Part 2 is essentially what used to be referred to in the television industry as "an elevator show". (In the old days of television when you wanted to save money on an episode, you had a pair of characters become trapped in an elevator and wrote a couple dozen pages of dialogue for them.) Originally meant to be one part, Chain of Command was expanded to two parts with the idea that putting David Warner and Patrick Stewart in the same room together would require only a great script to make the episode successful, an idea that turns out to be true. (The true genius of the script is that it turns from being a character study of Picard to being a character study of Warner's Cardassian interrogator.) In fact, Warner and Stewart's scenes might be the greatest that two performers ever created in all of Trek's history (Though scenes in DS9's "Duet" deserve an honorable mention.) Flip flopping A and B stories from Part 1, Part 2 doesn't give the ship's story as much time but still knocks it out of the park. It's almost too bad the writers used the Captain idea is in a television episode, because had they saved it for a feature film it would have been a bold, new idea no Trek movie had approached before. (I don't think Decker counts.) And the budget would have allowed for a real space battle as opposed to everyone just about one. On the other hand, the series certainly didn't "waste" the idea, as it fits together perfectly with the Picard story, a small-scale story which is certainly more suited for television.
The first time I watched this episode, I was bored stiff. A dark room with a Cardassian and Picard. Lots of talking. Not much excitement.
This is a psychological episode, one which won't offer that much to someone looking for battles, the alien of the week or fancy pseudo-science. Picard's battle of wills against his tormentor (played superbly by David Warner), coupled with a final act of defiance and then a shocking revelation to Counselor Troi, is among the heaviest in the series. Like "The Inner Light" and "Best of Both Worlds", a character is changed forever.
The scenes aboard the Enterprise - with Jellico demoting Riker, effectively abandoning Picard and then grudgingly requesting Riker's help, are also great. This thread winds down and merges perfectly.
An additional word on David Warner's brilliant performance. This was not the Cardassians' first appearance on Star Trek, but it was definitely the one that defined who they were. DS9, and Gul Dukat, would have had much heavier lifting without it. A perfect set-up to the spinoff.
Conclusion. Picard has been captured by a Cardassian. He has been given truth serum. The Cardassian known as Gul Lemec is trying to obtain vital information from Picard. Picard lets the Gul Lemec know that the Federation is planning on destroying metagenic weapons on Celtris III. Gul Lemec informs Picard it was a trap inorder to lure Picard to the planet. Gul Lemec informs the “Enterprise” crew that Picard , Crusher , and Worf have been captured. Jelico has his doubts and orders the “Enterprise” to the rendezvous point. Crusher and Worf is there, but no Picard.
When I watched this episode I was only 13 years old, yet it had an effect on me. To watch as someone I thought of as a hero was beaten and humiliated, it made me see the evils of our own modern world. It also showed me the lies that people would use to get whatever they want out of someone.
This episode happened ten years too soon for the audience. In 1992, torture was something that happened in totaliarian regimes or third world countries. Yet we know now that torture is a common device, used by all.
I encourage everyone who can to watch this episode and then question current events.
First rate conclusion to this two parter. The Cardassian reveal their gambit to obtain a star system lost to the Federation in a previous peace accord.
Essentially the plot centres around the completion of the battle of wills between Picard and his captor/torturer, the Cardassian Gul Lemec. The battle of wills demonstrates several facets of the mental combat between a torturer and his target as you might expect on a basic level. It intelligently adds a scene with Lemecs daughter to convey more of the Cardassians hard nature and reveals an insight at the way they became cold and heartless (in human eyes), over the centuries as they fought to overcome their race's harsh existence but at a cost - the loss of their own innocence and any form of good will.
The conflict between the two is intensified further with the implanting of a device that allows Lemec to inflict pain in Picard at the push of a button. The dialogue between the two is a little too civilised for my tastes, but it does work very well in creating an undercurrent between the two that amplified the absurdity of the torture , almost like two friends whereby one has dominance over antoher in some petty dispute.
The exchange is framed perfectly by the apparatus of 4 lights shining behind LeMec. In the test, an ultimate measure of Picards remaining free will, Lemec sets about trying to convince Picard that there are 5 lights not 4, to gain control of Picards will, more than merely just extracting the tactical plans that Picard may know regarding the ?Midas? sector.
Meanwhile on the Enterprise Jellico, Riker and Troi are fed the news that Picard is captured. They are put in a difficult position of having to either disavow any knowledge of Picards action, which will leave him to his fate or claim knowledge, give Picard PoW status but forfeit the higher moral ground.
However, Jellico with the crews help esp. an obstinate Riker manage to discover a Cardassian battlefleet hiding in a nearby nebula (to the wanted starsystem) and mines the ships forcing the Cardassians to return to the negotiation table and give up Picard for safe passage of their ships.
One scene to remember is Data's apparent off-screen temporary promotion when Riker is relieved of command for insisting they must act to save Picard. Data wears a red command jacket instead of his his usual golden one.
A poignant ending results in Picard asking for Troi to join him in his ready room as Jellico departs. Picard then makes a disturbing if not unsurprising revelation about his experience.
An intelligent two parter, which excellent dialogue between the main antaganist and protaganist. Dont expect any combat or battles, though.
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