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*** This review may contain spoilers ***
ST:TNG:34 - "A Matter Of Honor" (Stardate: 42506.5) - this is the 8th episode to air of the 2nd season. This is a historic first in Star Trek - Riker takes part in an officer exchange program where he will be the first Starfleet Officer to serve on a Klingon starship - and to prepare, he dines on a Klingon dinner on the Ten Forward! Also, at the same time, Wesley meets someone who looks like his friend Mordock from the first season episode "Coming of Age" - Ensign Mendon (John Putch, who plays both Mordock and Mendon). You also get to see the Enterprise "firing range" at the beginning when Picard and Riker use their phasers to shoot at targets in the Holodeck.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
This Season Two High-Point is a coin with two heads: The A story, Riker
with Klingon Captain Kargon in a Klingon Bird of Prey, The B Story: A
Benzite, Ensign Mendon, who painfully learns how to Interact with Worf.
Riker takes Picards challenge of joining the Federation's "Officer Exchange Program"- And agrees to transfer to a Klingon Ship, "The Pagh." Meanwhile The Enterprise takes on one Exchange Officer: Ensign Mendon the Benzite. We met a Benzite in the Episode where Wesley Crusher competes to get into Starfleet, and a Benzite beat him in. At first Wesley thinks it is the same Benzite, but they are simply part of the same extended family, so they look the same (And can therefore use the Same Actor to play the part).
This is the first really good look we have of Klingon "Nutritional Choices"- And of Gagh, Klingon Serpent Worms. I'll eat Klingon food any day before I touch any Cardassian Food.
Christopher Latta is "Captain Kargon" of the Klingon Ship The Pagh, and every question he has for Riker is a Trick Question. But Riker knows enough about Worf to give Kargon the right answers: But as this episode progresses, knowing the right verbal answer is not enough, it has to be backed up with Force. Therefore, when Lt. Klag (Brian Thompson) challenges Riker, Riker has to beat the crap out of him. As Kargon explains, it is Riker's first "Command Decision."
Riker easily wins the respect and obedience of the Klingon Crew, even capturing the attention of two Female Klingon "CrewMen"-"One? Or Both?", he tells Klag. Meanwhile, Ensign Mendon (John Putch), who was so eager to please Captain Picard, is having trouble impressing WORF. Especially when he discovers a Metal-Eating Parasite devouring The Pagh's Hull. He initially keeps it to himself, but when sensors pick up the same gunk eating away at The Enterprise Hull, he tells The Bridge crew he had found the same substance on The Pagh.
So, after a berating from both Picard and Worf, Mendon figures out a way to clean the parasite off, and the Enterprise chases after The Pagh.
But Kargon finds the parasite before the Enterprise can warn him, and he wants to Blame the Enterprise. This puts Riker in a precarious position, he has to serve, fight and possibly die with the Klingon Crew, but on the other hand, he must assassinate Kargon if Kargon becomes inept: Which he DOES.
Riker's solution saves not only the Pagh and The Enterprise, which The Pagh would have surely fired on, but he also saves Captain Kargon's Honour.
As Riker-with-a-black-eye tells Picard: "It's (about knowing) when NOT to duck."
The Federation has encouraged its starships to participate in an "exchange" program. As part of a multi-cultural thing, a group of aliens comes on board the Enterprise. They are eager, and one in particular, a Benzite, like the one who beat Wesley out of a position at the Academy, becomes a bit of a nuisance. A combination of scientific ability and sycophancy make this character intriguing. Like his predecessor, his existence requires him to breath vapors emanating from a tray under his chin. When Picard talks to Number One, asking if he could suggest a crewman to go on board a Klingon ship for the exchange, Riker quickly jumps at the chance. Worf helps prepare him a bit and there is a scene of the Commander eating all manner of Klingon food, including a bowl of worms. It's interesting that not only are these guys the bad boys of the universe, but they eat absolutely nothing conventional (as far as the crew goes). Because they are disgusting, their food must be also. Anyway, Riker must face off against the aggressive, dangerous Klingons to gain status on the ship. Because of his rank in Starfleet, he assumes his same role on board the new ship. There is trouble, of course, because these warlike characters see him as trying to subvert their ship. They will not listen to reason and Riker must act. These Klingon episode always make me wonder how they managed to do rudimentary things on a day to day basis if they spend so much time killing an maiming each other. This "dying with honor" thing still involves dying, a seemingly counterproductive activity. The episode does a good job of showing us the ship, and Riker is a worthy match for its crew.
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