In his defense, before we meet Captain Shaw in person, we hear Riker talk all about how he and Picard are going to pull off a con worthy of court-martialing and get this guy to fly his ship outside Federation space to the last-known coordinates of Beverly Crusher (Gates McFadden). They’re boarding the Titan under the guise of a surprise inspection, but what they’ve got planned for it is a personal mission that could put the whole crew in danger.
Shaw is no pushover, and he’s technically in the right — acting in his crew’s best interests — when he refuses to fall for their ploy and let them commandeer his ship. It’s just that he’s such a jerk about it. When Picard and Riker arrive for dinner with Shaw, they find a less-than-gracious host who’s bent on antagonizing them and Seven of Nine, three beloved “Star Trek” characters.
This is a man who lacks table manners. Shaw accepts the gift of wine from Château Picard with an immediate put-down and is not a fan of Riker’s “free-wheeling, loosey-goosey” bourbon preferences, either. As classical music plays in the background, Shaw lays out his whole personality via his tastes, explaining that he’s also not enamored of jazz and prefers more structure in his music.
The dialogue builds both character and conflict, and in the same way that the trailer showed the gap between Shaw’s expectations and reality, Picard and Riker encounter someone who’s going to be an obstacle to their plans. It’s the height of all rudeness when Shaw makes a derogatory remark about the “ex-Borg” at his table, then walks out on them and sticks Picard and Riker in a bunk bed that wouldn’t be fit for a couple of rank ensigns.