‘Gambit’ (TNG) (TV)

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Please feel free to comment on my review.

This is quite possibly the last two-parter featured in the ‘Star Trek: TNG’ series, not counting ‘All Good Things…’ as that’s counted as a single double-length episode for the series finale. ‘Gambit’ is pretty okay as a two-parter in ‘TNG’, but I don’t think it’s good as other two-part episodes beforehand.

Let’s talk about the story itself. In ‘Part I’, Commander Riker; Deanna Troi; Beverly Crusher and Worf are investigating the whereabouts of Captain Picard in a musty bar on an alien planet. Apparently he’s been missing for some time. It would’ve been nice to see the scenes where Picard did go missing here.

They eventually come across an alien criminal who seems to know something about the whereabouts of Picard. He tells them that Picard had been asking a group of alien smugglers about some artefacts before a fight broke out in the bar. Picard got vaporized in the process. The Enterprise crew are shocked.

This greatly affects Riker who can’t accept that Picard died in a meaningless brawl. Just when Deanna is about to make preparations for a memorial service with Picard, Riker refuses to have any part of it. He’s determined to find out what really happened to Picard and expresses his anger in front of Deanna.

I found that scene between Riker and Deanna very gut-wrenching, especially when she expresses her anger at him because he’s selfishly angered over Picard’s death, not taking into consideration how others feel. Riker becomes apologetic in the end and says he wishes to seek justice over Picard’s death.

Riker requests from Starfleet for him and the Enterprise crew to find out more about what’s going on with regards with Picard’s death. Starfleet eventually agrees to Riker’s request. Oh! I was expecting Starfleet to refuse Riker’s request and Riker going to disregard Starfleet’s orders here. Apparently not.

Very soon, the Enterprise crew begin to retrace Picard’s steps which eventually leads them to a planet that houses one of the most archaeological sites in the galaxy. But it turns out that the artefacts have been stolen recently by a group of mercenaries. The away team, led by Riker, investigate this mystery.

Eventually, Riker with Worf, Geordi and a few ensigns (security personnel presumably) get attacked by the group of mercenaries which include a variety of humanoids. One of the ensigns gets killed in the process and Commander Riker gets captured when the mercenaries return back to their spaceship.

On the mercenary ship, Riker meets the commander, Richard Lunch as Arctus Baran. Baran demands answers from Riker, but Riker refuses to cooperate. Riker then discovers a device has been implanted into his body, which allows Baran to inflict pain on him. What’s ironic is that Riker soon works for him.

The device implanted in Riker’s body is the same for everyone else. This is the way that Baran controls his crew. Riker then realises that Picard is one of the crew and is very much alive. Picard however has taken a disguise within the criminal crew, now calling him Galen and passing himself off as a smuggler.

Galen is the name of Picard’s mentor from the Season 6 episode, ‘The Chase’. Picard as Galen is doing business with the company of criminals when passing himself off as a smuggler. He also makes out he’s aggressive when mistreating Riker, claiming that he is an officer with a history of insubordination.

But as it turns out, Picard is playacting for Riker’s benefit in order for him to gain Baran’s trust. This is especially when Picard secretly manufactures a warp drive malfunction in order for Riker to correct and impress Baran. Picard soon meets up with Riker in private in order to discuss what’s going on here.

It seems that Picard went to study an archaeological site before he found it ransacked. Picard went off to track down who was responsible for this before finding the miscreants at the musty bar on an alien planet where he was presumed dead. He was then taken prisoner by the mercenaries when captured.

Explaining how he managed to escape death when someone shot him because he was actually teleported instead of vaporised, Picard tells Riker he convinced the mercenary crew that he was an archaeologist as well as a smuggler. He also tells Riker the criminals are looking for Romulan artefacts.

Picard tells Riker that they should be make out that they hate each other in order to not Baran and the others suspect. Riker goes along with it and Picard acts hostile towards Riker when Baran is in the room, giving him a blow on the face. Don’t worry, Riker does get his own back on Picard in ‘Part II’. 😀

Baran has Picard searching through the relics they’ve stolen in order to identify the certain Romulan artefacts they want. Speaking of which, one of Baran’s crew happens to be Robin Curtis as Tallera. She’s a Romulan, but to me, Robin Curtis is pretty well-known for playing another ‘Star Trek’ character.

Robin Curtis also played Saavik in ‘Star Trek III: The Search For Spock’ and ‘Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home’. It was nice to see Robin Curtin play a character in the ‘TNG’ series, although her character is very different to how she played Saavik. Tallera is a Romulan of course, but isn’t all she appears to be.

It also seems Picard as Galen and Baran don’t get on well with each other aboard the mercenary ship. Picard also encourages Riker to befriend Baran in order to learn more about his plans. Riker manages to achieve this when Baran confides in him and eventually suggests to him to kill Galen in one mission.

Riker is meant to play the role of a less than perfect, insubordinate Starfleet officer who is ready to betray the Federation. Riker doesn’t find this easy to do when he’s aboard the mercenary ship especially when he could’ve almost destroyed the Enterprise. But he manages to cope well under pressure.

Meanwhile aboard the Enterprise, Data takes command of the ship with Worf acting as his first officer. Wait! Shouldn’t Geordi be Data’s first officer instead of Worf? Considering that Worf is a lieutenant and Geordi is a lieutenant commander. Deanna Troi also has authority being a lieutenant commander.

Beverly Crusher has the full rank of commander, as demonstrated in ‘Descent’. How come Worf was chosen to be first officer instead of Geordi? Worf finds it difficult to follow Data’s orders, as he wants to rescue Riker when captured. Data uses more methodical and logical methods in their investigation.

That scene where Data sees Worf in the captain’s ready room about his seeming insubordination is pretty effective. Data is dissatisfied with Worf’s behaviour and Worf eventually apologises, explaining his reasons. It all ends okay, but I assume Worf finds it difficult taking orders from a machine like Data.

The Enterprise crew eventually meets up with a Klingon trader in space, James Worthy as Koral. James Worthy is a former American basketball player who is currently a commentator, television host and analyst. Intriguing to see him in an acting role whereas he was mainly a sports star like Michael Jordan.

Unfortunately I don’t think James Worthy’s appearance as Koral contributes much to the story. He’s only in ‘Part II’ and doesn’t do much apart from being uncooperative to the Enterprise crew when they ask him what business he’s doing in this sector of space. He’s also a pretty tall person for a Klingon. 😀

It was funny when Data and Deanna try to be pleasant to Koral in the conference room, especially when offering him Klingon blood wine. But he pours it out onto the floor, disregarding the pleasantries and being very uncooperative. He’s going to have to clean that mess up. 😀 He also does not fight here.

When the mercenaries come to steal the artefact that Koral’s got for them, he just stands there and does nothing. He doesn’t even get involved in the fight when Riker shoots at Picard before Picard shoots back with a stun ray disguised as a killing blow. It’s almost like Koral’s role in this was pointless.

Anyway, to make a long story short, Tallera turns out not to be a Romulan as she’s actually a Vulcan called T’Paal (although she acts more Romulan than Vulcan in this) and tries to use the Vulcan telepathic weapon, the Stone of Gol, for her own agenda. Picard and the Enterprise crew prevent her.

I did like that final scene where Data points out Riker is guilty of defection and Picard is still technically dead. Picard jokingly (although he doesn’t smile to show it) suggests to Data to throw Riker in the brig. Data innocently complies, escorting Riker to the brig. Riker attempt to convince Data it was a joke. 😀

‘Gambit’ is a pretty entertaining two-parter in the ‘TNG’ series. I wouldn’t call it a great two-parter, matching to the likes of ‘The Best of Both Worlds’, ‘Time’s Arrow’ and ‘Descent’. But it was fun to see, especially when Riker finds Picard disguising himself as one of the crew aboard a mercenary spaceship.

‘Gambit’ (TNG) rating – 7/10

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