Is this Spearhead From Space, cause we’re in color now

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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. David Faggiani
    August 9, 2015 @ 11:59 pm

    As a boy, I shipped Ro and Geordi in this episode before I knew what shipping was.


  2. Matt Marshall
    August 10, 2015 @ 4:44 am

    I liked this episode, it was a good solid story and a lot of fun! I felt it was a shame that Ro didn't get used more as she was always an entertaining character.

    Also you are wrong, it is Ro/Riker.

    It feels wrong shipping Geordie with someone that isn't an inanimate object 🙁


  3. K. Jones
    August 10, 2015 @ 7:26 pm

    Obviously a favorite of mine from way back, and obviously a highlight, or top-fiver of a somewhat washy season. What I like the most about Next Phase (besides clever titling) is that it's essentially a combination of "Wink of an Eye" and "The Enterprise Incident". Admittedly, Wink of an Eye only in the sense that a few leads get "out of sync" with reality even as the rest of the ship goes about their business. But far more importantly comparable to Enterprise Incident. And that shouldn't be overlooked, because what it's doing is setting an "Enterprise Incident" type story in the wake of the extradiagetic threat that Sela poses to the Enterprise.

    At this point we don't have to ask why the Romulans are trying to muck with the Enterprise. Sure, it's not maybe clarified as much as it should be in any given episode because of the unavailability of Denise Crosby for every given episode, but at this point the Romulans have transitioned, or unified, or merged and now not only represent the Anti-Vulcan (itself powerful enough to even shift Spock's allegiance from his Vulcan dogma even further down the "humanity/emotions" rabbit-hole) but now includes the ghost of Tasha Yar and the cosmic hocus pocus brought down on the ship by Guinan's being there. The Romulans want revenge for their failures, but moreover, the Romulans, cloaked ships, and this episode about "ghosts", are absolutely haunted by Tasha. So OF COURSE the universe corrects itself and we all can see the parallels and strength that comes from Laren/Geordi.

    Romulans have always been in the "ghosts from your unknown past" business, have cloaking devices as working metaphors for ghosting, have adopted the biggest ghost of this Enterprise's past, and furthermore have officially figured out how to BECOME ghosts. Living ghosts. But more on that later. As a Riker/Ro shipper I can certainly respect and even love the notion that nothing comes about in his potential relationship with her – that's pure real life right there, and Riker being essentially an empath himself will assuredly be cool with that decision because it means two people he digs dig each other. We don't even really need to get that eulogy, and not getting it reinforces the accuracy of "might have beens" that never come to be. But I bet after this we see very, very little of that irksome "Riker's always giving Ro grief" nonsense. And we can even read some of Geordi's scientific rationalism as being part and parcel to just how he sees the world – the episode is notably ignoring the fact that he sees in different spectrums of light and can 'trust' his extrasensory sight a little more than one could trust their own eyes when it comes to magical illusions.

    Obviously the part of this episode that I've always nitpicked to no end is just how in the hell they can be out of phase with everything except the Enterprise's floors! Or the Enterprise's oxygen supply! Or life-supporting heat! And if that Romulan guy was phased out in space, how did he just die?

    But the fact that there's a huge glaring sciencey plot hole like that REALLY reinforces the notion that the Romulans have created a Ghost Machine. And honest to god … of course they have. That's pure Dark Elf Magic right there.

    Much more on Ro as our first atheist-turned-agnostic Bajoran soon. But it speaks well as a callback to what we knew about her in the first place – not that she turned her back on her people, but that she saw an opportunity in the Federation that jived with her rebelliousness and disillusionment with her own culture, and she took it. It's a realistic backstory for a young person who runs away to enlist, and Michelle Forbes sells the crap out of it.


  4. K. Jones
    August 10, 2015 @ 7:29 pm

    And of course it's notable that she should mention that her culture does indeed have a word for disembodied spirits …


  5. elvwood
    August 10, 2015 @ 10:00 pm

    Great comment to a great post! I have nothing to add, save to say that I have fond memories of this one, and intend to watch it again soon.

    That's one of the things this blog has done: get me to rewatch some of the episodes. And now, having worked through the TOS entries, I've just watched the first animated series episode – a piece of Trek I've never seen! Really not bad at all (especially considering the budget limitations), but I'm not sure whether it's worth me commenting on such old posts? Do new comments get read? I intend to watch and read the animated series in parallel, which means it could take me years…


  6. Josh Marsfelder
    August 11, 2015 @ 7:22 am

    @K I wish I had something intelligent to add-Bravo. One small thing I might throw out IRT the Romulans and interphase cloaking is that I was struck by not only the obvious ghost/spirit parallels, but also the thematic similarities to air and the ether.

    @elvwood I may not always respond, but I read every comment that gets posted, so if you feel compelled to leave a message on a post, no matter how old, please feel free to do so!


  7. K. Jones
    August 11, 2015 @ 10:55 am

    I remember from my own extensive stab of attempting fantasy world-building that it's really hard to have any solid rules for sorting "elements". Traditionally there's the big four, with ether as a sort of fifth. But I'm not that traditional and I also grew up playing Pokemon games, where there's like seventeen elements, all of which make pretty good sense. As I progressed I started taking more and more physics into account, and designed a hexagonal runic structure that moved from high-energy to low-energy elements, with light as the most potent energy, and shadow as the absence of it, on the aetheric level.

    And so anything I might say about Romulan Dark Elves does have that rune-chart running in the back of my brain. I don't wonder if we might be able to map future emotional contexts onto them that align neatly with shadows and ghosts, things like depression and dispassion – anti-passion – the feeling of haunting your own head.

    We'll come to that bridge probably when we get to "Face of the Enemy."


  8. Daru
    August 31, 2015 @ 9:36 pm

    Love the comment K and the ghost machine idea is so true!

    Yep, I'm on board for Rune-based ideas too as I have played around with those ideas too. Nice one.


  9. Daru
    August 31, 2015 @ 9:37 pm

    Really love this episode and I totally ship Ro and Geordi. Pretty sad and big shame it never develops too much more which is a big miss as they are a perfect pairing.


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