Thursday, May 2, 2019

The Drumhead

TNG Season 4 Episode 21
Air Date: April 29th, 1991

An explosion in the warp core that could have destroyed the Enterprise starts an investigation of a Klingon exchange officer. Starfleet sends retired Rear Admiral Norah Satie to assist in the investigation. They are able to prove that the Klingon had stolen plans of the Enterprise and leaked it to the Romulans, but he continues to deny that he was involved in the explosion.

Admiral Satie increases her investigations and discovers a part Vulcan medical crewman that gave regular medical injections to this Klingon was actually part Romulan. She wants to prosecute him as a spy but Captain Picard steps in and defends him claiming that just because one grandparent was Romulan doesn't make him a spy. Admiral Satie then investigates everyone starting with Captain Picard. Picard ends up humiliating the Admiral and Starfleet stops the investigation.

Each season there is at least one episode that deals with ethics and human rights. This seasons episode deals with racism and the principle of innocent until proven guilty. These episodes tend to be very well acted and scripted and this one is no exception.


"The Seventh Guarantee is one of the most important rights granted by the Federation. We cannot take a fundamental principle of the Constitution and turn it against a citizen." - Captain Picard
"Sir, the Federation does have enemies. We must seek them out!" - Lt. Worf
"Oh, yes. That's how it starts. But the road from legitimate suspicion to rampant paranoia is very much shorter than we think. Something is wrong here, Mister Worf. I don't like what we have become." - Captain Picard

"This is not unlike a drumhead trial." - Captain Picard
"I do not understand." - Lt. Worf
"500 years ago, military officers would upend a drum on the battlefield. They'd sit at it and dispense summary justice. Decisions were quick, punishments severe, appeals denied. Those who came to a drumhead were doomed." - Captain Picard

"Admiral. What you're doing here, is unethical. It's immoral. I'll fight it." - Captain Picard

"I am deeply concerned by what is happening here. It began when we apprehended a spy, a man who admitted his guilt and who will answer for his crime. But the hunt didn't end there. Another man, Mister Simon Tarses, was brought to trial and it was a trial, no matter what others choose to call it. A trial based on insinuation and innuendo. Nothing substantive offered against Mister Tarses, much less proven. Mister Tarses' grandfather is Romulan, and for that reason his career now stands in ruins. Have we become so fearful? Have we become so cowardly that we must extinguish a man because he carries the blood of a current enemy? Admiral, let us not condemn Simon Tarses, or anyone else, because of their bloodlines, or investigate others for their innocent associations. I implore you, do not continue with this proceeding. End it now." - Captain Picard

"You know, there some words I've known since I was a school boy. With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured, the first thought forbidden, the first freedom denied, chains us all irrevocably. Those words were uttered by Judge Aaron Satie as wisdom and warning. The first time any man's freedom is trodden on, we're all damaged. I fear that today" - Captain Picard
"How dare you! You who consort with Romulans invoke my father's name to support your traitorous arguments. It is an offence to everything I hold dear. And to hear those words used to subvert the United Federation of Planets. My father was a great man. His name stands for integrity and principle. You dirty his name when you speak it. He loved the Federation, but you, Captain, corrupt it. You undermine our very way of life. I will expose you for what you are. I've brought down bigger men than you, Picard!" - Admiral Satie

"We think we've come so far. Torture of heretics, burning of witches, it's all ancient history. Then before you can blink an eye, suddenly it threatens to start all over again." - Captain Picard
"I believed her. I, I helped her. I did not see what she was." - Lt. Worf
"Mister Worf, villains who twirl their mustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged." - Captain Picard
"I think after yesterday, people will not be so ready to trust her." - Lt. Worf
"Maybe. But she, or someone like her, will always be with us, waiting for the right climate in which to flourish, spreading fear in the name of righteousness. Vigilance, Mister Worf that is the price we have to continually pay." - Captain Picard

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