"Gambit, Part Two"

Season Seven, Episode 5
Teleplay by Ronald D Moore
Story by Naren Shankar
Directed by Alexander Singer
Main Cast:
Patrick Stewart as Capt Jean-Luc Picard
Jonathan Frakes as Cmdr William Riker
LeVar Burton as Lt Cmdr 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:
Richard Lynch as Baran
Robin Curtis as Tallera
Caitlin Brown as Vekor
Cameron Thor as Narik
James Worthy as Koral
Sabrina LeBeauf as Ensign Giusti
Martin Goslins as Commander Setok

"It's alright. He's only stunned."
"I must admit I am experiencing a similar sensation."
-- Troi and Data

Riker stages an attack on the Enterprise, and although the damage is minimal, it's enough to impress Baran. At the same time, Riker sends the Enterprise a coded message containing the mercenaries flight plan. As the pirates escape the supposedly-stricken Enterprise, Baran's First Officer, the Romulan Tallera, confronts Picard regarding his identity. She admits that she, too, has been concealing her identity -- she's actually a Vulcan agent who infiltrated the crew to stop Baran from locating and assembling the Psionic Resonator, an ancient Vulcan weapon with immense destructive powers. The mercenaries discover that the Enterprise has beaten them to their next rendezvous and has detained a Klingon contact. Baran sends a raiding party aboard the Enterprise to retrieve the Klingon's cargo, ordering Riker to kill Picard. Picard turns the tables, however, shooting Riker and beaming back aboard the pirate vessel. Riker, of course, is only stunned and informs Data of the whole situation.

Picard leads a mutiny against Baran, although Tallera once again turns the tables -- she's not a Vulcan agent, but a Vulcan extremist who wants the Resonator for isolationist motives. She blows Picard's cover and he is taken hostage while the mercenaries arrive at Vulcan and beam down to assemble the Resonator. She kills the other mercenaries with the Resonator, before turning to Picard and an Enterprise rescue party. Using his archaelogical expertise, icard pieces together the puzzle and realises that the Resonator can only work via negative thoughts. He and the away team clear their minds of negative thoughts, rendering the Resonator useless. Tallera is apprehended and the Resonator is destroyed by the Vulcan government.


In my review of Descent, Part Two I viciously lamented the show's two-parters as all being the same; cynical build-ups to a calculated cliff-hanger with invariably lame conclusions. Perhaps I should sink my head low. Yes, Gambit is an exception (albeit a rare exception) that's come up to bite me on the bum! It won't go down as one of Trek's best two-parters by any means, but for once not only did they keep the momentum going right through to the end but, lo and behold, the concluding part is actually better than the first!

Why, might you ask? I think the answer is fairly straightforward; the first part was mainly just set-up and whilst entertaining, it was pretty thin and stretched, almost like an extended prelude to something that didn't quite take place. There wasn't much pay-off; this is the pay-off. The ever-reliable Ron Moore turns in a solid script, replete with snappy dialogue, some well-observed character interaction, intriguing twists and turns and, oh yes, gallons of fun. There's actually very little back-bone to the story; it's little more than a gung-ho bit of fluff, but it's infinitely more enjoyable to just about all the episodes that precede it put together. And, hey, we're not above no-strings-attached fun now and again, are we? Say what you will about Gambit and its space pirates, but it's a refreshing change-of-pace for the series and brings some much-needed spark to the early seventh season.

The plot is well-crafted and unfolds at a fair pace with skullduggery, treachery and double-crossing left, right and centre. The object of Baran's pursuit, the legendary Vulcan psionic resonator makes for a surprisingly interesting focus and a larger role for Robin Curtis's Tallera is particularly welcome. The devious Tallera convinces Picard that she is actually a Vulcan secret agent hoping to stop the resonator falling into the hands of a Vulcan extremist group. And it later transpires that she's a Vulcan alright -- an extremist Vulcan. Throw in an interesting conflict between Data and Worf over methods of command, a particularly amusing encounter with Koral, the galaxy's tallest Klingon (a great cameo by James Worthy), some memorably quirky characterisation and you have a lively, colourful and engaging piece.

The conclusion is definitely a bit of a let-down, relying upon nebulous "power of the mind" hokum which, however interesting, is very difficult to effectively dramatise and this is no exception. And while I'm sure the week's Big Message [TM] was very Roddenberry-esque, it was also about as subtle as a sledgehammer resulting in some hokey "clear your mind of bad thoughts" sentiment. Still, it's not enough to damage the episode to any great extent and a geniunely funny coda helps compensate. Yes, this is pulp sci-fi, but it's also a thoroughly enjoyable slice of Trek. Nice work.

Rating: 8

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