Rick [Berman] and I talked for a long time about creating another female crew member and we felt that we needed somebody who would bring some conflict into the series, so, we brought in Ensign Ro and gave her a reason for her feelings. The fact that she came out of prison added even more to her backstory.Michael Piller in the October, 1993 issue of Starlog.
It was a tough episode to write, because we struggled mightily with the story. It wasn’t until we got to the teleplay that I found the key to the story – Guinan. Once Guinan says, ‘I like you. You’re special. You deserve my friendship,’ the audience says, ‘If Whoopi Goldberg likes her then I have to pay attention to her, too.’ Picard says essentially the same thing. Immediately, we must care about her.
I think this point about how you introduce characters, especially strong female characters or really any character in an unconventional role, is so important. If you start out with a character and have your most important crew members dislike or distrust them (as when Pulaski was introduced), it can be hard to be hard to get the audience on-side.
Introducing Ensign Ro and having her validated by Guinan and Picard was a perfect way of making us care.