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The bodies on the gears of the culture industry

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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.

3 Comments

  1. Ross
    December 22, 2014 @ 2:47 am

    Like "The Royale", this is one that I remember very strongly as one of the Weird and Wonderful pre-beard episodes — this time, it's the image of the negative space wedgie, probably because almost every other magic space swirly thing in the franchise appears in front of the ship, but this one appears below it (and doesn't it look like the enterprise is getting flushed?). And like "The Royale", it always fares less well when I re-watch it, because it turns out that a huge chunk of the middle of the episode is just "People debating what they should do" rather than stuff actually happening.

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  2. K. Jones
    December 22, 2014 @ 10:18 am

    It's funny that you word "Picard having this on his conscience" just because this and a few episodes surrounding it have determined for me that if he serves a role beyond 'leading man', Picard seems to be the conscience of the Enterprise. There's a real move this season to make him stand in contrast to the "old guard" or the outsiders, where we realize that what separates him from the previous generation is that he looks at history as historian, even as someone who presumably has a bit of his own, gleans the best of the past and tries (key word) to use it in a way to frame context, but not to influence his perception of the future.

    Which is a long way to say he's open-minded even while he's an old bloke who by the nature of our species is a bit stuck in his ways.

    The way Muldaur and Sirtis play it is interesting as they rightly realize it's nearly impossible to make Muldaur sound anything other than professional and right-minded, but I'm more interested in the possible good aspects of depreciating Troi's role as councilor (even as Guinan is raised up this season). Because as an empath, and indeed as Picard's confidante, when we say it's possible that she's too close to him in this and other situations it takes on a different meaning.

    For an empath – and we'll cover this a little in the upcoming episode where she and he talk about horses and Betazoids with pets, too, perhaps – proximity could severely impede objectivity. Doctor Pulaski is no longer an outsider but she is not one of Picard's mentees – one of the next generation of hopeful adventurers helping him learn how to buck his generation's flaws and grow and in turn learn from him – she's his peer.

    Real like empathic tendencies are a fascinating notion to explore. An empathic person can't be confused with a sympathetic one. They (we) basically have to exist in codependent states in some form or another. And I wonder if we can find this in Marina Sirtis's upcoming performances even as Troi gets kind of lost in the shuffle.

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  3. Daru
    December 23, 2014 @ 12:30 am

    I'm a bit of a fan of time loop episodes myself – good essay Josh, thanks.

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