Friday, May 3, 2013

TNG: The Chain Of Command

Today I watched "The Chain of Command." TNG's middle-of-season-six two-parter is our first real introduction to the Cardassians. This episode ran right before DS9 began and I'm guessing the folks behind Star Trek wanted us to know what massive jackwagons these guys are. They made sure that "Chain of Command" had lots of high tension and drama. To start things out, the Enterprise is immediately taken from Picard and handed over to this guy:
Captain Hardass
(Actually, I really like him and I'm glad he made Troi wear a real uniform--more on that in a future post) 
Next, Picard, Beverly, and Worf go on a super secret mission to thwart the Cardassian construction of a crazy WMD but they're doomed to fail and, while his comrades escape, Picard is captured and taken to the highest ranking jerk around. This guy:
Gul Jerk-Bag
(He's a pretty awesome character too) 
Gul Jerk-Bag (actually Gul Madred) keeps Picard around for a while, hoping to get information out of him. And how does he propose getting those sweet command codes? Through systematic, Orwellian torture. This one's hard to watch but I've seen it about twenty times and, while it's still powerful and the performances by literally every single cast member are stellar, the very first thought I had when "Chain of Command" started was, "Oh hey, Picard's about to get naked!"

I felt bad for getting excited about a horrible Star Trek torture scene but then I got over it and ate a snack and shouted, "I see four lights!" at Gul Jerk-Bag along with Picard because it's Friday and that's how I roll. 


  1. Hey, Ashley!

    I LOVE everything you've been writing/drawing, even though I haven't commented for a while. Yes, I, too, enjoyed "Best of Both Worlds" in the theater very much, as did my wife (Jen, you might remember) and kids. "BBW" was in fact the episode(s) I showed her in order to introduce TNG (and Trek in general) back when we were first dating!

    Anyway, the real reason I am posting is to point out a minor, tiny, well, error: "Chain of Command" did NOT introduce us to the Cardassians. Their "debut" was actually in the 4th season episode (#12, to be exact), "The Wounded," in which the Enterprise pursues a "rogue" Starfleet captain who seems intent on re-igniting the Federation-Cardassian war. I completely agree, however, that the 'Cards come off as far more despicable in "CoC," if only because this 2-parter gives them a lot more screen time. As I say, it's really minor, but you know how much Trekers get off on picking nits, whatever their size!

    Keep up the great work!

    1. I'm so glad that you're reading the blog and enjoying it! And I love hearing about how your introduced your wife to Trek with BBW!

    2. Your comments re "CoC" & DS9 are spot-on, and I apologize for not having gotten your point the first time around. I, too, find our deeper glimpses into Cardassian society to be rather harrowing. As you might recall (for my post of months and months ago), I am finishing up a book on "The Politics of Star Trek" (I'm a political scientist, and my last two books were about the US space program, the second one written under a contract from NASA), and in my chapter about Trek's portrayals of the judicial system, I talk a bit about that DS9 episode (the title escapes me) where Chief O'brien stands "trial" in a Cardassian court (very much a Stalinist "show trial").

      Whoops -- I have a tendency to prattle!

      Woody (my actual name)

    3. I think "The Politics of Star Trek" sounds absolutely fascinating. The episode you're talking about I think is "Tribunal" and I agree that it's really crazy and harrowing. I'm curious whether you've written about the episode "Hard Time" wherein Miles is held captive in a virtual prison for twenty years. Also, I'd love to know what percentage of your book ended up being about DS9 which strikes me as the most politically themed of the Star Trek franchise.

  2. Hi, AshleyRose
    I have also seen this particular episode around 20 times. It's etched into my subconscious from the first time I saw it sometime in the early to mid 90's. The "I see four lights!" line and the image of Picard hanging like a martyr, for the Federation of Planets, naked, sweating, and nearly broken holds strong and just before he breaks he is saved. Powerful imagery. Vanessa has also seen this wonderfully uncomfortable piece of acting brilliance several times, I'm sure. She even knows the line! I'm such a fan that while on a our honeymoon in Hawaii I created a whole imaginary scenario about our tour bus being driven by Picard and how much safer we'd all be. lol Probably a "had to be there" kinda thing, but everyone agreed. Just sayin' ;)


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