Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Booby Trap

Review James Hunt 4 Apr 2014 - 07:22

Geordi has women trouble and the Enterprise is in danger in the latest of James' Star Trek: TNG look-backs...

This review contains spoilers.

3.6 Booby Trap

The episode opens with Geordi on a Holo-date with Christy (You remember Christy! Enterprise crew member, didn't exist before this episode.) but it's cut short when she spurns his advances, explaining that she doesn't feel "that way" towards him. Which kind of begs the question of why she agreed to go on a romantic holodeck walk at all, really, but maybe she really wanted to see his pain in person.

Meanwhile, the Enterprise has encountered an old debris field from a centuries old-war, and discovered a distress signal coming from a derelict ship. Picard can barely contain his excitement and goes full Comic Book Guy over his love of historical starships until the rest of the crew vote to beam him over there until he shuts up about it. Finding the ship littered with corpses, Worf, Data and Picard watch the captain's final log entry in which he regrets leading his crew to their deaths, then all three beam back to the Enterprise.

However, as the ship tries to leave the area, their energy reserves begin to drain and their engines suddenly prove ineffective. Deadly radiation then begins to bombard the ship. After a series of panicked exchanges, Picard realises they're caught in the same trap that ensnared the derelict ship. Uh-oh!

As the crew investigate ways to get moving again, Geordi tries to figure out the ship's propulsion problems. Reading through some old notes to help with modifications, he discovers the existence of an engine designer called "L. Brahms." Oh right, it's THIS episode. Through a series of not at all contrived and prevantable instructions, he accidentally starts re-enact the plot of Her using a holographic version of Leah Brahms. It's massively creepy.

Having failed to shoot their way out of the trap, the Enterprise crew decide the best course of action is to sit around in the dark (literally. They switch off the lights.) waiting for La Forge and HoloBrahms to come up with a suggestion. Instead they're talking about Italian food and trying to massage one another. It's still massively creepy.

Eventually they figure out a way that Brahms (actually the computer) could fly the ship out of the asteroid belt through a series of rapid micro-calculations, but the simulation is unreliable and everyone dies half the time. Geordi comes up with an alternate solution: fire the engines, switch off everything and coast out of the belt using only thrusters. Picard decides to operate the thrusters himself, and after a sequence so long and tense it'd be worthy of appearing in an original series episode, the plan succeeds! The ship is now free to leave.

Rather than allow the trap to capture anyone else, Riker blows up the derelict ship and all of the historical artifacts on board. Back on the Holodeck, Geordi thanks Leah for her help and they kiss just before he ends her programme for good. He's happy that he scored, no-one else realises that it happened, and Brahms hasn't got a clue that a space-perv was taking advantage of her image. Apparently the moral lesson here is "if it feels good, do it."

TNG WTF: I feel like I may have mentioned this before, but I still find it hilarious that there's an arbitrary cut-off point for radiation sickness. 30 minutes, in this case. Because that's how radiation works. 29 minutes is fine. But one minute over and your body suddenly can't take it!

Also, the final scene. Picard orders Riker to make sure that the trap doesn't bother anyone again. To that end, he orders a spread of photo torpedoes and blows up the important historical relic, as well as the trap components. The episode is kind of missing a line where Picard turns to Riker and says "Number One, I meant neutralise the trap, not blow everything up!"

TNG LOL: Chief O'Brien at work fans will naturally enjoy his scene in this episode, sucking up to Captain Picard by claiming to have played with ships in bottles, much to Riker's scepticism. ("I did! I really did!")

Also, Geordi's remark after he's denied access to Brahms' personal logs: "Great, another woman who won't get personal with me on the Holodeck." AM I RIGHT GUYS? ANYONE ELSE EVER HAD A CREWMAN ASCEND TO ANOTHER PLANE OF EXISTENCE JUST TO GET AWAY FROM YOU? IS THIS THING ON?

Who's That Face: Susan Gibney is a Trek semi-regular: as well as playing Brahms again, she also appears as Commander Erika Benteen in two episodes of DS9.

Time Until Meeting: 15:52. With the ship's energy reserves rapidly depleting, the senior staff break off for an extended chat about how much trouble they're in.

Captain's Log: An episode of two halves. Picard's nerdy enthusiasm for an old wrecked starship is a great character touch, as is his ranting about ships in bottles. It adds a new aspect to his character that's really enjoyable. Slightly less believable is Picard's astonishment that this ship was active a thousand years ago, while humans were "perfecting the mechanical clock". Because, let's face it, a thousand years barely registers as a blip on a timescale as long as the universe's. Shouldn't the galaxy be littered with this sort of thing?

But welded onto this story is a "Geordi's women trouble" subplot, which utterly fails to make a sympathetic point. Any serious treatment of this material would make it a about a pathological relationship with fantasy, or how damaging one-sided relationships can be, or even some kind of look at how expectation differs from reality. As it is, it essentially goes "And everything worked out brilliantly!" having failed to acknowledge how massively weird Geordi's behaviour is. And we have to wait for Brahms to arrive in person next season for the second half of this story.

So all in all, not a great instalment. The mystery of the trap and its solution are good fun, but the Geordi plot doesn't even manage to land its own resolution. He just solves the problem and she disappears.

Watch or Skip? Watch. Brahms comes back, so you've got no choice really!

Read James' look-back at the previous episode, The Bonding, here.

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