Star Trek: The Next Generation

"The Vengeance Factor"

2 stars

Air date: 11/20/1989
Written by Sam Rolfe
Directed by Timothy Bond

Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan

The Enterprise is pulled into mediating an agreement involving the Acamarians and their renegade subculture of "Gatherers" (a better word would be "pirates"), who broke off from mainstream Acamarian society a century ago and now live as criminal exiles. Acamarian leader Marouk (Nancy Parsons) reluctantly agrees to try to bring the Gatherers back into her society now that Acamarian life has given up its warlike ways.

Picard attempts to get everyone to sit down together at the negotiation table, but it won't be easy. The Gatherers open fire at the first sight of anyone that comes near their camp. The leader of this particular clan of Gatherers is Brull (Joey Aresco), who agrees to the negotiations. But there's also a murderer going around killing very specific Gatherer individuals, taking revenge (we eventually learn) in a long-ago blood feud. The killer, unbeknownst to everyone but us, is Yuta (Lisa Wilcox), who is Marouk's personal servant and also a young woman that Riker attempts to romance.

"The Vengeance Factor" is a borderline incoherent mess, with a plot that — okay, it does hold together, but it's a really rough road to get there. There are too many characters and not enough investment in any of them. There is no clear line of drama, making it very difficult to become involved in the story. We get dull negotiation scenes, then lackluster romantic scenes, then halfhearted character scenes. The story initially makes much of Brull, an obnoxious vulgarian who is at first menacing and then kind of likable, and then he becomes irrelevant to the story and disappears. The "romantic" scenes between Riker and Yuta are awkward and ineffective. They serve only to set up the final act, in which Riker is tragically forced to kill Yuta to stop her from carrying out the story's titular vengeance factor. The story's message is acceptable. Its execution is not.

Previous episode: The Price
Next episode: The Defector

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100 comments on this post

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Rikko
Mon, Oct 15, 2012, 11:02pm (UTC -5)
I just watched this and I'd better get to it before it vanish from my memory.

I couldn't agree more with your review, the whole show was so..uninteresting.

I just felt apathetic. Those people were there doing stuff I didn't care about, and the Enterprise crew was almost like an unwelcomed third party.

The Vengeance Factor can also boast of some really bad guest-actors.

Now I want my 45 minutes back :/
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xaaos
Mon, Nov 26, 2012, 4:29pm (UTC -5)
Why did Riker had to kill Yuta in the end? Couldn't he simply instead shoot her unconscious to the floor?

And Picard was watching her vaporised and he looked passive like watching a boring soap opera...

Worst episode of this season so far and totally forgetable.
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linguist
Tue, Dec 11, 2012, 11:24pm (UTC -5)
"tragically forced to kill Yuta" What? No, Riker could have just knocked her out with more stun blasts, or tackled her. Or the intended victim could have stood up and ran away. Or one of the people could have been beamed away.
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Josh
Mon, Dec 17, 2012, 7:49pm (UTC -5)
I'm not sure why, but I've always really liked this one. Marouk made an interesting leader, and the episode painted a detailed picture of the Acamarian civilization. Anyway, agreed about the general stupidity of killing off Yuta.

What struck me more is how transparently Riker hits on Yuta throughout the episode. How often does he get this personally involved? Only a few episodes later his indiscretions (admittedly not all his fault likely) get him put on trial for murder.

On the other hand, that does provide the immortal line - You're a dead man, Apgar! A dead man!
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William B
Mon, May 6, 2013, 2:53pm (UTC -5)
It is amazing how Kirkesque Riker is in this episode. He's always a Kirk figure, but somehow his combination of transparent, overbearing flirting with almost willful naivete that other cultures may be different from his own and that he can't actually just save a woman by talking about freedom at her feels like Kirk in some of the worst TOS episodes (though it's not as bad as something like "The Gamesters of Triskelion," which puts these traits of Kirk's on display at the very worst). For the most part, the romance is from Yuta's point of view, not Riker's; we have no real idea why Riker likes her except that she's pretty and servile -- and that makes it tough. Riker is not creepy exactly, because Yuta does respond to his affections pretty fast, but for Riker to ask Yuta to change her behaviour to be a Free Woman "in the ways of love" is deeply frustrating. If you want to meddle in the life of someone who clearly has very little conception of freedom, maybe trying to sleep with them and berate them for responding to that clear desire of yours isn't the best way to go about it. That Riker doesn't talk to anyone else (on screen) about his deeply wounded feelings about Yuta's plight also make his feelings hard to take. If he cares about her plight and he should at least discuss the implications of the fact that Ackamarian society seems to encourage an inappropriate level of servitude with someone else; if it is inappropriate to interfere for Prime Directive reasons he should step away, but if it's not inappropriate to interfere maybe he should try to do something to help Yuta besides bed her, like try to find out whether the Ackamarian society is screwed up in some way Picard et al. don't know about (which would certainly affect the negotiations).

I think the suggestion is that Riker couldn't stun Yuta -- that he tried and kept putting the phaser to different settings in order to stop her, and she just kept coming forward like a Terminator. This is implausible but I assume that it's covered under the same genetic procedure that makes her not age, as she unsubtly exposits in the final scene. Of course, that doesn't explain why Riker didn't consider any other options, like asking O'Brien to beam Yuta up or simply telling the other leader to move. Hell, the fact that the leader sits there staring dumbly makes me feel resentful that she didn't kill him, if that is his level of intelligence/self-preservation.

This episode also is one in which Picard's abilities are exaggerated to the point of parody. Because Picard is annoyed with the Gatherers' raiding parties, enough's enough -- he's going to singlehandedly end a century-long feud in a couple of days, *and does*. Stewart is game, of course, and Picard's diplomacy is entertaining as ever, but it's flatly ridiculous that all it takes is for Picard to decide that the Ackamarians should take the Gatherers back because it's inconvenient for the Gatherers to be hanging about raiding starbases (and for Yuta to be killed) for all the problems to go away.

Plot holes don't bother me all that much except in episodes where I'm already bored or annoyed. This is one of those episodes. The Ackamarians and Gatherers don't look to me like a society who have found out how to genetically engineer immortality, to be frankly honest; but more than that, the idea that Yuta's whole identity is based around the dedication to her vengeance mission, to the point where she has no idea how to make out with someone without single-minded servitude, doesn't really square with the fact that Yuta has somehow been hanging about Ackamar III for fifty years without killing other members of the clan. Are we to believe that Yuta seriously never had personal growth or whatever in the half-century when she was waiting around for an opportunity to kill the other gang members, presumably switching jobs and identities every few years so that others wouldn't catch on that she doesn't age? Was she just, what, waiting around for fifty years in the hopes that eventually Captain Picard would show up to suggest diplomacy?

For all that, I actually like some things about the episode -- Yuta herself has a certain tragedy to her, even if she's horribly underdeveloped. That ultimately she can't set aside her vengeance makes sense, especially when considering that she is the last of a massacred, genocided clan; it is not easy to put that aside and the episode represents a real truth that way. (It's funny to compare the hardline stance Yuta takes with the way Picard can talk Martouk and the various Gatherers out of positions they've held for centuries in a couple of minutes.) Brull is entertaining if ultimately pointless. Still, this is a bad show and near the bottom of season three. 1.5 stars.
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Steve
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 2:19am (UTC -5)
It's strange, I don't recall ever having seen this episode before today. I found the buildup to the climax interesting enough, but I think William B highlights all the important points. To say Riker 'flirted' with Yuta is putting it mildly, it was practically 'your place or mine' at first glance. I couldn't figure out why Riker vaporized her at the end; I found myself talking to the screen telling the leader of the Gatherers to move! Couldn't all those unaffected by the virus restrain her? But everyone else becomes irrelevant in that final scene. There are interesting ideas, but it was a poorly thought out episode and not one I'm in a hurry to rewatch.
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Rikko
Sat, Jan 25, 2014, 9:15pm (UTC -5)
This episode could fit just fine in either Season 1 or 2, because it's a mess with a good idea executed very poorly. Just like most episodes of those early seasons.

Honestly, one of the worst S3 eps (but not the worst).
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Andrew
Wed, Apr 15, 2015, 9:01am (UTC -5)
This episode felt too much like a remake/update of "The Conscience of the King," with Kirk and Riker both acting out of character but Kirk to a lesser degree but being more moving.
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bhbor
Mon, Apr 20, 2015, 5:07am (UTC -5)
Space diaspora. Interesting I guess. I found the gatherers entertaining and interesting although I don't completely buy why the federation is involved. These guys could make a show in and of themselves but this is Star Trek, not the space gypsy hour.
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Luke
Thu, May 28, 2015, 11:55pm (UTC -5)
I first became a fan of Star Trek when TNG had just started its final season. That means I missed the first six seasons of it and the first season of DS9 when they originally aired. I also missed the last 2 and a half seasons of DS9 and the last four seasons of VOY (but that's another story). I only got to see the vast bulk of TNG on re-runs and had to wait until Trek was released on DVD to see the rest of DS9 and VOY, not to mention ENT. The point I'm getting at here is that it took me a LONG, LONG time to see every episode, especially of TNG. And "The Vengeance Factor" may very well have been the last one I managed to get ahold of.

Having gone back and re-watched it again now, I have to say that I can understand why the re-runs would often skip this one. "The Vengeance Factor" is DULL, DULL, DULL! Jammer absolutely nails it with - "There are too many characters and not enough investment in any of them. There is no clear line of drama, making it very difficult to become involved in the story."

First we have a story about an attack on a Federation outpost. We almost immediately then shift into a story about reintegration of cultural malcontents (a reintegration that Picard seems to force on them in many ways - that leaves a bad taste in my mouth) (also, the way the Enterprise crew and the Acamarians show open contempt for Gatherer society and cultural norms doesn't really speak well for integration, does it?). That then gets diverted into a romance plot for Riker. After that we're jack-knifed into plodding negotiation scenes that go nowhere. Finally the episode decides to actually have its title have a semblance of relevance and focus on Yuta's blood feud. Good lord, the only episode thus far that comes close to this level of warp-speed plot shifting was "Up the Long Ladder." Thankfully "The Vengeance Factor" isn't that bad. Still, couldn't they have just picked a plot and developed it instead of giving us all these half-hearted ones?

There is also the fact that I just don't care about the Acamarians and the Gatherers and that only increases the dullness. If this episode dealt with an established alien species (Andorians or Tellerites come to my mind) it would have been much more interesting. As it is, we've never seen these people before and we'll never see them again, so what's the point?

4/10
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Diamond Dave
Thu, Sep 3, 2015, 1:49pm (UTC -5)
One of those episodes that turns out to be desperately uninvolving, if not actively bad. The Enterprise crew seem to have nothing to do except bang heads together when necessary, and after having dealt with one uninteresting negotiation scene we then get to do it all again with another.

Riker cracks on to Yuta instantly, and in front of the Sovereign too, but the relationship has to move fast because it's the only bit of the episode that really has a pay off - as he guns her down at the end.

So this has a couple of nice moments but overall - 1.5 stars.
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DLPB
Sat, Sep 19, 2015, 8:56pm (UTC -5)
This episode might work better if there was even a believable chance that these losers could integrate well into the society. Picard seems to be mediating a lost cause, while the audience is being told to shut their brain off.
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Kiamau
Sun, Oct 11, 2015, 12:13am (UTC -5)
When the away team's on the planet and Riker calls out for them to vaporise the noranium, he, Geordi and Data shoot the noranium but Worf clearly fires up at the Pirates. Classic Worf. And the only thing good about this episode.
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Dan L.
Sun, Feb 28, 2016, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
Not a great episode, but does have that classic Worf line: "Your ambushes would be more successful if you bathed more often!" Funniest Worf line in the whole series
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nothingoriginal55
Mon, May 30, 2016, 11:59am (UTC -5)
It seems wierd for the federation to help a society who believes in slavery.
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Chrome
Mon, May 30, 2016, 9:30pm (UTC -5)
@Kiamau

"When the away team's on the planet and Riker calls out for them to vaporise the noranium, he, Geordi and Data shoot the noranium but Worf clearly fires up at the Pirates. Classic Worf."

Worf was providing suppressing fire. Riker, Geordi, and Data needed to stand to make their shot at the noranium. If Worf wasn't firing at the Gatherers, the three would've been easy targets.

Also, this one's alright with me. We actually see Riker make some smart command decisions in spite of his libido and it basically saves the mission. 2.5 stars.
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Chrome
Mon, May 30, 2016, 9:52pm (UTC -5)
Oh, and I disagree with Jammer when he says there isn't a line of drama. If Yuta had successfully assassinated Chorgan, the Enterprise's efforts for peace would've fallen apart. The tension was present the whole episode as we were presented with a fragile relationship between the Acamarians and the Gatherers.

Again, Riker had a *chance* to take on a Kirk role in this episode and he passed on it so he could do his job.
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Aaron Sweeney
Sun, Jul 10, 2016, 8:26am (UTC -5)
The only thing I remember from this episode was the woman with the (poorly applied) gray streak in her hair. This episode looks and feels like a s2 ep too me -- bad acting, mess of a plot, etc.

Although of course it's never spelled out, I just assumed that what ever the procedure that was done to Yuta gave her a flat affect as a side effect. I agree that Yuta didn't need to be killed. Also, since Crusher mentioned that there were so many ways to distribute the nano-virus (or whatever it's called) Yuta could have just coughed on him and killed him, although that's hardly melodramatic enough for this stinker of an episode. One star (two stars if it had been a season two ep because Dr. Pulaski would have somewhat elevated the material).
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Dusty
Sun, Aug 21, 2016, 7:09pm (UTC -5)
A forgettable muddle for the most part. The Acamarian/Gatherer culture war doesn't interest me much, and out of the characters involved--poor actors all--only Brull and Yuta leave any sort of impression; as Jammer points out Brull did get to be sort of likeable before succumbing to irrelevance, and I find Yuta to be both exceptionally attractive and a rather tragic figure, the last casualty of the "old ways." I liked the fake beam-out trick Riker used on the Gatherers, countering an ambush with another ambush. His nonstop flirting got on my nerves but the scenes with him and Yuta were the best. Two stars is about right for this one.
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Walter E. Gough
Tue, Nov 29, 2016, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
The Gatherers looked like an out-of-work 80s metal band. Kept waiting for them to break out the guitars and amps.
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DLPB
Thu, Feb 9, 2017, 4:51pm (UTC -5)
LMAO Walter!

I always end up rewatching episodes, like this one. Another thing struck me. What, exactly, do these people offer? If a bunch of savage outcasts wanted to come back to your world after you'd made it nice and homely, you'd only allow it if you needed something. Some sort of mutual benefit. There doesn't appear to be one here. Basically Picard is asking one side to make all the concessions for absolutely nothing! In fact, worse than nothing - because it will cost money and probably lives to get these rockers back integrated.
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Braka
Fri, May 19, 2017, 9:59am (UTC -5)
When I first saw the Gatherer leader I was sure it was Robbie Coltrane.

On the 'why the hell did Riker have to kill Yuta' thing, I noticed a couple of episodes later the order is given to set phasers to 'maximum stun', and the LEDs lit up exactly the same way. So unless Riker switched from 'stun' to 'kill' with a separate switch, and there are various degrees of 'kill' as well, the phaser was really on maximum stun, and I guess Yuta just vaporized due to a misunderstanding.

This is as good a time as any to have this out (and I can't imagine it hasn't been done elsewhere on this site): I've long had a problem with this simplistic stun/kill option on phasers (well, ok, they apparently have degrees of 'stun' (and possibly degrees of 'kill'?)), but you rarely hear anyone ordered to differentiate between settings other than stun vs kill. How many individuals with epilepsy, pacemakers, cardiac problems of any sort, or any number of unpredictable medical conditions have been 'stunned' with no effect other than being rendered briefly unconscious (which in itself ought to have more serious and unpredictable effects than it apparently does)? Someone can probably explain to me exactly what sort of energy these things deploy, but at 'stun' they seem to basically be Tasers on steroids (Phaser/Taser - surely a coincidence).
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Jammer
Fri, May 19, 2017, 12:12pm (UTC -5)
Fun fact: The assassins in Star Trek VI were killed with "phasers on stun at close range" and they had clearly been shot in the head. So apparently a stun setting can kill in the right circumstances. Or maybe, more likely, these things are just at the convenience of the plot du jour.
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Peter G.
Fri, May 19, 2017, 1:35pm (UTC -5)
"The assassins in Star Trek VI were killed with "phasers on stun at close range" and they had clearly been shot in the head."

Oh - I had forgotten that! Thanks for the reminder. According to Memory Alpha, Starfleet type-II phasors have 16 settings, so "stun" is likely a verbal approximation for a specific range of lower settings. Here's Memory Alpha's rundown of specific phasor strengths, as mentioned in various episodes:

"Level one: lowest setting, Light Stun, capable of stunning most base humanoids for approximately five minutes. According to Starfleet regulations all phasers must be stored at this setting. Possesses enough force to break large urns. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Technical Manual; TNG: "Aquiel"; TAS: "The Lorelei Signal")

Level seven: Capable of vaporizing noranium carbide alloy. (TNG: "The Vengeance Factor")

Level ten: Kill setting, capable of killing a biological organism. (TNG: "Aquiel")

Level sixteen: Capable of vaporizing rock to widen an opening in a lava tube partially blocked by rubble, or blowing large holes in walls. (TNG: "Chain of Command, Part I", "Frame of Mind")"

Based on this it would appear that 'heavy stun' would probably be in the 3-7 or 3-8 range, if level 7 can already vaporize certain materials, and depending on how durable the hide/exoskeleton of a given life form is. Level 7-8 might kill a more fragile entity, while 10 probably means it will kill the majority of life forms.
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Planet of Hats
Wed, Aug 9, 2017, 8:27pm (UTC -5)
The pacing of this episode is just so bad. The episode just spends a bunch of time characterizing all these meaningless characters who don't do anything compelling. The dialogue's pretty rotten and the point of the episode is lost among all the constant overly-rapid deluge of minor plot points. It's just bing-bing-bing-bing-bing-bing and nothing sits long enough to register.
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borusa
Wed, Aug 23, 2017, 3:31pm (UTC -5)
The episode starts off as a rather lacklustre plod through unconvincing ' Cloud Minder' territory but in the last Act transcends this admittedly dull premise.
The final scenes are great.
As to the idea that Riker could have rendered Yuta unconscious -well I thought that it was made clear that she has been transformed on a cellular level to complete her task ( incidentally a very similar idea crops up in an episode of UFO from 1970) so disintegration was the only way to stop her.

4 stars from me.
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Startrekwatcher
Sat, Sep 9, 2017, 3:33pm (UTC -5)
3 stars. An entertaining hour

Yuta's story was so tragic--feeling trapped by a misplaced allegiance to her clan that denied her a chance at her own happiness and path I enjoyed her and the Sovereign--ooh tough old broad she was.
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digitaurus
Sun, Sep 24, 2017, 12:20pm (UTC -5)
In this episode we learn the consequences of refusing to sleep with Riker. I'm guessing if he HAD slept with her he would have found a way to stop her without vaporising her.

Seriously, was this kind of sexist behaviour acceptable back in the 80s?
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RandomThoughts
Mon, Oct 2, 2017, 11:22pm (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@digitaurus

I believe she Did want to sleep with him: *don't you want me to give you pleasure?*, or something along those lines. When he replied yes, but he wanted to give her pleasure in return, as equals, she said she could never feel pleasure again. They talk a bit more and then the ship is under attack and it is left at that.

She didn't refuse, quite the opposite.

Regards... RT
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Dusty
Thu, Nov 9, 2017, 5:22pm (UTC -5)
Other quotes that stand out after seeing this one again...

"Yuta, you're an excellent chef, but you speak in riddles." Who wrote that line? It's such a non sequitur. Is there some weird intergalactic law that chefs are forbidden to speak in riddles? If so, they'd better repeal it immediately. Yuta can't afford to lose her mystique. With this script, her character doesn't have much else going for it. xD

"Was I that obvious?"
"Yes."
Let me put it this way, Riker. If there were an Obvious Meter, you would be only a few notches below "huh-huhuhuhuh...hey, baby...huh-huhuhuhuh...wanna...do it?"

"Chorgan? This is Jean-Luc Picard of the Enterpri--"
*PEW PEW*

"Hahahahaha! FAAAA-aaaaarrrrm??"

On a more serious note: the entire final scene is wrongheaded. As soon as his friend got stunned by Riker's phaser, Chorgan would have IMMEDIATELY jumped to his feet and stepped back from the table, attempting to intervene. He would not just stay in his chair. But the scene requires him to so he can be a sitting duck for Yuta. Not even Picard gets up; he simply stares into space, perhaps daydreaming of France, as a woman is vaporized right in front of him. Didn't anyone involved in filming this scene realize how contrived it was? All Riker and the others had to do was physically get between Yuta and Chorgan and then restrain her. If that's not possible because of her genetically engineered abilities, show us. Have her throw aside everyone who gets in her way and corner Chorgan. Except even that wouldn't fly - because as William B mentioned, why use force at all when you can just beam her aboard the Enterprise far away from her target and subdue her there?

Now that I think about it, Yuta serving the Sovereign makes little sense. If your goal is to eliminate all remaining members of the Lornak clan, and all the Lornak are apparently Gatherers, why would you tie yourself to someone who resents the Gatherers and therefore is unlikely to come in contact with them? How long had she been a servant, anyway?

Poorly thought out as it is, Yuta's death does leave a powerful impression on me - something the episode had been lacking up to that point.
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Mary
Wed, Mar 21, 2018, 5:07pm (UTC -5)
I hadn't seen this in years, and I just found this blog, so I thought I'd comment. The WTF moment for me was when Riker and Crusher took that little slit of face from the picture, reconstructed the face, then assumed that the person from 50 years ago was Yuta. I remember the very first time I saw this episode I thought at first it was her mother or grandmother. Why would they jump to the conclusion that it was Yuta?
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Peter Swinkels
Tue, Mar 27, 2018, 4:21pm (UTC -5)
Perhaps Yuta had to be vaporised to be certain the virus she was carrying was destroyed?
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Sarjenka's Little Brother
Wed, Apr 25, 2018, 4:42pm (UTC -5)
"YOU PEOPLE HAVEN'T CHANGED IN A HUNDRED YEARS!" bellowed the Sovereign. That line always stood out to me.

So-so for Season 3. This actually would have been a great second show after "Farpoint" on Season 1.
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Rahul
Tue, May 1, 2018, 6:22pm (UTC -5)
Weak episode in arguably the best season of TNG -- feels like it was made during Season 1 with the terrible guest actors and their wooden performances, cheesy bad guy outfits and badly executed mess of a story.

Riker's romance with Yuta was all kind of awkward, boring, and forced. It all served to set up the only half-decent scene in the entire episode when Riker kills her to prevent her from killing one of the main gatherers. But this scene could have been much more poignant if the actress playing Yuta was more emotive and we felt that the romance actually had substance.

The whole thing with the Acamarians and their Gatherer outlaws -- it was just presented in a way that made it hard to care about them. Contrast this with say "The High Ground" where we actually understand the terrorists and the policemen's viewpoint. Those felt like genuine people. In this episode, both parties are full of razor thin characters. The first thing I wondered when I saw Marouk, the sovereign, is if Louise Fletcher (Kai Winn) was playing her.

It would seem some of these clans are pretty advanced but they still can't get over this stupid vengeance idea. Yuta has this perfect virus designed to instantly kill a specific clan and she's been transformed into some kind of being that doesn't age. She says she hasn't been able to feel pleasure of passion (convenient since she doesn't know how to act it either). Found her whole deal farfetched. But Riker seemed disturbed at killing her as the episode ended.

Barely 2 stars for "The Vengeance Factor" -- forgettable episode although I did like seeing Picard taking charge as negotiator. He seemed to know the right things to say at the right time, as usual. Really felt like the immature TNG at work here.
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JerJer
Wed, Jun 6, 2018, 10:53am (UTC -5)
Riker wanted a "tasty dish", and Yuta sure gave it to him.
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mephyve
Thu, Jun 14, 2018, 8:49am (UTC -5)
Ok episode. Nothing to highlight.
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Kevin
Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 5:20pm (UTC -5)
Yawn fest.......unless you're a fan of foolishness and Picard's "diplomatic" abilities....TG he wasnt around for 21st century conflicts....UGH...and I'm being kind!
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RandomThoughts
Tue, Jun 19, 2018, 4:49am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

I probably liked this one more than I should have. When I saw it originally, I'm fairly certain I was just starting to really like TNG again. I'd stopped watching it for a bit after season one (heresy I know), but had seen an earlier season three episode that brought me back. Perhaps this one touched me because of the Guest Star Joey Aresco, who played "Hutch" on "Baa Baa Black Sheep", the somewhat real/fictional depiction of the United States Marine 214th squadron during World War II (the show later renamed Black Sheep Squadron, because it sounded like a kids show... go figure the parents couldn't figure it out after the dogfights...).

But I digress.

It really sounded like something weird and boring Starfleet would actually do. We'd heard many times about one Starship or another heading out to do some diplomatic work, and usually only in the Captain's logs... (while heading to a conference about the problems on Melba 2, and if they should be called "Toast", we encountered an Anomaly...).

Here is an actual weird, boring problem the crew has to solve or make better. Yes, it was started with something being stolen, but in the entirety of the known Galaxy... it's actually somewhat mundane. It is something they do all the time, and it just got a little hotter than they were used to. A few baddies stealing something? Really? Mundane...

For years when watching TOS, I'd yearned to see some "normal" stories. Something on K-7, or something that was just on their normal patrol and involved the "regular", day to day operations. Everything always seemed to be ship or Galaxy shattering... if they didn't get it just right, all was lost. In my re-birth of watching TNG, this was mundane, and perfect. Perhaps that is why I liked it so much. If they didn't get the result they wanted, no-one would care! The folks can duke it out until their sun goes nova! And we'll say we tried and then head out to taste some new variations on toast...

As always, your mileage may vary... but Two Thumbs up for Me...

RT
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Prince of Space
Thu, Jul 12, 2018, 1:56am (UTC -5)
I totally get what you’re saying, RT. Just kind of a “day in the life of the Enterprise” type episode.

Nicely stated, I really hadn’t thought of it that way.

Moving on, however... I just adore digitaurus up there with the fake outrage and not-so-subtle innuendo at how much more ‘enlightened’ they are. haha

Oh, InterwebZ... you never cease to amuse. ;-)
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RandomThoughts
Wed, Oct 10, 2018, 3:27am (UTC -5)
Hello Everyone!

@Prince of Space

Thank you for the nice comment, it was much appreciated. :)

Regards... RT
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11001001
Sat, Dec 29, 2018, 10:21pm (UTC -5)
Worf in "Conspiracy"
"Swimming is too much like bathing." [he says with a derisive sneer, about visiting Pacifica]

Worf in "The Vengeance Factor"
"Your ambushes would be more successful if you bathed more often!"

Wat?

Actually I guess this could be explained away neatly if one assumed that, while Klingons do not like immersing themselves in water, Worf is a proponent of the sonic shower, and he was using the term "bathe" in the generic sense of "cleanse" in the second quote. Maybe it's even Starfleet regulations that you have to use the sonic shower, who knows. It is amusing to think that Worf smelled the Gatherers coming though.

This episode was suitably creepy and maybe even a bit chilling when I was a kid (Riker: 53 years and she hasn't aged a day). I actually didn't find it as boring as others, because of the settings and costumes, and the concept of the genetic modification used to execute the vengeance. It seems implausible now, yes. But this episode had something to it, in terms of mood, that worked for me.

I especially like Volnath's costume. It was cool looking, but in a very 80s way, like something out of Masters of the Universe. Or maybe like one of the bad guys from Farscape (who I only know vaguely because I haven't seen much of that show). Then again, it kind of looked like Volnath was doing Borg cosplay using parts he found around the encampment.

Brull was very 80s too, because of the damn mullet. His characterization was not very subtle. I found it annoying and unrealistic that he stole a guy's drink right out of his hand, in Ten-forward. Just to drive home to the audience that he's a dick? But a dick for no reason, because he was in a place where he could have ordered one himself for free.

Based on the dialogue, Wes' homework was something involving curved space-time as described by General Relativity, but Wheaton pronounced "Riemannian" (as in Riemannian Geometry) incorrectly.

Braka
Fri, May 19, 2017, 9:59am (UTC -6)

"This is as good a time as any to have this out (and I can't imagine it hasn't been done elsewhere on this site): I've long had a problem with this simplistic stun/kill option on phasers (well, ok, they apparently have degrees of 'stun' (and possibly degrees of 'kill'?)), but you rarely hear anyone ordered to differentiate between settings other than stun vs kill."

Braka, this is a strange complaint to have about the episode that explicitly mentions the existence of "setting 7" *in the dialogue* (when they vapourize the noranium alloy to create a smoke screen during the firefight with the Gatherers)

I know that not everyone was enough of a nerd to read the TNG Technical Manual the way I did growing up, but nonethless, it's *known* (established on screen) that phaser Type I has 8 settings, and that phaser Type II supplements this with 8 more settings, up to setting 16. It's also known that settings 1-3 are the stun settings (light, medium, and heavy) And they're consistent about this, see DS9 Homefront/Paradise Lost on finding the right stun setting to reveal a Changeling. Anything above setting 4 kills. I suspect anything above setting 6 or so starts to vapourize (but it's been a long time since I read the Technical Manual :p)

Braka, if you saw Riker charge up to the same set of LEDs in a later episode and call it "heavy stun", then the show's producers fucked up. Actually they fucked up here too, because he clearly charges the phaser up *all the way*: both rows of 8 LEDs are illuminated, meaning he was using setting 16, the highest setting. This, of course, is ludicrous, because if he had missed, or taken his thumb off the firing button a fraction of a second too late, he would have vapourized the entire table, and Picard, and Marouk, and Chorgan, and probably blown a hole through the deckplate of the ship. I have a whole rant on this in the thread for DS9 The Siege of AR-558, but it suffices to say that anything much above setting 6 is probably far too powerful to be practical for a sidearm.

The Vengeance Factor: let's say 5/10
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Bobby Carly
Tue, Jan 22, 2019, 1:37pm (UTC -5)
The climax is utterly absurd. As others surely have questioned (I'll vent first and peruse after), isn't Riker guilty of employing excessive force against Uta, and therefore guilty of murder? Why not continue to stun her. It clearly was affecting her. Keep zapping until she collapses. Or perhaps direct Worf to enclose her in a containment field. They've done this with other humanoids. And the guy that Uta was trying to kill: why didn't he run away, and why did Riker emplore him to sit still?! And why do most of the gatherers look, dress, and act just like Bender from The Breakfast Club?!
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Birds of Canada
Wed, Feb 13, 2019, 6:50pm (UTC -5)
My single biggest Star Trek pet peeve--preposterous one-off applications of immortality, with this episode being the second worst offender after "Battle Lines".

It can work in fantasy because magic is generally supposed to act in a purposeful way, so immortality being an integral part of some otherwise horrible package deal makes sense--trying to devise some way to get the immortality on its own while weaseling out on the rest is liable to be a dangerous and foolhardy exercise.

In sci-fi OTOH nature is generally depicted as blind to purpose or intent, so it's never going to be plausible unless you can come up with a REALLY good reason why something like that doesn't immediately get seized on and exploited out the wazoo by everybody.

"But it makes you feel numb inside" just doesn't cut it, heck for Vulcans it would actually be a selling point.
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Meister
Thu, Mar 21, 2019, 8:15pm (UTC -5)
Um the 80s called, they want their Hair Metal Bands back

A filler episode with a ridonkulous wild west ending. I did like Riker looking serious but not pompous.

I dunno 4/10?
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Dennis
Wed, Apr 3, 2019, 9:57am (UTC -5)
I think i read somewhere that Roddenberry was on Vacay, or something like that, when this episode was being shot, and when he got back, and found out that Riker killed Yuta outright, he had a cow.......

Totally ridiculous ending. As others pointed out, there were numerous methods to either restrain her, or get her target out of the way.
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Smith
Thu, Aug 8, 2019, 1:09am (UTC -5)
The ending with Yuta being killed:

I choose to view this in the metaphorical/messaging way... otherwise it's too disturbing and even extra sad.

In terms of the messaging, I think I get it. Yuta was set on vengeance, obsessed even and drive in this singular direction - and I actually feel a lot of sympathy for her and get it and maybe many of us might do the same thing in her position if our entire family, community, peoples were eradicated from the face of the Earth for all time - but the messaging at the end seems to be that she was making a choice, or she just couldn't back away from it after all this time, and all that. And even though Riker was torn up about it, he did what he thought was right - I think this is sort of the messaging. But at any rate, I think this must have been written with messaging in mind.

Because when it comes to literal... it makes no sense. There are many people on the ship, they could have restrained her. If her weapon is genetically specific to the person she was aiming to kill, then the others' lives would not be at risk. The brandy seems to just be brandy, as the others are drinking it. There is no mention of her having super strength or a different weapon or anything. I don't see why Riker and others, even Captain Picard could have gotten up and restrained her. It felt wrong watching as Picard and others just stood there watching as someone was killed, and it felt horrible to see Riker kill her, and it occurred over a long enough period of time where someone could have easily gotten up. And as others have mentioned, maybe keep stunning her. Maybe beam her off the ship if that's an option. Perhaps someone could have pulled the potential victim away. Etc etc.

So if we watch this in the literal sense - or whatever the word is - I think it's too disturbing, it just doesn't really add up. But if we watch it in the metaphorical/messaging sense, okay I get it.

It's really sad that Yuta died.
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Joe Menta
Thu, Aug 8, 2019, 8:25am (UTC -5)
Braka: Your comment about the vagueness of the stun/kill settings on a phaser brings up my own pet peeve, namely the broadness of the self-destruct order. Whenever the computer is asked to initiate a self-destruct countdown, the FIRST thing the computer should respond with is, “Define parameters. Destruct ship only or a defined area surrounding the Enterprise? If the latter, specify surrounding distance.” There are situations where they only want to destroy the ship itself for whatever reason, and situations where they want to initiate a major matter/anti-matter explosion to take a large chunk of space around them with it (like in the deleted scenes of ST:TNG where they consider destroying the ship in order to destroy the huge V’GER structure around them). But they never cover this extra step when doing self-destruct scenes. I guess it would slow down the drama.
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Springy
Thu, Oct 3, 2019, 9:13pm (UTC -5)
Last ep, Deanna romance, this ep, Riker romance - even less believable or interesting.

Did not like the ep. The technobabble about microviruses and the clans and the unlikely negotiations and the barely plausible motivation for our ageless murderer (one gets the idea the age-slowing was introduced just to allow her to be young and pretty for Riker) . . . just all very contrived from beginning to end, especially distraught and disturbed Riker at the end.

Ugh. Very little redeeming value here. I guess the moral of the story is that devoting your life to vengeance is bad. You have to put up with being a servant to cranky older ladies and your romances really go south.
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William B
Fri, Oct 4, 2019, 9:42am (UTC -5)
@Springy, if it's any consolation I think this is the worst of the season, with one possible exception.
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Fenn
Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 8:09am (UTC -5)
Not much that stands out here, I was pretty uninvolved throughout, but I was surprisingly touched by the moment where Riker refuses to go any further with Yuta on finding out she won't be able to get anything out of it herself. He ain't a selfish lover, that's for sure...!

I feel like Riker deciding to go no further here is better than all the horny Riker moments we've had up to this point -- we don't exactly need more proof that He Likes Sexing Womans, but this was a good moment for him *caring* on top of it. He's horny with a heart, dammit.

(Fits well with the moment last episode, where he rejects attempts to play on jealousy and says how he's happy for Troi whoever she's with. It's a kind selflessness he shows, both there and here. Both bright spots in two "eh" episodes.)
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James G
Thu, Nov 28, 2019, 3:37pm (UTC -5)
Not a fan of this one. The cheesy romantic bits are awkward in any Star Trek story, and even though here they do add something to the drama when Riker is forced to take lethal action, I still find them a bit of a drag.

But is he? Is there no way for anyone present to stop Yuta from coming into contact with her intended victim, short of vaporising her with a phaser? Is there no-one who can overcome her physically even when she's stunned (twice)?
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McCoy, Leonard McCoy
Fri, Mar 6, 2020, 8:19am (UTC -5)
Actually I thought the episode was pretty good. The ending though was interesting. (Spoilers ahead). I guess I thought Riker would actually stun Utah or something. I didn't expect him to vaporize her. The last scene with Riker sitting in the mess hall regretting his actions felt powerful but when Picard entered, I thought he'd at least address how Riker was feeling. The fact that he just extended Shore leave felt meh. Especially coming from Picard.
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Sigh2000
Wed, Jul 1, 2020, 6:27am (UTC -5)
I really enjoy this site and everybody's comments (coming from across space and time). That having been said, I think that many critiques of this episode are too severe. IMO it isn't anywhere near the "borderline incoherent mess" level Jammer suggests that it is. Also the all too common jab 'poor execution' reveals itself as a convenient way to quickly dispose of episodes for what I suspect are ulterior reasons.

Many have attacked the acting....and the actors.

The Acamarians are a stolid species and not particularly emotive. When Marouk watches the jump to warp through her cabin window, the exclamation "A fine ship" shoots out of her in a most charming way. She is like a child at an amusement park for the first time. Yuta is the same way....pathologically reserved, because she was raised in a society which has elevated itself comparatvely recently, from centuries of vendetta. It is not a very happy society on a good day.

The reason Acamar 3 needs the Gatherers back is to re-inject an emotional freedom/vigor lwhich the home world has all but lost. Marouk knows that.
I think one or two quick lines added to the script would have clarified things, but the message is clear enough as is.

Yuta is well acted... She has to die for the society to move in the right direction...hommage to TOS "City on the Edge of Forever" and to "That Which Remains". She is no longer fully alive...she knows that and we are told that...she is a morphoid, i.e., a being who the five surviving Trilesta clan members from a century before collectively programmed to execute a singular task.

Great job by the actors! Marouk is memorable; Yuta unforgettable. Love Troi saying "It's wonderful!" when she tastes the parthos. Nicely addresses the issues.
8/9
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Top Hat
Wed, Jul 1, 2020, 10:51am (UTC -5)
Yeah, I think that badly staged last scene taints people's impressions of what otherwise is a solid if not quite top tier episode.
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Daniel Prates
Wed, Aug 26, 2020, 9:45pm (UTC -5)
Not once but twice on the episode Ryker says's "PORTHOS A LA YUTA" in the weirdest of manners.... like a gringo intentionally emphasising a foreign dish's name or something. Not cool Riker!
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Rubens Fonseca
Mon, Oct 5, 2020, 5:35pm (UTC -5)
Re-watching it on Netflix, who would know that one day all TNG episodes would be available at hand :-)

Digression aside, this episodes feels like a poor "The Conscience of the King" from TOS, it is hard to care about Brull, the Acamarians, and even Yuta.

Riker was kind of a jerk throughout the episode, first he hits on Yuta at the first chance, then all the "Porthos a la Yuta", and in the end he brutally vaporises the girl. All with absolutely no consequences or disciplinary actions, on contrary, Picard even offers him some time-off at the Starbase.

Even Picard was off, every time the Acamarian sovereign tried to put a limit on the Gatherers request, the played down her arguments. The guys raided the sector for one century, destroyed an outpost at the beginning of the episode, and in the end got free land, autonomy and three seats on the planet's rolling council, not a bad deal.

A bad episode from an excellent season.
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Clyda
Sun, Dec 20, 2020, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
Though the plot was not very well developed, I thought the basic concept was pretty interesting. That said, there was absolutely no need for for Riker to completely incinerate Yuta to stop her from carrying out her plan to assassinate that guy. He could have simply stunned her into unconsciousness. It was especially creepy considering Riker, the “man ho,” had previously been trying to seduce her. Basically, it was murder and everybody present just sat there and watched him do it.
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Bob
Mon, Feb 1, 2021, 11:26am (UTC -5)
Riker may be a giant space slut but at least he's an ethical space slut.

"I told you I prefer equals."

"Even in love?"

"Especially in love."

What a gentleman.
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Crobert
Fri, Mar 12, 2021, 5:54pm (UTC -5)
Yuta: "My boss, to whom I'm essentially a food tasted and slave, said I should come have sex with you."

Riker: "Cool, cool, I see no issue with that!"

Granted a few sentences later he catches on but it was goofy that he didn't think that the cook servant who taste tests food for the 'Sovereign' was possibly there on orders the moment she said she was told to come ride Big Sexy Riker's prime directive.

I actually really liked the Gatherers, they are the sort of characters that the show needed to see more from. Rough and tumble types who provide for a nice bit of color when juxtaposed against the overly sanitized and somewhat uptight Federation crew. The interactions with Wesley were fun. "Are you any good at it?"

The episode was watchable but it feels like I'm finally back into the episodes where more and more are watchable as opposed to some of the real tough episodes from S1/S2.
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Crobert
Fri, Mar 12, 2021, 6:03pm (UTC -5)
PS - Yet again we have useless-because-the-plot-requires it Troi who can't even sense an inkling of ulterior motives from the cook

The cook who is getting tons of sex interest from Troi's will-they-won't-they counterpart in Riker?

Blah, I'll stop but I just get so annoyed that they hamstrung them with a race whose entire power should short-circuit so many episodes.
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Jeffrey Jakucyk
Mon, Mar 15, 2021, 9:04am (UTC -5)
"I actually really liked the Gatherers, they are the sort of characters that the show needed to see more from. Rough and tumble types who provide for a nice bit of color when juxtaposed against the overly sanitized and somewhat uptight Federation crew."

They're basically the "Scraps" from Demolition Man, Edgar Friendly et al.

"See, according to Cocteau's plan, I'm the enemy. Cause I like to think, I like to read. I'm into freedom of speech and freedom of choice. I'm the kind if guy who wants to sit in a greasy spoon and think, "Gee, should I have the T-bone steak or the jumbo rack of barbecued ribs with the side order of gravy fries?" I want high cholesterol. I want to eat bacon, butter and buckets of cheese, okay? I want to smoke a Cuban cigar the size of Cincinnati in a non-smoking section. I wanna run through the streets naked with green Jello all over my body reading Playboy magazine. Why? Because I suddenly might feel the need to. Okay, pal? I've seen the future, you know what it is? It's a 47-year-old virgin sittin' around in his beige pajamas, drinking a banana-broccoli shake singing "I'm an Oscar-Meyer Wiener". You wanna live on top, you gotta live Cocteau's way. What he wants, when he wants, how he wants. Your other choice: come down here, maybe starve to death."
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Silly
Wed, Mar 31, 2021, 10:29pm (UTC -5)
It has a rather blah plot, but it at least felt like a TOS episode.

Good lord Wheaton and the first Gatherer leader actor blew their 10-Forward scene. It was sort of nicely written though.

I love how Riker fires the phaser at the lady with Picard almost directly behind her.



Ballbricker's scenes were really the highlight of this one.
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Silly
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 3:45am (UTC -5)
Heh, I never considered before how Riker pretty much committed murder here. Probably because the story is so uninvolving.

Maybe the production felt the same way. "Crap script, who cares?" They don't ever attempt to technobabble a rationale to why Riker doesn't beam Yuta to the Enterprise etc etc.

The weird thing is how much effort they put into filling out Acamerian culture, considering they're never heard from again.
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Tomalak
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 4:45am (UTC -5)
It would be quite cool to see the culture again in ST: Picard, all those years later.

They're now a gentle farming folk society, the leader's son is now a Professor of Mathematics etc.
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Mal
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 5:06am (UTC -5)
@Silly

"Good lord Wheaton and the first Gatherer leader actor blew their 10-Forward scene. It was sort of nicely written though."

So true. More's the pity!
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Silly
Thu, Apr 1, 2021, 7:24pm (UTC -5)
That last scene really is problematic.

Chorgan has absolutely no knowledge of the virus. He doesn't know what threat Yuta presents.

So when he says:
CHORGAN: Commander, I am in your debt.
to Riker, exactly what is he thanking him for?


Considering Yuta and Chorgan are the last of two rival clans, it's pretty easy to read that as Chorgan thanking Riker for killing Yuta, the last of her clan!
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R.J.
Fri, Apr 16, 2021, 8:01pm (UTC -5)
@ Silly: But from the conversation in the scene, Chorgan absolutely knew his life was in danger from a clan he thought was long extinct.

Couldn't disagree more with "Jammer in the Nitpickers" (should be a band name). This is one of my favorite season 3 stories. I really liked seeing it first-run and I try not to miss it in reruns. Loved that the Brull character was not one-dimensional but wanted more for his people and was willing to hear Marouk out. Picard was portrayed as a good diplomat and the story succeed in giving us an interesting one-off story that showed an alien culture we had never seen before on the show. Season 3 seemed to be great with story lines that focused more on good ideas to drive the plot rather than falling back on the main characters to do so. "Land?! Do we look like farmers to you?!" Great line.

When this first aired, it was before the days of DVDs and there were still households that didn't have VCRs. Picard's lack of a reaction (which was later acknowledged as a lapse by the creators of this episode) wouldn't have been perceived too much since the focus of that very quick scene was on the phaser blast. I am honestly baffled why some episodes are not as well-liked by the fandom here.
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R.J.
Fri, Apr 16, 2021, 8:04pm (UTC -5)
* Should be "Jammer and the Nitpickers" Nitpick that!
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Javier
Sat, Apr 24, 2021, 5:17pm (UTC -5)
Something interesting about this episode is the Sovereign Marouk’s constant flagellation of her own culture and history, basically saying something to the effect of “we once were a society that had different values and cultural practices than those of late 20th century urbane westerners (as represented by the Federation) but nowadays we know that the values of bourgeois Britons and Americans are the right values, beyond question and reproach” — in this context it is very telling that the villain of the story, Yuta, is basically a personification of tradition, dedicated to the authentic practices of her culture, which differ greatly from those of bourgeois Westerners, and so by the end of the episode she must die; there can be no accommodation or compromise made with the traditional ways, they must be killed and the Acamarians must be wholly absorbed into the Federation’s values and morals.


To me this is a reflection of Anglo American politics , either through hard or soft means, different ways of being must be destroyed and the proper Western way installed by any means, the Afghans need secularism and democracy and the Western philosophical concept of rights as they pertain to women and this must be bestowed on them by countless 5.56mm NATO rounds from the barrel of an M4, and many many drone strikes.
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Trish
Sat, Apr 24, 2021, 9:41pm (UTC -5)
@Javier

I think the idea of the episodes is that the "traditional value" she embodies is, well, as the title says, "the vengeance factor."

If you think it is harsh that "by the end of the episode she must die," I wonder, what method do you suggest for co-existing with someone who is not willing to co-exist with you, and whose whole focus for more than a lifetime has been on destroying you? There really are only three possible endings for the Yuta character: She kills, she is killed, or she gives up killing. Her "cultural practice" of vengeance killing is not one that can be given deference and respect alongside other cultural practices, because by its very nature it refuses to stand alongside other cultures with deference and respect.

Encounters between vastly different cultures do not always have to be a zero sum game, but it only takes one side in the encounter to decide that they are. Yuta's clan made that decision. The episode seems to be written fairly straightforwardly.

How to apply that to any specific "real world" situation in the twentieth or twenty-first century is not as straightforward as writing a TV episode.
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Peter G.
Sat, Apr 24, 2021, 10:40pm (UTC -5)
@ Trish,

"There really are only three possible endings for the Yuta character: She kills, she is killed, or she gives up killing."

In principle there is a fourth option: you have such superior capabilities to Yuta that you can render her harmless. I suppose in the case of this episode the argument some are making is that she could have been stopped short of death and then, perhaps, imprisoned or something. In real world terms this doesn't map very well since we'd be talking about entire peoples rather than one person with a bio-agent. History doesn't seem to have borne out the idea that it's possible to stop an aggressive nation with non-lethal means, and if the episode has a significant failing in the final scene I think it's that its message is honestly metaphorical rather than literal. The literal play of events is lacking, whereas the meta-message is probably what they were going for (i.e. you a group of attackers will have to be stopped with lethal force if they can't be reasoned with).
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Tidd
Thu, Jul 29, 2021, 2:26am (UTC -5)
This could have been a reasonable episode - blood feuds, revenge, secret assassin, mediation - but there are just too many negatives:

1. Riker’s obnoxious, leering behaviour towards Yuta (“Was I that obvious?” YES!!!) that seems to transform into genuine affection so that his killing of her becomes his personal tragedy at the end

2. Brull… poor acting, unconvincing braggadocio, switching in a moment from Hell’s Angel to almost pathetic desire to please

3. Why did Riker have to kill Yuta anyway - repeated phaser stun settings would have done the trick, rather than having to set it to kill?

But for these, it could have worked. Wesley and Beverly especially shone in comparison to what they had to work with, instead of me hating them! The story was strong enough but I never felt that I was fully engaged with the characters, or cared enough about what happened to them. The scene aboard Horgarth’s ship at the climax of the episode, with Picard attempting to chair the mediation, was good, but by then it was too late to rescue things.

Definitely a meh episode, and I agree with the 2 star rating.
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Tidd
Thu, Jul 29, 2021, 2:52am (UTC -5)
*Chorgan, not Horgarth

@Crobert
“the moment she said she was told to come ride Big Sexy Riker's prime directive.“
ROTFLMAO 😂
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Tomalak
Thu, Jul 29, 2021, 3:34am (UTC -5)
It's a long time since I've seen the episode, but I don't think you're right about obnoxious or leering. There seems to be an unargued assumption in some of the comments on this site that any flirtatious behaviour or attraction to the opposite sex is inherently creepy. It seems very out of touch. I'm not getting at you, Tidd - your comments are always worth reading and you're not the only one. But I do disagree.
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Trish
Thu, Jul 29, 2021, 8:22pm (UTC -5)
I have not seen this episode terribly recently, but my recollection is that I took Riker's initial flirtation as being on the "okay, but not to my taste in men" side of the line. For me, the line between that and "creepy" is whether the woman is free to walk away, and I think the dynamic the writers were going for was that Riker himself was creeped out when he realized how little freedom Yuta seemed to have, even if only in her mind. In his mind about what was in her mind, perhaps. As if the line had moved beneath his feet and he found himself unexpectedly on the wrong side, where he would not have knowingly chosen to be.

I also felt as if Marouk was sincerely trying to do something nice for her servant by giving her the night off and suggesting she might like to spend it with Riker, who had clearly taken a shine to her. For Yuta, it was as much a command as permission. Not that she didn't enjoy the idea, but her entire life, to a much greater extent than anyone else could realize, had not been about her own desires in a very long time, if ever.
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Tidd
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 1:52am (UTC -5)
@Tomalak

It was a purely objective reaction on my part - I saw the look on Riker’s face which to me was “obnoxious and leering”, but I accept not everyone will have seen it the same way.

@Trish

I never said “creepy”! Otherwise I agree with you - I think Riker took a big step back when he realised 1. that she had been “delivered to him on a plate” and 2. that she appeared to have no independent freedom of choice.
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Tidd
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 1:54am (UTC -5)
@Tomalak

Curse the inability to edit posts - I meant SUBJECTIVE!
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Jason R.
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 8:42am (UTC -5)
Riker backs out the instant there's even a whiff that Yuna can't consent wholeheartedly. For Riker it is matter of personal integrity rather than any concern with legalities or even morality, but either way, his behaviour is impeccable even by 2021 standards.

As for whether it's "creepy" I really dislike this word because 1) It is ridiculously subjective and 2) At least some women seem to use it as a catch all to describe *any* unwanted advance, even if consent is respected completely and the man backs off immediately upon being rejected (or realizing consent is in question).
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Trish
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 11:30am (UTC -5)
@Jason R.

I agree that "creepy" is subjective, but I don't think that makes the term or the concept unworthy of discussion, any more than subjective terms like "beautiful" or "suspenseful." Subjective judgments are just the nature of the beast, when it comes to critiquing a program (or any artistic work).

I also agree with you that some people use the term to mean "any unwanted attention." That's why I specified that I was using it with a clear dividing line between it and just "not to my taste in men." Freedom is what makes all the difference in the world. If there is no real freedom not to consent, then there is no freedom to really consent, either.

The episode that really explores this issue with Riker is "Matter of Perspective," in which Troi's empathic abilities tell her that even when Riker sincerely believes he was behaving correctly, the other person can have just as sincerely thought he was harassing her in a situation she couldn't easily get out of.

Interestingly, that is just a few episodes after this one. I think it might have made more sense in his character arc and added a deeper dimension to his reactions if this one had been a few episodes after it. I don't know if it was originally planned to be.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 1:51pm (UTC -5)
@ Trish,

I don't know, I think the word 'creepy' can't *just* be subjective, so that anyone can be declared a creep if one person didn't like what they did. I know it's just a word and anyone can use a word how they like, but there are implications that go beyond just one person's opinion. There is a society and an unstated standard of behavior, and using the word 'creep' introduces some commonly-held connotations that will be taken as objective fact and not just one person's opinion. Maybe you can say for yourself if this is true: if a friend of yours mentions to you that this creep was bothering them, would your first thought be (1) I need to be wary around that creep, or (2) I know nothing about him, maybe it's just her subjective opinion that I would not share?

In Riker's case (and this is one of the reasons I don't like A Matter of Perspective) we know that his bold and charming manner can come on strong, but that he is 100% respectful of the woman's desires and reads body language very well. He is not the type to just push himself on someone and not get the hint. And in this episode in particular he makes a specific point of saying he needs it to be mutual, so that even 'putting the moves on her' isn't enough unless she not only consents but actually wants it equally. He wants a partner dance, not a solo performance with a living prop.

So in this instance we have to be careful about whether "creep" is supposed to mean he's not taking a hint, or whether it just means he's hitting on someone. I think Jason R's point is that there is literally zero justification to call someone a creep for expressing interest in someone. The notion that offering "unwanted attention" makes you a creep is a very disturbing premise to accept. So I would say that in this sense, it is not creepy to inquire whether the other person is interested and to flirt with them. And the more subjective creepiness, of not taking hints, or of coming on in a manipulative manner, seems to me to score a zero in Riker's case as well.

Maybe there's a third kind of creepiness - the "I don't like this guy" thing, which maybe is what you meant. But this is really an unfortunate thing to call someone if you just don't like them. It may be all too common, but it's not very gracious, to call someone a creep if they're not attractive, whereas it's a "fun flirtation" if they're very good looking or charming. Obviously this kind of creepiness would be 100% subjective, to the point where it would be better to just call it something else like "people not my type hitting on me", which is not a character flaw but just a fact of life.
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Top Hat
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 1:57pm (UTC -5)
Even in the optimal reading, isn't there something questionable in episodes like this one and "Up the Long Ladder" where Riker is transparently moving in on women while on the job? It seems like a different scenario than him wandering around Risa with his horgahn out,.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 2:20pm (UTC -5)
@ Top Hat,

"Even in the optimal reading, isn't there something questionable in episodes like this one and "Up the Long Ladder" where Riker is transparently moving in on women while on the job? It seems like a different scenario than him wandering around Risa with his horgahn out,."

I suppose someone here with military experience could weigh in on whether it's acceptable for a SO to express interest in a JO or others in the service (when off-duty, I suppose). The line of whether Riker is on-duty or off-duty is sort of vague since it's a TV show and we don't get to see his work schedule. But we don't ever see him hitting on Ensigns on the bridge, so I think it's safe to assume that while 'at his post' he doesn't do that, while when he's about the ship off-duty he does. The fact that he's a Commander doesn't seem (to him) to be a conflict of interest or a power imbalance. Don't forget that this is supposed to be the enlightened future, so there is a huge level of trust in each other that we don't have in our current society. If someone like Riker shows attraction, there would be literally zero concern that he might hurt them or have nefarious motives. As TNG mentions very often, Starfleet officers are assumed to be of unimpeachable character, and this should color how we read Riker's advances on women.

As a side point, early TNG especially has this built-in premise that sex is not a very big deal to people anyone in the future, almost to the point of it being a free-love society. I sort of find this premise icky, but nevertheless I think there is an implication in S1-3 TNG that hitting on someone (or even sleeping with them) is not something to make a big deal about. It's just sex, and not some life or death crisis. We may not accept this premise, but I do think the events as shown have to be understood as existing within its boundaries.
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Top Hat
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 2:26pm (UTC -5)
It does seem to be a different situation when he's hitting on visitors to the ship, especially women from sheltered backgrounds like Yuta appears (repeat: appears) to be.
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Top Hat
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 2:28pm (UTC -5)
BTW, in "Data's Day" he see Riker telling a woman a joke on the bridge, and Data comments directly on how his command of humour is related to "his success in matters of love," so I think we're supposed to take that as him hitting on junior officer on the bridge.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 2:30pm (UTC -5)
Do you mean he should treat visitors with more caution? I suppose there's a cultural issue there, like acknowledging that their society may be prudish than his. I feel like the show sort of treats most everyone like part of the same cultural family (for better or worse). Only a select few episode are really concerned with teaching us about a different culture, like A Matter of Honor or Chain of Command. The human-looking people who come aboard tend to be treated according to Federation standards, whatever that is supposed to imply.
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Booming
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 3:21pm (UTC -5)
Finally someone brought it up. Riker's behavior is completely unprofessional. There is an ugly disciplinary hearing in that man's future...
She is a trusted servant of a foreign dignitary during very tense peace negotiations overseen by the Federation. He starts to immediately flirt with her while being on the job, in the presence of the foreign dignitary. This could blow up in so many ways. It's a diplomatic incident waiting to happen.
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Top Hat
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 3:38pm (UTC -5)
While it is true that, as it was put a few posts above, early TNG seems to gesture towards a futuristic egalitarian "free-love society," I can't shake the feeling that this is to give cover to masculine sexual power fantasies, and these mainly play out through Riker. There a lot of Roddenberry in there.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 4:14pm (UTC -5)
It certainly is hard to escape that conclusion since we weren't shown female characters carrying on as Riker and Okona do. The only instance of a very forward woman is Lwaxana...and we know how that is supposed to be understood. So it's the asymmetry that sells the case that it's maybe a male fantasy thing. It didn't have to be, but I don't think back then they were particularly aware of (or even interested in) how the optics of these things look if you examine them.
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Jason R.
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 6:49pm (UTC -5)
Well in the show's defence there is also Vosh, and Ro in at least one episode.
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Peter G.
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 7:45pm (UTC -5)
@ Jason R.,

I do think the male fantasy free-love vibe (if such a thing exists) goes away sometime maybe during S3, so you could be right that some female characters turn the tide eventually. Certainly we get a very strong woman in Shelby, albeit not on the sexual front. Vash is strange, though, because she's a D&D rogue class, meaning her behavior is not exactly meant to look upstanding. Also I think she uses sex at least partially for manipulation rather for its own sake. Ro also doesn't seem portrayed as seeking sex for the most part, other than in Conundrum, where she's not exactly her usual restrained self. K'ehleyr might qualify, if I was really looking for other examples.
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Trish
Fri, Jul 30, 2021, 8:30pm (UTC -5)
@Peter G.

It sounds as if you are treating "creep" and "creepy" almost as pronouncements of legal liability that should not be used without presenting proof beyond a reasonable doubt. I know you didn't go so far as to suggest it should be before a jury of the man's peers, but still, saying people have to "be careful" about using them suggests that they are some kind of official pronouncement that one needs authority to make, and is violating a man's rights if they make without such authority. That's not what these words are. They are colloquial descriptions of a perception that is necessarily subjective. Yeah, subjective perceptions have an effect on people's lives. That's just life.

The fact that something is subjective doesn't necessarily mean it is to be ignored. In your hypothetical scenario of a friend telling me a guy is a "creep" or was being "creepy," there are not just the two choices you suggest of 1) "I need to be wary of this guy" or 2) "This is 'just' someone's subjective opinion so it doesn't matter. At all. Because 'subjective' means 'insignificant.' "

The third, and far, FAR more reasonable answer is, "This is my friend's subjective opinion. What do I know about her opinions and her judgment that would tell me whether I would be likely to agree with her if I had experienced what she did in this situation, and do I have any experiences of my own with this guy to add to the equation?" Then, her opinion is given whatever weight that (in my opinion, of course) it deserves. Maybe a little (or none) or maybe a lot. It depends on the friend, and what I know about her. It also depends on the guy, and what, if anything, I already know about him. That, too, is a subjective judgment on my part, but it is based on whatever objective facts I know, not just about the guy in question, but about my friend's prior opinions and judgments.

I think you also misunderstood what I meant by "not to my personal taste." I'm not talking about whether I consider the guy physically attractive or not. I would never say a guy is creepy just because he's not my "type" in appearance. Creepiness has nothing to do with that. I'm talking about his manner of flirtation.

Some women are flattered by a come-on, and some are not. That doesn't mean that every come-on is creepy. A guy can walk up to a woman he doesn't know in a bar and ask for her phone number without automatically being considered a creep by most women I know, as long as he promptly takes no for an answer. Sometimes, he will get yes (or at least a phone number) for an answer. Just not from someone (like me) for whom that's simply not to her taste. It doesn't mean I would find it creepy. But it would make me less interested, not more. If, on the other hand, the man then tried to badger me into giving up the information or asked around the bar to see if anyone there knew where I lived or worked so he could park outside my door, that would be creepy. Not just persistent, but creepy.

To bring it back to a discussion of Trek, it sounds as if you're saying that because you don't like what the writers chose to portray about Riker in "A Matter of Perspective," that episode doesn't count. You say we "know" that Riker would never cross the line. Actually, Matter of Perspective calls that into legitimate question. Nothing in the series has given us any reason to question Troi's truthfulness or accuracy when she reports her empathic impressions, and in that case, she reports unequivocally that both Riker and the woman on the station believed what they were saying. Their "perspective" on the events was different. I would say, then, that what we "know" is that Riker is at least capable of behaving in a way that some women would perceive and remember as what we might call creepy, while sincerely thinking his attraction is reciprocated or even that the woman is the one coming on to him. You may wish that the writers had not portrayed Riker that way, but they did. That's what defines reality, in-universe.

That's why I think it would have made much more sense if this episode had been after that one, rather than vice versa. In this episode, he shows a respectable level of insight about his own behavior, and seems to make a good faith effort to avoid the "creep factor." It would have made sense if he had gained that insight from the events we see in Matter of Perspective. The way things are, he seems to regress rather than to grow. But that too is the reality the writers have given us.
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Tomalak
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 7:08am (UTC -5)
Trish, I agree with your post earlier but not your most recent one. What is "rude" is similarly subjective - and certainly not consistent across cultures - but that does not stop reasonable people pointing to rude behaviour or non-rude behaviour even if people wont always agree. If I said it isn't rude to tell some old lady to fuck off if she politely asked for directions, I am sure you would have a sensible explanation for why I was wrong. No sensible person would be convinced if I then said "Oh, Trish, don't you realise rudeness is subjective?". Similarly with Riker
As you say, he wanted a normal romance built on mutual attraction and was put off by any sense of obligation on Yuta's part. Calling this creepy is just very weak, and pointing to subjectivity doesn't change that.
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Tidd
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 7:12am (UTC -5)
@Trish

I agree, but it's even more directly personal for me than Peter G's hypothetical example: my reaction when I watched the episode was "If some guy hit on me like that, I would be repelled and I would turn away". Of course, that's just a first reaction and it's open to change (or not!) once I got to know the guy better.

In Riker's case, he was quick to adjust his own personal desires once he'd got a grasp on the background to the situation, and the ethics involved. So he gets a thumbs down from me followed by a thumbs up. I think - in terms of the story's flow, and the tensions within the plot - it could have been equally served by Riker having an obvious initial attraction to Yuta without hitting on her quite so blatantly.
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Booming
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 9:24am (UTC -5)
He certainly comes on pretty strong. When he takes that step towards her, standing really close and says something about wanting to taste some of her culinary delights... I always cringe a little when he utters "Parthas a la Yuta". Keep it in your pants, Riker.

I wouldn't call it creepy, though but I would have taken a step back if he had closed in like that. Maybe it is different for the average ancient mass murdering assassin gal... maybe she was waiting for some bearded hunk to melt her little genocidal heart.
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Peter G.
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 11:16am (UTC -5)
@ Trish,

I still think it ends up being more than just offering an opinion when someone is labeled a creep. I think it brands them to an extent, and a better phrasing, if the only issue is that he comes on too strong, would be something like "he's too forward for me." I didn't mean to make it sound like a legal issue, but more of a social-understanding issue. Words often mean more than just what we want them to.

Regarding Riker's manner of flirtation, and also @ Tidd and Booming, there's also a cultural issue in play to an extent. In some countries, for instance Latin American countries, Italy, and even Russia, my understanding is that it's commonplace for guys to simply throw themselves at women - even strange women on the street - all the time. Now I can imagine this as being annoying, coming from my North American modest culture (relatively speaking), but that's only because I wasn't brought up with that. According to some people I've met from those cultures, when the women from there go someplace where they are not given this type of attention, it's like they're being shunned or they feel unattractive or something. Nevertheless, I think it's totally fair for this to be a turnoff for some people, but that's all that really should go along with a very forward person, is noting that you're not into their style. So long as they are completely respectful once negative feedback is given, I think that should settle the creep factor. Just to beat a dead horse, looking at Geordi's move to block the door in Galaxy's Child, that is more of a creep move since it materially prevents her getting away when she's already made it clear she wants to go.

And @ Trish regarding A Matter of Perspective, it's not that I don't like the idea of them exploring that Riker could go too far, but it's more that they failed to tell this story. To the extent that Troi says that no one's lying, it only seems to me to indicate that the woman is delusional rather than lying, since her account of what happened is to preposterous that it simply cannot be believed. And in fact I think it's intentionally designed to be ridiculous and over the top. They have Riker do and say everything short of "I'll KILL YOU ALL!!!" like Henry Bowers in IT. So if there was a grain of Riker learning a lesson about boundaries, they missed the mark totally. However I don't really think that was their intention, since IMO the message in that one is to take all data - even garbled data (her story) - and see if it can at least provide *some* insight into the mystery. It does in fact help, but not because of anything she says about Riker. It's more the forensic details accidentally included.

I agree with you wholeheartedly that this would have been a really good issue to explore, *especially* after the S1-3 'free-love' theme circulating in the series. Taking a hard look at the downside of trying to hook up with everyone, without being to cynical about it (in other words, to denounce Riker in the process), would have been a very good issue to bring up, perhaps especially given 1980's and 90's Hollywood culture. So in my head canon I'm sort of with you on imagining them exploring Riker having to learn that there can be negative consequences to his cavalier approach. But on screen I don't really see it being shown. In this episode in particular, there are so many strange issues mixed into the cake (blood feuds, Yuta being a genetic assassin, Riker killing her at the end, etc) that it's really hard to single out just the issue of how Riker makes advances and find anything conclusive about that.
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Trish
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 1:08pm (UTC -5)
I'm basically defending the idea that subjective qualities, though not the same kind of thing as objective facts, are still realities worthy of notice and consideration, even if different cultures and different people draw the lines in different places.

@Peter G. If I am understanding you correctly, it sounds as if you do not want to see anything as being enough to put someone across the creep line. "He's too forward for me" is on what I called the "not to my personal taste" side of the line, not the "creepy" side. But to say that people should ONLY go as far as "he's too forward for me" in commenting on a man's approach, never so far as saying he's being creepy, amounts to legitimizing anything and everything any man might say or do. Even if different people draw the line at different places, in order to have an orderly society, I believe all people at least need to agree that there IS a line, and it therefore needs to be hypothetically possible for a person to cross it. Details about which behaviors go on which side of the line will always be up for debate, and will vary to some extent by time and culture, but it needs to be permissible to express the opinion that someone has crossed it. The fact that the person does not like this to be said or thought about him does not mean he is entitled not to have it said or thought.

I remember a time when there were more than a few men who truly argued that it should be perfectly acceptable for any man to pinch any woman's backside, even a total stranger who had done nothing to encourage him besides to refrain from running away fast enough when the man came within arm's length. Women who drew a line around their own bodies were seen, by some, as being spoilsports who were unfairly branding normal red-blooded men as some kind of pervert, and the people who saw it that way thought it was obvious that a man's right not to be thus branded superseded a woman's right to walk down the street unmolested. Fortunately, the vast majority of people don't think such extreme things anymore, but it really wasn't that long ago that the matter was up for debate. I have to say to hear someone argue in 2021 that "he's too forward for me" is as much as a woman (or any recipient of unwanted attention) has a right to say is truly disturbing. At least to this woman, it sounds like incel talk.

In this episode, I think Riker was mostly just "not to my taste," and when he came to realize that something about the situation was different from what he'd first thought, he immediately moved farther onto that side of the line to make sure not to be on creepy side.

I suspect what the writers were originally trying to do with the Riker character was probably to split off the "romantic" or even "womanizing" part of Captain Kirk character from the gravitas of authority, which they put onto Picard. That division softened in later seasons, which I think made both characters more three-dimensional while still having them be very different from each other, and it made Riker come across as far more of a mature professional.
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Peter G.
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 6:18pm (UTC -5)
@ Trish,

"If I am understanding you correctly, it sounds as if you do not want to see anything as being enough to put someone across the creep line."

No, no, you're misunderstanding me. I'm saying that no mere difference in well-intentioned approach should cause the 'creep line' to be crossed. I'm saying a person shouldn't be called a creep merely for making a pass at you, and respectfully bowing out when the answer is negative. To be clear, the main tenor of my arguments about the use of the word weren't in direct opposition to what you were saying - indeed, you made it clear that for you Riker's approach was not your taste but also not creepy. I was responding more to @ Tomalak's comment from Jul 29, in response to Tidd's remarks about Riker's "obnoxious, leering behavior." That's the main object of my arguments right now, to contest the idea that because you're sexually forward and "obvious" it makes you obnoxious and leering. That's why I brought up some other cultures where what Riker was doing is like playing it cool and sophisticated. The rest of your comments on the subject seem to stem from misunderstanding what I was saying, so I'll leave those part alone.

But good point abour Riker + Picard being a Enemy Within style splitting up of Kirk's dominant traits. The one spice they peppered into Picard - being an unlikeable hardass - got softened away as well even before S1 was over.
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Top Hat
Sat, Jul 31, 2021, 9:24pm (UTC -5)
Say Riker, here's a modest suggestion. As soon as you realize the truth about Yuta, why not just beam her to the brig? Or beam Chorgan away? She's harmless to everyone but him. Or maybe beam a whole security detail over a secure Chorgan before confronting Yuta? I mean, the whole final scene is contrived in every conceivable way, but it's so egregious when characters overlook obvious options just to create capital-D DRAMA!
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Mal
Sun, Aug 1, 2021, 10:59am (UTC -5)
Riker had very earthy taste in women. He got laid on screen less than 10 times in TNG’s 7 year run, which is not bad - certainly beats anyone else on the crew, man or woman. And definitely enough to see that he had a type.

First, it is worth noting that Riker never slept with the crew (at least on screen). His relations with Troi were either before or after the TNG TV run. Yes he slept with Crusher, but he was being controlled by a Trill symbiont at the time. And there was Ro, but neither of them had any memories or any idea of who they were during that episode. We see him go on a few dates here and there, and let’s assume he was able to close at least a few times,

RIKER: You know Rebecca Smith?

OGAWA: The new Tactical officer?

RIKER: We took a walk in the Arboretum. We sat down, we got comfortable, things got a little romantic, and then I rolled over.

But all in all, Riker wasn’t the type to sleep around the office.

So that left him with the typical sailor’s solution. Shore leave!

Risa was Riker’s place of choice to get laid, and by all accounts, that is pretty much what the planet is set up for. So presumably his direct style was not a problem there. There was also the holodeck, where we witnessed his relations (if not actual action) with Minuet, and we can assume he went there to blow off some steam from time to time (see, e.g., “The Perfect Mate”).

https://youtu.be/6lobo3c0NFg

One reason Riker’s relationship with Troi probably didn’t work out until they were both over 40, was that she was a little too high-class for his pleb schtick ("To be honest, I'd always thought there was something a little too aristocratic about your Betazoid heritage”). The other high-class outfit we see Riker sleep with is the leader of Angel One. And he isn’t too comfortable with that,

RIKER: It's not my function to seduce or be seduced by the leader of another world.

BEATA: It's not the reason.

RIKER: No, it's not. But will you still respect me in the morning?

No, Riker prefers lower class women like Brenna Odell in “Up the Long Ladder,” or downright outcast types (“The Outcast”). If Riker has a type, its the hooker (Risa, holodeck) or hard-luck case.

And Yuta definitely falls into the hard-luck case,

MAROUK: Yuta, a light meal in twenty minutes.

YUTA: May I be shown the kitchen, Commander?

RIKER: You're the chef?

YUTA: Yes. I'll prepare all meals for the Sovereign and her servants.

Riker has everything he needs to know that Yuta is definitely his type. A chef! And a pretty one at that. Remember, Riker loves to cook too. And I don’t know how much you all have cooked, but it can be extremely... tactile.

The line we’re talking about here, Parthas a la Yuta, is spoken in full view and earshot of the Sovereign,

https://youtu.be/DG5SKWKLqoQ

There is nothing there that two blue collar chefs working in a hot kitchen wouldn’t recognize. Riker may play first officer by day. But we all know he prefers things a little salty after the kitchen closes for the night,

https://youtu.be/y99EAvkVZks
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Top Hat
Sun, Aug 1, 2021, 11:55am (UTC -5)
That example from "Genesis" reminds me of how little romance Riker gets in the last couple of seasons. Was there even a single example after "The Outcast"? Picard legitimately has more love interests from then on than Riker does, even though Riker gets some of his best plots in the later seasons. Changing times, perhaps, or just changing writing staff.

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