The Enterprise arrives at Starbase 74 for routine maintenance, which is performed by aliens called Bynars, which exist in sexless pairs. On their homeworld, Bynars communicate with their supercomputer and have developed a strange, quickly spoken language as well as an affinity for computers. Many crew members take their leave of the ship during the maintenance, but not Riker, Picard, or Wesley, who is expressly told to watch the Bynars for any funny business. The Bynars use the holodeck and an enchanting AI named Minuet to capture both Riker and Picard, at first unbeknownst to them, while the ship is evacuated over a warp-drive failure, also unbeknownst to them. The ship is set to scoot away as soon as the evacuation is complete, which it does, except that Picard and Riker are still on board. Not-so-magically, the engineering problem corrects itself and the ship heads for the Bynar's home planet. When Picard and Riker figure out the scheme, they leave the holodeck, set the ship for self-destruct just in case, and find the Bynars unconscious on the bridge. They turn off the self-destruct and determine that the Bynars are trying to save their home planet by resetting their supercomputer after an electromagnetic pulse from a supernova wiped it out. Picard and Riker facilitate this and bring the Bynars back from the brink of death. The Bynars explain that they were afraid to ask for help because the Enterprise might have refused. The Enterprise returns and there is some mention of a trial for the Bynar's kidnapping of the ship.
This episode had action and kooky aliens. Score!
The Bynars might not be the most awesome alien Star Trek has ever come up with (um, hello. Vulcans are) but I loved their answer at the end, that they didn't ask because the Enterprise might have said no. Little things like that are what make an episode feel like it was planned, and planned well, from beginning to end, instead of being written by 15 different writers of different backgrounds and experience. Yeah, let's not get into how most TV shows are written, and why sometimes their revision practices don't work. After all, this episode is modest proof that it can work, and we all love TNG or else you wouldn't be reading this.
The only weird part of this episode is that Wesley isn't more astute, or more vocal. His superiors set him to watch the Bynars, and even though I'm sure the Enterprise didn't expect any trouble, they did expressly tell Wesley to let them know if anything strange happened. Maybe it was because he was blinded by the coolness of aliens being connected to a comuputer and talking so dang fast. I guess the Bynars could have been whispering about how freaky-tall humans are instead of how they planned to steal the Enterprise.
And evacuating the Enterprise? My favorite part of this episode. I know, I'm supposed to say that the hot holodeck chick is the best part, but she disappears at the end, becoming a non-entity. Evacuating the Enterprise, on the other hand, gave the sense that not only are there a lot of people on the Enterprise, but they are all vulnerable to things like the ship blowing up. And having to leave their captain, because the passengers and the rest of the crew comes first, and they only have a few minutes to evacuate.
Good thing the Bynars are peaceful, right? I bet from now on the Federation only lets humans work on their ships - no, wait, that doesn't always work out either. Sometimes the crazy AI starts for-real shooting at the other Federation ships in a mock war [reference]. Oh well. I guess that's just life in the Star Trek universe.