Star Trek: The Next Generation – Galaxy’s Child [4.16]

Geordi is discouraged when Leah Brahms, the Enterprise’s senior engine designer, and a woman whose holographic image he had become infatuated with, visits the ship and berates him for the modifications he’s made to the ship’s systems.  Meanwhile, the Enterprise accidentally kills a large space-born organism, but is able to save its unborn baby.  Geordi and Leah are able to work together

Teleplay by Maurice Hurley.  Story by Thomas Kartozian. Directed by Winriche Kolbe.

Previous Episode: First Contact • Next Episode: Night Terrors

Comments:
Galaxy’s Child is quite a good episode, which isn’t surprising considering it comes in the midst of the generally strong fourth season.  On the other hand, it is sort of surprising considering that the episode deals with things like romance (generally a Next Generation weak spot) and everyone being in awe of a space-born techno-organic cosmic whale, in spite of having met life forms akin to this several times before (Tin Man, Datalore, and you know, Encounter at Farpoint).  It also features the Enterprise performing an emergency Caesarian section on said space-whale with the ship’s phasers, which is canon fodder for weak storytelling.  But somehow the episode pulls all of those elements together and tells a good story.

If there is actually a weakness to the storytelling, it’s just that Geordi seems to have so much time to mope around with Leah Brahms for so much of the story, considering the unusual and potentially threatening situation that the ship is in.  Until about two thirds the way through, it seems that engineering is barely a part of the action at all. So that’s a bit contrived, but it’s the sort of thing you wouldn’t notice on a first viewing and even then not at all unless you are really looking for issues.

The real Leah Brahms is definitely more interesting than the holographic fake one seen in Booby Trap.  In fact, the episode is as much a deconstruction of the older episode as it is a sequel.  The original story never really examined the weirdness of having Geordi become so attached to holo-Leah – where this episode puts that aspect of things front and centre.  Leah is rightly outraged and genuinely freaked out  to run face to face with Geordi’s “fantasy” – something that many of us have every reason to be grateful is not as possible in our no-holodeck reality.  It puts an interesting spin on what otherwise appears to be just an awkward one-sided romance story.

Perhaps the character drama would have been even stronger if Leah had a clearer motivation for being in such a surly mood at the beginning of the story.  In fact, I mis-remembered that there was a line in which Leah mentioned that she and her husband were having problems that they were sorting through, which I think would have fulfilled that little gap in the character motivation quite well.  So I was disappointed when that turned out to not be part of things.

Shout Out to the Past:
• There are several direct references to the Season Three episode, Booby Trap, including a “repeat” of the holographic Leah Brahms from that episode.

Setting Up the Future:
• No direct set ups, but Leah Brahms will catch a brief reference in the series finale, All Good Things…, when she will apparently have married Geordi in the (alternate, not set in stone, future).

Guest Cast:
• Lanei Chapman will play Ensign Sariel Rager three more times in the series, and also was a regular on the show Space:  Above and Beyond, which I have never seen.

• Jana Marie Hupp, who plays Ensign Pavlik, appeared as a different character in the Next Generation episode “Disaster”, and was a regular on the TV series Ed, which I have also never seen.

Observations:
• Geordi really, really, really sets himself up for disappointment in the teaser

• Geordi has noticed Leah’s change in hairstyle.  No kidding.  It’s a much better look for her.  I noticed it instantly.

• Troi comes onto the Bridge just in time to have a freak out emotional reaction

• Picard is typically negative about raising shields or adopting a defensive posture.   He changes his mind, but too little too late.

• Once again, like in Final Mission, you have this idea of radiation suddenly turning “lethal” at a precise amount of time.  As if non-lethal radiation causes no problems for anyone.

• It’s a pretty devastating moment for Picard to realize he’s killed a brand new (to him) life form

• Picard gets some good lines pondering on both the life of the creature they encounter:  “What would it be like, Counselor? No ship, no bulky spacesuit. Just to live between the stars, have the entire galaxy as a home.”  Later, pondering its death, he says, “We’re out here to explore, to make contact with other life forms, to establish peaceful relations but not to interfere. And absolutely not to destroy. And yet look what we have just done.”

• Geordi is sooo awkward setting the mood in his apartment

• Worf really is a bit one note here.

• I feel like it would sound better if Guinan called Geordi by his first name

• I’ve never heard Picard give orders in kph before

• Riker apparently finds it cute that the creature thinks the Enterprise is it’s Mommy

• Picard orders that no action be taken when the baby creature attaches itself to the ship.  No action?  Really?  You don’t even want to check what sort of danger this puts the ship in?  You don’t want to tell people by the area of the ship its attached on that they should maybe move away in case the creature eats through the wall or something?

•  In the briefing scene, Brahms and Geordi do in fact complete each other’s sentence

• Before she goes to the holodeck, it seems a bit random that Leah is still worrying about engine modifications at that point.

• The Ensign describes a holodeck program to Brahms as if she has never heard of one before

• Guinan pronounces Leah’s name differently than other’s.

• I like Leah’s outrage at discovering Geordi’s holodeck program.  And I think Geordi’s defense (“I offered you friendship…”) is a bit weak, considering he really did a lot more than that.

• It’s a cool visual with the shuttle bay

• Riker really knows his stuff as a first officer.   He is instantly aware of all sorts of apparent protocols for all sorts of situations, and is able to institute them without hesitation.

• Nice image of Leah and LaForge in Ten Forward with the stars in the background at the end.

Crazy Talk: Captain Riker (Huh?)
This episode would have adapted to a “Captain Riker” universe without difficulty.

Dialogue High Point

The most memorable line of the show is almost holo-Leah’s line from Booby Trap:  “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,” because it’s so ridiculous.  But my favorite bit of dialog is Guinan’s astute assessment of Geordi’s relationship with Leah:

She’s probably done the most horrific thing one person can do to another, not live up to your expectations.

Previous Episode: First Contact • Next Episode: Night Terrors

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