Two Bajorans on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Sito Jaxa and Ro Laren, both had a profound impact on Jean-Luc Picard.
- Captain Picard saw potential in both Bajoran officers and wanted them to succeed, despite their troubled pasts.
- Ro Laren disappointed Picard with her betrayal and he still feels the sting of it 30 years later when she returns.
- Sito Jaxa’s death may have influenced Ro’s decision to join the Maquis, as she had already witnessed the loss of fellow Starfleet officers and held a grudge against the Cardassians.
Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) praised the young Bajoran Ensign Sito Jaxa (Shannon Fill) after her tragic death on Star Trek: The Next Generation, making the betrayal of Bajoran Ensign Ro Laren (Michelle Forbes) hit even harder. The Bajorans were introduced in the TNG season 5 episode “Ensign Ro,” as a people who had faced years of subjugation due to the Cardassian occupation of their planet, Bajor. Ensign Ro Laren was the first Bajoran to appear in Star Trek, and she quickly proved to be one of the most popular new characters.
Before being assigned to the USS Enterprise-D, Ro had been court-martialed and demoted to the position of ensign for disobeying a direct order. Although Picard was initially against having Ro on the Enterprise due to her history, he later saw her potential and even became a mentor to her. Aside from the notable Nova Squadron incident depicted in TNG season 5, episode 19, “The First Duty,” Ensign Sito Jaxa excelled at Starfleet Academy and was assigned to the Enterprise-D after graduation. Picard wanted to give the young ensign a chance to redeem herself, and he assigned her to participate in an ill-fated undercover mission several months after she joined the Enterprise crew.
How Picard Was Affected By The Enterprise-D’s Bajorans Sito & Ro
Captain Picard took a special interest in both Bajoran Enterprise officers.
Captain Picard made mistakes in his past, too, so perhaps he saw something of his younger self in Ro and Sito. He clearly saw the potential in both Bajoran women and wanted them to succeed. Sito, along with fellow Nova Squadron member Wesley Crusher (Wil Wheaton), were set back a year at Starfleet Academy after they attempted a dangerous flight maneuver that resulted in the death of one of their squadmates. Not long after being assigned to the Enterprise, Captain Picard asked Sito to assist with a dangerous undercover mission. During the mission, Sito is killed by Cardassians. As Picard tells the crew of her death he says: “She was the finest example of a Starfleet officer and a young woman of remarkable courage and strength of character.”
Despite also being an ensign, Ro was a very different kind of Starfleet officer.
Ro Laren made a major mistake early in her Starfleet career that not only set her career back, but also made it difficult for other officers to trust her. Over the course of her time on the Enterprise-D, she looked up to Captain Picard, viewing him as a mentor. He, too, developed a certain fondness for Ro and thought Starfleet was good for her. While on a mission to infiltrate the rebel Maquis in TNG season 7, episode 24, “Preemptive Strike,” Ro begins to sympathize with them and eventually abandons Starfleet to join their cause. Picard believed in Ro and she deeply disappointed and hurt him with her betrayal. So much so, that he still feels the sting of it 30 years later when Ro returns in Star Trek: Picard season 3.
Did Sito’s Death Influence Ro Laren’s Decision To Betray Starfleet For The Maquis?
What happened to Ensign Sito could have affected Ro’s choice later in TNG season 7.
Although Ro Laren never openly spoke about Sito Jaxa, it wouldn’t be surprising if Ro was affected by her death since Laren joined the Maquis just a few episodes later in Star Trek: The Next Generation season 7. In the ill-fated away mission that resulted in Ro’s court-martial, she lost eight of her fellow officers. Ro was no stranger to watching Starfleet officers lose their lives in the name of duty, and this likely contributed to her decision to defect. When Commander William Riker (Jonathan Frakes) questions Ro’s decision to join the Maquis, she says: “It’s been a long time since I really felt like I really belonged somewhere.” She goes on to convey that her only real regret is letting down Captain Picard.
Ro had survived the Cardassian’s brutal occupation of Bajor, which led her to hold an understandable grudge against the Cardassians. Because the Maquis were fighting against the Cardassians, Ro felt conflicted about turning them over to Starfleet. Although this is what ultimately pushes her to side with them, it’s possible Sito’s death also contributed to her feelings. Sito became another Bajoran killed by Cardassians, and that could have made it even harder for Ro to side against the Maquis in Star Trek: The Next Generation.