Star Trek: The Next Generation (1991) – The Drumhead, and Half a Life

Captain’s log: stardate 44769.2

Jonathan Frakes directs his third episode of the series, from a script by Jeri Taylor. This episode, a bottle show, first aired on 29 April, 1991.

Trouble comes aboard the Enterprise when a Klingon exo-biologist, J’Ddan (Henry Woronicz) is being investigated by Riker (Frakes) and Troi (Marina Sirtis) for sabotage, and treason.

The trouble is kicked up a notch for Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart), Worf (Micheal Dorn) and company when a retired admiral, Nora Satie (Jean Simmons) comes aboard, and ends up conducting a witch hunt not just for J’Ddan but for anyone who gets in her way, and her search for the ‘truth.’

When things don’t go her way, she begins throwing accusations at all parties, and the fate of the command crew of the entire ship may be at risk before the end of the episode. Satie goes after a young officer, Simon Tarses (Spencer Garrett), who is keeping a secret from the investigative team but it may not be the one she thinks it is.

Picard goes toe to toe with the Admiral, and lays don’t some very important points regarding law, justice, presumption of innocence, and even prejudice. And I do love when Trek does a court room story.

As Security Chief, Worf plays an important role in the episode. It also plants some seeds for upcoming episodes, while continuing to layer out his character, as well as the ongoing and changing Klingon political landscape.

All the main characters are involved in the episode, but in the end, it is Picard who gets to shine.


Captain’s log: stardate 44805.3

Troi’s mother, Lwaxana Troi (Majel Barrett) is back in this episode that aired on 6 May, 1991. The episode features a teleplay written by Peter Allen Fields,  from a story he created alongside Ted Roberts.

Also featuring an interesting turn by David Ogden Stiers as Timicin. From the planet Kelon II, he is working to help to restore his planet’s sun.

Lwaxana and Timcin develop a romantic relationship, but as the two grow closer, the reality of what is ahead for Timcin is revealed. When the people of his world reach the age of sixty, they are expected to take their own lives, in an ritual known as The Resolution.

They do this so that the elderly aren’t a burden on the young.

When Timicin asks Picard for asylum, he stirs up a societal hornet’s nest as the ideas of life, death, the elderly, and the young’s responsibilities to them are examined.

The episode features the first appearance of Michelle Forbes in the series, but not as her iconic character, instead as Timcin’s daughter.

The episode is smart, well-crafted, and no doubt created a lot of discussion, especially considering Timcin’s final choice.

I like that Trek isn’t afraid to go after a strong and important theme, and love that Lwaxana sets aside her usual flippant manner to actually deal with the issue.

The Human Adventure continues…


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