In the episode "The Defector," the Enterprise flies into the Neutral Zone to investigate a secret base being built by the Romulans on the planet Nelvana III, based on information given by the defector Admiral Jarok.

Picard is expecting

"swift and heavy resistance"

and they swiftly run into two Warbirds that decloak and threaten to destroy the Enterprise-D and her crew. Luckily three Klingon vessels then decloak behind the Enterprise-D and save the day.

Is there an in-universe reason why Picard didn't simply borrow a Klingon vessel to go to Nelvana III under cloak, do reconnaissance, then fly out of the Neutral Zone (undetected) rather than going in with the Enterprise-D?

  • Um...'Yes'? Really, you're asking a one-word-answerable question. Perhaps rephrase it to ask for reasons Picard may have wanted to use the Enterprise?
    – Jeff
    Apr 27, 2014 at 15:19
  • To nitpick, that would be Nelvana 3 or Nelvana III, not Nelvana 111.
    – Xantec
    Apr 27, 2014 at 15:24
  • 1
    It was all done so you could enjoy this exchange between Picard and Tomalak: TOMALAK Captain Picard, I urge you. Surrender. Consider the men and women you would lead into a lost cause. PICARD If the cause is just and honorable, they are prepared to give their lives. Are you prepared to die today, Tomalak? TOMALAK I expected more from you than an idle threat, Picard. PICARD And so you shall have it. Now, Mister Worf...
    – Morgan
    Apr 27, 2014 at 16:37
  • 1
    @user16416 - Erm, because Star Trek is wildly inconsistent and frequently makes no sense?
    – Valorum
    Apr 27, 2014 at 23:37
  • 1
    I've edited the question to make it less speculative
    – Valorum
    Apr 28, 2014 at 9:09

2 Answers 2


Picard believes in effective responses to situations.

So the Romulans are constructing a secret base somewhere. It can either be confirmed under cloak, reported to Starfleet Intelligence, allowed to enter the same circuit of informational subterfuge which Romulans show time and again to have an extreme affinity and appreciation for...

Or, quite separately, Picard can leverage his good standing with the Klingon Empire -- a mutual adversary to the Romulans -- to display a willingness to investigate the plot out in the open, to stare Tomalok in the face and call out the attempted deceit, and when prompted to flex, do so with a bunch of angry Klingons in the background.

He's posturing, yes, but he's also showcasing that he doesn't have to play sneaky Romulan games to get after what he needs. One thing Romulans just seem to despise (and who doesn't -- but Romulans, more so) is being outwitted. It isn't enough to just gain the information; the information is a McGuffin, the spy game is paramount. It's the old 'you saw him, he had a gun' routine; they create a situation to which the Federation must respond, only to call them out for a treaty violation and respond with 'I was acting in self-defense', while giving the Romulan Empire full rights to declare war. Picard throws all that away; he takes the flagship of the Federation into the Neutral Zone, leveraging his violation of treaty against their own, and then his Klingon friends decloak and he sends Tomalok back to Romulus with his "u mad bro" face on.

  • It's a wonder the border outposts didn't detect anything
    – user16416
    May 6, 2014 at 23:25

It may not have made more sense, actually. Chances are good that the the Romulans were monitoring the Enterprise ever since the defector boarded the ship. For the Enterprise to suddenly head off towards Klingon space, rendezvous with a Klingon ship, and then wander off somewhere and look like it wasn't going to follow up on the planted information would have appeared mighty suspicious.

Romulans, given the chance, will choose to not appear as an aggressor. They would be happy to destroy the Enterprise over a seemingly unprovoked breach of the neutral zone, to protect their territory from Federation aggression. Once the Birds of Prey uncloaked, however, they could no longer be sure of their deception being kept from the Federation.

  • The Enterprise didn't really have to rendezvous with a Klingon ship, just send a communique to Klingon high command to send some ships in.
    – user16416
    Apr 27, 2014 at 23:57
  • @user16416 That is what they did. The Klingon ships met up with the Enterprise at Nelvana III.
    – Xantec
    Apr 28, 2014 at 0:25
  • what I was meaning the Klingon ships go in by themselves under cloak,do some recon and report to the Enterprise while it stays in Fed space.
    – user16416
    Apr 28, 2014 at 2:00

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