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Star Trek: The Next Generation – A Matter of Honor

August 2, 2013

Originally aired February 6, 1989. Stardate 42506.5. The Enterprise arrives at a Starbase for a transfer. Some replacements and a Benzite Ensign who’s there as part of an exchange program. Riker then heads to the Phaser range, where he and Picard talk about the exchange program. Picard brings up a Klingon vessel in the area, and Riker says he wouldn’t mind serving on a Klingon ship, since no one’s done it before.

After the credits, Riker and Worf talk about serving on a Klingon ship. The Benzite is trying to show off, and is an arrogant ass. Riker is eating a bunch of Klingon cuisine, much to Pulaski’s disgust. Picard joins them, and says he envies Riker. Who then eats more Klingon food. Before Riker leaves, Worf gives him an emergency transponder. The Enterprise meets the Klingon ship, and the captain is a bit of a jerk. The Ensign finds something on the Klingon ship’s hull, but doesn’t say anything. O’Brien beams Riker over to the Klingon ship.

An odd time for a break, but OK. The Ensign tries to tell Picard his ideas for improving operations on the Bridge, and Picard tells him to go to Worf with them. Worf is unhappy with the Ensign. On the Klingon ship, Riker’s escorted to the Captain. I like how messed up the Bridge is. The Captain asks where Riker’s loyalties are. Riker gives a great response that he’ll follow the Captain’s orders. His second officer challenges him, and Riker kicks his ass. The whole scene is great. Back on the Enterprise, a rare bacterial thing. The Ensign says it came from the Klingon ship, and Picard chews him out for not reporting it earlier. Worf is angry at him again.

Break. Chow time on the Klingon ship. He’s given some live worms and some taunts. Then some women flirt with him. Riker and the Klingons are likewise surprised by each other. Riker then impresses them by eating the worms. The Enterprise has finished its analysis of the bacteria, and start looking for the Klingon ship, which has found the hole of its own. Riker doesn’t believe the Enterprise is responsible, but the Klingons are certain it is, and plan to destroy it.

Break. Wesley talks to the Ensign, trying to make him feel a bit better. On the Klingon ship, the Second Officer doesn’t believe Riker is a coward. They find the Enterprise following them. There’s another very tense confrontation with the Klingon Captain. The Captain demands to know the best way to attack the Enterprise. Riker refuses. He says he’ll serve the Captain loyally, and will fight and die in battle, but he also won’t betray his oath to the Enterprise by giving away its secrets. The Captain approves, and says Riker will die like a Klingon. On the Enterprise, the Ensign figures out how to get rid of the bacterial organisms. The Klingon Captain doesn’t believe their hail.

After a break, the Captain prepares to attack. Riker pulls out his transponder and activates it. The Captain demands he hand it over. The Enterprise detects the transponder, and beams the Captain onto the Bridge. Riker takes command of the ship, while the Captain gets phasered. Riker orders the cloak deactivated, and then orders the Enterprise to surrender. The Captain returns to the Klingon ship, and Riker stands down. Then the Captain punches him, and roders him off the ship. Riker understands the Klingons. Riker returns to the Enterprise, and everyone’s happy.

This is a really good episode. The Klingon episodes were usually strong, and this one’s no exception. We arguably learn more about the Klingons here than anywhere else. Frakes does an excellent job as Riker, making him relaxed, curious and insightful. The Benzite Ensign was a little annoying, but I suppose that was the point. We’re not really supposed to like him. All the Klingons are good, including the two women who flirt with Riker. Pretty much everything on the Klingon ship was great. Just a lot of really good, well-written, well-performed scenes. Perhaps the most important line in the episode was both races being surprised at the sense of humour of the other. It was a very effective way of showing how similar different cultures can be. There’s an energy to all the Klingon scenes, a sense that the cast and crew are really enjoying what they’re doing, and it shines through, so that the audience has fun, too. Even when Riker beats up his Second Officer. And his confrontation with the Captain, where he refuses to divulge the Enterprise’s secrets, was fantastic.

Overall, I’d give this episode 4/5. This is the first truly excellent episode of the series. There have been good episodes before, but this one is just fantastic all around.

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