Mark Watches ‘The Next Generation’: S03E07 – The Enemy

In the seventh episode of the third season of The Next Generation, Worf, Picard, and La Forge are all tested by the Romulans. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

THIS WAS SUCH A GREAT EPISODE, Y’ALL. I had honestly expected the Romulan threat to be a bigger thing on this show, but I’ll also admit that the lack of the Romulans in The Next Generation made this episode a whole lot more surprising to me. LET US DISCUSS MANY THINGS.

Picard

I think I’ll focus on the three main characters here when analyzing this episode because I’m fascinated with how the events of this episode make three people question their own allegiances and the very concept of an “enemy.” I wanted to start with Picard because he’s got a more overarching concern here when it comes to the Enterprise and the Romulans. Unlike La Forge, for example, it’s a lot easier for him to view two distinct sides to this conflict. Once Geordi gets left behind, his primary interest here is in rescuing his crew member and avoiding an all-out war with the Romulans. There’s not much room there for nuance, which is perfectly fine. The beauty of “The Enemy” is the nuance and the degrees to which these people react to the Romulans.

In that sense, Picard has to view the Romulans as an enemy, though that’s not to suggest he is without sympathy or empathy. On the contrary, I think that even though the Romulan commander refuses to ever acknowledge the reality of what happened here, Picard’s bid for reason is what keeps this from erupting into something worse. Picard’s expertise totally matters here, and that includes the unbelievably uncomfortable scenes that he has with Worf. He’s firm when he needs to be, but he is malleable when the situation isn’t as black-and-white.

Actually, let me fold some of my analysis of Picard into Worf’s section because I HAVE THOUGHTS.

Worf

Look, I can’t imagine that Worf’s subplot was an easy one to pitch in the writer’s room. “HEY, LET’S HAVE WORF DENY A LIFE-SAVING PROCEDURE TO SOMEONE.” Granted, that’s a gross summary of what actually happened, but I was genuinely surprised where the writers took Worf. I honestly felt like it was a necessary thing for his character to do at the end of the day, though, and that’s what is important to me. Does this make sense? Do I believe? And when you’ve got someone denying a blood donation on purely moral and emotional grounds, like Worf did here, you’re going to lose some people. Some fans will find this too disturbing, and I imagine that was the case over twenty years ago when this first aired.

But the longstanding animosity between the Klingons and the Romulans is something the show had to acknowledge like this, you know? Worf wasn’t being asked to save someone; to him, he was being asked to betray his ancestors, to further act as yet another resource for the Romulans, and to save someone who most likely would never have done the same for him. Even when this very act might risk a galactic scandal – since a dead Romulan on a Federation starship is rarely a good thing – Worf still refuses to help. His parents were killed by Romulans; why should he help them now?

What works about this story, though, is the fact that the writers let Worf commit to it. He never changes his mind throughout this episode. He does offer Picard a recourse if necessary, but his core idea doesn’t shift or budge. I really appreciated that because it demonstrated to us just how serious Worf’s conviction was. This was not a temporary bout of impulsivity, but an act based on a deeply personal experience. AND PICARD RESPECTED THAT. He could not bring himself to order Worf to comply! AND THEN THE ROMULAN DIES ANYWAY, AND EVERYTHING IS UNCOMFORTABLE AND GUESS WHAT? This episode is all the better because of this.

Do more of this, Next Gen writers. MORE.

Geordi La Forge

YES, MORE EPISODES ABOUT GEORDI, THANK YOU. God, this was so satisfying! I know it invokes a fairly common trope, particularly one I see a lot in fanfiction and smut: two people, on opposite sides of some huge conflict, are forced to work together. Bickering happens! Lots of yelling! And then, blooming out of a shared experience: ~friendship.~ (Well, okay, in some cases: ~lots of sexual activity.~) So yes, this is not even remotely the first time I’ve seen this dynamic play out before, but it’s done so well here, from the hostility Bochra has for La Forge to the gradual end of their dislike for one another. More so than any other character in this episode, Geordi and Bochra change the most, coming to see one another as comrades, not as enemies.

It’s a stark juxtaposition to what Picard and Worf experience here. (Well, let’s also acknowledge how incredible Geordi is all on his own. Dude created silver climbing spikes in a matter of an hour or so. WHAT THE HELL.) Of course, the circumstances are vastly different. Picard and Worf might have had to worry about the incoming Romulan ship, but Geordi was far more concerned about his imminent survival than worry about his enemies. He needed Bochra to escape that hellish planet, and Bochra needed Geordi for the same reason. Again, not exactly the most original dynamic of all time, but it’s executed so fucking well, y’all. We get to see Geordi’s resilience and capacity for kindness, and it’s all wrapped up within a rather intense thriller.

Bravo. I really enjoyed this.

The video for “The Enemy” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

Mark Links Stuff

I am now on Patreon!!! MANY SURPRISES ARE IN STORE FOR YOU IF YOU SUPPORT ME.
– The Mark Does Stuff Tour 2015 is now live and includes dates across the U.S. this summer and fall Check the full list of events on my Tour Dates / Appearances page.
– My Master Schedule is updated for the near and distant future for most projects, so please check it often. My next Double Features for Mark Watches will be the remainder of The Legend of Korra, series 8 of Doctor Who, and Kings. On Mark Reads, Diane Duane’s Young Wizards series will replace the Emelan books.
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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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