|Geordi's fantasy and reality collide.|
Dr. Leah Brahms (Susan Gibney), the scientist who was largely responsible for designing Enterprise's engines, comes aboard to examine the modifications Geordi has made. Geordi is eager to meet her, in part because of her work, but mainly because of his fantastic working relationship with the holographic Leah during a previous crisis. He's so happy and eager, it's inevitable that he will be disappointed - and sure enough, the real Leah is cold and brusque, seeing him as the man who "fouled up (her) engine designs."
Meanwhile, the Enterprise encounters a ship-sized creature that lives in space. Moving closer to study this new alien, the ship is unprepared when the creature turns and attacks. Picard orders Worf to fire phasers on the lowest possible setting, hoping to sting it just enough to halt its attack. Instead, the energy disruption kills the creature - which leaves its newborn child attaching itself to Enterprise as if the ship were its mother, feeding off the starship's energy!
Capt. Picard: He is genuinely devastated when the Enterprise accidentally destroys the creature. Patrick Stewart's performance has advanced from its already high level throughout this season, and he is outstanding in this scene in particular. Predictably, Picard seizes on the creature's offspring as a chance for redemption, refusing to take any action that may harm "Junior" even after it endangers the ship.
Geordi: Oh, dear. I never bought into the socially awkward Geordi of Season Three, but I at least had hopes that we'd seen the last of that after Transfigurations. But no. Here comes another episode in which Geordi stumbles all over himself while interacting with a fe-male, as a Ferengi might say. In fairness, Levar Burton does his usual reliable job throughout, and is particularly good in the scene in which Geordi finally snaps at Leah. But this is my least favorite type of Geordi-centric episode, and it was all I could to keep myself from fast-forwarding through some of the Geordi/Leah scenes.
Hot Space Babe of the Week: Susan Gibney returns as Dr. Leah Brahms, this time the real version. It goes without saying that the real Dr. Brahms is far more difficult for Geordi to relate to than the fantasy version of the holodeck. She does warm to him, quickly enough that she catches herself and then deliberately reinforces their professional relationship. But that very plot turn, while believable and well-executed, undermines the script's goal for her character. She is clearly meant to be the stereotypical Female Professional Who Pushes Others Away to Avoid Being Hurt. But given the situation, she's actually justified, both in pushing him away and in thinking the worst when she discovers "holo-Leah."
A sequel to Season Three's Booby Trap, Galaxy's Child tries to mix the same elements that made that episode a success: Geordi's interpersonal issues tying together with his engineering skills during a threat to the ship. Unfortunately, the ingredients just aren't as well-mixed this time. The threat to the ship never feels as strong as in the earlier episode. Even when we're told the ship is experiencing near-lethal radiation exposure, there's no visceral sense of jeopardy. And the Geordi plot spends far too much time on his interpersonal issues with Dr. Brahms, with the inevitable finale in which they work together seeming rushed and tacked on.
Basically, it was all just a lot more fun to watch the first time around. The plot with the baby space creature isn't bad, though its progression is just as predictable and obvious as that of the Geordi plot. But because so much time (too much) is spent on repetitive scenes between Geordi and Leah, there isn't enough time to develop the other story in a way that makes it seem as meaningful to the characters as it should. Patrick Stewart conveys some of this in his performance, as he portrays Picard's guilt over killing the creature's mother, but it's not enough to fill in the gaps.
The climax is particularly weak, as more creatures appear and move toward the Enterprise to create some artificial tension, while we intercut between Picard on the bridge and Geordi and Leah in engineering, with both settings featuring far too much Technobabble. My recent Voyager reviews have been tilting toward the negative, and with reason; I'm in the midst of a very weak run of Voyager episodes.
This TNG episode, unfortunately, would fit with that run all too well.
Overall Rating: 4/10