Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

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Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by FaxModem1 » 2017-05-28 10:13am

Reginald Barclay is a genius, who is very technically skilled and capable of engineering many marvels when his heart is into it. However, Barclay is also very shy, has social anxiety, can jump the gun when it comes to a conclusion, and others consider him hard to work with.

The Pathfinder project probably wouldn't have had nearly the success it did without him, and his expertise has saved lives on quite a few occasions.

Should Barclay have joined Starfleet, or should he have been a civilian equivalent?

In general, what does this say about Starfleet's' recruitment standards? What are your thoughts?
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Q99 » 2017-05-28 10:25am

I'd say Starfleet is a good fit, because it does allow for a variety of roles and genius technician is one of them.

While he does have social issues, they weren't severe enough to prevent service and he worked to overcome them.

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Adam Reynolds » 2017-05-28 02:35pm

In some ways this is a problem with Starfleet, that they often seem to recruit individuals that make lousy soldiers. At the same time, their non-soldiers easily come up with genuinely brilliant solutions to problems that a proper soldier would never consider, even during wartime.

I would say that the real problem is not that they recruit individuals like Barclay it is that they use them as soldiers rather than having their service split into a more scientific and a more military branch, preferably including a proper marine corps. Barclay would be fine if he were not a line officer, which is a distinction the modern US Navy applies to things like the medical corps and a specialized engineering branch. Starfleet's scientific and engineering units are almost more akin to modern academics than they are to anything directly handled by the military.

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Q99 » 2017-05-28 10:38pm

It's not like Barclay was ever really used as a soldier, was he? It was on the whole good that he was on the flagship, out in front line situations that he could apply his brain to.

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Gandalf » 2017-05-28 11:58pm

Good Shepherd mentions that some institutes require time in the field. Perhaps he was always slated for Starfleet Engineering, and decided to stick about on the Enterprise after Hollow Pursuits?
Adam Reynolds wrote:In some ways this is a problem with Starfleet, that they often seem to recruit individuals that make lousy soldiers. At the same time, their non-soldiers easily come up with genuinely brilliant solutions to problems that a proper soldier would never consider, even during wartime.

I would say that the real problem is not that they recruit individuals like Barclay it is that they use them as soldiers rather than having their service split into a more scientific and a more military branch, preferably including a proper marine corps. Barclay would be fine if he were not a line officer, which is a distinction the modern US Navy applies to things like the medical corps and a specialized engineering branch. Starfleet's scientific and engineering units are almost more akin to modern academics than they are to anything directly handled by the military.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Q99 » 2017-05-29 12:01am

What's really more valuable on the frontier, another soldier or someone who can figure out a negative space wedgie?

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Lord Revan » 2017-05-29 10:04am

we should also remember that the mission profile for a GCS is predominantly non-military, it wouldn't surprice me at all if 90% of the time the Enterprise (01, nil, A,B,C,D,E,F or J) would do things like scan nebula, planet(oid)s or comets and the tactical branch is bored to tears, we just don't see those parts as even trekkies aren't so nerdy as to willingly watch 45 mins of just people scanning comets, well not most of them anyway.

We got to remember that Starfleet rarely has need of the tactical department so and GCS are probably also ships that aren't used in the frontlines if not needed (so you probably didn't see those in wars against either the Tzenkethi or the Cardassians at least not often), so the science or engineering department have way more need for them and you kind of need people who know what they're doing and while not a people person Barclay was very good at his job.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-05-29 11:00am

It's that whole "Starfleet isn't a military" brainbug that bent TNG out of shape sometimes. In such a context, it's safe enough to have someone like Barclay on the ship. I suspect that once things started looking more grim with the Dominion, Borg et al, Barclay types suddenly found themselves posted wholesale to nice safe shore or star bases.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Q99 » 2017-05-29 11:56am

Even if it *was* a military ship, negative space wedgie experts are a military asset in Trek.

What if the enemy deploys a negative space wedgie trap? Or is hiding and you need to do a technobabble to find them?

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Joun_Lord » 2017-05-29 12:16pm

I think he belongs in Starfleet though I question how someone so maladjusted to people and situations would be posted on a frontline exploration ship even leaving aside the military duties of that vessel. I also wonder how Starfleet didn't screen his social problems during his years at the Academy.

Broccoli was excellent at his job but there is no reason his job couldn't be done in some Starfleet cubicle on Earth or on a Starbase. Skills are important but you also need the fortitude to do the job if you are out on the frontier. Its like the modern military and the problems of sending ill prepared people to the frontlines and having them cracking. Tech geeks, engineers, soldiers, all have the skills to do the job but don't have the mental fortitude to do the jobs in stressful situations.

Barclay being in Starfleet would be like being in the military, I like him have some bad social anxiety and general unease bordering on panic around people. I can fire a gun, I can fix a computer, get back in shape I could run a mile, I don't know how well I could do those things in a torturous desert environment while bombs are exploding and I'm getting barked and knife handed at by some noncom. If I served it would be in some capacity well away from the frontlines, probably well away from alot of people, probably even more well away from firearms.

Reg might have overcame his limitations but he could have just as easily buckled under the strain and taken a walk outside through an airlock, especially with Counselor Troi being his shrink. It I think probably would have been worth the risk in the first place.

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-05-29 12:29pm

Q99 wrote:Even if it *was* a military ship, negative space wedgie experts are a military asset in Trek.

What if the enemy deploys a negative space wedgie trap? Or is hiding and you need to do a technobabble to find them?
Then one presumes you look for more... stable... negative space wedgie experts. La Forge and Data were no slouches themselves.

I mean... giving Barclay his fair due, he was pretty good at what he did. But he's simply not the type who would fit well in a proper military context, his neuroses would make him a liability when his genius wasn't being used, and he seemed to be more tolerated as the village idiot-savant than anything else aboard the ship (see even Picard slipping up and calling him 'Broccoli').

If they put him through boot camp or something like that, made his spine a little stiffer, I could see him being more useful. But carrying someone around just for highly specialized crisis situations is a bit of a waste, perhaps?
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Crazedwraith » 2017-05-29 01:04pm

I don't see any evidence Barclay was a hindrance to the ship. Aside from that one time he took it over but that was a plot of the week that could happen to anyone. No reason he shouldn't be in Starfleet.

I think it's a good example of their non-military-ness working for them. They're happy to find square holes for their square pegs not hammer them into round ones. They can et Barclay do what he's good at. Staying at the LT he's comfortable up at rather than an Up-or-out approach like a proper military.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-05-29 01:25pm

Crazedwraith wrote:I don't see any evidence Barclay was a hindrance to the ship. Aside from that one time he took it over but that was a plot of the week that could happen to anyone. No reason he shouldn't be in Starfleet.

I think it's a good example of their non-military-ness working for them. They're happy to find square holes for their square pegs not hammer them into round ones. They can et Barclay do what he's good at. Staying at the LT he's comfortable up at rather than an Up-or-out approach like a proper military.
That's about as good a way of looking at it as any I've seen here and works for me. Bear in mind though that I don't know how well he would've worked in say DS9... He *could* have worked on Voyager if he didn't get cold-stored, but I can see Janeway being paranoid of his propensity to cause, if not a physical threat to the ship, then drama due to his various neuroses.

Essentially, in a proper military context, I wouldn't see much use to him due to having to baby-sit him on a regular basis to make sure he doesn't blow up the ship or whatever with the wacky experiment of the day. IMO portraying him as a civilian works much better and fits that whole 'not-a-military' TNG feel.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Eternal_Freedom » 2017-05-29 01:34pm

Barclay on Voyager would have basically mean using him instead of that one-shot guy from Good Sheperd - the one where Janeway et al have a brilliant astrophysicist working in the depths of Engineering and a (possibly) passable engineer working in Astrometrics - and simply having them swap duties isn't even considered.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Joun_Lord » 2017-05-29 02:10pm

Crazedwraith wrote:I don't see any evidence Barclay was a hindrance to the ship. Aside from that one time he took it over but that was a plot of the week that could happen to anyone. No reason he shouldn't be in Starfleet.

I think it's a good example of their non-military-ness working for them. They're happy to find square holes for their square pegs not hammer them into round ones. They can et Barclay do what he's good at. Staying at the LT he's comfortable up at rather than an Up-or-out approach like a proper military.
The fact they could get into a military situation, a time critical situation or whatever showed how he could be a hindrance.

Barclay working at his own pace and doing what he is comfortable with is fine. Once he started being force to do things he was uncomfortable with like transporting or engaging other people he pretty much collapsed. Imagine him doing the same in a life or death situation.

Even in normal situations he was late for duty constantly and under performed to the best of his abilities which could negatively things, could lead to fuck-ups if he's late to his shift because he is boning holo Troi or slacking off while daydreaming about boning holo Troi.

Now something to keep in mind is apparently Barclay made it through the Academy and serving aboard the Zhukov without his issues becoming an issue, he started only getting negative performance ratings when he came aboard the Enterprise. Clearly on atleast the Enterprise the problem was not his alone, the "jock bully" atmosphere where all the cool jocks and cheerleaders were kind of dicks to most anyone not part of their clique like Barclay or Ro Laren. Being insufferable douches to people will certainly bring out the worst in them.

Might not just be Riker and co acting like meatheads, you can't discount the fact he served aboard the flagship that probably expected a higher standard then on most ships.

Either way Reg clearly wasn't the best fit for his posting.

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Crazedwraith » 2017-05-29 02:32pm

How many life or death situations happened while Barclay was on this ship? Say nearly every episode from Hollow Pursuits through to Generations? How often did he fuck up and destroy/endanger the ship by being 'non-military'? Never.

As far as we know, aside from some interpersonal issues, that he worked on considerable post 'Hollow Pursuits', Barclay was fine.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Joun_Lord » 2017-05-29 02:45pm

His problem wasn't he was non-military, it was he was non-professional, did not have the fortitude to handle the situation, he was out of his element, he had problems that could be detrimental to his job especially in stressful situations.

We don't know how many of those situations he was personally involved in but thats not the point, we was weak link that could have broken if he was used in a stressful situation. The fact it never happened doesn't mean it was wrong to have him there in the situation it could happen. He's like having an old rusty cracked wrench on a car. Might never need to use it but if you do it might fail and do so at a very delicate time thus it should not be relied on in the first place.

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Q99 » 2017-05-29 02:50pm

Elheru Aran wrote: Then one presumes you look for more... stable... negative space wedgie experts. La Forge and Data were no slouches themselves.

I mean... giving Barclay his fair due, he was pretty good at what he did. But he's simply not the type who would fit well in a proper military context, his neuroses would make him a liability when his genius wasn't being used, and he seemed to be more tolerated as the village idiot-savant than anything else aboard the ship (see even Picard slipping up and calling him 'Broccoli').

If they put him through boot camp or something like that, made his spine a little stiffer, I could see him being more useful. But carrying someone around just for highly specialized crisis situations is a bit of a waste, perhaps?
It's a very large ship. Carrying extra people for specialized crisis (that they actually do run into) is good policy. Laforge and Data are good in the area, but more is better- redundancy, more viewpoints, etc..

The ship is also a big enough one that it literally has a councilor.

He's an asset where he is, and a pretty big one at that, more-so than most of the Lts running around. He's also stationed on what is essentially a small mobile town.

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Crazedwraith » 2017-05-29 03:18pm

Joun_Lord wrote:His problem wasn't he was non-military, it was he was non-professional, did not have the fortitude to handle the situation, he was out of his element, he had problems that could be detrimental to his job especially in stressful situations.

We don't know how many of those situations he was personally involved in but thats not the point, we was weak link that could have broken if he was used in a stressful situation. The fact it never happened doesn't mean it was wrong to have him there in the situation it could happen. He's like having an old rusty cracked wrench on a car. Might never need to use it but if you do it might fail and do so at a very delicate time thus it should not be relied on in the first place.

No that is precisely the point. You're argument is 'Barcaly is a weak link and could have failed at a delicate time,' the fact it didn't ever happen over at least 4 and a half years of constant crisis is a pretty big point against your 'Barclay is a weak point' argument.

Either Barclay handled things fine when doing his job and not up against a specific phobia like the transporter thing. Which iirc he actually got down to brass tacks and did in the end when ordered. Or the rest of the crew picked up his slack.

If Barclay was higher up. Maybe. But he's the second lowest rank on a big ship. There are many other LT JGs and LTs above him to pick up the slack even if there was any. So no, he's not a liability except in massively freak circumstance, the same kind that anyone can be if you tailor the situation against them enough.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Joun_Lord » 2017-05-29 03:36pm

Crazedwraith wrote:No that is precisely the point. You're argument is 'Barcaly is a weak link and could have failed at a delicate time,' the fact it didn't ever happen over at least 4 and a half years of constant crisis is a pretty big point against your 'Barclay is a weak point' argument.

Either Barclay handled things fine when doing his job and not up against a specific phobia like the transporter thing. Which iirc he actually got down to brass tacks and did in the end when ordered. Or the rest of the crew picked up his slack.

If Barclay was higher up. Maybe. But he's the second lowest rank on a big ship. There are many other LT JGs and LTs above him to pick up the slack even if there was any. So no, he's not a liability except in massively freak circumstance, the same kind that anyone can be if you tailor the situation against them enough.
Barclay didn't fail only through luck and author fiat and we are aware of it only in hindsight, he should not have been in the situation where he could have failed and endangered lives. He was not reliable, he should not have been put in a situation where someone would have to rely on him based upon his demonstrated behavior and work ethic so there is no chance of him failing. The fact others would have to pick up his slack shows he is a weak link. The fact he had trouble performing his job to the best of his abilities definitely shows he was a weak link. He was not performing admirably even in non stressful situations.

He is a liability as much as anyone who slacks off and doesn't perform their job correctly is. Everyone in any organization has to do their jobs or things go haywire much like a clock with a faulty cog. Barclay slacking off playing holo fantasies and being late for work means others have to take up his slack, have to take time out their work to do his work and others will have to compensate for that, him compromising his work means others have to possibly compromise their work trying to cover the hole he created. Doing well at a job doesn't involve other people doing your work.

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Elheru Aran » 2017-05-29 03:40pm

Q99 wrote:[
It's a very large ship. Carrying extra people for specialized crisis (that they actually do run into) is good policy. Laforge and Data are good in the area, but more is better- redundancy, more viewpoints, etc..

The ship is also a big enough one that it literally has a councilor.

He's an asset where he is, and a pretty big one at that, more-so than most of the Lts running around. He's also stationed on what is essentially a small mobile town.
All true, though arguably Barclay only works because of being in that specific situation; there are redundant officers to cover for him if he has a nervous breakdown, and as you note, the ship is very big; the extent of the damage he can do (taking over the whole ship aside) is limited to cowering in his room or taking refuge in the holodeck. Would he have been allowed to indulge his neuroses as liberally on, say, the DS9 station, constantly under external pressure by friction with one faction or another, where the odd bout of taking over the entire vessel could endanger an entire war effort of the Federation, versus a massive starship that's basically just tooling about the galaxy in a time of relative peace doing odd scientific whatsits?

The point was raised earlier that Barclay seems to have gotten through the earlier part of his career before the Enterprise without incident (that we know of); that suggests that, apart from narrativitum in play, he was more capable of letting his freak flag fly there. Is that necessarily a good thing, considering what we see he's capable of over the course of the series?
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Crazedwraith » 2017-05-29 04:06pm

Joun_Lord wrote:[

Barclay didn't fail only through luck and author fiat and we are aware of it only in hindsight, he should not have been in the situation where he could have failed and endangered lives. He was not reliable, he should not have been put in a situation where someone would have to rely on him based upon his demonstrated behavior and work ethic so there is no chance of him failing. The fact others would have to pick up his slack shows he is a weak link. The fact he had trouble performing his job to the best of his abilities definitely shows he was a weak link. He was not performing admirably even in non stressful situations.

He is a liability as much as anyone who slacks off and doesn't perform their job correctly is. Everyone in any organization has to do their jobs or things go haywire much like a clock with a faulty cog. Barclay slacking off playing holo fantasies and being late for work means others have to take up his slack, have to take time out their work to do his work and others will have to compensate for that, him compromising his work means others have to possibly compromise their work trying to cover the hole he created. Doing well at a job doesn't involve other people doing your work.

Only if you expecting perfection from all officers at all times. An impossible standard. Barclay was fine in nearly all his episodes.

Run down of Barclay Episodes: Hollow Pursuits. Barclay is socially avoidant. Has a problem with holodecks. This affects his duty and steps are taken to correct this and (since after this he is still on the ship we can conclude he was performing his duties satisfactorily.) Ship is never endangered.

Nth Degree: Barclay is socially avoidant and working on his issues. He endangers the ship only because he gets zapped by an alien probe some thing that can and has happened to any member of the crew. Not really related to his personal issues.

the transporter one: Barclay doesn't want to use the transporter. Does anyway when ordered to. Turns out to be totally right that there is an issue with the transporter. Saves the day.

Genesis: Barclay is ill. Crusher's cure endangers the ship. Not his fault.

All of his voyager appeances: Fuck if I remember beyond him being very help in getting communications going again.

Seriously where is this massive endangering fuck-up you are trying to spin him as? He had issues in one (maybe two) episodes and he grew beyond them. He had hundreds of episodes where he was apparently coping just fine behind the scenes. (included all the borg ones, like Descent where he was either searching on the ground or skeleton-crewing the ED against a borg ship)
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Q99 » 2017-05-30 12:49pm

Barclay also helped make the holotrap for Moriarty.

In DS9, O'brian and Worf talked about how he was inviting crew regularly to great three musketeers holosimulations, so he did grow more social offscreen.

In Voyager, Barclay helped initiate communication, and personally reconciled the Doctor with his dying 'father' Zimmerman, and the Doctor saved his life when no one else could. He also defended that the Doctor was a sentient being and thus could hold book rights.

He tried sending a holoassistant to Voyager, saboteurs modified it into a mole to try and kill the crew and steal Seven's borg tech so they could sell it, and Barclay thwarted them.

Endgame showed he was a Commander teaching at Starfleet Academy.

So all in all, his known off Enterprise career was pretty solid, and often ended up, ironically, with him helping on the social end and saving the Federation's top holoengineer. With granted the one time his holoavatar was sent to kill everyone, but not his fault!

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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by Simon_Jester » 2017-05-31 08:05am

Joun_Lord wrote:We don't know how many of those situations he was personally involved in but thats not the point, we was weak link that could have broken if he was used in a stressful situation. The fact it never happened doesn't mean it was wrong to have him there in the situation it could happen. He's like having an old rusty cracked wrench on a car. Might never need to use it but if you do it might fail and do so at a very delicate time thus it should not be relied on in the first place.
Given that the whole ship was placed in danger dozens if not a hundred times on-screen alone during The Next Generation, and that Barclay was (as far as we can tell) aboard the entire time...

It beggars the imagination that he was somehow failing to do his duty during most of those incidents.

If you have to repair your car 100 times, it is reasonable to assume that any given wrench you keep in your car to repair it with has been used, and found strong enough to do the job.

Sure, it's at least theoretically possible that Barclay might be an unreliable weakling who is never normally relied on, and could have gotten everyone killed if anyone HAD relied on him. But that's a very large, very poorly supported assumption. Most of the evidence suggests that Barclay is at least competent at his job within the normal envelope of what Starfleet expects for 'competence,' and improves over time as his psychiatric issues are identified and addressed.
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Re: Does Barclay belong in Starfleet?

Post by The Romulan Republic » 2017-05-31 04:08pm

Regarding the whole "Starfleet is a military" thing, I don't think you really can portray the Federation as purely a military, not accurately. Nor as purely non-military. It is, and has been for a long time, a hybrid organization, for better or worse.

Maybe you could argue that it was pure military during TOS, but even then, its mission profile seemed broader than that to me.

Edit: To tie this back to the main topic, I don't think one can necessarily measure Barclay by whatever standards you would apply to a soldier (which themselves would vary depending on culture/politics, circumstances, and position/rank). Starfleet is by design not purely military, hence its personnel are not simply soldiers.

I would be reluctant to put Barclay in command before his people skills and self-confidence improved, and even after, I wouldn't put him in Security (obviously) or in a command position to a front-line position or more combat-oriented vessel. But once he actually worked past some of his more glaring issues, he seemed quite proficient in the science/engineering arena.
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