Star Trek: The Next Generation (1989/1990) – The Vengeance Factor, and The Defector

Captain’s log: stardate  43421.9

The Vengeance Factor, a Riker (Jobathan Frakes) episode first aired on 20 November, 1989.

The Enterprise is transporting Sovereign Marouk (Nancy Parsons) to a meeting with an offshoot tribe of her planet’s inhabitants, known as Gatherers. Picard (Patrick Stewart) is hosting peace talks between the troubled sides, and is hoping that under Marouk’s pleas and negotiations they can be reunited.

The Federation is only drawn into intervening when a number of their own outposts were attacked. But finding that there has been no peace for a century, Picard makes it his mission to create and maintain an amnesty.

Riker, meanwhile, finds himself rather taken with Marouk’s cook, Yuta (Lisa Wilcox) and a relationship begins to develop between them, even as the threat of assassination, and even war hangs over the Gatherers and their home planet of Acamar.

Of course, given the limited cast of characters they don’t keep the identity of the assassin secret, in fact, they are revealed pretty quickly. It’s just meant to be more poignant because of the choice Riker is forced to make.

But lets be honest, Riker’s decision was never in doubt, making the story’s ’emotional’ arc rather moot. You know how it’s going to play out, because we know the characters, and in point of fact, they probably won’t even remember these events in the next episode.

Such was the nature of episodic television. The series got a little away from that over the run, working in some nice continuity, but it wasn’t until DS9 came along that serial storytelling was welcomed in the Trek Universe.


Captain’s log: stardate 43462.5

Airing on 1 January, 1990, The Defector ushered in a new decade, and gave us a solid spy thriller penned by Ronald D. Moore.

A Romulan defector, Setol (James Sloyan) is picked up by the Enterprise bringing stories of a secret Romlan base in the Neutral Zone. It is from this base that they plan to strike at Federation planets, and may very well cause an interplanetary war.

But Picard has his suspicions about Setol, and is unsure whether he can be trusted or if he and Starfleet are being manipulated by the Romulan Empire.

There is some great stuff in this episode, including Data (Brent Spiner) doing Henry V in the holodeck with Patrick Stewart buried under a lot of makeup as one of Henry’s men. It also gives us a look at some new starships, on both the Romulan and Klingon front.

But on top of all that it’s a solid thriller, and wonderfully well-crafted.

This is another episode that I just love, and all the reveals as the plot draws to its conclusion, are perfectly orchestrated and entertain through every moment. The character beats and the appearance of Tomalak (Andreas Katsulas), not to mention the reference to Galorndon Core – see discussion above re” establishing continuity.

I love this one and there is so much more to come!

The Human Adventure continues Thursday…


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