Monday, April 25, 2011

The Next Generation, Season 3: The Enemy

The Next Generation, Season 3
"The Enemy"
Airdate: November 6, 1989
54 of 176 produced
54 of 176 released


Responding to a distress call, the Enterprise finds the wreckage of a small Romulan vessel on Galordon Core, a harsh, barely class M planet on the edge of the Neutral Zone. In the wreckage they find a severely injured survivor. While surveying the wreck, LaForge accidentally falls into a chasm. The atmosphere of Galordon Core allows only brief windows for transport, so Riker and Worf are forced to return to the ship with the Romulan and leave Geordi behind, they hope temporarily. On board the Enterprise, Doctor Crusher diagnoses the Romulan as needing a transfusion that only Worf can provide. On the planet, Geordi soon discovers he is not alone; another Romulan was on board and survived. Though first attempting to take LaForge captive, the Romulan soon begins to succumb to the harmful affects of the atmosphere and is soon unable to walk. The atmosphere is playing havoc with Geordi's VISOR, blinding him. Realizing they won't survive without each other's help, they reluctantly begin work together. Complicating matters, the mother ship of the smaller craft has also heard the distress call is charging across the Neutral Zone. A misstep could trigger a war. How will the crew of the Enterprise survive this crisis?
Can't we all just... get along?


Kevin: This is a good episode. Not great maybe, but certainly good. There's a lot of great stuff here, especially in terms of fleshing out the canon. It's greatest sin is that the episode is a little over-talky through the middle, and sure, maybe it's clearly cribbed from Enemy Mine, a 1980s movie about essentially the same thing, but still, a few great pieces of dialogue and character moments make the episode worthwhile.

Matthew: I think the inherent problem with the premise is that this planet is dark and dismal and irritating. Who wants to spend any time there? Not the characters, and not the audience. I'm not saying they should be trapped on Risa or something, but it just makes for a long haul.

Kevin: There isn't a ton of sci-fi here, but the political and character development is here in spades and it works for me. The personal conflict with Worf was tied well to the larger political conflict. I liked the scenes with Worf and Crusher, Riker, and Picard. Drawing a parallel to the Klingon alliance was well done with Riker, and watching Picard try to balance the interests of the Federation with the sanctity of Worf's decisions about his own body. Initially, Michael Dorn objected thinking it would be detrimental to his character, but I have to say I'm glad the writers stuck to their guns. It adds layers, and I think Dorn did a really good job of portraying it, infusing it with a lot of layers. If nothing else, perfection is a little boring. Worf's character actually has somewhere to go, and it makes it more interesting watching him develop. I liked that the Romulan didn't want the transfusion any more that Worf wanted to give it. The situation is impossibly complicated, and there isn't a clean solution, and I like that the writers didn't try to make one.

Matthew: The notion that a Klingon would be more compatible with a Romulan than a Vulcan is ludicrous to me. Anyway, this is a nice story for Worf. They've said a few times and in a few different ways that he is alien. But they haven't really shown us until now. His refusal totally makes sense both for him and for the Klingons. I think that the situation was heightened by the Romulan's death, but they gave Worf a bit of an easy way out by having the Romulan be a jerk. It would be even better had the Romulan begged Worf to donate the cells, so he could see his daughter again, or something like that.

Kevin: The standoff with the Romulans at the end of the episode is the highlight of the episode for me. The point/counter-point between Picard and Tomalak was great. Tomalak is going to go exactly as far as he knows he can and no more, and it was fun watching them implicitly draw lines in the sand. The tension when Picard lowers the shields was well done too.

Matthew: Tomalak was a great character. In many ways, this episode is somewhat similar to "Balance of Terror." It has a Cold-War style tension between great powers, and Captains on each side who are wary of plunging headlong into a "hot" war. The difference, besides the survival story of course, is that Tomalak is more devious than Mark Lenard's Romulan Commander. As good as that episode was, what fun is there in an unfailingly honorable opponent? Better to have one who shows a certain level of wisdom, but also some puckishness.

Kevin: Geordi proved in Booby Trap that he can carry the emotional core of the episode, and he does a good job again here. The scenes themselves get a little long and slow, but not fatally so. The grudging bonding was well portrayed. I liked the discussion of how human versus Romulan parents would view Geordi's disability. Overall, the scenes were well done, and serve as a nice counterpoint to Worf's recalcitrance. One final scene with the two talking about what happened may have been nice and tied the episode together.

Matthew: Could Geordi just magically see again when he was beamed aboard the ship? The fact that the two survivors weren't taken to sickbay kind of bugged me.


Kevin: I get Michael Dorn's initial resistance. Actors, especially in a show like this that actually does character development, must feel a little protective of the character. However, whatever his initial reservations, he committed. It didn't come off as two-dimensional racism. There was plenty of pathos displayed. He understands he is disappointing his comrades, but can't overcome the idea helping the people who killed his parents. It's three-dimensional racism, if you will.

Matthew: Definitely a good job by Dorn. He has a tough balance - the character is stoic and taciturn, so he can't get wild with emotion.  But he sells the character's position to us. Agree or disagree, it feels real.

Kevin: We get introduced to Commander Tomalak in this episode, and Andreas Katsulas does a bang up job. You gotta bring your A game to have a scene with Patrick Stewart in any event, and it has to be harder to do it with him not in the room. Tomalak had just the right balance of energy and drama without coming off as cheesy. There's a reason they keep bringing him back, and he's a favorite secondary character of mine.

Matthew: We're getting a string of Geordi shows. Burton is capable of carrying the show in times like these. Just like he was sympathetic in "Booby Trap," his emotions and his struggle here was involving. Watching him limb up the wall with metal spikes was cool - and it takes an actor with enough physicality to pull it off. But he was just as good in his scenes with Snyder's Bochra.

Kevin: John Snyder, who later plays Aaron Connor in Masterpiece Society, was a little flat for me, but that was probably the writing. He didn't overact the part, and some of the conversation with Geordi was pretty good.

Matthew: Well, I didn't realize that the two characters were played by the same guy until you mentioned it. That at least says something for the performance.

Production Values

Kevin: The return of the Warbird is always welcome. It still looks great. The planet scene was well done. The caves certainly didn't look like styrofoam. The tonnage of fog machine got to be a tad much, but the place felt real and claustrophobic. And the makeup jobs on the three Romulans were pretty good, too. Nothing was awe-inspiring, but everything did its job at least adequately.

Matthew: There was a lot of "planet hell" in this episode. Kudos to Burton for dealing with being muddy and wet. The lighting choices were just kind of "meh," though. Muddy blue and gray don't make for exciting viewing. I liked the VISOR graphic of the neutrino beam.


Kevin: This is a solid 3. The scenes on Galordon Core were a little draggy, but the tension with the Romulans both personally and politically.was well achieved. Worf gets some nice notes added to his character, and the board gets set for an awesome episode in a couple of weeks. This is squarely in average territory, but there's nothing wrong with that.

Matthew: Solid and unambitious is how I would characterize this. I would have liked some higher stakes. Some shooting between ships might have been nice. Some more emotional tension - let's say Worf's decision resulted in the death or injury of his crewmates, for instance - would have gone a long way (not that I'm advocating Geordi torture...). But though it may be rather limited in its reach, it's entertaining, I can't take that away from it. So I agree with the 3 for a total of 6.


  1. I have always liked this episode. Of course one question I always have about Star Trek that I think this episode highlights is this. In what respected Navy anywhere is the landing party/away team made up of the highest ranking officers on the ship. I mean at least send down the red-shirts first to make sure it's safe.

  2. I just rewatched this episode, and I have to say that I would have awarded it a 2, simply based on the overacting of John Snyder. He was waaaaaay-over-the-top as the Romulan stranded with Geordi. Even some of Geordi's lines were a bit hackneyed.

    Also, I found the conflict between Tomalak and Picard to be a bit forced. Because clearly, the Romulans were in the wrong here. Even if the Enterprise didn't meet them with their injured crewmember, obviously the Romulans shouldn't have been in Federation space to begin with.

    That being said, I enjoyed Andreas Katsulas's performance as Tomalak. That's really what John Snyder should have been striving for.

  3. I have to agree with Michael Dorn here that him refusing to donate his cells to help the Romuland did not help his character. Everytime I watch this, I am appalled by Worf's bigotry and callousness. It was very off putting and out of character actually. I dont think the writers did a good job. We saw a bigot just stand by and watch another man DIE and I dont know how anyone can think this was ok or understandable. It was sad seeing Picard and Riker trying to talk sense into this caveman and if i had been Picard or any of the other crew, I would regard Worf differently after that. The fact that the writers did not let it go there and everything went back to normal, is what is truly upsetting here. There are certain things a character does that are irredeemable and Worf's actions are one of those things. He would have lost my respect as a colleague and comrade.

  4. I strongly disagree with Picard's decision not to order Worf to undergo the transfusion. Respecting beliefs is all well and good, but it cannot reasonably be weighed against actual lives, whether one or 1,000 or 1 million. Add to that the fact that Worf basically gave Picard an out (if you order me, I will of course comply), it was foolish of Picard not to take it. The situation as it stood almost devolved into battle, and they risked the two lives on the planet because they were almost unable to lower the shields for the duration of the transport window.