Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 40 (The Icarus Factor)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

Several times throughout Star Trek: The Next Generation, Commander Riker was offered his own command. This episode was the first time that such an offer was made. The offer is sprung on him by Captain Picard, who informs him that a civilian advisor is coming on board to brief him. Riker will then be able to decide. If he does accept the command, Riker will be sent out into deep space to chart new territory and presumably meet new races. It’s exciting, but Riker has to choose between serving on Starfleet’s flagship and leading in obscurity. It’s not an easy decision to have to make.

What Picard doesn’t tell Riker is that the civilian advisor is Kyle Riker, his father. The two haven’t spoken to each other in 15 years. It stems back to the death of his mother, although details aren’t given. All we know is that William Riker holds a great deal of contempt for his father. The two manage to work much of it out before the end of the episode. However, Commander Riker decides not to take the command, deciding instead to remain on the Enterprise. (This shouldn’t come as much of a surprise, since he remains first officer throughout the series and into the movies.)

The b-plot is about Worf. For some reason, he’s being more irritable than usual. When Wesley first notices it, Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge and Lieutenant Commander Data don’t think much of it. When Data approaches Worf, they realize that something’s up. After doing some research, Wesley realizes that the tenth anniversary of Worf’s Right of Ascension is approaching and, being removed from his fellow Klingons, he has no one to celebrate it with. They organize a surprise ‘party’ for Worf so that he can go through the proper ritual. Having done so, Worf returns to normal.

Neither story is really that great. Worf’s story seemed to be nothing more than a way of showing that Worf has friends on the Enterprise. It also gives Wesley a chance to save the day, not by solving some complex problem, but simply by doing some research. How he knows that it’s been ten years since Worf went through the Right of Ascension, I don’t know. It’s possible that it’s done at a specific age. It’s also possible that it’s not, but might be on record somewhere.

With Riker, the resolution was a bit too much and done too quickly. Prior to this episode, the only mention of Kyle Riker is in the previous episode, when Commander Riker says that he got stuck with most of the cooking because his father didn’t want to do it. We’ve got all of this tension and hatred just dropped on us and within an hour, most of it is gone.

Both stories allow for a little history on one of the main characters, but not much. Riker speaks vaguely of his mother dying, but we don’t know why or how she died. Riker just says to his father, “It should have been you.” What that means, I have no idea.

I’d give this episode two stars, which seems to be on par with most of the season. If you can, I’d recommend skipping this episode.

IMDb page

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