Star Trek: The Next Generation: Galaxy's Child   Rewatch 
February 8, 2021 8:15 AM - Season 4, Episode 16 - Subscribe

La Forge finds out that a scientist is hardly what he imagined her to be. Meanwhile, they must work together to save the child of a space-borne alien the Enterprise has accidentally killed.

Memory Alpha is notorious for not volunteering information.

Story and script
  • Michael Piller commented, "I always felt that the idea of having reality versus fantasy was an interesting theme to explore and the Leah Brahms character allowed us to do that in this episode. This to me was one of the best concepts we had all year." He added, "I just thought the idea of an alien creature adopting the Enterprise as its mother is something you can't do on any other show." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 217)
  • Maurice Hurley's teleplay received an uncredited polish from Jeri Taylor (on the La Forge-Brahms plot) and Ronald D. Moore (regarding "Junior"). (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion (2nd ed., p. 157))
  • The episode's title has a double meaning: The USS Enterprise-D is a Galaxy-class ship and the creature thinks the Enterprise is its mother after being born when its real mother dies, so the creature is "Galaxy's child".
  • "Galaxy's Child" was filmed between Thursday 13 December 1990 and Friday 21 December 1990 on Paramount Stage 8, 9, and 16. It was the last episode filmed in 1990 and the final call sheet features the note "Have a Happy & Safe Holiday!!! Company to resume filming Monday, 7 January 1991 7:00 a.m. Stage 9."
  • A deleted scene features Captain Jean-Luc Picard and Worf reciting a nursery rhyme.
  • The spaceborne species seen in this episode was represented by a fiberglass model built by Tony Meininger and a CG model created by Rhythm & Hues. (Star Trek: The Next Generation 365, p. 193)
  • Parts of Drafting Room 5 as first seen in "Booby Trap" were recreated for this episode. The set is a modification of the bridge of the USS Enterprise as it appeared in the first three movies. The set is not an exact replica however, as several viewscreens and LCARS monitors appear at different places or are missing.
  • Dr. Leah Brahms (and La Forge's infatuation with her) reappear from the episode "Booby Trap".
  • La Forge mentions that writing isn't his strong suit. However, in an alternate reality, he becomes quite the proficient novelist, as mentioned in "All Good Things...".
  • Jana Marie Hupp (Pavlik) later played another Enterprise-D officer, the ill-fated Lieutenant Monroe, in the fifth season episode "Disaster".
  • La Forge tells Montgomery Scott the story of this episode as an anecdote in the season 6 episode "Relics".
  • Before finding the holodeck program, Leah Brahms reviews an engineering log of modifications made to the ship by La Forge. The last entry on the list which is only seen very briefly is "Tonight on HBO". This engineering log is unlike any other LCARS screen seen in the different series. It is green and features a completely different font.
  • This is the first appearance of the Jefferies tubes as they would appear throughout the run of the series and on other starships of the 24th century. Jefferies tubes appeared before, in "The Hunted", but looked completely different.
  • Footage of the Alpha Omicron asteroid belt was later reused for the Pelloris and Devolin asteroid fields.
Poster's Log:

Is "I've been studying her schematics for years" an intentional double entendre, Geordi?

It feels like the crew takes a long time to get to "this is a life form" and "that is a child". Space-faring species like this shouldn't be a surprise, after the events of "Tin Man".

Picard's emotional pain at realizing he's caused the death of the creature and his growing realization that there may be a child to rescue is just another example of Patrick Stewart's emotive ability.

Guinan, again, bringing the salt in her chat with La Forge.

Dr. Brahms's reaction to finding Geordi's hologram is very well played by Susan Gibney, and very much the sort of reaction I wish we'd seen to Barclay's fantasy in "Hollow Pursuits".

Poster's Log, Supplemental:

I came into these rewatch posts on "Booby Trap", so I suppose it's fitting I get this one, too.

So, let's talk about Dr. Brahms, Geordi, and the reactions to the holodeck scene. Her outrage is warranted and valid - she has no idea who this guy is, or why he'd have a holographic representation of her saying things like "when you're touching the engines, you're touching me". Geordi's reaction to that outrage is... to turn it back on her. "It's not fair for you to be mad at me about this because you've been mean to me this whole time" wasn't a great response in 1991 and it's a TERRIBLE look in 2021. Over on, the recapper says "they’ve turned La Forge into an unrepentant virtual rapist" and, while that's a little harsh, it also feels pretty accurate. And, of course, there's no consequence for Geordi. After Dr. Brahms's initial reaction in the holodeck and a little bit of initial prickliness when she first comes to talk to Geordi about "souring the milk", suddenly they're bonding over drinks, laughing about it, and she apologizes for her behavior. The closest thing we see to an apology from La Forge is his saying that he'll remember her face and reaction "for a long, long time".

I'm not really happy about this one.
posted by hanov3r (31 comments total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
This one is too awkward and uncomfortable to rewatch.
posted by Servo5678 at 8:35 AM on February 8, 2021 [2 favorites]

The more I think about it, the more it seems the tone deafness in this episode is simply lazy writing. Leah's discovery of the program and her hostile reaction is there to create conflict for Geordie. There is no true fallout for Geordie, and it's turned back on Leah, because the writers know Geordie was above board with the hologram. The writers know we know it. And once Leah knows it too, she's sorry for being a dick to such a great guy.
posted by Stuka at 8:36 AM on February 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

"Exhibit A" in my assertion that Geordi LaForge is really kind of an asshole.
posted by AlonzoMosleyFBI at 8:42 AM on February 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

La Forge tells Montgomery Scott the story of this episode as an anecdote in the season 6 episode "Relics".

I mean, we'll get there in the rewatch, but I'm really angry that this is the story they chose / will choose / will have chosen to show the bonding between engineers. In all of the previous 5-and-change seasons, this is the one thing the writers knew we'd remember well enough to short-hand it into dialog? Ugh.
posted by hanov3r at 9:07 AM on February 8, 2021

Strong agree across the board, hanov3r. This was more unpleasant to rewatch than most of season one.

I buy La Forge allowing the fantasy to get the better of him, and I buy him getting awkward with Real-Brahms, but I don't buy him becoming Skeevemaster McSkeevington immediately (e.g. the dinner scene, his various little hints in conversation). And the real dealbreaker here is the confrontation scene, in which (to quote the Greatest Gen guys) Geordi "goes full MRA."

I'm inclined to place the blame entirely on episode writer Maurice Hurley—who you will recall caused Gates McFadden's departure, and who was by many accounts just kind of a dick. Certainly, the wrap-up of the Brahms storyline seems to come from a misogynistic, blame-the-victim mindset; it almost feels like it was written after Hurley got dumped. Of course, Jeri Taylor (later of Voyager) did a rewrite on that half of the episode, but we know from the VOY FF discussions that VOY also got basic morality wrong not-infrequently—but I couldn't say from memory how much of that is on Taylor.

Basically, this is one of the few TNGs where you're actually PLEASED (or at least relieved) when they switch to the Random Space Whatever B-Story because the Relationshippy A-Story is torturous to watch. Right up to its end, even: they're laughing about it in Ten Forward??? and she has that apparent moment of wistful longing to stay on the ship and not go back to her husband?!?!

Speaking of VOY, here's our discussion of holodeck propriety for the "Meld" episode, in which I brought up the Brahms stuff.

The only thing that rescues the character of Geordi is (A) remembering that he has almost no romance stuff after this and (B) pretending like this episode never actually happened—like the Space Ravioli have an undetectable hallucinogenic field and the whole thing was actually in Geordi's imagination. (Or maybe a hallucinated "lesson" psionically projected into his brain by Guinan.)

Also, the next "Geordi episode" is coming up quite soon and is one of his very best IMO.
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 9:34 AM on February 8, 2021 [3 favorites]

I think that more broadly than this episode, having Geordi have so many romantic problems is a failure of his character's writing. He's smart and technically oriented, so the writers made him have stereotypical nerdy problems. But screw that, take away like three romantic storylines and the Geordi we see is: young and handsome, brave and loyal but light-hearted, a decorated starfleet officer at the top of his field. He is charismatic and funny, not awkward and needy--except for the scenes where they need him to be like that. Geordi's romantic problems should be not being able to balance his career priorities with the needs of a relationship, or being afraid to commit, or whatever. It should not have been "can't get a girlfriend", that's just bullshit.

And it's not just bad or inconsistent writing, it's bigger than that. The whole thing plays into the awful Nice Guy narrative, which isn't a real thing. Actual men with Nice Guy syndrome have deep-seated issues that bleed all over the rest of their lives, they're not self-actualized Olympic-athlete Rhoades-scholars who lose out with the girls because they refuse to treat women like dirt. They're assholes who think cordial behavior entitles them to romantic interest. That's not Geordi, but that's apparently all the writers could imagine for him.
posted by skewed at 10:07 AM on February 8, 2021 [8 favorites]

This ep really does cast Geordi in a bad light, but... that doesn't mean that it's without worth. It's kind of the third of the trilogy of episodes that includes "Booby Trap" and "Hollow Pursuits", the second one included because La Forge alludes to "Booby Trap" when he's talking to Barclay. "Hollow Pursuits" is also the ep in which it becomes clear that one of the most embarrassing things that can happen to someone on the ship is to have others walk in on their holodeck fantasy. Even if your fantasy didn't involve doppelgangers of real people, especially actual fellow crew members that you saw every day, you probably wouldn't want people just sort of casually strolling in on you doing whatever, and if you're the ship's chief engineer, say, and had witnessed the excruciating embarrassment that another crewmember had experienced when exactly that sort of thing that happened, and you know that you've got a very special holoprogram of your own involving a real-life person, you might, I dunno, clear it out of the holodeck buffers and probably encrypt the file. Especially when they're going to visit the ship. And you might even take the opportunity to rethink that whole putting-your-fantasies-about-another-person-anywhere-outside-your-own-head thing.

I mean, I totally get the whole getting-a-crush-on-a-real-life-person thing and fantasizing about them and all that, and I think that they could have made a pretty decent ep out of that, and Geordi coming to grips with the reality of what she was actually like. But we could have done without the idiot ball toting and the aforementioned how-dare-you-be-a-real-person shaming of Brahms. I'm also not super-crazy about her being married as a way of establishing that she already "belongs" to someone; maybe she just has a policy of not dating people on the job, in part to avoid situations like this. There was plenty of potential grist for the episode without getting into "every time you touch the engine" territory.

Anyway, it's too bad that this ep had the flaws that it had, because it's always nice to seen Susan Gibney; she later shows up as Erika Benteen in the DS9 two-parter "Homefront"/"Paradise Lost", and was on the short list for Captain Janeway.
posted by Halloween Jack at 11:02 AM on February 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Re: Geordie's stereotyped relationship problems:

Katerina Cavalieri: What does he look like?
Antonio Salieri: Mozart? You might be disappointed.
Katerina Cavalieri: Why?
Antonio Salieri: Looks and talent don't always go together, Katerina
Katerina Cavalieri: Looks don't concern me, maestro. Only talent interests a woman of taste.

posted by Stuka at 11:05 AM on February 8, 2021

The very special episode in which Geordi learns the value of surfing the holodeck in Incognito Mode and clearing the cache afterwards.
posted by wabbittwax at 12:12 PM on February 8, 2021 [11 favorites]

I can't look
posted by rocketman at 12:34 PM on February 8, 2021

The problem with turning Geordi into what they did is that it destroys the character they had created in season one. Geordi was articulate and expressive when called for. For instance, Riker gave him his sight with the power of the Q and Geordi used his few moments of vision to effectively connect with Yar in a non-creepy way that fit the situation. How does that scene play out with creepy-nerdy-Geordi?
posted by Fukiyama at 12:54 PM on February 8, 2021 [1 favorite]

Cards of the episode from the Star Trek CCG:
4 cards from Premiere this week. Birth of 'Junior' was a common(by rarity) dilemma with a lot of flavor for sure, latching onto ships and draining their RANGE until they go blooey. Seek Life-form is a high value space mission....for the Klingons. I like the use of the asteroid field in the image.

Leah Brahms is a 'super engineer'. Nothing that great. At least she very closely mirrors the traits of the holographic version, trading digital immortality for a bit more physical and moral fortitude. Appropriately, she's a big help when handling 'Junior', above.

But forget all that, it's Bridge Crew time! Yes, this episode is the image source for the Premiere version of Deanna Troi. She's an Officer(you'll have plenty) she's a command star(you'll have plenty) she has Diplomacy(you're Federation, you have plenty) and Empathy, a rare skill which pretty much exists because she was a character on the show. Empathy was a handy dilemma buster, and with it Deanna completes First Contact (from the previous episode, not the movie) by herself. She was sort of OK when she first came out but really First Contact(the movie, not the episode) Troi has an awesome ability to save time and can Navigate, use her instead.
posted by StarkRoads at 10:36 PM on February 8, 2021

This is like one of 5 ‘Geordi is an incel’ episodes.

And Geordi has the absolute hide to lecture Reg Barkley about his holodeck addiction, when Geordi knows full well his own holodeck bookmarks are a wretched hive of scum and villainy.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:09 AM on February 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

Yeah, I was about fifteen minutes into this one and I just had to stop. I figured I'd wait for the fanfare thread, hoping that the comments would encourage me to finish it off.

Readers, they do not.
posted by phooky at 6:28 AM on February 9, 2021

This is like one of 5 ‘Geordi is an incel’ episodes.

I'm only able to recollect one other incel moment from him (at least thus far): his entitled jerk response to Henshaw noping out of his corny date in "Booby Trap." Am I forgetting examples from later in the series? (I ask because I just…really hope this rewatch doesn't ruin Geordi completely for me!)
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 7:09 AM on February 9, 2021

"Aquiel" in the sixth season had him doing something creepy in it, as I recall.
posted by cardboard at 7:44 AM on February 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

Not sure if it counts, but there was also that episode where he got "healed" by that magically evolving guy and was suddenly successful with ladies. Which appears to have worn off. Wait, did resurrecting Worf wear off, too? Is Worf dead now? Did they just replace him with some other klingon guy and no one noticed? I'm worried about Worf now
posted by phooky at 7:50 AM on February 9, 2021 [5 favorites]

Between this and Riker getting raped in the previous episode the show certainly had a point of view during this period, didn't it.
posted by StarkRoads at 8:37 AM on February 9, 2021 [6 favorites]

Worf's fine, he was only mostly dead. Plus, Federation medicine is crazy advanced; Picard survived getting stabbed through the heart when he was a cadet, and Space Magic Medicine even got played for laughs in a VOY episode when Amelia Earhart's navigator (in other news, Amelia Earhart, and her navigator, are alive--well, in suspended animation--and on the other side of the galaxy in the 24th century) gets shot and makes a deathbed confession of his love for her... only for the Emergency Medical Hologram to announce that he'll be fine after treating him for a few seconds.
posted by Halloween Jack at 8:56 AM on February 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

"Aquiel" in the sixth season had him doing something creepy in it, as I recall.

He falls in love with a dead officer after listening to her log entries.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 12:10 PM on February 9, 2021 [1 favorite]

I started this in full cringe mode--curled up, shoulders tensed, ready to run from the room because it's one I have avoided rewatching much of, but I feel I have to be a completist here, and I just cannot handle embarrassment or moments of discovery that are based around humiliating elements. And cringe I did, holding my hands over my ears and going "la la la la" a lot of the time. I thought I recalled it getting better partway through and I could last that long.

Oh how wrong I was. I had totally forgotten him going full-on Wronged Nice Guy and her freaking apologizing for it all. What the actual fuck. That scene of them laughing about it all in Ten Forward left me with my mouth hanging open--it was SO MUCH worse than I'd remembered. I kept telling myself that naw, it can't get worse than him fixing dinner in his quarters, or his annoyance at her having the temerity to be married to someone, or...just anything. But it was. It was so much worse.

I couldn't even enjoy the B plot, because I felt so sorry for the space alien they freaking killed, and the poor lonely space alien baby. What a piece of freaking garbage; it was trash in 1990-1 and it's festering trash now. Thank god the next episode is a personal fave, otherwise I don't know if I can handle the show for a while. I feel like I need to shower with a wire brush.
posted by kitten kaboodle at 12:55 PM on February 9, 2021 [3 favorites]

"When you're touching this engine, you're touching me"


I didn't even rewatch the ep, that trash is seared into my head from when I was 15.
posted by His thoughts were red thoughts at 2:30 PM on February 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

Oh, I totally forgot, that absolute worst part of this episode. When Brahms and Geordi are in engineering, they are discussing some modifications he has made, and Brahms makes the following observation:

"The matter-antimatter ratio has been changed. The mixture isn't as rich as regulations dictate."

Geordi responds: "Experience has shown me that too high a ratio diminishes efficiency. I worked with the mixture until I got the right balance."

WTF Star Trek, we established this in season one, on Wesley's last question of the hyperspace physics test, there is only ration with matter antimatter. One to one."

Come on! This is ridiculous.
posted by skewed at 7:41 PM on February 9, 2021 [4 favorites]

Paused it to take out the garbage at the surprise date in Geordi’s quarters and when I came back inside my appletv had rebooted. Took it as a sign.
posted by rodlymight at 8:55 PM on February 9, 2021 [2 favorites]

WTF Star Trek, we established this in season one, on Wesley's last question of the hyperspace physics test, there is only ration with matter antimatter. One to one."

I think it's Wesley that's wrong on this one. The ship runs on high temperature plasma from fusion reactors and the warp drive, but if your matter-antimatter ratio is exactly even what you get is pure energy with no matter left over to become plasma. It makes sense if the mix has more matter than antimatter, probably much more matter than antimatter.

I'd have to rewatch, I don't remember if they ever say if he actually got that question right. It'd be funny if they didn't.
posted by Mr.Encyclopedia at 4:26 PM on February 10, 2021

I'd have to rewatch, I don't remember if they ever say if he actually got that question right. It'd be funny if they didn't.

I remember one or two other mentions of the matter/anti-matter mixture ratios, and it's always about changing it up to do increase power, efficiency, whatever. I just remember that scene from "Coming of Age" really clearly, because I thought the "trick question" was trying way to hard to be clever. So they frame it as this big zinger, make a big point of it, and then (as I remember) like three episodes later they are tinkering with the ratio to save the ship.

I mean, what are we to believe, that this is some sort of a magic xylophone matter/anti-matter reactor or something? Boy, I really hope somebody got fired for that blunder.
posted by skewed at 4:42 PM on February 10, 2021 [1 favorite]

Look, there's plot and there's anti-plot and balancing them is a very delicate matter. If the ratio is off by even a hair, you could end up making an otherwise relatable character look like a complete douchebag.
posted by wabbittwax at 5:52 PM on February 10, 2021 [10 favorites]

Wabbittwax wins season 4
posted by CheesesOfBrazil at 3:54 AM on February 11, 2021

Finally got around to finishing this one and wow does the Geordi plot live up to its awful reputation, but can we take a moment to talk about that B plot? (Is it the A plot? Oh, let's not kid ourselves, this week they're both B plots.) We got:
- Awful effects. Just so so bad.
- Picard flat out murders a novel alien, Has A Sad, and then immediately goes to peace out in his ready room, leaving Riker to mop up. Way to take responsibility!
- Worf's sensible but automatically shot down "but what if babby... hate us?" moment
- They get the baby out, and then decide the best course of action is to back away slowly and take the fuck off. Way to take responsibility, again!
- "I'd like to announce the birth of a large baby … something." ORPHAN, Crusher. The word you are looking for is ORPHAN. WAY TO TAKE RESPONSIB
- "Sour the milk"? How invested are we all in being assholes this episode?
Anyway this episode is all about nice guy creepiness and child abuse, the end
posted by phooky at 11:41 AM on February 11, 2021 [4 favorites]

It would be nice if we had an episode on the perils of parasocial relationships, instead of whatever this is.
posted by ckape at 11:27 AM on February 22, 2021

Anyone else kind of feel like Brahms' reveal in the Jefferies tube was going to be that she was gay? Obviously that would have been really surprising and a bit radical for a show like this in 1990, but here in 2021 I'm getting queer vibes from her. A shame she has to say "husband" at the very end - nothing up until that point said it couldn't have been her wife calling.
posted by vibratory manner of working at 12:25 AM on October 31, 2021 [2 favorites]

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