"Second Chances"

Season Six, Episode 24
Written by Rene Echevarria
Directed by LeVar Burton
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Captain Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Commander William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Geordi LaForge
Michael Dorn as Lt Worf
Gates McFadden as Dr Beverly Crusher
Marina Sirtis as Counsellor Deanna Troi
Brent Spiner as Lt Cmdr Data

Guest Cast:
Dr Mae Jemison as Ensign Palmer
 

Synopsis:
 
An away team led by Riker is startled to find an exact double of Riker on an abandoned outpost on Nervala IV. It turns out that Riker had visited the outpost eight years earlier and, unbeknownst to anyone, on beaming out an exact double was created by a transporter accident. This Riker has spent eight years alone on the outpost and is still in love with Troi. As Commander Riker tries to get used to his doppleganger, Lieutenant Riker resumes his relationship with Troi. However, as with the other Riker, career comes between them when he leaves to take a posting on the USS Gandhi.


Review: 

What could have been a pale re-tread of TOS episode The Enemy Within takes a slightly hackneyed premise and executes it with some finesse. Jonathan Frakes does a reasonable job in the double role, and mercifully he only has to shout a couple of times (see my comments on Frame of Mind above). Ironically, Tom Riker comes across as far more likable than Will, who spends most the episode behaving like a pouting, staunchy old fart. His jealousy at Tom's relationship with Deanna was well telegraphed and you would have thought he'd have been slightly more sympathetic given that poor Tom has spent the better part of a decade all alone on a deserted outpost. The special effects which enable both Rikers to interact are convincing and although the interaction between Will and Thomas (as he is later known) isn't much to write home about, the rekindling of the relationship between Tom and Deanna certainly hits the mark.

We get a lot of insight into the Riker/Troi relationship and how it ended when Will decided to put career ahead of Deanna. It's clear that in some way Deanna is still in love with Riker and would only gladly resume their relationship. Marina Sirtis does an especially good job, delivering a strong performance and, as always, the chemistry she shares with Frakes is effective. Rene Echevarria's warm, sensitive script has some wonderful touches, such as the paper trail which was a delight to watch.

The only thing that undermines Second Chances is the fact that it really needed to offer more than just a collection of nice character takes. As enjoyable as it is, the plot and particularly the resolution to the relationship, is a little lacking. There's a dull and routine sub-plot in which the Enterprise must retrieve a database from the outpost (gee, how thrilling!) and the climax in which Will saves Tom's life is about as cliched as they come. Puh-lease! I must, however, commend the writers for not going with the obvious ending and killing off Tom, leaving Troi heart-broken. All in all, a pleasant character piece.   
 

Rating: 7.5


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