No ideas but in Swamp Thing

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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. Jack Graham
    October 14, 2014 @ 11:58 pm

    I always liked this one. I like the way the sentiences manifest as blinding points of light, and the way they perceive humans as "bags of mostly water". I think the sentiences are miniature stars. There's a sense in which, when two things are on such an unimaginatively different scale, they can actually be closer to each other than things of nearly comparable scale. That's an extremely seductive concept because it unites religious/spiritual conceptions and scientific ones. The cream stirred into the coffee makes patterns like the clouds of Jupiter. The thoughts of a human probably resemble the 'thoughts' of god or nature in the same way. So a microscopic lifeform thinks more like a sun than a man. "To see a World in a Grain of Sand" and all that.


  2. Froborr
    October 15, 2014 @ 5:08 am

    that the show is starting to appear reminiscent of things other than the Original Series

    I find it interesting to see you say that only a couple of paragraphs after describing the episode in a way that makes it sound like a remake of "Devil in the Dark." Which had never actually occurred to me before reading this post, but now I can't unsee it.

    I've always liked this episode, and "ugly bags of mostly water" is one of the Next Gen lines I quote most, but my favorite of Next Gen's visits to this concept is the one that does it upside-down and backwards, namely "The Most Toys." "Measure of a Man" is a close second, because I like pathos and I frickin' love courtroom drama.


  3. Josh Marsfelder
    October 15, 2014 @ 9:18 am

    Interestingly enough, there's a bit of an identity crisis in physics at the moment from what I can tell over the fact the types of particles things like the Large Hadron Collider were built to look for might not actually exist and the current particle theory is inaccurate. One idea now being that the interaction of objects at the subatomic scale may indeed mirror those of things at the cosmic.


  4. Jack Graham
    October 15, 2014 @ 9:44 am

    Well there you go. Silly physicists. They should just've asked me.


  5. K. Jones
    October 15, 2014 @ 1:06 pm

    Yeah it's definitely Devil in the Dark, just done a bit differently.

    In my critical rewatch of last week I never anticipated that I would come out of it believing Home Soil to be the strongest episode of Season 1. But, there it is. The plot is "classic Star Trek", but it's the actual not just nostalgic, but critically good kind of tropish Trek. The imagery and designwork for the Terraform station, planet surface, interior, and microscopic creature are superb. The setting itself is a setting that we're seeing more and more and more of in the objects we observe in our own Solar System and really ought to see more of in Trek – the "barren rock".

    Moreover the Terraformers are wonderfully cast. The mystery plays out beautifully, whether the scientist's apprehension, the malfunction and murder, Data's nice little moment with the laser, and then finally Crusher and Data totally leading the way with the Scientific Method, and Picard's absolute acquiescence to that practice. I'm not sure if the Scientific Method is ever mentioned by name again on TNG.

    There's great bits of ensemble as Yar's concern for security, or whether or not the scientist might be capable of murder, Troi's insight, and Riker's friendliness are in full, expert display.

    And Geordi's practically already doing the tech work.

    I can't think of a Season 1 episode I like more, and it's crazy that Home Soil is so overlooked. But I've found that a few other overlooked ones are leaning toward my second and third and fourth favorites anyway, as we'll soon see.

    It's just that the TERRIBLE episodes of Season 1 are so much more memorable – memorably terrible.


  6. Daru
    November 19, 2014 @ 10:40 pm

    Honestly I will have to, especially on the basis of this essay, go back and look at this episode again as I cannot recall it at all!

    I am in my catching up of your essays, really enjoying where you are going with things and look forwards to being in real time with you – but maybe that's an illusion anyway, an artefact of the "the observer effect trick of the singularity" and I perfectly in sync.


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