24 March 2016

Galaxy's Child

Episode: s4, ep 16

The Enterprise gains a giant baby and it turns out parenthood is literally draining. Also Geordi behaves dreadfully.

What Happens
Due to strong feelings while watching I'm going to split this section by plotline.

Baby Space-Thing
The Enterprise goes to investigate an anomaly that turns out to be a massive space-based lifeform. They go to say hello but it attacks the ship so they try to escape, killing the thing in the process. Data notices a life-sign within the body and they realise that it's pregnant. Crusher suggests a caesarian and performs one on a massive, unknown lifeform using the ship's laser. When the baby escapes it follows the Enterprise and Troi suggests it has imprinted on them. Then the baby space-thing latches on to the ship and drains energy from it. The ship is losing power so senior staff discuss what to do. Data extrapolates where the parent was going so they head there and find more of these creatures, but the baby still won't let go. Geordi tries blasting it off with pressure, which doesn't work and the baby drains more power. Visiting engine designer, Dr Brahms, suggests they sour the milk and so she and Geordi change the frequency of the ship's vibration (or something). The baby sends out a distress call and the other space-things speed up, but luckily baby detaches before the ship loses all power. I think that the space creature might look kind of gross if it were rendered with better effects, but actually I like that it's not too detailed. This was a nice little plotline with more emotional depth than I'd expected, and while I feel a baby space-thing would make an excellent addition to the series I get that's not how this show works.

Geordi and Dr Brahms
Picard informs Geordi that the designer of the Enterprise engines, Dr Leah Brahms, has requested to
come and meet him. Geordi previously developed a crush on a holodeck simulation of her that he created with the computer (using her personnel record and psych profile) while he was supposed to be saving the ship. Geordi seems to believe that this means that a real person he has never met is about to become his girlfriend, it makes him weirdly smug and familiar. When he explains this to Guinan she points out that a real woman is not his holodeck fantasy, as ever he fails to heed her. Dr Brahms is there to inspect what Geordi has done to the engines and she's not happy that he's been messing with her design. Geordi is initially nonplussed that she isn't friendly. Then he starts being overly-familiar, which is confusing to her as they've never met and she's there in a professional capacity, plus he seems to know a lot of odd things about her. When she criticises what he's done to the engine he gets angry and defensive, which I think she was expecting, though I suspect he's behaving that way in part because she's not what he thought she'd be like.
Geordi calms down and tries to make a play for his imaginary version of a real woman by inviting her to his quarters. She clearly thinks it's a work meeting, because he makes it sound like one, so of course she's freaked out when he's in casual clothes and there's music playing. She talks herself down by describing some of the negative ways others perceive her (I wonder if she's doing this to try and put him off, that it is something I have done). When he offers to get dinner for her she leaves abruptly, it was clear he was not there to discuss work. Still uncomfortable about Geordi acting like he knows her, Dr Brahms continues with her work and while in a tube they chat about how they both have strong feelings about engines. She compliments some work he's done then he suggests they could be close friends and confesses that he's studied her, without revealing how. She, reading the situation correctly, points out that she's married. It is the most awkward conversation I've ever seen in a tube.
Geordi angrily rants to Guinan. How dare a woman he has encountered only in a professional capacity have the temerity to get married before she ever knew he existed! How dare she behave in a manner colder and more formal than the imaginary version of her that he invented! Guinan points out that his expectations were nothing to do with the real woman and that he should look at her as a person, not his fantasy. After this Geordi behaves better towards Dr Brahms and they work well together. Then Dr Brahms sees a holodeck programme about the original engine design. She goes into it and sees holo-Dr Brahms saying weird quasi-romantic/obscurely sexual things and is understandably creeped out and furious. Geordi rushes in and Dr Brahms realises this is why he was weird with her and assumes he was doing something unsavoury, which makes sense considering the dialogue she witnessed. She yells at him and she says she feels violated. This is where the growing awkwardness breaks and I am so happy at this point. She's found out the truth and is expressing her feelings and I am laughing and I am punching the air! He deserves her fury and should realise the error of his ways.
Then it all goes wrong. Geordi doesn't apologise, but tries to explain. She's not receptive to this, not surprising, she's shocked. Then he gets angry and HE starts shouting at HER. He tells her off for not being friendly to him, even though there was no reason for her to be and he had been making her uncomfortable since she arrived. He doesn't care at all how this has made her feel (she said she felt violated, that is a big deal). He is being an arsehole and I hope she makes a formal complaint. Except that's not what happens. They work together on the power-draining baby problem, and though she's wary at first Geordi seems to win her round with his problem solving. He explains his actions a little more, but he never apologises either for the holodeck simulation or for his behaviour, or for making her uncomfortable. At the end of the episode they're all friendly and laughing about it all and then SHE apologies to HIM!! WTF!!!! I am so angry at this point, so angry. He magnanimously waves away her apology - no need to apologise for feeling angry about me cyber-stalking you or feeling violated when you assumed I was using an unauthorised image of you for sexual purposes.

Oh Captain My Captain
Picard was so happy to see the creature, something that can live in the depth of space, and fascinated by making contact. He is completely devastated about killing it and Patrick Stewart absolutely sells the quiet despair in those moments.

Doctor Doctor
Has anyone ever used a star ship's weaponised laser to perform a caesarian in space on a giant creature before? I suspect not -though space is really weird- and if I'm right this should totally be put in medical journals or called the Crusher manoeuvre.

Blind Engineering
I want to like Geordi La Forge more than I do. I know various people like him as a character and find him inspiring, and I really get that. Everything I know about LeVar Burton suggests that's he's a really great guy who does a lot of good, important work, which I know is separate to the character but seems worth stating. The thing with Geordi is that, as a viewer, I'm not that bothered about spaceships or how they work and that's a large part of Geordi's role. I get that ships look pretty and people get really interested in their features, but a recent conversation with my husband has revealed I care far more about the characters and events on the spaceships of TV and film, than I do about the ships themselves.* As Chief Engineer in most episodes Geordi talks about the ship and the engine and finds engineering solutions to problems and I just find so much of his dialogue uninteresting (this is absolutely not a dig at the vital and impressive work of real life engineers, it's just that I don't find the engineering stuff on Trek entertaining, plus I'm told it's all bollocks anyway). Outside of that his character is generally pleasant and convivial and he's obviously brave, but the same could be said for most of the TNG regulars. His relationship with Data is nice and has some good moments. It's just that whenever he's had a plotline involving his love life I've found his attitude to women intensely irritating and this horrible plot makes him seem dreadful. I have decided that going forward I will keep my rage about these events contained to this episode, but I expect something impressive will have to happen to change to my current cool feelings towards the character.

Guinan's Hat - Red
As ever when Geordi has something to report about his love life he goes to see Guinan, it is a shame that he never follows her advice and sometimes it seems like he doesn't even notice when she's trying to make a point. He should listen more. Anyway Guinan sees where this is going because she's wise, although in this case it doesn't take much wisdom as Geordi is clearly deluding himself when he says he doesn't expect anything romantic. Later when Geordi is petulant she points out that he can't blame another person for how he's feeling, because in the holodeck he only saw what he wanted to see. It is an excellent point and I think Geordi really gets it and he works well (and professionally) with Leah. Shame that doesn't continue when he decides that her feelings about the holodeck version of her aren't worth acknowledging.
The one line of Guinan's that I really love is "She's probably done the most horrific thing one person can do to another, not live up to your expectations." It's a great comment on how the desires of people (especially men) can completely warp their perceptions of other people (especially women) nd how this is something people overreact to. This comment is so relevant nowadays, especially with self-determined nice guys who immediately get angry or offensive when they don't get the reaction they want from women whose affections they have, rather un-nicely, decided belong to them. I think I got so angry here because Geordi was clearly thinking of himself as a "nice guy" despite obviously hiding the specifics of what he'd done, and the story decided that in the end we should feel sorry for him.

Staff Meetings: 2
1. Senior staff discuss the orphaned baby stuck inside its parent's corpse (it's actually kind dark when described that way). Crusher can't say much for certain but suggests it may be premature. She mentions caesarian and Riker suggests doing it with lasers. Work advises against it as the parent was a threat to the ship, he is as ever ignored. Picard says to proceed at Crusher's discretion.
2. Senior staff -and Dr Brahms- discuss what to do now that the baby is sucking power from the ship. They don't know how long "Junior" will stay attached to the ship. Picard asks Data to figure out where the parent was going and Crusher says it might have been going to a safe place. Leah points out that the baby is attached near a cargo bay door, she and Geordi suggest using the pressure inside the ship to blast it away. The meeting ends with Data asking if the baby should officially be called Junior, Picard grumpily refuses.

The End
Geordi approaches Leah in Ten Forward and admits he got attached to holo-her, he's clearly a bit ashamed, but still does not apologise. She apologises to him, which isn't necessary but is a show of good faith, then laughs at the look on his face hen he came into the holodeck (which was funny). Then he's laughing at the look on hers (which isn't funny cos she was very angry and possibly scared/disgusted). She again regrets the way she's behaved towards him (professional, unnerved then rightfully angry) and admits that she had wrong preconceptions about him. Of course none of her preconceptions were based on a dodgy copy she'd made of him, so I feel like she's in the right here. Then she leaves to meet her husband and Geordi looks disappointed and I have no damn sympathy for him.

* It was completely awesome when the Battlestar Galactica jumped into atmosphere to save the colonists. I mean they did an FTL jump, into atmo! But that's the main time I can think of that I've been super impressed by seeing what a spaceship can do.

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