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From Ensign to Commander Ro: The Essential Ro Laren Watch List

How Ro Laren saved Starfleet by breaking the rules.

Graphic illustration of the Bajoran Ro Laren

The Bajoran Ro Laren earned the admiration of Star Trek: The Next Generation viewers by speaking candidly. Without asking for permission.

Born in the year 2340 on Cardassian-occupied Bajor, Ro Laren's earliest memories are of personal and cultural loss. At seven years old, she was forced to watch her father die by interrogation. She spent almost 10 years in and out of refugee camps. Ashamed by what she perceived as Bajoran weakness, Ro Laren grew desperate. Anything was better than watching her people suffer. So, she joined Starfleet.

Ro Laren beams aboard the Enterprise-D via transporters in 'Ensign Ro'

Ro Laren beams aboard the Enterprise-D, "Ensign Ro"

Ro rose in rank from Ensign to Commander with well-documented authority issues that include a body count and a court martial record. People lived, and died, by her decisions. But despite an open contempt for rank, and her one-time defection to the Maquis, Starfleet command was her natural path. Transformation is one of Ro's attributes.

In honor of the serially disobedient ensign, here are some of Ro Laren’s defining moments on her climb towards Commander.

"Ensign Ro," Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 5, Episode 3)

In Picard's Ready Room, Ro Laren displays her typical demeanor - surly, arms crossed - in 'Ensign Ro'

Classic Ro Laren vibes, "Ensign Ro"

You know you’re a Star Trek legend when your debut episode is your name.

Ensign Ro reported for duty on the U.S.S. Enterprise-D under orders from a shifty Admiral Kennelly. Kennelly needed Captain Jean-Luc Picard's help with a revolutionary Bajoran named Orta who was causing trouble for the Cardassians, and now Starfleet, following a recent attack on Federation colony Solarion IV. A diplomatic approach to engage Bajor was suggested, and Kennelly had just the Bajoran for the job. 

Enter disgraced ensign Ro Laren whose name instantly draws anger from Picard. In infamous Starfleet history, Ro's disastrous away mission on Garon II is the stuff of nightmares. According to Starfleet records, eight crew members of the U.S.S. Wellington died because she failed to follow orders. Still, Kennelly insists on Ro's appointment aboard the Enterprise. Guess she’s seriously reformed....

Jean-Luc Picard and Ro Laren approach Keeve on the surface of Valo II in 'Ensign Ro'

Jean-Luc Picard and Ro Laren at a refugee camp on Valo II, "Ensign Ro"

"Ensign Ro" demonstrates Ro Laren’s greatest asset. Her complete disdain for Starfleet formality means that she has no qualms telling Picard the true score of the Cardassian Occupation. She suggests, forcefully, that Starfleet's "diplomatic" efforts would be better spent in the camps on Valo II. And by episode's end, Ro's authenticity rises to the surface. She is compassionate to Bajor. And she tells the truth, even when it is against protocol or dangerous to do so. 

After Kennelly's underhanded deal with Cardassia is exposed, Ensign Ro tells Picard that she’ll, actually, maybe, stick around. But only if she is allowed to break uniform code by wearing a Bajoran earring.

"Disaster," Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 5, Episode 5)

Close-up of Ro Laren as the bridge of the Enterprise loses power in 'Disaster'

Ro Laren reacts to scenario on the disabled bridge, "Disaster"

Wherein everything that can go wrong, goes wrong. When a catastrophic phenomenon leads to a hull breach and a rapidly deteriorating containment field, only three Enterprise-D crew members are on or near the bridge — highest-ranking officer Counselor Troi, Chief Miles O'Brien, and Ensign Ro. 

Cut and dry Ro recommends a full separation from the Enterprise's saucer section. Brutal, but hear her out; since no life signs or survivors were detected in the breached area of the ship, a separation maneuver would ensure that the rest of the vessel doesn't imminently combust. Ro Laren — strategist for a disaster.

"The Next Phase," Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 5, Episode 24)

Ensign Ro Laren and Geordi La Forge stand directly in front of each other with their hands lifted and palms touching in 'The Next Phase'

Ro Laren and Geordi La Forge touch hands, "The Next Phase"

Ro Laren inhabits the spirit of teamwork in this version of a ghost story. 

After being beamed away during an explosion aboard a Romulan ship, Ensign Ro and Geordi La Forge discover that they are no longer "with the living." Instead, they’re out-of-phase transporter ghosts whose patterns are no longer detectable to the Enterprise crew. While stuck in dematerialized limbo, Ro introduces the idea of them being Borhya, the Bajoran concept for a "spirit." When La Forge offers a scientific solution for their non-state, Ro is quick to problem solve, carrying out an investigation alongside Geordi and Data on the "other side."

By episode end, a corporeally-realized Ro admits that she's been pushed into another way of thinking about life after death. Or, life after traumatic transporter accident.

"Rascals," Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 6, Episode 7)

Guinan and Ensign Ro (both in their kid bodies) peek past a doorway in 'Rascals'

Guinan and Ensign Ro, in their kid form, peek around the corner, "Rascals"

Who knew the Ro Laren watch list includes two transporter accidents?

When Captain Picard, Ro, Guinan, and Keiko O'Brien are regressed to the adolescent ages of 10-12, the scenario is inconvenient. Or… a therapeutic exercise? With a little nudge from Guinan, Ro is able to reclaim the part of her past she described as "long" and "depressing." She even draws a portrait of her mother in crayon.

"Preemptive Strike," Star Trek: The Next Generation (Season 7, Episode 24)

With tears in her eyes, Ro Laren in Maquis attire grieves the death of Macias in 'Preemptive Strike'

Ro Laren cries over Macias' death, "Preemptive Strike"

Ro Laren, the traitor?

Ro's sympathies to the Maquis, a resistance group opposed to the Occupation, led to her defection from Starfleet in this monumental episode.

Ro's redemptive path under Starfleet had been fought and hard won, and a single, undercover mission alongside a Maquis leader named Macias led to a crisis of faith. While Picard couldn’t recognize her motivations, we understood why Ro defected. She had met a parental figure in Macias, a proud Bajoran who loved spicy hasperat like her dad and had the same appreciation for playing Klavion. Inspired by this leader, Ro reclaimed an identity worth fighting for, like her father once fought for. So, she left for that same cause.

Her only regret, Riker conveyed, was that she had let her captain down. 

"Imposters," Star Trek: Picard (Season 3, Episode 5)

In the 10 Forward holoprogram, Ro Laren and Picard are across each other at the bar in 'Imposters'

Ro Laren and Jean-Luc Picard have a frank discussion, "Imposters"

AKA, "How the hell is Ro Laren back in Starfleet?!"

Always capable of a comeback, Ro Laren wore the pips again, this time as a commander in Starfleet Intelligence.

Commander Ro's sacrifice in Star Trek: Picard "Imposters" is a full restoration of her heroic status. True to her nature, she acts boldly and with conviction, engendering trust through uncomplicated honesty. When Ro confides to Admiral Picard that a Changeling infiltration has permeated Starfleet's highest level, he has no choice but to believe her.

There is still a depth of feeling in their relationship, after all — Picard's disappointment over Ro's betrayal, Ro's anger at Picard's righteousness. It's a stalemate of spurned hope, but the important fact remains; Commander Ro’s intelligence, hidden on her signature Bajoran earring, saves Starfleet from what’s to come.

Close-up of Ro Laren on the Titan-A's viewscreen moments before the Changeling bomb is detonated in 'Imposters'

Ro moments before the Changeling bomb is detonated, "Imposters"

"Imposters" is a fittingly complicated end to the life of Ro Laren. To some, she is Starfleet's persona non grata, a habitual rule-breaker whose brashness had led to casualties. To others, her ability to stand and die for a fighting chance, either with Starfleet or the Maquis, makes her a strong contender for best in command.

And her final act is a trademark. After discovering that a Changeling bomb was planted on her shuttle, Admiral Picard orders Ro to turn her vessel around so that she can be beamed to safety.

Commander Ro refuses.