Riker asks Wesley to keep an eye on the Bynars, as he doesn't quite trust them. With some time free for once, he goes for a wander around the ship. He meets Yar and Worf on their way to play a Parrises squares game with the Starbase crew, and watches Data attempting to express some creativity by painting an abstract picture. Eventually he winds up at the holodeck, which the Bynars have just finished upgrading. Riker tests it by creating a 1958 New Orleans jazz club complete with a one woman audience, Minuet. Riker is amazed at how realistic Minuet's reactions are and stays to dance and chat with her. Picard arrives to have a look, and is suitably impressed with Minuet - who talks to him in French on hearing his name.
On the bridge, Wesley informs Data that there is a problem in the ship's antimatter pods; the magnetic containment field is decaying, threatening a release of the stored fuel and a catastrophic explosion within four minutes. Data calls Red Alert and orders an emergency evacuation, programming the autopilot to take the Enterprise out away from the station and any nearby planets. When the computer informs him that nobody is left aboard, he beams onto the Starbase - to be told that Picard and Riker are missing. As the Enterprise heads out of dock, the magnetic containment fields come back online and it warps away.
Oblivious to all this, Picard and Riker are still on the holodeck talking about how impressed they are with Minuet. When Picard starts to leave she tries again to make him stay, arousing his suspicion. He opens the door, to discover the ship deserted and on course to the Bynar's home world, Bynaus. Minuet admits that the Bynars programmed her to keep Riker occupied whilst they stole the ship, though she doesn't know why. The two officers go to engineering and set a five minute auto-destruct countdown, determined to prevent it from falling into hostile hands. Picard notices that a huge amount of data is being transferred into the ship’s main computer banks. He and Riker arm themselves and beam to the bridge simultaneously, hoping to take the Bynars by surprise. They find all four Bynars there, virtually unconscious. Deactivating the auto-destruct, Picard finds that the ship has arrived at Bynaus. All the computer equipment on the planet is inert; the information in their computer is a data dump from the main system prior to its shutdown. They go back to the holodeck, where Minuet tells them that a star in the system has gone supernova; the Bynars knew it would knock their systems off line, and since they were so dependant on the computer they knew this would destroy them. The Enterprise-D computer was the only mobile system with the capacity to hold that amount of data. They return to the bridge, and manage to unlock the file and download it back to the Bynar's main computer; the file name is 11001001. The transfer is a success, and the Bynars wake up. Picard asks why they didn't just ask for help; they explain that they were afraid the answer would be no, and Picard realises that the Bynars saw the decision in simple yes or no terms as a result of their binary thought patterns. He takes the helm and programs the ship to return to Starbase 74. Riker heads back to the holodeck, but Minuet is back to acting like a normal hologram.
But the Bynar story quickly takes over, and the Bynar story is just stupid. I can buy that they would be able to tinker with the computer enough to steal the ship. That's what they're good at, after all, and this is one case where we would expect that the computer's security systems would all be helpfully turned off since the Bynars were supposed to be tinkering with it. And it's interesting to see a cybernetic species in Trek - foreshadowing the Borg, perhaps?
But the whole "save our planet" thing doesn't work. First off, if a sun went supernova in your system, the electromagnetic pulse affecting computer systems would be rather far down your list of things to worry about. Certainly lower down the list than, say, the fact that both you and your planet's surface would be boiling away into space. It is highly unlikely that a planet could survive its sun going supernova. Certainly not one that was close enough to the sun to support life in the first place. They should have used a flare or something, or resorted to the fictional ion storm instead. And if it did somehow survive, then it's not just a matter of turning it on again. EM pulses burn things out, things that have to be repaired. Picard and Riker would have a job on their hands far bigger than downloading a file.
So although promising to start with, and with some interesting aspects, a strictly average episode.
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