The Holodeck. One of the most incredible additions presented by this Star Trek Series. This is a place where you can literally live anything you can imagine. If you want to visit the building of Stonehenge, you can go there, if you want to ride a dragon with the Mother of Dragons, you can, If you just want to take a trip across the universe, it’s there for you. None of it is real, of course, but it is so interactive you would never know. We’ve seen this amazing technological achievement in previous episodes but this will mark the first episode where it is central to the plot. I present to you, originally airing on January 11,1988, The Big Goodbye.
Stardate 41997.7 The Big Goodbye
The Enterprise has been sent on a diplomatic mission to meet with an insectoid race called the Jarada. This race is one that has very specific requirements for first contact, one being that the Captain must recite a complicated greeting in their native tongue, without flaw. Feeling the stress, Picard takes some much-needed time off in the holodeck in one of his favorite programs based on the detective stories of Dixon Hill only to get himself and others trapped in a dangerous simulation while the Jarada are in route.
Excited about the Holodeck, Picard invites Dr. Crusher, and historian Mr. Whalen along for the fun. Data, intrigued by the concept tags along, excited by the similarities to Sherlock Holmes. Dressed in Period clothing, the group go in (without Crusher) only to discover that a woman Picard (as Dixon) has spoken to earlier has been killed and the cops have questions.
As Picard and team explore the past, the Jarada send a probe that inadvertently cause disruptions throughout the ship. When Riker attempts to talk to the Jarada they are offended and demand to see the Captain. They don’t just get offended either, they respond with the 24th century version of the internet dial-up sound. Seriously, what jerks would do that?
Crusher, arriving late, enters the holodeck, notices that the doors are malfunctioning, but continues in and finds her crew-mates. Okay, lets stop here. The doors were malfunctioning and she was like, ‘okay this is fine.’ No, I don’t buy it. A good crewman would report the issue to engineering and THEN go on inside. Or at the very least put a sign on the door that says, ‘out of order’. yeesh.
Geordie soon discovers that the Holodeck is inaccessible (and would have known earlier if Crusher had told engineering!) and they can not get to the Captain or the team. Wesley accompanies Riker to help with the repairs. Wesley, having previously studied the holodeck manuals in-depth (because of course he did), begins his repair attempts with Geordi. Strangely enough the Chief Engineer is nowhere to be seen leaving the Helmsman and some kid to do the work. I guess this is why the ultimately fire Argyle. Slacker.
Inside the simulation the team is released from the police and go to find their way out. They visit Dixon Hills office only to be held up by Mr. Leech. Leech threatens the group and, thinking it is safe, Walen is shot and they discover that not only are they trapped, the simulation is no longer safe. Soon, Cyrus Redblock (the mob boss of the holodeck story) arrives and, as Mr. Whalen is bleeding out, they must survive a deadly simulation while their mission with the Jarada in the real world is threatened.
Of course they manage to get out. It’s pretty clever really, they convince the mob boss that the outside of the holodeck is where the treasure is and he takes the bait. Upon stepping out he disappears and they are free. Although they did technically murder two people using this method if you are in the camp that believe Holograms are people too.
Is this a ‘Good’ Episode:
This is the first episode of many more ‘Holodeck’ threats. It is a great start of what would nearly become a trope for the series and it’s spin-offs but somehow managed to be intriguing each time. This one is no exception.
This episode gives some more fantastic insight into Picard and his character. For one, he is a student of history. He loves learning about the past and, with the use of the holodeck, he finally gets a chance to experience it himself. He is also a huge fan of detective stories, with Dixon Hill being a childhood hero.
We also learn more about holodeck technology. These holograms are physical representations that are fully interactive in every way. Usually the holodeck has safety protocols that prevent harm but, as it will happen often, the protocols can be knocked off-line making the simulation ‘real’. This brings up some HEAVY implications that holograms are more than their programs, a thread that would be picked up and fully explored much later.
This episode also gives us some serious consideration to just how interactive we really want our entertainment to be. Even today with the resurgence of virtual reality there is a real danger for people who have high blood pressure and heart issues. Some of the games on the Oculus Rift are so immersive that people can have genuine fear response from them. I have experienced a few myself causing me to have to remove myself from the experience to recover. If such a thing is possible with a headset, imagine not being able to escape the experience. Can you die from too much VR?
Geordi and Wesley get a bit of character growth and both show a growing aptitude for engineering and tech. I think this may be a moment when Geordi starts to realize that he needs to start bumping off those other Chief Engineers…he might want that job at some point…
I would LOVE a holodeck. The chance to explore any book, movie, or story of any kind would be amazing. Not only that but the implications would be limitless, depending on the power consumption needed people could potentially live in a hologram indefinitely. It’s pretty amazing! But like I said earlier, as it could be dangerous, it would have to be something to be careful with.
Gleanings and Cool Bits:
Dr. Crusher and Picard have a moment, implying that there could be something more between the two should the circumstance permit.
According to the original series Technical Manual the original Enterprise has a ‘Simulation Deck’. This was never explored so it is unknown if it was based on similar technology.
It implies that this is Picard’s first experience in a Holodeck making it seem that this could be one of the first available on board a starship.
The Jarada are never seen but sound like a person talking through their nose, they will be mentioned again but never seen.
We see Dixon Hill appear a few more times in the series, including one movie appearance!
Geordi and Data show more of their burgeoning friendship.
We get to see Geordi showing even more engineering aptitude and this appears to be hinting to his time as the Chief Engineer in the future seasons. He really doesn’t Navigate very much and when he does it is very brief.
Riker Beard Countdown B minus 15 Episodes until Beard Emergence.
Late To The Game 3/30/2019 (originally published on 1/24/18)
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Special Thanks to Memory Alpha as they are one of the best sources for details on Star Trek information available. Although I have a pretty deep knowledge on the subject, they have proven invaluable as a regular resource.
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