55 – The Enemy

Grade: A-

The Enemy (1989) on IMDb


Riker, LaForge and Worf beam down to a hostile planet with a lot of electromagnetic storms. They find a destroyed Romulan ship and a survivor. Suddenly, LaForge falls into a pit, and Worf and Riker are forced to leave him there temporarily. LaForge’s survival depends on getting help from the Romulan survivor.


This episode is excellent, and by far the best one in the series up to this point. In fact, the next episodes to be rated this high are the two-part Best of Both Worlds episodes. And there are parts of The Enemy that I actually like better than Best of Both Worlds.

In this episode, the writing is the best I’ve seen so far. I have long believed that the very best Star Trek episodes are the ones that deal with contemporary issues in its futuristic setting. This episode deals with espionage, politics, racism, honor, courage, trust, duty, etc. The writing is just awesome, especially compared to what we’ve seen up to now. This really is pretty weighty stuff for a popcorn TV series to be dealing with, and I applaud David Kemper and Michael Piller for how they dealt with these things in this episode.

One thing that really struck me about this episode is that almost the entire storyline is carried by two African-American actors: Michael Dorn and LeVar Burton. Both of them have to do something to save the lives of Romulans. I don’t want to ruin the storyline for you, but I’ll just say that they choose opposite ways of dealing with their circumstances. Just like these actors have to deal with racism, it reminds me of The Undiscovered Country when a Starfleet Admiral refuses to give up his racist feelings against the Klingons.

One last thing that makes this episode great – it reminds me of the U-2 incident of May, 1960 when an American spy plane was shot down over the Soviet Union. US President Eisenhower at first did not know the pilot had been captured alive, so he made all kinds of false claims about the purpose of the plane. When Captain Picard tells Ambassador Tamalak that there was another Romulan survivor who was captured alive, it reminded me of when Kruschev told Eisenhower that the pilot of the U-2 plane was still alive.

In summary, this episode is fantastic, and definitely worth a look. The storyline is expertly written and very interesting. Everything in this production from the acting to the directing and the issues it addresses are all so much better than anything else I’ve seen so far that it’s hard to believe this was a 3rd season episode. Everything before this was juvenile and fun, but nothing at all like this one. This is one of a handful of episodes that I highly recommend to everyone, including people who are not familiar with Star Trek. If you haven’t seen this, you are in for a rare treat – what we have here is a Star Trek episode that compares favorably to any other expertly-written drama on television.

Of Note

There’s a nice reference to the Wrath of Khan when Picard tells Worf that as Captain, he needs to weigh the good of the many against the needs of the individual. The writer did a great job with this episode.

This is also the first of four appearances of Commander Tamalak in the Next Generation series. He will become my favorite Romulan character – well, except for the time Captain Kirk went undercover as a Romulan officer in the Original Series.

The Romulan officer who is on the planet’s surface with Geordi LaForge is played by the same actor who is Counselor Troi’s love interest in The Masterpiece Society. In that episode and in this one, the fact that LaForge was born blind plays a huge role in the story. LaForge’s VISOR holds the key to saving their lives in both stories. I thought that was interesting.