This Picard courtroom episode is the result of a convergence of three talents in their prime: writer Jeri Taylor, director Jonathan Frakes, and actor Patrick Stewart each carry out their duties superbly, and the result is a great piece of Trek. The episode, with echoes of McCarthyism (and foreshadowing the political fallout of 9/11,) is written with a clever structure, snowballing into the main plot. Devoid of a dull moment, "The Drumhead" is one of the tensest TNG episodes.
Episodes like these remind me why I love TNG so much. TNG is often subtle and this subtlety is played out beautifully here in this episode, "The Drumhead". Like all great TV (or movies or books or plays or whatever) the most important thing is the writing and the writing here, like all great writing, only states a fraction of what is really being communicated. The words spoken by the characters in this episode only represent one moment in the overall lives of these characters and therefore there is so much more to the actual true nature of each individual character. Picard's knowledge and devotion to justice, Worf's loyalty to Picard and the admiral's obsession in defending the federation all come to a head and what transpires is not what is stated by any of them, but instead what is communicated by all of them intrinsically. This episode dances with ambiguity and does so unapologetically. When the admiral questions Piccard's involvement with the Borg and when she questions his cloudy interactions with Romuleans, should we not question Piccard and his actions? Is she correct? Is she wrong, misinformed? Or is she right, though only half-way? Does Worf's loyalty to the captain wane? And if so, why? Has the captain done anything to allow Worf to be disloyal? Questions like these arise and often go unanswered. But questions like these are what make TNG great, they leave the viewer with wanting more and they leave the viewer left to wonder and think about the show long after it has ended.
For the second time in season 4, TNG decided to push the envelope on exactly what our dear, perfect, utopian Federation was really like. In "The Wounded", a well-meaning and well-regarded captain carried out a vigilante campaign of justice with horrific results. In "The Drumhead", a Starfleet Admiral carries out an unfounded witch hunt aboard the Enterprise.
This episode also mines a rich seam - Picard squaring off against his superiors. It would happen a few more times during the show's run - "Ensign Ro" and "The Pegasus" - with great results.
The episode starts off with a nod to Worf's arc (which would be resolved within a few episodes). The offscreen appearance of the Romulans suggests another military thriller. But the episode, in a nice headache, takes a wild turn into deeper waters.
We (and Picard) slowly realize what Admiral Satie is up to, with Worf as her willing pawn. The tale culminates in a superb climactic courtroom scene, and there is a wonderful, understated epilogue between Worf and Picard on the observation deck.
If I had to pick two MVPs for the episode, it would be Jeri Taylor (the episode's writer) and Patrick Stewart, who gives a tour de force performance. Honorable mentions go to Jean Simmons (Admiral Satie), Michael Dorn and the guy who played Simon Tarses. The latter gives a heartfelt, convincing performance as the crewman whose career is forever ruined by Satie's zeal.
The "Enterprise" is under investigation when a warp core explosion occurs. A visiting klingon officer is suspected of sabotage. It turns out he is a spy, but he did not cause the explosion. So they interrogate the medical crewman responsible of giving the
The "Enterprise" is under investigation when a warp core explosion occurs. A visiting klingon officer is suspected of sabotage. It turns out he is a spy, but he did not cause the explosion. So they interrogate the medical crewman responsible of giving the klingon regular injections. Admiral Sadie's interogation officer then accuses the crewman of sabotage. Guilty until proven innocent all because he is biracial. As it turns out he did lie on his starfleet application. His grandfather was not vulcan but romulan. Picard defends his crewman and he too must face interogation. I rate this one a 8.5.
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