Henry V and Picard

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Henry V and Picard


"The Defector" is the 38th episode from Star Trek the Next Generation's third season. This episode is received well by many ST TNG fans. The episode deals with several interesting and conflicting issues such as a traitor / defector, innate human qualities and a Shakespearean type leader. The most intriguing personality on the episode is Jean Luc Picard, the great captain. Picard has many similarities to Henry V, they both probe into every conflict and always prove to be a strong and capable leaders. They are both of strong character, conscientious, objective and intuitive.

The story requires the captain utilize his outstanding qualities to decide if the exiled Romulan on his ship is trustworthy. If Picard believes Jaroc, it would mean going into the neutral zone and destroying a base in order to prevent a war. However, if Jaroc is lying this course of action will make Picard the instigator of a futile war. In the same way, if Henry's cause is unjust, the guilt and blame will lay on his head(Fisher 51). One of Picard's greatest qualities is his objectiveness.


When Jaroc refuses to disclose any information, Picard diligently explores all his options. He decides to send a probe in order to reach the truth. Later, Jaroc attempts to prove his sincerity by revealing his identity. He discloses the emotional reasons for his presence aboard the Enterprise. Picard is not affected by Jaroc.

By reason of his intuition, Picard continues to demand "irrefutable evidence" because he will not risk the welfare of the crew. Not only is he concerned about the welfare of the crew as a whole, but also on an individual level. In the opening to the episode, Picard attempts to aid Data in furthering his understanding of human behavior. Upon Data's request for advice, he suggests Shakespeare. Data plays the role of King when he performs the first scene of Act IV from Henry V(Peterson). In this scene, Henry disguises himself and mingles with his troops to share their ultimate fears on the eve before battle. "They have a discussion of leading one's men to die"(Lynch). Ironically, Picard directs the scene which parallels his position through the story.


The fact that Henry V is one of Shakespeare's histories is very significant because history is the backbone of the episode. References to their history with Romulans are made. Such as to events on Galornden Core, in which Beverly the doctor explains that she recently gained a lot of experience with Romulan physiology.

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Later we discover that Commander Tomolok from Galornden Core is the mastermind behind the double plan. More importantly, Starfleet knows who Admiral Jaroc is. To them he is a murderer, responsible for numerous Romulan massacres. Therefore he should not be trusted.

Pilchard's search for reliable information is accomplished about midway through the story. In support of his strong character, Picard possesses great eloquence. He blatantly calls Jaroc a "traitor" and informs him that this is just a "tap on the shoulder". Picard eventually tells him, "You've crossed over, whether you like it or not. If the bitter taste of that galls you, I am truly sorry. But I will not risk starting a war because you think you can dance on the border of the Neutral Zone!" Not until he gave Picard the exact coordinates of where the base should be did they cross into the Neutral Zone. They did this for the sole purpose of attempting to save themselves. Similarly in Henry V it is ultimately the threat to the peace of England that allows Henry to put aside personal feelings and execute three conspirators for the sake of "the health of England" (Fisher 70). An excellent portrayal of Picard's concern occurs when Picard quotes from a soldier's speech in the scene that Data performed, "Now if these men do not die well, it will be a black matter for the King that led them to it."

There is another instance where Picard's exact feelings parallel with Henry's. Immediately after Data's performance, Data wonders why a King would want to pass as a commoner. "Shouldn't a leader be leading?", he asks. Picard tells him to "listen to what Shakespeare is telling you about the man. A king with true feelings for his soldiers would wish to share their fears with them on the eve of battle."

Similarly, Picard is concerned about his crew's spirits. But he realizes that unlike Henry V it is not easy to disguise himself among the crew. Analogous with Henry's ability to communicate with the common class of soldiers, the captain is not afraid to ask for assistance from a crew member(Fisher 69). He asks Data for his objectivity. Amid all this turmoil he can still clearly think of all details and realizes that this may be a cornerstone in history. Picard wants to fulfill his obligation to future generations by providing a dispassionate view of the event.

Some may argue that Picard is not a good leader because he risked the life of his soldiers. But because he can see all possibilities, he does not go into the Neutral Zone without an alternative plan. Picard arranges to have the Klingons come as back-up.

In conclusion, "The Defector" depicts Picard as an ideal captain in a like manner to Henry V and its depiction of Henry as the idealized Christian King(Fisher 69). Picard possesses many qualities which support the notion that he is an allusion to Henry V and additionally, these shared qualities constitute good leaders. Various scenes in both "The Defector" and Henry V depict Picard's and Henry's mercy, pity, and compassion, their absolute sense of justice, their administrative skill, their innate nobility and their ability to communicate with the common class of soldiers and crew. All of these characteristics constitute objectiveness, conscientiousness and intuition which in turn create good leaders.

Works Cited

Fisher, Jeffrey. "Shakespeare's Henry V" Cliff Notes.. Lincoln, Nebraska: C.K. Hillegass, 1994.

Lynch, Timothy. "The Defector.rev" Star Trek. gopher://chop.isca.uiowa.edu:8338/00/startrek/season3/defector.rev(1/15/95)

Peterson, Marguerite. "TNG 3rd season" Shakespeare and Star Trek. ftp://ftp.cosy.sbg.ac.at/pub/trek/lists/shakespe.txt (10/31/92)

Kernick, Phil. "The Defector" Trekker. http://ringo.psy.flinders.edu.au:80/trekker/tng/3/thedefector.html


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