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L.I. Underhill is a media critic and historian specializing in pop culture, with a focus on science fiction (especially Star Trek) and video games. Their projects include a critical history of Star Trek told through the narrative of a war in time, a “heretical” history of The Legend of Zelda series and a literary postmodern reading of Jim Davis' Garfield.

5 Comments

  1. Jack Graham
    January 30, 2015 @ 12:04 am

    Wesley always annoys me in this, when he says to Picard "I was angry at you" he says it angrily, like he's still angry. Could nobody have taken Wheaton aside as one point and said "hey Wil baby, darling, sweetie… did you notice the 'was' in that sentence at all? Hmm? Yes? Past tense. Episode's about healing, you see? Yeah? Okay, great. Let's try it again."

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  2. K. Jones
    January 30, 2015 @ 12:22 am

    Certainly a transitional episode, this one even has the added benefit of being terrifying to children. Not perfect by highly likable and a near-total ensemble. I remember vividly being terrified by the reappearance of Marla.

    And let's not gloss over the fact that this is an episode focused on fairy magic, either. While there was more room in the story to be overt about how the planet could essentially have been a "doomed Earth" where the fairy-races still lived in secret, the parallel remains in the subtext and is secondary to the people involved, anyway.

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  3. Ross
    January 30, 2015 @ 6:40 am

    It occurs to me a bit now that whenever anyone criticizes having families aboard the Enterprise in this episode, what they're really upset about is it making things harder for themselves: It's not like Jeremy Aster would be any less an orphan if he'd been on earth at the time, it's just that it wouldn't be the Enterprise crew who had to break the news to him or be there to help him grieve. I don't think there's any point where anyone points out that, for better or worse, Jeremy actually got to see his mother the morning before she died, in contrast with, say, Wesley, whose father died in the middle of a mission that had taken him away from his family for years.

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  4. K. Jones
    January 30, 2015 @ 11:11 am

    What you deal with then is buffers. I'm not sure how much they add or take away from an individual survivor like a kid's reaction to a tragedy like this, but they certainly add more people to the chain of awkwardness and make more people have to at least consider tactfully things like sympathy, empathy, compassion or pity. Things like taking a terse stand or being more of a mentor or guide. Decisions you make when you have to break hard news.

    Somewhere down the line somebody is showing up at the person's door with the terrible news.

    It puts in my mind Snake Eyes and Hawk. For any who don't know the G.I. Joe reference, in Larry Hama's comic, the whole scenario is flipped as the soldier returns home from Vietnam and waits in the airport, only for a Colonel who he's not even affiliated with to show up hours later and inform him that his family all died in a car wreck on the way to pick him up.

    A horrific chain of events for one middle-management desk clerk Colonel to deal with, and yet this is one of the key moments that sets into motion the entire origins of that comic.

    I thought it was good of Picard to take the initiative. Noble even. I expect had there not been the unnatural and short-notice "Fairy Entity pretending to be his mother" they'd have probably made some good progress in the next few weeks.

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  5. Daru
    February 8, 2015 @ 10:59 pm

    Great episode and great essay thanks Josh. I had no idea about the open submissions policy. That's why I love this blog, despite being a Start trek fan I have never been as fannish or read into the background with as much as I did with Doctor Who.

    "This is a story about what life would really be like if pseudo-military scientists worked in hazardous environments under constant threat of death every day, and what would happen if they brought their children with them on their missions (no surprises here that Moore would eventually become such an outspoken critic of the idea of having families aboard the Enterprise)."

    I am currently watching Deep Space Nine (some for the first time as my ability to see it when it aired here was patchy) and we saw the first episode of season 3, where if I'm right the whole Dominion thing really starts seriously. There was a moment when it felt like I was hearing Moore himself speak in the script as Sisko describes the prototype Federation warship they are on as not being meant to hold families and is essentially intended for battle. It was rather jarring.

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