The Defector (Star Trek: The Next Generation)Star Trek: TNG episode "The Defector"
Romulan Admiral Jarok is "The Defector". Episode no. 58 Prod. code 158 Airdate January 1, 1990Writer(s)Ronald D. MooreDirectorRobert ScheererGuest star(s) Andreas Katsulas
as S.A. Templeman)
John Hancock Year 2366 Stardate43462.5 Episode chronologyPrevious "The Vengeance Factor" Next "The Hunted"
In this episode, determined to avert a war, a defecting Romulan Admiral requests asylum aboard the Federation Starfleet starship USS Enterprise-D and warns the Federation of his Empire's duplicitous invasion plans.
PlotThe plot summary in this article or section is too long or detailed compared to the rest of the article.
Please edit the articleto focus on discussing the workrather than merely reiterating the plot.
As the episode opens, the ship's Chief Operations officer Lt. commander Data is performing the part of King Henry V of England in the Shakespeare play Henry V on the holodeck. Enterprise Captain Jean-Luc Picard is observing Commander Data's acting, and after Data delivers a particularly emotional line, applauds him, saying that the android's skills are constantly improving. Picard adds that Data will find no better way to pursue his quest to learn more about the human condition than by embracing the works of Shakespeare. Jean-Luc is interrupted by a summons to the bridge from ship's First officer Commander William Riker, as they leave the Holodeck, Picard explains to Data how useful it would be for a commander who cares about his troops to disguise himself and walk among them as Henry was doing in the play.
Once they reach the bridge, Riker informs them that the ship's sensors have picked up an unidentified craft in the Neutral Zone heading for Federation space. Riker informs Picard that Federation outpost Sierra VI has identified the ship as a Romulan Scout ship. As Picard begins to warn the scout that it is nearing Federation space, he is stunned as the Romulan cuts him off and requests asylum. Enterprise Klingon Chief of Security Lieutenant Worf announces that the approaching ship is now in visual range and puts it up on the viewsceen. As the small Romulan vessel approaches the border of Federation space, a Romulan D'deridex-class warbird decloaks behind it and opens fire. Seconds later the two Romulan ships enter Federation space, and the Federation flagship extends its shields around the scout. As Picard starts to warn off the Warbird, it suddenly cloaks and wheels about, reentering the Neutral Zone and heading back for Romulan territory.
When the badly injured occupant of the scout beams aboard, he refuses Riker's offer to take him to Sickbay and instead says he has vital information for the Captain. Picard and the rest of the senior staff debrief him in the observation lounge. Telling them that he is Sublieutenant 'Setal', he claims to be a low-ranking logistics clerk who has information about a secret Romulan base being established on Nelvana III, a planet within the Neutral Zone. He adds that within two days, the base's power core will be on line, providing support for a fleet of Warbirds, placing Romulan forces with easy striking distance of fifteen Federation sectors. After he leaves, the Enterprise officers discuss the sobering ramifications of the information they have just learned. Picard assigns Enterprise Chief Engineer Lt. Commander Geordi La Forge to lead an away team to examine the scout ship, exciting La Forge who says he looks forward to getting a "close-up look at some Romulan technology." As Picard tells Riker that he wishes Will and the ship's Counsellor Deanna Troi to conduct the full interrogation of 'Setal', the scout ship suddenly explodes.
In Sickbay, 'Setal' tells Riker that he set the scout ship's auto-destruct before leaving, adding that while he is a defector, he will not betray his people. He berates the Enterprise crew for planning to clandestinely reconnoiter his ship and "strip it down for the secrets it might reveal", saying that they are "short-sighted", and that he is there "to prevent a war".
On the Bridge, Picard has Data scan Nelvana III for signs of any incursion, but the android reports that he can find no unusual activity. Picard observes that with the Romulan cloaking technology the seemingly serene readout could in fact conceal "a fleet of Warbirds passing unseen before our eyes", adding that they need to find a way to nullify this advantage.
A priority-one communiqué from Starfleet Admiral Hayden comes in, which Picard takes in his ready Room. Hayden tells Picard that the Romulans have lodged a formal protest and demanded the return of their officer but Starfleet has refused. He suggests that Picard take the Enterprise to a position proximate to the Nelvana system on the Federation side of the Neutral Zone border.
Back on the Bridge, Geordi shows the senior staff sensor data from the pursuit of the scout ship which he has analyzed, clearly showing that the Warbird deliberately slowed down to avoid catching up with the scout ship. Data speculates that since the Romulans can direct the force of their weapons, they may have avoided damaging the scout ship too severely, and the ship's Chief Medical Officer Dr. Beverly Crusher adds that though the defector's wounds were very serious, they could have been self-inflicted.
Admiral Hayden sends Picard another communication, telling him that two additional starships are being sent as reinforcements, but won't arrive in time to help the Enterprise, adding that all Federation outposts have been warned and all ships placed on yellow alert. Hayden notifies Picard that if the Romulans want a war Starfleet will be ready for them. Jean-Luc calls Data to his ready room and tells him to prepare a class-one probe set for maximum scan to monitor "every meter of Nelvana". He also requests that Data provide him with "his clarity of thought and objectivity", saying that they may be going to war soon, adding that he wishes Data to begin making a record of all the events which transpire so that if a war breaks out, "history will have the benefit of a dispassionate view." Finally, he asks Data about the crew's spirit, regretfully adding that unlike King Henry, he can't walk among them. Data reassures him that while the crew is somewhat uncertain, it is confident.
Riker and Troi attempt to further interrogate 'Setal' but this proves fruitless as he refuses to cooperate further or reveal any other Romulan military or technological secrets or provide any useful intelligence besides the existence of the Nelvana III base, only angrily repeating over and over that their questions are "irrelevant". He adds that the Federation ranks seem to consist only of "cowards" unwilling to take action.
After the Enterprise takes up position on the Federation side of the Neutral Zone border near Nelvana, the probe Picard ordered is launched. As it goes into orbit of the planet, Data picks up low level artificial subspace radio emissions from its sensors, which Geordi says are most likely, but not definitely, Romulan. It also detects ionization disturbances which could be indicative of cloaked Romulan vessels. Sensor read out further indicates that the surface of the planet is barren rock, though Data speculates that the Romulans could be hiding their base from the probe's limited capabilities. Geordi and Data tell Picard that they really can't tell for sure what's going on without entering the Neutral Zone and taking a look at Nelvana themselves, which is forbidden by treaty.
Caught between his divided loyalties, 'Setal' the Romulan defector agonizes over his next decision. Seeing Data in Ten-Forward, he says that he recognizes him as the android who many Romulan cyberneticists "would love to get as close to". Data replies that for some reason this scenario does not appeal to him, which an amused 'Setal' agrees is a wise sentiment on Data's part. After a discussion about the inability of Enterprise replicators to duplicate Romulan ale, he laments to Data that even the vista of the stars outside offers him no comfort, as they are not "his stars". He admits that he misses Romulus, his home, which he now will never see again. Data takes him to the Holodeck, and demonstrates how it can simulate the Romulan valley of Chula, but this only reminds the defector that he can never actually see it again. He tells Data to shut the simulation off, and when this is done observes that the yellow and black grid of the Holodeck now defines the reality of his life. Finally coming to a decision to make the best of the situation, he asks Data to arrange a meeting with the Captain saying, "Tell him… Admiral Jarok wishes to see him."
It turns out that Picard's Romulan refugee is not a low-ranking logistics clerk, but rather a high-ranking Romulan Admiral. Hayden confirms to Picard that he is holding Admiral Alidar Jarok, adding that he has been identified as being the commander of the force which some years earlier massacred the Federation Norkan outposts. He adds that the Federation council considers Jarok an unreliable source of information. Picard has Jarok brought into his Ready room for a conference. Attempting to explain his actions, Jarok describes how he tired of all the talk of military action against the Federation, and felt he had to prevent another pointless war. Picard accuses him of being responsible for the Norkin massacre, to which he replies that "One world's butcher is another world's hero, and perhaps I am neither." Picard points out that with no compelling evidence, in fact no evidence at all other than Jarok's good word, Jarok must convince him that he is telling the truth, adding that a Romulan defector "is almost a contradiction in terms", and that Jarok's "credibility is stretched almost beyond belief". The Romulan continues to resist revealing any other military secrets, but Picard rebukes him with a scathing lecture reminding him that he is now a traitor to his people, he has made his choices, and while Picard may be sorry that the taste of these choices are unpalatable, Jarok must make himself comfortable with those decisions. Picard adds that unless he is willing to provide more information, the intelligence he has already provided isn't concrete enough for Picard to risk his crew upon. Jarok tells Picard that he acted out of concern for his daughter and for "all children", feeling that he "had to change the world for her". He adds, "She will grow up thinking her father was a traitor... but she will grow up!" He adds that he had spoken out against the military before and had finally been censured, eventually coming to the realization that this was a necessary action for the good of Romulus. Picard finally states that without Jarok's unequivocal cooperation he will not go forward.
Shortly thereafter Picard calls a meeting of the senior staff and announces that Jarok has agreed to cooperate fully. With this reassurance the Enterprise enters the Neutral Zone and heads for Nelvana III, expecting to encounter heavy resistance, getting none they continue onward in growing unease. Arriving at Nelvana III they find nothing, now very suspicious that everything may have been a trick after all. They call Jarok to the bridge, and he is stunned to see no base. He recounts how he saw the reports and construction timetables for the base. Picard puts the pieces together and concludes that Jarok was fed disinformation, to test his loyalty.
Picard and Riker realize they have been had, and Picard orders his ship out of there. Riker has the ship wheeled out of orbit and turned for a race back into Federation space, but before they can get underway, two Romulan Warbirds decloak in their path. They are hailed by Commander Tomalak, who observes that unlike the recent Galorndon core incident (Star Trek TNG: "The Enemy"), this time it is the Enterprise which has made an "aggressive move across the Neutral Zone unprovoked", and is outnumbered two to one. Now aware of the full treachery of the Romulan plan, not only outing a traitor but luring the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone as well, Picard asks Tomalak what he wants. The Romulan admiral demands their surrender, or the Enterprise will be destroyed. He adds that if Picard surrenders he will have the Enterprise dissected for every bit of information, boastfully adding that its broken hulk will then be displayed in the Central square in the Romulan capitol as a sign of what happens to enemies of the Empire, inspiring the Romulan military for generations to come. Tomalak also demands that the "traitor" Jarok be returned, but Jarok defiantly tells Tomalak that he has figured out the Romulan plan to test his loyalty.
Tomalak asks Picard if he is willing to sacrifice the lives of his crew for "a lost cause", and Jean-Luc answers that if the cause is a just and honorable one, his crew is ready to follow him, giving Tomalak exactly the answer he was hoping for. As Tomalak prepares to order his ships to attack the Enterprise, Picard asks him if he is ready to die today. Tomalak taunts back that he was hoping for "more than just an idle threat" from Picard. Jean-Luc replies that if he wants more, "then you shall have it", revealing his ace in the hole, as three Klingon Bird of Prey Light cruisers decloak, supporting the Enterprise. Earlier, Picard had contacted the Klingons and requested that the cloaked Klingon cruisers follow the Enterprise into the Neutral Zone. A disappointed Tomalak realizes the situation is a stalemate and backs down. Picard quickly orders his ship out of the Neutral Zone. Jarok says bitterly, "I did it for nothing - my home, my family - for nothing!"
Soon after, Jarok is found dead in his quarters. Doctor Crusher examines him and finds that he had committed suicide by taking a deadly felodesine chip he had brought aboard with him for which there is no antidote. Nearby Riker finds a note the Romulan had left for his family. Data observes that Jarok must have known that they could never deliver it, to which Picard replies that with the heroism of those like Admiral Jarok, perhaps a day will eventually come when they will be able to take his letter home.
ProductionTrivia sections are discouragedunder Wikipedia guidelines.
The article could be improved by integratingrelevant items and removing inappropriateones.
- In addition to his regular role of Captain Picard, Patrick Stewart also played the role of the holodeck character of "Michael Williams" in the opening scenes of the episode. Stewart requested this out of his love for Shakespeare.
- James Sloyan made his first appearance in Star Trek in this episode. He would later play an older Alexander Rozhenko in the Next Generation episode "Firstborn". He also played the title character in the Voyager episode "Jetrel", as well as Doctor Mora Pol—the scientist who discovered Odo—in the Deep Space Nine episodes "The Alternate" and "The Begotten".
- This is the first episode of any series to mention the Treaty of Algeron.
- A 4-foot miniature of the Enterprise-D made its debut in this episode and was used in subsequent seasons.
- Star Trek The Next Generation DVD set, volume 4, disk 3, selection 2.
- The Defector article at Memory Alpha, a Star Trek wiki
- The Defector (Star Trek: The Next Generation) at StarTrek.com
Link former page on this page
Related word on this page