Star Trek 210: Ensign Ro

210. Ensign Ro

FORMULA: Legacy + The Wounded + The Higher Ground

WHY WE LIKE IT: Michelle Forbes as Ro Laren. The return of the bloody Cardies.

WHY WE DON'T: If I had to nitpick, I'd say the admiral here is boringly played.

REVIEW: TNG keeps adding to its extended crew with Mot the barber (an amusing and thankfully brief distraction) and Ro Laren, the angry rebellious Bajoran ensign. As the title character, it's really her show here. Michelle Forbes is stellar in the role, as uncomfortable in her Starfleet uniform as Barclay, but for totally different reasons. Look at that performance again: The way she presses her badge instead of tapping it, taking the turbolift nobody ever takes right next to the ready room, removing her shirt (no zippers!!!) to clothe a little girl... It's like nothing is sacred to this woman. If she's not gonna play the Star Trek game with us, you think she'll follow Picard's orders?

And yet she'll become Picard's protégée by the end of the episode, and perhaps surprisingly remains aboard as a sort of replacement for Wesley. I, for one, am not complaining (yum!). Aside from Picard, she forges one relationship with an established character, and that's Guinan. Aren't they both refugees, after all? Guinan sees through her immediately, much as Ro sees right through Keeve Falor. Excellent scenes ensue. And I do love how she rejects the "girl club" when they come a-gossiping.

With Ensign Ro come the Bajorans which can be tied to the Jews in the Great Star Trek Allegory, an ancient spiritual culture displaced and trodden on by the Nazi-like Cardassians. But there's an extra level in that their situation is much like the Palestinians. It's not overtly stated, but it's there if you wish to think about it.

No doubt watching this episode was a must for anyone developping Deep Space 9 later, and it should be for viewers as well. The situation mirrors that of the Maquis/DMZ storyline and prefigures much of Kira's character.

LESSON: That it's really too bad Michelle Forbes didn't want to join the DS9 cast (though I came to love Kira too).

REWATCHABILITY - High: Ensign Ro comes off as a very mature political story with great twists and character moments. Solid acting, a great new character sure to spice up the series, and the beginning of a Bajoran/Cardassian story that'll take us through the next 10+ seasons of Trek.

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