Mark Watches ‘The Next Generation’: S07E05 – The Gambit, Part II

In the fifth episode of the seventh season of The Next Generation, betrayal! Secret identities! Mysterious weapons! If only this episode was as good as that sounds. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to watch Star Trek.

Seriously, I want to like this episode because it contains so many things I enjoy, but it just doesn’t do much for me. I am honestly trying my best to view this show through a complicated lens. I’m thinking of it as something that was unique for its time; I’m trying not to compare it too much with The Original Series or Deep Space Nine; and while there’s tons of value in viewing older shows through a modern lens, I think that sometimes it’s beneficial to try and see things as they were then. At the same time, this episode, like the episode of Deep Space Nine I watched yesterday, felt plodding and sluggish at times, and it made it hard to enjoy what should have been a fantastic experience.

I mean, seriously, y’all. Heists! Mysterious ancient weapons! Multiple layers of disguises and identities! The commander and captain of the Enterprise running a heist on their own ship! This should have ejected my heart into the stratosphere with excitement, but aside from a few shocks, it never truly gave me the thrills I thought it would. Why is that, though? This isn’t bad. It’s a solid story, Robin Curtis is a treat as T’Paal, but I think this is one of the few times where I couldn’t help but nitpick. It just…doesn’t really make a whole lot of sense! We’re expected to believe that these horribly suspicious smugglers and pirates believed and trusted two strangers to the point where they allow Riker and Picard to hang out on their ship. Like…are we supposed to be convinced that this is a ragtag band of untrustworthy, mercenary type bandits, and they just accept Picard and Riker?

So, okay, let’s say that we do. I didn’t exactly buy it, but I can move beyond that. The action here largely feels repetitive. It’s one betrayal after another, which was exciting at first when Tallera revealed herself as T’Paal, But it’s not at all interesting to watch Baran order Riker to kill Picard because…well, we know it’s not going to happen. We know the ending before it begins, and there’s nothing here that made me feel like there was going to be a subversion of the story.

Look, I really am not asking for some late-game change to the fabric of The Next Generation. Plenty of my favorite episodes of this show were one-offs that were resolved in a single episode! I really am not trying to hold this show to a different standard, but I just didn’t find this to be all that entertaining. As I said, there were bits and pieces that showed promise. Here’s a good example: Worf learning to be a Second Officer to Data. That was really cool! There was potential for a lot of great character development, except the nature of The Next Generation means that the slate is wiped clean at the end. To be fair, this is not the first time we’ve seen temporary captains of the Enterprise, but that could also be another criticism of this episode as well. It’s not the first time we’ve seen the same story.

I dunno, I feel very listless and aimless when I think about this episode. I usually have a very well-defined sense of how I feel about an episode once it’s over, and I didn’t get that from “The Gambit, Part II.” It just…happened? It was neat, but not all that memorable. Oh, well! It happens, and it doesn’t deter me from the show, at least not this far into it.

The video for “The Gambit, Part II” can be downloaded here for $0.99.

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About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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