Face of The Enemy (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season 6, Episode 14) Troi role-plays as a feared Romulan intelligence officer

Rewatching ST:TNG

Troi wakes up, looking like a Romulan. When Subcommander N’Vek tells her she’s impersonating the imperial intelligence officer Major Rakal, and that she’ll be killed if she doesn’t play along, he invites her to use her empathic powers to see whether he’s lying. He’s not. He’s using the assumed authority of “Rakal” to prevent his commander from opening some mysterious cargo containers.

Back on the Enterprise, a former Federation officer who defected to the Romulans has re-fected to the Federation, knowing he’ll be court-martialed. (The guy’s name is “DeSeve”… oh, what a tangled web we weave!) He bears a message from Ambassador Spock, telling the Enterprise where and when to receive some unspecified cargo.

N’Vek tells Troi the cargo includes a high-ranking Romulan who supports Spock’s dissident movement. Troi must role-play a terrifying political enforcer, which is particularly difficult because as we learn her backstory, we see Toreth has cause to be sympathetic to the defectors.

As the cloaked warbird creeps out of a debris field, Troi must find a way to signal with the Enterprise. With help from DeSeve, LaForge manages to technobabble the jimberjam to get through the plot contrivance field. Once N’Vek’s initial plan falls apart, Troi really steps up, which is fortunate for a story that has to wrap up in about 45 minutes.

Given how many episodes feature random technobabble events that prevent the Enterprise-D transporters from working when that would resolve the plot too quickly, you’d think the Romulans would easily be able to trigger one of those events during the fraction of a section between lowering their shields and engaging their cloaking device, to prevent enemy ships from beaming away the prisoners they’re holding at gunpoint.  But this particular script requires Troi to escape that way, so that’s what happens.

The character scenes and the development of Spock’s apparently ongoing undercover mission were interesting enough that I was willing to ignore the flaws and just enjoy the story. (I had never seen this one before, so technically this isn’t a “rewatch”.)