This is (I think) the ONLY MENTION of the Tholian race in all of TNG's Seven Season run
They did name-drop the species about as much as they name-dropped the Romulans early on (before deciding to make use of them) and the Breen later (but postponing their use till late DS9). "Peak Performance" mentioned Tholians as a simulated adversary, "Reunion" as a potential one... "Icarus Factor" was the only one in TNG to speak of an actual conflict with Tholians, although DS9 made another mention of this conflict as having been part of Sisko's service record.
Like, she knows Riker's Dad to the point where they're actually intimate with each other? Not very realistic in a galaxy as big as this one and it does makes me feel uncomfortable watching it.
Well, Picard appeared to have conspired to bring Kyle Riker aboard (even if Kyle made it sound it was the other way around) in the hopes of achieving the dad-son reconciliation on the eve of Riker's big decision. Perhaps Picard achieved this specifically by waving the Kate Pulaski card in front of his nose? One coincidence eliminated, especially as Picard could have played similar cards with Pulaski previously in order to create the domino effect.
...Although admittedly this sort of scheming is more the trademark of Pulaski herself, or perhaps something the playful Will Riker might do, not a Jean-Luc Picard thing at all.
(Still, Riker was 8th on his Academy class, and his dad was something of a celebrity; these two facts might not be unrelated. Fame might have attracted fame, and a bright doctor with a future on the UFP flagship would get involved with this remarkable family even against statistical odds.)