The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: The Game

Whilst vacationing on Risa, Riker is introduced to an addictive game, in which a special headset gives you a rush of pleasure every time you complete the level. Soon, almost everyone on the Enterprise is playing the game – unaware that it is actually a brainwashing device designed to make the crew willing turn the ship over to an alien adversary. Can junior engineer Robin Lefler and visiting cadet Wesley Crusher avoid the game and save the ship?

Wesley is back for a brief visit, and in his honour we have this romp, which actually isn’t as bad as most people think. Yes, the plot is a bit absurd, and the Data ex machina barely credible, but what we get in between is largely entertaining. It’s typical horror movie stuff, with Wesley and Lefler playing the lead roles as everyone around them slowly succumbs. You know exactly what’s coming – that Picard will already be addicted when Wesley goes to talk to him, and that Lefler will fall at a crucial minute, but you can appreciate it all the more for knowing what’s going to happen. It’s the sheer genre nostalgia factor that carries you through – here is a well-known trope done well, and one a show that we love.

Starfleet security

  • Riker is glad that Wesley is visiting because the Enterprise could use “an extra hand around here”. There are a thousand people aboard – surely one cadet more or less can’t make much difference?
  • Taking holidays (or even intending to take a holiday) on Risa seems quite perilous. I argue for better security all round.
  • If the Enterprise crew weren’t such galactic celebrities, I would argue that they should employ some kind of cover story when going on holiday.
  • If brainwashing Enterprise crewmembers is so easy (see both this episode and The Mind’s Eye), surely it’s imperative that some kind of defence be developed against it, perhaps involving telepaths?
  • How was the game able to induce the same effects in all the different races present on the Enterprise?
  • In this episode, the Ktarians are clearly hostile, yet in the future they are said to Federation members – in Voyager, Samantha Wildman married a Ktarian and bore a half-Ktarian child, Naomi. Naomi also has horns instead of the cranial features seen here. Perhaps Etana Jol is a member of a rogue faction, and the reason that Riker let his guard down around her was because he generally trusted Ktarians.
  • For some reason, Latin is one of the subjects taught at Starfleet Academy.
  • Picard failed organic chemistry at the Academy because of his attraction to the mysterious “AF”. He even attempted to carve their name into an elm tree.

Double entendre

“I’ve brought something back from Risa that you have got to try.”

“I don’t like fudge.”

“First of all, you have to spoon the fudge around the rim.”

“Come by my quarters and I’ll show it to you.”

Summary – The Game: “Don’t worry, Captain, we fixed everything offscreen right before the end.”

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