Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Next Generation, Season 7: The Pegasus

The Next Generation, Season 7
"The Pegasus"
Airdate: November 29, 1993
162 of 176 produced
162 of 176 aired


Commander Riker is shocked when his former captain, now-admiral Eric Pressman, comes aboard with information about their former ship. Instead of being destroyed, as he had thought, it apparently has been found. This means, however, that Riker will have to confront a decision from his past that he regrets more than any other - a reexamination that might also threaten his career

Riker whispers sweet nothings into mini-Picard's ear.


Matthew: This is a Ron Moore classic. How do we love it? Let's count the ways. It's a cool Romulan/political thriller story, with a neat sci-fi angle. It's got great character stories and expands continuity without seeming arbitrary or artificial. Also, it is perfectly paced. On the first score, I love the way the Romulans were handled here. The dialogue between the Romulan Commander and Captain Picard is a great example - their verbal jousting was both funny and chilling. The things we learn about the Treaty of Algeron are interesting, and they allow us to hear lots of passionate shouting about treaties "signed in good faith!" The technology angle is cool - it's always neat when a secret weapon is being sought, and Moore picked a good one with the phasing cloak.I wish the Treaty of Algeron had been described in greater detail - what precipitated it, why and where Algeron is, etc.

Kevin: The political angle was definitely fun. I think it worked so well here for a couple of reasons. First, it has laser-sharp focus on both the character and political sides of the story. I loved Redemption, but it was, ultimately, a little broad in its scope, and it muddied the story a bit. Here, the focus of the cloaking device and its implications give the broader political ramifications a nice center. The one fly in the ointment for me is that I can't for the life of me imagine why the Federation would agree to not develop cloaking technology. I could have handled an array of explanations, even one in which the Federation was in the weaker bargaining position at the time. It didn't derail an awesome episode, but it still nagged me.

Matthew: Despite what happens in the Enterprise finale (which would be unfair to judge this episode by), the character growth for Riker, both in his past and in the present, was great to watch. It gives him more of an arc to have grown from a by the book "eager beaver" whose attitudes ended up leading him to a regretted decision, into a wiser person who can see the moral and ethical valence of a situation beyond simplistic notions of duty and honor. And, like Wesley in "The First Duty," the fact that he did screw up humanizes him quite a bit. His feelings of guilt are one thing, but so are his feelings of self-preservation, which lead him to keep covering up what happened. The conflict between Picard and Riker was superb - Picard again pushing for the truth, and acknowledging that their trust and friendship is on the line. "I'm taking this up with you, Will!" is a great line. I also really like that Riker's change of heart would have put him on the side of those who died - it adds a nice layer of complexity.

Kevin: The scene with Picard was awesome, no two ways about it. We've griped about Picard's senior staff getting away with a heck of a lot, but this episode kind of crystallizes that for me. Between Picard's conversation with Pressman and the scene with Will, we see Picard's philosophy. He wants an officer who will respect discipline and the chain of command right until they shouldn't. It's the hardest version of the job for the officer. It simultaneously lacks the certainty of hierarchy or the freedom of a laissez faire system. Picard lays it out explicitly. He will trust Riker to ultimately do The Right Thing, and regardless of whether he is following orders, Picard will evaluate Riker on that basis. I also like the light this shines on Riker's character. It colors his taking a stand against DeSoto on the Hood. He knows the price of blind obedience, and won't do it again. I also would suggest it colors, at least subconsciously, his refusal to sit in the center chair. First season Riker is supposed to be an ambitious go-getter, even sacrificing his relationship with Troi for that to happen, but turns down command twice in 18 months in early TNG. Maybe there was some residual guilt about his decision making ability, or his fitness for command based on his actions both on the bridge and the subsequent cover-up. I think it worth noting that the first time after these events, Riker accepts it.

Matthew: This episode is never boring, despite lots of conversations and quiet moments. In fact, it builds perfectly over its 44 minutes, peeling back another layer of mystery with each act break, but doing so in a way that is nowhere near as artificial as, say, "Lost" or "Fringe" (or any other JJ Abrams craptacular). Now, having said all these laudatory things, I do have one or two issues. Why was this secret weapon tested so close to the territory of the people whose treaty it would break? I'd have tested the darned thing on the other end of Federation space. Also, what this episode was missing was some Troi/Riker action. As his oldest friend on board, she would have valuable insights into the young man he was, and might help him wrestle with the quandary he faces now. Even a scene of him refusing her help would have been welcome. Instead, she is relegated to "Captain Picard Day," and that's it. Finally, don't the conspirators have a blueprint of the device? Why is it so imperative to retrieve this particular piece of equipment, when they could just rebuild it? None of these problems is fatal, they just linger as questions in the mind of someone who has seen this show ten times.

Kevin: The dialogue was perfectly organic, and that's why it works. Since Riker and Pressman know what it is, they don't need to say it, and it naturally obscures the fact from the viewer without requiring anyone to stare out into the middle distance for a flashback that no one else can see but no one talks about. The stakes alternately get higher in the personal and professional departments. In every possible way, Riker has to decide right-the-fuck-now what kind of man and what kind of officer he is and will be forever. It's a credible and interesting story packed skillfully into 44 minutes.


Matthew: Jonathan Frakes turns in his best performance since "Frame of Mind," and probably his best overall. The look of dread on his face when Pressman beamed aboard was perfect. His scene with Stewart was also superb - he seemed genuinely hurt by the idea that Picard's trust and respect for him had been injured. His ready-room scene with O'Quinn's Pressman was similarly good. It was just an exceptional job from start to finish.

Kevin: I'll admit, I was not the biggest fan of Riker as a kid. It's not that I disliked him, it's just that I didn't respond to him to the way I did Picard or Data. I am increasingly starting to think that was a function of my age. Especially in the later seasons, the actor and the character have a lot of layers, and he is really engaging.

Matthew: Terry O'Quinn was a heck of a guest star. He perfectly occupied the role of a Starfleet Admiral who is both completely convinced of the rightness of his cause, as well as perfectly willing to badger he people around him to achieve it. He played off of established series actors with the confidence of a regular. Speaking of guest stars, Nancy Vawter was good as Admiral Blackwell.

Kevin: I liked the Romulan captain who was just dripping with false concern. He really nailed the attitude and the false diplomacy scenes shined with both humor and menace. O'Quinn made me believe Pressman believe his point of view, and he even made it understandable if not exactly moral. The lack of cloaking technology is a huge disability for the Federation, and for a guest actor to sell that kind of history is a real feather in his cap. Wouldn't you have just killed for some scene between him and Necheyev?

Production Values

Matthew: The model work on the Pegasus was totally cool. The effect of the pin lights scanning the ship was visually very interesting. The coolness extended to the interior, which was nicely tilted, and seemed like a  nice mix between the Enterprise engineering section and, say, the USS Hathaway's.

Kevin: [Insert obligatory anticipatory Bluray comment here.] The model work was exquisite. The detailing on the name and registry numbers was great. I wonder if they actually build a wall around a model or hacked and Oberth model to pieces. In either event, the work was superb. The asteroid field was a little bland, but I want to credit the actors, the writers, and the director for making a long scene about obscuring the asteroid really shine with a minimum of effects work. It was basically two shots of the two ships arriving and departing the asteroid, but had movement and genuine tension. I image they were saving their budget for the model work on the Pegasus, but they proved (again) that oftentimes less is more.

Matthew: The cloaking device itself was a little ho-hum for me. It was just sort of a transparent tube. I'm not saying I know how I would have designed it, but it didn't meet my expectations. I liked all the extras as corpses on the Pegasus set. They all wore collarless uniforms, which was a nice touch.


Matthew: Overall this is well above average on all counts. It does have a few flaws, but I still think it is safely within the top 10% of the series. So I have no qualms about giving it a 5. It's superbly constructed, well acted, and looks good to boot. It will make a top something list - whether it's 10 or 20 remains to be seen.

Kevin: Yep. This might be the pinnacle of RDM's TNG work. It combines the best elements of the political saga of Redemption, with quiet character study of say, Defector. This gets a 5 from me as well, for a total of 10.


Please enjoy this episode's podcast which, Matthew and I can assure you, was recorded in good faith.


  1. You may have recorded it in good faith, but you did not post it at all. It's just an image, not a link to a podcast.

    1. I fixed the link, and here it is again, just in case.


  2. These Are The Voyages... pisses me off no end. Why must such a crappy episode claim such an awesome episode title?

    But I never understood what the holoprogram plot had to do with Riker's decision. Sure, Trip "disobeyed orders", but that was not the central point of what happened there. He did what he had to do to save his captain and life-long friend, not did what he had to do that went against his better judgement because some superior officer told him to. (And we never got to hear the damned speech.)

    WHY would he tell Troi things that he won't tell Picard? WHY? He wouldn't, that's why! *fumes*

    (I'm done now. I swear.)

  3. You go right on speaking the truth, dear.

    It's not bad enough to make a bad episode, they have to destroy a great one in the process. Eeesh.