Monday, November 6, 2017

Top Ten Picard Speeches

Thirty years of TNG, and the debates about who the better captain was continue. Despite all of that, it is difficult to argue that while Kirk could drop kick with the best of them, Picard was most devastating with his words. There have been many great speeches that Jean-Luc delivered over the seven seasons and four feature films, and we all have our favourites. Some of them are motivational, some of them cut the soul deep, some are humorous, and some consist of him not saying much at all. One thing is certain, when Captain Jean-Luc Picard speaks, people listen. Here are my Top 10 Picard Speeches. Let me know if you think I over-looked any in the comment section.

10. Ensigns of Command – “Pursuant to Paragraph 1 290, I hereby formally request third party arbitration of our dispute… Furthermore, pursuant to Sub-section D-31 I name the Grizzelas to arbitrate…Unfortunately, they are currently in their hibernation cycle. However, they will awaken in six months, at which time we can get this matter settled. Now, do you want to wait? Or give me my three weeks?”

When the Enterprise is ordered to deal with the Sheliak, a particularily arrogant and troublesome species, Picard gets cut off in mid-sentence several times. As his frustration levels increase he is trying to get every possible advantage to help him save the lives of fifteen thousand colonists. Finally, he comes across an article in the treaty that the Sheliak have with the Federation. The Sheliak, ever bound by their rules and protocols, are bested at their own game by Picard, who wastes no energy in masking his satisfaction. In today’s terms, Picard owns the Sheliak in a big way. When he is the one that cuts them off mid-sentence, we all applaud.  

9. Yesterday’s Enterprise – Attention all hands. As you know, we could outrun the Klingon vessels. But we must protect the Enterprise C until she enters the temporal rift. And we must succeed! Let’s make sure that history never forgets…the name…Enterprise”

How would Picard handle a no-win scenario? Probably something like this. I have heard the end of this quoted often in pop culture, and for good reason. It is iconic, direct, and forceful. Who among us would not gladly follow Picard to our certain doom against insurmountable odds when he gives us this final order. It doesn’t matter that this is an alternate timeline, for no matter what universe you are in, Picard emotes strength when he speaks.

8. All Good Things – “I know you have your doubts about me…about each other…about the ship. All I can say is that although we have only been together for a short time, I know that you are the finest crew in the fleet and I would trust each of you with my life. So, I am asking you for a leap of faith…and to trust me”

In the series finale, Picard finds himself leaping through time between the perceived past, present, and future. In the past, he chooses not to reveal what he knows and has to appeal to them in taking the ship into danger. He motivates them with an appeal to faith, which further shows how great a leader Picard is. It is quite the speech given to a crew on their first (and potentially last) mission, and is fitting for the ending of a series that is one of the most enduring shows of all time.

Sorry, I couldn't find a video of this speech

7. Skin of Evil – “You say you are true evil? I will tell you what true evil is. It is to submit to you. It is when we surrender our freedom, our dignity, instead of defying you.”

Picard has just lost his trusted security chief, Tasha Yar, to the literal embodiment of evil. His away team and crew have been terrorized by the entity known as Armus. So, in order to defeat Armus and secure the safety of the remaining crew on the planet, Picard goes head-to-head with the living oil slick. In order to do so, he must enrage the creature. Not the safest course of action, but Picard is up to the task. As Armus brags about how bad he is, Picard calmly begins to taunt him. The beginning of the end is when he tells Armus what true evil really is, which is submitting to him. We each have our own moments when we face our own Armus, and Picard’s talk here is perfect for motivating us to make our stand as bravely as we can.

6. The Offspring – “There are times, sir, when men of good conscience cannot blindly follow orders. You acknowledge their sentience, but ignore their personal liberties and freedom. Order a man to turn his child over to the state? Not while I’m his captain.”

Data has created an offspring. A Starfleet admiral wants the new android to come with him so Starfleet can oversee its training. Data rightfully objects and the admiral orders Data to comply. Picard has been strongly advocating for the rights of Data and Lal the entire episode, and when the admiral gives the order, Picard quietly instructs Data to stand his ground. Showing how awesome he can be, Picard calmly and measuredly states that good men cannot blindly follow orders that circumvent the rights of sentient beings. It is a great quote delivered calmly, where others (myself included), would have shouted. 

5. First Contact (movie) – “I will not sacrifice the Enterprise. We’ve made too many compromises already. Too many retreats. They invade our space, and we fall back. They assimilate entire worlds, and we fall back. Not again! The line must be drawn here…THIS far, NO further! And I will make the pay for what they’ve done.”

First Contact is arguably the strongest of the TNG movies. One of the many reasons for this is in a powerful scene with Lily Sloan. While she is trying to convince him to destroy the ship to stop the Borg, he loses his temper and smashes a display case with models of all the ships named Enterprise in it. He then delivers a dark and ominous soliloquy about how the Borg have advanced every time the Federation has compromised. He steadily builds how he will no longer fall back in his goal to destroy the Borg threat, once and for all. Picard delivers it with a strength that, even though we know he is wrong, we cannot help but feel inspired to go along. Thankfully Lily is not as easily swayed, and convinces Picard to change his mind, but you cannot deny the power in this speech. It became iconic in Trek lore, to the point where Quark gives the Ferengi version of it in the final season of DS9.

4. Ménage a Troi – “My love is a fever, longing still for that which longer nurseth the disease, in faith I do not love thee with mine eyes for the in thee a thousand errors see; but ‘tis my heart that loves what they despise, who in despite of view, are pleased to dote. Shall I compare thee to a summer’s day?” (and then much more fun).

I always have a soft spot in my heart for when the speeches are humorous in their delivery. In this fun episode, Lwaxana, Deanna, and Riker are captured by a Ferengi named Togg, who has fallen in love with Lwaxana. Riker and Deanna are returned to the Enterprise when the Ferengi ship is located after Lwaxana agrees to remain with Togg. She has a few tricks up her sleeve, still, and she plays it when Picard addresses her on the view screen. She insinuates that Picard is a former lover who is insanely jealous. At first, Picard stumbles along, unconvincingly stammering out his love for her. After a few moments, however, he seems to find just the hook he needs to pull off the con, and embraces his inner Shakespeare. He launches into a finely dramatic, aggressive, and thoroughly entertaining monologue about his love for the lovely Lwaxana, ending with a delectable bluff that rivals Kirk’s in “The Corbomite Maneuver”. His deadpan countdown, interjected with flourishing literary quotes, made me marvel at how the rest of the crew didn’t applaud when he was done. It worked, and Togg beamed Lwaxana back into Picard’s arms. 

3. The Drumhead – “With the first link, the chain is forged. The first speech censured…the first thought forbidden…the first freedom denied – chains us all irrevocably” (Picard, quoting Judge Aaron Satie)

In a great episode called “The Drumhead”, Picard watches as Admiral Nora Satie goes on a bit of a witch hunt to find traitors on the Enterprise. She eventually trains her sights on Picard and calls him to testify on her tribunal. As she questions his loyalty, our good Captain gives an inspirational speech about the importance of protecting people’s freedoms of speech and thought that he had learned from the admiral’s father. His words are so simple and calmly delivered, yet they evoke a rage within the Admiral that exposes her insanity and true motivations, instantly destroying her credibility. What I love about this speech is that it shows how keeping your cool can be more powerful than trying to out shout your opponents.

2. Measure of a Man – “You see he’s met two of your three criteria for sentience; so what if he meets the third, consciousness, in even the smallest degree? What is he then? I don’t know, do you?

This scene from a great second season episode has Picard trying to defend Data’s rights as a sentient life form. Riker, who was forced to act as counsel to go against Data’s wishes, has just delivered a powerful argument that greatly put Data’s future in jeopardy. Picard must now deliver something even more powerful. He begins by dissecting the irrelevance in Riker’s excellent arguments, and then calls Bruce Maddox to the stand as a hostile witness. Picard then expertly breaking down the misconceptions that Maddox, and others like him, have towards Data and other forms of artificially intelligent life forms. By the time he is done, he delivers one of the most devastating courtroom summations in Star Trek history. In just a few short minutes, he lays out the foundation for what will become essential law making that will protect the rights of any like Data. This will go on to not only affect Data in the future, but it will also extend into Star Trek: Voyager with the EMH. It is powerful, moving, and timeless. 

1. The First Duty – The first duty of every Starfleet officer is to the truth, whether it’s scientific truth, or historical truth, or personal truth! It is the guiding principle on which Starfleet is based, and if you can’t find it within yourself to stand up and tell the truth about what happened, you don’t deserve to wear that uniform.”

A lot of these quotes seem to involve Picard giving someone else a real tongue lashing on an important topic. In this case, in what I believe is the best of the best, Picard target is none other than his protégé, Wesley Crusher. In the episode “The First Duty”, Wesley is involved in a shuttle accident that killed a member of his squadron. He, along with the other students, colluded to cover up the truth to avoid any negative consequences. When Picard learns the truth, he confronts Wesley. He begins with recounting how impressed he has been with the young man until this moment, then delivers a passionate speech on the importance of the first duty of every Starfleet officer being the truth. With a final ultimatum of come forward with the truth or he will, Picard dismisses Cadet Crusher with forceful vocal authority. This is one of the most defining moments in not Wesley’s but Picard’s development, and it is perfectly executed by Patrick Stewart. 

And, in case you didn't have enough Picard, here's one more video.

No comments:

Post a Comment