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The Ensigns of Command 

After 111 years of silence, an extremely litigious alien race asserts its agreed upon right to wipe out a Federation colony in its territory.


Cliff Bole


Gene Roddenberry (created by), Melinda M. Snodgrass

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Episode complete credited cast:
Patrick Stewart ... Capt. Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes ... Cmdr. William Riker
LeVar Burton ... Lt. Cmdr. Geordi La Forge
Michael Dorn ... Lieutenant Worf
Gates McFadden ... Dr. Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis ... Counselor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner ... Lt. Commander Data
Wil Wheaton ... Wesley Crusher
Eileen Seeley Eileen Seeley ... Ard'rian McKenzie
Mark L. Taylor ... Haritath
Richard Allen Richard Allen ... Kentor
Colm Meaney ... Chief Miles O'Brien
Mart McChesney Mart McChesney ... Sheliak


After a century of silence, the Enterprise receives a message from the Shelia system informing them that they have discovered a human colony on a world in their sector. As they will be colonizing the planet themselves in four days time, they want the Enterprise to evacuate all humans from their territory. The planet in question is in a high radiation zone and no one can understand how any human could be living there. Data, immune to the radiation, is sent to the planet to arrange for the inhabitants' departure. Once there, however, he finds a population of 15,253 who firmly have no intention of leaving. While Picard seeks a way to get more time from the Sheliak, Data enlists the help of one local to convince the rest to leave. Written by garykmcd/edited by statmanjeff

Plot Summary | Add Synopsis




Official Sites:

Official site





Release Date:

30 September 1989 (USA) See more »

Company Credits

Production Co:

Paramount Television See more »
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Technical Specs


Sound Mix:




Aspect Ratio:

1.33 : 1
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Did You Know?


Melinda M. Snodgrass initially intended to be credited under the pseudonym "H.B. Savage" in order to protest rewrites by showrunner Michael I. Wagner, which included greatly reducing the role of Ard'rian McKenzie and adding in the exotic radiation which initially prevents Data from using his phaser; however, when Snodgrass viewed the finished episode, she liked it better than she initially thought she would, and since Wagner had left the show by that point, she consented to being credited under her real name. See more »


While discussing with the captain how they are going to negotiate a compromise with the Sheliak, Troi tells Picard that the Federation sent 372 legal experts to hammer out the original treaty. She then asks Picard, "What do we have?" To which Picard answers, "Thee and me."

There are over 1,000 people on board the Enterprise. It is difficult to believe that there isn't anyone else on board that can handle legal matters, and that all Picard can count on for something this critical is himself and a psychologist. See more »


[Data has told the colonists of the threat of the Sheliak and urged them to evacuate the planet, which Gosheven refuses]
Gosheven: This colony exists because generations gave their lives for it. Many died, before we found a way to adapt to the radiation, and many more died bringing water to this desert. My grandfather...
Ard'rian McKenzie: ...is buried on that mountain. Well, who'll be left to bury you?
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Edited into Star Trek: Deep Space Nine: The Maquis: Part I (1994) See more »


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

A call to reason
27 October 2016 | by Mr-FusionSee all my reviews

Oh man, this is where the show really starts to click. Season 3 doesn't open with bombast or packed with action, but with a simple territorial dispute. The Sheliak don't like that a colony of humans have laid down roots on their planet and order the Enterprise to have them relocated. It's a two-pronged approach, with Data trying to talk sense with the colonists while Picard faces intimidating legalese with the alien race.

In the end, both officers are forced to think outside the box, and that's exactly what makes this so satisfying. Not just that Patrick Stewart and Bent Spiner carry this, but because this episode is very true to both characters. It's a lot of fun seeing Capt. Picard stroll triumphantly onto the bridge after he's finally nailed the treaty loophole; and it's a stark reminder of the show's signature mix of writing, drama and excitement.


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