Star Trek: The Next Generation set up William Riker’s issues with Thomas early on in the series
William Riker made his thoughts known about having duplicates of him in Star Trek: The Next Generation’s “Up The Long Ladder”.
William Riker was not a man who wanted anyone to share his traits. Well, at least not exact traits. While Riker would very much be open to children, the idea of there being two of him was something that really rattled him. He believed it would lessen his significance. Now anyone who has seen Star Trek: The Next Generation’s season six episode “Second Chances” knows just that.
That was the episode where William finds out that he was accidentally split in a transporter accident, thus creating his non-manufactured clone, Thomas. Except we know that William Riker didn’t like that concept four years prior, in the season two episode “Up The Long Ladder”.
In the episode, two plot points converge into one resolution. The crew of the Enterprise evacuates a group of Irish people living like one’s did in the late 1800s and early 1900s and had dubbed themselves the Bringloidi. They came on board with their old-school Irish ways, complete with livestock.
The Enterprise also encountered the colony of Mariposa, led by Wilson Granger, who is in desperate need of medical help. They’re a society built on clones, and due to that, they haven’t had any proper children and their DNA is starting to break down.
The end game is that the two colonies of the Mariposians and the Bringloidi merge, and start cross-pollinating, so to speak, the two colonies to strengthen the Mariposian DNA, while also giving the Bringloidi a place to live.
Before that compromise was reached, however, Walter Granger suggests the crew of the Enterprise give up samples of their DNA to save his people’s future. Riker made it known that he would never tolerate one, let alone dozens of clones of himself running around on Mariposa, that it would lessen his uniqueness.
Shenanigans ensue, Granger steals his DNA anyway and Riker holds true to his words and kills the clone of him that was slowly developing.
The Next Generation explained William Riker’s near-hatred of Thomas is so much better with both episodes.
While The Next Generation’s “Second Chances” told the story of why William had issues with Thomas (and vice versa), adding the events of “Up The Long Ladder” really frames everything in a much better light. It’s hard to say how we’d all react if we were all of a sudden a twin, but most of us would like to think we’d be more accepting of ourselves.
Yet, William had already thought about this event; long and hard. He was never going to be ok with another him. Whether he was cloned, split, or had an unknown twin, William would always have issues with that.
What does that say about William’s psyche? It’s hard to say, but it’s clear he was quite fond of himself, thought highly of himself, and viewed himself as entirely unique. Bringing in a second “him” would surely ruffle his confidence.
And it did just that.