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Booby Trap

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at April 18, 2008 - 9:49 PM GMT

See Also: 'Booby Trap' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: The Enterprise picks up a signal from a thousand-year-old Promellian battle cruiser, which thrills Picard, who never imagined that he would find such an ancient ship intact. But at the moment he leads an away team aboard, the Enterprise begins to suffer drops in power. When the crew raises shields to try to deflect the radiation they believe is responsible, the power drain becomes worse. Desperate for a solution before the radiation depletes the ship's power and kills the crew, LaForge brings up the Enterprise's design specs and begins a dialogue with a holographic reconstruction of Dr. Leah Brahms, the principal architect of the ship's propulsion engines. Riker and Data discover that the Promellians were trapped during an ancient battle in a booby trap that converted energy to radiation, which means that any use of power to escape will only hasten lethal exposure. LaForge concludes that the only way to escape will be to use a quick burst of energy followed by a complete system shutdown, enabling the ship to drift out of the trap without providing it with additional energy. Picard takes the helm and navigates the ship through an asteroid field, using a large asteroid's gravity to slingshot the Enterprise out of danger. He then has Riker and Worf destroy the trap so that no future ships can suffer the same fate as the Promellians.

Analysis: For the second week in a row, the crew is faced with an ancient archaeological mystery, but this time all their lives are at stake instead of one small boy's. Plus the writers seem to have remembered that Picard is supposed to be fascinated with archaeology, for he displays all the excitement about discovering a millennia-old space cruiser that he seemed to lack when Jeremy Aster was threatened by an alien as ancient as the Promellian battle cruiser. It's an odd juxtaposition, two bottle shows focused on deadly ancient technology, both set largely in familiar environments, yet there are enough differences to make "Booby Trap" interesting if not particularly great. Much of the storyline is focused on LaForge's romantic difficulties, beginning on the holodeck with a date that ends with the woman just wanting to be friends and ending on the holodeck with a fantasy girlfriend kissing him. Oh yeah, computer, save program. The dangers of holo-romance haven't properly been explored in this franchise, yet.

And, really, they never have been - LaForge and Barclay both learned their lessons about creating dream girlfriends only to have to face reality, but Kathryn Janeway continued to believe she could only have sex on the holodeck all through her long voyage in the Delta Quadrant. There are some bizarre and slightly disturbing implications to Geordi's connection with holo-Leah, particularly her parting words to him: "Every time you look at this engine, you're looking at me. Every time you touch it, it's me." There are some crude jokes about engine tune-ups to be made here, but more icky is the suggestion that the ship's computer, tailoring holo-Leah to what it thinks Geordi wants, gives him such an objectified nerd sex fantasy. It can't be a good sign that LaForge's confession about his love life is Wesley Crusher; I suspect LaForge's problem isn't being an engineering nerd, as the episode tries to suggest, but behaving more like a late adolescent who wants to impress pretty women with his holodeck dating tricks than like an adult man looking for a partner whose interests he shares. He glee when holo-Leah offers to cook for him is pretty embarrassing, and I can't even watch when she gives him a backrub.

The rest of the episode is well-paced and reasonably entertaining, with some lovely crew moments: Worf's being impressed that the Promellians died at their posts; Guinan confessing that she's attracted to bald men because a bald man was kind to her once; Troi and Riker exchanging smirks over Picard's giddiness about the historic find; Picard looking for a kindred soul who enjoyed ships in a bottle as a boy but finding only Worf, who says he didn't play with toys, and Data, who says he was never a boy; Picard's frustration with himself for falling into a thousand-year-old booby trap; LaForge playing video games, excuse me, conducting simulations to determine how many different ways he can get everyone on the Enterprise killed; holo-Leah pointing out that she can do things LaForge can't possibly do because she's also the ship's computer. (Hmm, maybe it's the computer who wants to date Geordi - he takes care of her engines, after all.)

And it's nice to see Picard taking the conn, partly so a teenager won't be responsible if the experiment fails to save them but partly to demonstrate that his will to stay alive trumps any alien booby trap. The technobabble threatens to overwhelm the story at a couple of points, yet there's enough drama to keep the viewer wondering how they're going to get out of this one, and it may be Geordi's plan with holo-Leah's help, but it's Picard's piloting that gets them through. I just wish the ship had the equivalent of a real-life B'Elanna Torres. I bet LaForge does, too.

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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.

Michelle Erica Green is a former news writer for TrekToday. An archive of her reviews can be found at The Little Review.

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