Star Trek: The Next Generation – Gambit, Part II [7.5]

Picard, Riker, and Data manage to simulate a battle between the Enterprise and the pirates that continues to convince the pirate captain of the ruse they are pulling.  The pirates continue to acquire artifacts which Picard eventually learns are the pieces of an ancient Vulcan telepathic weapon.  The pirate captain is defeated but the real enemy is determined to be a Vulcan isolationist that PIcard thought was working with him.  At the last minute, Picard realizes the weapon only works against people with malevolent thoughts, and is able to defeat the Vulcan.

Story by Naren Shankar. Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore.  Directed by Robert Wiemer.

Previous Episode: Gambit, Part I • Next Episode: Phantasms

Gambit Part II continues the fine showing that we had in the first part, telling what is overall a rousing space adventure somewhat along the lines of some of the most fun two-parters that Voyager later came out with.  The episode is in some ways more successful than the first part simply because the opening is stronger–we are already right in the middle of the action and don’t have to wait for things to rev up. It’s cool to see how well the senior officers work together pulling off their various “gambits” – especially the way both Riker and Data are able to seemlessly follow Picard’s lead without giving anything away.

On the other hand, the episode gets a little unfocused toward the end, which doesn’t help things.  I feel like it begins to go off track when Picard “takes out” Riker during the raid on the Enterprise.  I suppose we are to assume that they arranged in advance exactly what they were going to do (although the story doesn’t really give them time to do this), because otherwise it’s like they’d have to be telepathic.  This is followed by the truly ludicrous moment where it’s revealed that Picard has somehow reprogrammed Baran’s neural weapon.  When did this happen?  For goodness’ sake, if he could do that, than why are they going along with this deception at all?  Maybe it’s because they think this will allow them to catch the isolationists or something, but it seems absurd to think that Picard would continue to risk his life this way, by putting himself amongst a bunch of murdering pirates, all for that reason–not to mention allowing all the pieces of this deadly weapon to .  Simply put, the story loses its dramatic justification once the neuro-server is no longer a threat.

That said, it was still cool that the episode featured the late twist reveal that Tallera was the real villain.  And the telepathic weapon that feeds on the enemy’s aggressive thoughts is an interesting idea, if a little hokey (was there really only one of these in all of Vulcan?  Surely you’d need a whole lot of them for it to be truly useful?)  But the other real highlight of the story is the little subplot between Worf and Data.  The scene where Data reprimands Worf for failing to appropriately carry out his duties is an outstanding one, and almost worth the price of admission by itself.

In the end, Gambit is not the deepest story but it’s a fun exercise, and the first really enjoyable story of the season.

Guest Cast:
• James Worthy (Koral) is a hall-of-fame NBA basketball player, and this is his first acting role.

•  I’m watching this thinking, is Tallera a Romulan or a Vulcan?  Or is this a plot point?  It’s nice the way they seed the revelation that she’s actually Vulcan, with her references to logic and so on.

•  The pirates have Galen there so he can determine the authenticity of the artifact, but it seems like all he has to do is put the device before a scanner and tell the computer to have a look.

• Lots of “Gambits” going on here – layers and layers of plans and double-crosses.  It’s fun.

• Worf’s response to Data – “Finally” – is understandable, but inappropriate, and leads to the episode’s best scene.  Data pulling his tunic down (as Picard often does) is a nice touch.

• Picard and Riker discuss all their plans together.  Hopefully, the ship isn’t bugged or anything.  (Remembering Turnabout Intruder from the original series).  “Will, you always seem to be after my job,”–nice line from Picard.

• Tallera says, “Extremists often have a logic all their own.”  Still very true.

• Koral is pretty funny, and of course really tall.  I like Data saying, “I take it that is your name,” after his terse “Koral.”  And the whole bit with Data and Troi having dinner with him is funny as well.

• Everyone is pretty self-controlled about not blurting out Picard’s name when they see him.

• The final confrontation between Picard and Baran – you just can’t keep up with Picard when it comes to verbal sparring.  “The orders of a small man trying to fill a role too big for him!”

• One final gambit at the end, which Picard pulls against Tallera in front of the pirate crew.  But Tallera counter-attacks, quite effectively.

• Twice in this episode, Picard is sent or taken along, when it would have been to the bad guy’s benefit to just kill him.

Dialogue High Point
My favorite line is not the obvious one from the exchange between Data and Worf (about risking the end of their friendship) but rather from the middle of that scene, where Data makes his point very clear to Worf:

I do not recall Commander Riker ever publicly showing irritation with his Captain as you did a moment ago.

Previous Episode: Gambit, Part I • Next Episode: Phantasms

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