Season two of Star Trek: The Next Generation, while an improvement on season one, has still been something of a mixed bag. Jimmy and Tom are just about done the season, but how does an episode like “Peak Performances” play out? See below for their thoughts.
Starfleet has ordered the Enterprise engage in war games with another ship, with Picard and Riker going head-to-head!
jimmy: Elephant in the room question first: if the Ferengi don’t coincidentally show up, who wins the war game?
tomk: Nobody wins at war, Jimmy. Nobody.
jimmy: War. Huh. What is it good for?
tomk: Absolutely nothing.
Or maybe crushing Nazis.
jimmy: Or preparing for The Borg.
tomk: Yeah. That will stop the Borg. Practicing with old ships.
jimmy: Yes, it was a bit of an odd exercise. If anything the test was more of Riker and crew to get the derelict ship ready for battle than the battle itself.
tomk: With Wesley cheating and Riker tricking Worf into going.
tomk: Call it what you will. Wes lied to get that gizmo. To everybody. Even Riker.
jimmy: Riker didn’t seem too concerned once he learned how it would benefit them.
tomk: That’s because he’s also a cheater.
It’s how he can beat Data at cards.
jimmy: That’s called bluffing.
tomk: Or hiding a card up his sleeve.
jimmy: Is Worf’s phantom ship trick cheating as well?
tomk: Are you suggesting Worf would commit a dishonorable act?
jimmy: I’m not sure how honorable it is, but he used his knowledge of the Enterprise security codes to trick them. Which seems like something Picard should have changed the second Worf left the ship.
tomk: So, are you saying Picard should change the security codes for an exercise knowing his security chief would need them when he gets back?
jimmy: He can always change them again. And ends up changing them anyways after saying something about not giving Worf enough credit. One of a number of issues with this simulation.
tomk: It is supposed to be about thinking outside the box.
jimmy: The teams didn’t seem very fairly matched either with Riker taking the head of security and the head of engineering, plus the “special” ensign. Picard had a doctor, a counselor and an android having a nervous breakdown.
tomk: He also had the better ship. Plus, Pulaski was completely at fault for Data’s breakdown.
jimmy: The Enterprise itself did seem to give Picard the advantage, you’re right. Even with all of Riker’s trickery, Picard probably could have just waited Riker out until he exhausted all possibilities. Like Ali vs Foreman.
tomk: Yeah. If Quark and Squiggy had just stayed away, it would have probably gone very differently.
jimmy: They sure got the hell out of there quickly when another Federation ship “showed up”.
tomk: Ferengi are a superstitious and cowardly lot.
tomk: There’s a whole musical about that.
jimmy: It’s schwarbage.
tomk: I never said it was a good musical.
jimmy: Fair enough.
tomk: It’s at least as good as a game where you win by wiggling your fingers or something.
jimmy: How is it that with all the advancements in technology, they have a holodeck for cripes sake, all the games seem like they are from the 60’s?
tomk: Um, Gene Roddenberry really liked Connect Four?
jimmy: Perhaps. And the game “sounded” like it was complex, but the whole interface left something to be desired. I suppose it is about the mental game, like say chess, than the fact that it looked like it could be played on an Atari 2600.
tomk: It was about strategy. How else can you get four in a row on any rotating screen?
jimmy: I know, I know. It just seemed so…I dunno…dated? Low tech? And why did it need essentially 10 controllers to move a couple of dots?
tomk: I could explain it to you, but I promised the Moose I wouldn’t.
jimmy: He’s always looking out for me. BTW, now I got that “superstitious and cowardly lot” song stuck in my head. Thanks for that.
tomk: There are worse songs.
jimmy: Don’t you dare…
tomk: OK, I won’t.
jimmy: Since you know these things usually, where do we know the games master (or whatever he’s called) from?
tomk: Probably this.
jimmy: There you go. I love that movie.
tomk: Well, we know you remembered the woman with the three boobs.
jimmy: Who could forget?
tomk: People with no interest in boobs?
Alcoholics? The unemployable? Angry loners?
jimmy: There you go using logic again.
tomk: It’s worked well for me so far.
jimmy: Have you ever watched 24?
tomk: I did for a while. That show must have taken place over numerous decades given how often they got a new president.
jimmy: Well, Sargent Burke or whatever his name was, should have been familiar to you.
tomk: That guy? He’s got one of those faces.
Looks like he plays a lot military figures…including a general in a lot of Transformers movies.
But I wouldn’t hold that against him.
jimmy: He looks much younger here. Easy to forget sometimes that this show is over 30 years old.
tomk: And this may have been one of his first TV jobs. No wonder Wesley tricked him.
jimmy: It didn’t seem difficult. He was barely paying attention as it was.
tomk: Well, Wesley may be special, but in person, he’s also boring.
jimmy: I can see that.
And no one notices the unauthorized transport of his experiment to the other ship.
tomk: He sent it off into space. It just so happened the space was right next to Geordi. What an unbelievable coincidence!
jimmy: And let’s assume that transporters were a real thing…how would you ever place anyone or anything perfectly so they aren’t like a foot off the ground or halfway through a wall?
tomk: That’s why this moneyless society pays people like O’Brien the big bucks!
I mean, you didn’t question last time beaming a probe with a live emissary onto the ship when both were at warp in the previous episode.
jimmy: Beaming onto the ship seems like it would be easier as you know the exact location and dimensions of the transporter pad.
tomk: But at warp? In the past, they couldn’t do that part.
jimmy: They were both at warp, so O’Brien worked his magic.
tomk: You do like magic.
jimmy: Who doesn’t?
tomk: Iron Man in the comics.
jimmy: What does he know?
tomk: How to build an arc reactor and armored suit while captured by terrorists?
jimmy: True. They could have used him instead of Wesley’s school project.
tomk: Too bad in the 24th century he’s long dead. Or he invented the Borg. Pepper was the original Borg Queen.
jimmy: There’s a lot of candles that smell like the Borg in the future.
tomk: Do they explode?
tomk: Must be Roman candles.
jimmy: I did like the mention of the Borg though. In line with our conversation about the show being so episodic in nature. This showed that continuity was at least a thing to some degree.
tomk: A bit, yes. And it made the mission of the week seem less random.
jimmy: Except for the random Ferengi showing up bit.
tomk: Those guys are always random.
jimmy: And are always Armin Shimerman.
tomk: That guy’s everywhere. Next thing you know, he pops up on Justice League Unlimited.
jimmy: Don’t cross the streams, Tom.
tomk: I won’t if he won’t.
jimmy: I guess we’ll see.
tomk: Well, we’ve seen a lot. This time, we saw Pulaski actually…feeling bad for egging Data on.
jimmy: She’s moved on from her Data grudge. Then it was Worf, but she’s move on from that too. She’s running out of time to find a new member of the crew to pick on…
tomk: Especially considering there’s only one episode left after this one.
jimmy: Is it called “Pulaski Hates For The Last Time”?
tomk: Um, no.
jimmy: Possible she’s not even in it…but we’ll see that shortly.
tomk: Why? You ready to move on?
jimmy: No, no, just pulling the thread.
tomk: I see. Why? You ready to challenge chubby aliens to weird board games?
jimmy: I don’t know any chubby aliens.
tomk: Any skinny ones?
jimmy: No comment.
tomk: And you might want to keep an eye out and make sure this chubby alien doesn’t move into your neighborhood.
I’m sure he has a lower opinion of Canada than Watson, and that’s saying something.
tomk: Regardless, he’s not Canadian, so he is an alien by definition.
Whoever he is.
jimmy: He looks like a non-union Mexican equivalent of someone.
jimmy: No. Watson has no equivalent.
tomk: Thank goodness.
tomk: But what about this episode, Jimmy? Did the Ferengi bring anything to the table? Did Worf finish his model ship? Was Wesley punished off-camera when Picard saw him again? Did Data accept a forfeiture counts as a victory for him? And what of donuts?
jimmy: No. No. No. No. Delicious.
jimmy: To elaborate a bit, the Ferengi added nothing besides a reason to stop the war games and get Riker and Picard to work together.
tomk: They work better that way.
jimmy: They certainly don’t work as intimidating villains.
tomk: Riker works as a smirking second fiddle to a real villain.
jimmy: It does make you wonder if Riker would be a better Captain than Picard?
jimmy: Well, at least shows why they wanted to give him his own command.
jimmy: You think if they both had Enterprise level ships that Picard would best Riker?
tomk: Mmmmm. Interesting proposition. Picard is a consummate professional and he knows his crew. Riker is more of a military man in certain respects. I’d want Picard under most circumstances, but Riker would be a great guy to have in a fight. Or a seduction.
tomk: Riker is far better at improvisation from the looks of things.
jimmy: He honed his improv skills on the trombone.
tomk: No blondes there. It’s why he left Pulaski behind.
jimmy: I always find it funny when these “nobodies” show up with lines as major pieces of the ship’s crew and then are never seen again. Like the woman on Riker’s team who Worf pulls the cabling out of the ceiling for.
tomk: She was very excited over Worf’s plan.
jimmy: And that dog with the puffy tail.
tomk: In a blue car.
jimmy: Or like whenever someone besides Wesley is in the “drivers seat”, I’m always sure they are going to die.
tomk: They often do for some reason.
jimmy: They don’t have that “Reserved for Spinal Tap Drummers” bumper sticker on the back of the chair for nothing.
tomk: Wesley does take it up to eleven.
jimmy: He’s special that way.
tomk: He always has convenient experiments lying around.
jimmy: Haha…that’s true. His experiments always just happen to be exactly what is needed for that week’s plot.
tomk: He truly is special.
jimmy: Maybe Picard should be keeping an eye on what he is experimenting with so that he knows what obstacles are upcoming.
tomk: That Borg head could be a problem later.
jimmy: Or be exactly what they need!
tomk: A little of column a and a little of column b.
jimmy: It usually is.
tomk: Well, Wesley’s a sneak, Pulaski showed regret, and Data won a weird video game. Anything else to add, Jimmy?
jimmy: Not really. Shall we send off the good doctor?
tomk: Well, it’s the only clip show in Star Trek history…
jimmy: Clip show?!?! WTF?!?!
tomk: Well, yes. First and only time in Trek history.
jimmy: I don’t mind clip shows like you, but this does not sound intriguing. Especially for a season finale. Damn you writer’s strike! Damn you all to hell!
tomk: There were other issues involved. But we can talk about them after you’ve seen the episode.
jimmy: Then, let’s do that.