The penultimate episode of Season 2 and the Enterprise is called to practice in war games in order to prepare for the possibility of a Borg incursion. It has been a long journey so far and with only one episode left in this season I am ready for Season 3 to get underway. So, without further adieu, originally airing on July 10,1989, this is Peak Performance.
Stardate 42923.4: Peak Performance
The Enterprise is called upon to participate in war games in order to begin preparation for the Borg Threat. Riker is assigned to a ship of his own to fight against the Enterprise and, when the Ferengi suddenly attack, Picard may face his own no-win situation.
With the Zakdorn Master Strategist Kolrami on board, the Enterprise prepares for the war games. Picard allows Riker to put together his own team and Riker begins his selection, among the chosen are LaForge, Worf and Wesley Crusher.
Before leaving for the battle, Riker challenges Kolrami to a game of Strategema in which the Zakdorn is a third level master. Kolrami accepts and they go to Ten-Forward to face one another. The match lasts all of 17 seconds and riker loses pretty miserably.
After facing his defeat he takes his crew to the USS Hathaway, a 75 year old stripped down starship, and prepares to face the Enterprise in battle. Wesley works with LeForge in the Hathaway’s engine room and soon discovers that the ship is barely able to make warp drive. Wesley requests to return to the Enterprise to complete a project and beams back a special device.
Riker finds Wesley and LaForge installing Wesley’s experiment and Riker accuses Wesley of cheating. Crusher reminds Riker that they were instructed to improvise and this is what he is doing. Riker agrees and lets them continue.
Data challenges Kolrami to a game of Strategema and also loses, much to Pulaski’s dismay. After returning to the bridge, Picard and Kolrami discuss the war games. It comes clear that Kolrami is there for more than just the wargames, he is also there to assess Riker’s abilities to command a starship.
Meanwhile Data laments losing the game against Kolrami and, believe himself to be damaged in some way, relieves himself of duty and begins a diagnostic despite the reassurances of both Troi and Pulaski. They go to Picard with the issue claiming that they need Picard to reassure Data in his abilities. Data appears to be suffering from a lack of confidence in his own abilities.
Picard talks with Data about his delima and commands him to report to the bridge, he tells him that ‘it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose’ as that is part of life.
The battle begins and Riker reminds Picard that ‘Captain Riker’ has never lost. Riker sends a simulation of a Romulan Warbird and it confuses the Enterprise into attacking the simulation. Kolrami is impressed. However, soon a Ferengi warship appears and Picard believe it to also be a simulation.
Taking advantage of the situation, the Ferengi continue to attack the Enterprise. Kolrami insists that they abandon Riker and his crew and flee the area. Picard refuses and they hail the Ferengi to discuss the situation. The Ferengi believe that the Hathaway must be of value and demand that they tell them what it is worth to them. The Ferengi know that the Enterprise is in no condition to attack back and are prepared to destroy them.
Picard and Riker formulate a plan and go to attack the Ferengi using a similar bluff that the Hathaway used against the Enterprise. The Enterprise contacts the Ferengi and ‘destroy’ the Hathaway in front of them. Riker comes back around and uses the projection against the Ferengi only to have them tuck tail and run.
Kolrami reluctantly admits that Riker is an admirable tactician.
Data challenges Kolrami to another game and gets him to quit in frustration, this beating him at his own game. In Data’s own words he ‘busted him up’.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a fun one. With minimal threat to the crew overall it really give the characters a time to shine. Geordi and Wesley get a chance to do some serious engineering together. Picard gets a chance to show a Federation observer ‘what for’. Troi and Pulaski even get a few moments in their encouragement of Data when he is down.
While each member of the crew get a moment the episode’s focus is clearly on Data and Riker. For Data, he finds himself going through a severe self confidence crisis when he loses a game of Strategema against Kolrami. Not understanding how he could possibly lose a game like that, he instantly believes there is something wrong with him only to discover that there is nothing wrong, he is only becoming more human.
For Riker, he gets a chance to really show his command ability by allowing his chosen crew to do what they do best. In this it really surprises me that he is reluctant to take his own command through the entire seven seasons of the show. Surely with all of his opportunities to do so, he would see for himself that he is, indeed, ready! Then I think about myself and my own self doubts concerning things I do every day and realize that maybe Riker is one of the most developed characters in the cast. He has all of the flaws that a person would, including crippling self doubt. It is not until years later that he finally accepts the job, sadly we don’t get to see any of his adventures as Captain Riker on the screen.
Plus we get some continuity with them preparing for the Borg and some hints at things to come. Gotta love continuity!
So yeah, it’s good and one that really propels the overall story forward.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
This episode marks the first appearance of the Zakdorn race. We will see them again later.
We see Armin Shimerman back again as yet another Ferengi. Man this guy gets around!
We see another Constellation Class starship, the Hathaway. The first one being Picard’s USS Stargazer. This is also the only time we see the Engineering section of this Class Ship.
In Worf’s quarters we get a look at a statue depicting Kahless the Unforgettable battling his brother Morath. This is a cool glimpse into Klingon Culture that is yet to be explained on the series but will be further explored later.
Thanks for reading the Retro TV Review, I look forward to discussing the rest of the series with you, one episode at a time every Monday, Wednesday and Friday! Next Review: Shades Of Gray
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Late To The Game 04/16/18
Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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