So I'm Watching "Chains of Command"

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Dale Sams, Apr 27, 2013.

  1. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

    Jul 25, 2012
    Va. Beach, VA
    I think this is the best analysis of the Jellico command in this thread. The only exception I take with this is that I don't believe that Jellico necesarilly placed the mission ahead of the people. I think he simply expected people do their jobs and trusted them to take care of themselves. He never deliberately played fast and loose with anybody's lives in this episode. He expected Picard and Crusher to take care of themselves and when he finally did get the opportunity to secure their release he was very forceful with the Cardassians about getting them back safely.

    I've also never bought into the whole premise that the XO is supposed to serve as this backup conscience to the CAPT. An XO is designed to simply execute the commanding officers intent and also serve as a chief of staff to the crew departments. Riker offering up opinions is all well and good but at the end of the day you have to do your job and execute the CO's wishes once the decision has been made.
  2. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 18, 2007
    Exactly. Well said

    The bottom line is that there's only two officers who have the right to tell a captain he's wrong, beyond making their suggestions or objections & having them noted, the XO & the CMO, & there's only 2 circumstances when they are allowed to do that. The CMO can remove the captain if he's not medically fit to be captain, & the XO can remove him if he has shown signs that his actions will cause reckless endangerment of the crew, ship or mission, thus making him an unfit captain

    Jellico showed no signs at all of being an unfit captain. Therefore, challenging his authority in the way Riker was is grounds for being relieved, & Riker's sense of self importance in expecting that he gets a say in the decisions the captain makes is no excuse. Frankly, Picard only gives him that liberty, because he is in a long term assignment with Riker & it helps to have not only a solid working relationship with his officers, but it doesn't hurt to have a few varied perspectives to draw upon, & opening up the crew to suggestions gets that

    Perhaps in a long term situation, Jellico would begin doing the same, but in this mission, suggestions were not required. The decisions had all been made, very likely before the man even stepped aboard. Suck it up & follow orders. You don't have to like it. You don't even have to think it's fair. Hell, life & death situations rarely are, but you do have to respect the chain of command. They don't call it a chain because it looks good with a locket on it.
  3. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

    Aug 26, 2003
    Downright insulting, I'd think. Which is why I seriously wonder why Jellico insisted on the uniform...

    Really, he should have asked for Guinan to join in, wearing her most outrageous hat while bringing drinks and chitchatting with the CO on what to do with these lizard men and their silly demands. The bartender could have launched into a story about her uncle, too.

    Timo Saloniemi
  4. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 18, 2007
    Actually, I'd think it would be more a sign of military weakness, some civilian dressed eye candy as an aid.
  5. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

    Aug 20, 2009
    Picard himself went through a few chief engineers before settling on the one he wanted.

    That's something I hadn't considered, that Riker problem with Jellico stemmed to a large degree from Riker not being given command of the Enterprise in Picard absence.

    Riker had to know that his previously upwardly mobile career was stalling, here he was the bright eyed boy who was offered one command after another, but when the command that he really wanted opened up, he was passed over in favor of someone else..

  6. R. Star

    R. Star Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Jun 15, 2012
    Riker had every right to think he should get command of the Enterprise. He did the right thing at first there when Necheyev said Jellico was getting command... he waited until everyone left the room, then quietly brought up his concerns.

    Necheyev then proceeded to deball him, and I suppose that's her privilege. While she may have a point that Riker doesn't have much experience with the Cardassians, she really didn't need to rip into him like Wesley Crusher was asking for command or something. This is the guy who saved Earth and the Federation, and should be entitled some due respect for that.

    As I said, I have no problem with Riker standing up for himself there and in that manner. He did everything right there. Though once he started to undermine Jellico in part because he was pissed off that he wasn't in command, that was highly unprofessional. The purpose of the first officer is to carry out the captain's orders. He can offer alternatives, but once the choice has been made, it's his job to... get it done.

    To Jellico, when Riker's constantly challenging his orders, in front of others too, he's becoming a liability to the mission. He doesn't have time to argue with Riker about his orders, especially in a critical moment with the possibility of war hanging over their heads. He should note his objections quietly and in private for the record, then say yes sir and do his job like a professional. In part two especially he was coming across as very childish because he wasn't getting his way and that's sad.
  7. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

    Jul 25, 2012
    Va. Beach, VA
    Exactly. I could barely stomach watching Riker make Jellico beg to get him to fly that stupid mission. It would have been nice to see Picard lay into Riker for that one later. Yet Jellico did it because he was able to take the higher road and not play the ego game with Will.
  8. Jerikka Dawn

    Jerikka Dawn Commander Red Shirt

    Jul 1, 2004
    Riker really was an ass in that scene, right up to the end with that smug look on his face and the "you're welcome" back shot as Jellico was leaving. And really ... there's "no joy" ? You're on the brink of war, Commander. STFU. Jellico should have ordered his ass to do it instead of asking.

    I don't know if it was the intention of the writers to make Jellico look like the "bad guy" and Riker the "good guy" but in my opinion, in the end, Jellico gets more points from me.
  9. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Sep 28, 2005
    Hardly the same thing. A conflict with a fleet of Cardassians is a great deal more serious than a fight with a single Sheliak ship, and the Cardassians are much more agressive. And Picard wasn't working the whole engineering staff to exhaustion.

    Perhaps, but I can't imagine a situation where the ship is lost because they didn't have the correct number of shift rotations.

    If Jellico was a good captain, he should listen to his crew and take their opinions into account. Instead, he ignores their opinions and asks them to do difficult things with no clear benefit.
  10. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    After reading a lot of the responses here, I'm finding myself drawn to this episode even more. To watch it again with a critical eye on Jellico.

    So yes... despite the "set up" for us to hate Jellico because he effectively replaces Picard and to feel for Riker because he misses his captain, the unlikable Jellico is really a man who is faced with a very difficult situation and must make the most of it. No honeymoon with the crew. He has to "get the job done" with everything else a lesser priority.

    When Deanna was gently trying to play nice with Jellico and tell him sweetly how the crew would only love him if he showed some warmth, it was... well, rather like a "reset" in perspective. How unprofessional she looked in saying this. And then for Jellico to knock her back in line with the bit about wearing a uniform. It was like "it's about time!"

    Actually Deanna could really be one of those officers who wears a shawl or some other covering during her sessions to help tone down the "military look" of the uniform, then leave it behind when heading off for other duties. In any case, it was a nice evolution of her character to eventually dispense with the civilian clothes in the latter half of the series.

    Anyway, with a little more careful attention to what transpires in this episode, it becomes clear of just how marvelous a performance Ronny Cox gives. He has had the habit of taking up a lot of unlikable roles in the latter part of his career, with a lot of sometimes forgettable minor characters, but the man does have talent. I hope he gets an opportunity to do some greater shining before he gets too old, much the way Jeff Bridges had his career revival late in his game.
  11. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 18, 2007
    No, just his most important people. I don't suggest that the 2 situations are exactly the same, just that they share similarities in command requirements. Hence why the titles of those episodes are "Chain of Command" & "The Ensigns of Command". Plus, if it's as you say, a more serious threat, then perhaps it stands to reason that more demands would be placed on more of the crew.
    but we don't run a starship. Perhaps it's not just a number, but protocol, like expecting all senior staff to be in uniform. At face value, they seem trivial, but they could be the protocols expected of a wartime vessel, that are not strictly observed in peacetime, but actually have applicable reasons, like the crew being sharper, for one.

    It was stated that Jellico was given the ship "Enterprise" because the name carries weight, not because of the crew's methods, which Jellico made clear were in need of change for the mission right from the get go. He was the captain for the mission. The ship was the name they wanted there, and the crew would need to adjust accordingly. That was the directive handed down from HQ.

    Ultimately, it is the duty of subordinate officers to assume the captain's orders have a reason, unless they have evidence to suggest he is an unfit captain, in which case, Riker should have assumed command, but that didn't happen, because he had no just cause, and just decided to sulk in his quarters
    The clear benefit is to save lives, and the opinions & suggestions he puts down could have been mission related. It's not logical to think he put down their opinions for personal preference reasons. That would not serve the mission at all, and since his plans panned out exactly as he expected, perhaps it's reasonable to assume he knew what he was doing, and he did only what he & Starfleet knew would result in mission success

    Besides, the ever so frequented point about Jellico ignoring his subordinates' suggestions & opinions is just plain wrong. Riker would never have left his quarters if that were the case. It was the advice of Geordi that influenced Jellico to proposition Riker for the piloting mission in the 1st place. He considered that suggestion and followed through on it, an effort that required him to swallow his pride, go back on his executive decision to relieve Riker, and even drop ranks so he could personally ask Riker to take the mission, outside the chain of command. He did all that for the mission, on top of accepting a nearly impossible assignment to begin with

    All Riker did was business as usual, and buck the chain when he disagreed or felt his importance was being overlooked. Riker should have jumped up and said he'd be proud to aid the mission to protect the Federation & perhaps save Picard, but instead took the opportunity to rub Jellico's nose in it, like the pompous twit he is
  12. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    The formal change of command was necessary in order to get full cooperation from the crew. Otherwise, if Jellico was seen as a substitute captain, there was a greater risk of him not being taken as seriously ("oh well, we don't have to be as loyal, because once the mission is done he's gone and we'll have Picard back"). In addition, with the high risks of Picard's mission, there was a fairly good chance of him not making it back... in which case Jellico would be captain anyway.

    Why wasn't Riker given command? Well, honestly I don't see any reason why he couldn't have been, with Jellico as the "negotiations officer". But perhaps the nature of the potential conflict wasn't within HQ's confidence that Riker would be the best man for the job. And as others suggested, a little pay back for his continued declining of other commands.
  13. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    Aug 18, 2007
    It's apparent that Riker wasn't the man for the job by the end anyway. As soon as he found out Picard had been captured his initial reaction was to mount a rescue, an act that would have bullocksed up the whole situation and plunged the Federation into war, by playing right into their hand, as Jellico said

    Frankly, Riker faired well enough with the Borg, with a great deal of help & coaxing from everyone around him, but he would have been too impetuous to handle this Cardassian situation, & we are shown why right in the episode. It's not even an isolated incident. He's rash & emotional & impulsive in Gambit, & Time's Arrow too. Any time Picard is in jeopardy, he goes all mushy between his ears

    Not a good choice for captaining this mission imo
  14. Tiberius

    Tiberius Commodore Commodore

    Sep 28, 2005
    What do the names of the episodes have to do with anything?

    And if it's a more serious threat, then you;d want to keep your crew in a state where they can perform their duties properly, instead of introducing fatigue caused by loss of sleep as they try to adjust their sleeping schedules to have the right number of duty shifts.

    Again, I point out that it is detrimental to stuff up your crew's sleeping schedule in order to have the right number of duty shifts when it is likely you are about to enter an armed conflict.

    I can't imagine any situation where three duty shifts instead of four would cause any increased damage to the ship. The Enterprise faced the Borg with three shifts, and that seemed to go just fine. Why then would three shifts be so bad against the Cardassians?

    I don't get what you are saying here. If the important thing was that it was the Enterprise, why the need to change the way they do things? Surely the name Enterprise carries the same weight either way?

    And it is also the duty of every captain to ensure he is acting in the best interests of the ship, the crew and the mission.

    I still do not see any clear benefit in changing the number of shift rotations. As I said before, we've seen the Enterprise go into many dangerous situations with three shifts instead of four, and it worked just fine.

    Irrelevant. The fact that jellico followed Geordie's suggestion in one instance does not mean that he never ignored his subordinate's opinions.

    Oh my god, you really think Riker is so egotistic? He got pissed with Jellico because Ed was demanding the crew put themselves at risk. As I said before, Jellico's demands would have left the crew suffering fatigue as they tried to adjust long-established sleeping patterns. I'm a shift worker, so I've done it myself and I know exactly what it is like.
  15. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    ^ To be fair to Riker, he did step up in BoBW and after an initial attempt to rescue Picard (in addition to scouting out more of Borg ship potential weaknesses), he did abandon hope of getting him back and ordered Worf to fire their "special weapon." Had the Borg not assimilated Picard's knowledge by then, the cube may very well have been destroyed, along with all hands.

    In the Chain of Command, the Enterprise never does go to battle. It's all about posturing and investigating. But yeah, it would've been a sorry mistake if Riker had been in command and Jellico allowed him to mount a rescue attempt. The episode was fraught with touch-and-go elements. If the hidden Cardassian ships hadn't been discovered, Jellico wouldn't have had enough leverage to get Picard back. But if there's one thing you really have to give to Jellico, he knew the Cardassians inside and out. Despite running on a hunch, it was a strong one that was grounded in consistency of behavior.

    In the end, what it's really all about is how Riker handled Jellico which, I think we're all in full agreement, was not professional. He allowed his feelings to get in the way of doing the right thing. The military is no picnic. When you're given orders, you have to follow them and not question your superiors, or do a variation on what is expected. TNG took a lot of liberties with what a military ship is all about. It became a gray area, where the Enterprise is both military, exploratory, and diplomatic vessel all in one. But when in a military role, it should be all business.
  16. Vanyel

    Vanyel The Imperious Leader Premium Member

    Apr 23, 2001
    San Antonio, Texas
    Couldn't all of this been avoided if Jellico had taken Riiker aside and told:
    1. Picard's mission makes him expendable.
    2. We may be on the brink of war.
    3. Because we may be going to war, I need you to make sure that my orders are followed without question.
    4. If you can't do that I'll reassign you.
    5. You are ordered to not discuss this with anyone.
  17. Use of Time

    Use of Time Commodore Commodore

    Jul 25, 2012
    Va. Beach, VA
    I feel like all of those points go without saying though wouldn't they. Most of them seem like they should be a given except for number 5.

    Regarding Jellico ignoring his staff I don't think thats the case either. Just because he didn't go with their suggestions didn't mean that he did not listen to them. There was no justification for Riker's behavior. Again, if we are comparing egos here Jellico asked Riker to fly a the shuttle in support of the mission even when Riker made him ask him to.
  18. T'Cal

    T'Cal Commodore Commodore

    Sep 21, 2003
    As stated in the episode, billions of lives were at stake if the Federation got pulled into a war with the Cardies. Jellico had experience with them and Riker did not. Jellico was an experienced captain and Riker was not. Jellico was the right person for the mission and Riker was not. Riker was written as whiny and, had he been written more in-character, he would've realized the importance of the mission, the nature and magnitude of the threat, and that his place was supporting the best person for the job.
    In this mission, the ship was a military vessel. Using your logic, he was the best man for this job.
    Riker's leadership abilities were just written poorly for this episode.
    Exactly. He was quite cordial until the crew acted unprofessionally. In this situation, his response was fully appropriate. As he told Deanna, he didn't have the time for a honeymoon with the crew. He showed tremendous leadership in a very tough situation. And, he was right.
    He displayed real leadership in a difficult situation. He was humanized in a few scenes prior to his having to deal with Riker's whining: his intro to Will (or do you prefer William?), his child's drawing that he shared with Deanna (IIRC), etc. His job was to prevent a war. An all out WAR! And he did successfully.
    Jellico was there to prevent a combat situation.
    It's called being an autocratic leader. And this is exactly the time and place to employ such a leadership tactic.
  19. Admiral_Sisko

    Admiral_Sisko Lieutenant Commander Red Shirt

    Oct 7, 2006
    People are much more willing to bend over backwards for someone they've had a longterm working relationship with. LaForge had been serving with Picard for more than two years at the time "Ensigns of Command" originally aired. Riker says as much during his confrontation with Jelico: "You don't inspire these people to go out of their way for you, and you've got everyone wound so tight that there's no joy in anything."

    Additionally, Scotty spent the initial moments of the travel pod ride to the Enterprise in TMP complaining about the difficulties in having the ship's launch moved up becuase of the V'Ger threat, only to completely change his tune once Kirk informed him that he, not Decker, would be commanding the mission.
  20. Gary7

    Gary7 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

    What I would have said is something more like this: "Sir, I fully appreciate the urgency of the situation at hand and that there's no time to build a relationship with the crew right now, but you'll get a lot more out of them if they feel like you care. Drive them hard, but also give them some breathing room in return."

    Jellico was pushing hard relentlessly. He had to wait for Deanna to let him know how the crew feels. And rather than collaborating with Deanna on what to do about it, he just shoves the whole "morale boost" project onto her shoulders. "Get it done."

    There is a difference between being firm and being callous. I just finished watching this episode again and there's a nuance to Jellico's personality. He doesn't make much effort at all to smooth things out. He's firm, coarse, and unforgiving. No, he doesn't need to mimic Picard to get the crew to work for him. But all he needed to do was just be a little less abrasive. That's what I see.