Revisiting Star Trek TNG: Galaxy’s Child

Who doesn't like a Star Trek: TNG episode about Geordi LaForge's love life? Er... James' weekly season four look-backs continue...

This review contains spoilers.

4.16 Galaxy’s Child

The Enterprise welcomes aboard Dr. Leah Brahms, an engine specialist who helped design the Enterprise’s engines. Geordi is looking forward to meeting her, mainly because in the previous season he fell in love with a hologram version of her. Clearly, none of this can go wrong.

But somehow, it goes wrong. Brahms is uninterested in Geordi’s personal interest in her and cares more about negging his engineering modifications. How can this be?

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Meanwhile, the Enterprise has found a weird space-fish in orbit around a nearby planet. Since they’re ahead of schedule, they decide to check it out (would they have ignored it if they weren’t? “Captain, there’s some new life over there, should we seek it out?” “No Data, this utterly generic science hardware comes first.”). Unfortunately, when they check it out the space-fish attacks them. They are forced to retaliate, and upsettingly this species is one shot, one kill. It dies.

Picard gets very emotional about this and is about to go and sulk when they realise there are still energy readings inside the creature. It seems that it might be pregnant.

Elsewhere, Geordi is hoping that the space-fish won’t be the only thing pregnant by the end of this episode, but Brahms is having none of it. She rejects his advances despite him breaking out his finest casual sweater, and eventually informs him that she’s married. Geordi realises what a fool he’s been and apologises.

Back on the bridge, Picard & co. give the space-fish a backstreet caesarean, phasering a hole through which the baby space-fish can be born. It all goes well and they’re about to leave it to fend for itself, but it chases the Enterprise and clamps its space-fish jaws onto the Enterprise’s fusion-reactor teat and starts draining the power. Oh great, this again.

Picard asks Geordi upstairs to help solve the space-fish thing, so he leaves Brahms to check out his engine modifications herself. In the process, she loads his old holodeck program (from the episode Booby Trap) where a hologrammatic version of her is breathily inviting Geordi to lay his hands on her nacelles. She is understandably not pleased. Geordi is massively defensive and keen to inform her that nothing sexual happened, but she’s not exactly convinced. He goes on a nice-guy rant about how he’s been nothing but friendly to her and that means he at least deserves to get to third shap with her, but she tells him to move along home.

As Geordi tries to fix the power situation, Brahms comes back and admits that she hasn’t been very fair to him (what?!) and then comes up with an idea for detaching the space-fish by “souring its milk”. Which is good, because the Enterprise has no power, no defences, a radiation problem and a bunch of angry space fish about to turn up. Luckily modulating the frequencies (or possibly inverting the polarities) fixes the problem and everyone’s happy. The space-fish flies off to join its pod of adult space-fish and the Enterprise is free to leave. Geordi and Leah strike up a genuine friendship and have a good laugh about how angry she got when she found out he’d been romancing a fantasy-driven avatar that wore her face. Ha ha ha. Sounds hilarious.

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TNG WTF: There are plenty of moments in this that made me go “what”, but I’ll talk more generally about those later. For now, let’s just settle on the idea that Geordi was genuinely considering trying to woo Brahms by playing her some Brahms. Is that really his technique? Good job he never tried to date Doctor Crusher, really, otherwise he might’ve tried to start the evening off by pushing a book case on top of her. In fact it’s a really good job he wasn’t trying to romance Worf, because he’d have to play some Thomas Dolby and be like “Moog was the only thing that sounded like Mogh.”

TNG LOL: “Hey Guinan, remember about a year ago, when we were caught in that booby trap? It was in the episode ‘booby trap’.” (Who doesn’t love an awkward title drop?)

I also laughed at Worf’s grim delivery of the line “They are changing colour!” I guess that’s bad, right? Although it does make it seem like the colour change is the problem, rather than what they do AFTER they change colour.

To Boldly Go: The Enterprise is picking up a shipment of scientific equipment for transport to the Guernica system. Because being a glorified Yodel driver is the best use of your fleet’s flagship. (Also, who names their new star system after a town that was famously bombed flat? That’s like naming your new ship after the Titanic, or your new movie after Josh Trank’s Fantastic Four.)

Time Until Meeting: 21:06. Halfway through the episode. The Enterprise senior staff try to figure out if they should deliver the space-fish’s baby.

Captain’s Log: Who doesn’t like an episode about Geordi’s love life? Oh, everyone? Well, yeah, fair point. It’s a real shame that Geordi is a whiny, unpleasant, unreasonable dickhead because LeVar Burton is really acting the hell out of his scenes. He’s good enough to make you think that being a whiny, unpleasant, unreasonable dickhead is actually some kind of positive trait. Which is kind of a problem, because this episode’s subplot largely revolves around making a fairly good point: that women won’t necessarily like you because you like them, and that’s your problem not theirs.

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The problem is that the episode has to be on Geordi’s side because he’s the regular character. So we get a very weird scene where Brahms apologises to Geordi for jumping to conclusions and tries to absolve him of his weirdness. Except that he DID kiss the hologrammatic Leah, which isn’t what she thought was happening, but in creepiness terms that’s on a similar level to stealing a woman’s jumper so that you can smell it in secret. Certainly, you wouldn’t want to share a turbolift with someone who had done that to you.

But on the plus side, Brahms is well-realised (although it’s hard to buy her insistence that she’s cold, awkward and socially inept when she seems to be reacting completely reasonably) and the twist that she’s actually married is beautifully done. It’s set up in advance, but you don’t see it coming purely because Geordi never considers it for a second.

The other plot strand (wait, maybe THAT’S the subplot?) dealing the weird space-fish is considerably more interesting, if only for the genuine emotion Patrick Stewart manages to imbue into such an abstract concept as accidentally killing a pregnant space-fish. We’ve all been there, Jean-Luc. By which I mean, no-one has remotely been there. It’s a good story which involves most of the crew in an interesting way (although Worf’s suggestion that they basically pre-emptively kill the baby space-fish is pretty funny, in context. Is there any problem he wouldn’t solve with pre-emptive killing?) And it sort of has a happy ending, if you forget that the space-fish’s mother is dead.

If nothing else, you can safely say that this episode is well-structured and has some interesting ideas, and that the chemistry between Brahms and LaForge is pretty good in its own right, even though it’s working from an untenable premise that nothing he did was wrong or particularly weird. And hey, it’s nice to spend time with a cast member who rarely gets much time in the spotlight.

Read James’ look-back at the previous episode, First Contact, here.

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