1: Chain of Command (6.10, 6.11)

Synopsis: The fish leaves the ready room while Picard proves he can count.

Memory Alpha Summary:  Got it done

Review: As I mentioned in my review of Time’s Arrow, this episode would have made for a perfect end of the season cliffhanger.  The Cardassians are easily my favorite humanoid villain, and there is so much intensity packed into this episode.  In fact, this is one of the few episodes that could have been easily turned into a feature length film.

I’ve got to get this ship ready, and I don’t have time to give Will Riker or anyone else a chance.

Captain Jellico is a major dick, perhaps a bit over the top.  But I’ll give the writers a break as the situation he was going into was quite scary.  Plus, they humanized him with the scene of him admiring his son’s drawing, and later coming to ask for Riker’s help with his tail between his legs.  And I don’t mind at all that he asked Troi to wear a standard dress uniform; she looks more professional and actually more attractive in it.

From this point on, you will enjoy no privileges of rank, no privileges of person. From this point on, I shall refer to you only as Human.

Then of course we have the second part which is mostly comprised of Picard being tortured over several days.  It feels real.  It’s moving.  Gul Madred is an amazingly convincing interrogator, and it’s a shame his character never reappears.  When I was kid, this episode did little for me, and I thought the whole lights thing was silly.  Older now, it completely resonates with me.

In this room you do not ask questions. I ask them, you answer. If I am not satisfied with your answers, you will die.

Brilliant writing.  I can’t help but think Ronny Cox and David Warner put in the two best guest appearances in the show’s entire run.

But I’ve told you that I believe you. I didn’t ask you about Minos Korva. I asked how many lights you see.

But it wasn’t just these two that make the episode.  There are so many subtleties that get me.  When Riker goes to Picard’s quarters and decides not to bother him with his troubles with Jellico, it showed both Riker’s respect for his captain and his humility as well.

When children learn to devalue others, they can devalue anybody, including their parents.

My only disappointment, and it’s very minor, is that the mine-planting scene inside the nebula is rather weak on the spectacle.  Not surprisingly, this was due to budget reasons.  But the end result still works.

Torture has never been a reliable means of extracting information. It is ultimately self-defeating as a means of control. One wonders it is still practiced. 

Finally, Picard’s session with Troi at the end, where he admits by the end he could see five lights, says a lot by saying very little.  It’s the perfect end to my favorite episode.

There!  Are!  FOUR!  LIGHTS!


11 thoughts on “1: Chain of Command (6.10, 6.11)”

  1. This has been an excellent list. I’d rate #3 and #2 higher than this one, but it certainly deserves a top ranking. Darmok, Remember Me, and others that I like a lot ranked well; I differ about Schisms and Q Who, but then again I’ve never sat down to rank the whole series, either. Very well done.

  2. This probably gets my top spot too, and I’m glad to see it here. Well done on the list. Thanks.

  3. I still have to watch this one. I figured it would be in the top of your list. I think I didn’t care for this as a kid either and didn’t finish watching it.

    1. That’s odd because I think you told me once you watched this and laughed at the quote “and get the fish out of the ready room.”

      1. Gettin’ old. I do not remember anything about this episode besides Picard saying stuff about the lights and a Cardassian being there. I only remember you talking about how you really liked this episode.

        Nice timing on starting your list BTW. ;)

  4. Thanks all of you for following. It was a blast to write this up. I did this with the intention of having random internet people follow along; I didn’t know I’d have friends showing up. The rest of the week will have more countdown related stuff, and then it’s onto something completely different (but still with lists!)

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