Star Trek 161: Booby Trap

161. Booby Trap

FORMULA: The Bonding + Contagion + 11001001 + The Tholian Web

WHY WE LIKE IT: Susan Gibney's charming as Leah Brahms. Picard's enthusiasm. The effects.

WHY WE DON'T: Just too much technobabble.

REVIEW: Most of the cast have personal lives by now, but Geordi's still something of a cypher. While I would definitely welcome a character-building episode for Geordi, nothing in Booby Trap makes me warm up to him. What they've decided to concentrate on is his trouble with girls. That gives Julie Warner (whom I well remembered from Indian Summer) a chance to make a cameo, but the bigger guest star is Susan Gibney as Leah Brahms. She's quite beautiful, but it's really creepy how she warms up to Geordi. This is a computer simulation of a real person after all, and there's just something icky about the whole relationship being taken that far. And that cheesy dialogue! Ouch. Note however that Leah starts out as rather argumentative, so the program wasn't always off-track, relating well to Galaxy's Child. This is also the episode in which he starts to exhibit a bad habit I've always hated: He talks to the computer much too familiarly, and then is frustrated when it doesn't understand what he's talking about. It drives me nuts, and it seems out of place in someone so technically-minded. Though perhaps that's the point of his giving the Leah program a personality - he's actually not comfortable with computers (even if his best friend is one).

Other characters are much better served by this script. Picard's enthusiasm over the archaeological find, he and Riker discussing the use of computers to replace man ("Now the ships fly us"), and the cute bit about building ships in bottles, which makes Picard seem much older than the rest of his crew, and allows O'Brien to make the best of his brief appearance. Guinan is in here too, and as compelling as ever.

And while the effects are nice - especially flying through the asteroid field and the incomplete Enterprise out the window on the holodeck - and there's a tense moment, nicely driven by the music, when Picard pilots the ship out of the field, the story buckles under the weight of all the technobabble. There must've been pages and pages of this stuff in Booby Trap. It's a technobabble problem and a technobabble solution, which is bad enough, but the gibberish streams out of Geordi and Leah's mouths throughout. After dealing with that for the better part of a half-hour, we're as inspired as the crew when Picard decides to do it all on manual. A human resolution, even of the solution itself isn't.

LESSON: I guess it's because the word "booby" has been used in another context so frequently lately, but I'd never realized before that Geordi was facing his own booby trap in this episode.

REWATCHABILITY - Medium: Proof that pretty effects and even prettier faces don't make an episode watchable, the plot is a snorefest. I would watch it again for the character moments... and for those effects and faces too.

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