Addiction. It comes in all forms, whether it be through drugs, sex, or even video games. Sometime the act of addicting someone can be used to subjugate a person into doing things they normally wouldn’t do. In the episode that originally aired on October 28,1991 we find the Enterprise facing just such a thing. This is The Game.
Stardate 45208.2 The Game
After returning from Risa, Riker brings back a highly addictive game that the entire ship soon becomes infatuated with. Wesley Crusher, on vacation from Starfleet Academy, is the only one who notices that the crew has become compromised by this new toy.
The Enterprise is slammed with assignments, science teams are arriving by the droves and the ship is on a mission to chart a previously unexplored region of space. On top of that they are facing a diplomatic mission to Oceanus IV of which Picard is not to thrilled about. Needless to say, the ship is busy and it doesn’t seem to be lightening up. Riker, having returned from Risa, begins telling people about a new game he brought along. Meanwhile Wesley Crusher has arrived on Vacation from Starfleet Academy and Riker asks the young cadet for his assistance on the ship. He agrees and begins his assignment in Engineering. Soon he meets up with Ensign Robin Lefler and of course, he becomes smitten.
As their duties get more complicated, Data is summoned by Doctor Crusher who deactivates him for no apparent reason. Riker and Troi arrive soon after and it is clear that they have been compromised in some way. Soon after, Crusher summons Picard to the sickbay claiming that Data came in complaining of issues and collapsed. LaForge and Riker go to Data’s quarters to continue their investigation but, of course, find nothing. Riker suggests that LaForge take some time to relax…with a certain game.
After working with Robin, Wesley visits his mother where he finds her playing The Game. She tries to push him to play but is rebuked because Wesley has a date with Robin Lefler. It is soon apparent that something is strange as Beverly is all but insistent that her son play the game. He manages to dodge her and, at dinner, he and Robin begin to discuss this new fad. They decide to analyse this new device and soon discover that it is not just a game but a highly addictive game that could compromise the crew. This is not just a game, it is also a mind controlling drug. Wesley takes his findings to Captain Picard without realizing that the Captain himself is addicted as well.
We soon discover that the game itself is a device used to commandeer ships and subjugate entire crews. The woman that Riker got the game from is actually a member of the Ktarian race who had planned to take over the Enterprise and the Federation by making the crew addicted to the game as part of the Ktarian Expansion Project. It soon becomes a race against time for Wesley and Robin and just as things look bleak, Data, having been repaired by Wesley, saves the day.
They capture the enemy ship and Wesley goes back to Starfleet academy.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is possibly one of the most remembered episodes of this season. Not because it is the best or worst episode, just because I swear it was one of the most rerun episodes ever. Every series has an episode that just seems to be on ALL THE TIME. Everytime you tune in , THAT episode seems to be playing, this is that one for STNG. Is it a good one, sure, we get a chance to see what Wesely is doing while in Starfleet Academy and we get to really meet Robin Lefler, but man have I not seen this episode too many times.
The lesson is about addiction and obsession. This episode really resonates now after experiencing the Pokemon Go explosion in recent years. It is insane how people become so easily addicted to simple things. I play video games and can attest to how easy it is for a compelling game to take over my very thoughts and desires. When playing a good game, it can become the only thing you think about and look forward to. For some this can become a dangerous addiction which can lead to many social and economic struggles. Luckily for the most of us, it is just a short, intense infatuation.
That being said, I do find it ironic that it is Riker’s libido that nearly causes the downfall of the Enterprise and Starfleet itself. This man should never be allowed to go on vacation unaccompanied. His very sex drive is a menace to the Federation. Seriously, this is a guy who has passed up command of his very own ship numerous times and he is taken down by a pretty face and a game. Yeah, this man is not Command material.
I won’t lie, I had an insane crush on Robin Lefler and, it wasn’t until years later that I realized it was Ashley Judd who had played the roll. I always found it sad that nothing came of Robin and Wesley’s relationship.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
We learn that Picard failed organic chemistry due to a certain ‘AF’. We never learn who ‘AF’ is.
This episode marks Ashley Judd’s first (somewhat awkward but sweet) onscreen kiss.
We never see nor hear from Robin Lefler again, I like to think that she and Wesley at least remained friends.
We never see or hear from the Ktarians again although they did just try to take over the Federation. You would think someone like this would have been seen as more than a minor threat.
We see more of Councilor Trois Chocolate addiction in this episode as well.
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: Unification Part I
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Late To The Game 2/22/2020 (Originally published 8/31/2018)
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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