Although we are done with STNG and are now in the Delta Quadrant with Voyager, that doesn’t mean you can’t go back and catch up on the episodes you missed. You can find the rest here!
“Travel far enough, you meet yourself.”
― David Mitchell, Cloud Atlas
In this episode Will Riker does just that. Originally airing on May 24, 1993, this is Second Chances.
Stardate 46915.2 Second Chances
Riker discovers that he left behind a second version of himself on a planet he helped evacuate eight years prior.
We open with Riker performing in a Jazz band on Ten Forward. Just as he is about to perform a solo he has never been able to finish, he is summoned by Data to the bridge. The Enterprise has returned to the location of a previous evacuation to retrieve a database that was thought lost. While on board the ship that was believed lost, they encounter none other than…Riker himself? Whaaaaat?!
Riker interrogates himself and discovers that this Riker was trapped aboard the ship and believes that he was left to survive on his own for the past eight years. The new Riker beams aboard the Enterprise for a full physical where Dr. Crusher and Picard meet with him. Crusher determines that this is indeed also Will Riker which should not be. LaForge indicates that, due to how the transporter chief beamed Riker aboard the Potemkin, Riker materialized in two places at once. Lt Riker was lost on the planet while Commander Riker continued his Starfleet career.
Troi volunteers to talk with him and is greeted with quite the passionate kiss. She levels with him that she and Riker are not lovers any longer. She walks him through Cm Rikers time after the transporter accident and he is devastated. He is disappointed in the life he never got to have but is more than willing to assist in the recovery of the data on the science station. Lt Riker beams down with Cm Riker and the rest of the away team. Cm Riker tries to bond with Lt Riker but finds little in common with himself, in fact, they don’t seem to like one another much.
Troi finds a note in her room that leads her on a treasure hunt through the ship only to find Lt Riker waiting for her. Lt Riker explains that he feels setback but has no intention to allow it to keep him from getting what he wants. He explains that he thought Starfleet believed him to be dead and, in his mind, Troi and the universe went on without him. He still has feelings for Troi and it was her that kept him alive all these years. She has a hard time with this and starts to feel that this new Riker is the man that she let get away. After talking with Doctor Crusher, Troi realizes that, even though things never blossomed with Cm Riker, Lt Riker is a whole other person. She decides to give in to her feelings.
After talking with Lt Riker, Picard instructs Cm Riker to follow Lt Riker’s lead in the away mission. Cm Riker is clearly unhappy with the way Lt Riker is handling himself and going above Cm Rikers head. Soon they begin to butt heads, each one bitter toward one another.
Lt Riker notifies Troi that he has been given a posting aboard the USS Gandhi and will be leaving soon. Troi realizes that she is facing the same thing she has already faced in the past, Losing Will Riker again.
After returning to the surface, Lt Riker and Cm Riker work together to get to the computer core. In the process, Lt Riker nearly dies in a fall and Cm Riker saves him. They repair the core and leave safely. Going by the name Thomas,Lt Riker realizes that he does not need to fight himself in the form of Will Riker and continues on with his career, without Troi.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is a clever entry into the sixth season where Riker has to come face to face with none other than himself. It is a tough ride for Commander Riker but even tougher in some ways for Lt Riker. Imagine discovering that a version of you lived a full and productive life as you toiled away believing that everyone else thought you were dead? How difficult would that be for a person to come to terms with their own life? It would be like looking into a mirror and seeing the path you didn’t take laid out right before your eyes. In the back of your head you would always compare yourself to that other you, that person who, for all intent and purposes, took your life from you.
For Thomas Riker, he has re-entered a world where, no matter what he does, he will be compared to a version of himself that set a near impossible bar to reach and so he will always feel like a failure.
For Will, this is the man who he used to be, a version of himself that has not had the experience he has had and he knows just what this man is thinking. This scares him as Will sees Thomas as a threat to everything he is and will become. It also makes him question if he, Will Riker, is the real one. That alone would be enough to scare someone.
- Someone once told me that, when you don’t like someone, it isn’t always because of who they are but instead it is because you see something in them you don’t like about yourself. So, if this is indeed the case, would you like yourself if you met an exact duplicate of you? The answer would probably surprise you.
Overall, a great job by Jonathan Frakes and Director LeVar Burton.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
- We learn Riker’s middle name for the first time, Thomas.
- This isn’t the last time we will see Thomas, he comes back but next time it will be aboard a certain space station…
- We learn that, no matter what Troi claims, she still has feelings for Will Riker. (duh)
- Interestingly enough, we never find out who the real Riker was…
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: Timescape
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 7/25/2020 (Originally published 12/12/2018)
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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