The Ensigns of Command (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 2) Data plays MacGyver to save stubborn human colonists

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

Data must convince stubborn humans to evacuate an unauthorized colony in Sheliak territory. Meanwhile, Picard must bargain with the legalistic Sheliaks for more time.

After a teaser shows Data second-guessing his creative abilities, the main plot follows him as he first tries reason, then rhetoric, then a phaser to persuade the colonists.

The actress playing Ardrian gave off a kind of Marion Ravenwood vibe, if Marion Ravenwood were a guest star on a very special episode of MacGyver, where MacGyver is replaced by a stiff, awkward android who wonders why this woman wants to kiss him.

A decent planet-surface matte painting extends the town square set. Many shots of the full-sized shuttlepod mockup, a decent Sheliak spaceship model, and a decent representation of Sheliaks all provide enjoyable sci-fi eye candy, but cinematographically, about two dozen extras don’t do a very good job standing in for the 15,000 colonists the script tells us are on the planet.

Troi is put to good use, helping Picard as he pursues a diplomatic solution. Chief O’Brien appears playing the cello in the teaser, and later in the briefing room and working with Laforge on the transporter. He has no lines, but his presence helps build continuity.