Star Trek: The Next Generation
Air date: 10/30/1989.Teleplay by Ron Roman and Michael Piller & Richard Danus
Story by Michael Wagner & Ron Roman
Directed by Gabrielle Beaumont
Review by Jamahl Epsicokhan
The Enterprise finds a 1,000-year-old relic adrift in an ancient debris field. Picard — intrigued from a historical point of view — eagerly leads an away team to tour the relic. He likens the ship to a ship in a bottle, which prompts an amusing dialog exchange. Picard: "Didn't anyone play with ships in bottles when they were boys?" Worf: "I did not play with toys." Data: "I was never a boy."
Once inside the debris field, however, the Enterprise is ensnared in an ancient booby trap that sucks power from its victims' ships and then uses that same power against them in the form of lethal radiation. An away team discovers that the crew of the relic suffered exactly that fate. Geordi must now race against the clock to find a way to escape the debris field before the crew is exposed to lethal radiation. He does this in the holodeck with a computerized composite of one of the ship's key designers, Dr. Leah Brahms (Susan Gibney).
"Booby Trap" is a good, geeky, technobabble episode. In classic TNG fashion, it is about working a problem and very little more. The technical jargon goes on and on; you sort of have to take it on faith that it has meaning. Actually, writing good technobabble takes a certain level of skill, because in between the meaningless terms a writer must insert a certain amount of tech that actually comes from the real world and is not arbitrary. The writers of this episode know that, because the technobabble manages to maintain a certain level of credibility.
The episode is also about Geordi facing romantic difficulties. He has trouble relating to women and tries too hard to impress them. Yeah, sounds like a nerd problem. Still, I've always found something slightly pathetic about this story's subtle message that the perfect woman for Geordi might be a holodeck character. Or perhaps it's just saying that nerds should date other nerds in their field. Funny — you'd think a place like the Enterprise's engineering deck would be teeming with them. In that case, maybe it's a workplace sexual harassment issue.