"La Forge. So you're the one who's fouled up my engine designs."
Geordi finally meets the real Dr Leah Brahms.
Geordi was always one of my favourite characters when I was little. His VISOR was cool, he could fix any engineering problem, he and Data were a great double act, and he always seemed like one of the sanest members of the crew. Re-watching the series as an adult, most of those things are still true, except for the 'sane' part. While most of the time he's completely fine, every now and again Geordi seems to have some kind of major brain fart and suddenly becomes something of a creep out of nowhere - and this is one of those times.
By coincidence, I reviewed the season three episode in which Geordi created and fell in love with a holographic version of Dr Leah Brahms, and I mentioned then that the whole thing seemed a little bit creepy. In this case, it goes way beyond 'a little bit' creepy. First of all, Geordi comes on to Brahms from the moment she materialises on the Enterprise. Now a mutual workplace romance is one thing, but as a woman in a working environment, the last thing you want is some creep you've never met before obviously hitting on you from the minute he sees you.
Brahms eventually calls Geordi on it and tells him she's married, at which point he proceeds to go and sulk to Guinan about the fact he didn't know this and hadn't been able to find out by doing the 24th century equivalent of Facebook-stalking her (asking the computer for information). This information is private to Brahms and has nothing to do with Geordi and there is no reason he should have known it.
And then, on top of everything, he doesn't tell her about the hologram. This might not be a problem if his behaviour had been more normal, but Brahms repeatedly asks him how he knows certain things about her (like how she used to wear her hair) and hiding the truth just makes him seem even worse. All of this culminates in Geordi somehow yelling at her for 'badgering' him and insisting that he's shown her 'courtesy' and 'respect' - 'courtesy' and 'respect' is not inviting a woman you just met in a professional context to your quarters on the pretence of doing some work, putting on your sexiest massive early 90s jumper and dimming the lights, Geordi. That's pretty much the opposite of 'respect'.
On the plus side, this episode features a great performance from Susan Gibney, who manages to make this Leah Brahms a clearly differentiated, different character from her previous holographic incarnation, while still being close enough that it's plausible the computer could have extrapolated the previous version from her. She also responds to most of Geordi's antics with a gloriously withering disdain, just as he deserves (right up to the point she actually apologises to him at the end - goodness knows for what).
The point the episode is trying to make is about how it's possible to build up a fantasy version of someone in your head that doesn't match the real person. That's a true enough point, but this does not seem like the best way to make it. Granted, the look on Geordi's face when he walks in on Brahms and Brahms on the holodeck is pretty funny. But it's not enough to save this story.
Bits and pieces
- This is one of those Star Trek episodes where the title refers to the B story (about a giant space mollusc thing) and has nothing to do with the much more memorable A story, thus making the episode impossible to place by title alone. This happens a lot in the case of episodes in which the point of episode is an emotional or character-based story, but the structure of the show requires some kind of Negative Space Wedgie (or Monster of the Week) to keep everyone else occupied while all of that is going on.
- This is the jumper Geordi wears in his super-creepy attempt to pull Leah Brahms. It's an interesting choice.
Crusher: Captain, I'd like to announce the birth of a large baby - something.
Brahms: I'm outraged by this! I have been invaded, violated! How dare you use me like this? How far did it go, anyway? Was it good for you?
Urgh, Geordi. Urgh. One out of four giant baby space molluscs.
Juliette Harrisson is a freelance writer, classicist and ancient historian who blogs about Greek and Roman Things in Stuff at Pop Classics.