Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch: “Galaxy’s Child”

“Galaxy’s Child”
Written by Thomas Kartozian and Maurice Hurley
Directed by Winrich Kolbe
Season 4, Episode 16
Production episode 40274-190
Original air date: March 11, 1991
Stardate: 44614.6

Captain’s Log: The Enterprise is en route to Starbase 313. Picard informs La Forge that an engineer from the theoretical propulsion lab at Utopia Planitia is coming on board to inspect La Forge’s engine modifications: Dr. Leah Brahms. La Forge is giddy over getting to meet the real Brahms, after encountering a holographic simulation of her a year earlier, so it comes as rather a shock for her first words upon being introduced to La Forge are, “So you’re the one who’s fouled up my engine designs.”

Brahms criticizes everything La Forge has done, to which he replies (several times) that things are a little different in the field than they are in a lab. Brahms asks if that’s going to be his only defense, and La Forge tartly points out that he doesn’t really need a defense.

After Brahms takes a personal message over subspace (this will become important), La Forge tries to make peace by walking her through his modifications and explaining where they came from. They start with the dilithium crystal chamber, which was modified in “Booby Trap” in a manner that was intended to be implemented in the next class of starship. Brahms is stunned, and asks how La Forge knows this, and instead of telling the truth — it was something he found in the computer records of the construction of the Enterprise — he thumphers and speaks some nonsense about how it stands to reason that he’d come up with something in the field that they’d also come up with in the lab. (Guilty conscience, there, Geordi?)

La Forge has a personnel review, so he suggests they get together later in his quarters over dinner (wah-hey!). He offers to make fungili, and then acts surprised when she says it’s her favorite. (He, of course, learned that from the holographic version…)

Meanwhile, the Enterprise encounters what appears to be a space-faring life form. Even as they scan the life form, it scans the Enterprise, then hits it with an energy-dampening field. They can’t raise shields or go to warp.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

Reluctantly, Picard orders a minimum-power phaser blast on the life form. The being disengages, but unfortunately, it’s enough to kill the creature. The bridge crew is devastated.

La Forge sets up his quarters as if he’s going on a date, picking music (he considers Brahms, then figures everyone tries that and goes with classical guitar), adjusting the lights, and so on and so forth. When she arrives, she’s surprised to see him in civilian clothes. She looks incredibly uncomfortable, partly because La Forge is being so aggressively flirty, but it’s also because she knows she comes across as cold, so dedicated is she to her work. However, she doesn’t stay for dinner, saying it’s not appropriate, and agrees to meet him in the morning.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

Data picks up a new energy reading inside the life form. They soon realize that the life form was pregnant and about to give birth. At Crusher’s recommendation (and against Worf’s), they use the phasers to perform a Caesarian section. After Crusher and Worf make the incision, the baby pushes its way out.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

Brahms and La Forge crawl around the Jefferies Tube, and La Forge flirts some more, at which points Brahms finally tells him something she’s stunned that he doesn’t already know, since he seems to know everything else about her: she’s married.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

When the Enterprise leaves, the baby — whom La Forge and Riker both nickname “Junior,” which sticks despite Picard’s best efforts — follows, matching the ship’s velocity, eventually attaching itself to the ship’s hull and draining energy from the fusion reactors. They extrapolate the course the mother was on, in the hopes that she was heading to an environment where the child could be raised and head there in the hopes that they can drop Junior off there.

Brahms looks over all of La Forge’s modifications, and sees that he created a hologram of the original construction of the Enterprise, which she runs on the holodeck — including the fantasy Brahms that La Forge interacted with in “Booby Trap.” La Forge runs to the holodeck, hoping in vain that she hadn’t seen that last part, and Brahms tears him a new one. She feels (justifiably) violated.

La Forge’s response is not to apologize but to self-righteously claim that he offered her friendship even when she came on board full of piss and vinegar.

The mother was heading to an asteroid field, which appears to be a feeding ground for creatures of this type. La Forge tries to separate Junior from the ship by decompressing the shuttle bay it’s on top of to blow it off (Brahms’s idea, that), but it fails, and Junior just increases how much it feeds off the ship.

Other similar life forms come out of the asteroid field to approach the Enterprise. The ship’s now on minimal power thanks to Junior’s energy drain. Brahms suggests they sour the milk, changing the frequency of the energy to a vibration other than 21 centimeters. They do it gradually, and eventually, Junior disengages, just as the ship’s auxiliary generators are about to go offline.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

Junior flies into the field, and Picard congratulates La Forge and Brahms on weaning the baby.

La Forge and Brahms share a drink in Ten-Forward, coming to a rapprochement. They both admit that they came in with preconceptions about the other. The conversation is interrupted by a call from Brahms’s husband.

Can’t We Just Reverse the Polarity?: Among La Forge’s many modifications to the Enterprise, as cataloged by Brahms throughout the episode: he has changed the swapout schedule for replacement parts, deeming Starfleet’s schedule “unrealistic,” altered the matter/antimatter ratio and the magnetic plasma transfer to the warp field generator, added a midrange phase adjustor that puts the plasma back into phase after inertial distortion, upgraded the phase coils to 55 field densities, and interlinked the plasma inducer with the generator.

Thank You, Counselor Obvious: Troi is the one who realizes that Junior has imprinted on the Enterprise as its mother.

If I Only Had a Brain…: At one point, Data asks if “Junior” is to be the official designation of the newborn creature. Picard’s “No” in response is emphatic — also futile.

What Happens on the Holodeck Stays on the Holodeck: The fecal matter collides with the cooling appliance when Brahms goes onto the holodeck and gets to witness La Forge’s program from “Booby Trap,” complete with the Brahms’s hologram’s really creepy dialogue to La Forge at that episode’s end. Brahms feels, justifiably, violated.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

In the Driver’s Seat: This is the first of four appearances of Ensign Sariel Rager, who would wind up getting more to do than any of the replacement conn officers not named Ro Laren. This is, however, a low bar to clear, and this isn’t the episode that showcases her most.

Syntheholics Anonymous: Guinan whups La Forge upside the head, pointing out that what he saw on the holodeck a year earlier wasn’t Brahms, and that he’s a victim of unrealistic expectations.

No Sex, Please, We’re Starfleet: La Forge insists to Guinan before Brahms beams on board that he’s not expecting anything romantic. He is, of course, lying through his teeth, as he totally wants that, and gets several (deserved) buckets of ice water to the face, first at Brahms’s attitude, then when he discovers she’s married.

I Believe I Said That: “Captain, I’d like to announce the birth of a large baby — something.”

Crusher after Junior is born.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

Welcome Aboard: Susan Gibney returns as Leah Brahms, the real one this time, who is, of course, nothing like the holodeck version. It’s an excellent performance by Gibney, with just enough of what we saw in “Booby Trap” to make that simulation convincing but plenty of things that the holodeck would have missed.

Lanei Chapman debuts her role as Ensign Rager (she’ll return as Rager in “Night Terrors”), April Grace once again plays Transporter Chief Hubbell (she’ll return as Hubbell in “The Perfect Mate”), and Jana Marie Hupp appears as Ensign Pavlik (she’ll return as Lieutenant Monroe in “Disaster”).

Trivial Matters: This, obviously, is a follow-up to “Booby Trap,” as La Forge is hoist on his own petard.

Brahms is mentioned in two alternate timelines: the future of “All Good Things…,” where La Forge refers a wife named Leah (this is not necessarily Brahms, but the implication is strong), which is kinda creepy, and the alternate Earth that Harry Kim visits in “Non Sequitur” on Voyager. The script for Star Trek Nemesis called for Brahms to be La Forge’s guest at Riker and Troi’s wedding, establishing them as a couple, which is kinda creepy, but luckily Susan Gibney wasn’t available, so they sat Guinan next to La Forge for the wedding instead.

Brahms has a large role in the Genesis Wave trilogy by John Vornholt, as well as the followup Genesis Force, as well as David A. McIntee’s Indistinguishable from Magic. In the former, Brahms’s husband is killed during the crisis, and in the latter, she and La Forge do start a relationship, which is kinda creepy.

La Forge will tell Montgomery Scott about this particular engineering crisis when they bond at the end of “Relics.”

This is Maurice Hurley’s first time writing for the show since his departure as co-executive producer at the end of the second season. He’ll also co-write “Power Play” in season five.

Make it So: “I have been invaded — violated!” Up until partway through Act 4, this is a really good episode. After the incredible creepiness of “Booby Trap,” it’s nice to see La Forge being forced to confront the real Dr. Leah Brahms and discover that she’s a completely different person from what the computer created based on service records and symposium lectures and such.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

Well, for some values of “nice,” since La Forge’s flirting with her is kinda oogy, since he’s using what he learned on the holodeck to get closer to her, which fails miserably because the one thing he never checked was her marital status.

And then she goes to the holodeck, and sees the fateful program. She tears La Forge a new one, and it’s one hundred percent justified. Her questions are all legitimate: how far did it go? how many Leah Brahms programs does he have? As viewers who watch every week, we’re pretty sure La Forge didn’t take it any further (if it was Reg Barclay, it might be a different story…), but Brahms only just met the guy, and he’s mostly been creepily flirting with her, so she has no way of knowing how far this personal violation has gone.

Right after that, the episode goes directly into the toilet. Instead of apologizing, instead of throwing himself on Brahms’s mercy, instead of admitting that he’s been kinda creepy, La Forge gets his dander up. He tries to blame her for being such a meanie to him, even after he was nice to her (while using his holographic blow-up doll to help him flirt better with her), and makes it all her fault for not accepting his incredibly creepy attempts at friendship.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

So it’s bad enough that they’ve turned La Forge into an unrepentant virtual rapist. The events of “Booby Trap” were indeed creepy (in case, y’know, I didn’t make that clear), but at least you can make an argument that La Forge was caught up in the heat of events and stuff happened. I don’t know that I’d buy that argument, but you can make it. This, though, is despicable, to be confronted with your awful behavior and to respond by trying to claim the high ground.

But then the problem is compounded by the rest of the episode taking La Forge’s side. Brahms helps La Forge solve a crisis, they work well together, and she decides that all is forgiven and they have a good laugh about it in Ten-Forward. Uh, no. (This is compounded by future episodes, movies, and tie-in fiction that attempt to throw La Forge and Brahms together.)

The stuff with Junior is a nifty little science fiction plot. Of particular note (as usual) is Sir Patrick Stewart, who so perfectly plays Picard’s anguish at being forced to kill the mother, his joy at being able to at least save the baby, and his guilt when he tells Worf that they’ll take no action after Junior attaches itself to the ship.

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: Galaxy's Child

But ultimately this episode shines a light on something awful one of the main characters did, and instead of making him pay for it, rewards him and tells him that it’s okay. That’s morally reprehensible.

 

Warp factor rating: 3


Keith R.A. DeCandido is at RavenCon this weekend in Richmond, Virginia. Come say hi to him, fellow Star Trek novelist John Gregory Betancourt, and other cool guests. His schedule is here. Also please order as many of Keith’s books as is humanly possible by going to his web site, which also is a gateway to his blog, Facebook page, Twitter feed, and various and sundry podcasts.

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