We’re all for praxis, just not for going outside

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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. Froborr
    April 13, 2016 @ 3:08 am

    Oh, bravo, you hit it utterly out of the park with this one, and on one of my favorite episodes to boot!

    Tangentially, someday I really must write out my thoughts about the Flux and how the only unnatural thing in the universe is consciousness, That-Which-Divides.


  2. Ross
    April 15, 2016 @ 12:31 pm

    I am going to be very happy if Odo's character arc is him learning to reject neoplatonism in favor of existentialism.

    Because that is basically the best character arc for any neoplatonist.

    (Seriously, fuck neoplatonism.)


  3. Dustin
    April 21, 2016 @ 3:04 am

    Of course you spend this review mostly talking about Dax, even though the heart of the episode, all it's emotional power, is with Odo, who begins the episode scoffing at our "fixation with romantic coupling" and ends it with the knowledge that love and empathy are how we make people real to us, how we convince ourselves that the other is as real as we are.

    This is another episode, and one of the best, in Trek's illustration of how different forms of being are just as alive as we are, even radically different beings. Silicon-based creatures. Androids. And holograms, too, and I giddily point out that this episode may have laid the fictional groundwork for the most famous hologram of them all.

    We can't really know, says some philosophical quandary, whether other people are really real, as we believe ourselves to be, or just simulacra or even figments of our imagination. The hell we can't. We must. Refusal to see the other as just as much an emotional/intellectual being as we are is a cause of extraordinary suffering. We have empathy at our disposal. Why not trust that the forces that shaped our evolution gave it to us for good reason?

    Finally, I'm loving the format of separating two crew members from the main cast and marooning them somewhere together to solve a problem or overcome hardship. I like it better than many single-character episodes, better than ensemble episodes that give everyone a little bit to do but give no one a lot.


  4. Daru
    May 16, 2016 @ 8:02 pm

    "But in modern narrative, the feminine side is suppressed. We love our gods and heroes, not so much our goddesses and goddess energies. Commander Sisko entered the Bajoran wormhole with Jadiza Dax, yet only Commander Sisko officially gets to be called Emissary"

    Great post and great episode! Wonderful and true point that Jadzia is a Goddess, and I myself am weary of the male dominion of the heroic role and worship of them. That just needs changed.


  5. Daru
    May 16, 2016 @ 8:18 pm

    And I love coming up against terms I've not heard before – such as 'entheodelic" – which was totally new to me. I found an interesting quote from Benton Rooks who says that he coined the term with Graham Hancock, Rak Razam, & Jeremy Johnson. On his site (https://bentonrooks.com/what-is-entheodelic-storytelling/) he says that:

    "Sacred stories at one point in time were holographic visions that the shaman actually shaped through words, but were also predominantly visual, morphed and structured by words, but seen on the astral plane and material plane simultaneously. These stories were specific in function. They were a means of passing along wisdom and to help newly initiated members navigate in Innerspace. According to Grant Morrison in Supergods, comics popularity as a medium is a testament to the longing that the West has to contact the Gods and connect to the primal magic of the invisible world once again. In it’s temporal amnesia, the West has temporarily lost sight of this ancient storytelling tradition, but these secrets are not totally lost."

    That first sentence sounds like a lot of Star Trek to me. And thanks so much for the post, as this links right in with the purpose of my storytelling and a lot of the sources of my inspiration for my work in general.


  6. Froborr
    May 16, 2016 @ 8:20 pm

    If I ever get around to writing The Season Seven That Should Have Been (Plus Also Changing the Season Six Finale), the fact that Jadzia is also the Emissary would be quite important at the end.


  7. Daru
    May 16, 2016 @ 8:29 pm

    You have to do it, I would read the hell out of that! Seriously, that sounds pretty wonderful.


  8. Froborr
    May 16, 2016 @ 9:56 pm

    Okay, fine, a little taste since you asked. The challenge I set myself was that I could change literally nothing prior to Jadzia's death–that was the first moment at which I would be permitted to diverge from the show. And this is very much a first draft I am just dashing off in this comment. So.

    Dukat gestured. The fire of the Pah Wraiths burning with in him flowed into Jadzia. She flinched, gasped, and Dukat smirked.

    His smile faded rapidly as Jadzia remained standing. Settled, even, coming out of her flinch as her face settled into her usual expression of serenity. Dukat had always found it infuriating, but now?

    Now it frightened him.

    The fires of the Pah Wraiths continued to flow into Jadzia's belly, which glowed orange in their fury. It was accomplishing nothing, so Dukat ended the attack.

    Or tried to. The fires kept flowing, refused to stop.

    "What… what is happening?" he demanded.

    "I came here to pray to the Prophets to give me a child," Jadzia replied. "And then you offered me ten billion frightened children who missed their home. How could I say no?"

    "The Pah Wraiths..!" Dukat gasped, sagging to his knees as the power flowed out of him into Jadzia. "The power of the Pah Wraiths… is…"

    Jadzia shrugged as the last of the energy poured out of Dukat, into her. "Power," she said, dismissively. Then she gave Dukat a teasing smile. "You're confused. Let me help with a little story. Once upon a time a man newly arrived to Bajor took a runabout in pursuit of a mystery, discovered the Celestial Temple, and spoke to the Prophets. When he came back, everybody hailed him as the Emissary, and nobody ever thought to ask the woman who went with him if the Prophets said anything to her."

    She sighed, almost blissfully, as the orange glow turned blue. Then it flowed out of her, out of the station. The wormhole flowered, took the Pah Wraiths into itself, and closed again. "Ten billion down, infinitely many more to go."

    She looked back down at Dukat, his wide-eyed stare, his expression of total incomprehension. "The Prophets sent the Emissary to help the inhabitants of Bajor come out of their long suffering, guide them, bring them to healing. But just like everyone forgot that two people discovered the wormhole, they forgot that there are two species suffering on Bajor." She turned to look at the tabernacle holding the Orb. "Benjamin is the Emissary to the Bajorans. Just between you and me, though? I think the Prophets gave me the harder job."

    fade to black, closing credits


  9. Froborr
    May 16, 2016 @ 10:10 pm

    Synopsis of my version of Season 7, episode 1 (reflecting Terry Farrel's stated desire to be downgraded from regular to recurring guest star): Jadzia is offered a promotion to Commander, but is unsure whether to take it. A new counselor, the unjoined Trill Lt. Ezri Tegan, arrives on the station. Bajor and the Federation nearly come to violence over which one will try Dukat for his war crimes, because Bajor wants him executed and Starfleet Intelligence wants him alive to be pumped for information. Sisko resolves the situation by pointing out that Dukat committed crimes against the Cardassians, too, which are a Cardassian internal matter, and therefore the Prime Directive requires handing him over to be tried by them, which the Bajorans accept because it means Dukat will be executed. Jadzia accepts her promotion and says goodbye, because the promotion entails leaving DS9 to become captain of the USS Sao Paolo.


  10. Daru
    May 16, 2016 @ 10:29 pm

    Thanks for indulging mr Froborr! Great stuff, which I will start using in my head to replace the TV show as presented – after all that is only one version in one reality.

    I genuinely had goosebumps up my back and neck when I read the line:

    "When he came back, everybody hailed him as the Emissary, and nobody ever thought to ask the woman who went with him if the Prophets said anything to her."


    And the line about the two species on Bajor. Beautiful.

    Really, thanks for putting this out in a comment, you made my morning! I look forwards to reading more sometime.


  11. Froborr
    May 16, 2016 @ 10:41 pm

    Thanks! I'm glad you liked it. I felt pretty good about it as I was writing it. And truth is, Jadzia told me that she's not just another Emissary, but specifically the Emissary to the Pah Wraiths while I was writing, somewhere between "Dukat smirked" and "Now it frightened him." The parallel of two emissaries to two species suffering and "Oh, duh, instead of having the Pah Wraiths just disappear out of the narrative because I hate Manichean BS, I can make their S7 story be about healing and redemption!" flowed from there.

    I will probably post synopses, maybe ficlet versions of important scenes, as comments on Mark Watches in a few months when he gets to the end of Season 6. I will probably then compile them on my blog in some form.


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