Ask any Star Trek: The Next Generation fan about Chain of Command, Part II, and they will most likely say the same thing that stood out to them. Captain Jean-Luc Picard’s (Patrick Stewart) vehement declaration at the end when he tells his Cardassian torturer that “there are four lights” is ingrained in fans’ memories as one of the most powerful scenes in the show’s history. And Patrick Stewart didn’t ask to be coddled during the torture scenes, even going to the extreme as to be fully nude during the first one.
Stewart has long been involved in human rights causes including Amnesty International, Refuge, which works to stop domestic violence, and Combat Stress which helps soldiers suffering from post-traumatic stress syndrome. He studied footage provided by Amnesty International that “included statements from people who had been tortured and a long interview with a torturer explaining what it was like to be the one inflicting pain on others.” And he didn’t want to negate what other tortured people had gone through so he chose to play the first torture scene naked just as others had been forced to do in their own horrific experiences.
In the book Star Trek The Next Generation 365 by Paula M. Block and Terry J. Erdmann, Stewart talked about his involvement with Amnesty International and how they’d given the writers and producers help with the script and even advice for structuring the torture scenes. He was glad that aspects of what Amnesty stands for were introduced in the script. After production wrapped on the episode, Stewart promoted both the organization and the episode to bring more attention to Amnesty’s efforts to free prisoners of conscience and to end torture and political killings throughout the world.
Chain of Command, Part II remains one of Patrick Stewart’s best performances on Star Trek: The Next Generation, and knowing the background, it’s now even more gripping.