Star Trek The Next Generation: Gambit, Part 2

"Oh, what a tangled web we weave."

I remember a cliffhanger starting in a similar fashion way back when...

Right off the bat, we have Data being an awesome captain. He exhibited quick thinking and great timing, from faking massive damage to the Enterprise to coordinating an attack that drove away the mercenary ship without crippling it. When Worf unintentionally challenged Data's authority, Data dressed him down in private in a way that was both logical and well handled, asserting his authority while allowing Worf to save face. Then there were the absolutely wonderful interactions with Koral, the straight-faced Klingon bad guy. If you were to create a litmus test for Starfleet captains, I imagine what Data went through in this episode would prove to anyone that he deserves his own ship.

That said, this was still Picard's episode; he resolved all of the conflict, delivered Riker back to safety, and defeated Tallera... Okay, Tallera made no sense. She turned out to be a Vulcan insurrectionist planning to use an ancient weapon to… take over Vulcan? Her motivations and plans were vague at best and deeply stupid at worst. I did like Picard's presence of mind, just coming out and saying he was the Captain. I imagine that when they went down to the planet, he already had a clue about what was going on with the ancient weapon, and when he saw the third god depicted on it, he had an easy solution.

Unfortunately that was kind of the issue – the plot in this episode fizzled. Baran went nowhere as a villain, but of course he was just a red herring anyway, a patsy for Tallera, who turned out to be the real villain. Even though I like Robin Curtis, I don’t believe she was quite strong enough to fully pull off this role as they intended. With a stronger presence and better writing about her motives, Tallera might have been a memorable villain. Instead, she fizzled out, just like Baran.

While the plot of this episode was a little wonky, the action scenes were all well done – the phaser fights and ship battles, the standoff at the end. While the villains were both a bit of a letdown, I thought all the characters were initially set up well. Even secondary characters like Vekor and Narik were established to the point where I felt a bit of disappointment when they were killed off.

What I liked most was the message behind the story, that violence and hate are never the answer. Peace and kindness, and in this case, logic will always win the day in the end. It was a very Star Trek resolution to a violent, action-heavy two-parter.

Bits:

-- Worf handled the situation with Data very well, and even proved he could be a good first officer later on in the episode.

-- In the new series Star Trek: Discovery, there are several mentions of Vulcan insurrectionists who believe in purity.

-- In the HD remaster of this episode, Vulcan is pictured as a mostly red planet with several prominent oceans.

Quotes:

Picard: (as Galen) "What's wrong, commander? You having second thoughts about betraying your comrades? 'Cause that's what you've done: betrayed them. Betrayed them in order to save yourself. You used to be just a second-rate officer. Now you're a traitor and a coward. How does that feel?"
Riker: (punches Galen) "I don't know. How did that feel?"

Data: "May I inquire as to your destination?"
Koral: "No."
Data: "May I ask the purpose of your journey?"
Koral: "No."

Troi: "He's all right, he's only stunned."
Data: "I must admit, I am experiencing a similar sensation."
Riker: "This is going to take a little time to explain."

This entire exchange was priceless:

Picard: "Number one, will you set a course for Starbase 227? I'll join you on the bridge shortly."
Riker: "Wait a minute. You've been declared dead. You can't give orders around here."
Data: "If we are to adhere to the exact letter of Starfleet regulations, then technically sir, you have been declared a renegade. In fact I believe you are facing twelve counts of court martial offenses. You cannot give orders either, sir."
Picard: "That's quite right. And as I am supposed to be dead, I'll go and get some sleep, and Mr. Data, I suggest that you escort Commander Riker to the brig."
Data: "Aye, sir..." (Data grabs Riker to lead him towards the brig) "This way, sir."
Riker: "Data, he was joking. You know that, right?... Data?"

While I applaud the ambition of this episode and the lovely character moments, the actual plot was a bit of a dud. I’m torn between 2 and 3 out of four Undercover Captains Searching for Dangerous Vulcan Religious Artifacts.

J.D. Balthazar is a confirmed nerd who loves most things sci-fi or fantasy-related.

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