Friday, July 22, 2022

Star Trek: Face of the Enemy

Episode: "Face of the Enemy"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 6, Episode 14
Original Air Date: February 8, 1993

Deanna Troi is kidnapped by N'Vek, a member of Spock's underground Romulan resistance organization. She has been surgically altered to appear Romulan and finds herself aboard a Romulan warbird, purpose unclear even as N'Vek barks instructions at her.  She is forced to aid a plot to smuggle defectors.  

This is a highly contrived concept, even by Star Trek standards.  The explanation for why Troi, in particular, is required for the mission requires too much.  Also, I've read enough spy novels to see that putting someone in a situation like this unwillingly with no briefing or training has inevitable disaster written all over it.

Yet, somehow, "Face of the Enemy" works.  If it's not the best Troi episode, it's on an awfully short list.  She gets to be a badass!  She sorts out her cover on the fly as she is confronted by Toreth (Carolyn Seymour), the commander on the Romulan ship.  We see Troi's discomfort in the role of ruthless intelligence officer and we cheer her on as she finds her footing.  The viewer can't help wondering how they might handle the situation in her shoes.

Seymour is wonderful as Toreth, though there was briefly another plan for the character.  Teleplay writer Naren Shankar suggested inviting Joanne Linville to reprise her role from TOS's best third-season episode, "The Enterprise Incident."  Linville was unavailable.  Seymour got the job.  Fortunately there's room enough in the galaxy for more than one awesome female Romulan commander.

Acting Notes

Scott McDonald (N'Vek) was born October 24, 1959 in Libby, Montana.  He received a Bachelor's degree from Washington State University and an MFA from the California Institute of the Arts.  "Face of the Enemy" is his second of twelve Trek appearances as five different characters in four different series.  Most significantly, he played Commander Dolim for eight episodes on Enterprise.  

Other television work includes Threshold, Carniv├ále and Dexter.  His highest-profile big screen role was the title character in Jack Frost.  

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