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Go Back   The Trek BBS > Star Trek TV Series > The Next Generation

The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old September 26 2012, 12:08 AM   #1
Captrek
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Episode of the Week: The Battle

This week’s episode is The Battle, a snoozer of an episode.

Some of the creative decisions baffle me.

Troi says she can sense strong deception on Bok’s part. When he appears on the Enterprise, he gives an over-the-top performance palpably oozing deception, practically rubbing his hands and drooling in eager anticipation of the double-cross. Even the other Ferengi express suspicion. Why hit us over the head with it like that? It’s as if they wanted to be absolutely sure that no viewer, no matter how little attention he’s paying, can possibly be surprised by later developments.

I find it amusing that the only Ferengi who is ever a real menace promptly gets busted for that unferengi behavior. Roddenberry decided that the big baddies of TNG would be “Yankee traders,” but didn’t write a single story depicting that trait as a reason to fear them. What was he thinking?

BTW, what’s with the episode title? There are lots of battles in Star Trek, both literal and metaphorical. In what way is this “The” battle?
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Old September 26 2012, 01:23 AM   #2
BillJ
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

Another one I liked.
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Old September 26 2012, 01:36 AM   #3
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

It's not without its flaws, but as far as season one goes, I think it's enjoyable. It makes better use of the Ferengi than "The Last Outpost," although it still doesn't present them as viable long-term antagonists.
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Old September 26 2012, 12:04 PM   #4
MikeS
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

captrek wrote: View Post
Troi says she can sense strong deception on Bok’s part.
...When it had been established previously that the Ferengi had closed minds that she couldn't read.

captrek wrote: View Post
BTW, what’s with the episode title? There are lots of battles in Star Trek, both literal and metaphorical. In what way is this “The” battle?
I was always under the impression that the title refers to The battle of Maxia. Maybe you are onto something in that it means the metaphorical battle - of Picard against his own mind and memories.

Some observations (forgive their brevity, I type as i watch);

Geordi's overdub of "Constitution" for "Constellation is very obvious in HD.

Even amongst the bad writing we can still find gems - "You wouldn't want him, he's second-hand merchandise." (Riker reffering to Data's price)

Funny watching Picard demonstrate the Picard Maneuver with a very anachronistic pen.

What kind of medical ethics does Beverley follow? She injects a sleeping drug into Picard without asking, telling him only after she administers it and he asks.

I actually liked Wesley's interaction with Troi and Beverley here, even if it was another contrived "Wesley saves the day" scenario... "You're welcome Ladies".

Worf was responsible for transfering over the Captains belongings? Is there no quatermaster or lowly ensign that could handle such a menial task on a ship with over a thousand crew?

A nice moral speech at the end about revenge being unprofitable and letting the past stay in the past.
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Old September 26 2012, 12:10 PM   #5
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

...When it had been established previously that the Ferengi had closed minds that she couldn't read.
Actually,all that was said in "Last Outpost" was that she could sense nothing, which "could mean" they are shielding their thoughts. But she could have been dead wrong, and the planet below could have been the reason for all the communications problems.

It's only later on that other writers (perhaps mistakenly) take the cue and write Lwaxana Troi herself as being unable to read the Ferengi.

Picard is a bit slow on the uptake here: a mysterious Constellation class starship appears, Bok then rants about the Battle of Maxia for minutes, and it is only with absolute visual ID that Picard seems to understand he's facing his old command again. Are Constellations really that ubiquitous in the Trek universe?

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Old September 26 2012, 03:19 PM   #6
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

Ah, The Battle. I remember this episode being one of the few episodes I purchased on VHS before DVD was even conceived. It all started with my Star Trek Encyclopedia disc and being fascinated by the whole "Picard Meneuver".

The idea of defeating an enemy with actual science and not convenient technobabble should have made this episode a stand out case in TNG actually being creative about the concept. This is after all the instance in my childhood where I wanted to understand how light works and my parents were happy to oblige. I had no idea light actually had a "speed" since I always look at it as an instantaneous force that is just always there. After understanding that concept, than my parents told me that warp drive in Star Trek actually goes a lot faster than light, so the light that a ship emanates can be beaten thus giving the image of two ships appearing at the same time. Gosh, that would confuse the heck out of me if I started seeing duplicates of a ship I was fighting.

And the CD-ROM set portrayed it so perfectly to. Here's a clip of it that some kind person was able to capture and upload online.

PICARD MANEUVER
First 13 seconds showing how this maneuver would have looked from the crews' perspective, and the last 13 seconds showing it from the Ferengi perspective.

And finally when we get to the episode, what we see is not how the Picard maneuver was supposed to work.

Episode Depiction

If this was going to be true depiction, it would have played out just like it did in the simulator. You wouldn't see the ship go into warp, stop right in front of you while another copy of itself is left behind. You would see the Stargazer literally pop out of nowhere while your attention was fixed on the image of the Stargazer that hasn't jumped into warp yet.

Also, would a tractor beam really prevent the Stargazer from firing it's main weapons? I seem to recall both in the simulation and in Picard's flashbacks that he fired his weapons immediately after coming out of warp. If tractor beams had this capability of stopping enemy fire, you would think they'd use it more often.

I know there are a lot of other scientific factoids that would make the Picard Maneuver unrealistic. Like how the distance between ships that can already see each other without a visual delay really wouldn't have made a difference. But I would have forgiven all that if the episode had not only done it better, but was a better episode overall. The climax was anti-climactic and the resolution a bit rushed. For a species like the Ferengi who have deceived the crew with the intent on causing as much damage as possible by having Picard fight his own ship, they seem alright with "taking their word" that the Ferengi commander will be dealt with. If this is how the Federation deals with deceitful creatures, than maybe the Ferengi were a bigger threat than the borg!

One last note. Despite Wesley having his obligitory "Only Wesley can do what everyone should be capable of doing" moments in this episode, I was quite surprised he didn't figure out on his own a defense against the Picard maneuver. Compared to the Naked Now where he was able to rework the entire tractor beam functionality even while drunk, the thought of the writers not having him beat the Picard maneuver confuses me. Was this an oversight, or did the writers actually take a step back and tell themselves "Wait, let's just have the crew figure it out without the boy telling everyone what to do."? I for one am leaning very far towards the latter.

Last edited by Jeyl; September 26 2012 at 03:29 PM.
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Old September 26 2012, 03:50 PM   #7
Timo
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

Also, would a tractor beam really prevent the Stargazer from firing it's main weapons?
I rather think the tractor beam just shook Picard out of the illusion, so he never gave the command to fire. After all, there was no tractor beam in the original Battle of Maxia. And Picard only got as far as saying "Ready phasers", perhaps stumbling backwards on the memory lane in confusion when the tractor beam shook the ship...

It may well be that our heroes were not particularly concerned about Picard firing at them: an old ship might have feeble weapons, which the E-D could shrug off at least for a while. Riker was principally concerned about Picard's safety, and about the possibility of having to wage a conventional battle to stop his delusional rampage - a battle necessarily ending in Picard's death.

Like how the distance between ships that can already see each other without a visual delay really wouldn't have made a difference.
The thing is, the E-D could see far in real time with FTL sensors. Picard's original opponent must have had his FTL sensors damaged somehow, or else the maneuver would not have worked. For Riker, the maneuver only resulted in pretty double exposure pictures. For the original Ferengi opponent, it would have created deadly confusion, as he could not have seen in real time the departure of the Stargazer from the far end of the maneuver, and the brief rainbow streaks of her coming at him, only her arrival at the near end. (Indeed, without FTL sensors, a ship flying towards you at FTL and then stopping would look like the ship popping out of nowhere, and then its image receding from you as it belatedly "arrived" to your eyes from various distances...)

What irks me about the battle part of "The Battle" is the inability of our heroes to stop Picard from stealing the starship. When he beams aboard, a lengthy dialogue with Bok ensues. Riker could lock a tractor beam onto the ship at any point of this dialogue - an action that would come naturally for him, as he was shown being dubious about Picard's order to release the beam in the first place.

After this, Bok beams out through shields (but we can grant him that much - in a later episode, we learn that he has a super-duper subspace transporter!), and Picard flies off to reenact the battle. After fruitless communications, he slams his shields to full power, at which point communications are severed (something that never happens elsewhere in Trek AFAIK). The Maneuver is then performed, Picard is grabbed - and suddenly Riker can talk to Picard again. Did the tractor beam weaken the shields?

Picard then awakens and destroys Bok's device. As soon as he comes to, he tells Riker to beam him back, which successfully takes place. At no point did he order the computer to drop shields! So he, too, has a subspace transporter now..?

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Old September 29 2012, 12:41 AM   #8
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

An obvious episode made much more than it must have seemed on paper by the direction. Bowan will do it again in DataLore (an evil twin? BLEURGH) and I think a lot of the credit here deserves to go to him. It's a dark, tense 44 minutes despite the fact it's insanely obvious what's going on to everyone except the leads.

I do think the Picard Manouver doesn't quite come off, as displayed on screen it's slow enough to seem like it would only be effective against Riker, a commander Generations will show has a real problem with the idea of just shooting all his ship'smany weapons at once.

Is this the last time we see the Ferengi till Peak Performance?
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Old September 29 2012, 07:18 PM   #9
MikeS
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

inflatabledalek wrote: View Post
Is this the last time we see the Ferengi till Peak Performance?
It is

Hadn't noticed that huge gap before.

I'm glad they decided to give the species another go and that we eventually got the DS9 interpretation.
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Old September 30 2012, 08:33 PM   #10
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

MikeS wrote: View Post
inflatabledalek wrote: View Post
Is this the last time we see the Ferengi till Peak Performance?
It is

Hadn't noticed that huge gap before.

I'm glad they decided to give the species another go and that we eventually got the DS9 interpretation.
I'm guessing they were saved from completely vanishing by Peak Performance being a very cheap episode that reused all its models from stock, and they were about the only old ship baddies that were competent enough to pose some threat (so, no Pakleds) but not a major enough villain for it to see unlikely the ruse at the end would work.
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Old October 1 2012, 07:49 AM   #11
Timo
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

a very cheap episode that reused all its models from stock
Would that be a real saving, though? I mean, the actual scenes include multi-ship custom shots such as the one with the Hathaway strafing the Enterprise; there is fairly little actual previously shot footage in the mix. Is dusting off an existing TNG era model significantly cheaper than dusting off some random other model and painting new greeblies on it, spraying it an exotic color and flying it backwards?

The episode did feature three or four guest characters in extensive makeup (Kolrami and the Ferengi), lots of VFX, one major new set (the Hathaway bridge, with all-new monitors and whatnot rather than a simple repainting of the Battle Bridge walls) and a few minor others (Ferengi bridge, Hathaway engineering). That sounds like "average" at the very least, if not "extensive" (expensive?).

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Old October 1 2012, 11:29 AM   #12
MikeS
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Re: Episode of the Week: The Battle

I have to agree with Timo. I don't think Peak Performance falls anywhere near the "bottle-episode" category.
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