Tuesday, February 1, 2011

Ships And Dates In Bottles: "Booby Trap" Is More Average Than Extraordinary.

The Good: Interesting plot, Good acting
The Bad: Disappointing character development
The Basics: A good episode, "Booby Trap" combines an ancient puzzle with a Geordi love story.

Lolita Fatjo, script coordinator of Star Trek: The Next Generation, Star Trek Deep Space Nine, and Star Trek Voyager now tours the country with celebrities she represents, talking about her experiences on the shows. One of the things she's fond of pointing out is how much better Star Trek Deep Space Nine was than any of the others. To that end, she usually cites how in Star Trek The Next Generation, there was a seventh season episode with Geordi Laforge's family because it suddenly occurred to the writers that after six years, they knew almost nothing about Geordi. Indeed, by this point - the early third season - in Star Trek The Next Generation, all we truly know about Geordi is that he's blind and he takes an occasional beating. "Booby Trap" makes clear the beginning of a long chain of circumstances that also define Geordi as someone who can't get a date.

"Booby Trap" finds the Enterprise discovering an ancient battlecruiser trapped in an asteroid field. The amazing archaeological find is inspected by Picard who recovers data clips from the old ship and brings them back to the Enterprise. Once there, a power drain prevents the Enterprise from leaving and it quickly becomes evident that the same trap that killed the ancient ship's crew now has the Enterprise ensnared. Bummer. Geordi, as the episode begins to focus on him, races against the clock to figure out how to get the ship through the energy dampening field with the help of a holographic Leah Brahms, the engine designer of the Enterprise.

To its credit, "Booby Trap" has a plot that is worth sitting through and maintains interest at a fairly constant level. It's a good episode and it is well paced. Events occur with a reasonable pace and with a sense of peril that is often lacking from "Enterprise might be destroyed" plots.

Add to that that LeVar Burton is finally given a chance to act and he, naturally, pulls it off. He's an intelligent man and a great actor. Why his character was almost immediately buried is one of the better questions of the series. Burton himself is not to blame and "Booby Trap" is an enduring testament to the idea that he has something to add to this cast.

On the character development front, things are a little more sour. Picard illustrates what has been implied throughout the series (i.e. in minor dialog in "The Battle"); he ascended to the captaincy from the unlikely role of helmsman. Here he illustrates his helm capabilities. Geordi suffers a bit on the character front. We want to see him as someone having difficulties with socializing, but he doesn't; his relationship with Sonya Gomez in season 2 paints him as a pretty suave guy as far as that goes. He understands people. For some reason, he can't seem to get into, nor maintain, a relationship. Why? Who knows, but it seems a pretty lame way to attempt to develop a character.

The feeling one gets while watching "Booby Trap" was that it was simply an oversight, that no one was bothering thinking about Geordi. That is, most episodes, we expect the romantic attachment will end for one reason or another by the end and perhaps with Geordi, there were just an unusual number of these type episodes in a row. No matter the circumstances, the effect is that Geordi ends up as something of a loser.

Fortunately, "Booby Trap" is not. The quasi-romance between Leah and Geordi is played well enough to come back to this episode. As well, it plays well off the dire Enterprise power bleed story. Accessible to anyone as a pretty basic suspense story, "Booby Trap" works.

[Knowing that VHS is essentially a dead medium, it's worth looking into Star Trek: The Next Generation - The Complete Third Season on DVD, which is also a better economical choice than buying the VHS. Read my review of the third season by clicking here!


For other Star Trek episode or DVD reviews, please visit my index page by clicking here!

© 2011, 2008, 2002 W.L. Swarts. May not be reprinted without permission.

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