Monday, July 23, 2012

TWITrek Character Insight No. 13: William Riker

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.
Welcome back to Character Insight!  This week, our subject is Commander William Riker from The Next Generation.

Riker is second-in-command on board the Enterprise-D, behind his long time friend Jean-Luc Picard.  Although Riker graduated with high honors from the Academy and had his sights set on commanding a vessel by age 35, he repeatedly turns down offers to command while serving on the flagship with Picard.

Riker earns a reputation for finding unorthodox solutions to tactical situations, such as using a little-known plasma coil flaw to destroy the Duras sisters in the movie Generations. Data calculated that Riker uses traditional tactics only 21% of the time, which is surprising because one would think he'd use them 47% of the time.

Riker is engaged in a long-term relationship with ship's counselor Deanna Troi that originated years before their service together aboard the Enterprise-D.  Although this relationship takes breaks such as when Deanna dates Worf for a period of time, the two Imzadi finally tie the know in Nemesis and serve together as a married couple aboard the U.S.S. Titan.  Further adventures of Riker and Troi can be read in a short series of novels about the Titan, which are worth a read if you like diverse characters.  In those novels, the two have a first child named Natasha.

As a result of a transporter accident on the planet Nervala IV, Riker was genetically duplicated into two identical twins.  This replication decides to go by the name Thomas Riker following his discovery while Will served on the Enterprise.

Riker grew a beard during the second season of the show because he was tired of people telling him how young he looked.  He feels that the beard is a proud, ancient tradition that is a symbol of strength.  Behind the scenes, Jonathan Frakes grew the beard because he personally dislikes shaving.

Riker grew up in Alaska before joining Starfleet.  His mother died when Riker was 2 years old, and his father deserted him at the age of 15.  Riker's ancestors stem back through North American history and include a Colonel Thaddeus Riker, who fought in the American Civil War.

When not walking sideways through doors, Riker often plays poker in weekly games with the senior officers.  Riker is also a jazz music aficionado, frequently playing his favorite songs on the trombone.  In addition to these recurring hobbies, Riker is adept at three dimensional chess, cooking, and theater acting.

Our notable quotes come from Contagion in season 2, and Best of Both Worlds in season 4:

"Fate protects fools, little children and ships named Enterprise"

"I'm sure Captain Picard would have something meaningful and inspirational to say right now. To tell you the truth, I wish he was here, 'cause I'd like to hear it, too. I know how difficult this transition has been for all of you. I can take over for him; but I could never replace Captain Picard, nor would I ever try. Whatever the outcome, I'm sure our efforts in the coming battle will justify his faith in all of us."

"Hey Baby...wink wink"

Actor: Jonathan Frakes played Riker, and he is the only regular cast member to appear on four of the five Star Trek series (DS9, VOY, and ENT).  Frakes has become more of a director in the last 15 years than an actor, and has recently directed episodes of Leverage, Burn Notice, and Make it or Break It.

Until next time, live long and prosper...

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