``Second Chances''
Stardate: 46915.2
Rating: ***

Edited Length: 45:01
U.S. Airdate: June 6, 1993
Nielsen Rating/Rank: [11.2/2]

Guest Star
Dr. Mae Jemison: [Ensign Palmer]

Co-Producer: Ronald D. Moore
Line Producer: Merri D. Howard
Producer: Peter Lauritson
Supervising Producer: David Livingston
Co-Executive Producer: Jeri Taylor
Executive Producer: Michael Piller
Teleplay By: René Echevarria
Story By: Michael A. Medlock
Directed By: LeVar Burton

[end credit]
Executive Producer: Rick Berman

[closing credits]
Co-Producer: Wendy Neuss
Story Editor: Brannon Braga
Story Editor: René Echevarria


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Extended Synopsis (by Tim Lynch) ------------------------------------

The Enterprise comes to Nervala Four in an attempt to retrieve data abandoned eight years ago when the planet needed evacuation. Riker leads an away team down through a window in the planet's distortion field (which caused the initial evacuation, which he also led), and when the team arrives on the planet he is surprised to meet himself there!

The second Riker is just as surprised to see his double, and claims that he is Will Riker, left behind when he couldn't beam through the distortion field eight years ago. Worf brings him back to the Enterprise and takes him to sickbay, while Riker and Data get started on their work. Beverly finds that Riker-2 is genetically identical to Riker, and that their brainscans, formed by early childhood experiences, are also virtually identical. Picard greets him and says that an investigation should clear up what happened.

Geordi finds that the transporter officer on the Potemkin (Riker's ship eight years earlier) tried using a pair of beams to get Riker through the distortion field. The first one worked without assistance, and the second one was reflected back to the surface before it shut down. Thus, it created a second Riker, and both are equally real. Picard urges that this second Riker (still a lieutenant) be made to feel welcome, and suggests that he might be able to help them retrieve the database. Troi offers to evaluate him to make sure he's psychologically fit - but when she goes to find him, he greets her as though they're still lovers.

They talk of the last time Riker-2 remembers seeing her, just weeks before the Nervala Four incident. She remarks that Riker never met her at their scheduled rendezvous six weeks after that meeting, and that their careers took them on different paths until they met on the Enterprise, by which time their feelings had changed. Riker-2 is less philosophical, saying that he kept himself sane by thinking of her, and that his feelings haven't changed. Regardless, he agrees to help with the retrieval.

Unfortunately, on the first attempt he proves as insubordinate as he is resourceful, and Riker dresses him down quite firmly for not following orders. Riker-2 talks to Troi about it later (having "lured" her to Ten-Forward with a series of gifts and notes), but the conversation quickly turns to their past ... and their future.

Some time later, Riker talks to Picard, who has heard from Riker-2 about his more risky (but more likely to succeed) plan to retrieve the data from the station core directly and approves of it. The two Rikers talk, with Riker making quite sure Riker-2 has "no confusion" about the chain of command. Riker-2 finds Troi exercising and joins in - and before long, their exercises take on a decidedly different turn.

Riker, realizing what's going on, warns Troi to be careful - after all, he points out, if Riker-2 had made it off the planet instead of him, he'd have made exactly the same choices. The two Rikers meet again in a game of poker with Worf and Data, and their charges and countercharges result in Riker-2 leaving the game in a huff.

Riker-2 later talks to Troi, saying he's gotten an appointment on the Gandhi that will begin in about a week. He proposes to her, offering to bring her on board later, but she bitterly reminds him that he made the same offer before leaving on the Potemkin eight years ago. Besides, she adds, she's built herself a rather happy life on the Enterprise, and is loath to leave. She suggests that they both need time.

The third and final attempt (before the distortion field reforms for the next eight years, at any rate) is made on the database. Despite their differences, the two Rikers manage to retrieve the data, with Riker rescuing Riker-2 from a fall into a precipice in the process. The link restored, the Enterprise leaves to meet the Gandhi. Riker-2 comes to say goodbye to Troi, who says she's not ready to leave - at least, not yet. Riker comes in to give "Thomas" Riker [Riker-2's new name, and Will's middle name] a farewell gift - his, or perhaps their, trombone. Thomas leaves, asking Riker to take care of Deanna.

Highlight Listing:
"Second Chances" - Returning to the site of an eight-year-old mission, Riker encounters an identical double of himself, who tries to rekindle a relationship with Troi.
Advertising Headline:
THE TWO WILL RIKERS A routine mission brings Riker face-to-face - with himself!
TV log listing:
Riker encounters his double on distant planet on STAR TREK: THE NEXT GENERATION
Operation SNAFU
Near the end of the episode Cdr Riker is rescuing Lt Riker on the edge of the cliff. In one of the long shots, the stunt double dressed as Lt Riker was wearing a DS9 gold and black uniform tunic, not a TNG tunic. When Lt Riker then gets his next close-up, he's back in a TNG gold tunic. Somebody in the costuming department wasn't careful that day. If it was one of the early TNG uniforms, though, it could have been bunched up around his shoulders (they tend to do that when your arms are raised), so what the viewer sees is the black undershirt. (UV)

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Andrew Tong

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