Some of the best Star Trek TNG episodes leave a long lasting impression on you. One such is The Defector which has actor James Sloyan guest starring as Romulan Admiral Alidar Jarok. In this episode we see what a concerned man, a father, is willing to do as a sacrifice to see that his child and children everywhere get a chance to grow up without a war that could be avoided. And he pays the price for it.
Jarok decides to defect to the Federation and crosses into the Neutral Zone on a scout vessel and hails the USS Enterprise asking to be beamed aboard. He was being chased by a clocked Romulan Warbird who demands that he return with them. He claims to be a low-ranking logistics officer with vital information. In the observation lounge he tells them that the humiliating defeat suffered by the Romulans at the Battle of Cheron has not been forgotten and their new leaders have vowed to disregard the Treaty of Algeron – Nelvana III is just the first step. The Romulans have already established a base there, and it will be operational within forty-eight hours. Commander Riker is suspicious wondering how the Federation sensors that monitor the Neutral Zone just missed this new base, despite the Romuluan’s insistence that within two days a fleet of warbirds will be within striking distance of fifteen Federation sectors. Captain Picard has to make a decision on the defector; whether he is legitimate or not, this could be a ploy by the Romulans to make the Federation look like the aggressors.
Jarok, stating that he is not a traitor, refuses to give any tactical information and his ship blows up as he has set the auto destruct. Analysis shows that the Warbird could have overtaken the scout vessel that Jarok was piloting but that it intentionally slowed down. While it looks suspicious Picard provides Starfleet with all the info but they cannot take a call on the situation. After a talk with Data, Jarok reveals his true identity to the Enterprise crew, knowing that such a high ranking Admiral’s info would carry more weight. Picard’s dilemma: Jarok wants them to act, yet stubbornly refuses to tell them any of what he certainly knows of the Romulans’ military capabilities, which means his credibility is less than nothing. Jarok insists that he cannot betray his people, and Picard snaps that Jarok already has, and he had better get used to it. Jarok then tells Picard that he is doing it for his daughter and for all children aying that when a man becomes a father, he realizes it is his duty to make the whole world a better place for his child. After Jarok’s daughter was born, he pleaded with the Romulan High Command for months, telling them that another war would destroy the Empire but they would not listen. They censured him and sent him off to command some distant sector. He had no choice but to defect.
His daughter will now grow up believing her father is a traitor, but at least she will grow up, if Picard acts. Picard, unmoved, says he will only act unless Jarok cooperates, completely and unequivocally. Picard then decides to move on the info and enters the Neutral Zone and heads to Nelvana III; however they find no activity there on the surface. Jarok is dumbfounded and claims to have seen the tactical communiqués, the timetables describing this base but Picard stops him saying that this whole incident could have been a ploy to test Jarok’s loyalty to the Empire. Two Romulan Warbirds decloak and demand the surrender of the Enterprise but Picard has an ace up his sleeve. He had had Worf contact the Klingons and they has sent 3 cloaked Bird of Preys to support the Enterprise. Outnumbered the Romlulans withdraw without Jarok who laments his decision, which he says was for nothing. The thought of being branded a traitor and never seeing his family again for no reason was too much for him and he commits suicide by swallowing a pill he has sneaked aboard on his person.
Data, picks up a letter that Jarok left for his family and remarks that Jarok must have realized that they could not deliver it, given current relations with the Romulan Empire. Picard replies that if others show the courage of Admiral Jarok then, perhaps they will see a day of peace when they can take his letter home. What an episode! The casualties of a cold war and one person who braved his own life & freedom, risking everything to prevent a large war!