TNG: End of Season 2 “Peak Performance” and “Shades of Gray”

Date: March 26, 2020

Season 2, Episodes 21 and 22

Setting the Stage: I watched both episodes, via Netflix, yesterday. I needed a little time to process them and had SO MANY MEETINGS on Zoom and Hangouts today. Thor and Professor Zoom both made appearances and the undergraduates loved them. Husband and I took pupper out for a walk as it was beautiful out this afternoon and we both needed to get out and stretch our legs. Despite my assertions this morning that we would eat leftovers for lunch and dinner, my mood demanded Mexican food (complete with guava flan) for dinner. Tonight I am listening to a random mix on YouTube in Italian.

Favorite Quote from “Peak Performance”:

Picard: Commander, it is possible to commit no mistakes and still lose. That is not a weakness. That is life.

Data: I believe I understand, sir.

Picard: And Data, will you leave your hesitation and self-doubt here in your quarters.

Picard letting Data into life’s biggest truth.

“Peak Performance” starts with the Enterprise about to participate in some war games where it’s Picard versus Riker (at the helm of the Hathaway, an 80 year old ship) bring observed by Sirna Kolrami. The away team of Riker, La Forge, Worf, Wesley, and others beam over to their “bucket of bolts” and have two days to get it up and running. Wesley is sneaky, Worf is cunning, and Riker has a gall to pull it all together. The games begin because the music tells us so, and the captains go maneuver for maneuver. All of a sudden a Ferengi vessel shows up and start shooting at the Enterprise because they think there is something valuable on the Hathaway. The plan is for the Enterprise to shoot at the Hathaway, for it to “warp” away, and for everyone to flee… and it works, the games now over.

two board from the game "Battleship"
You sunk my battleship! Wait a minute… wrong game.

There’s a side plot where Kolrami is the grand-master at some finger wiggling game where he beats the snot out of Riker, wins against Data and causes him to lose a bit of confidence for a while, and then pulls a Kasparov and withdraws instead of losing to Data. In fact the whole scene reminds me of Deep Blue, but that was in the late 1990’s. I was quite mad at Pulaski after Data’s first game because she goaded him and Kolrami into it and made Data think he was damaged, poor Data.

an image of the servers that store Deep Blue, the IBM supercomputer
I have seen the enemy, and it is IBM.

I have relatively few problems with this episode. I’m upset with Pulaski and the others egging on Data, but do love that they all cheered him in the end… they all seemed genuinely proud of him, their shared hatred of Kolrami. Kolrami was fantastically annoying and disparate of Riker’s humor, but he was supposed to be “the bad guy”. The tenacity of Wesley and La Forge paired with the creativity of Worf led to a one-two punch that helped score some early points for Riker and his crew. The random Ferengi vessel showing up was a nice twist and fit in nicely with the theme of “what to do in the unknown” as well as Worf’s genius last move. This episode also pulls in the threat of the Borg, helps develop Riker and other crew for moving up in command, and helps Data to better understand human behavior. I rate this episode a rook, which is the 8th piece of chess on the 8th column on the 8th row.

Favorite Quotes from “Shades of Gray”:

Riker: Captain, one of the things I’ve learned if anything on these voyages, on this ship, and from you, is that most life forms act out of an instinct for survival, not out of malice.

Picard: It’s an important lesson, and I admire your lack of resentment, Number One.

Riker: If you drop a hammer on your foot, it’s hardly useful to get mad at the hammer.

Riker getting wise in his dying hours.

Data: Captain, I do not believe you have the authority to promote me to the rank of Admiral.

Another joke going over Data’s head, but well timed by Spiner.

“Shades of Gray” starts off with an injured Riker on the planet below and we know it’s serious because Pulaski uses the transporter to take a closer look. Once it’s determined he needs to come to sick bay they beam back but his leg is now numb. La Forge and Data find a predatory vine that have a little bug on them causing paralysis and soon death for Riker, oh my. If I didn’t know that he was on the third season, I’d be super worried. Of course as Troi shows up, the music gets more serious, and now he only has an hour to live. Pulaski proceeds with something akin to electroshock therapy and oh look, a dream sequence with a freshly shaved Riker and a throwback to “The Last Outpost“.

Pulaski starting the memory stuff on RIker while Troi holds his hand.

Apparently they’re doing a fucking clip show (can you hear my eyes rolling?) of Season 1 and 2 episodes as Riker now has a flashback to (in the best order I wrote down):

Some pleasant memories that, unfortunately, speed up the microbe taking over Riker’s body:

  • Justice“, with the planet of scantily clad people
  • 11001001“, with the pretty lady in the holodeck
  • Angel One“, where women ruled the planet and Riker had a tryst
  • Up the Long Ladder“, where he fell in lust with a beautiful Irish maiden

Pulaski surmises that not-so pleasant memories and ones that have primal feelings behind them might have the opposite effect, and she’s right, as Riker remembers:

  • Skin of Evil“, where Yar dies
  • The Child“, where Troi’s “child” dies
  • A Matter of Honor“, where he gets to beat up a Klingon and defend his honor
  • Conspiracy“, where he gets beaten up by an old ass Admiral. To be fair the admiral was overtaken by another being and there were two very obvious stunt doubles involved.
  • Symbiosis“, where a druggie was trying to kill Riker with his electric skin
Emperor Palpatine saying "good. use your aggressive feelings, boy. let the hate flow through you."
Hey look, two Star Wars references in one post!

In fact there are several repeats of episodes we’ve already revisited and A LOT of scenes with explosions in them. In fact the explosions must have done the trick as Pulaski realizes the episode is about to end and she couldn’t let Riker outlive her (as this is, thankfully, her last episode).

This was an absolute pointless episode, and I can’t really call it that at all as there were about 5 minutes of dialogue and plot in the whole thing. It was a clip show, let’s call a spade a frog (and that’s not a typo, I’m just being silly). If I were watching this live for the first time and didn’t know Riker was going to be just fine, I would have been genuinely worried. I mean they were going back to his finest, and not so finest, moments over the last two seasons… the “goodbye” Yar never got. So Pulaski got to go out on a high note by not being annoying and saving her patient, but nothing else actually happened. That alone earns this episode literally anything off of the $1 menu at Taco Bell, but only one item.

"I'm sorry but I'll have to write you a rain check. We are out of the fucks I give"
Goodbye Season 2.

TA Out!

Published by njdevil12

I'm just a big city girl living in a not so big city with my fur children and partner.

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