Monday, March 13, 2017

Star Trek: The Next Generation - Episode 54 (Booby Trap)

Note:  This review was originally posted to my Epinions account.

I was always amazed how much trouble The Enterprise got into over seven years of Star Trek:  The Next Generation.  I’m sure they had plenty of routine missions where no one got hurt or killed.  I’m sure a few even went as they were supposed to with no Ferengi trying to horn in on some deal or half the ship breaking down.  You’d think that finding a derelict Promellian ship that had been floating around for 1,000 years would be uneventful.  Captain Picard even beams over just to show how comfortable the crew is letting their commanding officer off the ship.

I suppose if it was that simple, we wouldn’t have much of an episode.  Just as the Enterprise is about to leave, these strange power drains show up.  It wouldn’t be a problem except that the ship won’t move.  Everything’s running fine, but the ship just won’t go anywhere.  Funny thing is that the same thing that trapped the Promellian ship is now acting on the Enterprise.  (Apparently, no one stopped to ask what happened to the old ship in the first place.)  The Enterprise is now stuck just as the Promellian ship is.  As if that wasn’t bad enough, the devices that are sucking energy are converting it into deadly radiation.

The away team is able to bring back some Promellian logs and find out from their captain that the crew acted bravely.  Not much help there.  Geordi La Forge, the chief engineer, gets the idea to not ask any of his engineering staff for help and, instead, waste power on the holodeck recreating the station where the Enterprise was built so he can work with a recreation of the woman that designed the Enterprise.  (I think if I had worked hard enough to get to the Federation’s flagship, I’d be pretty depressed if my boss didn’t even ask for my help in an emergency.)

Part of the problem with having a series set on a ship is that you can’t really get rid of the ship that easily.  This episode was pretty early in the third season, so we know that someone’s going to save the day.  I mean, the actors all have contracts.  Right?  I doubt that they’re going to end the show this early in the season.  Yes, Geordi La Forge and the simulated Leah Brahms save the day.  The Enterprise makes it out, but the decision is made to destroy the Promellian ship.

There have been a few things I’ve wondered about over the years.  First, why doesn’t Geordi ask the engineering crew for help.  Isn’t that why they have an engineering crew?  I know I’m not the first to ask about this and I won’t be the last.  I can’t even think of a good reason other than  to let Geordi get along with an attractive woman in the holodeck.  (The episode starts out with Geordi failing miserably on a date, so he gets a chance at a rebound of sorts.)  It would also set up a later episode where the real Leah Brahms shows up.

Another thing that I was wondering was how the distress call was working after 1,000 years.  I’d imagine that the distress call wouldn’t be affected by the energy drain, as it would be a good way to trap a few more ships.  However, even without the power drain, the ship should have stopped working centuries ago.  The same goes for the bridge.  When the away team goes over, they can turn the lights on and get a console working.   What are the odds that the ship still has both power and working equipment?

I also felt bad that they couldn’t save the ship.  I understand having to blow it up.  It would have been irresponsible to leave it there so that someone else could get trapped.  You’d think they’d at least get some more logs or take some souvenirs.  Maybe take some pictures for posterity.  I’ve always hated when some historical artifact was wasted like that.  You’d think they’d make an attempt to tractor it out or something.

It’s one of those episodes that holds up, but not so well on second viewings.  This is why I didn’t give away how the day was saved, exactly.  A good part of the episode relies on the suspense.  Once you know how it goes down, you many not want to watch it again.  For this reason, don’t buy it on VHS.  (Honestly, though, who has a working VCR anyway?)

On a side note, I was looking at IMDb to make sure I had the names spelled right.  I came across Susan Gibney, who played Leah Brahms in this episode.  (I also wanted to make sure she’d be the one returning in the later episode.)  The only listing I found for that name was for someone born in 1968,  I didn’t think that could be her, as it seemed a little too old.  Leah Brahms is a young woman.  When the episode came out, she was in her early 20s.  Then I realized that the episode came out over 20 years ago.  I’ll leave you with that thought. 

No comments :