The Great Star Trek TNG Rewatch: Hollow Pursuits

The Enterprise has a new engineer – Lieutenant Barclay. Unfortunately, Barclay is far from the perfect officer – he’s reticent, often late, and spends all his time on the holodeck playing with fantasy versions of the senior crew. Can Geordi take Barclay under his wing and turn him into an officer worthy of the Enterprise?

Since everyone in the regular cast is so perfect, it’s no wonder that the writers wanted to introduce an ‘everyman’ character who was more flawed and human (in the 20th-21st century sense). When I first watched this, I was annoyed that such a milquetoast of a character was annoying my beloved main characters, and stealing screen time from them in favour of his stupid holodeck fantasies. This time around, I was equally unimpressed with the holodeck segments, but I did feel a lot more empathy for Barclay. Imagine the pressure of being imperfect, and yet being surrounded by perfect people – it’s no excuse for showing up late, but Geordi and Riker aren’t the most sympathetic of line management.

Rule and regulations

  • There’s no regulation against recreating crewmembers on the holodeck, presumably because everyone is trusted enough not to abuse this power. That being said, I probably would have such a restriction.
  • No wonder Barclay has no confidence when his peers call him nicknames behind his back, don’t want to be around him, and even Wesley shoots down his ideas in meetings.
  • As Picard says, it’s Barclay’s choice to be a Starfleet officer – since there’s no money and no one has to work for a living, he could have stayed on Earth with his own personal holodeck and just wanked off to holographic women all day. Did he join Starfleet to fulfil an ambition of going into space and making a difference, or because of family pressures? I can’t actually remember if this is covered in a later episode.
  • Why did Barclay test the antigrav with a load on it, before testing it load-free?
  • Why doesn’t the holodeck have locks? What if Picard wanted to masturbate in there?
  • It’s always Transporter Room 3, isn’t it? The other transporter rooms are so boring.
  • Why is Troi so surprised at Barclay’s holodeck fantasies and social awkwardness? She’s a counsellor, after all – but then I guess all mental illness was cured a hundred years ago, so apart from the odd crazy Betazoid, everyone is essentially perfect.

Summary – Hollow Pursuits: A fantasy where you get Crusher and Troi? Count me in.

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