Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)

While investigating a 1,000-year-old alien derelict, the Enterprise gets caught in the same energy trap which doomed that vessel a millennium ago.



Geordi La Forge enjoys a holodeck date with Christy, but he gets rejected by her just after he calls up a holographic gypsy violin player to play Johannes Brahms – Hungarian Dance No. 5. Christy tells La Forge that, while she thinks he is a great person, she doesn't like him in that way. Meanwhile, Data and Wesley Crusher play chess in Ten Forward and remark on the asteroid remains at Orelious IX. They discuss that neither side expected this site to be the final battle in their conflict; the destruction is impressive considering the primitive weapons used in the time period. Wesley sees La Forge come in and he realizes that his date didn't go so well since it ended earlier than expected. Just then, Commander Riker summons Data to the bridge.

The USS Enterprise-D picks up a distress signal from the asteroid field and sets a course to approach. Captain Picard believes it to be an ancient interplanetary code, which Data confirms it is. Riker dismisses it as it is not possible there are survivors after all this time. When they arrive, they discover a ship in the field, which Lieutenant Worf immediately identifies it as a Promellian battle cruiser with a hint of delight. An awestruck Picard identifies the ship's fusion engines are still intact. Data says there are no life signs aboard the ship and the captain says there shouldn't be: it's a ship which belongs in a museum. He explains that they are 'a little late' and that the signal for help from the cruiser was probably sent over a thousand years ago.

Act OneEdit

Ships in bottles

"Good Lord, didn't anybody here build ships in bottles?"

Picard and Riker argue about the risks of sending an away team to the old cruiser in a corridor. Picard likens the ship in space to a ship in a bottle. After Data informs Riker that there is an adequate amount of oxygen aboard the cruiser, Picard tells his first officer that the ship is exactly as the Promellians left it, in the bottle. This elicits confused stares from Worf and Data, prompting Picard to ask if any of his officers built ships in bottles when they were boys. "I never played with toys," Worf says. "I was never a boy," Data remarks. "I did, sir," Chief O'Brien informs Picard. Picard thanks the chief and has him beam the away team over. Riker gives O'Brien a look after his comment but O'Brien confirms that he truly did. Suddenly, the Enterprise experiences a power loss. O'Brien tells Riker that the transporter's secondary power bus may need adjusting. Riker tells O'Brien to keep him informed.

Picard, Data and Worf materialize on the ship and discovers that the crew of the cruiser died at their posts and their bodies have been preserved. Picard comments on how simple the ship's design is, and yet functional and designed to be used for generations.

La Forge sits in Ten Forward asking Guinan for romantic advice. He asks what does she look at in a man and she says, "his head." La Forge mistakes this for one's mind but she really means someone's head. She tells Geordi that she was once taken care of by a bald man when she was hurting and therefore looks for that. Geordi says that's what he wants too, to take care of someone.

La Forge fights booby trap

"We should be going like a bat out of hell!"

Data finds a memory coil on the Promellian cruiser and plays it. Galek Sar, the Captain of the Cleponji, takes full responsibility for what happened to his ship and its crew. The feedback ends, and the away team returns. The Enterprise tries to leave, but a Menthar booby trap begins to drain the power reserves of the Enterprise, which is unable to move, and creates a deadly radiation. The ship loses power and while Ensign Crusher tries to reverse course and leave at warp, the ship is still stuck. La Forge says that everything is running as it should, but he suggests that the ship slow down not to burn out the reaction chamber.

Act TwoEdit

The Enterprise has three hours until energy reserves run out. In the observation lounge, Riker suggests sending another away team to the ship to check their records. Worf says the radiation is inhibiting the sensors. Lieutenant Commander La Forge does not yet have an explanation for the energy loss. Picard goes back to the bridge and leaves La Forge to research the problem.

Afterwards, Dr. Crusher wants to set up emergency life support in case the ship does lose all power and is exposed to the radiation. Unfortunately, the crew will only be able to live for 30 minutes after exposure. Furthermore, cutting life support to non-operational areas would help. Data and Riker find more memory coils on the old cruiser and bring them back to the Enterprise for analysis.

La Forge then checks with the computer on how to get out of the rut they've gotten themselves into. He finds Dr. Leah Brahms, the engineer who built the warp engines of the Enterprise, in the database and recreates the conditions in which he can work with her in order to find more energy for the ship. He tries to come up with a solution using the help of a holodeck recreation of Drafting Room 5 at Utopia Planitia and accidentally ends up having the computer recreate a holodeck image of Dr. Brahms as well.

Act ThreeEdit

Brahms hologram and La Forge

"We're all smiles down here."

Dr. Brahms continues with her analysis, triggering an idea by La Forge. He happily reports a solution to the captain to get more energy to maintain the shields. Continuing on, Geordi pauses to search for Dr. Brahms' personality profile from the collective databases and has the computer add that personality to the recreated facsimile. The result is a tough-as-nails, highly intelligent but argumentative personality which La Forge finds progressively more attractive; she "comes to life" when he asks her to show him which chambers to use for supplementing energy to the life support and ship's systems.

Data tries to use the information gathered from the memory coils to come up with a way to combat the problem. They discover that the asteroids have been booby-trapped with aceton assimilators, and that it is impossible to destroy the asteroids while they absorb the energy of the fired phasers.

Enterprise fires on asteroids

"Energy reserves are dropping rapidly, sir."

Commander La Forge and Dr. Brahms, now on a first-name basis, argue on how to make sure they can maintain the ship's life support and not lose additional power. Picard summons La Forge, who is so caught up with his discussion with Brahms that he says to her, "Don't go away," before coming to his senses and has the computer save the program.

Riker wants to fire on the asteroids, but La Forge says that the shields might not hold. Picard sends La Forge back to engineering and has Worf fire phasers at the asteroids anyway. As soon as that happens, the radiation increases, the energy reserves are being lost, and the programs running unnecessary energy are terminated, including the holodeck program Geordi is running, just as he is about to make progress with how to run the ship out of the trap.

Act FourEdit

Picard and the rest of the senior officers discuss in the observation lounge how they can get out of the trap and how long they have until fatal exposure, which Dr. Crusher estimates to be about 26 minutes from the time the shields fail. La Forge has Picard reinstate the holodeck energy so he can run simulations in order to find the solution. He gives him one hour to run the program.

Picard describes Geordi's plan

"Now the machines are flying us."

An hour later, Picard comes to the holodeck and finds Brahms and La Forge, to which he is confused. Geordi explains that in order to understand the ship's power, he needed to understand what the ship was made for when it was built. Picard asks for a solution and La Forge states that full control would need to be turned over to the ship's computer since the key to get moving lies in exploiting the very small delay between action and the booby traps' reaction. Human beings, and even androids such as Data, would not be quick enough to outrun the trapped asteroid field.

Picard discusses with Riker in his ready room the suggestion that La Forge has given. Riker says it's not a good idea because computer can take orders, but not create them. La Forge continues to run simulations of the computer taking control through the mine field of radiation. He gets at least one successful run but also many failures. At that moment, the deflector shields fail, starting a 26 minutes countdown until fatal exposure.

Act FiveEdit

Picard pilots Enterprise

Picard takes the helm

Brahms still says that they must give control over to the ship and La Forge pleads for two more minutes with the captain to figure out a solution.

It turns out the Human brain will provide a solution. Instead of trying to overpower the trap, a minimal energy boost from the impulse engines and minimal thrusters can be used to drift the ship clear from the booby-trapped field, while shutting down all non-essential systems. La Forge offers to take the conn since he's been the one running through the simulations, but the captain declines stating this is his responsibility. In order to eliminate the time-differential between order and action, Captain Picard instead relieves Wesley of the conn to manuever the ship himself, while Riker warns the crew to brace themselves for the impulse burst, as the inertial dampeners are on manual. Riker also disables the radiation exposure warning from the computer as it will only be a distraction.

La Forge kisses Brahms hologram

"We made a good team."

Cleponji blowing up

"Make sure that booby trap doesn't bother anyone again."

Picard and Data work together, with information provided to Picard as necessary from the bridge crew, and begin to steer the Enterprise clear of the field. However after getting around a large asteroid, Data finds that the variable gravity from the asteroids has sapped the Enterprise's inertia by eight percent; he calculates that they no longer have the momentum to escape the trap. Picard, unflappable, thanks him and plots a new course to take the Enterprise directly towards a large asteroid – the gravitational pull increases the ship's momentum, allowing Picard, at the right moment, to fire the starboard-aft thruster and slingshot the Enterprise around the mass and move the ship clear of the field, much to Data's amazement. Picard returns the con to Wesley, and then orders Riker to make sure that booby trap does not bother anyone again. Riker in turn orders Worf to destroy the Cleponji and the aceton assimilators with photon torpedoes to prevent it from luring any more victims.

Back in the holodeck, Geordi says to Leah that he thinks technology improves people's lives, including his, and even his eyesight, lets species travel through the galaxy but sometimes, technology needs to be turned off. As he says his goodbyes to Leah, she reminds him that the ship is her and that she would never be far from him.

They kiss, and Geordi ends the holodeck program.

Log entries Edit

Memorable quotes Edit

"Uh oh…"
"I beg your pardon Wesley."
"Geordi had that big date with Christy tonight. He spent days putting together the perfect program. Looked like it ended kind of early."
(brief glance at La Forge's depressed mood)
"Uh oh…"

- Wesley and Data, assessing La Forge's date

"Tell me something, Guinan. You're a woman, right?"
"Yes, I can tell you I'm a woman."

- La Forge and Guinan

"That ship belongs in a museum. I'm afraid we're a little late; that call for help was probably initiated over a thousand years ago."

- Picard, upon viewing the Cleponji

"Oh, knock it off!"

- Geordi La Forge, to the holographic violin player at his date with Christy Henshaw

"It is exactly as they left it Number One, in the bottle."
(dumbfounded looks from Data and Worf)
"The ship in the bot– Oh, good Lord. Didn't anybody here build ships in bottles when they were boys?!"
"I did not play with toys."
"I was never a boy."
(Picard sighs)
"I did, sir."
"(brief pause) Thank you, Mister O'Brien. Proceed."
(Riker gives O'Brien "the look" after the transport.)
"I did. I really did. Ships in bottles, great fun."

- Picard, Worf, Data, and O'Brien

"Admirable. They died at their posts."

- Worf, seeing the long dead crew of the Cleponji

"There were ghosts on board that old ship. One of them actually spoke to us."
"A friendly one, I hope."

- Picard, after listening to Galek Sar's message and Riker

"I'm attracted to bald men."

- Guinan

"Is it possible… that we've fallen into the same snare that killed them? A thousand year old booby-trap?"

- Picard

"I'm not used to people questioning my judgment."
"And I'm not used to dying!"

- Leah Brahms and La Forge

"If we resist, we die. If we don't resist, we die."

- Riker

"You have used the asteroid's gravitational pull as a slingshot. Excellent!"

- Data to Picard

"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."

- Leah Brahms (holographic)

Background information Edit

Production history Edit

Story and production Edit

  • Initially Picard was to have been involved with the simulated Leah Brahms. Michael Piller recalled, "It just said to me, 'Picard should be on the bridge, not chatting with some woman.' I said to myself, 'It should be Geordi, because Geordi is in love with the ship and this is a story about a guy in love with his '57 Chevy.' That played into Geordi's character, who's always been a fumbling guy around women, but if he could just marry his car, he'd live happily ever after. He gets to create the personification of the woman who created the engine he loves. It's sort of a relationship between he and his Pontiac." (Captains' Logs: The Unauthorized Complete Trek Voyages, p. 188)
  • In an early draft of the episode, Brahms was named Navid Daystrom and was intended to be a descendant of Doctor Richard Daystrom from TOS: "The Ultimate Computer". Unfortunately, the casting department did not realize that this would require a black actress to play the part until after Susan Gibney had been hired. At the suggestion of script coordinator Eric Stillwell, the character was renamed, but the Daystrom tie-in was kept by adding a line that she had graduated from the Daystrom Institute. (Star Trek Encyclopedia (1st ed., p. 35))
  • Originally the holodeck set was to have been a mockup of a warp engine, but time constraints forced the more limited set shown. (Star Trek: The Next Generation Companion 2nd ed., p. 106)
  • The piece of music performed in La Forge's holodeck program is Johannes Brahms' Hungarian Dance No. 5.
  • This episode marked the first appearance of the final version of the Starfleet uniforms used in the series. The seams running down the sides of the chest were removed, the shoulder pads were made smaller, and an elastic waistband was added to the bottom of the uniform top. Only Captain Picard is wearing the updated uniform in this episode.
  • A blooper exists from this episode. As the away team prepares to leave the Enterprise, as Picard is asking if no one ever built model ships when they were boys, Michael Dorn, as Worf, accidentally says "I never played with boys," to the immediate hilarity of everyone on the set.
  • This is the first episode directed by Gabrielle Beaumont and the first Star Trek episode directed by a woman.

Continuity Edit

  • In this episode, Guinan tells Geordi La Forge that she's always been attracted to bald men, because a bald man was once very kind to her. In "Time's Arrow, Part II", Captain Picard (on an away mission to the past), meets Guinan and takes care of her when she gets hurt.
  • Some of the graphics seen in Drafting Room 5 include a topographic map of Mintaka III from "Who Watches The Watchers" and a graphic from Doctor Paul Manheim's lab on Vandor IV in "We'll Always Have Paris".
  • Dr. Brahms visits the Enterprise in person, in the fourth season episode "Galaxy's Child", where La Forge quickly learns that her real-life personality is far more reserved than her Holodeck-based avatar.
  • In series finale of The Next Generation, "All Good Things...", Picard makes reference to O'Brien's hobby of building model starship engines (though "Booby Trap" refers to "ships in bottles", not "model starship engines" per se). Without revealing he was from the future, Picard says he read the notation in O'Brien's Starfleet file.
  • Also, in "All Good Things…", Picard asks Geordi, "How's Leah?" To which Geordi replies, "Busy as ever. She's just been made director of the Daystrom Institute" showing that, at least in another timeline, Geordi and the real Dr. Brahms marry.
  • Drafting room 5 features models of a pre-refit and refit Constitution-class and a Galaxy-class starships. A D7-class starship is, also, featured.
  • This episode is the second of only three occasions Picard is at the helm of the Enterprise during the series. The other times were in "11001001" and "Conundrum".
  • According to the later episode "New Ground", Alexander Rozhenko (Worf's son) gives his birthdate as "Stardate 43205", which is around the time that this episode takes place.

Reception Edit

Video and DVD releases Edit

Links and references Edit

Starring Edit

Also starring Edit

Guest stars Edit


Special guest star Edit

Co-stars Edit

Uncredited co-stars Edit

Stand-ins Edit

References Edit

14th century; 2305; 2307; 2336; aceton assimilators; asteroid; Astral V Annex; away team; baldness; battle cruiser; beach; blanket; Bonaparte, Napoléon; booby trap; Chaya VII; chief engineer; circuit path; Cleponji; Cleponji crew; Coco-no-no; crossbow; cross section; date; Daystrom Institute; debris; Design Team 7; dilithium crystal chamber; Drafting Room 5; Earth; facet; Federation; Ferengi; Ferengi cargo ship; fungilli; fusion reactor; Galaxy-class; Galaxy Class Starship Development Project; generation; ghost; gypsy; holodeck; holographic simulation; Hungarian Dances; hyronalin; image processor; impulse power; inertial dampener; intermix ratio; isolinear chip; Kavis Teke elusive maneuver; kiss; Lang cycle fusion engines; life support; margin of error; Mars Station; Mars; matter-antimatter path; mechanical clock; memory coil; Menthars; meters per second; Milky Way Galaxy; Moonlight on the Beach; Number one; Orelious IX; outpost; oxygen; Passive Lure stratagem; personality profile; personal log; playback unit; power pack; power transfer tunnel; Promellians; Promellian battle cruiser; propulsion expert; radiation; radiation poisoning; reactants per unit time; red alert; Outpost Seran T-1; ship in a bottle; starbase; subspace field; subspace field processor; Theoretical Propulsion Group; Theoretical Propulsion log; three-dimensional chess; toy; tricorder; tritium; Utopia Planitia Fleet Yards; violin; warp field generator; yellow alert

Other References Edit

Unused production references Edit

positron duct; Smithsonian Institution

External linkEdit

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"The Bonding"
Star Trek: The Next Generation
Season 3
Next episode:
"The Enemy"