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Face of the Enemy (episode)

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"Face of the Enemy"
TNG, Episode 6x14
Production number: 40276-240
First aired: 8 February 1993
139th of 176 produced in TNG
139th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
253rd of 728 released in all
Rakal (Major)
Teleplay By
Naren Shankar

Story By
René Echevarria

Directed By
Gabrielle Beaumont
46519.1 (2369)
Arc: Unification (3 of 3)  
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Troi is captured and forced to masquerade as a Romulan intelligence officer in a plot to aid the defection of several high-ranking Romulan officials.



Deanna Troi slowly awakens, and is shocked to discover she has been surgically altered to appear Romulan. She doesn't know why or even where she is.

Act One

A real Romulan, Subcommander N'Vek, suddenly enters, and begins giving her instructions. He explains she is on the Imperial Romulan Warbird Khazara, but refuses to answer any more of her questions, insisting that there is no time for a full explanation. He instructs her that she must act as Major Rakal of the Tal Shiar, and she must tell the captain of this vessel, Commander Toreth, to alter course to the Kaleb sector. When Troi refuses to comply with his instructions and demands answers, he contends that her best chance of survival is to do what he says. Troi senses no deception from him through her empathic senses, so she decides to go along with his plan for now.

When Troi meets Toreth, Troi is at first demure, and fails to display the commanding assertiveness of a Tal Shiar agent. The commander soon begins to press Troi for answers, and begins to get angry. This forces Troi to also become forceful. When Toreth backs down, Troi realizes that maintaining her cover means also maintaining this harsh facade throughout the ordeal.

Act Two

"Captain's Log, stardate 46519.1. We have arrived at Research Station 75 to take on a rather unique passenger, one whose homecoming will undoubtedly be difficult."
Stefan DeSeve

The defector Stefan DeSeve returns to the Federation

A Human who had defected to the Romulan Empire is beamed aboard the USS Enterprise-D, Ensign Stefan DeSeve. He is immediately arrested for treason and confined to quarters. He insists on speaking to the captain almost immediately.

When Captain Jean-Luc Picard sees him, DeSeve explains that Ambassador Spock is performing some "cowboy diplomacy," and that he wants Picard to rendezvous with a freighter in the Kaleb sector, and return its cargo to the Federation. After DeSeve explains his reasons for returning, Picard is willing to believe in his accuracy in delivering the message. He sets a course right away.

Meanwhile, on the Romulan ship, N'Vek explains to Counselor Troi what is in the cargo containers: Vice-Proconsul M'ret, one of the highest-level officials in the Romulan government, and his two top aides. N'Vek explains that he is part of Spock's underground, and is attempting to create a way for many dissidents to escape. The plan is to have this warbird rendezvous with a Corvallen freighter, where she and they will be taken to Federation space. She is there, instead of another Romulan, because if something goes wrong, a Starfleet officer is their only guarantee of success.

In the meantime, Troi maintains her harsh Tal Shiar attitude. Over dinner, when Commander Toreth repeatedly attempts to flirt with notions of distaste and distrust of the intelligence service, she repeats her loyalty and service to the Romulan Empire, while critiquing the food.

When they arrive at the freighter, Troi senses that its captain is lying when he says the cargo will be delivered. She quietly informs N'Vek of this fact, and he destroys the ship without orders. Toreth is furious, and demands an explanation. N'Vek explains that Major Rakal ordered him to open fire.

Act Three

When pressed for an explanation, Troi does once again the only thing she can do: she threatens Toreth to justify her actions. She orders the commander to cloak and wait.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise arrives at the coordinates specified to find no ship, or any within three light years. Picard demands an explanation from DeSeve, who cannot provide one, but reiterates his certainty of the information. He does add, however, that the freighter is old, and its speed and range is limited.

Back on the Romulan ship, Troi engages in a heated argument with N'Vek. He justifies his actions by saying there was no alternative, and a lot of people have already died for this mission. He instructs her to go to the Federation outpost on Draken IV and use her Federation access codes to bypass the gravitic sensor net. When she explains this to Toreth, the commander is quite skeptical, and believes it is tactically unsound. Troi does the only thing she can, and pulls rank once again. Her plan will be acted upon.

Before they can go to warp, however, the Enterprise appears in the area.

Act Four

Troi decides to change the plan and have the ship hold position. Toreth ignores her, and slowly begins to maneuver out of the debris field to avoid detection. Troi allows this to happen.

The Enterprise, meanwhile, has been examining the debris. It is the remains of a freighter, one like they were supposed to meet. Commander Data's analysis concludes the freighter was destroyed by Romulan weapons within the last 4.3 hours.

On the Romulan vessel, Troi is talking strategy with N'Vek. She wants to know if there is a way to allow the Enterprise to track them. N'Vek says that if there were, he wouldn't do it, because he wants to get them to a Federation base. Using more than the forcefulness of the major, furious for what he did to her, she shouts that they will now follow her plans, or she will pull rank and get him ejected into space for being a traitor. He then suggests there is a way, and has the ship's engineer misalign one of the nullifier cores.

Sure enough, the Enterprise begins to pick up a moving, magnetic distortion off their port side, which reappears and disappears. DeSeve believes that it could be a Romulan ship based on his understanding of their cloaking technology and their power source: an artificial quantum singularity. A system in less-than-perfect condition could produce detectable readings. Picard has the Enterprise head for the distortion.

Toreth notices their movements, and isn't sure of their intent. She then orders a course directly under their hull; if they move, then they are detectable, and she will attack.

Act Five

Picard and DeSeve are baffled by this behavior, but conclude that they should move.

When Commander Toreth gives the order to drop cloak and fire, Troi explains that such an attack would be foolish. The commander stands up for her abilities, and forces Troi to order her removal from the bridge. Troi explains to the otherwise loyal junior officers that their families, as well as they, will bear the punishment of refusing to follow her orders, and takes command. Toreth steps down, and N'Vek is the first to take the major's orders.

Troi suggests that they use discretion instead of a bold attack. She explains that she will offer a diplomatic solution, and destroy them after their shields are down.

When the ship appears, and Troi addresses Picard on the viewscreen, the bridge crew restrains their surprise. Once she explains the attack in basic terms, she then suggests that she be beamed over to the Enterprise to discuss the matter.

The Enterprise drops shields, and when N'Vek fires, he encodes a transporter beam inside the disruptor, and beams M'ret and his aides to the bridge. Toreth then realizes, when the transporter beam is detected and tracked to the cargo bay, that the major is not who she appears to be. N'Vek threatens her, and the loyal Romulan pilot vaporizes him.

As the warbird sets a course for Romulus, they drop shields and cloak the ship. Just in time, the Enterprise beams Troi aboard.

After Doctor Beverly Crusher undoes her cosmetic surgery, Troi is glad to be back, but cites N'Vek as the hero, who sacrificed himself to save her.

Memorable Quotes

"I've smelled better viinerine on prison ships."

- Troi

"Your opinion of the Tal Shiar is quite clear, Commander."
"I hope so."
"We ensure the loyalty of the people. Do you believe the Empire would be better off without our protection?"
"Protection? From what? How is the Empire threatened by the words of an old man, a devoted citizen who was merely trying to speak his mind? How did the Tal Shiar protect the Empire by dragging him, my father, out of his home in the middle of the night?"
"Clearly, your father was a traitor."
"No. He was just an idealistic old man. I never saw him again."
"I don't need your devotion, Commander. Just your obedience."
"And that's all you have."

- Troi and Toreth

"People blame the military for the wars we are asked to fight."

- Toreth

"We're not playing it your way anymore, N'Vek! I have been kidnapped, surgically altered, put in danger! I've gone along with all your plans. Now you are going to listen to me! You find a way to let the Enterprise track us, or I will go to Toreth and tell her I've discovered you're a traitor! I'll have you ejected into space! Is that clear, Sub-Commander?!!"

- Troi to N'Vek


Story and production

Sirtis in Romulan makeup

Perfecting the Romulan disguise

  • Originally, Doctor Crusher was to be the crewmember kidnapped, but this was changed when the staff realized that Troi's empathic abilities would be more suitable for espionage. A similar The Hunt for Red October-style premise had been previously rejected before the staff convinced Rick Berman to give it a try. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • Naren Shankar recalled, "I wrote the first draft of the script in six days because we were really under a time crunch. I was assigned it as a free-lancer and halfway through I was brought on staff. The rewrite helped smooth out a lot of things and we had to change the ending a couple of times. The action in Act Five didn't work initially. It was harrowing but it came out well." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • The prize to be delivered to the Federation was initially a Romulan ship, but was soon changed to actual Romulans. Naren Shankar stated, "We were sitting around talking about this show and about who this important person would be that's defecting and Michael [Piller] got this look on his face and said, 'We probably can't do this, but what if the person is Spock? They're getting out and at the end they open it up and it's not Spock. The person we take out is defrosted and we ask him what happened to Spock and he says Spock didn't make it.' I look at Michael like he's crazy and he goes, 'Nah!'" (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • In the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, Shankar added, "It was one of those craaaazy moments. You can't kill somebody like that offscreen!".
  • Originally, Toreth was a male. Shankar remarked that he had written the dialogue while thinking of Sean Connery's character in The Hunt for Red October, and the dialogue remained unchanged when it was decided to use a female-female conflict. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • At one point, Shankar had suggested casting Joanne Linville to reprise her role as the Romulan Commander from TOS: "The Enterprise Incident". However, Linville was not available. (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Carolyn Seymour had previously played another Romulan commander, Taris. The staff decided not to reuse Taris because it was assumed the character had been killed, although there is nothing in the episode to suggest this. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • Shankar named the Romulan intelligence service, the Tal Shiar, as a homage to the tal-shaya, a Vulcan martial arts technique from TOS: "Journey to Babel". (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion)
  • As noted in the Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion, this episode marked the debut of Worf's ponytail. He would retain this look for the rest of the series, throughout his tenure on Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, and all four Next Generation films. Hairstylist Joy Zapata and Michael Dorn had both lobbied for the change for some time. Zapata explained, "[Worf's hair] used to remind me of a Klingon that had gone to the beauty salon; it looked like Donna Reed!".
  • Set designer Richard James was responsible for creating the D'deridex-class interiors seen in this episode. He explained, "We played off of Romulans having a motif represented by certain colors. We do that for identification so that certainly the Romulans would not have everything that would look just like Earth society. For us to graphically sell the idea of it being Romulan, we need to do it well with the sets, make-up and costumes which are Romulan colors. It helps to reinforce the idea that this is Romulan territory and it was not that much of a challenge because we played off of what's been established for Romulan ships...We had rooms that we'd never been into before for the Romulans and we said what would the Romulan plates and silverware look like? You get into all of that – and even simple things like chairs, which you had to design. It's not as though you could go out to the rental store. All these factors come into play." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • Shankar, however, was not pleased with the result. "What we ended up with was Romulan Pizza Kitchen. If you read my first draft, I was very specific about what the Romulan bridge should look like. I thought we were going to build an entirely new set. And the bridge I described was in an elongated room much like the nose of the Romulan ship. I wanted it to look alien and have the Commander standing at a rail in the back of the room. She always stands, there's no seat for her and the room ends with her back at the wall so there's no one behind her. The idea is they're so suspicious that the commander would never let anybody behind her. The entire cabin is forward of the command position and there's just one pilot and stations around that. To me that would have been cooler." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages)
  • First UK airdate: 11 October 1995


  • Scott MacDonald makes his second Star Trek appearance in this episode.
  • In this episode it is revealed that Romulan cloaking devices, when operational, leave standard defensive shields off-line. Before, it was only known that a cloaked vessel could not fire its offensive weaponry. This would be an essential element to the Enterprise crew defeating the Duras sisters in Star Trek Generations.
  • This is the first episode in which Romulan officers wear insignia on their uniform collars.
  • It is revealed in this episode that the Romulans use an artificial quantum singularity as a power source on their starships in the 24th century. This would explain why the warp core of the Romulan science vessel featured in the episode "The Next Phase" imploded as opposed to exploded.
  • To date, it remains the only episode/movie to deal explicitly with Spock's reunification movement, post-"Unification II", though it is alluded to in the 2009 Star Trek film.
  • A similar premise to this one was later used in the Star Trek: Deep Space Nine episode "Second Skin", where Kira is surprised to find she has been surgically altered to appear Cardassian.

Video and DVD releases

Links and references


Also starring

Guest stars


Uncredited co-stars



Antares-class; antiproton; artificial quantum singularity; Bokara VI; class 7 vessel; cloaking device; Corvallen; Corvallen freighter; court martial; D'deridex-class; Defector; disruptor array; disruptor pistol; Draken IV; Draken system; Federation; gravitic sensor net; hypospray; Imperial War College; Kaleb sector; Khazara, IRW; Konsab; neuropsychology; nullifier core; Rakal (Major); red alert; Research Station 75; Research Station 75 planet; Romulan; Romulan Intelligence Academy; Romulan Senate; Romulan Star Empire; Romulan underground movement; Sotarek Citation; Spock; stasis; tachyon detection grid; tachyon scan; Tal Shiar; vice-proconsul; viinerine; vorcha'ak; warbird

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