In one line: lots of good, but lots of not so good too.
Man, this is gonna be a tough call...
I mean, there were a lot of things to like about the show, but there were also a lot of things NOT to like about it. I haven't the foggiest idea what I'm going to come up with at the end. But, I suppose we'll all find out in a couple hundred lines. :-) Anyway, here's the synop:
The Enterprise stops at Starbase 313 to pick up some scientific equipment, and Geordi has the pleasure of welcoming on board Dr. Leah Brahms, whose image he fell in love with on the holodeck, and who is coming on board specifically to talk to him. He's ecstatic about finally meeting "his dream", but the ecstasy sours when Leah greets him as "the one who's fouled up my engine designs."
As the Enterprise diverts to investigate some interesting radiation readings, Geordi and Leah's relationship goes further downhill. His justifications of his many modifications (that theory doesn't equal reality, mainly) are met with a cold shoulder, and Geordi's repeated slips about things he assumes Leah knows and things he does know about her make her rather uneasy. This comes to a head when Geordi sets the stage for a textbook seduction in his quarters, but Leah is still mostly business and doesn't stay long.
Meanwhile, the Enterprise encounters the source of the strange radiation--a space-born lifeform. Unfortunately, it attacks them, and the only way they save themselves is with a minimal phaser burst which kills the creature. Picard is thunderstruck at what he's been forced to do, and very depressed, but before he leaves the bridge, Data picks up some new readings from the creature...indications of a separate, smaller entity inside. "No wonder it attacked us..." says Picard. "It was about to give birth!"
As the bridge crew, on Bev's advice and over Worf's objections, prepare to help the child's birth by using the phasers to give a Caesarean section, Leah finally asks Geordi about his odd attitude towards her. He tells her that he's admired her (though not about the holodeck), and that he hopes they can become good friends--and she's flattered, but surprised that Geordi doesn't already know that she's *married*. A rather bitter Geordi rails about how wrong the computer was to Guinan, until she brusquely points out that all Leah's done is failed to live up to his false expectations.
The Caesarean, in the meantime, is successful, and the baby is born. The Enterprise prepares to leave, but before it can do so, the baby follows and attaches itself to the ship. Apparently, it's imprinted--on the ENTERPRISE, and it begins to drain the ship's energy. After a brief conference where it's decided to head for wherever the mother was probably heading and then blow the baby off (by depressurizing the shuttle bay it's right over), Leah asks Geordi if she can take a look at a file of all the modifications he's made. He rushes off to the bridge, but she looks at the file--and THEN heads, unknowing, for the very holodeck simulation Geordi fell in love with Leah in. Geordi hears about this too late, and enters just in time to greet a very angry Leah who feels invaded and used. Geordi eventually calms her down (or at least quiets her down) and angrily claims that the only thing he's guilty of is offering her friendship.
The ship reaches the mother's destination--an asteroid belt made up of those elements the creature needs to survive. Unfortunately, blowing off the creature fails, succeeding only in draining power much further and in making the baby call its relatives for help. Eventually, Leah and Geordi, by working together, reason that by changing the auxiliary power away from the frequency the creature is used to, they might "sour the milk." It works in the nick of time, and Geordi and Leah each realize that the "real" people aren't so bad.
Well, that was nice and short (mostly). Now, onwards:
As I said, this is going to be a REALLY tough call. I don't even know where to begin.
The plot, I would say, was basically sound (aside from a few minor technical glitches, which I'll get to in a bit). Given the apparent intelligence level of the creature, its imprinting on the Enterprise made perfect sense. Further, it certainly makes sense that at some point Dr. Brahms might want to talk to Geordi (and that she might not be too happy with his modifications to her designs, being a theorist and all ;-) ), and that he'd have a lot of problems dealing with the real her when she did. So the basic ideas were fine.
The execution, however, was not so fine. I guess most of it can be chalked up to Winrich Kolbe's direction--this is, after all, the director of such other masterpieces of execution as "Up the Long Ladder", "Allegiance" and "The Bonding." But a lot of it just felt very, very stiff--particularly much of the early part of the "creature" plot. I don't usually find myself checking my watch during a new episode (except occasionally to say "how the HELL are they going to resolve all this in five minutes?"), but I did it a few times here. It just dragged--horribly.
This is not to say that the direction was completely worthless. A few moments stood out nicely. For instance, I rather enjoyed the second conference, when Leah and Geordi propose blowing off the creature via the shuttle bay. We have a quick idea from Leah, and a lickety-split pan to Geordi with his idea, then another lightning-pan to Picard's "make it so". While I wouldn't want to see that shot all the time, I rather thought it worked here. So it had its moments, but nothing terrific.
Characterization was also a little on the erratic side. Some of it was excellent--I liked Geordi's scenes a lot, for the most part (but I'll get to that after the rest of them), and Picard's look of pleasure to be encountering something never before seen by humans was a splendid touch. (I also thought that right after Deanna said that the baby had imprinted, Riker's smirk was entirely justified...not to mention hilarious. :-) ) But other bits of it weren't so good. I thought Riker was being far too brusque with all of his orders, particularly an early one when they first saw the creature, for example. I also thought that Picard was actually being a little TOO guilty and depressed for the accidental killing of the mother. I'm all for the careful adherence to protecting new lives espoused in TNG, but this seemed a little overboard, even for Picard. Whoops--almost forgot: Guinan, as is becoming the norm ("Clues" notwithstanding), is really getting nasty. I like it--her second scene with Geordi was phenomenal. That helps.
But Geordi and Leah's stuff helped a great deal more. I've complained more than once that Geordi's being woefully underused, and it was nice to see him handled for once, and handled WELL. (This also, I hope, might answer some complaints about the characters having no human flaws--Geordi's problems with Leah had shades of most people I know in them.) I was cringing during a lot of his seduction prepping, yes; but it was a cringe of "no, no, you idiot--I've TRIED that and it just doesn't WORK!", not of disgust. (It was a cringe of empathy, not boredom, in other words.) I think this did more for Geordi's character than any episode this season (not difficult, since he's the only major character who hasn't been focused on this season), and probably since "Booby Trap" itself. And Susan Gibney did well returning to Leah Brahms. I remember the holo-Leah fairly well, and she did a good job being both like and unlike the fake one. Well done.
Technically, it's mostly good stuff. Certainly, the graphics of the creatures were just phenomenal, especially during the birth sequence. The science--well, it wasn't exactly perfect (they made the same mistake about timing to lethal radiation levels as in "Booby Trap", but at least they didn't dwell on it), but it wasn't too awful. The 21-centimeter bit was the right idea if the wrong specifics: while I didn't see any reason why this creature had to be absorbing radiation in the 21-cm line (contrary to what Geordi said, not ALL matter in interstellar space radiates at that frequency, just most of it), the idea worked in that if you wean the energy away from the frequency it's used to, the milk might sour. So I'm willing to let them get away with it. (I'm sure they're all sighing with relief even now...:-) :-) )
Hmm. Well, I guess that's mostly it. I was glad to see the focus on Geordi, particularly on his continuing social problems, and to see the return of Dr. Brahms. I just wish it had been executed a bit better, that's all.
The numbers, then:
Plot: 7. Would've been a 6 (solid, but nothing phenomenal), but I was happy enough to see the real Leah finally come in that it goes up a point. Plot Handling/Direction: 4. Not without merit, but pretty weak. Characterization: 7. Terrific Geordi and Leah, but the others were at best passable. (That probably would be a 5, but Picard was a bit above the rest, as usual, and I almost forgot Guinan!) Technical: 9. Minor scientific quibbles, but spectacular graphics.
TOTAL: 27/4 ---> 7. Stiff, but hardly a waste of time.
Nightmares, nightmares, who's got the nightmares? Everybody, it seems--I just hope said dreams are interesting.
S'long for now...
Tim Lynch (Cornell's first Astronomy B.A.; one of many Caltech grad students) BITNET: tlynch@citjuliet INTERNET: firstname.lastname@example.org UUCP: ...!email@example.com "Captain, I'd like to announce the birth of a large baby..._something_." --B. Crusher, MD -- Copyright 1991, Timothy W. Lynch. All rights reserved, but feel free to ask... This article is explicitly prohibited from being used in any off-net compilation without due attribution and *express written consent of the author*. Walnut Creek and other CD-ROM distributors, take note.
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