Star Trek: The Next Generation Re-Watch: “11001001”

Written by Maurice Hurley and Robert Lewin
Directed by Paul Lynch

Season 1, Episode 15
Original air date: February 1, 1988
Star date: 41365.9

Mission summary

Enterprise reports to Starbase 74 for its 30,000 light year service inspection and upgrades, to be performed by Bynars, aliens who work in linked pairs and are connected to a central computer on their homeworld. Commander Riker doesn’t completely trust them, but he’s content to leave Wesley to keep an eye on them after the alien computer whizzes modify the holodeck and program up his dream girl: a woman named Minuet who tells him exactly what he wants to hear.

Picard is not immune to the unexpected charms of Riker’s sophisticated, artificially-intelligent holodate. He hangs out with them in a recreation of a New Orleans jazz club while Data copes with a rather urgent emergency: The computer reports that the antimatter containment field is failing. Unable to contact either of his superiors, he orders a full evacuation and sets the ship’s autopilot to send Enterprise a safe distance from the starbase and any inhabited planets in case it goes kablooey.

Once the ship is clear of spacedock, the magnetic containment field miraculously regenerates and Enterprise sets course for Bynaus, the Bynars’ homeworld. They were played! When Picard finally leaves Riker and Minuet to do whatever a man and a computer-generated woman do together, they discover the ship is on red alert and has been abandoned. Prepared to destroy the ship to keep it out of enemy hands, they return to the Bridge, where they discover their hijackers are unconscious and dying. Minuet confirms Picard and Riker’s suspicion that the Bynars stole Enterprise—for all intents and purposes a mobile computer—and used it as temporary backup storage for their planet’s data, to protect it from a power surge from a nearby supernova. But while the system is down for unscheduled maintenance, the Bynars are on the brink of death.

With the danger past, Picard and Riker work together to find the correct ZIP file in time and restore the computer on Bynaus. They return Enterprise to the starbase, where the Bynars will face legal action for stealing the starship. Riker hurries back to the holodeck to continue the best night of his life, but Minuet is gone.

RIKER: She’s gone. I tried variations of the program, others appeared, but not Minuet.
PICARD: Maybe it was all part of the Bynar’s programming. But you know, Number One, some relationships just can’t work.
RIKER: Yes, probably true. She’ll be difficult to forget.


This episode is at turns fascinating and disturbing. Setting aside the uncomfortable implications of Riker’s infatuation with Minuet for a moment, I’ll say that I’ve always liked this episode, and that hasn’t changed. The Bynars are some of the more intriguing aliens we’ve seen in Star Trek thus far, especially in TNG, however simplistic their development might be. It’s particularly interesting to re-watch “11001001” in 2012, versus 1988 when it was first broadcast, or even 1991, when I probably saw it for the first time.

While a Star Trek episode like “The Ultimate Computer” cautioned against advancing too far and relying on machines too much, this TNG episode illustrates a symbiosis between organic beings and technology and avoids being too judgmental about it. Riker displays some uncertainty and suspicion over their work, but not without good reason. Despite the obvious—perhaps too obvious—flaws in having a central computer running your planet, intricately linked to everyone who lives there, there’s no moralizing or criticism of the way these lifeforms have evolved. Even the Bynars are quick to point out there are some drawbacks.

Considering the incredible usefulness of an advanced computer like the one aboard Enterprise, and the fact that one of its crew is an android, TNG is much more progressive and accepting of technology than its predecessor. Looking back at it today, the connection between the Bynars and their own version of “cloud” computing is eerily prescient. Our ubiquitous smartphones are not much smaller than the communication boxes they wear, and even our language is adapting and becoming a kind of shorthand, largely thanks to text messages and Twitter. The internet is already a kind of hive mind, and we will only rely on it more as time goes on and we become even more connected than we are now.

Although this is essentially another “aliens take over the ship” episode, their plan is cleverer than most and doesn’t rely on the crew being too stupid for a change. The actors really seem to be settling comfortably into their rules at last, with a better idea of who their characters are. There’s also a nice cinematic quality, thanks to using stock footage shot for the cinema, repurposed as Starbase 74.

However, it might have been more engaging and believable to see the “natural” Bynars surface when their computer is offline, perhaps making them miserable and less intelligent, instead of killing them. I mean, I get pretty cranky when I can’t get a good Wi-Fi connection or my phone freezes. And while I liked seeing the overall competence of the crew—from Data’s quick, practical command decisions to Picard and Riker’s thoughtful attempts to regain control of the ship and discover what was going on—this time I was aware of a glaring flaw: The Bynars seemingly crafted their puzzle for Riker to solve, but required the synchronized actions of two people to unlock it. Minuet points out that they didn’t know Picard would be caught on the holodeck too, though one could argue that they adapted their plan to account for him as soon as they realized it was a two-for-one special.

The biggest issue is the squick factor of Riker basically falling in love with a computer program, which won’t be the last time this happens to a lonely guy on the ship. I can understand both why he might fall for the Bynars’ unusual program and why people would be disturbed by it, but overall the delicate matter was handled rather well. I was surprised, but liked the fact that Picard took Riker’s compromising situation all in stride. (Though I still object to people waltzing into other people’s programs whenever they feel like it.) It was also gratifying to see the difference between the captain and Riker. Picard views Minuet as an oddity, a marvelous piece of technology, while Riker is clearly more interested in her as a nice piece of ASCII—a more intimate diversion than an intellectual one. Like a horny teenage boy, he wants to find out just how far he can get with her.

I’m all too happy to overlook that creepiness though, because the rest of the episode was fun and engaging. Riker did ask the right questions about Minuet and their chances at any semblance of a real relationship at least, and as I pointed out to my wife when we watched this, I can’t blame him for choosing a computer program over Troi. Her response: “There’s a difference between Troi and a computer program?” Zing!

Eugene’s Rating: Warp 4 (on a scale of 1-6)

Thread Alert: When you’re wearing athletic gear like this to a Parreses Squares match, you’ve already lost.

Best Line: RIKER: “A blind man teaching an android how to paint? That’s got to be worth a couple of pages in somebody’s book.”

Trivia/Other Notes: The upgrades are meant to correct the holodeck problems experienced in “The Big Goodbye,” but the original episode production order would have established that the Bynars’ modifications caused those problems.

This episode, and Minuet in particular, will also be very important in a fourth season TNG episode, “Future Imperfect.”

Previous episode: Season 1, Episode 14 – “Angel One.”

Next episode: Season 1, Episode 16 – “Too Short a Season.”

About Eugene Myers

E(ugene).C. Myers was assembled in the U.S. from Korean and German parts. He has published four novels and short stories in various magazines and anthologies, most recently 1985: Stori3s from SOS. His first novel, Fair Coin, won the 2012 Andre Norton Award for Young Adult SF and Fantasy. He currently writes for the science fiction serial ReMade from Serial Box Publishing.