Friday, May 8, 2020

Star Trek: A Matter of Honor

Episode: "A Matter of Honor"
Series: Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 2, Episode 8
Original Air Date: February 6, 1989

Image result for matter of honor
via Memory Alpha
Good galactic citizens that they are, the crew are participating in an officer exchange program.  Riker serves on the Pagh, a Klingon ship, while Mendon, a Benzite played by John Putch, is assigned to the Enterprise.  Both storylines explore the challenges and rewards of intercultural contact.

This is the best Riker development story since "11001001."  We see him as a man eager for a challenge and one with both the flexibility and the sense of humor to survive tense exchanges with his Klingon shipmates.  To this point in the series, the characteristic which best defines Riker is his sense of duty.  That quality is strongly tested in this episode as he must reconcile his responsibilities to two different captains.

As I have written before, the best window to another culture apart from language is food, both the fare on offer and the customs and rituals by which it is consumed.  Riker prepares himself for the exchange by gorging upon a wide range of Klingon delicacies at Ten Forward.

While on board the Pagh, Riker's most intimate and meaningful interactions occur in the mess hall.

The gagh is actually long brown noodles, the rokeg blood pie is turnips in pumpkin pie and the pipius claws are chicken feet.  Prop master Alan Sims picked up most of the necessary ingredients at an Asian grocery store. 

Acting Notes

Image result for john putch
via Memory Alpha

John Putch was born July 27, 1961 in Chambersburg, Pennsylvania.  He is the son of Jean Stapleton of All in the Family fame, a fact which certainly didn't hurt his own Hollywood career.  After a guest appearance on Mom's show at age 12, legendary producer Norman Lear cast Putch in the recurring role of Bob Norton on One Day at a Time, appearing in 14 episodes over seven seasons.  Since the mid-'80s, Putch has been primarily a director rather than an actor, with numerous credits in both television and independent film.

Putch also played the role of Mordock in "Coming of Age."  In fact, the script pokes fun at the resemblance between the two characters.  Putch was initially flattered to be invited back.  It was only later he realized it was a cost-saving measure: they wouldn't have to redo the Benzite mask if they used the same actor again.


  1. One of the best second season episodes in my opinion. It was probably this episode that got me liking Riker. Before that he seemed more like a weak Kirk clone than a real character.

    It was definitely interesting see the introduction of a new species into Starfleet. Just getting humans from different cultures to work together is next to impossible. You could do an entire season of Star Trek about working out the kinks between different species.

    1. I love the Klingon stories. They tend to test the tolerance of our principal characters in meaningful ways.

      Riker definitely takes a while to develop compared to others. He's likeable enough for me but what is his raison d'etre? We get another good story for him next week.

  2. I actually have good memories of this episode!