“Star Trek” is, of course, set in a far-off future where technology is friendly, widespread, and used to benefit the quality of life throughout the galaxy. Starships are equipped with weapons, of course, but most of the shows’ stories center instead on their propulsion, communication tech, food replicators, shields, and holodecks. Society has adapted to advanced technology and has become reliant on it. “Booby Trap” presents Trek’s future society with a major problem: What happens when said tech fails on you? And how does an engineer — a man who lives for technology — solve a problem with as little tech as possible?
This is a classic “Star Trek” conundrum, one that forces characters to question the role of technology in their lives. We can rely on it, yes, but “Booby Trap” proves that it may not always be reliable. Sometimes, Geordi will eventually discover, a more human touch is required.
By the show’s third season, the writers of “Star Trek: The Next Generation” developed a clever teleplay-writing template that allowed them to broadcast their theses in the very first scene. At the start of “Booby Trap,” Geordi is seen on the holodeck with a woman named Christy (Julie Warner). They’re on a date, and it’s not going well. Geordi has used his engineering acumen to program the perfect simulated beach scene, the perfect simulated drinks, and a simulated itinerant violin player. Christy rejects all of it and leaves the date, claiming fatigue. All the technology in the world couldn’t help Geordi generate honest romance.
Audiences see right away that technology will not be the answer. That theme will lurk in our minds for the rest of the episode. Kudos to credited screenwriters Ron Roman, Michael Piller, and Richard Danus.