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The Next Generation All Good Things come to an end...but not here.

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Old August 5 2013, 03:28 PM   #1
Jeyl
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Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"


Memory Alpha Entry
Chrissie's Transcript
SFDebris' Review

Booby Trap-



...is an episode that many would cite as falling victim to the "Too many cooks" idiom. To those who are unfamiliar with it, it's taking what should be a simple story and making it needlessly complex and convoluted because every writer that this story passed through had their own idea on where to take it. What makes this particular case special is that it feels as though all the writers weren't even in the same room when writing this story and didn't bother to read what everyone else did. That or the higher ups who decided to take their favorite bits from each writer didn't bother to check the final product to see how compatible each writers' contribution was. More on that later.

Our episode opens on the holodeck with LaForge on a date with someone named Christy. We know this date will go nowhere because it not only follows every typical "Bad Date" trope, but because this is Star Trek: The Next Generation, a show that is renowned for our characters starting a relationship and quickly ending it by episode's end. Heck, the only character who actually gets married in TNG jumps ship to a different series where that kind of behavior isn't looked down on.

Back to the A-Plot, the Enterprise is exploring an asteroid cluster that contains a ship that's a thousand years old. Picard being such an expert on archeological finds almost has a bona fide nerd gasm about the prospects of exploring such an ancient vessel. So much so that he joins the away team to explore the interior. It's clear that the person writing this part of the story understood Picard's fascination for exploring the unknown and wanting to preserve such finds with lines like

"That ship belongs in a museum."
"You'd expect the bridge layout of this era to be clumsy, awkward, but look at this. It's a model of simplicity. Elegant, functional. They built this craft for generations. And it worked."

and upon returning...

"Thrilling. That was absolutely thrilling."

Too bad the person who wrote that didn't handle the resolution.

But things start to go bad for our crew when the Enterprise finds herself caught in the same trap that rendered this ancient ship powerless. It seems that the asteroids actually drain energy from sources around them and is quickly draining the Enterprise to the point where it can hardly move at all. This is where we get what I can only assume was the "creepy and unintelligent" portion of the episode comes in with Picard making one of the worst command decisions of this entire season and Geordi literally getting attached to the Enterprise's AI. And I am not kidding. The crew know that the asteroids absorb energy, and they are actually contemplating firing their phasers at them.... Phasers.... beams of energy. Here's where the stupid part comes in.

RIKER: I recommend we fire directional phasers at those coordinates.
LAFORGE: We won't be able to maintain energy reserves. We might even lose a few circuits in the new configuration.
PICARD: How critical will the losses be?
LAFORGE: Not enough to shut down our engines, but if we don't make it I don't know that I can hold the shields.
DATA: There is also the possibility that the phasers will supply the assimilators with what they need most. Energy.
PICARD: You know, I imagine a very similar discussion taking place on our neighbour ship over a thousand years ago. Let's hope our decisions are more successful than theirs were. Mister La Forge, I want you to return to Engineering and continue with your efforts without delay. Mister Worf, prepare the phasers.
WORF: Phasers locked on coordinates.
PICARD: Fire.
*Enterprise shoots at the asteroids*
RIKER: Nothing.
WORF: Radiation levels increasing. Eight percent. Ten percent.
DATA: Energy reserves are dropping rapidly, sir.
PICARD: Damn you.
This scene is just... astonishing. When I was watching it on BluRay, I actually rewound to the part where Data literally explains to Picard that the phasers would give these "energy consuming" asteroids what they need, ENERGY! Seeing Picard brush this warning aside and firing the phasers anyway, I felt like I was watching an episode of Enterprise with Jonathan Archer doing his typical screw up job because he didn't want to listen to his Vulcan crew member's warning. Only in Enterprise, there was a slight chance that the writers would make Archer's decision be treated as an actual mistake on his part, where as this episode tries to play it out like Picard was cleverly fooled, hence the "Damn you" line. Yeah, if you want your story to be clever, you've got to be clever yourself.

So things go from bad to worse, Geordi tries working on ways to come up with a way out of there, and we finally get one. The Enterprise will free itself! So we spend a good chunk of this episode going over this plan to find out that it has a low chance of success, so LaForge decides to abandon the plan entirely and declare "We don't need no stinkin computers! We have our minds to pull us out of this problem!" The plan works and the Enterprise is safely clear of the astroid field with all systems coming back online. So now that the Enterprise is free and fully restored, Picard and crew contemplate on how to successfully retrieve this ancient and historical ship so that it can be fully examined and restored for historical....

PICARD: Number One, make sure that booby trap doesn't bother anyone again.
RIKER: Mister Worf, ready photon torpedoes. Set to detonate on impact with the Promellian vessel.
WORF: Aye, sir.
*The ancient ship and three asteroids blow up*
This is that thing I was talking about earlier about how the writers of this episode not working in the same room creates some questionable story progression. We have Picard literally falling in love with this Promellian ship at first glance, and than being so gung ho in destroying it without even contemplating on how to retrieve it safely from the asteroid field. Other things to note. One, the asteroids are what was causing the energy drain problem, not the Promellian ship. Two, given how the Promellian ship was the ONLY SHIP in the asteroid field when the Enterprise arrived, it's safe to assume that no other ship was lured into this trap for a period of over a thousand years. So why the urgency to destroy it the moment the Enterprise gets it's systems back? Three, why not just dispatch a beacon from a safe distance from the asteroids to alert all potential craft that the area is dangerous and full of asteroids that drain energy? Ugh.

So the episode ends the same way a lot of female characters end in Star Trek.

LAFORGE: You know, I've always thought that technology could solve almost any problem. It enhances the quality of our lives. Lets us travel across the galaxy. Even gave me my vision. But sometimes you have to turn it all off.
What an a%&. Not only was this entire episode about trying to save the ship from turning off completely, but he's only talking about turning her off. Yeah, technology gave me my vision, but when I say "turn it all off", I mean I'm going to turn YOU off and keep my vision on forever. No wonder you suck at getting women Geordi. You prefer ones who you can shut off with ease.

CONCLUSION:
Despite the many negative slaps I've given this episode, it isn't all that bad. The tension is rock solid, the actors give a good performance and it does tell an interesting story that delves on the "exploration" part of Star Trek really well. It's just a pity that there are so many areas that are in conflict with one another and we have competent characters making really stupid decisions. In regards to Leah (The actual Enterprise)? If you want a story where the ship that our main hero flies around in becomes sentient and the two develop a very nice relationship with one another, watch Neil Gaiman's Doctor Who episode "The Doctor's Wife". It's a far more superior take on the concept and it doesn't end with..... "I'm with you every day, Geordi. Every time you look at this engine, you're looking at me. Every time you touch it, it's me."

STINGER:
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Old August 5 2013, 03:51 PM   #2
Dream
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

This episode perhaps is much more remembered by fans for hologram Leah Brahms than the generic ship in danger plot.

In this episode, Picard is the first person to wear the final version of the TNG uniform that would last until Generations. It's pretty easy to notice it on Picard if you compare it to all the other uniforms around him.
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Old August 5 2013, 05:05 PM   #3
BillJ
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

Another dull outing.
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Old August 5 2013, 05:33 PM   #4
jimbotron
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

A ho-hum episode elevated greatly by Ron Jones' score. It really built up the suspense well. Outside of BOBW, I think it's his most striking work.

I made a thread about the phaser/energy collector thing a couple months ago, but just how stupid do they need to be? It's bad enough when Picard ignores Worf's good advice, but now he's ignoring Data's good advice?
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Old August 5 2013, 06:01 PM   #5
Zippo and Flask
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

jimbotron wrote: View Post
It's bad enough when Picard ignores Worf's good advice, but now he's ignoring Data's good advice?
We would never have seen Kirk act like such a bonehead.

SULU: Reliant in our section, this Quadrant, sir, and slowing.
SAAVIK: Sir, may I quote General Order Twelve, 'On the approach of any vessel, when communications have not been established...
SPOCK: Lieutenant, the Admiral is well aware of the Regulations.
SAAVIK: Aye sir.

Khan proceeds to fill the Enterprise so full of holes that you could have mistaken it for Swiss cheese.
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Old August 5 2013, 06:13 PM   #6
jimbotron
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

Picard was worse in that case. How often do Federation starships launch surprise attacks on each other? Choosing to shoot energy at energy collectors that emit radiation is worse.

Plus, Kirk kicks himself for that lapse. Picard seems to curse the collectors themselves (or common sense).
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Old August 5 2013, 07:11 PM   #7
Makarov
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

This to me is one of the most memorable episodes with the holographic Geordie girlfriend plot. I like how Geordie has to divert power just to keep his gf hologram running Sweet and pathetic at the same time. Poor guy.

Funny how later on Geordie is such a douche to Barclay who got caught up in his own fantasy too.
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Old August 6 2013, 01:53 AM   #8
Trekker4747
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

Fantastic, fantastic music in this episode.
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Old August 6 2013, 07:08 AM   #9
Captrek
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

The stuff with Geordi's social problems is really well done. Uncomfortably so.

The attempt to re-explore The Ultimate Computer themes is a miserable failure. Why do writers insist on preaching about subjects they don't understand? This is a very expensive television show, not a message board.

I like the Promellian ship in HD.

Makarov wrote: View Post
Funny how later on Geordie is such a douche to Barclay who got caught up in his own fantasy too.
Given Geordi's limited understanding of social interaction, it's fitting that his best friend is a machine, but ironic that Data would turn to him as a mentor.
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Old August 6 2013, 08:03 AM   #10
Maurice
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

I hate the way they spend 5 minutes on this ship and then it's "Nothing more to see." Excuse me? What kind of wanna-be archaeologist is Picard? I also think the ship was also much more interesting before they turned the lights on. The less you saw, the more you could imagine it being cooler than the set could portray.

The stuff with Geordi and holo-Leah was cringe-worthy.

The ending, where they blow up the ancient ship, is just awful. Unnecessary.
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Old August 6 2013, 09:35 AM   #11
Lipton
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

Hello! I haven't been around here in quite a while. I like the ancient ship when they were on it and the message that played back. I really loved that, actually. The rest of the show was meh. I would have really liked more emphasis on the ship and less emphasis on the trap. There should have been a way to visit some of the lower decks on the Promellian vessel.

Had I been one of the writers of that episode, I would have done away with the trap all together and had a piece of technology or something on the ship that was extremely valuable, and maybe have Picard and the Romulans fight over it. Would have been more interesting than a B-plot about Geordi's lack of love life very nearly turning into an A-plot.

As a kid, I always seperated the ship and the trap - I actually thought they came from different episodes! They really did feel like creations from different people's minds.
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Old August 6 2013, 12:19 PM   #12
The Librarian
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

I can sort of forgive the phaser thing. The assumption Picard seems to be working on is that if you hit the asteroids with a concentrated burst of destructive energy, as opposed to the ship's engine emissions, it would be enough to overwhelm their ability to absorb the energy, or it wouldn't be able to deal with phaser beams as opposed to other forms of power.
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Old August 6 2013, 02:38 PM   #13
Jeyl
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

The Librarian wrote: View Post
I can sort of forgive the phaser thing. The assumption Picard seems to be working on is that if you hit the asteroids with a concentrated burst of destructive energy, as opposed to the ship's engine emissions, it would be enough to overwhelm their ability to absorb the energy, or it wouldn't be able to deal with phaser beams as opposed to other forms of power.
Burst of destructive energy..... Photon Torpedoes.
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Old August 6 2013, 05:19 PM   #14
Captrek
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

Jeyl wrote: View Post
The Librarian wrote: View Post
I can sort of forgive the phaser thing. The assumption Picard seems to be working on is that if you hit the asteroids with a concentrated burst of destructive energy, as opposed to the ship's engine emissions, it would be enough to overwhelm their ability to absorb the energy, or it wouldn't be able to deal with phaser beams as opposed to other forms of power.
Burst of destructive energy..... Photon Torpedoes.
...which, as we learned at the end of the episode, destroy the asteroids easily. Why they didn’t bother to do that until after escaping the trap I don't know.
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Old August 7 2013, 07:30 AM   #15
Makarov
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Re: Episode of the Week: 3x06 "Booby Trap"

I think the fact that they revisit Leah later on, and show events of this episode again adds makes me like this episode a lot more than if it was a one-off story. And Geordie is a whole new level of creepy / sad.
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