106 – The Game

Grade: B-

The Game (1991) on IMDb


While vacationing on Risa, Riker receives a video game from a female alien. The game turns out to be very addictive. Luckily for the Enterprise, Wesley Crusher has come on board, so he can save them from themselves. Luckily for Wesley, he meets Ashley Judd – oh, sorry, I mean Robin Lefler, played by Ashley Judd.


When I’ve written these summaries, I’ve tried not to give away too much information. But the fact is, The Game is one of the most memorable episodes that this series ever created. Perhaps it’s so memorable because Ashley Judd is the main guest star. She is really adorable in this episode and she really lights up the screen. She also has some great chemistry with Wil Wheaton, and they have some great scenes together. If this is all you remember from this episode, you’ve retained the most important part.

But this episode also has a great atmosphere and mood. Many scenes remind me of Invasion of the Bodysnatchers and Invaders from Mars. If you liked those films, you’ll probably find some things you like about The Game. However, the rest of the episode is rather mediocre. The storyline is riddled with plot holes and unlikely scenarios that it just doesn’t hold up against all the other great episodes in this series.

I’m also pretty tired of the Risa episodes. OK, so we needed some way to get the game onto the ship. And having it come via Riker because of one of his conquests is probably as plausible as anything else they could have come up with. But it doesn’t mean it had to come on Risa. At some point, I would think Starfleet would figure out that Risa is nothing but trouble, and they’d declare it off limits for their officers and ships.

There are some nice scenes, though. The scene when Wesley finds Nurse Ogawa aimlessly riding the turbolift while playing the game is particularly effective, if not completely disturbing. But I didn’t like Counselor Troi’s scene in Ten Forward where she explains to Riker the best way to eat chocolate.

A common complaint about this episode is that Wesley figures out the mystery too quickly and almost completely by himself. OK, so he had some help from Robin, but I can certainly agree with this. In this episode, he figures out that the game is addictive, that it has a negative effect on the reasoning center of the brain, how to fix Data’s neural pathways, and evade the entire security force of the Enterprise all at the same time. I know how smart he is, but I just don’t think this is very realistic. The ending is very unsatisfying, too. All of a sudden, Data appears out of nowhere with some kind of flashlight that solves the entire problem and we’re back to normal? Whatever. I would have preferred a two-part episode over this kind of ending.

If it weren’t for Ashley Judd and the credible chemistry between her character and Wesley Crusher, I think this would have been a completely forgettable episode, and one of the bottom-tier episodes of this series.

Of Note

This was the first episode of Star Trek to air on TV after the death of Gene Roddenberry.