Tom Riker

Story: Second Chances
Written By: Rene Echevarria
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Year: 1993

The Enterprise returns to a planet Riker had visited years before, and helped evacuate when he was on the Potemkin. They beam down to the wreckage of the old science station and they can detect another life form. When they meet up with the life form it is a man who looks exactly like Will Riker.
It turns out that the man IS Will Riker. From our Riker’s perspective, he just barely made it off the planet eight years ago. From the other Riker’s perspective he almost made it off the planet, but unfortunately did not. He has been stuck alone on this planet managing to survive for eight long years. He now wishes to go by his middle name Tom, to distinguish himself from the Commander.

It is a solid episode, but it could have easily been better. The writers contemplated briefly killing off Will Riker and replacing him with Tom. Data would have become the first officer, and Tom would have gone to ops. I think that would have been a cool way to change things up in the show. But the writers ultimately decided to not make any changes and keep things the way they were comfortable. I understand that, but I think I would have liked to see some change for Riker, as his character was kind of stagnant by this point…going nowhere.

NEXT TIME: Frozen in Time