The Next Generation
Disc No :
First Aired :
10 Jul 1989
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.
So Riker's ploy to trick the Enterprise depends on Worf knowing their access codes, which he uses to fool the computer into thinking an enemy ship is coming in. But then at the end, they use the same trick on the Ferengi. How? They don't know the Ferengi access codes, surely?
Great Moment :
Data beating the tar out of Kolrami.
Body Count :
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.
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."
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? The Enterprise-D has engaged in direct combat with enemy vessels on at least two occasions so far that we know of ("The Arsenal of Freedom", "Q Who") and been in potential combat situations on many more occasions. And it will continue to engage in combat throughout the rest of its life, before it is destroyed. In battle! With a greatly inferior enemy, who inflicted fatal damage on the Enterprise as a result of the exact same kind of deceptive trickery that Riker used here! Gee, you think maybe they might have practiced this stuff a little more? Because it seems like it's not quite so small a part of the job as they thought.
But even if it were, so what? It's the part of the job where if you mess it up, there's an excellent chance that everybody dies
! And no matter how small a part of the job it might be, it's still their duty to do it as well as they can. Can you imagine what Picard would say if somebody on the ship didn't perform well in some aspect of their duty and when asked, replied "well I never bothered to practice that because it's a small part of the job"?
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? What's at stake? Nothing? Then why bother doing it? Worf trains for combat endlessly
in his spare time, the idea that he would think a battle exercise a waste of time is just laughable.
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. "Yes, push the buttons kids, what's the worst that could happen?!"
Kolrami continues the long tradition of all visiting Starfleet experts, diplomats, consultants, senior officers, and other types proving to be utterly incompetent morons. He's suitably nasty in the role, which does give us an emotional payoff when he's shown up at the end. 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 other than his skill in his favourite game.
More Ferengi, and whilst they're a little more sensible than they were the first time we saw them, they're still too silly to take seriously as bad guys.
Data's subplot I liked. His wounded confusion about losing, together with his eventual tactic for winning, do make a satisfying conclusion to the episode.