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We’re not cancelled; these are just our Wilderness Years

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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. K. Jones
    May 25, 2015 @ 4:27 am

    It's funny too, that the giant Geordi problems only arise when they choose to spotlight him as an individual. As part of an ensemble, or a Data story, or a Barclay story, or an O'Brien story, Geordi's function is both obvious and effortless. So it always felt like in addition to just nerfing him into a harmless awkward nerd trope, they were also trying to give Geordi an "inner life" or interiority that just doesn't make sense. Of course he already has an inner life but as an extroverted educator, his inner and outer lives, his introspection and extrospection, are united.

    It only occurred to me reading this cluster article that I totally skipped Galaxy's Child. And it was an unconscious skip, too – I've rewatched critically every other episode this season, except for Devil's Due, which was a conscious choice.

    Identity Crisis I watched and enjoyed, though not uncritically. It has a nostalgia for me because I thought both the practical effect of the "creature" mutation was gorgeous even when I was a kid, but also the whole way Geordi treated the mystery as an engineering problem and the sheer terror I felt when I saw that extra shadow for the first time. That said, an old mystery of a previous ship's landing party episode like that doesn't feel like a "Geordi Story". It feels very Picardy, mildly Rikery, and particularly Beverlyish. (We'll get loads of "Riker's Past Comes Back" in the future, though.) It also is deceptively foreshadowing – because if you'd asked me before I started critically studying TNG, I'd swear that Identity Crisis was a sixth or seventh season episode.

    So we get to Mind's Eye, and I don't know what to think. Manchurian Candidate was obvious. Backdoor "myth arc" episode leading into Redemption was obvious. It's also almost obligatorily TOS in nature – this is an episode where Data could easily be Spock, Picard Kirk, and Geordi is in a predicament that even feels a little like the rare occasions where they ran Scotty through the grinder. Bones would've served the Counselor function. The rest – scheming Romulans and Klingon governors, comes with ease.

    It's funny for me to think of what is absolutely an attempt at a "myth arc" episode feeling awfully like "filler", but there you have it. Manufactured plot contrivance is feeling more and more like the hallmark of the Romulans, and I suppose we'll get into it later, but is writ pretty large just by the hows and whys of the existence of Commander Sela.

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  2. Adam Riggio
    May 25, 2015 @ 7:41 am

    The Romulan approach to politics and espionage seems to take "manufactured plot contrivance" as their mission statement. You can always depend on the Romulans for overly elaborate subversive scheming that has seemingly no concrete purpose other than demonstrating their power to mess around with their neighbours, like most espionage, really.

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  3. K. Jones
    May 25, 2015 @ 2:43 pm

    If we took it (or frankly, the TNG writers room took it) as that it's all been a purposeful "fuck the Enterprise" job by Commander Sela all along, I believe the concept would've played well, actually. But that coming from a guy who thought Tasha should have been double-agent Sela all along.

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  4. Froborr
    May 26, 2015 @ 5:45 am

    I continue to maintain that Denise Crosby's idea of what to do with Sela is the obviously correct one: reveal an elderly Tasha is still alive, have her utterly dismantle Sela's latest scheme, leading to Sela having a breakdown, then Tasha takes her in and helps her back to health.

    I think I've mentioned before that young me didn't entirely get that Geordi on Star Trek and LeVar Burton on Reading Rainbow weren't actually the same person, so I very much like your argument that they effectively are.

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  5. Daru
    May 29, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

    As a British kid I had never seen Reading Rainbow and unfortunately was hoodwinked by the bas writing for Geordi's character. Having seen some Reading Rainbow and through my time with you blog Josh, thankfully I have a much better perspective on him now and he did deserve better stories.

    "The idea that the Enterprise can play the role of a mother figure, however temporarily, is an intriguingly multi-layered one, but it will take the show another three years to fully flesh out the ramifications of that."

    This is the reason Galaxy's Child touched me (not the human plot), as I love it when the show touches the more cosmic realms.

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  6. Daru
    May 29, 2015 @ 8:30 pm

    I mean 'bad' writing.

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  7. Matt Marshall
    July 23, 2015 @ 10:28 pm

    Having just watched Galaxy's Child… wow. Geordi should totally have lost his job or at the very least been investigated for his continued and unwanted harrassment of Dr. Brahms culminating in her discovery of the sexy hologram of herself. I suppose you could say it shows how a 'nice guy' could easily turn all stalkery (which is a good message for the nerd audience!), but then no, Leah has to apologise to Geordi in the end. Astonishing.

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