This week’s Trekabout is all about things we can’t have. In “The Bonding”, child guest-star-of-the-week loses his mother and the crew of the Enterprise is forced to deal with the reality of having children on starships. Later, in the unfortunately-named “Booby Trap”, Geordi’s past and present as an awkward virgin are revealed. Plus! Trekabout is not a Battlestar Galactica podcast. In case you were wondering.
Hey Eric and Richard. Just finished listening to the latest Trekabout. Some good commentary about a couple of episodes that I will confess are usually in my personal skip it file. Some thoughts to bore you with uh share I meant share *L*
I really don’t like this episode. I didn’t care for it much when they redid it a couple years later and retitled it Hero Worship. I will admit that a big part of my problem is just that the kid is a shitty actor (most of the kids on TNG are shitty actors guest star wise. There are a couple of exceptions but for the most part *blech*). The other thing that bugged me at the time but it was years before I was able to put my finger on it, was how much the attitudes of the “adults” seemed to be rooted in Roddenberry’s new humanity bullshit. To sum up my take, Adults to Jeremy “Hey kid who’s just lost your mom and is now an orphan living by himself on a ship of hundreds, we’re gonna let you stay alone but you’re okay with that right? I mean you know that death ain’t no thing and stuff right?” Kid who’s just lost his mom and is now an orphan living by himself on a ship of hundreds “Oh yeah. I’m totally fine. Oh and hey since they tell us about death all the time even though I don’t really have any practical experience with it and clearly I’m perfectly okay, as they also tell us about flying starships all the time even though I’m only like twelve and have had no practical experience with that either I should be able to do that too. Right?”
Frankly at first they all kind of seem like mindless assholes who basically want the kid to be okay because dealing with him not being okay might cut into Picard’s reading time. Now in the Dark Times (or as some people call them seasons 1 and 2) the alien would have been probably much the same, but it would have been driven off with a big speech and then the kid would have been left alone after talking about how he’s really just fine. Instead we get something much better. And yeah I know I said I don’t like this episode and I don’t but like I said in my self intro last episode I can usually find something I like even in the worst of Trek. To me the stand up and cheer moment came when they drag Wes in to be the shining example (and having been the “shining example” in my life I can tell you how unfuckingcomfortable that shit is) and they’re all “Hey Wes when your dad died you were totally fine right? Because death ain’t no thing and blah and enlightenment and stuff. Right?” And Wes (and Wil Wheaton who I think was starting to develop fairly nicely as an actor by this point) gets a great moment when he basically looks Picard straight in the eye and says, “Fuck you and your bullshit, my dad was dead and I was scared and hurt and confused not that any of you grown ups could be bothered to notice, you bald headed prick.” I admit I may be paraphrasing here.
Then we get some nice stuff with Worf and the kid. Which will promptly get forgotten about when Worf has a kid of his own and is proven to be a shitty ass parent. (Spoiler Alert: Worf is an EPICLY shitty ass parent).
Over all of all the episodes of Trek I’ve watched this was one of them. I’d give it three dead mothers.
Now on to Booby Trap.
Much of TNG is dependent on our liking the characters since the mystery is often either weak and secondary or it’s only engaging the first time through. I can remember when I first watched Booby Trap being very engaged in wondering how they’d get out. Subsequent times *meh*. And then there’s Geordi. Or as my wife and I like to call him, The Great Cosmically Unlaid. Frankly it’s kind of fucking painful to watch. I mean okay I know there are people who are just that awkward etc, and ya know what if I wanted to hear stories about that shit I’d listen to myself while I talk about how godsdamned painful my high school years were. Seriously.
Now having said that I will give TNG credit for getting some good mileage out of this episode in the future (I can’t wait until you guys get to Galaxy’s Child).
Now I would like to ask what you two think of the theory that some have that the characterization of Geordi and to a certain extent Worf displays a certain level of racism in TNG. The basic idea is that in an attempt to show white America a “safe” black man, they neuter Geordi and turn him into a virtual eunuch, and that they do similar to Worf. Showing Klingon culture as a kind of spaced up thuglife sterotype and to be able to fit in with white er I mean Federation society while on the one hand Worf is overly enthusiastic in embracing his heritage it is a cleaned up version of that heritage without any of the danger inherent in real Klingon culture.
For myself I don’t know that I entirely agree, but I can’t say that the points especially as concerns Geordi are wholly without merit.
Ultimately I think I will give this episode 4 holographic real dolls.
Alright guys, see you next week.
Thanks for the comment Stoek! Racism in TNG… it’s a tough subject. On the one hand, I can certainly understand that criticism, and it’s not limited to Geordi or Worf (Guinan and the “magical negro” criticism) but at least with Geordi I just don’t see it. Worf has never read as black to me, because he’s… a Klingon. So I really don’t know. It’s something to think about, at least.