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TNG 7-05

TNG 7x05
"Gambit, Part II"

Original airdate: 10/18/1993
Rewatch date: 12/23/2012


As the mercenaries continue to pursue a dangerous Vulcan weapon, betrayals, double-agents, and mutiny all conspire to keep Picard, Riker, and Acting Captain Data on their toes.

Spoiler-free notes:

The scene where Data scolds Worf for his performance as first officer has a very interesting dynamic, showing how these two very disparate personalities are trained by Starfleet. Data's attitude is practically textbook--and his delivery is perfectly robotic--but he ends it with the line about regretting if he has ended their friendship, which is a surprisingly human concern that almost comes from nowhere but reveals a lot about how Data views human interaction. On the other side of the coin, you have Worf--who is being reprimanded specifically for not having control over his emotions--feeding off of Data's lack of emotion to compose himself and apologize for his behavior. When he gives a perfect Klingon reply to Data's concern about their friendship, "It is I who have jeopardized our friendship," he demonstrates his understanding of his place and shows his commanding officer that he knows the difference between duty and friendship. It's a good moment for two characters who rarely interact.

I love the stuff with Koral, the Klingon shuttle pilot. He manages to do a lot with only five lines of dialogue.

It really annoys me that there is no explanation for how or when Picard "switched the transponder codes" to Baran's pain device. It makes the switcheroo seem pretty damn contrived and convenient.

"You were right, Tallera. The resonator cannot be stopped by phasers and shields, but it can be defeated by peace." That's some serious cheese right there.

A "gambit" is defined by Miriam-Webster as "a calculated move." By directly violating one of Gene Roddenberry's cardinal rules--he was adamant that there should never be space pirates in Star Trek--the showrunners make a gambit here in order to squeeze some more life out of TNG. The first half of the story doesn't have much impact and feels pretty sloppy, but the second half recovers by striking a lighter, more fun tone and densely packing in the plot twists to keep you from thinking too hard about what's going on. It also treats the ancillary characters with care, making sure each member of the renegade troupe is idiosyncratic and potentially interesting, even if they are only there to service the plot. While the climax is a bit disappointing, the story is wrapped in some pretty overused plot tricks, and a lot of the twists aren't terribly logical in hindsight, "Gambit" still manages to be entertaining and to show the audience something a little different. What really salvages it for me is Data, who somehow manages to be the most interesting character throughout both episodes, despite being relegated to the B-story.





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