In the Star Trek: The Next Generation episode, “Chain of Command” (Parts 1 and 2; S0610 and S0611) while he was sedated, Jean-Luc told the truth — That he did not know the Federation's defense plans.

So why did Gul Madred decide to torture him anyway? Was it to prove he could break his will? Was it an ego thing?

  • 6
    A sadist does sadistic things.
    – BCdotWEB
    Commented Oct 25, 2019 at 23:33
  • 3
    Torture is notoriously a terrible way to get information out of someone. Eventually they'll tell you what you want to hear, even if it's a lie, just to make it stop. However, breaking someone's will like that has its own advantages - namely that it's the first step towards turning them into an asset you can manipulate in the future. Having a Federation starship captain in his back pocket would probably be a big deal for any larger intelligence operations that Madred or the Empire might have planned for the future. (This is all speculation though, hence comment rather than answer.)
    – Steve-O
    Commented Oct 28, 2019 at 13:55

1 Answer 1


It is entirely about power.

Gul Madred isn't really interested in truth - he simply wants to be able to control Picard. This is the whole point of the four/five lights - once Picard reacts with the answer Madred insists on, Madred will know he has broken his prisoner's will. As a torturer, that is all he really cares about.

  • I'll add that there are at least two different contexts in which torture is often contemplated: prisoner-has-a-secret, and police-state-control. The former category includes all your ticking-time bomb and police interrogation scenarios, which moved to the fore in Western culture during America's post-9/11 "War on Terror." The latter category, torture as a means of political control, is what occupied the public imagination for most of the 20th century, with works like 1984 and The Manchurian Candidate. This ep of TNG blends both, but dwells on the latter b/c Picard is great material for it.
    – Tom
    Commented May 21 at 1:37

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