“The Icarus Factor” is the 14th episode of the second season of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation. It’s the 40th episode overall, first broadcast on 24 April 1989.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, Riker must decide whether to accept command of his own starship, and negative feelings surface when his estranged father arrives to brief him on the mission. Wesley Crusher, La Forge and Data attempt to determine why Worf seems more agitated than usual, and discover that he is upset over not participating in a key Klingon ritual.
While the Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, is en route to Starbase Montgomery to run diagnostics on its engines, Picard receives a message from Starfleet offering First Officer Commander William Riker a command of his own, the Aries, which is on a potentially dangerous exploration mission in a distant sector. Picard advises Riker that while the Enterprise is a prestigious assignment, it cannot replace the experience of having one’s own command, and gives him 12 hours – the duration of their stop at the starbase – to decide. Riker’s decision is complicated by the fact that the civilian adviser Starfleet has sent to brief him on his mission turns out to be his father, Kyle Riker (Mitchell Ryan), with whom he has an antagonistic relationship.
After his father makes several attempts to reconcile, which Will rebuffs, the tension between the two finally boils over, and they agree to a match of anbo-jitsu, a form of martial arts. During the match, the two continue to argue, with Will venting his bitterness over the death of his mother. Will interrupts the match, claiming a move his father used is illegal, and realises his father had only been able to beat him in his youth by cheating, which his father admits. The two are finally able to talk and reconcile, and Will admits he is glad his father came.
Meanwhile, Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher notices that Lieutenant Worf is acting particularly agitated, and enlists the help of Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge and Commander Data to find out why. The trio eventually learn that Worf was coming upon an important anniversary, 10 years since his Age of Ascension, which is normally celebrated with an important Klingon ritual among other Klingons. They recreate the ritual, which involves a gauntlet of Klingon warriors brandishing pain sticks, on the holodeck as a surprise for Worf. While reciting vows of honour, Worf undergoes jolts from the sticks with each step forward, enduring the extreme pain, and finally reaches the end, where he is grateful to his “family” aboard the ship for honouring him in this way.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Robert Iscove.
- Writer(s): David Assael.
- Release Date: 24 April 1989.
- Running Time: 50 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.