“Gambit” is the 156th and 157th episodes of the American science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, which are the fourth and fifth episodes of the seventh season.
Set in the 24th century, the series follows the adventures of the Starfleet crew of the Federation starship Enterprise-D. In this episode, after hearing a rumour that Captain Picard has been murdered while on an archaeological dig, the Enterprise crew sets out to find the smugglers who may have been responsible.
Riker, Troi, Crusher, and Worf investigate Picard’s whereabouts in a musty bar, describing him as a “smooth-headed” human. They find a criminal who knows something; he says that Picard had been asking a group about some artefacts when a fight broke out and Picard was “vaporised”.
Many of the crew members accept this as true, but Riker insists on finding out who killed Captain Picard. The crew begins by retracing Picard’s steps, and this leads them to a planet housing one of the most ancient archaeological sites in the galaxy. However, the artifacts have been stolen by a group of mercenaries. While Riker, Worf, La Forge, and a few ensigns are exploring, a variety of humanoids beam down and attack the away team. They kill one ensign and capture Commander Riker.
Riker is taken on board the mercenary ship, which is commanded by Arctus Baran. Riker finds that a device has been implanted within his body which allows Baran to inflict pain on him. Everyone on the ship has similar devices implanted in his body, which is how Baran controls his crew. Riker soon discovers that Picard is alive and in the company of these criminals, and is apparently doing business with them. Picard tells the crew that Riker is an officer with a history of insubordination who was once even relieved of duty. Picard secretly manufactures a warp drive malfunction, giving Riker a chance to prove himself to Baran.
Later, Picard visits Riker in his quarters. He reveals that he went to study an archaeological site but found that it had been ransacked. Tracing those responsible to a bar, Picard confronted them, but was captured and taken prisoner. He then revealed that the criminals had configured some of their weapons so that if they shot someone or something with one of these modified weapons it would instead activate the transporter and beam away the target – which is why the people in the bar thought he’d been vaporised when shot. Picard managed to convince the crew that he was an archaeologist (named Galen, the name of his mentor who was shown in the episode “The Chase“). Picard reveals that they are looking for specific ancient artefacts of Romulan origin, and that Baran is having Picard search through the relics they’ve stolen for these specific artifacts.
Picard asks Riker to help him infiltrate the crew of the mercenary ship. As Picard and Baran had never gotten along well, Picard asks Riker to befriend Baran to help learn more about his plans. Picard also asks Riker to play into the role of a less than perfect, insubordinate Starfleet officer who is ready to betray the Federation.
Eventually Picard is able to find the two specific artefacts, which are actually ancient Vulcan artefacts. These artefacts are part of an ancient Vulcan telepathic weapon, the Stone of Gol, which a Vulcan isolationist movement hopes to use to force Vulcan to leave the United Federation of Planets. However, once the weapon is assembled, Picard realises the true nature of it, once a powerful weapon, but utterly useless against people who don’t bear aggressive thoughts. He realises this is why the Vulcans had found it ineffectual since their civilisation definitively adapted to peace 2,000 years ago, and so the useless weapon fell into oblivion. Using this knowledge, Picard manages to defeat the isolationists, and the Vulcan government assures Picard that all three pieces of the weapon would be destroyed.
Back aboard the Enterprise, Lt. Commander Data, although relieved to see Picard and Riker alive, points out that Riker is guilty of defection and that Picard is still, technically, dead, so Picard jokingly suggests to Data to throw Riker in the brig while he goes and gets some much needed rest. Data immediately complies, escorting Riker to the brig, as Riker tries to convince Data that Picard was only joking.
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Production & Filming Details
- Director(s): Alexander Singer.
- Writer(s): Naren Shankar and Ronald D. Moore.
- Release Date: 18 October 1993.
- Running Time: 45 minutes.
- Country: US.
- Language: English.