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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. K. Jones
    December 18, 2015 @ 6:37 am

    I think having yet another satisfying and less annoying than you'd expect "Star Trek Youths" B-Plot running parallel (and complimentary) to the A-Plot, which is itself something DS9 has proven from the outset to be the superior show at handling, is the strongest reason for why this outmodes Ensigns of Command. The Enterprise crew is ironically too tight-knit at this point to even splinter into interesting pairings anymore the way they did back in the earlier seasons – to get this kind of effect they're literally going to have to invent "Junior Officers" to satisfy both "conflict-for-conflict's-sake" as well as the more balanced "outsider's perspective" they desperately need (but not in the form of a duplicate Riker, am I right?)

    But the other reason this succeeds is that Sisko literally beams down and instead of a Picard speech, which would assuredly be about how Mullibok is in the right and when we displace a man from his home in the name of progress, blah blah blah, look at me spelling out the whole moral dilemma for you and siding on the side of it that makes me look good, off track, sorry, instead of the Picard speech, he just flat out tells Kira they're on the wrong side but have to do their jobs anyway.

    Which she already knew and Nana Visitor made evident the struggle with almost no exposition, just expressive and emotive acting and a vivid interiority on display.

    Sisko's admission to her that he felt about her the way, well we all probably did during Emissary, that she was overzealous, abrasive and indignant, but that's changed already, was a lovely moment that Brooks really sold.

    Dax as usual makes a huge splash with a relatively small amount of screentime (or even just voiceover time on Coms). I'll get back to Dax soon, but suffice it to say her libidinous qualities and tendency toward open relationships with less permanent strings attached are philosophies I've taken to heart over the years and have found myself paralleling once more and while she represents actual different lifetimes, I'm finding the metaphor of how we've all sort of lived out different lives over different periods and phases of ourselves incredibly apt these days.

    Anyway, her ease and easing Kira out of her comfort zone not only works surprisingly well with the narrative here (and in the future) but also really shows the effortless chemistry that Farrell and Visitor have with one another. I don't think it's any stretch to say they're the most well depicted and probably important female friendship in Star Trek … ever, and their being so is forcing their cousins over at TNG to up the game between Troi and Beverly somewhat, which is a welcome thing.

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  2. K. Jones
    December 18, 2015 @ 6:42 am

    I've also just realized that the way they're playing it is so clearly that Dax is like a big city girl and Kira is sort of a naive country girl, who has of course heard of the open, cosmopolitan lifestyle of the Federation, but growing up in rural, religious Bajor, just has never really been adjacent to someone who actually makes that kind of lifestyle work in a healthy way.

    And really, when it comes down to it, a lot of literature featuring female leads being friends feature one who is a bit more worldly, opening up the perspective of one somewhat more shuttered. Dax and Kira could almost be slotted into like, a Jane Austen novel.

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  3. Ross
    December 18, 2015 @ 1:17 pm

    But it does have self-sealing stem bolts. Which is reason enough for “Progress” to earn its iconic status.

    You maybe shoulda led with that. I spent the bulk of this article distracted by wondering "Is this the self-sealing stem bolts one?"

    (I wonder if it was deliberate that the B-plot seemed to be essentially lifted from the first chapter of the third Great Brain book)

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  4. Dustin
    February 15, 2016 @ 3:44 am

    Where I thought this episode was going: the land Nog and Jake acquire ends up being set aside as a new farm for Mullibok on Bajor. The way things ended up going, I'm having a hard time forming any thematic connections between the A and B plots.

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  5. Josh Marsfelder
    February 15, 2016 @ 7:42 am

    I never thought of that idea before, but you're right: That would have been a great way to tie the two plots together. As it stands, you might have to argue this is another example of Star Trek just doing an A- and B-plot structure because it thinks it's the done thing as opposed to there being any narrative need to do so.

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