The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Gambit

When Captain Picard goes missing during an investigative mission, reports claim that he was vaporised. Unwilling to rest until he avenges his captain’s death, Riker decides to track down the culprit, only to find himself on a mercenary ship where a very much alive Captain Picard is pretending to be a smuggler in order to unravel an archaeological mystery.

I’d largely forgotten about the existence of this two-parter, and it feels like the reason is simply that it’s unclear why it exists in the first place. As an attempt to get Picard off the bridge, it falls short of the likes of Starship Mine and Captain’s Holiday, whilst the overarching plot about an ancient Vulcan telepathic weapon is paper thin. Overall, it just feels a bit tired and uninspired, like one of the last gasps of a dying series – which is a sad thing to say when there is actually some good stuff still to come this season.

The captain’s responsibility

  • Why did Picard go off to investigate the smugglers by himself instead of passing on the intel for Starfleet intelligence operatives to act on? Not only is he a recognisable figure as the captain of the Federation’s flagship, but he has a responsibility to his ship and crew that precludes heading off on random missions just because they tie in with his love of archaeology.
  • Data tries to stop Riker going on an away mission by pointing out that Riker would have done the same for Picard, even though Riker hasn’t stopped Picard going on away missions for quite a while now.
  • Why are the smugglers so obsessed with money when they could live cushy lives in the Federation, where money doesn’t exist and you can just get whatever you want?
  • Why would all the senior crew risk their lives to track down Picard? I understand that they would be worried, but they’re also military officers, so they should also be pragmatic about risking everyone’s lives.
  • We’ve already heard that Vulcans were passionate and violent before they embraced logic, but here we learn that they developed their telepathic powers to such an extent that they could kill with their minds.
  • The Debrune are described as an ancient offshoot of the Romulans, themselves an offshoot of the Vulcans.
  • One from the season opener – we learn that Data cannot swim and instead must walk along sea and riverbeds in order to cross them. However, in Insurrection, he demonstrates that, in the event of a water landing, he has been designed to act as a flotation device. Is that a recent upgrade?

Summary – Gambit: Pretty hackneyed for a two-parter. Could do better.

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