The Icarus Factor

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"The Icarus Factor"
Star Trek: The Next Generation episode
Episode no. Season 2
Episode 14
Directed by Robert Iscove
Teleplay by
Story by David Assael
Featured music Ron Jones
Cinematography by Edward R. Brown
Production code 140
Original air date April 24, 1989 (1989-04-24)
Guest actors
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List of Star Trek: The Next Generation episodes

"The Icarus Factor" is the fourteenth episode of the second season of the syndicated science fiction television series Star Trek: The Next Generation, the 40th episode overall, first broadcast on April 24, 1989.

The series follows the adventures of the crew of the Federation starship Enterprise. In this episode, Riker must decide whether to accept command of his own starship, and negative feelings surface when his estranged father arrives to brief him on the mission. Wesley Crusher, La Forge and Data attempt to determine why Worf seems more agitated than usual, and discover that he is upset over not participating in a key Klingon ritual.


When the Enterprise, under the command of Captain Jean-Luc Picard, arrives at Starbase Montgomery to run diagnostics on its engines, Picard receives a message from Starfleet offering First Officer Commander William Riker a command of his own, the Aries, which is on a potentially dangerous exploration mission in a distant sector. Picard advises Riker that while the Enterprise is a prestigious assignment, it cannot replace the experience of having one's own command, and gives him 12 hours—the duration of their stop at the starbase—to decide. Riker's decision is complicated by the fact that the civilian adviser Starfleet has sent to brief him on his mission turns out to be his father, Kyle Riker (Mitchell Ryan), with whom he has an antagonistic relationship.

After his father makes several attempts to reconcile, which Will rebuffs, the tension between the two finally boils over, and they agree to a match of anbo-jitsu, a form of martial arts. During the match, the two continue to argue, with Will venting his bitterness over the death of his mother. Will interrupts the match, claiming a move his father used is illegal, and realizes his father had only been able to beat him in his youth by cheating, which his father admits to. The two are finally able to talk and reconcile, and Will admits he is glad his father came.

Meanwhile, Acting Ensign Wesley Crusher notices that Lieutenant Worf is acting particularly agitated, and enlists the help of Chief Engineer Geordi La Forge and Commander Data to find out why. The trio eventually learn that Worf, as he is not among his own kind, has missed an important Klingon ritual marking the tenth anniversary of his Age of Ascension. They recreate the ritual, which involves a gauntlet of Klingon warriors brandishing pain sticks, on the holodeck as a surprise for Worf. While reciting vows of honor, Worf undergoes jolts from the sticks with each step forward, enduring the extreme pain, and finally reaches the end, where he is grateful to his "family" aboard the ship for honoring him in this way.


Entertainment Tonight co-host John Tesh was covering the filming of this episode for the entertainment news series. He enthusiastically volunteered to act as a holographic Klingon in the ritual sequence.[citation needed]


Anbo-Jitsu is a fictitious Japanese sport shown in Star Trek: The Next Generation. In it, two armored opponents facing each wear a solid visor, rendering them blind, and fight with a large staff. A proximity sensor is worn by each combatant, alerting them to their opponent's location with an audio signal. A protective cushion is worn on one arm and can be used to shield or deflect attacks. It is called "the ultimate evolution in the martial arts" in the context of the show though all the required paraphernalia seems counter-intuitive to the very nature of most martial arts (which train the body and mind), and most of the moves seem to involve clumsily swinging the staves like baseball bats. In Japanese, "An" means dark, as the opponents are blind folded. "Bo" means staff. "Jitsu" means technique or skill.

In another Japanese reference, the banners around the arena are written in Japanese hiragana and spell out Ataru, Lum, urusai yatsura (a misspelled reference to Urusei Yatsura), Kei, Yuri, Akira and Tonari no Totoro.


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