Why Captain Jellico Is Actually Pretty Awesome
November 11, 2016 9:07 PM   Subscribe

Go to /r/startrek and search for "jellico" and you find out that this is a perennial favorite for would-be contrarians, along with "Hey, I just watched *Star Trek:Enterprise* for the first time and it wasn't the horrible shitstorm everyone told me it was, WTF Trekkies."
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:12 PM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

Enterprise is mostly a shitstorm, but I will defend the Mirror Universe episodes to the ends of the earth.
posted by Artw at 10:19 PM on November 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

Awesome? I don't know, but surely people saw that Jellico was pretty much dead on about everything that happened and understood that as part of the point of the two episodes before this didn't they? I mean Starfleet as military versus Starfleet as science/exploration/ambassador kind of message to set against Picard's four lights, Riker's flawed perception vs Picard's violently distorted one? I'm shocked to find this is a thing, and I was a Riker fan.
posted by gusottertrout at 10:28 PM on November 11, 2016 [3 favorites]

DAMN. That is one good plate of beans. I dare people to make it to 10 minutes without spitting gin all over their keyboards.
posted by mikelieman at 2:07 AM on November 12, 2016

The unasked question is why Starfleet is sending three of the most senior officers from its flagship on an obviously risky commando mission in the first place. Don't they have, like, commandos for that?
posted by adamrice at 6:19 AM on November 12, 2016 [22 favorites]

All of this is undermined somewhat by the way his brilliant negotiating tactic is turning up late to a meeting and hoping that'll fluster the cardassians into agreeing to all his demands, and then he's completely and utterly surprised when that doesn't work.
posted by dng at 6:21 AM on November 12, 2016 [6 favorites]

Jellico may have been a good officer, but he was also an asshole.
posted by SansPoint at 7:41 AM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

At first I thought we were talking about RADM Pressman and was as set to come in here and throw down about the excesses of the Cold War and whatnot. But I was mistaken, there are four lights, carry on.
posted by qbject at 8:48 AM on November 12, 2016

There could be five lights, really we should hear both sides of this.
posted by Artw at 8:54 AM on November 12, 2016 [19 favorites]

> Jellico may have been a good officer, but he was also an asshole.

Those two circles overlap in the Venn diagram more often than you might think....
posted by Paladin1138 at 9:22 AM on November 12, 2016 [3 favorites]

You're not wrong, Edward, you're just an asshole.
(Is Jellico the only one around here that gives a shit about the rules? /DudeTrek)

He was an efficient officer, not a good one.
He shouldn't have been a Captain though if he doesn't know your first officer is the one who's supposed to be the asshole.

Some of the best officers I served with were absolute bastards in private, laying down a despotic, oppressive, rigid command (that wound up working perfectly in the circumstances) and having their XO enforce it while they stood around looking like someone’s favorite uncle.
Having the XO take the heat gives the CO the ability to lead and do the whole surrogate parent to the noncoms thing.

Jellico would have been better given command as a mission specialist, but Starfleet likes to send top end senior officers into the sharp end on covert missions so they had to pretend he’s the new old man.
posted by Smedleyman at 11:10 AM on November 12, 2016 [9 favorites]

You're not wrong, Edward, you're just an asshole.

This isn't the Nam Sector, Riker, there are rules!
posted by fatbird at 2:33 PM on November 12, 2016 [2 favorites]

I unironically enjoyed Enterprise and I don't care who knows it, dammit!
posted by 1adam12 at 6:47 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

He was an efficient officer, not a good one.
He shouldn't have been a Captain though if he doesn't know your first officer is the one who's supposed to be the asshole.

Riker wasn't being the asshole though.
posted by mark k at 7:58 PM on November 12, 2016 [1 favorite]

"Riker wasn't being the asshole though."

If Jellico can't get him on board he's not leadership material. Regardless of how great he is at what he does. Which was uncontested. Which I think was the misunderstanding. No one thought he wasn't shit-hot. But to Jellico, questioning his decisions is not attempting to be collaborative, but questioning his ability. But they're two different things. Someone can be a great pilot, but not be the best person to lead pilots. Different skill sets in piloting and leading.
Jellico's "I'm the best man for the job so you obey me without question" schtick is not a leadership style.
The best leaders don’t create followers, they create more leaders.
I'm the despot/hands off type. The rules are unbreakable, but in my outfit it doesn't look like anyone is in charge. People just take charge and do things because I trust them to know their line of country better than anyone else including me (unless proven otherwise)

His style was coercive, which is fine if you aren't insecure about your other abilities.
I might be biased against coercive styles, which admittedly aren't bad in an immediate crisis situation with cadre that don't have direction, plenty of firefighter chiefs work that way. (And of course, results in friction in major disasters because every chief demands the others do what they tell them).
But using coercion with your immediate staff is a big no-no.

I'd have dropped the ranks and dumped the plan on Riker in the first few minutes
"Will, your captain is on a covert mission and most likely will be dead or captured if it doesn't succeed. The Federation isn't going to give an inch, they have to disavow his mission if it fails and the odds are we're going to be in combat with Cardassian forces if it does fail. Our goal is to secure this tactical position ((I forgot the planet)) and prevent a war that could kill millions, or secure it as a superior tactical position in case we must fight so that we lose as few people as possible. If saving Picard is at all possible we will do it, but right now our top priority is protecting this ship, this crew, and our people. That is what Picard would want us to do and we must give his mission every chance to succeed. To do that I need you to forget your captain and friend for now and prepare the crew for battle. I trust you to keep this information confidential, Starfleet would have my ass if they knew I told you and if anyone else found out it would compromise your captain's mission and his sacrifice would have meant nothing."

Riker would then whip the crew into shape. He knows them better than me. He's better - demonstrably - at dealing with people than either Picard or Jellico. And Jellico would have told him everything he needed to know to trust that it's not Jellico just being a control freak, but that he's protecting Picard's mission.
I walk down the hall and I see a guy sitting at his desk with his feet up reading a datapad drinking raktageno I have a word with my XO about him later. My XO talks to his subordinate who talks to that guy's supervisor who determines that the guy just got off a triple shift and needs a break - everything gets copacetic without a change in flow.
If I'm a really good Captain and I can make the time I stop and have a chat with him afterward, ask about his family and give him some priority time on communications or get him some holosuite time.

If I stop and chew the guy out it wastes my time, his time, and everyone else's time trying to get everyone up to speed as to why he looks like he's slacking off.
And then the guy who just pulled a triple shift gets demotivated. His department gets demotivated, the XO and the rest of the chain look like they're out of the loop which means they lose some respect and I look like a total dick.
Which is what happened with Jellico. Who, again, top flight organizer, yeah. But just needs to - appear at least - to loosen up

Man, come on I had a rough night, and I hate fucking Klingon Opera, man.

P'Tahk! You don't like my music, get your own fucking shuttle! I'll pull over the side and kick your ass out!
posted by Smedleyman at 12:41 PM on November 13, 2016 [6 favorites]

Jellico's "I'm the best man for the job so you obey me without question" schtick is not a leadership style.

As a general rule I'd agree with you, but these were clearly unique, short-term circumstances, and Riker should have been able to see that, and been senior enough to understand the change in roles. Your hands-off-despot approach is great, but it takes time and requires trust, and in the short term, I'd expect Riker to do his job, even if... especially if... that's making sure things run smoothly while the emergency captain does his thing.

One thing I like about Starfleet is that they're not military, but they can fall back on raw "I don't give a shit if you don't understand, carry out your orders" authoritarianism in the few situations where it's required. For example, when Data puts his emotion chip in and has something like a breakdown and asks to be relieved, Picard basically tells him that he needs Data to be Data and so it's time for Data to Data like a proper Starfleet Officer! And it works, both psychologically for Data at that moment, and in terms of "I don't have time for your emotional experimentation, I need someone who can sift massive amounts of stellar cartography in a short time and you'll fucking well sit here until you do it!"

The role for Riker isn't to challenge Jellico or to force him to learn the Enterprise way in a short time, it's to let Jellico captain as best he can and needs to, and to save his questions for later and absorb the heat Jellico's change in style caused. I like Riker, but I thought it was super petty when he's all "you need to ask me to pilot the shuttle", and it was to Jellico's credit that he did ask, despite Riker's provocation.

Under a more military organization, Riker's insubordination-to-being-relieved schtick would be tantamount to mutiny. There's a great scene in Band of Brothers' where the senior NCOs get rid of David Schwimmer's character, an obnoxious and incompetent lieutenant, by simultaneously requesting transfers. When they submit their requests, the senior officer gets the message and transfers Schwimmer, but he also reminds them that this is war, and their actions are nearly mutiny and they could be shot for disrupting the chain of command and the war effort.
posted by fatbird at 10:59 PM on November 13, 2016

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