Posted by: rebeccajrobare | July 26, 2017

Encountering a Trojan Horse: “The Battle”

Mission Summary: The Ferengi have asked for Captain Picard by name, and Starfleet is happy to welcome this peaceful overture. The commander of the Ferengi ship, DaiMon Bok, has a gift for the Captain: his former ship, the Stargazer, found drifting after having been abandoned by Picard and his crew following a battle in which the Stargazer had destroyed an unidentified vessel that had attacked unprovoked. This ship turns out to have been Ferengi. Bok’s crew is confused; they can understand selling the Stargazer to Picard, but giving it away? It’s just not done.

Picard and the Enterprise crew find the peace offering to be odd, but take the Stargazer in tow, beaming over to check it out. Dr. Crusher accompanies Picard, as she is concerned about headaches he has been having, headaches which appear to have no cause. While packing up possessions from his former cabin on Stargazer, Picard is overcome by pain. He and Crusher beam back to the Enterprise, and Worf follows with Picard’s things.

Crusher is concerned about these causeless headaches, and Counselor Troi also knows that something is up — Picard appears to be having intrusive thoughts, but the thoughts that are intruding are also his own. This is patently an attempt to get Picard to admit to some guilt, as ship’s logs found on the Stargazer include a confession that Picard destroyed a peaceful Ferengi vessel and damaged the Stargazer in an attempt to cover it up. None of the Enterprise crew believe this, and it doesn’t take them long to prove that the confession was falsified.

In the meantime, Picard has ordered the Stargazer released from the tractor beam, allowing her momentum to carry her along beside Enterprise. Once this has been done, he beams over, and is surprised to meet DaiMon Bok on the Stargazer‘s bridge. Bok is equipped with a glowing orb that he  manipulates to increase Picard’s headache and Picard collapses, overcome by the pain. Bok explains that his son was the commander of the vessel Picard had destroyed all those years ago, and he is taking revenge for his son’s death. Bok beams away, leaving the sphere behind.

A similar sphere has been found in Picard’s quarters, hidden among his possessions from the Stargazer. Commander Riker contacts the Ferengi vessel and speaks to the second in command, who identifies the sphere as an illegal thought-controlling device. Riker signals the Stargazer, which is preparing to launch an attack on the Enterprise; at his instruction, Picard destroys the sphere and, once more in command of his own thoughts, aborts the attack. In coda, the Ferengi second tells Riker that he is now in command — he has ordered DaiMon Bok arrested and confined, for the crime of a personal venture with no profit in it.

On Leadership: Another day, another form of mind control. It’s a wonder starships are captained by humans at all, if we are so susceptible to mind control. In just 9 missions since the Enterprise set out with Picard in command, Picard has lost possession of his faculties three times. Once, in response to a sort of contagious illness (“The Naked Now”), once by merger with an energy being (“Lonely Among Us”), and now due to a telepathic weapon.

The leadership lessons I see here are to have good people, to trust your people, and to foster an environment where your people trust each other. While Picard is being manipulated by a bereaved father with a grudge, his crew are performing to the top level expected of Starfleet officers. They never believe the fabricated confession, and find the proof of the deception handily. Riker never threatens the Ferengi vessel, instead enlisting the help of his counterpart. The best that can be said of Picard is that when Riker contacts him on the Stargazer, he trusts Riker even in the midst of pain and flashback, following Riker’s instructions and thereby freeing himself of the telepathic influence of the orb.

It is interesting to me that starship captains are so vulnerable to outside influences over their minds. Of course, the three situations seen in these early missions are of entirely different origin; a defense against telepathic interference wouldn’t have impacted the other situations in which Picard loses control. Picard’s continued confidence in himself is inspiring. A less experienced commander could be forgiven for feeling uncertain about their own decisions after all this. In so far as we all have moments in which we lose control — mostly due to our own emotions, and not any external influence — we can learn to trust our teammates, and how to recover from these situations with grace.

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