Star Trek: The Next Generation: Season 6, Episode 10

Chain of Command: Part 1 (12 Dec. 1992)

TV Episode  |   |  Action, Adventure, Mystery
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Ratings: 8.3/10 from 888 users  
Reviews: 10 user | 4 critic

Picard is replaced as captain of the Enterprise so he, Lt. Worf and Dr. Crusher go on a secret mission into Cardassian space. Meanwhile, his replacement, Capt. Jellico, meets his new command with some resistance from the crew.



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Title: Chain of Command: Part 1 (12 Dec 1992)

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Episode cast overview:
John Durbin ...
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Because of a feared imminent Cardassian invasion, Vice Admiral Alynna Nechayev comes to the Enterprise on USS Cairo, to replace Picard as its captain by Cairo's captain, Edward Jellico, who immediately makes his mark on crew and ship, tells Troi there's no time for a 'honeymoon' with either for he expects the negotiations with the Cardassians he's charged with to fail and hastily deploys big plans to prepare the flagship for battle. Meanwhile Picard, Worf and Crusher have a top-secret mission, to find and sabotage the presumed biological super-weapon which can wipe out all life on a whole system prior to invasion. After their training the trio bribes a Ferengi smuggler ship to reach the suspected Vardassian planet, but by the time they have intruded the subterranean installation... Written by KGF Vissers

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Plot Keywords:

24th century | See All (1) »




Release Date:

12 December 1992 (USA)  »

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Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Two "Christmas Carol" veterans encounter in this two-part adventure: Patrick Stewart has played Ebenezer Scrooge, David Warner has played Bob Cratchitt. Not in the same production, however. See more »


Although Picard, Worf and Beverly use a Type-7 shuttle, the interior is that of a Type-6 shuttle. See more »


Gul Lemec: This treatment is a deliberate insult to the Cardassian Union. I have been kept waiting here for over an hour!
Captain Edward Jellico: Then I'm sure you're ready to talk.
See more »


Referenced in Star Trek: The Next Generation: Attached (1993) See more »


Star Trek: The Next Generation Main Title
Composed by Jerry Goldsmith and Alexander Courage
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User Reviews

Great writing, masterful performances. This is sci-fi - no, television - at it's very best.
12 December 2008 | by (United Kingdom) – See all my reviews

There is no denying that Star Trek: The Next Generation is a groundbreaking show. After a shaky start, slumbering in the shadows of it's predecessor, Riker "grew the beard" and around the same time, early in season two, the real potential began to show. It became obvious that Gene Roddenberry had picked a cast more than able to perform the skilled illusion - making a set of sound-stages, scripts and special effects a plausible glimpse into a potential future, one where some of humanities problems have been solved but some linger and are perhaps worse for it.

But I digress. This is not a review of the show at large. It is intended merely to point out that it could have been a catastrophe, when in fact this show singlehandedly resurrected the entire franchise by taking the fandom of the original series and challenging them. And this is demonstrated to incredible effect with the epic two-part adventure.

It may at first seem implausible that an ageing captain, a doctor with no combat experience and a chief security officer would be sent on a dangerous espionage mission, but thanks to the script good, justifiable reasons are provided and they set the stage. The Federation is finally revealed to be strained; stretching to meet bigger and more avaricious foes. The Enterprise crew is forced to work harder, faster and better to meet the challenge when Picard is replaced. Riker becomes an intermediary, an emissary for the misgivings of the crew. His stunning ambition and Kirk-esquire attitude send sparks flying when Jellico (played stunningly by Ronny Cox) steamrollers over the comfortable routine.

After an immaculate setup, the second part delivers on the promise. Sweeping narrative is something Star Trek excels at, and it is no wonder that that last three seasons of TNG contain more two-part episodes than the four that precede it. The two main plots have been intertwined well - both the away mission to discover a Cardassian base and the shake-up of the Enterprise mirror each other in intention, but work so well because of such contrasting execution - notice the extensive use of dark and light between the plots. Both share a common factor - they are guessing games.

In the second part, they become cat-and-mouse games. Jellico must negotiate a workable agreement with the Cardassians, Picard must endure torture of the most degrading sort - not just physical pain, but mental manipulation too. In both cases, the tormentor and the tormented change during the course of the episode, masterfully. When one appears to be holding all the cards, external factors are altered and force a radical rethinking of survival tactics. Both Captains are forced to look inward, to reconsider what they think is right and to admit at least a little defeat to achieve an advantageous goal (Jellico must barter with Riker, Picard must hold on to his hope while wearing down Gul Madred).

I could single out and extrapolate on so many great nuances of performance in many of the cast, but I would no doubt run out of words to do so. As someone who has a huge amount of respect for Patrick Stewart - not just an actor, but the highest class of the art, a true thespian - I will concentrate on that.

Patrick Stewart has often been responsible for the best moments of any work he happens to be in. Even the more mediocre works can be raised by one of his grandstanding, completely compelling speeches. He had always been a strong lead character and Star Trek gave him the exposure he needed to really capitalise on his skills. Here he is given a sparring partner so evenly matched the tension of his scenes - with David Warner as Gul Madred - are a sight to behold. The facial expressions, the subtle vocal inflections and the haunted look one man demonstrates when the other manages a riposte he could not have anticipated - this raises the medium of the television show to the heights of classical theatre.

Both run the gamete of emotions - anger, passion, love, hatred, despair and many more - and it makes for compelling viewing. The tension between the scenes with Jonathan Frakes and Ronny Cox comes very close to matching these heights too: with both plots seamlessly edited together and topped off with an exceptional musical score, the end result is mesmerising.

I remember seeing these episodes as a child and being completely captivated by the moral questions raised, wondering what I might make of the work the next time I saw it. This has been one of the rare cases where age and experience have barely dented my reactions and enjoyment, still forcing me to turn inwards after viewing and consider what my own passions and commitments might be worth in the grand scheme of things. If that isn't what great works of art are supposed to do, then I suppose I'll never know. Bravo. Hats off to everyone involved.

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