Monday, November 17, 2014

Character Insight No. 121: Best of Geordi La Forge

This is the latest installment in a series of "Character Insight" articles regarding the rich history of characters in the Star Trek universe.  An audio version will appear on the This Week in Trek podcast, available for direct download here.

Welcome back to Character Insight! This week, we try a new type of segment based on a listener question to the show last week. Let's circle back to some major characters and look at which episodes are best for establishing their character development, and we start with Geordi La Forge from TNG.

 ("VISOR Geordi is the original and best version of Geordi") 

The best episode for learning some of Geordi's past was Hero Worship, where Geordi and Data help a sole survivor child of a ship crash deal with his trauma. Geordi reveals that he also had similar struggles as a young child, once being trapped in a burning building and then learning how to see with a VISOR for the first time at the age of five. 

From Hero Worship
Data - Did you ever experience a traumatic experience?
La Forge - I was caught in a fire once...and it was only a couple of minutes before my parents found me and pulled me out. I tell ya, that was the longest couple of minutes of my life.

We also learn a lot about Geordi and how he got the assignment aboard the Enterprise by impressing Riker and Picard when on former assignments in the episode where everyone thinks he and Ro Laren are dead, The Next Phase. For example, he stays up all night to fix a shuttle's engine efficiency after an offhand remark from Picard during a shuttle ride, which endears La Forge to the future Enterprise captain. 

From The Next Phase
Picard - "I've been thinking about the first time I met Geordi La Forge. He was a young officer, assigned to pilot me on an inspection tour, and... I made some off-hand remark about the... the shuttle's engine efficiency not being what it should, and the next morning I found that... he'd stayed up all night, re-fitting the fusion initiators. Well, I knew then that I wanted to have him with me on my next command."

If there's anything that defines Geordi, it's professional success matched with occasional problems dealing with people. He initially butts heads with legendary engineer Montgomery Scott after saving Scott from a transporter buffer accident in the episode Relics, but they eventually hit it off and work together to save the Enterprise.

From Relics

La Forge - "I told the Captain I would have this diagnostic done in an hour."
Scotty - "And how long will it really take you?"
La Forge - "An hour!"
Scotty - "Oh, you didn't tell him how long it would really take, did you?"
La Forge - "Of course I did."
Scotty - "Oh, laddie, you have a lot to learn if you want people to think of you as a miracle worker."

One of Geordi's weaknesses is dealing with women and romance, and like his mentee Reginald Barclay, Geordi gets himself into trouble falling for holographic representations of  women. This was most evident when he ends up meeting and having to work with the real life Leah Brahms in the episode Galaxy's Child after falling for her hologram in the episode Booby Trap. 

From Galaxy's Child
La Forge: "The acoustic signature doesn't sound right."
Leah Brahms: "You're probably the only other person in the galaxy who could pick that up."

Do you like this new take on the Character Insight segment? Please send feedback into the show and on Twitter. If you like it, we will mix these in every 2 or 3 weeks along with the regular version of the segment, which now focuses on some of the best recurring characters in the shows. 

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