Wednesday, October 5, 2011

TNG Ep. 47: Peak Performance

The Enterprise crew trains in a simulated battle using the Enterprise and an old Federation ship, the Hathaway. Riker faces off against Picard, commanding the Hathaway, which is sorely outdated compared to the Enterprise. Riker, with Wesley and Worf's help, tricks the Enterprise into thinking a Romulan ship has appeared, and scores a hit while the Enterprise is distracted. Then a real Ferengi ship appears, and, seeing two Federation ships apparently fighting, tries to take the older Hathaway which they assume must hold something valuable. The Enterprise's phasers are stuck in demo mode but the Hathaway crew uses warp drive to make it look like they've been blown up. Then they cause a phantom Federation ship to appear, and the Ferengi flee. During all this commotion, Data faces off in a game of Strategem against an alien advisor, Sirma, who came to help with the Enterprise's training. The first time, he loses, which sends him into an existential crises. At the end of the episode, he beats Sirma by playing towards a draw instead of a win, causing Sirma to get frustrated and give up.

This episode was designed to erase any dislike you might have still had for Riker. Here we get to see why Picard not only puts up with him, but actually likes him. He's not an immature Picard clone, which would be boring, yet he still has that captain-y potential. He knows how to improvise.

And Wesley knows how to cheat. Yeesh, I wish the writers would decide which way they want to go with his character. One episode he's all gooey-eyed for a girl who just happens to be his age, and then in this one he's treating a simulation as seriously as if it were the life-and-death situation it mimics. Good thing, too, since it turns into a life-and-death reality. Any one see that coming? I did, but I was glad for it, because otherwise this episode would have felt a little too unimportant. Like, blah blah Riker wins.

Oh! Except that we did have Data figure in as a side plot. I suppose if he was a main character in every episode, I'd get bored of him... right? Side plots are good! The writers are convincing me more and more that Data is more than a smart machine. As such, it's appropriate for him to learn what all humans must learn, which is that it's possible to perform perfectly and still lose. Sometimes there is no right answer, or there's more than one. Amazing how that relates to the main plot, too, because Riker's always looking for that other right answer that nobody else sees. What a coincidence, that the two should relate!

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