An old ship, an older engineer, and a structure that’s older than anyone knows. Old things, but not useless things. It is part flashback, part after school special. Say hello again to Montgomery Scott when we put Relics in the Mission Log.

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  1. Earl Green says:

    Were it not for the fact that he retired from doing the “next episode” voice-overs in 1990, you could almost hear Ernie Anderson reading this: Scotty returns for a final adventure on an all-new Staaaaaaaar Trek: The Next Generation!
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/c7d9e6ec7d917df24f912f25eba4031824fec0e93b59a72ddb85514914472203.jpg https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/25d5515dae4afac12b87b145406f331473c5107cc6ee462bf0e362002d03c923.jpg

  2. CmdrR says:

    How many star systems would have to give up their metal to create one Dyson Sphere? Thousands? Millions? Was Franklin wearing a red shirt when he stepped into the transporter that day? TWO sponsors?? Woo hoo! Ken will be able to trade up from his 1975 Pacer to maybe a 1998 Delta 88. Does Blue Apron deliver? I keep waiting for you to do a podcast with your mouth full. Ah well… Fun episode, albeit a little sad in places. I wish they’d left in the Troi scene; that would have made sense. Anyway– Thanks, as always.

    • Konservenknilch says:

      Yeah, the sphere, despite being super cool, seems like a pretty silly idea in practice. The pure mass you need for it, the energy you need for harvesting and assembly would surely negate any advantages. Then again, maybe that’s why the builders gave it up again. Or they all died from sheer exhaustion afterwards πŸ˜‰

    • Earl Green says:

      I think it’s interesting that Dyson’s original formulation of the idea was a series of rings, not a solid sphere. Now go look up Tabby’s Star and feel the hair on the back of your neck stand up…

      • Konservenknilch says:

        I assume Nivens “Ringworld” and many other such ideas are based on this. IIRC, it was a ring of “plates” connected by wires. The oft-mentioned Banks with his Culture series also used the concept. Even the recent Beyond with the Yorktown kinda looked like that (and I think it’s pretty safe to assume that either Pegg or Jung, or both, have read Banks).

    • Haha – you should know by now I only drink imports πŸ˜‰

  3. Earl Green says:

    I’m going to be that guy. Not that guy who thinks mac ‘n’ cheese is its own food group (though I will totally back Ken up on that), but that guy who’s kind of cranky and iconoclastic about an episode that everyone else unreservedly loves.

    I appreciate what Ron Moore brought to this episode in terms of sheer fanservice, but I wish the flirting-with-ageism stuff had been handled by someone who was, say, past his 20s and had maybe really experienced it? I left the work force for several years to be a stay-at-home dad, and then tried to come back to work in the middle of the recession. And all the things they’re never supposed to say to you about being too old, too this, too that, etc.? I heard every one of them, to my face. It messes with your mind in ways that…well, frankly, I hope no one reading this ever has to experience. And I just didn’t see any of that internal struggle with Scotty, not because Doohan wasn’t nailing it to the wall (he was, perhaps more than any other Trek ever gave him a chance to), but because the script was by, with all due respect, someone in his 20s who was steadily employed as a Hollywood staff writer thanks to a Cinderella story twist in his own life.

    I’m a huge Ron Moore fan, but at this stage in his life…well, I’ll just say it: what did he know about what Scotty would be feeling here? I just feel like Jeri Taylor or someone senior who had some inkling of what it’s like had helped to guide things. (I mention Jeri because she had a direct hand in asking the casting directors to find some background extras over the age of 30 to put in Starfleet uniforms, rather than all of them being painfully young; she clearly had a vested interest in the age issue, which I appreciate more and more now that modern TV seems to stray only occasionally from the norm of casting Beautful People [TM, pat. pend.].)

    Jimmy Doohan is why this episode comes as close to working as it does. I know it’s close to the top of everyone’s favorite list, but it could’ve been a great “issue” show that had a lot of eyeballs on it thanks to its guest star. It could have even gone meta and addressed some of the issues Gene himself experienced as TNG was, more and more, under other people’s control – how cool would that have been? But it didn’t do that. It’s a featherweight, and it throws featherweight punches: a Very Special Episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation.

    Good thing the transporter didn’t deposit him out of phase, huh? It’d be a bummer to be stuck in the pattern buffer for 80 years, and then be invisible to everyone. GUYS, I’M RIGHT HERE! And I need a sandwich!

    Also, the very notion of reconstructing the Enterprise bridge sure opened a can of worms, didn’t it? Barely a pie slice of the bridge here… and now there are several working film sets (and one set that’s turned into a licensed tourist attraction) that are 360-degree recreations. One of them just relocated to barely two hours’ drive from me. Relics let the genie out of the bottle there; fandom wasn’t going to sit still for just a pie slice. Gotta have the whole pie. Maybe more than one pie. If I can just lay off the pie, I hope to fit into a red shirt for one of these newfangled fan films the kids are making these days. Just kill me quick, that’s all I ask. πŸ™‚

    (Me and my youngest a couple of years ago – he’s the one with the binky, by the way. Start ’em young…but don’t dress ’em in red.)

    • deaddropsd says:

      I’m curious who wrote/directed “The Cost of Living”?- to me that was the aging episode. Older folks forced to check out before becoming “useless” or a “burden”. Obviously, a jacked up premise and concept but I do like the power of choice for the individual. What obviously, could not have been done for the sake of story is giving Scotty some “time”- lol, to adjust…soak up the history and tech of the past 70 years over the period of a few months. I think it’s always funny how so many suspended animation type scenarios pop up in Trek, yet when they do, it’s often bizarre and unfathomable…..also, the implication that transporter technology could be used to keep people “immortal”- was never touched upon…darn you 44 minute episode time limit!! hahaha, great insight w the workplace experience… cute baby!!! I sat on the TOS bridge when it visited San Diego about 7 years ago….sigh, I wanted to sleep over night in the museum…..

      • Earl Green says:

        If you get a chance to visit one of the 360-degree full sets, whether it’s Cawley’s, or Vic’s, or the one that just moved from OKC to Harrison, Arkansas in my neck of the woods…go. Definitely go. It totally messes with your mind how much bigger-and-yet-smaller the Constitution class bridge is from the picture you have of it in your mind – I hate to make TARDIS comparisons, but hey, it’s as applicable as anything else I can think of. And yes, it is hard to walk out of it again and back into the real world.

        As far as Scotty reading tech manuals and catching up – good point. He may not have Khan’s speed-reading skills, but Khan absorbed enough in a very short period of time to make up for a nearly 300 year deficit of information, and *almost took over the Enterprise*. And I daresay Mr. Scott himself learned how to rip the guts out of the much newer Excelsior in a very short span of time as well…

        • deaddropsd says:

          yeah…no continuing ed for Khan..PLEASE!!- LOL….thinking of the Augments from ENT now….the story always require these deviations away from common sense for tension of course!

    • Konservenknilch says:

      Awww, adorable πŸ™‚

      I guess it’s a problem in a lot of writer rooms that they can get awfully homogenous, the stereotype being young, straight, college-educated white males. So stories about minorities, gender topics, or as you said, age, can be awfully clunky. I regularly listen to WEE podcast, a comedy podcast about post-classic Simpsons episodes (not a shill πŸ˜‰ ), and they identified this exact problem even there. The Simpsons like to be rather progressive (good), but when an episode is about gay marriage or feminist coders, it’s painfully clear that none of the writers have any idea what they’re talking about.

      • Earl Green says:

        Even just doing some research, talking to someone who had been in a situation like that would help – admittedly, nobody actually gets stuck in fictional modes of teleportation for 75 years, but find someone who’s been forcibly aged out of the workforce, for example, and get a handle on their experiences. Empathy. Gotta have empathy. I think that’s what frustrates me here – the messaging is usually a lot meatier than this.

        Little guy in the photo is no longer that little, and certainly not that portable, but still just as lovable. He really dug the science station hooded viewer for some reason. LOL

      • deaddropsd says:

        When the new Battlestar Galactica came out, I wasn’t interested because it seemed hypersexed imo due to the dudes that must be writing it. Then I thought about how sex is used as a weapon in espionage all the time, then found the show more plausible….

        • Konservenknilch says:

          It worked in Galactica (reboot) because Six was clearly designed to be an evil seductress. I also didn’t mind 7of9 because Ryan basically played her as asexual. I guess she would just show up naked if it were up to her.

          But in TNG, there’s just no reason why the goddamn therapist has to walk around in skin-tight clothing with a huge cleavage. Frankly, if I had a counseling session with her, that would freak me out. And the less said about T’Pol, the better.

          All in all, you can use sexy to good effect. But you gotta know how to use it.

          • deaddropsd says:

            I truly disliked the intro of Seven of Nine. Just seemed so shallow to kick of Kes for a hotter chick w big boobs and high heels. I never ever ever got into VOY. But I will save all my “issues” w that show for ummmmmm 2020!?!? lol

    • Chris C says:

      Great point. It was like the story didn’t have any obvious problems with its logical coherence, but the experience didn’t feel right. But I remember feeling embarrassed for Scotty in the way he was written here even when I first watched it, and I’m 5 years younger than Ron Moore. Re-watching it now as a 47 year old in anticipation of this podcast was more pronounced, though. The Scotty I know is that man who is filled with purpose, radiates competence, and is fiercely loyal to people who are mostly gone once he arrives in the 24th century. Watching him saunter towards the pilot’s seat of that shuttle by himself was painful to watch again.

  4. Konservenknilch says:

    I liked the episode despite the fanservice. I think it would also have worked with a new character instead of Scotty, most of the character beats (feeling old an useless) would have been the same. The Dyson sphere is a neat concept and I always like to see it used. I mean it’s not great, but also not bad. Comfort food level.

    When you talked about Scottys character development, you mentioned ST III, which is when I too noticed the most drastic change. He seemed to change from the guy who reads manuals in his free time to an old man who tells the kids to get off his lawn. Specifically, I refer to the escape from spacedock. He was outright dismissive about the Excelsior, the latest and greatest in starship design – “Bah, those noobs with their fancypants transwarp (boy whatever happened to that), what do they know”. I realize that it was mostly for the plot, “our” crew can outsmart anything, and punching up is always fun. But still. So I wasn’t too surprised that he didn’t want to study the new Enterprise in detail. It also fits then that he recreates the original bridge, not the refit/A. Kirk, also forever the romantic, never had this particular hangup – “they gave her back to me”.

    One thing that always bugged me in this episode is actually more nerdy, and I really don’t want to be “that guy” who punches holes in ST technology or canon, It’s fiction after all. But the transporter/replicator technology is so close to plain magic already that you really need to be careful playing with it, or it’ll fall apart. I fear this episode went just one step too far with the buffer. Now, it doesn’t contradict anything we know so far at all, but think of the consequences. This is a huge gamechanger. Trip takes too long? Store them in the buffer. Got the space flu? Buffer. Hull breach which sucks all the air out? Buffer. Picards heart acts up again? Buffer. Now, ST isn’t exactly known for remembering technical advances, which is necessary plot-wise, but since we see this one nearly every episode, I think they should have used some other, new technology. Even the Kelvin movies screw around with this too much. Now we can beam to a warp-speed vessel (once) and even from Earth to Qu’onos (once). Come on.

  5. Wildride says:

    Fun bit of physics: Assuming a basically uniform density, any time you are inside a sphere, or spherical shell, as you would be in this episode, you can neglect the gravity from anything further out from the centre of the sphere than you are. So this means, counter intuitively, you would need artificial gravity to keep yourself and your atmosphere on the inside surface of the Dysen Sphere. This is because although you are so much closer to the mass of the sphere that is closest to you, there is so much more mass on the opposite side that the force of gravity is balanced. This requires calculus to work out.

    So, the reason we don’t float off from Earth and into the Sun, despite the Sun being so much more massive, is that the Earth is both closer to us and entirely on one side of us. In a radial sense, all of Earth’s gravity pulls on us in the same direction: Towards the centre of gravity. And, of course, gravity doesn’t suck us all up to one of the poles because it is balanced in a circle around us.

    But in the configuration seen in this episode, while it is still balanced in a circle around us, now the mass of the sphere is on either side of us, radially speaking, and it turns out balanced perfectly in proportion to the relative strength of its gravity. So anything not nailed down would float off the inner surface of the sphere and into the Sun. And atmospheres are notoriously difficult to nail to things.

    Anyway, enough of that: This is yet another civilization like the one where Barclay took the crew to the centre of the galaxy where the crew is, like, “Wow! This is all very interesting, but we can’t wait to get away from this and back to whatever it is we do.” Because of the wrap up and move on nature of the show, something that should be of Earth shattering significance is just passed off with a quick line about having someone else look into it.

    • Chris C says:

      Cool commentary. I always love physics analyses of things in Trek. Lawrence Krauss wrote a book called The Physics of Star Trek that is loaded with great stuff like this. I’ve read that Michael Okuda even revised fictional aspects of the transporter and the impulse drive to address problems raised in the book. Perhaps the Dyson Sphere is spinning. I assume the g forces would drop off as you head north or south of the ‘equator,’ but given the size of the structure you’d still have an enormous living area.

      • Will Wright says:

        @wildride:disqus @cmdrr:disqus @disqus_HVBCeuWJ0X:disqus – Just had this thought. How would the outside super structure of the Dyson Sphere even be visible to the naked eye? Planets are visible because their suns provide the light source in the solar system. However- in THIS case, the sun is hidden inside the Sphere – blocking out all sun light. Sure- the ships “radar” and sensors would “see” it – but shouldn’t in “appear” as simply a large – almost black hole – blocking out all light from the other side? The Enterprise would need to turn on large outside search / spotlights in order to illuminate the surface of Sphere – in order to find the crashed Federation ship on it’s surface – much like what happens when looking for a vessel deep underwater – because of the absents of light – like as demonstrated in the film The Abyss. https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/1ce80b9101f839cf0ef357f3edec71474185d46d3988052e609199e0b31b7003.jpg

        • Chris C says:

          Yeah so true. I dunno if you’ve read about it recently but it wasn’t long ago that news about a star, which was given the uber-sexy name “KIC 8462852,” started making the rounds. They were watching for the telltale dips in light output from planetary transits, and they are still getting dips so large that it led to wild media speculation about an “alien megastructure” or a “Dyson Swarm,” which would be like a bunch of solar satellites instead of a sphere. Since then of course much more plausible and less exotic explanations have been stated but anyway it spurred tangent discussions about Dyson Spheres and how if one existed we would expect it to be very dark, other than radiating in infrared. But that’s an issue in general in Star Trek that we just live with. I can’t remember which podcast it was, but Ken brought this up, how there’s an awful lot of extra ambient interstellar light in the ST universe. As I recall he said one of the ST effects crews had actually experimented rendering a ship fly-by with the ambient light set to realistic interstellar lumens, and it was basically just some windows and blinking lights going by!

  6. Dave Steph Taylor says:

    The Dyson Sphere is the best part of this episode, and is promptly forgotten. Not a huge fan of “Teching the Tech” but in this case some time should have been spent.

    I enjoyed seeing Scotty, and the discussion of aging, but it is handled much better elsewhere. His is not normal aging, but skipping time and being a man out of time more than just being old.

  7. Earl Green says:

    Guys, this hit me over lunchtime – you know who can fix this unstable star at the heart of the Dyson Sphere? It’s Timicin! Anyone got his number?

    What? No?
    Oh… OH.
    Yeah, forgot about that.
    Never mind.

  8. Chris C says:

    I was disappointed by this episode. I’ve no doubt they meant well, but as it turned out, everything from the title itself to the story made Scotty look like too much of a bumbling old geezer. Picard has to contrive something for him to feel useful about, and of course the story obliges his redeeming moment solving a crisis, but they don’t seem to maintain that momentum. The way they send him off is just so depressing. I like to think Scotty is a bonafide genius of engineering, padded estimates to Kirk notwithstanding. If you put Einstein in stasis for 75 years, yeah he’d have quite a knowledge gap when he woke up, but he wouldn’t lack the aptitude to look at the math and catch up. I don’t mean to downplay the magnitude of trauma involved in suddenly skipping over 75 years, but they seemed to turn Scotty into this character almost paralyzed by nostalgia.
    I never knew about the unused Counselor Troi scenes. Maybe she could have established better rapport the same way she did with Zephram Cochrane, just go ahead & get sloshed with him ’til he opens up!
    But that ending! Ugh! They basically give the ‘old man’ a space-Winnebago so he can go sightseeing. He’s not ready to fly to space-Florida to play space-shuffleboard yet, but I just shudder at the sense of disconnection and loneliness in that shuttle as the hatch is closing behind him. It would have been nice to have just heard a reference to him in a later episode or even later series. Maybe he’s lecturing at the academy, or he joins the Daystrom Institute. Perhaps he’s at the Advanced Starship Design Bureau and becomes one of the principals working on quantum slipstream drive that we see Voyager trying to implement. Something! I mean as a franchise you’ve gone ahead & done it, you’ve brought this legendary officer forward to the 24th century and you haven’t killed him off. He’s there now. He’s somewhere during the 2nd Borg invasion, maybe during the Dominion conflict, perhaps during Voyager’s dilemma. What is he doing?

    • If space-Florida has space-mosquitos then I want no part of it.

      • Chris C says:

        So true! And I hear Norpin Colony mosquitos are big ones. You need orange juice and a cookie after one bites you.

    • Earl Green says:

      That’s a good, and troubling, point. This is TNG being very much of its time: we’re going to send this “elderly relative” away, for our convenience, instead of welcoming him back into the fold. I mean, we’re not even going to welcome him back into the fold of life in the Federation, we’re just getting rid of him. On a practical level, sure, you can’t keep him around, because every week we’re then asking “Hey, where’s Scotty? Swimming with the dolphins and telling them stories about that time he saved the whales?” But they’re just casting him off. Here’s a thing the size of an SUV, which might or might not get you to the next planet or starbase. There’s some beef jerky and Gatorade in the back! Good luck! It seems like there must have been – or should have been – a deleted scene where Scotty says this is what *he wants* to do. Instead, it really raises the troubling idea that it’s being foisted upon him.

    • deaddropsd says:

      lol “old man’s Winnebago…”- yeah it does seem unrealistic to pull him out of transporter stasis to just send him off on his own….ALONE….should have established that he was going to a starbase, await transport back to Earth or Vulcan???!?!?!? that would have been an awesome hint..that even if they did not follow up in the series could have carried a lot of weight…oh well…

  9. Will Wright says:

    From the History of ST:TOS on Consumer Home Video – here is the “Relics” Extension Page. The Real treat is if you scroll to the bottom and click on the link to read the Articles from The Trek Files. CLICK link below this image.
    https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/7a640d0beeb07aa1cc5e961221015d9feb3b185e46d96e03bcef2a5e91466225.jpg I hope you Enjoy.http://ds9on.blogspot.com/2016/04/relics-was-4th-episode-of-season-six-of.html

  10. Aaron says:

    Not to be “that guy” but Montgomery Scott was indeed promoted to captain at the start of Star Trek III. He kept that rank through the remainder of the movies.

  11. deaddropsd says:

    U.S.S. Sydney. Apparently the U.S.S. Jenolan was a Sydney class ship and there are Jenolan caves in Australia. I always think its fun and interesting how the ships get named.

  12. Lou Dalmaso says:

    I ran across a similar situation to Scotty’s character. Way back when, when the internet was new, I got a bit of a reputation building webpages with a plain old coding program. and I did a pretty good job keeping up with the technology for a few years, but it seemed the minute that CSS became the dominant method of coding, it was like the train just passed me by. I just didn’t have the passion to keep up any more. So I can absolutely Identify with Scotty’s plight about being too old to fall in love again.
    As for Scotty’s crankiness. It might have already started before he took his transporter nap. we really don’t know how long he had been on his own before he decided to retire. and seeing all of the newfangled stuff just amplified it. He was probably boring Franklin with a story about tribbles before they found the sphere..
    and lastly, I always hated the way they shot those exteriors. there is no way the enterprise would be able to see the curvature of the sphere if they were anywhere near that close to the surface. if you thought the Death star was big, it was just peanuts the Dyson Sphere

    • deaddropsd says:

      that would make sense, since he was retired. The cutting edge tech of the time would be going on aboard active duty Starfleet vessels and if were not real crew then….. great points. I thought the Dyson Sphere was too plain. Sorta plainer than a Death Star…some lights would have been nice, but maybe it was in low power mode, since it’s residents seemed to be gone/dead…

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      The difference with this episode though is that he was missing for 75 years. As a normal older person he could keep up with diligent updates, but being gone for 75 years, he is completely out of date.

  13. wchmara says:

    I’m still asking myself how Scotty managed to beam himself and Geordi off of the Jenolan while her shields were up. That’s an impossibility even in the 24th century.
    I also wonder if the Norpin colony is where Scotty bought his boat, which he mentions in ST6.

  14. Low Mileage Pit Woofie says:

    Another excellent podcast, gentlemen – my compliments!

    The story of Scotty trying to fit in resonates more with me now that I’m in my fifties than in my twenties. But then age and maturity has moved my tastes for many of the stories in NextGen. In my youth, I’d watch episodes like “Peak Performance”, “Cost of Living” or “New Ground”, and hate the soap opera B-stories that were wedged into the sci-fi A-stories. Nowadays I’m more interested in Data’s loss of self-confidence, Worf trying to be a father, or Lwaxana feeling the need to marry a stranger rather than be alone.

    This change in tastes has spilled into my writing. I have a website, The USS Surefoot, a series of NextGen fanfic stories with original characters, that have ended up being less about exploring strange new worlds and fighting the Borg, and more about getting back into the dating game after a long dry spell, or finding a way to apologise to someone after a fight. So, more soap opera than space opera, I guess πŸ™‚

    • Dave Steph Taylor says:

      Age really does change perspective

      • deaddropsd says:

        Yup…amazing how I am 44 now….chatting w youngsters about going to college, military, not falling in love to soon etc…life choices…wondering about my future, health, safety of my kids….DEEP

  15. Durakken says:

    Troi is missing because she is dealing with all her Trauma…

    Dyson “Sphere” is a misnomer. It’s a bunch of satellites that are linked through gravity, magnetism, or other things. Also having all that open space inside isn’t realistic. You’d build in layers, each one upping the efficiency just a little bit more.

    Olaf Stappeldon is Required Reading for any one who is into world building.

    A thought occured to me about Geordi… Perhaps he’s an abusive person and that’s also why he doesn’t do well in relationships. He seems to have all the signs where he comes off as nice enough, but then just flips out…

  16. Will Wright says:

    This episode was great- and so was the podcast. I find it Ironic that for your last Supplemental – you guys used the image of Scotty drinking the green stuff from the TOS episode ” By any Other Name” and here you displayed the image of him with Data pouring the green drink from the bar. Fan service? Well – it did pull on my old heartstrings – that’s for such. I came back to this episode today – of all days – cause it was a love letter of sorts to TOS – and I really enjoyed your computer’s call-out. About your complaints about the character’s roles in this episode. I thought they were spot on. Geordi only snapped at Scotty because Geordi was busy at work- and when he’s working on something- he’s consumed with that work 100% and doesn’t want to be bothered , cause unlike Scotty- he doesn’t build any down time or safety margin into his time estimates. So he doesn’t have time for anything else. So when Mr. Scott invites himself into La-Forges work area wanting to “help”- Geordi snaps. Scotty gets pissed cause that rubbed him the wrong way. I know he just stepped out of the transporter and should still have all his marbles about him- but he’s just to out of date on this ship. You guys are right- Scotty is more of a mechanical engineer – “from Kentucky” and Geordi is more of a computer geek. My father is a mechanical engineer – and have you guys ever dealt with this personality time when they get old? Believe me. It’s not pretty. The don’t handle “retirement” well – and often than not – without a hobby to keep them busy- they just go stir crazy. They just Need to “do something”. Mr. Scott can’t just simply “hang out” in his quarters and relax. NOT going to happen. BTW- “Reckless in Engineering “- Now THAT was great ! https://uploads.disquscdn.com/images/2bdf31c62f0fd900a8d08c612c5b835da5439200c430c1159904dd8450e09327.jpg

    • deaddropsd says:

      Great points on the Scotty pics w drink! Also the love letter…so true. I had to agree w the transporter effect though…how cool if they had done an Undiscovered Country effect!!?!?!

  17. Canavan says:

    “Relics” has never been a particular favorite of mine, although I have to admit that after watching it again for the first time in well over a decade, it held up a bit better than I expected. John’s critique during the podcast echoed many of my own misgivings about the writing. If you’re a person who believes that character should primarily be revealed by action, this may not a script you’ll like. It’s talky and, to steal John’s description, far too “on the nose”.

  18. John Anderton says:

    Just a great reminder of how much better the character of Scotty is than Geordi. Scotty doesn’t get lost in technical jargon. He interprets technical matters in human terms. Scotty actually seems like he could be a real person. Geordi is bland, emotionless, and characterless by comparison. I even think Burton is a better actor. But the character is dull.