In which the villains plan is a mess, nobody makes you mad like family, and Picard takes a year-long booty call.
As the revalations about the Ba’ku planet’s natural restorative properties sinks in, Admiral Dougherty and the Son’a ship close in to find out why Picard hasn’t left them to kidnap all the Ba’ku into the holoship yet. And they have backup. Picard states bluntly that the jig is up, and the Son’a leader, Ru’afo (because they had a surplus of apostrophes for this movie) gets so angry his forehad starts to bleed. He threatens to blow up the Enterprise and then leaves.
Dougherty explains that because the Ba’ku aren’t actually native, the prime directive doesn’t apply and the Federation can move them if he says so. Picard dissents, but even if this weren’t a Prime Directive issue, I feel like it should violate some other Federation laws. Dougherty’s argument is that the 600 Ba’ku are a paltry price to pay for the billions that could be helped by these particles, which the Son’a have the technology to collect but which the Federation has the territorial claim over. Together, they can mine it and export youth. His other argument is that on Earth, competition over natural resources like petrolium built empires. Not the greatest argument for the morality of your plan here, buddy.
Oh, and the Son’a extraction plan will burn the rings to extract the particles, and scour the planet of life. This is a rush job because some of the Son’a won’t survive long enough for normal exposure to fix whatever’s wrong with all of their faces. Picard doesn’t back down and refuses to betray the principles of the Federation by turning on the pretty spa planet he just found. Although the ‘haggling over the price’ argument fits rather nicely here.
Dougherty has a trump card, though. Rank. By the time Picard can file a report and get backed up, the movie will be over, assuming Picard obeys orders. Which is why he removes his pips.
The Son’a people have been released, and it turns out they have a revenge-motivation for the Ba’ku, although we don’t know what it is. As Ru’afo goes through a facelift, he also orders holding cells prepared, since the secret’s out and they don’t need a holoship.
Picard is sneaking around preparing for a guerrilla mission, but has been found out by Data. And the rest of the senior staff, in civilian clothes. Except for Riker and Geordi, in uniform. They’re in uniform so that they can pull rank on him when he tells everyone not to help him. Data gets another ‘to hell with our orders’ moment. They’ll take the Captains Yacht out for the first time ever to keep the planet from being evacuated, while Will and Geordi go sound the alarm to the Federation.
The Son’a simulations all show green, and since they’ve detected the yacht deploying, they decide to storm the planet now. Villageside, the Ba’ku evacuate the village as Picard and company set up transport inhibitors where natural features won’t be sufficient. This turns the mass kidnapping attempt into a lethal air-to-surface assault. For some reason, however, the Son’a troops are both willing to kill the Ba’ku and simultaniously trying to destroy the inhibitors so that the rest of them can be captured.
Apparently, Dougherty is the only reason they’re even bothering to make the attempt, and his influence is waning. The Federation is painted as an aging power on the brink of collapse, beset on all sides by more vigorous neighbors. He offers to send ships to escort the Enterprise back from the border. Everyone in the room knows he’s talking about blowing it up, but this is the kind of partnership where ‘plausible deniability’ isn’t just a motto.
The Ba’ku are on a long exile-march into the mountains, during which time Data gets quizzed on his machine status by the kid. Apparently his power cells continually recharge themselves, a miracle no less wondrous than his positronic brain but considerably less discussed. One of the things he”d be envious of, if he had the emotion chip in, is the capacity to adapt to changing physical specifications the way humans do as they age. Amidst all the flux his friends are in, Data is a constant, unchanged. Data also claims not to ‘play’ just for ‘fun’ but I think his Sherlock Holmes programs say different.
The Ba’ku are tired and need some rest, so Anij takes some time to admire the novelty (if that’s the right word) of a bald man. Time slows down ad they share a perfect moment. No really – time might actually have slowed down for the two of them.
The Son’a ships have made contact with the Enterprise ad opened fire while, back on the planet, Troi ad Crusher talk about their boobs. That is a literal thing that happens in this movie. Mercifully, Data’s conversation about this ends when the Son’a deploy drones to tag the Ba’ku with transporter tags. The senior staff are damn good shots.
The Enterprise is having a rough time between the attack and just trying to plow through the stellar medium, and they flee to deeper cover, as does the ground team. We have solidly entered the Action One-Liners portion of the presentation, as Worf clubs a drone to smithereens and the Enterprise has to escape a Son’a subspace depth charge. Their best chance is to eject the core, which is only a maybe due to the unpredictability of subspace weapons. It works, and the Enterprise now turns to fight.
Data, Picard, and Worf check the caves out to try to find another way out, and blast open a back door. In the nebula cluster, Riker orders them to collect pockets of volatile gas with the Bussard Collectors to pull a Galaxy Question on the Son’a. If you are unfamiliar, maybe I’ll do that eventually. It was, after all, voted the 7th best Star Trek movie (this one didn’t make the top 12).
The kid lost his pet sugar-glider and goes back into the cave for it, settig up Data to rescue him. Meanwhile, Crusher finally gets a chance to scan one of the Son’a and it turns out they’re anomalous in a way that the Ba’ku could help explain. It’s pretty clear, given the clues, that the Ba’ku and Son’a were one people back in the day. Oh, and Anij went back to find the kid so that she and Picard can get trapped in a cave-in. WHen the rocks settle, one of them is drying, and it’s not Picard. She manages to hold on long enough for Crusher to stabilize her, thanks to Weird Ba’ku Time Powers. Then, in a face-off with some more drones, Picard and Anij get beamed into holding.
Dougherty shows up to demand surrender, Picard still defies them, and this forces a confrontation between Ru’afo and Dougherty when Ru’afto decides to proceed with the launch regardless of who’s still on the surface. And this lets Picard tell everyone what Crusher just showed him. As it turns out, a hundred years ago some young Ba’ku wanted to check out space and tried to take over the colony. They failed and were exiled to live natural lives and die eventually.
Dougherty orders an abort tot he mossion, but it’s really not going to work out for him. He gets his face pulled off in one of the surgery machines so he can’t snitch. However, after the revelations about the Ba’ku, Ru’afo’s facing dissent from within, and then pushes his luck by ordering the murder of the Starfleet personnel.
As he’s escorted into holding, Picard takes the opportunity to twist the knife a little in the Trusted Lieutenant. It works, and they start to plan. Ru’afo has a final override command if he realizes something is wrong, but you know what they say. If there’s a holoship on the wall in act one, something something Pavel Chekov.
Huh, The Son’a use minutes. That’s Federation cultural imperialism for you. Data takes the yacht up to distract the Son’a with the same tachyon bursts that were supposed to lower his shields for transport earlier. It works, and Ru’afo orders the shield harmonics reset, and everything goes bright on the Son’a ship for a moment. The the process goes off exactly as the simulations they were running predicted. However, everything else about the ship is broken, because it’s the holoship.
Ru’afo hasn’t given up entirely, they fix up one of the transporters and beam over to the collector-weapon to activate it. Picard, in turn, has to chase him in order to blow the thing up. Picard gets a Final firefight, Worf gets a final fistfight, and the Enterprise gets a last-minute rescue. Don’t ask how Picard knows the exact sequence, the Trusted Lieutenant told him. Also, Riker gets to order ramming speed, just to freak out the Son’a.
Let us not overlook the fact that Picard deliberately commits suicide aboard the collector and doesn’t even look scared or regretful when he does it, just kind of tired. The fact that he’s saved at the last moment doesn’t really detract from that, I think. If anything, it’s becoming a character note that started with Kirk telling him not to get promoted and became really explicit here with the Ba’ku Time Magic Perfect Moment thing. He’s not being allowed to change beyond his maturity.
Speaking of, Picard would live to stay, but he’s gotta go home to save the Federation from the people who would betray it from the inside. And then he’s going to spend nearly a year’s worth of shore leave.