Finally, we are back on track. After a few less than good episodes and a halfway decent one, we finally get to one that has some key moments and character building for many of the characters. So, let’s dive into the Icarus Factor, originally airing on April 24,1989.
Stardate 42686.4 The Icarus Factor
Riker is up for promotion and is offered the command of the Aries. Kyle Riker, his father, arrives to
encourage Will to take the position brief the Commander on his new posting. Meanwhile, Worf prepares for his Klingon Rite of Ascension.
There are two key stories in this one, one dealing with William Riker and his father (the A story) and one dealing with Worf and his Klingon Rites of Ascension (the B Story). We will start with the A story: ‘The Promotion’
Story ‘A’ The Promotion:
Riker is offered the Captaincy of the Starship Aries which will take him away from the Enterprise and her crew. A civilian liaison is assigned to brief Riker on his mission which turns out to be none other than Riker’s estranged Father, Kyle Riker. Will Riker is not happy about seeing his father as they have been out of communication for many years.
Will talks with his father in his ‘briefing’ and learns that his father had requested to deliver the information in person to reconnect with his son. He feels bad about becoming estranged but Will Riker is having a difficult time accepting the reconnection.
Pulaski arranges for Kyle and Troi to talk about Will’s indifference. She digs in and finds that Kyle, while successful in everything he has done, is disappointed that he had not been successful in his relationship with Will. Kyle reveals that he came aboard to encourage Will to take the position as it will be a dangerous risk and Kyle feels his son would be a fool not to accept.
Will talks to Pulaski about his father and he discovers that She and Kyle were involved with one another. She tells him that they met when Kyle was the sole survivor in a devastating event. She wanted to marry him, but he had other plans and aspirations. To her, he is the one who got away.
Will and Kyle’s frustration come to a head and they challenge one another to an Anbo-jyutsu match. Pulaski is concerned about the match but Kyle presses on, confident that he will succeed as ‘[Will] has never been able to beat him’.
They battle and Will reveals that he blames Kyle for his own mother’s death. Will feels that Kyle should have died instead of her and he has blamed him ever since. Will has felt abandoned from the age of 15 and they have both been too stubborn in their ways to address the issues at hand. Their fight in the Anbo-jyutsu comes to a close when Will realizes that his father has been cheating since Will was 12. Kyle reveals that it was the only connection he had and the only way to keep him coming back. They make up and part on amicable grounds.
Will Riker declines the promotion and chooses to remain aboard.
Story ‘B’ Worf Grows Up:
Worf is acting strange and, in the corridors, he snaps at Wesley when Wesley mentions not knowing his own Father. Wesley talks to Data and Geordi to get help as he is worried about his fellow crewman. Geordi and Data soon encounter Worf only to be rebuked as there is indeed, something wrong.
Work talks with Riker about his promotion and requests to join him on the assignment. Worf would like to see combat and feels that this assignment will take increase the odds of this happening.
Wesley soon discovers that it is the 10th anniversary of the Klingon Age of Ascension and traditionally a Klingon would hold a celebration in honor of this event. Worf may be feeling alone and isolated as there are no other Klingons around. They discuss it and decide to present Worf with the celebration in his honor.
Worf’s friends (Data, Geordi, Wesley, O’Brien, and Pulaski) set up the holodeck for Worf’s Rite. He arrives and is impressed with their efforts. He agrees to go through the Rite in front of his friends. This involves being hit by Pain Sticks. It doesn’t look very fun…
Worf is grateful to his friends and it brings him closer to them all.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
It is one of the more character driven episodes and in that, yes it is a good one. There isn’t any major threat, no alien invasion, or deadly virus but it still works on every level. It is very focused on both Will Riker and Worf as the primary subjects. In that, we get a ton of character development for them both.
This is an episode about family and growing up. For Will, that means confronting his estranged Father and determining that Will will be the one to choose his own destiny. For Worf it involves embracing his culture and having friends who are willing to provide him with this experience in his time of need. Both Will’s and Worf’s journey invoke cultural elements of ‘growing up’ and being accepted for who you are. Will needs to prove he does not need his Father’s approval and Worf needs to feel like he belongs to his people. Nearly opposite ends of the spectrum but in some ways, they are the same Rite.
We all have a moment, whether it is with family or with friends, where we get that feeling of ‘acceptance’. Some are as simple as being handed the car keys by your father or others as complex as joining an organization and rising in the ranks.
One of my moments involved a cigar and my father. You see, my dad smoked cigars and pipes for as long as I can remember. Because of this, I loved the clean smell of ‘unprocessed’ tobacco in the cigars and always looked at them as something that was exclusive to my father.
After getting married, I returned to my home town for a visit and, in the backyard of my brother-in-law’s house, my father lit up a cigar. He looked over at me and then he handed me one. In that moment, I realized that he had finally accepted me as an adult and this was his way of telling me that. We never were one’s to talk with each other about feelings but, that moment told me everything I needed to know. Although I was already approaching 30 at the time, my father had finally accepted me as an adult, as an equal. It is episodes like this that remind me of that moment and that speak to so many people on different levels. It is episodes like this that shows just how human a futuristic sci fi series can be.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
This is the second Command that Riker has turned down. While he knows that Starfleet thinks he is ready, he feels he still has a lot to learn from Picard and the crew.
Riker is asked to head up the USS Aries in a mission to investigate possible new life in the Vega-Omicron Sector. We never hear anything else about this mission so it is assumed that either they never found life or they never made it there.
Pulaski and Kyle Riker, hmmmm looks Like Riker almost had a stepmother…
oh man…I just realized that this means Pulaski and Riker’s dad got it on at one point. I mean, she was a looker when she was young but that old lady perm.…ugh. No.. just no.
We see some more of the Klingon Traditions with the Pain Sticks and the Rite of Ascension. I think a pain stick would be the only thing that could purge the mental image of Pulaski and Kyle Riker from my mind….
Troi and Riker have yet another tear filled Goodbye….will you two just get together again already?
We get to see more of Worf’s respect for Riker when he asked to transfer with him. Riker and Worf share a kinship with them both being the only officers of their races to serve aboard vessels of each others cultures. This friendship will continue to cultivate.
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: Pen Pals
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.
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Late To The Game 7/6/2019 (Originally published 03/30/2018)
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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