Review 118 - Episode 114 (Feb 6th 1989)
The One where Riker joins a Klingon Ship
This is why I'm doing this. I had extremely vague memories of this episode and thought it would be standard clash of cultures and Riker would be finally accepted as "one of the guys" And in a way, that IS what happens. But apart from a plot flaw which I'll discuss later, I though this was excellent, one of the best I've seen so far.
Riker is taking part in an exchange programme with a Klingon ship, serving as it's first officer (though no Klingon comes the other way now I think about it). He discovers the programme when Picard tells him while they're playing a cute Tron type shooting game in the Holodeck, which visually is a nice change. His preparation is hilarious as he tries different Klingon foods. Jonathon Frakes really excels in this episode, showing he can carry an episode and also has a nice line in humour.
When he gets onboard, his scenes interacting with the crew are fascinating. My favourite is in the dining room when he is challenged to sleep with a Klingon female, who may be too tough for him. "One or two?" replies Riker (actually, I'm paraphrasing here, but you get the gist - Kirk would be proud)
Unfortunately,we come to the extremely obvious plot device where the writers have said to themselves, "we've got Riker on board a Klingon ship, how cool would it be if it attacked the Enterprise?" Why would it attack the Enterprise? Well, it's got a strange metal eating bacteria on its hull, that the Captain thinks the Enterprise planted it, so he goes off to destroy it. Riker says that makes no sense, the Klingon 3d in command says it makes no sense, we say it makes no sense, but the Captain plows ahead. It's a very weak premise and makes the Klingon captain look stupid, foolish, incompetent and his crew weak for not having dispatched him earlier. If there had been a bit of back story of the crew grumbling about his bizarre decisions, then I could maybe buy it. But it doesn't really work.
Rikers solution is clever though and he gets a grudging respect from some of the crew.
The B-plot has a lovely bit of continuity as Wes meets Mendon, a similar alien to Mordock. His over eagerness and blunt assessments of the ship are cringy to watch (in a good way) and Worfs reactions to him are priceless. It's also a nice touch as being a newbie on the Enterprise is just as hard as on a Klingon ship (almost).
This is a really good episode that really make the most of it's idea. I'm not wild about the Klingon captains moronic behaviour, but I can forgive it that, And Frakes really shines here. Good episode
Overall Star Trek Franchise Rating so far: 342/595