Written by Maurice Hurley, Tom Kartozian, David Carren, J. Larry Carroll, Joe Menosky, and Ronald D. Moore
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
One thing that has been established in the three and a half seasons so far of Star Trek: The Next Generation is that Chief Engineer Geordi LaForge (LeVar Burton) has a terrible time with women. Nowhere was that more evident than in the third-season episode Booby Trap.
In that episode, during a crisis, Geordi created a holodeck recreation of the woman who was responsible for most of the engine designs on the Enterprise in an attempt to work through the problem. The holodeck is a virtual reality room with technology that makes today’s pale in comparison. At that time, it seemed as though the two of them would be perfect for each other.
In Galaxy’s Child, when Geordi is notified that Dr. Brahms (portrayed by Susan Gibney) is going to transport aboard to inspect the modifications he’s made to her engine designs, he’s initially ecstatic. However, reality comes crashing down around him when Dr. Leah Brahms in real life is somewhat different than her holo-deck personality.
While Geordi is attempting to score, Captain Picard (Patrick Stewart) discovers a creature floating in space. As he attempts to learn more about the creature, it bombards the ship with deadly radiation. Picard orders a phaser fired at the lowest setting, intending to just force the creature to back off. Unfortunately, this results in the creature’s death. The crew does manage to free a baby creature from its mother’s womb. The baby creature decides that the Enterprise must then be its mother, and begins “nursing” off of the ship’s energy supply.
If this sounds a bit like the Dr. Seuss tale Are You My Mother? that’s exactly what it felt like to me. This plot is not terrible and is carried off in a fairly good way. Patrick Stewart excellently conveys Picard’s lament at the mother’s unintentional death. However, it would seem that this type of protocol of approaching a new race with which they are unable to establish communication or understanding would have been covered, as well as what the unfortunate results could be. The depth of sadness conveyed by Picard is somewhat overdone as a reaction to the situation. I don’t expect him to be cavalier about it, but I think the writers were trying to make a point about their mission versus reality. Had the words come from someone else it might not have seemed out of place.
The effects of this creature and its baby in space are very good. It functions much the same way sea creatures do in its movement and look, something that feels different than many other life forms I’ve seen in the Star Trek universe. The movements are smooth to watch, and the energy exchanges between the creatures and the Enterprise are also well-done effects.
The main story, however, is the relationship (or lack thereof) between Geordi and Leah Brahms. In the holo-deck simulation, the computer left out the important fact that she was married. Matters are made worse when, while trying to figure out a solution to stopping the baby creature from nursing off all of the Enterprise‘s energy, Dr. Brahms finds Geordi’s program in the holo-deck.
It’s a nice story that many people can feel comfortable with. Even in our day, people are not always what they seem. Especially in this age of dating on the Internet, it’s very believable for two people to seemingly hit it off on one level, and then end up totally mismatched when they meet.
The differences in Dr. Brahms’ personality also aren’t so great that fans would say Booby Trap was inaccurate. She is here purely on a technological mission and is thrown by Geordi’s attempts to get to know her better personally. When the two are discussing Geordi’s modifications to the engines, they are fine together. It is when Geordi tries to steer Dr. Brahms to a different level that things become confusing, and rightfully so.
The two actors here are terrific. LeVar Burton has Geordi feeling confident and sure about meeting a woman for the first time in his life, only to be let down. His personality fluctuates throughout the show as the situation between them changes from potential love-interest to purely professional to one of friendship.
Susan Gibney gives Dr. Brahms a purely professional personality in the beginning. It’s not that she isn’t a nice person, but she is not aboard the ship for personal reasons. Likewise, her reaction to the discovery of the holo-deck program isn’t off-the-wall. Initially, she feels violated and her anger directed at Geordi seems justified. However, by working with Geordi on the solution to the problem, she comes to understand him better and how that holo-deck recreation helped him solve the earlier problem. Gibney’s got a terrific range of acting ability, showing the wide range of emotions for this character and making it believable.
This show is largely Burton’s and Gibney’s, but the rest of the cast does a good job dealing with the threat. It’s not an episode anyone can watch; to fully understand Geordi’s situation you will have to see Booby Trap first, as this episode is largely relationship-driven. The story of the space creature is nicely done, but not enough to keep viewers interested if they don’t know the background to the story between Geordi and Dr. Brahms.
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