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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. Adam Riggio
    July 17, 2015 @ 12:31 am

    I actually always interpreted the ending as the Enterprise crew feeling a kind of sympathy for the Moab, even after all their bullshit. For reasons of official tact and Federation diplomacy, they have to express some kind of sadness to the Moab that their culture was so fragile that even some brief contact with outsiders irreparably contaminated their "perfect" genome.

    Geordi's storyline set the context for my understanding of the crew's reaction. The episode and narrative has already decided that the Moab are unethically elitist and dickish because of their eugenic morality and worship of an ableist, heteronormative, white concept of perfection. Most of the crew are implicitly glad that the Moab's ridiculous is over and they can grow up and accept the value of diversity. At most, the crew feels genuinely sorry that their dream is dead because these are still people and it's sad to see anyone's dream die. But it also carries an implicit tone that reminds me of when Jerry Seinfeld used to say, "Wellllll, that's a shame."

    Last summer, I filled in teaching a moral philosophy class for a professor friend of mine. One of the students was in a wheelchair with spina bifida, and she was one of the best students, extremely confident and articulate. They had been studying Peter Singer's work in some of the earlier sessions, and she was already familiar with Singer's ideas about disability ethics. She rightly found them repugnant, because they were essentially the same as the Moab: differently abled people, whether blind, paraplegic, or what have you, were objects of pity whose life wasn't worth living because it couldn't have the same quality as someone whose body worked "as it was supposed to" (sarcastic brackets). She had the same reaction to this philosophy as Geordi did, though she articulated it much more directly, with "Fuck that."


  2. K. Jones
    July 17, 2015 @ 1:18 pm

    The Geordi bits are actually the only ones I really remembered and loved, though I have at least a tacit remembrance of thinking "Boy, every single time Deanna tries a conquest-of-the-week she picks an asshole."

    Riker always gets a sympathetic or strong female one-night stand, but Deanna always gets preyed upon by some ruthless jackass. She must be some great empath.


  3. Ross
    July 17, 2015 @ 1:21 pm

    My inclination is to interpret the ending as a reminder that the Moab are not just the villains in this story, but also the victims.


  4. Daru
    July 23, 2015 @ 9:08 pm

    "Meanwhile, nobody gives a shit about Geordi, Laren (unless the episode is about her), Beverly (if she isn't given a triumvirate position) or Deanna (unless the episode is going out of its way to mock her)."

    I have little or almost no memory about this – apart from maybe a bit of Geordi's section, which I do recall was great. As you say above, too little of him and it os outrageous how Deanna gets treated by writers. I understand now as a young kid, how I found it difficult to engage with her character at times – it was because often the writers simply seemed not to care for her.


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