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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. Neo Tuxedo
    January 4, 2016 @ 4:54 am

    far from opening up their eyes to a literal new world of possibility, those inclined towards a reactionary fundamentalist movement will, when exposed to new ways of thinking through globalization, instead dig their heels in even further and violently lash out against a perceived threat to their way of life.

    Take away the overt religious dimension, and you can find this being discussed in 1967, in Jeremy Seabrook's The Unprivileged: a hundred years of family life and tradition in a working class street, quoted by Phil Sandifer near the end of The Last War in Albion's discussion of The Bojeffries Saga (Seabrook was Alan Moore's first-form French teacher), specifically in the paragraph that (in the web version) bridges Part 98: The City's Burdened, Swollen Heart and Part 99: The Storm I've Unleashed:

    Seabrook returns constantly to the closed-mindedness of the area’s inhabitants, describing their hatred of abstract art as “the anger of anyone brought abruptly face to face with ideas which he has no use for, but which he finds form the very basis of someone else’s philosophy. They did not admit it willingly that anything exceeded their ability to understand, and in consequence violence had to be done to everything they encountered in order to accommodate it.” […] But for all of this, he speaks movingly of the plight of his family and neighbors, […] “shown the error and irrelevance of their faith by those who have access to greater truths, and who tear the veils from the eyes of others, veils that prove to be not veils at all, but living membranes, the removal of which leaves nothing but empty and bleeding sockets.”


  2. Froborr
    January 4, 2016 @ 9:43 am

    Winn is definitely my pick for the greatest villain in Star Trek. She is the antithesis of everything Trek stands for: closed-minded, self-centered, self-satisfied, opportunistic, manipulative… and yet she is never dismissed easily, never depicted as entirely, irredeemably evil in the way that Gul Dukat or the Borg are. A lot of that is down to the spectacular performance of Louise Fletcher, of course.

    The one meetup between characters we never got that I most wanted was Kai Winn vs. Lwaxana Troi. The station would likely have exploded from the sheer forces of will involved.

    All that said, I'm not sure Winn's fundamentalism and her materialist political ambitions are as separate as you describe them here. I think she is a master of self-deception, and quite honestly believes that her political success is a spiritual necessity, and that her spiritual beliefs justify her political actions.


  3. Dustin
    February 19, 2016 @ 3:17 am

    I think that Bareil's reasonableness and placidity are a plotting mistake that makes Winn seem just ridiculously evil. This subplot could be so much more interesting. Because, in our world, the targets of fundamentalism are rarely clad in virtue. Yitzhak Rabin was killed by a crazed religious fanatic, but he was still the leader of an apartheid state.

    I swear this is related, so hear me out: in the game Dragon Age: Origins, the player character has to settle a succession dispute in an underground Dwarven city riven by caste-based oppression. One candidate for the throne, Bhelen, the late king's youngest son, wants equal rights for the casteless, who are the poorest of the poor, and also wants closer relations with the surface world. However, he is also politically ruthless and strongly suspected of having framed one of his older brothers for the murder of the other to position himself to inherit.

    The other candidate, Pyral, is a nobleman who insists that the late King, while on his deathbed, nominated him to succeed. He appears to be the more honorable man and has no cloud of treachery about him, but he is an isolationist who wants to cut off contact with the surface, and also wishes to strengthen the brutal caste system that frequently disinherits those without means and relegates them to a ghetto.

    It might be one of my favorite RPG plotlines of all time, because of how it resists easily characterizing the rivals for power. Winn vs. Bareil poses no complexity at all. It's a missed opportunity.

    I liked Neela a lot, though, and wish she'd been seeded into more prior episodes, to make her role much less obvious.


  4. Josh Marsfelder
    February 19, 2016 @ 8:03 am

    Actually, Neela was supposed to be seeded in prior episodes, as the character Anara in "The Forsaken". Sadly, the producers didn't get on with her actress, so her role was scrapped and repurposed for a new character here.


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