Star Trek: The Next Generation


2.5 stars.

Part I: Air date: 10/11/1993
Teleplay by Naren Shankar
Story by Christopher Hatton and Naren Shankar
Directed by Peter Lauritson

Part II: Air date: 10/18/1993
Teleplay by Ronald D. Moore
Story by Naren Shankar
Directed by Alexander Singer

Review Text

After Picard goes missing, the crew tracks his movements to a bar whose criminal clientele claim he was killed in a fight. DNA evidence seems to corroborate the story. Riker opens an investigation to find the people responsible for the captain's presumed murder and bring them to justice. This leads the Enterprise to the surface of a planet whose archaeological artifacts have been raided by a group of alien mercenaries, who open fire on the away team and capture Riker. Aboard their ship as a prisoner, Riker discovers that — twist alert! — Picard is a member of their crew.

"Gambit" is a two-parter that lives or dies on plot execution and twists and turns; there's really not much else to it. The characters exist to drive the action and there are no larger themes to consider, Trekkian or otherwise. My most significant thought inspired by "Gambit" is that when you consider Star Trek back in the TOS days — where space was like an untamed frontier — and then consider it again in the latter TNG days — where six-plus seasons of universe creation has built something familiar and recognizable — then rogue mercenaries seem almost oddly out of place and novel.

With Picard and Riker both aboard the mercenary ship, that leaves Data in command of the Enterprise, who appoints Worf as first officer. This transition is not without its growing pains; Worf grumbles publicly about Data's decisions to sit and wait for analysis rather than taking to pursuit of the mercenaries and their vessel. Data eventually pulls Worf aside and tells him not to openly question his decisions once they've been made. Brent Spiner shows again how good he is in this role by portraying Data as stern and forceful, but without seeming angry — and all the while maintaining an android-like persona. He very successfully walks a fine line in the performance.

Meanwhile, aboard the mercenary ship, Picard explains to Riker how he has become a member of the crew, posing as a smuggler named Galen, and hoping to uncover their plan. Picard (and Stewart) plays Galen with an amusing dose of swagger and cynicism, who is at odds with the mercenary leader, Baran (Richard Lynch, who looks and sounds like a lowlife villain should look and sound). Picard hopes to quietly exploit the fractures in the uneasy alliances among this group. He enlists Riker to play the part of Galen's new rival, thereby getting in good with Baran. This is kind of fun, but I for one would like to know how someone as famous as Picard isn't instantly recognizable to just about everyone in the Alpha Quadrant, especially after the Borg incident. Is there no Wikipedia in the 24th century?

There are numerous games afoot in "Gambit." In addition to Riker's attempts to ally with Baran, there's also a Romulan named Tallera (Robin Curtis, better here than as Saavik in Treks III and IV), who has a secret agenda hidden beneath her secret identity as a Vulcan operative, providing the story with a double-layered twist that emerges in its second part.

"Gambit" has a workable plot which manages to hold together as the story jumps from star system to star system. Its problem is that it could never get over the hump of "meh" in terms of my involvement with it. The cliffhanger moment at the end of part one is transparently obvious (why try to milk suspense out of a moment that's clearly a con?), and there are crucial payoffs that fall flat, number one being the death of Baran, who is conned into killing himself with his own power-wielding control device. It should be a deliciously ironic moment, but it's a disappointment.

And this story, with its ancient artifacts hiding a mysterious secret and a chase across the sector, also seems very similar to brisker paced, more economical "The Chase." While "Gambit" doesn't feel blatantly padded, it also doesn't have a story impact that remotely justifies two episodes. It turns out Tallera is the real villain, vying to assemble from the artifacts an ancient Vulcan weapon in her attempt to wield ultimate power. But this plays like more low-rent Indiana Jones, right down to the revelation that the weapon is useless because it can be defeated by peaceful thoughts. (It's another payoff that seems underwhelming, boiling down to the fact that Picard has done his homework and Tallera has not.) "Gambit" is intended as a straightforward adventure yarn with no lasting significance. Okay, so it is, and it has its moments. But on the whole it left me cold.

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Next episode: Phantasms

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83 comments on this post

    You seriously think The Chase was better than this? I would give this one 3-3/4. Not quite a perfect 4, but a really grand episode.

    Picard as Galen was marvelous, the mystery worked, Data in command was awesome, Tallera was truly menacing (and I liked the clarity of her reasoning), and the payoff had me on the edge of my seat.

    I also loved watching Riker catch on. The acting on TNG is not always up to snuff, but there are certain moments where they inhabit their characters very well.

    I can watch this one over and over.

    Yeah 2.5 stars seems about right--This two parter wasnt that exciting or involving. It had a "stop start" feel to it with moments of interest mixed with moments that grounded the story to a boring halt. I also thought it tried to do too much and became too unfocused and at times labored having me itch for the "fast forward" button.

    One fun bit is having 6-9 Lakers star James Worthy as the Klingon they run into. Worf just looks so uncomfortable when he's standing next to the guy.

    Now David, you just have to stop that. When I come on and change Jammer's star rating, everyone else just has to agree with me!

    And I had no idea that was James Worthy! Thanks John!

    This two-parter could have been really strong. It's one of the last Picard/Riker combo episodes, and there are some interesting ideas here.

    But too much of it is forced. The Riker/Troi scene about the "death" of Picard is pretty awful. Worf's behavior toward Data is just ridiculous -- Worf muttering "finally" is really out of character. And Jammer makes an excellent point about Picard being recognizable.

    Also, why did the creators decide to wreck Worf so much this season? A Klingon warrior's blood is supposed to boil, and yet he can go all zen to the Vulcan weapon?

    Paul: Yeah that Troi/Riker scene was painful.

    The only demographic this episode should appeal to is 10-15yo males - That’s how old I was when I first saw it.

    And yet I still remember thinking it was tacky and boring back then.

    If it wasn’t for Patrick Stewart this would barely be worth 1 star. S’pose that could be said for far too much TNG…

    I wasn't a big fan of this two-parter, but it does at least have a one-liner that I still remember even though I haven't seen it in years. After they fake Riker's death back on board the Enterprise and Picard leaves with the mercs, Troi observes that Riker is only stunned and Data says, "I must admit, I am experiencing a similar sensation."

    TNG doing DS9. That has always been my take on this two-parter. You have the usually prim and proper TNG crew getting down and dirty (Riker punches Picard right in the face!). Everyone is dabbling in deception.

    The shoot-out in the forest was cool (actual location shooting!) and I liked the guest characters and actors. Richard Lynch! I wanted Picard to tell him, "Time to die." Love the moment when the one mercenary refers to Galen as "captain" and Picard has to reign in his reaction.

    I loved the Vulcan weapon revealed at the end.

    I also loved the ending scene. I always imagined Riker screaming Data's name in that final shot as the ship flies away and Data hauls Riker to the brig.

    Baran looked too much like a lion to take seriously. I found myself wondering if the ship was off to see the Wizard.

    Watchable, but not engrossing.

    I liked seeing Picard in his civvies and thought Data was awesome in command of the Enterprise.
    Richard Lynch exuded evil as the mercenary leader.

    I recognised the actress who played Tallera, Robn Curtis who played the Vulcan officer, Saavik in The Voyage Home, I love it when actors are recycled.

    Season 7 is indeed dull and lacklustre compared with the former glories, but am staying with it, (re) watching it to the end as the series limps to a close.

    This episode has Ronald D. Moore written all over it. I tend to enjoy the episodes that Moore writes, especially for DS9, but also for TNG. I quite liked both parts of this episode. Nothing wrong with a little space spaghetti western. I think that some people forget that Star Trek's roots are actually more within this genre.

    I've always had a soft spot for this's just good fun. It would have been perfect for the "Two Hour Awesome TV Movie" that Voyager later pioneered. As is, the dumb cliffhanger is...dumb. I'm glad Jammer reviewed it as one episode.

    I would probably bump this to 3 stars myself, it was pretty entertaining.

    I thoroughly enjoyed the final scene of Riker being hauled to the Brig by Data.

    Picard dying here makes Guinan's absence seem rather glaring, consideirng their supposed relationship.

    Watched this again this week. I think it's further indication that the TNG writers/cast ran out of gas for much of the final season and made the show just too sedate. Picard and Riker are on a mercenary ship, but they roll with it way too easily.

    Also, for as paranoid as Baran is, I find it hard to believe that Riker and Picard could have the candid convos they have. Shouldn't there be some sort of surveillance?

    TNG relied too much on Data, but he is the highlight of this two-parter (even if the Worf stuff is ridiculous). But I'm sometimes confused by why the creators ever promoted Geordi. He's essentially fourth in command of the Enterprise, but after the first season (where he's still a second LT.) he's never in command. Scotty, meanwhile, routinely took command on TOS. In this ep, he really should be the acting first officer. He's certainly on the bridge for most of the time.

    Last thought: Picard is declared dead and the Enterprise is, at first, sent on another assignment. But Riker isn't promoted, and there's no talk of the Enterprise getting a new captain. I think that undercuts the drama because it sort of makes it feel like Picard might still pop up. Also, it's inconsistent with Starfleet's actions in "The Best of Both Worlds" -- where Riker got a field promotion -- and "Chain of Command" -- where Jelico is made captain simply because Picard is assigned to a special op. Even a line of dialog in the scene with Riker and the admiral -- "We're still sorting out what to do with the captaincy," etc. -- would have helped.

    Is it me or is every fade to black in this two parter end with a "you'll die", or "ill kill you"? It's actually kind of funny.

    Once again I must thank time for diluting my memory of this highly gripping yarn! (Though reading Jammer's opines may have spoiled it for me if I hadn't stopped in time) C'mon Jammer, use part two to judge part 1. lol
    Anyway, though I understand where Jammer is coming from, I don't think mercenaries can ever be out of place considering the vastness of the universe. And yeah, we know it's a con but there is still intrigue in the 'old time serial' sense. We all knew Zorro wasn't going to die; Batfink was going to escape Hugo Agogo's latest death trap; the Enterprise won't go kaboom, but there's still enough we don't know to make us "Tune in next week!" Or in the next minute if you have the box set, or a netflix account.
    I'm glad I have the box set, because I cannot stand the foreign language subtitles on my region's netflix, that have no shutoff options.

    Oh I get it now, one review covering two parts. Well I have to say I agree with grumpy otter. This was at least a 3.5 episode. (It had to lose .5 for putting a Cosby kid at the helm, Sabrina Lebeef or boof or beauf or something.
    I think that by season 7 a lot of folks were 'trekked out.' What with Ds9 as the new kid on the block and TNG wrapping up it's tv phase, if the show didn't have some huge character growth or trekkifying implications it was viewed as filler.
    Highly entertaining, edge of your seat stuff. Nice plot twists.
    I'll tackle the Worf problem that was posed. I find it interesting that when Worf is portrayed as the epitome of a Klingon warrior in the show, someone will comment that he is a poser, having spent his formative years being raised by humans. Here, he overcomes a weapon by suppressing his warrior blood and so someone points out that he's a hot blooded Klingon. What he actually is, is a combination of both worlds. What do you get when you raise a bear as a pet? A best friend who might accidentally kill you when he grows up. He may be a little domesticated but he still has a bear's strength and nature. Worf, being smarter than the average bear, can suppress his Klingon instincts when necessary as we saw in liasons but you don't want to keep 'poking the bear.'

    Hm I really liked Gambit. Very enjoyable. Definitely at least 3 stars for me. Data is a fantastic captain. And there were a few really classic lines. The Riker/Picard scenes on the mercenary sho were great.

    Loved it.

    One of my favorite two part episodes. Lot of fun with great twists. It had an unpredictable angle that many TNG episodes didn't have. Very good acting...especially Stewart (one of his best performances). Yes...the Troi/Riker banter over Picard's death was pretty bad. Do we “mourn or move on” plot device is beyond awful and has failed every-time trek uses it. Also the Data/Worf speal was awkward...but kind of worked out. I'm not sure Data would be as interesting as a command officer...maybe a good thing Tom Riker didn't replace Will a couple of episodes back... All in all these are minor foibles and can't detract from the episode in general which was great fun.

    I quite enjoyed this two parter... It feels like a Blakes 7 episode.

    This episode made me think of all the great "Data in command" plots we could have had over the years.

    I dig how the mercenaries apparently came from the Monster Mullet Planet.

    Also, if there was an actor suited to schlep a bunch of Trekkie cranial makeup, it was Richard Lynch.

    Random comments:

    - This is a pretty fun episode. Intrigue can be fun, seeing plots within plots within plots. Chases and battles of wits and seeing some of the other worlds and aliens of the Trek world was enjoyable. Yes, the mercenaries were a bit goofy, but Baran was pretty convincing as a captain who isn't quite capable of being in command. So if the only question was if I liked watching it, the answer is yes.

    - As others have said, the fact that this is one of the very few Riker/Picard episodes in the later seasons is part of the enjoyment. These two do work well together, in a different matter than Kirk and Spock. It's two professionals rather than two friends. It's more like the mentor and a journeyman working together rather than emotionalism vs rationalism like TOS. It's too bad they don't have more of these interactions.

    - Honestly, this does work well as a two parter. A good intrigue does require a lot of time to build up and get all those layers of deception going, so it's needed. There's also the nice B-plot of Data's second command. It's a lot more toned down and realistic than in Redemption, probably because he doesn't have to prove himself to this crew. People are used to following his orders here, so it's a bit more natural to see him as captain. And yet, he still has that rational, unemotional approach to captaining that makes sense for him, as well as putting on the airs of being a captain (such as when everyone else leaves the conference room and he remains). The whole "android is captain!" bit wasn't a plot issue, just Data as captain. And he pulled it off well.

    - I see a lot of people complaining about the Worf bit, but I think it was handled ok. Worf is about as opposite of Data as you can get, and at this point doesn't have much experience with being in command. He's the guy who always argues with Picard and Riker anyway, so of course there's going to be some conflict here. And he was reasonably professional (for Worf, of course) except for the one "finally" that got Data to call him out. It wasn't overdone, I think.

    - As an aside, I can see Starfleet leaving Riker in command, but when both the captain and first officer died? Yeah, I'd think that's time to bring in a replacement, no offense to Data.

    - Meanwhile, the massive Klingon was awesome. I know he wasn't an actor, but James Worthy did an admirable job of being an utterly intimidating loser (seriously, a Klingon smuggling for these mercenaries? How's that for a lack of honor!). And the rest of the cast responding to him was great.

    - The ending, however, was a bit disappointing. The greatest weapon in the galaxy is a slow moving telepathic wave? Seriously? The lady mercenary could have zapped Tellera a dozen times over while she was psychically killing the guy mercenary. And, of course, that it was defeated by singing Shiny Happy People Holding Hands. I see the point, but unfortunately Robin Curtis doesn't sell it very well. Her freaking out at the end was rather hammy in the end.

    - I am a bit disappointed that the episode implies that these Vulcan separatists really exists. It would have been preferable if it had just been one more lie in this giant episode of lies. It would have been better if it was just Tellera involved in this for some reason. Besides, even if there was a Vulcan separatist movement, I would hope they would be better at it than Tellera was. What was her plan if Baran was still alive?

    Agreed that it felt like every act, especially in part II, seemed to end with a death threat but I thought that made it feel really stretched-out.

    Also, it felt weird/lazy for an alien to, talking to humans, refer to aliens simply as aliens.

    I agree with 2-1/2. The highlights were Data in command and I thought the vulcan weapon was rather cool (though maybe too much like Indiana Jones where a religious artifact actually has real potency) I like the lion alien getup on the alien captain. I actually thought Patrick Stewart overplayed Galen a bit too much, maybe a little. It is a bit unfortunated that he didn't use the name he used in Inner Light "Kamin", it would have been an astute move since he was already acclimated to it (and they sound quite close as it is).

    ****Disclaimer**** I haven't read Jammer's review yet since he seems to have treated these two episode as one. I'll wait to read it until after I see Part II.

    "Gambit, Part I"

    Well, I will be. A two-part episode where one part doesn't feel stretched almost to the breaking point. I had almost thought that they had forgotten how to do these.

    What we have here, essentially, is TNG attempting, not quite perfectly, to do a DS9 episode. Given that this episode aired around the same time as the three-parter that opened DS9 Season Two ("The Homecoming," "The Circle," "The Siege") and most likely was in production around the same time as well, I think it's safe to say that DS9 had a huge influence here. And all for the best, because this is easily the best episode of Season Seven thus far. It doesn't quite capture that DS9 feel (TNG just isn't tailored to this kind of storytelling like DS9 is), but all the elements are there and they work surprisingly well - wheels within wheels, outlaws, shadowy dealings in darkly lit bars, strong-arm intimidation of unwilling witnesses/accomplices, everybody engaging in deception (either to a few people or to everyone else), undercover work, shoot-outs, actual location shooting, etc.). It's refreshing to see an episode with so much energy (even if it ultimately has nothing significant to say) after sitting through a string of tedious episodes. Maybe this is all TNG has to offer here in its final season, but I'm okay with that. If they aren't going to be offering any more episodes with weighty philosophical or religious or political messages any more, than I'm perfectly willing to take something that's merely intended to be entertaining - because "Gambit, Part I" is definitely that.

    Some quick thoughts....

    1.) It's nice to see Robin Curtis back on Trek. I always preferred her as Saavik.

    2.) Data as captain was nice and it definitely shows that he's matured as a commanding officer since "Redemption, Part II." There, when faced with a bigoted First Officer, he did exactly the wrong thing and kept him around. Here, he exudes confidence and authority. Even though the rest of the senior staff don't quite understand what he's up to, they still follow him without question. Nicely done.

    3.) It's about damn time we got a space pirate episode! The last time we got something similar was with Harry Mudd back in TOS. I suppose you could classify "The Outrageous Okana" as a pirate episode, but the less that train-wreck is remembered the better. But even Harry Mudd was a somewhat likable rogue, here we actually have pirates that are up to no good and aren't a kind of Han Solo clone. Given that this is, ultimately, a show about a space navy we should have had stories like this long before now.


    Luke: "3.) It's about damn time we got a space pirate episode! The last time we got something similar was with Harry Mudd back in TOS."

    The reason why "rogue mercenaries seem almost oddly out of place" in TNG, as Jammer put it, is because of Roddenberry's "no space pirates" edict. These episodes were controversial for that reason, as the writers knew they were going against Gene's wishes -- despite the fact that he personally created Harry Mudd for one of his proposed TOS pilot scripts!

    Well, that's just one more reason for me to think that Trek was much better off with Roddenberry kicked upstairs and out of the picture.

    "Gambit, Part II"

    "If you hear the song I sing
    You will understand (listen!)
    You hold the key to love and fear
    All in your trembling hand
    Just one key unlocks them both
    It's there at you command

    Come on people now
    Smile on your brother
    Everybody get together
    Try to love one another
    Right now."


    Oh my God! This is the pay-off?! Another message about peace, love and tolerance? Dammit all, this is the same pay-off from "The Chase." How many times do we need to hear this?! It really must be that the writers and show-runners think that Trek fans are some of the most bigoted motherfuckers on the planet, because they cannot help but shove this stuff down our throats. News flash - we get it! Love, peace, tolerance, understanding, non-violence, etc. are good things. We all agree; so stop it! Oh, and apparently the resonator can be overcome simply by happy thoughts? Are you freaking kidding me?! What, just think of frolicking puppies and you can defeat the most powerful weapon ever devised in all of Known Space? *facepalm*

    Fortunately, the lead-up to the pay-off in "Gambit, Part II" is, unlike in "The Chase," more than enough to overcome this problem. This is a surprisingly effective story, even if it is nothing but a little adventure yarn. It's got some good fast-paced action, wonderful interactions between all the characters playing double and triple agents off each other and convincing villains in Tallera and Baran (even if Baran's death was a little hard to swallow - why the hell would he leave his own punishment chip in once he took command?). It was also nice to see the small glimpse into Vulcan mythology - but, then, I'm a huge mark for mythology related stuff. And, apparently, Vulcans have something of a religious life and the episode never once condemns them for it - always a plus in my book (TNG has certainly come a long way in this department!).

    It's also got one of the best moments of pure world-building I've seen in Trek this side of "Journey to Babel." And it's thrown in as an almost off-the-cuff, meaningless little remark - Picard's line of "Starfleet will never stand by and watch you tear apart one of the founding worlds of the Federation." Oh, fucking beautiful! This is the first time we've been given any information on the founding of the U.F.P. Sadly, it would take another ten years for us to learn that the other founding members were Earth, Andoria and Tellar Prime. If there had more little moments like this sprinkled throughout the franchise, Trek as a whole would have been much, much better off for it, in my opinion. The climatic scene, despite it's problems, also actually takes place on Vulcan itself, which is always a plus - especially since it's only the fifth time (I think) that we've seen the planet on the small screen.

    If there's any other problem I have, it's with the use of the Vulcan separatists. I actually would have loved to spend more time on this. What we have here is a group of people that basically want to secede from the Federation. That's an interesting concept! Want to do if people aren't happy with the supposed utopia you've built? Do you let them secede and do their own thing? Do you force them to stay somehow? Could this lead to a possible Vulcan Civil War? Maybe even a full Federation Civil War if people on other Federation member worlds support the secessionists? This could all be some really meaty philosophical stuff to explore. But, instead, how are they used? As cardboard cutout placeholder villains. They're secessionists, and secessionists have to be bad so therefore they're interested in gaining, what is essentially, a weapon of mass destruction. It reminds me of all those fools out there in real-life (I'm looking directly at you, MSNBC) that think that anybody who supports secession in any way just wants to bring back slavery.

    So, is "Gambit," both parts, nothing but another attempt at a Trek version of Indiana Jones. Well, yes, it is. But it's easily the best one thus far.


    Part 1

    This is mostly a fun romp, so much so you almost expect to see a sword fight in there somewhere. There's a slow beginning - of course Picard is not really dead, so it's difficult to get invested in the strangely underplayed fact, Troi's memorable chewing out of Riker excepted.

    But once we get to see Picard as Galen, the pace picks up, and his efforts to integrate Riker into the scenario as the two work together are nicely handled. On the other side, Data stepping up to command is also well done, and we leave on a high point of a cliffhanger.

    Much more like it - even if the concept of space pirates managing to kidnap not one, but two Starfleet captains is a little too much to handle! 3 stars.

    Part 2

    Unfortunately, this tends to get a little bogged down as we dive through layer on layer of treachery and the fun element drops out just a little. The end is also something of a cop out. A weapons defeated by peaceful thoughts? And if that's not enough, the revelation that Worf can clear his mind of violent thoughts. That is a little disappointing for a Klingon.

    The Worf/Data scene is noteworthy, if only because it is played so straight it's not entirely clear whether it's intended to be comedic or not. The scenes with Koral are a highlight though. 2.5 stars.

    I'm compelled to write because I'm almost shocked to see this episode was not rated at least 3! I would give this 4 stars.

    The plot is so sweeping - we have incredible acting from Riker and Picard, not to mention Data, Troi, and Worf. We see Data assuming command for a very satisfying amount of time! We see Data talking sternly to Worf, and we enjoy Data's logical, precise, consistent, fair command style. We get to watch as the mercenaries unwittingly aid Picard and Riker and are befuddled by their tactics. We get an incredible reveal that Talara is in fact a high-ranking Vulcan security agent and breathe easier as Picard is able to reveal himself to her - only to be fooled toward the end of the episode BY her! We see incredible acting on Patrick Stewart's part - a personal delight of mine was in seeing him hesitate a bit as he needs to remember which identity to use when he comms the mercenaries to make a course for Vulcan - look for it, he visibly overcomes the self-identity confusion before speaking to them. That's acting!

    I'm saddened a bit that many of us here don't appreciate the ending conflict resolution. Peace! Picard instructs his crewmates to instantly wipe clear their minds of negative thoughts, anger, agitation, distress! This is an incredible clue as to the level of mental sophistication humans have attained by this time period, specifically high-ranking Starfleet officers. It's heartening! And it's incredibly cool to know that in the writer's projection, Starfleet officers would be familiar enough with the various content of their own minds to BE ABLE to pacify themselves on command when needed! It's an incredible statement of intellectual and meditative discipline and understanding. It was beautiful. And of course, the message itself is beautiful too - only through this realization, this attainment of "mind-mastery" through the understanding of all the various thoughts and impulses which flood our minds, was the Vulcan "Awakening" possible! It makes sense! The way Picard responded to Talara during the final encounter, specifically how he cleared his mind as the telepathic weapon was fired at him and peacefully but firmly took the device was pure writing and acting genius. THAT was beautiful.

    I'm not even mentioning Boran, who was a very likable mercenary captain I thought, or Koral, who introduced a totally new sense of interest and humor. We are left with an ambiguous ending, also! Does Data actually escort Riker to the brig?!

    This story is definitely one of my favorite TNG episodes. This, The Measure of a Man, Best of Both Worlds, Frame of Mind... but ah, this. We see Data kicking complete ass as a captain, come on! We see peace personified through Picard's interaction with the violent, reeling Talara! It's beautiful. Thanks writer and crew for making this episode.

    '"Gambit" is a two-parter that lives or dies on plot execution and twists and turns; there's really not much else to it.The characters exist to drive the action and there are no larger themes to consider...'

    I can't say I agree with this. Picard and Riker are caught up with a bloodthirsty crew who are searching for a weapon which only affects people who of the same mind of the crew: bloodthirsty. Picard takes a different route, research and piety, in order to defeat the crew's plot and the weapon. This exposition on enlightened humanity is exactly what TNG thrives on.

    There are also some lesser, but still great, scenes that come from this show like Data as captain of the Enterprise. In BOBW we get to see Data as a good captain on a small vessel. Well, now we get to see Data as an excellent captain on the fleet's flagship. Certainly growth for Data, and some excellent interacting between Spiner and Dorn's Worf.

    Gambit is my #1, absolute, without a doubt, favorite episode of any Star Trek television show. Not only was I engaged on the first watch, but the second, and the third. This is a timeless episode. I've watched it over one-hundred times.

    These two were by far one of many horrible episodes - both of them. 1/2 star at most for both.

    This 2-parter was where it was clear the producers had decided NOT to spend a dime on special effects. Whole sequences where characters pressed a button to fire a weapon and no weapon is seen. Everything looked cheap.

    The death of Picard was flat, sending Riker after him was tired, the whole thing was boring as hell.

    Between Dark Page, Masks and Sub Rosa, all in all, the worst writing of all seven seasons, some worse than season 1.

    A decent 2-part episode after re-watching this and Star Trek Enterprise.

    While, they didn't do this on purpose, it does help set up the Mind Meld/psychic fears among Vulcans in 22nd century. Think about this from the pre- Kirshara and post Surak era for Vulcans, I think the episode shows off a nice backstory of melder weaponry that could have scared the Vulcans into hating this subgroup within their population. With some more exploration, and added plot, the Vulcan history could be fun in any new Star Trek series, why go into unknown species when there are mysteries of existing Trek species we have yet to explore.

    A solid and underrated episode, "Gambit" surprised me, and I'd never seen it until today. The show is paced unusually well for TNG, moving along the outline of an intriguing mystery without ever committing the classic TNG sin of being self-importantly dull. There are even some -- gasp -- good action sequences. It's not the deepest episode, but not every Trek needs to be deep to be enjoyable.

    As a variation on the "archeological adventure episode" distinctive of TNG, this one is my favorite manifestation of the sub-genre. It's a mystery to me why Jammer rates this fun story so low and more self-important credulity-straining episodes (someone aptly mentioned "The Chase") so much higher. I'd give it 3 or 3 1/2 stars myself.

    Nice to still see Jammer's reviews available online. I read these when they were published on USENET (anyone know what that is?? hahaha)

    While I've watched these 2 episodes a few times before, I had forgotten James Worthy had guest starred. Nice to see him in there. At 6'9" tall, he towered over Worf. I thought Worf was around 6'5'?? But he looked awfully small.

    Overall, this was entertaining. I'd give it at least 3 stars.

    I've heard USENET mentioned before, but I can't recall where or when.

    I prefer Picard as a space pirate. Much cooler and less stuffy.

    In the immortal (paraphrased) words of Oscar Wilde: to lose one captain may be regarded as a misfortune; to lose two looks like carelessness.

    I'd like to nominate Baran as most incompetent villain ever. THREE spies in his gang of, what, six? There isn't a moment's sense of real jeopardy in this story...but I kind of like that about it. Taken completely unseriously, it's a lot of fun, and it has some very funny lines and characterizations ("As a man with a sister--a sister with a temper--I can sympathize with you").

    Well I watched all of both parts, which is more than I can say for some other season 6 and 7 episodes. It's tolerable, but not much more. However I'm amazed that nobody has picked on the most obviously absurd thing about this two-parter.

    It's utterly ridiculous to think that Baran could subjugate an entire crew indefinitely with that preposterous pain-inflicting device. Someone would have found a way to disable him and smash it within the first day. Plus, apparently he has seperate pain level settings for every member of the crew, which must be really easy to access quickly if two or three of them were to come at him from different directions at the same time. And why wouldn't someone just take it from him when he was asleep? It's a shambles of an idea.

    I liked the first part with lots of twists and Data in command. But in the second part it indeed fell flat. The ending scene with the weapon was laughable. A mental shotgun that takes an awful long time to load? Is that what all the fuss was about? 3 stars for part 1, 2 stars for the second so 2,5 stars is spot on.

    It's not too hard to believe Baran or the other alien mercenaries didn't recognize Galen as Picard. Studies have shown that most of us have trouble telling apart people with ethnicities other than our own.

    If that's already happening within the same species, imagine how hard it must be for aliens to keep us straight. Plus, Picard is mostly known and recognized as a Starfleet captain. They see the rank and uniform first. In plainclothes, in a place you don't expect the pride of Starfleet, he's just another hairless pinkskin.

    Just watched this again--they really missed a good comedic moment after the resonator fails to destroy Worf. How hard must it have been for him to resist his warrior feelings? I thought a one-liner after that would have been nice. Just something like, "Well THAT was the most difficult fight of my life."

    This is one of my favorites for the comedic aspect alone. The goon in the bar after crusher detects foul play, "who are you people?"

    Riker losing his cool trying to get info from the Iridian goon was hilarious too.

    Galens character played by Picard was great the entire time. The deception. Then Picard pimp smacks Riker in the face...then later when Galen kept prodding and provoking Riker,

    "How does it feel to be a traitor and a coward?"

    Riker then gets up out of the chair and punches Picard square in the face... stands over him and yells,

    "I dont know, how does that feel?"

    Those scenes along with Data running the Enterprise when Riker shows up onscreen aboard the enemy ship with his hair all messed up. Throw in the double deception and plot twists among the Villain gangster and this is a classic episode for me and very rewatchable. 4/4

    Not really a life lesson type of plot...just good old fashion fun.

    Toward the end, the deception used by Galen causes the dummy villain Boran to actually order Galen to go to the Enterprise with Riker to help retrieve the artifact.

    Picard was so shocked he could hardly muster the word "agreed." Lmao. Patrick Stewart is the best.

    Amidst all the confusion when the raiding party shows up phasers locked and loaded. Data starts listing off all the infractions that Riker has committed like a school principal during detention.

    Riker responds, "then I guess it wouldn't hurt to add one more charge," as he turns and shoots at Picard. Great stuff.

    I could watch an entire series based on Data stepping into command. One of the things that makes the first two seasons of TNG eminently rewatchable (even moreso than seasons 3 and 4) are the more pronounced interpersonal conflicts of the crew. Worf should be more out of control than he is. You see a lot of that type of writing abandoned when Pulaski is shown the door.

    Brent Spiner's ability to act like a robot, and display human guile, patience, and a complete tactical awareness of complex emotional situations while in command, is a beautiful thing to watch.

    A Klingon and a robot hashing out their friendship in the ready room. That is some top shelf Star Trek right there.

    Haven't watch the second part yet, but thought the first part was really fun. Loved Data in command and the aggressive, cocky Picard on the alien ship. 3 1/2 stars for me.

    Pretty disappointing payoff after a lot of subterfuge -- really should not have spent 2 parts on a rather superficial action adventure with no strong character moments or lasting implications. I liked the 2nd part a bit more than the 1st - although it achieved this through mostly shock value, twists, turns, manufactured suspense. Have to shake my head at the villains who have their chances to kill Riker/Picard, but of course they don't or, conveniently, something thwarts their plans. It did feel, again, like Indiana Jones in the 24th century ("The Chase").

    The Baran character was weak -- over 2 episodes, he wasn't built into anything more than a cardboard villain. Thought him wanting to have RIker kill Galen (Picard) was hard to justify -- this is the writers just trying to add a layer of danger/shock value on top of a pretty basic action/adventure plot.

    Data was good as captain of the Enterprise - liked how he dressed Worf down for challenging his orders. Over the course of the series, Data has many moments where he holds his calm when dealing with a potentially difficult situation -- a good example for humans!

    It did seem weird that after so many episodes of TNG, the bad guys are a gang of mercenaries of different races - this is the kind of thing I'd expect to find in Seasons 1 & 2.

    The ending with Picard telling his crew to empty their minds of violent thoughts -- maybe a nice albeit contrived message of peace being stronger than war/death. But there are surely better ways to exemplify this theme. Even Worf pulls off the peaceful thoughts -- reminded me of the gunfight scene in "Specter of the Gun" -- the bullets aren't real.

    2.5 stars for "Gambit" -- not great, but not bad. Definitely not ambitious enough to justify 2 parts. A fair bit of padding here. The unpredictability keeps you on your toes although the ending is a letdown.

    3.5/4 for me. One of my favorite 2-parters. I've seen it 3 or 4 times over the years and always love it. It's not very philosophically interesting, but the execution is so much better than the other attempts at an adventure story. It helps I think that the casting for the bandit leader was chosen well. Too many times a character like that will have mediocre casting, and then the character is unnecessarily underwhelming. But here, he's authentically sinister and ruthless. Really, everyone plays their parts great, and the whole trip ends up enjoyable from start to end.

    6/10 for some reason this should have been better than it was. I did enjoy seeing Data in charge. But the rest...ho hum

    PArt 2:

    Riker proves why he is unsuitable for command with his emotional tantrum in front of Troi. Of course the writers then had Troi be Troi and also be emotional. But she was right: he had responsibilities. Her response was terribly acted.

    I know one reason why I don't like this episode: the 80s metal band outfits on the bad guys' ship.

    And we have already seen Troi act undercover and Sirtis did a much better job of it. Riker and Picard are painful

    +1 for Data putting Worf in his place

    The best part was the final scene with Data, Riker and Picard

    "It's another payoff that seems underwhelming, boiling down to the fact that Picard has done his homework and Tallera has not."

    The payoff was underwhelming, mostly due to the fact that "act like you are not having violent thoughts" doesn't portray well on screen. It's just people standing there expressionless. But I figured Tallera is probably too arrogant to think anyone but a Vulcan could truly purge themselves of violent thoughts that easily. And it's nice character moment that even Worf is able to do this.

    Colourful off-format episodes. It doesn't fit with TNG really comfortably but at least it tries something different, this rollicking B-movie format, where most of the late-term episodes are stolidly familiar.

    Derivative,somewhat engaging but this would have worked better as a DS9 episode.

    Data and Worf should have worn the red tunics while they were in command. Would have made for a nice image.

    In which we see why Riker doesn't have his own ship. It's pretty obvious it's his job to give the eulogy but instead he whines and pouts. We need Tom back. Mirina Sirtis delivers a performance of a lifetime here. I didn't say it was a good performance.

    I love in the phaser fight while they're abducting the unconscious Riker, they just stand there out in the open while Worf and the others look absolutely baffled. That is the time for everybody to shoot at the same spot all at once.

    Sondra Huxtable is a worse actress than I remember.

    I wonder if they gave Picard a goatee then would Riker be convinced he was evil mirror universe Picard? You can tell Patrick Stewart had fun as Galen. Richard Lynch was great, too. Someone like James Worthy should have played Kahless instead of the pudgy dwarf.

    I realize the setup is a little forced--Worf is being unrealistically petulant--but Data's dressing down is a favorite of mine from the series.

    Loved the ragdoll physics with the Vulkan weapon. 10/10 would Havok Engine again.

    Anyway, loved these episodes as a kid and feel they hold up pretty well. And that's on their own. In the context of the closing of season 6 and season 7 so far this is a masterpiece.

    LOL @ Jay's comment about Baran looking like the Lion heading to Oz. Not sure I'll be able to unsee from now on. Richard Lynch could probably do a decent "wuuuuff" too.

    Starting with the ending where the death pistol is given back to the Vulcans who claim it will be destroyed, not withstanding the fact they didn't destroy it the first time they got rid of it. Why break the universes most powerful weapon into three pieces and spread the parts in separate corners of the alpha quadrant, instead of destroying it with a phaser? It sounds like it will be split in a few extra pieces then redistributed across the galaxy. Not very logical.

    Picard knew about this weapon from history after Saavic told him what they were looking for. Why not destroy the pieces himself and replace them with other discarded artifacts rather then letting the weapon be reassembled? He was the only one who knew which piece made up a part of the weapon. Yeah, I'll let Tallarea, whom he already knew was a fake Vulcan Security Officer, take the weapon to another planet and sell it. I will just figure out something later.

    And how did bad guy know just where to look in the galaxy to find the pieces of the weapon? It seems like the Vulcan's cataloged the location of each piece, then allowed this information to be stolen by the bad guys. For what purpose? So they themselves could put the weapon back together many centuries later?

    A lot of TNG plots make no sense.

    I guess a microcosm of season 7th TNG fatigue ( I have actually never seen this episode until today) can be resumed in this two parter, at times it felt like Steward and Frakes were just cashing in the performance, sometimes being nonchalante , to sudden mood changes (especially that shouting match with Troy), I basically had trouble taking them seriously in their '' mission''. Ah and of course Worf all of a sudden disregarding Data after 7 seasons.

    Some have compared this 2 parter to a ds9 plot , I can also argue ST Picard must of ripped a page out of this episode, ship of mercenaries not bound by federation law ...huh so it has been done before, in this less then memorable tng episodes.

    I watched both parts over two nights; comments here apply to both.

    I thought it was poor. The plot didn't really grab me. There was far too much whimsy and nonsense throughout. I just don't buy the idea of Riker and (especially) Picard as ultra-confident swashbuckling undercover space agents. I don't buy Beverley threatening people with a phaser on an away mission.

    I get that Riker will take it personally when Picard appears to have been killed but he becomes far too emotional, and there's some highly overcooked scenery-chewing in that scene with Deanna at the beginning.

    And when you consider what could go wrong when Picard and Riker beam to the Enterprise posing as pirates, it's laughable that it all works out perfectly, with Beverley even going along with it by announcing that Riker is dead.

    I was pleased to see Data drop his usual unassuming manner in a command role, and the scene where he reprimands Worf is terrific.

    This whole notion of a mind power resonator, apparently carved out of stone by ancient Vulcans - why is it so precious, really? What did they know that modern-day Vulcans don't? If the Vulcan ancients can make one, why can't modern Vulcan technology manage it? The whole idea of a stone-carved object that can turn Klingon, human, Vulcan or any convenient humanoid hostile thoughts into a weapon is nonsense anyway.

    No. Not really good enough, especially for a two-parter.

    All that work to get ... a gun.

    Now, granted, it is a pretty nifty gun and it does kill people in a novel way but it's still just a gun. Tallera would have fared better in that final scene if she had a good ol reliable phaser set to kill. Try to beat that Picard with "peace".

    Why do their civvies always look like cast offs from a primary school nativity ?
    Great to see Picard and Riker working out their rivalry - why did he just have to punch him once, surely a couple more times would have been more convincing ?

    So , ome part of is is quite mediocre or and typical. Not bad but not fantastic.

    Then there is almost a "who have done it". The myster solved by Sherlok Picard. This part is fair enough an OK.

    The hit is really the interptation of Data as acting capatain. In Redemption, Part II he first executed comand in a "Data" way. Here it was quite much moore and I really liked the way they iterpeted how an andvance artificial intelligens would act.

    I very much liked this part, it was well thought over and well executed. They managed to get a least two funnies in it, very much indicating that Data at least have some sort of algorithmic humour.

    I really like the all-too-few glimpses we get of the rest of the galaxy that isn't some federation or empire's ship or star station.

    So I was pretty excited for a storyline about smugglers. I'll give them a pass for how ridiculous it is for Picard, with his perfect narrator's dictation, to be passing as a grimy smuggler. How would Baran's crew even know what a formal human's accent would sound?

    Richard Lynch's performance here stands out for me as I have just watched DS9's Duet 2 days ago which also featured a performance by an actor I only seem to see in one-off roles in TV shows. Stands out in a terrible way. No attempts to hide his Brooklyn accent or act in any way differently from any number of other roles I've seen him in. Just fucking awful.

    Putting Riker on the team that was going to the Enterprise after knowing him for like 3 hours? The overly-contrived 'I can blow up your neck' method of maintaining a crew just really grated on me.

    A real bummer given it was a premise I was really excited to see after the episode started in a hive of scum and villainy.

    I’ll save my thoughts for Part 2. Just to say that when I first saw this, I thought it was an exciting episode, but now - with all the shocks and surprises known - I can see how poorly it was executed. Done properly, with variations in pace and tension, it might have made a good ST movie. However, this is one of the occasions when I have to say that Star Wars does this kind of story so much better.

    Part 2 was a great improvement on Part 1 (the phaser shoot out on the planet had me LMAO … like the worst Westerns, 3 or 4 minutes of continuous shooting resulted in zero hits!). The tension between Picard, Riker, and the other renegades was well maintained, and the double double agent situation with Telleria was neat.

    Two or three things that were hard to swallow:

    1. The ending with the psionic resonator was very poor - not only the jelly mould effects but also Telleria displaying emotion which as a Vulcan she wouldn’t.

    2. Data as a Commander? I don’t buy it, especially where he gives Worf a bollocking. I can’t see an android doing that.

    3. Picard - believed dead - suddenly appears on the Enterprise yet no crew member inadvertently (through shock) gives the game away and reveals who he really is?

    Did anyone else notice Picard perform the Picard Manoeuvre while wearing his disguise? LOL

    Ok. 2.5 stars for the first half, a bit more than 3 stars for the second half. Just about 3 stars overall.

    That goofy thing that Tallera did with her clenched fist at the end when the weapon didn't work on the serene minds was worthy of a foiled Scooby Doo villain...

    One thing that is a lovely piece of continuity. Picard’s choice if the name Galen. That was his professor’s name from the Chase. It seemed like a tribute to him that to pretend to be an expert archaeologist, he’d use Galen.

    Second nice thing. The look Troi pulls when Data tells Worf to do a health and safety inspection. She knew this was about making Worf a good 1st officer and being a good captain. Another example of good leadership from Data (after the bollocking he gave Worf).

    Great stuff.

    I liked these two episodes. Did anyone else notice Picard poses as a smuggler and expert on artifacts and uses his deceased archeologist mentors name Galen. I thought that was a nice little added bit of story.

    How are people still surprised that the endings of these shows are terrible? It's the most glaring issue of the entire TNG franchise. The endings are always a let down with very few exceptions.

    I agree with Jammer that this is in the 2.5 range. Maybe 3 stars.

    I think I've become more cynical in my older age. In the 90s, I didn't bat an eye at the ending. But in 2022, I am immediately struck how the ending is allowed to play out.

    Tallera outs Picard as Starfleet, then he outs her as a self-interested villain who is after the artifact because it is a weapon.

    Tallera beams down with two of the mercenaries and Picard. The mercenaries quickly find that they've been cheated and less than half the promised reward is waiting. Meanwhlie, Tellara finds the last piece of the resonator and puts it together. So what happens next? The two mercenaries see Tellara aim the thing that Picard has told them is a weapon directly at each of them, one at a time, and it slowly sends out a pulse that kills them.

    How does neither of these ruthless mercenaries fire their phasers at Tellara before this plays out?

    This has THE best "Clueless Riker" scene on the pirate ship when Picard finally turns up.

    Seriously, what a big dumb goof.

    Everyone's just treating this live-action version of Director Bullock from American Dad as if he's Captain Picard. What's the deal with that?

    Um...why did Baran have that pain-giving device installed on himself?

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