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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.

7 Comments

  1. David Faggiani
    February 1, 2016 @ 2:22 am

    I was so interested to hear what you thought about this one, as I've read quite a few articles (and podcasts!) rubbishing 'Descent', which I remember quite fondly. I also remember being really curious about the ship the Borg occupy in it, which doesn't quite look like a Borg ship, even in texture, and is weirdly Asymetric. Where did they obtain it? It almost looks like it belongs to the same species who crash-landed on LV-426 in 'Alien', or a close neighbour…

    I never really thought of TNG as being a show which went prematurely, in its prime. I'll try to rewatch it in that light from now on. I'm trying to imagine a theoretical eight season.. maybe a modified version of All Good Things still happens, as a season finale, and then we open with a modified version of Generations, without the loss of the 'D'? It's interesting to think whether more overt elements of serialisation may have crept in – regarding things like Worf and Troi, perhaps? Or even Picard and Crusher? Or a full, season-wide plotline? Imagine a TNG still going in the Dominion War! although, if I'm reading your critical build-up correctly, Josh, you probably wouldn't want to… 🙂

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  2. Ross
    February 1, 2016 @ 12:08 pm

    although I was pleased to see that Beverly's stint as acting captain and her gambit with the sun's corona and the solar prominence was every bit as badass as I remembered.

    This is one of the big things I remember from this episode since it was a direct reference to a specific plot event in a previous non-"event" episode. That sort of thing wasn't really "done" in 1993, so far as I remember. It was a little strange, as I recall, as though the dialog was uncomfortable with relying on the audience's memory.

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  3. Josh Marsfelder
    February 1, 2016 @ 3:20 pm

    Also, there's the fact that, in a very material sense, the Dominion War would not have happened had Star Trek: The Next Generation stayed on the air.

    But that's another story 🙂

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  4. Froborr
    February 3, 2016 @ 6:35 am

    I rewatched this a couple of weeks ago, and I thought tehy actually did a good job of making the "hey, audience, remember this?" seem natural–Crusher is the only person on the bridge who was in the prior episode, and in about two sentences she tells the two crewmembers she's working with everything they (and the audience) need to know.

    Also, I really liked those two crewmembers and their interactions. I wish they'd brought them back, maybe in "Lower Decks" or something.

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  5. Ross
    February 3, 2016 @ 7:34 am

    I think maybe I didn't click in on the fact that she was the only one who'd been around for the prior episode, so I was wrapped up in the fact that the mode of her exposition wasn't markedly different from when they introduce a previously-unmentioned offscreen-backstory.

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  6. Daru
    February 29, 2016 @ 10:45 pm

    Yep the Dominion War – I am actually looking forwards to that section in your analysis, not because I like the war (I missed most of due to my own boredom with it when it aired in the UK), but just that it will be interesting to be looking at it with fresh eyes.

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  7. Daru
    February 29, 2016 @ 10:51 pm

    "Grimdark is the antithesis of empathy because grimdark is intensely egoistic (and egotistic): It is the adolescent, self-absorbed focus on one's own experiences to the point of near-solipsism; the elevation of the ego to the status of antihero protagonist of a noir tragedy you've penned yourself and that only exists in your own head. And it only makes sense that the Borg would turn to grimdark after assimilating the concept of individuality and self-worth that the Enterprise crew tried to teach Hugh, because grimdark is also fundamentally capitalistic. Because media is a defining force in modern society, and because modern media privileges the targeting of western adolescents and adolescent emotions above all others, grimdark has become profitable and successful to the point of becoming hegemonic: A perfect case study for the Borg in practice."

    Man Josh, this is so much of why I love your blog. This and so much of what follows in the article is simply brilliant. I have always loved Descent and what it represented – "Grimdark is the antithesis of empathy" – oh hell yes.

    The paragraph where you describe the actions of terrorists, fundamentalists and technoscientists is a perfect summation of the anti-empathy forces in our world.

    Thanks Josh for a great piece.

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