Friday, 28 April 2017

The Drumhead

The Drumhead is the 95th episode of "The Next Generation" and originally aired in 1991. The courtroom drama was directed by Jonathan Frakes, is one of Michael Dorn's favourite episodes and has Jean Simmons starring as Admiral Norah Satie (via).

"An explosion aboard the Enterprise leads to a high-level investigation headed by Admiral Norah Satie, a retired officer renowned for her skill at exposing conspiracies. Satie quickly determines that a visiting Klingon officer was attempting to smuggle diagrams off the ship, but the Klingon denies any involvement in the explosion. Satie refuses to give up on her investigation, even after the explosion is proven to be an accident, and she accuses Captain Jean-Luc Picard of treason when he challenges her charges against an innocent crewman." (via)

Interrogation room

SABIN: Isn't it true that the paternal grandfather of whom you speak was not a Vulcan but was in fact a Romulan? That it is Romulan blood you carry and a Romulan heritage that you honour?
(Riker whispers in Simon's ear)
SABIN: We're waiting, Mister Tarses.
TARSES: On the advice of my counsel I refuse to answer that question, in that the answer may serve to incriminate me.

Observation lounge

WORF: You and Crewman Marcus will coordinate to track Tarses' movements over the last five years. Ensign Kellogg, I want a list of all relatives, known associates, and especially old school friends. And make arrangements to do an encephalographic polygraph scan.
PICARD: Mister Worf?
WORF: Yes, Captain?
PICARD: I need to speak with you.
WORF: You are dismissed. Please get your reports to me as soon as possible.
(the security officers leave)
PICARD: Do you see what is happening here, Mister Worf?
WORF: Sir?
PICARD: This is not unlike a drumhead trial.
WORF: I do not understand.
PICARD: Five hundred years ago, military officers would upend a drum on the battlefield sit at it and dispense summary justice. Decisions were quick, punishments severe, appeals denied. Those who came to a drumhead were doomed.
WORF: But we know there is a traitor here. J'Dan has admitted his guilt.
PICARD: That's true, and he will stand for his crimes.
WORF: Tarses has all but done the same.
WORF: He refused to answer the question about his Romulan grandfather.
PICARD: That is not a crime, Worf. Nor can we infer his guilt because he didn't respond.
WORF: Sir, if a man were not afraid of the truth, he would answer.
PICARD: Oh, no. We cannot allow ourselves think that. 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.
WORF: Sir, the Federation does have enemies. We must seek them out.
PICARD: 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.


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.


PICARD: You know, there (sic) 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

Observation lounge

WORF: Am I bothering you, Captain?
PICARD: No. Please, Mister Worf. Come in.
WORF: It is over. Admiral Henry has called an end to any more hearings on this matter.
PICARD: That's good.
WORF: Admiral Satie has left the Enterprise.
PICARD: We think we've come so far. The torture of heretics, the burning of witches, it's all ancient history. Then, before you can blink an eye, it suddenly threatens to start all over again.
WORF: I believed her. I helped her. I did not see what she was.
PICARD: Mister Worf, villains who twirl their moustaches are easy to spot. Those who clothe themselves in good deeds are well camouflaged.
WORF: I think after yesterday, people will not be as ready to trust her.
PICARD: 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.

(transcript via)

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  1. WooooooooooOOOOOO

  2. This is my blog. :-)

  3. Thanks for the ongoing Star Trek bonuses!

  4. I hope I'll never run out of Star Trek postings. Well, here is another one ;-)
    Many, many thanks, Karen, Derek, Kenneth, and Wim!