Allegiance (#StarTrek #TNG Rewatch, Season Three, Episode 18) Picard plays ‘Escape the Room’ as his doppelgänger flirts and sings

Rewatching ST:TNG after a 20-year break.

The episode feels like a gimmick approved by a cigar-chomping producer who barked at a room of scrappy doe-eyed writers: “Put a script on my desk by 4pm today, or tomorrow you’ll be back on the bus to Dubuque!”

Picard is transported to a windowless chamber where he and three other captives get on each others’ nerves; meanwhile, a duplicate of Picard sings a song in Ten Forward, flirts with Beverly, and cheerfully pushes Riker towards mutiny.

Even though it’s not the real Picard who invites Beverly to dinner, we see what happens when only one of them is resisting their mutual attraction. Still, I wish their slow dance and tender kiss were in a better episode, or at least that this scene was of more consequence in *this* episode.

After the real Picard figures out what’s going on in the test chamber and gives a short scolding speech, we cut back to the Enterprise-D, where Riker is standing up to the fake Picard, the real Picard pops in, and we have a strange epilogue where arrogant aliens monologue until Picard teaches them a lesson.

Exchanging meaningful looks while arrogant alien intruders monologue is apparently standard Federation protocol for triggering an internal force field. In addition to trapping arrogant alien monologuers, such force fields sure would be handy to deal with incursions from all the probes and Borg drones and random threats that regularly appear on the bridge, but we never see this technology again.

I liked watching the Picard deploy his diplomacy skills to get his fellow captives to play escape-the-room together, and I liked watching his doppelgänger sowing chaos with such avuncular charm. However, the two storylines progress independently, but they aren’t really connected; they just happen to climax at the same time.

After a run of really strong episodes, the entertaining but inconsequential “Allegiance” is a bit of a letdown. Still, for all its flaws, it’s still far better than most of the first- or second-season offerings.