12/19/12

Star Trek: Asterisk "11001001"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S01E15
Air Date: February 1, 1988
Written by: Maurice Hurley and Robert Lewin
Directed by: Paul Lynch

Premise
A couple of technologically advanced aliens come on board the Enterprise to upgrade capture it.

Review
So, the Enterprise docks at a station for some maintenance and a systems upgrade. While the upgrade is going on, the crew are encouraged to take some R&R on the station which means wearing blue bodysuits and smacking balls in a holodeck. (Ah, Parrises squares!) In the meantime, Picard goes to visit the dudes who will be performing the upgrade: One Zero and Zero One. These guys are Bynars, a race of beings that come in twos that work as a unified pair. A computer runs their world (not an unusual concept in Star Trek) and they are so technological advanced that they have fused with it and communicate in an extremely fast language of bleeps and gurgles similar to a dial-up modem.


So, everything looks good, the Bynars get to work on the computer systems and Wesley decides to hang around to see what they're up to. The first system they upgrade is the holodeck, and Riker decides to come along and test it out. He creates a New Orleans dive bar with a jazz band, but focuses his creation on a woman sitting at the bar made to his exact specifications and acting more real than any hologram ever has before. Her name is Minuet.
Also known as Captain Janeway's older sister.
Back on the bridge, Wesley is lurking around and asking questions and generally annoying the Bynars, but he finds out that they are able to process language information so quickly because they hold it in a little computer belt thinggie to let it buffer. Meanwhile, Picard walks in and asks where Riker is. Learning that he's in the holodeck, he goes to join him and meets Minuet after listening to the trombone musical stylings of William T. Riker. The three of them sit down to share some drinks together and get to know each other and Minuet surprises Picard with her knowledge of the dead French language.

Back on the bridge again, Wesley notices a fluctuation in the magnetic field that could breach the antimatter containment unit and cause the entire ship to explode, so he tells La Forge and Data initiates a red alert, calling for everyone who's still on board to evacuate. But no one can reach Picard or Riker and the computer says they're not on board, so they have to leave without knowing that the Bynars made it so they couldn't be reached. Once everyone is off the ship, they monitor it and find that everything is back to normal, except the ship is running away...
Bye, Nars!
Yes, it would seem that the Bynars have hijacked the Enterprise. Meanwhile, on the holodeck, Picard and Riker are still having a grand old time with Minuet. But then they realize it's probably time to go, but Minuet insists that they stay. That's when they realize she was just a distraction. They leave and find that everyone is gone. So they take the appropriate measures to retake the ship. First they set the self destruct just in case, then they tranport to the bridge to take the Bynars by surprise. Turns out it's Riker and Picard who are surprised, because the Bynars are laying in the corner dying. One of them says "help us" as his dying words.

With the ship stopping in front of Bynaus, Riker and Picard go back to Minuet for some answers. Minuet explains that one of the stars in the Bynaus system went supernova and the computer that runs their world that they're intrinsically connected with was going to be destroyed. The only hope was to store all their information on the nearest mobile computer that was large enough: the Enterprise. They go back to the bridge to try and restore the computer. They contact Data to help them out and he says their information should be stored in a file with a binary name. And guess what that name is...
It's the name of the episode!
Opening the file, they find a huge flow of information come from the Enterprise and back into the Bynar computer. With their information being restored, the Bynars on the ship wake back up and explain to Picard and Riker that they couldn't ask for assistance because they could have said no. It makes sense to Riker now. They think in binary. Either yes or no; there is no in-between. They understand that they will have to face a judge back on Earth. So Picard takes the conn and brings the ship back to the starbase. Meanwhile, Riker goes to the holodeck to see if Minuet is still there. She's not. She's been replaced by a mindless hologram. And then Riker died a little inside because he wasn't going to be able to make it with a hologram. THE END.

Overall Thoughts
I would kinda like to know a little more about the Bynars, how they got the way they were, what their society's like, what their computer's like, etc. The most interesting part of this episode, though, is Minuet. Here we are introduced to the idea that a hologram can be more than just a program in a computer. Minuet leads the way for The Doctor and Vic Fontane. And this episode is really just kinda fun, too. Wondering what's going on, finding it's the Bynar's fault, discovering that they actually have a good reason - it all kept me engaged in the story. Thumbs up for this one.