Star Trek: The Next Generation (1992/1993) – Chain of Command Part II and, Ship in a Bottle

Captain’s log: stardate 46360.8

Frank Abatemarco pens the conclusion (though Jeri Taylor did a full re-write, and Ronald D, Moore did a final pass on it) to this brilliant two-parter that first debuted on 19 December, 1992.

Picard (Patrick Stewart) has been captured by the Cardassians and Gul Madred (David Warner – in a fantastic performance) brutally oversees his torture. And sooner or later, it is inevitable that he will break.

Meanwhile, on the Enterprise, Captain Jellico (Ronny Cox) is striving to keep the peace between the Federation and the Cardassian Empire. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) and the rest continue to chafe under the new command, and is denied the permission to organise a rescue attempt. Things escalate so far that Riker is relieved of duty.

But Jellico may have to come to ask him for help before things escalate to war.

But the real drama from the episode is watching Picard and Madred, Stewart and Warner go head to head, toe to toe. Stewart prepared for the role by watching tapes from Amnesty International, and gives himself over completely to the role.

The torture makes for a tough watch, and that’s the point, showing how brutal, invasive, and inhumane it is. Some of the things that Madred does is so cruel that it hurts the heart to see Picard go through it, and makes you realise that there are people out there who do such things. It’s upsetting to say the least.

And any Trek fan would be hard-pressed to not be moved by the iconic moment when Picard claims, at the end of his torture, that “there are four lights!”

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Captain’s log: stardate 46424.1

Between the previous episode and this episode, at least according to the stardates, Star Trek: Deep Space Nine premiered, but I’ll have to wait until Thursday to begin exploring that series.

This episode, written by Rene Echevarria aired on 23 January, 1993, and saw the return of Moriarty (Daniel Davis), last seen in Elementary, Dear Data. Commander Data (Brent Spiner) resumes his role of Sherlock Holmes, now with the fill permission of the Doyle Estate.

Barclay (Dwight Schultz) doing some repair work on some of the holodeck problems comes across a closed off area in the memory files, and finds within it, the form of Moriarty.

Holmes’ arch-nemesis is rightfully bothered that nothing seems to have been done about his situation despite the word of the captain, and when the two of them meet, Moriarty alarms everyone when he walks off the holodeck, and continues to exist.

As Barclay, Data, Picard, and the rest of the crew try to figure out what is going on, Moriarty raises the stakes by threatening to blow up the ship should they not find a way to allow he and his lady love, the Countess Barthalowmew (Stephanie Beacham) to continually exist off the holodeck.

Will the captain be able to save the ship and present Moriarty and the countess with a form of life?

I rather like this episode, and love that the final moments of it are filled with thoughts that must pass through every body’s minds on occasion.

The Human Adventure continues Thursday with Deep Space Nine!

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