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TNG 5-03

TNG 5x03
"Ensign Ro"

Original airdate: 10/7/1991
Rewatch date: 3/30/2012

The Enterprise welcomes aboard a controversial new crewmember while undertaking a mission to track down a terrorist.

Spoiler-free notes:

They say you should never trust a bald barber, but maybe it's okay if you're bald too. Having said that, Mr. Mot is cool in my book.

I'm glad we're getting back to the Cardassians. Alien races are usually more interesting the more they get developed, and "The Wounded," the only episode to feature the Cardassians before now, left a lot of potential.

It's interesting seeing Picard react with indignation upon hearing that Ro has been assigned to the Enterprise. He's a very accepting man, but when somebody has a record of stepping out of line in Starfleet, Picard takes it personally. That military officer side of his personality is one of his most notable traits. It's also interesting that the only other character to share Picard's sentiment that she doesn't belong in Starfleet anymore is La Forge.

One of the hardest things for a scriptwriter to learn is how best to introduce an important character. The first scene needs to contain pretty much everything you need to know in as few words and actions possible. The Bajoran earring that Ro wears (on the wrong side, for some reason) and Riker's criticism of it as being against protocol manages to do just that. You immediately know that the central conflict between Ro and the crew is going to be her rebellious streak.

But while we're on the subject, how is Worf's baldric compliant with Starfleet uniform regs if Ro's earring is not?

You might recognize Michelle Forbes, the actress who plays Ro Laren, as she previously appeared in "Half a Life" as Dara, Timicin's daughter. Her brief performance in that episode was apparently so good that the role of Ro Laren was offered to her.

Without Guinan, this episode--and the introduction of Ro--would never work. Guinan not only makes the case for Ro with the crew, but she's also making the case with the audience.

Picard is the only person to pull out his phaser before beaming. Wouldn't it be practical if everyone did that?

I like the terrorist's voice box and mutilated face.

Though this episode winds up being another of Picard's great bluffs, I'm glad the show didn't start out with another poker game. Mot talking to Picard about knowing when to call a Cardassian bluff is sufficient enough to get the point across.

So was Ro holding the earring in her hand the whole time, knowing that Picard was going to convince her to stay? That uniform has no pockets.

Ro comes along at just the right time in the show. The main characters have all been explored enough to be morally unambiguous, with the last hold-out being Worf. Worf had the potential to be morally grey following "The Enemy," but then, just two episodes ago, in "Redemption II," Worf made the choice to take a more moral path. Ro is close in disposition to Yar, but she was killed off four seasons ago. Ro, like Yar before her, is not amoral, but she definitely is not as black and white as any of the show's main characters. Thus, she comes in here to shake things up a bit, to inject some provocativeness into a show that might have lost it had it continued on its current course.

Spoiler section:

I wonder how the writers would have reacted if they knew that this episode was laying the groundwork for an overarching plotline that would play a huge part in two new Trek shows, DS9 and VOY.

Gul Dulak appears on a wanted poster in Odo's office in several episodes of DS9.

TNG 5x02
Star Trek: The Next Generation
TNG 5x04
"Silicon Avatar"
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