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Season Six:
-226-227: "Time's Arrow"
-228: "Realm of Fear"
-235: "The Quality of Life"
-236-237: "Chain of Command"
-241: "Tapestry"
-248: "Suspicions"
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Chain of Command

(Star Trek - TNG episode production codes 236-237)
  • story by Frank Abatemarco
  • part 1 teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
  • part 2 teleplay by Frank Abatemarco
  • directed by Robert Scheerer (part 1) and Les Landau (part 2)
  • music by Jay Chattaway

Chain of Command

Marking the point just prior to the concurrent beginning of its sister Star Trek spin-off "Deep Space Nine", The Next Generation produced a two-part Cardassian political adventure called "Chain of Command". It's got a great hook, and a premise that draws one in compellingly, easily triggering anticipation of a "big" story with a lot of importance to the canon.

Unfortunately for me, my own anticipation for what this story should have been about continues today to make me think the producers really missed the boat with this one. You see, when I somehow missed this story in its first run, and saw all the other stories surrounding this one before coming back to it in re-runs, it seemed obvious what a big two-part Cardassian story should tackle. This should be the big action-thriller that in the end causes the Cardassians to end their occupation of Bajor and pull out of the Bajoran system. When this was mentioned as backstory for the Deep Space Nine pilot, it seemed like a great Star Trek story to tell, but DS9's debut had just missed it.

Would we finally see that story done justice here? David Warner's credit in the opening raised hopes even more - it would be great if he was the Cardassian mastermind behind a big political plot, directing armadas, pulling everyone else's strings, and in the end having to concede the Bajoran system.

I was so disappointed when that story never materialized, and David Warner didn't even show up before the cliffhanger.

The opening quarter of the story has most of the best material. There are a lot of genuine believable tensions for the various Starfleet characters, an intriguing plotline has begun, and, as far as I knew, it could all still lead to the places I was hoping for. The second quarter of the story, leading to part one's cliffhanger, definitely feels padded, as though we're basically killing time for a while.

Things really fall apart in the second episode, where Picard spends all his time getting tortured by a retarded lone Cardassian in a dark, clinical, empty little room far removed from any of the interesting action - and a big story turns into a very tiny and very ugly one. Although it's excellent to see how Picard turns the tables on this guy using nothing more than his mind and greater emotional awareness, and both Patrick Stewart and David Warner are top notch actors giving great performances, the quantity of boring rubbish required to set this reversal up isn't worth its time on screen.

The bottom line for me is that torture is such a low quality dynamic that I can't advocate tuning in for it. Ever. It shouldn't be on television. Sadly, television seemed to go for more of it in the years after this, really overdoing it on shows like "Prison Break" or "Lost". Give it up. It's a turn off, and a big reason why I don't watch those shows second time, or why I fast forward through most of the Picard/Warner scenes in part two of "Chain of Command".

The scenes of Captain Jellicoe stirring up the Enterprise crew are far, far more interesting. Indeed "Chain of Command" ended up as one of the most forgettable Cardassian stories ever, when it should have been the opposite, and it is easily overshadowed by Deep Space Nine's far superior pilot.

The Emergence of Team Blue

But if "Chain of Command" does leave any significant legacy, it is this: Modern Star Trek spin-offs seemed to promote an aversion to properly balancing the colour of the uniforms among its principle cast. In short, why are there so few blue uniforms on "The Next Generation" and "Voyager"? Voyager is particularly troubled, as only the Doctor is in blue, and he was confined to the sickbay for years. Any gathering of main characters in any other room became a sea of red and yellow. "The Next Generation" wasn't quite as bad, but still had its troubles, with only Dr. Crusher propping up the blue team most of the time. In actual fact, Troi should have been part of team blue, but spent a lot of time letting the side down by running around in weird burgundy or pink leotards, or other strange outfits. Most of season one was a particularly unimpressive look for her. Finally, in "Chain of Command", Jellicoe puts the question to her of why she's not in standard uniform, and she finally supports team blue for the first time since the pilot. Good move! What's more, she continues to stick to the blue uniform often afterwards. Nice legacy for "Chain of Command".

Ultimately, if these shows remembered to stick to the exploration of science, as the science fiction title implies, we should see more Starfleet main characters in blue uniforms, indicating science, instead of yellow, indicating "engineering". I think my brother is right in saying that Data should have been in a blue uniform instead of a yellow one. Considering his function in most scripts, he is concerned more with general science than engineering per se, or certainly security. I can only think that he's in yellow to help differentiate himself from Mr. Spock - but that's too artificial to be believable, and shouldn't have continued beyond season 2 or 3 at the latest.

Face of the Enemy

Another mention I want to make concerns the episode "Face of the Enemy", mostly because the music very noticeably rose above the usual boring bland washes of orchestral chords, and actually contributed to the excitement of the story. Credits revealed that composer Don Davis had made his debut on the show. Good job! This episode is a good example of what a television composer can do before Berman berates the creativity out of them to the disappointment of Trek fans everywhere. I gladly bought the original music tracks from this story on CD when they became available, something I can't often say about most of the McCarthy/Chattaway scores from the same era. Liner notes revealed that this is indeed the same Don Davis that went on to score the Matrix trilogy.

My favourite bits include the cue "N'Vek Nervosa", and pretty much everything from Act 5 which featured wall-to-wall musical underscore. The compelling pulse of tension building throughout these sections added good energy to the story.

Star Trek - TNG
Haven /
Face of the Enemy

Original music soundtracks composed by
Dennis McCarthy,
Don Davis, and others...
3-disc Audio CD set

Find out more....

These Next Generation Season Six stories are available on DVD and Blu-ray:

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Season Six (1992-1993):

Includes 26 episodes @ 45 minutes each.
Click on the Amazon symbol for the desired disc format and location nearest you for more information:

DVD Canada

7-disc DVD set

DVD Canada


DVD Extras include:

  • Mission Overview: Year Six (17 min.)
  • Crew Profile: Lt. Commander Data (18 min.)
  • Bold New Directions (17 min.)
  • Dept. Briefing: Production (15 min.)
  • Dept. Briefing: Dan Curry Profile (19 min.)
  • Select Historical Data (17 min.)
  • Starfleet Archives: Sets and Props (12 min.)
  • Bonus Trailers: Star Trek Nemesis
    & Star Trek: Deep Space Nine on DVD
Blu-ray U.S.

NEW for
June 3, 2014.
Blu-ray Canada

NEW for
June 3, 2014.

Season 6 (Bilingual)

Blu-ray U.K.

Blu-ray features add:

  • 3 Audio Commentaries:
    • "Relics" by writer Ronald D. Moore and
      scenic/graphic artists Mike and Denise Okuda.
    • "Tapestry" by Moore and the Okudas.
    • "Frame of Mind" by director James L. Conway and director of photography Jonathan West.
  • Three-part documentary "Beyond the Five Year Mission - The Evolution of ST:TNG" (HD, 84 min. total) with all seven regular castmembers, plus Colm Meaney (O'Brien),
    Whoopi Goldberg (Guinan), John de Lancie (Q), writer/producers Rick Berman, Michael Piller, Ronald D. Moore, René Echevarria, Naren Shankar, Frank Abatemarco, director of photography Jonathan West, and many others.
  • Gag Reel (HD, 5 min.)
  • Deleted Scenes (HD)
  • Episodic Promos
  • plus, all featurettes from the DVD version.
  • Main audio tracks in English, German, French, Spanish, Italian, and Japanese.

Also sold separately:
The mid-season 6 two-part story "Chain of Command",
with Patrick Stewart, David Warner, and Ronny Cox.
Blu-ray U.S.

NEW for
June 3, 2014.
Blu-ray Canada

NEW for
June 3, 2014.

Bonus Features include:

  • Audio Commentary by Ronny Cox (Captain Jellicoe),
    director of photography Jonathan West, and
    scenic/graphic artists Mike and Denise Okuda.
  • "The Privilege of Rank" making-of featurette (28 min.) with Cox, Patrick Stewart (Picard),
    Natalia Nogulich (Admiral Nechayev), and
    writers Frank Abatemarco & Ronald D. Moore.
  • Deleted Scenes (13 min.)
  • Episodic Promos
  • Audio and subtitles in English, German, and French

Article & reviews written by Martin Izsak. Comments are welcome. You may contact the author from this page:

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Read the next Star Trek review: "Tapestry"

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