The Pegasus: The Riker RetCon

Discussion in 'Star Trek: The Next Generation' started by Mojochi, Aug 24, 2021.

  1. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It was a learning curve, the Riker inconsistency. Initially, he's a juggernaut rising star, on track to be one of the youngest captains, but then he turns down a ship to become #1 to Picard, & there he sits, inexplicably settling for like a decade & a half, & turning down 2 more. Nowadays when you want to have character like that, you bake a character flaw into the recipe, that can explain away why they'd be there, instead of moving upward, & eventually... they did that with Riker too.

    I think the Pegasus tragedy was a smart play, because it's a history that looms heavily over him, & could easily have been something that both drove him to be an unfettered hero beyond the call of duty, that pushed him like a rocket up the chain of command, but could also make him self-conscious enough to get gun shy about actually becoming a captain, possibly feeling like he might not legitimately deserve it, especially if some of his postings came from having Erik Pressman's recommendation as a highlight of his resume.

    That line of Pressman's "I made you Mister" hits pretty close to home. It's not a meritless claim. Without Pressman being a solid recommendation, he probably doesn't get the cushy assignment on Betazed & likely a bump to LTJG (Where he was likely put deliberately, to keep him sequestered a while until the heat blew over) & then also in getting the posting on the Potemkin, as a LT. By then, the guilt must've really started to kick in, & he began his overcompensation heroics, like Nervala IV, just to get out of the shadow of Pressman, & begin feeling like he'd tried to pay back for those lives he'd been a part of losing.

    It might also explain why he's kind of a dick too, to subordinates etc.... He's got a huge burden he's carrying, & someone like Ro Laren, who is almost like a polar opposite of his story, with a similar outcome, must really chap his butt.

    The Pegasus story made Riker a much more complex & rich character, & fixed some glaring oddities. Season 7 gets a lot of flack for being kind of weak, & with good reason, but there are moments when they really added something outstanding imho.
     
  2. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    I very much believe that Riker was put on the ultra-fast track for his part in the cover-up of the Pegasus incident. It was a bribe but I'm of the mind that Riker didn't actually THINK it was a bribe at the time but that he just did his duty by standing by his officers as well as the chain of command. Given Picard picked him because he defied his captain earlier, I think Riker was aware it was the wrong decision on some unconscious level, though.

    I will also state, though, that I think Riker wasn't INITIALLY making a mistake by not accepting a promotion. Riker just badly misjudged Picard as he seemed to assume that Picard was a guy who would be promoted to Admiral himself and then the chair for the flagship would be open. It was a political decision that I don't think we have to look too deep under. While he was "overly comfortable" with the chair by Best of Both Worlds, due to his ex-girlfriend and prestigious assignment, it wasn't a stupid decision.

    Picard was just more Kirk than Jellico in terms of his own career ambitions. Eventually, Riker gets the message and takes the Luna-class Titan.
     
  3. JR TREK

    JR TREK Lieutenant Junior Grade Red Shirt

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    I think Riker's persistence on the Enterprise can be explained by the class of ship that would have been available to him in his early years, and the amount of time he would have been expected to serve before reassignment to a better class. After serving for seven years on the flagship as XO, he got the Titan, a rather impressive Luna class starship. If he'd only served two years as XO on the Enterprise, he might have been offered something like a Miranda or O'berth class. After Captaining one of those for 5 years, doing nothing as important as what the Enterprise did, he might have been assigned an Excelsior/Centaur/Challenger/Cheyenne class in time for the Dominion war. So I think Riker made the right decision and came out way ahead.
     
  4. Mojochi

    Mojochi Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    Oh, I'm certain he grew into a more mature understanding of having been in the wrong for blindly following his superior, & that reshaped his attitudes about it. Even Pressman admits that much.
    I'll agree the initial inclination of taking the bigger prestige job on Enterprise over his own ship might have been a solid move at 1st, especially if you think you might still need some more learning, but I never bought the whole waiting out Picard thing too much. I'll admit it may have been part of his initial intention, but based on what I'll never know.

    Why he'd think having no actual time in rank, captain experience would ever land him the flagship is beyond me. That's some hubris. Even Picard didn't get that. He spent 22 years captaining a rundown Constitution-class before they wanted him for that fancy new Galaxy-class ship, which he probably spent some time jockeying himself into position to get as well
    He served as Picard's XO on 2 different Enterprises from 2364 to 2379, before getting the Titan. That's more like 16 years, from age 29 to 45. In 2364, he turned down the Drake (A light cruiser, like the Saber-class or Voyager's Intrepid-class). In 2365, he turned down the Renaissance-Class Aries, & then in 2366 he's offered the Excelsior-class Melbourne, which is a seriously incredible, albeit older model ship than the Galaxy.

    I'm not going to judge whether his decision was a good one as a person, but as an officer... not the best career moves imho
     
  5. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Riker notably was promoted to Captain during the events of Best of Both Worlds and I'm inclined to think that in and out of universe, he would have had it permanently done if Picard hadn't recovered (and was probably leverage in Patrick Stewart's contract negotiations). It's just that he chose to accept a step back down and not having it confirmed afterward. Maybe Riker was feeling a little beaten down by that as well.

    Part of the fun of Star Trek is that careers are not "up and out" with the fact that you're not necessarily a bad officer if you choose just to continue at one level for the rest of your life.

    (Mind you, many episodes contradict this)
     
  6. Crewman6

    Crewman6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    While I think it's really fun to come up with fan theories, I don't think this one really tracks.

    And the show made absolutely zero effort to connect the events of "The Pegasus" (and Riker's history) with anything that you're saying here. I don't want to be a needless cranky pants, but I just don't see any "evidence" of this, retroactive or otherwise, to support.

    From time to time, the writers would drop massive character retcons which they believed would help flesh out characters, but which really didn't jibe with established canon. The worst example is probably "Dr. Bashir, I Presume" and all of the "revelations" about Julian that make zero sense and don't fit at all with everything else we know about the character.

    In this instance, given the standalone nature of TNG, I don't think there was any thought truly put into how the Pegasus events track with Riker's overall career arc.

    It's not like Riker ever needed someone like Pressman to give him a career boost. He was extremely smart, graduated at the top of his class, and an excellent officer. His previous captain loved him, he was a hero on the Potemkin. They could have TRIED to throw in a reference to Pressman helping Riker, but "I made you and I can break you" is such a cliche that i don't think we're meant to put much real thought into it. Nor do I think the writers wanted to stain Riker even further by suggesting that he traded his silence for a career boost. They COULD have gone that way, but they didn't.

    Sorry, just not seeing this one.
     
    Last edited: Aug 26, 2021
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  7. Crewman6

    Crewman6 Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    The rumor about "Best of Both Worlds" having anything to do with Patrick Stewart's contract is nothing but pure nonsense. His return was never in doubt and there was no "negotiation" that took place.
     
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  8. Oddish

    Oddish Rear Admiral Commodore

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    One thing that Pegasus did that I happened to dislike was it chopped five years off Riker's age. Jonathan Frakes was 34 when "Farpoint" occured, suggesting that Riker had been in Starfleet for 12 years, which is about right for an excellent officer who was just offered his own ship. Then, "Pegasus" happens, and says that he was only in Starfleet for about 7 years before "Farpoint". In the USN, you have to have 15 years in the service to qualify for O5 rank. 12 would indicate a vastly above average officer... 7 just doesn't make sense.
     
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  9. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Just to mount my usual hobby-horse, I don't see canon evidence that Picard's career would have stalled that badly.

    We know Picard's first assignment was the Stargazer. We know he commanded that ship at Captain rank in the mid-2350s. But we have zero evidence on when he got that command, and we know he was off to other ships, including at least the Reliant, in between.

    For all we know, Picard climbed the rank ladder slowly and steadily, perhaps getting a minor boost from those two incidents that Q mentions in "Tapestry", the saving of the Ambassador and the taking charge of the Stargazer bridge when the skipper went down. And perhaps the career backslided when Picard lost the Stargazer in such an unusual fashion as to warrant a court martial.

    Another nitpick: not top of the class, but #8. And if it was a class of 78, like Data's...

    Timo Saloniemi
     
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  10. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    Eh, it's up to fans to make things like this consistent.

    Bashir after the revelation is so much better a character than before.

    Same as Odo the Founder.

    You roll with it.
     
  11. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    In THE BURIED AGE by Christopher Bennett, he speculates/writes a story about how Picard took a few years off from his career to be an archaeologist.
     
  12. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    I don't think a retcon is needed. Riker was a career Starfleet type who decided to put his captaincy off a year or two for the feather in his cap that being first officer of the flagship would be, but while there made close friends and "found himself" outside just being a Starfleet go-getter.

    15, but who's counting?
     
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  13. danellis

    danellis Captain Captain

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    That doesn't work with "Family," Picard goes back to his family home to recover from being Borgified. While there he briefly flirts with joining an underseas project on earth. His brother essentially verbally abuses him to force the emotional release Picard probably needed to recover and move on. It's beyond belief that his brother's attack wouldn't have included disappearing off to be an archaeologist - the ocean project would be portrayed as repeating that "retreat."

    dJE
     
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  14. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    While true in terms of dramatic tension, it wouldn't be remotely unbelievable that Robert isn't necessarily thinking of the 100% best plan of psychological attack there. The way people talk is very often whatever comes to mind at the time. Mind you, he was ribbing Picard the entire way through the episode so he would have eventually gotten to everything. Guy even attacked him over a school ribbon.

    Still, I do find it unlikely Picard would captain the Stargazer for 22 years the way it sort of accidentally was created by canon. That seems more like something created by canon not necessarily being thought, though.
     
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  15. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Amusingly enough, it's vice versa: the 22 year thing is in the studio backstory or "writers' bible" for Picard, but never quite makes it into the canon. (Memory Alpha chooses the year 2233 for him assuming the CO position, quoting "The Battle", but is in error: neither that episode nor any other makes any mention of a year, or a decade, even.)

    Picard taking time off after Stargazer would appear necessary for his career: a frontiersman would not have the connections required of the next Flagship CO. But the time off would probably be spent indoors at San Francisco, attending cocktail party after cocktail party and agonizing on the poor quality of the beverages.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  16. Charles Phipps

    Charles Phipps Commodore Commodore

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    True, I always felt Picard was meant to be a significantly older man than Patrick Stewart himself.
     
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  17. danellis

    danellis Captain Captain

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    Ordinarily I'd agree. I just think that if Jean-Luc (given that they're *both* Picard ^_^ ) had "pulled the same trick before," then that would be foremost on Pierre's mind.

    "The Battle" definitely made the loss of the Stargazer appear something that had a happened a long time before. He definitely didn't step off of the Stargazer's escape pod onto the bridge of the Enterprise.

    dJE
     
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  18. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    OTOH, we never got a good look at Picard's past, until "Tapestry", which left it at the level of a few mentions of past heroic hijinks,a and then "Bloodlines", which gave us the usual surprise sibling at a very late hour. Us not knowing about certain specific nine years is not surprising, and we don't need to make much of it: Picard could have commanded three other ships during that time, or taught at the Academy, or sat in a Tellarite prison, and it would take a specific episode for us to learn of these facts.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  19. dupersuper

    dupersuper Commodore Commodore

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    Huh?
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...And then took it away. But for a brief while, Jean-Luc thought he might have a son. For a run of seven years, we had three episodes dealing with Picard's relatives, and two of them turned out to be fake (the illusion of Maman in "Where No One" and the fake son in "Bloodlines"). Picard really is a private person, almost as private as Spock!

    Timo Saloniemi