Jimmy and Tom are pretty bright guys, longtime fans of Star Trek the Next Generation, and they can usually figure things out. But neither of them got what the title of this episode means. There don’t seem to be any ensigns involved in anything. Even Wesley has a fairly minor role in the episode.
It may not matter.
“The Ensigns of Command”
A tricky diplomatic situation requires both Picard and Data to separately negotiate with very stubborn individuals.
jimmy: Makes logical sense when you think about it, but hard to believe we’ve done 50 episodes of TNG.
tomk: We have been speeding things up of late.
jimmy: For a show with “ensigns” in the title, I’m surprised Wes only got a single line. Maybe “ensigns” has another meaning I’m not familiar with.
tomk: The same actually.
jimmy: Maybe it’s got something to do with horribly dubbing a guest stars lines.
tomk: And not the one playing the mystery alien.
jimmy: No. It was so obvious that it wasn’t his voice, I quickly poked around the interwebs and the most common explanation was that because of the flowing water in the background of most city shots, all the lines had to be redubbed. But for reasons, the actor wasn’t available for the redubs so they used another actor.
tomk: Fun fact: that actor is married to singer/actress Michelle Philips, who was Picard’s former girlfriend back in the season one episode with the repeating time shenanigans.
jimmy: You don’t say?
tomk: No. I typed it.
FWIW, I thought he was terrible. Maybe with his own voice the performance might have been ok.
tomk: He was terrible. So was the woman smitten with Data.
jimmy: She wasn’t much better, I agree.
tomk: At least she wasn’t rude.
jimmy: No. She just kisses random androids she just met.
tomk: That’s probably a standard greeting down there.
jimmy: Maybe that’s how they keep each other from getting radiation poisoning.
tomk: It beats the other system they used which was, uh…pure willpower?
jimmy: They never really explain it I don’t think. Just a comment like “X number of the settlers died before they realized they could fight the radiation.”
And I know Data is there to get them to leave, but he’s not curious at all how they survived.
tomk: He’s busy making failing arguments when what he should have done is just started knocking people out and dragging them to the shuttlecraft.
jimmy: That would have taken too long. And dubbed guy had his magic android turner-offer stick.
tomk: Obviously, you start with him when he ain’t looking.
jimmy: Good thinking.
tomk: I am full of good ideas. Like, maybe when you’re dealing with the Sheliak, knowing they are very formal about treaties and paperwork, you read the treaty first and then try talking rather than try blustering first and then read the treaty.
jimmy: Good thinking.
tomk: And maybe make sure Jimmy is happy because he’s a good partner and deserves more than just cookies and gold stars but the undying affection and warmth from the nation at-large.
jimmy: Aw shucks.
tomk: I have introduced you to far too many scary “entertainment” concepts you didn’t know existed before, and you’re still here. Everyone salutes you. Even the Judges.
jimmy: Well, it helps to have a sensible human to talk to and not a Watson.
Man, Watson never reads these, does he?
jimmy: She’s the one Watson allowed in the No Watsons Club.
tomk: We are permitted one.
jimmy: And no.
tomk: But really, why doesn’t the Enterprise have a lawyer on board for when they need to go over contracts and treaties? They have historians for some reason, but no one who can read the fine print?
jimmy: Didn’t Gene say the future had no lawyers?
tomk: Didn’t one of his own writers convince him that was kinda dumb during the making of “Measure of a Man”?
jimmy: Yes…the writer that coincidentally also wrote this one.
tomk: Yeah, but let’s just say, episodes like this one suggest other characters thinking Picard was arrogant during Picard might have been onto something.
jimmy: It did seem like a bit of a dropped ball moment for Picard who once spent an entire episode trying to learn a greeting in a foreign language that he had to say perfectly in fear of potentially getting everyone killed.
tomk: Or ignored or something.
Doesn’t Picard even say something about how the Sheliak have never negotiated with him before just before Data leaves like he’s got it in the bag?
jimmy: Yeah, I think it was like:
Troi: The Sheliak haven’t negotiated with anyone in 200 years.
Picard: Who’s got two thumbs and is the best negotiator in Starfleet…nay…the universe? This guy!
points both thumbs at himself
tomk: He would have been better off sending in the night shift crew.
jimmy: Wow. I never knew I needed a Night Crew show like I do now.
tomk: Wait, you liked this one? You weren’t horrified? I am getting better.
jimmy: I like Robot Chicken.
tomk: In that case, have a robot cookie.
jimmy: Delicious, but horrible for my teeth. So not much different from a regular cookie.
tomk: It was for the Moose’s roomba.
jimmy: Let’s talk about the settlers. Ok, I get that you have an attachment to your home, but if someone comes along and says everyone on the planet will be killed, are you standing your ground? The people who didn’t believe that there actually was a threat might be more believable.
tomk: It sure looked like they thought they could fight off the Sheliak. You know, until Data showed them what a phaser can do on its lowest setting.
jimmy: All he needed was a board with a nail in it.
tomk: I dunno. The Sheliak seemed more formidable than Kang and Kodos.
jimmy: I just mean for Data to show how unprepared they were, he didn’t need a phaser.
tomk: He needed a bit of a push. The power of overdubbing was almost too much for Data.
tomk: You just wanted to see Data toss that guy over the roof of his house. Probably with some badass line like “ If you are so proud of your aqueduct, see how it looks from the air.”
jimmy: Or more like “Aqueduct? More like aquefuct.” And then destroys it with his phaser.
But that sounds more like an episode of The Night Crew.
tomk: Is this feature going to become an ongoing reimagining of how the Night Crew would do it?
tomk: Did you want it to?
tomk: Well, Captain Jake tends to only solve problems with parties. Picard tries talking and sometimes shooting stuff.
jimmy: Both of these situations seem like they could have been solved with a good kegger.
tomk: That’s your solution for everything.
jimmy: It hasn’t failed yet!
tomk: It did when GG took that trip to Amish county.
jimmy: What happens in Amish country stays in Amish country.
tomk: Nothing happened in Amish country.
jimmy: Exactly. 😉
tomk: And arguably, nothing happened with the Sheliak. There was just that one guy hanging around the Fortress of Solitude with the lights out.
jimmy: And sometimes it’s hard to take these creatures seriously.
tomk: The Sheliak are shy.
jimmy: No wonder Picard figured he could talk sense to them.
tomk: Yes, well, the Sheliak were in the right.
jimmy: “Legally”, but still jerks.
tomk: They didn’t make a treaty that said they had to be nice.
jimmy: No. And I’m sure the lawyers would have lots to say on that. I think even in the episode they say it is not a legal agreement, but just a framework on how to get along.
tomk: Too bad the Sheliak don’t see it that way.
And again, they should really have some lawyers on that ship.
jimmy: Like you said, they weren’t in the wrong according to the treaty, but giving them 3 days to get the people off the planet, which they couldn’t do, was super jerky.
tomk: Well, as soon as Picard found a legal loophole, he could deal with the Sheliak. And he would have found it much more quickly if he’d just read the treaty first.
jimmy: Tom’s Starfleet Recommendations: Read the treaty. Get a lawyer. Engage.
tomk: It would have saved them some time.
Then again, Data can read faster than the others, and he was busy elsewhere.
jimmy: Data could have read it and briefed Picard on his way to the transporter room.
tomk: But that would have involved some forethought.
jimmy: Not to beat a dead horse, but you would think that reading the treaty would be the first thing they’d do in this situation. Granted, they thought there was like 30 people on the planet, but still.
tomk: Even if that was the case, reading the treaty should have been the at the latest the second thing they do.
jimmy: Who has time to read anymore? Picard needed an audiobook and a nice cup of Earl Grey.
tomk: Even that would have been a step up.
jimmy: You get no breaks from Tom on this one, Picard!
tomk: Normally, Picard is pretty on the ball. He just seemed dumb in this one.
Hmm. Captain Jake might really have been the better option this time…
tomk: Yes, that would have solved everyone’s problems. Except the overdubbing.
jimmy: So bad.
tomk: But he got the message that you can replace things but not people once Data blew something up.
jimmy: When all else fails, just start phasering stuff.
tomk: So, not partying?
jimmy: Hmmm. Can we do both?
tomk: They don’t usually go together.
jimmy: You’ve just been going to the wrong parties.
tomk: Or you are.
jimmy: We’ll have to agree to disagree on that one.
But me, I might have listened to a Data. Lord Overdub seemed like a jerk.
jimmy: I guess if he’s the only leader you know, you might.
tomk: His campaign to Make the Canal Great Again did win him a lot of support.
jimmy: At least 46.8% of the voters.
tomk: Then again, that guy did seem reasonable once he saw just how outpowered he really was.
jimmy: Reasonable? You’ve gone and tread on the joke.
tomk: That’s because phasers trump canals and even someone like Overdub can see that.
jimmy: Data should have started phasering on day one.
tomk: Data had to go through all his programming before he got to the “swift and blinding violence” subroutine.
jimmy: That’s right after “Serve the public trust” and “Protect the innocent”.
tomk: But before other subroutines like “Is Data gonna have to cut a bitch?” and “How to mix dynamite from household chemicals”.
jimmy: Those are definitely for Data After Dark.
tomk: Data After Dark sounds like the one who was fully functional with Tasha.
jimmy: Bow chicka bow wow.
tomk: Instead, we get Data the Violinist.
jimmy: With no soul.
jimmy: Data better be careful who he sells his to.
jimmy: You never know.
tomk: He does have a devilish poker face.
jimmy: The crew playing poker, also invented by the writer of this episode.
tomk: You are full of information today.
jimmy: Not usually, so I do what I can.
tomk: Maybe you should have read the treaty first.
jimmy: Let it go, Tom. Let. It. Go.
tomk: “Ensign Jimmy, have you and Commander Moose made any progress yet?”
“Let it go, Captain. We’re signing on with the Night Crew.”
“I see. Beer me!”
jimmy: That’s better.
tomk: It was that or have you and Commander Moose back up Geordi, Wesley, and O’Brien as they kept failing to get the transporter working.
jimmy: Which…turned out to be a colossal waste of time after Picard bought time for the transport ships.
tomk: Yeah but at least they didn’t have to deal with any of the negotiations. Science doesn’t just get snippy when it doesn’t get its way.
jimmy: Not snippy, but certainly melty.
tomk: That’s not exactly science’s fault.
jimmy: No. No, it’s not.
tomk: Well, believe it or not, I did enjoy this episode. I just found it mildly frustrating how long it took them to look at the treaty since that would have solved their problems a lot faster.
jimmy: But then the episode would be too short.
tomk: We could have seen more of Data on the planet.
New scene. Outside by the aqueduct.
Data: “You guys really need to leave.”
Dubbed guy: “No.”
Dubbed guy: “No.”
Data: “Aw. c’mon!”
Dubbed guy: “No.”
tomk: Data: I will be your best friend.
Dubbed guy: No.
Data: You are mean.
jimmy: You’re right. More Data on the planet will work.
tomk: Well, as much as I enjoy being told I am right, are we ready to move on?
jimmy: Seems like it.
tomk: Well, how about the Mysterious Case of the Nice Old Couple on a Devastated Planet?