Reading Rainbow and Star Trek: The Next Generation actor LeVar Burton recently got into a spat with Bounding Into Comics over some questionable comments he made about his character Geordi La Forge. He decided to block us on Twitter as a result, because that’s the standard solution for getting caught up in your own fallacious argument.
This, in the aftermath of Burton bringing race into question regarding La Forge’s time on Star Trek: TNG, which seems to mirror his own real-life attitudes about race, in general. According to Burton, he assumes the worst about white people, because he believes white people assume the worst about him.
This bizarre, and rather racist take had us scratching our heads, and we doubt we’re the only ones. We decided to extend a bit of an olive branch to Mr. Burton, by going back in time to memorialize Geordi La Forge’s best TNG episodes of all time. He may not care much for the character, but Star Trek fans clearly do, and we’d like to honor him right here, right now.
The Arsenal Of Freedom (Season 1)
This season 1 episode split the Enterprise crew apart in order to solve a mystery regarding the disappearance of a Federation ship. It was also the first episode where Geordi La Forge was given full command, allowing him to prove himself.
The story revolved around a deadly weapons platform capable of bettering itself with each new version. When one of the weapons attacks the Enterprise in orbit, La Forge is tasked with overcoming his own lack of command experience, while inspiring his officers to find their own self confidence, and courage under fire.
Samaritan Snare (Season 2)
In this episode, Geordi transported onto a ship piloted by the Pakleds, an intellectually stunted race who gain technological advancements by stealing them from other cultures. They use their supposed lack of problem solving skills to convince their prey that they’re not a threat, and require help.
Geordi is all too happy to lend a helping hand, until the Pakleds spring their trap. With nothing to go on besides a few subtle hints from his fellow officers, he participates in a ruse designed to gain his freedom, and give the Pakleds a taste of their own medicine, without harming any of them.
Booby Trap (Season 3)
This classic season 3 episode has Geordi racing against time to prevent an ancient booby trap from killing the Enterprise crew. The trap involves energy converters which drain power from the Enterprise, and feed it back to the ship via lethal radiation bursts.
Geordi calls up a hologram of Leah Brahms, a propulsion designer for the Enterprise, and the two work out a solution to escape the trap. Along the way, Geordi develops feelings for Brahms, which would play out in a future episode – just not the way he hoped.
The Enemy (Season 3)
Geordi bridged the gap between races in this season 3 episode, featuring the nefarious Romulans. The trouble starts when the Enterprise investigates Galorndon Core, a hostile alien planet where a Romulan ship appears to have crashed.
A severe electromagnetic storm strands Geordi on the planet, where he’s held up at gunpoint by a Romulan officer. As conditions get worse on the planet, Geordi’s visor fails, and the two must work together to escape with their lives. Geordi manages to break down the walls of racial animosity between himself and the Romulan, and the two become friends by the end of the episode.
Identity Crisis (Season 4)
In this episode, Geordi is haunted by his own past when an old away mission begins wreaking havoc on the original team. It starts when his former away team members begin disappearing, one by one. Geordi speculates that it has something to do with the mysterious planet they visited.
It soon becomes apparent that the crew had become infected with a parasite, which was transforming their DNA, in order to convert them to another species. Geordi races against time to gather as many clues as possible, before he becomes the next victim of the parasite.
The Next Phase (Season 5)
This episode dealt with the concept of death and the afterlife when Geordi and Ensign Ro are pushed out of phase with the rest of the universe. The Enterprise crew believes both had died, but Geordi isn’t ready to give up. He takes advantage of their newfound ability to walk through walls in order to test a series of hypotheses.
While Ensign Ro is ready to give up and believe that she’s stuck in the afterlife, Geordi is the one who keeps them grounded and focused. It pays off when he’s able to cause a series of disruptions aboard the Enterprise that lead Commander Data towards a solution.
I Borg (Season 5)
After the Borg invasion of Earth failed, tensions were high in Starfleet. Those fears were accentuated when the Enterprise stumbled upon a crashed Borg vessel, with one surviving drone left among the wreckage. Against his better judgment, Picard allowed the drone to be brought on board.
Rather than succumb to hatred and feelings of vengeance, Geordi treated the Borg drone, whom he dubbed “Hugh,” with kindness and respect. Over the course of the episode, the two became friends as Hugh started breaking off from the collective, and finding his own meaning in life.
Relics (Season 6)
This episode brought a classic Star Trek character to the TNG era, and it was an excuse to have a little bit of fun with the premise. It began when the Enterprise discovered an awe-inspiring Dyson Sphere in the middle of space, and a crashed Federation vessel on the surface.
They soon discover that Montgomery Scott from the original Enterprise managed to survive in the ship’s transporter buffer. He develops a friendly relationship with fellow engineer Geordi La Forge, but it starts off rocky. Geordi learns the value of making the elderly feel purposeful, especially when they’re decades behind the times.
Aquiel (Season 6)
This season 6 episode saw Geordi with a romantic interest that might just be a murderer. Convinced that she’s telling the truth about herself, he takes her side in an attempt to figure out what’s really going on, and clear her name.
He later discovers that a lethal alien life form was responsible for the entire incident, and manages to clear the woman’s name in the process. It’s an example of La Forge trusting his gut, when all the evidence suggested otherwise.
Force Of Nature (Season 7)
This episode attempted to parallel environmental issues by revealing a horrible truth about space travel via warp drive. The very thing that allowed Starfleet to explore strange new worlds was causing severe damage to the fabric of space itself, and the repercussions would be even worse if left unchecked.
Geordi features prominently in this episode, which makes a lot of sense, given his status as an engineer. An officer in his position would never want to accept the fact that his own engines were causing so much damage, but Geordi demonstrates his honesty and convictions by listening to the theories, and later confirming them.
So, to wrap things up, we sincerely hope Mr. Burton will have a change of heart regarding his latest rhetoric. We are confident that we speak for millions of fans who grew up watching LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow, Roots and Star Trek: TNG, and want to see that guy make a comeback.
To us, Geordi La Forge represented so many things that stood out as exemplary. He was a blind man who saw the world differently than we did, and he never let his condition get him down. He was a consummate perfectionist, a brilliant engineer, and part of the finest crew in Starfleet.
And yes, he didn’t have a lot of luck with women. Many of us who grew up watching TNG had the same problem, and it helped us relate better to the character, and learn from him. His criticism of the writers who penned the Leah Brahms arc is completely out of touch, and smacks of woke. That’s not a sex offender stalking someone. It’s every guy who ever fell in love with a woman, and tried to woo her affections, only to fall on his face in the process. Do we even need to bring up the very, very white Lieutenant Reginald Barclay?
So, Mr. Burton, you may have your questionable views on race, but we’re willing to gamble that none of your fans noticed, or cared when you were starring on the show. We love Geordi, and we valued his contribution to the show. Maybe it’s time to learn a lesson or two (or three) from the character you played for so many years, and never uttered a single regret about it… until five minutes ago.
You’re better than this, Mr. Burton. We know you are.