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The Defector (episode)

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
"The Defector"
TNG, Episode 3x10
Production number: 40273-158
First aired: 1 January 1990
57th of 176 produced in TNG
57th of 176 released in TNG
  {{{nNthReleasedInSeries_Remastered}}}th of 176 released in TNG Remastered  
164th of 728 released in all
Alidar Jarok
Written By
Ronald D. Moore

Directed By
Robert Scheerer
43462.5 (2366)
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The Enterprise grants asylum to a defector from the Romulan Empire, who claims to have vital information concerning a renewed Romulan offensive against the Federation.



As Data performs in Shakespeare's play Henry V on the holodeck, Captain Picard watches, and applauds him that he is getting better and better. Data intends to study the Human condition through Shakespeare. They are interrupted by Commander Riker, who informs them that sensors have detected an unidentified craft in the Romulan Neutral Zone headed towards Federation space. Picard and Data leave the holodeck and discuss why a king would want to pose as a commoner.

Picard arrives on the bridge, and Riker informs him that Outpost Sierra VI has confirmed that the ship is a Romulan scout ship. The ship hails the USS Enterprise-D and its pilot requests assistance and asylum, as he is under pursuit. The ship enters visual range and Worf displays it on the main viewer, just as a Romulan warbird decloaks.

Act OneEdit

Jarok calls for help

"Federation craft... please, you must help me!"

The warbird begins firing on the scout ship. Picard immediately brings the ship to red alert and attempts to communicate with the warbird. He informs them that they have crossed the Neutral Zone and are engaged in hostile action, and demands an explanation. No response is received, so they contact the scout ship again, this time visually. Its pilot pleads for help as the Enterprise moves to intercept, but then the ship is struck by weapons fire and communication is lost. The ship drifts into Federation space and the Enterprise extends its deflector shields around it. The warbird approaches, entering Federation space. Picard orders phasers locked on and demands the warbird that they withdraw. They turn around and do so, having never communicated with the Enterprise. Life support on the scout ship begins to fail, so Picard orders that its pilot be transported aboard, and the scout ship taken in tow.

Worf and Riker go to the transporter room to meet the pilot. The pilot is injured, unable to move his left arm, and has severe burns on his face. He demands to see the captain, and when Riker suggests he go to sickbay he refuses, insisting the information he has is vital to their survival. He claims to be a low-ranking logistics officer with vital information. In the observation lounge he tells them that the humiliating defeat suffered by the Romulans at the Battle of Cheron has not been forgotten and their new leaders have vowed to disregard the Treaty of AlgeronNelvana III is just the first step. The Romulans have already established a base there, and it will be operational within forty-eight hours.

Romulan scout ship explodes

An unexpected explosion

Riker is suspicious, wondering how the Federation sensors that monitor the Neutral Zone just missed this new base. The pilot insists that within two days a fleet of warbirds will be within striking distance of fifteen Federation sectors. Picard tells Worf to take the pilot, Sublieutenant Setal, to sickbay. Picard, Riker, Data and Geordi La Forge discuss "Setal"'s intentions. Whether he is legitimate or not, this could be a ploy by the Romulans to make the Federation look like the aggressors. As La Forge talks about the scout ship the defector has left them, with a suggestion that Picard sends an away team to the ship, it suddenly explodes.

Riker questions "Setal" in sickbay. "Setal" insists that he is not a traitor and he set the ship's auto-destruct sequencer to prevent it from being captured. "Setal" is surprised when Dr. Crusher displays knowledge of Romulan medicine. She says she had gained experience recently, at the incident at Galorndon Core. Worf remains suspicious, asking how a clerk knew of that incident and questioning the authenticity of his credentials. Spouting Klingon insults, Riker orders Worf out, and "Setal" laughs and admires Worf, but reminds himself that a man like Worf could get everyone killed.

Act TwoEdit

Haden on monitor

"I join in your skepticism."

Riker shows "Setal" to his quarters. When Riker leaves, "Setal" asks the replicator for water, giving the temperature in onkians. The computer does not understand and asks for the temperature in Celsius degrees. He impatiently asks for water at the cold side of whatever their temperature scale is. He then sits on his bed and removes a small, round object that was concealed in his boot.

On the bridge, Data reports that no unusual activity has been detected in the Nelvana system. A priority communication from Starfleet Command on Lya III arrives. Admiral Haden informs Picard that the Romulan government has officially demanded the return of the defector but the Federation Council has refused. He suggests taking the Enterprise to a Federation position proximate to Nelvana III. Picard then calls Lieutenant Worf to his ready room.

Reviewing Romulan readings

Reviewing Romulan readings

Back on the bridge, Picard, La Forge, Data and Dr. Crusher watch sensor recordings from the chase. La Forge reports that the warbird deliberately slowed down to avoid catching the scout ship. Data also reports that the Romulans have the same ability to direct the impact of their weapons as they do. Crusher admits that despite the severity of his wounds, it is conceivable that "Setal" could have inflicted them upon himself.

Picard receives another communication from Admiral Haden. The USS Monitor and the USS Hood are on their way but will not arrive in time. All Federation outposts have been warned, and all starships have been placed on yellow alert. Starfleet does not want a war, but is prepared to take the Romulans on if that is what they want. He orders Data to prepare a Class-1 probe to scan "every meter of Nelvana III". Picard also asks for Data's clarity of thought, asking Data to keep a clear record of these events, so that history will have an unbiased account. He also asks about the crew's spirit, confessing that, unlike King Henry, he cannot disguise himself and walk amongst his men.

Act ThreeEdit

Riker and Troi interrogate Jarok

"There's more here than you're telling us."

Riker and Deanna Troi interrogate "Setal". Riker tries to make him prove that he is not a spy by asking about the strength and locations of the Romulan battle fleet. Setal says he does not know. He tells them he is a logistics officer for only one sector, under Admiral Jarok. He responds with the exclamation "Irrelevant!" to the rest of Riker's questions.

The Enterprise receives a priority message from the security officer on the IKS Bortas, which Worf leaves the bridge to deal with. Data, in the meantime, launches the probe. In main engineering, Data and Geordi analyze the probe's telemetry. The probe has picked up low-level subspace radio communications and ionization disturbances coming from the planet, which may be evidence of cloaked Romulan ships. However, they have not detected a base. The only way to be certain is to go to the planet and look for themselves.

Valley of Chula, remastered

"I no longer live here."

In Ten Forward, Data observes "Setal". "Setal" recognizes him as the android he had heard about. He apparently knows of a number of Romulan cyberneticists who would love to study him, but Data realizes that that is not something he would want. "Setal" asks if the replicators are capable of producing Romulan ale but Data says they are not as they do not have the appropriate pattern, as their knowledge of Romulan culture is limited.

"Setal" and Data discuss the possibility that he will never be allowed to return to Romulus. Data takes him to the holodeck where he recreates the Valley of Chula on Romulus, but he does not need to stay for long. He tells Data to arrange a meeting between himself and Captain Picard, and to tell him that Admiral Jarok wishes to speak with him.

Act FourEdit

Jarok and Picard talk

"You've made your choices, sir. You're a traitor."

Admiral Hayden confirms that "Setal" is, in fact, Admiral Alidar Jarok, the commander responsible for the massacre at the Norkan outposts. Jarok is brought in to the ready room, where Picard questions his credibility. He suggests that the massacres at the Norkan Outposts are an example of the fact that Jarok is not a man of peace. Jarok counters, saying what Picard calls massacres were called the Norkan Campaigns on his homeworld. Picard asks Jarok if he is willing to help them overcome the Romulan B-type warbirds, and deactivate their cloaking shields.

Jarok says nothing, but then asks if Picard has children. He says he looked at his daughter and realized he must change the world for her. He pleaded with the Romulan High Command, telling them that another war would destroy the Empire but they would not listen. They censured him and sent him off to command some distant sector. His daughter will now grow up believing her father is a traitor, but at least she will grow up... if Picard acts. Picard demands complete cooperation from Jarok, refusing to act otherwise.

In the observation lounge, Picard announces that Jarok has given him the strengths and locations of the Romulan fleet and will provide them with technical data on Romulan ships. Picard orders the ship to Nelvana III.

Act FiveEdit

Jarok is surprised

"No! It's impossible!"

The Enterprise enters the Neutral Zone, in direct violation of the Treaty of Algeron, but suspiciously meets with no resistance. The ship arrives, but no lifeforms, power systems, weapons or any sign of a base are detected. Data realizes that the signs are coming from a unknown source in orbit about the planet. Jarok arrives on the bridge. He is stunned when Picard confronts him – he claims to have seen the tactical communiqués, the timetables describing this base, et cetera. Picard asks if the whole incident could have been a test of Jarok's loyalty.

The Enterprise prepares to withdraw but two warbirds decloak and attack them. Picard tells Worf not to fire back and then receives a hail from the lead Romulan ship. Commander Tomalak appears and tells them that this time it is they who have made an aggressive move across the Neutral Zone. Tomalak reveals that the communications they picked up were coming from an orbiting probe sent to conduct archaeological research. He announces that they will dissect the Enterprise and display its broken hull in the center of the Romulan capitol. There it will serve as inspiration for their troops and a warning to any other potential traitors.

Federation-Romulan-Klingon stand-off

The Klingon cavalry

Jarok confronts Tomalak, but Tomalak refuses to listen, demanding that Jarok be returned and then the Enterprise crew surrender as prisoners of war. Picard refuses to accept Tomalak's terms, and Tomalak is not at all surprised. He asks if Picard is willing to risk the lives of his crew for a lost cause, and Picard says if the cause is just and honorable, his crew will follow him. He asks if Tomalak is also prepared to die, and Tomalak scoffs at him, expecting more than an idle threat, to which Picard replies "You shall have it."

He instructs Worf to signal three cloaked Klingon Birds-of-Prey to reveal themselves – surrounding the Romulan ships. Tomalak boasts that Enterprise will still not survive their assault and Picard tells Tomalak that they will not survive his, either. Picard asks if they shall die together. Tomalak then tells Picard he looks forward to their next meeting and closes the channel. Worf reports the Romulan disruptors are powering down and the warbirds retreat from the Nelvana system. Picard asks Worf to extend the appreciation of the Federation and his personal gratitude to the Klingons.

Jarok found dead

End of the line for Jarok

Extremely bitter, Jarok laments to no one in particular, "I did it for nothing. My home, my family; for nothing." Later, Jarok is found in his quarters – dead, having committed suicide with a Felodesine chip, leaving only a letter for his family. Data remarks that Jarok must have realized that they could not deliver it, given current relations with the Romulan Empire. Picard replies that if others show the courage of Admiral Jarok then, perhaps they will see a day of peace when they can take his letter home.

Log entriesEdit

Memorable QuotesEdit

"Your knowledge of Klingon curses is impressive. But, as a Romulan might say, only a veruul would use such language in public."

- Riker, to Jarok

"One world's butcher is another world's hero. Perhaps I am neither one."

- Jarok, to Picard

"We have less than 48 hours to prevent a war or perhaps... to start one."

- Picard

"This... this is my home now - my future. I have sacrificed everything. It must not be in vain. Arrange a meeting between myself and Captain Picard... tell him... Admiral Jarok wants to see him."

- Jarok revealing his true identity to Data

"You already betrayed your people, Admiral! You made your choices sir! You're a traitor! Now if the bitter taste of that is unpalatable to you I am truly sorry, but I will not risk my crew because you think you can dance on the edge of the Neutral Zone. You crossed over, Admiral. You make yourself comfortable with that."

- Picard to Jarok

"It does appear unlikely you will ever be allowed to return to your planet."
"The cold reaction of an android."

- Data and Jarok

"There comes a time in a man's life that you cannot know... when he looks down at the first smile of his baby girl and realizes he must change the world for her... for all children."

- Jarok, to Picard

"Now if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it."

- Picard, quoting from Henry V

"Today, perhaps. But if there are others with the courage of Admiral Jarok, we may hope to see a day of peace when we can take his letter home."

- Picard on Jarok's sacrifice

"If the cause is just and honorable, they are prepared to give their lives. Are you prepared to die today, Tomalak?"

- Picard

"I did it for nothing."

- Jarok

Background informationEdit

Story and script Edit


Henry V costumes

Spiner, Burton, Frakes, and Stewart off-set

Reception Edit

  • Director Robert Scheerer recalls mixed feelings about this episode, "There was a problem on that one. We were a little long and two scenes where [the Romulan defector] was interviewed were cut. I loved shooting that because I had to find two totally different ways to shoot an interrogation scene. I felt I accomplished that rather well, but unfortunatly, because of time, they had to pull one of them out. The actor who played the defector, James Sloyan, was excellent. His feeling about The Next Generation was that it's the only place left where you can do Shakespearan acting and make it work for you on television. Because of the characters' nature and size, you can bring something to it that you can't do anywhere else on television. It had a nice anti-war message, but it didn't preach the message; it told the story. It was important. I tried to be subtle, but make sure the point was made." (The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 20, p. 33)
  • A mission report for this episode by Patrick D. O'Neill was published in The Official Star Trek: The Next Generation Magazine Vol. 12, pp. 5-9.


  • Actor Andreas Katsulas makes his second of four appearances in TNG as Romulan Commander Tomalak. It also marks Tomalak's final 'real' appearance in Star Trek. Of his next two appearances, the first was part of an illusion, and the second was part of an alternate timeline.
  • This episode marks the first Star Trek appearance of James Sloyan (as Alidar Jarok) who was to be a prolific Trek actor. He appears in TNG again as K'mtar, a future Alexander Rozhenko, in "Firstborn" and plays the title character in VOY: "Jetrel", but his largest role was as Odo's "father", Doctor Mora Pol, appearing in DS9 episodes "The Alternate" and "The Begotten".
  • Actor John Hancock makes his first of two appearances in TNG as Starfleet Admiral Haden. His name is mentioned only in the script here, but it would be aired the following season in "The Wounded". Likewise, he is depicted only sending a video message in this episode, while he is actually conversing with Picard in the subsequent appearance.
  • Wil Wheaton (Wesley Crusher) does not appear in this episode.
  • Stewart, with heavy make-up and accent, plays the Shakespearean character of Michael Williams in the episode's opening scenes, which pay homage to the 1989 film version of Henry V. That film was directed by and starred Kenneth Branagh, whose performance is cited by Data as one of the inspirations for his own. Patrick Stewart appeared in Hamlet, Prince of Denmark (1980) with Derek Jacobi, who appeared in Branagh's Henry V. Incidentally, Picard quotes Williams later in the episode when he says "Now if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the king that led them to it."
  • First UK airdate: 18th December 1991
  • The episode "Hero", of Ronald D. Moore's re-imagined Battlestar Galactica, opens with a similar premise to that of this episode. A fighter pilot, who thinks he has escaped from the custody of the Cylons, heads for the Galactica in a captured Cylon raider, pursued by two other fighters. Starbuck, one of the show's lead characters, later ascertains that the fighters purposely kept their distance and fired inaccurately at him so as to let him reach the ship. It is later discovered that Admiral Adama, commander of Galactica, was responsible for his capture in the first place, the Cylons wishing him to find this out and take revenge, thereby sowing chaos and unrest amongst the military protectors of the ragtag fleet. [2] [3]

Studio models Edit

USS Enterprise-D and Romulan warbird contend for a Romulan scout ship

The first appearance of the new model

  • This episode featured three new studio models to the series, including the new four-foot miniature of the Enterprise-D, the Romulan scout ship and the second D'deridex-class model. All three can be seen together during the stand-off scene during the first act.
  • Possibly, unintentionally, the three Klingon Birds of Prey appear as large in size as the Galaxy Class Enterprise. The two established Bird of Prey classes (B'Rel and K'vort) are considerably smaller than the Galaxy Class starship. Whether this is a scaling error or was meant to introduce a new class of vessel (no new models were constructed of the BoP for this episode) has not been addressed.

Continuity Edit

  • This was the first episode of Star Trek to air in the 1990s.
  • In this episode Data reports that his artistic skills are derived out of imitation/combination of famous artists' performances. He mentioned something similar about his violin performance in "The Ensigns of Command".
  • This episode features the third change of the Starfleet admiral's uniform in TNG.
  • This episode introduces two new Romulan military ranks: admiral and sublieutenant.
  • Jarok references a "humiliating defeat at the Battle of Cheron."
  • This is the first episode to mention the Treaty of Algeron.
  • While Beverly Crusher and Jarok discuss the recent events at Galorndon Core, which allowed her to learn something about Romulan anatomy, she eyes Worf. This alludes to the events of "The Enemy" where Worf declined to save the life of a Romulan tended by Crusher.
  • Like the Klingons in the 23rd century ("The Trouble with Tribbles") and the Vulcans in the 22nd century (Star Trek: Enterprise), the Romulan military is directed by a High Command.
  • The delivery of Jarok's letter is described in the short story "Suicide Note".

Video and DVD releasesEdit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit

Co-star Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

2366; Apnex Sea; apogee; archaeology; auto-destruct sequencer; B-type; Bates, John; Battle of Cheron; Beta Hutzel; Bortas, IKS; Branagh, Kenneth; Celsius; censure; chess; class-1 probe; cloaking device; colorful metaphor; Custer, George Armstrong; cybernetics; D'deridex-class; disruptor; EM; Epsilon Legato; Federation; Federation Council; Federation space; Felodesine chip; Gal Gath'thong; Galorndon Core; Gamma Hydra; hailing frequency; Henry V; holo-programs; holodeck; Hood, USS; interrogation room; ionization disturbance; king; Klingons; Klingon language; Kullnark; legion; Little Bighorn; Lya III; Monitor, USS; Moore's Star; nakedness; Nelvana III; Nelvana system; Norkan Campaign; Norkan outposts; Olivier, Laurence; life support; onkian; orbital probe; Outpost Sierra VI; outpost; Outpost 3; Outpost 4; Outpost 5; Outpost 6; petaQ; political asylum; power transfer field; priority code gamma; priority one; prisoner of war; radiation; rating code; reactor core; Romulan; Romulan ale; Romulan capitol; Romulan Empire; Romulan High Command; Romulan language; Romulan Neutral Zone; Romulan scout ship; Romulan warbird; Romulus; sector; security officer; security station; Setal; Seventh Cavalry; Sigma Nelvana; Shakespeare, William; Shapiro; Starfleet Command; Starfleet Tactical; sublieutenant; subspace radio; suicide; tent; Theta Curry; tohzah; Thames; Treaty of Algeron; water; Valley of Chula; veruul; viewport; violet; Williams, Michael

Previous episode:
"The Vengeance Factor"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3
Next episode:
"The Hunted"

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