Warp Speed to Nonsense

Warp Speed to Nonsense

Monday, July 25, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Seventeen "Home Soil"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Seventeen "Home Soil"
Production Order: 17
Air Order: 18
Stardate: 41463.9
Original Air Date: February 22, 1988

So my friend DM and I went to see Beyond this weekend.
"There are a lot of nerds in this theater," DM remarked.
"Said the Dungeon Master to the chick in the ta'al t-shirt?" I pointed out.
Seriously, though, go see Beyond. They probably call it that because it's light-years beyond better than the first two. Why? Because they finally got the Spones right. If your Spones isn't right, then your McSpirk won't be right, and without the interpersonal relationships, these films might as well be called "Something Kind of Close to Star Trek, But Really Isn't."
Also, if you're paying close attention, you may catch the TAS reference in Beyond. I feel like DM and I were the only ones who caught it, because TAS is still considered to be the redheaded stepchild of Star Trek, but I felt like it was a smart move to include that, because it added to a character's backstory and development.


Picard's Log 41463.9: "We were checking out something else, but then the Federation called us to invoke Toddler Law. That is to say, someone is being too quiet nearby, and need to be checked up on, or else we're gonna beam down to some planet and find the place covered in flour and permanent marker."

So the E drops what they're doing to go to Velara III to talk to some terraformers. They enter orbit and begin waxing poetic about terraforming and the people who do it. the way they talk about it, you'd think they would be on the verge of dumping Starfleet and running off to terraform instead.
Picard calls Velara III, nobody answers back. Yar says there's nothing wrong with any of the equipment, it's just that nobody's picking up the phone.
"Maybe no one's home," says Geordi lightly. I guess that counts as a Sassy Moment.
They try two more times, and on the third try, and older dude named Director Mandl hops on.
"Oh hey, Enterprise. Sorry for not answering right away. We're good, no need for visitors or anything."
"The Federation wants us to check in with you," says Picard.
"Naw, we're good," repeats Mandl.
Troi mutes the call. "That guy is hella nervous," she tells Picard. "We should go down there."
Picard agrees.
I just occurred to me what kind of power Troi has. She could tell Picard pretty much anything, and he'd consider it. It's fortunate that she's trustworthy.

"Yeah, we're coming down," Picard tells Mandl.
"That's inconvenient," Mandl replies. "We're busy."
Troi has Picard mute the call again. "He's full of shit. He's panicking because we want a visit."
Picard unmutes the call again and tells Mandl to set out the hors' d oeuvres. Mandl seems irritated, but agrees.
Picard announces the away mission, but doesn't assign anybody to it but Troi. Certain bridge officers just get up and move to the lifts. Did they pre-assign away missions? That seems weird. Better to assess the situation and see who is needed each time. But I guess it's still a step up from the captain just taking his BFFs each time.

So here's our away team: the first officer, the second officer, the pilot (why?), the security chief (okay), the ship's counselor (reasons were discussed).
This pic also reminds me that I still hate the first season uniforms. Blech.

They're greeted by Luisa Kim, the Valara III gardener. She couldn't be more different from Mandl. Mandl is like a hermit monk, slaving alone over an illuminated manuscript all day every day, and he doesn't need you reading over his shoulder, thankyouverymuch. Luisa is like a chipper museum docent - she thinks her job is the best in the world, and she wants to teach you stuff, so you'll also fangirl over these things as well.
She gives them a tour and tells them how terraforming works, and after the presentation, now I want to be a terraformer too.
Luisa introduces them to Benson and Malencon, two other dudes that work there. Benson realizes right away that Data is an android and begins peppering him with questions.
"Both matters are subjects of protracted discussion," Data replies.
Translation: "Dat's rude, yo."

Luisa apologies for Mandl's attitude on the phone, saying he's just stressed because they're at a touchy stage in the terraforming process. When she walks away to describe more stuff, Troi tells Riker that Luisa is open and friendly, and not hiding anything, but that Benson and Malencon are suspicious. This seems to please Riker, who is smiling at Luisa like he intends to bang her later.
Data and Geordi duck over to Malencon's station to check out his equipment. He admits that he's struggling with a water issue, and they suggest that it might be from the high salt content of the water on this planet. He says he thought so as well, but then Benson cuts him off to say that they had thought of that solution, but that the facts didn't support it. Benson is hella rude.
Mandl comes in, apologizing for being rude, and blaming his previous attitude on being isolated and "forgetting social graces."
Suuuure, let's go with that.
Mandl sends Malencon into the hydraulic pump room, and Malencon's confusion at the request makes Troi and Riker exchange glances.

Mandl then directs everyone's attention to another station, where he starts to talk about terraforming schedules, and how everything has to fall into place at just the right time.
Troi suddenly yells, "Malencon is in trouble!"
Then Malencon screams.
They all go running to the hydraulic pump room, where they can hear the terraformer screaming amidst noises of pounding and zapping. The door is jammed. Malencon is quiet. The pounding and zapping noises stop. The door opens, and Malencon's smoking body is lying on the floor.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Riker's Log 41464.3: "Recap."

Benson and Geordi shut down power to the hydraulic room, then Yar rushes in and has herself and Malencon beamed to sick bay. Riker is fairly certain that the engineer is too injured to survive. Luisa begs to go with them so she can be with Malencon. She begs Mandl to go too, and they beam up with Troi and Riker.
A little later, Data is examining the laser drill in the hydraulics room while Benson and Geordi check out the computer in the main part of the lab. Data calls Geordi to suggest that the laser drill acted of its own accord, only shutting off when Malencon stopped screaming. He asks that they restore power so he can check it out. Geordi turns on the program, and Data watches it do its thing: it shoots a laser into one hole, then swings around shoots a laser into the second hole.

Oh, nos! The drill thinks Data is Sarah Connor!

The door closes and locks itself. Data spins around in time to duck from the laser, which is now destroying the controls behind him. Data calls Geordi and tells him to turn the equipment off.
"It is off!" yells Benson.
More zapping-pounding noises, and once again, the door is jammed. Geordi calls for a beam-out for Data, who is in trouble.
Then Data strolls out of the open door, from the smoke-filled room, like some kind avenging android of death.

He hits his badge. "Whut up, Enterprise. All good here. No need for beam-out."
"Data, WTF?" demands Geordi.
"The laser drill tracked me," says Data. "It anticipated my moves. Someone or something is controlling the drill."
"Dude!" says Benson, who is standing in the room. "You destroyed the drill! It took a year to build!"
"Sorry, bro," shrugs Data. "Had to be done."
Somehow, Benson is not disturbed that Malencon was pretty much murdered.

Upstairs, Data reports in to Picard. Mandl is there, and thinks Data is making it up.
"Then go the hell away," says Picard. "We gave you quarters. Go there and bitch to the walls or something."
He has Yar escort Mandl back to his rooms.
"So yeah," says Data, once Mandl has left. "The drill is haunted or some shit."
"Okay," says Picard. "So we have someone who has reprogrammed the drill to go after whatever person is in that room. There were only a few terraformers on the planet. The question is, who has something to hide that's worth killing for?"
They leave the ready room and go onto the bridge. Crusher is there, and says that she couldn't save Malencon.
Picard hands out assignments: Geordi and Data need to go back to the station to check for weirdness like sabotage or reprogramming. Yar is supposed to look into the backgrounds of the terraformers. Picard seems not-quite-excited. Like, almost excited, but keeping his professional cool. He's two steps away from putting on his Dixon Hill cosplay.

Geordi and Data go back to the lab.
This matte painting is awesome. Or maybe it's a model. I dunno. Whatever it is, it's freaking sweet.

They check out the busted drilled again, and Data looks down one of the tunnels, where the laser drill was firing. He calls Geordi over to look at something with his vampire eyes. I never noticed how often Geordi gets asked to do stuff like this, until I started combing through every inch of this show. Anyway, Data sees some tiny speck of glowing light way down in the tunnel, and Geordi seems impressed.
He says it is inorganic, but the flashing of light has a musical pattern.
Data suggests that this is what the terraformers are covering up, and why someone murdered Malencon.
Dramatic Music! Commercial break!

They beam it into sick bay, and ask the computer a bunch of questions about it. The computer answers with a bunch of "I dunno"s and reaffirms that the matter is inorganic. Crusher has it magnified on a viewscreen, and Wes calls the crystalline structure "beautiful." Crusher asks the computer to analyze the flashing.
"It shouldn't be flashing at all," the computer returns. "It's not possible."
"Ignore that part," insists Crusher. "Tell us about the pattern."
"There isn't one," replies the computer.
"Speculate what this is, then."

They talk a bit about how there are ways to figure out if something is alive, but those rules all apply to organic material. They've never had inorganic life before.
Then they notice that the thing is humming. The closer they get to it, the louder it hums. It is reacting to them being there.

The crew invites Mandl to the ready room to tell him that there's a life form on a planet that the Federation assured them was lifeless. This fucks up all the shit because the planet must be lifeless in order to terraform it. It can't even have the potential to form life spontaneously.
Mandl is hella pissed off.
Picard asks if he knew about the life-thingy, and suggests that Mandl was hiding this secret in order to complete his project, against the Prime Directive. Which means that he is indirectly asking Mandl if he killed Malencon. Mandl storms out. Turns out, it was kind of a ruse.
Troi reports that Mandl totes knew about the life-form, but was absolutely horrified at the suggestion that he might kill someone. Yar says that her research turned up that Mandl had the knowledge to reprogram the laser drill to kill Malencon, but Malencon himself would have been the guy with the most experience to have done it, and that isn't very likely.
Riker asks what she thinks of Luisa, and Troi replies, "You should go question her."
*winky face emoticon*

Luisa is crying in her quarters when Riker asks to talk to her. I get why - girlfriend has had a crappy day that has consisted of her co-workers being murdered, then finding out that some undetected life-form has just ruined years of her work. He tells her that the terraformers didn't do anything wrong, that the initial investigation missed the life-form because it's inorganic, and it didn't register as life. She asks what the life-form is like, and he offers to show it to her.
"Maybe later," she replies sadly.

Picard gets paged to sick bay. The crew has observed that the life-form is moving or changing, and that it's no longer humming. Geordi says he can see some infrared stuff with his VISOR that no one else can see.
The humming and flashing returns, then the light goes bright and they all turns their backs to it. When they turn back around, there are now two life-forms.
Data points out that it's most def a life-form, because only life can reproduce. 
Crusher tries to put a forcefield around the bell jar. The life-form is having it. She tries a stronger force-field, then a shield. Nope and nope. 
"Evacuate," she instructs the others.
They head for the door just as the computer tells them that the universal translator is switching on, and gibberish issues from the speakers.
Out in the corridor, Picard calls Riker to request a quarantine on that lab.
"What's up?" asks Riker.
"Yeah, um, that's a life-form. And it's trying to communicate with us."
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "That thing took over the med lab!"

And it apparently controls the power of the areas surrounding the med lab. Those areas have been evacuated.
Picard asks the terraformers to join him in the observation lounge.
Luisa is shocked to learn that Mandl knew about the life-form. But he insists that they were just meaningless silicon crystals that "rebroadcast sunlight."
"Yeah, no," replies Picard. "It's trying to communicate with us." A pause. "When did you first notice them?"
A pause by Mandl.
"Tell them about the pattern in the sand," says Benson.
Then - a Sassy Moment from Picard!
"Oh yes, do tell us," he says in cheerful sarcastically.
Mandl keeps his secrets, so Benson continues, "We noticed that the sand sparkled, like when sunlight runs over new-fallen snow."
"We didn't know it was life!" objects Mandl. "The Federation said there wasn't any here, and we didn't go looking for it, because we didn't think it existed."
Luisa is pissed off that none of this was discussed with her before now. 
Benson says that the patterns in the sand started changing, and would form geometric shapes. He didn't think anything of it then, but now it could be communication. His jury is out.

Benson is uncertain about these so-called life-forms. Meanwhile, Yar looks like
 she's planning to cut a bitch named Mandl.

Riker patches through magnification images of the thing to a screen in the observation lounge, and the terraformers confirm that they had no idea that there was anything like that on Velara III.

On the bridge, Geordi, Data and Worf sit at science workstations, talking about the thing they found on Velara III.
"But is it alive?" Worf asks his coworkers.
"Probability positive," replies the computer.
Worf Sassy Moment: "I wasn't asking you."
An engineering ensign calls Riker to report that the power running the quarantine around the life-form in the med lab keeps getting re-directed to other parts of the ship.
"It's locked three people in a turbolift and two more in the programmer's restroom," she tells Riker when he reaches her workstation.
This answers the all-important question of, "There are bathrooms on the Enterprise, right?"
They pull up CCTV footage of the med lab and watch as the life-form thing reproduces again. Picard and the others see the same thing happening on-screen in the observation lounge.

Picards Log, supplemental: "Okay, so the thing is bigger now, and this time, instead of running away and building a little invisible wall around it, we're going to talk to it, which is what it wanted to do in the first place. Why we ran away like little bitches in the first place is beyond me."

Everybody rushes back to the bridge and they put up the universal translator.
The thing addresses the human crew as "Ugly... giant bags... of mostly... water."
Picard doesn't care for this new nickname, but Data points out that that description is pretty accurate.
The thing in the bell jar explains in simplified language that it tried to tell the other ugly bags of mostly water that they were killing it, but the bags did not listen.
"We didn't understand you then," explains Picard.
"Yeah, well, we killed Malencon," replies the little flashing things. "He was drilling into the sand where we live and totally committing genocide."
"We didn't know you were there," protests Troi. "We're sorry."
"Don't give us that crap," the things answer. "The bags of water in the dome totally knew we were there and killed us anyway."
The terraformers look kind of disturbed at this point.
"Anyway, we're declaring war on you."
Then they sign off.

Several jerky movements rock the ship. Data hypothesizes that the reproducing life-form functions as a computer, and that it has now made enough of itself to interface with things and wreck havok on the E.
Dramatic music! Commercial break!

Picard's Log, supplemental: "Mostly recap, but now we are officially calling this new thing a microbrain."

Ugh, that's terrible. Find out what it calls itself so I don't have to keep typing microbrain, okay?
Everyone on the bridge is in a tizzy, trying to figure out what to do. Data says it seems to be resting now, and Crusher says that with single-celled organic life-forms, reproduction is usually preceded by a resting period. Translation: the computer is taking a pre-screw nap.
"Awesome!" says Picard. "Let's beam it back to the surface before it can do more harm to the ship."
Yar tries to do so, but the transporter beam energy is redirected. The microbrain remains onboard. Next, Picard tries to suck all the air from the room.
"No go," replies Data. "They have the enviro controls in the med bay on lock-down."
A meeting is called in the observation lounge so Picard can yell at Mandl some more.
"You asshole! You knew that was a life-form!"
"I didn't know it was trying to communicate!" protests Mandl.
"You're full of shit," says Picard. "What was Malencon doing with the drill when they killed him?"
"There's a hella thin layer of saline water under the topsoil," explains Luisa. "That would fuck up all of the shit, so he was using the drill to siphon it off."

"What if they use the saline water as a conductor?" asks Data. "They use it to pass information to one another."
"Oh, shit," says Luisa. "If we had succeeded in getting rid of that water, we would have killed all of them." She's about to cry. Out of all three of the terraformers, only Luisa gives a shit about the microbrains.
Riker calls the back to the bridge, as the microbrains have finished their nap and are now looking to get down again.
This time, the microbrains have reproduced to the point that they form a large crystal that breaks free of the bell jar.

Geordi and Data think that the microbrains are photovoltaic, meaning they need to feed off of. Luisa remarks that they live at just the right depth for light to penetrate the sand, and that if they lived just a tiny bit lower, they wouldn't survive. 
They can't shut the lights off in the med lab by remote, so Riker goes down to do it manually. The crystal dims and asks for more light.
"We'll turn 'em back on if you talk to us about this war thing," Picard answers.
"You're killing us, like the others. You're all a bunch of damn liars."
"End the war," urges Picard.
"Yeah, okay," says the microbrain. "Beam us back to the wet sand, where there's light, and we can survive."
Damn, that was it? All they had to do was turn off the lights to end a war that was declared like, ten minutes ago? 
Webster's Dictionary defines "anti-climatic" as "Home Soil" by Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Picard instructs Riker to turn the lights up a little, and Picard tells the microbrains that it's important that the microbrains trust them.
And TNG trots out an old TOS trope: the microbrains say that the humans are "too arrogant and primitive" to be trusted yet, and recommend that they come back for a re-introduction in about 300 years. This is... getting kind of old, Star Trek.

They set the coordinates and apologize to the microbrain-crystal thingy, then beam it back to the surface.
Data expresses the wish that they could have learned more about the life-forms, but Picard says they will just have to be patient. Which is kind of hilarious, because not only does Data lack the capacity for impatience, but he's probably the only one of the crew who will live long enough to see the Federation return to Velara III in three hundred years.

Picard's Log 41464.8: "Set a quarantine on Velara III and taking the remaining terraformers to the nearest starbase. Maybe we can prevent this shit from happening in the future."

The end.

While this episode isn't terrible, it's also wholly forgettable. Friends of mine will sometimes ask what episode I'm reviewing next, and each time I was asked this, I would come up blank. Attaching the name of the episode did nothing to help me remember, either: "home soil" could mean anything.
So what's the deal? Why is this episode not one for the ages? I'm not 100% certain, to be honest. The sci-fi was good - an inorganic life-form is found on a planet previously thought devoid of life, and it halts the terraforming process when said life-forms murder a worker to keep them from committing genocide. The terraforming itself was actually really fascinating, and the part that I liked the most. They did a great job casting Luisa Kim and giving her something interesting to latch onto here. I bought that she was into the process, and then found it to be pretty awesome myself.
It's possible that the fault lies in the fact that there was too much talk and not enough action, but some really fabulous episodes of Star Trek have followed the same talk-to-action ratios and not come out under the heading of, "What was this episode about again?"
In the end, I'm stumped. But I had forgotten about this episode in the first place, kept forgetting about it while working on it, and will probably do so again as soon as I post it.

Red deaths: 0
Gold 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: 1
Sassy Wes Moments: 0
Sassy Worf Moment: 1
Sassy Riker Moments: 0
Sassy Yar Moments: 0
Sassy Picard Moments: 1
Sassy NPC Moments: 0
Number of times that it is mentioned that Data is an android: 1
Number of times that Troi reacts to someone else's feelings: 2
Number of times that Geordi "looks at something" with his VISOR: 3

Fun Facts:

- Carolyne Barry, who played an engineer with a few lines, also played the Metron in TOS' "Arena."

- Everybody seems all excited at the idea that this is the first inorganic life they've ever encountered in the Federation, but hello? Horta? From TOS' "The Devil in the Dark"? Looks like a cross between an area rug and a giant pizza? Also an inorganic life-form?
- Data states that humans are 90% water, but the actual percentage is 50-65%.
- Plot hole: they figure out that the microbrains require saline water to survive and communicate with one another, but there isn't any saline water in that bell jar in the med lab.
- If the microbrains really needed light to survive, wouldn't they have gone into some kind of hibernation at night on their own planet? And also in the lab when Riker turns the lights down? Instead, they claim the E crew is killing them. How do they not die at night? Is that saline solution keeping them alive when there is no light?

Morgan and Cooper

Monday, July 11, 2016

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Sixteen "11001001"

ST:TNG Season One, Episode Sixteen "11001001"
Production Order: 16
Air Order: 15
Stardate: 41365.9
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?"
Point: Worf.
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.

He's impressed, and asks for a very tiny audience. This chick appears:

"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.

The holodeck does not fuck around, y'all.
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.
Anyway -
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.

Skant sighting!

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?
Lucky guess!

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.

We switch back to the starbase, where the E crew is still trying to figure out if they can get a ship out to the the E. Worf gets a few more lines, which is fortunate, because sometimes he gets relegated to Set Dressing status, and what's the point in even having Michael Dorn there, in make-up and costume, if you aren't going to use him? He doesn't get to say anything of consequence, which is lousy, but at least he's participating, so that's something. Anyway, Data has a panic moment when he asks if this is his fault, because he might have been able to stop this if he had been at his post instead of painting.
"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.

And you know what? I really love that answer. Their planet is in danger, so they have to choose: ask permission or beg forgiveness? If they ask permission and the answer is no, then they're screwed. If they steal the E, save the world, then beg forgiveness, they will still have saved the world. And there isn't anything complicated about that. As advanced as the Bynar are, their choices were almost child-like in their simplicity. The plight of the Bynars was easily fixed, but they required a large computer to fix it. And the Federation "might have said no."
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.

Fun Facts:

- 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: 0
Gold 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.