Eruditorum Press

We stared into the untempered schism and all we saw was this dodgy CSO effect

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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.

14 Comments

  1. K. Jones
    October 30, 2015 @ 6:05 am

    I've had a historic turnaround for Face of the Enemy.

    I knew the episode pretty well from my multiple viewings of the whole of Star Trek, but my memory of it had very little context, it was the memory of something that was unmemorable for one reason or another. Either the plot had been a little boilerplate or the hook had unnerved me.

    The plot is not boilerplate. Indeed so close a call in espionage hasn't happened since The Enterprise Incident, with good directorial choices emphasizing just what notes to hit. Now, hindsight being what it is, this sort of thing does end up being pretty standard practice for DS9 to do, but contextually, knowing that this comes a mere handful of episodes into DS9 alleviates that.

    So perhaps it was the premise. I'd just kind of written off episodes where a character just gets to alter their face in the hair & make-up department (always written as complete surgical overhaul) and go master-of-disguising around town. I'm a bit more about fun now than I was in my early 20s when I likely wish they'd have concentrated more on world-building than shock value gimmicks. Also part of me still wishes Tasha had been revealed to have been a secret Romulan all along instead of the crazy hoops they wound up having to jump through to bring about her Redemption, so taking another underserved female castmember and Romulizing them feels a little rote.

    But things change. Not the least of which is that we're in Deanna 2.0. Blue uniform Deanna. Command training Deanna. And given that everything from the less soothing, more confident tones, to her hairstyle, to her posture have shifted in Marina's performance, I'm starting to see 1-5 Deanna and 6-7 Deanna as, if not separate characters, a total metamorphosis. And I want to see 6-7 Deanna get her chance to pull off these "classic" type scenarios.

    Re-using the Commander from Enterprise Incident would've been a mistake, if only because it's probably Spock taking extreme advantage of the same woman 100 years later. Though revisiting that character is a missed golden opportunity that feeds beautifully well into the failing mirror image principal.

    That's the thing about Empires explicitly modeled after Rome, of course. The galaxy has moved on. There are Huns and Goths on the borders. Their "democracy" has been coopted by shadowy ghosts of cosmic and temporal shenanigans. Their "advanced" technology will continuously now be plagued by extradimensional or hyperbeings.

    It's Rome before the fall, and reunification – which had been just another example of a dying empire grasping at straws, more out of vengeance than practicality – essentially must happen sooner rather than later.

    The next tack of course had the story properly continued for the Romulans would be a schism, into a sort of a two-state scenario, like Western and Eastern Rome, with one half undergoing something of a reformation thanks to reunification and the other being radically different, perhaps clinging to the ghosts of the Tal Shiar, becoming even darker Dark Elves while the Vulcans brought the reformists back into the light.

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  2. Froborr
    October 30, 2015 @ 6:34 am

    The next tack of course had the story properly continued for the Romulans would be a schism, into a sort of a two-state scenario, like Western and Eastern Rome, with one half undergoing something of a reformation thanks to reunification and the other being radically different, perhaps clinging to the ghosts of the Tal Shiar, becoming even darker Dark Elves while the Vulcans brought the reformists back into the light.

    Oh, you mean like D'Tan succeeding Spock as leader of the Unificationists, and working with the Reman separatists to form a new Romulan Republic that is depicted as us-but-better and helps bring peace between the warring Federation and Klingons? While the shattered remnants of the post-destruction-of-Romulus Empire align themselves variously behind Sela, the Tal Shiar, or Taris, and then either self-destruct through their pursuit of vengeance or through making ill-advised alliances with dark powers in a fruitless attempt to restore the glories of the past?

    Seriously, Star Trek Online has its flaws, but its handling of the Romulans is brilliant.

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  3. Froborr
    October 30, 2015 @ 6:36 am

    Since I can't edit: If you don't remember him (I know I didn't until I looked it up), D'Tan was the young Romulan boy who asked Spock to tell more stories about Vulcan in "Unification."

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  4. Froborr
    October 30, 2015 @ 6:40 am

    I had forgotten that the Romulan Commander in this episode WASN'T Taris, honestly.

    This article is fantastic, and I love it. One of your best.

    Bizarrely, though, I think I am actually more hopeful about the near future of the Federation than you are? Because I see a third option, becoming neither the Borg nor the Tal Shiar: Becoming the Sisko.

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  5. K. Jones
    October 30, 2015 @ 7:41 am

    Hot damn, really? The hive mind is speaking. I remember reading the literature way back when Online was debuting and thinking the writers were really good, but not being much of a PC gamer there was no way I was ever going to experience all of it.

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  6. Froborr
    October 30, 2015 @ 8:50 am

    Well, if you're interested, I do have a blog where I tell the entire story of the game (Federation storyline) thus far in the form of captain's log entries. I've also recorded some of the footage for, and have toyed with the idea of doing, a Let's Play of the Romulan storyline.

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  7. Josh Marsfelder
    October 30, 2015 @ 1:02 pm

    Bah, details. As far as I'm concerned, Taris and Toreth are the same character.

    Sisko is definitely a fantastic role model everyone in Starfleet should emulate. I think where I may differ is the presumption that Sisko actually represents the Federation.

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  8. K. Jones
    October 31, 2015 @ 5:48 am

    Interested to be sure, though in keeping with the episodic nature of this particular current ongoing parallel Star Trek revisitation analysis, it'll be a few hundred episodes before I dive in. Trying to keep a context-free as I can.

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  9. K. Jones
    October 31, 2015 @ 5:49 am

    This is always the case with these near identical characters. Quark and the Ferengi from Last Outpost. Tom Paris and the kid from First Duty. Thank god for head-canons.

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  10. Froborr
    October 31, 2015 @ 7:45 am

    Fair enough, to be sure. I haven't seen Enterprise or most of Voyager myself, and especially past level 50 there's been content that forced me to go look stuff up to get the reference.

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  11. Froborr
    October 31, 2015 @ 7:47 am

    Oh, definitely. Especially Paris and Lofcarno, because that's blatantly just Voyager not budgeting to pay royalties to Moore and Shankar every episode. (Which I've always suspected had something to do with Moore's falling out with Brannon and Braga, to be honest.)

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  12. Daru
    December 20, 2015 @ 9:33 pm

    "Sisko is definitely a fantastic role model everyone in Starfleet should emulate. I think where I may differ is the presumption that Sisko actually represents the Federation."

    True, I don't think Sisko represents the Federation at all. I think he's on a deeper path than that.

    Reply

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  14. trekkerr.com
    November 27, 2019 @ 9:04 am

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