Picard plays cat-and-mouse with thugs when the Enterprise is evacuated for routine maintenance.
During a long tracking shot, Picard bumps into senior staff members who just happen to be standing in the corridor with administrative problems for him to solve.
In the turbolift, Data tries out his new “small talk during awkward moments” subroutine, and Picard recommends he meet Commander Hutchinson at this afternoon’s reception on Arkaria Base.
On his way off the ship, Picard pauses to take in the empty bridge, as the local work crew arrives to set up equipment.
At the reception, Data observes the obsequious close-talker Hutchinson, who corners various crew members with inane conversation. When “Hutch” mentions the facility includes horses and riding trails, Picard perks up, and decides to return to the ship for his saddle.
Dressed in his riding outfit, Picard is surprised to find someone else still on the ship. He pretends to be satisfied with the man’s explanation, but when the interloper attacks him, he’s ready.
Thus what seemed to begin as a quirky character story becomes a thrilling homage to Die Hard, as Picard uses his knowledge of the ship to out-think the bad guys.
The comic scene at the reception soon turns into a tense hostage situation; this B-plot is almost as interesting as the main story. Troi’s empathy usefully helps Riker strategize.
The shipboard plot moves too quickly for us to get to know the leader, Kelsey. But it’s great to see Picard in action, and the dynamics between the bad guys are interesting enough that the story works when we see events from their perspective.
Picard outsmarts us too, when, after a tense countdown sequence, a closeup of what he’s holding in his hand reveals us just how far ahead he was thinking.