T'Pel t'problems

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by nnnnnnn, Feb 22, 2012.

  1. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...Which is exactly what led me to postulate that the Romulans deliberately arranged for this clumsy "extraction" in order to mislead the Feds into thinking that an agent had been extracted.

    T'Pel could always have been the real deal, her security concerns about Data valid, her claim about testing the android honest - and her evaluation of the incident negative: Data flunked, and would have been filed down as a security risk had death not intervened, as evidently Picard didn't receive a report...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  2. nnnnnnn

    nnnnnnn Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I'm sick and tired of people posting things like "T'Pel is a sleeper agent" without carefully working through the implications.


    In a normal sleeper agent acting for X against Y scenario on earth, there are two possibilities.

    First, an existing person from Y is convinced to help Y; lying low for a long time before betraying Y to X. Classic fictional examples: Manchurian candidate, Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, or Philby in real life.

    Second a person from X acquires a false identity and uses that identity to lead a quiet life, until he is activated and harms Y. Eye of the Needle is a good example from fiction.

    Scenario 1 is obviously impossible because, among other things, T'Pel is Romulan, not Vulcan. She could hardly have pretended to be Vulcan prior to her recruitment, and would not have been able to afterwards since she'd been claiming she was Romulan.

    So the second possibility must hold.

    T'Pel must somehow have infiltrated the Federation and risen high enough to be given one of the must important diplomatic positions.

    But when could she have infiltrated the Federation?

    She could not credibly come in as an adult, because the Federation would want to know her lineage, her schooling, and would check with friends - the usual background check. Her position is prominent, and would be known to Vulcan, who would immediately want to know who she was?

    Vulcans are famously obsessed with lineage and schooling, they would want all these answers. Even if false documents were given to the Federation, simple checks on Vulcan would reveal these to be false. For that matter, it would be hard to see how the Federation would not perform a deep background check on her, including interviewing all her old friends, typically from childhood at least.

    The point is that an "infiltrator" type agent is typically used in a situation where the infiltrator knows he can fly under the radar. For example, maybe he is a low-level mechanic who will sabotage items when activated, or similar kinds of things. You can't really be an infiltrator when your story is so incredibly easy to check, and would be deeply checked both by Federation Security and Vulcan.

    True, if she came as a child or maybe a toddler, again, there is the issue of her parents. In theory she could have been abandoned in an orphanage, with unknown parentage, at a very young age, and then later recruited - but how would she conceal her Romulan physical attributes? Is it really plausible that the Romulan would take some hapless Romulan babe, surgically alter her to appear Vulcan, abandon her to the Federation, then covertly monitor her activities for a seventy or eighty years (assuming Romulans age like Vulcans) or more, just in the hope she could somehow become Ambassador? If so, that's a more extraordinary story than the transporter trick!

    Either way you look at it, it is simply not plausible that T'Pel was a sleeper. And I don't really see how she could have killed and replaced the real T'Pel either, although I suppose it is possible with enough hand-waving. But even there, it is odd that Picard never expressed any concern about the fate of the real T'Pel.

    tl;dr The combination of (1) the highly secure nature of Federation Ambassador; (2) the very public profile of a Federation Ambassador both in Vulcan and the Federation; and (3) T'Pel's being of an anatomically distinct species without surgery from her cover identity's together rule out nearly any way for T'Pel to have been a sleeper agent.
     
    Last edited: Feb 27, 2012
  3. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    OK, then, clearly T'Pel was neither a sleeper agent nor an impostor.

    Obviously the entire incident didn't occur, and Data was fabricating a story for Maddox, to give the poor guy something interesting to read, since he's not allowed to disassemble the android.
     
  4. Cakemixo

    Cakemixo Lieutenant Red Shirt

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    Who is to say that he didn't tell Picard offscreen even if it did amount to nothing? It was never stated that he did not. Data likely would have not voiced his opinions on how odd that encounter was. Picard was preoccupied with going to the Neutral Zone and likely dismissed the report as irrelevent.
     
  5. Ghrakh

    Ghrakh Captain Captain

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    :lol:
     
  6. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    On the issue of Romulans being physically or physiologically distinct, it appears more likely that they are merely statistically so. Enough for the sensors of the Enterprise to make an educated guess as to which one of the hundreds aboard the Romulan ship was the half-human Spock in "The Enterprise Incident", but not enough to conclusively establish a person as Romulan merely by his or her physique. After all, Romulans do successfully infiltrate Vulcan in a number of other episodes, too...

    The only quote Memory Alpha dares make on Romulans having a distinct physiology is with regards to TNG "The Enemy". The pertinent dialogue from that episode:

    Whether this means that Romulans have "too many" subtle differences, or that Crusher's patient specifically has, we can only guess. But if we guess the latter, it's consistent with the inability of the UFP Secret Police to scan for Romulan characteristics in pointy-eared, green-blooded people. We can also throw in the fact that Vulcans of note can thwart attempts at medical scanning; Sarek hid his Bendii syndrome, but he could just as easily have hidden whether he was a surgically altered Klingon.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  7. Satyrquaze

    Satyrquaze Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Given the nature of the episode (titled: "Data's Day") that's a scene that needed to take place onscreen if it happened at all. Given Data's nature and Picard's nature it's still pertinant information to the resolution of the episode. For Picard to be so distracted to ignore such a possible security breach would be pointedly and drastically out of character. Why is it more plausable to you that Picard would act out-of-character than Data would act in-character?

    Since the Ambassador's retracted question was never again referenced that episode by the central character that episode why do you assume he did anything at all with the information, certainly since we were following him around all episode would we not have seen any reporting he had done?

    Sorry, but all available evidence says otherwise.
     
  8. JB2005

    JB2005 Commodore Commodore

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    Given the nature of an episode which supposedly covers a 24 hour period, but only lasts 40 minutes it's not inconceivable that Data told Picard during an ad-break?
     
  9. Satyrquaze

    Satyrquaze Vice Admiral Admiral

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    And have it never referenced again all episode?
     
  10. JB2005

    JB2005 Commodore Commodore

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    Picard could have dismissed it just as Data did...
     
  11. Satyrquaze

    Satyrquaze Vice Admiral Admiral

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    As I said, its more out of character for Picard that it is for Data. And again- the scene (if it took place) should have happened on-screen since it was an important point to the plot.
     
  12. BillJ

    BillJ Canon Warrior Premium Member

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    This.
     
  13. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Would that be so much of a problem? Strickly speaking T'Pel is biologically a Vulcan. "Romulan" is a nationality, not a species.

    From what you lay out in you post, there are three possibilities. Two involve T'Pel entering the Federation as a adult. One is she was introduced into Vulcan society while a young woman, with a false background, without a idea in the world that she would one day become a ambassador. She might have begun as a university student, studying political science and government service. She then entered Vulcan government service. That she was able to work her way up to the position of ambassador was fortunate for the Romulans, but not initially expected. The idea was to simply get her somewhere in government service, perhaps other Romulans then steered her into favorable positions..

    Two is that T'Pel is an imposter, a substitute. Surgically altered to resemble a existing Vulcan diplomat. A background check would have been a thing of the past, and of no concern. She might have been "T'Pel" for decades, or well over a century.

    The third possibility is that T'Pel is actual a born Vulcan, who at some point in her life began to identify with the Romulans and came to be in contact with them, and started working for them. Becoming a Romulan patriot. In time she "returned home" for the first time. Her rank of subcommander was in their security service.

    It's unclear from the episode if she was a Vulcan ambassador, or a Federation ambassador.

    :)
     
  14. zephramc

    zephramc Commodore Commodore

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    My guess would be the first one, that she is a Romulan introduced as a Vulcan at a young age. Keep in mind Vulcan (and presumably Romulan) life spans and the fact that Starfleet/UFP has known what Romulans look like for only 90ish years by the time of Data's Day (that's about maybe 1/2 or 1/3 of a Vulcan/Romulan lifespan). Also, per ST09 (and within the roughly same date as TOS), there's thousands, if not tens of thousands of Vulcans living off world.

    If she (as a young adult) came to Vulcan or any other Federation world prior to the events of Balance of Terror and said I'm a Vulcan from colony X (some known but backwater planet for instance) and I want to be a Federation citizen, it probably wouldn't raise too many suspicions.
     
  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    We must also recognize that this "background check" thing is a technological rat race. The Romulans might have devised a way to insert a desired background for their agent into the Vulcan systems, and Vulcans might have devised a way to ferret out such hostile changes to the system, and Romulans might have devised a way to fool the ferret, and so forth.

    Really, altering history through altering records would be the bread and butter of intelligence work in the 24th century. Given how massively integrated and accessible the UFP database-on-all-things-from-pulp-novels-to-warp-core-specs appears to be, it's probably also quite vulnerable to intrusion. And thus it's just a question of the skill of the intruder vs. the gatekeeper. At some point, the Vulcan intel service must decide it can trust its own records when they say that T'Pel is clean...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Satyrquaze

    Satyrquaze Vice Admiral Admiral

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    ^Let's not forget that V'Las of the Vulcan High Command was in cohoots with the Romulan Empire as of the final season of Enterprise as revealed in the episode: "Awakening". Who knows what damage that alliance might have wrought.
     
  17. T'Girl

    T'Girl Vice Admiral Admiral

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    If hundreds, or thousands, of Romulans were fully infiltrated into the Vulcan bureaucracy from the time before Vulcan became a Federation member, then bringing more across the boarder (cloaked ships), and situating them into Vulcan society would be relatively easy.

    You could even see multi-generational spy families.

    ")
     
  18. Satyrquaze

    Satyrquaze Vice Admiral Admiral

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    Or perhaps the sovereignty of Vulcan might have been a sham all along...

    dun dun duuuun....
     
  19. Nociod

    Nociod Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    In 3x07 "The Enemy", the episode where Geordi is trapped on a planet with a Romulan, they try to save another dying Romulan. The Romulan needs a transfusion, but Worf is the only suitable donor. No other Vulcan onboard is a match.

    It's interesting that a Klingon would be a suitable donor, when a Vulcan is not. This suggests that Romulans are biological different from Vulcans. They are a species, not only a nationality.

    Regarding Data, I blame the writers. Data can be naive, but he's not that naive.

    I agree with Satyrquaze. Datadid not inform Picard about T'Pels request. Something so vital to the plot would have to be shown onscreen. Doesn't make any sense for it to have happened, but then not referencing it at all
     
  20. Pavonis

    Pavonis Commodore Commodore

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    While it is interesting that a Klingon would be able to donate ribosomes to a Romulan, I don't think it's proof enough that Vulcans and Romulans are radically different physiologically. At most, it establishes that no Vulcans on board (and how many would that be?) were compatible donors to that particular Romulan.