Season 3, Episode 6: ‘The Bounty’
Geordi La Forge, through much of “Next Generation,” on some level needed rehabilitation. He was brilliantly portrayed by LeVar Burton, but he was also sometimes treated like a stereotype: a nerdy engineer who couldn’t get the girl and wasn’t given much else to do. In fact, his main love interest was Dr. Leah Brahms (Susan Gibney), whom he initially met as a hologram.
So the non-holographic Brahms was quite creeped out after she found out about her digital counterpart’s tryst with this engineer she didn’t know. This was always a weird story line, which even Burton acknowledged in my recent interview with the cast.
“Geordi was a stalker,” Burton said, laughing. “You know, he stalked that woman. And that’s not OK.”
“He created a holodeck version of that woman,” He added. “And that’s wrong! It’s just wrong. And the opportunity to right that wrong was central to my enthusiasm to come back and do this again.”
In this week’s episode, we finally get to see what Geordi is up to. He is now Commodore La Forge, running the fleet museum and a father to two daughters, Sidney (the pilot of the Titan) and Alandra. There’s a complexity for Geordi that didn’t previously exist, torn between his duty as a friend and as a parent.
“Leave it to you, Jean-Luc, to turn fatherhood into an intergalactic incident,” Geordi tells Jean-Luc. This is an apt line, especially when you remember that the reason Beverly never told Jean-Luc about Jack was because Jean-Luc attracts trouble.
When Jean-Luc mentions that their precarious situation is “life or death,” Geordi tartly replies: “It’s always life or death, Jean-Luc. When has it not been? Which was fine back in the day when I chose to put my life under your command. But you’ve just knowingly put my daughter in grave danger.”
Geordi’s arc is like that of many people who become parents. When they are younger and childless, they feel free to be reckless. But as a parent, when you’re responsible for someone who didn’t ask to be born, the calculations change. Geordi has done his part to save the galaxy. Now, he just wants to keep his kids and himself safe.
“I can’t help you and protect them,” Geordi tells Jean-Luc. This is a stinging rejoinder to Jean-Luc’s call for help. And so another close friend of Jean-Luc’s has told him that he poses a risk to their children.
The implication from Sidney in her confrontation with her father is that Geordi was hard on her because she chose to be a pilot instead of an engineer — as if that decision had been a specific rejection of him. But Geordi’s own past comes back to haunt him: Sidney considers the Titan crew to be her family, just as Geordi did with the Enterprise’s. That’s the example Geordi set. It’s hard to take that back now. Later in the episode, Geordi says he is disappointed in himself for not having jumped at the chance to help his friends the way the younger Geordi would have.
It’s clear that the creative team behind “Picard” put a lot of thought into how to put these characters properly into new spaces, rather than simply rely on the versions we have come to know and love.
That even applies to Data, or whatever version of him the team rescues in this episode. Altan Soong, who appeared in earlier seasons of “Picard,” is shown to have died, but not before he created an android that combines Lal, B-4, Lore and Data.
Of course, it probably wasn’t realistic to do a proper “Next Generation” reunion without having Brent Spiner resurrect Data. But the way “Picard” does it is quite novel, without discounting his two previous deaths. It gives us the most human version of Data yet, one that has aged and battles multiple personalities. This android has Lore inside him, as well as the childlike Lal and B-4. In a way, that’s all of us. We all struggle with our inner Lore — the ambitious, mischievous and morally dubious inclinations. We also have needs from when we were children that never go away — say, approval and love.
And we have our inner Data — clinical versions of ourselves that try to weigh life’s decisions dispassionately. How we balance all of that is what makes us human — and that’s what this new, modern version of Data appears to have to battle with.
And I must salute Spiner here — he plays all of these different versions of the android within seconds of one another. It’s a tremendous — and difficult — performance that Spiner nails.
Odds and Ends
Just a ton of fan service in this episode, particularly at Daystrom Station, which itself is named after Richard Daystrom, a legendary scientist from the original series. Daystrom appears to be a toy store for Section 31 while doubling as a museum for callbacks. Riker, Worf and Raffi walk by the Genesis Device, Tribbles and a skeleton of James Kirk (intrigued at the possibilities here). The holographic crow that shows up is a likely reference to Data’s dreams in the “Next Generation” episode “Birthright,” where Data experiences dreams of his creator. Bringing Professor Moriarty back as part of the artificial intelligence to guard the station was a brilliant touch. And I loved the detail of giving Riker perfect pitch to discern Moriarty’s purpose.
Then, of course, there were the actual Fleet Museum ships: The Defiant. The Enterprise-A. Voyager. The Klingon Bird of Prey from “Star Trek: The Voyage Home.”
There is a nice moment where Jack acknowledges to Seven the need for connection, after suggesting to Jean-Luc in Episode 4 that he didn’t need anyone. Jack lets his guard down momentarily.
The reunion scenes involving Worf, Geordi, Beverly, Jean-Luc and Riker are wonderful. Decades of onscreen chemistry shine through here, even though the characters are in different places than they were the last time they were together. Parental concerns are a theme of this season, and it’s notable that Worf immediately makes the mission about protecting both Starfleet and Jack, his old captain’s son, while Geordi initially declines to take part so he can protect his own children. (Of course, he eventually comes around.)
Worf references a “Deep Space Nine” story line, in which Starfleet nearly wiped out the changelings by engineering a virus to infect them during the Dominion War. Although Starfleet eventually came up with a cure — thanks Dr. Bashir! — it radicalized some changelings along the way.
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