141. A Matter of Honor
FORMULA: Coming of Age + Heart of Glory + The Voyage Home
WHY WE LIKE IT: Riker as a Klingon commander. Gagh!
WHY WE DON'T: Captain Kargan is disappointingly stupid.
REVIEW: The second season is pretty ropey, but there are a couple of gems in the middle of it, including this fine episode. Ok, I can't say I'm a big fan of Mendon, but he at least gives us a chance to compare how different cultures might have different protocols. If he was there to learn, he certainly had something to bring home to Benzar. His scenes are all tied up with the microbiotic colony B-plot, which is just a MacGuffin, but works fairly well (especially Worf's part in all this). As long as we don't stay on this story too much...
Because the Klingon side of this episode is da bomb! Now, when I'm asked who my favorite TNG character is, I always say Riker. My guess is that this opinion was first formed after seeing A Matter of Honor. What a great showcase for this character. Riker is able to gulp down a Klingon feast with relish (and later, live gagh), maneuver himself politically and in matters of honor aboard the Pagh, create a camaraderie with his new crewmates, and kick some serious butt in the physical department. Excellent scenes, great dialogue, and a lot of insight into the Klingon psyche. Riker never misses a beat and comes out on top.
If I have a problem with A Matter of Honor, it's that Kargan isn't made interesting or even intelligent. I'd rather spend more time with Klag, "Dukath" and the females than go back on the bridge to suffer that single-minded fool again. I hope Klag did his "duty" not long after this. There's even something wrong with Kargan's make-up. I don't know if it was designed to stay under red lights, but when beamed aboard the Enterprise, it just looks awful. On a small note, since I mentioned O'Brien in my last review, here he's given a healthy sense of humor. Not big moments, but character-building nonetheless.
LESSON: Riker WOULD have eaten those maggots in Conspiracy.
REWATCHABILITY - High: A Matter of Honor manages to make both Riker and the Klingons very cool indeed. When they're not onscreen, it's not as interesting, but still not boring.