4/16/13

Star Trek: Asterisk "Booby Trap"

Vital Information
Series: The Next Generation
Episode: S03E06
Air Date: October 30, 1989
Written by: Ron Roman and Michael Piller & Richard Danus
Directed by: Gabrielle Beaumont

Premise
The Enterprise gets stuck in a situation that only Geordi La Forge's skills as a lady charmer can get it out of. Good luck with that.

Review
This episode opens with Geordi taking a woman on a date in the holodeck, but my suspicion is that she didn't know it was a date. Because as soon as things start to get the slightest bit intimate, she squirrels away and says Geordi just isn't her type. It's sad, yes, but then Wesley spots him strolling into 10-Forward alone and then it really tugs on your heartstrings because if Wesley thinks your date has gone wrong, then it must really have gone wrong. He asks Guinan's advice about women look for in a man and she says she looks at the man's head. Not because of his mind, but because she's attracted to baldies because a bald man took care of her once. Geordi says taking care of a woman is all he wants to do. It's probably not gonna happen on the holodeck... or is it?

Meanwhile, Picard is giddy as a schoolboy to have come across a 1,000-year-old battle cruiser in the middle of an asteroid field created by a battle that was fought just about as long ago. It's cute to see him marvel at the historical significance of it and muse about building ships in bottles as a young boy. But he's flabbergasted that no one else on the ship seemed to have had the same ship-building experience. In any case, he takes a small team over to the decrepit ship and finds a recording from the ship's captain commending his crew. When he comes back, he is satisfied and orders that a salvage team be brought to take the old ship to a museum or something. With their mission done, he orders the Enterprise to leave, but then their power starts to drain and even at high warp, they can't get out of the Menthar booby trap.
"This is worse than being stuck in the holodeck with a boring date!"
With power draining and radiation starting to inch its way into the Enterprise, Geordi has to find a way to get out of the trap, so he looks up the files of Dr. Leah Brahms, who helped create the Enterprise's engines. At first he tries talking to her voice patterns to try and figure out his problems, but then he gets the idea to create a lab in the holodeck and when he asks the voice print to show him something, the holodeck creates an image of Leah to help him out. It surprises him at first, but she's hot, so he goes with it. After working with her for a while, he finds that she's just spewing information and doesn't have any personality, so he tells the computer to give the image Dr. Brahms's personality based on the profiles on record. And now that she's "real" he starts becoming attracted to her.

Well, power starts becoming a real issue, so Picard orders that all non-essential systems be shut down. That includes the holodeck. Which means Leah disappears in the middle of Geordi's problem solving. Picard then calls a meeting of the senior officers in which Beverly says they only have about 26 minutes until the radiation becomes fatal. Geordi asks him to reinstate power to the holodeck so he can continue his "simulation program," so Picard agrees. Later, Picard visits Geordi who is cavorting with Leah in the holodeck and Geordi says "WAIT! I CAN EXPLAIN!" Well... not really. I mean, he does explain, but Picard still looks confused. Regardless, he's confident Geordi can get the job done.
"Mmm... dig those photon particles into my back. Yeah."
So Geordi comes to the conclusion, with Leah's help, that they need to give maneuvering control over to the ship's computer due to the time differential between action and reaction necessary to navigate the asteroid field. Picard and Riker are not comfortable with the suggestion, so Geordi runs a bunch of simulations of the idea. Turns out, the simulations don't like the suggestion either. It's not going to work. So two minutes before the radiation becomes fatal, Geordi says there's one last shot: shut down the entire computer and navigate manually after a short burst of impulse power.

So that's what they do. And who better to take the helm at a time like this than... Captain Jean-Luc Picard. He relieves Wesley and takes the navigation controls. He works with Data to navigate through the clusters of asteroids, but after a while they run out of enough inertia (somehow) to clear the field. To compensate, Picard invents the brilliant maneuver of driving straight into one of the bigger asteroids. Using the gravitational field of that asteroid, he slingshots around it and buys the Enterprise enough inertia to clear the whole field. And the peasants rejoiced! Once they're out, Picard orders Riker to destroy the battleship so no one else can get stuck again.
Riker is a big fan of explosions.
Back on the holodeck Geordi says one final goodbye to his lover. He says that technology can improve people's lives, but sometimes it just needs to be turned off. Which is BS, because if they turned off every bit of technology they would suffocate in space, but anyway... Leah replies that she is the ship and the ship is her. Any time he sees the Enterprise, he'll be looking at Leah. So basically, it's an Idris/TARDIS situation going on here. Geordi gives the hologram Leah a kiss and then shuts down the program. That's it. That's the only action Geordi will ever see get.

Overall Thoughts
This is a pretty heart-warming story about how you have to let go and stop trying in order to really be successful in a budding relationship. But it's also a story about how Geordi will never find a woman that compares to his Enterprise. The only thing I didn't like about this episode was that Picard took the helm at the climax when it would have been a lot more meaningful for Geordi to have taken it. Aside from that, I was quite pleased with the message of this episode.