Jan 15 2013 4:00pm

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Gambit, Part II”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II“Gambit, Part II”
Written by Naren Shankar and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Alexander Singer
Season 7, Episode 5
Production episode 40276-257
Original air date: October 18, 1993
Stardate: 47160.1

Captain’s Log: We get the salient portions of Part 1, and then we discover that Picard put disruptors on minimal power. While both nacelles are struck, no damage is done. Assuming that Riker did something to the weapons (which is half right), Data plays along, setting the ship adrift, cutting power to six decks, and reducing phaser power to 25% before returning fire. The Enterprise still does damage, though (possibly helped along by Picard), and Tallera convinces Baran (using logic, interestingly enough) to withdraw while they still can.

Data lets the ship go, despite Worf’s concern that their sheath will keep the Enterprise from tracking them once they go to warp. Data has Troi and La Forge look for some kind of hint that Riker may have sent, either through body language or via the transmission he used to send his command codes. Troi has no luck, but La Forge finds a coded message. It indicates a flight plan to the Hyralan sector. Since the Enterprise is faster than the mercenary ship, they head there at warp nine.

After getting away, Narik has to take the warp engines offline to repair the battle damage. Baran thanks Riker for his help in saving their asses, and Picard takes the opportunity to poke him with a stick, saying he’s betrayed his comrades, and he’s gone from a second-rate officer to a traitor and a coward. “How does that feel?” “Galen” asks snidely, to which Riker replies by hauling off and belting him. “I don’t know, how did that feel?” Riker asks, no doubt enjoying the chance at revenge for being kicked in the ribs in Part 1.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II

Picard goes off to appraise more artifacts. Once again, Tallera comes to see him, wondering why he stopped firing on the Enterprise when the shields went down and why he continues to alienate Baran. Their discussion is interrupted by one of the artifacts being a match for Baran’s needs. When Tallera reports that they’ve found what they’re looking for, Baran tells her to bring it to him immediately without letting anyone else touch it.

Baran is in his quarters sharing a drink with Riker talking about Riker’s future, since his Starfleet career seems to have a fork in it. Baran also tells Riker that Galen’s usefulness is almost over, since the mission is now half done. But he wants Riker to get close to Galen, pretend to be his friend, find out who else is disloyal among Baran’s crew. By doing so, Riker will give himself the chance to move from prisoner to member of the crew—replacing Galen once Riker kills him at Baran’s order.

Riker goes to see Picard, who is bemused by the web of intrigue being woven on the ship thanks to Baran wanting Riker to “pretend” to be his friend. Picard also reveals that the artifact from Calder II isn’t Romulan, it’s Vulcan. They’re headed to Hyralan to rendezvous with a Klingon who will hand over a second artifact.

Playing along with Baran, Picard starts feeling out the crew about a mutiny. Narik agrees with the sentiment, but not the person expressing it; the only one the rest of the crew would follow is Tallera. After Narik leaves, Tallera herself confronts Picard with a weapon, demanding to know who he really is, as she found the coded message Picard embedded in the carrier wave when Riker sent his command codes.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II

Then she pulls another surprise by holstering her weapon and identifying herself as T’Paal, an agent of the V’Shar, the Vulcan intelligence organization. She’s a covert operative, investigating a group of isolationists on Vulcan who wish to eliminate all alien influences on the Vulcan people.

The isolationists have hired Baran to find the Stone of Gol, a mythical weapon that was used in the time before Surak to amplify natural Vulcan telepathy so that one could kill with a thought. The one remaining piece was stolen from a museum on Vulcan a year ago, and since then mercenaries have been combing Vulcan and Romulan ruins trying to find the other two pieces.

T’Paal also makes it clear that she will destroy the ship in order to keep the psionic resonator from being reassembled.

The Enterprise arrives at the Hyralan sector, finding a one-person Klingon shuttlecraft, occupied by a taciturn Klingon named Koral, who refuses to answer any questions. Troi indicates that he is apprehensive, despite his demeanor. Worf suggests bringing the shuttle on board under the guise of a health and safety inspection, which is allowable by the terms of the Khitomer Accords. Data believes that’s not really following the spirit of the treaty, but Koral can always file a complaint with the JAG office.

Baran gets a message from Koral that he’s been detained by the Enterprise. Baran decides that he needs to board the Enterprise and take the other artifact, using his not-so-secret weapon of the ship’s former first officer. Riker agrees to help plan a raid on the ship.

Data and Troi bring Koral to the observation lounge, providing him with bloodwine—which he pointedly pours onto the carpet. Meanwhile, Crusher and Worf haven’t found anything, but before they can try to circumvent the treaty some other way, the raiding party beams on board. Picard remains in character as Galen, and doesn’t find the artifact on the shuttle. Riker realizes Koral must have it, and convinces Crusher to give up his location. After Riker stuns Worf and Crusher, they beam to the observation lounge. Picard takes the artifact from Koral’s pocket, and then Riker aims his weapon at him. Picard dodges and shoots back. Troi confirms that Riker’s dead, to which “Galen” says, “Good,” and he and the rest of the raiding party beam back.

After that, Troi tells Data that he’s only stunned, and Riker gets slowly up, admitting that he has some explaining to do.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II

Upon beaming back, Picard gives Baran the artifact and then gives him a knuckle sandwich. When Narik reveals that Riker betrayed them on Baran’s order, they all stand against Baran. When Baran tries to reassert his authority by using the neural implant, he instead kills himself. Picard reveals that he switched the transponder codes. (And he didn’t do this sooner why?)

After destroying the control device for the neural implants, Picard takes command and learns that Baran was to deliver the artifacts to the T’Karath Sanctuary on Vulcan. T’Paal says she will go alone to the sanctuary, after placing the artifact in a secure location, and then take care of the isolationists. Picard thinks that’s risky, but T’Paal insists that this is a Vulcan matter.

Riker contacts Satok, the Vulcan Minister of Security, only to discover that the V’Shar has no operative aboard a mercenary ship. Which kinda messes things up a bit.

When they arrive at Vulcan, Picard tells T’Paal to bring only one artifact down, not both, to make sure they get paid. T’Paal’s response is to reveal that Picard’s a spy. Picard counters that T’Paal will just beam down and they’ll never hear from her again, and never get paid.

Vekor and Narik propose a compromise: they’ll beam down with “Tallera,” taking “Galen” as a hostage in case Starfleet interferes, and making sure that they get paid.

But when they beam down, T’Paal assembles the resonator, using the third piece that was stolen from the museum (by her, presumably) and kills Narik and Vekor with it. She then tries to goad Picard into picking up a weapon. However, Picard has read the glyphs on the stone, showing the symbol for peace between the symbols for war and death. Peaceful thoughts can stop the resonator from working, which is why it was dismantled after the time of the Awakening, when Vulcans embraced peace and logic. T’Paal tries to use it on Picard, and then on the away team that Riker leads to the surface when the Enterprise finds them, but at Picard’s urging, they all empty their minds of violent thoughts. (Somehow, this even works on Worf—then again, Worf is more emotionally controlled than most Klingons, so this kinda makes sense, though Picard does look more than a little worried when T’Paal turns the weapon on him.)

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II

T’Paal and the remaining mercenaries are left to the tender mercies of the Vulcan authorities, while Picard—who’s technically dead—goes to take a nap, and Data escorts Riker—who’s technically a renegade—to the brig, to the latter’s considerable consternation.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi’s empathy proves useful, as her ability to read Riker and Picard allows her to play along when “Galen” shoots Riker, helping sell it to the mercenaries.

If I Only Had a Brain...: Data continues to do well in command, showing an observance of regulations, but also a willingness to bend the rules in order to get stuff done. And he gets to say “Make it so” and yank down his uniform jacket just like Picard. He also dresses down Worf quite skillfully....

There is No Honor in Being Pummeled: ...and Worf totally deserves it. The Klingon has a bit of trouble making the adjustment from security chief, where he’s expected to piss and moan, to first officer, where he’s supposed to carry out the captain’s orders, saving any disagreements he might have with his CO for when they speak in private, not in front of the crew (as Worf does on the bridge). But Worf gets the message, and they work quite well together after that. They also have a nice conversational coda reassuring each other that they’re still friends even though Data just (quite politely) ripped him a new one.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II

I Believe I Said That: “Number One, will you set a course for Starbase 227? I’ll join you on the bridge shortly.”

“Wait a minute—you’ve been declared dead. You can’t give orders around here.”

“If we adhere to the exact letter of Starfleet regulations, then technically, sir, you have been declared a renegade. In fact, I believe you are facing twelve counts of court-martial offenses. You cannot give orders either, sir.”

“That’s quite right. And as I am supposed to be dead, I’ll go and get some sleep, and Mr. Data, I suggest that you escort Commander Riker to the brig.”

“Aye, sir. This way, sir.”

“Data, he was joking. You know that, right? Data?”

Picard, Riker, and Data at the end of the episode.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II

Welcome Aboard: Richard Lynch as Baran, Robin Curtis as Tallera/T’Paal, Caitlin Brown as Vekor, Cameron Thor as Narik, and Sabrina LeBoeuf as Ensign Giusta all return from Part 1. In addition, basketball star James Worthy—apparently a huge Star Trek fan who got on the show after talking with Robert “Gowron” O’Reilly on a plane flight they shared—has an amusing guest turn as Koral. Koral’s unwillingness to talk has the double benefit of adding to the humor and not stretching Worthy too terribly much.

Trivial Matters: Scripter Ronald D. Moore named the Stone of Gol after the plateau where Spock was trying to undergo Kolinahr in Star Trek: The Motion Picture. Plotter Naren Shankar joked that it could colloquially be called the Gol Stone....

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II

This episode formally established what was generally believed in fan circles, and assumed in lots of tie-in fiction: that Vulcan was one of the founding worlds of the Federation. (The Enterprise episode “Zero Hour” will later confirm the other three founding worlds to be Earth, Andor, and Tellar.)

Vulcan’s history of savagery was established on the original series, first mentioned in “Balance of Terror,” and dramatized in “All Our Yesterdays”; “The Savage Curtain” established Surak as the one who led the way to the Awakening that T’Paal refers to in this episode. Visions of Surak and the Time of Awakening will be experienced by Captain Jonathan Archer in the Enterprise episodes “The Forge,” “Awakening,” and “Kir’Shara.”

This is not the first Star Trek story to deal with the notion of a subset of Vulcans wishing to purge illogical aliens from their lives—it was also the subject of the frontstory of the Diane Duane novel Spock’s World.

It’s likely that the Vulcan Security Directorate seen throughout Enterprise is an early version of the V’Shar. The V’Shar is not referenced again onscreen by name, but it’s used in several of Last Unicorn’s role-playing game modules, and appears in the novels Unspoken Truth by Margaret Wander Bonanno and Well of Souls by Ilsa J. Bick.

Koral dumps his drink in much the same pointed manner that Worf did when Q provided him with a drink in “Hide and Q.”

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Gambit, Part II

Make it So: “Oh, what a tangled web we weave.” Carries on nicely from Part 1, and I honestly don’t have much to add to what I said there—

—except for the Worf and Data bits. I’ve said in the past that some of TNG’s finest moments involve these two (their rescue of Picard in “The Best of Both Worlds, Part II,” their conversations in “Data’s Day,” “Birthright, Part I,” “Rightful Heir,” and “Second Chances,” just to give some examples). It’s so much fun watching these two, who are aggressively formal and polite in all their dealings—Data by programming, Worf by having spent a lifetime forcing himself to keep his warrior instincts in check among fragile humans—have a conversation on the subject of appropriate behavior for a first officer and expressing concern about destroyed friendships.

I also love the way scripter Ron Moore uses, not just what’s been established on screen about Vulcan history, but also some of the fan stuff about Surak that has popped up over the decades. And in the end, the weapon is defeated by peace—kinda sappy, yeah, but also totally Star Trek. And bits don’t make sense (how the heck did Picard just reprogram Baran’s controller?), but they’re relatively minor.

The episode is a delight, from Picard and Riker’s banter, both in character and as themselves, the look of confused shock on the faces of the Enterprise crew when Picard turns up alive as part of the raiding party, the expression on Troi’s face when Data and Worf come up with their rationalization for taking Koral’s shuttle on board, and the magnificent ending. And, of course, the classic shot of Worf looking (way way) up at Koral when they’re standing next to each other....


Warp factor rating: 6

Keith R.A. DeCandido will be at Arisia 2013 this weekend in Boston. Check out his schedule here.

Christopher Bennett
1. ChristopherLBennett
The idea of Vulcan radicals/isolationists showed up in the novel The Vulcan Academy Murders by Jean Lorrah, and possibly others. The Lost Years by J.M. Dillard established (or perhaps elaborated on an idea from Spock's World) that pre-Surak Vulcans had developed psi powers into lethal weapons, though without the use of amplifying instruments like the Stone of Gol.

I was always a little confused about whether Tallera/T'Paal was really a Vulcan radical pretending to be a Romulan criminal or a Romulan spy pretending to be a Vulcan radical. But we have no canonical indication that Romulans retain Vulcan psionic abilities, so I guess her ability to use the Stone means she was really a Vulcan.

And of course hearing her called "T'Paal" is darned weird these days, because it sounds very much like "T'Pol."

It is a little hard to believe that the Stone of Gol could be defeated so easily. Even pre-Reform Vulcans must have had calm moods occasionally, and eventually they would've noticed that those who kept their cool were safe from the weapon. Heck, if Worf could do it...
2. scifisiren
This episode may be a 6, but Troi's hair+uniform combo is a 10. It only took 7 seasons, but they finally got it right. DAY-UM, girl.
3. Codefox
@ChristopherLBennet - While I agree one one hand about the ease of defeating the weapon, I did think it was fairly established that Vulcans were pretty blood thirsty and out of control pre-Awakening. They've always sounded maybe worse than Klingons.

And I'd give the Episode a 7.5. I really enjoy this 2 parter.
Christopher Bennett
4. ChristopherLBennett
@3: Yes, Vulcans collectively, as a society, were quite violent, but that doesn't mean every single individual was constantly thinking about violence at every moment. There's always gonna be a bell curve. Even in a warlike society, there are going to be some pacifists, or at least people who don't feel a lot of animosity toward anyone. After all, Surak had to come from somewhere. There must've been other peace-loving Vulcans before him; he was just the one who came along when the rest of Vulcan was willing to listen, and was skillful enough at conveying the idea to make it stick.

After all, a society where everyone's a brutal savage can't function; who grows the food, builds the houses, weaves the clothes? Sci-fi is full of stereotyped "warrior races," but the fact is that a "warrior race" makes about as much sense as a "bus driver race." Warrior is only one role within a society, and it can't function without support from other societal roles that don't entail violence. (See Keith's novel Klingon Empire: A Burning House for a look at some of the non-warrior populations in Klingon society. Also ENT: "Judgment.")

So it just doesn't make sense that the Stone of Gol was never used against a person who wasn't experiencing violent thoughts at the time. If it was used mainly in combat, sure, most of its victims would've been focused on aggression; but in all the time it existed, odds are that occasionally it would've been directed against someone who was in a calm and peaceful mood. Eventually someone would've figured it out and realized they could defend against the Stone by cultivating calm.
Joseph Newton
5. crzydroid
@4: I would love to see a story with a bus driver race.

As for the stone itself...were the glyphs giving the warning about peace stopping it added after Surak, or before? Maybe someone DID figure it out.
Christopher Bennett
6. ChristopherLBennett
@5: It could be. Maybe the glyphs were instructions for the user -- a warning that the weapon would be ineffectual if directed against someone who wasn't in a violent mood. Maybe its makers were aware of how it worked and instructed its wielders only to use it against aggressive foes, so that its weakness would not be discovered by outsiders. Yeah, that makes sense.
Mike Kelmachter
7. MikeKelm
This episode was good until the last 5 minutes. I liked the double crossing and uncertain loyalties. Is Tallera/T'Paal a Vulcan intelligence officer? A Romulan in disguise? An extremist?

And then the big reveal... if you think peaceful thoughts the weapon is useless. Really? After breaking the Gene Rodenberry "Space Pirates" rule for two whole episodes, we're going to end this with a copout moral lesson? Have the damn thing blowup because Picard took a piece at the last moment. Have it backfire because the wielder was the most pissed off person on the planet. Have the ghost of Surak come and smack it out of her hand... anything but this. This is right up there with Riker and the Ferengi bonding over Sun-Tzu in the last outpost. It ruined what would have been a perfectly good two parter (with the exception of everyone being kidnapped AGAIN- see part 1).
Christopher Bennett
8. ChristopherLBennett
@7: But it makes sense in a way, if the psionic amplifier was amplifying the victim's thoughts/emotions rather than the wielder's. Maybe it functioned by getting its victims to destroy themselves from within. So it would only work on people who had the necessary aggression within them.
9. StrongDreams
Reading your first comment I flashed on Bruce Willis muttering, "every weapon has a manual."

The stone of gol is a great weapon in the right situation; standing in a cave with one of the Federation's greatest diplomats and the universe's only civilized Klingon is not the right situation. Imagine two infantries closing on each other with edged weapons, and somewhere in one of the armies is someone with the stone of gol. Since you can control who you aim it at, you only direct it at the opposing forces, who -- even if they know the secret -- are faced with a choice of fighting and getting killed psionically, or laying down their weapons and getting killed by the opposing infantry. (Depending on the range of the device, you could extend the scenario to infantries with ranged weapons, or fighter aircraft or even space ships, as we don't know what the level of technical advancement of the Vulcan people was at the time the resonator was invented.)
David Corless
10. phonos
My question is: why did Barak give himself the neural implants since their only use was to torture people? Why make a device to control people and give them a weakness to exploit, only to install it in yourself? Otherwise I really enjoyed these episodes
Keith DeCandido
11. krad
phonos: Baran didn't give himself a neural implant, his predecessor did. This was spelled out in Part 1: Baran managed to overthrow his predecessor, but he was no more able to remove the implant than anyone else. But he had the controller, so it was okay. (Until Picard showed up, anyhow...)

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
13. rowanblaze
In my memery I had vaguely conflated "Gambit" with "The Chase," perhaps because of the archaeological aspects of the plot. No that I thought Picard had been kidnapped in that or anything, but I had remembered "The Chase" as being a two-parter. I honestly feel that episode was done a disservice by "resolving" the humanoid question in 43 minutes. Granted that there were other problems with that episode that would have taken skillful writing to correct especially if made into two episodes.

"Gambit" in the meantime was good fun. This and a few other episodes should help remind us that Star Trek isn't *always* about grand concepts. (One of the major complaints about so-called JJ-Trek.)
14. rowanblaze
In my memory, I had vaguely conflated "Gambit" with "The Chase," perhaps because of the archaeological aspects of the plot. Not that I thought Picard had been kidnapped in that or anything, but I had remembered "The Chase" as being a two-parter. I honestly feel that episode was done a disservice by "resolving" the humanoid question in 43 minutes. Granted that there were other problems with that episode that would have taken skillful writing to correct especially if made into two episodes.

"Gambit" in the meantime was good fun. This and a few other episodes should help remind us that Star Trek isn't *always* about grand concepts. (One of the major complaints about so-called JJ-Trek.)
Keith DeCandido
15. krad
rowanblaze: Well, "Gambit" did have a callback to "The Chase" by having Picard use the name of his mentor from the latter episode as his alias in the former episode....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
16. Ginomo
Definitely a fun pair of episodes. Nothing earth shattering, but lots of good character moments. Like you, I love the Worf and Data interactions. When Worf moved to DS9 I'd hoped he and Odo would have a similar "fish out of water" connection, but to no avail. Perhaps they were both too busy getting laid, lol.

The "think happy thoughts" angle makes me think of the Peter Pan song "You can fly."
17. NullNix
ChristopherLBennett, nice point about 'warrior races'. I can't help but emphasise one thing you said, though -- that this applies to *societies*. You can have a *species* every member of whom is vicious: they just can't form societies (or not as far as I can imagine, anyway). Think spiders, or a whole bunch of similar insects: vicious to everyone including their mates, incapable of cooperation. (I can't think of an example among terrestrial chordates, though. Even the more vicious sharks aren't that bad: they don't fatally attack their mates, and they care for their young.)

Can anyone think of SF featuring sentient versions of a species as automatically vicious as spiders? I'm not sure I can. (The Weaver in _Perdido Street Station_ is clearly not automatically vicious, just *unpredictably* vicious.)
Christopher Bennett
18. ChristopherLBennett
@17: I doubt that even the members of a nonsentient species are all going to be exactly uniform in their behavior. Like I said, there's always a bell curve. There are always going to be individuals who are above or below average in their expression of a particular trait. And that's especially true of a sentient species, where the factors shaping behavior are far more complex and where individual choice exists.

So I can certainly buy that a given species would be more aggressive on the average, but it's a fundamental mistake to treat an average as a universal truth. An average is a convenient fiction we employ to simplify a varied set of things down to a single, easily manageable number. That can be useful, but it's not meant to be treated in isolation. Statisticians who deal with averages always include the standard deviations as well, because that tells you how widely the full range of values varies around the average.

In other words, if you compare a behavioral parameter between two sentient species, they're not going to be two separate points on a graph, but two bell curves that will probably overlap to some extent. The average Klingon (or pre-Reform Vulcan) may be more violent than the average human, but the humans at the high extreme of their bell curve are going to be more violent than the Klingons at the low extreme of theirs.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
19. Lisamarie
Life has kind of gotten in the way so I haven't commented but I did enjoy reading the posts (thank you krad, these are always a highlight of my week!) and the comments.

I would have liked to see more about the 'non-warrior' Klingons too. I think I've brought this up before, but while I appreciate certain aspects of the Klingons, sometimes they are so overemphasized it makes you wonder how they ever got space travel. So I enjoy the episodes where, for any species, you get to see the non-stereotypes, or at least a more nuanced version. I kind of liked the comment that somebody made on one of the Klingon two part episode (Birthright?) about how Klingons seem to physically respond to the hunt - they are not human and sometimes it's hard to remember that and not judge by human standards (which I am certainly guilty of at times). But at the same time, it's good to see the variety because even humans aren't uniform - in a species as a whole OR even in a given country, culture, ethnicity, etc.

ChristopherLBennet, your bell curve talk is reminding me of my college days where I took a senior seminar on the biology of complex behavior (including things like intelligence as well as how it relates to race/gender and the merits/flaws of some of those studies) so it's nice to see that others recognize the limitations of statistics and how they can be misused. Another reason I enjoy coming to the rewatch every week - it's been awhile since I got to talk/read about stuff like this in daily conversation. The conversations are always interesting :)
20. Adam Byrne
The scene between Data and Worf (which I has just watched) was one of the best I have seen in the whole run of The Next Generation.
21. Rafilar
@ChristopherLBennett: "Eventually someone would've figured it out and realized they could defend against the Stone by cultivating calm."

I don't know the timeline well enough offhand to support this, and I suspect any research would involve Last Unicorn Games' books on Vulcans. But is is possible that someone did figure that out, and that someone was Surak, and that's how Surak's crusade began? Could he have been a dissaffected soldier or civilian-about-to-become-collateral-damage who was exposed to the Stone of Gold, and realized the way to defend against it, and afterwards he gave up that life to become the prophet of cthia?
Mike Walk
22. Dingo_Tush
Loved the episode, thought both should be a 7.

I have a question about a super minor nitpick, but about 3/4 the way through Riker,Galen and the mercs beam to the shuttle bay to get into Korals shuttle. They were using the Barans ship to transport so it had that kind of transporter effect.

So they don't find the artifact onboard, which Riker says we'll use this shuttle to transport directly to the observation lounge. I think he was referencing one of the big E's shuttle craft, yet when the mercenaries beam onto the lounge is it still using the same transporter effect as Barans ship, instead of using a Starfleet transporter effect?

I recently saw the episode and as I was reading this recap I thought about my question. I can't remember which transporter effect they used but I think it was the wrong one?

I am channeling my inner Phil Farrand with the question, just something I have wondered about.

Love this site, love the reviews and love the comments! Thanks for relighting my Star Trek fire, now I am rewatching all the old episodes and loving every minute of it, we'll I didn't quite make it through Ethics or Sub Rosa, but I am still with it!
23. The Real Scott M
I think this episode was intended to make up for the lackluster "The Chase". As I and others have noted, that one desperately needed to be bigger. Well, here we get a bigger one. Based once again on Picard's hobby of archeology and involving a race between star systems, this time the plot is more significant (Picard dead, Riker captured, an unstoppable weapon, etc.) and also given a chance to breathe. I really do believe the producers realized the opportunity they had missed and decided to craft this one to make up for it.

Perhaps not one of the best episodes, but one of the most fun.
24. Bluejay Young
The Vulcan secessionist group and the Stone of Gol are straight out of Jacqueline Lichtenberg's monumental fanfic series Kraith (background information here), begun in 1970. Roddenberry had been very impressed with Kraith and its ideas about Vulcan society, the ancient pre-logic culture and the uses of psionic devices. According to Lichtenberg, he asked people working on the first film to read Kraith Collected.

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