Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 5, Episode 3
Original Air Date: October 7, 1991
|via Memory Alpha|
Ensign Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes) is assigned to the Enterprise against Picard's wishes. Ro, a Bajoran, had previously been court-martialed for disobeying orders but was pardoned by Admiral Kennely so she could serve on a particular mission: to persuade Bajoran rebels to stop attacking Federation settlements.
"Ensign Ro" is an important episode for the future of the franchise. For starters, it introduces the Bajorans and their struggle against their conquerors, the Cardassians, the backdrop for Deep Space Nine, Star Trek's next spinoff. Just as importantly, Ro herself became a popular recurring character with both the audience and the production staff, one with a lasting impact. Forbes was offered the opportunity to reprise the role as a lead character for both DS9 and Voyager. While she turned them down both times, elements of Ro are clearly evident in both Kira Nyris in DS9 and Tom Paris in Voyager.
The real world parallels for the Bajorans - the Jews, the Armenians, the Kurds, indeed, the Palestinians - are many and obvious. There's some interesting foreshadowing, though unintentional as DS9 wasn't even a discussion yet. In a conversation with Picard, Keeve, one of the Bajoran rebels, makes note of the fact that because of their non-interference policies, Starfleet generally ignores suffering such as that of his people. It's a frequent and reasonable criticism of Trek: they don't sit with problems for very long, always heading off to the next week's adventure. DS9 and the Bajorans are about to change that.
Another strong episode - that makes four in a row by my reckoning.
Michelle Renee Forbes Guajardo was born January 8, 1965 in Austin, Texas. Initially an aspiring ballet dancer, she started her professional acting career at age 16.
Forbes had a two-year stint on Guiding Light in a dual role: Solita Carrera/Sonni Carrera Lewis. The gig earned her a Daytime Emmy nomination. NextGen was her big break. She caught the producers' eye as Dara in "Half a Life" and they offered her the Ro Loren part the following season. In total, she made eight appearances as Ro. Later, she had regular roles on Homicide: Life on the Street, In Treatment, True Blood and The Killing, for which she received a Primetime Emmy nomination. Films have included Kalifornia, Swimming with Sharks and Columbus.