Star Trek: The Next Generation

“A Matter of Honor”

3.5 stars.

Air date: 2/6/1989
Teleplay by Burton Armus
Story by Wanda M. Haight & Gregory Amos and Burton Armus
Directed by Robert Bowman

Review Text

Commander Riker is selected to participate in an officer exchange program that allows him to be the first Starfleet officer to serve aboard a Klingon vessel. Logically, you would think this would mean a Klingon officer would serve aboard the Enterprise, but since we already have Worf I guess that would be a redundancy. Instead, we get Ensign Mendon (John Putch), a Benzite who is very anxious to please. Mendon's arrogant-seeming personality is initially an annoyance before the story demonstrates that it truly understands him and allows us to sympathize with his different way of looking at things.

"A Matter of Honor" is TNG at its pro-diversity best. It's a perfect vehicle for Riker, providing an opportunity for him to exhibit both cerebral and testosterone-driven attributes. Consider the scene in Ten-Forward where he samples what seems like the entire Klingon menu: Here's a guy with a strong stomach and a completely genuine desire to learn about and immerse himself in an alien culture. Riker does his homework.

The scenes aboard the Klingon ship give us the first of the series' first-person perspectives into the workings and mindset of the TNG-era Klingons (which is to say the Klingons as allies rather than enemies). The story makes no mistake about the fact that the Klingons are a very different culture with very different values, as in the scene where Riker and first officer Klag (Brian Thompson) discuss Klag's father, whom Klag has essentially disowned because the father was unable to die in battle during his prime. The beauty of "A Matter of Honor" is its ability to find common ground between these divergent characters through universal qualities like food, humor, and self-integrity.

The plot throws a complication into this theme when the Klingon crew finds a substance eating away at the ship's hull and believes the Enterprise is to blame (for reasons that the plot is able to almost make plausible). The only thing holding this episode back somewhat is the stubborn, unlikely obstinacy of Captain Kargan (Christopher Collins), who seems way too determined to attack the Enterprise in retaliation rather than waiting to examine all the facts. But I enjoyed Riker's clever response to Kargan's unwillingness to listen, and his ability to play by the Klingons' rules in staging his power play. Riker's demand for Picard's surrender is classic.

Previous episode: Unnatural Selection
Next episode: The Measure of a Man

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70 comments on this post

    "A Matter Of Honor" is the begining of a long string of very good or (in some cases) great episodes. "Elementary, Dear Data" is another great one. The ones between "Elementary, Dear Data" and "A Matter Of Honor" are adequate or perhps slightly more then adequate, but certainly nothing special. In any case, the very good episodes this season are better then any episode of the original series (which has several good or even great episodes, but its quality is held far back from what it could have reached by the fact that each character's personality has only one aspect, in contrast to the multi-faceted and thus vastly more interesting Next Generation characters) and SO much better then the average episode of this show's first season (where the vast majority of episods are bland and each character has almost no personality).

    The scene with Riker in the Klingon mess hall is some of the best five to 10 minutes of Trek of any movie or series.

    Klag to Riker in the mess hall: "If Klingon food is too strong for you, perhaps we could get one of the females to breast-feed you". xD rofl

    Loved the scenes between Mendon and Worf. Also, the scene in Ten-Forward with all these Klingon "delicacies", Riker looked like having such a great time there. Doctor Pulaski's and Picard's faces were absolutely priceless.

    And of course, the demand for surrender was pure epic!

    An amazing episode, easily one of the best Star Trek episodes.

    @ Adam: Yep, I agree that there's a quality bump that starts off with "A Matter of Honor" and we can enjoy some of the best episodes of early TNG.

    If the whole series was like a long movie, I was half-asleep at this point, and "A Matter of Honor" and particularly "The Measure of a Man" were the first signs that this film was something worth watching.

    @ William and Xaaos: The mess hall and the "Surrender" scenes are just great! This was the antithesis of "Code of Honor". Where the latter was a racist, stereotypical and boring ep, this was smart, fun and promoted the best values of TNG.

    When Riker demands the Enterprise to "surrender" he is using Klingon's laws, instead of the Federation's, we haven't seen that very often until that point in the series. And the solution ends up well for both parties, even when he received a punch for being a very clever smartass.

    Really great stuff.

    @ Jammer: I can't stress this enough, your writing style is fantastic.

    This single line, for example: "The beauty of "A Matter of Honor" is its ability to find common ground between these divergent characters through universal qualities like food, humor, and self-integrity." a piece of review art. Simple, beautiful and to the point.

    I wish I could write my own reviews like that =D

    Yeah, I think this episode is just shy of being a classic for the reason you mention -- Captain Kargan is too obstinate to be convincing, and too trusting of Riker given his obstinacy otherwise.

    I don't tend to think of Riker as one of the show's very best characters, but look at some of the episodes in which Riker is the lead or at least co-lead: 11001001, A Matter of Honour, The Best of Both Worlds 1 & 2, First Contact, Frame of Mind, Second Chances, The Pegasus. (The Best of Both Worlds is a Riker show as much or more as it is anyone else's, especially part 2.) That's a pretty fine set of episodes, and I'm not sure if any character on this show besides Picard can boast eight episodes of that high quality in which they are the lead, even Data (though I think Data is better written and performed overall).

    @William B: Here's my theory on what happened to Riker:

    Early in the series, Riker is much more important. There are few big meetings that Picard has without Riker and Riker is often the guy who takes charge in a crisis ("The Naked Now") or has some brilliant engineering idea. Riker is sort of the hero and Picard is often the somewhat stuffy commanding officer.

    But as TNG became less like TOS, Riker worked less with the plots. There were fewer away missions and when there were ("The Chase", for instance) Picard leads them. Late in the series, Riker becomes more like Scotty on TOS -- i.e. the dude left to run the ship while Kirk (Picard) and Spock (Data) go have all the fun.

    Ultimately, I think the creators realized that Riker was at his best as a character in shows that didn't involve Picard, and that the series generally got better as Picard really became the star. Let's face it, Patrick Stewart is 10 times the actor Jonathan Frakes is and the show got better when the Picard/Riker ratio tilted more toward Picard (except for season 7, which was just bad for other reasons).

    The really strong episodes with Riker usually involved him being nowhere near Picard (BOBW, Matter of Honor, First Contact, Frame of Mind) or where there's a third character as a foil (11001001, Pegasus). And the episodes that were really Riker/Picard heavy -- the Gambit two-parter -- just didn't work.

    This isn't a universal thing (Measure of a Man was probably the best use of Picard and Riker together in the series). But it's clear that at some point, the creators figured Picard was the key to good TNG and that Picard/Riker together wasn't a winning pairing.

    William B: "I'm not sure if any character on this show besides Picard can boast eight episodes of that high quality in which they are the lead, even Data..."

    Let's see, using Patrick's rundown of Jammer's 4-star episodes from "All Good Things..."

    1. 11001001 -- Riker mostly
    2. The Measure of a Man -- Data, Picard, some Riker
    3. Q Who -- ?
    4. The Survivors -- Picard, I guess
    5. The Defector -- ditto
    6. Yesterday's Enterprise -- Yar, Guinan, then Picard
    7. The Best of Both Worlds -- Riker & Picard
    8. The Best of Both Worlds, part II
    9. First Contact -- Riker & Picard
    10. The Nth Degree -- Barclay!
    11. Cause and Effect -- Crusher's POV
    12. The First Duty -- Wesley & Picard
    13. I, Borg -- LaForge & Picard
    14. The Inner Light -- Picard
    15. Chain of Command, part II -- Picard, and I guess Riker had a subplot
    16. Frame of Mind -- Riker
    17. The Pegasus -- Riker
    18. Lower Decks -- Sito?
    19. All Good Things… -- Picard

    For all the episodes carried by Worf and LaForge, many of them good, they couldn't quite crack Jammer's top slot. And for all the fine Data-heavy shows, he was only spotlighted in one classic. Even Picard, the de facto leading man, only clearly carried two by himself; in ensemble shows, Picard got more face time just by calling the shots, and the rest of the time he shared top billing, usually with Riker.

    Riker puts in a surprisingly strong showing, especially considering that his two solo shows were toward the end of the series. By that point, as Paul points out, Picard had absorbed the leading man function that had originally been intended for Riker, the ersatz Will Decker (himself a component of the first officer/smart guy/psychic triumvirate meant to replace Spock in the aborted Phase II series).

    @Paul, very good point, and in general the shift from TOS-style "let's explore the galaxy" to the late-TNG era peacemaking/diplomatic made the Away Team hurt Riker's role in the show, too.

    It is interesting that you say Picard/Riker isn't a winning pairing for the show -- I don't disagree overall! -- but two of the highlights of s1, 11001001 and Conspiracy, both play up the Picard/Riker team in a way that the rest of s1 doesn't. It's definitely true that the series moves away from this format and that the Picard/Riker team doesn't really work in action settings, though I think there are a large number of nice dialogue scenes between the two. I think they work best when in opposition to each other, though -- "The Measure of a Man," "The Best of Both Worlds."

    @Grumpy, thanks for the breakdown. If I had to pick a few episodes of the show to bump up to 4 stars from Jammer's ratings, they would probably be Darmok and Tapestry; and Family is a highly-regarded episode (though I think I agree it's not at the 4 star level). So there are a few big Picard vehicles that are often ranked among the series' top 10 or top 20 perhaps worth keeping in mind. This gives Picard a big edge over Riker. Of the shows I listed, only A Matter of Honour and Second Chances are not listed already (and they are both unambiguously Riker shows); I think both are great, but wouldn't bump either up to 4 stars, though A Matter of Honour is in contention.

    I think there are some Worf shows like Sins of the Father and Reunion that would be on my mind for bumping up to 4, too.

    (Keep in mind I am just rewatching s2 now after about a decade -- so I might change my mind on all of these.)

    Never really thought too much about Riker being a key to the best episodes. He doesn't really seem to have too many episodes devoted to him, but they do tend to be quite good. Frame of Mind and Pegasus are the two I immediately think of. Honestly though, I think it's better when it's him and Picard. BoBW comes to mind pretty quickly.

    As for the episode itself, I noticed something really odd. At least three times there was a quick scene on the bridge that ended with Picard leaving and telling Data he has the bridge. Sounds like poor editing to me.

    But can't complain too much, as this was a very good episode. I was pretty impressed with the Mendon sub-plot, something I wasn't expecting. He had a pretty interesting personality, and the episode succeeded in making him likable despite his arrogance and condescension. The fact that he still is willing to learn (and was so hard on himself when chastised) kept us from hating him. But even his likability didn't stop me from thoroughly enjoying Worf intimaditing him. Great fun =)

    As were the scenes on the Pagh. Yeah the Captain was gratuitously stupid, but I can't argue about it too much. Someone had to move the plot along. Frakes' acting during the dinner scene was great. Riker looked convincingly out of his element, doing his best to enjoy himself while still wondering in the back of his mind how much further things would go. His look when he saw the gagh as well as when asking if the lady Klingons were serious in their offers (and found out it was affirmative).

    "A Klingon is his work, not his family"

    Boy, would they ever go on to undo that...

    Somewhere along the line... perhaps this very episode... the Klingons went from a code of honour type race to a barbaric war mongering race. There is no way a race that behaved in this manner would be able to create a star ship, let alone operate it.

    It's like the writers had no idea how to portray honour and strength, and thought it was all muscle and insults. Ridiculous.

    Also, that Bensite(?)... No space faring race would come to the conclusion that waiting until a solution has been found was beneficial to safety.

    Too many stupid illogical things like this in Trek. As ever, though, it's entertaining.

    The role of "honor" was not part of the original conception of Klingons, and received uneven treatment after it was introduced, but they were always "barbaric" and war-mongering. HOWEVER, as I've pointed out elsewhere, per Trek canon, they are not all warriors. Think of all the militaristic cultures in human history. A society of knights wouldn't have been able to build castles and ships, or feed themselves, either.

    I think everyone who loves Trek has episodes that fall a little short of the classics -- "City on the Edge," "Best of Both Worlds," etc. -- but just really speak to them.

    "A Matter of Honor" does that for me. I just never tire of the episode or the performances or its message.

    Plus, it was the single best episode of the series up to this time. It truly showed us what this new Trek could be.

    This one is solid early TNG for me. I may not like it as much as some other posters here, but I think it *is* a notable highlight of the series so far. The only episodes up to this point that I'd rank above it are "10011001", "Elementary, Dear Data", and MAYBE "Where Silence Has Lease".

    Like Jammer, I think the Klingon captain is a bit too hard-headed and that it slightly drags the hour down. I did really like the third officer, though, and the Benzite subplot. This one is an easy 3 stars for me and a very nice example of the show finding its bearings.

    FINALLY!!! I was losing hope after 4 mediocre to bad episodes in a row, then along comes this gem. A great concept, well written and acted, and it was fun to watch. A great character development episode for Riker, and we get to see the inner workings of a Klingon ship... Agree with Jammer, nice to see an episode where the story is trying to bridge the gap between two very different cultures. I could have done without the Benzite b-story, but I get why it was there.

    Definitely a good episode, although I agree with the nitpicks. The Klingon captain acts too stupidly, and the same can probably be said about the Benzite (even though we know it was the writers' attempt to show the challenge in changing/adapting to "alien" thinking compared to ours, or vice versa). Of course the behavior of the two characters ends up linked, so that it's hard not to see it as a plot contrivance.

    Regardless, there's lots of entertaining stuff here. I love how Worf glides in each time the Benzite trips on himself and delivers some perfectly low-key threats. I almost imagined some imminent off-screen hazing sessions, lol.

    Good episode, this. The fish out of water element plays into a number of fun scenes as Riker integrates with the Klingon crew - my personal favourite being the "one... or both?" line. But it also makes some more serious points about cultural assimilation, as the new Benzite crew member struggles to adjust to a different working culture.

    Yes, the Klingon captain's desire to attack the Enterprise is contrived and overblown, but we get to see brawny Riker (shoving his 2nd officer's head through a viewscreen) and brainy Riker (tricking the captain to gain command of the ship) and have a lot of fun on the way. 3 stars.

    One of my pet peeves from season 1 is the cumbersome exchange:
    Lieutenant, open hailing frequencies.
    Having frequencies open, sir.

    I cringed every time I heard it. It's incredibly refreshing to see Worf respond with a simple "Open" when given the order.

    @Paul "Let's face it, Patrick Stewart is 10 times the actor Jonathan Frakes is"

    I think if you compared Stewart's and Frakes' entire bodies of work, this would be true. I can't recall seeing Frakes in anything except Star Trek, and I have seen Stewart in many things. But, on TNG, I think Frakes holds his own against Stewart very well, and in some cases even betters him; but that's more a function of how the characters were written, not the acting skill.

    But as far as acting goes, think of Frakes once he takes on the Odon parasite in "The Host." I could tell he was a completely different person in there! (Like Cage and Travolta in Face/Off!) And his performance in "Frame of Mind," or "First Contact," or "Gambit" -- I just think he is amazingly talented as Will Riker. And as Thomas Riker, too! Oh, and the episode with Minuet! lol at myself--I didn't realize how much I liked him! I think he is very good at letting one small expression say a lot.

    Back to this episode, I really liked Klag and wish the friendship he began with Riker could have been revisited. Oh well.

    I loved poor little Mendon. I am a college teacher, and I have known so many students like him. Their enthusiasm and passion can be annoying, but it comes from a good impulse in them. A good teacher has to try and channel that enthusiasm in a productive way. I remember being a little harsh with one to get him to focus on what needed to be done, and his sad little face was burned into my memory--it was just like Mendon's face when Picard rather rudely corrects him about the chain of command.

    Overall, this is a great episode and one of the best up to this point in the series. I also just really like how ships shimmer and sway when they decloak.

    Whoah! What?

    I've never commented on this episode.
    Love it, so many great scenes and moments, Ten Forward, the Klingon Mess Hall, Riker on the bridge of the Klingon vessel.
    Great stuff. Have to agree that the hard headness of the Klingon Captain seemed a bit off and just to force the conflict. The the actor was a better Pakled than he was Klingon.
    Great episode and whilst not quite a 4 this is a revisit-able classics that stands the test of time well.

    Wow, isn't 3.5 stars a little high for this episode? For me, one hasn't aged well at all. To be fair, my memory of seeing it for the first time as a kid is that it was awesome, with the scene of Riker eating strange food in that great mess hall scene on the Klingon ship burned into my brain. But that's really about the only highlight: The rest of this story spends too much time with the Benzoid exchange officer on Enterprise whose cultural quirks come across more annoying (not to mention dangerously negligent, considering his unreported scan of the Bird of Prey's damage) than sympathetic, Wesley cozying up to him while Worf glares vaguely, and all kinds of other filler that isn't very interesting. But one thing above all really undoes the whole thing and makes this a 2.5 star episode for me: The Klingon captain is so profoundly stupid, poorly characterized, unmotivated in his climactic actions, and cartoonish in his gestures that he really destroys the respectability of this episode. The whole honor/diversity theme of this story can only work if the leading representatives of the alien culture are respectable people, but this captain comes across as a blithering idiot even by Klingon standards, clearly losing the sympathies of his crew to Riker in a key misstep by the writers. Here we see early signs of the sad tendency of TNG to make Klingons into "noble savages" who feel more like one-dimensional cartoon characters -- much like American Indians on old Westerns -- than the clever warriors of TOS. Yes, the contrivance that puts Riker at odds with his Klingon captain leads to the fun moment where he takes command, but it never feels like anything other than a frustratingly inexplicable plot twist. This episode makes you wonder how the Klingons can even fly their ships without assassinating each other.

    I wonder if the writers hadn't fully thought through how they wanted to portray the Klingon Empire and its political and military structures at this point. Even if you accept that the Klingon captain isn't the brightest bulb in the fleet and prone to overreaction, I have to think that all Klingon officers would understand that you don't just go attacking a Federation vessel based on suspicion of a single incident without even contacting their High Command or considering alternative explanations first.

    "Also, that Bensite(?)... No space faring race would come to the conclusion that waiting until a solution has been found was beneficial to safety."

    You know, I had always thought of that bit as being implausible. And yet: consider the fact that Korean Air Lines CRASHED a 747 because the first officer, who realized the plane was about to do controlled flight into terrain, said nothing, because that would involve contradicting a superior. And much the same thing happened aobut 15 years later, when Asiana crashed that 777 at SFO and again the first officer was hesitant at contradicting his captain.

    In commercial aviation, these incidents led to a lot of discussion about the role of Asian culture in cockpit management. Malcolm Gladwell famously discussed this issue in OUTLIERS, although he was not the first to raise it.

    If this theory is to be believed, I don't see the portrayal of the Benzites as so far-fetched. To be sure, I wouldn't want to get on a Benzite starship, and my hope is that the Starfleet way ended up changing procedures on Benzite ships, rather like KAL cockpit culture changed after the airline brough in foreigeners for a thorough safety culture overhaul.

    A fun episode, almost ruined by a plot contrivance

    Like lots of tv and movies, the whole plot hinges on the hero's ability to outfight the villain/ challenger. Sometimes that's believable but in this case it isn't. Haven't we already established that Klingons are generally much stronger than humans? I am thinking especially of the recent Holodeck teaser with Worf fighting huge opponents as "calisthenics" and Riker watching in amazement and Picard worrying Riker would get hurt.

    Riker was right to fight the 2nd Officer who insulted him - that was the only action that had a chance of winning respect. But, shouldn't the realistic outcome have been: Riker gets beaten to a pulp and is left to crawl off with a concussion and a couple fractures, while the Klingons laugh and mock and demote him to janitor for the rest of his term?

    Tara: Two words... Trek Fu.

    It is long established that puny humans can knock the shit out of just about anyone by clenching two hands together and cracking someone on the back of the head.
    Karate chops are also devastatingly effective against everything from a Borg to a Breen!

    So yes, whilst other other species are stronger. They have not been trained by Ross Geller in the arts of "Unagi!"

    Lol, LZ! Sushi always wins!

    Yes I know - it's a plot device. But, but, but, it's so device-y and unbelievable that it ruins things.

    I'd have preferred to see a fight in which Riker gets creamed and is bloodied and on the floor, but outsmarts his opponent at the last moment in a no-holds-barred way that only Klingons would accept - manages to throw live gakh in the guy's face and then rams his hand into an electrical socket and beats him unconscious while he's being electrocuted.

    I think this is the best Riker-centric episode. He's a knowing, calculating, quick-thinking bad-ass here. Yes, the scene in the Klingon mess hall is entertaining, but for my money the best single moment is at the end, when Riker shrewdly situates himself perfectly to allow Kargan to backhand him across the bridge. In doing so, Riker diffuses the situation and allows his Klingon Captain to regain his dignity in the eyes of his crew. And I like that the Klingon crewman who whispers to Riker while helping him up realizes exactly what Riker was up to.

    You know, I had always thought of that bit as being implausible. And yet: consider the fact that Korean Air Lines CRASHED a 747 because the first officer, who realized the plane was about to do controlled flight into terrain, said nothing, because that would involve contradicting a superior.

    Yes, and you seem to have missed the point. This is a rare occurrence and is taught to pilots as an example of what not to do. And that's the case even though it's 2017. Trek is our future by hundreds of years. Any space faring race would have learned these lessons a thousand times over.

    The original poster is correct. No space faring race would conclude that waiting was beneficial to safety... because it isn't. This isn't a lone pilot making a mistake - it's an entire planet's philosophy on a serious protocol. Your comparison is utterly bogus.

    It's a fun episode overall, but there are some serious issues, like the aforementioned. The biggest of all is how stupid they made the Klingons in Trek. Couldn't we have had a prideful, warrior race that was at least believable? The writers were out of their depth. Take martial arts - There is a discipline, especially at the highest levels. It's an art form. The Klingon captain in this episode is the worst of all. He's psychotic.

    It is curious that only with respect to Vulcans was the notion of one species having greater strength than humans taken seriously (well that and maybe the Gorn). In no Trek that I can recall would a human stand a chance against a Vulcan in a fist fight.

    Yet humans can fight Romulans, Klingons, and even genetically engineered races like the Jem Hadar, toe to toe.

    Having said that, even the idea of a woman beating a man in a fist fight is kind of silly - yet it's a pretty well worn Hollywood and TV trope for the 130 lbs woman to punch out some 200 lbs man. So Trek is hardly alone in fudging things to prevent its protagonists from being pasted in situations where it makes little sense for them to prevail.

    I think it would have been pretty cool if Trek had tried to play this straight rather than cheating. I liked TOS battles most when Kirk was being creative (gunpowder against the Gorn, a crowbar against Khan). And seriously, it's not like hand to hand combat should be any kind of serious issue in the 24th century!!

    Rhonda Rousey is a135 pounds and I would TOTALLY bet on her vs you in a fist fight.

    That said I feel like if I punched Worf in the face I'd break my hand.

    Lol Robert. You got me - I would lose in a fight to a female mixed martial arts champion.

    But the real question is: how would she fare against an elderly obese Klingon suffering a hangover?

    Much better than Heart of Glory we finally get started with the sequence of stories that bring out the the best of the Cosmic Vikings.
    There are plenty of comic book punch outs, a wonderful scene in the Klingon mess hall and I actually liked Wesley's role in this one -trying to assist the over enthusiastic Benzite.

    I would not eat Heart of Karg,though.

    Surprised a few people don't seem to rate Frakes as an actor, I've never seen him in anything else to be fair but in TNG he is a very good performer, can emote very well, and is pretty charismatic IMO

    Very good episode - one of the best of TNG up to this point. Plenty of great scenes as others have mentioned and, overall, a great idea for an episode. The B-Plot of the Benzite on board the Enterprise also worked for me - thought it might be a bit annoying at first with the arrogant, eager-to-please newbie, but you do feel some sympathy for him toward the end.
    What hurts the episode is the Klingon captain acting like an idiot and eager to get into battle with a Federation ally. It's a bit overdone - the whole Klingon warrior/honor thing in his case. Also, how did that alien biological thing get on both ships - did it come from the Benzite's scan early in the episode? No answer was given to this - it's just a plot-device that doesn't get resolved.
    I also agreed with @JohnC's comment - there is a subtlety about Riker getting nailed by the Klingon captain at the end that is important.
    I'd rate it 3/4 stars - one worth watching again for sure. The musical score is also good.

    Collins who portrayed Kargon also played on of the Pakleds in Samaritan Snare and was the voice in the 80s cartoons GI JOE (Cobra Commander) and Transformers (Starscream)

    The Klingon captain was unreasonably and unnecessarily quick to react and prepare for attack to be sure. But there are so many great scenes in this one, in my mind it is a classic. 4 stars

    I always thought Klingons were just big and beefy rather than inherently stronger than humans. So a big chap like Riker should be able to handle one in a scrap.

    Whereas Jack Reacher would beat them all up.

    Love this episode. Does so many things well:

    -- One of Riker's best episodes and elevates the character. Perfect one for the exchange.

    -- The Klingon mess hall scene is some of the best Trek of any show or movie.

    -- This was an important episode in fleshing out the Klingons more.

    -- Excellent blending of two story threads both in terms of plot and thematically (the Benzite on the Enterprise; Riker on the Klingon ship).

    While not in my top 5, I consider this essential "Next Gen" viewing.

    A few commenters here seem to feel that Mendon the Benzite? was arrogant and condescending. While I will not argue against that notion keep in mind that Mendon’s (Benzite?) culture apparently was quite different from the Enterprise/Federation/human culture in key areas. This could cause him to be misperceived as such.

    Probably happens a lot more irl. than we would care to admit.

    Random observation: the Klingon ship looked vague reptiloid. What does that tell us about Klingon design?

    Having not read any of the reviews yet, I'm sure some of the perfectionists have found some minor flaw in this episode. For me, this is top tier Star Trek. Excellent sci fi! Excellent story telling ! 5 stars

    Ona note of interest, isn't it ironic that people who critique other people's work and offer suggestions to improve on it, find a Benzite arrogant and annoying? Methinks the writers are having a good laugh. lol

    I'm sure some of the perfectionists have found some minor flaw in this episode


    Nah - some ordinary people with logical brains found some glaring flaws.

    So Ensign Mendon is not actually Starfleet. He doesn't know the first thing about proper procedures, as he's an officer in the Benzite fleet and is only here because of the exchange program. Also, as mentioned in "Coming of Age," Mordock is the first Benzite in Starfleet, and he only enrolled a year ago. That's all fine, but then why is Mendon wearing a Starfleet uniform, and why did Riker not change into a Klingon uniform? I guess it's a production budget thing, not having to make an expensive Klingon uniform for Riker (apparently Brian Thompson who plays Lieutenant Klag almost didn't get the part because he wouldn't fit in Christopher Lloyd's costume from Star Trek III), and there's lots of Starfleet uniforms for extras and other background characters, but it's kind of confusing. It makes Mendon seem like a clueless new graduate rather than an exchange officer from a different culture. It even tripped up Wesley, after all.

    I do love Riker's feast in Ten Forward, and the follow-up meal in the Pagh's mess hall.

    I just love how clever the transporter is - it can dematerialize people sitting in a chair, then rematerialize them standing up, perfectly balanced! Come to think of it, why is there even need for a 'Transporter Room', since it seems that objects can be transported from anywhere to anywhere at will?

    This one had good suspense. I want to like Riker's clever solution to the problem. However, I am not sure I can believe the other Klingons wouldn't have attacked him after the Klingon captain was beamed over. Was it supposed to show their strict respect for the chain of command? But they do like to challenge and fight others so why wouldn't they just have attacked Riker? I always find the Klingon stories to be half baked, No word for Peace? spare me. Or the idea that the second officer would fight the first officer if they didn't like their performance. That would leave the officers looking over the shoulders. Shouldn't the captain judge the first officer before they are deposed? How would a successful warrior society have to behave? It has to be cohesive after all.

    The ensign on exchange was a light subplot which neither added nor detracted.

    overall 7 just for the suspense.

    I'm not usually a fan of Rikercentric eps, but I'll make an exception for this one. Loved it and all the little touches that brought both the Benzite and the Klingons to life.

    More talk about life and death, but we seem to be taking a turn, in the last few eps, toward focusing more on individual identity - what makes you not just alive, individual.

    WESLEY: How do you tell each other apart? 
    MENDON: We just do. 

    And lots of associated talk about vulnerabilities - what breaks through our outer shells like bacteria on a starship.

    Anyhow - a good one!! Well done in all aspects. Interesting, great sets, well acted, great dialogue - the whole package.

    I’m with DLPB. After a rewatch last night, the Klingons are a supposed “Master Race” yet what we witness is really a crude regurgitation of Might Is Right philosophy. Their code of honor is a patchwork of contradictions and failed ideologies centered around individualism, sexism, racism, and xenophobia yet it requires allegiance/obedience to a hierarchy.

    Their scientists would stab and kill each other designing the console layout on the bridge.

    Their doctors would kill each other trying to decide symptoms of cold vs flu.

    Family honor killings for 10 generations would ensue over naming rights for whether it was Kor Beer or Korath Beer.

    I could do this all day. The single tone writing of TNG Klingons is pure crapulence on display. I actually prefer TOS Klingons. There’s a clear indication that Pakled genealogy at some point intermingled with the Klingon genome. Im guessing about 20 generations prior, some massive extinction level event took place and Pakleds saved the last few remaining Klingons, forever adding their stupidity to Klingon evolution.

    Summary: Okay episode undone by plot contrivance 2/4

    This is an example of the TNG writer not respecting the fan's intelligence. In order to believe the action of this story you have to believe that the Klingon commander is an unhinged idiot anxious to go to battle with an ally. That's sloppy writing, catering to the idea that the ONLY way the fans are going to be interested in the story is if --- ooohhh - the Enterprise is about to be DESTROYED. But we all know the Enterprise isn't going to be destroyed and so there's really no dramatic tension and we spent a good part of the episode wondering why the Klingon Commander is such a moron and how he ever got his job in the first place.

    The interaction between Riker and the Klingon crew ARE great and comprise the really charm and interest in the story. However it would have been much better if the ending had gone something like this:

    (Klingon commander is beamed abroad the Enterprise)
    Picard: Commander Kargan?
    Kargan: Oh hi Picard. A little trick of your first officer. Seemed to think I was losing my grip on my command.
    Picard: How is your ship?
    Kargan: Fine. Fine. I smeared the bacteria over our waste collection section. Got rid of a lot of mess that add collected after our deep space mission. Planting that bacteria was a good test of our officers Picard.
    Picard: Indeed. (Looks over at Mendon.)
    Kargan: But one that Riker failed. He should have tried to kill me for my actions. It'll be a long time before he's a ready to be a Klingon officer, Picard.
    Worf: The Pagh is hailing us.
    Picard: On screen
    Riker: This is command Riker of the Klingon ship, The Pagh. You have 1 hour to clean up the mess you left on our ship or else I'm going to blow you out of the sky!!!
    Picard: We'll get right on commander. Mr. Mendon, beam over to The Pagh and show the Klingons how to remove the bacteria.
    Mendon: (gulps) Uh .. yes sir.
    Kargan: Hmmm maybe it won't take as long as I thought ...

    I've been watching Trek since around TNG's S2, off & on. Caught a bunch of episodes out of order & knew that I liked it but graduated HS & got a "real job" (joined the Army) the same year DS9 premiered. Hence I never got to watch that or VOY as "current" episodes, with the sole exceptions being "Trials And Tribble-Ations" and "Scorpion Pt 1" (caught those solely due to the commercials promoting those eps). Since then I've watched DS9, VOY and ENT in order & am now cherrypicking TOS & TNG eps I haven't seen using this website as a guide.

    That being said, since this IS so late in the game & SO much has been said about all these eps by SO many people, I've debated making any comments. But after discussing this ep and all its charm in Star Trek Online just now, I was compelled to watch it again for nostalgia. Then I realized I hadn't read the review/comments for this, so I checked everything out & decided now's as good a time as any to contribute to the comments for the first time. So here is my debut commentary.

    I really like this episode and WANT to give it 4 stars, but I can't. I feel 3.5 is apropos. Pretty much for all the things that have been mentioned before but also for some stuff that nobody else has brought up. For instance, like everyone else, I am SO enamored with Riker's willingness to fully immerse himself in Klingon culture, starting with their food. That's good.

    However, the conversation that immediately follows the amorous advances of the Klingon females screws it all up. Once Klag mentioned his indifference to his father's fate, it was appropriate for Riker to pipe up "but he's your father". After Klag responds to that, Riker should have let it go. But he doesn't; he repeats "but he's your father!" like as if Klag didn't hear him the first time, or hearing it a second time will give Klag pause. "Oh, he is? Really? Maybe I ought to rethink my position." No. Riker gave his take on the situation based on how HIS culture would handle it, and that's all he's obligated to do. Anything more comes off as arrogant and condescending. This is Klag talking about the dishonor his father suffered, and Klag's resultant feelings. All Klingon. There is no room whatsoever for Riker's commentary, and continuing to offer it is insensitive and, like I said, arrogant. Riker was wrong and I really wish he'd not said it a second time. As a CDR, he should have known better, and considering all the preparation he did for this assignment, he has no excuse.

    As a veteran, I inherently understand thoroughly the concept of "chain of command", and anytime in Trek the military structure is represented, it's almost always done properly, but when it's performed well, it gives me a warm feeling inside. Like "the writers actually GET it!". Such as it was with Mendon jumping the chain and Worf's responses. I've been in both Mendon's and Worf's shoes in situations like that, and every single one of those scenes was pretty much exactly like how it would happen IRL. So, kudos for that.

    @The Dreamer "Collins who portrayed Kargon also played on of the Pakleds in Samaritan Snare and was the voice in the 80s cartoons GI JOE (Cobra Commander) and Transformers (Starscream)"

    Yup, nice to see I wasn't the only one to pick up on that. I preferred this performance to the one he gave as a Pakled for the simple fact that he had more lines & screentime here. Also, to clarify any confusion, Christopher Collins was his billing name when he did live acting, but for voiceovers, he went by Chris Latta. RIP, big guy.

    @Jeffrey Jakucyk "Also, as mentioned in "Coming of Age," Mordock is the first Benzite in Starfleet, and he only enrolled a year ago. That's all fine, but then why is Mendon wearing a Starfleet uniform, and why did Riker not change into a Klingon uniform?"

    This aspect of Mendon bothered me too. It wasn't clarified if he was on another Federation vessel or was a Benzite officer. And I hadn't considered Riker wearing Klingon gear. But I can tell you from experience having worked with/around exchange officers from other countries, they do NOT wear the uniforms of their host countries. So Riker wearing Starfleet gear on the Pagh was 100% correct. But it still doesn't explain Mendon.

    @The River Temarc "In commercial aviation, these incidents led to a lot of discussion about the role of Asian culture in cockpit management."

    I remember reading about those incidents and that's an excellent comparison. Thank you for the food for thought.

    @Tara "But, shouldn't the realistic outcome have been: Riker gets beaten to a pulp and is left to crawl off with a concussion and a couple fractures, while the Klingons laugh and mock and demote him to janitor for the rest of his term?"
    @meister "I am not sure I can believe the other Klingons wouldn't have attacked him after the Klingon captain was beamed over. Was it supposed to show their strict respect for the chain of command? But they do like to challenge and fight others so why wouldn't they just have attacked Riker?"

    Not necessarily. Everyone else on the Klingon ship clearly agrees with Riker but, because of their rank, it's not their place to challenge Kargan; that responsibility lies with Riker, and they know he will do so. However, as evidenced by the ending with Riker "not ducking" Kargan's backhand, they have to go through the song & dance of asserting themselves for protocol's sake yet underneath it all everyone knows the real score. That's precisely why Klag is sympathetic & friendly to Riker at the end, but notice that when they get up, Klag is forceful & assertive when they walk away. Gotta keep up appearances and all...

    Lastly, did anyone else notice that the name of the Klingon vessel (IKS Pagh) is the same exact word that was used in DS9 for the Bajoran concept of one's "lifeforce"? *quotes Kai Opaka* "Your pagh is strong" WTH?

    Sorry for the novel, but you guys have great comments & I didn't want to miss anything. Hope anyone who reads this gets a fraction out of it what I got out of the comments above me.

    I gotta say, while the Riker Transfers To A Klingon Ship plot is solid (with the noted-in-Jammer's-review overall weakness of the character Capt. Kargon), the B-plot with Ensign Mendon is some of the most maudlin, insipid, ham-handed feely-feels tripe that I've ever watched. How did this guy get through the entirety of his orientation (called "indoctrination" here...someone needed a dictionary) without someone asking him "do you understand how Starfleet Vessels handle the chain of command?" and getting a satisfactory answer beyond "yes sir," before allowing him to man a Bridge Science Station??

    The fact that the plot then focuses on how Mendon feels would be ok, except for 2 things;

    1. This guy, while yes layered under some of the weirdest prosthetics I've ever seen, probably couldn't act his way out of a shower without it on. He's terrible. Wil Wheaton, even at this early juncture in his career, was a much better actor.

    2. The dialogue written for these scenes is ridiculously stupid. I don't even have the patience to go into it all, but every single line uttered just makes me want to punch myself for watching it.

    I would cut 1/2 of a star off this score, simply because of how insufferable and whiny Ens. Mendon comes off. They really gotta vet these guys better before assigning bridge duty.

    I have never been fond of Klingo-centric episodes. (Perhaps they're more a 'guy thing'? All that posturing and aggression!) However, there is a lot to like in this: mainly Riker's performance: learning to eat that DISGUSTING diet, behaving in a Klingon-approved fashion, but ultimately being extremely clever by pledging his loyalty to the Klingons while refusing to betray their shared allegiance to the Federation.

    There were so many negatives though: the stupidity of the Klingon captain, the poor acting of the Benzite (not to mention the words almost put into Wesley's mouth: "Well, you all look the same to me"), and the completely unexplained metal 'infection' (sub-atomic bacteria - uh?).

    If I liked Klingon episodes I'd say minimum 3 stars but I'd have to award a subjective 2.5. But Riker put in a 4-star performance, definitely.

    I also really enjoyed the minor scenes in this episode: e.g., Chief O’Brien’s humorous expressions around the Benzite arrival, and his interchange with Riker before transporting him to the Pagh (“I would be scared...”). Wesley’s exchanges with His Benzite counterpart on the bridge. And Dr. Pulaski’s expressions while watching Riker sample Klingon food. Great episode. 4 stars.

    Forgot to mention: Did anyone else notice the inconsistency when Riker argues strongly that his Klingon crew mate about his not having talked to his father for over 2 years (“But he’s your FATHER!), when just a few episodes later Riker is shown to be totally estranged from his own father in The Icarus Factor?

    This Captain is the same actor that played a Pakled captain a little later, and his voice is too similar in each for me to not think Pakled in this episode too.

    > > Did anyone else notice the inconsistency when Riker argues strongly that his Klingon crew mate about his not having talked to his father for over 2 years (“But he’s your FATHER!), when just a few episodes later Riker is shown to be totally estranged from his own father in The Icarus Factor?< <

    Probably not intentional, but in real life this would be known as "projection" - ie. Riker is projecting his daddy issues onto the Klingon.

    Riker might also Ree the rift with his own father as being entirely his father being disappointed in him, and so find the Klingon ostracizing his father due to dishonor hard to understand, since he would deep down like a better relationship with dad if it were in his control. Maybe. (Again, not intentional.)

    This is obviously one of the five best episodes of TNG. I'm not a huge fan of Riker, however, he's a real human unlike Chakotay. Chakotay was miscated. I love the entire cast of Voyager, but TNG had better writing aside aside from Year of Hell and Future's End. Riker can hang with Klingons. He has guts. He's too much of a pussy hound for my tastes, though. He's a great actor that does what he's told. Frakes is a fantastic actor and director.

    TNG isn't perfect. It makes every other new movie stupid, I always desire the intellect it provides. Code of Honor is better than any TOS. The TOS movies are gold, aside from Shatner being a a moronic POS. I'm so bored watching TOS. Kelley was a genius. So was Nemoy. The alternative movies are pure shit. TOS movies were excellent, Shatner is Republican. 5 sucks.

    First Contract is the best film. Take out the Borq Queen and Data and it barely beats Khan aka 2. Data's human tendencies became amnoying. It's perfect other than that. Brent Spiner has massive range. The writing there was trash.

    @Justin why do you think Chakotay was miscast? And what's wrong with being a pushy hound?

    Great episode! This expanded the world of the Klingons more than ever before to that point. It has great comedic relief on both the Klingon ship and the Enterprise, although Worf wasn't too amused with the Benzite intern.

    I agree that the one thing holding this back is the wooden Klingon captain. He's a total doofus and does not exemplify the power and respect that one would expect from a Klingon captain.

    Klingons are much stronger than humans but Riker used deception and skill to beat up the Klingon. He got him with a quick cheap shot and then went from there. Usually our Trek heroes look silly going up against the "alien of the week" but this was a good moment for Riker.

    As a first-time watcher of S1 and S2, I can say without question that this is the first really involving episode of TNG I've encountered. Of course there have been good shows before this one -- the Bynars one, the Moriarity one, etc. -- but this episode really felt like classic Trek. 34th try, apparently, was the charm. :)

    "I am your captain now." -- I hadn't realized that Captain Phillips all but quotes this episode.

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