Production Order: 16
Air Order: 15
Original Air Date: February 1, 1988
Picard's Log 41365.9: "My ship is the flyest ship in space, and all y'all's got to respect. Going to get some overhauls and shit done, so everyone in dry dock can check out my sweet ride."
They make a big deal out of guiding the ship into the docking area on the starbase, and some shots are reused from the first episode, when the E was also in dock. (Good job, Budget.) Picard thanks his bridge crew for doing a bang-up job, and his grateful tone and words almost make it sound like they're all going their separate ways, rather than getting some shore leave. It's a bit weird, but whatever.
Picard and Riker go down to the airlock to greet Commander Quinteros, the dude who will be seeing to the overhaul. Quinteros has a legion of gold jumpsuits with him, as well as two smaller dudes who look very much like the Talosians from TOS' "The Cage/ The Menagerie."
Quinteros remarks that the E is a week late for their overhaul, and Riker says they were delayed. He gives the name of a place, and I guess we could extrapolate from that that the name of the outpost that they were supposed to be defending from the Romulans was called that. It isn't really explained, and they probably don't want us to be paying too much attention to timelines, which mostly says that the showrunners hadn't been paying a whole lot of attention with TOS, when they developed the nerdiest, nitpickiest, most pedantic fandom on Earth. Of course the fandom is paying attention. Get your shit together, Star Trek.
Quinteros asks if there are any problems to report with the ship, and Picard starts jacking off to how awesome his ship is. His enthusiasm for this subject almost matches that of Scotty. Quinteros then also jacks off in congratulating himself for being in charge of the E's construction in the first place, and he takes credit for Picard's obvious delight in the ship.Then, without washing their hands, they clap one another on the back in solidarity and brotherhood. This conversation is kind of creepy and self-congratulatory for no reason.
Riker, squicked out, changes the subject to the pink guys.
Quinteros says the pink guys are not guys, or gals, they're the Bynars, and they're "a unified pair." Their names are One-Zero and Zero-One.
They are also super-stoked to be working on this, "the largest mobile computer" in existence.
Picard tells them that they only have 48 hours to get their shit done, because they have to be somewhere after that. The Bynars aren't happy to hear this, but agree to get the work done in that amount of time.
Picard and Riker tell them that they're staying on the ship in case they need anything, but Quinteros, who thinks highly of himself, insists that they won't need anything until final inspection.
They leave so Riker can give the world's most awkward exposition: "The Bynars seem perfect for this job, even though I've never met this race."
No... Star Trek, don't do that... don't take two kinds of exposition and try to make them one. And if you are going to attempt that, at least reverse the order. "I've never encountered this race before, but I think they may be perfect for this job," makes more sense.
Picard throws out more natural exposition here about how the Bynars have, over the centuries, developed a language that's really similar to Binary, and that they commune with the computer on their homeworld.
Because the script calls for everyone to talk about how orgasmically awesome this ship is, Riker remarks that it will be interesting to see how the Bynars improve upon the already fantastic performance of the ship's computer.
They get in the lift.
You know how, when you watch something once or twice, with a sizeable space in between, you might not notice something that keeps happening? But then you watch it like, five times over the course of a week because maybe you write a ridiculous blog, and things begin to seem not only glaringly obvious, but also really, really annoying?
Yeah. Everybody has a hard-on for this ship. Also, the last one. Is every ship in the universe named Enterprise the Bestest Ship EVAR, or has Gene Rod been slipping us all Enterprise-flavored meth?
|"Isn't this the best ship ever, Riker?"|
"It is indeed, sir. Everyone should have one."
They talk about their down-time plans in the lift. Picard is going to chill with a book. Riker is going to wander the ship, because even though he knows he's off the clock, he can't figure out what to do with himself when he's just Will, and not Commander Riker.
So there's a weird continuity thing here. Presumably, Picard and Riker left Engineering and the two Bynars and got in the lift to go directly to the bridge. But when they get off the lift at the bridge, the Bynars are already there and working in a panel with two other Bynars. Did they take Jeffries tubes? Like, quickly? How did they get to the bridge before Picard and Riker? They've been there long enough to have disassembled some stuff and also to have earned the careful gaze of Wes.
Picard tells Riker again how he's done "good work" before disappearing into his ready room. Crap, are they all getting laid off at the end of this episode?
Riker sidles up to Wes. There are now four Bynars working, and I guess he thinks that's strange?
"We needed two more buddies to help us met your deadline," they explain when Riker grills them.
This makes sense, Riker. Let it be.
But now the Bynars are getting jumpy, and he calls them on it. Wes wisely suggests that maybe that's just the way another species acts, but Riker tells him to keep an eye on the Bynars anyway. He leaves, and the two new Bynars give Wes some side-eye before the opening credits roll.
Riker encounters Yar, Worf and two others, who are going to the starbase to play Parrises Squares. Yar asks him to join them, but he declines. Worf gets a whopping two lines in this scene when he gets into a tiff with Riker about how the game is not about winning:
"If winning is not important, then Commander, why keep score?"
Yar's Sassy Moment: "I think he's pulling your leg. Believe it or not, Worf is developing a sense of humor."
Next, Riker visits Data's quarters, where Geordi is encouraging his friend to paint. They are running an experiment to see if Data can experience pure creativity, and Riker tells them to take notes.
Riker Sassy Moment: "A blind man teaching an android how to paint? That's got to be worth a couple of pages in somebody's book."
Because this episode is called "Riker is Bored" he wanders into sick bay to see what everyone is doing there. Crusher is packing a bunch of her stuff because a professor she admires, Dr Epstein, is on this starbase, and she wants to compare notes with him. She's fangirling because this dude gave a lecture when she was in medical school. He asks who this guy is, and it's like he joined an online Star Wars forum and asked who Han Solo is. She stalks across her office, giving him the stink eye, and tells him that "he's the leading mind in cybernetics." Duh, Riker.
She leaves quickly.
|"What do you mean, who is Chewbacca? How could you not know Chewbacca?!"|
Riker encounters a pair of Bynars outside of the holdoecks. They tell him that they've repaired the damage done (the Jaradan scan that fucked up all of the shit in "The Big Goodbye") and that they've added "enhancements." The Bynars offer him a free sample.
Realizing that he has nothing else to do, he agrees and selects the Bourbon Street Bar in New Orleans, circa 1958, around 2 am. He requests a band so he can play along, and one appears, along with a trombone for him to play.
"Nice!" says Riker. "But blondes and jazz don't mix."
WHAT? All this time, I've been mixing blondes and jazz, and no one told me?!
So the computer pulls up this girl instead:
Riker again approves, but wants someone more "sultry." Damn, this guy is picky. It reminds me of dating sites and porn. People like what they like, and they'll wade in through all of the "almosts" until the find just the right one. You know that somewhere out there is a hentai enthusiast who has strong opinions on tentacle girth and number of suckers.
However, gonna forgive Riker here because holy shit.
Plus, girlfriend gets herself a Sassy Moment right off the bat:
Riker: "What's your name? Tell me you love jazz."
Her: "My name is Minuet, and I love all jazz, except Dixieland."
Riker: "Why not Dixieland?"
Minuet: "You can't dance to it."
I kind of like Will's next cheesy line as well: "What's a knock-out like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this?"
He's pretty smooth about it, but I can imagine gawky teenage boys attempting to repeat that line to actual girls and failing hard.
Minuet addresses him by name, though she hasn't been told his name by him. This whole time, the two Bynars at the door have been watching and making small adjustments to the holodeck controls. Now they leave.
No dramatic music, just the jazz in the background. Commercial break.
Up on the bridge, Wes asks the Bynars about the high-pitched sound they are making while working. They reply that it's their primary language, and that they store information they get and save it until they need it later, which is how they can process info so fast. They reveal that they evolved these skills over a long period of time, and when he marvels at how many advantages they must have being so intimately connected to a computer, they reply that it also comes with disadvantages as well.
Picard enters the bridge and inquires about Riker. Wes offers to call him from the holodeck, but Picard says he'll just go get Riker himself.
Does that seem like a major violation of privacy to anyone else? Like, Riker could be getting down with Minuet behind the bar. Just call him over his comm badge. That's why it exists.
Riker plays the trombone with the band while Minuet watches. The bass player tells Riker that Minuet digs him.
"Maybe she likes the way I play," says Riker coyly.
"About that," says the piano player. "Don't quit your day job."
WHAT? Two NPC Sassy Moments? Clearly, this is a quality program.
Riker tells Minuet that he has to go see to his duties now, and she asks him for one dance before he goes. He agrees, and they discuss how important his work is to him while they slow dance.
There's an interesting sort of meta moment here where he talks about how "real" she is, how he likes her scent and how she anticipates his dancing so she knows what move to make next. He ends by telling her how real she is again, and she responds with "...thank you." She genuinely means it, too. She's a holodeck image and is aware of it. Has that ever happened before? Will it ever happen again? I think the answer to both is "no."
Of course it goes where you think it does, with Riker dancing around the idea of sleeping with her. He's like Quark's dream customer right now. Or Dr Krieger's new bestie.
Minuet confirms that if he wants to bang her, he may do so. This is treading awfully close to weird, friends. How sentient is Minuet? Is it close to android sentience? If she later tells him no, couldn't he just reprogram her to say yes? I guess it's moot because she has already agreed, but she was probably programmed to say so in the first place.
They're making out when they get cock-blocked by Picard, who wanders in.
He realizes right away that he walked in on something, as Minuet wipes lipstick from Riker's mouth.
Riker says it's fine, and they all chat pleasantly. Minuet picks up on Picard's first name, and speaks to him in perfect French. He marvels at the program's ability to adapt and create ambiance. They have another meta moment where they all discuss how awesome this particular program is. At these times, Minuet seems to be accepting compliments both on behalf of herself, and the holodeck.
In Data's cabin, he puts one final stroke on his painting, then steps away, his back to the glass (dude is painting on glass). Geordi asks what he's doing.
"I am awaiting inspiration," says Data grandly.
I laugh out loud. Bitch, that is not how it works. You're gonna be standing there forever. The Muse does not just show up when you text her. She likes to wait until you're doing other shit. Like sleeping. Or when you're trapped in a Port-A-Potty at a music festival on a hot day. Waiting in line at the club store to buy your 100-pack of toilet paper. Or anywhere that's nowhere near a pen and paper. Basically, at the most inconvenient time and place EVAR.
I guess Data could conceivably wait a lifetime, but everyone in question is saved when Wes pages him.
"There's a problem in Engineering."
"Could you be more specific?"
"I'm afraid not." And then oddly, he is, describing what the problem appears to be. Why did he say "I'm afraid not"? Like, we know it's more complicated than that, but skip the "I'm afraid not" next time.
Anyway, Geordi and Data decide to check it out in Engineering. Geordi tells Wes not to bug Picard or Riker until they figure out what's going on.
They head down to Engineering, and find that the anti-matter containment unit is malfunctioning. Data attempts to call Picard, but no one answers. Basically, the containment unit is going to blow in like, four minutes, and then everyone is going to die. Data tells Wes to call the starbase and tell them that they are abandoning ship because of the containment issue, and that they are telling the ship to fly away from the starbase and any inhabited planets nearby.
"Shouldn't the captain give that order?" asks Wes, who does not seem to be speaking at the same hurried rate as Data. he is not panicked, but Data... is something approximating panic?
"No time," says Data, and he gives the all-call to abandon ship.
Clever Budget re-uses footage of the crew walking quickly and efficiently through the corridors to the nearest exit, footage is grabbed from the first episode.
Ship's Log, supplemental: "This is Data. Evacuated the ship, and told it to go way the hell out in space so it can blow up without hurting anyone."
Data plugs in the last of the instructions, then asks the computer where the captain is.
"All decks empty," the computer replies, which is not what Data asked.
Data thinks that's weird, because I guess in the twenty-four century, they still have a version of "captain goes down with the ship" mentality: captain is the last one off. He and Geordi take off with forty seconds to go.
But when they beam onto the starbase, the others tell them that Picard and Riker are not there.
"WTF?" asks Data. "The computer said they weren't onboard!"
They quickly make plans to beam back and look for their senior officers, but someone pages into that section to announce that the containment unit is fine again.
Yar says that's immaterial, as Picard and Riker not answering anyone's calls probably means that they're in trouble.
Also, the ship is still currently leaving the starbase, and no one is running it. It's just moving to the coordinates Data plugged in a moment ago. The ship backs out of the starbase, then warps the fuck out of there.
There's a weird sort of filler here, and I guess it's being used to also build suspense or something, but we get several shots of the camera traveling down the empty corridors, lights flashing and klaxons blaring, showing us that the ship is still on red alert, racing empty through space.
Back on the holodeck, Riker is telling Minuet about some situation he handled with a couple of kids. She complements him on his skills again, and Picard starts talking to Riker about her as though she wasn't sitting there. Riker is content to enjoy her company, but Picard wants to marvel at how advanced a program she is. Neither Minuet nor Riker seems put off by this, but because she's so "life-like" I'm finding his moments like this to be kind of rude. Has he ever talked about Data like that in front of Data? I know Riker has. He jokingly told some Ferengi that Data was second-hand goods to keep them from trying to buy the second officer. But that seems... different.
Riker talks about her like this as well. She just smiles through the whole conversation, taking in the praise, but not talking in response. Riker admits that he could develop feelings for her, and Picard makes some off-hand remark about how love always starts out with "the illusion [being] more real than the woman." She teases him about having a French attitude about love.
He decides that he's a third wheel, and gets up to leave.
"Don't go," says Minuet. "Stay with us."
Riker Sassy Moment: "Yes, Captain. Staaaay."
Minuet panics, telling him he needs more wine, and asking him to dance with her before he goes.
They both become suspicious when she insists that he can't go yet. They get up and go to the exit, and Minuet kind of freezes in place.
They see that the ship is at red alert and ask the computer what the hell is going on. Majel Barrett replies that the containment for the anti-matter was busted, but is now fixed.
"Um, I'm the captain - how come nobody said anything to me?"
"Dunno," replies the computer.
"Where is everybody?"
"Where the hell are we?"
"Headed toward planet Bynaus."
"The Bynars stole my ship?"
"Looks that way," shrugs the computer.
They go back to Minuet, who unfreezes and admits that, when the Bynars saw how taken Riker was with her, they decided to program her specifically to hold his attention. Picard being there was a happy happenstance. She doesn't really know anything else.
Back at the base, the E crew is conferring with Quinteros to come up with a gameplan. Data asks what the nearest starship is, but Quinteros says it's too far away. Then, looking around, our android friend asks where the Bynars are.
"Guess they're still on board," shrugs Quinteros.
Data suggests that they've probably taken the ship to their home planet.
Meanwhile, Picard and Riker stride purposefully down the corridor and into a room marked "Weapons Room."
Dramatic music! Commercial break!
Picard's Log, supplemental: "Rehash for everybody who missed the last five minutes of this episode."
Picard and Riker exit the weapons room, now loaded up with... phasers or something. They each only have like one weapon, and you'd think for all that commercial break and dramatic music, they'd have gone into the [booming voice] WEAPONS ROOM for phaser cannons or some shit, but no. Just slightly bigger phasers. Riker starts to head toward the bridge, because they can't establish comm links with the bridge, but Picard wants to go to Engineering to check the anti-matter containment situation... and also turn on auto-destruct.
"The hell?" demands Riker. "Auto-destruct?"
"Well, yeah," replies Picard. "Somebody hijacked our ship for who-knows-what purpose. We should blow it up."
And because Picard is the senior officer, Riker doesn't feel he can tell this guy that that is a gross over-reaction to the situation. He decides to just go along with that shit.
Fucking speak up, Riker. Dude is about to kill you both because he doesn't have any information.
They go into Engineering, and I guess they can just tell that the containment thingy is okay, because that part goes ignored. Instead, they go straight to the pool table console and talk about how they both have to be in agreement about this auto-destruct thing, because neither one can set it alone. Riker points out they'll only have five minutes before the ship blows. Picard says that's enough time to get to the bridge to see what's going on.
Come the fuck ON. You cannot set that shit from the bridge? Pretty sure you can. Pretty sure Kirk did, unless they've changed it up.
But no: let's call this what it is. This is a Disable the Ship plot device. They have to set the thing, race upstairs, figure out what's going down, then tell the computer not to blow the ship into space dust.
So they set auto-destruct. Riker has to agree, and pauses like a hesitant bride at the altar before saying "I do."
On their way out of Engineering, Riker calls Picard's attention to a screen displaying some odd stuff.
"Looks like someone is trying to store a large amount of information in our computer," says Picard.
Gee, how'd he know that?
They discover fairly quickly that the turbo lifts are going to deny them access, and come up with a plan to beam directly onto the bridge, but in opposite locations, so that if the threat on the bridge tries to kill them during re-materialization, there's a chance that the other one will survive.
"No. You can't be on the bridge all the time," Geordi comforts him.
"But I can," Data points out. "I don't need to eat or sleep. I can technically be at my station 24/7. I don't need hobbies or outside pursuits."
Yar bluntly tells him that this might have happened even if he was on the bridge the whole time.
Riker and Picard beam to different spots on the bridge and discover... a pile of Bynars, asleep or something. Nope, not asleep, just weak as hell. They croak out "...help... us," before passing out again.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!
So with less than two minutes to go, Picard and Riker cancel the auto-destruct, which was the quickest, lamest Ship Disabling ever. Whoo-hoo, three whole minutes of bonus scariness.
They're in orbit around Bynaus now, and Picard thinks the Bynars on the ship might be dead, so they try hailing Bynaus. Noop. The main computer that runs the planet is down, as is all equipment that ran off it. Riker and Picard guess that all of the people on the surface are probably dying like the ones here.
Out of ideas, they check to see what the Bynars stored in the computer on the E. They get more screens like the one they saw in Engineering, but I guess the universal translator or whatever they use doesn't cover what the Bynars speak or write, so they're flummoxed. They decide that the Bynars had done a core dump from their home planet into the E's computer banks, but they can't access the file.
"Wish they left a note," says Riker.
"Maybe they did," says Picard, and they high-tail it back to the holodeck, possibly using the lifts that were locked just moments before (?).
Minuet, the human Post-It Note, appears to have been paused again when they re-enter the holodeck.
"Tell us what you know," demands Riker.
She unpauses and drops a load of exposition at their feet: a star in the Bynar system went supernova, and the electrical impulse from it was going to wipe their computer system. So they planned to steal the Enterprise, which had the only mobile computer big enough, then fly it to Bynaus and upload the whole damn thing onto the E. But there were two problems with this plan: one, they miscalculated, and the star went supernova sooner than they expected; and two, the E was a week late in getting to the starbase.
She doesn't know how to get them into the file, or how to access it, or what the password might be, but she says their best plan of action is to get in there, and download the computer files back onto Bynaus. She begs Will to help them, not let them die.
They go back up to the bridge (and yes, they get out of the turbolift, so I guess they figured out how to unlock those), and they call starbase 74. Quinteros is surprised to hear from them. Picard requests to talk to Data.
"Here's the sitch," says Picard, and he dumps some more exposition on Data.
"They're gonna keep that password simple," says Data. "And they do everything in binary, so it's probably gonna be eight or sixteen characters long, all ones and zeroes."
Riker goes to the computer and tells it the parameters to cycle through. I guess the E computer has a program for breaking passwords.
It makes short work of the thing, then comes up with the correct password: 11001001... the names of the four Bynars currently dying on the bridge. But it still won't let them in.
"Idea!" says Picard. "The Bynars work in pairs." And he sits at the console next to Riker's and plugs in the password. This lets them in.
I guess Picard actually can read the Bynars' language, because he's watching the screen and commenting on how the system is incredible, and how the computer on the surface is rebooting, ect.
The Bynars wake up, and smiling, check out the computers.
"Thank you! Everything is going to be fine now. We appreciate your help here."
"Also, we'll go back with you to Starbase 74 to face whatever punishment you want to give us."
"How come you didn't just ask for our help?" asks Picard.
They talk amongst themselves for a moment before turning and giving an answer:
"You might have said no."
Riker is amused. "But we might have said yes."
"The risk was too great," they reason.
Sometimes, the simple plots work the best.
Riker asked why they kept him on the holodeck, and they reply that they needed someone to restore the computer. Given that they need two, it was hella lucky that Picard went looking for Riker on the holodeck.
"Either way," says Picard. "No harm, no foul."
He sits at the conn and pilots the ship back to Starbase 74.
When they arrive, Picard puts everyone to work checking the computer systems. He hands the Bynars over to Yar, to hand them back to Quinteros for a hearing. The Bynars happily go with Yar, knowing that such a thing would happen, and gladly accepting it.
Riker requests to be excused from the bridge, which is granted. he runs back down to the holodeck, but -
Nope, not her.
Wanna see the comparison?
A short-haired brunette in a red dress and diamond jewelry, but decidedly not Minuet.
A rather dejected Riker makes his way back onto the bridge and tells Picard that Minuet is gone, that he tried a bunch of variations on the program, but that none of the women that appeared were her.
"Probably for the best," says Picard, implying that sleeping with a hologram is not a great course of action.
"Yeah, I guess,"agrees Riker, who clearly would have liked to give it a shot, anyway. "But she'll be difficult to forget."
This is one of my favorite episodes of season one (one of Jonathan Frakes', too). The plot was good, the science fiction aspects were good, the alien of the week was good, the Girl-O-Vision girl was great.
The Bynars were a fantastic little "frenemy" species, kidnapping the E for what would turn out to be a self-less mission. I think their species is interesting, and I'm kind of sad that we won't see them again. I like that they seem to have made their computer-based society work for them, as opposed to all of the other computer-run planets we've seen, where the computer breaks down and everything descends into chaos. Also, I like that they do everything as a pair, use their own language when talking to one another, and finishing each other's sentences. Wish they had been featured again.
The thing that seals the deal for me (and probably most people) is Minuet. The actor who plays her really went the extra mile to get not only Riker and Picard to fall for her, but the audience as well. She really sells it, and you're disappointed when Riker goes back to the holodeck and she's disappeared. There's a fantastic sci-fi element in that, where the Bynars program this girl into the holodeck to respond to Riker in such a way that even the audience ships it. You know they were probably standing there, watching the two of them on the holodeck, and telling the computer, "more flirting," but you really don't care. She's a tool that went beyond her use.
She also furthers the question of complications in relationships with non-humans. Sure, Riker can sleep with her, but he also admits that he could "develop feelings for her." We've already done a bit of exploring with androids, and how real or not real they might be as far as relationships go, but this is the first time that we've really asked, "Is it okay to fall for a hologram?"
That's good sci-fi, yo.
- Like the Talosians, the Bynars are played by female actors whose voices have been lowered to sound more androgynous.
- Gene Dynarski, who plays Quinteros, also played Ben Childress, one of the miners who takes Eve (one of "Mudd's Women" on TOS) as a wife.
-He was also Krodak in "The Mark of Gideon."
- Iva Lane, who plays Zero Zero, also appeared as a crew member in the first Trek movie.
- This is the first time that it is mentioned that Riker plays the trombone. In reality, Jonathan Frakes plays the trombone, and provided all of the audio whenever Riker played on-screen.
- When Data asks Quinteros about the nearest starship, Quinteros replies that it is the Triest. Data dismisses it as being "too small, too slow." It is later made canon that Data knew this information because he served aboard the Triest.
- An earlier version of the script called for a scene with Crusher and Dr Epstein, on the starbase, where it would be revealed that Dr Epstein was in his mid-twenties. Given that he spoke at Crusher's med school, I guess Dr Epstein is the Doogie Howser of space.
-Starbase 74 footage was used and modified from the spacedock used in the third Star Trek movie.
-This is the first of three times that Picard will take a position at the conn.
-This episode won an Emmy for sound editing.
- An earlier version of the script featured subtitles for the Bynars' language.
- In Binary, the code 11001001 means quite a few things, like the binary version of Pi. Here, it's meant as a stand-in for the designations of the Bynars on the bridge: 11, 00, 10, 01. It covers all of the possible combinations where ones and zeroes can be.
- A nybble is a four-character number in binary. For instance, each of the unified pairs of Bynars is a nybble: One One and Zero Zero are a pair and also a nybble. One Zero and Zero One are a pair and a nybble. Nybbles and bytes, get it? Programmers making Dad Jokes. I'm totally not groaning over that.
Red deaths: 0Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 0
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 1
Sassy Riker Moments: 2
Sassy Yar Moments: 1
Sassy NPC Moments: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 2
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0 (No Troi this week)
|This is the crap I put up with.|