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The Trek Nation - 11001001

11001001

By Michelle Erica Green
Posted at June 8, 2007 - 9:30 PM GMT

See Also: '11001001' Episode Guide

Plot Summary: The Enterprise arrives at Starbase 74 for repairs to be carried out by Bynars, a species that works in pairs and are all linked in to computers to facilitate decision-making and communication. Riker is somewhat uncomfortable with their what he perceives as their secretive behavior, but he is distracted by a holodeck upgrade with a woman who charms first the first officer, then the captain into sitting in an old Earth jazz club. Thus the crew is unable to reach either of the senior officers when the warp containment field fails, so it is left to Data to order the crew to abandon ship, setting a course far from the starbase to protect the people. Soon enough it is discovered that the Bynars have failed to evacuate, and that they have put the Enterprise on course for their own planet. Meanwhile, leaving the holodeck, Picard and Riker discover that the ship is deserted and the Bynars appear to be dying. They consider destroying the ship, but upon reaching Bynaus, they find that the planet's main computer has been damaged and they required the Enterprise computers to replace their own, thus saving the population. Picard and Riker are able to restore data to the planet and save the Bynars, declining to punish them for taking the ship.


Analysis: "11001001" comes very close to being a really good episode. It has all the elements: a really intriguing alien species, a mystery, substantial character interaction and development, some neat science fiction. Unfortunately, for the story to work, the captain and first officer have to behave like complete idiots. Next to Janeway and Chakotay beaming down together and promptly getting infected with an alien bug that keeps them trapped on the planet in Voyager's "Resolutions," this surely wins the prize as most boneheaded joint behavior by the top two officers...and Picard doesn't even leave the ship. They aren't off exploring new life and new civilizations, they're thinking with the wrong heads on the holodeck...a venerable tradition, to be sure, and one to which Janeway will fall prey more than once as well, but boy do they look stupid.

What's great about the episode are the Bynars and their conundrum. They always work in unified pairs, we're told, and all their knowledge is processed through the computer interfaces connected to them, so that they can finish each other's sentences and complete each other's ideas. Picard says that they're just as intermeshed with the computer on their home planet as they are with one another, even at this distance. Riker doesn't quite trust them, for what seem at first to be silly reasons, though we know better - when the power shuts down to entire sections of the ship just like Daystrom's M-5 did to Kirk's Enterprise, it always means worse things are coming - but he can't be bothered to stick around and see what they're up to, instead putting boy wonder Wesley on the job while he goes off to test the new holodeck programming.

Here's what I like about the use of the holodeck in this episode: it's honest. Of course people are going to be trying to figure out ways to have sex with holograms...I'd be surprised if 3/4 of the Enterprise holographic library isn't porn. And it's not at all out of character for Riker to want a woman who's there when he needs her and can be turned off with a single voice command. He and Troi have already agreed that at this point they can't have a relationship because Will in particular has other priorities; he doesn't want to date, he wants to flirt and dance and have a quickie and get back to work, and that's fine. Except that, in this case, he's doing it on ship's time...in principle he's supposed to be checking out the holodeck programming and noting any anomalies, not going, "Wow, now I can meet perfect women!" and remaining in a state of distracted bliss that prevents him from noticing just how long he's been away from duty. (Data, at least, has the grace to be embarrassed that he was getting painting tips from Geordi instead of keeping up with Enterprise developments...as Riker says, a blind man teaching an android how to paint must be worth a few pages in a book.)

I'm sure I'd be more forgiving of Riker's distraction if Picard did not then go and do exactly the same thing, with more distressing excuses and more disturbing consequences. He walks in on Riker's tete-a-tete and instead of excusing himself, he lets holographic charmer Minuet twirl him around her finger with a few French phrases, while he babbles to Riker that one always falls in love with an illusion rather than a woman. It is a sad reflection on these two men that the "woman" is a fantasy projection whose interests and values are all about them -- her speech, her areas of expertise, her gestures are tailored to what they want ("I'm as real as you need me to be"). Perhaps the Bynars can't be expected to understand human females sufficiently to create something that would stand out as an independent character, but they certainly understand the psychology of these two men who prefer an attractive, articulate reflection of their own desires to a living breathing being. When the men find it, they are so entranced that they let a handful of aliens make off with their ship. Are we supposed to admire two characters who are so shallow in their personal interactions, or to believe that they're really superlative command officers?

It's a good thing there's some very solid science fiction storytelling going on around this dragged-out sequence: Wesley realizing that there's a serious problem in engineering, Data taking command and evacuating the ship, Yar and Worf discovering that the Bynars are still aboard and wanting to return to the ship, the departure and docking sequences at the starbase, and finally Riker and Picard being forced to unravel the mystery all by themselves because the Bynars are unconscious, the crew is missing and their holographic girlfriend can't tell them what they most need to know about how to fix the Bynar computers (thus ruining the only possible justification for having a fantasy female play such a large role in the story). Without a woman to distract them, the two quickly realize that they must think like the Bynars to reboot the planetary computer, which means not only attempting to grasp their codes, but attempting to implement the password the way a pair of Bynars would: jointly, with the same accord they must use to program the ship to self-destruct when they believe it has been commandeered for hostile purposes.

I get a little thrill watching the ship dock at the starbase while the Star Trek: The Motion Picture theme is playing, just like in the scene in that movie where we first see the restored Enterprise. And I like Riker understanding that because of the Bynars' binary thinking - the answer to every question is either "yes" or "no" with no compromises - they dare not risk rejection by asking for help. But I wonder how a species that caught up in dualities managed to create so "real" a hologram as Minuet. Is the secret that she isn't "real" at all, but a product of the sort of binary thinking where men are men and women are Other?


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Find more episode info in the Episode Guide.


Michelle Erica Green is a news writer for the Trek Nation. An archive of her work can be found at The Little Review.