Episode Notes: ( And when we're holding hands, it's like having sex to me. )Overall Reaction:
I liked this episode a lot, in terms of the writing, the performance by Barclay, and just giving us some delightfully goofy moments, but it raised a few big questions for me.
Number 1: Holodeck ethics. Is it ethical to enter into an occupied Holodeck without express permission? There was a clear understanding amongst all the crew members that the Holodeck was a place for fantasy and self-exploration, a judgement-free place where one can act out one's id. Geordi explicitly states that what happens on the Holodeck is private. Further, though the show skates around this, there's a suggestion that the Holodeck can be, well, a masturbatory aid. Certainly we've seen people act out sexual fantasies in there. GEORDI HIMSELF IS THE WORST OFFENDER IN THIS. He has both fallen in love in there, as he tells Reg in this episode, and relived super awkward dates in it. That may all have been in one episode. I watched that episode a lot because I kept falling asleep during it. ANYWAY. If all this is the case, then why is it acceptable for crew members to enter into their co-workers' fantasies?
And if there's a sense that the Holodeck is in some way a public place, then I don't think Riker was out of line with his comments that co-workers should be off-limits in it. Deanna was right that he was responding out of hurt pride and that he was taking it much too seriously, but there is
something deeply inappropriate about Barclay's use of real people on the Holodeck. Especially
his use of Deanna, which began to read almost as sexual obsession. In fact, all of the women in his programs read as combination mommy figure and sex object, and that's both very telling psychologically and fairly disturbing, especially since the objects of his fantasy can walk in at any time.
Number 2: Is this really the crew's job? Okay, okay, I'm not questioning that from a human perspective it was good for Geordi to take a personal interest in a clearly troubled subordinate or for Picard to put the kibosh on mocking nicknames. Certainly he should at least have been pointed to a counselor. But, he was really bad at his job! Yes, he ended up solving the problem, but there was NO WAY to foresee that, and I don't understand why precisely they have to be lenient about his absenteeism and inarticulateness. Probably I am just Missing the Point, but from a pragmatic perspective, this is not how to respond to lousy employees.
However, I do appreciate the message of empathy in the episode, of not letting troubled people slide through the cracks, and of the idea that even...I'll say introverted for the moment, but I'll come back to that...people can have contributions to make. So I guess I'm just nitpicking here. Maybe not good business practice, but good from a message point of view, and I suppose the Enterprise wouldn't be the place it is if it focused on the pragmatic over the human.
(THIS IS LIKE THE OPPOSITE OF WHAT I SAID WHEN I CAME OUT OF MONEYBALL
THE OTHER DAY, IT'S KIND OF HILARIOUS. There I was all, "I respect his business practice and I get that he changed baseball and that he gamed the Yankees, etc., but, but BASEBALL. I WANT TO ROMANTICIZE IT. WHAT ABOUT LOYALTY TO PLAYERS AND, AND TEAM SPIRIT, AND.")
Number 3: I'm not a psychiatrist, and he's a fictional character, but with those caveats, I'm pretty sure the issue in this episode was not what the show thought the issue was. They seemed to think it was fantasy versus reality, and that was part of it, but I'm pretty sure the issue was that this guy has a MASSIVE UNDIAGNOSED ANXIETY DISORDER. How was that not caught during the endless psych evals these people go through? How is he not in therapy and possibly being medicated? Geordi called him shy, and that seems to be the assessment everyone else stood by, but he says
it's more than shyness, he knows it's something more, even if he can't articulate it. I really would have liked some acknowledgment that he clearly had some problem beyond being slightly awkward around people and that perhaps just telling him to engage with the real world and talk to people wasn't enough. (Okay, they did point him to Deanna, but that was like the shittiest therapy session ever. Possibly because of his hard-on for her.)
These questions aren't necessarily criticisms, though. I liked that the episode made me think a little (even if the space mystery of the week did not).Star Rating:
***Quote of the Episode:
"Being afraid all of the time, of forgetting somebody's name, not, not knowing... what to do with your hands. I mean, I, I am the guy who writes down things to remember to say when there's a party. And then, when he finally gets there, he winds up alone, in the corner, trying to look comfortable examining a potted plant."
"You're just shy, Barclay."
"Just shy... Sounds like nothing serious - doesn't it? You can't know." (Barclay and Geordi, talking about something that -- I'm not wrong, right? This is more than shyness?