In the Chain of Command story arc, the story sequence is
Chain of Command Part 1 : Chain of Command Part 2.



Admiral Nechayev appears and assigns Edward Jellico as the new captain of the Enterprise. The crew don't get along with Jellico's strict regime and his apparently inappropriate behavior towards the Cardassians, which seems to lead directly to a war. Meanwhile, Picard, Crusher and Worf are on a classified mission to uncover the presumed production of Cardassian metagenic weapons on Celtris III. They are discovered and while Worf and Crusher can escape, Picard is taken prisoner by the Cardassians.


Riker is upset when Jellico refuses any attempt to rescue Picard, whom the Cardassians regard as a terrorist, rather than a prisoner of war. Jellico relieves him of duty. Picard is tortured by Gul Madred, who was already awaiting him because the whole scenario of metagenic weapons was a trap, designed to let the Federation take the first step to a new conflict and to have Picard reveal the defenses of Minos Korva.

Madred uses a number of torture methods, including sensory deprivation, sensory bombardment, forced nakedness, stress positions, dehydration, starvation, physical pain, and cultural humiliation. Picard refuses to acknowledge Madred's demand for information. Madred attempts another tactic to break Picard's will: he shows his captive four bright lights, and demands that Picard answer that there are five, inflicting intense pain on Picard if he does not agree.[N 1]

Jellico's tactics eventually prove successful when he traps a Cardassian invasion fleet in a nebula near Minos Korva. Riker and Geordi take a specially equipped shuttle to lay mines around the ships, which puts Jellico into a position to demand their retreat and Picard's immediate release.

Picard is returned to the Federation and reinstated as Captain of the Enterprise. Picard admits privately to Deanna Troi that he was willing to say anything to make the torture stop and he ultimately did see five lights.

Errors and Explanations

The Nitpicker's Guide
Next Generation Trekkers
Volume 2

Plot Oversight

  1. Data wearing a red uniform when Jellico makes him First Officer after Riker's dismissal, but retaining his standard gold uniform when acting as First Officer on other occassions, and during his temporary command of the Sutherland in Redemption Part 2. Jellico probably insisted on Data wearing a red uniform.
  2. Madred's daughter wearing full military garb when visiting her father. Maybe she's a junior cadet!
  3. When Jellico needs the best pilot on board to deploy the mines against the Cardassian ships in the nebula, why does he ask Riker instead of Data? Data in needed on the bridge to searve as First Officer, and may not have Riker's special touch.

Equipment Oddities

  1. Only a few of the 500 mines Jellico ordered appearing during the first trip. Jellico probably wanted a significant proportion kept in reserve.
  2. How are the mines deployed from the shuttlecraft? Either the shuttle is fitted with a rear airlock, or they are - somehow - beamed out using the escape transporter.

Nit Central

  1. Strgzr 47 on Saturday, September 30, 2000 - 12:21 am: I have a question. Does Picard actually know the defense plans or was he not told because of the fact he might have been tortured? It would make sense for Picard to know at least some of the defense plans, given that Enterprise would be assigned as command ship for the sector.
  2. Keith Alan Morgan (Kmorgan) on Monday, May 13, 2002 - 4:55 am: Did the Cardassians take one of Picard's teeth in this episode as they did to O'Brien in the Deep Space Nine episode, Tribunal? I would presume so. The removal of a tooth from a prisoner is standard procedure for the Cardassians, and I can't imagine why they wouldn't do it here.
  3. At the end of Part I, the torturer tells Picard that if he is not satisfied with Picard's answers Picard will die. Well in this episode when the torturer asks Picard about the defenses of Minos Korva and he isn't satisfied with Picard's answers, all he does is up the dosage of the chemical. Maybe his superiors ordered him to keep Picard alive.
  4. Why do the Cardassians think that Picard would even know the defenses at Minos Korva, especially since there was a chance that Picard would be captured? When the Cardassians are about send out someone on a mission where the operative might be captured do they make sure to tell the guy about all the latest defenses? Maybe they believe Picard had some input in developing the defensive plans.
  5. Captain Jellico is pulling some negotiating tricks on the Cardassians, but he has to explain them to Riker and Counselor Troi. So why didn't Starfleet transfer some officers who are used to Jellico's style to the Enterprise? That could cause resentment among the existing Enterprise crew.
  6. There is talk of the Cardassians taking over Minos Korva in this story, but according to information in Ensign Ro the Velo system is very close to Cardassian space, so why not take it over? Minos Korva could be more stratigicaly important.
  7. Jesse on Wednesday, February 18, 2004 - 11:38 pm: Well, I have to say that I could not understand Riker's reaction at all. Picard is kidnapped, and the Cardassians offer the Federation a choice: disavow Picard and keep the peace intact (giving Madred a chance to pick Picard's brain), or admit that Picard was on an official mission (making him a POW with legal standing) but granting a huge diplomatic concession to Cardassia. Despite the flaws in the story's overall premise, this was a beautiful concept here, and the Trek writers showed a rare grasp of politics. Just one problem: why does Riker favor the latter option, the one that will save Picard? Does he really place Picard's safety (and Worf's and Crusher's) over the importance of maintaining the peace? The Cardassians are guilty of using mis-information to snatch a Starfleet officer - could they really be trusted to keep the peace?
  8. Thande on Sunday, February 22, 2004 - 7:12 am: What if the Cardassians with their advanced torture techniques could worm some of the Borg's secrets out of Picard? (One which even the Feds don't know because it would require torture to bring them up). It's not as though Picard is just any prisoner, or even just any starship captain. What he knows could potentially make the Cardassians very dangerous indeed. The Borg would have adapted to the seperation of Picard from the Collective, potentally rendering any Borg knowledge the Cardassians manage to extract worthless.
  9. Will on Monday, February 06, 2006 - 11:37 am: What does it say about the 'flagship' of Starfleet when the best shuttle pilot on board is not an actual shuttle pilot, but the First Officer? And add to that not only does Riker fly the mission, but he doesn't even have an experienced shuttle pilot as a co-pilot, but rather Geordi? ShadowSonic on Saturday, February 10, 2007 - 2:35 pm: I think Geordi is an experienced shuttle pilot, he told Jellico he could do the job, but then admitted Riker was a superior pilot.


  1. Madred's test using four lights is an homage to George Orwell's Nineteen Eighty-Four, in which O'Brien tortures Winston Smith until Smith admits that he sees five fingers when O'Brien only holds up four.

The Next Generation Season 6
Time's Arrow Part 2 I Realm of Fear I Man of the People I Relics I Schisms I True Q I Rascals I A Fistful of Datas I The Quality of Life I Chain of Command Part 1 I Chain of Command Part 2 I Ship in a Bottle I Aquiel I Face of the Enemy I Tapestry I Birthright Part 1 I Birthright Part 2 I Starship Mine I Lessons I The Chase I Frame of Mind I Suspicions I Rightful Heir I Second Chances I Timescape I Descent Part 1
Community content is available under CC-BY-SA unless otherwise noted.