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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.

4 Comments

  1. K. Jones
    July 5, 2015 @ 5:50 am

    I liked the sense of self-awareness the writing and acting in this episode provided in the way of fun. Picard is briefed, and very quickly you see establishing scenes set about his delegating, like "Okay, I'm going to the A-Plot now, Will, you have fun with the B-Plot!" and the pacing sets the tone of what feels like growing intrigue in a way that "feels slow, but actually moves fast." Will and Geordi have a great, if brief rapport here, and Beverly while in a brief and "doctorly" role, feels like she's getting comedic elements and science officer aspects.

    And then suddenly we're in the Imperial Capital of the Dark Elves, and in proud TOS tradition – one of the elements of mythology and folklore and magic, one of the rare elements of the pulp tradition that is totally awesome instead of terribly hack, our heroes are in disguise, are changelings walking among some strange culture.

    And before you know it the episode is over and the ur-Light Elf steps out from the shadows.

    If there's one thing I never quite grasped, it was why planet hell style generic caves were used as a meeting place for an "underground" on Romulus. The lovely mundane of the fact that a streetside deli and legal assessor's office and a district proconsul's art deco office are main settings makes the caves stick out as kind of weird and inappropriate, like somebody took "underground" way too seriously when they should've just been meeting in a Romulan youth center or somebody's basement. They'll get much better at this representation of the divine mundane come DS9's Cardassians.

    But here's the irony, as we finally for the first time see the realm of these Dark Elves, cast out, exiled from Heaven by the Light Elves. And we realize that the world of the Vulcans is awfully Hellish … and the world of the Romulans looks a lot like the Garden of Eden. And it goes right back to the original depiction of Spock and how he was to be red-skinned and even more Satanic, and the parable of judging a race by its appearance.

    After all … absolutely everybody here has a hidden agenda. Except for Spock.

    Reply

  2. K. Jones
    July 5, 2015 @ 5:52 am

    Whoops, forgot to follow up that I never grasped the use of the caves … until reflecting on the fact that these are underground practitioners of Vulcan lifestyles – they'd of course be meeting in places that resemble the stark, hellish rocks and crags of their homeland.

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  3. K. Jones
    July 5, 2015 @ 5:54 am

    More could also be said of just how bloody Earth-like Romulus is. No need for subtlety there – hammer it home and bring it all the way back to "Balance of Terror". The Romulan Star Empire and the Federation are like the same damn thing. Unification is inevitable.

    Reply

  4. Daru
    July 6, 2015 @ 11:12 pm

    It's fun for me reading now about the show's 25th Anniversary as I had no inkling of it at the time. Back then Trek was just one other show I watched sometimes, even though I loved it. I was in the middle of my four years of studying art, design and illustration, so had lots more on my mind as I was expanding my social life and discovering other delights.

    So yeah the special events were lost on me then – so thanks for all of this!

    Reply

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