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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.

10 Comments

  1. K. Jones
    October 12, 2015 @ 6:59 am

    In fact, Part I is so stock that I kind of don't have much to add other than to heap a little more praise on Ronny Cox. He's a guy I always enjoy seeing turn up in whatever genre drama I'm watching, kind of like William Morgan Sheppard. I think the last thing I saw him in was Leverage, The D.B. Cooper Job. Whereupon of course it all goes back to Star Trek and you're like "HEY IT'S JELLICO!"

    I don't want to at least not mention that it was at least wise of them (of course it's the obvious angle and the most built-in, since he's replacing the Captain) to have his style clash more with Riker than anybody else. Beyond any of the military blah-blah-blah of the First Officer's role, it's just a good move because Riker is all of our and everyone else's best friend and most loyal dude, and as we've seen before, it makes him into one of the ur-sympathetic characters here.

    I suppose the lack of Bajorans is pretty noticeable here, though I don't think it's a deal-breaker. But it did strike me as incredibly odd to have a flagship captain, medical/life sciences doctor in a prestige job, and a ship-to-ship tac officer/security guy do a commando mission. Not that I need my Star Trek to be remotely "military" in structure, but when does a ship command team ever do a commando run? That's what onboard marines or SEAL teams or whatever would be doing. And frankly based on who's got what experience and what rank on the USS Enterprise, you'd think it'd be Chief O'Brien's mission. (Accepting the fact that even though we haven't gotten the send-off, he's already gone.)

    But you can actually replace Patrick Stewart with Colm Meaney in part II of this and not have a too terribly different, equally "legendary status" type episode out of it. I mean essentially once a season in DS9 they're going to be giving O'Brien that kind of horrible torturous existence anyway. And just as Ro is conspicuously absent, it also would've been a nice touch to see O'Brien play off of Jellico, even in a minor bit, just to draw that line back to Maxwell.

    But I digress with the could-have-beens. Sometimes a Part I is all about the set-up of a superior Part II. It might not have intended to be, but it is. But there's certainly something big set in motion already.

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  2. K. Jones
    October 12, 2015 @ 7:05 am

    One positive for me is, and I can't remember if it's this or next episode, but I think it's this one, is that they finally and I think wisely use Jellico as an excuse to put Deanna in a Starfleet Uniform. And I believe this is the first time ever.

    We get pretty deep into the uphill battle Sirtis has to get her character taken seriously, and it's already Season 6. But the uniform and tying her hair back for me is kind of a big deal. Like, "oh hey, this woman is a competent officer, too, not just an emotional guidance counselor, as you can tell by the uniform she shares with her professional peers, not her purple onesie." Plus the ship was always skewed way red and yellow, and was always lacking for more blueshirt science division types.

    I think Deanna 2.0 is kind of important going into the final seasons.

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  3. Ross
    October 12, 2015 @ 7:20 am

    One of my dim recollections from my convention-going days is that Marina Sirtis really did not like the purple onesie.

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  4. Josh Marsfelder
    October 12, 2015 @ 12:08 pm

    The uniform. Yeah, it's this one.

    I have complicated feelings about this. Yes, it's a big deal for me. Yes, I infinitely prefer Deanna in the sciences division uniform. Of course I hate the space pyjamas. I mentioned that when I talked about the Playmates version of the bridge crew. And yes, it was something Marina Sirtis had been clamoring for since the first season.

    (Although to be fair, Deanna did wear a regulation uniform in "Encounter at Farpoint", it was just the skant variant uniform.)

    However, the fan narrative version of this story is appalling. Every account of it takes the agency for the wardrobe shift away from Sirtis and gives it to, of all people, Jellico. To quote Star Trek: The Next Generation 365:

    "'And he [Jellico] put Troi in a uniform,' Moore notes with a chuckle, 'which I thought was all for the good.' In fact, Moore had been pushing for that change for years-and following this episode, Troi would continue to wear that uniform while on duty for most of the rest of TNG's run.

    It made perfect sense to Cox that his character would insist on a change in the counselor's wardrobe. 'Having Troi put on a damn uniform?' he says, sounding remarkably like Jellico. 'Give me a break. This is an officer on a ship and she's running around with her boobs hanging out?""

    So according to Star Trek's historians and creative figures, the problem with Deanna's space pyjamas look wasn't that it was ridiculous and made the actress embarrassed and uncomfortable, but because it allowed that damn loose floozy woman to strut around distracting the men.

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  5. Josh Marsfelder
    October 12, 2015 @ 12:19 pm

    Then there's something Marina Sirtis herself points out:

    "There are certain rules in Hollywood. One of the rules is not written anywhere, but you just know: if you’re doing an action-adventure show, you gotta have chicks on the show for the boys to look at when they’re not blowing up other spaceships. Second rule: if the chick has a cleavage, she cannot have a brain.

    So, [after wearing a uniform in the first episode] I got a cleavage, and all my gray matter departed. Which was sad, because originally (I know this is gonna shock you), Troi was supposed to be the brains of the Enterprise. So when the cleavage came, all that left, and I became decorative, like a potted palm on the bridge.

    Then of course came the second season, and I was the only young one left. We had me and we had Diana, and so I had to become all things to all men. And so I got the red outfit, and and then we got the lilac outfit and then we got the green dress. Under the green dress I got to wear a corset, a satin corset, with bones in, like Scarlet O'Hara.

    Now, as you know, with a corset everything gets pushed up or down. What was pushed down was kind of enclosed in the skirt and what was pushed up was enclosed in what I named 'the Industrial Strength Starfleet Brassiere', which was a wonder of modern engineering. I mean, I used to take it off at night and go 'oh blimey, where did they go?'. In fact, we had guest stars – and I’m no Twiggy – who would come and see me in the morning as Marina and then they would see me two hours later as Troi, and they’d go to costume and go 'I want that bra!'

    So then we got to season six, and there was the episode 'Chain of Command' where we were trying out the new captain, Captain Jellico (just in case Patrick wanted too much money for next season, we were auditioning other captains), and he said to Troi 'Go put on a uniform'. And lo and behold, there was one in her closet. So I put it on, and by then I was skinny, and the director and all the producers were like 'she looks good in that, why hasn’t she been wearing that for the last six years?'

    So I started to wear my spacesuit. I was thrilled to finally be in a spacesuit. First of all, my pips – cause I had a rank, you know. And then, it was very flattering actually, it looked really good.

    Suddenly, I was smart again. My cleavage had gone. My gray matter came flooding back. I was on away teams! I was the leader of one away team! I had a medical tricorder! And unlike Beverly, I seemed to know what was wrong with people.

    And, in this one particular episode, where we were on the Romulan ship – because suddenly I am the expert in Romulan technology – I had this line: 'That’s impossible. The Romulans use an artificial quantum singularity as their power source'. Who did I say it to? Geordi and Data! They didn’t know this. To be honest, when we were shooting the scene and I was saying the line, I was sneaking looks to my right and left to make sure they hadn’t developed a cleavage while I wasn’t looking."

    Something to think about.

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  6. K. Jones
    October 12, 2015 @ 2:52 pm

    It sounds right on the money to me.

    An actual uniform in my mind allows Sirtis to give us something of a fusion between maybe Sirtis-Troi and the would-have-been Sirtis-Yar. (I'd forgotten the scant.) It also finally puts her on the same level as Beverly, or Kate, in a completely professional sense. And certainly there could've have been much delusion in the way of viewers watching thinking, "well it's about time somebody told her blah blah blah" when clearly the reason the actress wore the costume she wore for six seasons because nobody in the creative process thought the better of it.

    But it's a fairly positive latter half turnaround in my eyes, because having the uniform allows Sirtis to at least "end the Troi run" the way she should've been able to begin it. And all just with a damned professional set of clothes.

    Come to think of it, the slightly-more-tolerable Wesley episodes all feature Starfleet uniforms instead of pale grey onesies, too.

    No damned wonder Q insists on wearing a uniform.

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  7. Froborr
    October 13, 2015 @ 2:41 am

    Err… unless the titles were different between initial broadcast and Netflix, "Redemption, Part 1" and "Unification I" both indicated that they were part ones in their titles.

    Other than that, yeah, Jellico is crap and this episode screams for Ro. But Part 2 is some of the best Star Trek ever, so… it sort of balances out, ish?

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  8. Josh Marsfelder
    October 13, 2015 @ 10:44 am

    They are different between initial broadcast and Netflix.

    The original titles were, respectively "Redemption" and "Redemption II" and "Unification" and "Unification II". The titles of my essays on those episodes reflect this.

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  9. Daru
    December 14, 2015 @ 10:55 pm

    "We know what's coming next. And so did everyone who saw this on initial transmission: Star Trek: Deep Space Nine was the show on everyone's minds that was getting all the industry buzz."

    At the time when I was doing my first watch as a teen I was blissfully unaware of publicity and stuff, so the arrival of DS9 was a big and lovely surprise for me!

    There was quite a few elements of this that were rote as you say, but I really enjoyed the actor playing Jellico and yes a huge miss on not having Laren as a key element to the story.

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  10. Daru
    December 14, 2015 @ 11:01 pm

    Actually I have imagined my timeline wrongly, but I guess that's what we can all do. I was actually in my early twenties and basically very out of touch with anything much going on in science fiction then.

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