Monday, February 6, 2012

The Defector

**** (4 stars out of 5)

Data rehearses the lead in Shakespeare's 'Henry V' for Picard on the holodeck.

Picard insists Data discover his own performance, not simply imitate Olivier, Branagh, or Kullnark. (No doubt a fine Shakespearean Klingon though Kullnark might be.)

A Romulan scoutship in distress dashes toward the Enterprise out of the Neutral Zone, its pilot requesting asylum.

The defector, Mere Logistics Clerk Setal, still seeping green from his burns, claims a cloaked base has been built on Nelvana III in the Neutral Zone. When it is complete the Angry Warbirds will be able to hit 15 UFP sectors. And he wants to stop it rather than dance on their human bones.

He set his vessel to explode, so La Forge and Data never got to steal the tape deck and hubcaps. The defector knew they'd try that. "The Federation credo, exploitation!"

The defector calls Worf nasty names like pahtk and tohzah. Riker smoothly replies: "Only a veruul would use such language in public." (There are times when I wonder what's up with the Universal Translator. Is there a Cursing Filter? Come to think of it, 'merde' stayed 'merde' when Picard said 'merde', too.)

The defector hates and also understands Worf. "Exactly the type that will get us all killed if we're not careful."

The cynical Romulan shows the audience that he has something that is not a TUMS in his boot.

Geordi and Data turn up an analysis that shows Tomalak's warbird LET the scoutship escape.

Picard once more agonizes over the nearness of interstellar war. "Now if these men do not die well it will be a black matter for the king who led them to it."

The defector gives up nothing during Riker and Troi's mildly badgering interrogation. This is not twenty-first century TV, after all. Starfleet neither condones nor probably THOUGHT about using torture to promote honesty. The Romulan does not appreciate their forbearance. "Oh, what a fool I've been. To come looking for courage in a lair of cowards."

He goes for a drink and complains at Data. "These are not my stars. Even the heavens are denied me here."

Fed up with people being distrustful but generally decent to him, the defector admits that he is Admiral Alidar Jarok, commander of the massacre at the Norkan outposts.

"What you call massacres were called the Norkan campaigns on my world, Captain. One world's butcher is another world's hero. Perhaps I am neither one... There comes a time in a man's life that you cannot know. When he looks down at the first smile of his baby girl and realizes that he must change the world for her... She will grow up believing that I am a traitor. But she will grow up."

Enterprise violates the Treaty of Algeron and enters the Neutral Zone to investigate Nelvana III. There's no base. But there is a dandy trap and Tomalak eager to display the broken hull of the Federation flagship in his capital city.
Most fortunately, the Federation has some Angry Birds for friends. Picard had Worf prepare some cloaked Klingons earlier. They were probably quite disappointed when the Romulans backed off.

Utterly disgraced and alone, Jarok finds peace in the Federation and buys a farm.

"The Defector" is awesome. I have much respect for actors James Sloyan and Andreas Katsulas as Jarok and Tomalok. There's a point at which grey checkerboard outfits, spikes, sharp ears, foreheads, and Beatles wigs stops and the actor underneath starts. There's a lot of layer and emotional nuance here. Plus it's just great drama. I find Ronald Moore's writing quite stirring today.

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