Sunday, April 8, 2018

Episode Review - Gambit, Part I (Next Generation, Season 7)

For those who are new to my episode reviews, you can find the post where I establish my point criteria here

Overview – The crew of the Enterprise is investigating the apparent death of Captain Picard. They end up following a mercenary ship that is difficult to track and has been linked to several raids on archeology sites. As Riker wrestles with his grief over the Captain’s death, and his new duties as captain, they engage the mercenaries on Barradas III. Riker is captured and taken back to the ship where he is shocked to discover Picard on the mercenary ship, going by the name Galen. Together, Riker and Picard formulate a plan to infiltrate the mercenary captain’s crew to figure out what their mission is. Meanwhile, Data is left in command of the Enterprise and continues the search for mercenaries.

Score: 7/10 – This was a fun action story that gives us a few twists and turns. While there is little philosophical meat for the viewers to chew on, there is a fair bit of excitement. They open with the apparent death of Picard, but at the time nobody even suspected that the Captain was truly dead. This lessened the twist of seeing Picard working with the mercenaries a little bit, but it was still a bit of a shock. There are some great casting choices in this episode, primarily Richard Lynch as Baran, and Robin Curtis (who played Saavik in the third and fourth Trek films) as Tallera, a mysterious Romulan (or is she?). So, while this episode may not be the best of Trek’s two-parters, it is quite enjoyable. Baran is an especially sinister villain, and we get to see Picard punch out Riker. Always a good time.

Relevance – 2 points. One point is being scored for Picard using the alias name Galen, a tribute to his late archeology professor and mentor Richard Galen. It was fitting that he selected this name. Another point is scored for Picard/Galen referencing the incident of Minos Korva as an example of Riker’s “insubordinate past”. This is something that could be easily confirmed by the mercenaries and shows that sometimes the best way to deceive someone is with the truth.

Continuity - 3 points. Story wise continuity is intact. Things go along a standard format, but it all woks. Universe continuity also works well. Character continuity is especially intact. I really liked how they played the argument between Riker and Troi as they were dealing with the loss of Picard. All is well here.

Character Development – 3 points. The captain and first officer receive the most character attention, Riker most notably. It was Riker who we see early in the episode dealing with a difficult situation where the captain is supposedly dead, and he feels an obligation to bring those responsible to justice. This causes him some tension between him and Deanna, who also has her moment when she stands up to him in a strong and impassioned manner. Picard also has some good moments as he orchestrates his under-cover plan, which he is able to adapt when Riker enters into the fray.

Social Commentary – 1 point. One area where this episode falls short is in what this episode says about current society. This story is more of a straight up action adventure with little social relevance to us. The closest I can come up with is how sometimes the loss of a loved one through unjust means can lead to one focusing their anger into a determination to see justice is served.

Cool Stuff – 1 point. I have to give a point for casting Richard Lynch as Baran, the tyrannical leader of the mercenary group. While Baran may not be the most devious or deadly villain in Trek history, Lynch had presence about him that was effective in making Baran a force to be reckoned with. His voice and delivery really added to the character.

Rank – Captain (17 points). There are definitely stronger two-part episodes in the Trek universe, but this one is a decent enough. This seems to be a theme for this episode. There are several villains who are more imposing than Baran, yet Baran is quite sinsitger. There is some good action and suspense, but we can see better examples in other episodes. All in all, a solid outing, but it definitely shows signs of the fatigue that set in during TNG’s seventh and final season.

If you would like to read other reviews from the Next Generation, click this link.

If you would like to read an episode review from any of the Trek series, click the following link to get to the series catalog. If the episode you want reviewed has not been done yet, then feel free to request it in the comments and I will see what I can do. 

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