Top Five Commander Riker Star Trek: The Next Generation Episodes
With the many social gatherings around Halloween in New York City, it’s again time to figure out this year’s costume. Two years ago, I attempted to pull of a Commander William Riker costume. Riker is a character from my favorite television series as kid, Star Trek: The Next Generation. In my last minute attempt two-years ago, I was only able to find a women’s red uniform (almost identical in appearance to the men’s). I had little choice other than rethinking my costume concept and settled for the woman’s uniform. I quickly discovered the subtle differences in hem lines where there was more room in some places and less in others. I only made it on one social gathering away mission that year so I have revived the idea for this year. It’s a decision made mostly out of unwillingness to spend ($100+) on something convincing that I’ll wear once maybe twice. I’m also not feeling so creative that I would manage to make something that I don’t have to explain to everyone I meet. Call me the Grinch of Halloween but at this point I am ready for a very old fashioned masquerade party, like the one in the Kenneth Branagh’s film adaptation of A Midsummer Knight’s Dream.
This year I got a proper fan-knock off male command Next Generation costume. It still has some odd non TNG angles to it but at least this one is made for a man. It’s also the only excuse I have at this point to break out the phaser and tricorder I’ve had since I was kid.
While contemplating beard lines and assembling the parts of my costume I decided to make a list of top five Riker episodes of the Next Generation.
A Matter of Honor
Riker volunteers for an officer exchange program with the Klingons. He is the first Federation officer to serve on a Klingon ship and it takes a bit of adjustment for everyone involved. After his transfer to the Klingon ship he is soon challenged by the second officer and somehow manages to win in a duel with a Klingon much bigger than him. When a “subatomic bateria” makes a hole in the hull of the Klingon ship the Captain suspects sabotage by Riker and the Federation and sets out to engage the Enterprise in battle. Riker must maintain his newfound loyalty to the Klingon ship which seems to be the only thing keeping him alive and somehow manage to alert/save the Enterprise simultaneously. Fortunately the one Klingon very loyal to Riker, Worf left him a piece of technology that saves the day.
Male Klingon Officer: You may live long enough to learn about us.
Female Klingon Officer: Mmmmmm he is not very attractive. But I will have him.
Another Male Klingon Officer: They are inquisitive. They would like to know how you would endure.
Riker: Endure what?
Male Klingon Officer: Them.
…long pregnant (if he forgot his Starfleet issue contraceptive) pause…
Riker: One, or both?
…lots of deep Klingon belly chuckles fill the room…
Female Klingon Officer: I’ll be back for you.
Riker: Is she serious?
Male Klingon Officer: Yes
A second William Riker is discovered after having been stranded on a isolated outpost due to a transporter malfunction that duplicated and beamed the Riker we are more familiar with out years ago. A second Riker’s presence has an uneasy effect on the crew and ignites a brief flame between the double Riker and Deanna Troi. Here Riker is compared to his past within the present showing how he has matured since his early officer days. To avoid future confusion the second Riker changes his first name to Thomas. Will faces Thomas as anyone would face their double, with great unease. But eventually Will becomes more cordial when Thomas is departing and gives him his (or their) trombone. The Thomas Riker character later appears in the Star Trek Deep Space Nine episode “Defiant,” posing as Commander Riker in order to hijack a ship.
"I’ve practiced in the mirror too long to be fooled by that face."
"I’ve never settled for anything in my life. I know what I want. I know what I’ve got. And you’d be lucky to do so well…Lieutenant."
A pivotal Riker episode that once again confronts Will with actions and relationships from his past. His loyalty to Picard is put in check when a Captain (now Admiral) from his past played by Terry O’Quinn seeks his assistance cleaning up a clandestine mess in front of the Romulans. Riker has to ultimately choose between the Admiral and Picard. Even though he makes the right choice he still ends up in the brig and with a lot of questions to answer. I remember watching this episode when it originally aired and getting really excited during the part where the Enterprise cloaks/decloaks for the one and only time.
"I’ve had 12 years to think about it. If I had it to do over again. I would have grabbed the phaser and pointed at you instead of them."
The Icarus Factor
As Will’s father waltzes back into his life, Will is offered his own command (first of many times). Worf makes a plea to Riker to take him as part of the crew of his new command. Riker’s father abandoned him as a teenager and both have unsettled feelings about the death of Will’s mother. Eventually the both engage in a physical match in “the ultimate form of martial arts,” which bears a striking resemblance to American Gladiators. Will finally realizes his father was cheating during every match they had. After some tender conversation they appear to make amends or at least hate each other less.
Worf: You plan to leave the Enterprise.
Riker: I have been offered my own command.
Worf: I would like to join you.
Riker: I haven’t accepted the assignment yet.
Worf: But sir, it could be a dangerous mission. There may be the potential for combat.
Riker: That is not the purpose of the mission.
Worf: But still, to die a true hero.
Riker: Worf! You’ve made your point.
Worf: Then I know you will do the right thing.
Riker is critically injured and rushed to an alien hospital while in disguise on a surveillance mission studying an advanced culture on the brink of discovering warp drive. Starfleet is considering contacting the culture and is engaged in First Contact protocol. It doesn’t take the alien doctors long to realize that Riker’s organs aren’t where they are supposed to be and start suspecting that he might be an alien and not the wacky mutant he claims to be. Riker is presented with an opportunity to escape when an extremely curious nurse propositions him. He must have sex with her to escape and for the first time Will does not have his charm at max and makes several attempts to get out of the deal. Picard has to intervene to save his first officer by contacting members of the planet’s government. At first he makes a peaceful introduction and eventually has to explain that they have been spying on the planet for years leading up to this meeting. This does not sit well with the government and their equivalent of Homeland Security looses his shit and tries to martyr himself to keep the society from deviating from traditions and becoming progressive.
Riker: “Now will you help me?”
Nurse Lanel: “If you make love to me.”
Nurse Lanel: “I’ve always wanted to make love within alien.”
Nurse Lanel: “Lanel”
Riker: “I really have to get going. All the other…aliens are waiting for me.”
* I replaced the communicator accessory of the costume with a Deep Space Nine/Voyager era communicator because it resembled the real one more. The one that came with the costume looks like it should be on a birthday cake.