In which the Enterprise has too many rooms, Riker is on Fear Factor, and I bemoan wasted SI prefixes.
Sometimes the way I have to start these is really boring, particularly when the Enterprise is just randomly approaching a starbase for docking. Also, Picard isn’t on the bridge so it looks like Data has the chair as Riker goes to meet some new fresh enseigns, and Wesley thinks all Benzites look the same. Racist. Also, Mendon seems kind of full of himself. After this drama, Picard calls Riker to the Phaser Range.
It kind of makes we wonder why they have a phaser range instead of another holodeck. It’s all directed light anyway, and it’s not light phasers have recoil. In fact, with the energy it takes to have a ship traveling FTL, they could have their three ‘real’ holodecks that use transporters and matter reconfiguration and like seven dozen mere holography rooms without tactile feedback. It just strikes me as odd that they have a dedicated phaser range which is merely a big dark room, and that gym with fencing equipment when really, how many people on the ship fence? I need to get me a copy of the blueprints.
Picard is discussing the Officer Exchange Program with Riker, and making veiled references to goad Riker into taking part in the program to serve aboard a Klingon ship. Actually, Riker volunteers, because nobody’s ever done it before and Riker likes a challenge. Riker will be serving aboard the Klingon ship Pagh. Apparently, one of the primary duties of a Klingon XO is to kill the captain if he shows weakness.
Enseign Mendon, meanwhile, is wandering around the bridge being arrogant and telling everyone how to do their jobs. Well, to be fair, he’s only telling Ops crewmen and not-yet-cadet Wesley how to do their jobs. Including how to optimize the helm UI design. It’s worth pointing out that this seems to indicate that the LCARS readouts are adjustable, a fact which went over my head when I was nine years old and watching Star Trek. In our age of smartphones and apps that doesn’t really seem like a big deal. Well it was in 1989. Just like cellphones were science fiction in the ’60s. And cheap, practical space travel was in the 2010s. I digress. You know someone is stuffy and arrogant when Wesley gives them the stinkeye.
Riker is testing out Klingon cuisine in Ten-Forward. He’s come a long way since he blew his cover rather than eating mealworms in “Conspiracy.” Meanwhile, Picard waxes poetic about how little the Federation knows about the Klingons, even given 80 years of peace. Good fences, I suppose. Before he beams over to the Pagh, Worf gives him an emergency transponder. He’s really stepped up his game, security-wise.
The Pagh arrives, and captain Kagan informes Picard that they’re ready to beam over, fairly brusqely. Mendon, when he’s not putting his rebreather in his mouth, wanders over to the science station and finds an unknown subatomic space-mold growing on the Klingon ship, and decides to finish studying before telling Picard. Instead, he tells Picard how everyone can do their jobs better. Today’s episode is about culture clash and why you should do your homework.Like, for example, the way Riker stares down anyone who looks at him askance, and faces down his second officer, Lietennant Klank when his authority is challenged. Among the things Riker does is throws Klank through a console.
Back on the Enterprise the ship is also infected with this ‘subatomic bacteria. Seriously, don’t think too hard about that, you will only go mad. Everyone goes politely off on him for not reporting this immediately, rather than following ‘proper Benzite procedure’ of not reporting anything until he has a full analysis and a potential resolution. While laudible from one point of view, one has to kind of wonder how many Benzite ships get lost inside negative space wedgies because nobody can finish the full analysis before they’re allowed to say “maybe we should not fly directly into that thing.”
In the mess hall on the Pagh, Riker is getting eyed by two Klingon ladies over his live gagh, and getting ribbed by the crew. and manages to give back in kind. This is because, despite all outward appearances, Riker is a good officer who does his homework. He gets past the initiation and gets to have an honest conversation with the Klingons touching on the nature of Honor. Klank’s father was captured by Romulans, and is now aging on his home planet, waiting dishonorably for death. Riker is kind of appalled, but manages to recover and impress the Klingons.
It seems that the bacteria efed on compounds in hull metal and the Klingon ship is pretty badly off, their hull being even more susceptible than the Enterprise. And apparently they can’t vent the section, blow the panel, and fit a new one. A Bird-of-Prey, with it’s crew compliment of 12, apparently doesn’t carry enough repair equipment to fix a 12cm hull breach. The plot-important misunderstanding – that they think the Enterprise did it, is not nearly as interesting as that fact. The Enterprise is looking for the Klingons to help them out, but of course captain Kagan thinks this is the final piece of proof that the Federation is conducting a sneak attack. Kagan demands Riker tell him how to destroy the Enterprise, which of course he won’t do.
Okay, relative power assessment time. A Bird-of-Prey has three decks, 12 crew, no self-repair ability, and they think they’re going to take outa Federation ship that has come to kill them single-handedly. Meanwhile, the Enterprise is shown to be at least a reasonable match for a full-on Romulan warbird twice its size.
Back to the episode, Kagan winds up being slightly impressed by Riker not giving the secrets of the Enterprise to him, because he is able to keep both his oath to serve the Pagh and his prior oath to the Federation. When Mendon figures out a way to.. uh.. use a tunneling neutrino beam to kill the sub-micron tritanium-eating parasite (I cannot believe I just typed that) Kagan still believes this is some sort of trick, probably to get them to decloak so the Enterprise can finish them off. Riker knows better, of course, but what can you do?
Apparently, you can trick the insane Klingon captain into grabbing your homing device, getting beamed aboard the Enterprise, and then take command of the Klingon ship, while simultaniously making sure that the Klingon ship has been ordered to within transporter range of 40,000 km. Or 40 megameters, but nobody ever uses that prefix, which is butts.
Riker is kind of a BAMF. He lets his new crew hear Picard’s desperation before demanding the Enterprise surrender. Granted, Picard
mainly didn’t want to have to blow up the Klingon ship and start a war, but still. A little pinkskin panic has to help. To resolve everything, Riker growls at Kagan, gets himself punched in the face so that Kagan can retain his command with honor, and gets to limp over to sick bay to the familiar horn fanfare.