Star Trek Reviews

Return to season list

Star Trek TNG - Season 5 - Episode 03

Star Trek TNG - 5x03 - Ensign Ro

Originally Aired: 1991-10-7

The Enterprise becomes a pawn in a deadly conspiracy. [DVD]

My Rating - 4

Fan Rating Average - 4.5

Rate episode?

Rating: 0 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10
# Votes: 53 43 6 10 10 15 28 37 35 17 15

- The Bajorans are often referred to as "Bajora" in this episode.
- Why is Worf's Klingon sash allowed but Ro Laren's earring not? Maybe because Riker felt like picking on her because of her history?
- Why does Ro wear her earring on the left when every other Bajoran wears their's on the right? Maybe because she follows the cult of the Pah-wraiths, or maybe because she's just being harmlessly rebellious?

- This is the first episode to feature a Bajoran, which will become a majorly important race on DS9.

Remarkable Scenes
- Picard avoiding the Bolian hair stylist.
- Ro Laren's arrogance.
- Picard offering the Bajorans assistance.
- Guinan confronting Ro.
- Guinan discussing her trust in Picard with Ro. More good continuity with the upcoming episode TNG: Time's Arrow. The details of Guinan's statement are revealed then.
- Ro's story about her father.
- Picard accusing the admiral of conspiring with the Cardassians.
- Picard confronting the admiral and exposing his foolish decision.
- Picard requesting Ro to join the Enterprise crew.

My Review
This episode is a starting off point to what will later become the epic story of the Bajoran people. We get great little details all over this episode. We're told the Bajorans are an ancient civilization that was more advanced than humanity for ages. We're told that they were conquered by the Cardassians 40 years ago. We're told that the Federation is sympathetic to the Bajoran rebelious cause. We're even introduced to their culture through a Bajoran starfleet officer and a visit to a Bajoran refugee camp. Unfortunately, this episode's primary story itself is lacking. Besides the technical problems, we have yet another corrupt starfleet admiral. How many is that now anyway? Whilst the Bajorans could have had a better opener, they only get better in the future.

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From Pete Miller on 2006-04-14 at 9:01pm:
    The Bajorans. In my opinion a blatant manifestation of Israel in Star Trek. Forced off their homeland by the evil cardassians who actually have a legal claim to it. The federation is sympathetic to them, but there's nothing they can do to help even though they dislike the cardassians. It is so blatant it's almost corny. Bajorans=Jews, Cardassians=Arabs, Federation=America
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2006-05-07 at 11:36pm:
    The high points of this episode are the excellent dialog between Guinan and Ro. In many ways, Guinan is a better psychologist than Troi, at least from what we see on the screen. Guinan's extra screen time in this episode was fun to watch.

    Ro is a fresh character to bring into the mix, and a much more believable character than Wesley. The groundwork is also laid for future storylines on DS9. Nothing else regarding this episode is worth mentioning, which is why I gave it a 6.
  • From ben on 2006-12-06 at 5:02am:
    I disagree with the notion of a Jew/Arab metaphor as the situation appears to have more in common with a post WWII Jewish reconstruction, with Germany as the Cardacians.

    I should point out further that while some of the continuity issues are laughable in retrospect, IMO this seminal Bejoran episode at least presented a decent human interest story having to do with the species, in contrast to nearly every Bejoran-oriented episode of DS9, in which the "epic" is unveiled. Not a clear favorite as a solitary episode, but still a solid link in the chain of events that make season 5.
  • From benq on 2006-12-10 at 7:41am:
    Cardassians are not Arabs, IMO, because the story is a metaphor for a post-WWII reconstruction, where Bajor is kind of like Israel, even if the Bajorans aren't exactly like Jews.
  • From DSOmo on 2007-09-05 at 5:26am:
    - Near the beginning of the show, Picard offers the admiral his aunt's cure for the common cold. The admiral replies that he doesn't have a cold, he has a Cardassian virus. Picard must have forgotten that people no longer suffer from the common cold in the twenty-fourth century. His chief medical officer, Dr. Crusher, said so in "The Battle."
    - The graphics at the beginning of the episode - showing the Enterprise arriving at Lya Station Alpha - are used once again. It is the same sequence used for Starbase 133 in "Remember Me" as well as Starbase 74 in "11001001." (See comments for "Remember Me.") Wouldn't it have made more sense just to call them all Starbase 74?
    - When Picard sees Orta's ships he realizes Orta couldn't have attacked the Federation colony. He tells the admiral that Orta's ships don't have warp capability and therefore cannot reach any other star systems. The star system he inhabits is outside Cardassian territory. Without warp drive capability, it would take his terrorists "forever" to get to a Cardassian planet and attack it. So why are the Cardassians so worried about Orta?
  • From JRPoole on 2008-07-05 at 8:14pm:
    This is one of my pet episodes, mostly because Ro is an interesting character and the Bajoran storyline, one of the best Trek ever did, gets started here.
  • From Mark McC on 2009-01-06 at 8:22am:
    I enjoy some aspects of this episode such as Ensign Ro's slightly rebellious attitude to authority, and the groundwork laid for future Bajoran stories.

    I don't like the resolution at the end. No doubt the Cardassians had scanned the Bajoran ship for life signs and found none. They'd also been tracking the Enterprise's movement for some time and Picard had flown directly from the moon where the Bajorans were encamped. The Cardassians would have had no trouble tracking the Bajorans down and killing them.

    Although since the Bajorans only had sub-light travel, restricting them to attacking targets within the solar system in which they were hiding, I can't understand how they managed to evade the Cardassians for so long.

    Some good ideas, but poorly executed.

  • From J Reffin on 2009-05-11 at 6:40pm:
    The Bejora appear (in this episode at least) to be modelled on the Roma/Romany people (aka Gypsies). The dress, style and approach are also very similar to this group.
  • From Mrugesh on 2009-09-14 at 12:36pm:
    Actually, I find the Bajoran situation much akin to India's due to the British occupation. Much if not most of it matches. The slavery, torture, underground movements dubbed as terrorists...
  • From Yaspaa on 2010-06-08 at 11:06am:
    Picard refers to the Bajorans as Bajarans twice in this episode and I'm sure the Cardassian Gul refers to his own race as Cardacian.
  • From tigertooth on 2010-10-23 at 4:26am:
    I think it's a mistake to try to look at the Bajoran/Cardassian thing as a perfect parallel to one situation in human history. The beauty is in finding various (imperfect) parallels to various situations.

    I think the great thing to get out of this episode is how they made the Bajorans -- the terrorists -- the more sympathetic group here.

    That's not to say that terrorism is a noble act. We all know it's quite the opposite. But it gives us an opportunity to see how good people could be motivated to do very bad things when they're put in very bad circumstances.

    I suspect this kind of treatment of terrorism could not be made post 9/11, so it's nice that TNG beat the curve on it.

    Another random thought (which involves a SPOILER for events that occur later in TNG): is it possible that one reason Picard embraced Ro was not only because he saw her value as an officer, but that he wanted to keep her out of the Bajoran terrorist movement? Surely after he heard Ro tell the story about witnessing her father's torture we can imagine that he would have feared that she was a prime candidate. And he was impressed by her, so that gives him all the more motivation to want to see her talents used for the proper purposes. We all know that's where she ended up (Picard failed to keep her from joining with the Bajoran terrorists), but maybe Picard was hoping to get her on the straight and narrow Federation path.
  • From p@arallels on 2011-09-07 at 5:11am:
    There is a much better parallel to be made between Bajorans and Palestinians than I think any of the other examples cited (good episode, BTW). Of course, the circumstances aren't identical, but I think it's a better parallel than the others.

    The Palestinians were the ones expelled from their homeland almost 70 years ago, and they are the ones who live in poverty and in diaspora, many in refugee camps. The Palestinians are the ones who find themselves within the territorial borders of another sovereign state (Israel), and since their conflict is legally an "internal state matter" they have difficulties appealing for help. The Palestinians are the ones who have been forced, or at least compelled by circumstances into violence and terrorism. The Palestinians are the ones who are collectively humiliated, and have a troublesome national heritage (though of course the European Jews who founded Israel share this history as well).

    It's the Palestinians who find themselves in the middle, worrying about "blankets," while other relevant parties - Israel, the U.S., Turkey, Iran, Persian Gulf countries, other Arab countries, Russia, etc - operate in a world of diplomacy, politics, stratagems, addressing the issue in their own ways and for their own purposes.

    And finally, Israel behaves most like the Cardassians, doing everything it can to convince powerful "bystanders," like America, that its enemies are the world's enemies. I'm not sure that Israel would go so far as to carry out a false flag operation to drag someone else into their conflict and "do their dirty work for them,
    but I wouldn't be surprised if there were some historical examples of just this sort of behavior, or at least proposals for such missions that perhaps were never carried out.

    That's my two cents on the matter. Check your history if you strongly disagree. The Jews have their own history of exile, homelessness, and victimization, and their own real and present security issues, but Israel itself has gone berserk with a hard-line, far-right nationalist government that is aggressive, repressive, cynical, and deceptive.

    I wish it wasn't true (my own family is Jewish, from the same Eastern European stock that founded Israel), but this conclusion is simply undeniable if you look into it.
  • From Jeff Browning on 2011-10-22 at 8:01am:
    I don't find the comparison of Bajor with the Jews and the modern state of Israel very persuasive, personally.

    First of all, the Bajoran religion has pretty much nothing in common with Judaism. First of all, it's polytheistic. As the first truly monotheistic religion, I think most Jews would bristle at having their religion compared with one so obviously pagan as Bajorism. I mean, the Bajoran "prophets" are manifestly not even divine! They are limited in their location in space, for one thing. See my comment on DS9: Emmisary for more of my thoughts on the nature of the prophets or "wormhole aliens" (WHA). For whatever else you can say about it, Judaism is definitely monotheistic and the God of the Jews is (assuming you believe He exists) the God of the universe.

    For another thing: Judaism, like Christianity and Islam, is firmly based upon a scriptural basis, the Canon of which is very well developed and established. We see none of this in Bajorism. They have a mystery religion very similar to Greek or Roman paganism. There religion is characterized by traditional practices combined with a continuously revealed set of prophecy, similar to the Oracle of Delphi, who was of course a "prophet" (in her case of the god Apollo).

    I think the creators of Star Trek are too literate to ignore or miss these issues. In the end the Bajorans are simply a fictional people, with no parallels in our own history.

  • From ChristopherA on 2012-07-01 at 9:21pm:
    I like the basic concept that Ensign Ro has such a gigantic chip on her shoulder that she creates the very distrust and misunderstanding that she is bitter about. She gives other people no good reason to trust her – yet the hyper-perceptive Guinan senses that if you can trust her anyway, you will find she is a good person. And, of course, this introduces the whole Bajoran/Cardassian story arc.
    - It was interesting how Ro reacts as if humans are so provincial that they couldn't conceive of a culture putting family name first. Of course, that is common with humans, at least in our time. Perhaps the point is that she is so obsessed with her persecution complex that she would rather get satisfaction resenting people for saying her name in the wrong order than tell them what the correct order is.
    - Yes, another corrupt admiral – sigh.
    - There is some weird stuff going on with the geometry of space. From the dialog in the episode, it sounds like the Cardassian border is 50 million kilometers from the moon, and thus runs right through the middle of the star system. This makes no sense, the distance is way too small. Planets would be crossing the border as they revolve around their sun. Any sensible border would be drawn through interstellar space, to make clear which star systems are on which side of the border.
    - Guinan's role on the show, aside from counseling the main characters, is to tell them when they are misjudging people and clear away mistrust. It makes me wonder, does she ever do the opposite – warn the crew about people who look friendly but are actually malevolent?
  • From Dstyle on 2013-08-23 at 3:11pm:
    This episode does not refer to the Bajoran people as the Bajora; the Bajora is the name of the terrorist group.
  • From Bruce Smith on 2023-09-13 at 2:37am:
    Wow, I just learned that the Palestinians have been “forced” into terrorism. Good Star Trek reviews and comments here, poor geopolitical analysis.

Prove to me that you are a real person and not a spam robot by typing in the text of this image:

Return to season list