When she was a child, her father would pose a question for her and her elder brothers to debate at every dinner. Her father loved it when she outsmarted them with a subtle point of logic, which she did many times. (TNG: "The Drumhead")
Investigation aboard the USS Enterprise-D
In 2367, she was a member of an ad-hoc Starfleet panel established to investigate an explosion near the Enterprise-D's warp core. She was able to get a full confession from the treacherous Klingon, J'Dan, a scientist who was on the ship as part of the Officer Exchange Program – but whose true purpose was spying for the Romulans, though he did nothing to cause the explosion. With the help of her Betazoid assistant, she also discovered Medical technician Simon Tarses had lied on his application to Starfleet to hide his partial Romulan ancestry.
Convinced there were more spies and saboteurs on board and growing increasingly suspicious about myriad unrelated events, Satie began to manifest symptoms of monomania; her determined ambition to rein in a "grand conspiracy" clouded her ability to make sound judgments and caused her to connect past occurrences to a non-existent, complex subterfuge scheme. Her zealousness did not diminish even after Lieutenant Commanders Geordi La Forge and Data presented evidence that the explosion near the warp core was an accident. She derided the starship's operations, its perceived lax security, and in particular, the "non-vigilant" command style – eventually she went as far as questioning Picard's loyalty to the Federation.
With Picard in the dock, she recounted the tragic tale of the recent Borg invasion, with its outcome of eleven thousand people killed and thirty-nine starships destroyed at Wolf 359. Because this had happened when the Borg had assimilated Picard into Locutus, she subtly insinuated that he had been somewhat culpable or complicit. This, along with her persecution of Tarses, prompted the captain to remind Satie of her father's legacy and what he had taught and written in support of free speech and thought, ideals the Federation sought to uphold, which Picard believed she was now – ironically and perhaps unwittingly – undermining.
Picard's invocation of her father's teachings as a defense incensed her, and in reaction, Satie began ranting with near-hysteria about her perception that Picard had insulted her and her father, and she proclaimed she now intended to destroy Picard personally, saying she had "brought down bigger men than [he]." Satie's furious retort and by-now obvious witch-hunting caused Admiral Thomas Henry, who came to observe the questioning, to become so irritated with this over-the-top behavior that he, without a word and a disgusted look on his face, abruptly walked out during the session. He then suspended the inquiry and disbanded the investigation panel, which ended Satie's disruptive visit to the Enterprise-D.
Picard likened the ordeal to a "Drumhead trial", as he explained to a disconsolate Lieutenant Worf about the dangers of such "trials", as well as the ease for well-intentioned people to let conspiracy investigations to degenerate into them. (TNG: "The Drumhead")
- While no canon information about this is available, Rear Admiral Satie's reputation – perhaps even career – possibly suffered irreparable harm. Captain Picard later did surmise that, henceforth, Satie would likely have a harder time being trusted in such matters. There was no indication she received any discipline, and Picard's supposition implies she continued working in some capacity. (Non-canonically, in the novel A Time for War, A Time for Peace, Scotty speaks to Admiral Ross about the group being assigned to evaluate the Enterprise and he mentions to Ross that Sabin Genestra worked for Norah Satie when Captain Picard disgraced her.)
- The shooting script directed her to remain steadfastly composed and statuesque, even during the confusion surrounding her downfall, indicating an unrepentant attitude. This largely played out in the episode as she admitted no wrong-doing or apology and kept her haughty composure. ()
- Norah Satie was played by acclaimed actress Jean Simmons.