Star Trek the Next Generation may have had plans for Professor Moriarty. But things came up, and he disappeared for multiple seasons after a fairly memorable season two appearance.
Would his second appearance in season six be worth a look? Jimmy and Tom have some thoughts below.
“Ship in a Bottle”
jimmy: This feels like an episode you’d tell me not to think too much about.
tomk: Are you thinking about it right now?
jimmy: I’m trying not to.
tomk: Have you tried emptying your mind with certain relaxation techniques?
jimmy: I have not.
tomk: Well, you can try meditation. Or maybe there’s something that can just distract you by getting your thoughts on something weird, unexpected, and probably unwelcome.
tomk: You stopped thinking about it.
jimmy: This is true.
tomk: Besides, it seems pretty open and shut to me: Moriarty’s power as a holographic program with control over the holodeck seems pretty well established. He made a girlfriend in his own image and demanded a chance to leave. That hadn’t happened yet, so he pushed the issue by tricking Data, Barclay, and Picard into entering a very extensive program only for the three of them to trick him the same way in the end.
jimmy: I mean, it’s a good story, but if you start thinking about Moriarty being able to manipulate the holodeck, gain control of the ship, and then Picard and crew building a holodeck within the holodeck, etc…it just pushes the boundaries of the extension of disbelief.
tomk: Next thing you’ll say is Moriarty is being stupid since if the ship is destroyed, so is he.
jimmy: He knew he wasn’t “real” so he had nothing to lose.
tomk: Nice to see he considered his girlfriend when he thought up that plan.
jimmy: She was expendable.
tomk: He’s a terrible boyfriend.
jimmy: He can’t help it, he was programmed that way.
tomk: But he’s not the bad man from the Sherlock Holmes stories he was supposed to be.
jimmy: No? He took over the ship and threatened to kill everyone unless he got what he wanted.
tomk: That’s just simple blackmail to get what Picard had promised him. It’s not like he secretly controlled the ship’s criminal underworld.
Or he just ran around shooting at Riker and Worf until Riker remembered how to whistle.
jimmy: That would never happen.
tomk: Not without a third, less memorable character.
jimmy: But we don’t need to talk about that.
You’ve got a better memory than me, so probably knew the twist. Do you remember when you realized it?
tomk: Probably at the same time Data did originally. It’s a good twist.
jimmy: Yeah, that’s when I picked up on it too.
tomk: That, and Geordi is, like the Dread Pirate Roberts, not left-handed.
jimmy: Good thing that glitch happened at exactly that time.
tomk: We couldn’t exactly hope for Barclay or Picard to notice something like that.
jimmy: Speaking of Geordi…and Beverly, etc, so Moriarty programmed perfect holodeck simulations of the entire crew?
tomk: He used Barclay’s old programs.
jimmy: Hmm. Maybe.
tomk: Be glad he didn’t find that program Troi used for that alien torture table.
jimmy: He had that cued up if Picard didn’t cooperate.
tomk: Well, that’s dark. I would have thought that was more of an #EvilWesley thing.
jimmy: Who do you think made Moriarty sentient?
tomk: Vic Fontaine?
tomk: Was it someone trying to kill Batman? It usually is.
Anyway, when Moriarty was making his demands, I couldn’t help but think “Isn’t this pretty much exactly the tech used by the doctor on Voyager?”
tomk: His mobile emitter came from the future.
jimmy: Fair enough. They use them on Picard too. Either way, I don’t think Picard rushed back to tell Moriarty they had the tech to set him free.
tomk: Because they didn’t until the Voyager crew got back to Federation space.
jimmy: Yes, but any time after that.
tomk: Well, they didn’t need to because they gave him his own universe to explore.
jimmy: So, would they age in there, or just travel around forever…or until Barclay forgets to change the batteries?
tomk: Or until the ship explodes in Generations.
jimmy: Or then.
tomk: They’d never know.
jimmy: Why leave it running at all then?
tomk: Picard’s not a cruel man. Plus, Moriarty seemed to know when his program was shut off.
jimmy: Shut off and destroyed are two different things.
tomk: Are you sure this time?
jimmy: Yeah, why not?
tomk: Ok, you can have a slice of victory pie.
jimmy: I like pie.
tomk: Two things you like in a single slice. Get it now before an evil hologram finds it first.
jimmy: Evil holograms are the worst.
tomk: Much worse than merely indifferent holograms.
jimmy: Those guys just sit around and eat Cheetos.
tomk: But they don’t hijack a ship.
jimmy: That’s too much work.
tomk: Work is hard. Try relaxing in this interactive VR program set in Victorian England.
jimmy: ‘Ello Guvnor!
Maybe I will try another program.
jimmy: Moriarty has them all shut off.
tomk: Not this one. “A Fistful of Watsons.”
jimmy: Yeah, but nobody uses that one.
tomk: Not sure why. Emma Watson is utterly charming as every other character.
jimmy: Dang. We all thought it was something else.
tomk: No, Moriarty shut that one you’re thinking of off first. He’s not a monster.
jimmy: Haha. He did say as much. Prior to all the kidnapping and death threats.
tomk: Of course, when he left, everything was turned back on.
jimmy: Dark times.
tomk: But Jimmy, you’re a smart man. Would you have helped Moriarty?
jimmy: That’s a tough call. It would certainly be hard to trust him. And I’m kind of surprised that Picard and Data, while saying it was impossible, were so quick to believe he had freed himself from the holodeck.
tomk: Well, the math worked out.
jimmy: Until it didn’t.
And if the Holodeck could fake most everything else, it couldn’t fake the fake transporters working?
tomk: Apparently. But now I wanna know if the replicators can make real stuff, why can’t that be used to transfer stuff from the Holodeck?
jimmy: Good question!
My first thought is that the replicators don’t make anything nearly as complex as a person. Though they do make food, so one imagines it can create things that are organic.
tomk: I can get that living things are probably out, but anything else?
I mean, you can eat food in there.
jimmy: In the holodeck you mean?
tomk: Yes. Not in your office or mancave. Or mooseburrow.
jimmy: Maybe the food is “real” and created by the replicators. Or it simply ceases to exist when you put it in your mouth.
tomk: Seems like a crock.
jimmy: Seems like something we shouldn’t think too much about. 🙂
tomk: You raise a good point. Have a plate of chicken wings.
jimmy: Are they from the replicator?
tomk: No. The wing joint on the corner.
jimmy: They do make good wings. I’m in!
tomk: I don’t know where their wings come from.
jimmy: That’s ok. They’re delicious.
tomk: At least you aren’t paranoid that you might still be in a computer simulation like Barclay was by episode’s end.
jimmy: That’s Picard’s fault. He brought it up.
tomk: Foolish mortals! They don’t know the entire ship is in The Matrix!
jimmy: Maybe it is…
jimmy: You never know.
tomk: Oh, you might if you tried hard enough.
jimmy: I’ll try really hard this weekend.
tomk: Or we can try another episode where reality is less fluid. I mean, we might have a murder mystery next, or maybe it’ll be something about Geordi’s love life.
jimmy: Or all of the above?
tomk: It might very well be all of the above.
jimmy: Do you want to find out?
tomk: I think that’s my line. Did you have anything else to add about Moriarty, a character that had to wait a long time between appearances because the TNG producers incorrectly assumed he was in the public domain the first time around?
jimmy: Really? lol
jimmy: Somebody got fired.
tomk: Well, more like there may have been some threatened legal action that took time to clear up.
Fortunately, they had a good lawyer.
jimmy: He’s good.
tomk: Good enough to help Geordi in a time of need?
jimmy: That sounds like a job for Data.
tomk: Well, maybe. Wanna see how Geordi screws up his romantic life this time?
jimmy: I do!
tomk: Then let’s look into a murder.
Wednesday “Quid Pro Woe”
Noteworthy Issues: Batman/Superman: World’s Finest #13 (March, 2023)
The X-Files “Talitha Cumi”