Synopsis: Riker volunteers to use the Officer Exchange Program to serve under a psychotic Klingon captain.
Memory Alpha Summary: I suppose this is yet another time Riker turns down having his own ship.
Review: This episode simultaneously shows how unrealistically the Klingon culture evolved while being awesome in its Riker kickassness. As for the former, subordinates have the responsibility to kill their superiors if they act irrationally. Wait, what? How the hell did this race not go extinct in like six years? As far as the “must die in battle—rawr!” attitude, it has some plausibility but the Klingons take it to ridiculous lengths. There’s one thing feeling a sense of honor by risking your life for your people, but to completely devalue all elderly people in one’s society…well, that is just not conducive to a species that has evolved so far.
Okay, Klingon rant over. This episode really is excellent. First, Wesley does the whole, “All you Chinese people look the same!” mistake with the incoming exchange student and gets embarrassed, which is always fun. Second, Picard is exemplary in his treatment of the new officer when he fucks up and nearly gets everyone killed. There’s something just awesome about watching a great leader rally people without yelling or giving over-the-top speeches.
However, Riker owns everything here. Bringing out the can of whoop-ass on his new ship’s second officer is great fun. His flirtations with the Klingon women are delightful. And his sly method of overtaking the ship (while gaining rapport with his subordinates) is pure genius. Getting Picard to surrender is icing on the cake.
I laughed when Wesley told the exchange student, “I’ve never known the captain not to listen to one of his officers.” Ah, how soon Wesley forgets being told to shut up. To be fair, he hears it all the time, so by now he’s probably stopped noticing.