TNG Rewatch: 5x03 "Ensign Ro."

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Trekker4747, Aug 7, 2014.

  1. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    [​IMG]

    The Enterprise is tasked with investigating the attacks of a Federation outpost by a group of Bajoran terrorists to aid them they're given a re-commissioned, disgraced, Bajoran officer Ro Laren who carries with her the stigma of the loss of eight officers in an away mission on her former assignment landing her a court martial and a prison term. She's been granted a pardon and regained her commission in order to add Picard in this assignment, to be a liaison between Picard and Bajoran terrorists believed to be behind the threat.

    Ensign Ro's (the Bajoran people placing their family name before the given name) history is well known to the crew of the ship and are reluctant to accept her as a member of the crew prompting Riker to double-down on ship rules on her, Geordi to distrust her, and Picard to be annoyed that such an officer had gained such a prestigious assignment on the Federation Flagship.

    Perhaps fortunately for her, her reputation piques the interest of Guinan who befriends Ro and offers her usual dose of wisdom.

    It turns out Ro is being used as a pawn by the Admiral behind the entire mission, wanting to "negotiate" something of a back-door treaty with the Bajoran terrorists. If they stop attacking Federation outposts they will be supplied with Federation weapons with which they can fight back against the Cardassians, who had held an occupation of the Bajoran people for over 40 years decimating them as a people and scattering them across the quadrant.

    When Ro learns from the terrorist leader that they were not responsible for the attack on the Federation outpost Ro worries about what to do next and her role in what is going on. She eventually confides in Guinan who manages to convince Picard to listen Ro since she considers her a friend. Knowing Guinan is selective about her friends Picard listens to Ro.

    They manage to expose that the Cardassians knew about an escort of the Bajoran terrorist leader that due to treaty and space conflicts would eventually lead to the terrorist's death -a benefit to the Cardassians. In reality, the Cardassians had likely attacked the Federation outpost in order to bring the Federation more to their side and fight against the struggling Bajoran people. Picard sets up a ruse with a remotely operated Bajoran ship to expose the truth behind everything and expose the Admiral's duplicity and violation of Starfleet/Federation policy. (Evil Admiral, take a drink!)

    ... I think I got most of that right. It's sort of complex and I'm not sure my frame of mind was quite right to lay it out.

    Anyway, in the longer run this episode introduces is to the a Bajoran people (a people who were "architects and artists before humans were standing erect." Which makes me wonder why evolution has stalled for them. Shouldn't they be as evolved from their wise ancestors as we are from ape-like ancestors? Evolution doesn't stop because some asshole aliens destroy your culture and home world) and the conflict/occupation between them and the Cardassians which will carry over and become a large series-long plot point in "Deep Space Nine."

    The episode also introduces us to a new character, Ensign Ro, who goes against the Roddenberry mold of everyone in Starfleet being near-perfect, in particular humans, as Ro is anything but a model officer and offers a challenge to anyone willing to question her or offer an idea she disagrees with. A trait Picard eventually seems to admire and like about her.

    As she's the first Bajoran character we're introduced to, she sets the mold nicely for a troubled people who've dealt with a lot in their more recent history. It's really a shame that Ro wasn't used a lot more during the rest of the series, it would have been nice if she became more of a series regular rather than a "when we feel like it" recurring character. The relationship between her and Guinan also seems natural.

    Many criticize Riker's first encounter with her when he dresses her down after transport, ordering her to take off her Bajoran earring and adhere to Starfleet dress code. The "trouble" being that Worf is allowed to wear is baldric which isn't part of the dress code. My counter to this has always been that at this point Ro is hardly a model officer, was court martialed in disgrace and then given her comission back and prestigious assignment. Usually in a case when dealing with someone who has trouble following the rules you double-down on them and get nit-picky. Don't give them that inch lest they take their mile. Worf had likely earned the leeway to wear his baldric, similarly Ro "earned" the rules being enforced on her more strictly and by the end of the episode she had earned enough respect from Picard to be allowed the little bit of leeway to wear her earring.

    There's a nice scene in the episode where we get a unique look at "how clothing works" in the 24th century which was supposed to have the idea of zippers being obsolete. Which is why the uniforms are tight-fitting with no obvious fastener. (We're not supposed to acknowledge the real-world zipper seam that's obviously on the back of the uniform.) The idea of these "nanoseams" is demonstrated nicely when Ro and the away team visits a Bajoran refugee camp and she removes the top of her uniform to give to a little girl.

    Ro is in a standard "one-piece" female uniform but this reveals that it only appears that way due to the "nano" seams as not only is the top part of the uniform apaprently a jacket but fastens in the front (where there's no visible seam.) I suppose this "nanoseam" also makes it appear the jacket part is also part of the shoulderless-jumper/pants she has on underneath.

    Really a lovely little touch in the episode.

    The dynamic between Ro and Guinan is really good here as is the relationship between Picard and Ro once they find they now have a common friend. The story here ultimately doesn't amount to too much in terms of TNG but plays a role in DS9.

    Overall a good episode and, again, I really wish Ro was used more often during the remainder of the series or things had worked out to make her the Bajoran regular on DS9.
     
    Last edited: Aug 7, 2014
  2. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Probably one of my favorite episodes from seasons five, six and seven.
     
  3. Ithekro

    Ithekro Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    I liked this character. I'm still not exactly sure why anymore, but right after that I took her family name as a callsign for just about everything (From X-wing to Wing Commander to Freespace 2, whatever). Even the last two letters of this profile's name is "Ro" from Ro Laren.
     
  4. tomalak301

    tomalak301 Admiral Premium Member

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    Probably the most underrated episode of Season 5. I love this episode a lot, and it was a great introduction of Michelle Forbes as Ensign Ro.
     
  5. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    Forbes brings a lot to the role and it's just interesting to see someone so different to shake up the status-quo of our crew. Again, it's really a shame we didn't get to see a lot more of her, they really should have made her a series regular.
     
  6. MikeS

    MikeS Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    An excellent episode. It might form the beginning of my DS9 re-watch when the Blu-Ray's are released!
     
  7. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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  8. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    They tried twice, but Forbes had a film career and didn't want to be tied to an extended TV show.
     
  9. Kevman7987

    Kevman7987 Captain Captain

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    Which is really too bad. Ro as a regular cast member in TNG may not have worked, but Ro instead of Kira in DS9 would have been interesting.
     
  10. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Overall, I like what they did with the Kira character. Ro didn't really have the rage of Kira, which was utilized pretty well in the early part of the show. I don't think Duet would have had the same impact had it been Ro in that role.

    As for Voyager, Forbes dodged a bullet there. :lol:
     
  11. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Evolution isn't a linear spectrum, and we don't know what the Bajorans looked like before humans were walking erect.

    And anyway, The Chase justifies any humanoid shape in the galaxy.

    Very good episode though I think the plotting was a bit loose.
     
  12. 2takesfrakes

    2takesfrakes Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    This episode is chok full of potential ... and promise! And if you're new to TNG and watching "Ensign Ro" for the first time, who could blame you for having Great Expectations when it comes to this intriguing character. Like so many great ideas in STAR TREK, though, this one started strong and just kind of went nowhere, fast. But Michelle Forbes made a very lasting impact on the franchise - and was certainly the mold that DS9's Kira was modelled after - and on fans, world wide.
     
  13. MakeshiftPython

    MakeshiftPython Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    I really wish Ro was on TNG a lot more than she ended up. She was a great addition to the series. Did she simply get too busy to be a guest on TNG in the next two seasons, or did the writer simply stop using her character? I know the producers wanted to have her on DS9 and she turned that down.
     
  14. BillJ

    BillJ Fleet Admiral Admiral

    The only real issue with "Ensign Ro" is that it once again shows how intolerant the regulars are of anyone new.
     
  15. Marc

    Marc Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    In what way?

    I think most COs and senior staff would not be particularly keen on a officer with Ro's history being transferred to their ship. In fact she'd be the sort of officer most would be trying to dump on some-one else.

    Had she had a good service record there would have been no issue (and well no story line).
     
  16. JirinPanthosa

    JirinPanthosa Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    They weren't intolerant of Ro because she was new, they were intolerant of Ro because of her attitude and her history.

    This was a good episode because it introduced Ro, but there are some plotting issues with the way the whole conspiracy is rolled out. It seemed like they knew they wanted Ro to be involved in underhanded things and then come clean to Picard to redeem herself, and they couldn't quite think of an effective way to make it happen.
     
  17. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    For Voyager, I think the original idea was for Janeway to break Ro out of Federation prison (I guess she was meant to be captured after Preemptive Strike), so that Ro could lead Voyager to find Chakotay's ship. Was that the plan?
     
  18. Kevman7987

    Kevman7987 Captain Captain

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    ...and instead they got stuck with "faux-Nick Locarno" Tom Paris?
     
  19. Trekker4747

    Trekker4747 Boldly going... Premium Member

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    I think Nick Locarno was originally the plan for Voyager but they didn't want to pay the writer of "First Duty" royalties for using the name of a character he created. (Which I don't fully understand, you'd think by him writing the episode and it being produced he'd lose the rights to the characters, but whatever.)

    Ro was considered to be used in Deep Space Nine but Forbes declined, deciding to pursue other projects. Which, really, is a shame. Other than her stint in Season 2 of 24 I can't say I really recall seeing her in anything else of note.

    And, yeah, some could criticize the main characters in this episode for treating someone who's "not them" harshly but in Ro's case she kind of earned that treatment. I don't know if it was ever made clear what exactly happened on that away mission that caused the deaths of fellow crew members but whatever happened it was obvious many people saw it as her fault and, obviously, it was her fault under the legal system of the Starfleet/The Federation given she was imprisoned for it. (But I doubt prison in the 24c is all that terrible. ;).)

    So first of, against her we have the fact that she was involved in whatever happened in this away mission she was the only survivor of. Then we have against her that she was granted a pardon from her prison sentence. Then against her we have that she was given a prestigious assignment on the Federation Flagship and then to top it all of she wasn't exactly an inviting person unless you were determined to get through her shell (as Guinan was.) So I don't think we can entirely blame the crew for not being too trustworthy of her.

    And, to be fair, it's sort of Riker's job to be an ass if he needs to be in order to keep the crew in line and Ro's entire body language and presumption of leniency in the uniform code given her history didn't endear her to Riker when she first came aboard.

    Picard's only problem with her was that she hadn't earned the right to serve on the Enterprise and was just handed the assignment. Other than that he warmed up to her very quickly once he realized Guinan considered Ro a friend.

    And Crusher and Troi both seemed willing to get to know her when they approached her in Ten-Forward but Ro spurned them.

    Given Ro's history,it's understandable why Geordi and Worf would be untrustworthy of her.

    So this might be a case where how the crew behaved made sense in context. She wasn't treated poorly because she was an outsider from the bridge crew clique but because she was kind of a bitch given a job she had no right having. Just look at her body language when she enters Picard's Ready Room for the first time, she's sort of slouching with her arms folded. Hardly good body language for an officer going in to see her commanding officers.

    I sort of feel the same way when it comes to how the crew treat Barcaly, he wasn't exactly being a good officer. Continually show up late for work and kind-of do a sloppy job without fully being able to articulate your observations and see how well your bosses treat you.

    I don't think how the crew here behaved was too out of line given what they knew about Ro and, to be fair, initially she was hardly there in good faith given the back-handed work she was doing for The Evil Admiral of the Week. But what is important is how the crew warmed up to her as the episode, and season progressed. You could even argue given what happens in "Conundrum" that Riker on some level had warmed to Ro but was being a hard-ass because it was his job to be one. (And what probably amounted to his version of foreplay towards a woman with Ro's demeanor.)

    Here's something I sort of noticed and wondered in this episode:

    In this episode when Picard welcomes her aboard he greets her as "Ensign Laren" and we're told that, traditionally, Bajorans place their family name before their given name. (Though some have... "Westernized" (for want of a better term) this order to better fit in with apparently how the rest of the galaxy does it.) So Ro is more properly addressed as "Ensign Ro", "Ro" being her family name, Laren being her given name.

    While this is certainly an interesting detail to put into the episode it stands out odd for several reasons:

    First: It suggests that the "galactic standard" for a person's name is Given Name:Family Name, since Ro says that many Bajoran switched the order to better fit in. With all of the species in the galaxy do Bajorans really stand out in how they organize their name?

    Secondly: You know, I honestly struggle to think of an alien species in Trek that even has a two-name system for naming people. The Betazoids seem to have a two-name structure and there may be a couple others but, by and large, it seems most of the aliens we meet over the course of the franchise seems to be that they only have a given name and are usually referred to as [given name] son-of [father's given name.]

    The only exception to this being Worf who has a last name, the family name of his adoptive parents but mostly refers to himself as "Worf son of Mogh" and his son is "Alexander son of Worf."

    But how many characters can you think of that weren't human, Betazoid or Bajoran who had a first name and a last name rather than just a given name?
     
  20. jimbotron

    jimbotron Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Producers tried twice. DS9 was a no go, and then they were able to bring her back for Preemptive Strike (only her second episode post season 5) to tie her with the Maquis in the event she changed her mind so they could add her to Voyager.

    Her film career seemed to end around the late 90s, and has some a ton of TV work since then. One notable role for Forbes was Admiral Cain in BSG. She was really good in that. She's had a prolific TV career since the late 90s.