to his original allegiance. He is, of course, arrested for treason and held for court-martial, but he also insists on speaking to Picard. When Picard arrives ("Commander!" "At ease - and it's Captain, actually."), DeSeve informs him that he is carrying a message from Spock, involving more "cowboy diplomacy". DeSeve says that a Corvallen freighter will arrive shortly in the Kaleb sector carrying important cargo for the Federation, and that the Enterprise should meet it.
Picard, however, does not take this information at face value, and demands to know something of the messenger before he can properly evaluate the message. DeSeve talks briefly of his decisions to defect and then return. The Romulans, he says, have a particularly rigid moral code that strictly defines what is right and what is wrong; and this rigidity lends itself well to a clarity of thought and of purpose. However, he continues, as he aged, he discovered that clarity was perhaps not quite so ... clear-cut. Picard, satisfied, immediately orders the Enterprise to the Kaleb sector.
Troi meets N'Vek in the Warbird's cargo bay, and discovers that the cargo is in actuality some unconscious passengers. The three people in stasis are Vice Proconsul M'Ret and two of his top aides, all of which intend to defect to the Federation to protest Romulan policies and help the dissident movement, of which N'Vek is a part, establish an underground railroad to help dissidents escape. And while N'Vek agrees with Troi's protest that a Romulan officer might have better served in her role, he says that if this phase of the plan fails, a Starfleet officer will be required. For now, the plan is that once the ship rendezvous with the freighter, both she and the cargo will be sent to Federation space and freedom.
Troi and N'Vek, separately, head to dinner with the senior officers. There, Toreth makes several attempts to break through Troi's guard, referring to past intelligence errors that led to executions, asking Troi about her educational background, and agreeing strongly with an assessment by a teacher at the Romulan War Academy that the military and the Tal Shiar are fundamentally at odds, with the former being based on trust and the latter on deception. Troi, becoming Tal Shiar to the hilt, argues that they are the only thing ensuring the loyalty of the Empire - but this draws Toreth's wrath even further, as she reveals that the Tal Shiar arrested and executed her own father for nothing more than foolish idealism. Troi refuses to be baited any further, however: "I don't need your devotion, Commander - just your obedience." "That's all you have," snarls Toreth, just as the meal is adjourned.
The Warbird meets with the freighter, but all is not well. Troi senses that the Corvallen captain has no intention of keeping his word, and surreptitiously informs N'Vek of this. N'Vek immediately destroys the freighter and tells Toreth he acted under Troi's orders. Troi, feeling trapped, responds very harshly to Toreth's anger, citing broad discretionary powers in carrying out her mission and dismissing the loss of life as necessary. While Toreth makes a log entry deploring the unnecessary death, Troi orders her to cloak the ship for protection and then to "hold position and wait." Troi stalks out.
The Enterprise, meanwhile, arrives in the same sector, but finds no trace of the freighter they were meant to meet. Picard quickly demands to know from DeSeve what's going on, but DeSeve does not know. He admits that the message he gave Picard did not come directly from Spock, but that the person who did deliver it is one that DeSeve trusts implicitly. He reveals that the freighter has a small speed, and thus must be no more than fifteen light-years distant. Picard orders a search pattern.
Back on the Warbird, Troi and N'Vek argue about the loss of life on the freighter and about the collapse of their initial plan. N'Vek calms Troi down and says that the new plan is to proceed to the Starfleet base on Draken Four, inside Federation space - and that Troi will have to provide the access codes to get past the Starfleet graviton "listening posts" along the border.
Troi conveys these orders to Toreth, adding that the freighter was destroyed because its captain was a known Federation spy. Toreth is utterly contemptuous of the plan, citing gravitic sensors and possible tachyon "nets" similar to those used during the Klingon civil war. Troi insists, calling Toreth a coward. Toreth agrees, but not without getting in a parting shot: "I think it is your kind that will be the death of us all." They prepare to leave for Draken Four, but sensors pick up a vessel approaching - the Enterprise.
Toreth, seeing no need to provoke a confrontation, orders the Warbird to quietly slip away under maneuvering jets (warp engines in the radiation field of the destroyed freighter would make them detectable), as the Enterprise crew finds the freighter's wreckage and deduces that it was caused by very recent Romulan disruptor fire. Troi, sensing an opportunity to avoid crossing the border, asserts her authority over N'Vek, threatening N'Vek with exposure as a traitor if he does not help her find a way to somehow enable the Enterprise to track them. N'Vek acquiesces, offering to work with a sympathizer in Engineering to create a small magnetic imbalance in the warp engines that may be detectable.
The Enterprise picks up that distortion intermittently, and with the help of Ensign DeSeve concludes that it's from a Romulan ship. They set a course for it. Toreth's reaction to the Enterprise tracking them is understandably surprised, and she also reacts in a way DeSeve warns the Enterprise is likely; she plans an attack. She orders a course set to directly below the Enterprise's hull, saying that if the Enterprise can detect them, they'll move to avoid an attack - and if so, "I will destroy them."
The Enterprise crew notice the distortion approaching them and back off. Toreth prepares to attack, but is prevented by Troi, who declares Toreth unfit to command and relieves her of duty, threatening the crew's families to get their assistance in making Toreth step down. She tells Toreth to "watch and learn", claiming that she will use diplomacy to get the Enterprise to lower their shields and then attack.
The Enterprise answers the Romulan hail, and the bridge officers show understandable shock at seeing their counselor commanding the Warbird. "Rakal" promises no more incidents such as the destruction of the freighter, and offers to beam aboard to work things out. Picard agrees, ordering a transporter lock on her and telling Worf privately to keep it active no matter what happens.
Troi and N'Vek fire on the Enterprise, but with only minimal power. The Enterprise shudders, but takes no significant damage - and the three dissidents, beamed over simultaneously with the disruptor fire, appear on the bridge.
Toreth discovers the disruptor sabotage on the Warbird and accuses N'Vek and Troi. "I see two traitors in our midst." She reaches for her weapon, forgetting that N'Vek had confiscated it earlier on Troi's orders. N'Vek reaches for his own weapon, and is killed by the ship's pilot. Toreth threatens Troi with interrogation and execution, and orders shields dropped and the cloak re-engaged for a return home. At the instant shields are dropped, however, the Enterprise beams Troi home and leaves the area at breakneck speed. Troi has her "old face" returned to her, and Picard reassures her that thanks to her efforts, N'Vek's sacrifice will not be in vain.
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