With such amazingly awful candidates in season one or two (space Arabs?) you’d expect the worst storyline to ever air was in one of those, but no, the later seasons had their fair share of stinkers too (space Native Americans?). However, specifically, this is a subplot storyline that carries on between two episodes in season three and four. Yes, that’s right. It’s another one of Geordi’s futile attempts at love, it’s the awkward and creepy romance of Geordi and Not-Leah Brahms.
Our intrepid tale of fail begins with the season 3 episode “Booby Trap.” Setting the tone for Geordi’s pathetic love life we begin the episode with Geordi on a date on the holodeck in which he gets rejected. The big problem right off the bat is she apparently doesn’t know this was to be a romantic date and not just some friends enjoying time off. Contrast this with Data who in the episode “In Theory” manages to stumble his way into a relationship and come off as LESS inept than Geordi right here. That’s right, Geordi is even worse at love than the supposedly emotionless android and he’s just getting started.
The main plot of the episode involves the Enterprise happening upon an ancient intact Promellian battle cruiser while investigating an asteroid field. This gets the archaeologist in Picard all nerded up and against objections they move closer and beam aboard an away team. After discovering a recording from the Promellian captain and how they died Picard decides to get the away team back on board and get the hell out of there. However, this triggers the booby trap that took down the battle cruiser millenia ago. Attempts at leaving are met with futility and radiation levels are rising as the ship’s energy is slowly depleted.
This brings us back to Geordi who must now figure out why the ship appears to be functioning normally, but is unable to actually move. In way over his head Geordi decides to find records on who designed the Enterprise’s warp engines to... I honestly don’t know why. None of it makes any sense, but essentially Geordi, using Starfleet records, has the computer recreate the warp engine’s designer, Leah Brahms, in the holodeck in order to brainstorm with her as to how to get more energy from the engines to escape the snare.
Unsatisfied with working with an emotionless husk he uses MORE Starfleet records to give his holodeck companion a personality. Geordi then begins to fall in love with the facsimile as he works more and more with it to solve the problem. However, after a few more failed attempts at extraction they are forced to conserve power and turn off the holodeck among other non-essentials.
Not even Barclay’s ineptitude could make me forget La Forge’s, but nice try writers.
After discussing things together they discover the radiation will be lethal in short order as the deflector shields are about to collapse and they need to come up with a solution now. Holodeck power is restored so Geordi can run simulations. Of course Geordi then reinstates his Brahms program while running simulations of the Enterprise piloting itself out of the asteroid field. Of his many simulations the Enterprise only manages it once.
Finally, Geordi figures out that there is a delay between the activation of the engines and the activation of the trap’s opposite reaction. So by activating the engines only briefly and then sticking to maneuvering thrusters the Enterprise should have just enough momentum to escape, but the computer is not up to the task of navigating while maintaining the momentum. Captain Picard then takes things into his own hands and pilots the ship himself and safely navigates the ship out of the asteroid field. They then destroy the battle cruiser and the trap ending the threat for any future explorers.
So what lesson do we learn this episode? Why that technology is great, but sometimes it’s a hindrance. So how does La Forge celebrate this revelation? By assassinating the character of Geordi La For- I mean, by kissing the damned holodeck facsimile of Leah Brahms. However, the cringe doesn’t end there (well, actually this line happens before the kiss, but it makes things infinitely worse). The Leah facsimile states, “I’m with you every day, Geordi. Every time you look at this engine, you’re looking at me. Every time you touch it, it’s me.”
Ugh, why? Why did this have to happen? Not only have you completely destroyed Geordi’s lesson for the week by not having him turn off the simulation right after saying that, but he has apparently during his attempts to save the ship reprogrammed the hologram’s personality to express love towards him. THIS IS WRONG ON SO MANY LEVELS. However, the worst is yet to come boys and girls. We still have the sequel to this pathetic subplot to further drag the name La Forge through the mud!
Kiss your favorable opinion of Geordi goodbye.
In this season 4 episode the real Leah Brahms comes aboard the Enterprise to investigate engine modifications made by Geordi in the last episode (I think). Much to Geordi’s dismay she is nothing like her hologram counterpart and she is rather pissed off he’s mucked with her designs. After showing her the changes he’s made they agree to discuss things further in his quarters in a few hours. Geordi then uses the knowledge he gleaned from her records last season to tempt her with his cooking of one of her favorite dishes (why the hell is this even in her Starfleet records?).
Meanwhilst, the ship has gone off course to investigate some anomalous readings and finds a star wha- I mean a weird giant space organism that kinda looks like a horse shoe crab from the top if it wore a furled skirt. It attacks them and begins to screw with the ship’s power while increasing radiation inside the ship (why the hell do these two episodes have essentially the same main plot?). Like last time, they decide to fire a phaser at it (I forgot to mention that, but they shot a phaser at the booby trap), but at minimal power hoping to just drive it away. Horrified, they discover a minimal power phaser blast was enough to kill the organism.
In the far more horrifying subplot Geordi and Brahms are having dinner and just like last time in “Booby Trap” Geordi is trying to make a non-romantic encounter into one. He stops just short of putting on some Barry White and while they come to an understanding of why Geordi modified the engines and why Leah is upset about it, she rightfully extracts herself from the situation.
Back in the main plot the organism is dead, but they energy readings within it. As it turns out the organism was pregnant and about to give birth explaining the aggressiveness towards the Enterprise. After discussing things they decide to use the phasers as a scalpel to perform a space C-section (everything’s cooler with “space” in front of it). This gambit succeeds and the baby is free... to imprint on the Enterprise.
Meanwhilst, La Forge and Brahms are investigating more of his engine modifications and these modifications actually give her pause, because she finds them rather ingenious and Geordi should publish his findings. Rather than just take the compliment Geordi tries to use it as an opportunity to work more with her and wants to collaborate on any papers on his changes. Finally sensing just how creepily attached Geordi is to her she informs him she is married which apparently was not present in the countless Starfleet records Geordi poured over to find she loved fungilli (Geordi should really know that any woman that makes it through engineering school is gonna wind up off the market. That male-to-female ratio is not kind.).
Geordi then seeks out Guinan to complain about Leah, but Guinan is having none of his shit. After some back and forth Guinan drops a bomb on Geordi and says, “She’s probably done the most horrific thing one person can do to another: not live up to your expectations.” I then like to imagine the Deal With It glasses drop down over her eyes and she walks off.
As this is going on the ship has moved to continue it’s journey, but the baby has latched on and is now draining the ship’s power (seriously, can Geordi solve something other than a power crisis when flailing around madly wookin’ pa nub in all the wrong places?). The crew decides to try and find the nursery grounds where the mother was going to give birth and already have a solution for removing it by opening the cargo bay door it is fully over.
However, their reaching the destination is in doubt as long as the energy drain is occurring so Geordi and Leah move to solve this issue. To get up to speed she needs to see a complete list of the modifications Geordi has made and heads to engineering to get one. One thing leads to another and she happens upon Geordi’s little Leah program in the holodeck (WHY DID YOU NOT DELETE THIS, GEORDI!?! HAVE YOU BEEN DOING CREEPY THINGS TO IT IN THE PAST YEAR?!).
Brahms is understandably upset when holographic her turns on and says the last line spoken from the earlier episode. Geordi, rather than accept the berating he gives her for being SUPER creepy, goes on the attack and HE storms off in a huff over how she’s treated him. This leaves Leah shocked and confused, and one would hope really pissed.
The ship has now managed to find it’s way to the nursing grounds and the crew have enacted their plan to detach the baby. However, rather than be shoved off by the depressurizing cargo bay the baby has latched on even harder and is draining even more power. Even worse it’s called for help and others of it’s species are moving to intercept.
The new crisis has forced Brahms to work with Geordi again and she has an idea: they need to “sour the milk” to get the baby to detach. Altering the power frequency they are finally able to make the baby space whale horseshoe crab skirt thing detach. Just in time too, because the other organisms had just arrived. Together Geordi and Leah then celebrate their accomplishment.
Then, somehow, we cut to them being buddies in the crew lounge and laughing about their day’s exploits before Leah has to go off and talk to her husband leaving La Forge to contemplate alone.
Just how the hell did she forgive him after all of this? HOW THE HELL DID THE COUNTER-ANGER GAMBIT WORK?! None of this makes any sense! La Forge is nothing but a creepy jerk the entire damn time and she somehow finds it within herself to forgive him. This is a horrible lesson other than Guinan dropping her truth bombs, which really have nothing to do with how much of a creepy jerk Geordi has been. That, however, is not the end of this. There’s one last little sign of the writers having been locked up for too long.
Must come to an end, that includes your opinion of Geordi.
So, it’s the final two-parter. Surely they can’t manage to make things any harder to digest, right? Wrong! It’s the final episode so we need to drop all sorts of references to earlier episodes and make the fans feel all warm and fuzzy they remember all this stuff. Well let me tell you, I certainly wish I didn’t remember those two episodes.
So, how do the writers decide to bring up Geordi’s failures at love in the alternate timeline? By having Geordi married to someone named Leah of course! Obviously, the implication is he at some point married Leah Brahms, which means for some damned reason she eventually left her husband FOR THE CREEPY GUY WHO PROBABLY VIOLATED PROTOCOL BY ACCESSING HER PERSONAL RECORDS AND LIKELY SHOULD HAVE BEEN DEMOTED FOR IT, BUT NO IN AN ALTERNATE TIMELINE IT ALL WORKS OUT FOR THE BEST.
And that’s how the writers of Star Trek: The Next Generation forever tarnished our favorite engineer (who isn’t fake-Scottish) with one of the worst storylines ever conceived on the show.
Disclaimer: Memory Alpha’s episode summaries was used to refresh my memory on the order of events. It’s a great resource for all things Star Trek so go check it out why don’tcha?