Star Trek Canon Database

Displaying 1 to 4 of 4 records.

Database started: 1999-07-27
Page generated: 2014-09-18

Page 1

TNG Season 6, Ep# 140: "Face of the Enemy"

TORETH: In order to reach Draken we will have to travel through Federation space for nearly twenty hours.

TROI: That is not a problem.

TORETH: Contrary to the propaganda your superiors would have us believe, Starfleet is neither weak nor foolish. The chances of us reaching Draken undetected are not good.

TROI: We will be cloaked.

TORETH: The cloaking device does not make us completely invulnerable. You would know that if you had spent any time in the field. The Federation has littered their borders with subspace listening posts and gravitic sensors. They may even have a tachyon detection grid in operation, in which case they will know we're there. If we are discovered within Federation territory, it could be interpreted as an act of war.

Cloaks: they are vulnerable to detection from subspace listening posts, gravitic sensors, and tachyon detection grids. Their vulnerability to subspace listening posts means that they must still "leak" enough subspace energy to be detected even at many light years' range. Their vulnerability to gravitic sensors means that they have no way of concealing the space-time distortion created by their presence. Their vulnerability to the tachyon detection grids means that they can bend visible light around the ship but not the fabric of space-time itself, as is commonly assumed (because tachyons would be bound to follow the lines of space-time just like anything else).

TNG Season 6, Ep# 140: "Face of the Enemy"

DESEVE: Romulan ships use a forced quantum singularity as a power source. If that system is not functioning perfectly or is damaged, even slightly, it might show through the cloak as a magnetic disturbance of some kind.

Cloaks: a magnetic field inside a cloaking device can be detected from outside, hence Deseve's statement that even the slightest imbalance would create a disturbance that would "show through the cloak".

Under normal conditions, the movement of charged matter inside the ship must presumably be precisely balanced so that no net magnetic field is formed.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 140: "Face of the Enemy"

TORETH: Pilot. Engage maneuvering engines, forward zero-point-one. Take us directly under their hull.

...

DATA: Sir, the magnetic distortion has reappeared.

PICARD: Bearing and speed?

DATA: It appears to be moving toward us, closing slowly at 100 kph... its bearing indicates a possible collision course.

...

PICARD: Back us away from that distortion, Ensign. One-half impulse.

...

ROMULAN HELMSMAN: They are moving away, Commander.

Propulsion: If Toreth and Data are to be believed, Romulan "0.1" sublight speed is approximately 100 km/h. The Enterprise backs away at ½ impulse, and onscreen visuals clearly showed their retreat speed to be only a few hundred m/s.

TNG Season 6, Ep# 140: "Face of the Enemy"

DESEVE: There will be a Corvallen freighter arriving in the Kaleb sector in the next twelve hours. Spock wants you to rendezvous with that ship and take its cargo back to Federation space.

...

PICARD: This is why you've returned... to bring this message?

DESEVE: Partly.

PICARD: In order to know whether Spock's message is being delivered accurately... I need to understand the messenger.

DESEVE: I was... ready to come back. Romulus had... lost its appeal.

PICARD: And yet you found something very appealing about it at one time.

DESEVE: The Romulans are very... moral, Captain. They have an absolute certainty about what is right and what is wrong... who is a friend and who is an enemy. They have a strict moral compass which provides them with a clarity of purpose. (beat) I once found their sense of purpose, their commitment and passion, to be very compelling.

PICARD: But not any longer... A long beat.

DESEVE: As I've grown older, I realize that clarity of purpose is a more ambiguous matter than I had thought in my youth.

SCREENPLAY: A long beat as Picard considers this man. He taps his combadge.

PICARD (to COM): Mister Riker. Set course for the Kaleb sector. Warp eight.

Culture: when I first saw this episode, I found this scene only mildly compelling. I made no note of it in the first version of this database. However, in February of 2002, with the World Trade Centre's destruction in recent memory and the infamous story of American traitor John Walker-Lindh, this scene takes on an almost chillingly prophetic undertone. Consider:

  1. John Walker-Lindh was fascinated by the moral absolutism of Islam, as compared to what he saw as cultural and moral relativism in the West. Similarly, Deseve was fascinated by the moral absolutism of the Romulans.
  2. John Walker-Lindh was raised to value moral absolutism and authoritarianism as taught in the Bible and by the church hierarchy (he was raised Catholic), but he lived in California where people are taught not to force others to conform to his beliefs (ie- to show religious tolerance). The result is modern moderate Christianity and it's a good development, but as John Walker-Lindh demonstrated, some have trouble resolving this seeming dichotomy. Similarly, Deseve was raised to value moral absolutism and authoritarianism in the style of communist nations such as the USSR and China (where the state simply takes the place of God, as opposed to a secular humanist state where individual human rights are held to be more important than any authority, divine or otherwise), but he was also taught to "value and respect" other cultures and other belief systems, and he obviously had trouble resolving that conflict.
  3. John Walker-Lindh received far different treatment than any other Taliban prisoner because he is a white former American citizen. He will receive a fair trial, while the US government declares Taliban and Al-Queda prisoners to be "unlawful combatants", holds them without trial, and refuses to treat them as POWs (mostly so they can interrogate them even though the Geneva Convention stipulates that a POW need only reveal his name, rank, and serial number). Similarly, Deseve receives special treatment because he is a human former Federation citizen. Based only on this brief conversation, Picard believes him and orders the Enterprise to a rendezvous with unknown forces (outside Federation territory, no less!) on that basis alone! He doesn't even ask what type of freighter they're meeting, when it picked up its cargo, or what its flight path is (we eventually learn that Deseve had all this information, but nobody asks him)! Skip to Episode #58 ("The Defector") in order to see how he treats Romulans coming across the Neutral Zone. Even knowing full well that he had abandoned his prestigious position in order to bring his message, Picard insisted that Admiral Jarok prove his willingness to help the Federation by revealing sensitive military information before Picard would even consider anything he might have to say.
  4. John Walker-Lindh apparently longed for an unquestioned moral code, which he believed he could find in Islam but not in the West. Similarly, Deseve believed that the Romulans "are very moral" because no one questions their society's judgements on what is right and what is wrong. He felt that this absolute certainty gave them an admirable "sense of purpose".
  5. John Walker-Lindh converted to Islam as an impressionable teenager. Deseve defected to the Romulan Empire as a very young man (the precise age was not discussed, but Riker had earlier stated that he'd been gone for 20 years and that he was an ensign when he left, so he might not have been much older than John Walker-Lindh when he first converted).
This may not reveal much that we didn't already know about Star Trek, but I simply found its parallels with the real-life story of the infamous "American Taliban" too striking to ignore.

Note: thanks to Logan Gish for alerting me to the significance of this passage.

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