Date: March 31, 2020
Season 3, Episodes 9 and 10
Musical Accompaniment: The Hunt for Red October soundtrack
Interstellar News: Today was cold and rainy.
Favorite Quote from “The Vengeance Factor”:
Picard: Despite your progress, you are a divided society, and so it will remain until the Gatherers return to Acamar.
Marouk: The attempt may be futile.
Picard: But there is so much to gain and there is so little to lose by the effort. The problem affects us all. It cannot be ignored.“The problem affects us all”, a very apropos line that hits hard in the age of Covid-19.
“The Vengeance Factor” opens and I think I’ve accidentally started The Wizard of Oz because everything is green. There are two mostly dead crew members and the ship has been picked clean, clearly the work of “the Gatherers” who are apparently known to the Federation but not to me. They once belonged to the society that lives on Acamar III so Picard gets their Sovereign to help bring them back from their endless wandering and thieving ways. One of her servants, her chef and taster, is a woman that Riker shamelessly flirts with – her name is Yuta. The Enterprise arrives at the camp of the Gatherers and are “greeted” by some cross of The Warriors and the Lost Boys from Hook. While the leaders are talking Yuta follows one of the men and kills him with her touch, okay Rogue, because of some ancient clan shit.
Brull comes aboard to take them to Chorgan so the two leaders can hash things out and he takes an instant liking to Wesley. Dr. Crusher, of course, figures out the Gatherer was murdered. They get to Chorgan’s ship and Picard beams over to assist with negotiations, which go about as you expect at first. Dr. Crusher, Riker, and Data figure out that Yuta is the last of her clan and likely going to murder Chorgan, who is now the last of his clan. Riker beams aboard just in time to try and stop Yuta who explains what happened to her, but he has to kill her… and that escalated quickly. Poor Riker. The two factions come to an agreement and Picard all but tells Riker he is due some extended shore leave.
I got a little “City on the Edge of Forever” vibe when I realized that Riker was gunning for Miss Murdering Yuta, I knew it was going to have to end badly for him. I’m sure it has to kill something inside of you, even just a small piece, to harm someone you like just a little – let alone kill them. I hated how nicely everything got wrapped up that the two factions had been trying to fix for 100 years. I mean Picard is good, but he’s just not that good. He does make for a good mediator and I can see his skills sharpening in each episode, doing a good job of putting on his counselor hat too and helping both sides come to the table to talk. I would have preferred if he just got them to start negotiating rather than having it all be wrapped up in a bow near the end, it was too neat and I like a little mess in my Trek. There was just something missing and I can’t rate this episode much more than a 4 piece Supremes Meal from Bojangles with a Sweet Tea, Fries, and Honey Mustard.
Favorite Quote from “The Defector”:
La Forge: I don’t know, Data. My gut tells me we ought to be listening to what this guy’s trying to tell us.
Data: Your gut?
La Forge: It’s just a feeling, you know? An instinct. Intuition.
Data: But those qualities would interfere with rational judgment, would they not?
La Forge: You’re right. Sometimes they do.
Data: Then why not rely strictly on the facts?
La Forge: Because you just can’t rely on the plain and simple facts. Sometimes they lie.
Data: They can lead to wrong conclusions, but they cannot lie.La Forge forgetting that Data doesn’t actually have “guts”.
“The Defector” begins with drama two-fold; Data (and Sir Patrick Stewart in costume) acting out Shakespeare, and a Romulan scout ship asking for asylum. Setal, a Romulan, is beamed aboard and tells of a plot by the Romulans to build something in the Neutral Zone and start a war. Setal has a foul mouth and an errant thought crosses my mind: does the FCC own a Klingon or Romulan dictionary and does it charge per infraction? Would George Carlin add those words to his list?
Picard gets word from Starfleet that it’s likely going to be up to him to figure out if Setal is a spy or if he can be trusted, and later that Setal is actually Admiral Jarok… whoa! La Forge’s probe finds something questionable and, after revealing it was fatherhood that made Jarok decide peace was a worthwhile goal, they decide to enter the Neutral Zone and investigate.
When they arrive there is no base and Picard thinks they were feeding Jarok disinformation to test his loyalty. As they go to leave, they are attacked by two Romulan star ships who had been cloaked and in waiting. Tomalak is back and he absolutely brings immense gravitas to his role, even though he is on screen for all of five minutes. He believes he has Picard and the Enterprise right where he wants them and he’ll be the hero of Romulus. Picard will not surrender as he has a Klingon ship in his back pocket and it’s hard as hell for Worf not to smile the biggest shit-eating grin I have ever seen, it’s fantastic. Jarok, realizing the truth, takes the suicide pill (I thought that’s what it might be when he first took it out) but he hoped for peace and wrote a note for his wife and daughter to read at some point.
This episode was damn good. So much intrigue, is he a spy? is he for real? You’ve got to admit there were good reasons to think either at any point in the episode. Just when you think you’re right, another piece of the puzzle falls into place and you realize you might be wrong. Jarok is so convinced he’s right, it’s damn heartbreaking to find out it was all a trap and he fell for it. He saw the writing on the wall and thought he could stop it, but it turns out he did it all for nothing and died for what he believed in. There’s a little Shakespeare, a lot of science fiction, some pre-war battle strategy, deception, betrayal, disappointment, a bit of Game Theory, and the biggest Worf smile I have ever seen. I’m not sure there’s much more I could want, especially with my favorite Narn ambassador back at it again. A perfect 10.