Cadet Crusher visits the Enterprise on a break from Starfleet Academy. He’s happy and doing well in school, and quickly befriends the happy and hyper-focused Ensign Leffler (Ashley Judd).
The opening scene with Riker cavorting on Risa is just odd. Of course what he does when he’s off duty is his own business, but it’s certainly a clue to us when the bumpy-headed babe he’s chasing around a hotel room playfully throws his communicator pin out the window. Likewise, when Riker brings her happytime fun headset onto the Enterprise, we know it’s bad news.
Young Crusher is annoyed that his mother tries to get him to use the device when he has a date lined up with Leffler. He has no particular reason to be suspicious about the devices, yet because the script requires him to learn what it does to people, he and Leffler decide to hook one up to a computer, because apparently that’s what nerdy Starfleet types do on a first date.
The show states that the device has an optical interface, which would suggest that LaForge (who is blind) might have a little trouble using it. I confess I was *listening* to much of this episode while multitasking, so perhaps I missed something, but we learn from dialogue that LaForge is “crazy about” the gadget.
It’s creepy seeing all the crew enthralled by the game. Recurring characters like Chief O’Brien and Nurse Ogawa get some screen time enthusiastically enjoying the device, which builds tension as we start to see the major characters succumb.
The climax gives yet more screen time to the recently expanded Jeffries Tube crawlspace, and the Data ex Machina ending is a bit too flashy (pun intended), but it serves the story well enough.
I remember liking Leffler and wanting to see more of her. And knowing what’s in store for Wesley, I welcomed this brief glimpse of his happy cadet time. Commander Sexybeard’s warp-powered libido has serious consequences in this episode that aren’t explored, but more important is that it seemed too easy to slip such a dangerous device onto the ship and replicate hundreds of copies.