In which Riker doesn’t know how to socialise with anyone except a holo-woman, but has the nerve, years later, to be mad at Barclay for pretty much exactly the same thing. Huh.
Memory Alpha says: Aliens who are on-board to overhaul the computer system of the Enterprise hijack the vessel instead; Riker falls for a sultry holodeck character. (Please click the Memory Alpha link for detailed information.)
I wonder how many fans are dedicated and nerdy enough to refer to this episode by its title without using copy-paste? I won’t even try to remember it; I’ll just think of it as ‘Bynars’ or ‘Minuet.’ This episode actually shows a modicum of continuity with ‘The Big Goodbye’ and ‘Datalore,’ since this is the computer refit Picard told Riker they were overdue for at the end of the latter, and the Bynars refer to the holodeck having been affected by a probe in the former. It’s also important in character terms because it establishes Riker’s jazz fandom and trombone playing. Minuet seems like a cool chick, and I’d like to think she sometimes hangs out at Vic’s Las Vegas Lounge.
I’m going to summarise properly.
We open on a really beautiful shot of the already-established-to-be-huge Enterprise approaching an even vaster space station, where they have come for maintenance and upgrades. The station is so big it can open a hatch in its side and the Enterprise just flies in. Apart from being sort of mushroom-shaped, Starbase 74 is not so much a city in space as a world.
Picard narrates that he expects ‘a glowing report’ because the ship has performed magnificently, beyond anyone’s expectations – right after stating that they’ve had problems with the holodeck.
I do think the Enterprise D is a beautiful, beautiful ship. It reminds me of a whale. Anyway, they dock and everyone is happy. Picard praises Riker, as if he did anything besides give easy orders – all the important buttons were pushed by Geordi and Data, and from the little look Data gives Geordi after Picard adds ‘Well done, all,’ I wonder if he is kinda sorta thinking this, and maybe remembering the ‘manual’ reconnect with the saucer section in ‘Farpoint,’ which was much the same situation, but with O’Brien in place of Geordi. In fact, if you replaced Geordi with O’Brien entirely, I would not object. On the other hand, that means less representation of black people on the Enterprise, since Worf technically doesn’t count as a black person, he’s just played by one. Anyway, I’m rambling, and I have no point beyond ‘I find Geordi a bit naff, also O’Brien is the man.’
A starbase maintenance crew comes on board through an airlock, and honestly, I guess the Enterprise‘s airlocks don’t see much action, since most traffic on and off the ship goes via the transporters or the shuttlebay. It’s probably dusty in there, unless the Roombas keep it clean. A Commander Kintaros, or maybe Commander Kent Harris, who looks eerily similar to Picard but with a small beard, is leading the way.
What was going on there? Did they decide to give Patrick Stewart’s photo double a small part? They look like brothers. Anyway, he has brought two cute little bulgy-headed pale purple aliens in matching but mirror-image outfits with him. He scolds them for being a week late, and Riker explains that they were delayed somewhere called Omicron Pascale. Is that near Omicron Theta? Is it on the way back from the Neutral Zone? We may never know.
Kintaros, apparently, was the head of the team that built Enterprise. I realise I could go and look up the spelling of his name, but I’m just going to go with my guess, and also to assume that he is the product of a brief affair between his mother and Picard senior. He explains to Riker that the Bynars are neuter and live as pairs – these ones are called 10 and 01. They’re the specialists who will work on the computer upgrade, and they finish each other’s sentences as they express enthusiasm for the job.
Picard tells them they have 48 hours to do the job, because in ’48 plus six’ they have an appointment they must keep elsewhere. But it’s okay, they can be a week late for that too, I’m sure. The Bynars are dismayed at the short notice, but quickly assure Picard they can manage in the time available. Picard says he and Riker will stay on board to be available if needed, and Riker thinks ‘Goddamnit!’ Riker is all about the shore leave. Kintaros doubts they’ll need them, and Picard and Riker toddle off while he and the Bynars take a look at a control panel.
Riker thinks the Bynars seem perfect for this job, based on the, what, one minute he’s known they exist? Picard explains how Bynars are intimately linked to the master computer on their planet, and almost think in binary code. Riker says it’ll be interesting to see how they improve ‘a computer as advanced as ours.’ Hey, if your computer can’t interface directly with biological minds like that, I think it might be less advanced.
As they head up to the bridge in the lift, Picard fills Riker in on his exciting plans for after work: he’s going to ‘turn on [his] personal relaxation light’ (he says this with some relish, it’s kind of cute/weird) and read a good book. He tells Riker he’s earned a rest (is that some sort of allusion to the Beata-boning last week? because Riker has not been working noticeably hard of late, otherwise) and asks what he wants to do. Riker says he’s never been good at organising his leisure time, and expects something will turn up. Something with boobs!
On the bridge, a little cluster of Bynars are excitedly fiddling with a computer panel, and Wesley is watching them, or rather staring at them. Riker says ‘I thought there were only going to be two of you.’ 01 and 10 quickly turn around, and with all the deceptive aplomb of Nog claiming Vulcans stole his homework, stammer that because of the limited time allowed, they needed others. They hastily deny that there is any problem, and Riker asks them why they’re acting so excited. They claim it’s because they are making the computer go faster. They turn back and get on with it.
Wesley turns to Riker and says ‘You act like you don’t believe them.’ Riker says he’s not sure he does, and Wesley suggests that it may just be the behaviour of a different species. Riker goes to ‘stroll around the ship’ and leaves Wesley alone, with orders to ‘keep your eye on them,’ so Wesley stands and stares. The Bynars glance at him over their shoulders.
You know, if Riker has any doubts about the Bynars’ trustworthiness (which he obviously should as they are obviously up to something), I don’t understand why he doesn’t pop into the ready room, where Picard is, and briefly mention it. I also don’t understand why he leaves Wesley alone to deal with anything that may happen. Wesley is a child.
Anyway, Strollin’ Riker strolls through the corridors and comes upon Tasha and Worf, and two no-names, all dressed in shiny blue bodysuits with black straps and padding and carrying gym bags. Tasha explains that they’ve been challenged to a game of ‘Parisi squares’ by some of the starbase maintenance crew, and asks if he wants to join them. Riker demurs, since they have a full team of four, but Tasha offers to switch off (I suppose they could tag him in when Worf, inevitably, gets his ass kicked in the first round). Riker says that would make them lose the rhythm of the game. Tasha really seems to want Riker to come along – is he supposed to be good at this sport? I never particularly see Tasha and Riker as friends, although I like to think she and Worf are good pals and wish there were more scenes or storylines showing this.
Anyway, Riker tells them to go and win, for the honour of the Enterprise, and Worf says gruffly, ‘Rest assured, commander, we will be victorious, at whatever the cost.’ Riker gives him a little ‘it’s only a game’ talk, and Worf responds ‘If winning is not important, then commander, why keep score?’ He stalks off, and Tasha lingers for a moment, to tell Riker that she thinks Worf is pulling his leg – ‘believe it or not, Worf is developing a sense of humour.’ Ha, no he isn’t.
Worf + organised sports = all good fun, until someone’s neck breaks.
Anyway, the Parisi squares team walk off round the corner, and oddly, just as they do, the lights go down. More oddly, we do not hear them exclaim at this or see them walk back to confer with Riker about it. Worf and Tasha are in charge of security on this ship.
Riker goes over to the LCARS panel to ask Computer what’s up. She explains that unoccupied sections are being closed down to facilitate the system upgrade. But Riker is standing in the section where the lights went down. It is occupied.
Back view of a painting in vivid shades of red and orange, the paint apparently being applied on a sheet of glass or clear plastic. Geordi’s voice asks ‘What do you think?’ and Riker says he needs to know what it is first. Uncultured swine.
Data is trying to be creative, and because I guess they hadn’t settled on a new set for his quarters since ‘Datalore,’ he’s doing his art project in the conference lounge. Well, at least it isn’t full of little kids playing with the model ships today. Geordi is trying to help with suggestions. I actually really like Data’s painting – it looks warm and vibrant and cheerful, like suns and stars (although apparently part of it is eggs, which were Geordi’s idea).
Anyway, Riker, because he’s a troll, tells them to keep notes, this could be important to scholars. ‘A blind man teaching an android how to paint – that’s gotta be worth a couple of pages in somebody’s book.’ He smirks and prances out, and Data and Geordi exchange glances and get back to being adorable and creative and not taking cheap shots at the disabled.
Still strollin’ and trollin’, Riker pops in on Beverly, who is packing up some notes and stuff. She’s stoked about visiting a Professor Terence Epstein at this starbase, who the uncultured swine Riker does not know is ‘the leading mind in cybernetics’ and lectured at her medical school. Are you going to invite Data to go too, Bev? I would think they’d be very interested in each other. Beverly is adorably excited about an idea she’s got for combining ‘cybernetics and regeneration,’ and it’s seriously starting to spook me out how many connections I see between DS9 and TNG episodes when I watch them alternately like this. Would Beverly’s invention be at all like what reanimated Kai Opaka over in ‘Battle Lines’? Anyway, she leaves Riker standing nonplussed in the corridor.
Thus far, Riker has turned down an invitation to play a game with his friends, made fun of another friend’s efforts to do something imaginative, and failed to understand what a third friend was excited about. I think I know why he has trouble organising his leisure time; he’s kind of a wet blanket.
Riker strolls on and meets up with 10 and 01, who report that they are almost done, having corrected the ‘deviation’ from the probe in TBG. (It’s been nowhere near 48 hours! Do they just mean that they’ve finished the holodeck work?) Riker asks what has been changed, and they answer ‘Enhancement. Nothing more.’
I really hope that sometimes they say ‘Are you thinking what I’m thinking, 10?’ ‘I think I am, 01!’
They turn and talk briefly to each other in their electronic language, then ask Riker if he would like to try the enhancement.
Riker decides to give the computer some reeeeeeeally vague instructions now – he wants ‘a place to play some music.’ Understandably, Computer responds ‘Specify?’ Riker wants jazz and he wants 1958 in Kansas City. No! New Orleans. The ‘Bourbon Street Bar.’ At 2 am! So from the weirdly vague to the weirdly specific in a few seconds. The Bynars exchange glances.
Riker likes the environment the holodeck comes up with (it’s mostly brown), and requests a trio ‘to play with.’
‘Piano, bass and drums, and a bone for me.’
That’s what she said.
I have never heard anyone refer to a trombone as a bone. Is this real jazzman slang or is Riker just a deviant? My dad played trombone in his callow youth. Of trombones in his ‘Anthropology of the Symphony Orchestra,’ Frank Zappa had this to say:
In high school, I saw trombone players described in a textbook as “The Clowns of the Orchestra” (indicating that the author found the image of grown men earning their living by sliding lubricated tubing back and forth, and leaving pools of spit in front of their charis, pretty amusing).
When Schönberg introduced the trombone glissando into modern orchestral writing, critics of the period were outraged, declaring the sound to be obscene, and therefore inappropriate for the concert hall.) (p 144, The Real Frank Zappa Book, Picador, 1989)
Although associated in most people’s minds with satirical rock music and psychedelia (he actually abhorred the use of psychedelics and the bizarre lyrical content of his songs is the work of his chemically unaided imagination), Zappa considered himself a jazz musician. I suppose I just mention that so we can all imagine Riker and a holographic recreation of Frank Zappa jamming on a trombone-heavy arrangement of ‘Catholic Girls’ or ‘Why Does It Hurt When I Pee?’
Now Riker wants an audience, but when the program produces a small crowd, he says ‘Whoa, too many. I was thinking of something… more intimate.’ The computer promptly produces one heavily-made up woman in a red dress, and Riker says ‘Great job, boys,’ overlooking the fact that the Bynars are neither boys nor girls. However, he feels that ‘blondes and jazz seldom go together,’ (as a blonde, fine, I didn’t want to listen to your bone music anyway) so another woman appears, identically dressed and made up, but with a huge cloud of curled and teased brown hair. Riker says she is ‘truly exceptional.’ But he wants her to be ‘more sultry’! Picky, picky!
And this last request produces Minuet. She’s sitting at the bar with a rather small glass of white wine (which she is holding by the bowl, something my parents taught me not to do with white), her hair is big but nothing like as EXCEPTIONAL as the previous brunette’s, and she does have lovely eyes.
‘Gentlemen,’ Riker says, ‘if this is what you call enhancement, you’ve got a gift for understatement.’ They’re not gentlemen. You’re so gendered in your thinking.
The Bynars fiddle with the controls on the arch into the holodeck, and Riker walks into the bar, where the trio begins to play and Minuet watches him approach, smiling with her eyes. Since she’s not a real person, perhaps Riker feels liberated to use an awful opening line: ‘What’s your name? Tell me you love jazz.’
‘My name is Minuet, and I love all jazz except Dixieland.’ Because you can’t dance to it. Riker responds ‘My girl’ and she smiles. 01 and 10 keep fiddling as Riker produces a further awful line, ‘What’s a knockout like you doing in a computer-generated gin joint like this?’ ‘Waiting for you,’ she replies. She’s hitting on him pretty hard, and 10 and 01 exchange uncomfortable looks and some electronic chatter before they leave the room.
On the bridge, two Bynars (I’m not sure if these are 01 and 10, I think they’re the other two they brought on to help) are chattering excitedly as Wesley stolidly watches. He goes over to Kintaros, who is also fiddling with the computer, and asks if he can ask him a question about the Bynars.
‘Why not just ask them?’ Kintaros asks. Because they look busy and you don’t? However, Wesley goes over and asks the Bynars what that noise is they’re making, and they explain it’s their ‘primary language.’ Wesley wants to know how they can process information at such speed. They explain that they use buffering storage devices that are attached to their suits at hip height (in a nice touch, each Bynar points to the other’s device, not its own). Wesley thinks being so hooked up to a computer would be awesome, although they say there are a few disadvantages.
Picard strolls out of his ready room, checks with Wesley that everything is okay, and asks after Riker, who Wes says is on Holodeck 4. Rather than have Wesley call Riker up, Picard decides to go down and see him. Wesley watches the Bynars some more. He really is having a boring day; I guess it’s a good thing he’s so nerdy.
Back in the bar, Riker stands on the dais with the trio, the trombone hooked over his arm. After an intro, he begins to play, and Minuet watches him admiringly. It really is a nice tune, not that I am anyone’s idea of a jazz-knowing-person. Riker does a lot of smizing while his mouth is occupied with the trombone.
Unnecessarily, the bass player (who has terrible hair) leans over and tells Riker ‘That chick digs you!’ Riker asks ‘What makes you say that?’ Oh, maybe the way she was touching your face before? Duh. Bassman, though, says ‘Hey, look at her’ and we get a shot of Minuet looking lovely, smiling adoringly, with a ridiculous star-shaped glint of light reflecting from the jewels in her necklace. It’s almost on a par with the JJTrek lens flares. Riker responds ‘Maybe it’s my music’ and the pianist tells him not to give up his day job.
Riker murmurs that it’s ‘too real,’ echoing Picard’s discomfort with the Dixon Hill simulation. Riker, however, seems to be immersed in his scenario in a way that Picard wasn’t, responding to it emotionally without the distance Picard had, knowing the people he was interacting with were fictional characters he had read about before. Minuet really has been generated with the minimum of human input – the only parameters Riker gave were that she should be an intimate audience, not blonde, and ‘sultry.’ Where did the rest of her personality come from, we have to wonder?
Riker thanks the band and descends from the dais to join Minuet, telling her he has to go back to work for a while. He says his work defines him. Minuet asks for one dance before he leaves, and he agrees. They dance very affectionately for people who just met, Minuet anticipating the way Riker will lead, and talk about Riker’s career a bit, and the fact that Minuet is both real and not real. She likes to be told that she seems real – I guess she falls into the same class as Vic, being aware that she is a hologram but being okay with that. Then, because Riker’s a perv, he asks her ‘How far can this relationship go? I mean, how real are you?’ Minuet says ‘As real as you need me to be’ and he smooches her. THERE IS VISIBLE TONGUE. DEAR GOD I HATE SEEING THAT.
And while they’re smooching, Picard pops in and smiles at the scenery. ‘Astounding.’ He has absolutely no reaction to the fact that Riker was making out with an artificial person, because he digs the bar so much – it’s a location he might have chosen himself. While he’s looking at this, Minuet is wiping her lipstick off Riker’s face with a big grin, which is a nice nod back to the lipstick smear in TBG.
Minuet asks Riker ‘Aren’t you going to introduce me?’ and he does, pronouncing Picard’s name with a slightly exaggerated French accent.
So Minuet speaks French to him, and he’s impressed and asks if she’s from Paris. Amusingly, her accent is far better than his. My personal explanation for Picard’s accent is that at some stage between now and then, England reconquers France and has a major cultural and linguistic influence thereupon. Henry V would be very proud. Picard is all ‘yeah, Paris rules’ and Minuet says she’s been looking forward to meeting him.
Picard asks if he’s been the subject of conversation, and Riker looks a little weirded out, since he never mentioned his captain directly. She is good at reading and anticipating him, isn’t she? But Minuet is all charming smiles and invites Picard to join them for a drink.
Minuet is actually acting quite wifely here, schmoozing Riker’s boss. Picard, who is clearly very taken with her, talks to her about how unusual she is, in hologram terms – how adaptable, as when she spoke French to him. She says it was simple; when she heard his name she ‘merely accessed the foreign language bank.’ So Minuet is better at looking things up than Data is. She calls him her cabbage. Fresh!
Oh hey! It’s my cabbage, Data! His painting has developed some more sombre tones, with a lot of purple at the top. He makes a brushstroke and then walks away from the easel, looking thoughtful. Geordi asks ‘Now what are you doing?’ Data says he is awaiting inspiration. You’ll wait a while, cher.
Instead of inspiration, though, he gets a call from Wesley, who has a technobabble problem on the bridge and wants him to come up and be a responsible grown-up. Behind him, the Bynars look shifty. Before Data can answer, Geordi says that the two of them will go to Engineering, since that’s where the problem is, and Wes shouldn’t tell Picard or Riker until they know what’s going on. (Picard asked Wesley to keep him ‘apprised,’ though, and I presume that overrides anything Geordi might say.)
In Engineering, they find nobody on duty and some very strange readings on the magnetic containment field. Data comes over authoritative – the field is deteriorating and he is initiating red alert. He tries to contact Picard, but gets no answer. If the containment field fails and their antimatter is released, the ship will be destroyed, and I imagine it won’t be too good for the starbase the ship is inside, either. When Data asks Computer for an update, for some reason a male voice replies. They have just over four minutes before antimatter goes everywhere in a horrendous space kablooey.
Data calls Wesley on the bridge and tells him they’re going to abandon ship – set it on autopilot to fly away from anything it could damage, and get clear themselves. Wesley asks if they shouldn’t check with Picard, and Data says ‘There is no time. Based on all information presently available, the decision is correct.’ Dang I like it when he’s all confident and alpha. Data gets on the intercom and orders all remaining personnel to abandon ship, repeating ‘This is not a drill!’ for dramatic effect.
Civilian and Starfleet extras stride briskly through the corridors to evacuation points – one little boy trips and falls, but is quickly helped up again (there’s a big wrinkle in the carpet, so maybe he tripped on that). The male computer voice is telling them where to go. Some are being beamed out from transporter bays while others walk through the airlocks. Don’t worry, Wesley is safe.
In a control room on the starbase, Kintaros and Beverly are supervising. Tasha and Worf arrive (in their normal uniforms) and ask what the heck is going on. Tasha tells Worf to get a security team together – I don’t know what she thinks they’ll do.
On the bridge, Geordi and Data are doing some last button-pushing on their consoles (standing up rather than sitting down, for Urgency) as Data narrates his decision. When he asks the computer to locate Picard and Riker, she (it’s her again) reports that all decks are empty.
‘Curious,’ Data says, ‘the Captain is usually the last to leave.’ You mean when you’ve run evacuation drills? Or when you abandon ship for real? No time to discuss it, though, because they have 41 seconds to leave the ship, and they book it out of there. I do not see why they can’t be beamed straight out from the bridge. As they get into the lift, Geordi says ‘I think we’re the last,’ and Data takes a big nervous breath and says ‘I hope we are.’ I’ll just leave that there.
They must have reached the transporter bay in time, because in the next scene they’re beamed into the starbase control room. It quickly becomes clear that nobody knows where Picard and Riker are, and while the worried crew want to go back and get them, Kintaros says they haven’t time. However, just then a male computer voice reports that the Enterprise’s magnetic field is going back to normal. They’re not sure why – but Tasha says that Picard and Riker must still be in trouble or they’d be here already. (Bev runs her hands through her hair nervously.) Kintaros holds Tasha’s arm, I don’t know why, and points out that the ship is almost clear. Enterprise is slowly backing out of the big space garage, and as they all watch, she turns and flies rapidly away.
Kind of a cool dolly shot through the empty corridors of the Enterprise, perhaps from the POV of a Roomba. The red alert lights flash and the siren whoops. But in the holodeck, Riker seems to have forgotten those duties he had to get back to, and he and Picard are sitting at a table with Minuet happily chatting away, Riker telling some story about a little boy, which Minuet thinks he handled ‘in a very thoughtful way.’ She flatters him a bit about how good he supposedly is with people, you know, when he’s not ripping on them for being blind.
Picard and Riker talk some more about how awesome and unique Minuet is, and Riker says it’s as if she’s plugged into his subconscious – ‘She already knows what I want her to say before I’m aware of it myself.’ Minuet certainly is a lot better at reading people’s expressions and gestures than Data is. She’s holding and petting Riker’s hands as he says he ‘could develop feelings for Minuet’ as for any woman – what do you mean could? You’re totally butt-crazy in love with her.
Isn’t it uncomfortable for Picard to sit alongside while these two mack? Maybe it is, because he makes to leave, saying ‘Two’s company,’ but Minuet asks him to stay, saying ‘there’s no rush.’ She’s kind of pressing, insisting that he stay for a dance, or some more wine – when he actually gets up from the table she grabs his arms and tells him he can’t go.
That raises the old suspicions, so Picard calls for the exit and he and Riker march off, leaving Minuet with an ‘oh shit’ look on her face. They are shocked to see the red alert lights in the corridor, and Picard immediately tries to contact the bridge, then asks Computer to explain. Basically, she says everything is fine now – but Picard doesn’t know why he wasn’t informed, and he and Riker are stunned to hear that they are alone on the ship and steaming away from the starbase.
And they’re not heading away from inhabited planets to explode safely – they are going to the Bynars’ planet.
Picard and Riker turn to Minuet and accuse her. She admits everything; she was intended to keep Riker busy. Picard joining them was just lucky. (How would the Bynars have dealt with Picard if he hadn’t gone to the holodeck?) She’s not programmed, though, to tell them what the Bynars are up to. The men stride off to try to regain control of the ship.
Back in the control room, Data asks what the nearest Starfleet vessel is, and hearing that it’s the Trieste, dismisses her as ‘too small, too slow.’ (And full of jerks who didn’t want to be his friends when he worked there.) And then Data notices that there’s no sign of the Bynars. They must still be on board. He deduces that they may be taking the ship to their home planet, and asks for another ship of the line to intercept them. Data is the man. The android. Whatever.
More Picard and Riker striding! They go to THE WEAPONS ROOM. Picard’s password for this is ‘Picard access.’ I am reminded of the Evidence Room in the Sandford police station being accessed with the code ‘999.’
Once tooled up, Picard wants to prepare the ship for autodestruct, lest it fall into the hands of baddies. They head for Engineering and have a little pow-wow, because setting up autodestruct requires their absolute agreement. Once set, they will have five minutes, during which they hope to get to the bridge and regain control of the ship. Riker agrees, and they use fingerprint scans to access the computer. The male computer voice responds, and they both give voice commands to start the autodestruct sequence. You know, if you had to use fingerprints to do anything that major, Wesley couldn’t have fucked around so much in ‘The Naked Now’ and Data couldn’t have stolen the ship in ‘Brothers.’ In fact, since Data’s hijack is enabled by his ability to imitate Picard’s voice, Wesley could have done the same with his Picard Talking Machine (although Wesley is nothing like as badass as Data so I don’t think he would have got much further). I guess what I’m saying is, this ship is very vulnerable to theft by nerds.
A dinky little LED display shows a countdown from five minutes. They start off for the bridge, but notice on the way that a screen is flashing with unfamiliar symbols, and an enormous amount of data is being stored in the ship’s computer – but just stored. Much as information is stored in the little buffer devices the Bynars carry?
They go to the lift, but it’s locked. Riker suggests beaming to the bridge, but Picard says that as it takes several seconds to materialise, ‘you wouldn’t stand a chance.’ They settle on both beaming into the bridge at different points, so that one of them can serve as a distraction while the other takes action.
In the starbase control room, everyone is very concerned. The Enterprise is not answering any calls. Data asks Geordi if he is responsible for this – after all, his station is on the bridge. Geordi tells him he can’t be on the bridge every second, but actually, as Data points out, he could – he doesn’t need rest or diversion, and he thinks he should not have been painting. He was negligent.
Data, my darling, you can’t live like Axe Cop. Also, I want to hug you. May I hug you? There, there, there.
Tasha points out that Data could have been on the bridge the whole time and still have been unable to prevent this. But I prefer my point about Axe Cop. She asks Kintaros about their options, and he reports that they’re trying to finish repairs on the USS Melbourne, but she won’t be ready for 18 hours. There’s nothing more they can do. So everyone just has to hang around, and Data’s feeling all guilty and crappy, and will someone please hug him?
On the speeding Enterprise, Picard and Riker put their plan into action. Good luck, boys!
On the bridge, they find all four Bynars apparently unconscious, lying against the wall. They look kind of stoned. Picard sternly asks ‘Why did you steal my ship?’
In slow, slurred voices 01 and 10 reply ‘Please… try to help us.’ Then they slump into unconsciousness.
Just under two minutes left on the clock. Picard and Riker cancel the autodestruct. They’re in orbit around Bynus, and Picard thinks the Bynars are dead. Everything on Bynar seems to be shut down, including the people. Riker is baffled, and Picard suggests looking at what they stored in the computer. It appears to be a core dump from their world – and Riker can’t access it. He wishes they’d ‘left a note,’ and Picard says maybe they did. Minuet!
On the holodeck, Minuet is sitting motionless, and only begins to move again when the two men arrive. Riker demands to know what’s going on, and apparently now Minuet can tell them – a star in the Bynar system is going nova, and due to a miscalculation, their main computer is vulnerable to the resultant electromagnetic pulse. Their only choice, Picard brainily figures out, was to transfer everything to the Enterprise’s computer, the only mobile one large enough (there were no other Galaxy-class ships at this stage? Wouldn’t there be… the USS Galaxy?) then shut down and wait for the pulse to pass.
What went wrong, though? Why are they dying? Minuet explains that the combination of an earlier nova than expected, and the Enterprise‘s lateness in arriving at the starbase, messed things up. Picard wonders why the Bynars didn’t just explain the problem and ask for help, and she says she doesn’t know. Honestly, I don’t know why they didn’t either, other than ‘then we wouldn’t have a plot this week.’ Anyway, she wants them to return the data on the Enterprise‘s computers to the big Bynus computer.
Riker objects that they can’t do that, because they don’t know the file name. Minuet doesn’t know what that means (maybe if he said it in French?). Picard and Riker decide to try to contact Starbase 74 to see if anyone can figure this out, and Minuet urges ‘Will’ to help the poor Bynars.
Back on the bridge, Picard hails Starbase 74 using his commbadge, and for plot convenience the message goes through instantly, and I really have no idea how far away they are from the base now, but in other episodes it can take hours or days for a subspace message to reach its intended audience and be replied to. He wants to talk to Data, because Data is awesome. Since the Bynars must want their file to be found (this episode is not called ‘404’), the name must be something simple enough to work out, and Data points out that it is probably in binary code.
So Picard and Riker have the computer try combinations of binary code until it comes up with the episode’s title, and that’s the filename. However, they get an Access Denied message. Picard suggests that, because the Bynars always work in pairs, another operator may be required, so he gets on the next workstation and everything works. Picard admires the Bynars’ programming – and the passed-out Bynars wake up, smile happily at each other, and go back to work on the computer. Riker hugs himself a bit.
10, 01 and their other two friends report that all systems are go, their world is okay, and they will now take the ship back to the starbase for whatever punishment is required. Picard asks why they didn’t just ask for help, and the Bynars consult quickly before answering ‘You might have said no.’ They thought the risk was too great, so they just… stole a freakin’ starship. As Riker points out, this is binary thinking. A ‘no’ answer appeared as likely to them as a ‘yes.’ They explain that they socked him away in the holodeck with Minuet as a failsafe, so there would be someone alive to sort out the computer if anything happened to them.
But Minuet said that Captain Picard joining Riker on the holodeck was just luck, not part of the plan, and we were just shown that the Bynars’ program always depended on there being two computer operators to reload the file.
Picard takes the conn and very perkily programs the ship to fly back to Starbase 74. The waiting crew in the control room look relieved and happy to see Enterprise re-enter the big space garage, and triumphant music plays.
As everyone returns to the bridge, the Bynars are going to be turned over to Kintaros for a hearing. While everyone checks everything, Riker asks permission to leave the bridge – and of course, goes back to the holodeck. Because checking on his imaginary girlfriend is definitely more important right now than helping to make sure the ship is functioning normally again and they’re all safe.
He repeats his shitty line about the knockout and the computer-generated gin joint… but as the woman turns her head towards him, we see that she has the same haircut, the same jewellery, the same dress, but she’s not Minuet. Riker’s little face falls. She doesn’t speak, either (I suppose she wasn’t paid to speak).
Riker glumly returns to the bridge and tells Picard that Minuet is gone and he can’t get her to come back. Picard is philosophical about that, saying some relationships just can’t work. And they fly away, to fresh adventures, and even more inappropriate use of Holodeck 4.
Of course, the really important, unanswered question: did Worf and Tasha win their game?
I wonder if Minuet still exists in the databases of the Bynus supercomputer, or if she was deleted entirely? I wonder if she had any independent consciousness – whether, if she were left to run indefinitely as Vic Fontaine was, and as the EMH on Voyager was, she would have developed in new directions? (Shit, I just typed ‘new directions’ and thought of Glee. I also thought of the fact that I always hear the choir’s name as ‘Nude Erections,’ which says terrible things about me. Plus I want the chick who plays Brittany to be Janice Rand in the new line of Star Trek movies.) The stories about artificial intelligences are often the ones that intrigue me most about Star Trek, and I’m sure I’d have a lot of better thoughts about this one if I hadn’t left finishing the review until so late in the evening (I’m sleepy). Maybe I will add some tomorrow.
Next time, on DS9, ‘The Storyteller,’ the episode that begins absolutely the best friendship in Star Trek ever. Bar none. Don’t argue.