The Icarus Factor (ST:TNG Rewatch, Season 2, Episode 14)

Rewatching Star Trek: The Next Generation after a 20-year break

Starfleet offers Riker his own command and sends his estranged father to brief him on his new mission. Meanwhile, Wesley notices Worf is more anti-social than usual. A character-based episode that has some good moments for the ensemble, but overall didn’t do much for me.

In the previous episode Time Squared, Pulaski’s brief, throw-away reaction to something Riker said about his father does not mesh well with what we learn in this episode — that Pulaski not only knew Riker’s father, but wanted to marry him: “It wasn’t exactly a secret. It just never really came up.” (Yeah, right.)

A rare scene between Troi and Pulaski has the women venting about men, with the sometimes crusty Pulaski dispensing big-sisterly advice, and Counselor Troi frustrated by her own problems. Likewise, a brief scene between Troi and Riker was well written and well-acted.

I appreciate that the writers didn’t force the climax with a holodeck malfunction or an alien doppleganger, but the scenes with Wesley, Data and LaForge conspiring to figure out what’s wrong with Worf are C-plot material at best.

I was delighted to see Chief O’Brien featured so strongly in this episode, not only as part of the scrum and bustle in engineering but also sharing a drink with Riker in Ten Forward, and later telling a comic story about Klingon pain-sticks.

The made-up martial art “anbo-juytsu” scene was pretty silly, what with the opaque shields that conveniently hid the actor’s faces so the stunt doubles could wave sticks at each other. (The fist-fight between Picard and his brother did a much better job with the “men can’t articulate their feelings so they hit each other” trope.)