Star Trek: The Next Generation: Booby Trap   Rewatch 
October 5, 2020 6:59 AM - Season 3, Episode 6 - Subscribe

While investigating a 1,000-year-old alien derelict, the Enterprise gets caught in the same energy trap which doomed that vessel a millennium ago.

Memory Alpha is not used to people questioning their judgement.
  • Initially, Picard was to have been involved with the simulated Leah Brahms. Michael Piller recalled, "It just said to me, 'Picard should be on the bridge, not chatting with some woman.' I said to myself, 'It should be Geordi, because Geordi is in love with the ship and this is a story about a guy in love with his '57 Chevy.' That played into Geordi's character, who's always been a fumbling guy around women, but if he could just marry his car, he'd live happily ever after. He gets to create the personification of the woman who created the engine he loves. It's sort of a relationship between he and his Pontiac." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 188)
  • In an early draft of the episode, Brahms was named "Navid Daystrom" and was intended to be a descendant of Doctor Richard Daystrom from TOS: "The Ultimate Computer". Unfortunately, the casting department did not realize that this would require a black actress to play the part until after Susan Gibney had been hired. At the suggestion of script coordinator Eric Stillwell, the character was renamed, but the Daystrom tie-in was kept by adding a line that she had graduated from the Daystrom Institute. (Star Trek Encyclopedia (1st ed., p. 35))
  • Originally, the holodeck set was to have been a mockup of a warp engine, but time constraints forced the more limited set shown. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 106)
  • This episode marked the first appearance of the final version of the Starfleet uniforms used in the series. The seams running down the sides of the chest were removed, the shoulder pads were made smaller, and an elastic waistband was added to the bottom of the uniform top. Only Captain Picard is wearing the updated uniform in this episode.
  • A blooper exists from this episode. When the away team prepares to leave the Enterprise and Picard is asking if anyone ever built model ships when they were boys, Michael Dorn, as Worf, accidentally says, "I did not play with boys," to the immediate hilarity of everyone on the set.
"Tell me something, Guinan. You're a woman, right?"
"Yes, I can tell you I'm a woman."

- La Forge and Guinan

"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."

- Leah Brahms (holographic)

Poster's Log:
Even though I knew Susan Gibney was Leah Brahms, the cold open with Julie Warner's Christy on the beach with Geordi had me thinking my memory was wrong.

Gibney's performance is spectacular. You can see clearly the moment she "becomes" Brahms instead of a computer mouthpiece for the engineering logs she wrote, and it's a vibrant moment.

Having said that, my reaction to Geordi gets a little cringier each time I see this one. I'm not really sure that falling in love with the ship's computer is the best thing a chief engineer can do and, of course, it'll come back to bite him in the future. I know his success or failure with women is a plot point several times but, dude, you're on the ship to work.

Ron Jones' score for this episode really stands out, especially the musical piece that accompanies the final escape attempt.

Picard's bonding with O'Brien over models in bottles is a very humanizing moment for the Captain. We don't often get to see him rhapsodize about aspects of his youth in that way. It will pay off much later in the series.

Poster's Log, Supplemental:
Hi, I'm hanov3r. You guys might remember me from the recently completed TAS rewatch. I'm really honored to have been asked to help out with the TNG rewatch posts, and super looking forward to checking in with episodes that I haven't seen in years.
posted by hanov3r (18 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Welcome back hanov3r, and thanks!

Gonna quote myself from the VOY: "Meld" FF thread [TNG spoiler below]:
Geordi and Leah Brahms was certainly squicky, but I'd put that closer to (though not quite equivalent to) making a celebrity into a holodeck character—I mean, he presumably didn't expect to actually meet the real Brahms, though perhaps he should have expected to.
Agreed about the ship in a bottle scene; a cool, fun moment. I also love the stuff aboard the alien ship: the writing, directing, and acting really came together there to underscore (IMO) the mindblowingness of walking around on a 1,000-year-old ship.

MA also notes that "Gabrielle Beaumont [...] is the first woman to direct on Star Trek," which seems striking until you remember that the full purge of the TOS-era old-boys'-club has not yet been completed as of this episode (IIRC?…or if so, it was recently concluded).
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:10 AM on October 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Riker and Picard are in the Ready Room discussing the option Geordi has come up with: giving control of the ship over to the computer to fly them out of the field. Riker gives a little spiel about about being reliant on computers or something and Picard chimes in about how the computer is now flying us.

What separates the computer from Data?

Do you all feel like the Leah Brahms image was sentient?
posted by Fukiyama at 8:14 AM on October 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Although I tend to prefer the next episode in the Geordi Two-fer that we'll be talking about this week, this one was fine, and I think that I liked it better than I did originally when I watched it after watching this season's "Hollow Pursuits", which in turn I watched after Barclay's appearances on VOY and in the First Contact film. My reaction then was, wow, Geordi, you're saying that crap about "Broccoli" after the thing with Leah Brahms got started? I'm feeling a bit more sanguine about it now, although I'll have a bit more to say about it when we do "Hollow Pursuits." The whole "the ship is a woman" thing was familiar from TOS, where it was used simultaneously as a source of angst for Kirk and an excuse for him not to commit to a relationship; to have Brahms say "Every time you look at this engine, you're looking at me. Every time you touch it, it's me", well, I can't help but imagine Sonya Gomez or somebody going, "Chief, is it really necessary to polish the warp core?" and La Forge going, "Hey, would you mind leaving us alone?" I mean, there can be something sexy about an intense give-and-take collaboration--they don't call it "competence porn" for nothing--but I still went "dude, no" when he asked her (or "her") whether she liked Italian food. Although... now that I think about it, my instinctive reaction of dismay shows that the episode's point--that there's a very slippery slope and/or a very fuzzy line when it comes to developing feelings for a fictional character (or a fictionalized version of a real person), especially when the characterization is very well done--is legit. I mean, that's your hard core of fandom right there: at some point, whether or not Pinocchio becomes a quote-endquote "real boy", you treat him as if he did. Very meta. (And very awkward if/when you meet the real person, as La Forge will next season.)

The rest of the ep was quite good. A little problematic when, as Fukiyama points out, they have to put in a little speech and bit about how computers will never fully replace people and Data is right there, but anyway. (Also, too, WRT the sentience of Holo-Leah or any other holocharacter: the franchise has usually been pretty cagey about nailing this down, letting the viewers do their own ad hoc Turing test in effect, although it's assumed that Moriarty is, and VOY's EMH certainly shows a lot of interiority, ditto Vic Fontaine on DS9.) The bits aboard the derelict vessel were also well done, with the away team showing a lot of reverence for their predecessors.
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:18 AM on October 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Cards of the episode from the Star Trek CCG:
Premiere('94): Ancient Computer, Gravitic Mine, Menthar Booby Trap, Dr. Leah Brahms.
Strange New Worlds('05): Dr. Leah Brahms, Holographic Representation.

The three dilemmas were somewhat decent to use when the game was new, especially Ancient Computer, which kept the mission locked down until you brought the skills. The holographic Dr. Brahms hasn't got many skills but, at least as a hologram she can't be killed. Oh, and she's got the first instance of the flavor text box simply containing a quote from the episode, which the Second Edition version retains. Speaking of that, the 2E version is simply average value for cost, reminds me of nothing so much of 2E Riker.
posted by StarkRoads at 9:28 AM on October 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

Oh, and also appreciating Susan Gibney's performance; agreed that her ability to switch on her considerable charisma at will was amazing. She will later play Erika Benteen in DS9's "Homefront" and "Paradise Lost", and was on the shortlist for Janeway when VOY was casting.

Also, too, one of my favorite dialogue exchanges in this series:

"It is exactly as they left it Number One, in the bottle."
(dumbfounded looks from Data and Worf)
"The ship in the bot– Oh, good Lord. Didn't anybody here build ships in bottles when they were boys?!"
"I did not play with toys."
"I was never a boy."
(Picard sighs)
"I did, sir."
"(brief pause) Thank you, Mister O'Brien. Proceed."
(Riker gives O'Brien "the look" after the transport.)
"I did. I really did. Ships in bottles, great fun."
- Picard, Worf, Data, and O'Brien

Finally, welcome to the live-action postariat, hanov3r!
posted by Halloween Jack at 9:33 AM on October 5, 2020 [2 favorites]

Susan Gibney for Janeway? Whoa! That would have been something. I agree all the way, she was very good at turning it on and off with Leah's personality.
posted by Fukiyama at 10:15 AM on October 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

My girlfriend also pointed out the stoicism / Britishness / utter captaincy of Picard's reading of the line "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."

It's just one of the many examples over the series of Picard (and, really, Patrick Stewart) knowing that the crew needs to see something akin to nonchalance to not spiral off into mental doom.
posted by hanov3r at 11:11 AM on October 5, 2020 [5 favorites]

A blooper exists from this episode. When the away team prepares to leave the Enterprise and Picard is asking if anyone ever built model ships when they were boys, Michael Dorn, as Worf, accidentally says, "I did not play with boys," to the immediate hilarity of everyone on the set.

The blooper edited back in: Star Trek INtakes
posted by Pryde at 2:42 PM on October 5, 2020 [4 favorites]

The dark scenes with Riker and Picard talking over their options while they're on emergency power were really well lit, great dramatic effect.
posted by skewed at 8:56 PM on October 5, 2020 [1 favorite]

geordie no
posted by ckape at 7:15 AM on October 6, 2020 [6 favorites]

Poor LeVar Burton, he never wanted Geordie to be such a creep, but all the writers ever gave him was fake holodeck lovers and Coco-no-nos.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 11:20 AM on October 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

Every time this episode starts, the first words out of my mouth are "She doesn't want another coco-no-no, Geordi."
posted by The Great Big Mulp at 4:58 PM on October 6, 2020 [2 favorites]

“That played into Geordi's character, who's always been a fumbling guy around women."

Has he? I don’t remember him being like this prior to this episode. This seems to be the origin of the leisure suit Geordi thing.

SPEAKING OF, Geordi changes into his uniform to get a drink after his date? Is there a dress code in 10 forward?
posted by rodlymight at 7:06 PM on October 7, 2020 [1 favorite]

Thing I found odd about this episode is when Picard says:

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.

I was reminded of this when, in some Enterprise episode after a sequence of battle scenes, somebody asks T'Pol why the Vulcans didn't run into as many hostile species when they were first exploring space. She says something like "Those were different times."

In the original show there was more of a sense that there were cultures out there at all stages, some just venturing into space, some having crashed and burned long ago, some having "ascended" into an advanced noncorporeal state and so on. If there are many planets with intelligent species, you would not expect all cultures to develop at the same rate, hitting the same technological development stages around the same time. That seems like a lack of imagination on the writers' part.
posted by zadcat at 1:57 PM on October 8, 2020 [4 favorites]

It seems a bit strange that they destroyed the ship, considering Picard's archaeological background and how enamored of it he was. Surely they could just spam the area with warning beacons and contact Starfleet Archaeological's trap disarming division.
posted by ckape at 8:14 AM on October 9, 2020

Agreed, ckape. A Doylist reading suggests they wanted a ship explosion for the promos.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:04 AM on October 10, 2020

Guinan headware watch: Red teardrop
posted by Kyol at 5:16 PM on January 10, 2021

not only was destroying the ship not necessary, it didn't even fix the problem. The mined debris field is still there. The ship made it more likely that someone would investigate, but it wasn't actually the cause of the problem.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 6:00 PM on September 25, 2021

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