Recap: Star Trek The Next Generation S 2 E 8 A Matter Of Honor

Series:Star Trek: The Next Generation
Episode: Season 2, Episode 8
Title: A Matter of Honor
Previous: Unnatural Selection
Next: The Measure Of A Man
Recapper: Mandichaos

The Enterprise-D visits Starbase 179 and take on some replacement crew as part of an Officer Exchange Program. Picard notes that Starfleet thinks it would be a good idea for someone from the Enterprise to participate as well - and mentions that there is a Klingon vessel, the Pagh, in the area that would agree to take on an exchange officer. Inspired, Riker volunteers to participate because "nobody's ever done it before." He has a slightly rocky start, but manages to develop a camaraderie with most of the crew of the Pagh. Most of the crew, anyway - the overly paranoid Captain Kargan is a different story.

Meanwhile, the exchange officers on the Enterprise are adjusting. The overly-eager Ensign Mendon, a Benzite, irritates Worf with his constant suggestions for improvement and apparent arrogance, and when he discovers a potentially dangerous bacteria on both the hull of the Enterprise and the Pagh, he waits overly long to inform Picard of the discovery. When questioned, he states that it is a Benzite regulation to wait until they have a full analysis and resolution before reporting the problem. Picard informs him that if there is a potential for danger to the ship, he should inform the bridge immediately and continue his analysis. Upon discovering that the Pagh is even more susceptible to the bacteria, the Enterprise changes course to intercept the Klingon ship to warn them of the potential danger.

Unfortunately, Kargan is convinced that the Enterprise deliberately spread the bacteria to them and orders his crew to attack. Riker continues to uphold his oath of loyalty to the Pagh, but before the order to fire can be given he tricks Kargan into taking the emergency transponder that Worf gave him - and Kargan is promptly beamed onto the Enterprise. Worf stuns Kargan before he can attack the bridge crew, and Riker takes command of the Pagh, and orders a bemused Captain Picard to surrender and repair the Klingon ship. Both ships are repaired, and Riker returns command to Kargan, growling at him and allowing Kargan to punch him to retain his dignity. As Lieutenant Klag helps Riker up, he muses that Riker has handled himself well.

Klag: You understand the Klingons better than I thought, Commander.
Riker: Thank you, my friend.

As the Enterprise finishes fixing the hole in the Pagh, Riker returns to his ship. Picard congratulates him and tells him to go to sickbay. As Worf escorts them there, Riker notes that the Klingons are a very brave and unique people and that he's glad to have Worf with them on the Enterprise. "Thank you, Commander," Worf says, "and welcome home."

This episode provides examples of:

  • Alien Lunch: Before his transfer, Riker indulges in Klingon cuisine, which includes serpent worms called gagh. Later on, in the Klingon mess hall, he discovers that Klingons actually eat their gagh while it's still alive. Despite initial hesitation, he eventually takes the plunge.
  • Chekhov's Gun: The emergency transponder that Worf gives Riker before he leaves for the Pagh. It isn't shown or mentioned again until the climax when Riker uses it to trick Kargan into beaming off the Pagh.
  • Early Installment Weirdness: Although this episode establishes many of the standard concepts for the TNG Klingons, there is one odd moment where a Klingon tells Riker that, to a Klingon, his career is everything and family is less important. This is very much in contrast to concepts of Klingon family-based honour that would soon be introduced.
  • Fish out of Water: Riker as the only human on a ship full of Klingons, and to a lesser extent, Mendon trying to adjust to Starfleet protocol.
  • Heroic BSOD: Mendon goes into one after screwing up in matters of protocol. Wesley helps him snap out of it in time to solve the bacteria problem.
  • Identical Stranger: Peculiar example with Mendon the Benzite, who looks identical to Mordock from "Coming of Age" (and is played by the same actor) and is initially mistaken for him by Wesley. He says that all Benzites from the same "geostructure" look identical.
  • Idiot Ball: Kargan is convinced that the bacteria is a deliberate attack by the Enterprise. Even when his own crew points out the holes in his logic, he insists that the Enterprise gave them the bacteria simply by scanning them.
  • Klingon Promotion: Discussed early on by Worf and Riker. During the climax, Riker uses a Downplayed variant—he doesn't kill Kargan, but tricks him into getting beamed off the Pagh for a while.
  • Meat Moss: Both ships are infested with a fuzzy, rust-colored bacterial colony that doubles in size every quarter-hour and feeds on the metal of their hulls. Getting rid of it serves as the B-plot of the episode.
  • Secret Test of Character: Kalgar tries to get Riker to betray Starfleet; when Riker refuses, Kalgar tells him that if he had, Kalgar would have executed him as a traitor on the spot.
  • A Threesome Is Hot: When two Klingon women seem to show interest in Riker, and one of the men suggests that they want to see how well Riker can endure them, he responds "One or both?"