What if you woke up over a decade in the future with no memory past the moment you went to sleep? How would you cope with the changes and the world around you? This question and more is answered for William T Riker in the episode that aired on November 12, 1990. This is Future Imperfect.
Stardate 44286.5 Future Imperfect
Riker is hurt on an away mission and wakes up sixteen years later in a reality where he is now the Captain of the Enterprise but he has no memory of the past decade and a half.
We start the episode at Riker’s birthday party where he finally gets his famous trombone. As they celebrate, the Enterprise gets some curious readings that ultimately interrupt Riker’s birthday party as Picard wants him to lead the away team to investigate. It’s really a shame, to be honest; I mean you’d think Worf could do it, its Riker’s birthday for God’s sake! Anyhow, they go to the planet where they can’t seem to contact the Enterprise properly. When the Enterprise attempts to beam them back something goes wrong and Riker awakes in the sick bay where things aren’t quite right. He is greeted by Beverly Crusher who asks him how he is doing as she addresses him as Captain!
Thoroughly confused he questions the situation and Crusher explains that his last memory took place sixteen years prior. Apparently he contracted Alterian Encephalitis which has caused him to lose the previous 16 years of his memories. Crusher explains that he may never get his memories back but they should try. After returning to the Bridge, he is contacted by Admiral Picard where he learns that he is there to negotiate a peace treaty with the Romulan Empire. Wow, things have changed!
After his briefing, he discovers he has a son and that his wife has passed away. It bothers him that he has no memories of his wife or son and Deanna explains that if he spends time with his son, he may find some of his past. He tries to get to know his son but when he attempts to access his service record, he cannot get what he needs. Apparently the system is running slow…interesting.
Just before he gets a chance to read the information, he is summoned by Picard to meet with the Romulan Ambassador who just happens to be Tomolak, the man who threatened the Enterprise during the episode The Enemy. Riker immediately distrusts him but Picard assures him that it is okay. Things aren’t quite right and he cant put his finger on it. It is when he explores his family history when he discovers that things are not what they seem, it seems that his wife is none other than Minuet, the hologram he fell in love with when the Binars had taken over the ship. He then goes to the Bridge where he confronts everyone, he knows that this isn’t real and demands that the charade be dropped. Suddenly Tomalak agrees and he ends the holodeck program revealing that he had been in Romulan captivity this whole time!
Tomalak introduces Riker to the child they used to model Riker’s Son after and, when the Romulans go to harm Ethan (the boy), Riker uses the opportunity to stage an escape. They manage to escape but there is still something not quite right. As Riker and Ethan talk, Ethan slips and refers to Captain Tomalak as Ambassador Tomalak. Riker realizes that Ethan is responsible for the entire thing and orders the boy to end the charade. Calling Ethans buff, Ethan reveals that he is an insectoid alien child,named Barash, who has been stranded on the planet by his parents to protect him. Riker decides to rescue the child and they transport up together.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
Yes, until the very very last minute. Seriously, did they have to go with a little green alien who looks like the traditional Gray? oy.
Overall this was a good Riker-centric episode. While it doesn’t move the character further timewise, we do get to see more of who his is as a man and who he could be as a father. RIker is a conflicted man who has some serious paternal issues. His experience with his father has shaped him, but it has also scarred him deeply. So when he is faced with a son he never knew, he makes every attempt to bond with the boy. This really shows how he is trying to be a better father than his own was and that speaks volumes for Riker’s character overall. He is a family man and, as the simulation gave him what he wanted, he truly wants a family.
Imperfect is a good way to describe this episode so I guess the title didn’t lie. Honestly, if it weren’t for the horrible makeup on the alien bug kid at the end, this would be a top episode, unfortunately they must have blown their budget on something else…
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
This is the very first time we see Riker with his Trombone. The man becomes obsessed with this thing, like Bill Clinton and his sax.
It is interesting to note some of the things in Riker’s future that were really more forshadowing than anything.
There is a Ferengi on the bridge of the Enterprise and, just a few years later, Nog will join Starfleet during the series Deep Space Nine.
We also see Riker as Captain, something that will eventually occur but not until after the movie series.
Geordi is seen without his visor with implanted ‘clone’ eyes. Geordi does, in fact, get his eyes back but again, not until the movies come around.
We see Nurse Ogawa for the first time, she will become a regular in sickbay.
I love the ‘future’ com badges in this episode. They are really pretty cool and kinda reminiscent of the ones that will be used in Voyager later on.
I also really dig the future Admiral Picard too, that van dyke…
We never see or hear from Jean Luc Ethan Barash Riker again, which is really odd seeing that Riker pretty much adopted the kid right there on the planet. I mean, he didnt even stay in touch. Kind of a dick move to be honest.
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: Final Mission
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Late To The Game 11/30/2019 (Originally published 4/6/2018)
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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