Movie Reviews

Riker Killed One of His Star Trek: TNG Love Interests & It Makes No Sense


  • Commander Riker kills Yuta, his love interest, in “The Vengeance Factor” episode of Star Trek: TNG.
  • Yuta’s death feels unnecessary and out of character for the series.
  • The scene is oddly staged, with Picard sitting motionless and multiple less violent options available.

Commander William T. Riker (Jonathan Frakes) killed one of his love interests on Star Trek: The Next Generation and her death felt unnecessary and out of character. Throughout TNG, Riker gained a reputation as a bit of a ladies’ man, taking after Captain James T. Kirk (William Shatner) on Star Trek: The Original Series. As First Officer on the USS Enterprise-D, Commander Riker often went on away missions and commanded the Enterprise when Captain Jean-Luc Picard (Patrick Stewart) was otherwise occupied. Level-headed and not prone to violence, Riker usually made well-thought-out decisions, making his choices in one TNG episode particularly surprising.

In Star Trek: The Next Generation season 3, episode 9, “The Vengeance Factor,” the Starship Enterprise seeks out the Acamarians after some of their people looted a Federation outpost. The Acamarian leader, Sovereign Marouk (Nancy Parsons), comes aboard the ship and Captain Picard convinces her to try to make peace with the group of pirate-like Acamarians known as the Gatherers. Marouk is accompanied by her servant, Yuta (Lisa Wilcox), and Commander Riker immediately begins flirting with her. Yuta, however, remains distant, as if she is afraid to get too close to Riker.


Every Riker Love Interest In Star Trek: TNG (Including Troi)

Captain Kirk may have been Star Trek’s original ladies’ man, but Commander Riker might be even more deserving of that title in Star Trek: TNG.

Riker Killed His Love Interest In Star Trek: TNG’s “The Vengeance Factor”

Riker & Yuta’s brief romance ends violently in TNG season 3, episode 9, “The Vengeance Factor.”

As Commander Riker tries to get to know Yuta, she remains closed off and speaks cryptically about her past. Picard facilitates a meeting between Sovereign Marouk and the Gatherers, and things are going well until one of the Gatherers winds up dead. In the ensuing investigation, Dr. Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden) determines that someone killed the Gatherer with an engineered virus meant to kill members of a specific Acamarian clan known as the Lornak. While searching through past records, the Enterprise crew members find evidence that Yuta was behind the attack.

When confronted, Yuta reveals that most of her clan was wiped out years ago by the Lornak, and she was tasked with killing the surviving members of the opposing clan. Yuta now seeks to kill the leader of the Gatherers, Chorgan (Stephen Lee), the last surviving Lornak. As Yuta approaches Chorgan, Riker fires a phaser at her. Despite a direct hit, she continues to move toward Chorgan. As Captain Picard sits unmoving in the background, Riker fires on Yuta two more times, eventually vaporizing her.

Yuta’s Violent Star Trek: TNG Death Was Unnecessary

Yuta’s death feels overly dramatic and out of place for Star Trek.

Star Trek TNG Vengeance Factor Yuta phaser death

With the setup of Commander Riker’s obvious interest in Yuta and Yuta’s evasiveness, Star Trek: The Next Generation‘s “The Vengeance Factor” builds to a dramatic climax, but the final confrontation is oddly staged. For one thing, Captain Picard sits in the background of the scene, unmoving, making no reaction as Riker fires at Yuta multiple times. Yuta is far enough away from her target, Chorgan, that anyone could have stopped her simply by restraining her. She has no weapon other than a virus specifically engineered to harm only Chorgan, meaning anyone could have stepped in to stop her.

In the book,
Captains’ Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages
, the director of “The Vengeance Factor,” Timothy Bond, revealed that Picard had to remain still so that the VFX shot of Yuta being vaporized would work.

It’s never made clear how Yuta is able to remain upright after two powerful phaser blasts, but regardless, there were several other, less violent ways, she could have been apprehended. Picard or Riker could have ordered the Enterprise to beam her directly to the brig, for example. Not only does Yuta’s death feel unnecessary, but it also feels out of character for Riker. Star Trek: The Next Generation didn’t often include such dramatic violence, making the ending of “The Vengeance Factor” feel shockingly out of place.

Star Trek the Next Generation Poster

Star Trek: The Next Generation

Star Trek: The Next Generation is the third installment in the sci-fi franchise and follows the adventures of Captain Jean-Luc Picard and the crew members of the USS Enterprise. Set around one hundred years after the original series, Picard and his crew travel through the galaxy in largely self-contained episodes exploring the crew dynamics and their own political discourse. The series also had several overarching plots that would develop over the course of the isolated episodes, with four films released in tandem with the series to further some of these story elements.

Release Date
September 28, 1987


Rick Berman , Michael Piller , Jeri Taylor

Back to top button