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Abracadabra! (We just destroyed capitalism)

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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.

3 Comments

  1. Froborr
    August 12, 2015 @ 8:12 am

    I've always read this as actually being a story about a man who goes to Faerie, has adventures there, returns how to learn everyone he loved is long dead, and then returns to Faerie forever. Specifically, it's the story of how Kamin went to the fairyland of the Enterprise, where he is known as the Picard and is a great and wise leader of the fairy-folk.

    This also puts it very much in sync with previous episode, which depicted the Enterprise as the afterlife.

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  2. K. Jones
    August 12, 2015 @ 12:39 pm

    I don't need to grade this episode but I do think that, in a sort of anti-Best of Both Worlds way, the importance of this episode comes after this episode in reflection rather than amidst the plot elements or even the narrative. And that's absolutely because of the nature of the performativity here – where it's Picard inhabiting the role of Kamin. It's not actually a Picard episode, not really. At least not until the denouement.

    But it is a Picard episode. In fact it's not just a Picard episode, it's full circle from "Family". There we saw Picard regress a bit, but eventually in spite of his iffy relationship with his brother, their mutual good natures healed him, healed their rift a little, and he used his brotherhood to reassert himself and his core values that had been shaken.

    But what he didn't do was experience for himself a life akin to what his brother, and what his father before that, had. It wasn't a life for him. This episode gave him that experience whether he wanted it or not. And it also (continuing the theme of unification this season!) blended that lifestyle with his, or rather proved to him that being static, not being a traveler, does not mean the death of wanderlust or learning or exploring. It actually cuts right back to "The Nth Degree" in a wonderful way as well, as those aliens stayed at home but still explored. The wake of this episode will be a holistic Picard who has finally realized that the generational lines that this show so clearly has running as undercurrents … are something that he stands separate and apart from. And THAT goes all the way back to Farpoint. It's a lot of narrative weight to carry on one small antique woodwind instrument. But here's Patrick Stewart, making it look easy.

    Then of course there's an eventual parallel, or rather inverse, as this episode's beauty is twisted and turned inside-out and Miles O'Brien undergoes a similar experience, except it's a prison sentence, and a loving family life is his real life on the outside of the memory dump.

    Subtle reinforcing moment right from the opening of the episode is Riker catching Picard before he falls to the floor.

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  3. Daru
    August 31, 2015 @ 9:55 pm

    Point blank best Star Trek ever.

    I always cry with this one too.

    "Quite simply, because Captain Picard didn't go to the Otherworld. He's not a mortal hero who travelled to the land of Faery, he's a Faery God himself who spent a few years out of his immortal existence among the mortals, learning how they lived and loved and using that knowledge and experience to enrich his own life back on the Fortunate Isles."

    Beautiful and so true Josh. Really lovely essay thank you.

    If the story is a the Faerie realm experiencing our realm through an Ancestral simulation, then could the story also be an inversion of the longing for the long-lost realm of Faerie. I imagine it as the Otherworld in distant time is remembering us as humanity has long faded from life and memory, and can only be accessed through Sahamanic journeys. We are the long-lost Ancestors.

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