The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Second Chances

Eight years ago, Will Riker led a rescue mission to Nervala IV, and only just managed to beam out before a distortion field made transport impossible. Now, the Enterprise has returned to retrieve the valuable data that was left behind, but much to their surprise, there is another Riker waiting for them on the surface! This second Riker is a transporter duplicate created eight years, and, having been rescued, he’s keen to resume his life. But are two Will Rikers simply too many?

I’m not a fan of transporter duplicates, for reasons of conservation of mass and the implied ease of creating life that I’ve mentioned many times before. So it should come as no surprise that I don’t really like the premise of this episode or its wider implications. The writers clearly enjoyed working with Frakes to create twice as much Riker, and to explore the road not taken with Troi, but it’s played out more like Tom Riker is a jealous twin brother, rather than someone who was the same person up until eight years previously.

Twice the Riker

  • For plot convenience, Tom Riker seems surprisingly content at the end to take on a new name and a new life. Imagine if he’d initiated legal proceedings against Will Riker to sue for their joint possessions and such.
  • We learn a little more about how Troi and Riker’s relationship ended – Riker decided to put his career before their holiday on Risa and continuing relationship, and so things cooled between them.
  • Troi tells Tom Riker that she’s not interested in resuming their relationship, but then is easily won over when he vows to pursue her anyway. This just reinforces the idea that, when a woman says no, she never means no – she means “keep harassing me until I give in”.
  • In Insurrection, Troi says “I never kissed you with a beard before” to Riker. Whilst technically true, she does kiss bearded Tom Riker here, which is practically the same thing.
  • As always, no one on the Enterprise unders how betting works in poker.
  • Troi says that Riker has never been able to master the solo section in Nightbird, but since it’s a jazz piece, Riker would be free to improvise his own solo, and could easily do something that was within his capabilities.

Summary – Second Chances: Spoiler alert – there’s no Riker-Troi-Riker threesome.

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