The struggle in terms of the strange

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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.


  1. K. Jones
    December 24, 2014 @ 8:53 am

    Strong generational overtones here. It's interesting to think about demographic here when the show was coming out and who one might identify with based on their position on the sliding-scale of history. Which is to say while I probably first saw this episode when I was a teenager and notably sick of my parents, I was more like five years old when I first met and started to identify with Riker.

    And in the oddest of ways. Because he had a beard, and dad had a beard, and Frakes is just a little older than my dad, and had a similar look when this aired. And now I'm approaching that age where Riker is more peer than authority. Which is weird enough but it most certainly brings even more of the poignancy of this show having the word "Generation" in its title to bear on me.

    Kyle and Picard definitely represent the Old Generation here. For different reasons, to be sure, but nonetheless, they're unable to "get" why staying in a community where he thrives and can work with amazing people would be a far stronger desire than self-advancement and competitive stakes.

    Which ticks that "frustrated with the previous generation's inability to see the forest for the trees" box to me. It's so hard to find a community of people where you can be your best self, and why anyone would voluntarily leave that place baffles me. But they grew up in an era where competition was still a driver (moreover, where it was a working model for success), and it's easy enough to believe that Riker, frustrated to hell with all these damn older dudes, would default to macho pride in the face of that frustration – because it's the only language they understand.

    O'Brien's development is coming along at a pace as we realize that "Transporter Chief" is kind of an ideal place to slow cook a character because they're always using that Transporter Room, their safety in that thing should probably be entrusted to someone more than a nobody, and it's a perfect role because all the coming-and-going on the ship happens in that room and he can be a sort of quick color-commentary. Moreover, his primary interaction seems to be with Riker and Pulaski so far – a quick aside here, a pithy truth there, to say nothing of being at the inaugural poker game. I still crack up when he says "Well I know her too, but we don't do that."

    Of course I crack up at the ridiculousness of anbo-jyutsu as well. I was lucky enough not to have a competitive father, but I have a lot of friends whose dads act more like friends or rivals than wizened guides, and they're insufferable.


  2. Daru
    January 8, 2015 @ 8:31 pm

    One element I did love in this story, and that did genuinely move me was the ceremony of rite of passage that Worf went through. Totally agree that it should have been Geordi rather than Wesley who spearheaded supporting Worf – I do find the "I can solve everything" aspect of his character off-putting.

    The thing that moved me was Worf's emotional response afterwards to the ceremony having happened, this for me is what rites of passage are about, the new place that they take us inside, as well as they place of bonding that they take us to in our immediate community, and I saw him bonding on a deeper level with the crew here as they shared a connection then to his inner life.

    This aspect of the episode (as you say the rest was confused as far as scripting goes, and the anbo-jyutsu is quite silly!) deeply resonated with me as I feel that there is a distinct lack of rites of passage in my culture, experiences that can take us into the "depths of our human hearts".


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