‘The Drumhead’ (TNG) (TV)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is a tough ‘Star Trek’ episode to review. I’m not sure what to make of it. I liked it. I enjoyed watching it. But then again, I’m not very certain I understand what the entire plot was all about here.

‘The Drumhead’ is the third ‘Star Trek’ episode to be directed by Jonathan Frakes, who played Commander Riker in ‘TNG’. He’d previously directed ‘The Offspring’ and ‘Reunion’ before this one.

The episode involves an explosion that occurred in the dilithium chamber of the Enterprise ship’s warp engine. It seems to be the work of sabotage and one Klingon exchange officer/spy is involved.

Henry Woronicz guest stars as J’Dan, the Klingon exchange officer. From the teaser of this episode, you’d think this was going to be a Klingon story, especially when Worf threatens J’Dan in this TV tale.

But that’s what the story is about. The story has the Enterprise receive a retired rear admiral from the Legal Division of its Support Service Section who helps the crew out with solving this conspiracy.

This happens to be Jean Simmons as Admiral Norah Satie. Jean Simmons is an English actress who appeared in many films. She was nominated for an Academy Award and won a Golden Globe Award.

Early on in the episode, Admiral Satie is considered to be a legend for the United Federation of Planets. Captain Picard speaks very highly of the Admiral. The two seem to get on very well early on.

The investigation goes well at first as Norah Satie with her aides discover about what’s going on with the Klingon spy and what happened when the dilithium chamber. What can possibly go wrong here?

It turns out and Worf discovered this by the way, that J’Dan had been using a modified hypospray to encode information into amino acid sequences for a secret transport. J’Dan admits his guilt in court.

But it turns J’Dan didn’t sabotage the warp core chamber when it exploded. Okay, well at least he admitted he was working with the Romulans. Which leaves us with, ‘why did the chamber explode?’

The investigation continues as Satie and Picard interview members who interacted with J’Dan. One interviewee is medic technician, Spencer Garrett as human Simon Tarses who’s one quarter Vulcan.

Satie’s Betazoid aide, Bruce French as Sabin Genestra, is unconvinced about Tarses’ claims of only treating J’Dan with the injections for a rare disease. He is convinced that Tarses is hiding something.

But thankfully, Geordi and Data discover something about the warp core explosion. It turns out that the explosion was caught by simple fatigue in one of the hatch casings. It wasn’t caused by sabotage.

Oh. Well, that’s it then. Case closed. There’s no more to be investigated…wait! No. Satie and Genestra still want to continue with the investigation. Here is where my mixed feelings sink in here.

For the rest of the story, Satie with Genestra and Anna Shea as Nellen Tore, who stands about very poised and smug; not saying much and holding a pad in her hand, keep this investigation going. Why?!

They do such downright cruel things like exposing Tarses for not being one quarter Vulcan but one quarter Romulan. Picard is even appalled by what’s occurring and doesn’t like what this has become.

Picard pleads with Satie to cease the investigation, but she’s determined to keep on going. She even has Picard sit in the trial room in front of everyone and accuses him for breaking the Prime Directive.

I don’t understand why Satie is behaving like she is in the second half of the episode. Is it because she came out of retirement and wanted to prove herself worthy of being a good investigator again?

I imagine that is the case here and along the way she went cuckoo due to her age. Even when Picard quotes some words from her father Aaron Satie during his ‘trial’, she becomes outraged and loses it.

Earl Billings as Admiral Thomas Henry becomes disgusted and walks out of the hearing during Admiral Satie’s outage. Thankfully the investigation is halted. Satie leaves the Enterprise in disgrace.

So yeah, I don’t know what to make of ‘The Drumhead’. Is it well-made? Definitely! Is it well-performed by the cast? Definitely! But at the same time, I’m not sure I fully understand the episode.

I’m not sure what to make of Admiral Satie’s motives and why she behaved the way she did and turned the investigation into a witch-hunt. I guess that is the point, as the episode makes you think.

If anyone out there can help explain what the psychological workings was going on in Admiral Satie’s mind, I would greatly appreciate it. I enjoyed the episode very much, but I cannot say I get it entirely.

‘The Drumhead’ rating – 7/10

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