The episode itself is ok, not special. What I really liked is that it shows, very early, the risks regarding holodeck use. That you could loose yourself between fiction and reality. In a way you can build a bridge into todays world and how people live in social media and/or the internet in general. I wonder what would really happen if we had holo-technology.
Those auto-destruct countdown clocks look awfully low-tech compared to everything else on the ship… I guess there wasn't a practical way of running on-set video displays this early in the show's run? That's the best theory I can think of.
Picard and Riker walk up to a turbolift on deck 36 and the computer panel immediately displays and reads out verbally, "Bridge Access Denied". The computer couldn't yet know where they wanted to go. OK then.
When the Enterprise magnetic containment field regenerates, why does no one simply use the transporter to beam over? Hop in a shuttlecraft and intercept it before it fully exits the starbase? There are numerous ways its departure could have been stopped once the risk of antimatter explosion abated—or at least, Picard and Riker wouldn't have been on their own. Tasha could have taken that security team she asked Worf to put together.
The story for this episode is pretty great in theory. We have a species dependent on technology,¹ who know how dependent they are and face disaster if their planetary computer network is disabled by the "electrical-magnetic pulse" (Minuet's slightly-incorrect words) of a nearby supernova. These Bynars decide to steal the Enterprise and use its computer to restart theirs, because the Federation might have said "No" if they asked for help. On the surface, it's a cute study of how alien thought processes might differ from ours, and also a glimpse at what too much technological dependence could do to our society.
Unfortunately the execution falls short of the story's potential. The above-mentioned plot hole concerning chasing the Enterprise as it leaves Starbase 74 is just one pitfall along the way. I also find it hard to believe that the computer would fail to interrupt a running holodeck program to notify its occupants of a ship-wide evacuation order. That Starbase 74 could not send even a single ship chasing the Enterprise without at least "18 hours" of rushed repairs is similarly unbelievable. Surely not all three docked ships were without engines and basic life support system function? (Starfleet's closest ship being 66 hours away is also… Hmm. The fleet is larger than that, isn't it?)
Mostly I object to the several contrived plot points that push Picard and Riker into facing this threat alone—a threat that turns out not to be a threat at all. I'd be more interested in what happens to the four Bynars who perpetrated the theft of the Federation flagship.
Oh, my goodness! Such excellent performances, especially from the Bynars and the lady on the holodeck; she was so computer-like, it was surreal! This is definitely the best episode of the series I've seen so far!
This episode provided two of the most important contributions to the series--Riker playing the trombone and the Riker/Picard dual power walk through the Enterprise. Truly magnificent.