Dec 11 2012 4:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Second Chances”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Second Chances“Second Chances”
Written by Michael Medlock and Rene Echevarria
Directed by LeVar Burton
Season 6, Episode 24
Production episode 40276-250
Original air date: May 24, 1993
Stardate: 46915.2

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is in orbit of Nervala IV, which is surrounded by a distortion field that inhibits transport, communications, sensors, and just about everything else. Every eight years, three transport windows open up. Some data was left behind eight years ago, and the Enterprise is going to retrieve it. One of the people on the last mission to Nervala was Lieutenant William Riker of the U.S.S. Potemkin.

Commander Riker is leading a jazz quartet for a concert in Ten-Forward. When he asks for requests, Troi asks for “Nightbird,” a song Riker has been trying to master the solo of for ten years. Reluctantly, Riker goes ahead and starts the song, but he is interrupted by Data—the window has opened up sooner than expected. Riker beams down along with Data, Worf, and an engineer. To Riker’s surprise, the place looks different, even though nobody could have been here. Worf theorizes that a ship may have gotten caught in the distortion field and crashed.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

That, however, wasn’t it—William Riker, in a ragged operations uniform (the “unitard” seen in the first two seasons) with lieutenant’s pips, arrives, and everybody is very very very very confused. Lieutenant Riker—who has messier hair and a full beard rather than a trimmed one—says that he was the last one out from the Potemkin away team, but they lost the signal on him, and he was stranded, unable to communicate thanks to the interference. But Commander Riker remembers beaming out safely and going on with his life.

Worf beams Lieutenant Riker back to the Enterprise, where Crusher examines him. He’s identical to Commander Riker, down even to the brain scan, which means it isn’t a clone, since brainwave patterns are formed by experiences.

La Forge examines the Potemkin’s transporter logs, and reports that the transporter chief tried to compensate for a surge in the distortion field by creating a second confinement beam, but it turned out to be unnecessary. But the confinement beam reflected back to the surface and created a second Riker.

Lieutenant Riker cannibalized the computer for his own use in order to survive, so they’ll need his help to retrieve the database, but Crusher is reluctant to send him down there. Troi offers to talk to him. This proves problematic, as the lieutenant grabs her, picks her up, calls her “imzadi,” and kisses her.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

Troi backs off and sits him down. Apparently, they had been intending to get together on Risa six weeks after the Nervala mission, but Commander Riker was promoted to lieutenant commander and made first officer on the Hood (ironically, thanks to a commendation received after the Nervala mission), and never made the date. They didn’t see each other again until they were posted to the Enterprise.

Lieutenant Riker reveals that thoughts of Troi were one of the few things that kept him sane during his eight-year exile. He is also willing to help the Enterprise retrieve the database, since he reconfigured the computer so much during the past eight years it’s unrecognizable.

The same away team—plus Lieutenant Riker, who is late, as he hasn’t had to be punctual for eight years—beams down. They can’t access the database due to damage thanks to seismic activity, so they have to go to the computer core under the station. Lieutenant Riker says he can do it, but the window will close in three minutes. The lieutenant offers to stay down, and doesn’t take no for an order, forcing Commander Riker to yell at him.

Back on board, the lieutenant leaves notes for Troi all over the ship, sending her on a scavenger hunt to a transporter room, to engineering, and finally to Ten-Forward, where he gives her an etching (made with a phaser on metal) of the falls on Betazed where they last saw each other.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

He talks about the early days on Nervala, waiting for a rescue, figuring there was no rescue attempt because they thought he was dead, imagining the memorial service. The talk gets heavy after that, as Troi admits to her disappointment that Riker didn’t make the date on Risa.

Lieutenant Riker goes over the commander’s head to Picard, and Picard orders his first officer to go with the lieutenant’s plan to go under the station despite the risks. Commander Riker then comes down hard on his lower-ranking doppelganger for doing such an end-run.

Crusher and Troi do a mok’bara workout, where Crusher encourages Troi to go for it with Lieutenant Riker—who then shows up. Crusher beats a hasty retreat, and it’s about six seconds before they start smooching.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

Troi then goes to Commander Riker to get his blessing, which he gives. Later, Commander Riker, Data, and Worf play poker, and Lieutenant Riker shows up. The commander invites him to be dealt in, and Data deals five-card draw. It quickly turns into a pissing contest between the two of them, ending with the lieutenant losing and leaving with the line that the commander always had the better hand.

Picard has made some inquiries, and he’s found a posting for Lieutenant Riker on the Gandhi. But that would be the end of his and Troi’s burgeoning relationship, because she’s not willing to just give up her life on the Enterprise.

The away team goes down for the third window. The Rikers go down to the core while Worf and Data and that poor never-named engineer work the consoles. Lieutenant Riker snarks the commander, then panics over some ion radiation; Commander Riker fixes the problem easily and admonishes the lieutenant for giving up too easily. Then a catwalk collapses, and the commander has to save the lieutenant’s life. They then repair the conduits, and the database is retrieved.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

Lieutenant Riker—who has decided to go by his middle name of Thomas—is packing to head off to the Gandhi. Troi says she’s not going to join him, which doesn’t surprise Tom. Will then arrives with a present: his trombone, which means now he’ll never get “Nightbird” right....

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Apparently boosting a transporter signal with a second annular confinement beam runs the risk of creating a duplicate of the person, as long as the phase differential is matched by the distortion field that forced you to create a second beam in the first place. Cha cha cha.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi goes to Tom Riker as a counselor, and instead is confronted with the possibility of a do-over on the last eight years of her romantic life.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data queries Worf on the subject of meeting one’s duplicate. For some inexplicable reason, he never mentions his own “evil twin,” Lore (whom we’ll be seeing again shortly).

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: Worf tells Data that he would probably also not like a potential doppelganger because he is not easy to get along with, a notion Data agrees with a little too quickly, prompting the patented Worf Look Of Outrage.

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: Tom Riker has spent eight years jonesing for Troi. It takes Troi a day or so, but, with some serious encouragement from Crusher, gives in for a night of passionate nookie.

I Believe I Said That: “If you met a double of yourself, would you have difficulty interacting with him?”

“I think so.”


“I am not easy to get along with.”

Data asking a probing question and Worf giving a very self-aware answer.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

Welcome Aboard: Only one real guest this week, as Jonathan Frakes does double duty as two versions of Riker—but that one’s a doozy. Dr. Mae Jemison appears as Transporter Chief Palmer. Jemison is an astronaut, and was the first African-American woman to travel to space. A big Star Trek fan, she was inspired by Nichelle Nichols’s role on the original series, and the two became friends. (Nichols visited the set of this episode when Jemison filmed her part.) Jemison was the first astronaut to play a role on Trek.

Trivial Matters: This episode was the directorial debut of LeVar Burton, and he picked a doozy, as he needed to do tons of doubles shots and bluescreening and such—quite a challenge for a neophyte director. But it paid off, as he became quite a prolific Trek director, helming “The Pegasus” in the seventh season, and going on to direct ten episode of Deep Space Nine, eight of Voyager, and nine of Enterprise.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

Riker was established as serving on the Potemkin in “Peak Performance.”

This is the second of three times that Trek went into the duplication well, the previous time being “The Enemy Within” on the original series, and the next will be “Deadlock” on Voyager.

The notion was briefly floated to kill off Commander Riker and leave the lieutenant alive. Data would be promoted to first officer and Lieutenant Riker would take over at ops. Part of me is really sorry they didn’t do that.

Riker says that he was able to “patch up” things with Kyle Riker, which is an overly generous interpretation of the events of “The Icarus Factor.” But I have my issues with that episode, as you can all read at the link.

Fan assumptions, encouraged by jazz fan Jonathan Frakes, was that Riker’s middle initial of T stood for “Thelonius,” but this episode established otherwise. The Thelonius middle name was used by Peter David in Imzadi.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

Tom Riker will next appear in the Deep Space Nine episode “Defiant.” He will go on to appear in bunches of tie-in fiction, ranging from the Double Helix novel Quarantine by John Vornholt (which bridges the gap between this episode and “Defiant”), to issues #29-30 of the DS9 comic published by Malibu written by Mark Paniccia, to the novel Triangle: Imzadi II by Peter David, to the Dominion Wars videogame, to the alternate future of Judith & Garfield Reeves-Stevens Millennium trilogy, to A Weary Life by Robert Greenberger, part of the Slings and Arrows eBook miniseries.

In the “aggressively useless trivia” department, as of this episode each of the five male regulars on TNG have worn two different colored uniforms. Sir Patrick Stewart has worn blue (in “Tapestry”) as well as his regular red, Frakes has worn gold (this episode) as well as his usual red, Brent Spiner has worn red (in “Future Imperfect” and “Chain of Command, Part II”) on top of his regular gold, and Burton and Michael Dorn went from wearing red in the first season to gold from the second forward.

At the Shore Leave convention a bunch of years ago, Nichelle Nichols told a story about Dr. Mae Jemison. When she was getting ready to go out into space, Nichols called Cape Canaveral to wish her well. When she called, she identified herself and said she wanted to speak to Dr. Jemison. She was transferred to someone else, and kept getting bounced all over the base before she got to speak to Jemison. Later, she found out that everyone was geeking out over getting to talk to Lieutenant Uhura that they kept passing her around the base so everyone would get to talk to her. (This has almost nothing to do with the episode, but since it was the one in which Jemison appeared, and because I love that story, I had to share it.)

Make it So: “Next time, don’t give up so easily.” I remember dreading this episode when it first aired. A transporter twin? It was hoary when the original series did it in 1966, and worse, we’re going to do it with Riker? Hadn’t we learned out lesson from “Datalore” and “Time Squared”?

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

I should have learned the lesson that “Frame of Mind” taught me, which was that Jonathan Frakes isn’t as bad as you think he is. What makes the episode shine is his performances, as you can easily tell the difference between Tom and Will Riker. He plays Tom as, in essence, younger, even though he’s the same age, more impulsive, and more willing to take risks.

There are some amusing parallels to “The Best of Both Worlds” here, with Tom Riker in the Shelby role—even down to doing an end-run around Riker to Picard and joining the poker game. Riker said he saw a lot of himself in Shelby, and now he gets to see all of himself in Tom.

And yet, what’s interesting about this episode isn’t so much what it tells us about Riker as what it tells us about Troi—that she did carry a torch for Riker, but Mr. Ambition Pants put his career first. The title is as much about her as it is Tom. She’s hesitant to try it out a second time for fear that it may end the same way—as, indeed, it does, sort of.

Star Trek: The Next Generation, Second Chances

Still, the collapsing catwalk rescue at the end seems horribly tacked on, and in all honesty, Tom doesn’t really feel like someone who’s been trapped alone for eight years. Having said that, the episode is far better than a transporter duplicate episode has any right to be.


Warp factor rating: 7

Keith R.A. DeCandido is going to be at Flora in Arlington, Massachusetts tonight at 6pm for the east coast launch of Tales from the House Band Volume 2, an anthology from Plus One Press that includes his story “I Believe I’m Sinkin’ Down.” He’ll be joined by fellow contributors Clea Simon, Brett Milano, and Dave Brigham. Come check it out!

Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
1. Lisamarie
I really kind of love this episode - yeah, I'll handwave away whatever dubious technobabble they use to get there (not to mention the theology considerations, yikes!) - but as somebody who has journalled for more than half my life at this point, the prospect of meeting my 'younger self' (or meeting the self of me 15 years ago) is fascinating. I think we'd all get a long more or less and that I haven't done anything younger me would be ashamed of, but I am definitely not the same and my life has taken some unexpected turns and made certain decisions I just did not think were on the books. Not to mention the idea that this alternate person has been living life for the past 8 years as well and making different decisions. So I just think it is a really cool idea to explore. What if I had stayed in grad school, or stayed with my ex, etc, etc? What kind of person would I be, and how much of what I currently consider core parts of my identity would still be there?

I think I AM kind of hard to get along with sometimes so I wonder if seeing another person who acts like me would help that hit home in an unpleasant way but also help spur me to more improvement in that area.
Jack Flynn
2. JackofMidworld
I just watched this one last week (when I realized I'd missed some of this season, I went back and doublechecked) and have to say that I was actually a little impressed with the "tacked on catwalk" bit. I was afraid they were going to take a cop-out and just kill off the LT to maintain the status quo of Trekdom and was glad they didn't.
3. ChrisG
There is a lot that I liked about this episode. And I agree that Frakes does a good job. But every time I watch this, it always bothers me the way these characters treat Tom. Much as with Scotty in an earlier ep, he has suffered a long trauma and a significant loss (not only time but the appropriation of his life that could have been by another), which they barely pay lip service to. I would have preferred that they explore the impact of such an experience -- and the inevitable conflict between Will and Tom -- more authentically. The fact that the counselor was also compromised in this case had interesting possibilities.

Yes, Will has a natural conflict of interest here, but they wrote him as snide and domineering to an unpleasant extent, and no one else really stepped in to show any compassion.

It also seems somewhat out of character for Tom to take to Star Fleet as his ambition given that Will has done that already. I think he would have tried to excel in a niche of his own.

I was happy that they kept him alive. It would have been really bold, however, to keep Tom on the ship as Troi's love interest for at least a while longer. I thought Farscape did this well with the two Crichton's, to good effect.
4. Lalo
I remember seeing this episode, about a month and half after my sister's birth, and turning to my dad to ask if my baby sister was a duplicate of me (she's a little under 9 years younger then myself and until she was about 13 could have been my doppleganger). My dad, in a very serious voice said, that she couldn't be because she wasn't a transporter accident was she?

I had to concede that point at least.

Watching this episode and then moving onto his DS9 appearance made me sad. I couldn't quite understand how Riker could get that way, even a duplicate of Riker. I think I rationalized it by saying he must have gone batty over losing Troi and bitter that Will Riker seemed to have a better life.

You forgot to mention Odo's duplicate in "Children of Time" in season 5 ep22 of DS9. While the two never quite meet up...technically...it certainly counts as Star Trek dealing with duplicates from crazy technobabble reflective something something.
5. Rancho Unicorno
I can't remember if they explained this in the episode, but if brainwave patterns are formed by experiences, shouldn't their scans be different? I mean, for most of their lives, they had the exact same experiences, but the last eight years have been totally different (well, both have been beared for the last five years, but still). At roughly 25 adventures a year for eight years, that's 200 adventures that Lt Riker hasn't been affected by.
6. Jeff R.
Even more inexplicable than Data not bringing up Lore here will be the bit in Nemesis where Picard muses about having a doppleganger and neither Data nor Riker (nor Worf, who by then will at least be aware of his Mirror Universe version) mention a word about their own...
Rob Rater
7. Quasarmodo
I didn't really get why Tom said Will always had the better hand. The way he said it, it sounded like they had a past together where Will was always getting the better deal.
Christopher Bennett
8. ChristopherLBennett
@6: I don't find it inexplicable at all that a feature film would focus on the story it was telling rather than wasting time referring back to bits of TV continuity that a large percentage of the filmgoing audience would be unaware of and confused by. It makes sense to expect such continuity acknowledgment in a weekly series, where you have room for character introspection like that and more of your audience will have seen the episodes you're referring back to. But a feature film is a different matter, aimed at a broader audience and obligated to be more self-contained.

@7: Lt. Riker meant that for the past eight years, the other Riker had consistently been getting the better deal from life. He got to go on with his life, advance his career, and be with Deanna after a fashion, while the lieutenant was stuck alone on a lifeless planet.

On the episode, Keith pretty much said all that I would say. It was cool to get some belated background on the Riker-Troi relationship. And yes, it would've been really something if they'd killed off Commander Riker and had Frakes play Lt. Riker from then on. It would've definitely shaken things up and maybe revitalized the show at a point when it was showing its age.

At the very least, it did make the catwalk-collapse sequence more suspenseful. Usually you know the regular character is going to survive because they have the actor under contract. But here that wasn't an issue, and you could really believe that Commander Riker might not make it.
9. Jeff R.
It's not just the lack of a potentially apropos reference; it's the fact that Picard is literally going on and on about how learning that you have a duplicate that you didn't know about is such a unique experience that has never happened to anyone else before when he's standing next to not one, not two, but three members of his staff who'veeach had the exact same thing happen, one of which in a way that's not unrelated to the movie's own B story...
10. RobinM
Transporters are magical objects and thats all there is to it. I found the interaction between Troi and Lt. Ricker interesting I wish they would have explored it a bit more. After finding out what happens to Tom on DS9 . I felt his entire life was picking the opposite of Commander Riker and still being in Starfleet poor sod.
Christopher Bennett
11. ChristopherLBennett
@9: I don't know what movie you're talking about now, because I've just reviewed the transcript, and there is no scene in Nemesis where Picard stands in front of Data, Worf, and Riker -- or anyone else -- and claims that having a duplicate is an unique experience. There's one scene where he talks to Beverly and compares Shinzon to himself as a cadet, and one scene where he and Data discuss the parallels between Shinzon and B-4. At no point does Picard or anyone else in the film speak of the duplication as unprecedented. If anything, they accept the fact that Shinzon's a clone rather easily, implying they're well-acquainted with the concept.
12. jeffg
What I found interesting was the way that the second Riker was just accepted into Starfleet at that rank... that seemed too way easy. Seems to me that it set a precident for transporter cloning of officers or even rank and file members of Starfleet... Perhaps as a way to make up fleet numbers after the Borg attack. It's a possible ethical dilemma that was never explored. Seems to me that might have been a nice avenue to take.
Joseph Newton
13. crzydroid
I also think if you can get past the main premise and technobabble explanation and just accept this, it is a good episode. I thought the bridge scene was a little hokey, but it was nice they didn't actually just kill him. I also thought that it was another window into how messed up this guy got from being down there 8 years (ie, he wanted to just die).

@12: Actually, you reminded me of another thing I was thinking about for this episode. "Our" Commander Riker got a promotion because of his actions on this specific mission, yet Thomas Riker remained at the position of Lieutenant, even though he performed the very same actions. My guess is that he didn't get a promotion because he was subsequently out of comission for 8 years. So maybe that's why they accepted him back at Lieutenant rank...because otherwise he should've gotten a promotion.

I was actually hoping for a little more discussion here on the two transporter beams thing. Someone hit it on the head with the transporter being a magical device, I think. I was specifically thinking, however, about where the extra matter comes from. Ok, so, there were two transporter beams, and they were both materialized from a "complete pattern", but didn't we establish that the "pattern" is the transporter subject particlized? So how was he duplicated? Does the beam itself somehow supply matter that takes on the property of the subject, and the subject is just destroyed?

Keith, this might be another trivial matter: I seem to remember another book, I think it was called Q-Squared, that dealt with the middle name descrepancy by having Riker have two middle names, Thomas and Thelonius.
Joseph Newton
14. crzydroid
Oh, and @5: Dr. Crusher said they did have "minor differences" in their brain scans...probably what was meant to account for the differences of the last 8 years.
Mike S2
15. MikeS2
@3 ChisG Your first paragraph saved me the trouble of typing my own comment. It's like, "Oh, now there's two Rikers. Now on to today's business..." Episode fell apart for me in the beginning. Apparantly any Riker episode gets an automatic 2- to 3-point in the warp factor ratings though.
16. archersangel
The notion was briefly floated to kill off Commander Riker and leave the lieutenant alive. Data would be promoted to first officer and Lieutenant Riker would take over at ops. Part of me is really sorry they didn’t do that.
well, that certainly would've shook things up. off-screen too, i'd imagine.
Riker says that he was able to “patch up” things with Kyle Riker, which is an overly generous interpretation of the events of “The Icarus Factor.” But I have my issues with that episode, as you can all read at the link.
it's possible they could've talked more since then.
17. Glenn Greenberg
I liked this episode. But when they brought Tom Riker back on DS9 and made sure to keep him alive at the end, while, around the same time, they killed off James T. Kirk (and did it oh-so-badly to boot), I knew it was time to walk away from Star Trek for a while.
Christopher Bennett
18. ChristopherLBennett
@13: On the "extra matter" question, I like to think of it in quantum-mechanical terms -- it's actually the same particles existing in two different position states, creating the illusion that it's two sets of particles, sort of. At least, that's how it would've started out; over the subsequent 8 years, the majority of the particles in Lt. Riker's body would've been replaced from the food he ate while on the planet.

This also works in reverse for explaining how Spock was able to beam people into their temporal duplicate selves in "Tomorrow is Yesterday" -- they were actually two different quantum states of the same set of particles, so the states just reconverged into one when they were physically superimposed by the transporter beam.

Not sure if it works for "The Enemy Within," though, since there were two distinct materializations at different times. I tend to assume the transporter beamed up a quantity of air or dirt from the original beaming coordinates and assembled the particles in Kirk's pattern -- with some glitches in the brain assembly pattern causing the behavioral change we saw.
Kristoff Bergenholm
19. Magentawolf
Hey, wait - Wasn't there a Mirror Universe Riker, too, or was it just this guy showing up again?
Rob Rater
20. Quasarmodo
There can't be a Mirror Universe Riker. He's already got a beard.
Mike Kelmachter
21. MikeKelm
Once you move past the transporter creates a duplicate (although this does remind me of the Prestige in a way) and thr assorted technobabble, it is a pretty good episode. Jonathan Frakes really steps up to portray the Rikers differently, but I'd think that Tom Riker would be a little more "off"... sort of like Tom Hanks character in Castaway. They sort of just wipe away any psychological trauma of being by yourself for 8 years by saying "I thought of Deanna" and call it a day. Mostly, Tom Riker is pissed off at Will Riker. He should have at least a few more mental tics (hell, he should make Barclay look normal).
Mike Kelmachter
22. MikeKelm
Once you move past the transporter creates a duplicate (although this does remind me of the Prestige in a way) and thr assorted technobabble, it is a pretty good episode. Jonathan Frakes really steps up to portray the Rikers differently, but I'd think that Tom Riker would be a little more "off"... sort of like Tom Hanks character in Castaway. They sort of just wipe away any psychological trauma of being by yourself for 8 years by saying "I thought of Deanna" and call it a day. Mostly, Tom Riker is pissed off at Will Riker. He should have at least a few more mental tics (hell, he should make Barclay look normal).
23. Cathy KJ
@20: Best comment ever.
Keith DeCandido
24. krad
For the Mirror Universe version of Riker, check out Christopher L. Bennett's "Empathy" in the MU anthology Shards and Shadows (which also has a story entitled "Family Matters" by self in it....).

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Bethany Pratt
25. LiC
@4 Lalo - I feel like one of the drives for Maquis recruitment was this disillusion with Starfleet and the Federation. Tom was abandoned for 8 years on this planet - yes, Starfleet didn't think he was, but he felt like he had been. I believe he mentions or it comes up in the books, but he also never really fits in with Starfleet because others treated him like he was Will.

That said, I hate how his character was "resolved" in the Star Trek Online canon. If anyone's playing, I believe it's in the 2nd half of the Klingon War season where you run into Tom's son, who explains that his dad and all the prisoners at his Cardassian prison camp were just left there and forgotten after the Dominion War ended. Tom died in some random firefight or landslide. It's just so depressing that Will and/or Deanna, or other people that Tom knew before the duplication wouldn't reach out to him. I mean I get that he alienated them with the Maquis thing, but COME ON. This poor guy's stuck on a planet for 8 years and everyone's like "Meh, I've already got one Will Riker in my life, don't need another".
treebee72 _
26. treebee72
@25 LiC - I was always disappointed that DS9 didn't have a 'Let's go free all the prison camps!(and rescue Tom!)' subplot during the Dominion War.
Bethany Pratt
27. LiC
@26 treebee72 - Tom was "legally" imprisoned for crimes against Cardassians, so I never had a problem with that necessarily. The Maquis were an embarrassment to the Federation and Starfleet because it was made up of so many disillusioned Starfleeters, and frankly they were terrorists so there's no reason why the Federation would negotiate or insist on their being freed.

But humane treatment - yes, they should have gotten involved in that at least. There's no Red Cross checking on how prison camps are run in Star Trek.
Sara H
28. LadyBelaine
Hello all,

While I generally like this episode it as struck me as a rather insulting rejoinder to Riker's impassioned and offended rejection of that request where they found that colony of clones from the Dr. Pulaski season and the colony needed new genetic material to make new clones to increase their gene pool.

Riker was very VERY ticked off at the idea being cloned and goes on about how there only being one Will Riker makes him special and awesome-pants etc.....

And then we learn he has clone/twin/xerox copy of himself anyway.

29. DianeB
I loved this episode because of the great background on Riker-Troi, but mostly because of the truly awesome Dr. Jemison. A doozy of a guest, indeed!
Christopher Bennett
30. ChristopherLBennett
@28: There's a difference between the two situations, though. What people tend to overlook is that in "Up the Long Ladder," it wasn't being cloned that Riker objected to, but being cloned without his consent, without being given a say in the matter. It was an allegory for abortion rights -- saying that people have the right to decide for themselves whether or not to procreate (since a clone is, in fact, an offspring rather than a twin), and that others don't have the right to force them to do so. There's also a bit of rape allegory there. Cloning and forced cloning are not the same thing, any more than sex and rape are the same thing. The lack of consent makes a fundamental difference.

Here, nobody forced anything on Riker. He didn't consent to be duplicated, but it happened by accident, not as a result of another person's deliberate acts, so he wouldn't have the same feeling that his human rights had been violated. If you lost your arm in an unavoidable accident, you wouldn't feel the same sense of outrage that you'd feel if someone deliberately cut off your arm. Again, the fundamental issue isn't what happened to him, but how and why.
Rob Rater
31. Quasarmodo
One would think after this, Tom Riker would go all Dr. McCoy and avoid transporters like the plague.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
32. Lisamarie
I'm kind of hesitant to post this because I'm not trying to start a big controversy, but I definitely did not interpret Up the Long Ladder as an abortion rights allegory (I see the rape allegory more clearly in that I definitely see the similarity in that there is a difference between somebody doing something to you deliberately or something happening to you by accident) . Even so, you can't really have sex 'by accident' (either you have consented, or somebody raped you) so it kind of falls short to me. Or even get pregnant by accident (I am rather risk averse so to me a birth control failure in a consensual encounter is more like taking a calculated risk).

I agree with you that it is totally different to be outraged over your genetic material being stolen and cloned without your consent, and it happening due to a freak transporter accident. Thing is though, I didn't even feel right about him murdering the clone in the latter case so...the whole thing is kind of tricky.

Really, I'm just wondering if the abortion/rape parallel was something the writers have stated...it's an interesting way to look at it.
Joseph Newton
33. crzydroid
Oh, I had something to add. (Sorry, I know I just ramble all my thoughts off). I really liked the blue screen work they did with this episode. Some of the shots of him walking around himself were great, especially for a tv show. I've seen worse in even more recent episodes of tv shows. There was at least one episode of Enterprise where there was still green ambient light on the characters and they stuck out and you could tell it was a green screen, and there have been other instances where maybe the contrast was off and you could tell they were green screened.

Granted, maybe more recent shows being worse is a downside of technology...now that you can essentially push a button and cut out green, people, well, push a button, with not much extra work. Back when this episode was made, in order to do blue screen you needed to know what you were doing. It's kind of like the auto function on cameras.
Bruce Arthurs
34. bruce-arthurs
I don't recall that the episode ever showed whatever "private quarters" Tom Riker used while stranded for eight years, but that might have revealed more signs of psych trauma than we saw in the rest of the episode. I.e., that embarassingly familiar-looking homemade inflatable love doll. Awkward....

And, per Quasarmodo's #31, all of the future's technology seemed just a bit... unreliable? My theory is that Federation ships ended up back at Earth so often, not for regular maintenance, but because of manufacturer's recalls.
adam miller
35. adamjmil

Lt. Riker's claim to being in Starfleet is just as valid as Commander Riker's. Agree that cloning could be an issue - but when there's a clone you know who the original is. In this case, either could be considered "the original".
36. PJB
There's something that's always bothered me about this episode.

Troi calls out a request that she knows Riker can't get through. It's played for laughs as a lark between old friends, but seriously: What kind of bitch move is that?

As a musician, and I would be pretty sore if a good friend of mine called out "YYZ," just to watch me fail/fumble at my own show.

Also, does this make "Nightbird" the 24th century equivalent of "Freebird?"
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
37. Lisamarie
PJB - I kind of thought the same thing. It was kind of passive aggressive!
Brickhouse MacLarge
38. Midnightair
@36 I agree, a total bitch move. I don't like Troi or her actress, and I never will. Tom riker made a good move by walking away from "her" in the end. Some dodgy split screen work in this episode, specially in the scene shown above in the first screencap. Other than that, the series sure is showing signs of long toothedness.
Joseph Newton
39. crzydroid
@38: Really??? I thought the bluescreen work in this was really good, especially on a tv show budget.
Brickhouse MacLarge
40. Midnightair
@39 crzydroid: Actually, I am a heck of a perfectionist, so let me qualify my statement and say, that the blue screen work on some parts of this episode, especially the scene above (with Red Riker's right arm split to Yellow Riker's shoulder), is, at least for me, a tad bit rough. Through no fault of the craftsmen, of course, budget etc. PS: watch that scene again, and you'll see it's slightly off.
41. Sebastian Messiah
@27: "Tom was "legally" imprisoned for crimes against Cardassians, so I never had a problem with that necessarily."

Escapes slaves in the US were also "legally" caught and returned to their owners. And folks who disagreed with Stalin were "legally" shot under Soviet law.

Glad to know you agree with all them nice folks. As long as it is "legal" it is a-ok, right?
42. KLR
Chris Connor recorded a song called Night Bird, was that what Riker's combo were playing? Sounded nothing like it, though, but maybe that was just a vamp intro.

Am I the only one who found this all a bit, you know, creepy? Troi getting it on with her ex's doppleganger, that's a bit ewwww, no? And then carrying on her career with Riker No. 2...or 1? Watch Croneberg's film Dead Ringers if you don't see what I'm on about here. Still enjoyed this ep, and it did provide some essential cuts for "Beard on Beard," which is a regular laugh riot.
Christopher Bennett
43. ChristopherLBennett
@42: Well, Tom wasn't a doppelganger; he had as legitimate a claim to being the original Riker as Will did. And he was a Riker who was emotionally closer to the one Deanna had loved, since he'd never made the choice to put his career over their relationship -- and hadn't moved on and slept around with a bunch of other women in the interim.

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