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Star Trek TNG - Season 6 - Episode 11

Star Trek TNG - 6x11 - Chain of Command, Part II

Originally Aired: 1992-12-21

Synopsis:
The crew attempts to rescue Picard from Cardassians. [DVD]

My Rating - 9

Fan Rating Average - 8.27

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 15 1 2 3 1 2 13 10 17 29 113

Problems
None

Factoids
- Patrick Stewart performed the scenes where he is stripped by the Cardassians fully in the nude, so as to better act the part.

Remarkable Scenes
- Zombie Picard being interrogated.
- Gul Madred describing a peaceful, prosperous Cardassia of 200 years ago, before the military takeover.
- Madred's psychotic torture techniques.
- Jellico relieving Riker of duty.
- Data in red!
- Madred exposing his daughter to his work. That man is insane.
- Madred and Picard discussing Cardassia's history.
- Madred bluffing about holding Beverly and killing Worf to get Picard to be more cooperative.
- Picard eating a live Taspar egg.
- Picard defying Madred.
- Picard continuing to defy Madred while the pain device keeps him in constant agony.
- Geordi carefully trying to put in the good word to Jellico about Riker.
- Riker taking pleasure in Jellico's brief moment of humility.
- Geordi: "Do I wanna know how close that was?" Riker: "No."
- Jellico playing his minefield card to the Cardassian captain.
- Picard taking the pain inflictor controller and smashing it. Madred: "That won't help, I have many more." Picard: "Still... felt... good."
- Madred trying one last time to get Picard to submit to him by telling him that there are five lights. Picard, one last time defying him and continuing to tell the truth: "There... are... four... lights!" The guards try to help Picard get to the door, Picard pushes them away. He walks to the door with dignity on his own power.
- Picard describing his ordeal to the counselor and admitting that he was almost about to give in.

My Review
Two rivalries, one between Jellico and the Cardassian captain, and one between Madred and Picard. In both the Cardassians start out on top, but get outmaneuvered by the humans. With regards to Madred and Picard, we get an utterly amazing performance by Picard once again. Madred also did an amazing job showing us just how much of a twisted man he was. I like how in the end, Madred only wanted to break Picard. He wasn't interested in getting any information from him. He just wanted to win the rivalry. All things considered, this episode features one of the most impressive displays of acting and character usage ever shown on Star Trek. It's also one of the most disturbing episodes ever shown on Star Trek. A truly memorable showing.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DSOmo on 2007-11-12 at 2:58am:
    - Madred asks Picard the names and ranks of those who accompanied him on the raid. Picard responds with "Chief Medical Officer Beverly Crusher and Lieutenant Worf." Isn't "chief medical officer" more of a title than a rank? Crusher's rank is commander, in the same way that Riker's rank is commander and his title is first officer.
    - Both Part 1 and Part 2 of "Chain of Command" suggests that the Cardassians were able to lure Picard into their trap simply by using theta band emissions as the bait. Is Picard really the only person in Starfleet who knows about these kinds of subspace waves? What happened to the rest of the crew on the Stargazer? Data seems to address these questions when he says that Picard is "one of only three Starfleet captains with extensive experience in theta band devices. The other two are no longer in Starfleet." But is this the type of mission that Starfleet feels must be lead by a captain? Isn't this really just a commando raid to seek out and destroy a Cardassian lab? Does it seem reasonable to send the captain of the flagship of the Federation on a grenade-throwing mission? And does it seem reasonable that the Cardassians would expect that they could capture Picard simply by transmitting a bunch of theta waves?
  • From wepeel on 2008-05-04 at 2:11pm:
    While DSOmo is once again on point with Picard saying the title Chief Medical Officer instead of Crusher's rank (like he was asked to), and is probably a writer oversight, one could make the argument that the writers deliberately wrote that line to illustrate the view that information extracted via torture is neither ethical nor reliable. Picard was simply too exhausted to give the most appropriate answer...
  • From JRPoole on 2008-09-16 at 1:13pm:
    This is one of the stronger episodes of the series, and one that's often overlooked.

    The only problem I see here is that it seems a little unlikely that Star Fleet would choose to send it's flagship captain on such a dangerous mission. We're given some justification of that -- Picard is an expert on the techno-babble issue of the day-- but it still seems like a long shot for the Cardassians to lure him in this way. I can't imagine that Star Fleet couldn't simply train some special-ops task team on the subspace emissions and turn them loose rather than sending Picard. But that's a minor thing, and the this episode is more than worth the suspension of disbelief needed to get through it.

    The torture scenes are acted wonderfully by everybody involved, and they're some of the most gripping scenes of TNG. This episode also features a great guest turn by the actor playing Jellico, as well as the one portraying Gul Madred. We also get that rarest of TNG treats, a Ferengi character not so annoying and overdrawn that the Ferengi at large seem unrealistic. This is quality stuff, and I give the two-parter as a whole a 9.
  • From rpeh on 2010-08-01 at 7:26pm:
    As far as I'm concerned, this is the best episode in the entire Trek oeuvre. The story is gripping from start to finish and then... Patrick Stewart.

    His acting in the torture scenes was nothing short of perfect, and the final line in the scene with Troi... well. Perfect again. This is one episode where the TNG writers finally realised that had a serious actor on their books and gave him a chance to show off his talent.

    It's almost as if every other actor steps up a gear given Stewart's performance. Frakes in particular loses some of his usual cardboard edge and gives a great show as Riker, and the others are almost as good.

    It was the memory of this episode that made me get the old DVDs down off the shelf and watch them all again. Absolutely brilliant.
  • From nirutha on 2010-11-21 at 6:28pm:
    I really dig David Warner as Gul Madred. He has the perfect voice for that role, one that seems to belong to a man both sophisticated and sadistic. (He also voice-acted Jon Irenicus in a similiar role in the RPG classic Baldur's Gate 2.)
  • From John on 2011-02-01 at 10:46am:
    Once again, DSOmo manages to suck all the mystery and fun out of a fictional show. I bet he's a lot of fun at parties. And funerals.
  • From anon on 2013-12-29 at 8:14am:
    I feel kind of sorry for captain Picard at this stage. He's lived a very hard life. First he was a borg, then he lived a whole false life in 'Inner Light' (to suddenly discover your children and wife weren't real would be devastating) and now he has been tortured. Plus it appears that he has never been in a very serious relationship despite him appearing to want companionship.
  • From Quando on 2014-03-19 at 5:47pm:
    The whole "how many lights do you see" thing was borrowed (stolen?) from George Orwell's great novel 1984, in which the protagonist Winston was being tortured by the state and asked repeatedly how many fingers the torturer was holding up (there were only four, but the torturer insisted that there were five). Like Picard, in the end Winston said that he really did believe that he saw five fingers, although there were only four.
  • From Axel on 2015-03-21 at 11:59pm:
    This two-parter was held back a bit by the scenes involving Jellico's interaction with the crew, but is redeemed by Picard's mission and subsequent captivity.

    The Enterprise crew comes off as very whiny in this episode. Sure, Jellico may be an abrasive captain, but what is he really asking? That the ship be prepared for an emergency combat situation and shut down its research missions to be fully ready for that? Surely the Enterprise has contingency plans for this kind of thing, so it can't be that unusual for the crew to step up its game a bit. I think the conflict between Jellico and the rest of the crew was forced. Jellico's negotiations with the Cardassians did make for some great scenes, along with the plan to place mines on the Cardassian ships.

    The Seltris III mission and Picard's captivity, though, are amazingly done. David Warner is one of the best guest cast members in all of TNG as Gul Madred. Patrick Stewart's research and preparation for this role pay off, and the two actors' performances are what make this two-parter pure gold. The final scene where Picard talks about seeing five lights was gripping and the perfect end to this story.
  • From Emitter Array on 2016-08-20 at 10:13am:
    I think this is one of TNG's finest episodes (although I do agree with DSOmo's comments about problems with the premise). David Warner is perfect in his role while Patrick Stewart gets to act out a bit more compared to the usual fare he gets on the show; just excellent all around and a joy to watch.
  • From Mike on 2017-05-06 at 5:59pm:
    If you want the Enterprise to explore space, make contact with new civilizations, or even go into a confrontation hoping to work out a peaceful result, you go with Picard. If you have to send the Enterprise into a confrontation expecting to do battle, you want a Jellico.

    What's interesting to me about the Jellico part of this plot is that all we can really say is that Jellico and the senior staff had a hard time working together. The episode does a good job of not portraying Jellico as a bad captain, just a different captain who excels in a situation most of the TNG crew aren't used to. Ultimately, he does have to rely on Riker and the rest to complete the mission, humbling him a bit. But Starfleet's confidence in Jellico as a Cardassian expert is clearly justified.

    The scenes between Picard and Madred are superbly written and acted. It was a very gripping part of the plot, and again, what we get in Gul Madred is not a one-dimensionally evil interrogator, but a complex and somewhat tragic figure. Picard recognizes as much. I absolutely loved the final scene, too, where Picard is speaking with Troi. He didn't come away from this experience completely unchanged, just as with his abduction by the Borg.

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