Star Trek

Star Trek

Monday, September 18, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Seven "The Enemy"



ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Seven "The Enemy"
Production Order: 7
Air Order: 7
Stardate: 43349.2
Original Air Date: November 6, 1989

Not to be confused with the TOS episode "The Enemy Within," where Kirk is split in two by a transporter accident, and is accused of attempted rape of a crew member, but is completely upstaged by this alien dog-thing:




*******



Another week where we just jump into the action without any exposition first, and I'm really okay with that. The exposition openings are fine, and formulas are great when they work for you, but I like the shake-up every now and again. In this case, Riker leads an away team with Geordi and Worf to the surface of a planet that is nobody's idea of a vacation spot. The air is filled with electrical storms, and the wind is going pretty good. Yeah, it's kind of the visual version of "it was a dark and stormy night," but it works here. Riker drops a beam-out beacon on the ground and says they have less than 15 minutes to beam back up again, so you know they have to do this shit in windows. He asks Geordi if he can see any better than they can, and Geordi gives a positive version of "meh." Worf yells over the wind that the tricorders are only working about five meters out, and that communicators don't work. Riker remarks that it's a good thing they didn't bring Data, because this place would fuck him up good.
Okay, establishment set - why are we here?
Ah, an answer: they've spied some Romulan ship wreckage, and want to know why the holy hell the Roms are in Federation space?



Geordi looks at the wreckage with his special eyes, and predicts that someone blew up the ship after it crashed.
Riker decides that they should split up and move out in a 25-meter radius... and didn't Worf just say the tricorders wouldn't pick up anything outside of 5? Sounds like an excellent opportunity for something terrible to happen. He also throws a Ship-Disabler into the mix by reminding them that they have 12 minutes left in their window.
Worf goes around some rocks and stumbles onto an unconscious and bleeding friend.



Unfortunately, his manhandling of the guy and yelling to Riker wakes the dude up, and an injured, crash-weakened Romulan tries to choke out a healthy Klingon. Worf knocks him the hell out again.
Geordi, stumbling through the darkened storm, falls into a pit. It's filled with just enough water to not break his fall, but completely soak him to the bone. Just to add insult to injury, his VISOR falls off.



Worf and Riker carry the unconscious Romulan back to the beam-up beacon, but they can't find Geordi. 
Because Geordi is in a hole.
Four minutes left.
Geordi manages to find his VISOR and get it back on, but he can see that he's standing in a pit. He yells for his crewmembers and tries to find a way out, but the pit walls are deep and there isn't an easy exit.
Riker yells for Geordi for a few, but stumbles back to the beacon.
"I can't find him. We need to leave."
Worf makes to go back out again, but it's too late. A moment later, they beam out with the beacon and the Romulan.



Geordi sits on a rock in the pit and screams Worf's name.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



PIcard's Log 43349.2: "So we picked up this distress signal on Galorndon Core, a planet in Federation space, and we found a crashed Romulan ship that's been destroyed. The away team found one injured Rom, but now Geordi is missing."

(Dude, Galorndon Core is a cool name for a planet. Thanks for not calling it Psi 2000, or some stupid shit like that, show.)
Crusher rushes into the transporter room with one of those killer floating stretchers and a team of Blue shirts. They load the Rom on the stretcher and haul him off. Worf calls for Security to go with them and guard the Rom, but Crusher points out that dude is not going anywhere. Frankly, I think they both make good points.
Riker, who is clearly worried, takes out his temper on O'Brien, barking that he needs to find Geordi.
Ahh, the lovely feeling when a superior asks you to do something you all know is impossible, and you protest but they yell at you anyway.



Picard enters and Riker requests to lead another away team. but Picard turns him down. It's not safe to beam into that crap. Riker is told he can go down again when another window opens.
There's a nice segue here where we follow Riker and Picard out of the transporter room and down the corridors, talking about the away mission.
Sassy Riker: "The Romulan craft is a total loss. There's nothing there to salvage, unless you wanna use tweezers."
They try to reason why the Romulans were in that sector, as Galorndon Core doesn't really have anything to offer. Like, it's life-supporting, but kind of awful. The kind of place where you might have an unmanned mining station, or something.
"It might provide good cover for an offensive," reasons Picard.
Sassy Riker: "They certainly weren't there for the climate."

Damn, an eyeroll too!


We go back to Geordi, still in the pit. There's a cool moment here where he uses his VISOR to see some minerals or something under some mud. 



He digs them out, but then for some unknown reason, he has to take them into the light and wash them off to see them properly? Couldn't he just see them under the mud a moment ago? Did they add that bit in because we expect other humans to wash off dirty things in water and look at them in the light to see them properly?
Anyway, he clears some mud away from a little outcropping of rock, then uses his fingers to make a long, skinny trench. Then he lines up the minerals he found in the little trench, and hits them with the phaser, melting them into one stick-thing. I have no idea what he's doing.



Back in sick bay, Crusher tells Picard and Riker that she thought this would be more like working on Vulcans, but it seems like there were far more differences than she expected. Dude has some cellular damage in important areas, and he's in need of a transfusion. They can't replicate what they need because his molecules are too complex. She's gonna set up some testing of the entire crew to see if anyone is a match. In the meantime, he's having some head problems as well.
"Like an injury?" asks Riker.
"Nope, like the magnetics on the surface are fucking with the synapses," she replies.
"Is Geordi getting hit with that?" Riker probes.
She nods.
And now, for the old Hippocratic Oath vs Military Needs: they want to question him about what he was doing there.
She agrees to wake him up for a few seconds, but can't promise they'll get what they need. She hypos the Romulan.



When the dude wakes up, Riker treats him as a hostile witness, telling him where he is, and demanding to know what he was doing on Galorndon Core.
"Fuck you," replies the Romulan. He starts to fall unconscious again, and Riker shakes him awake.
"Who was with you?" he demands.
"I was alone," the Rom growls.
"Is there someone I need to contact for you? A mother ship?"
This time, the Rom falls unconscious, and Riker lets him.
"He just wanted to tell us he was alone," muses Picard.
"Which means he wasn't," fills in Riker. 



We go back to the pit, where we find out what those trenches and minerals were for: Geordi has made a pair of silver pitons, and uses them to haul himself up the twenty or so feet out of the pit.
Fuck, that's smart. And really, who else but Geordi and maybe Data might have been able to do that? Dude needed his VISOR to be able to see them under the mud in the first place, and to see whether they were strong enough in the first place to hold his weight. It's fine to test them, but to be able to see ahead of time that they had no or few structural weaknesses is pretty awesome.



This episode is apparently about showcasing how clever people can be, so when we go back to the bridge, and Riker is demanding for peeps to put their heads together to come up with a way to see if Geordi is still alive down there, Wes comes up with a plan.
"Geordi's VISOR can see neutrino pulses," he explains. "We can put a portable neutrino source on a beacon and drop it at the landing site. If he's alive, he can signal us by changing the beam."
Data backs up this hypothesis.
"That's hella smart," declares Picard. "Make that shit so."
 Wes rushes off to set his beacon.
"Hey, I'm getting a signal parallel to the distress call?" says Data. "It's from Romulan space."
They put the recording on the viewscreen.
It's a Romulan commander, Tomalak. He's calling the Pi, which is the name of the little scout ship that's on the surface in tatters. "We're entering the Neutral Zone and will be there in six hours to get you."
Dramatic music! Camera zooms in on Picard like always! Commercial break!



"Oh, hell naw!" says Picard. "Open the frequency!"
Worf does so.
"Hey, Roms! This is Picard of the Enterprise."
Radio silence.
"Totes open," replies Worf, as though Picard doubted it.
"Let's get specific, then - hey, Tomalak! We know you're there! Don't you set one green toe in the Neutral Zone!"
And there he is on the viewscreen, all smiley and used-car-salesman-like. "Heeey, friendos. Apologies! If I had known you were here, I totes would have called you before entering Neutral space. So one of our little ships had a navigational error, and went off-course. Just a mistake, no aggression intended."
This guy smiles too much. It's like some Romulan commander gave a TED Talk about how humans like smiling, and if you smile at them a lot, they'll be friendly to you. Tomalak attended this talk and took too many notes, it seems.



Rather than listen to this cover-up, Picard reveals that they have a survivor of the Pi.
Tomalak's smile fades. "You have him? And will you meet up with me in the Neutral Zone to give him back to me?"
"Noop, we have an away team on the surface," Picard replies. "Is there anyone else on the planet we should look for?"
"One-man craft," says Tomalak evasively. "We'll be at the Neutral Zone border in five hours. Be there."
He hangs up.
"He'll stop at nothing to complete his mission," says Troi.
Typical Worf: "We shouldn't give him back. Let's interrogate him instead."
Interestingly, Riker agrees in anger: "We have the right to hold him and question him about what they were doing here."
"Slow your roll," says Picard. "It's not that simple. If we fuck up here, Galorndon Core could be another Pearl Harbor, or Station Salem-One: as a preamble to war."
I love it when you do that, show. I love it when you give me two examples, and one of them is easily recognizable from the past, while the other is from the fictitious future.



In sick bay, Crusher tells an assistant to take the Rom off all of the drugs they have him on, because they aren't making any difference. She calls Picard to tell him that the Rom isn't doing much better than before, and of the humans she's tested, they've all come up too different. So have the Vulcans onboard, which is interesting, because they came from the same ancestors. For now, she's going to keep his fever down, and see if his body will heal itself.
Wes returns to the bridge, all smiles because the neutrino beacon is ready. They launch it.



Downstairs, Geordi is forced to climb across a rock face to avoid having to cross a body of water, but he's still getting wet because water is streaming down the rock face as well.
Sometimes I imagine the Post-It notes attached to these scripts:
Jonathan Frakes (Skin of Evil): "You're gonna have to swim in Metamucil and printer's ink here."
LeVar Burton (The Enemy): "You're gonna be wet and dirty for 99.9% of this episode."
Michael Dorn: (every episode) "You get to spend three hours in the make-up chair again."



We dash back to the bridge for half a second, just long enough for Data to report that the beacon has landed and the neutrino beam is broadcasting back to them.

On the surface, Geordi ducks into a tiny cave for a few seconds' reprieve, and he spies the neutrino beam. For some reason, he immediately guesses it's the work of Wes. Maybe this plan has "Wes" stamped all over it in a way that we don't realize? I dunno.
He starts making his way over to it, picking his steps among the rocks on the ground, and we drop to his feet, which is always a red flag that someone is about to grab your ankles or something. Nope, it's boots. Another set of feet fall in line behind Geordi, and while he's focused on the neutrino beam, a fist comes down between his shoulder blades and knocks him the hell out.
Oh, noes! It's a Romulan with bed-head!

Dramatic music with nostril-flaring! Commercial break!



When Geordi comes to, the Romulan has his phaser and his comm badge (which doesn't work anyway, so who gives a shit about that?). He sits up.
"Don't move!" barks the Romulan. "You're my prisoner!"
Sassy Geordi: "Right. Congratulations. Surely a strategic triumph for the Romulan empire."
The Romulan yells at him to hold still again, and he replies, "Fuck you, there's sand in my boots."
Then the Rom demands his name and rank, which Geordi begrudgingly gives while he empties his boots.
Sassy Geordi: "Don't think I caught yours."
"A Romulan ship will be here shortly, and you're going with me!"
"Yeah, no," bluffs Geordi. "We intercepted your transmissions, and the sky is full of Federation ships."
Not knowing the Rom's name or rank, he starts sarcastically calling him "Commodore." I'm gonna award him one Sassy Point collectively for all the Commodores.
The Rom accuses him of lying, and starts to monologue, but then there's a lightning strike above them, and Geordi jumps back while the Rom is pelted with falling rocks. Nothing huge, but enough to knock him down and maybe injure him a little. Dude will for sure have a bunch of bruises later.
Once the rockslide is over, Geordi hoists the injured Romulan to his feet, and helps him limp into a cave. But he foolishly didn't take the phaser from him, so as soon as they're safe and Geordi asks if he's okay, the Rom pulls out the weapon again and yells at Geordi to sit down.
Sassy Geordi, dumping sand out of his boots: "Are you fucking serious right now? Welcome to Galorndorn Core, where no good deed goes unpunished."



Worf reports to Crusher's office, where she tells him that he's the only match for the cells that the Romulan needs to survive. He stares at her.
"You understand that's what all the testing was for?" she asks.
"I didn't object to the testing," he replies coldly.     
She says that she understands his feelings toward the Romulans in general, but this isn't the time or place.
He reminds he that the Roms killed his parents.
"Point blank," she states, "if you don't donate, he'll die."
"Then I guess he'll die," he answers, stalking from the office.



Down in the cavern, the Rom is still holding Geordi at phaser-point, and Geordi is still being sarcastic as hell. The Rom mocks him for being afraid to die, and Geordi gives him a resounding "You bet I am! Who is isn't?"
Eventually, the Rom spouts some nationalist crap about humans going extinct and the Romulan Star Empire stretching across the galaxy.
"Sure, Commodore," Geordi shrugs.
Finally, the Rom growls that Geordi can address him as Centurion Bochra. They bicker some more, and Bochra starts coughing.
"What's wrong with you?" asks Geordi. "Your heart rate just shot up." When Bochra looks at him questioningly, Geordi taps the VISOR. "I can see all kinds of shit with this."
"But you're blind without it?" asks Bochra suspiciously.
Geordi nods.
"How did that happen?"
"Born that way."
"And they let you live?" asks Bochra in disgust.
"The fuck?" demands Geordi.
"No wonder your species is weak," mutters Bochra. "You waste time and energy on defective children."
Because of course the Romulans murder handicapped children.
Geordi's vision gets staticky, and he mumbles that the diagnostics say it's working fine.
"Your body temp just shot up another point," he says, alarmed. "I think this place is wreaking havoc on our nervous systems."  He struggles to his feet. "We need to GTFO."
"Sit down!" roars Bochra, still pointing the phaser at him and hacking up a lung.



On the bridge, Riker keeps looking over Wes' shoulder at the instruments and asking, "what's that?"
"He hasn't found it yet," says Wes, being pretty patient while Riker is buzzing around him asking "are we there yet?"
Worf reports that Tomalak is calling, even though they haven't reached the Neutral Zone border yet. But they're only 30 minutes away, which is close enough to know that the E hasn't shown up, or even moved yet.
Tomalak comes on screen. "Picard, WTF? We were supposed to meet at the border so you could give me my guy!"
"We're still waiting for a break in the storm to collect our away team," explains Picard. "Don't you go entering Federation space!"
"Dude, I already told you how my guy got there," says Tomalak. "It was a mistake, now get him back here before we start some shit together."
"Yeah, I don't buy your story," snarls Picard.
They get into a tiff about Tomalak being willing to risk lives (by entering the Neutral Zone or Federation space) for the sake of one life, which is interesting, because Picard is doing the same thing - he won't meet Tomalak at the border because he's waiting for a window in which to beam up Geordi.
Either way, they're both pissed off.



Downstairs, Bochra and Geordi are having a similar conversation from the other side. Geordi wants to go find the beacon so they can get the hell out of Dodge, but Bochra doesn't want to play prisoner to the Federation.
"Would you rather die for your ideals?" demands Geordi.
They decide that sometimes this is an okay thing, but maybe not today.
Bochra finally relents, and they struggle to their feet to find the beacon. But two steps in the right direction, and Geordi comes to a halt.
He is blind.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Worf goes to Riker's quarters. Riker grants him entrance, and Worf sees that he is watching something on his laptop and drinking. My guess is porn, or anime, or maybe both.
"You're busy," says Worf. "I'll come back later."
"It's cool," says Riker. "Just so you know, I get how you're feeling."
"Not possible," says Worf. "I hate all Romulans forever for what happened to my parents."
Riker asks if he thinks about the possibility that the Federation may one day make peace with the Roms, and when Worf declares this to be impossible, Riker points out that that, not so long ago, the Klingons and Federation said the same things.
"We couldn't be here now together if someone didn't didn't let it go," says Riker.


He makes a good point here: "If that Romulan dies, will his family carry on the tradition of hating Klingons?"
"Do you think I should do it?" asks Worf.
"My opinion doesn't count here."
Worf admits that he is struggling with opposing viewpoints: his Starfleet training, which says he should do it; and everything else in him, which says he should not.
Their convo is cut short when Crusher pages him to sick bay.



Worf goes to sick bay.
"He's dying," says Crusher. "You still have time to donate, though."
She walks back to her office, and he approaches the Romulan.
The conversation that follows is a series of sarcastic remarks, threats and dick-waving.
The shaky Rom tells Worf to come closer so he can die with his hands around Worf's throat.
Worf responds by saying that he could easily save this dude's life.
"You've come to hear me beg?" asks the Rom.
"Nope," says Worf.
"I would rather die that pollute my body with Klingon filth," rasps the Rom.
He collapses again, and you think maybe he's died, but I guess not.
Worf walks away.



Downstairs, our boys are back to moping on the cave floor. Bochra says his legs don't work so much anymore. Geordi reckons his "synapses have turned to jelly." Basically, the VISOR works fine, but it's not connecting to his brain.
"How do we find the beacon?" asks Bochra.
"We can't," says Geordi. "I can't connect to the VISOR, so unless you have some way of sniffing out neutrinos, we're up Shit Creek."
"You have a sensor device," says Bochra, meaning the tricorder. "Connect that to your VISOR thing."
"Dude, I'm BLIND," reiterates Geordi. "And that shit is touchy. I can't can't feel my way through it."
"I got working eyes," Bochra reminds him.



We go back to the bridge for two announcements: firstly, that Data predicts they'll have another storm window in less than an hour; and two, that Worf has seen that the Romulan warship has crossed the Neutral Zone border, and is heading straight for them.
"Red alert," says Picard.

Dramatic music and zoom-in on Picard's face! Commercial break!



In the cave, Geordi is walking Bochra through the process of connecting the two pieces of tech and making them talk. Bochra turns it on, and finds a heading, making me wonder how he's able to read whatever written language the Federation uses. Geordi practically throws a party at their success. They hear the storm breaking outside and Debbie Downer notes that he'll soon be the prisoner of the Federation.
He isn't walking well, so Geordi sort of half-carries him while Bochra tells Geordi which direction they need to go. I'd make a joke about the blind leading the lame, but it's low-hanging fruit, so... eh.



Picard is in his ready room when Worf enters.
"You know what this is about?" Picard asks.
"Yes," says Worf.
They talk briefly about how the Romulan is more valuable to them alive than dead, and how it could start something big if he dies at the hands of the Federation.
"I could order you to do it," says Picard.
"If you do, I will do it," says Worf.
"I don't want to," Picard explains. "I'm going out on a limb, and begging you to volunteer."
"I won't," Worf replies.
"Lieutenant," says Picard in an official tone.
Worf snaps to attention.
"Dismissed," he finishes, to Worf's surprise.
Worf exits.
Picard calls Crusher. "You can stop asking Worf to donate," he says sadly.
"Don't need to," says Crusher. "The Romulan is dead."



Downstairs, the boys stumble a few yards to the beacon, and begin altering the signal so the E knows that there's someone to beam up.

Upstairs, the Romulan ship has come into range, the window will be open for less than ten minutes, and the neutrino beam has not been altered.
Picard has Worf open the channel.
"Dude, you're in my space," warns Picard. "You're in violation of our treaty."
"Gimme my guy!" demands Tomalak.
"He's dead," says Picard.
"Then he's gonna be the first to fall!" roars Tomalak, hanging up.
He powers up his weapons. The E's shields go up. And of course that's when the beacon is altered. So once again, lots of danger all at once, and it'll come down to the wire. If they lower the shields to beam up Geordi, they risk being an easy target for Tomalak.
"Three minutes left in the window," announces Data.
Picard thinks, then has O'Brien lock onto whoever is at the neutrino beacon.
"Getting weird signals back," says Data, "but I think there are two life-forms on the surface."
They try calling Tomalak, but the Romulan is ignoring them.
"They don't know how good our sensors are," says Picard to Riker. "Let's bluff."



"So, hey," says Picard casually. "Found another one of your guys at the crash-site of your one-man craft. Gonna beam them up. Savvy?"
Tomalak does not answer. He's probably on his ship muttering "fuckfuckfuckfuck."
"We both have pretty big guns," Picard continues. "And we both have the ability to be the bigger man and lay down our weapons. Who will go first? In this case, it's me. Cuz I gotta drop the shields to beam those guys up. Of course, you could fire on me then, kill us all, and violate the cease-fire we have. Totally your choice."
And he has Worf drop the shields and O'Brien beam the pair directly to the bridge.
Geordi and Bochra appear, hella dirty. For some reason, Bochra is able to stand on his own, Geordi has his comm badge again, and his synapses seem to be working just fine, as he puts his VISOR back on.
"No one will hurt you," Picard says quickly to Bochra.
Geordi backs up the sentiment.
"Well?" Picard asks the open frequency.
Tomalak's face reappears. "If you fucking tortured my guy -" snarls Tomalak.
Bochra makes a weak salute at the viewscreen. "I haven't given them any information," he tells Tomalak, "and nobody mistreated me. Actually, this human saved my life."
"Oh," says Tomalak, surprised. "Well, um, that's nice."
"Yeah, you know what else would be nice?" asks Picard."You powering down your fucking weapons."
So Tomalak nods to some dude off-camera, and the weapons power down.
"Awesome, thanks," says Picard. "How about we beam your guy back over, and then we escort you back to the Neutral Zone?"
"Sounds good," says Tomalak, all smiles again. He signs off.
Geordi tells Picard & Co how he wouldn't have made it back without Bochra, and they kind of smile at one another like they're going to exchange addresses and be pen pals after this, but you know that's not going to happen. At best, Bochra will give TED Talks about how humans aren't so bad, and everyone will give him side-eye for years for believing such nonsense.



Geordi and Worf take Bochra to the transporter room, there's no discussion as to what happened with the body of the dead Romulan, we never find out what Bochra's mission was, and the two ships fly off in opposite directions, even though Picard just said he'd escort Tomalak back to the NZ.



I have two opinions on this episode, one of them probably unpopular.
The first: I think Romulans are a terrible villain. Not terrible as in scary, but terrible as in stupid. I dislike when a show tries its hardest to convince me that a certain person or race is a thing to be feared, but it's mostly the characters talking about the scary they are, and when they finally show up, they don't do anything worth being afraid of. To me, this is the Romulans. They show up in TOS, and everyone is gobsmacked because no one has interacted with one in years, and the myth has built up. Don't get me wrong, that was a great episode, but it went nowhere after that. The Romulans disappeared from the rest of the show. Then they show up again in TNG, and they're just space dicks. They blow a lot of hot air, and declare that "we're back" at the end of the episode, and everyone on the E collectively gasps, because Romulans are scary. And then? Nothing. They talk about scary the Romulans are every few episodes, but then nothing is provided to back up that claim. They show up, they talk trash, they do nothing. Space dicks. Which is a shame, because I love a villain who is an unapologetic asshole. The Cardassians are unapologetic assholes... but they do shit. The Romulans just talk a big game and go home, and everyone whispers, "wasn't that scary?" Fuck no, it wasn't scary. DO SOMETHING. That being said...
Opinion two: this is a fucking great episode. It's multi-faceted. The B-plot of "Worf needs to donate genetic material to a Romulan" doesn't feel like a typical "meanwhile, back at the ranch" B-plot, but a story that's just as strong as the A-plot. The title of "The Enemy" refers to not only Geordi's reaction to Bochra, but Worf's dilemma with the dying Romulan, Picard's dancing with Tomalak, and even Bochra's interactions with Geordi. These people have been pitted against one another for generations, and none of them is necessarily inclined to swim against the tide.
Geordi, and to some extent Riker, are willing to help the stranded and helpless Romulans, regardless of their current status with the Federation. They're open to the idea that this may not end badly for all involved. Geordi gets frustrated with Bochra, but is still willing to work with him to facilitate their escape. Riker willingly beams the other Romulan up to the ship to get him medical help, and then speaks sensibly with Worf when the Klingon seeks someone to bounce ideas off of. Both are okay with the concept that that they might not be so different, and in Geordi's case, he finds this to be true.

Picard is trapped in the unenviable position of having to be diplomatic with someone unpleasant. Tomalak keeps trying to be manipulative and secretive about his motives, and Picard likes to play a straighter game than that. One wrong move, though, and they could start an intergalactic incident. So he tries to get some info - ultimately failing - while returning what is essentially a POW. He doesn't really want to play this game, but has no choice. That being said, he came off as more aggressive than usual in this episode, and I'm not sure that tactic was necessary, especially after he had stated that they had to go carefully in this situation. Possibly he perceived that Tomalak would only respond to aggression? I'm not sure here.
Bochra's interactions with Geordi, and Tomalak's with Picard, are both based on their own people feeding them information about humans. Tomalak smiles too much, something that Romulans don't seem to do often. They're a bit slimy with their smiles, but being openly friendly is not a trait they're known for, and when Tomalak does it, it feels as though someone had told him that would be an effective way to talk to humans. It's also condescending, which is absolutely a Romulan trait. Bochra smiles too, but it comes off as crazy, and is done in his most manic moments. In Bochra's case, he also reveals that he thinks humans are weak, and then pulls confirmation bias from the fact that Geordi's parents opted not to kill him. They are taught that humans are not an adequate match for their battle prowess. In the end, Bochra is willing to set these things aside to work with Geordi, and seems to have changed his opinions of humans. (It happened a bit quickly, though I have to admit that, with time a factor, that was sort of bound to happen.) They didn't have "Enemy Mine" time. (Also a fabulous movie. Actually, you should stop reading this crappy blog and go watch "Enemy Mine" again.)



So Worf. Worf does not donate his material to save the life of the Romulan. This was initially not the preferred way that Michael Dorn thought the story should go, as he thought that making the donation would be the honorable way to go. But Piller and Berman both insisted that Worf was becoming "too human" and argued that Worf needed to have some morals that were Klingon-based rather than human-based. They guy is, after all, a Klingon raised by humans, and nature vs nurture will come up with him a lot, as well as vendetta issues surrounding the death of his birth parents. It was felt that Worf needed to stand firm on his convictions here, to be more Klingon that human. Michael Dorn would later come to agree with this course of action, and while I had wished he had made the donation initially, I feel like I also agree with this assessment. Being raised by one group of people does not mean that you won't fall back on the beliefs of the people who sired you from time to time, and Worf is very much a guy who has been in touch with his Klingon heritage.
Interestingly, the family of the dead Romulan is never brought up again. Riker's assertion that it might just fuel more hatred from the Romulans sort of dies on the E, as it seems that the Romulans never learned of Worf's refusal to save one of their own. Of course, it could just be a wash, as the Romulan refused to take Worf's material anyway, and they might have looked at the whole thing as a Romulan dying for his purist ideals. Too bad, though. Might have made for a good follow-up.

                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                           
Fun Facts:

- Troi was supposed to be trapped on the planet with Geordi in the initial script. She was written as having knocked Bochra. But when the script was rewritten, not only was Troi not on the planet, she had Christine Chapel lines. Marina Sirtis counted this as one of those times when Troi was underutilized.
- The launch of the probe with the neutrino device was stock footage from "Where Silence has Lease."
- This is the first time we see Commander Tomalak. He'll show up three more times.
- John Snyder, who plays Bochra, will show up again as a different character in the fifth season of TNG.



- Steve Rankin, who plays the Romulan who dies in sick bay, will later play a Klingon. He'll appear twice more in Star Trek beyond that.



- Dr Crusher has long hair in this episode. Oddly, she has short hair in both the episode before and after.


- Technically, all three of the officers who talked to Worf about the transfusion procedure outrank him, and could have ordered him to do it.
-Writer/Producer Brannon Braga cited this episode as being the one that convinced him that the show was good. He had tried to watch earlier episodes and had had been unimpressed prior to "The Enemy."
- Though not mentioned on-camera, the Romulan who dies in sick bay is named Patahk.



Red deaths: 0
To date: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Geordi moments: 4
To date: 7
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Riker Moments: 2
To date: 4
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Guinan Moments: 0
To date: 2
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 7
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 1
To date: 10
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 2
To date: 2
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 0
To date: 1
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 13


Harvey the Parkour Kitten is improving!
Two more weeks in this new splint.

Wednesday, September 13, 2017

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Six "Booby Trap"

ST:TNG Season Three, Episode Six "Booby Trap"
Production Order: 6
Air Order: 6
Stardate: 43205.6
Original Air Date: October 30, 1989

Sorry about the lateness. Was feeling a bit under the weather around post-time.

*******


Interestingly, we don't start out with an exterior shot of the ship this week, or a Picard Log with some exposition. We start out on the holodeck, where Geordi is having a romantic date with a girl on some beach. He offers her another drink in a coconut husk with an umbrella and a stupid name ("coco-no-no"), which she declines. Then he remembers that he programed a Romani musician in to play a romantic song on the violin. He attempts to make a move, scooting closer to her, putting his arm around her.
At this point, she has grown uncomfortable enough that she has to give him The Speech.
"Geordi, you're a great guy."
"Uh-huh," he sighs.
"But I don't feel the same," she adds.
"Uh-huh," he says flatly.
The Romani musician has gotten annoying, so Geordi tells him to fuck off. (Truthfully, he could have just turned the musician off. Dude doesn't exist.)




Wes and Data are in Ten Forward, playing 3-D chess. (Side note: does Data reign it in when playing games like this with others? If not, why would you play with him? Seems like a sure way to lose in two moves.) They briefly discuss the asteroid field outside, which was caused by an ancient space battle.



The door to Ten Forward opens, and Geordi comes in.
"Uh-oh," says Wes. "He had a big date tonight. He spent forever putting together a romantic program for it. Looks like it ended early."
They stare at Geordi for a moment, who slumps onto a barstool and stares off into space.
"Uh-oh," replies Data, with a practiced inflection.
Data gets paged to the bridge.

When he arrives, Riker tells him that they're picking up a signal, and they briefly talk about the possibility of there being survivors of the battle of Orelious IX. When they finally track down the source, it's coming from a ship hanging in space.


"Promellian Battle Cruiser," says Worf in amazement.
Picard is equally amazed, fangirling over it's intact "Lang fusion engines."
When Data reports no life signs, Picard says he is not surprised.
"That signal was generated over a thousand years ago."

Mysterious music! Commercial break!


Picard's Log 43205.6: "So we've been sent to chart out the battle where the Orelions and Promellians pretty much destroyed both species, and we've found an intact Promellian ship."

Picard and Riker are making their way through the corridors, and Riker is salty because the rules say that the captain should never head away missions, but Picard is insistent here.
"What's the worst that could happen? Ghosts?" Picard pauses and says something that Riker doesn't understand. "Have you ever dreamed of climbing inside the bottle?"
"Sorry?"
"Airships in bottles. Didn't you ever do that as a kid? Bet I had a Promellian Battle Cruiser, too!"
They go into the transporter room.
Data and Worf are there, ready to beam down, and Data assures them that there is adequate life support on the battle cruiser that they won't need breathing equipment.
Picard brings up ships in bottles again. Blank looks from the away team.
"Didn't anybody play with ships in bottles when they were boys?" he asks, frustrated.
Sassy Worf: "I did not play with toys."
Sassy Data: "I was never a boy."
Possibly brown-nosing O'Brien: "I did, sir!"
"House points to you!" says Picard happily. "Okay, beam us down!"



Riker gives O'brien a smile that says, "You suck-up."
"What, I did!" protests O'Brien. "Ships in bottles is big-time fun!"
Okay, dude. Who you trying to convince?



The power goes down briefly, and O'Brien says he'll check out some stuff and get back to Riker about it.

On the bridge of the Promellian Cruiser, Picard & Co find the mummified remains of some promellians in their chairs. Worf, typically Klingon, remarks how admirable it is that they died at their posts. Picard waxes poetic about the layout of the bridge.


Back in Ten Forward, Geordi is nursing a drink at the bar.
"Got anything stronger?" he asks Guinan, who is busing tables.
"Yep," she replies.
"Will it help?" he grouches.
She answers truthfully. "Nope."
Then he launches into what comes remarkably close to being a Nice Guy speech, but thankfully does not go there. Instead his lament of "I fix ailing starships, why can't I talk to a girl?" is acceptable. (Do not fall into Nice Guy Fallacies. It's a trap.)
Geordi: (sighing): "Tell me something, Guinan. You're a woman, right?"
Sassy Guinan: "Yes, I can tell you I'm a woman."
He asks her, as a woman, what she looks for in a man. Guinan replies that she likes bald dudes. He says "seriously?" in a teasing manner, and when she replies that a bald man took care of her once when she was hurting, he says wistfully, "I'd like to do that."
Sassy Guinan Moment: "Well, I take care of myself these days." 
He complains that he just can't seem to make it work, and she advises him that he's trying too hard.




We jump briefly over to the bridge of the E, where Wes tells Riker that he's getting weird readings on the power fluctuating, just like O'Brien was in the transporter room.

On the Battle Cruiser, Data gets the lights going, and it turns on the sound of the SOS signal. Picard tells Worf to scan everything for posterity, then he and Data turn that beacon off.
"Found (the Promellian equivalent of a USB drive)," announces Data.
"Ooh, can we watch it?" asks an excited Picard.
"The parts are old, but we can try." Data puts the thing into another thing, and uses his tricorder to boost more things, and we get a staticky picture of the Promellian captain, as well as part of his log.
"I am Galek Sar," says the captain. "This is the ship Cleponji, and I want everyone to know that my crew is awesome, and that what happened to us was totally my fault, not theirs."



The away team is feeling kind of crappy about this new development. Picard pages Riker to tell him that they're ready to come back.

But when they hit the bridge of the E again, Picard is all smiles.
"That was so freaking cool!" announces Picard. "There were totes ghosts on that ship, Number One! It was the old captain, and we watched a log where he talked about how fabulous his crew was."
Riker and Troi exchange smiles.
"What?" asks Picard.
"Your fangirling is cute," says Troi. "Nice to see you in a good mood."



Picard tells Data to contact some authorities about the ship, to have it hauled off and studied.
"Let's go look at other stuff," he directs, and Wes plugs in new coordinates.
"Um, we lost some power," reports Data. "Like, two percent. I'll change up some stuff to make it work."
Alarm.
"Whoa. High-intensity radiation, coming our way," warns Worf.
We get some cuts here where Data reports ever-increasing drops in power output, and Worf states that they're bombardment by radiation is going up.
"Let's back the fuck up and leave in a hurry," Picard directs Wes.
Wes sets the ship for warp one, but they don't move. They call Geordi, who checks all of his settings.
"Dude, we should be flying out of here," says Geordi.
Is there an alien poltergeist in your anti-matter again?
Wes steps on the gas, and the engine revs, but the wheels just spin.
"Hey," pipes up Geordi. "Could we like, slow down so we don't burn out the engines? Kthx."
Wes takes his foot off the gas, and Picard stares at the Promellian ship on the viewscreen, pondering what the old captain said about his actions getting them stuck there, and wondering if the E has fallen into a thousand-year-old booby trap.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



When we return, the senior officers are in the Obs Lounge, trying to figure out what's happening. Basically, they're sitting in some kind of radiation field, but Worf says it's so strong that it interferes with sensors, so he has no idea where it's coming from. Geordi says with the power drain, they'll only have three hours worth of shields, at which point, the radiation will start killing them all. They need a way to keep the ship running without running out of juice. Riker asks Data if the there's anything in the history books that could help them. Data says the Menthars (the people from Orelious IX) had a lot of cool battle strategies, and he begins to list them, but it ends when Riker interrupts to ask if there's anything relevant to this situation.
"Noop," says Data.
They decide to send over another away team. The Promellians weren't able to figure out how to get out of this trap, but they did know the Menthars better.



Down in Engineering, Geordi is having the same problem that a lot of us have had at one time or another: why won't thing do the thing? By talking through it with the computer, he figures out that they can't form a subspace field, which is why they aren't going anywhere.
Geordi goes through the computer logs on propulsion, to see if he can get this shit working again. He encounters the name of one engineer over and over again, L.Brahms.
The computer tells him that Dr Leah Brahms was a graduate of Daystrom Institute and worked as a junior member on the propulsion team for Galaxy-class starships.
"Looks like she wrote the book on propulsion," he remarks.
He calls up the subspace entry logs for the Enterprise, and he chooses Brahms' voice entries over the visual records.



On the bridge, Dr Crusher informs Picard of the precautions she'd like to take just in case they end up with radiation poisoning. Which are good precautions to take, because you know they'll only solve this shit if they have a few minutes left on the clock. She says once the shields go down for good, they'll only have 30 minutes to live before the radiation goes fatal.



In Engineering, Geordi is hashing things out with the voice commands of the log entries of Leah Brahms. He can pull up the specs for the dilithium crystal chamber, but it seems inadequate.
"I need to crawl inside," he muses. "Computer, can I get a 3-D simulation of the inside of the engine?"
"You want the prototype?" asks Majel. "I can give you the prototype schematics and stuff from the Utopia Planitia drafting room."
"Fuck yeah!" says Geordi. "Set it up in holodeck three! And send Leah Brahms' log entries down there, too!"
He's pretty impressed by the set-up for the Utopia Planitia drafting room. Through the window, he can see the skeleton of the Enterprise in dry dock. The schematics he wants are set up on display.



"Leah, did you design this?" he asks.
"There were a lot of people involved with this design," she replies mechanically.
"Off the record?" he suggests.
"Personal logs are restricted," Majel reminds him.
Sassy Geordi that borders on creepy-thing-to-say: "Great. Another woman who won't get personal with me on the holodeck."
He moves on. "Okay, I need to power the ship and the engines. Can I (science)?"
Leah voice: "Theoretically, yes. (More science)."
"Cool. Show me how."
Horror film moment:


He turns around while tinkly, playful music plays. It's Dr Leah Brahms.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



"Hey, computer, did I ask for a simulation of Leah Brahms?" asks a confused Geordi.
"Yep," replies Majel. "You asked for her to show you (science)."
"Huh. Guess I did. Okay."
Simulation-Leah says nothing.
"Continue with what you were saying?" he prompts.
"(Science)," she replies robotically.
He talks himself through it and then tells the simulation that it can be done, and that she's beautiful, only he uses a "you're the best!" inflection.
Geordi calls Riker. "Okay, we can do shields!"
"Awesome!" says Riker. "What about propulsion?"
"Still working on that," he answers.
Picard: "Pass my congratulations on to the rest of your team."
Sassy Geordi: "Thanks, Captain. We're all smiles down here."



On the bridge, Data has put some of those old-school/new-fangled USB sticks into the computer and is trying to pull out any info he can.
"Most of these are too decayed and can't be fixed," he admits.

On the holodeck, Geordi has asked the computer make the adjustments to the dilithium crystal chamber, and asks what the output is now.
"Up fourteen percent," replies Majel.
Geordi celebrates, but Simulation-Leah just stands there like a talking mannequin. He's a little weirded out by it.
"Computer, do you have a personality on file for Dr Brahms?" he asks.
"Sure."
"Okay, and did she ever debate at the intergalactic caucuses on Chaya VII?"
"She did."
"Cool. If you take that info, could you put her personality into the simulation?"
"Yeah, but there would be about a ten percent margin of error," Majel warns.
"All good," says Geordi. "Do it."
There's a moment here, where we're meant to pick up on the fact that Simulation-Leah has gone from just an image that gives answers, to a simulation that moves, speaks, and thinks according to the responses given by the living person in the holodeck program. That moment includes Sim-Leah taking a deep breath and blinking several times, where she hadn't done either before. And I get it, it's a transition from talking dolly to simulation of an actual human. But at no time does Sim-Leah need to blink or breathe, so why is it necessary to have her do both of these in an exaggerated way, as though she's woken up from a coma?
Anyway, she turns and smiles, and immediately gets casual on him, by insisting that he call her Leah instead of Dr Brahms. The simulation has also extrapolated from the conversations he's been having with himself on the holodeck, and she takes charge right away, saying they need to hurry because they can't leave the crystals in that alignment forever or they'll burn out some stuff.
He's a little shell-shocked, and she's all, "Hello? Earth to Geordi?"
"Okay!" he replies enthusiastically.
And they start working.



In the science station on the bridge, Data has managed to coax a few seconds of usable information out of those USB drives.
Galek Sar describes the same sort of situation that the E is in (no propulsion or weapons), and says it comes from the aceton assimilators, but the recording degrades before he can say where the assimilators are hidden.
"Google, what are aceton assimilators?" asks Picard.
"They're ancient generators that can drain power from sources that are far away," answers Data. "It wouldn't be hard to convert energy into radiation."
So the thing is sucking up energy that the E is putting out by running its systems and engines, and it's spitting it back at them as radiation. Basically, don't move or you'll die. But without life support or systems, they'll die anyway. And running the life support drains the energy, which drops the shields, which floods the ship with radiation, and then they die. Again. Damned if you do, damned if you don't.
"The Menthars probably hid them in the asteroid debris," says Riker.
All of this leads to an aside which I don't think is ever addressed: presumably, the crew of the Promellian Cruiser died of radiation when the energy was drained from their systems and shields. Now, the radiation would not have come into play beforehand (ie, not present on the Cruiser before the away team beamed over) because it had 1000 years to clear out, and the assimilators were not working in all that time, or there would have been more ships in that asteroid field. The draining of the E began when the away team beamed over, and continued while they were on the Cruiser. Worf did not detect the radiation until after the away team returned, but were they not getting low doses of radiation while on the Cruiser, which presumably had no shields?



Back on the holodeck, Geordi and Sim-Leah are arguing.
Sim-Leah says she did all the calculations herself, and her idea should work, but Sassy Geordi disagrees.
"I don't care if you built it with your bare hands from an old Ferengi cargo ship. It's gonna go [low whistle, explosion noise] and we're gonna go with it!"



He angrily points out that she's used to working on static models, and he's got a working ship with tens of thousands of light years on it. She admits that this is true, and he tells her that he knows his ship in and out.
And she says something that, taken out of context, is awful: "Well then, you must know me inside and out, 'cause a lot of me is in here."
Then they agree that chief engineers should be part of the process of designing ships, and that designers should get out in space more.
Riker pages Geordi to the bridge.
"Don't go away," he tells Leah.
She smiles at him in a moment of program sentience, like, "You dork, I can't leave the holodeck. Where am I going to go?"
"Oh, yeah!" he remembers. "Save program!"



There's an impromptu meeting on the bridge, and Picard asks Data how many assimilators he thinks are in the debris field.
"Several hundred thousand," guesses Data.
"But they've been here for at least a thousand years," protests Picard. "There should be some break-down, right?"
"Like, point-one percent at (coordinates)," says Worf doubtfully.
"What if we fire phasers at that spot?" asks Picard. "Could we destroy it?"
"Maybe?" shrugs Geordi.
"Or maybe we'd just be feeding the beast," supplies Data.
"Let's try it," says Picard.
He tells Geordi to go back to his work on the engines, and has Worf prep the phasers.
They fire the phasers at three spots right near the ship. And just as Data predicted, the assimilators drank in the energy, drained the ship, and increased the radiation.
Dumb move.



Geordi and Sim-Leah are looking at schematics when the computer interrupts.
"Hey, you're using too much energy. The energy level is too low in the ship. I'm gonna shut off the holodeck."
"Override," sais Geordi wearily.
"Noop," replies Majel.
"WTF?" yells Geordi.
Sim-Leah disappears, then Geordi is left in the holodeck grid.
He doesn't have clearance for that as chief engineer? What a crock of crap.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



There's a meeting in the Obs Lounge, but they're letting Geordi telecommute in from Engineering. They're also pretty much talking in the dark.
"Our crystals are breaking down," comments Geordi. "We'll need to get more at the nearest starbase."
Sassy Riker: "The optimist of the group."
A quick check-in of numbers: less than two hours of shields left, radiation up 17% and fatal exposure minutes dropped to 26.
Picard asks Geordi if all non-essential power has been shut off.
"Yeah," says Geordi. "But I really need to turn holodeck three back on. I built a model of the engines in there, and I've been using it to make progress on this problem."
Picard grants him use of the holodeck, but gives him a deadline of one hour to come up with something.



Geordi rushes back to the holodeck. For some reason, Sim-Leah seems to know that their timeline has been shortened.
"Okay, we need to figure out how to get out of this booby trap," says Geordi. "Can we shut it down? Can we outrun it?"
"Well, there's a reaction from the E, then a reaction from the assimilators," reasons Sim-Leah. "Is there any kind of reaction time between those two reactions when we could move forward just enough to escape the radiation given off by that assimilator?"
"Ooh, YAS!" says Geordi, sitting at a workstation. And because he's lost his head a little, and maybe because he's thinking ahead to a celebration program afterward, he asks, "Do you like Italian?"
"Like it?" she asks. "Wait until you try my fungilli."
Noop. Geordi, you makin' dinner plans with a hologram?



A bit later, and Geordi is getting frustrated. He's input a bunch of stuff, but things aren't going quite right for him. He yells and hits the console.
...and Sim-Leah gives him a shoulder massage, which just...
whut?
Like, which part of her thought that was appropriate? Was it the part of Real Leah's personality that the computer decided should be added? Or was it the computer simulation recognizing that Geordi was getting stressed out and thinking that this was a thing that Sim-Leah needed to do? Really, if she was his coworker, would she have actually done that? They've known each other for two hours, max. Would you give a brand-new coworker a massage after knowing them 120 minutes?
Anyway, Geordi starts to go "mmmmmm," then backs the wheeled chair away and says "Don't do that."
But instead of being like, "That's not appropriate work conduct," he's like "I don't want to feel that good right now."
I... just... fix the ship, Geordi. Stop trying to get down with the simulated image of a real-life engineer on the holodeck.



He realizes that they're essentially out of time, and complains that it is both possible and not possible to make that many micro-adjustments per second.
Sim-Leah: "...I could do it."
Geordi: " It's not humanly possible."
Sim-Leah: "I'm not human."
Geordi: "You mean the computer could do it."
Yes, Geordi. She is the computer.
Picard comes in. Geordi acts a bit flustered, like he forgot to lock a bathroom stall, and Picard has just opened the door.
"Oh, um, this is, um, Leah Brahms, a computer-simulated image of one of the E's engineers," he explains. "We've been tinkering with this stuff and we think we might have a solution. We could escape the booby trap if we turn the ship over to the computer."
Sim-Leah says nothing to Picard, making her seem all the more like just some mindless holodeck plaything that he caught Geordi with.
"You think that will work?" asks Picard, eyeing Sim-Leah.
"Not one hundred percent sure," Geordi admits. "We could program a simulation and see how it goes."



Picard is sitting in the dark in his ready room, staring out the window. Riker comes in and asks if he's heard from Geordi.
"Yeah," says Picard. "He wants to turn the ship over to the computer and let it take us out of here because it can make quicker adjustments than we can."
Riker considers that. "I've always been impressed by a machine's ability to take orders," he says. "I'm not as convinced that it can creatively give them."
Hmmm, what does that say about Riker's opinion of Data?
Picard goes on for a bit again about model ships, and ends with "now the ships are flying us."
Dude really loves his model ships.



Geordi and Sim-Leah are running simulations (sim-ception) using what basically amounts to a fancy side-scroller game, like Oregon Trail in space. In one, she does not make it out in time, and the crew is exposed to fatal radiation. The second time she makes it, but the third time, with all of the same moves made, she does not.
Red alert sounds off. The shields have failed, and they're now exposed to the radiation. Twenty-six minutes and counting.

Dramatic music! Commercial break!



Geordi and Sim-Leah bicker for a bit, and Picard calls Geordi.
"Two minutes," begs Geordi. "There's another way!"
"I have a different idea," he tells Sim-Leah after hanging up with Picard. And he reprograms the simulation.

On the bridge a few minutes later, he explains that part of the problem with his initial idea was that it involved overpowering the trap.
"We need to shut everything off," he explains to Picard. "We do one big thrust for a microsecond, then shut down everything but life support and two thrusters. Then we cruise on out."
"You're gonna die in twelve minutes," announces Majel.
"Did you run the simulation?" Picard asks him.
"Yeah, but it isn't any better or worse than letting the computer do it. About the same odds. Personally, I think there's a lot to be said for the human element of wanting to stay alive."


"Okay," agrees Picard. Geordi offers to take over at conn and do the steering, but Picard declines. He will do it himself.
"Head's up," Riker calls over the PA. "Gonna switch on the engine for a sec, so brace yourself."
"You're gonna die soon," comes Majel's voice again.
"Shut it!" yells Riker. "The captain is trying to concentrate." 
They do one big thrust with the impulse engines, then shut everything down. Picard carefully steers the ship using quick shots from the thrusters.
Riker calls out the headings, and lets Picard know that the large asteroid coming up is pretty close, and it may contain an assimilator, ya know? Picard uses a thruster to steer away from it, and Worf announces that they did not set off an assimilator.
Data puts in that the gravitational pull from the asteroids has slowed them down by 8 percent, and they no longer have the juice to get out of the debris field. Picard simply thanks him.



Data reports that the asteroid ahead is increasing their speed because of its gravitational pull.
"It's cool," says Picard, and he deftly steers the ol' rustbucket into a quick turn, spinning that shit away from the asteroid and out of the field.
"You used the gravitational pull as a slingshot," says an impressed Data.
Picard just hands the conn back to Wes like it ain't no thang.
"Gotta take care of this booby trap before we leave," he remarks to Riker.
Riker has Worf blow the Promellian ship up, taking a bunch of those assimilator-asteroids with it. Hopefully, they've marked it for Starfleet, so someone can come along and take down whatever assimilators are left. Otherwise, yeah, you've taken down the bait, but someone else could just stumble into the field.



Back on the holodeck, Geordi prepares to shut down his program, and is saying goodbye to Sim-Leah.
"We make a good team," she says.
I agree.
"We should do it again sometime," he replies.
That could be helpful.
Sim-Leah: "I'm with you every day, Geordi. Every time you look at this engine, you're looking at me. Every time you touch it, it's me."
Okay, I get what you're trying to say, Sim-Leah, but that could sound very wrong in just the right context, and you couldn't have phrased that differently?
And then, a Why? Moment.
They kiss.
And much like the massage, I have to wonder what's behind this. Does the computer feel that the real Dr Brahms would kiss a coworker? Or did the computer extrapolate from how it thinks Geordi is feeling, and thinks that's the most appropriate action? Because it wasn't Geordi kissing Sim-Leah. She leaned in at the same time. They kissed each other.
And I understand that with the holodeck, all bets are off, and you can kind of do whatever the fuck you want, but doesn't the holodeck really encourage you to go carte blanche like that?



Then Geordi straightens up, stares at her for a moment, and ends the program.

Happy ending music, and end credits.





Okay.
I'm gonna try to judge this episode on its own merits.
Because in season four, there's an episode called "Galaxy's Child" that's a kind of follow-up to this one, and it changes how how I feel about this episode. Like, completely. But I'm trying to approach each of these episodes as though I hadn't seen them before, and just on their own (with possible comparisons made to material that came before it). Because DS9 was the first Trek that I watched completely "live" instead of in syndication, quite a few TNG episodes I watched were out of order and several were repeated more often than others. As a result, I watched "Booby Trap" many times before finally catching "Galaxy's Child," so my opinion of this episode remained the same for years before being altered. Let's shoot for that first one.
So.
Let's start with what's working for me.
I love the booby trap aspect. They go into an area to study what's basically space ruins, and surprise! They find what pretty much amounts to an intact Yaxchilan burial tomb, and Picard practically kiddy-claps, because he's all about that shit. After checking it out, they find out that they're hooked up to some trap from a long-forgotten war, but instead getting the attention of some benevolent alien poltergeist like in "The Bonding," they get a slow version of the boulder that chases Indian Jones out of temples. I'm digging this set-up. Our Disable the Ship means that they're screwed six ways from Sunday, so they have to really think their way out of this. (Bonus points: they have the mummified remains of the last people to fail at this nearby to remind them of the consequences, which is terribly Indiana Jones.)
A think I also like: I thought Geordi's solution to not being able to visualize what he needed to figure out a way out was brilliant. Can't climb inside the engine? Recreate it on the holodeck. Get to the heart of the matter. I also approve of his accessing Dr Brahms' professional log entries. When in doubt, return to the source.
It was the computer's idea to recreate a simulation of Dr Brahms, and that was okay. Geordi was getting tired of someone speaking at him, so he asked the computer to put Dr Brahms' personality into the simulation, and that was alright as well. Recall that if the personality clashed with his, he could have shut that part off, and just gone with talking mannequin again.
Where this episode goes sideways for me is in the romance. The computer seems to have been reading something into its interactions with Geordi, because neither time Sim-Leah got cozy was completely initiated by him. The first time (with the massage) was initiated by her/the computer. And the kiss seemed to be both of them equally. We're seen this before, where Riker fell hard for Minuet, a holodeck creation. But in that case, Minuet was specifically designed to reign in Riker, and then had things added to keep Picard interested as well. But that was the intentional handiwork of the Binars. Here, the computer has created a simulation based on Starfleet records. Then, at the behest of the chief engineer, a personality was divined from other records. But unless Leah Brahms' records indicate that she's a big-time flirt, or into engineers, or looking for hook-ups with guys she just met, then none of that adds up. So it wasn't so much her personality. But if it's the computer, then how deep does this technology go? It seems to read body language, speech patterns, facial recognition, ect in order to properly determine how to have simulated people react to live ones. That's... more advanced than Data, who often gets social clues wrong. And how complicit is the computer when a simulation makes a move that the live person doesn't like? That's all computer making those decisions, but here, part of Dr Brahms' personality comes into play. If it's really 90% or so her personality, and 10% fudged, is there 5% of her that nudges that other 10% that's computer into making out with the chief engineer? Kind of an unknowable there.
And then we have a topic that isn't explored here, but comes up in "Galaxy's Child" (and other episodes): this simulation is based on an actual human. Is it a violation of privacy to create a Leah Brahms on the holodeck, then make out with her? We know from what Minuet says that one can "go all the way" with a holodeck simulation, but how ethical is it to get it on with a simulation of someone living? As technology progresses, we are being faced with these questions. We have, each of us, most likely all been an entry in someone else's spank bank at one time or another, and while that's weird or creepy to think about, does it cross a line that someone might make a physical (but unreal) copy of you, in order to do unspeakable things?
It did not appear to be Geordi's goal to get a snog from this holodeck program, nor did he appear interested in continuing any kind of relationship with someone who could not leave the holodeck. But it did happen, and in some ways, it brings up that question of The Other: if a double exists of you (not  twin, an actual double), and it does things without your consent, are you responsible for taking the punishment if the things it did were not right? Is it responsible for the things it did in your name of which you do not approve?
It is not a simple thing. The ideas and complications behind this episode might have been simpler had Geordi just been glad to have found a new friend and possible person to bounce ideas off of when he is having trouble with the engines. The idea to create a designing engineer to help him was a great one. But the romance was there from the start - Michael Piller said that the whole idea behind this episode was about a guy who got along better with his car than with girls, and here was an instance where the car was the girl. (Please also see Idris, the human form of the TARDIS, on the Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Wife.") But it confuses things when you've made the human form of a guy's car the woman who designed the engine. Or rather, a facsimile of the woman who designed the engine.
Bottom line: I like this episode. But it has some issues that could stand to be unraveled.



Fun Facts:
- This episode features all three of the major TNG uniforms thus far: extras playing crew members are wearing the season one and two spandex onesie uniforms with the piping at the shoulders. Most everyone else is wearing the season three uniforms with the Nehru collar. Picard is clad in the newest version, which features no seaming down the front, and an elastic-bottomed jacket.



- Originally, Leah Brahms was supposed to be a descendent of Dr Daystrom ("The Ultimate Computer"). But they realized after they hired a white woman to play her that they would have had to hire a black woman for the role, so the script was changed to make Dr Brahms a graduate of the Daystrom Institute. (Okay, I don't know anything about genetics, but would there not be enough generations between Brahms and Daystrom (three or four, in this case) that it would be possible to hire a white actor to play the grand- or great-granddaughter of a black man? Also, attempting to ask this question in a way that makes me sound genuinely curious about genetics - I am - and not like some racist asshole.)
- The original script called for the holodeck sets to be an actual mock-up of the engine, but time won out, so they went with "drafting room."
- There's a blooper for this episode where Picard asks the away team if any of them playing with ships in bottles as boys, and Worf (Michael Dorn) flubs his line as "I never played with boys."
- This is the first episode of Star Trek directed by a woman (Gabrielle Beaumont).
- In the series finale episode, Picard references O'Brien having played with ships in bottles, so I guess that part was canon, and not O'Brien brown-nosing.
- Guinan's remark about bald men comes into play in a later episode.
- Some of the graphics used in the Utopia Planitia drafting room were a topographical map of Mintaka III, and a graphic from Dr Manheim's lab in "We'll Always Have Paris."
- This is the second of three episodes that feature Picard at the helm.
- Susan Gibney, who played Sim-Leah, will also appear in two DS9 episodes as a Starfleet officer. Interestingly, she was almost chosen to play Janeway, but producers felt she was too young. She also auditioned for Seven of Nine and the Borg Queen.





Red deaths: 0
To date: 0
Gold deaths: 0
Blue deaths: 0
To date: 1
Unnamed color crew deaths: 0
Obnoxious Wes moments: 0
Legitimate Wes moments when he should have told someone to go fuck themselves: 0
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Sassy Geordi moments: 2
To date: 3
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 1
To date: 2
Sassy Riker Moments: 1
To date: 2
Sassy Picard Moments: 0
To date: 3
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Data Moments: 1
To date: 1
Sassy O'Brien Moments: 0
To date: 0
Sassy Crusher Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Troi Moments: 0
To date: 1
Sassy Guinan Moments: 2
To date: 2
Sassy Guest Star Moments: 0
To date: 2
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 0
To date: 7
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 0
To date: 9
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 0
To date: 0
Number of times when Data gives too much info and has to be told to shut up: 1
To date: 1
Picard Maneuvers: 1
To date: 12

Luciano (front) and Jose (back)