Star Trek: The Next Generation

Season 2 Episode 21

Peak Performance

6
Aired Unknown Jul 10, 1989 on CBS
8.2
out of 10
User Rating
225 votes
7

EPISODE REVIEWS
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Episode Summary

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Stardate: 42923.4 Picard reluctantly agrees to a battle simulation pitting the Enterprise against an outdated Federation vessel. As Captain of the Enterprise's adversary, the USS Hathaway, Riker must strategize the best way to defeat Picard's Galaxy-Class Star Ship.

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SUBMIT REVIEW
  • A Plot Driven Episode with Great Character Interplay

    8.5
    "Peak Performance" not only titles the episode, it describes the writers. Here we have an episode in which the writers premise was, "How can we create character development and interplay while providing a stable realistic plot in which the users can grab hold to." The writers nailed this one. I would argue the best aspect of TNG how the group as a whole deals with the mystery of space, not the individual characters themselves while many of our favorite episodes are "Data" episodes or "Worf" episodes. I will divulge the plot and character interplay next.



    We start off introduced to Sima Kolrami (who apparently won the biggest douche in the universe award back in 1989 [South Park Aluusion!]) and he is on the Enterprise to treat the crew to combat testing. The Enterprise led by Picard is to be pit against the defunct Hathaway which Commander Riker captains. Riker prepares his team including Worf, Geordi, and Wesley to attempt to beat the odds by devising various tricky tactics to throw the Enterprise off guard. Meanwhile, Pulaski pushes Data into playing stratagema (sp)with the grandmaster champ Kolrami. Data struggles with his loss against Kolrami feeling inadequate to continue to serve, but Picard quickly gives Data the proverbial pounce needed to get Data back in "gear". The fight commences between The Enterprise and The Hathaway and we instantly see the fruits of Riker and his team's effort in tricking the Enterprise with a Romulan Ruse. Soon after, a very real Ferengi vessel approaches and threatens to steal the Hathaway and all her crew while the Enterprise is rendered helpless due to the state of the battle simulation. The Enterprise crew as a whole develop a ruse of their own to trick the Ferengi; Picard bluffs the destruction of the Hathaway while Riker and Worf create a fake Federation ship to save the day. Kolrami, having realized his failed philosophy, graciously congratulates Picard and Riker to whom he largely disrespected, and he proceeds to ultimate frustration in a stalemate at stratagema with Data. He got bust up! I'm surprised Kolrami didn't just join the Ferengi earlier...



    The ultimate success of this episode is balanced character development. Riker is for the first time put to the test as a captain and proves his capabilities, Wesley finally does something important, and Data realizes that being perfect and correct does not always amount to success. We see this at the final stratagema scene with Data's "victory". He even cracks a smirk. We know the human is in there somewhere. The interactions between Picard and Riker, Picard and Data, Riker and Worf, and so on help to build that sense of family on The Enterprise which we come to love. It's the family we so want to be a part of, but all we can do is watch.

    I hope you enjoyed this review and the episode! Think critically about every episode of TNG...except the episode directly following this one.

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  • Riker and Picard go head to head! Data loses his mojo.

    8.0
    This is a fun ensemble episode that succeeds with both its A and B stories. The A story, which creatively pits Picard versus Riker, allows the Jonathan Frakes to showcase his "Number One" character, and he shines in the role. (Actually, considering that Riker is so similar to the legendary Captain Kirk in command style, the simulated battle here is about as close as Star Trek ever came to "Kirk versus Picard.) The B story, which features Data, has an interesting, somewhat unpredictable arc to it and compliments the A story nicely. Roy Brocksmith guest stars and is fabulous, making this is a throwaway second season episode that's a fun one to catch in reruns.moreless
  • It would have been nice to end the 2nd season with this fun episode.

    8.0
    After a few lackluster episodes, "Peak Performance" (almost) ends in the 2nd season on a strong note.



    Besides a fairly exciting story (with some slow points), I really enjoyed the contributions from Jonathan Frakes, Michael Dorn, Diana Muldaur, and Wil Wheaton.



    1) When people remember Riker's character fondly, it's precisely because of episodes like this one. The writers felt like they needed to hammer that home during an awkward sequence with Data and Troi, but it shows up more subtly throughout the 45 minutes.



    2) Worf again shows signs of becoming the more interesting character that we would see in later seasons.



    3) Dr. Pulaski makes her last substantial appearance in this episode. While in general I preferred Gates McFadden in the doctor role, Diana Muldaur improved a lot as the season progressed and her (relatively minor) role in this episode showcases the growing strength and charm of the character.



    4) This is easily the best Wesley episode of the first two seasons.



    The Data plot I found a lot less interesting, but props to the actor who played Kolrami. He gave just the kind of over-the-top performance that the character needed.moreless
  • Better than I remembered it to be

    7.7
    Its these sorts of episodes that make re-watching the show after years worthwhile. Sure its not got the greatest danger the Enterprise faced, but the episode doesnt provide a certain amount of entertainment and an action packed ending.



    The basic premise is a plot to undertake some apparently benign mission, which has a twist to it. Infact Riker crew provides good competition before the big twist at the end, which Id forgetten about and took me by surprise onthis occasion.



    Some nice little tactical exchanges between the two competing crews span a more than adequate battle simulation and lead to some actual combat at the end.



    Essentially, this is the episode where it is demonstrated that the crew can think outside the box in a battle situation. It actually does work!



    The master strategist on the mission also provides a fair amount of material that sees a crew backlash of sorts.



    Overall, the episode starts out slow but increases in pace throughout to a fairly action packed ending. Lots of conflict in small doses throughout a few nice little twists, with a big one at the end - that takes this from what could have been a fairly average episode to a fine example which is a bit better than a filler.moreless
  • Picard and Riker engage in a war games simulation in this decent, if unmemorable episode

    6.5
    This episode sees Picard and Riker on opposing sides as they engage in a 'war game' simulation.



    It's a reasonably engaging episode with some neat touches, but ultimately it never quite ignites for me.



    The writers throw in the Ferengi(in their first appearance since the first season) to add a little jeopardy, but whilst the Ferengi aren't as cringe-worthy as they were in their debut appearance they're hardly in the same league as the Borg. Once again, the episode is resolved with some technobabble trickery which, as always, feels like a bit of a copout to me.



    The Data subplot is actually a little more compelling than the main storyline and sees the android lose his 'confidence' after losing a game of stratagema to the obnoxious strategist, Kolrami (a fantastic guest performance by Roy Brocksmith, who steals the entire episode). It's insubstantial, but rather fun...much like the episode itself.moreless
Patrick Stewart

Patrick Stewart

Captain Jean-Luc Picard

Jonathan Frakes

Jonathan Frakes

Cmdr. William T. Riker

Brent Spiner

Brent Spiner

Lt. Cmdr. Data

Marina Sirtis

Marina Sirtis

Counsellor/Lt. Cmdr. Deanna Troi

LeVar Burton

LeVar Burton

Lt. Cmdr. Geordi LaForge

Michael Dorn

Michael Dorn

Lt./Lt. Cmdr. Worf

Roy Brocksmith

Roy Brocksmith

Sirna Kolrami

Guest Star

Armin Shimerman

Armin Shimerman

DaiMon Bractor

Guest Star

David L. Lander

David L. Lander

Ferengi Tactician

Guest Star

Trivia, Notes, Quotes and Allusions

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  • TRIVIA (6)

    • Trivia: Presumably because the Hathaway is an older, outdated ship, its comm system uses the TOS-style comm "whistle," as can be heard when Riker initially addresses his crew.

    • In several bridge scenes, the aft science consoles can be seen to be covered in black cardboard, probably to eliminate unwanted reflections.

    • While explaining the plan to take out the Ferengi, Data says they'll fire four photon torpedoes, but when they carry out the plan they only fire two.

    • Worf creates a false image of a Romulan Warbird using the Enterprise's security codes, which Picard promptly changes to prevent him from doing it again. But how did he create an image of another starship in the Ferengi's sensors? Did he somehow have their security codes too?

    • Captain Picard calls the tactical officer "Lieutenant Burke" but the officer is wearing an Ensign's rank pins, and Glenn Morshower (who played Burke) is even credited at the end as "Ensign Burke."

    • Just before the rematch with Data and Kolrami in strategema, there is a shot of the Enterprise with the Hathaway in tow. After the game, it then cuts back to the Enterprise speeding away at high warp. What happened to the Hathaway? Did they just leave it in space?

  • QUOTES (3)

    • Troi : You know, some of our greatest advances have come from analyzing failure. While it can be ego-bruising...

      Data: But Counselor, I do not have an ego.
      Troi: Yes... well, um a loss can be disheartening...
      Data: But Counselor, I do not have a...
      Troi: Data...

    • Picard: It is possible to do everything right and still fail. That is not a weakness. That is life.

    • Data: I busted him up!

  • NOTES (0)

  • ALLUSIONS (0)

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