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TNG 6-24

TNG 6x24
"Second Chances"

Original airdate: 5/24/1993
Rewatch date: 9/12/2012

A duplicate Riker is discovered at an abandoned space station where he has been living for the last eight years.

Spoiler-free notes:

Why is Troi deliberately trying to embarass Riker by requesting a song she knows he can't play? That's just mean.

Lieutenant Riker doesn't act much like a man who's been completely alone for eight years. You'd think he'd be a bit more twitchy and a little less able to speak coherently and interact with others.

When the two Rikers appear on the screen at the same time, it is sometimes seamless and sometimes terrible. Granted, this was always a difficult cinematic trick to pull off before the advent of modern CGI.

Riker's not very good at making riddles, unless he was intending them to be insultingly easy.

Commander Riker's anger and impatience toward his double reminds me of Picard's similar reaction to meeting himself in "Time Squared," except that it makes more sense here.

It's obvious, and a little corny, but I still enjoy the scene where the two Rikers play poker with each other. My only problem with it is that there are no actual stakes, since Lieutenant Riker just happened to walk into the game and there is no money involved. Indeed, his reasons for showing up are never revealed.

If Troi and Lieutenant Riker did get together, how weird would it be for Troi to have to separate the last six years of her memories with Commander Riker? That's way too much for Lieutenant Riker to ask, and he should be able to see things from Troi's point of view and know to back off if he truly loves her. Through adult eyes, both Rikers comes across as much more selfish than they used to.

It's curious that Data gets interested in how Riker behaves around his double without reflecting on the fact that Data's been through the experience himself when he first met Lore.

I'm glad they didn't kill off Lieutenant Riker; that would have been way too easy.

This is a decent episode that tackles a frequent motif in Star Trek: doubles. However, unlike most Trek doubles, Lieutenant Riker isn't an evil twin. He is, instead, a perfect copy of Riker who has simply gone through different experiences in the last eight years. His arrival allows the writers to once again explore the choices Commander Riker has made and elaborate on the complex relationship between him and Troi. The plot doesn't go anywhere unexpected and it gets bogged down in melodrama, but despite that, it's not bad.

Spoiler section:

We will see Thomas Riker again, but when we do (in DS9's "Defiant"), he is more akin to the evil twin cliché.

TNG 6x23
"Rightful Heir"
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