WTF – Two great eps in a row, they must be kidding! Nope they aren’t The setup is a bit lame, they’re waiting to send some sort of greeting to this insectoid race in their native language to establish relations, and if Picard gets it wrong they’ll all be blown to bits (nice!)
Rather than be preoccupied with this at all, Picard decides to try out the holodeck! Yes the Holodeck, remember when it was nice and shiny and new and seemed like a great story idea, well this was the episode folks. Picard finds that some of his favourite detective novels are stored as programs on the holodeck, He goes in and is completely smitten with what is basically a realistic RPG video game!
He then decides to take Dr Crusher, Data and the ship’s historian (what ship wouldn’t have a historian really!) Dr Whalen on an adventure through the 1920s. It’s a lot of fun actually, the crew marvel at the details and how realistic it all is.
Then unseen alien of the week scans the Enterprise prior to the big meet, unfortunately their scans upset the delicate programming in the Holodeck and the safety switch is turned off. What does this mean exactly? Well for one thing bullets become real, revealed in a frightfully good scene where a gangster shoots Whalen and Dr Crusher claps and cheers like a kid watching an exciting movie. It’s a brilliant moment that absolutely makes the episode, it simultaneously conveys that they are thrilled with the recreation of ancient history and at the same time are clueless as to how dangerous their predicament has become.
After they realise that Whalen has been shot for real it becomes a race against time, They’re all locked in the holodeck, Wesley and Riker work furiously to get them out, the Aliens that will be furious if Picard doesn’t give them the word-perfect greeting are getting pissy having to wait and the fictional Gangsters holding Picard & Co hostage have guns which are suddenly very dangerous.
4 Stars a fantastic episode only let down by all the alien action being off screen, it’s a minor let down but keeps it from being a 5.
Best Moment If Whalen getting shot wasn’t enough, at one stage Wesley's attempts to hack the holodeck program turns Dixon Hill’s office into a snowstorm!