“Now will never come again”: Time’s Arrow
Writing fanfiction was probably the earliest way I ever dynamically or critically interacted with media. I guess I always found it the most intuitive and instinctual to express ideas and concepts through the voices of particular characters. Perhaps it’s something like Lwaxana Troi said in “Cost of Living”: All those little people who live inside of us, each of them voicing a different facet of ourselves. I suppose part and parcel of being the sort of person who undertakes a project of this scope and magnitude is that these particular characters, or at least versions of them shaped by my own perspectives, readings, interpretations and projections, are always going to live inside of me.
In a sense, this is nothing more than an extension of the way we read. The overall impact a text is going to have on you is largely contingent on the positionality you bring to the text itself. When we’re talking about speculative fiction, we’re talking about a genre that, perhaps more than any other, is designed to stimulate and inspire imaginations. And a hallmark of storytelling has always been its mutability: That multiple storytellers can and do take familiar characters and stories and tell them in different ways, bringing something a little bit new and different along with a piece of themselves into the tapestry of myth.
“Time’s Arrow” is a good episode. More of a straightforward adventure story than maybe some other episodes, but well done. The two things that have always stuck with me are the Devidians themselves and the part at the beginning when the time travel stuff is first introduced, which dovetails into what’s actually a quite good allegory for mortality for what it is (Deanna rather aptly uses the term “terminal illness”, and her cute little imitation of Data is another sign of her current status as a character because that’s not at all Deanna Troi, but it’s pure Marina Sirtis). It’s a fitting way to close off a season that’s dealt so heavily with time travel (indeed, time becoming unbound, which will return with aplomb next season), death, the afterlife and counterfactual alternate realities exiting simultaneously and coming into contact.
So here’s a small alternate reality of my own. When I was watching the scene where Geordi and Data are talking in ten forward about Data’s imminent death, I still had “The Next Phase” fresh in my mind, so my thoughts drifted back to Laren and how she might take all of this. And then all of a sudden, this exchange popped into my mind. Laren isn’t in “Time’s Arrow”, but this is something I thought she might say given everything that’s been going on lately. I imagine this scene taking place just before the one between Geordi and Data. I swear this isn’t even the kind of fanfiction I normally like to write-I typically couldn’t care less about filling in blanks in aired stories or adhering to the televised canon of events too terribly much, and I actually surprised myself that I came up with this.…