Star Trek 147: The Icarus Factor

147. The Icarus Factor

FORMULA: Journey to Babel + Amok Time + Heart of Glory

WHY WE LIKE IT: The hair-raising Age of Ascension ceremony. Riker reacting in very human fashion to his father's attempt to bury the hatchet.

WHY WE DON'T: All the psychobabble.

REVIEW: I hate to give a character-building episode like this a bad review, but having just sat through it, I must. Its goal is a noble one: A character-driven story (or two) without a villain, spatial anomaly, or what-have-you. I'm all for that, but The Icarus Factor falls short of that goal. Let's look at it plot by plot:

The A-plot concerns Riker's reunion with his estranged father. Now, this is something I can defintiely empathize with, and Jonathan Frakes plays all that emotional baggage very well, and you don't get a sense that it's all resolved for him despite the (non-reciprocal) hugs at the end. No clichéed "we all love each other after all" ending. What let's it down? The absurd ambo-jitsu match, for one thing. The suits are silly, sapping some of the drama from the scene, especially sold as "the ultimate evolution in the martial arts". More distracting, however, is all the psychobabble coming out of Troi and Pulaski in this one. Geez. Not only is it none of their business - it smacks of gossiping more than professional interest - but it's insipid. The two men's acting speaks louder than words, in my opinion, even if I somewhat enjoyed Kyle Riker squaring off against Deanna.

The B-plot concerns Worf's Rite of Ascension, or more properly, Wesley's butting into the Klingon's business. An interesting side-trip, though again, there's loads of psychobabble about family and friends and feeling isolated and... bleh. Enough already. The peek into Klingon culture is appreciated, but everything leading up to it is somewhat dull.

There's also a small subplot dealing with an anomaly in the engine systems that amounts to very, very little, and Pulaski's little backstory that's more than fortuitous. More interesting, but equally flawed is Riker's decision whether or not to take command of the Aries. Some fair-to-good scenes between Riker and Picard, and Riker and Troi, follow, but it creates a problem. This is the second command Riker has turned down now, and it just makes his role as second-in-command more and more dubious as the years advance. If he wasn't on such a fast track, it wouldn't seem as strange.

LESSON: You don't choose your family, but you do choose which episodes of Trek you'll rewatch (unless you're me).

REWATCHABILITY - Low: Tries to keep too many balls in the air and drops them all. The regulars are good when the weight of the psycho-analytical babblathon doesn't smother them.