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Star Trek TNG - Season 3 - Episode 21

Star Trek TNG - 3x21 - Hollow Pursuits

Originally Aired: 1990-4-30

Lt. Barclay's Holodeck obsession threatens the ship. [DVD]

My Rating - 8

Fan Rating Average - 6.67

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Remarkable Scenes
- The opening scene where Barclay's kicking everyone's ass.
- Wesley starting the "Broccoli" fad.
- Picard's resolve toward helping Barclay.
- Geordi being nice to Barclay after Picard's lecture.
- Barclay showing up "just about" online.
- Wesley overwhelming Barclay.
- Troi, the "Goddess of Empathy."
- Barlcay finding a lead on the mystery.
- Picard slipping up and calling Barclay "Broccoli" and Data trying, then aborting his attempt to make Picard feel better about it.
- Guinan: "The idea of fitting in just repels me."
- Guinan: "If I felt nobody wanted to be around me, I'd probably be late and nervous too."
- Geordi walking in on Barclay's holodeck fantasy.
- Barclay describing his anxiety.
- Barclay freaking out when first encountering the real Troi then bailing out the first chance he got.
- Riker, Geordi, and Troi walking in on Barclay's program.
- Geordi: "Commander, I don't think there's any regulation that--" Riker: "Well there ought to be."
- Riker meeting his double. Troi and Geordi finding it funny.
- Troi meeting her double. Riker and Geordi finding it funny.
- Barclay sleeping in fake Beverly's arms.
- The Enterprise hurtling toward its own doom. The engineering team trying to make sense of it.
- Barclay contributing to solving the mystery.

My Review
Meet Lt. Barclay. On the holodeck he's arrogant and confident. In the real world he's a nervous wreck. Beneath both personalities he's a genius just waiting for attention. The ending to this episode was highly satisfying. Barclay proves himself under pressure and breaks his holodiction. But saves one of this programs before erasing the rest. So we're left open for more holodiction Barclay episodes in the future...

The following are comments submitted by my readers.

  • From DSOmo on 2007-07-29 at 1:26am:
    - The engineers get contaminated because a seal on one of the medical containers is broken. The engineers contact the invidium as they carry the tissue sample from the transporter pad to an antigrav unit. Why are Geordi's top engineers carrying medical containers? Isn't that a job for the medical technicians?
    - After the engineers load these precious medical samples on an antigrav unit, Geordi tells Barclay to fix the antigrav unit. Geordi says it has an intermittent problem. Is this a standard procedure on the Enterprise? Does Starfleet have a regulation, "Whenever you encounter a problem with a piece of equipment, put a lot of really important stuff on top of it and then get someone to fix it?"
    - When Geordi faces the problem of the ship "flying apart," he calls his team of senior engineers together to solve the problem. This is a sound approach. If you have a staff of highly trained individuals, why not consult them? In previous shows, however, Geordi has always tackled the problems alone or with the help of a holographic representation.
    - Barclay enjoys a holodeck-created Ten-Forward. He walks over to Troi and she says, "I feel your confidence, your arrogant resolve. It excites me." At this point the companel beeps and someone says, "Lieutenant Barclay report to Cargo Bay 5 now!" Barclay responds by telling Troi, "It'll have to wait till later, darling." He quickly adds, "Be right there." So what did the guy at the other end of the conversation hear? In response to his command that Barclay report to the cargo bay, did the man hear Barclay tell him in loving terms that it would have to wait until later?
    - Geordi originally discovers Barclay's fantasies by strolling into the holodeck. Later, Riker, Geordi, and Troi do the same thing. They simply walk up to the panel, Riker punches a few buttons, and the door to the holodeck pops open. Shouldn't there be an etiquette involved with entering the holodeck? These holodecks function as recreational areas for the crew. Even Geordi admits that what people do on the holodeck is their business. Isn't it an invasion of a person's privacy to allow others to walk into that person's fantasy?
    - Picard must have one of those screen savers that blanks the screen until some activity occurs. Just after he tells Geordi to make Barclay his "project," Riker and Geordi leave Picard's ready room. Picard reaches over and turns his display panel toward him and studies it - except the panel is blank before he turns it!
  • From djb on 2008-04-04 at 9:47am:
    I watched this episode over a month ago, and I JUST today got that the episode's title is a pun. Hollow = Holo --> Holodeck. Very clever.
  • From Orion Pimpdaddy on 2009-06-07 at 4:16am:
    What a refreshing episode! Barclay feels real; I sometimes have to look away from the TV when he is having his awkward interactions with the crew.

    And who can forget the Goddess of Empathy?
  • From thaibites on 2011-02-25 at 2:15pm:
    This is a lame and unbelievable episode. Geordi says it all early in the episode when he wonders how a guy like Barclay makes it through Star Fleet Academy. The truth is he wouldn't. Which means he wouldn't serve in Star Fleet, and he would never serve on the flagship Enterprise. This whole episode was a fantasy from the beginning. It could never happen. Barclay's a loser and that's all.
  • From CAlexander on 2011-05-01 at 6:19pm:
    An excellent episode. It is totally effective at portraying Barclay's character.
    - The characters wonder how he made it through Starfleet thus far, and this is never directly explained to the viewer. Presumably his intelligence offset his lack of confidence until he got on to the Enterprise, which, as the flagship of the Federation, was just a bit too stressful for him. Then he started spending too much time on the holodeck, reducing his performance, lowering his confidence further, encouraging even more holodeck abuse, until he is the nervous wreck that LaForge can't tolerate anymore. Quite realistic.
    - Star Trek is full of characters who are psychologically flawed, but usually they are unbalanced in the arrogant, overconfident direction. This episode shows someone flawed in the opposite way.
    - Echoing DSOmo, the scene with the antigrav unit bothered me too. It is really weird – "The antigrav unit isn't working correctly. These containers we've precariously stacked on the antigrav unit are extremely important. Activate the antigrav unit." The scene would have worked fine if it had just been executed a little bit differently.
  • From Nicolas on 2011-08-07 at 2:41am:
    It should be standard enough to do a background check on the parties involved in serious accidents, just in case. Doing so would have saved them some time.
  • From TheRealProj on 2011-12-23 at 7:22am:
    Ugh. Wicked gay episode. Another throwaway that belongs somewhere in season 1 or 2.
  • From Ggen on 2012-03-28 at 11:42pm:
    Another poignant and thoroughly excellent psychological episode, this one with a healthy dollop of humor on the side.

    I'll touch on the lighter aspects first... the humor here is excellent. Some of the lines from Barclay's fantasies are perfect. I especially enjoyed Troi as the "goddess of empathy," and Troi as the seduced counselor. "I feel your arrogant resolve - and it excites me!" Hah, that's great, made even greater by the next line, "Please report to Cargo Bay 5." Not even 1 or 2, but *5* . Hah.

    Beyond the humorous scenes, Picard's slip of the tongue among them, this was a brilliant depiction of, and commentary on, social anxiety. I love how you can absolutely see Barclay's effect on others, you can *see*( how tense he makes the people around them (equally brilliant was Guinan's acknowledgement that there's a bit of a feedback loop here, the more uncomfortable Barclay makes others, the more uncomfortable he gets, and so on). Barclay also just lays it out to Geordi, explains quite effectively what its like, "afraid of forgetting a name... not knowing what to do with your hands... the guy who ends up in the corner trying to look comfortable examining a potted plant." That's great.

    I also appreciated how serious the whole thing became, first threatening to end Barclay's career, and later threatening to put the entire ship in jeopardy - though of course Barc came through in the end. Might as well mention that the technical problem (the contamination) and the technical solution were both pretty neat.

    So, I thought this was thoroughly excellent. I've seen some of the other Barcley episodes, both TNG and Voy, and I believe this was the best one, possibly because it's the first. In later episodes, the actor playing him gets a bit too comfortable in the discomfort, if that makes any sense... the stuttering etc starts to seem more predictable, more rehearsed. Here the performance is entirely convincing... (I wonder if they didn't have him improv. some of those lines to get the desired effect...)
  • From Arianwen on 2012-12-17 at 11:20pm:
    thaibites - it is perfectly possible to succeed, and succeed spectacularly, while still having difficulty with your personal life. Social anxiety and academic /career excellence are not mutually exclusive.
  • From Damien Bradley on 2015-05-14 at 8:33am:
    A few thoughts...

    - Did anyone else catch the reference to the "flux capacitor" during Barclay's fake counseling session? Awesome! Wesley called it a flow capacitor in the preceding scene, but Barclay said "flux" instead. :)

    - I like what someone else said about Geordi having a team of engineers he heads up. I would have loved to see some recurring characters (Sonya Gomez?) that way. But why, oh why, do they all have to be dudes? And with exception of Geordi, white dudes? Come on!

    - I loved the continuity with Booby Trap when Geordi mentions he "fell in love" on the holodeck. I wish there had been more offhand references to other episodes like this!

    - How many holodecks are there and how do people reserve time on them? With a thousand crew members, it seems weird that one lieutenant seems to be able to use them whenever he wants. It seems holo time would be scarce and in high demand.

    - It also seems there would already be strict regulations around simulating existing people, *especially* superior officers. Everyone seems so surprised as if no one has ever thought of creating a holodeck program where you can punch out your commander or ravish your counselor.

    - It's kind of fun to see Troi lose her poise. We see it in The Loss as well. I'm surprised that she was surprised at her own representation, though. She would have certainly sensed Barclay's lust toward her, and expected it once she saw he was simulating crew members. Then again, Trek writers conveniently forget about her empathic abilities all the time, so no huge surprise.
  • From Azalea Jane on 2021-08-25 at 6:15pm:
    This episode highlights one of Troi's big problems: nobody on the writing team seems to know what a qualified counselor would act like, so they make this parody of a counselor whose empathetic powers short-circuit when it's convenient for the plot.

    For one, "holodiction" would already be a thing. Treating it might be an emerging field given how relatively recent an invention they are, but either way, Troi would have approached Barclay's issues *much* differently if any of the writers knew a thing about psychology. She certainly would not have done what she did in their (real) session. She looks like an absolute dummy in this episode. Being clueless about how to help Barclay, seemingly being *surprised* he lusts after her, losing her cool at seeing her holo-version... gah. Troi is such a tragically wasted character. I still like her in theory, and sometimes she's written well and her character utilized effectively. But not here.

    I like how Barclay kind of disrupts the status quo in this show. So far we mostly see crew getting along. But on a real ship, we'd have characters/situations like this constantly, and not just among the lower decks. In reality our main cast would probably have some awkward conflicts with each other, as we see more realistically in DS9 and onward.

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