Tuesday, January 03, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 47 (Peak Performance)

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

Sometimes, it’s not whether you win or lose. It’s how you play the game. Captain Picard doesn’t particularly like war games or war simulations, feeling that Starfleet’s primary function should be exploration. However, the recent encounter of the Borg changed his mind. The Borg are a frightening enemy and determining how one plays the game is important.

Commander Riker is to take command of the Hathaway, which by all measurements is inferior to the Enterprise. Real weapons will be taken offline and replaced with fake weapons that won’t do any real damage, but will allow the computers to track what’s happening. Onboard the Enterprise is Kolrami, a Zakdorn observer sent by the Federation. Riker will have 48 hours to prepare the Hathaway for battle.

Riker has a few tricks up his sleeve, such as Worf’s suggestion that they trick the Enterprise’s computers into thinking that an enemy vessel is approaching. However, shortly after the Enterprise figures out what happened, a real Ferengi ship approaches. Thinking that it’s another trick, Picard ignores it until the Ferengi fire on the Enterprise.

It seems that the Ferengi saw the fake battle and somehow thought that the Hathaway had something of value. It takes a little trickery, but Picard and Riker are able to convince the Ferengi to leave.

The b-plot involves Data. Kolrami is said to be very good at a game called Strategema. I’m not sure how it’s played. However, Kolrami beats Riker easily. Dr. Pulaski puts Data up to challenging Kolrami, thinking that a humanoid is no match for the Android. Data is beaten easily, thus ending up with a bruised ego. Data spends the entire episode doubting himself until he and Kolrami have a rematch. Instead of playing to win, Data plays to not lose. The game goes on for so long that Kolrami quits in protest.

So far as I know, this is the only time that Data doubts himself. He’s faced far greater defeats and never taken it so badly. We also get to see Wesley lie to get something that he needs. So far as I know, Wesley doesn’t get in trouble for this. In fact, I don’t think that much ever comes of this episode. I don’t think that the war games were ever mentioned again. You’d think that they would have tried again. We never even see another Zakdorn again.

It was a good episode, but once again proves how laughable the Ferengi still were in the early seasons of The Next Generation. They were becoming more of a serious race, but were still very one-dimensional. They only wanted profit. When that motive was removed, they just left with their tail between their legs.

I’d give the episode three stars. I really couldn’t recommend buying this episode on VHS. The acting is good, but the story is mediocre. It’s interesting to watch the first time, but it has little replay value.

IMDb page

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