Star Trek 157: The Ensigns of Command

157. The Ensigns of Command

FORMULA: Skin of Evil + The Paradise Syndrome + The Naked Now

WHY WE LIKE IT: The Sheliak. Data discovers music.

WHY WE DON'T: The badly written colonists.

REVIEW: Data's given a solo mission because of some radiation problems and has to face his misunderstanding of human nature. At least, that's the idea. Unfortunately, these humans are a lot more irrational than most thanks to a poor script. Gosheven is your standard bull-headed community leader who won't see reason no matter what, and the script helps him out, keeping Data from saying the things that would make a convincing argument. Ard'rian falls in love with the android for no better reason than to give him an ally and have him react to a kiss. It's all by the numbers, not very well acted, and also suffers from some obvious dubbing whenever there's running water in the scene.

Brent Spiner is so engaging as Data that he manages to redeem a lot of the planet scenes, and his final solution is a good one. It logically should have come a lot sooner however. Aboard ship, the android participates in his first concert (note O'Brien at the cello in the background), leading to an ongoing hobby for the character. It's all likeable, with Picard commending his creativity, and his colleagues derisively telling him he has no "soul". Glad to see the awkwardness between Picard and Crusher has been abandoned, as they are clearly on a date between friends here.

Perhaps the best part of The Ensigns of Command (what the heck does that title mean, anyway?) is the appearance of the Sheliak, very alien creatures that seem to be the lawyers of space. This gives Picard the chance to flex his lawyerly muscles, which he always does well. Troi's not useless here either, with an interesting discussion about language.

LESSON: Tell them about the orbital bombardment THE FIRST TIME!!!

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: The best scenes are all aboard ship, but unfortunately, that's not where most of the episode takes place.


Anonymous said...

"the appearance of the Sheliak, very alien creatures that seem to be the lawyers of space. "


Run away, run away!

Siskoid said...

Truly, I don't know why these terrifying monsters didn't show up again, at least working for the Ferengi.

Probably all tied up with the long-running Cybermen vs. Borg copyright infringement suit.

PiFry said...

"The Ensigns of Command" is actually a poetic phrase made famous by John Quincy Adams. It means the trappings and indications of authority, both publicly recognized in form (like a flag or badge indicating authority) and recognized in one's character.

The title refers to the dual struggles between Picard and the Sheliak and between Data and the colonists--both involving a need to demonstrate the "ensigns of command" to make a case and win. Picard is seen to "jibber" at first, with an emotional appeal, but eventually rises to logically beat the Sheliak at their own game. Meanwhile Data's struggle is similar--he has trouble proving his case and authority, but needs to learn to deal with people less logical than he.

Siskoid said...

Wow PiFry, thanks for that! It has bugged me, well, since the late 80s.

And I like the title of your blog!

PiFry said...

Heh, thanks. It's bugged me too so I looked it up. And it's always nice to meet another Futurama fan.

LiamKav said...

The dubbing isn't just because of running water. Gorshavin is dubbed by a different actor every time he speaks. I have no idea why. That sort of thing never looks anything other than fake.


Blog Archive


5 Things to Like (21) Activities (23) Advice (74) Alien Nation (34) Aliens Say the Darndest Things (8) Alpha Flight (25) Amalgam (53) Ambush Bug (46) Animal Man (17) anime (54) Aquaman (71) Archetypes (14) Archie Heroes (10) Arrowed (20) Asterix (9) Atom (31) Avengers (59) Awards (33) Babylon 5 (140) Batman (680) Battle Shovel (13) Battlestar Galactica (134) Black Canary (22) BnB 2-in1 (40) Books (61) Booster Gold (16) Buck Rogers (23) Buffy (6) Canada (72) Captain America (69) Captain Marvel (59) Cat (156) CCGs (63) Charlton (12) Circles of Hell (6) Class (11) Comics (4002) Comics Code Approved (12) Conan (15) Contest (13) Cooking (15) Crisis (78) Daredevil (33) Dating Kara Zor-El (5) Dating Lois Lane (23) Dating Lucy Lane (13) Dating Princess Diana (11) DCAU (404) Deadman (9) Dial H (128) Dice (10) Dinosaur Island (16) Dinosaurs (67) Director Profiles (9) Doctor Who (1693) Doom Patrol (22) Down the Rabbit Hole (7) Dr. Strange (17) Encyclopedia (28) Fantastic Four (56) Fashion Nightmares (19) Fiasco (14) Films Within Films (6) Flash (87) Flushpoint (86) Foldees (12) French (49) Friday Night Fights (57) Fun with Covers (56) FW Team-Up (37) Galleries (9) Game design (26) Gaming (111) Geekly roundup (773) Geeks Anonymous (47) Geekwear (13) Gimme That Star Trek (61) Godzilla (53) Golden Age (447) Grant Morrison (75) Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction (8) Green Arrow (50) Green Lantern (88) Hawkman (40) Hero Points Podcast (13) Holidays (241) House of Mystery (16) Hulk (44) Human Target (8) Improv (34) Inspiration (45) Intersect (5) Invasion Podcast (44) Iron Man (50) Jack Kirby (87) Jimmy Olsen (74) JLA (97) JSA (26) K9 the Series (30) Kirby Motivationals (18) Krypto (203) Kung Fu (100) Learning to Fly (11) Legion (131) Letters pages (6) Liveblog (12) Lonely Hearts Podcast (21) Lord of the Rings (18) Machine Man Motivationals (10) Man-Thing (6) Marquee (89) Masters of the Universe (9) Memes (39) Memorable Moments (35) Metal Men (5) Metamorpho (65) Millennium (72) Mini-Comics (5) Monday Morning Macking (7) Movies (458) Mr. Terrific (6) Music (73) Nelvana of the Northern Lights (9) Nightmare Fuel (22) Number Ones (60) Obituaries (42) oHOTmu OR NOT? (81) Old52 (12) One Panel (304) Outsiders (167) Panels from Sheena (6) Paper Dolls (8) Play (78) Podcast (508) Polls (5) Questionable Fridays (13) Radio (16) Rants (20) Reaganocomics (8) Recollected (11) Red Bee (26) Red Tornado (10) Reign (563) Retro-Comics (3) Reviews (52) Rom (116) RPGs (541) Sandman (23) Sapphire & Steel (37) Sarah Jane Adventures (70) Saturday Morning Cartoons (5) SBG for Girls (4) Seasons of DWAITAS (100) Secret Origins Podcast (8) Secret Wars (25) SF (30) Shut Up Star Boy (1) Silver Age (371) Siskoid as Editor (36) Siskoid's Mailbox (10) Space 1999 (51) Spectre (21) Spider-Man (100) Spring Cleaning (15) ST non-fiction (19) ST novels: DS9 (8) ST novels: S.C.E. (19) ST novels: The Shat (2) ST novels: TNG (9) ST novels: TOS (13) Star Trek (1733) Streaky (2) Suicide Squad (39) Supergirl (90) Superman (1065) Supershill (11) Swamp Thing (24) Tales from Earth-Prime (7) Team Horrible (4) Teen Titans (85) That Franchise I Never Talk About (54) The Orville (29) The Prisoner (5) The Thing (54) Then and Now (4) Theory (51) Thor (52) Thursdays of Two Worlds (43) Time Capsule (8) Timeslip (7) Tintin (23) Torchwood (62) Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms (5) Toys (65) Turnarounds (7) TV (193) V (6) Waking Life (1) Warehouse 13 (9) Websites (102) What If? (104) Who's This? (215) Whoniverse-B (11) Wikileaked (3) Wonder Woman (84) X-Files (246) X-Men (103) Zero Hour Strikes (28) Zine (5)