40 – The Icarus Factor

Grade: C

 The Icarus Factor
(1989) on IMDb


The Enterprise makes its way to Starbase Montgomery to make some minor repairs and to pick up a civilian who will orient Commander Riker on his new assignment, as Captain of the USS Aries. It turns out that Riker’s father is the one who will provide him with the briefing.


Though I do think this was a pretty decent episode, it really could have been a lot better than it was. We’re first introduced to what will seem like a cliché in this series – Commander Riker will be offered a promotion to Captain on another ship. This is now at least the second time that we know of that he has turned down a commission. Personally, I’m not sure this fits with his established character, but what do I know. It’s annoying that Star Trek made his career a focal point in this series. If they had left it alone, none of the viewers would have cared or even thought anything of it.

Something that’s a bit inconsistent about this episode is that when Riker was on the Klingon ship a few episodes ago, he told a Klingon officer that he should have more respect for his father, and yet in this episode, we see that Riker has no respect for his own father. So it’s obvious that the entire storyline wasn’t completely thought out when that first episode aired.

Another inconsistency is that just a couple of episodes ago, Dr. Pulaski asked if Riker’s father could cook. And yet in this episode, we find out that Dr. Pulaski had a relationship with Riker’s father, so she should have known that already. Well, maybe she just didn’t want to let the younger Riker in on the secret yet. Still, in Icarus Factor, Pulaski says it wasn’t a secret that they were in a relationship, but that it just never came up. Seems to me that when Riker was cooking, that would have been a perfect time to bring it up. Oh well. I know the writers make this up as they go so I can give them a bit of a pass on this. Besides, how many of us are going to remember that?

But back to the episode itself. It’s interesting that in one scene, Kyle Riker talks to Deanna Troi, to get some advice about how to relate to Will Riker. Then later the younger Riker talks to Dr. Pulaski about how to relate to his father. I think it was pretty realistic to have these two scenes, though I think the scenes themselves could have been written a bit better. In particular, the scene with Pulaski and Will Riker ended pretty abruptly, as if it had a minute or two of dialogue that had been removed.

Speaking of which, this is a pretty dialogue-heavy episode. The character development is better here than in most of these episodes, but you have to listen to a lot of talk to get that. I think it could have been better if it weren’t so dependent on talking.

Lastly, the scene when the two Rikers are beating each other with those giant Q-tips is really poorly written. I found it hard to believe either of these two actors could recite their lines without laughing. It just looks ridiculous. But at least there wasn’t a scene when they’re just fighting each other. That would have been awful.

Like I said before, this episode really could have been better than it was. But it’s OK – especially for the second season, which was still pretty bad most of the time.

Of Note

The action here takes place at Starbase Montgomery. It’s an ironic name, considering the actor who plays Kyle Riker will later play the role of Mr. Montgomery on the sitcom, Dharma and Greg.

Also, at one point Worf was able to fire four photon torpedoes at exactly the same time, from the exact same launcher. That’s quite a feat. I’m wondering why they never used this during actual battles.