Less the heroes of our stories than the villains of some other bastard’s

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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. Matt Marshall
    October 4, 2015 @ 11:07 pm

    I found the plot with Picard and Riker fun ("He's my number one dad!"), the Guinan/Ro stuff was just boring, but the subplot where O'Brien is now married to a small child… what the heck were they thinking?? I mean, it could have been anyone in the plot but Keiko!

    You're right in that the episode is really unfocussed and 'bitty' to coin a phrase. There's three plots, but only one of them actually works (the Picard one). Really, they could have just had Picard de-aged and it would be a much better episode.

    I can't remember how they fix them now. Do they just use the magic transporter again?


  2. Spoilers Below
    October 5, 2015 @ 9:27 am

    The original Otaku mentality was recently dealt with very well in the semi-autobiographical Japanese drama series Blue Blazes. It's set in 1980-81, and is all about a young college student''s attempt to become a successful creator of… well, something… anything… that's as good as the shows and comics he likes so much. Only he happens to be attending school with Hideaki Anno and the other folks who will go on to start the legendary anime studio Gainax.

    The key bit, I think, of the whole series is in episode 9. Anno and his friends have been hired by the "Ota-King" Toshio Okada, who will go on to bankroll them for most of their career, to produce an opening animation for the upcoming Dai-Con convention. Okada is filthy rich, and lives his life in a rather childish and enthusiastic state. In between long, obsessive bouts of drawing which he never considered good enough, Anno liked to sit in the nuclear fallout shelter built into Okada's palatial home, in part because he had permission to eat any of the expired food there. Okada finds him down there one evening.

    Anno: Mr. Okada[…] Is there really going to be a nuclear war?
    Okada: Of course there is! Why else make a fallout shelter?

    A not unrealistic fear for a country that had been struck twice just 35 years earlier. And if you're pretty sure you're going to be the last generation that exists, because of forces well beyond your control (just like the monsters in Ultraman, or embodied by Gojira, for example), what else is there to do but think of happier times and try to create something beautiful and meaningful in what time there is left?

    The cartoon they make ends up being about a young girl bringing a glass of water through a violent landscape, battling every sci fi creature they could cram in, and pouring it on a daicon, where it grows into a gigantic space radish and sails off into the galaxy. Anno's depression continues, and he doesn't really come out of it until he finishes Neon Genesis Evangelion, a reworking of his favorite show, Space Runaway Ideon, which ran from 1980-81.

    Incidentally, Daicon III can be watched here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CQjruwkyOaU


  3. K. Jones
    October 5, 2015 @ 10:50 am

    Actually it's the beats with Miles and L'il Keiko that strike me as the most heavy, just because of the implications of weird sci-fi "phenomenon" mechanics having a real effect on humans. And I think Colm Meaney really sells that scene, which is pretty interesting considering that Rosalind Chao isn't the one he's acting opposite.

    And that's my beef in a nutshell. This is an episode that features heavy interaction and focus on Keiko O'Brien, Ro Laren and Guinan. But BARELY features Rosalind Chao, Michelle Forbes or Whoopi Goldberg.

    What in the actual fuck? I'd kill for an episode that you know, actually put all three of them in a strange sci-fi situation with Stewart's Picard. That finally let these regulars who are oftentimes far more interesting than the crew (who we know and love but who get plenty of time and spotlight) drive the narrative for an episode and give us a bit of a look into what life's like on the Enterprise for the non-regulars.

    But it's not an episode to delve too deep into. That's sort of a rhetorical exercise. The impetus here is fun, and it is a watchable, fun episode, even if it's a total mess. It actually touches quite poignantly on the nature of what it's like to be a kid, whether it be a competent intelligent kid who still can't be taken seriously because you look like a kid, or a loving, caring person who has romantic feelings for an adult even while trapped in a body that doesn't "look" mature (Keiko's dilemma is not that dissimilar to Picard's and I thought they handled the effed up implications with a pretty deft hand), whether it be being allowed to act childish even if your actual childhood was pure horror, whether it be somebody ancient and old having a better sense of their own childlike tendencies, having had a lot more time to reflect on it and restore some of that self over the years.

    But boy is it emblematic of the constant reminder of missed opportunities on this show. But hey, it's at least telling that the implausibly ridiculous high concept of de-aging was an event that could've only happened with Guinan (because of course) being transported through a cosmic "effect". And of course she's cool with the situation. Because if I had to speculate, I'd say she's the root of the whole phenomenon. Weird things happen to timespace narrative witch shamans who need to teach life-lessons to sci-fi travelers at different phases in their lives. The answer Chief O'Brien struggled to look for in the "HOW?!" of the episode lies squarely on Guinan's involvement, because of course.


  4. elvwood
    October 6, 2015 @ 12:32 am

    Not commenting on Rascals because I can't really remember it beyond the kooky premise – but seeing as this is Miles and Keiko's farewell before crossing to DS9, I thought I'd mention that with a touch of serendipity CBS Action has just started showing Deep Space Nine this week! I've not seen it since original UK broadcast, but this means I should be able to watch along for at least some of the episodes as you discuss them. The only limitation being my inability to watch much TV…


  5. Daru
    December 8, 2015 @ 7:43 pm

    On one hand I can see how it may have been thought of as a 'fun' thing to do to turn main protagonists into children – but it doesn't really work for me. I completely agree with you regarding the surprisingly narrow view from Guinan's character that they should stray children and how becoming a fully developed being requires a fully expressed positive childhood.

    So wrong on many levels. I had when I look back not only at times a sometimes lonely and sometimes difficult and embarrassing childhood, but one which was often peppered with poverty and some real, simply tragic incidents which catapulted me sooner than normal into adulthood. I guess I was a kid who felt like an 'old soul' who was often happier within books and drawing, rather than other children.

    I would change nothing though. As my experiences are part of where who I am comes from and the resilience I developed has driven me forwards with a real purpose in life, which has been to never compromise who I am and the expression of my creativity. Whatever I experienced I have a joy for my story, as it is mine. And I don't need to be a child to be ridiculous in new ways, have fun and dance!

    So for me Guinan and the story is plain wrong.


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