Star Trek: The Next Generation
"The Icarus Factor"
Air date: 4/24/1989
Teleplay by David Assael & Robert L. McCullough
Story by David Assael
Directed by Robert Iscove
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
When Starfleet offers Riker his own ship and command, they send his father, Kyle Riker (Mitchell Ryan), to brief him on the new mission. The two haven't spoken in 15 years, and Riker has little desire to start now. Meanwhile, Worf's mood is noticeably brooding, even for him.
"The Icarus Factor" has a certain amount of guts because it doesn't have a plot in the traditional sense and instead puts its trust solely in characters getting the job done. It's not a great show, and hardly one of the series' most memorable, but I think it's a good one. Kyle Riker is portrayed here as a well-intended father who is being made to pay by his son for his past mistakes as a parent. Wil Riker has a lot of pent-up anger over his mother, who died when he was a young child. As these sorts of family-turmoil stories go, this is a passable one that tries to see both sides and doesn't make anyone a hero or a villain but simply addresses this as a problem faced by both parties. Pulaski has her own insights, as she once was involved with Riker's father. The episode is perhaps overly optimistic in the way it depicts Riker's forgiveness so quickly at the end (either that, or their problem should've been solved years ago with one talk), but I suppose that's part of the TNG charm. Also worth mention are the Riker/Picard discussions about what it means to command a starship, even if it's not something as high-profile as the Enterprise.
More interesting is the Worf storyline, which gives still more insight into his (sometimes-insane-seeming) Klingon warrior code, and how that code exists in isolation on the Enterprise. Leave it to the Klingons to have something called "pain sticks" as part of a ritual involving the Age of Ascension (of which it's Worf's 10th anniversary). I also want to quickly mention Chief O'Brien (Colm Meaney), whose profile became steadily higher throughout the second season, to the point that he exists here as a supporting character right alongside Geordi, Pulaski, and Wesley.