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Don’t look at the future. We drew something awful on it.

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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.

6 Comments

  1. Froborr
    November 16, 2015 @ 12:24 pm

    So, one of the commenters (Rachel2302) on Mark Watches just infodumped her responses to the next two weeks of episodes, including the first three episodes of Deep Space Nine. It's really interesting to see what someone who never watched any Star Trek until recently, and knew nothing about DS9 going in, thinks of the characters after three episodes, so I'm just going to quote her here:

    "I don't have anything much to say about the first three specific episodes, but rather that I'm enjoying the set-up immensely, I LOVE that Commander Sisco is someone who was directly impacted by Locutus of Borg, I'm thrilled O'Brien made the leap over to DS9 and that Keiko will be starting a school! I think I really like Captain Kira, and Dax is AWESOME and Bashir is kind of cringey and creepy and gross and Odo is intriguing. Strong beginning to the show."

    The awesomeness of Dax and Kira really are the two things that shine most brightly in the early show. "This frontier is my home" is the moment at which I fell in love with the show way back when, but it's Dax that was always the most intriguing character. There's a serenity to her and a power, but at the same time youth and joy. She's an old, wise, powerful person in a young person's body, and yet her performance is about as polar opposite to Matt Smith's Doctor as you can get. But that's recognizably what they're both doing!

    Also this is the first episode to flirt with the idea of using Dax to explore the LGBT spectrum, which of course will come back. They never quite did enough with it, and the weird, gross choice to make the Mirror Universe the Land of Depraved Bisexual Dominatrices makes it pretty clear that their motivations in doing so were the basest and most prurient, but here at least the notion crackles with potential!

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  2. Josh Marsfelder
    November 16, 2015 @ 3:30 pm

    "The awesomeness of Dax and Kira really are the two things that shine most brightly in the early show."

    Seconded. It was Dax and Kira who finally drew me over to the DS9 side and they were the first characters from the show who hooked me in the same way the TNG crew did. Commander Sisko came shortly thereafter, but I have to save my personal story of falling in love with DS9 for a later date.

    "Also this is the first episode to flirt with the idea of using Dax to explore the LGBT spectrum, which of course will come back. They never quite did enough with it, and the weird, gross choice to make the Mirror Universe the Land of Depraved Bisexual Dominatrices makes it pretty clear that their motivations in doing so were the basest and most prurient, but here at least the notion crackles with potential!"

    I will say I do think "Crossover" was excellent and Intendant Kira makes perfect sense for Mirror Kira's character, but only Mirror Kira's character. I'll get to that when the time comes, of course. And once we get to the next show I will make a defense of "Rejoined" (a lot of what makes it good is actually Avery Brooks' direction). But I think the stronger argument for homophobia and erasure, unintentional or otherwise, is actually the paranoid and frantic ship sinking of the obvious Garak/Bashir plotline and then what happens to Dominion Cycle Odo. Which is a shame, as it's so wonderfully easy to do a fantastically queer redemptive reading of everything going on here at this point.

    Jadzia Dax is obviously pansexual in every incarnation. Terry Farrell even says as much herself.

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  3. K. Jones
    November 16, 2015 @ 5:06 pm

    Of course when you get to be a man, and a woman, and having had that long of a lifespan, I imagine the blatant obviousness of sexual fluidity becomes old news. Probably after the second or third host. (Though in a culture that grew around that strange symbiosis, even non-Trill host Trillians must be incredibly open-minded. I mean it's a permanent mind-meld!)

    The chase was gratuitous. I'm not especially defensive of Bashir's character flaws, but I think the reason I like him more than a lot of people is because I can see a lot of myself in him. I was a young, talented type who also couldn't quite balance enthusiasm with prudence or keeping my mouth shut or saying awkward things or even figuring out how to balance sexual attraction with just making friends with someone. And of course for him, Jadzia represents somebody with basically ultimate sexual experience. Catnip for the immature and testosterone-addled. (Of course he might even be dealing with a eugenically augmented libido. Think of that!) Anyway, that aside, his loyalty got a nice showing, which is at least an important beat for him this early in the run, as he really, really threw a hay-maker at Tandro. (Not for the first time I guess I'll suggest that it's always funny to see him do something awkward and get chumped a little, because the designer human revelation will make an ex post facto joke out of all his early awkwardness. Like, no way was this guy faking it!)

    But his eagerness is not a deal-breaker for Dax (who has herself been a young man four times!), nor would it be, and it shouldn't be for us, either. And frankly, the same is true for Sisko. She was an old man not that long ago and he was just a raw cadet. It's one thing to get romantic casually and not have to deal with a two-generational relationship constantly changing, another entirely to take someone you see as a protege (from a male point of view) and then for that to change. I think Dax, being the end of a run of 8 hosts, wouldn't even go near that. Again, it's about how others perceive her, not so much about how she perceives others.

    I was mildly disturbed watching this only because for the first time in my life I'm older than Dax, and presumably Bashir here. Very uncool, but it gave this watch a spin that had never been there on previous viewings. Kira was utterly hilarious putting her curmudgeonliness to good use – her friendship with Dax in those first handful of episodes was so obvious, natural, and important that they took it for granted that they didn't need to show it to us. (Ignoring the fact that Dax is the second non-Bajoran to have that orb experience, and the other person first into the Celestial Temple with the Emissary.) Odo as Colombo was pitch-perfect, as was too Odo's beat where he forces Quark to give up the space for the hearing, which indicated a desire for justice but also showed even he isn't immune to a desire to see Dax get a fair shake. Then again, those assholes did cause a commotion on his Station.

    Even mediocre DS9, getting its early bearings, is proving to be something special. And Dax's stoicism is fun, too. Every time one of these 'past comes back' scenarios comes her way, she reacts to it completely differently. But you know what Dax would say. Learn to embrace the contradictions.

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  4. elvwood
    November 17, 2015 @ 3:25 am

    I was also struck by the eleventh Doctor parallels (and contrasts) this episode, including the way that the story is as much, or more, about how her friends see her and interact with her; she is the still centre around which the story flows. That's very Smith era Who. Well, except for the stillness.

    It's certainly Dax's serenity, her confidence in who she is, that draws me in, and Farrell does a grand job of showing her successfully – but barely – maintaining that despite being able to see where it leads.

    Yes, the opening section's awful. It somehow doesn't tarnish the rest for me. It also doesn't matter that the defense of Dax is obvious from the first conversation between Odo and Enina, because it is so much about the people rather than the mystery. Renora's a delight!

    I would say that first Kira, then Dax, and then O'Brien, are the ones who hold my attention most at present. Well, as people; the Odo/Quark pairing is a fun dynamic, but it's based on their plot roles. We haven't really got to see either of them properly yet, despite the odd glimpse here and there.

    Having said that, I found Ben Sisko fascinating in this one. The restraint with which he loses his temper is almost a dark mirror of Dax's calm passion for life; both sound almost paradoxical, yet make sense when you see them on screen.

    Anything else? Oh, yes: I didn't even notice the "Trill biology 101" aspects, because I was more interested in the people talking at the time! That's the way to do it.

    All in all, it's a hit for me despite the crap at the start.

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  5. K. Jones
    November 17, 2015 @ 4:56 am

    Sisko losing his temper always feels more believable to me than Picard. Granted, it's pretty rare for the stoic Picard to even do so, but there's some obvious examples that wind up being pretty jarring. This isn't even to imply that there's any kind of seething undercurrent to Sisko at all times that makes him believably a guy who gets mad. Rather it makes him feel less cloistered about his emotions, more in touch with both the good and the bad, even at a younger age. And that's pretty well representative of the difference in the real world correlaries as you transition from the stoic generations of the early 20th Century to the latter-half, post-sixties generations.

    I'm eager to think of what a Star Trek that treats those people as the Previous Generation and stars a crew of latter day Gen Xers and lots of Millennials might bring, just from an emotional awareness level. Anyway, it's certainly interesting to be on a show/in a setting where the leading man is now a member of the younger Riker-aged Next Generation. Picard might not be 'too much older', having one foot in both worlds (and stepping lively into the Next one) but that much still sort of sets him apart from his young friends.

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  6. Daru
    December 20, 2015 @ 10:59 pm

    Yep once we get past the opening part, there is so much you mention that I love too about Jadzia. I think she is an amazing character played by an amazing actor whom sadly are both at times (later on?) less well served than they could be. But the pansexual nature of her being and the unique quality of relationship growing with Sisko has always been an inspiration for me.

    Oh I remember arbiter Els Renora – what a wonderful role!

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