Fri
Apr 13 2012 3:00pm

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

Star Trek: The Next Generation Rewatch on Tor.com: 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.

61 comments
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
1. Lisamarie
I totally agree, but I have a feeling I will be in the minority. It's not that him falling in love with the holographical representation is unforgiveable - I think many people have preconcieved notions of people that we fall for (although I did also find it a bit creepy). But the fact that, once faced with her feelings towards it he then throws it in her face and makes it about HER behavior!! And while she was certainly blunt, she was never mean. And even if she was, that's beside the point. After the last episode with somebody usign sex-as-blackmail to help somebody escaped (we watched these two back to back) I was squicked out.

I really would have liked to see more consequences, or at least him realizing exactly why what he did was creepy and why she felt offended by it, even if his motives weren't as bad as she thought they were, and he did ultimately realize he was just seeing what he wanted to see.

As for the other subplot, I liked it, but it made me really sad, heh. Especially because they never rule out the idea that these could be sentient (although I suppose Deanna would have said something). But my son was weaned a few months ago (sooner than I wanted to) so it kind of struck a cord, ha!
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
2. Lisamarie
Oh, and my husband had fun imagining what the conversation with Leah and her husband at the end of the episode was REALLY like. "OMG, there is this creepy engineer on this ship, I can't wait to get home!"
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
3. Lisamarie
ugh, I just went and re-read the Booby Trap episode, and I forgot they kissed. CREEPY!!!!
JS Bangs
4. jaspax
Lisamarie@2, your comment makes me want to go write a fanfic about that conversation.

"The engineer on this ship is a real sicko. And I just had to pretend to be friends with him!"

"That's awful, honey. Perhaps when you get home I can give you a nice backrub..."
Bruuuuce
5. Bruuuuce
Nuts; I just lost a private bet with myself (I had the over/under for the word "creepy" or variations on it at ten, and you only managed nine in the post :-)

I can't see how La Forge didn't wind up facing charges for his holosimulation once Brahms discovered it. He'd probably have been exonerated (because it DID save the Enterprise), but in a paramilitary organization, that bit of creepitude deserves at least an administrative hearing. Compounded by his childish behavior and projection, I'd say he's inordinately fortunate to have retained his commission, much less his post as Chief Officer of the flagship.
Chin Bawambi
6. bawambi
Gotta say you ranked this too high. This is one of the worst episodes in any Trek series. I can't give it a lower rating than the clip show but this has to be a 1 of 10. Brahms reaction in the second half of the episode would be equivilent to Troi being all lovey dovey with the Ullian in Violations. What makes these two Brahms episodes even worse is the implication that these two get together in the end. Awful.
Keith DeCandido
7. krad
bwamabi: I bumped it to 3 for the Junior B-plot, which was actually kinda nifty....

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Bruuuuce
8. Matt Doyle
Agreed. It was more or less fine up until the point where she confronts him with his behavior, but how they handle that is outrageous. LaForge and only LaForge is at fault, and not calling him out on it is reprehensible, taantamount to an endorsement of stalking.

However, at a guess, I would say (pessimistically) that this behavior doesn't get any official reprimand because it simply can't be uncommon. If public computer databases contain a level of personal information about celebrities sufficient for the holodeck to create plausible simulations of them... Barclay and Geordi aren't going to be the only ones in this situation.

Many socially awkward, lonely people would regularly turn to the holodeck for fantasies of sex, romance... even just friendship. Star Trek: Voyager deals more with the ramifications of this (in what is arguably the best facet of Voyager -- the way they explore the mental state of the crew through their use of the holodeck is extremely engaging), but what's lacking, anywhere, is a sign that Starfleet recognizes and addresses the potential for abuse in any systematic way. there ought to be Academy courses on holo-ethics, with an emphasis on marking that line between fantasy and reality and keeping people from displaying this kind of entitled bullshit. Even just a throwaway line indicating some kind of sensitivity training (and signing Geordi up for a remedial course) would have helped a lot.
Bruuuuce
9. John R. Ellis
I have to admit, they totally dropped the ball with this one. This is a case where the Star Trek Main Character Morality Shield (tm) should have been lowered and Geordi should have been raked over the coals.

Even as a teen, the big rant by Geordi about how "I was trying to be NICE" (yeah, nice based on an extended romantic fantasy) left me feeling ill.
Rob Rater
10. Quasarmodo
Isn't this the episode where the voices are completely unsynched with the actors' lips? The part where Geordi is shouting at Leah is so painful to watch because the synch is absolutely glaring.
Bruuuuce
11. Christopher L. Bennett
I wasn't crazy about this episode, because the situation between Geordi and Leah was kind of uncomfortable, but I think people are being too harsh on him. Was it really all that creepy or wrong? First off, he didn't create the program as a sex toy. He created what's known as an expert program -- a computer simulation of a particular person's expertise, knowledge, and thought processes as the next best thing to being able to consult the real person. This is a genuine idea from artificial intelligence research and science fiction, and I've seen it proposed as a way to, say, preserve the expertise of great thinkers after their death. He needed an expert consultation to solve a crisis, and he found it useful to use the holodeck to simulate not only Dr. Brahms's knowledge, but her personality and outlook, so he'd have someone to brainstorm with and bounce ideas off of. He had no expectation or intention that it would respond to him in such an affectionate way. He didn't even intentionally ask the holodeck to simulate her appearance; he was content with just a voice interface, and then when he asked Leah-voice to "show me" a particular thing, the holodeck interpreted that as a request for a simulation of Leah herself.

And even if he had intended something sexual, is that really a violation? We all have romantic or sexual fantasies about real people we know, or about famous people we find desirable. And I'm sure that many of us write them down, draw them as cartoons, or whatever. It's not a violation to have a fantasy, so long as you don't attempt to force it on the object of your fantasy. Granted, a holodeck simulacrum would be a rather more lifelike representation of the person being fantasized about. It could legitimately be called a violation if the programmer obtained detailed medical files or transporter scan records to create a simulated body that was anatomically correct in every detail, as Tiron paid Quark to do with Kira in DS9: "Meridian," because that would be an invasion of the person's privacy, tantamount to voyeurism. But that's not the case here. The holo-Leah was simulated based entirely on public records and imagery. If Geordi had used the simulation for sexual gratification (which of course he didn't), what he found under its clothes would've just been a best-guess approximation on the computer's part, more fantasy than fact.

Granted, allowing the object of one's romantic fantasies to become aware of them, especially if he or she does not reciprocate them, could constitute harassment. It's understandable that Leah would've been embarrassed and uncomfortable on seeing what she did, especially when she saw it out of context and didn't know how innocuous and accidental it actually was. So Geordi should've made sure to delete or at least password-protect holo-Leah before real-Leah came aboard, and it was inconsiderate of him not to. And he did react badly once she found out. Still, I think people are being way too harsh toward the Geordi of "Booby Trap," who didn't intend anything creepy or exploitative. If anything, in that episode it seemed more like the holodeck was taking the initiative in making holo-Leah physically present and romantically receptive -- perhaps because it's programmed for recreational and fantasy simulations and applied some inappropriate algorithms when Geordi attempted to use it for research purposes.

I guess that's why I like this episode so much less than "Booby Trap" -- because Geordi's behavior was a lot more innocent there than it was here. I think this episode's approach to the whole thing makes that episode look worse in retrospect.

Another thing that's always annoyed me here is the technobabble fix, which is based on a misuse of a real scientific factoid. "All matter in space vibrates" at a 21-cm wavelength? No. Nuh-uh. Thanks for playing. Twenty-one centimeters is the emission wavelength of neutral hydrogen gas. It's very useful in radio astronomy because hydrogen is the most abundant (non-dark matter) substance in the universe, so being able to find where the hydrogen is can tell you a great deal about the structure of the universe. But it's ridiculous to say that all matter emits that wavelength, and it's downright nonsensical to use the word "vibrate" for it.

I remember that the CGI space creatures were quite cutting-edge for their day -- the first time TNG made significant use of computer animation, I believe -- but judging from that photo above, the effects haven't aged well.
Bruuuuce
12. Seryddwr
Grim, just grim. As Krad says, only Stewart's acting makes this episode even vaguely watchable.
Bruuuuce
13. Gerry__Quinn
So... for once the writers went for realism instead of tedious PC moralising? Mark it down - this can't be allowed!
Bruuuuce
14. CaitieCat
In my head-canon, this episode never happened. Geordie never turned into a creeptacular stalkeriffic 24th-century superdouche, never gave Leah the ultimate Nice Guy speech ("But, but, you OWE ME! I WAS NICE TO YOU!" - *shudder*), and the show/canon never rewarded him for the appalling behaviour.

Y'know what, Christopher@11? What would make the holodeck thing okay is if it didn't allow you to use real live people as models for stuff, without their express and specific permission. If this were the case, the person the computer would have constructed back in Booby Trap would have looked and acted nothing at all like the real Leah Brahms, but would have been a construct specifically designed to appeal to Geordie's known likes/dislikes. If, on the other hand, he'd asked her for the right to have a colloquy with her simulacrum, she could have set the permissions (as we do with Creative Commons licencing today, for instance), and he could have had a working partner for the job. What he couldn't then do is turn it into a sex doll. If he wanted that, then he has to use the image of someone who licenced it for the purpose, rather than just co-opt someone's life and likeness by main force.

But to essentially create a blow-up doll of someone, then project your hopes and dreams onto it, and then expect the real person to conform to it? That, sir, is seriously creepy.
Shaka Jamal
15. FaceofYo!
I Laforge's actions in this episode...akward...strange...creepy. I usually skip this episode. Also, totally the wrong decison to attempt to make Leah Brahms his love interest in the following Trek world. They should have went with Uhnari, which was a better dynamic at least.
Joseph Newton
16. crzydroid
Christopher--I'm not going to get into "what if he HAD used it for sex," but I'm going to mostly agree with you on the Geordi from Booby Trap. It is creepy when you step back and think what it means, and it is creepy that they did end up kissing, but the way that episode is played out, you can kind of see the progression of how he got caught up in it. As he tells Barclay, he knew when to shut it off and say good-bye. It's certainly way less creepy than Riker falling for Minuet, given that he knew what he was getting into from the start, and she was apparently so strong in his mind that a computer used it to create a fake wife for him 3 years later.

But I do think the criticisms of his behavior in this episode are perfectly justified and not harsh at all. Imagine what this does look like from Leah's point of view, especially when the part she walks in on is the hologram saying "when you touch these engines, you touch me." And his defense is just to throw it around and blame her, and then she in essence falls for it and tries to get along with him. WE know Geordi, so maybe it's supposed to come off as sympathetic, but from her point of view, I would NOT buy that argument if a man said that. He is totally blaming the victim. And then she further victimizes herself by giving into that argument.

But I do also totally agree on the technobabble fix--as I was watching that I was thinking, "Uh...what?"
Ian Gazzotti
17. Atrus
I sort of agree with Christopher on this one. Sexual fantasies based on real-life people's appearances happen all the time and hurt no one, so it's not a long stretch to say that a holodeck version would be equally harmless, as long as it stays private. And as long as you could differentiate the simulation from the original, even showing them in public would not be much weirder than hanging around a lookalike or a clone or duplicate (it's Star Trek, after all).

The real icky/creepy part is what Geordi does in this episode, mistaking his fantasy/projection/simulation for the actual thing. Not only it shows that he has problems distinguishing fiction from reality (or one person from another, if we assume that holographic simulations are people) but, by trying to force the fiction on Leah, he is silencing her and denying her own individuality and agency as a person. That's a million times worse than any ickiness she might have felt at the idea of being a sexual fantasy.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
18. Lisamarie
Right - I just want to clarify that I don't think his actions in Booby Trap were that wrong (especially because he didn't create it for explicitly sexual or objectifying purposes) or hard to believe. I'm sure if there were real holodecks it would be very easy to 'fall in love' with a fantasy like that. Although I do think in a holodeck world there would need to be some kind of control over how realistic you can make a holodeck projection of a person, just because I know that I wouldn't want somebody making one of ME for sexual purposes.

It's more the way he expects her to conform to those expectatons, kind of sneakily uses the knowledge he obtained (even if it was through public records) to get close to her, and completely belittles her feelings after stumbling onto it that is disturbing.
Bruuuuce
19. Christopher L. Bennett
@14: That's a good point about getting likeness rights before simulating a real person for whatever reason. I mean, holo-Leah may have been created from public-domain footage, like her appearances at public events, but it's one thing to reproduce a recording of something a person actually said or did, and a different thing to create a representation of that person saying or doing something fictitious.

Still, I'm not convinced it's as bad as a strictly private fantasy as if one created such a simulation to share with others. Like I said, we all have fantasies about real people, and some of us have pretty vivid imaginations. I'm wary of the idea of restricting what people are allowed to do in private -- because if you have the power to restrict it, it pretty much destroys the idea of privacy. It seems hypocritical to violate one person's privacy in the name of protecting another's.

@16: I wasn't defending Geordi's actions in "Galaxy's Child," only in "Booby Trap." As I said, I think it wasn't handled very well here and makes "Booby Trap" seem worse in retrospect than it would've felt if this episode hadn't been made.
Risha Jorgensen
20. RishaBree
I agree with @Atrus, too - there is nothing inherently wrong with fantasizing about a real person, and there are reasons why things are allowed to be said about or images used of public figures that aren't allowed for the average person. It is utterly human for people to construct Holodeck copies of their fantasies to use however they wish, and also utterly human of percentage of them to become too immersed in the fantasy. The latter is unfortunate, but not necessarily bad behavior.

Where this behavior crosses the line is when Geordie projects the fantasy upon the real person. This is creepy, and something that should get reported to Troi at the very least, especially since he's completely unrepentant when confronted about it.
Cait Glasson
21. CaitieCat
Yes, but again, you folks are presuming "good actors". What if Engineer Douchenozzle decides, say, to get his annoyance about Geordi's maintaining control of the bridge, by going back into the holodeck and, say, running some scenes from Roots with Geordie as the star?

And what if someone who, say, works with the computer, gets pissed off at Geordie or Engineer Douchenozzle, and puts that sim out on the 24th-century Internet?

Once it's on the Net, you never get it back. This is why I believe that there would have to be restrictions on a shipboard holodeck. These are your shipmates, people you will be working and living closely with for some years. There are going to be frictions, rivalries, anger - not on the Good Ship Roddenberry, maybe, but in a real-life Enterprise?

I have to believe that privacy laws would evolve to cover this in some manner, probably a patchwork of things, given how we tend to make law in fits and starts and precedent and so on. I think the image-licencing thing is a reasonable assumption, and that legal mechanisms would have evolved to include the use of Net-based hunter-killers - things that go looking for telltale elements of stolen or illegal software, and destroy it, probably while reporting it to the police.

If they have police in the Roddenberryverse. Do they? Have we ever actually seen any Federation "police"? I've not seen all of DS9 or Voyager, so I honestly don't know. We saw some local fuzz in the Abrams reboot, chasing James T Douchebag in the stolen car which how does that still run again? never mind.
Cait Glasson
22. CaitieCat
The other implication of the image-licencing thing is that it would allow a whole new version of porn/prostitution crossover.

Imagine: someon watches a porn they really like. When it's done, they get in their personal holodeck, and they download the image file of the performer they liked best - and whose images are licenced as part of the production's contracts, maybe bigger stars get a bigger royalty from each download or something, in whatever non-currency the Rberryverse uses this week.

Or they download the six performers they like best, I'm not going to judge. Point is, there's not a whole lot of wholesome reasons someone might want to use a person's image/simulacrum without their permission: I can see strong imperatives for Starfleet to make it impossible to get access to those images without your shipmate's permission.

Maybe if you're working on the sixth moon of Rigel VII (wild night life, I've heard), and your boss' secretary makes your knees all wobbly, you can get your local black-market holoartist to make you up a sim from pictures/video, but I think there would be strong morale and discipline reasons to not have that possibility on the ship, and certainly not using the ship's computer to do it. There's a reason modern ships have strong rules about shipboard sexual relationships: it has the potential to blow up into things that are Very Bad Indeed for a group which must sometimes work as a close team to stay alive.

(and yes, I know Leah isn't a shipmate as such; I still think it wouldn't be legal aboard ship to have sims of real people without their permission, especially given how incredibly often Enterprise runs into people known to crew members.)
Michael M Jones
23. MichaelMJones
So what you're saying is that the whole LaForge/Brahms thing is kinda creepy, right? Just want to make sure I'm not misreading this... :)

Nah, but seriously, this really was a problematic episode in so many ways. Surprised LaForge wasn't remanded to counseling for a very long time as a result.
Bruuuuce
24. Ginomo
From this point on, anytime Geordi gets smug with Reg about his holo-issues, I just think of this episode. Pot, meet Kettle.
Michael Burke
25. Ludon
I'm going to go out on a limb here and look at this issue from a different angle.

Geordi's already been established as a nerd. In Booby Trap he calls for a sim to provide him with reference assistance and while it runs he gets caught up in the illusion and begins to think that he and this person should be able to get along. The computer responds to his subtle changes and this leads to that troubling dialogue at the end. Pretty much as Christopher said it.

In comparison, how many of us either know someone who has or has ourselves confused an actor's performance with his or her real personality and felt 'I understand that person so well, we should be able to be friends.' Everybody does it in some way or other and it doesn't ever have to approach the sleeze factor. But, how many people ever get a chance to meet or work with that actor or actress? What tends to happen with those who do? They have a strong chance of either acting as though the friendship should be a given and come off looking like a fool, or end up being let down when they realize that the person is not really like the character they admired.

Now, back to Geordi. As established earlier, he's a nerd. He may not have even reached the point where he knew the difference between love and lust. (Some people never reach that point.) And he, it seems, has not learned the difference between friendship and what he was really seeking from Dr. Brahms - respect. (He's a good engineer. He's able to understand her. She should be able to see the good in what he's been doing so they should be able to get along. -- As the nerd sees it.)

Guinan's talk with Geordi helps me see it this way and I can't help but think that - even though we didn't see it - Dr. Brahms ended up talking with Guinan who helped set things straight by saying something like "Hey! He's a nerd! Treat him like a nerd and maybe you'll see that he's really a good boy."

So what I saw in the end here (and we don't know if she and Geordi had talked things out a time or two before this last scene) was that Dr. Brahms had come to realize that while what had happened was creepy, it wasn't done with intent to be creepy and that Geordi being a nerd couldn't help but make nerdish mistakes. Maybe in the end, that's what gave her common ground on which to build her respect - his nerdness. She's an engineer. Maybe the nerd factor had been strong in her at one time.

So, in the end, I guess Geordi did get what he was seeking - respect and the possibility of a friendship building upon that respect.

Having said that. I'm not sure how I feel about the later suggestions of them getting married.
Risha Jorgensen
26. RishaBree
@Ludon - I'm not sure I'm willing to give someone a pass with the "Meant No Harm, Just No Social Skills" defense. And I say that as a nerd with no social skills. It cleaves far too closely to the "Nice Guy" defense.
Bruuuuce
27. Alyssa T.
I just wanted to say how fantastic this blog is! I recently began a TNG rewatch and, having no Trek-minded friends, it's been hard to not be able to discuss with anyone. So this is perfect! Well-written reviews with smart comments; I couldn't ask for more.

I completely agree with your take on this episode. Coincidentally, I watched "Hollow Pursuits" last night, and found myself wonderng about the laws of holodeck use. As Matt Doyle@8 and CaitieCat@21 raise above, surely there would have to be stricter policies than we're shown. And wouldn't it have been a little fascinating to see an episode that dives into "holo-ethics"?

Of course, what's most frustrating is that they did all this offensive/problematic stuff with a character I love. The whole idea of Geordi being completely inept with women (not to mention downright creepy) never really rang true to me. I get that he's an "engineer nerd," but I also thought his character was generally written as warm and funny and relatable. It always bugged me that all these good characteristics went out the window when a babe was involved. In contrast, this social ineptness made much more sense with someone like Reg Barclay (although, yes, still creepy).

This interview with LeVar Burton gives some thoughts on the sexuality of Geordi. I think the race perspective is an interesting insight, and my heart broke a little when Burton says he wasn't surprised by the de-sexualization of a black male character on television, but surprised to see it in the Trek universe. (Of course, this is also a fun read for the reference to their annual reunion Christmas parties... I love it so much that they are all pals!)

http://herocomplex.latimes.com/2012/02/27/star-trek-tng-levar-burton-engineers-new-career-chapters/
Joseph Newton
28. crzydroid
@25, Ludon--I think the point that it all comes down to is how Leah comes to trust that the program was not anything more insidious, and that it is what Geordi (briefly) says it is. But he didn't apologize or try profusely to make her see what the program actually was and that the words at the end don't necessarily need to imply much else--he basically just turned it around and made her out to be the bad guy.

For someone who DOES NOT KNOW GEORDI, this shouldn't fly. Something more needs to happen; she needs to know that this wasn't intended as a sexual or invasive thing. While Geordi does attempt to explain that at first, he perhaps does not do enough of it. And he also doesn't apologize for trying to cast preconceived notions onto her.
Michael Burke
29. Ludon
@28 crzydroid
Two things about your statement that something else needed to happen.

First. It is clear that they are discussing the issue in that last scene. Geordi comments that the computer does not always supply all the information.

Second. Is it necessary - or good storytelling - for us to see their entire conversation (or conversations) as they work out the problem? Should we be expected to sit through a discussion covering information we already know?

I grew up in a time when TV didn't tell us what to think but gave us things to think about. Unlike many of today's viewers, I have no problem with thinking about what happens before and/or after the scenes I do see. I'm comfortable with the thought that Dr. Brahms explained her problems with what she thinks happened and Geordi explained his side of it - and that all this happened before we joined their conversation in that last scene.
Bruuuuce
30. Alyssa T.
The funny thing about rewatching is how the same episode can seem so different years later. I haven't really seen this episode all that much since I first watched it when I was probably 11 or 12. (Most likely because it's not that good, and when encountered in the word of syndication, it was never one of those eps that I felt the need to linger on.) I have to laugh, because my memory of this episode was largely about the creature. I'm pretty sure I was going through the "I want to be a marine biologist and work with manatees" phase every preteen girl goes through, so the creature and "Junior" were completely in my wheelhouse.

Of course, now, as an adult woman, the creature is a dim afterthought to the utter bizarreness and creepiness of Geordi's fumblings with Dr. Brahms. What could have been an interesting exploration into fantasy/reality, ethics, relationship, etc., was handled very poorly indeed.
Bruuuuce
31. Idran
I cannot grant your arguments, Christopher; this isn't a private fantasy, this is more akin to creating a body pillow based on someone that you can hug at night (even if no actual sex is involved, it's still really creepy). Or like Real-Person Fic, fanfiction written about a real-life celebrity or celebrities. It doesn't have to be sexual to make the celebrity involved uncomfortable. Something like this goes from harmless fantasy to potentially creepy when it leaves the private domain and enters somewhere where others can potentially see it, where it involves some sort of physical presence.

I mean...Christopher, put yourself in Leah's shoes. How would you feel if you found out someone you were barely aware of that you ended up (through some sort of circumstances) co-writing with had created a physical instantiation of you before they met you, someone they pretended was you and interacted with romantically? Is it really any different than the sort of effigy or stand-in some stalkers or obsessive fans might put together? Regardless of how Geordi made it or what his original intentions were, that is an extreme violation of her identity and being.

And I can never believe that Leah would end up marrying Geordi after this. Personally I take his wife "Leah" as an entirely different person with the same first name (a bit potentially creepy itself, of course), and I just ignore the bits in the EU that have it as actually Leah Brahms.
Bruuuuce
32. TBGH
I think the writers here were trying to show how dangerous it would be if a machine that could take momentary fantasies and give them physical form were ever created. Obviously they missed the mark as so many of you are focused on Geordi's culpability.

Geordi was an idiot and his actions understandably made Leah uncomfortable, but I fail to see the point where he crossed into being the bad guy.

If he stalked her I'm guilty of stalking a football player, a singer, and a bit-part actress I thought I recognized on House (people I've googled in the past week). Stalking is repeatedly interjecting yourself unwanted into someone's actual life. Not researching them or fantasizing about them in your own life in any way.

I'll even concede that his conduct is creepy, mainly because any socially awkward unwanted advance can be and is considered creepy today. If Leah never wanted to talk to Geordi again I'd understand why and think it a reasonable decision.

I don't see why everyone thinks Leah, whom we really know next to nothing about, could never look beyond this rather awful first impression and then appreciate who Geordi is at a later date. Show me a guy who was never creepy with a girl and I'll show you . . . actually I can't imagine such a guy even exists. Maybe Tim Tebow?

I just see this whole episode as a social failing on Geordi's part not a moral one.

@31 Idran
I don't buy that analogy. If someone has a physical representation of me, they put a LOT of time and effort into creating it. Geordi more or less did it by accident in a split-second. To me the creepy part would be how much obsession that time and effort represents. In this case that doesn't apply although she doesn't know that.

If someone 50 years ago met someone else knowing what college they went to and where they worked it was a lot more worrisome because of the effort it represented. Today most of us aren't that offended if a business contact or blind date googles us as long as they are up front about it.
Bruuuuce
33. don3comp
To me, this episode had an opportunity and missed it.

Our fantasies of a person are almost never true to who they actually are, and I think the first part of this episode does a nice job of observing that. I agree that the ball is dropped in the second half.

But I also have to say that Brahms' hostility to LaForge, which is just as rooted in professional issues as in personal ones, begins long before she even steps off of the transporter plate, before Geordi does anything. Indeed, I would suggest that Brahams seems to start with the same attitude toward La Forge that Kurak has toward Vall in our rewatcher's novel, "Diplomatic Implausibility." (Though this might have made a mature person back off.)

I think Geordi's worst sin is that of hypocracy; how dare he tell Barclay off for his holo-fantasies? At least Barclay didn't try to sneakily gather intel on Troi. I also have to say that LaForge's behavior is pretty adolescent, no matter what century you're in.

Having said that, if Brahms and LaForge had been unable to put their personal issues aside and work together to save the ship, then they both would have needed to resign from Starfleet immediately.

I love the concept of an alien thinking a mechanical starship was its "mother" (a possible riff on "Tin Man") and I like the solution that Brahms and LaForge devised. I also like Crusher's line as quoted in "I Believe I Said That."
Bruuuuce
34. Christopher L. Bennett
@31: "Something like this goes from harmless fantasy to potentially creepy when it leaves the private domain and enters somewhere where others can potentially see it, where it involves some sort of physical presence."

Yes, that's entirely in keeping with what I'm saying. I've already said that it becomes problematical if the subject of your fantasy becomes aware of it or if it becomes public, and that that should definitely be avoided. But as you say, it remains harmless as long as it doesn't leave the private domain. If someone creates a holo-double of another person as a sexual or romantic fantasy and leaves that program accessible to anyone who stumbles across it, then yes, definitely, that's inappropriate. But if they properly password-protect it or delete it when they're done, if they make sure that nobody but themselves ever experiences it, then I don't think that's comparably bad. I think we all have fantasies we'd never want or choose to share with others, but it's important to have the freedom to explore them in private.
Cait Glasson
35. CaitieCat
But if they properly password-protect it or delete it when they're done,
CLB@ 34: The only problem I have with your latest comment is that computer security is only as good as the time and energy and skill of the person who wants in. There are usability reasons why perfect security is more or less impossible, which means you simply can't guarantee that your password-protect (or whatever other security measure) won't be defeatable. Which would put the person you've modeled at risk, and that's where it becomes a problem. Much as the Great Bird of the Universe wouldn't have such problems occur in his 'verse, doesn't mean that it wouldn't, even though with Starfleet being 99% ideal paragons of morality, there wouldn't be many naughty folk who'd want to do that. But even GR had prison planets.
Bruuuuce
36. Christopher L. Bennett
@35: Well, then I would say the fault in that situation lies with the person who hacks the protected file and willfully commits a violation of the fantasist's right to privacy. If that exposes a fantasy to another person who's embarrassed or offended by it, the fault lies with the hacker, not the creator of the fantasy. Culpability lies with the person who had mens rea, who made a conscious choice to violate others' legal rights or inflict mental distress.

By analogy, if Juan Smith crafts throwing knives purely for display or target practice, and Joe Chang steals one of the knives and stabs Jane Terwilliger with it, then the party legally responsible for Jane's injury is Joe, not Juan. Jane and Juan are both victims of Joe's criminal act. It would be wrong to say that Juan had no right to create those knives just because other people might steal them and use them for mayhem. If he acts with due diligence to maintain safety and keep his knives out of the wrong hands, it's not his fault if someone else intentionally defeats his safety precautions, because he acted in good faith.
Cait Glasson
37. CaitieCat
Granted. But we're not talking about whether he's legally in the clear, or at least I wasn't, particularly, apologies if you were. I meant also to consider the social and emotional and moral implications: whether or not he's morally/legally in the clear for the release, it's hard to deny he played a part in the humiliation/loss of reputation/harm done if it does get released.

Or at least, I sure as hell would feel like a particularly fine example of crapspackle* when the person I'd modeled found out they were now being used in a hundred X-rated 24CenInternet holomemes, and their Uncle Glorbulon just forwarded a selection of them to the whole family. And I think it'd make it damned hard to serve in the same ship, no?

Last, thanks for the interesting conversation. You gave me some things to think about, and it's always nice to have an energetic debate that stays nevertheless polite. On the Intertoobz, yet!

* The wall residue from post-fan-faeces interaction.
Bruuuuce
38. Adam Goss
With regards to "Galaxy's Child"... I've read KRAD's review of this episode and many of the replies, and something (at least to my reading so far) seems missing. I admit, until now I never fully realized how much there was about Geordi's heated comeback to Leah during the big blow-up scene that was inappropriate, especially when looking at it through the lens of a character like Leah who doesn't know Geordi like we do. However, I am going to give Geordi one extra bit of support in spite of how he was written in this episode (and I bet in an alternate universe where Trek is real, the real Geordi might have behaved better than the writers depicted him).

That extra bit is this: from the moment Leah came on board the ship she was hostile, rude, superior, stuck-up and cold. Geordi was not the only character written unkindly in this episode. There, it's been said.

I remember when the episode first aired, I did think Geordi's use of his "inside info" on Leah may not have been wise for him to use in his dealings with her, like he was trying too hard, getting blinded (pardon the pun) by his excitement in getting to meet the real her. (I have to give credit to him for at least having good intentions, hell-paving notwithstanding, and for trying to put up with her attitude in various ways to try to make working with her go more smoothly). Let's face it, we've all done some pretty dumb things at times - maybe this, for better or worse, was one of Geordi's very human "dumb moments."

However, even if he had done the smart thing and ERASED THE HOLODECK PROGRAM LONG AGO (even back in 1991, when I was a less-perceptive person, I wondered why he still had the program on file!), even if he hadn't done all the things several folks on this blog have called creepy and stalker-ish, even if he had been at his very best... Leah would still have been a cold, unfriendly and not very cooperative person.

Yes, it was bad Geordi still had the program on file. It was bad Leah found it, and found it at a point in the program when something could all too easily be taken out of context. And it was bad - to a certain degree, how much of a degree I won't get into here, everyone else seems to have very strong opinions about it - that Geordi responded to her feelings of violation with indignation... but pay attention to what he specifically says to Leah in his reply. I admit, I am going by memory here so I cannot quote directly and maybe I am missing some crucial wording detail, but what I remember him throwing back in her face is her attitude that's he's had to put up with since she came on board. That attitude did soften a little - slowly - during her time aboard before the holodeck incident, but she came on board making a very bad first impression, both for Geordi, and for myself as a viewer, and it set the tone for several scenes before the holodeck scene.

When she got angry with Geordi... yes, on one hand she had a right be be upset, but on the other hand her view of Geordi was already biased. I don't think she was in any way capable of really listening to him in that moment, or even willing to conceive of a good explanation for the program's existence, and she certainly didn't seem willing to hear any explanations. Part of that is indeed due to her being understandably upset - but that upset is also something of a knee-jerk reaction on her part and fits with her previous hostile attitude towards him. Did she ask Geordi to explain things and listen, even sucpiciously? No, she pretty much just tore him a new one. Geordi's reaction may have been inapporpriate, but it also was a result of him having been pushed by her too much, and his reaction was a knee-jerk also. May not be the best writing we wanted to see, might be inappropriate behavior... but it was also veyr human, on both their parts. We all know people in real life who make themselves, like Leah, difficult to get along with, and we all know people who when pushed have an explosive temper, even when it's a wholly or partially inappropriate reaction.

I don't see Geordi as being a stalker in this episode at all, and I think it's overly harsh and cynical to condemn him as being that way. I do see the writers, however, not handling the characterization or the character interactions as well as could be expected. If one were to keep this episode as written (as opposed to having it wholly re-written), a couple of extra scenes could have been used, if there'd been time. First, a brief scene with Geordi and Picard (and maybe Troi) about the holodeck program, with Picard chastizing Geordi's mistake while simulataneously trying to keep him out of further trouble. Second, a scene (or maybe just an extension of the scene when Geordi and Leah next talk after the blow-up happens) where Geordi and Leah have a calmer talk about what happened, with the air being more properly cleared - Geordi apologizing and briefly explaining the events of "Booby Trap", and Leah apologizing for her unfriendly behavior from the moment she beamed aboard.

Just my two-cents. I still enjoy this episode.
Bruuuuce
39. Adam Goss
Additional: KRAD, in my writing of my previous post, I forgot you did mention that Leah was "full of piss and vinegar" upon her arrival. So yes in a way you did make my observation about her attitude... but I think you understated it, and underplayed it in favor of condemning Geordi so harshly. Basically, the whole incident in the holodeck was a bad situation. Part of me can understand saying Geordi was wrong, and it occurs to me that supporting him in any way sounds dangerously like agreeing with some asshole rapist who claims the victim "had it coming." I don't think Leah had it coming, either in finding the program or in how Geordi blew his stack in that moment. I just don't think Geordi had it coming either to be automatically condemned, especially after her poor treatment of him prior to the incident. She might not have known Geordi well, but WE do know him well, and I think we ought to cut him at least a *little* slack on this.
Keith DeCandido
40. krad
Adam: I don't think we should cut him even a little bit of slack, because you're posting a false equivalency. Brahms being snotty is not a crime, it's just a character trait. La Forge creating a holographic blow-up doll to play with (and kiss! remember the kiss?) is a violation (as she herself pointed out when she found the program) of her privacy, of her personality, of her self.

Your argument veers dangerously close to "she was asking for it," and that's never justified.

---Keith R.A. DeCandido
Bruuuuce
41. Lars Jone Larsen
Is there nothing about this episode you didn't find creepy? OK, it's not the best at all,
but I kind of like it somewhat. It's not to often we get to enjoy a view into Geordy's private life.
Creepy? Not in a lifetime! Bye from Lars and Stavanger in Norway.
Bruuuuce
42. Bernice
Oh wow, I'm only now reading 'Indistinguishable From Magic' and it's true, whatever's going on between Leah and Geordi in this novel is so uncomfortable. It just doesn't feel natural that she would suddenly be into him. Blargh.
Dave
43. OHearn
I think the "stalker" analogies are silly, and "rape" ones are shameful. Geordi shouldn't have kissed the hologram in Booby Trap, but it seemed harmless at the time, and he didn't do it again.

And that's not even this episode. This episode is about treating people with preconceived notions. Dr. Brahms' confontation with him could've been written better, but I think it's wrong to blame the entire episode for one scene. She realized it was a misunderstanding; she just realized one or two sentences too quickly, that's all.
Bruuuuce
44. Bernadette S. Marchetti
As someone who is often accused of being rather cold and unfriendly (some have gone so far as to say "bitchy"), I definitely understand why what Geordi said affected her and made her change her tune. In fact, I like this episode a lot because I identified with her so much. I've been in a very similar situation (i.e. someone behaved in a way that was clearly wrong but threw my coldness back in my face--I was suitably chastised because I try very hard not to be that way, so, yes, I forgave his bad behavior). I won't use the tired old excuse that it's hard being a woman in a scientific field because that is changing rapidly, although I do remember the Computer Science department at Carnegie Mellon University having a "Dave to Female Ratio"--one female for every male named Dave. Having said that, having a logical mind and being a female is difficult. I don't want to whine so I'll just say, I never thought the fact that she let things go and became good friends with Geordi was strange or "creepy". It might have even been a relief for her. Also, it's clear by some of her behavior before the "big reveal" that she was receptive to his excessive flirting or, at least, she could have warmed up to him a lot sooner--if she let herself. Which makes the subsequent plots of a romantic relationship between the two understandable and, to me, at least, desirable. Having a warm, caring, friendly, outgoing, and emotionally giving person as a mate for a logical, highly controlled, stick-up-the-bumbum person like me had been a secret desire of mine. Luckily, my husband is all of these things.
Bruuuuce
45. NickyK
Just re-watched (painfully) "Galaxy's Child", the title probably being the high point of the episode!

Yes, "Booby Trap" was quite creepy enough without this sequel coming along. Yes, I can understand the woman's outrage, but I feel some sympathy for the vizored perv in that she is thoroughly obnoxious right from the start and doesn't give Geordi a chance to explain. So, I don't find his attempt to take the high ground quite as repulsive as some people do. Since I don't like either of these characters in this episode (and found the Brahms holo-doll rather disturbing in "Booby Trap") then my feeling is they both get a thoroughly deserved slapping.

However, my main reason for disliking both this one and "Booby" is that both episodes had good stories that were turned into sub-plots in favour of this ridiculous Geordi-Brahms relationship. I loved the ancient space ship and the trap in "Booby", loved Picard showing Wesley just how an ace pilot saves the day by getting the ship out of the trap (nice reversal of the usual "Wes saves the day" conceit). Similarly, I thought the giant space creature and the crew saving the baby etc was a nice, if a wee bit sentimental, idea.

For me, the only way to watch either of these episodes without hiding behind the sofa in embarrassment is to skip the Geordie-Brahms stuff and stick to the sub-plots.

Just think how hysterically funny (and cringe-making) both episodes could have been if poor old Lieutenant Barclay had been chosen instead of Geordi! What a missed opportunity for some comedy.
Bruuuuce
46. Stardreamer
One thing that nobody has yet mentioned, either in the OP or any of the comments, is that our reactions to this episode (and to "Booby Trap" as well) illustrate 20 years' worth of social attitude evolution. At the time that episode first aired, very few people would have seen anything wrong at all either with Geordi's original involvement with the hologram OR with his angry, defensive reaction to the real Leah Brahams finding out about it and being pissed off. The most common response would have been theme and variations on, "Well, she was a bitch and had it coming to her," and you can still see echoes of that in some of the comments above. Congratulations, fandom -- you've had your collective consciousness raised.

I remember re-watching some episodes of ClassicTrek during the period when NextGen was on the air (most notably "Shore Leave") and cringing... and then wondering what I'd be cringing at about this new show 20 years down the road, that felt perfectly acceptable at the time. Well, here's one of those things. And I find it a very hopeful sign that people *are* recognizing the cringeworthiness of what used to be unremarkable social attitudes.

Heh. The captcha just gave me "anforge" as one of the words. You'd almost think it had a sentient sense of humor.
Bruuuuce
47. Thomas Davies
One of the nicest things about "Booby Trap" for me was the way it ended. After the kiss, Geordi sighs and tells the computer to end the program: the engineering situation is resolved, and he clearly knows that he's already gone beyond the bounds of what is appropriate. So he behaves as any professional adult would; he restrains his desires and does what he knows to be ethically right.

None of that standard adult maturity is evident in this episode. I can buy Geordi being uncomfortable with women in a personal context. But he's a trained senior officer on Starfleet's flagship vessel of exploration and diplomacy -- he should know how to treat other human beings with respect at work, and the first thing he should have done when Brahms got off the transporter is told her about the holodeck representation.

That the script has Brahms apologize to him for not immediately accepting his "friendship" -- which, we should remember, consisted only of romantic advances and comments about her history which he falsely claimed to have taken from her personnel file -- is absurd. For one thing, she didn't come onto the ship to make friends and go on dinner dates in officers' private quarters (she's married!): she was there to check on the engine modifications. For another, by the end of the episode she discovers that Geordi was concealing things from her, lying to her and even using her unrealized designs in his engine without her permission. That's not friendship by my standards. She had no responsibility to be nice to Geordi except in his ludicrous fantasies.

In trying to make Geordi into a poor, misunderstood Nice Guy this episode turns him into the most revolting character on the Enterprise. I wish the scriptwriters had let Picard give him a stern dressing-down and a decommendation like Worf got in "Reunion"; instead he gets his creepy, creepy fantasy apologized for by the woman it violated, and there are no professional consequences whatsoever.
Bruuuuce
48. George Salt
I just did a word count, and as of 28 December 2012 the word "creepy" and its variations appear 46 times on this page.

I find that very, very creepy. You folks have some serious issues.
Lisamarie LiGreci-Newton
49. Lisamarie
@47 I just wanted to say that I did read your comment and I agree wholeheartedly :)
Bruuuuce
50. Risingson
I laughed loud at this episode. This was like the classic Carlos Saura "Peppermint Frappé", where a man tries to dress a woman like another woman he feels attracted to just to satisfy his sexual frustration, but gone bad. Which would be fine as a separate movie, not as a part of an episode: this is one of the many moments that I wondered in TNG "why do they keep on making us dislike the characters?". But then they put the Picard and the alien subplot, where he makes mistakes, he accepts those mistakes, and somehow he resolves the situation not entirely in a successful way, but strengthened by it. Then... why is Picard the only character allowed to learn from his mistakes? What were The Powers That Be thinking?
Dante Hopkins
51. DanteHopkins
While I'm not completely comfortable with the LaForge and holo-Leah Brahms thing, I have to take away some of the creeped-out factor by pointing out a couple things. First, LaForge did not go into the holodeck a year earlier with the intent on making a Leah Brahms blow-up doll. LaForge was trying to find a way to buy time to save the Enterprise. The chemistry between LaForge and holo-Brahms was an aside that Geordi did not intend. At the end of "Booby Trap", LaForge does kiss holo-Leah, but he immediately ends the program. We know that Geordi did not create multiple programs featuring holo-Leah, or have some sort of holodeck relationship with holo-Leah. That would have been creepy.

Dr. Brahms was justifiably upset on discovering the program, and her reaction was completely understandable. But the truth is nothing really happened other than LaForge interacted with a holographic version of her to solve a life-or-death crisis. LaForge didn't immediately apologize because techically there was nothing to apologize for. The only untoward part of the interaction between LaForge and holo-Leah was the kiss, which again LaForge realizes and immediately ends the program. So yes uncomfortable, perhaps, is a justified feeling, but being utterly creeped out is really an overstatement. If Brahms herself could forgive this tiny indiscretion, than so could I.

That said, I always like this episode each time I watch. A fun episode where they actually seek out new life. Always a welcome change. A good 7.
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52. koinekid
@12

I'm with you on this, Christopher. Geordi's behavior would be quite common in a universe wherein such holographic technology exists and is probably not all that dissimilar to how many fantasize about celebrities and the like today. It's a 24th century projection of existing attitudes and technology.
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53. Josh L
I think one of the major problems with this episode post-holodeck discovery is that Geordi never owns up to it. We don't really get a scene where he explains the situation to her (we get one where he talks to Guinan, but not one on one with Leah). We don't see him apologize, we don't see him come to the self realization of his fantastical worship that I'm sure many of us who consume fiction have experienced. Guinan helps him realize his idealized, desired version of Leah, but he never reveals this to her himself. Had he owned up, apologized for that moment of weakness and his awkward attempts to romance her, and even perhaps received an apology from Leah for her attitude, things might be okay. But no, he doesn't admit his own fault in this matter.

I like Geordi. He's one of my favorite characters on the show and I'd like to imagine that if they did get together at some point in whatever alternate timeline, they had that conversation. But the fact that he never does here hurts what could have been a decent episode.
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54. Markeyh
I did not have an issue with either eppisode in fact I disagree with how many of you are spinning things. Geordi never once nor was it ever implied that he did have any sexual intent, he may have been infatuated with her but it was Dr. Leah Brahms who took his intent beyond what was actually the truth. She is the one who implied someting was going on more than what actually was.....she was wrong. As are many of your comments on this.
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55. Electone
Geordi LaForge is an a-hole.
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56. ked
I have no problem with people doing whatever the hell they want in their minds or a simulation. The only thing I care about is how they actually behave. There's nothing unusual about romantic feelings leading to embarrassing situations. Only comment I agree with is that on a public holodeck you should be careful about what you program.
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57. JohnC
I hadn't seen this episode during the original run, but watching it here I knew that they were going to have to end it with an epilogue with the two of them making nice. That didn't make it any less excruciating to watch. Although on second thought, it made sense. Brahms obviously gets her jollies from her work, and she and Geordi basically just had a great threesome with the ship. Stands to reason they would share a symbolic cigarette in 10-forward before she had to go back to hubby.
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58. RudiMentry
It is apparent to me, that no holds barred sex with fantasy playmates is condoned on Starfeet holodecks. If it wasn't, they would simply have the computer programmed to only generate holodeck characters that are not anatomically correct, and Leah would not have wondered how far Geordi went with Holo-Leah. This restriction would hardly get in the way of any clean minded simulation one might require. Of course, if the holodeck safety protocols can occasionally be overridden, I suppose the chief engineer would be capable of overriding the holodeck genital protocols. Unless you need authorisation of 2 senior staff, like when Picard and Riker were drooling over Minuet, in the Bynars 11001001 episode. PICARD: Computer, remove genital safety protocols.
COMPUTER: Riker, William T. Do you concur?
RIKER: Yes! Absolutely! I do indeed concur wholeheartedly!
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59. Bibs
I've always felt that the creepiness in the episode comes from the fact that Geordi doesn't just come out and explain what happened early in the episode. There's plenty of times that she calls him out on knowing more than she'd admit, but he just lies and shrugs things off.

"This is going to sound weird, but a few months back we had a serious issue and I used a simulation of the original designs to save the ship. The computer simulated you to assist me, based on your files."

But if they did that, there'd be no plot. It's like a Three's Company episode.
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61. Dean_from_Ohio
I'm obviously a latecomer to this thread, but what I find fascinating are the unrecognized jumble of moral perspectives here.

First there is the traditional Judeo-Christian moral universe that holds that morality and moral law are fixed and binding because there is a Lawgiver. Second is the 21st century Western/American ethic (which grew to full strength in the 1960s), which says I can pretty do whatever I want as long as it doesn't "hurt" anyone, and there are no absolutes except the absolute that there are no absolutes. Third is the later Roddenberryverse which uncritically adopts a rather Marxist anthropology, namely that humans are perfectible if only the right desire to be good and a good environment are created, but has all the sexual permissiveness and lack of shame of the 1960s--almost as if both the idealism and the insistence on sexual liberty of Roddenberry and/or his peers were projected into the future.

Don't you folks recognize that if you can make up your own morality, someone else can make theirs? News flash: it might be different than yours. How can you condemn someone else for a moral transgression when you excuse your own? If there is no external moral law, who's to say that cruelty is wrong, for example? Without a transcendent moral law, might makes right, and almost all the discussion above is the philosophal equivalent of building a house on a sandbank in a river. Good luck with that!

You're arguing that the anthropology (one's understanding of what humans really are) represented by how the LaForge and Brahms characters are written here doesn't match reality; people like these two don't really resolve such deep issues so quickly in real life. But you don't seem to realize that the free sex that goes on and on in the Enterprise doesn't seem to have any consequences in the Roddenberryverse either.

It's a lot like the feminists saying back in the 1980s that young men and women should serve together in combat because they could control themselves, while also arguing in other venues that birth control must be taught and provided to young men and women throughout society because they couldn't control themselves.

Ironically, a sexual free-for-all is now being implemented in the U.S. Armed Forces. In 10-20 years, we'll see even better how well the Roddenberryverse works in real life.
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62. Dean_fron_Ohio
Just watching the episode again now, I'm stunned by the reverence for fetal life (of the creature inside the dead mother's body) that the whole crew exhibits. Who knew...the Star Trek civilization is instinctively pro-life!

The total lack of comments above on this aspect of the episode is just another example that our moral instincts are still operational, in spite of the anti-human programming that we've been administering to ourselves in the name of choice. Well done, Gene Roddenberry!

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