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Star Trek The Next Generation: The Vengeance Factor

"Tailor-made for their enemies."

I hate writing negative reviews. Especially the second one in a row.

Diplomacy is possibly the most important of Picard's responsibilities, and mediating discussions between the Acamarians and their offshoot exiles, the Gatherers, was the most interesting part of a painfully uninteresting episode. Truthfully, the Acamarians would probably have been better off without the Gatherers — a tactful name for a society of thieves who dressed like cut rate Klingons.

But most of this episode centered on Riker's romance with the lovely Yuta, the Sovereign Marouk's servant and food taster.

If you introduce a food taster in the first act, you know there's going to be a poison plot. And I'll admit it was clever that Yuta herself was the poison. I also kept thinking she was as serious as a heart attack when it turned out that she actually sort of was a heart attack. But even though Riker was inflicting his best sexy double entendres on her ("I look forward to tasting it") and I rather liked that when she stopped by to give him sex as "dessert," he was turned off because she was acting like his servant and not his equal, the two of them had no chemistry whatsoever.

What happened to Yuta kept reminding me of original series episodes. (That's never a good sign, because they did so much of that in Next Gen's substandard season one.) Yuta was a killer who was the last of her line, like Nancy in "The Man Trap," and her ability to target one specific family line was very like Locira in "That Which Survives." If you don't know the original series well, Locira was a sad-looking computer-generated assassin who was able to kill by touch, but only the person for whom she was programmed, very like the DNA microvirus. They even gave Yuta a similar hairdo.

And honestly, I think they were going for a touching (no pun intended) Edith Keeler moment when Riker had to kill Yuta, but without laying the necessary story foundation to make such a moment work. Yuta's death scene completely lost me, because it made zero sense. Why didn't Riker take a security contingent with him? Why didn't he tell Chorgan to make for the nearest exit and get between them? Why did everyone just sit there? And really, why didn't the stun setting work?

I could blame the failure of this episode on the casting, especially of Yuta (Lisa Wilcox) who managed to project the personality of a sponge, but an actress can only work with what she's given. I honestly think the real culprit was bad writing. The Hatfield and McCoy feud and a near immortal genetic assassin could have worked if it had been written well.

Sadly, the highlight of the episode for me was Wesley wrestling Brull for his math homework, when Brull revealed that he had chosen to negotiate with the Acamarians because he wanted a future for his children. It almost made me like him enough to overlook the bad wig and the exposed chest hair, as well as the lack of manners.

Bits and pieces:

-- Stardate 43421.9. Acamar 3 and Gamma Hromi 2.

-- I liked the totally green look of the destroyed outpost in the opener. (Memory Alpha says that was a painting from Forbidden Planet.) And Data opening the door when Worf couldn't was fun.

-- Creating a smokescreen was smart, as was Riker loudly saying they were beaming back to the ship when they weren't. But that also served to highlight that the Gatherers were complete idiots.

-- Programming the replicator to create specific alien dishes made sense. Yuta actually made the parthas, though. Is there a real kitchen in Ten Forward? I don't recall.

-- I rather liked Sovereign Marouk's over the top gold dress, with the killer brooch hanging over her shoulder. A memorable look, sort of overpoweringly ugly.


Worf: "Your ambushes would be more successful if you bathed more often."
Good one, Worf.

Data: "Captain, I am detecting life readings from the planet surface, as well as several small areas of thermal radiation and carbon dioxide emissions, indicative of combustion."
Wesley: "Campfires, Data."
Data: "Is that not what I said?"

Troi having a pointless affair in the previous episode was actually better than Riker almost having a pointless affair in this one. One out of four killer brooches,

Billie Doux loves good television and spends way too much time writing about it.


  1. One of the things I liked about this one was that the culture of the Acmarians and the Gatherers felt really well developed, like there was a backstory there and there was more to them than the usual "Planet of Hats.

  2. I only vaguely recall this one, which isn't a good sign to begin with. It's another of those interesting ideas ruined by poor writing and implementation of those ideas. I do like that Riker wasn't looking for a subservient partner, that raises him up a bit in my eyes.

    Also, 100% agreed that diplomatic episodes can be really interesting when done well, which why it's unfortunate that didn't happen here.


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