Thursday, November 02, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 156 (Gambit: Part I)

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

WARNING: I’m going to cover major details in this review. I feel that it’s necessary to do so in order to cover all aspects of the episode that I feel should be covered. Keep that in mind before reading the review.

The episode begins with Counselor Troi, Commander Riker, Doctor Crusher and Chief of Security Worf in a bar asking questions. It becomes evident that they’re asking questions about Captain Picard. Eventually, they find someone who’s willing to talk despite pressure from the bartender not to do so. He tells everyone that Picard was killed in a bar fight. Troi, being an empath, can tell that he’s telling the truth.

Riker is acting captain until something can be made official. Troi wants to hold a memorial service, but Riker can’t just let Picard go. He wants to find the people that did this. Once he secures permission, the Enterprise is off. They find a planet that had been attacked by the same group of people. Amazingly, there are three members of the group on the planet. They abduct Riker. He finds out that they’re a group of mercenaries looking for some sort of Romulan artifact. On top of that, Picard is still alive and operating under an assumed name. Once he gets the chance, he explains everything to Riker. It’s up to both of them to figure out what’s going on onboard the ship.

Data, in command of the Enterprise, is searching for Riker. When they eventually manage to find the mercenaries’ ship, Riker tries to disable the shields. Data knows that his command codes would have been disabled, but figure Riker knows that also, so Data orders the shields lowered. The mercenary ship attacks the Enterprise. The last shot of the episode is of the mercenary ship hitting the Enterprise.

This episode required many of the actors to step out of their normal character. Picard is trying to act like a renegade, mostly to keep himself alive and to try and figure out what the mercenary captain wants. Riker has to play along, although the mercenaries at least know that Riker is a Starfleet officer. Patrick Stewart gets to play a version of Picard that’s the opposite of what we’ve seen over the last six years. Data is eventually left in command of the Enterprise, which is something that he hasn’t had much experience with. (He’s been left in charge, but has never really had to make the big decisions.) Data has to lead the ship as its captain. Worf takes a while to adapt to the role of first officer.

I wasn’t so big on the story. Even when the episode first ran, I knew that Picard wasn’t dead. I knew that the mercenaries had done something to make it look like they killed him. It’s just a matter of finding out what they did, why they did it and whey Picard is going to show up again. Part I is also mostly setup. Picard and Riker are either going to take down the mercenary ship or at least take down a lot of the crew. Data and Worf have to have some sort of command dynamic. This episode has most of the setup while Part II has most of the payoff. Most of the focus of this episode was on Picard and Riker. Even the scenes on the Enterprise had to do with either memorializing Picard or finding Riker.

I’m going to have to give the episode three stars. The episode wasn’t bad, but it wasn’t what I would consider an above-average episode. It’s not that anything could have been done differently. I don’t think that both episodes could have been consolidated or the story spread out. It’s just that it was an average episode. 

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