Star Trek: The Next Generation

"Booby Trap"

3 stars

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.

Previous episode: The Bonding
Next episode: The Enemy

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107 comments on this post

Mon, May 11, 2009, 8:08pm (UTC -6)
For the episode Booby Trap, I wonder how the officers aboard the Enterprise can reconcile their feelings about putting their lives in the control of computers with how they regularly entrust Data with the same. It might seem a giant step for us in the early 21st-century, but in the 24th, I'd be surprised if that step wasn't crossed quite regularly.
Paul M
Sat, Dec 29, 2012, 8:00pm (UTC -6)
Another fantastic score by Ron Jones, infamously fired later on by Berman because his score was overpowering the scenes or something.

I encourage everyone to listen to the track that was cut for being too bombastic. Link here
Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 5:38am (UTC -6)
While I think Berman had terrible musical taste, this actually might have been one of his better calls. The tracked cue(s) they ended up using were perfect for the quiet suspense feel they were going for whereas the original cue feels overpowering. Of course, it's hard to judge because we'll never hear a version that's been properly mixed into the episode.
Paul M
Tue, Jan 1, 2013, 6:03pm (UTC -6)
I love both of those cues.

It's still baffling Berman fired Jones. When I youtube all my favourite early-TNG scores, almost every single one is Ron Jones. Booby Trap, Defector, Best of Both Worlds and others.

Anything is better than the horror of wallpaper we got afterwards. Even listen to some of Jones' soudtracks from Season 4 - they are much worse than before, probably as decreed froma above.
Thu, Mar 14, 2013, 7:00pm (UTC -6)
LaForge doesn't just have trouble dealing with women; he has trouble dealing with his *entire engineering staff.* You know, the people who were putting their heads together to solve this life-or-death problem while their boss played with himself. Well, not all by himself -- the computer helped. Say, was anyone worried that the holodeck simulation exhibited creative thought? That they might have another Moriarty on their hands?

(I'll have to watch again to check if holo-Brahms merely reflects LaForge's inspiration back at him or if she -- that is, the computer -- originates the idea.)
Thu, Mar 14, 2013, 7:10pm (UTC -6)
By the way, if LaForge had bothered to ask his staff for ideas, surely someone would've suggested, oh, opening the main shuttlebay so the explosive decompression would push them out of the trap. Even Riker would've thought of that!
Wed, Apr 3, 2013, 8:30pm (UTC -6)
Upon closer inspection, although holo-Brahms shows more initiative and insight than I'd expect from a non-sentient computer, the actual solution does come from LaForge. No thanks to the two extras seen in Engineering during this episode (who probably could've very quickly suggested the ultimate answer: fire the engines once then coast).

A perfect opportunity for follow-up went unaddressed -- or rather, they addressed it the wrong way. "Galaxy's Child" recalled the bit where holo-Brahms says "Every time you touch the engines, you're touching me." That sounds to me like Brahms is a proxy for the *Enterprise computer* declaring its love for LaForge, the only way it can.
William B
Thu, Apr 4, 2013, 5:50pm (UTC -6)
@Grumpy, good points on both. I especially like the idea that the Enterprise computer is declaring its love for LaForge. But in general, I think it's probably closer to...the ship itself, as a technological entity, declaring its love for LaForge, rather than merely the computer. And this works both ways -- because when LaForge falls in love with holo-Leah, he is most likely primarily transferring his affections for the ship and her engines and her computer into an anthropomorphized version of her. Which, uh, yeah, *Barclay* is the guy with problems forming healthy relationships with people....
William B
Sun, May 5, 2013, 12:31am (UTC -6)
Sometimes technobabble plots are pointless, but at their best in TNG especially tech plots are about human relationship with technology and what this entails. I don’t know if this is a tech episode at its best, but this episode does work for that reason. The episode has a bit of an A/B plot structure, with Picard on the bridge and Geordi on the holodeck; it’s more Geordi’s show than Picard’s, but Picard is a secondary protagonist. Picard used to build model ships and is enthralled with the ancient ship; he is the guy who eventually pilots the Enterprise out. Geordi is down in the holodeck with “Dr. Leah Brahms,” because it’s easier to talk to a computer simulation of a person than the real thing; he eventually comes up with the idea to turn off the computers and tech. The booby trap itself is designed to ensnare ships by using the energy required to run those ships’ vast technology against them, and the only way to escape it, in the end, is to ditch almost all technology and go back to biological basics. So it’s appropriate that the arcs of both Picard and Geordi end up being much the same way: they get into a “trap” by letting their fondness for technology overwhelm other impulses, and get out by betting on human ingenuity.

What we learn about Geordi in this episode does mark him out as, if not necessarily unhealthy, at least unusual. Lots of people have trouble dating, and a lot of his problem with the date early in the episode is, as Guinan suggests, that he is trying too hard. But the primary way in which he tries too hard is to attempt full technical control of his surroundings, spending days on the perfect computer holodeck simulation that will woo the girl of his dreams. The inability to separate out his relationship with people and with machines runs throughout the episode, where first his date crashes because he treats his date too much like a technical problem to be resolved through careful engineering and then later on it takes about two minutes of hearing the computer quoting sections of a woman’s voice reading her technical manual for him to anthropomorphize the computer and start flirting with her, before eventually he starts asking the computer again and again to make adjustments to enable him to interface more directly with (essentially) a human face put on a design manual.

As Grumpy says above, that Geordi chooses to spend all his time with “Leah” rather than with anyone in his *entire engineering staff* is weird, and it is an issue that is flagged for the audience, albeit a little subtly—Picard makes the reasonable deduction that Geordi’s “we” includes other humans and Geordi is a little embarrassed when Picard actually catches him with his simulated assistant. When he explains to Picard that he needs the holodeck to keep running—even to the point of requiring captain’s override—he dances around the fact that he needs his holographic dance partner specifically rather than the more generic and sensible-sounding design simulation. And, notably, the only solution that “Leah” can come up with to the problem of the hour is to give the Enterprise over to the computer and ask the computer to make course corrections really, really fast. The reliance on an artificial woman as his date/sounding board gives Geordi some good ideas, but no ideas that actually work for this booby trap, which is designed to counter tech solutions. Hence, eventually, it takes Geordi gaining the courage to step away from his reliance on technology to get the inspiration to shoot the engines once and coast, relying on the navigator (in this case, Picard) using the thrusters. Geordi even has a speech about it—how he had to move away from the technological paradigm to get away.

For Picard, it is interesting that in a lot of ways it actually is Picard who both gets them into and out of the trap. It is probably standard procedure to investigate derelict craft so it’s not as if Picard is to blame in any grand way; nevertheless, it is interesting and in keeping with the episode’s themes that Picard also uses his experience building ships in a bottle as a way of defusing Riker’s not unreasonable concerns that it’s too dangerous to investigate the ship. Picard is not reliant on technology in quite the way Geordi is, but he’s fascinated by technical achievement in both the past and future, to the point where the crew can’t help but recognize Picard’s geeking out. Since Picard’s inability to resist the allure of a beautiful ship got them into the trap, it’s appropriate that he is the one to fly the ship out.

But notably, Picard’s flying the ship out is not actually a denial of technology, but a different relationship with it: Picard is still using tech and is navigating, but he’s using his own experience with thrusters and with flying through gravitational fields. If the episode is about the danger of overreliance on and overinvestment in technology, the solution is not to throw technology away but to make sure that one is able to control it and wield it properly. Humans can’t fly without ships and Geordi can’t see without his VISOR. There is something touching about “Leah’s” farewell to Geordi and their kiss, and I think it’s something akin to what Grumpy said earlier—“Leah” is the Enterprise computer expressing its love for Geordi in the only way it knows how, and Geordi’s affectionate response to the human face he has put on the ship’s systems is bizarre but also sweet. Talking to “Leah” helped Geordi get to the solution to the booby trap, but the solution is to stop relying on “Leah” (and, by extension, the computer), and so the episode has a bittersweet ending where Geordi and “Leah’s” weird romance ends and Geordi goes back to real life with real people (though without much dating luck, still).

In addition to that, there’s a great musical score in the end sequence and some fun theorist vs. engineer dialogue between “Leah” and Geordi that rings true. I never really thought of this as a great episode, but it gets better the more I think about it. I think that it still doesn’t examine the implications of a computer being able to create an artificial Leah Brahms, or acknowledge explicitly enough how weird Geordi’s relationship with her is (weird, not necessarily bad). Still, on the high end of 3 stars.
Thu, Jun 20, 2013, 6:51pm (UTC -6)
This is one of my favorite episodes of TNG. However, I have a gripe with it. In the end when Picard destroys the Promellian Battlecruiser, it is my opinon that Picard would've never done that. His love for history and archeology, and most importantly his intuition would've allowed him to find another solution instead of destroying the irreplaceable relic.

When he does make the decision to fire upon it, he doesn't even blink. I don't think the passionate archeologist in him would've behaved that way.
Fri, Jun 21, 2013, 6:20pm (UTC -6)
Picard's scuttling of the priceless relic can, at least, be easily ignored without damaging the rest of the story. Likewise, one must ignore the opening scene, when we're told the debris is the remnants of the *last battle* with the Menthars. Um, if the war ended when the planet blew up (which, btw, ouch!), who was still around to lay a trap in the remains?

So I just pretend it was a generic rockpile, not the site of a famous battle. Besides, if it was so famous, how did anyone learn about it without discovering the Promellians' indefatigable distress signal?
nick P.
Fri, Jul 19, 2013, 10:33am (UTC -6)
This is one of my faves also. The Geordi thing does get a bit creepier every time I see it though. But to me, this is an example of a very "regular" episode, but at the peak of TNGs creative juices. Even this episode looks and feels stunning.

The music might be a good part of that. I actually agree the original closing music doesn't quite fit the scene (of course it may have been different after it was edited in the scene), but the clip used (from "Where silence has lease") is probably my favourite musical cue from TNG, so I am quite happy to see it pop back up. And all of this is better than that crap from season 5-7.
Wed, Jan 8, 2014, 4:29pm (UTC -6)
Correct me if I'm wrong but I think this is Geordi's breakthrough episode, and by now it was long overdue because the most important characters of the crew already had one.

IIRC Picard's was "The Battle" (S1 Ep9), Data's "Datalore" (S1 Ep 13), Worf had "Heart of Glory" (S1 Ep 20),Riker's was probably "Haven" (S1 Ep 11) or maybe "Angel One" (S1 Ep 13), both terrible episodes but he was the main character there, although the first good one was "11001001".

Wesley had his as early as in "The Naked Now" (S1 Ep 3) and during most of the first season. For Troi is much harder to tell, maybe "Haven" with Riker, but I'd say "The Child" (S2 Ep 1) was her breakthrough.

When it comes to main cast of yore, Tasha Yar's was Code of Honor (S1 Ep 4) I think; and Pulaski's was "Unnatural Selection" (S2 Ep 7), imo, first episode getting to know her well.

The only character that took a long time to get one of those was Dr. Crusher, with "Remember Me" (S4 Ep 5).


Now, I really liked this particular episode. I only stopped following the technobabble very close to the end, but for most of the episode it sounded like something that makes sense, hah.

As for the rest, you've said it all already :)
Wed, Jan 8, 2014, 5:25pm (UTC -6)
@Rikko: Geordi's breakout ep would probably be "The Arsenal of Freedom" from season 1. Maybe a better way to think of this would be, what's the first BACKGROUND episode for each character?

Picard's would definitely be "The Battle." Riker's would probably be "The Icarus Factor." Troi's would probably be "Haven," thought "Manhunt" is another example. Data's would be "Datalore" and Worf's would be "Heart of Glory."

Wesley, as a child, didn't really have that much of a background and Yar's background was probably explored in "Legacy," years after she died. But it's interesting that Crusher's most significant background story is probably the near-unwatchable "Sub Rosa," which happened in the seventh season.

Did Geordi have a background episode? "Identity Crisis" deals with his previous assignment and "Interface" talks about his mother and shows his father. Otherwise ...

It's interesting that Geordi got as much screen time as he did without ever really getting much in the way of a backstory. He's kind of like a Voyager character that way.
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 11:09am (UTC -6)
@ Paul: You're right! I forgot about "The Arsenal of Freedom"! Geordi was one of the main characters there. And to think that was my favorite episode of the first season. Oh, well, it's been a while.

What I meant by "Breakthrough" was an episode that highlights a particular character for the first time, not necessarily followed by his/her own personal background history. And those eps usually showcase their motivations and character quirks.

That's why I mentioned those S1 episodes for Riker, those were the first to let you know he was something more than just the second in command.

And while it's true that Wesley didn't have much of a background (he was a very unbalanced character most of the time, and didn't sit well with the rest of the crew, imo), most solutions for S1 problems came from him and that established something important: He's a boy genius. If we like that or not it's another mater entirely, hah.

Oh, and I can't comment on those episodes from upcoming seasons you mention, since I'm just at mid S4 at this point in time. Although, I've heard A LOT about Sub-Rosa.
William B
Thu, Jan 9, 2014, 12:22pm (UTC -6)
I think the reason "Booby Trap" seems to me to be more of a true Geordi-focus episode than "The Arsenal of Freedom" is that "TAoF" is a bit of a dead end for Geordi. There are no more Geordi-in-command stories after "The Arsenal of Freedom." It's not a total dead end. Part of "The Arsenal of Freedom," maybe the biggest part, is Geordi working on his interpersonal skills in order to be a good commander, figuring out how to connect to his crew. That carries through into his stories as Chief Engineer, such as "Hollow Pursuits," in which he has to figure out how to be a boss/commander to someone else who lacks ability to connect to people. I don't think it gets to the core of who Geordi is the way "Booby Trap" does.

Notably, "Samaritan Snare" is also ostensibly a Geordi episode, but reveals very little about him except that he's a generally affable guy.

I actually think "Symbiosis" is the first real Beverly "episode," and if not that then "The High Ground" or maybe "Transfigurations." "Symbiosis" is what positions Beverly as the somewhat bleeding-heart humanist individualist, highly ethical and concerned with care but with a different sense of justice than Picard has. But "Symbiosis" is a mess, and "The High Ground" does that stuff better.

I think the first episode that really gets a handle on Wesley is arguably "Evolution," which takes the boy-genius idea and goes somewhere interesting with it (even if the final episode is only so-so), which is what eventually leads to the character's finest moment later in the series (which I won't spoil). Though, I think a case could be made for "Coming of Age" finding a way to make Wesley human and relatable.

The point about background episodes is interesting, because I think that revealing a character's backstory is one way to get into a character's head, what motivates them, etc. But it's not the only way, and for some characters the backstory is a little bit irrelevant. This is why season seven went off the rails, because of the conviction that the only way to reveal character is by examining backstory -- even there, some of those eps ("The Pegasus," "Inheritance") were good to great. That "Datalore" and "Heart of Glory" double as the first "true" character-exploration pieces for Data / Worf and their backstory eps is partly because the backstory of those characters ends up being important to understanding why they are the way they are, especially Worf, but Data to an extent too.

Anyway, my picks for "first episode for a character to really come alive for me":

Picard: Encounter at Farpoint (Patrick Stewart is just that good); in terms of writing, maybe it's not until The Measure of a Man that Picard is Picard in all his awesomeness. the "we need you!" speech in Q Who? maybe is the last piece for me to fully see Picard at his best -- that willingness to admit failing and vulnerability is there in earlier episodes, but never quite so strongly before then
Riker: 11001001. A Matter of Honour is another leap forward.
Data: Datalore, though The Measure of a Man is an even bigger breakthrough
Worf: Heart of Glory
Geordi: Booby Trap, but yes honourable mention to The Arsenal of Freedom
Beverly: The High Ground, honourable mention to Symbiosis
Troi: Haven, I guess; Troi's a tough character, and her first genuinely-good starring role is not until s6
Wesley: Evolution, but honourable mention to Coming of Age
Pulaski: Elementary, Dear Data as a supporting character; Unnatural Selection starring
Yar: Yesterday's Enterprise
O'Brien: The Wounded
Q: Q Who? (he is good in Encounter at Farpoint much of the time, but Q Who? is where the character really sells)
Guinan: the "slavery" scene in The Measure of a Man really makes clear this character is something special. I guess Q Who? is her first "backstory" episode, and that is a good one for her character too.
Paul M.
Sun, Jan 26, 2014, 4:10am (UTC -6)
Interesting how many people really liked this episode, myself included and it's not hard to see why. A good script that builds tension all the way to the end, some interesting character work with Geordi and Picard.

But what really sets this episode apart, at least in my opinion, is a cinematic quality that was all too rarely present in TV trek -- the outstanding Ron Jones soundtrack, the lighting (bridge looks fantastic; wouldn't it be great if it always looked like that during Red Alert?) coupled with generally improved Season 3 production values and here we have one of my favourite episodes of TNG.
Tue, May 26, 2015, 9:20am (UTC -6)
I'm not sure how to view this episode. It's a decent tech episode with some good suspense that holds my interest, but the Geordi romance stuff just does not work for me. I can really appreciate that they made LaForge socially awkward around women because it's a very lifelike problem (and one I've struggled with tremendously my whole life). The solution, however, just puzzles me.

LaForge falls in love with a holodeck character? If it had been crystal clear that Holo-Brahms was a sapient life form - a la Moriarty, the Doctor, Vic Fontaine, or Dr. Zimmermann's "creations" in the episode "Life Line" - then I could buy it. But, as it sits, she's just a holodeck character; a very interactive and personable holodeck character, but one all the same. It comes across like the writers are saying "if your a nerd, you might as well just retreat off with your fantasy women since you'll never get a 'real' woman to like you." I seriously doubt that was their intention, but it still leaves a bad taste in my mouth.

And there's a few minor quibbles I have about this episode. First, why is there a booby trap here? I thought this was the place of the final battle between the Menthars and Promellians, where they each fought the other into extinction. What use would a booby trap be here? It's like the episode brings up the whole "final battle" element in order to establish atmosphere and then promptly forgets about it. Second, why did Picard destroy the battle cruiser? He's an archeologist, a fact that has already been established on TNG; he would never destroy such a priceless historical artifact. Just set some warning beacons and have a Federation team return and retrieve it. But, I guess we had to have an explosion this week, right?

But, like I said, the tech point is enjoyable enough for what it is.

Tue, May 26, 2015, 9:23am (UTC -6)
@Luke - Not sure if this would improve your view on the episode, but it was supposed to be a metaphor for an engineer in love with his ship.
Tue, May 26, 2015, 10:01am (UTC -6)
@Robert - I got to say - that really doesn't help improve my opinion of the "romance" plot. Instead of saying "just retreat off with your fantasy women," that means it's saying "just retreat off with your toys."

That might actually be worse, in my opinion. The fantasy woman reading at least acknowledges that nerds do need romance in some fashion. The "in love with the ship" angle implies that they shouldn't even bother wanting romance, just their gadgets.
William B
Tue, May 26, 2015, 11:57am (UTC -6)
Well, the episode ends with Geordi turning the tech off. In fact, that's the point; the only way out of the titular trap is to turn off as much of the tech as possible, and then Geordi gives the speech about how technology improves lives, allows him to see etc., but sometimes must be turned off. The episode is quite ambivalent about technology, which is what I very much like about it.
Tue, May 26, 2015, 12:20pm (UTC -6)
@William - I actually like the episode better than I did prior after reading your assessment.
William B
Wed, May 27, 2015, 7:27pm (UTC -6)
@Robert, thanks!
Diamond Dave
Tue, Sep 1, 2015, 3:23pm (UTC -6)
Geordi finally gets a chance to helm an episode of his own and it's watchable enough. It is, however, very heavy on the technobabble, which does keep coming and coming and ironically leads to a resolution that involves turning all the technology off...

The sub-plot, with Geordi striking out and then finding love with the holodeck program as he resolves the problem, never quite manages to convince. When Brahms says "I can" - meaning the ship's computer - you have to wonder exactly what Geordi is being attracted to...

Still, it was nice to see Picard's boyish enthusiasm about something - as Troi said, it's not a side to his personality we often see. 2.5 stars.
Tue, Sep 22, 2015, 4:36pm (UTC -6)
Slightly ironic that the first Star Trek episode directed by a woman is called "Booby" Trap
Sun, May 22, 2016, 11:58am (UTC -6)
I loved Data's line: I was never a boy. I loved the inteaction between Laforge and Brahms, but the Laforge love story for some reason I didn't like. And did he put the moves on Guinan? Geez, the writers need to get Geordi a girlfriend.
And the reason Berman fired Ron Jones? He's an asshat...just sayin...
Fri, May 27, 2016, 10:37am (UTC -6)
What more can be said of this episode? Geordi has women issues, Picard shows off his interest in artifacts, and the computer develops some weird holoimages. Actually's let's talk about the third one.

Isn't the computer being kind of creepy to Geordi? It suggests the holodeck program and, after minor instruction form Geordi, the program becomes way too friendly with Geordi, producing the famous "Touching the engine, you're touching me" line. What's more, the Brahms character decides to give Geordi a massage, weirding Geordi out. So I think the computer understood Geordi's frustration and helplessness. Since it couldn't give LaForge a solution, it decided to placate his male ego instead. And Geordi almost gets caught up in it...

So, William B I think got this episode's message right. Technology can be alluring and helpful, but it's no replacement for human ingenuity and control.

It is strange that Geordi's romantic issues never got resolved in this episode, as they took up a good deal of the show. There could be a message in this episode about dating, but it's not clear the writers ever found it. At least this sets up "Galaxy's Child", which is a great episode in its own right. A high 3 stars.
Sun, Jul 3, 2016, 7:49pm (UTC -6)
The whole Star Trek universe, excepting Kirk in both timelines, have women issues. Whether it's Spock and mommy issues, Picard and any-woman-issues, Riker and incessant womanizing, Geordi and his hologram-issues, Harry Kim and his awkward twins issues...

It all draws from the same source, Roddenberry was screwing Nurse Chapel/Laxwanna Troi. She witchy-ways screwed him up in the real universe?
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 12:06pm (UTC -6)
This is one of my favorite TNG episodes. I enjoy every minute of it. Normally I don't like Trek romances or heavy technobabble; Booby Trap made both of these work and really helped me identify with Geordi. I am most fascinated by the ambiguous reality of "Leah" and how Geordi responds to her, but the main plot also has a good deal of suspense and keeps me interested throughout.

I don't think the episode is telling us nerds can't or shouldn't have relationships with real women. On the contrary, I think the point is that technology is not, and can't be, a substitute for living people. Sustainable relationships require us to have not only common interests but a common nature.
Peter G.
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 12:31pm (UTC -6)
@ Dusty,

You just made me realize something I never saw before:

"I don't think the episode is telling us nerds can't or shouldn't have relationships with real women. On the contrary, I think the point is that technology is not, and can't be, a substitute for living people."

Yes! This is what the episode is about. Geordi falling for computer-Leah is meant as a direct parallel with the ship being caught in the booby trap. Both cases involved technology being thing to trap our heroes, and the way out of both was to shut it off. The moral seems to be something to the effect that reliance on technology has its dangers and people have to be able to turn it off at times and still get through life without being utterly reliant on it. Otherwise you end up in a fake dependency on your relationship with the technology, which can cause you to become 'stuck' in your life.

Just to spice it up, I even see the title now as being a cute joke by the writers, since Geordi was quite literally being swept away by a BOOBY-trap. I doubt that pun is a coincidence :)

Thanks for that, Dusty.
William B
Thu, Aug 18, 2016, 3:05pm (UTC -6)
I've thought that pun was intentional for a while, too. :) (I thought about it after I first posted about this episode, and never quite wanted to come back just to talk about how Geordi gets trapped by holographic boobies, until now.)
Sun, Jan 8, 2017, 1:03am (UTC -6)
Meh, not sold on this one....

Very heavy technobabble plot and the Trap is always described, never shown, which is kinda bad drama. There needed to be a visual element to the Booby Trap. Also I find it extremely boring when grown adults, and in this case a Lt. Cmdr no less, display the emotional maturity of a 12 year old.

2 stars from me
Raphael Bloch
Fri, Feb 3, 2017, 6:36pm (UTC -6)
Solid episode, but I have to apply some doublethink to truly enjoy it: first and foremost, asteroids fields this dense, although common in sci-fi, are an absurdity and really undermine every story featuring them.
I agree with previous observations regarding Picard destroying a ship that "belongs in a museum" by his own words 40 minutes earlier.
Sat, Feb 4, 2017, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
Howdy Gentle Sentients!

I always liked this episode, but it forever bothers me when they destroy the Battlecruiser.

I figure, put a beacon out to warn folks away, contact StarFleet, then let them figure out how to rescue the ship. Something from 1,000 years ago, (and from a society that no longer exists), would be a huge prize I'd think. Heck, you never know, they might even learn something from them that could be helpful.

Always bothered me when they blow it up...

Have a Great Day Everyone... RT
Sun, Mar 12, 2017, 4:39pm (UTC -6)
A lot of people seem to think that Leah's last words to Geordi in this episode was essentially the ship's computer declaring its love for him, but I don't quite see it that way.

Geordi asked the computer to synthesize a personality for Leah based on records of some debates she took part in. The result was that the character ended up a fair approximation to the real Leah, but still had the knowledge and records of the ship's inner workings stored in the ship's computer, which is what Geordi started his investigation with. Thus, Leah was "connected" with the computer's processing capabilities, lending truth to her statement that she could perform the necessary calculations fast enough to get them out of the trap.

When Leah says to Geordi, "everytime to touch the engines, it's me", she's not speaking as the computer, but as Leah, who helped design and build the engines. If the person in Leah's position had been some stodgy old man, their interaction would have been completely different. It becomes more evident when the real Leah shows up in "Galaxy's Child" that there is an attraction between them, but nothing will come of it since she's now married.
Wed, May 17, 2017, 1:26pm (UTC -6)
Much better. This is the first Ep from season three I've thoroughly enjoyed. Not a classic, but at the moment good solid SF with solid performances from the main cast will do fine. It reinforces my impression that so far this season they do best when they stay on the ship, and don't get involved with clunkily written locals.

The Geordi romance thing could have become really lame, but didn't. Guinan mercifully appears only briefly. The ensemble cast used are all in good form, and nothing here bothered me. Good solid episode. Outings like this should be the average though, not the stand-outs. Looking forward to further improvement and condistency, which I suspect is coming.
Fri, May 19, 2017, 9:29am (UTC -6)
I wrote


I do appreciate the irony of this typo.
Tue, Jun 6, 2017, 3:21pm (UTC -6)
Good idea for an episode about an ancient booby trap and getting Geordi some screen time, developing his character (being a geek struggling with the chicks) but ultimately it was too heavy on the technobabble and odd that for an engineering problem Geordi leaves his staff and goes off to the holodeck - is that going to be the go-to solution going forward?
This is also one of the few episodes where the musical soundtrack jumped out at me - particularly the score while Picard pilots the Enterprise through the asteroid belt. Was it the same one used during BoBW?
The message behind the episode is also a good one - about how human intuition, thinking can be superior to technology. Picard piloting the ship, using the gravity of the asteroids etc. is good to see.
I'd only rate this 2.5 stars - the earlier parts of the episode, heavy on the technobabble were dull and the ship wasn't in life threatening danger yet - seemed hard to get engaged.
Mon, Jun 19, 2017, 8:32am (UTC -6)
I'm surprised that nobody commented on why the title "Booby Trap" suits the episode so well:

It doesn't refer to the ancient trap that's set for spaceships; it's really about (holographic) Leah Brahms capturing Geordi. ;P

Which proves to be a 'trap' in retrospect when you consider the reveleation from the follow-up episode that Doctor Brahms is already married.
Sun, Jul 16, 2017, 3:47pm (UTC -6)
How come they did not use photon torpedoes on the generators instead of using the phasers when they feed of the energy of the ship? And to make it even more glaring they fired the torpedoes after they managed to get out and they clearly show them also targeting the asteroids around the ship as well. So why not just target the asteroids instead of destroying a priceless artifact? bugged me big time.

Besides that massive plot hole I found it to be an enjoyable episode.
Thu, Jul 20, 2017, 7:50pm (UTC -6)
@Axell They might have been too close to the asteroids to safely use the torpedoes. It's been stated at least once in some other episode of the show (can't remember when exactly) that a close-proximity photon torpedo detonation can cause considerable damage to the ship.
Wed, Aug 2, 2017, 3:10pm (UTC -6)
It was nice to have a Geordi episode but I don't really think much of the holo girlfriend stuff.
I am not sure I agree with Jammer's comments about believable technobabble.
I think the point is that any technobabble should be kept to an absolute minimum. A good start is none at all and yet TNG all too frequently spins an entire episode around this meaningless gibberish.
'Of course , I've got it-if we reverse the polarity of the neutron flow?'
'Yeah then we can reconfigure the matter anti matter field harmonics and integrate them with the deflector manifold resonance...'
'That's right ,then by applying the anti neutrino particle wave in timed packets...'
etc etc ad nauseam.

2 stars
Fri, Oct 20, 2017, 4:21pm (UTC -6)
I really liked the peril and historical enthusiasm of the battlecruiser storyline, but the Geordi/Brahms things is very cringe to me, unwatchably so. Lots of that is my issue, I'm sure, but because of it, the episode works very unevenly.

Geordi's character is the most undeveloped of the TNG senior crew by a wide margin, and I'm not saying that because he's an unrealistic character. Technology gave him sight, so his career choice makes perfect sense. And I know people a lot like him, dedicated to the tech and their work. But still, it's a dramatic series. His problems with relationships were more extreme than we might think, because of his function on a ship that desperately needs his competence, but it is also telling that his closest personal friendship is with Data.

I would like to have seen an episode where he did find a non-simulated girlfriend and there was tension due to his workaholism, his inability to compartmentalize the job. He's just a good guy throughout the series, and I think they could have done a lot more to expand on that.

And no, Picard would not have destroyed that ship. He probably would have notified Starfleet to keep everyone else out as he took apart the booby trap from outside the rock field, then towed the battlecruiser to a museum, where it belonged.
Tue, Dec 26, 2017, 2:32pm (UTC -6)
2 stars

One of the very few season three weak offerings. I just don’t care about Geordi’s romantic life and the boobybtrap jeopardy as fair but TNG has done much better
Wed, Jun 6, 2018, 4:40am (UTC -6)
Another boring snoozefest that I left running in the background while I did other things.

From the beginning the music was annoying, overpowering everything.

Geordi was certainly in a "booby" trap. He sits there alone wanking to a hologram and leaves the entire engineering staff doing what?
Wed, Jun 6, 2018, 10:39am (UTC -6)

I know you're probably fishing with all these negative comments, but I'll bite. If you seem to hate every single Trek episode you've seen, why keep watching them at all?
Dan Bolger
Wed, Jun 6, 2018, 11:08am (UTC -6)
Indeed, del duio. I agree. If you don't like watching something then don't watch it. why endure something you don't seem to like.
Dave in MN
Wed, Jun 6, 2018, 6:33pm (UTC -6)
There's a couple of people that seem to post nothing but negativity and condescension.

The poster's names escape me, but I've seen several creative on the tComment Stream that seemed designed to provoke a reaction: the continuous sexual fetishization of teenage Wesley comes to mind, as do the remarks about Tasha and the rape gangs.

As offended as I was, I don't think it's worth my time to give a ny attention to a troll/obnoxious person.
Dave in MN
Wed, Jun 6, 2018, 6:34pm (UTC -6)
My phone's auto- correct got me, but that should've read that "I've seen several remarks" .....
Wed, Jun 13, 2018, 12:54pm (UTC -6)
Highlight: Worf "I did not play with toys!' lol
So Geordi falls head over heels for the ship's computer. I guess when the ship became sentient later on, it must have felt jilted. Sorry Enterprise, you were rebound girl … errr ….. ship …. errr …. ewww
Sun, Jun 17, 2018, 10:43am (UTC -6)
This episode was OK EXCEPT it made LaForge seem like a creepy guy who finds pleasure in a computer nwonder he cant get a real girl....he seems to only enjoy holodeck women.
Picard, the ever-spouting amateur archaeologist, would neve have destroyed the cruiser....launching warning beacon would have sufficed.
Both creepy and confusing, but the premise was good....NOT the way it was portrayed...smh
Roger W Norris
Tue, Jun 26, 2018, 10:23am (UTC -6)
I have a very simple answer to the problem-- which probably wouldn't work! We know about matter and antimatter. In the last episode, we find out about time and anti-time.
Since the assimilators convert energy to radiation, you simply hit the assimilators with anti-energy. The assimilators will produce anti-radiation! Hopefully, they will counteract each other. More than likely, they will act like matter and antimatter, and blow everything up! And is there actually such a thing as anti-energy? But if we did that, we wouldn't have a story. So....
Prince of Space
Fri, Jun 29, 2018, 4:15am (UTC -6)
To begin, I’d first like to offer my condolences to the powers that be at TNG.

Like you, I also read SteveRage’s scathing comment from January 8, 2017.

I know I don’t speak only for myself when I opine that his reluctance to give no more than 2 stars was both cruel and vindictive, frankly.

Given the normally over-the-top logical behavior of the crew in every other episode, his “...emotional maturity of a 12 yr old” seems designed to only add insult to injury.

I only hope you can find the strength to go on after such an onslaught; verily I am not sure I could muster it.

*Dramatic sigh*
Ari Paul
Thu, Jul 26, 2018, 2:35am (UTC -6)
OK, first thing, Leah Brahms is HOT! I mean SUPER FINE HOOOOOT!

So yeah, you've got that part which is an automatic 2 stars.

Then you have some really thoughtful themes and scenes that tough deeply on humanity's relationship with technology. The "luddite" elements ("now the machines are flying us" etc.) at first appears superficial, but on deeper reflection they reveal some powerful contradictions inherent in the technological lifestyle and worldview and the thoughtful, introspective aspects of the noble TNG characters. These are some very heartfelt reflections by Geordie and Picard that portray deep and sincere concerns about the technological condition. It reflects on a certain moral vision and strength of the characters and makes them feel all the more rich and real. For this, it gets 1 star.

3 star episode.
Sarjenka's Little Brother
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 9:26pm (UTC -6)
I think I see pattern emerging with one commenter with pretty much any episode:

The show is boring. It's playing in background while he does other things. If something has even a molecular whiff of homosexuality about, he springs to brief attention.
Dave in MN
Mon, Jul 30, 2018, 10:25pm (UTC -6)

Astute observation. Agreed.
Thu, Aug 30, 2018, 1:38pm (UTC -6)
Fri, Aug 31, 2018, 12:52am (UTC -6)
I agree with everyone here who has commented that Picard's decision to destroy the Promellian Battlecruiser seems improbable for his character. Very un-Picard like. The distress signal was already turned off so the "lure" of the trap was gone. You would think Picard would want a Federation science team to be given a chance to figure out a way to salvage the ship.
Ari Paul
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 3:11am (UTC -6)
Anyone else pick up on the interracial sexual stereotype subtext?

The prim, proper white engineer who's lived her delicate life in the sheltered cocoon of her "institute" and the big, muscular, virile black man who's out "in the field" doing the grunt work.

I'm not offended by this, I just found it highly erotic. Clearly Dr. Brahms lusts after Geordi's BBC--she's just begging to be "thrust" out of her boring academic life into the wild jungles of open space adventure. The sexual tension here is palpable. There is a mutual respect of course, but it's likely impossible for this relationship not to have sexual undertones. It's an archetypal dynamic.
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 12:42pm (UTC -6)
Geordi isn't a "big, muscular, virile black man". (WTF?) It's you that's sexualising him in a racialised way, not the episode.
Wed, Sep 5, 2018, 10:13pm (UTC -6)
@Ari Paul - No question that was a subtext of the story. Dr. Brahms appeared to live a very structured, academic life and properly had little time for fun and adventure. Geordi was clever in seducing her first from an engineering problem and thrust it into a more personal situation . It's not wonder Dr. Brahms was not very happy when we saw her in a later episode because she missed what Geordi gave her.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Sun, Sep 23, 2018, 5:46pm (UTC -6)
"I just don't get it, Guinan. I can field-strip a fusion reactor; I can realign a power transfer tunnel. Why can't I make anything work with a woman like Christy? It's like...I don't know what to do. I don't know what to say."

In SFDebris' review of the episode (which I highly recommend, especially for his music comparison between this episode and the completely inappropriate dreck used later in Descent), he says that dialog "[sets] up what is either the most applause-worthy getting crap past the radar TNG ever did, or the most disturbing unintended plot that I've seen in a while."

I can see that there's SOMETHING in there, field-stripping, power transfer tunnel, but I just can't seem to parse it. Even if it relates to the theory that Leah represents the Enterprise falling in love with Geordi, I still can't figure out what sexual innuendo comes from those actions. Help?

Anyway, I love love love the music in this episode. The simple brass fanfare that plays over the establishing shots is one of the few music cues I can associate with a particular episode. The synth-y electric piano when Leah shows up and is given a personality is kind of a callback to some of Ron Jones' season 1 work without being too overtly 80s (as some of that season 1 music admittedly was).

I will say I'm conflicted about the changed out music in the escape scene. The recycled score from Where Silence Has Lease works very well and I think it fits the scene perfectly. Ron Jones' original score is basically a pumped up version of the music from the scene where they discover something is wrong and Geordi is running around engineering ("we should be going like a bat out of hell"). I do think it's a bit too pumped up for what is actually a very quiet, edge-of-your-seat kind of action. But what I do like about it is that it ties in thematically with the other music in the episode, save the Leah stuff. It incorporates that fanfare, which you hear two or three times in the earlier engineering scene, and being a variation of that score, it relates back to the crew's initial panic and realization of the trap. Someone did mix it into the episode on YouTube, but it was mixed way too loud compared to everything else so it's hard to judge.

I also agree that destroying the ship in the end was a big mistake. They could've put some warning beacons out and then had a science ship come back later to tow the thing out of there. The flagrant disregard for an historic artifact reminds me of the treatment of the Kurlan naiskos given to Picard by Professor Galen in The Chase. In that episode, Picard nearly crapped his pants over the thing, but at the end of Generations, among the rubble of the bridge, he picks up the head of it and basically discards it, totally uncaring. The good folks at Red Letter Media pointed that out, and it kind of disappoints me that Patrick Stewart didn't raise any issues over the mischaracterization. I can understand it here in Booby Trap since his archaeology background wasn't well developed, but in Generations it's inexcusable.
Ari Paul
Mon, Nov 19, 2018, 11:25pm (UTC -6)
OK, two things I love about Stewart's performance here:

1) Just watch the way he deliver's this line:
Worf: A Promelian Battlecruiser?!
Picard: With its lang-cycle fusion engines still intact!

I mean, come on! Just look at his delivery! Stewart is running on all 8 cylinders and just milking the most out of this. It's awe-inspiring.

2) When Picard steps in on Georgi in the Holodeck when the sh*t it really hitting the fan, and Geordi introduces the captain to the holographic Dr. Leah Brahms. Picard just looks briefly over at Brahms and then stares at Geordi for a good while. It's so awesomely awkward, and awesomely full of tension and Geordi knows in an instant that he has slipped up allowing his feelings to get before his duty to the captain and the ship. It's so subtle--- just great acting.
Dr Bob
Wed, Jan 2, 2019, 8:27pm (UTC -6)
Ron Jones’s soundtrack sounds like he
Took liberties with the soundtrack from
The movie ‘Patton’.
George Monet
Tue, Feb 5, 2019, 10:14pm (UTC -6)
I strongly dislike this episode for multiple reasons.

However the biggest reason is that the booby traps makes no friggin sense no matter how you try looking at it. One of the biggest reasons why it makes no sense is that booby trap doesn't seem to have any actual mechanism at all. It's just deus ex machina and lazy writing. There is no such thing as "energy". There are electrons, photons, protons, neutrons, subatomic particles, chronitons, tetryons, gravitons, etc.. But there is no epiphanous generic "energy". So what exactly does this booby trap act on and how does it get through the shields? Shields which by the way are capable of even stopping changes in the timeline by running chronitons across the shields.

How could it possibly prevent the ship from creating a warp field and also prevent the ship from generating thrust by heating up matter until it is a plasma at a high temperature with a high velocity? Those are two completely different forms of travel. Even when you apply the science of Star Trek this episode makes zero sense and cannot possibly work the way the write says it does. The writer has completely failed in this episode.
Sat, Aug 24, 2019, 3:22pm (UTC -6)
Ha ha ha ha!

When everyone else is saying "there's just too much technobabble", there comes George Monet who listened to the technobabble carefully only to say how wrong it is.

@George Monet:

There is such a thing as energy. Energy. The quantity that is conserved according to physicists. Think of it this way: all ship systems are using one form of energy or another. After using this energy, what happens to it? It becomes useless from the thermodynamic perspective (entropy increases). The only way for this to not increase the temperature of the ship to unmanageable levels is to radiate it out of the ship. All machines do this, and the Enterprise does as well. This is the energy that the booby trap feeds off. So I don't think using energy instead of particle names is lazy. In fact I think it is appropriate and correct. The shields have never been depicted as being able to stop simple radiated energy. (If they could do this, (a) the Enterprise would be a stealth ship and (b) it would heat up very soon and blow up.) (PS. I know radiation is photons.)

In regards to your second question, I think a good way to think of the booby trap mechanism is that it was generating a warp bubble which continuously warped space in such a way that whatever movement the ship made, it could never leave this bubble. The solution was to do an impulse burn so short that this warp field does not react thus allowing the ship to exit it.
Mon, Sep 30, 2019, 1:12pm (UTC -6)
Hmmm. Not a great, but a good one.

I think what I liked best was Picard's boyish interest in the ancient ship, and I loved the scene at the transporter, where Picard is trying to get others to understand building ships in a bottle as a boy, and Worf says he didn't play with toys as a boy, and Data says he was never a boy. LOL. Riker is clueless. O'Brien to the rescue, though. He gets it.

It fits in with the ep's theme about real/unreal relationships, the blurred lines, trying to connect with those different from you. Picard connects with a Captain, 1,000 years dead, the member of another species - but has trouble connecting with Riker. Etc.

There's the repeated mention of a ship in a bottle - a trap. You build something you can't touch. It's trapped under glass. Just lots of isolation vs connection imagery.

Geordi's best friend is an android, and now his girl friend is a computer. Oh, Geordi.

He manages to connect with Guinan, though - and I suppose "being your natural self is the best way to grow as a person and connect with others" is the overall theme of the ep. Technology is a tool to enhance your life, not to substitute for it.

I liked getting to know Geordi a bit better.
Mon, Sep 30, 2019, 1:23pm (UTC -6)
Oh - I meant to add - I am always posting about the meaning of the titles, and I thought "The Survivors" title emphasized the concept of survivor's guilt, which is very much a part of the ep.

And then "Who Watches the Watchers" - the ep is all about God, IMO. Is there a God? The Watchers (the Federation) is trying to benignly stay out of the affairs of the less advanced culture . . . kinda like God giving humans free will. Though it makes definitive statements about superstition, it doesn't really touch on spirituality, which after all, modern-day Vulcans did not abandon. So who is Watching the Watchers? Is there a God?

And then "The Bonding" I suppose is about those things that bind us - family ties, friendships, shared experiences . . .

Now this ep - I'm just gonna let this ep tittle - uh, I mean title - slide on by.
William B
Mon, Sep 30, 2019, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
@Springy, it occurs to me that even the prurient version of the title can be read two ways. Is it a trap for, or a trap by...? Geordi sets a "trap" for the potential girlfriend, and then the Leah-gram "traps" him. What's interesting is how easily she escapes. The perfectly planned date -- which she immediately recognizes and rejects. It's too artificial, and too obvious, a "trap" and sends off flags of being inauthentic. Not that I think there's anything malicious in Geordi's planning -- just that people resist being compelled into connection, and he gives off vibes that he's desperate for connection which he doesn't know how to get. Geordi gets himself trapped by a pretty hologram which mirrors the Enterprise's predicament, and has to extricate himself; he wants to connect and so initially misses the signs and lets himself get trapped.
Peter G.
Mon, Sep 30, 2019, 4:37pm (UTC -6)
Another tie-in with the ship in a bottle theme is that Geordi was trying to 'capture' romance in a way that he could manage, set inside some place like a holodeck, where everything would be 'just right'. He was going for some kind of abstract idea rather than getting to know a person. So yes, as William B mentioned he was setting a trap in a sense, But also what he was trying to do was to bottle romance, to create it in miniature and own it. What's actually supposed to happen is that something is mutually shared by two parties that are discovering what will happen; it can't be controlled by one of the two as a private possession, just as Picard was seeing the alien ship as a potential acquisition to study. But the crisis with the booby trap exemplified what was wrong with Geordi's approach to women: he was trying to do all the right things to succeed, personally, and by contrast the crisis was such that the Enterprise got only what it gave, in equal proportion. It was going to get a reciprocal feedback based on its output, but nothing 'for free', which is what Geordi was going for. He succeeded better with fake Leah (putting aside the potential creep issue) because he was there to work, not to woo, but as a team. He basically realized he couldn't get it done alone, which is exactly what he was trying to do at the start of the episode, to create romance by himself. So the booby trap is also realizing you're in a two-way street; in the case of the Enterprise it was a deadly one, but in both Geordi's and the Enterprise's case the danger was failing to recognize the two-way relationship.
Sun, Oct 13, 2019, 1:28pm (UTC -6)
I like this episode but there are a few things that bug me about it. It's not realistic at all that there would still be a breathable atmosphere Promellian battlecruiser. There would have been sub zero temperature conditions. Starfleet doesn't have environmental suits for the boarding parties? Also it's really odd how Picard says, "I think we've seen all there is to see" after being there for a few minutes just on the bridge. You would think he would be more curious and would want to see more of the ship.
James G
Mon, Nov 25, 2019, 12:55pm (UTC -6)
I liked this one. Not the most memorable, or inspirational. But the technobabble game in this one is strong. Often, I can't suspend disbelief when Star Trek characters are conversing in techno-nonsense. Here, I could.

One thing I thought amusing was that while the ship was on emergency energy, the lights were dimmed in the meeting room where Picard and his chief officers discussed their options. Imagine how energy-efficient artificial lighting must be in the 24th Century. And consider how much power that lighting consumes, as a fraction of the output a starship must be capable of.

In a drama aboard a WW2 submarine it would have made more sense. But even here it works as a sort of metaphorical effect.
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 5:06pm (UTC -6)
I also liked this episode. One part of it that gave me a big smile was that there was Dr. Brahms, who Geordi works with and, even though she is not real, has a successful little romance with. And in his failed date at the beginning of the episode he has the violinist play Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Brahms!
Peter G.
Thu, Jan 30, 2020, 5:23pm (UTC -6)
"And in his failed date at the beginning of the episode he has the violinist play Hungarian Dance No. 5 by Brahms!"

Yeah it's a shame that Berman didn't let Ron Jones or that Brahms guy compose for TNG after S3.
Thu, Jun 4, 2020, 1:19am (UTC -6)
This was always on my list of better episodes - not my favorite, but I was always less interested in the people than I was about the starship and technology, even if it was fake. Shrug, it's just who I am. Maybe it's because I too have problems dealing with other people. Maybe it's just because I'm a weird geek.

I'm not saying it was a _great_ episode, but there were far too many stories about either Data and/or the Holodeck malfunctioning, and this was one of those few occasions where both worked as they were intended.
Sat, Jun 27, 2020, 9:36pm (UTC -6)
A cheesy beach forms the perfect backdrop to demonstrate Geordi's complete dating incompetence, sent even lower by coconut cup drinks with umbrellas no less. Imagine all that coconut liqueur sloshing inside the poor girl Christy. Before she can escape the debacle a disturbing fiddler playing a Hungarian dance tune completely kills the mood.

While I like coconut, the mixture with Hungarian music is as lethal as any radiation produced by the booby trap device in this interesting survival yarn. This is foreshadowed by Data's wonderfully unexpected "Uh oh!" Line uttered in 10 Forward.

Geordi's pathetic admissions to the solicitous Guinan do not give one much hope for the future, but Booby Trap is a strong episode.

@ ari paul nov. 19 2018....I agree wholheartedly that the scene where Picard encounters Geordi and Leah is really great. In fact, it foreshadow Picard as Locutus more than a little bit. It goes like this,
Geordi: 'captain meet Leah.'
Picard: silent...Blank glare with incipient sneer.
Geordi: 'We've been working on the problem.'
Picard: "And?"
Geordi: 'we may have a chance if we turn control over to the computer.'
Picard: "what kind of a chance?"
Geordi: 'either it will work or we all die.'
Picard: "and this is the only way?"
Geordi: 'Sorry to say, I think that it is.'

Patrick Stewart asks 3 questions with a deadly lack of enthusiasm at the responses (brilliant performance). The camera work is great between him and Leah, and Geordi's exhaustion nails it. It has to be one of TNG's great scenes.

Finally, @ Dr. Bob, jan. 2, 2019 good ID on the origin of the trumpet echos in the soundtrack; they being inspired by Jerry Goldsmith's Patton (1970). They capture perfectly the fleeting glory of a combat that ended without a victor centuries before.

A very pleasing experience! 7/9!
Zuriel Seven
Wed, Aug 19, 2020, 1:27pm (UTC -6)
The way LeVar makes you cringe over Geordi's holodeck date with Christy, complete with a "hover hand" technique that I swear I just saw for the first time despite having watched this ep about fifty times by now, really set the tone for not just the episode but Geordi's character in general for the next several years of his dating relationships, straight through Aquiel. The forced awkwardness is sublime in this episode and really plays against the comfort evident in the way he relates to Holo-Leah. Frankly, I remember the last time that I felt that on a date - her name was S... well... never mind.

As a kid watching this ep the day it first aired, I really only took as canon what I saw onscreen. For that reason, I've never gotten the same skeeviness that many do in this episode or in Galaxy's Child when real Leah goes into her verbal curb-stomp with Geordi. From that perspective, this episode really is about how comfortable this man is when he's in his element and that's the plane across which LeVar seems to have perfectly reflected Geordi as a character.

As Geordi becomes more and more comfortable with tense situations in which his skills matter, the rest of the senior staff evinces levels of anxiety, shared by the rest of the entire crew, while Geordi himself remains unshakeable.

I'm going to use that hover-hand, right when things his Maximum Awkward, though - judging by the comments above, it's perfectly useful as a pest repellent.
Wed, Sep 16, 2020, 3:00pm (UTC -6)
With more time, it would have been good to learn more about the Fomilions. Picard and Worf were obviously impressed.
Tue, Mar 9, 2021, 6:02pm (UTC -6)
The best part of the episode was the beginning with Picard's youthful zeal for discovery being on full display. Stewart does a great job channeling wonderment which is all the more impressive given the budgetary constraints they had compared to today's TV fare. To be able to have bright, shining eyes full of joy and curiosity on those sets is what makes me enjoy his Picard so much.

The rest of it bogs down a bit. This is about as good as you can get from a Geordi episode. Burton might be the nicest human being alive but he just doesn't have the chops to truly carry an episode which makes two Geordi-heavy episodes all the more difficult with the Enemy Mine type episode coming up.

If I recall the Brahms program comes back at some point in a storyline that is far more pertinent to today's ethical issues around Deepfakes than I think anyone who wrote TNG could have ever guessed.
Bob ( a different one)
Tue, Mar 9, 2021, 6:11pm (UTC -6)
"Burton might be the nicest human being alive but he just doesn't have the chops to truly carry an episode"

"The Mind's Eye" from season 4 is a Geordi episode that I like quite a bit.
Sat, Mar 13, 2021, 4:58pm (UTC -6)
The thing is I really like Burton going back to my days as a kid watching Reading Rainbow on the heels of Roots.

Given a narrow set of circumstances he is fantastic. He's an incredibly likeable and earnest person which is part of why his role in roots landed so well - you hate what he's going through because you immediately want to root for him.

So he's good in those moments where he's ultra-human. When I like him on TNG I like him a lot. When he's the good type of incel, the type who doesn't turn rejection into anger towards women but tries to figure out what he could do differently, I like that. When he's smiling and laughing and friendly with Wes and the rest of the crew he's fine.

But man, when he's trying to work with the Romulan in the next episode there's very little he says that makes me feel like the actor himself believes in his character's peril so I don't. When he's yelling about the warp core breach I find it takes away from the stress of the moment rather than add to it.

Bitching about him feels like I'm bitching about Fred Rogers. I don't feel good about it because I believe part of the problem with his acting is he's unable to prevent what a good and happy person he is from shining through especially in moments where we need him to do some heavy-lifting in a tense scene.
Sat, Mar 13, 2021, 4:58pm (UTC -6)
Dear RSS Jesus, I really wish I could edit posts so I could not use the word 'root' as a verb in a sentence about the miniseries adaptation of 'Roots'.
Mon, Jul 26, 2021, 2:57am (UTC -6)
This has always been one of my favourite episodes. The pacing is just right - neither too fast nor too slow; there are some sublime musical moments from the score; the story of an ancient booby trap is believable; the sub-story of Geordi’s failed love life and his re-creation of Dr Leah Brahms; some of the dialogue e.g. Picard and his “ships in bottles “ thing. What’s not to like?

Unfortunately, the episode suffers from some of the worst technobabble in the whole of TNG, perhaps the whole of Trek. If they had limited it to slowly building in a convincing way to the solution involving minimum power - which really was believable - they could have avoided most of the babble. I’m sure I wasn’t the only viewer shaking her head and wondering what exactly my response was supposed to be from all this incomprehensible drivel? It added precisely nothing to the dramatic tension, it probably slowed everything down rather.

However, it would be unfair to deduct more than half a star for this, and I can happily give 3.5 stars, and look forward to the episode where Leah Brahms appears again, in a much creepier story involving Geordi. (Can’t remember what it was called, but the movie Galaxy Quest comes to mind…)

P.S. Another great scene with Guinan. Bald men, eh? Picard had better watch out!
Mon, Jul 26, 2021, 3:13am (UTC -6)

The title Who Watches The Watchers? has nothing to do with religion. It’s a straight lift from Plato’s Republic : he proposes a class of ‘Guardians’ who would be responsible for the republic’s youth, especially in a moral capacity. He then raises the question: “who guards the guardians?”, a question that makes more sense in English if you translate ‘guardian’ as ‘watcher’.
Mon, Jul 26, 2021, 8:12am (UTC -6)
Guardians were there to protect the republic from external and internal threats. Also there is no such sentence (who guards the guardians) in Plato's Republic.
Plato essentially argues that Guardians keep themselves virtuous because of the training they got.

The Quote "Who watches the Watchers" is actually from Juvenal.
Mon, Jul 26, 2021, 5:07pm (UTC -6)
Sorry, Tidd, but yeah. It's one of the most famous phrases in Latin ever, so it really shouldn't be attributed to one of Ancient Greece's greatest.
Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 2:04am (UTC -6)
@Booming @Tomalak

Thanks for the correction. I feel rather ashamed, as my degree was in Classics (though Plato wasn’t part of it).
Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 4:12am (UTC -6)
A common misconception. Let's blame your lecturers. ;)
Jason R.
Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 5:36am (UTC -6)
@Booming haha when I first read the comment stream I thought you were correcting Tish for thinking that WW2 started two years before Pearl Harbor :)
Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 7:33am (UTC -6)
I almost did mention that some scholars argue that WW2 actually started with the Japanese invasion of China. :D
Tue, Jul 27, 2021, 5:42pm (UTC -6)

It's funny, just the other day I was in a conversation in which the Manchurian Incident came up, and scholars' debate over whether it should be considered the start of WWII.
Wed, Jul 28, 2021, 1:33am (UTC -6)
@ Trish
I must admit that I probably share the view that world war II started there. For example, without the Sino-Japanese war there would have been no Pearl Harbor.
Wed, Jul 28, 2021, 3:00am (UTC -6)
PS: Sorry Trish, I forgot to add this.
El Treko
Sat, Oct 2, 2021, 7:38pm (UTC -6)
Why was it safe to beam over to the Promellian cruiser? Shouldn’t it have been filled with radiation?
John Pambo
Mon, Oct 4, 2021, 1:41pm (UTC -6)
I do like this episode but some things bug me about it:

There's still a breathable atmosphere aboard a derelict 1,000 year old ship? It still has artificial gravity and a comfortable room temperature onboard?

Destroying the Promellian battle cruiser at the end makes no sense. They already turned off the distress signal. The aceton assimilators which are the real problem, are still there in the debris field. You would think Picard would have contacted Starfleet instead to have them figure out a way to retrieve the ship instead of destroying it.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Mon, Oct 4, 2021, 4:19pm (UTC -6)
"Why was it safe to beam over to the Promellian cruiser? Shouldn’t it have been filled with radiation?"

Radiation dissipates over time. This isn't a natural radiation field, so the only source is the assimilators, which haven't run in 1,000 years. Even some of the most dangerous parts of the Chernobyl reactor are almost approachable today, and it hasn't even been half a century. That's from the radioactive materials that continue to emit radiation, decaying over time. The various alpha, beta, and gamma particles emitted don't hang around or accumulate though.

"There's still a breathable atmosphere aboard a derelict 1,000 year old ship?"

Once the crew passed away, assuming there's no hull breach, then it's not out of the realm of possibility that the air would just sit there and not get used up.

"It still has artificial gravity and a comfortable room temperature onboard?"

This one is a bit harder to swallow, but I guess standby fusion generators can run for a long long time to keep such simple things running at a low level. This is the debris field of a destroyed planet, so there should be a sun nearby to keep the ship from freezing. For as cold as space is, thermal transfer in a vacuum is very difficult.

"Destroying the Promellian battle cruiser at the end makes no sense."

No argument there!
Fri, Feb 4, 2022, 5:32pm (UTC -6)
According to IMDb, Susan Gibney (Dr. Brahms) was considered for the role of Captain Janeway but was deemed "too young." And also according to IMDb, she was considered for the role of Seven of Nine. I’m sure Ms. Gibney is a capable actress, but I can’t picture her in either role.
Thu, Mar 24, 2022, 9:33pm (UTC -6)
There is something off putting here, like some retro Luddite notion that they aren't CONSTANTLY trusting their lives to computers, and I don't mean Data. Though it is odd, given TNG's usual naval gazing, that nobody brings that up.

Then Geordi later waxing philosophical about trusting technology to solve any problem.

This is just whack. One might say this aged poorly, but I remember this rubbing me wrong back first run for the same reasons.

It's also annoying that Picard uses a ridiculously small asteroid for a slingshot effect.

The Geordi arc is good (lame ass for his character, but good character building) as is Picard taking the stick.
Sun, Apr 17, 2022, 5:12am (UTC -6)
I'm not surprised that they're dithering about giving the ship's computer navigation control; I'm surprised that humans manually do most of the tasks they're shown doing, including helm control!

I mean, you manually dock a shuttle? Or slowing to impulse needs a captain's order to a helmsman who then inputs the command on a terminal?! Or zooming in a screen requires the same sequence plus someone doing the equivalent of ctrl+mouse wheel up!? LOLZ!

I know that if the craft was automated with A.I. to the extent you'd expect it to be three centuries from now, there'd be nothing for us to watch the crew do... - but, sheet, my 2013 pickup truck was more automated and autonomous than the Enterprise!
Sun, Apr 17, 2022, 6:48am (UTC -6)
"I'm surprised that humans manually do most of the tasks they're shown doing, including helm control!"

Interesting points. Funny ones too. Your (now ancient) 2013 pick-up truck was built nearly a quarter century after the episode was written. At the time the script was written, (c. 1989) the staff would have stuck in a 5.25 in. floppy disk in the A-drive of some HP model computer to boot up the device and then put the Word Perfect disk in! :)
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Wed, Apr 20, 2022, 2:33pm (UTC -6)
"I'm surprised that humans manually do most of the tasks they're shown doing, including helm control!"

TNG is sometimes even more anachronistic. Some scenes, say the end of "11001001", show Picard by himself inputting coordinates, setting speed, and engaging the engines, essentially driving the ship by wire. In "Remember Me" Beverly is even able to use voice commands to drive the ship (I'm going to assume that's possible even outside her little warp bubble). Under normal circumstances when the helmsman presses the go button, the Enterprise goes.

In other cases however, someone on the bridge calls down to engineering asking for specific warp speeds, or Geordi or someone else is manning the engineering console at the back of the bridge. This isn't just during maintenance cycles or when they're trying to outrun the Borg and need to squeeze everything they can out of the engines. I can't recall which episodes this is done in (generally it's earlier seasons), but it seems like the bridge is just indicating their desired speed and engineering actually controls the warp core from there.

That's basically how and old steam ship works. The speed control on the bridge just has a similar display in engineering that shows how fast the captain wants to go, and it rings a bell whenever the speed is changed to call attention to the engineering staff. They then change the steam injection into the engine cylinders or fire up more boilers, etc., there's no direct speed control from the bridge at all in that case. I wonder if the age of the writers of these various episodes has something to do with it.
Peter G.
Wed, Apr 20, 2022, 3:44pm (UTC -6)
@ Jeffrey,

"That's basically how and old steam ship works. The speed control on the bridge just has a similar display in engineering that shows how fast the captain wants to go, and it rings a bell whenever the speed is changed to call attention to the engineering staff. They then change the steam injection into the engine cylinders or fire up more boilers, etc., there's no direct speed control from the bridge at all in that case. I wonder if the age of the writers of these various episodes has something to do with it."

I don't actually think this is a bug, but rather a feature. It's no accident that TOS, for instance, sometimes feels like being on a submarine bridge. They do have a viewscreen, but Spock is often their only source of information as he peers through the periscope, and the maneuvers they do are frequently done in an information blackout as they try stuff. They even sometimes try to stay quiet, such as in Balance of Terror, the ultimate example. TNG seems to have a nautical theme as well, but this time that of a British Empire era ship, with the bridge officers being essentially gentlemen (and ladies) rather than military people, and even the wood giving it the appearance of a boat. The commands and even physical actions (such as swaying with the ship when under attack) are all reminiscent of a naval encounter, and this adds flavor. If they had gone too much into 'sci-fi' in the physical depiction it would be (a) too on the nose, and (b) too weird. The old-fashioned naval feel gives us the sense of a vast unknown, while keeping things comfortably congenial. It would have been easy for the design team to make the ship's bridge look totally alien to us, 'futuristic', but they weren't going for that. By contrast, I don't think Enterprise's bridge looks like much of anything.
Jeffrey Jakucyk
Fri, Apr 22, 2022, 1:18pm (UTC -6)
That's a fair point Peter, but I don't think it's too much of a stretch for there to be direct control from the helm to the engines. Even when TOS was produced people were used to driving their own cars, and diesel powered ships were more (if not entirely) directly controlled. That's certainly the case by TNG and especially DS9 and VOY, so holding on to such an old fashioned method of operations also risks taking the viewer out of the experience for the opposite reason.
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 11:01am (UTC -6)
I've always liked this episode. One thing bugged me though; Worf was literally building a ship in a bottle in last season's "Peak Performance". Now he doesn't know what they are?
Sun, Jun 26, 2022, 11:09am (UTC -6)
Ok, I was wrong. I got curious and went back to watch the ship building scene in Peak Performance. Worf was building a model, but it was not in a bottle. Still, so much for his line about not playing with toys.

I also agree that destroying the ancient ship was the worst part of this episode and was completely unnecessary and not something Picard would have done. I don't understand why they couldn't have just blown up the generators with some photon torpedoes.
Mon, Jan 30, 2023, 1:04am (UTC -6)
Boring and cringe-inducing.

Except for the "ship in a bottle" exchange, which was gold.

Peter G.
Sun, May 14, 2023, 10:09pm (UTC -6)
I noticed an Easter egg for the first time, in Ron Jones' score. For anyone familiar with the great film Patton, you may notice the main musical motive quoted throughout the episode, including in the teaser. It's the distant clarion call of ancient battle, echoing over and over. Patton was a person practically obsessed with military history, the study of ancient battles, and the desire to participate in the legacy of the great commanders in history. In WWII he advocated for an attack strategy in Sicily, for example, which was the classic historical approach to taking the island, and which the Germans failed to accurately act upon.

In Booby Trap we have several topics come up that Jones no doubt felt echoed the nostalgla and study of the past: the talk of building model ships, the imagining of adventure, encountering a 1,000 year old ship and Picard feeling kinship with its captain just as Patton did with historical military leaders. And they even need to consult the recordings from that ship to learn what they knew, in order to win in the present day. I suppose Jones' intuition is apt, although the comparison is a bit in appropriate if only because Picard doesn't have that same longing to go down as a military legend and join the likes of Napoleon and Caesar, and so the repeat echoes of the musical motive don't resonate as his inner monologue as they did with Patton in his film. As a result the theme ends up working mostly as a repetitious media reference rather than as informing us of what's going on in Picard's head.

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