Picard is ordered to accept a bumpy-nosed humanoid officer who didn’t want to be transferred to the Enterprise — but she admits the new assignment is better than prison.
A complex plot introduces the backstory of Bajor, which will eventually be the premise for the spinoff series Deep Space Nine — an ancient and noble race of architects and philosophers was 40 years ago displaced by the militaristic Cardassians, with whom the Federation has a political alliance.
Picard empathizes with the plight of the Bajorans, who have grown impatient with the Federation’s vague promises, but his orders are to use military force to track down Orta, the leader of a Bajoran faction that has started attacking colonies.
Riker makes it clear he doesn’t trust Ro, who quickly oversteps Picard’s orders. But her input on the mission is vital, and our understanding of her predicament and our assessment of her motives evolves through several engaging plot twists. The screen time devoted to the plight of a displaced people, and Picard’s willingness to offer immediate humanitarian assistance, even though his hands are tied politically, makes for good Trek.
A comic teaser featuring Picard’s visit to the civilian barber Mr. Mot is a clever way to introduce the backstory, and Whoopi Goldberg puts in another appearance as Guinan, offering friendship to Ro whether she wants it or not. With several different space-stops and some starship pew-pew, this script thankfully doesn’t introduce any subatomic granular warp field containment parasites or macrocellular phase-shifting hyperspace manifold chronoton clusters to clutter up the plot.