The Dead Mixer wrote:
I think by Season 4, had Riker left after BOBW for a command of his own, Data should have been next up as Picard's Number One. Worf as depicted in TNG, while a good officer, was never qualified to be second in command of the Enterprise.
See, I liked the character of Riker, and Frakes, but I also agree that it never made sense after BOBW, for Riker to turn down a Captaincy, especially after he already WAS promoted to captain, once Picard was captured. In essence, Riker helps save Earth and gets DEMOTED for his trouble.
There's a difference between assuming the position as the next in line on the ship and having the rank to hold it long-term. Data may not have qualified for the promotion to Commander and permanent first officer at that point, in Starfleet's eyes. And somebody correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't think that Riker got an actual rank promotion in BOBW...he just assumed command of the Enterprise as the highest ranking officer onboard.
The commander of a starship is called "Captain" even if they don't hold the actual rank.
Data's promotion, or lack thereof, to first officer would have most likely have been at the discretion of Picard. I would like to think that since Data was set to have the position in Nemesis before he was killed, AND Jellico also had enough confidence in Data to replace Riker with him, and the fact Data had some 20 years in Starfleet with multiple awards for valor and having saved the Enterprise dozens of times, if he wasn't ready for XO after BOBW, no one was.
As to Riker, good question. Unlike a senior officer assuming command of the ship and being called captain, even if that officer isn't one by rank, Riker actually was wearing the insignia of a captain after his battlefield promotion.
So, since he chose to stay on the Enterprise, and since there can be only one captain at a time, Riker must have accepted a demotion. Probably since he helped save Earth and all, he likely knew that Starfleet "owed" him, and whenever he felt he was ready to move on, he would have had but ask for a ship of his own (IE Like assuming command of Titan). So it likely didn't hurt his career by turning down the promotion, as it would otherwise have, but he still must have accepted a voluntary demotion, nonetheless.