Mistaken Identities, mysterious ships and a dangerous union.  Originally aired on November 21st 1994, this is Defiant.

The Episode:

Station Log Stardate 48467.3 Defiant

A familiar Commander arrives on DS9 but it turns out that he is not who anyone thinks he is.

The Breakdown:

After having a particularly bad day, and after giving Julian a piece of her mind, Kira is forced by Bashir to take some time off to recuperate from her very busy life. Informing her to take some time to have fun, he leaves her in Quarks bar where she runs into none other than Commander Riker.

Welcoming him aboard, Sisko invites the Enterprise’s Commander to dinner with he and his son.  Jadzia calmly reminds Riker that he owes her for his last time on the station while Kira is obviously fascinated by the Bearded Commander.

That evening, the two literally run into one another and soon Kira invites Riker to take a tour of the station with her, including some time to check out the USS Defiant.  Upon entering the ship, Riker runs into O’Brien and it is clear the two of them have history, and not the good kind. After O’Brien leaves, he finds that he is bothered by the comment that Riker has ‘nothing to say to him’ but dismisses it as a fluke.

Riker continues his tour with Kira unlocking the ship for him to check out the systems.  Just as she unlocks it, he stuns her with a phaser and beams two people aboard the ship.  Soon Ops gets an alert that the Defiant is approaching a core breach and Riker contacts them indicating as much.  As soon as the docking clamps are released, the Riker raises shields and steals the starship. Laying course for the Badlands, Riker removes his beard revealing that he is not in fact Will Riker but Thomas Riker, his transporter clone.

Explaining the situation to Gul Dukat, they reveal that they believe Thomas Riker is a member of the Maquis and the terrorist organization is now in possession of one of Star Fleet’s most powerful warships. Dukat informs Odo and the Commander that the Cardassian government will not believe that Riker is a duplicate and this will only result in a war between the Federation and the Cardassian Union.  Sisko volunteers to join Dukat on Cardassia Prime to help them hunt down and disable the USS Defiant.

Just as they arrive at their rendezvous point, Thomas Riker informs Kira of his deception, apologizing for his abrupt actions.  Beaming aboard more of his people, Thomas lays in course for the Cardassian ship yards and begins his plans for attack.

On Cardassian Prime, Sisko joins Dukat in the War Room to begin the hunt for the Defiant.  Soon they are joined by Korinas, a member of the Obsidian Order who makes it clear that the Commander is not welcome nor trusted. She immediately begins to question him about the Defiant’s weapons and abilities to which he reveals that it is the only Federation ship that can cloak.

Back on the ship, Kira begins hacking the replicator in her quarters just as the Defiant begins to close in on it’s target.  Sisko notices something strange seeing that the Defiant is not cloaked.  He believes that this is a decoy sending out a fake warp signature in order for the real ship to attack another target.  The Defiant manages to take out the outpost and, before they can get to it.  The Defiant changes course and is now headed into the heart of Cardassian Territory. Korinas is impressed with Sisko’s tactical prowess and makes her disdain for clear to Gul Dukat.

As the Defiant heads into Cardassian Space, Kira disables the ship by using the replicator to blow out the plasma conduits.  Treating her injuries, Riker makes it clear that they will be able to repair the ship in no time at all.  Kira confronts Riker about his choices, explaining that he has no place with the Maquis as he has not suffered like those directly affected.  It is clear that he will not be swayed and he takes her to the bridge to keep an eye on her.

On the bridge, Riker informs Kira that a renegade group of Cardassians are planning an invasion if their own and he wants to stop them from making good on their threat.  He plans to hit the ship yards in order to prevent this. She sees him for who he is, someone who wants to be a hero and confronts him, telling him that he is a fool for not using the Defiant to wreck havoc upon the Cardassian people.  

On Cardassian, Sisko notices a pattern in the attacks and, as he notices that the Defiant is diverting ships from the Orias system.  As Gul Dukat orders ships into the system, Korinas insists that he does not do as much.  She claims that area is under the control of the Obsidian Order and anyone who enters the system, Cardassian or not, will be destroyed. They soon detect something that could be the Defiant and soon send a ship to investigate. Just as the Defiant enters the Orias system they are greeted by unexpected ships from the Cardassians, ships that can only belong to the Obsidian Order.

Sisko informs Dukat that the Gul can find out what is in the Orias sector if he gives Riker a chance to surrender the ship and crew to the Federation. Dukat agrees but only if they are allowed to bring Riker to justice and obtain the ships scans of Orias, he will agree to give Riker a chance to surrender. Sisko agrees but only if Riker does not face the death penalty.

The Defiant is soon attacked by one of the new cruisers but manages to fend it off.  Just as the battle clears, they are contacted by Gul Dukat with an offer to surrender the ship, allowing the crew to be handed safely to the Federation. Sisko informs Riker of the sentence he is facing and gives the young Lieutenant a choice. Kira tells Riker that there is no possible way he can make it to Orias and that he needs to think about his crew, not letting them die for his own personal gain.  Reluctantly he agrees to their terms and surrenders himself to the Cardassians in pursuit. Riker turns command over to Kira and holds her personally responsible for making sure they have a fair trial.  Kira promises that they will find a way to rescue him from the labor camp just before he beams aboard the Cardassian ship.

Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:

This is one of the best crossover episodes with Star Trek TNG and sadly the last before a certain Klingon joins the crew in the future.   The last time we saw Thomas Riker was in the episode Second Chances with Thomas rejoining Star Fleet to try and find a career after being stranded for eight years on a planet. Since that episode, it was somewhat of a mystery as to what happened to Thomas Riker but now we know.

It the year between the two episodes, it seems that Thomas has decided to join the Maquis in their pursuit of justice regarding the colonies in the Demilitarized zone.  Living in the shadow of his duplicate, it is clear Thomas wants to make a name for himself and, feeling he will never live up to Will Riker’s standards, he does the only think he thinks will provide him with the opportunity. It is proven, however, that Thomas is more Starfleet than Maquis and does what is best for his crew, not allowing his desire for recognition to override his duties.  Even Kira sees that Thomas is a man of integrity and would never willfully endanger any innocent lives. 

To this day, I still wonder, which is the ‘real’ Riker.   Is the Riker we know and love from Star Trek the Next Generation the real one, or is it the man who was left on a planet for eight years believing that he was forgotten.  In some fashion, they are both the real Riker, but in a unique situation of having a real world Sliding Door moment where they can actually see the results of two very distinct decisions. The Riker that made it back went on to have a successful career in Star Fleet, having experiences that caused him to become the man who eventually ended up the second in command of the USS Enterprise.  Thomas, however never got those opportunities so his life took a completely different trajectory leading him to become a disgruntled member of the Maquis. 

I always loved the character of Thomas Riker and really wanted him to come back to the series in some form.  Sadly, although Kira promises that she will find a way to rescue him, we never see nor hear form Thomas Riker again.  I imagine he didn’t survive his time in the Cardassian prison camp.

Gleanings and Cool Bits:

  • Even though this episode was aired after Star Trek Generations hit theaters, it had to have taken place before the movie as the Enterprise is still mentioned as on duty.
  • We learn Dukat has an 11 year old son named Mekor.  Dukat shows that he is disappointed he could not take his son to the amusement center as he promised indicating that his son will grow up believing that a Federation officer prevented his Father from keeping his promise, further perpetuating the hate between Humans and Cardassians.  
  • We learn of a fleet of secret ships being built by the Obsidian Order.  That story is far from over…
  • One thing I particularly loved was how Thomas Riker distinguishes himself from Will Riker by wearing a Van Dyke as opposed to the full beard.  It is a subtle thing but a really cool way for viewers to see the difference between the two characters without drastically changing their looks.
  • I also wonder what exactly it was that Thomas had against O’Brien.  I mean, was it that O’Brien was a transporter chief or was he just trying to get him out of the way?

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: Fascination

If you would like to read more reviews I have a weekly series called Key Movies Of My Life that comes out every Thursday and for more retro TV goodness check out the rest of the Retro TV Reviews here.

As always, please feel free to comment below and share your experiences with these episodes as well. If you just happened by, tell me what you think! Don’t Forget To Follow me if you like the blog!

Late To The Game 6/28/2019

Only when you embrace the Full Beard will you be more than a shadow of William Riker.

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.

Star Trek and all related marks, logos and characters are solely owned by CBS Studios Inc. This fan production is not endorsed by, sponsored by, nor affiliated with CBS, Paramount Pictures, or any other Star Trek franchise, and is a non-commercial fan-made production intended for recreational use.  No commercial exhibition or distribution is permitted. No alleged independent rights will be asserted against CBS or Paramount Pictures.”

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