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Peak Performance

Series : The Next Generation Rating : 3
Disc No : 2.5 Episode : 46
First Aired : 10 Jul 1989 Stardate : 42923.4
Director : Robert Scheerer Year : 2365
Writers : David Kemper Season : 2
Guest Cast :
Armin Shimerman as DaiMon Bractor
David L. Lander as Tactician
Diana Muldaur as Dr. Katherine Pulaski
Glenn Morshower as Lieutenant Burke
Guy Vardaman as Darien Wallace
Leslie Neale as Ensign Nagel
Roy Brocksmith as Sirna Kolrami
Moral :
Pride : Goeth before a fall
Guest Reviews :
Rating : 3.0000 for 1 reviewsView existing reviewsAdd your own review
YATI : Is Wesley really allowed to use antimatter in his science projects? I know he's meant to be a genius, but if even one milligram of the stuff escapes the explosion would be the equivalent of many tons of normal explosive. That's a risk I'd be awful reluctant to take.
Great Moment : Data beating the tar out of Kolrami.
Body Count : Zero.
Factoid : The Hathaway was originally supposed to be a Constitution class ship - look carefully at Geordi's lips when he says the class name and you will see he actually says Constitution, with "Constellation" dubbed over it. Armin Shimmerman, who plays Bractor, will later play Quark. He can also be seen as Principal Snider in Buffy the Vampire Slayer, sans the huge ears.
Quote : "It is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life." - Picard to Data.

Plotline

The Enterprise-D meets a shuttle carrying Sirna Kolrami, a famed Zakdorn battle strategist. The Zakdorn are so famed for being strategic geniuses that no species had dared attack them in millennia - though as Worf points out, that could just mean that the reputation is unfounded. Kolrami is aboard to act as the judge in a battle simulation that the Enterprise is to take part in. With the potential Borg threat, Starfleet wants its officers to become used to fighting against greatly superior forces, and so a select group of Enterprise personnel is to command the USS Hathaway, an obsolete Starfleet ship which has been out of commission for decades. The Enterprise and Hathaway will then square off against one another, with Riker fighting against Picard.

Both officers are rather reluctant to engage in the exercise, judging combat proficiency a rather minor part of a Starship officer's job. Nevertheless they do agree to take part. Kolrami, for his art, seems rather contemptuous of Riker's professional performance, taking every opportunity to make snide remarks about him.

Riker challenges Kolrami to a game of strategema, a Kolrami holographic game which emphasizes extremely complex strategy. Kolrami, an acknowledge master of the game, defeats Riker in a matter of moments.

Pulaski takes this badly and urges Data to challenge Kolrami, sure that his positronic brain will prove superior. Kolrami accepts and, much to everyone's shock, defeats Data almost as quickly as he did Riker.

Meanwhile Riker prepares for the exercise, asking Worf to be his tactical officer and taking a selection of Enterprise personnel along. He also brings Wesley so he can gain some valuable experience.

Data takes his loss badly. He assumes that there must be some sort of damage to his brain to account for the loss, and so removes himself from duty and spends all his time in his quarters looking for the flaw. Neither Deanna nor Pulaski is able to talk him round, but eventually Picard visits and manages to convince him that one can lose even if one does nothing wrong. Data returns to duty.

On the Hathaway, Wesley is able to beam one of his Enterprise experiments to engineering. Since it is powered by antimatter they will be able to make a brief jump with the Hathaway's warp drive, surprising the Enterprise. Worf also works out a way to fool the ship's sensors with his access codes.

The exercise begins. Worf is able to convince the Enterprise that a Romulan ship is coming, and as it turns to engage the Hathaway scores some hits. As the Enterprise turns back a Ferengi warship arrives. Picard assumes that it is another deception and ignores it... but the ship is real, and is able to cripple the Starship. The Daimon demands to know what the Hathaway has that the Enterprise wants so badly, refusing to believe it is just a training exercise. Kolrami says that they should sacrifice the Hathaway to escape, since losing some officers to save many is good strategy. Picard refuses, and when Riker tells him about their warp jump trick he comes up with a plan. He tells the Ferengi he will deny them their prize, and fires a torpedo set to detonate just in front of the Hathaway. That ship jumped away at warp as the explosion hides it. The plan works, and the impressed Ferengi withdraw.

Kolrami is forced to give Riker his fair due at last for his innovative ideas. When Data challenges him to a rematch at strategema, the game proceeds oddly - Data does not win but neither does he lose, the game simply goes on and on and on. Eventually Kolrami, obviously under great pressure, withdraws in protest. Data explains that the game had a built in assumption that players would try and win - instead, he simply played to extend the game for as long as possible until Kolrami cracked under the pressure. Whilst Data technically did not win, as he puts it "I busted him up."

Analysis

There are some nice ideas here, but it never really gels all that well because the approach is just poor. Too many little things pull it down.

For one, Riker and Picard's attitude to combat is just stupid. Small part of the job? Even if that were true, it's the part of the job where if you mess it up everybody dies! besides, would anybody care to count up how many battles the ship engaged in before it was destroyed? In a battle! With a greatly inferior enemy! If they'd done a bit more lopsided practice with unorthodox tactics, perhaps that wouldn't have happened.

Then there's Worf's "if there is nothing at stake there is no point" attitude. Gee, this from the man who spends his spare time fighting holodeck monsters. What's to gain there, exactly, Worf?

Then there's Wesley's experiment, which has antimatter in it. Really? They let kids play with this stuff now? That's rather like having a live nuclear bomb as a kindergarten toy.

Kolrami is suitably nasty, though it must be said he doesn't really come across as a great strategic genius. We're told that he is one, but nothing ever really supports it.

Data's subplot I liked. His wounded confusion about losing, together with his eventual tactic for winning, make a satisfying conclusion to the episode.


Copyright Graham Kennedy Page views : 896 Last updated : 12 Mar 2013