Star Trek: The Next Generation – “Chain of Command” Blu-ray review


Along with the boxed set of Season 6, the single disc release of ”Chain of Command”, the critically acclaimed two-part episode that deals with torture, prisoner’s rights, and handling the change of leadership under a new commanding officer, will also be available to purchase on June 24 in the USA. As with other single-disc releases, both parts have been edited together to make one 90-minute TV movie.

The Packaging

As with the other single-disc releases, “Chain of Command” comes in a cardboard slipcover that opens up to artwork showing the other major characters in the episode.


When you insert the disc, the menus start with two Cardassian Galor class warships swooping by before the usual Federation LCARS disc menu comes up.


The Episode

As a possible Cardassian attack looms, Captain Picard, Dr. Crusher and Worf embark on a secret mission to find and destroy suspected biological weapons, leaving the Enterprise under the leadership the demanding Captain Edward Jellico. Soon after, Picard is captured by the Cardassians and is brutally tortured for information. The crew’s dismay quickly turns to anger as Jellico’s plans exclude a rescue mission. With his options running out, Picard must fight to save his sanity and ultimately his life.

Chain of Command is a generally very good episode. This is certainly true from an acting perspective. We get high caliber guest stars in Ronny Cox (Jellico) and David Warner (Madred), who really inhabit their roles.


The setup for the two main themes, a new captain with a very different style of command and Picard’s capture and torture, is a bit flimsy. Some random radio waves have been detected which may or may not mean anything at all and need investigation, for some reason the captain of the Federation’s flagship and members of his senior staff are the right people for a recon mission?


But ignoring that, we get some really amazing scenes of the shake up that Captain Jellico does to our crew, including some serious Riker versus Jelico stuff, and the one-on-one battle of wills between Gul Madred and Picard is riveting. And we can thank “Chain of Command” and Captain Jellico for insisting Troi finally wear a standard uniform!


Video and Audio Quality

CBS Digital is remastering the rest of series, hence the long wait between Seasons 5 and 6 and between Seasons 6 and 7 (which is due out late this year), but the results are worth it.


Things look great, from the rich colors of the uniforms, to the sinister lighting of Gul Madred’s office. The caves on Celtris III are pretty dark in spots, it could be argued a little too dark, but it’s a minor quibble.


Bonus Material

NOTE: all of the new bonus material here is exclusive to this single-disc release and is not found on the Season 6 set.

Audio Commentary by Audio Commentary with Ronny Cox, Jonathan West (Director of Photography for Season 6) and Mike & Denise Okuda –  There’s lots of technical talk with the Director of Photography while we wait for Ronny Cox to show up on screen. Cox’s commentary reiterates some of what he said in his interviews in the documentary on the disc, but also adds quite a few anecdotes about the filming and how the actors got along with each other and enjoyed working with Cox. It’s a generally lively and interesting commentary track.


The Privilege of Rank: Making “Chain of Command” — approx. 30 mins

The new documentary opens with Ronny Cox, he says some of his friends and relatives (his sons especially) think his Trek episodes are some of the only worthwhile work he’s done in Hollywood.

Ron D. Moore talks about how Patrick Stewart supported Amnesty International, and so treatment of prisoners was something to bring to light, and it feeds into the Cardassian storyline that’s setting up Deep Space Nine.

Ronny Cox talks about how people are often surprised by his real personality versus the characters he’s played.

Moore says he wanted a very different captain to change things up and throw things off.

Marina Sirtis talks about finally wearing a proper uniform. She was so happy, it finally showed her rank, proving she wasn’t just some random civilian advisor, a common misconception at the time.

Natalija Nogulich talks about Trek, how she was a TOS fan, but soon became a TNG fan as she started to work on TNG as Admiral Nechayev. She originally auditioned for another part earlier in the series, the producers liked her, but thought she was wrong for that specific part. They kept her in mind and called her in for Nechayev. Nogulich said it just clicked for her when she saw the role and the name, being Slavic herself. She made a background bio to her character to help flesh out the character for herself, she said she felt that Nechayev has been around military life and knew what was expected and how to be military proper, the chain of command, and so forth. So the regimented way she presented herself was a part of her upbringing and experiences.


Ronny Cox talks about playing some really nasty guys, but in the world of Trek Jellico was pretty reviled, even though in the scope of all the bad guys he’s played Jellico is actually pretty decent and heroic.

Patrick Stewart talks about the diversity of episodes that TNG was doing by Season 6, exploring different styles and genres and how it was a great platform for both fun and serious topics like the torture in “Chain of Command”.

Season 6 supervising producer Frank Abatemarco discusses how the lights used during torture came from historical accounts of the prison guards in the Russian Gulag. They wanted to break people, so they would hold up four fingers and ask how many fingers they were holding up. When the prisoners finally said “five”, they were released.

Stewart talks about, early on in his career, seeing David Warner at the Royal Shakespeare Company and being blown away. So he loved working with him one-on-one in “Chain of Command”.

Abatemarco discuses Stewart’s amazing acting and his willingness to do it all realistically; how his torture scenes were actually in the nude.


Deleted Scenes – There is a whole lot of extra footage, some of it is quite useful in expanding the scope of the episode and Jellico’s character.

From Part 1

  • Jelico keeps people on their toes by being both tough and yet congenial with LaForge in a Jefferies Tube.

From Part 2

  • Jelico’s single mindedness about the mission worries Troi (she talks about how Picard may be tortured) which she voices to him, Jelico responds only by saying that she is to tell Starfleet command that any access codes Picard knew should be changed since he’s been captured.
  • Extended scene from early on in Picard’s capture with Madred and Picard they talk about the use of drugs to extract information.
  • Madred and Picard discuss risking another war and how Federation planets seem to want for nothing, but Cardassia is still facing hunger and famine.
  • In the ready room just after Jelico relieves Riker as first officer is a cut short interaction between Jelico and Data as the new first officer.
  • The grim reality of Picard’s capture and torture begins to sink in, even to Jelico. Another short scene between Data and Jelico about what Picard does and doesn’t know, if he breaks under torture.
  • A short standoff over the viewscreen between Gul Lemec and Jelico.
  • Jelico’s battle plans meet with resistance from the senior staff.  Jelico announces that he intends to make a preemptive strike against Cardassians in the McAllister nebula inside their space.  The bits presented on the disc are the cut reactions from the staff.
  • The crew prepares to execute Jelico’s plan of sending a shuttle in to lay mines.

Check back soon for our review of Season 6!



Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Chain of Command” single disc set and the entire 6th season come out next Tuesday. You can pre-order them on Amazon.

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This is perhaps the rawest, most DS9-esque episode of TNG I can remember. It had a theatrical sensibility that dared to defy the tropes of the television medium. The stripping of rank, the idea of torturing Picard in such a (for the time) realistic way, was audacious.

I’m glad TNG is given such a generous treatment with regard to special features and Blu-ray rectification. It was a series that deserved all the commendations it received, and more. “Chain of Command” shows us one example of why.

Oh, Man! …Jellico? I HATED that guy!! =D (Good Stuff!) ;-)

There… Are… Four… Lights!

Another great episode from the TNG team.

Hated Jellico too and that Admiral Nechayev was obnoxious too. I guess I’m in the minority, but I didn’t care for this one. Come to think of it, I didn’t care for Times Arrow either…

For my money, Jellico is kind of like Gens. Eisenhower + Patton. He was a tough, no-nonsense type of commander who didn’t particularly think of the Enterprise crew as family or friends, but simply as very good Starfleet officers who needed to do their jobs in the context of a major mission. Eisenhower’s fate was to become U.S. President, such was his quality. Patton was tougher than nails and he dearly loved his troops, but if you told him that you’d get a punch in the nose. Patton’s objective was get the other bastard before he got you. Jellico was in the mold of both men.

In fact, I would argue that Jellico embodied the qualities we would expect from a high-performing Starfleet officer in the tradition of a certain James T. Kirk. Perhaps harder-edged, but then again, we never knew Kirk to command any crew than his own. Jellico’s style was never to “baby” his new crew, and never to treat them other than the officers he expected them to be.

That said, either Jellico or Riker would have ended up reassigned had this been a long-term command.

If I were in Starfleet, and headed off to tough, high level, life or death negotiations, I’d want to be with Picard. If those negotiations failed, I’d want to be with Jellico.

Eh…Jellico just came off as a jerk. Captain Kirk never seemed like a jerk to me…he was THE MAN!!

One of the best TNG episodes.

David Warner is always good and this performance was arguably his best in Trek.

The Riker/Jellico interplay is so classic and memorable. I remember much of the scenes word for word without even trying.

The 4 vs. 5 lights I recognized when this episode first aired as a variation from Orwell’s 1984, in which it was 3 vs. 4 fingers. I suppose Orwell had gotten it from the Russian gulags just as the TNG writers did, rather than TNG writers getting it from Orwell, which is what I’d always assumed.

I’m not sure who gets the prize for biggest pr*ck in Trek: Captain Jellico or Admiral Pressman (from S.7 ep.12 The Pegasus). Both actors did damn fine jobs at making you love to hate them.

It’s Gul Madred, BTW. Gul Macet was the original Cardassian introduced by Mark Alaimo in “The Wounded.”

Picard was extremely capable and no-nonsense, but respect ran both ways in his organization, up and down.

Jellico was extremely capable and no-nonsense and disliked. When you rub people the wrong way, it breeds discontent, and eventually disrespect and suspicion.

I’ve worked for both types, and would go through hell for a captain like Picard or Kirk. A Jellico would have my cooperation, but not my heart.

I always liked Jellico for shaking things up a bit. I thought he did his job and did it well. I thought Riker got his buttons pushed too easily. I also fully supported getting Troy into a uniform. Love her in uniform. :-)

One thing that I always thought – and even more so for Best of Both Worlds, as a season-to-season cliff-hanger – was that each of the respective Part II episodes would have given the audience a much greater sense of peril and suspense if the opening credits had reflected the actual command of the Enterprise as the episode opens… In other words, if they had Riker, or Jelico in this case, reciting the “These are the voyages…” intro.

It may have been contractual, or considered too “out there” for audiences – or the actors – to handle at the time, but especially since Patrick Stewart’s long-term status was sometimes questioned as the show aged, what a punch that would have packed!

#11 – So that was the episode where this rude, overbearing and obnoxious forces Deanna Troi to get into that ugly uniform, even though he was only on temporary assignment to the Enterprise and had no business interfering with what Captain Picard and officer Troi found mutually acceptable.

I could not stand Jellico. Arrogant prick!

Before saying anything else… let me say THANK YOU to Matt, Kayla, and everyone who is helping to bring TrekMovie warping back to life!!!!!!

15. CmdrR – June 20, 2014

Before saying anything else… let me say THANK YOU to Matt, Kayla, and everyone who is helping to bring TrekMovie warping back to life!!!!!!

hip hip…

Hurrah! I raise my metaphorical glass to ye, Matt and Kayla!
13, Charlie, great point, for Best of Both Worlds, and for Chains of Command — and to hear that mission statement in Jellico’s more bellicose tones would have been quite the shocking change! [and pardon the play upon words, but I kinda think they chose the name Jellico b/c it sounded like “bellicose.”
14, Rose, as a military woman, I was only too happy to see Troi in uniform. [Even if it was a’hole Jellico who demanded it.] [nAd note, Picard did not countermand the order, or Troi chose to keep on wearing it.] She was still a good counselor [and still beautiful]. But I’ve never really enjoyed the sexist depiction of the women in Trek, from the minidresses to Troi’s decollete. Fine for off-duty, but for godsake not on the Bridge of a starship.

Chain of Command is pretty great. Nice lead-in to DS9. Jellico may have been a prick, but he was obviously as qualified and experienced as Picard.

Glad to see Troi wear a proper uniform. She looked great in it. Her former outfit was awful. And so not sexy.

I wonder if they fixed the little shuttle error? The exterior portrayed a type 7 (soapbar) being launched and a Type 6 interior.

This is an excellent episode on many levels. It explores themes that are dark, while not totally abandoning our candy-colored TNG universe. Jelico is an odd character. I kept expecting (being led to?) a mutiny. Troi is as bad as anyone, counseling officers that the new captain is wound too tightly and could snap in a crisis. Honestly, she oughta be courtmartialled. Riker takes the most abuse, but seems to handle it professionally. Geordi is a bit whiney. I don’t like Jelico, but no one asks a crewman to like or dislike the commander… just to obey him/her. Rarely in Trek do we see command rank officers who are as agreeable or smart or luck as Kirk and Picard. I believe it’s just the writers’ attempt to show us how great our particular heroes are. In “real” life (real space life?) officers would behave within set parameters. Jelico is doing that, even if he is a dick about it.

#21 – “Troi is as bad as anyone, counseling officers that the new captain is wound too tightly and could snap in a crisis. Honestly, she oughta be courtmartialled.”

What – court martialled for speaking the truth?

Troi’s dress was attractive and nobody was asking or expecting her to be “sexy” on the bridge.

21. Keachick (Rose) – June 21, 2014

Troi’s dress was attractive and nobody was asking or expecting her to be “sexy” on the bridge.

I was. I used to write in every week asking that they make Troi sexy on the bridge. “Great episode, fellas. Keep up the good work. Oh, and don’t forget to have Troi be sexy on the bridge.”

But, seriously, I suppose it’s just a coincidence that they brought the cat-suit back for a female character in each of the subsequent 3 Trek series (DS9, VOY, ENT).

Rose, in the meta-universe of Star Trek [the production side], Roddenberry introduced Troi for two reasons [heh]. A softer, approachable person who didn’t look officer-like to counsel the crew, yes, but EYE CANDY for the guys who tuned in. Every Trek has had its version of eye candy, from the miniskirts in TOS to the painted-on catsuits to the minidresses in NuTrek.(*)

So, for a few seasons, Troi wore a low-cut dress and high-heeled shoes/boots, and then was ordered by Jellico to dress like an officer, and she was still a good counselor.

I agree with you on Troi “speaking the truth.” That is part of what she was there for. However as CmdrR says, in any other context such talk would get an officer or enlisted a captain’s mast [non-judicial punishment] or, worse, a court-martial. As counselor, however, she was within her rights to speak to the First Officer about Jellico.

And Riker was very professional with the crusty Captain. As one who’s worked with both types, it’s the difference between gritting your teeth every time you have to interact with such a superior, or feeling you’ll walk in and have a human and decent exchange with no fear.

(*) I’m not against depictions of the human body, except in the workplace, on a Starship [or, e.g., a contemporary Aircraft Carrier]. There everyone should be equally professional in appearance and everyone should have [even the ladies in minidresses, if we must have minidresses] an indicator of rank. Off-duty, however, I wouldn’t mind seeing Spock and Uhura in their LOOK UNDIES! moments.

its a pain that they are no longer selling the single disc in the UK lucky i can get the import

yeah thanks for getting trek movie back,i got to the stage i was only checking once a week and be hover over the close button before the screen was on which is a shame as this was my go to site for all things trek now i hope it will be again

#23 – Yes, but Troi did not wear the same kind of uniform that other crew wore, like Dr Crusher or Captain Janeway. She wore a tight fitting catsuit, which showed more curves that the dress did. You no longer saw a wee bit of cleavage. You got to see the entire outline of her body, as in how slim/slender (or otherwise) her thighs and legs were etc, which is also what 7 of 9 wore. Luckily, Marina Sirtis and Jeri Ryan had the “right” looking lower body shape… So what was that about or should I really need to ask?

I stand by my contention that Jellicoe was an obnoxious individual who overstepped the line with regard to this command decision and by doing so, insulted Captain Picard and Deanne Troi.

24. Matt Wright – June 22, 2014

@ 22 — DS9 had no catsuits. It’s only in VOY and ENT when Braga was in charge (he took over VOY in S5, and introduced 7 of 9), and both were under fire from a confused UPN, which had no idea what to do with Trek, but knew they wanted to be “youth focused” which in their minds meant more eye candy.

What do you call Major Kira’s skin-tight, contour-fitting outfit?

I don’t see any important difference between Kira’s outfit and the others. They were all designed to feature boobs and butts. And they all did quite nicely. :-)

They kind of went overboard with the catsuits. Though Major Kira’s was more functional than sexy, as opposed to what the other actresses wore.

But I am partial to the silver suit Seven wore during the fourth season of “Voyager”. That one had a real “space age” look to it. Her other catsuits looked like they were made out of carpet samples. :-)

Im not sure Troi was created for sex appeal. She sort of goes against the conventional grain. Yar was far sexier.

As for the uniform change, firstly, Jellico was correct – she should be in uniform. Its not like she was dressing business casual. She wore the same damn thing every day, so might as well be professional about it. Also, she looked way hotter in uniform.

The entire senior staff (well maybe except Data and geordi) deserved some sort of punishment for their behaviour, Riker included. But if we look at this realistically, one could strongly suspect Jellico was harder than normal on this crew under the circumstances.

And yes, the pretense for why Picard, Crusher & Worf are on the mission in the first place is silly. I *guess* I could buy Picard if Starfleet felt it important to have a top level military commander/diplomat there. But it would have been a lot easier to train a skilled combat officer to be a diplomat than train Picard to be a combat officer. Same goes for Crusher, even moreso. Like you dont have any Marines who are doctors? And the risk if captured was far too great sending Picard. If the plan was to disavow the mission, Starfleet was very wrong to send their Flagship Captain rather than an unknown MACO.

Ronny Cox talks about how people are often surprised by his real personality versus the characters he’s played.

I remember that sometime in the 1970s Cox played the patriarch of a cute family called the Applegates.

More recently, and interestingly, Ronny Cox has been known for his humorous musicianship. Both he and actor Jeff Daniels [separately] enjoy writing quirky songs about the human condition, classism, and other things!

I listen to a radio show “The Midnight Special” that plays everything from humorous songs to Broadway to urgent folkie stuff. It comes out of Chicago and is a great survey of the “other” musical landscape.

I actually thought that Troi looked better and was sexier in her standard-issue than in her cat-suit. I guess because of that character’s personality. Kira, Seven and T’Pol had more serious demeanors and the cat-suits were something of a counterpoint to that.

29. TUP – June 23, 2014

Im not sure Troi was created for sex appeal.

Actually, Marina Sirtis said in an interview that she was hired to be “the sex” on the show.

I never liked this episode. Stewart’s “Four light” bit is so forced and over the top, it borders on the comical. I see what they were trying to do with this episode, and it was ambitious. They just couldn’t realistically pull it off. Surprising, as Stewart is usually a very good actor.