Riker is offered a promotion, but it requires him to not only leave the Enterprise, but talk to his dad. It turns out he has some daddy issues that stem back to his father being just as stubborn and competitive as he is. After avoiding him for much of the episode, Riker engages his father in a martial arts match, which puts the two back on track with their relationship. Troi and Dr. Pulaski also talk about relationships, specifically theirs with Riker and his father. Riker decides not to take the assignment. He doesn't say why exactly, but his attraction to Troi might have something to do with it.
Thank goodness. This episode could have gone wrong in so many ways. I mean, Riker? (Ha.) Father-son issues? ... Klingons? There's even a fake Asian martial arts, but that didn't bother me because I'm not a martial artist. I'm sure any one who knows anything about real fighting would be popping veins over this episode, but for me it was just a pseudo-futuristic tool to make the boys actually talk to each other.
Speaking of which, I found the women's commentary hilarious, and gender stereotypes be darned. I've always believed that it would be impossible to get rid of all gender roles in our society, so if Star Trek had gone all high-and-mighty on that point, it would have been as ridiculous as when the crew talked about Capitalism in Season One. Instead we get a couple of grin-worthy jokes about stubborn men. In truth, it's nice to see that Riker's personality actually comes from somewhere, from both his upbringing and whatever genetics contribute to such things.
And, I can't leave off this episode without mentioning the Worf subplot. I can't say that I didn't find it a little humorous where it wasn't supposed to be, but I did appreciate the parallels between the two plots. Rights of passage and all that. Of course, we fully expect Klingon rights of passage to involve pain and yelling. Kudos to Wesley for putting up with that, eh? It's one of the few times the boy gets to show that he's actually growing up.
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