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Watch this space, you poor doomed motherfuckers

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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. Froborr
    September 30, 2015 @ 3:24 am

    I've never even heard of Jae before, that's great!

    I dunno about her being Picard's date, though. If she is, I don't think it's going very well, their body language is very stiff and separate, even if their shoulders ARE touching.

    Braga does these sorts of mini-horror movies very well. At least until that "de-evolution" one, anyway.

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  2. Josh Marsfelder
    September 30, 2015 @ 11:36 am

    Well maybe it was an awkward first date. Maybe Jean-Luc was looking for someone to commiserate with during the reading and Jae was available. Maybe Jean-Luc was trying to get to know the other members of the crew better but went about it a weird way. I'd imagine it would feel awkward for a junior (possibly even enlisted) officer to be hanging out with the Captain. They probably don't have a ton to talk about together except how bad Data is at poetry. Especially considering Jae doesn't talk.

    And I like "Genesis", actually! It's profoundly stupid for sure, but I always got a kick out of the suspense and the creepy makeup. And Gates McFadden is a good director! I'm really looking forward to writing about that one!

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  3. K. Jones
    September 30, 2015 @ 1:24 pm

    This episode is a brilliant Frakes/Riker episode. Easily one of the top five. He's definitely the guy to go to if you're doing "day in the life", though LaVar's Geordi gives him a run for it here. They've also finally gotten into a proper groove of turning any episode into a solid ensemble piece and I believe more often than not that will be a hallmark of the rest of these later seasons, as they're so adept at being ensembles that the guest regulars like Ro and Keiko and Miles and Guinan all get plenty of room to play as well.

    But that also speaks to the 'day in the life' model, as it's a perfect format for focusing 'strictly' on one or two characters but having actual human-like, personal, meaningful you know … roles … for everyone else to play. And like I said, Riker is clearly the guy to do this with. He's so personable – we understand at this point that he's the loyal friend to everyone and that's where his charm and competency come from, and so the mystery of the day almost starts off as another "let's do" episode – one that really speaks to me just because I suffer from massive sleep disorders that entirely affect my day-to-day life and I can completely understand both ends of a skewed circadian rhythm and how they can turn everything upside down.

    And so Riker proves to be the right choice for this, as Frakes gives us such a solid depiction of a disrupted circadian cycle and transitions so well from his usual, well kept, outwardly beaming self to disheveled self-interest and being somewhat annoyed at everything from Geordi's tech mystery to Data's poetry. That cold open with Troi elbowing him awake could be my favorite cold open in all of Next Gen.

    And anyway, wrapping up my end of the preference for these types of "day in the life" formats, I think it's clear that all of Trek, but maybe particularly Next Gen, are so cut out for that format because of the very subject matter they're supposed to be exploring. Because utopianism and conflict resolution aren't actually these abstract ideals we're supposed to reach for in the stars … they're sensible and pragmatic ways to handle real human lives on a day-to-day basis. Which is why these subspace cultists are another existential threat to the very fabric of Trek akin to the Devidian phantasms, a really apropos villain for Riker in particular (entities that abduct his friends and people he's responsible for and test that loyalty to the limit), and are overall pretty creepy, even if they never go as far into horror monster territory as say, a similar situation in say, Doctor Who might do. But they're not silly, either, in spite of being more terrifying as an unseen enemy. And yes, this show once again proves its deftness as a psychological horror, which not only fits 'day in the life' extremely well, but really leverages the likability and familiarity with the cast of characters. I remember as a kid being utterly horrified at the notion Will's arm had been severed and reattached.

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  4. Froborr
    October 1, 2015 @ 5:03 am

    For me, it's one of those rare instances where the bad science actually does ruin the story for me, because I'm laughing at it so hard that all suspense is lost. As my biologist friend put it, "That had a creationist's understanding of evolution and a reporter's understanding of genetics!" And Braga's complete failure to understand evolution does eventually get us whatever the fuck he thought he was doing with "Threshold," which while nowhere near its "worst episode of 90s Star Trek" reputation (I mean, just off the top of my head I can think of at least three TNG episodes and a DS9 episode that are worse), is still pretty terrible in its teleological view of evolution/progress.

    It is very well directed, though. Didn't realize it was McFadden!

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  5. Daru
    October 16, 2015 @ 12:47 am

    I remember when I first watched this, the whole mystery of it really deeply gripped me. This was due to the fact that I simply never saw any next time trailers for upcoming episodes, so I was very much in the dark about what was going on, which is pretty much my favourite state to approach stories in – to be clueless. I love surprises as plots unfold and I agree that not knowing what is happening in this one enhances the experience.

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