Boldly Going: TNG Episode 2.8 “A Matter of Honor”: a review

When I started my Boldly Going Star Trek project back in January, it was never my intention to write reviews of individual episodes, unless it was a particularly important episode earning distinction. Having been through the first season of Star Trek:The Next Generation once before, I thought I might have to write a review of “Skin of Evil,” the episode in which Tasha Yar died in the first season. I thought that might be a suitable watershed moment.

Then I watched it again.

Sure, it was an important episode, as the death of a major character should be, and it was a memorable episode. But, after watching it again, I decided that it wasn’t a particularly good episode. The first season of TNG had a few episodes that were acceptable, just okay, maybe, but none that I would consider “very good” or “great.”

I’ve been watching the second season of TNG for a few weeks now. This week, I watched the episode “A Matter of Honor.” It is the eighth episode of Season 2, and it’s earned the distinction of being the first TNG episode that I would consider to be “very good.” At the moment, it would be at the top of my list of recommended episodes. I was not surprised to discover, upon research, that this was also the highest-rated TNG episode in the Nielsen ratings to air up to that date.

Do not confuse this episode with “Code of Honor,” which is an early first-season episode that is, frankly, a racist piece of shit. Excuse the language.

A Matter of Honor” concerns an officer exchange program in which Commander Riker temporarily serves as first officer on board a Klingon Bird of Prey. Riker eats Klingon food, flirts with Klingon females, fights with his Klingon crewmates, and eventually mutinies and serves as the Bird of Prey’s captain during a showdown with the Enterprise-D. Riker learns a lot more about Klingons, including, famously, when “not to duck.”

This episode also introduced another Benzite character, the blue catfish-looking race wearing some sort of vaporizer that looks like a harmonica rig. This Benzite is Mendon, although he is played by the same actor who played Mordock in “Coming of Age,” and is, of course, identical. I liked seeing this alien species again, and I give the episode extra points for that.

This was the first episode in which I actually liked Commander Riker. Curiously, Geordi La Forge and Deanna Troi are both absent in this episode; however, truth to tell, I didn’t actually notice their absence until I read about it on the Memory Alpha website.

I hope I’m able to spotlight other very good-to-excellent episodes in the near-future. I am optimistic.

Live long and prosper, my friends.

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